Affliction Talents & Glyphs (Raiding)

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).

Destruction Tree

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.

Demonology Tree

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?



>.< Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…

Prime Glyphs

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

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.

Minor Glyphs

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.

Affliction Talents & Glyphs (Raiding)

Pet Philosophies

Side-tangent | If you’re anybody who deals in overtime (DoTs, HoTs, Pots, Lots, Bots — aww, wait, those last three don’t count? boo), and you haven’t seen Cynwise’s genius on how haste affects DoTs…?

You’re totally missing out, bud.

Of course, now I’m curious as to numerically what those plateaus are and how it affects reforging.

Onward to the stuff revelant to titling!

Man, I wish there was a way I could post a Twitter conversation without resorting to a can of links or a fuzzy jay-peg.  I’ll use (…) to string multiple tweets together.  This slowpoker person is me, just fyi.

Nibuca: Afflocks: Why -shouldn’t- I keep Soul Link up all the time?

slowpoker: like Sindy or LK I don’t because the damage done to me will easily kill my pet before the fight’s halftime. (LK, succy dies in 1.5) … if the point of the pet was to soak up damage, wouldn’t we all be using our blueberries?

Nibuca: Good point. But ideally I won’t ever be taking dmg & when I do.. if shunting 20% of that to the pet saves me.. bye bye pet.

slowpoker: but you *will* be taking unavoidable raid damage. Normally, it’s not so bad and I keep SL up … but in certain fights — like LK & Sindy — I noticed my pet dying early on, so I turned SL off, & she lived.

Of course, the other half of my pet dying on LK, I should add, was due to leaving my pet on the Lich King in 1.5 rather than putting her with me on the Raging Spirits.  Thus, she was probably nuked by the Remorseless Winter waaaaaaaayyyy over there away from any Wild Growths and Chain Heals.  I solved that issue with a /petattack added to my Shadow Bolt macro. If I have a fishing pole equipped, ‘2’ makes me cast my fishing pole rather than shoot out a Shadow Bolt.  Handy reminder purposes, mostly.

But yeah, now that all locks can use that Demo candy called Soul Link, should we ever not use it?

The Point of Soul Link?

Hey, I had to actually look this one up.  I was Wowheading it for the link (*shakes fist at free WP Javascriptless sites*), and I wanted to make sure I had the correct one.  That is, the spell, rather than a page full of posts about the old Demo talent.  At the bottom, there was a comment that the other casters get shields.  I thought about it.

Well, the other clothy casters can use shields (mages have that Armor stuff), whereas moonkin and elemental shamans just get a higher armor specialization.

But yah, isn’t that the point of Soul Link?  To dump a little of our damage taken somewhere else? And before y’all speculate, no, Life Tap doesn’t appear to count for SL transfer.  Helping healers out and all that jazz, why shouldn’t we keep SL active all the time?

Afflocks are squishier, in my opinion, than the other two lock specs.  Granted, I’ve not played Destro seriously yet, but my Affy health tends to fluctuate more than when I’m in Demo.  Life tapping and everything.  I think Destro’s reason is Soul Leech, while Demo has traditionally been the brawny spec (Metamorphosis FFS).

Perhaps at 85, once I’ve picked up 2/2 Fel Synergy, then Soul Link will become active all the time, but for now, I can’t heal my pet outside of smart heals and Health Funnel.  Health Funnel! Really, who uses Health Funnel in PvE raiding?

Can Unavoidable Raid Damage Kill You?  (or Just Your Pet?)

I would assume so.  I mean, you bring raid healers, right?  Oh, are those heals reserved for special boss abilities?  Nahhhhh…can’t be.

Of course, since my guild is working on LK25 — hey, last night we saw 40% — I keep thinking of Defile.  Or Remorseless Winter.  Or Infest.   Yeah, okay, technically, these are special boss abilities, but they are raid-wide.  It’s not Token Ranged Person taking damage all by their lonesome because the Volatile Ooze has a superstrong crush on them.  You will be taking damage unless your healers have superkitteh reflexes.

Your pet has less health than you do.  Granted, last time I looked at my felpup’s health in PvP talents / gear, it was something like 15k, but I have 30-35k raid buffed.  Your pet has significantly less health than you do.  Soul Link sort of resizes it to your pet by only applying 20% o the damage you take.

Nibuca’s counterargument is that if passing off 20% of the damage will save me, then do it.  Of course, I could just Soulburn and resummon, but that’s a couple of GCDs I’m not doing anything.  I suppose my countercounterargument is that a word? is that at the rate raid damage appears to come, I’d probably die anyway if 100% would kill me, but 80% wouldn’t.  If 100% would kill me, 80% would leave me close to death. Probably even enough that a minor UARD spell will wash me over into floor-hugging.  Maybe I could pot/drain life back up, but if it happens again? Since most raid damage is cyclical like that… I’d need healer attention soon.

And given this whole triage theme in Cataclysm, I’m not sure that my pure DPS butt will be far up there on the healers’ priority list.  Maybe, if I’m a good little warlock and drain suck up to them.

But the Point of My Pet?

My biggest counter to Nibuca’s original question is that I think the point of my pet, as affliction, is to increase my DPS. I can already heal myself for what I take from Life Tap, and I’m pretty mobile compared to the other two when it comes to DPS’ing on the run.  Sure, it’s an increase that’s magnificently in the thousands, but it is an increase nonetheless.  Due to the habit of starting the encounter with my pet on defensive and thinking more DPS on the boss is better, I’ve seen forgotten pets left on the boss tip a phase over when we didn’t want the phase quite yet.

Heck, we used to take the Felhunter talents and glyph for his DPS specifically, and now we take the Succubus for the same reason.  The point of the pet as I see it is for a few more hundred points of DPS, not for soaking up damage.

So if it’s a particularly nasty encounter in which you would die without your Soul Link being up 100% of the time, why are you using something that’s not the Voidwalker?

The Future of Pets: Static or Dynamic in Encounters

Of course, this will probably get into whether we should be using one pet for the entire encounter or if we will end up switching out pets per phase.  So long as there are adds to kill (thus, adds to die while I drain their souls), I don’t mind Soulburning and instant-summoning the Blueberry with a Soul Link up for a particularly nasty raid damage phase and then putting him away when it’s time to ramp up the pew pews.

Are we supposed to have an iconic pet per talent tree, who stays with us regardless of phase or encounter?  Or does Blizzard truly want them to become utility-based, whipped out when needed?

I’m voting for utility-based. As easy as having to summon your pet only after you wipe is, it’s so boring.  Having to swap pets in medio bello would be interesting and exciting, I think.

What do you think? Do you want one pet all the time? Or do you like swapping out pets as if they were curses?

Pet Philosophies