4.0.6 Affliction Spec Discussion

Specifically talent spec, glyphs, and pets.

I was going to do a fishing reprise, now that my guild has the feast.  Because since we have the feast, that doesn’t mean “stop fishing.”  Actually that means “keep fishing more.”  But our guild bank is going through supplies quickly, so I figured less writing, more fishing.  I’ll finish it later.

Loved It With My Whole Soul Fire

Pre-patch I was rocking a 31/0/10 spec with Emberstorm and Improved Soul Fire.  I loved ISF, and, at least according to @Velidra, I was probably the only affliction lock out there who actually loved having to interrupt my Shadow Bolts with a Soul Fire, or to even have to decide on the run whether to stop & cast SF & hit Fel Flame or stop & cast UA & hit a burned SF or to time SF such that I got an “extended” heroism buff (since ISF did not stack with heroism).

I was probably also the only affliction lock using SF on a regular basis as opposed to once everytime Soulburn came off cooldown.  I like using my Soulburn for other things, and with a simple Power Aura, the ISF buff really because like another DoT for me.  You just had to make sure you refreshed it a la Banish — that is, don’t let it overlap the buff.  But with the travel time that is the Soul Fire spell, it was actually CAKE to recast the new SF while you still had the 15% haste buff and get it to land fractions of a second after the buff fell off.

And then movement–ah, I never loved the challenge of movement so much before.  Trying to time it in between what you could survive and keeping your haste buff up?  Delicious.

Basically, I love complexity in my rotations.  When I get into cat rotation and focus on it, I love cat rotation.  I haven’t mastered it, but I do love my complexity.  I was terribly sad in early Wrath when they took away from affliction two DoTs (Immolate & Siphon Life-when-it-was-a-spell-not-a-passive-talent).

I was happy again at the thought of CCing while DPSing.  OMG having to juggle priorities?  /squee

And now I’m sad again because they took away ISF from me.  Do you KNOW how boring spamming Shadow Bolt is?  It’s really boring, especially when you’re good on refreshing your DoTs such that you only have to do it every few times.

Our “rotation” at the moment can easily be summed up in 1) get yours DoTs up 2) set a rock on your SBolt key and afk for 30s. Oh sure, pop Demon Soul when you feel like it (if you haven’t macro’d it to SBolt already) and Infernal or Doomguard or whatever.  And Soul Swap to multi-targets (even if it is just Magmaw & his stupidly exposed head).

Thankfully, the loss of ISF wasn’t a drastic nerf to my DPS — in raid last night, I was averaging about what I usually average, though possibly a bit lower.  Which was relieving to see since I do tend to rank in the upper spots of Skada DPS in our 25mans.

What, can I not like my ego where it is?

The Spec Now

Generally people know what they want to spec into in the affliction tree.  Whether or not you want Jinx, whether you want Curse of Exhaustion, do you want to burn Seed of Corruption (it’s delicious), should you fill out Nightfall or Pandemic, etc.

Really, the answers to those questions depend on your situation and playstyle. Sure, there’s an EJ answer, but I’ve not really followed an EJ spec since Cata began, and I do just fine in my DPS.  I’m also really great at surviving bad shit unless I get completely fucked by RNG (void zone + purple arrow, fuck you Twin Dragons).  Seriously, I’m usually one of the last DPS alive on a wipe.

As far as the affliction tree goes, people will only wonder WTF you’re doing when you the PvE raider put points into either Improved Fear or Improved Howl of Terror. The other possible 33 points in the tree are up for good grabbing, and you can really debate the uses of a bunch of them.  However, raiding specs tend to use 31 or 32 points in the tree, instead of the full 33 points.

The part where it really starts to differ between folks is in our ten (or nine) subspec points in Demonology and Destruction.  Note: I said subspec, not offspec.

Since previously I subspecced into Destro, let’s talk about that one first.

