Blood Pacts for MoP

I realize I don’t really blog much solid warlock stuff over here anymore, but I write it over at Blood Pact, instead. If you’re looking for warlock information and guides for MoP and/or Patch 5.0.4, I’ve already gotten some stuff written down over there. Some of the stuff I’ve been writing since I started at WoW Insider is out of date with how the beta is working, so I’ve grabbed what I think is still relevant/useful.

Spec summary — Goes over general talent choices, damage cooldowns, healing cooldowns, curses. Then each spec gets a brief summary of major glyphs, pet use, stat priority at 85, and rotation breakdown.

Core summary — Things changed up for warlocks in general as well as in each spec. This covers Dark Intent, Symbiosis, general stat priorities, and briefly how the specs are structured so to keep the different spec flavors while retaining a unified warlock class.

Pets & Grimoires — My attempt at everything from the very basics of pet mechanics (for new locks who may or may not have played a pet class before) to the meatier Grimoire discussion. Goes over pet stances/commands, pet abilities, Command Demon’s various abilities, and brief summaries of the Grimoire uses per spec. The destro specific Grimoire use is possibly outdated (already!); Sacrifice wins in the pet sims, but the Observer (Supremacy) has been seen in the raiding sim.

Minor glyphs — A focus on showing off some of the cosmetic glyphs, but covering all the minor glyphs.

Warlock tanking — In which I tested out warlock tanking in Dark Apotheosis and found that my demon could do it better.

Leveling in MoP — I know one of the hurdles to new warlocks is the painful / confusing leveling. It got better in Mists, trust me.

Spells that are the same name but different — Like Dark Intent. It’s raid-wide now, OK?

Level 90 Talents — An overview of the level 90 talents. I’ll revisit this, as some of it might be out of date.

Demonic Gateway — A video I found on Demonic Gateway before I got my shiny new computer with Fraps. Demonic Gateway is our level 87 ability, and yes, you can go through it mounted!

Those who are not afraid to wield power — A new book showed up in Stormwind, summarizing warlocks’ efforts at gaining power after the events of Cataclysm. I went with it and tried to weave in new MoP warlock abilities with warlock flavor & personality.

Green fire questline possibility — This will always be in the back of my mind, OK?

This week, my guild is raiding in Dragon Soul under the 5.0.4 patch, so I’m tempted to do a Dragon Soul with 5.0 mechanics post. We’ll see how it goes.

I have plans for September posting, but if you have requests for MoP warlock posts, please let me know here or at WoW Insider.

Blood Pacts for MoP

All Things Soulburn

Edit: The reason I didn’t know there was a SB: UA is because there isn’t one and the Wowhead comments aren’t updated. GG.

Recently, the guild chat conversation turned to beginning a warlock.  One of my guildmates started a new warlock, and had said earlier in raid that she could never get one above 20, to which I jokingly said I’d teach her.

So now we spent the next 20 minutes or so talking warlock stuff in guild chat.

She’s only 12 or so right now, but we got into what exactly soul shards and soulburn are and do.  She had a warlock back in Wrath, but it’s different now in Cataclysm, especially the whole soulburn mechanic.  As she put it, you have to relearn it all over again.

So I hit “Save Draft” on my glyphs post, and put it aside as I pulled up a fresh blank post.  Let’s talk about soul shards and soulburn.  Hold onto your cowls! Continue reading “All Things Soulburn”

All Things Soulburn

Breakfast Topic: Why do I love Affliction?

Inspiration from WoW Insider.

First there’s the DoTs.  Lots of DoTs.  I like spreading them around.

I love multidotting.  I don’t really love multidotting for the damage — though, that’s great, too! — but for the activity you do.  It’s a common complaint of people leveling DoT specs for the first time that stuff takes too long to kill. You cast a DoT and then…you wait for it to die.

Well, if you pull one mob at a time, and you’re sitting around with a full health bar, you pulled too less.  Affliction is almost made for chain pulling.  Spread the love around town!  Affliction warlocks are like delusional, demented care bears.  Haunt Hug Everybody!

I love the fluidity of health and mana on the affliction warlock.  It’s even more so than shadow priests, who just return a tiny AoE bit for damage.  We can burn our health away and then get some back.  We can burn some mana away and then get some back.  My mana bar is my health bar is my mana bar.

