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This post is part of my Affliction Lock Endgame Basics (ALEB) series. These are my choices on talents & glyphs for affliction warlocking at level 80. I’ve seen variations, but I’ve tried to pick out what I believe are the core talents every affliction warlock should have, and then I’ll explain some of the optional ones I’ve taken or others have taken. The major glyphs are practically unanimous in the affylock community, and the minor glyphs are unanimously a joke for the most part.
I rock deep affliction with shadow bolt support from destruction. I’ve rocked this spec since I was leveling, and I have barely changed it since I broke 80. Click the picture to see it bigger. The green boxes signify what I think are the important or core talents of affliction raiding. The purple boxes show talents I’ve taken or have seen taken, because they’re useful but you had a couple of points left to throw around. There’s also glyphs in the picture (since I screenshotted the WowHead Talent Calculator), but I’ll discuss those later. For those who can’t see the picture for whatever reason, here’s a link to the WHTC I used.
- Aff Tier 1 — All: Improved Curse of Agony buffs the “damage” curse affliction locks use; the other curse we like to use is Curse of the Elements, which helps all spellcasters on the target. Suppression is important because it decreases the amount of hit rating you need on your gear to reach the hit cap. Improved Corruption is just one buff of many to the staple spell of affliction.
- Aff Tier 2 — Imp DS & SS: This tier tricks out Drain Soul for you. Improved Drain Soul helps your mana if you use it as a finishing move on even trash and it reduces our ridiculously generated threat by a chunk. Soul Siphon ups Drain Soul from a mere utility spell (shard generation) to a real damaging spell by buffing it according to however many Affliction buffs you have on the target.
- Aff Tier 3 — Amplify Curse: This is the only useful spell in this tier for PvE action. It means you can cast other things faster because your GCD for your curse is smaller.
- Aff Tier 4 — Nightfall & Emp. Corr: Nightfall is the warlock version of the shammy Elemental Mastery. Your Corruption ticks can proc an instant Shadow Bolt, which is awesome. Empowered Corruption increases the spellpower coefficient of your Corruption: aka, more oomph per point of spellpower.
- Aff Tier 5 — Sh. Emb. & SL: Shadow Embrace is a twice-stacking debuff applied by Haunt & Shadow Bolt that buffs all your shadow DoT damage on the target. Siphon Life used to be a spell by itself, but is now a passive part of Corruption. It drains health back to you as Corruption damages the target. This is an excellent tool for soloing, but also gives warlocks a unique edge in helping out healers.
- Aff Tier 6 — Shadow Mastery: This is a straight buff to your shadow spells and a bit of a buff to the Felhunter minion. Rumor has it Blizzard is trying to bring back the felpuppy as the token affliction pet.
- Aff Tier 7 — Erad. & Contg.: Eradication is amazing when it procs; when it does, this is a cue for you to spam Shadow Bolts, since even with moderate haste, you can see cast times under 2s. Contagion is a buff to Corruption, Seed of Corruption, and Curse of Agony, and also provides the PvP dispell resist.
- Aff Tier 8 — Malediction: This used to be a buff to others on only the Curse of Elements spell, but it’s now a straight buff to your spell damage and spell crit.
- Aff Tier 9 — All: Death’s Embrace helps you out when your health is low, but it’s taken more because of the execute phase it defines. At 35% target health, all your shadow spells do more damage. Unstable Affliction is a staple DoT in the affliction rotation, as well as a powerful PvP spell if dispelled. Pandemic is crit-ical (/groan): it allows Corr and UA ticks to crit, and it lets Haunt crit for twice the damage.
- Aff Tier 10 — Everlasting Affliction: EA gives your Corruption infinite life while you work your rotation. This is especially important if your take the Quick Decay glyph, since moderate haste could allow Corr to fall off if you didn’t have the arsenal of refreshing spells.