With the swap of ISF and Aftermath, the second tier of Destruction became utterly useless to PvE affliction. The only benefit would be the stun effect off Rain of Fire, and really, when’s the last time you’ve used Rain of Fire in tier 11 raiding?  (Sure, Magmaw with the traditional Tankspot strat, any others?)

Bane and Shadow and Flame still remain good contenders for points if you’re not looking to build a drain spec.  Bane decreases the cast time of Shadow Bolt, and with the loss of ISF’s haste, I’d recommend filling that one all the way out. I have 3/3 Bane myself, and even with haste procs (Hurricane, Eradication, etc.), my SBolt is about a 2s cast time.  Shadow and Flame increase your Shadow Bolt damage by 4/8/12% and more points increase your chance of one SBolt applying the 5% spell crit debuff to the target.

10man raiders tend to fill S&F to the full three points, and it makes sense.  More damage is a good thing, and 10man locks tend to be the only lock in the raid, so unless you’ve got a Fire Mage also (Critical Mass), that 5% spell crit debuff is all yours to apply.  As a 25man raider who runs with multiple Fire Mages and 1-2 Destro locks, I’m not too squeamish about taking off a point or two. However, my guild also runs a few 10mans, sometimes to explore progression content, so I’ve kept 2 points in there.  If my guild continues the pattern of having a mage in the 10mans (typically one of the Fire Mages), I may drop it to go fiddle in Demo talents.  But I do love the buff to my Shadow Bolt damage, so I’m not sure even that will happen.

For Demonology, anything in the first tier of talents is up for grabs, and Mana Feed in tier two (if you can reach that far) is viable.  Demonic Aegis is no longer a viable talent to dip into since it no longer augments the spell power off your Fel Armor, like before.  Master Summoner and Demonic Rebirth are rather stupid since we have Soulburn Instant Pet Summon.

Demonic Embrace is a percentage Stamina increase. This is good because a) more health means you survive longer and b) more health means more mana via Life Tap. I put my leftover 2 points in here.

Fel Synergy will heal your pet for some damage that you deal. It’s Fel Armor’s health regen, except 15% and for your pet.  (But yes, Fel Synergy existed before the new FA.)  I don’t really worry too much about this in PvE.  With the passive avoidance pets gain (90% reduction from AoE damage), your pet only dies if it runs where it’s not supposed to go.  Which is rare.

Dark Arts buffs three pets — the Imp, the Felguard, and the Felhunter. I have all three points in there, because I love my felhunter, and I continue to use him.  Not to mention the felpup portion is the remnants of the old Improved Felhunter talent.

Mana Feed is interesting if you happen to use a pet that crits a lot — aka, the Imp.  Or perhaps the Succubus, but maths are waiting on that one. Basically when your pet crits with its basic attack (Firebolt for Imp, Shadow Bite for Puppy, Lash of Pain for Succy, I don’t know what the Felguard one is), you get some mana back. Also it does a little mana bonus to your pet when you Life Tap, a la the old Dark Pact talent.  I can’t reach this far with the points I’ve selected, and I’m not terribly convinced to stretch down here anyway.

Pet Choices

Hoo boy, this is a big topic.  I’m also going to cover DoomGee & Infernal because I have some opinions about those as well.  The reasons I deviate from EJ pet choice are control and utility.  Control becomes important for guardians and utility is important for your constant minion.

Doomguard v. Infernal

I’m going to pull from Fulguralis for this:

  1. Infernal – Flat out best, even in Single Target Situations.
  2. Doomguard – Poor guy won’t really be used though because of the Infernal.

This is the general stance when it comes to guardians from a pure damage perspective.  And it’s totally correct, too, the Infernal will net you more damage than the Doomguard.  Concept of CAKE.

What sucks is that the Infernal isn’t totally true to its tooltip. Both guardians indicate in their tooltips that while they’re out, they will go after the mob with your Bane on it.  The Doomguard faithfully fulfills this.  The Infernal, on the other hand, actually tends to pick adds over your Bane target.