It also provides a great tandem with healers for me, and I feel like I respect them a bit more than other damage specs.  Other damage specs are merely being kept alive; I’m being handed more fuel for my resource bar.

I love the Fears.  Especially in battlegrounds, oh man, I love the Fears.  I really don’t care about being an Ironman or being the lead demolisher.  I love being the chaos-bringer, the distracter, the assist in battlegrounds.  There’s nothing more satisfying than running into a horde of Horde and fear-bombing all of them off my FC.

I love the various curses, and will be sad when they all get combined into a few.  It makes sense, game-mechanic-wise, considering I have Exhaustion and Tongues in the same macro anyway, to make them into one Enfeeblement in Mists.  I love putting conditions on people and watching them squirm their way out of it.  It’s just “Not Fun” to watch a curse disappear off in a dispel.

I love using mobs to spread my DoTs.  It’s almost like Warlock Chain Heal.  Almost.  Soulburning a Seed and watching the mobs (or players) pulse in numbers as Corruption is now everywhere is supremely satisfying.  Jinxing one player and seeing the debuff elsewhere makes me smile.  Soulswapping immediately is almost like personal Pong.

I love the felhunter because I believe it fits most with the affliction warlock, roleplay-wise.  The imp shoots fire, the voidwalker protects, the succubus plays off someone’s lust and emotions, the felguard is a demonic brute, but the felhunter is a predator of magic.  They seek it out and they seek to consume it.  They use your own magics against you.

What’s the difference between a shadow priest and an affliction warlock?  Roleplay-wise?  I think shadow priests are focused on the mental self; they have so much Mind things, anyway.  Although faith for the Light (or whatever Light you have) is generally assumed from the heart, the defectors come from the mind, most often anyway.

Affliction, on the other hand, deals with corrupting your soul.  Affliction deals with fear and curses and…afflictions.  What’s an affliction?  What does it mean to afflict someone?  I think of afflictions as eating away at you.  They might start as something not very powerful, and they might not do much damage to you in a single instance, but over time, they wheedle you down until you can’t overcome them.

Afflictions eat you from the inside out.

It’s that satisfaction I get when I die in a boss fight but my DoTs are still going.  Or when I die in a battleground and get a Killing Blow notification while I’m a ghost.  Or when I’m doing Tol Barad dailies and have 5-6 mobs beating on me.  I don’t really care that I’m not dominating now.

I’ll just kill you later.

Affliction to me is playing with your food.  Oh, you’re going to die, there’s no doubt about that.  But I’m going to twist and torture you before I snuff you out with a DoT tick.

Why kill you now when I can have fun now?

You know you’re an affliction warlock at heart when there’s people (or mobs) screaming about you, but it’s an otherwise pleasant day, and you start giggling.  Not laughing — laughing is for destro.  Destruction warlocks also love chaos (it’s why we love them, too), but they end up ruining the view in the process.  Charred Forsaken is just not delectable.  (Okay, Charred Tauren is delicious.)

Your mirth is in proportion to your damage dealing.  Destro locks have great thundering laughter in spurts.  Aff locks giggle endlessly, and sooner or later end up rolling on the floor an hour later about it.  It’s good for the lock’s soul in the end.

There’s an almost childish levity to it.  Giggling, but also the playstyle of affliction.  Demonology feels bulky and RAWR SMASH.  Destruction feels fully loaded and firmly locked on the ground.  Affliction is frolicking among the fears.

I love affliction. 🙂

Breakfast Topic: Why do I love Affliction?

Second Warlock

I have two druids.  I’ve had two druids for quite some time.  Amadruada used to be cat with the intention of tree at endgame when she leveled, then she became bear/tree at 80, and when I moved to Elune, I rolled another druid in Cataclysm so I could have a feral druid and a caster druid without having to keep up with the drastically different gearsets.  Except, I still keep two different gearsets for each druid, though my moonkin/tree one overlaps more than my feral sets (I’m anal-retentive about my reforging).

But I’ve not had a second warlock.  I’ve tried to have a second warlock; I remember reading about Keeva’s six, seven, eight bazillion druids.  But every time I rolled another warlock, I’d get excited about things I’d be doing later at cap level, so why don’t I just go log onto my maxed out warlock?

