Since only a radical expansion-changing change would change talents around beyond minor edits for this post, I’m going to leave it a vague title and update as needed. Raiding is in parentheses since that’s my main focus, even though this discussion could apply to various spec foci.
Updated for 4.0.1.
Making a T&G Build
I’m all for making your own build. Even as you level. I find it a bit of a fun game to see if I can guess the raiding talent & glyph build as I level and then check it only when I hit 80. I usually get pretty close, too. I may have chosen leveling talents, but I can tell almost the exact raiding build upon hitting cap level.
For a caster DPS, anything that increases your damage means you should obviously take this. Beneficial procs like haste or crit are also, dur-hur, taken. In the Cataclysm trees, those heavily-bordered talents are actually spells that get added to your spellbook in your specific specialization’s tab.
In Cataclysm, you must spend 31 points in one tree before you can branch out to the other ones, and then you have 10 points to put wherever you wish. I will run a 32/3/6 build when I hit 85, so you don’t have to leave the Affliction tree once you’ve got your 31 points. Beyond about 33 for PvE is getting a bit ridiculous, however.
Discussable Talents for Afflic
You wouldn’t discuss whether maxing out Improved Corruption or Everlasting Affliction is a big deal or not. Taking both of those is a no-brainer in the land of PvE DPS. (Even PvP DPS, dare I say.)
Improved Life Tap | I’m going to run with ILT 2/2 because I’m all for more mana back during a Life Tap. I would have to Life Tap less often, which would certainly please my healers who, I’m told, will be seriously confined by mana in Cataclysm.
Jinx | Taking Jinx means that you can cast Curse of the Elements and have the spell effect extend to any-enemy-body within 20 or 40 yds. Which is cool if you’re raiding and don’t have an Unholy DK (Ebon Plaguebringer talent) or a Moonkin (Earth & Moon talent) to help spread the love. You can get by with a 20 yds increase if you’re a smart warlock and don’t Seed on the outside of mob packs. (It’s the same deal with CoE; put it on the middle mob for max effect.)
It also does something to manaless powers regeneration, but I guess that extends to PvP. I don’t see how it does in Battlegrounds since players tend to die in a matter of seconds. Plus, usually when I die to a rogue it’s because I’m stun-locked, not because OH NOES his energy is regenning like CRAZY YO. However, I’m a relative PvP beginner, so maybe I’m just talking a load of crap here.
Curse of Exhaustion (abbrev. CoEx) | I consider this a definite take, mainly because I’m excited to CC. I’d say “CC again,” but as a Wrath raider, I didn’t have much CC’ing going on in the first place. I already have it in my 80 raiding build in 4.0.1, and it serves some use on Val’Kyrs in the Lich King fight. Or the various mobs in Dreamwalker. I don’t consider this a discussable talent, but some min/maxers may if they have other classes with slows covering them.
Improved Fear / Improved Howl of Terror | These are PvP talents, for the most part. Generally Fear isn’t used in dungeons because the warlock has no control of where the Feared mob will run. Often it will run into the next mob pack and pull everything. With the Glyph of Fear, however, we may be able to use Fear again, since the glyph keeps the mob in place with the Horror effect rather than running around. Regardless, the mob moving slower after the Fear falls off is rather useless in PvE. Also, slapping a CoEx on the mob would slow it more for longer than the maxed-out Nightmare effect would.
Howl of Terror is an AoE fear; i.e. you’d use it when the melee specs close in on you in battlegrounds. There is no glyph to hold mobs in place, so using this in a dungeon practically guarantees you’d pull the entire place (unless, it’s the last mob pack).
In the days of the 51-point talent tree, Affliction warlocks would branch out into the Destruction tree, mainly for improvements to Shadow Bolt (which is a Destruction-school spell). Bane and Shadow and Flame are the two talents most appealing to Affliction warlocks. Bane shortens your Shadow Bolt’s cast time. Shadow and Flame increases the damage of your Shadow Bolt, but it also puts an effect on the mob that increases spell critical strike against that target.
With a Soulburn, Soul Fire becomes instant-cast, regardless of your warlock spec. With Improved Soul Fire, the min/maxers may prove that burning a SF at the beginning of fights is an increase in DPS (since you’ll have 15% haste). I personally don’t want to take this talent; Affliction is shadow and drains to me, not fire. It’s not in the personality of the rotation for me. So maybe the min/maxers will flame me *chortle* for that.
In the days of the 51-point talent tree, Affliction warlocks would branch out into the Demonology tree for survivability use. There was a build called SL/SL (Siphon Life / Soul Link) that was particularly fun to solo old dungeons with. You could even almost solo world elites (I remember doing the last parts of the Hemingway Nagrand quests as SL/SL). You were almost invincible. Except for, you know, being a clothie. Bah, cloth.