We figured this out in guild when warlocks would rightfully pop Infernals on Magmaw to get the DPS boost. We use a kite strategy rather than killing the worms, so DPS are told not to antagonize the worms, otherwise you get worms in the raid, which results in more worms, which results in death for a lot of people, which is BAD.  So we figured out the Infernal’s problem while we were figuring out if it was safe to pop things like Enhancement Wolves, which are pets technically, but of the uncontrollable kind.  Despite our Banes (of Agony & of Havoc were being used) being only on Magmaw or Magmaw’s Head, the Infernal deviated and went off to kill nearby worms.

It’s possible he does this if you pop him during the Exposed Head phase and then when Magmaw’s head lifts and despawns your Bane target and thus your Bane, the Infernal goes off to whatever else is available.  However, the Doomguard will just stand there if the same situation happens, so I’m inclined to believe the Infernal actually has an invisible mechanic priority to go after minor adds if there are any.

I have the same uneasiness with popping the Infernal on Omnitron Defense Council or similar fights where there are going to be mobs that I should not be hitting.  I don’t trust the Infernal to not go gallivanting around the room hitting anything it can, so I use the Doomguard.

Imp v. Succubus v. Felhunter

I use the felhunter because I like him from a lore and just generally RP feeling.  Affliction warlocks are about sucking your soul out and eating your magicks, not about shooting fireballs at you or giving you a naughty spanking.

Besides, have you ever fought with a succy out and the combat sounds on?

Ewwww!  >.<  I’m sure men do too, but as a one with bewbs, I take offense to having to hear a 5-10min long sexual encounter anytime I want to kill a boss.  No fucking thank you.

“I like him better” is probably the most bullshit answer to pet choice ever, but I don’t see a terrible drop in DPS from using him over anyone else, especially if I utilize different talents and glyphs from what EJ recommends.

The problem I have with EJ pet choice is they only take DPS into consideration.  They find the glyph or the talent to boost your pet’s personal DPS and then they choose the highest one.  They don’t take into account utility, or which pet provides the better Demon Soul effect, or whether the glyphed pet is really worth the glyph slot over something else.

So yeah, sure, go with the Imp if you’re Paragon and on the bleeding edge of progression.  Better make sure you glyph as well as fill out Mana Feed.

I’m with Fulguralis again — I haven’t seen an unglyphed succubus’s DPS yet from the theorycrafters.  And I’m really not sure she’s worth the glyph. Sure, Cynwise tells me that a succy will get you out of trouble with a rogue or a DK in PvP, but in PvE, she’s rather uselss except for Seduction.  But with the emphasis on CC in dungeons, chances are someone else in your group can use a better CC (longer, more controlled) than your pet.  Succubus provides a Demon Soul effect that buffs your Shadow Bolt. I guess it’s more important now that that’s all we do, but I actually would love it more if there were any instances where I can just spam it.  Maybe on Magmaw.  And Argaloth…and that’s it, I think.

Imp’s utility Singe Magic is half of the old Felhunter Devour Magic — it cleanses harmful magic from an ally.  Imp also provides Blood Pact and it can Phase Shift out of trouble.  But I run with a couple of Destro locks, so I mean…do we really need more imp?  The Imp also buffs Shadow Bolt when Demon Soul is active.

I run with the felhunter. Fel Intelligence covers mana and mana regen (that’s half Mage and half Pally buffs).  I can interrupt a spell with Spell Lock, and I can dispel some beneficial magic off an enemy with Devour Magic (though not as often as I used to, thanks Patch 4.0.6).  The Demon Soul effect is a buff to your shadow DoTs. I’ve started popping it on cooldown, though it’s also very useful to pop specifically for heavy movement or incapacitation.

The felhunter is the one pet I’ve encountered as a warlock where you don’t ever really have any dead/unused abilities for a while when you use him.  The imp and succubus are mostly set and forget with their spells, while I have to regularly interact with my felpup to get the most out of him.