Our guild is only a few race/class combos short of the 8th guild bank tab.  (Half of the combos are mage.  LOL)  One of the missing was a dwarf warlock.  An officer –who has five bazillion alts himself — asked me if I’d be willing & able to level up a dwarf warlock, since I’m a bit of a beast at leveling alts (relative to my guildmates, at least).

So that’s what I’m doing.  Chobole (χοβολη — “ember” / χοβολεις — “embers”) was intended to be a destro warlock.  And I kept him destruction.  Until level 32 or something.

I wanted to know if affliction leveling had changed since I last leveled an affliction warlock.  That was back in the last year of Burning Crusade.  Quite a while ago.


Same old fun. It was like finding an old friend, cliche as that is.  I don’t have all of my bar set up yet, but everything was just instantly and thoroughly familiar.

This switch happened around the time I was getting annoyed by the Blood Pact column not reading beyond the skin of sims and Cynwise exploring motivations.  It only confirmed things, really.  I love affliction.  So I play affliction and I make it work where other people say it shouldn’t or doesn’t.

I’m contemplating making an affliction warlock leveling guide when Mists comes out.  There’s not much to it now — and, probably, there won’t be much to it in Mists — but I love affliction, so it’s going to happen.  There will be talent discussion for which is better at level 15.  There will be gearing guides later on.  I also figure that instead of the pet PvP or Destro toon I originally intended Chobole to be, he’ll become my just-dinged gear project.  I might even completely delete him and then reroll him exactly the same, just to do the whole leveling process again.

As I try to gear up old alts mid-expansion — that is, after the blues of heroics become forgotten by the general populace — I keep wanting to have a quick ding-to-raid gearlist, or gear progression list, along with some expectation of what DPS to pull with what gear tier.  As a career warlock, I can eyeball stuff on my own, but it’s refreshing on my moonkin or mage or rogue to know that my seemingly low DPS is just fine for my vastly outdated gear.

But I never kept all my heroics stuff on Pon, nor do I really have space to start.

The other thing Chobole might become is a bank alt.  Maybe.  I like the leveling gear list idea better.

Anyway, he’s level 50 with a total /played of just under a day (23 hours, 25 minutes, 34 seconds, if you really want to know).  No, I’m not addicted.  I can stop anytime I want to.  (Don’t want to!)

I am somewhat “cheating” with a couple heirlooms — which is fine by me, because the end goal is getting to 85 (& Honored with the guild) ASAP.  I call it “cheating,” since I normally do no heirlooms and no guild until the 30s-50s when the time between levels starts to lengthen a bit.  I don’t mind heirlooms when I’m out for speed leveling.

A Tip for First-Time Afflocks 

DoTs are for chain-pulling.

Once had a friend level a shadow priest and said that DoT classes are boring to leveling, because you DoT the mob up and then you just sit there as it finally draws its last breath and dies.

If you’re single-pulling mobs as affliction (some elite/tricky pulls excluded), you’re doing it a tad wrong.  Or maybe not “wrong,” persay, just “unfun.”

Really, once you get you full complement of DoTs — Unstable Affliction (10), Corruption (4), Bane of Agony (12) — you’re set to pull multiple mobs at once.  If you want to be safe about it, you can wait until you’re 2/2 Siphon Life (Corruption’s damage heals you), which is level 25 to fill that out.

Actually, my rule is once your pet can comfortably tank the mob for you, you’re set, and that happens right at level one.  During leveling, even the DPS pets will overthreat you, at least for a long while, and you can easily drain-tank it via your pet using Health Funnel.  I’m level 50 and my felhunter still largely holds threat on me.  Of course, once you hit a mob with about 2 shadow bolts + a full 3 DoTs, you’ll earn threat, but the mob should be about dead by then.

Also, Agony when leveling, not Doom.  Stuff hardly lasts long enough for Doom to pop once, let alone all 4 ticks.

This has nothing to do with DoTs. I just wish there were more puzzle quests like this one.

How many mobs can you pull?  Three is my number, though it’s not a full three most of the time.  By the time you start to DoT up the third mob, the first one should be under half health if not already about dead by your pet.  Only every once in a while — due to your pet changing targets prematurely via the AI of the Assist pet function — will you actually have all three mobs trying to kill you.  And even then?  You can drain-tank with Drain Life, or you can have some fun by Fearing one (or two with Howl / Death Coil).