Typically, as a raiding lock, only the first tier is available, and not even all of it unless you want out of the Destruction tree entirely.
Demonic Embrace will increase your stamina by 4/7/10%; this is helpful considering most of the healer Cataclysm discussion reveals we will endure boss fights at around 70% health on average. More stamina means more health means more 70% health to knock down than a talentless 70% health. More health also means more Life Tap before you annoy your healer and kill yourself.
Dark Arts might be useful if Affliction ever gets back the Felhunter as a pet. Currently, the Succubus with her Glyph is the best DPS I’ve gotten out of a pet. Before 4.0.1, the felpup was awesome since he had both a talent in the Affliction tree and a glyph. Now he just has this Demo talent (same effect from his old talent).
I’m probably going to opt for Fel Synergy 2/2, which heals my pet for a portion of my damage. Pets already have a 90% avoidance to AoE effects, but with healers having trouble keeping up players, there’ll be even less of a chance for your pet to be kept up.
Plus, what are we without demon pets?
Here’s the possible Affliction glyphs you can obtain: Bane of Agony, Corruption, Unstable Affliction, and Haunt. The pet glyphs are Lash of Pain and Imp (and Felguard, but you have to be Demo to have a FG).
We use the succubus as a pet, so Lash of Pain is in. In fact, her glyph is what makes her better than the felhunter. I fly with Haunt and Bane of Agony.
Unstable Affliction I don’t find very useful, especially with the amount of haste I raid with. Corruption will give you double the change you had to get a Nightfall proc (instant SBolt). That’d be helpful in heavy-movement encounters, but it’ll remain my backup choice for now.
Major glyphs are that middle ground between prime and minor glyphs. Minor glyphs are complete utility; prime glyphs visibly affect your DPS. Major glyphs, then, are utilities that can also help out your DPS.
Soul Swap, as an Affliction lock, is a must-take. Once you get the hang of using Soul Swap, you’ll know why. Soul Swap originally takes your DoTs off the first target before putting them on the second. The glyph lets your DoTs stay on while you copy them over to the second target. So you’re multidoting without the ramp-up time. How COOL is that?
Most min/maxing advice will tell you the Life Tap glyph is next. I don’t agree. The min/maxers use simulations and theoretical math to determine the best of everything — talents, rotations, gear, glyphs. I have a feeling that these simulations just Life Tap whenever a certain mana threshold has been reached, regardless of what you’re doing at the time.
Furthermore, I believe Life Tapping is a bit more of an Art; there is a right and a wrong time to Life Tap, but it’s so variable, it’s really hard to put about set rules for when you should Life Tap. You get a feeling for when you’ll be able to survive without 15% of your health for the next few seconds. You might need the mana now, but maybe a big raid-wide damage effect is supposed to happen and you know your healers will be grinding their teeth just trying to keep you guys up. Minus fifteen percent isn’t going to help them out.
And really, half a second is going to help you out? I’d rather be Life Tapping while I can’t DPS; maybe I’m out of range (Sindy’s air phase) or I’m moving (spore running on Festergut). At least then I’ll be doing something futurely beneficial.
Glyph of Healthstone might be useful — I’d rather see if I really do need the extra oomph from a fel cookie to survive an encounter. As Affliction, I’ve got Drain Life and burning DL SOOPAFAST DOWNLOAD! and then whatever health pot I have, then my Healthstone, plus whatever I’m getting from Siphon Life off my Corruption. As Affliction, I’ve got a variety of options to keep myself alive, compared to other classes and specs.
Glyph of Fear will help you bring back your main warlockery Crowd Control ability. C’mon! What’s a warlock without Fear? I discussed this earlier when talking about the Fear talents.
The last glyph I picked was Shadow Bolt; it reduces the mana cost of SBolt by 15%. Shadow Bolt easily takes the most out of my mana pool without using AoE abilities. Less mana cost means more casts per mana, but it also means I need less mana to do the same DPS. In healer-speak, I won’t need to Life Tap as much.
As far as minor glyphs go, warlocks got shafted. Of course, a lot of classes are rather PFFT about their minor glyphs, but it’s really hard to tell you that even ONE of these six possibilities is needed. We used to have Drain Soul as a definite, since it had a bonus effect of possibly generating a second shard. Back when we could have like 32 or more shards.
But now we only have 3. And Glyph of DS doesn’t have that shard bonus anymore. Whoop-de-damn-doo.
I opted for Souls, Unending Breath (I hear dere’s dem water zones now), and Kilrogg (FLYING EoK YESSSSSSSSSSS). It’s really more what floats your boat than what’s useful.
And that should be it for talents & glyphs. I’m not on beta, so I can’t really do a rotations thing at 85. You’ll have to wait for me to get to 85 to tell you all about that one.