Remember, I like complexity?  So maybe this is me just entertaining myself, but I really do believe the felhunter is the better choice for affliction.

Not Much Glyph Debate

Since I don’t take a pet glyph, my third prime glyph (in addition to Haunt and Bane of Agony) is Corruption. I’ve also got only one point in Nightfall, so I could shift points elsewhere, but it procs often enough with the Corruption glyph.  It’s useful for moving, and yeah, it will actually proc around the times I have to move.  Luck, I guess.

In case anyone wants to look it over, I currently run a 31/5/5 spec.

4.0.6 Affliction Spec Discussion

27 thoughts on “4.0.6 Affliction Spec Discussion

  1. Thanks so much for this post and for giving my gnome warlock an excuse to get her felpuppy back out! Like you, I absolutely hate everything about my succubus (though especially the noises), and I was really missing the utility of having a purge/interrupt available to me. Seduction has been really unhelpful in dungeons, where the tanks and other DPS in my groups seem to break it by looking at my CCed mob the wrong way. My gnome’s only 82 at the moment, but I may look at playing around with her talents a little as I get her the rest of the way to 85 this weekend. Thanks again!

    1. Probably. I don’t really see the need to shave off 0.2s on UA’s cast time. I either have time to recast it or I hit up Fel Flame.

  2. Good article. I like your justifications for doing what you do.

    Good to know about the Infernal, I hadn’t encountered that yet.

    Like I said in mine, I’ll choose between the pup and the imp (not succy) when I go to pick a pet. Just depends on which utility I want. I, like you, haven’t seen a compelling DPS discussion that takes all the relevant information into account, and I don’t see any significant increases from one to the other. I’m playing with the imp right now just to try out the Singe Magic and I really like being able to dispel some stuff from myself. I’m not sure what all it works on yet, but I can think of a wide variety of heroic fights where, if it works, it’s totally useful.

    On the other hand, I can think of an equal number where the pup utilities I’ve come to know and love are also useful. End story – those are the two I’m choosing between, even if I have to miss out on the pixel porn.

    1. You make sense as always, Ful. 🙂

      From what I can tell, Singe Magic will dispel any magic effect (as opposed to curse, poison, & disease), though I haven’t tried much defensive dispelling outside of a healing toon. It’s particularly useful in heroic Vortex Pinnacle on Ertan’s floor-sticker ability; that I do know.

  3. Personally I like Fel Synergy to keep on top of the damage it’s taking from Soul Link. If you don’t take the talent, just make sure to remove Soul Link before Chimaeron.

    1. I don’t run with Soul Link up most of the time. Perhaps I’m weird in that, but the times I run with Soul Link, yes, my minion dies more often (or actually, dies at all), so yes, Fel Synergy definitely offsets Soul Link’s minion damage. Good point.

  4. Coralie says:

    What kind of rotation are you using in Affliction, exactly? I tried using your talent tree “put DOTs up and spam shadow bolt” and I had cca 3500 dps less than in main destro spec (6500 vs 10k, i344 avg gear level). Is it the gear? I’m still going for the hit cap, so everything on me is reforged to hit/haste if possible.


    1. I am sure Pon will come back with her rotation, but this is what I use with my Aff spec:

      Pre-shard – Soul Fire (yes I know you don’t need to anymore, but it is extra damage)
      Curse of Elements (or other if needed)
      Bane of Agony
      Shadow Bolt
      Unstable Affliction
      Shadow Bolt Spam

      Now if I am running with my Succi (which I have been recently) I hit the demon soul right before the shadow bolt spam to get the most out of it.

      I use it whenever it is off cooldown and I know I will be spamming SB.

      If I use my Felpuppy I pop Demon Soul before I hit Haunt then refresh it every time it is up.