During your leveling, you’ll find your comfort number of pulls, and really, it can vary by mob.  There are some mobs I’ll pull five of and not care; there are some I’d be careful about pulling two.  Some you can DoT up and forget about and your pet will finish them off.  Some you go back to DoT a second time (which gets into great practice for multidotting).

If you’ve played a tank before, you can even get into that mindset again.  Your pet becomes the faithful DPS, who can be directed to attack a mentally-marked Skull, while you keep threat on (i.e. DoT up) other mobs until your pet is ready.  This is especially true with ranged mobs.

Once you get the hang of chain-pulling without dying, you become aware of pats and order of clearing, which becomes at least somewhat useful later in dungeons when dungeons are moderately difficult for you.  It also becomes gloriously useful in efficient dailies, when you can path out the most efficient kill + loot path for you.  Later on, you can apply it to multidotting in raiding, even if Blizz wants to kill multidotting in Mists.

You’re a clothy — a tad fragile when mobs get up in your grill.  You’re a DPS, though, as affliction, you have a fair bit of self-healing behind you.  Sure, you can be careful and pull mobs one by one, carefully DPSing them down by the EJ Book, and that’ll do you good.  But that’s the unfun way.

Remember, you wield the forces of Fel and Shadow.

Live a little, c’monnnnn.

Second Warlock

Affliction Strats?

I’ve seen various blog articles of how to do X Fight as a Y Spec Class.  I’ve thought about doing my own, but there’s always that nagging “Really?  You need a guide on how to Caster DPS?  It’s like…Faceroll on the Keyboard.  And sometimes you have to move.  /boggle”

(My inner self-defeater is a jerk.  :|)

Then there’s the other side of how I convey strats to myself.  Everybody likes to do the whole read the ability/debuff/buff verbatim and then maybe the strategy of what to do with it, but mostly it’s a read & hope everyone gets it, especially when being read on Vent.

I really dislike that.  I prefer the conceptual explanations and I like them short.  I write out flash cards to myself for boss strats.  Fit all of one boss on one index card, often on one face of the index card.  (Both sides if there’s a pause between phase changes, maybe.)  It involves pictures with colored markers and descriptors like ” CRYSTAL = GG WASTE DPS.  FLAME = FFS OW.”  I’m thoroughly rude to myself on these things, but it gets the point across to myself faster.

So I’m not sure if posting my strats would end up looking very stupid or end up somewhat entertaining.  Ditto for what would happen if I included a Paint rendering of my index card along with explanation.

Anyway, it’s an idea floating around.  That might happen anyway.  (The Paint idea would be fun…)

Affliction Strats?

Tier 13 for Affliction

As the wave of valor point gear hit the PTR, and now I have choices for slots, I’ve started getting together my BiS / DO WANT list.  For Firelands, my guild did a thread where we listed the drops we wanted from each boss, and I feel like it’d be a good thing if we did it again.  I make a list for myself regardless, but it’s fun sharing it anyway.

I’ve also been gearing up alts, and it’s a relief to find a gear list, just to make sure I’m on track with how the secondary stats work for my character.  I’m especially a fan of the Vexryn’s paladin tank lists from Maintankadin, so I may copy that format a bit.  Though, warlock stat priority isn’t as dynamic as tank or healer gear, so it ought’nt be too hard for people to guess.

But first, I want to talk about the tier gear: the set bonuses, the overall feeling of the stat allocation, combination & completion of set bonuses, and the looks.

The Look

Nanoprecise Cape - 1250 VP

Since I care about looks of gear, I looked at it first before I looked at the stats.

I realize there is going to be transmogrification in 4.3, and I even have my outfit picked out for it.  I’m dressed in it on the PTR, and even just running around for a little bit on the PTR, I’ve grown a bit used to my “current gear” look, and while being Putress is awesome, it’s just not the same anymore.  I might use transmogrification to be Putress for a while, but I will probably end up going back to the current tiers if I like them.

So, the cape first, because the cape is what I stare at most as I play my character.  I’m not fond of the rounded / pointed capes (squarish ones wave in the air better), which is what the tier 13 valor one is, but the design at least uses the pointed edge to look cool.  The Avengers cloaks of this tier are not my favorite, and I think the design looked better on the squarish quest Mantle cloaks.