- Aff Tier 11 — Haunt: This is the other talent-gained spell in the affliction rotation. It buffs your shadow damage on the target as long as its debuff is applied and in tandem with Siphon Life, its heal offsets your Life Tap health drops.
- Destro Tier 1 — All: Improved Shadow Bolt buffs the SB spell, since it’s one of the only non-Affliction tree spells you will use. Bane makes casting SB less time-consuming.
- Destro Tier 3 — Ruin: This is Destro’s Pandemic: it allows your SB (and the imp’s FB) to crit for twice the normal damage.
- Aff Tier 2 — Improved Life Tap: I’ve taken this because it buffs the mana I get from Life Tap. Less LTing means more SBing for me.
- Aff Tier 3 — Fel Concentration: Despite being my blog’s name, this talent is useless in PvE. However, I’ve seen PvP warlocks take it.
- Aff Tier 6 — Improved Felhunter: Blizzard is trying to bring back the felpuppy as the affliction token pet; this talent buffs your Felhunter a bit. If you use the FH a lot, it’s a good talent; however, I find the FH dies too much to party/raid damage for these 2 points to be useful to me.
- Aff Tier 7 — Dark Pact: This lets you steal your pet’s mana instead of your own. Prime use is with a phase imp buffed with Blessing of Wisdom, so you have your own regenerative, reusable mana pot. Dark Pact will also proc the Life Tap glyph buff, which I find handy when healers have their hands full or a big party/raid-wide damage is incoming.
- Demo Tier 1 — Imp. HS & Dem. Emb. & Fel Syn: Improved Healthstone buffs the amount of health returned by using a healthstone; this is a utility talent that other classes like. Demonic Embrace increases your Stamina, which is important for survivability, but it’s also a buff to your mana pool through Life Tap. Fel Synergy makes more sense since, as suggested by KoalaBear21, heals your pet for a portion of the damage you do. Good stuff for those felpuppies who stubbornly stand in whatever AoE is behind the boss. I’m too lazy to redo the picture right now–it’s the far-right one on tier 1.
- Destro Tier 2 — Cataclysm: I took this once as throwaway talent points; it takes off a tiny bit of mana for using Shadow Bolt or Rain of Fire. It’s a negligible difference for Shadow Bolt, but Rain of Fire, as typical AoE spells do, uses a massive chunk of mana.
- Destro Tier 4 — Destructive Reach: Some warlocks take this in tandem with affliction’s Grim Reach to increase the range of all spells to 40 yds. I think it’s mostly taken for the threat reduction on Destro spells, however.
The WowHead Talent Calculator also lets you pick glyphs, and it awesomely lists the description of the glyph along with what main talent tree the glyph affects. Here’s a screenshot of the affliction major glyphs (QD hasn’t yet been classified as affliction, but it is). Click for the bigger picture.
The three you want to take are Quick Decay, Haunt, and Life Tap. The Glyph of Haunt is a straight buff to Haunt’s debuff, which itself buffs your shadow damage on the target. The Glyph of Life Tap gives you almost a second Fel Armor buff for 40 seconds. All ranks of Life Tap and Dark Pact can trigger this buff, so it’s not uncommon for a warlock to use Life Tap (Rank 1) at the beginning of a fight. The Glyph of Quick Decay applies your haste to your Corruption ticks. You get faster ticks, which is more damage per second in the long run. For more information on how QD works, revisit my post on the glyph.
The minor glyphs available for warlocks are more or less a joke. Only Drain Soul is moderately useful: a small proc chance of generating two shards instead of just one off a Drain Soul tick. The rest, well…just pick two more or leave them blank. I picked Souls & Unending Breath: the former because at least I would use it and the latter because I’m lazy and wanted a hilarious “useful” buff to cast on people as thanks for casting a buff on me.
Questions & Comments?
As always, I welcome constructive criticism, question, suggestions, and opinions from other affy locks out there–new or old. :) This post is currently updated for Patch 3.3.0a.