      If you aren’t using a DoT tracker, you might want to get one. Need To Know is pure win. ^_^

        1. Here is Lyssi my aff lock – http://us.battle.net/wow/en/character/draktharon/lyssianna/simple

          Yes I know I have the healer belt, my bf made it for me and by the time I could make the dps one it wasn’t that big of an issue with the stat difference. >.>

          You might want to try her spec and glyph choices. Lyssi is using the Succi and in 10 man raids pulls anywhere from 11k-13k.

          The downside to testing on the target dummy is you are lacking the raid buffs (and the DI buff) so your dps is MUCH lower.

          1. Coralie says:

            Thanks, I’ll try it out and report on the results 🙂

            Re raid buffs – true, but I was testing destro on the same dummy, so it’s comparable 🙂

            1. In the spec you are using you have gimped your Shadow Bolt dps and lowered your chance for a nightfall proc. Free Shadowbolt = more dps.

              The glyph of Corruption procs even more free shadowbolts. Last night in my guild’s raid I had a free SB proc at least once in every rotation refresh. Don’t forget that Affliction’s major damage jump comes when the mob is under 25% health. You cannot really see that on a target dummy.

              1. Coralie says:

                Thanks for the pointers – with your build, ISF and demon soul up, the DPS goes to 8600 or thereabouts. Also, excellent point re 25% health – I totally forgot about that.

                  1. Coralie says:

                    report: I tried my first normal instance with this spec today. Got HoO, which was great as it helped me fine-tune the rotation (when to soul swap, when to switch to drain soul, ..) By the end I was doing 11,300 dps on Rajh, which I think is quite comparable to the destro spec.

                    And I loved it – so much less button mashing than with destro. Even when I had to dodge stuff, the DoTs were merrily ticking away, applying damage.

                    Thanks again for your help!

                  1. Because I figure standing at the training dummy means I’m missing out on the awesomeness that is raid buffage, so I don’t terribly worry about what buffs I do or don’t have on me at the time when I hit up a dummy for 5min streaks.

                    I mean, would you burn a flask & food for a 5min session at the training dummy? No, not really, but it doesn’t really mean those buffs aren’t important. Same thing with Dark Intent; I’m not saying it’s unimportant to All Of Raiding Ever, I’m saying if you’re at a target dummy and you’ve got nowhere decent to put it…big whoop. It’s a training dummy, it doesn’t have even half the things you find in raid.

                    Imo, training dummies are lots more for getting your muscles to remember certain things than they are for seeing how much you really can do in a raid + boss situation.

  5. Great article! I’m pointing people here for Affliction tips, since I haven’t seen the inside of a Heroic yet.

    I feel so bad that the Felhunter, once the mightiest PvP friend an afflock could ask for, is not even a good choice to start out with. I switch to him to Spell Lock, then switch back to the Succy or Imp. The 20 second Dispel / 24 second Spell Lock means I fire them off twice then switch back.

    Glad to see you are still loyal to the puppy! 🙂

  6. Eve says:

    I am very glad I found your blog. I just hit 85 and was looking around for posts made by experienced affliction locks. I’ve always played destro [since 2009 — and yes, even for leveling and PvP] so this whole thing is a new experience for me. Currently I’m running normal dungeons to get JP for those five ish points I am missing to have minimal heroic iLvl but I’m reading up as much as I can since I’ve rather liked the affliction mechanic. I want to try it out for raiding since I’m a bit burned out on being Destro. 🙂

    But the pet choice has been really bothering me. When you have to listen to her orgasm as she attacks her victims and watch cows tea bag her during the healer’s mana up stage — you kind of wish you didn’t have to walk around with her half naked, nympho ass all over the place. I actually did some tests on target dummies and then ran some dungeons and found that Felhunter actually boosts my DPS. This is probably because the fights I am doing now don’t last long where I would gain from buffing Shadow Bolt [as I don’t get to cast it that much considering the length of fights] by having Succy out and using Demon Soul. >_<

    I guess I won't know until I have better gear and can try it all out on longer fights. BUT your post greatly improved my joy about sticking with Felhunter for normal mode dungeons. 🙂

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