I think when I took this I tried to put all the non-tier VP gear on myself (+tier shoulders), so I know that’s the VP wand in my right hand and the VP gloves.  That might be the VP helm and VP chest; both look like warlock tier again.  Unfortunately, there were no VP shoulders or legs, but there are substitutes for tier; there’s a drop for shoulders & crafted for legs.

Tier 13 -- Click for bigger image.

As for the tier 13 itself, we get three recolors from the three sources: raid finder for ilvl 384, normal raids for ilvl 397, and heroic raids for ilvl 410.  (In my hands are Incineratus (w/ Power Torrent) & the Talisman of Kalecgos, which are my chosen items for my Putress mogging set.)

I like the Raid Finder recolor, though the color scheme reminds me heavily of shaman tier 10. Maybe ours is a bit more fel with the green, but I do like that scheme best of the three.  The 397-ilvl color isn’t as bad as the heroic recolor; the heroic recolor looks like they just played with the color sliders, rather than actually looking like a put-together set of colors.  While the helm on the other two seems to float on top, the heroic helm just feels…heavy and almost obtrusive.

Considering my guild is considering doing the Raid Finder as learning runs, I might grab some pieces, at least for the plain looks if not for the stats.

Tier 13 — Set Bonuses

Both set bonuses are a bit meh in terms of damage boost for affliction.  Of course, tier bonuses aren’t supposed to provide a huge jump in DPS, but something more like 5%.

2pc | The duration of your Doomguard and Infernal summons is increased by 30* sec and the cooldown of those spells is reduced by 4 min.

* 20 sec for demonology, but I’m only discussing affliction.

The Doomguard being out longer and possibly every wipe-attempt or twice a kill-attempt is definitely an up.  It’s not a spectacular increase for affliction, but it’s an increase I’ll take anyway.

4pc | Soulburn grants a 10% increase to your spell power for 10 sec, and Soul Fire cast with Soulburn active now grants a Soul Shard.

This bonus would be more interesting if affliction actually had things to do with Soulburn.  Technically, if you want to be sim-perfect in your DPS, you’re already adding in three Soulburned Soul Fires, despite SF hitting like a wet noodle even when you’re Destro.  Blizzard keeps wanting warlocks to use Soul Fire — who knows why — but so far they’ve been pretty terrible at actually fixing the spell to make it useful.

If a spell doesn’t hit for a good use of its resources, nobody will use it.  Throwing in a spell power buff just makes using the spell necessary.  It’s still a pain in the ass to use.  The pain in the ass that is Soul Fire is its cast time and it hits for crap, especially if you’re not specced into fire.

Blizzard has attempted to fix Soul Fire and make it appetizing for players to cast.  They’ve buffed the spellpower coefficient for Soul Fire (so it hits a bit harder), and they’ve added a refund of shards to the Soulburn mechanic into the 4pc bonus.  With a refund of shards, I can cast this on cooldown (45s for Soulburn) and get a decent spellpower boost out of it.

I still feel like I’m being forced into using a spell that’s neither useful for me nor flavored for me.  Affliction flavor (RP, whatever you call it) is important to me.

Tier 13 — Drops and Stats

This tier they’re going back to, I think, the Burning Crusade model of tier piece acquisition.  This time, all of the tier gear is acquired from tokens that drop from the bosses; nothing comes from Valor Points.  To turn in the token, however, you still visit the Valor Point vendor in your faction capital.  Our token is “____ of the Corrupted Conqueror,” which we share with paladins and priests.

  • Hood = Warmaster Blackhorn
  • Mantle = Hagara the Stormbinder
  • Robes  = Ultraxion
  • Gloves = Warlord Zon’ozz
  • Leggings = Yor’sahj the Unsleeping

Here’s the secondary stat pairings on each piece.  The math symbols are for which stat is bigger on the item.  I’m not putting specific numbers on the pieces since I figure we’ll all mix and match between the three source sets.  It also helps in my head to figure out reforging; if the trashier stat is higher, then I’ll get more out of it.

(t12) Balespider’s Slot (t13) Faceless Shroud
mastery > haste Head haste > crit
haste > hit Shoulders mastery > crit
haste > hit Chest haste > hit
haste > hit Hands mastery > hit
crit > mastery Legs haste > mastery

The general affliction stat priority is hit (to cap) > haste > crit > mastery.  Of course, your own specific priority will vary with each piece of gear you gain, so you can run your SimC yourself if you wish to have those very specific numbers.  

Affliction likes hit like snickerdoodle cookies: you either eat until you’re full (1742/17%) or you eat until maybe one cookie short of full (~16.90-16.99%) before you give yourself a tummy ache (>17%).

Affliction loves haste like it’s hot, homemade apple pie (moar! MOAR!), and then crit is like not-in-your-top-ten-favorite-cookies-but-still-mmmm-cookies (it’s okay), and mastery is like the raisins in raisin-oatmeal cookies when you hate raisins (ewwwww raisins).

Alright, which ones should I replace / mix first?

I think I was spoiled by the hit/haste combos from Balespider’s tier 12, honestly.  That, and I must be crazy, because I appear to be the only warlock I know of (though I don’t know many) who actually likes the aesthetic look of the Balespider set.  It’s a great set all around for me, and it’ll be hard to part with.  (Definitely a mogging keeper!)

For Faceless Shroud, the pieces by themselves are less appealing, but they aren’t horrible.  The mastery should appeal to the Demo locks, and as they’re simming as highest warlock DPS on the PTR now (!!), they’ll be plenty happy.

I love the chest piece; it’s a straight upgrade of Balespider.  The Faceless legs are better than Balespider, so I’ll trade those quickly.  The helm has thankfully flipped the higher stat to haste, and switched out mastery for crit, so I like that piece too.  The hands are usually the token Piece of Suck for affliction in the warlock tiers I’ve worn, so I’ll hold onto my Balespider’s Handwraps as long as I can, but the hands are also often the set bonus completer for me.

The shoulders, oh dear.  I think something is wrong with the itemization; else, mastery really IS that bad.

Currently, on my spreadsheet with my own SimC values and a list of all the gear since I began it at the start of Cataclysm, the Mantle of the Faceless Shroud scores oddly.  I thought the chunk of intellect from an item tier’s upgrade would offset the switch from the favored haste/hit to the unpleasant mastery/crit combo, but it’s not doing it.  Even filling all the gem slots (red & red with 20 Intellect for the bonus) with rare gems just barely gets the normal raid (397) above my current t12 (378).

And when I gem the raid drop substitute (Mosswrought Shoulderguards, 397 off Morchok), which has the same gem sockets & gem bonus but a crit/haste combo of secondary stats, it’s within 12 points of the heroic tier 13 shoulders, which are half a tier higher in item level!

o_O WTF Shoulder Slot.

My Choice

Needless to say, for now my target 4pc is head/chest/hands/legs.  My 2pc will probably be chest/legs.  I’ve re-evalutate if the shoulders get re-itemized or if SimC tells me I smell funny.

The shoulders and hands from Balespider are still delicious with their haste/hit combos, Faceless chest is haste/hit also, and Faceless legs, while less awesome than Faceless helm, will probably be easier to get as Yor’sahj is hopefully one of the earlier / easier bosses in Dragon Soul (he’s been tested first with Morchok, and he’s also listed earlier in the Dungeon Journal).

As for the other gear pieces…I’m still sorting through to do decide my priority for VP spending and EPGP rolling.  That post will be later. 🙂

Tier 13 for Affliction

Affliction & New Talents

Class guides will be more useful than ever. If I start a warlock it’d be nice if a veteran told me uses for my level 15 talents (1)… Before? “OK, 31 points in blah, a few points in bluh, done.” (2)


I don’t know that I can say I’ll be a “veteran” when Mists rolls around with this totally new talent system.  I know a bunch about what was, but I don’t know much about what will come to pass, Frodo.

Affliction’s Flavor To Me

I’ve been playing my warlock as affliction since Feb 2008.  Almost four years, one spec the whole time.  Almost three years spent raiding, though not always on the warlock.

I can tell you I don’t play for the top theorycrafting spec.  I’ve been lucky to have affliction as top dog most of the time, but I’ve played it when it was second fiddle to destruction and demonology, too.  I’ve been frustrated with affliction in a raiding environment only twice; otherwise I’ve loved it.

The first was Valithria Dreamwalker, because I just couldn’t keep up with the burst DPS on lead-directed targets.  It took me a few evenings to find my groove as affliction — my wheedling down of big targets and spreading of DoTs everywhere.

The second time was Ragnaros, both sizes, because of the transition adds and the burst DPS I didn’t have but was required of me.  I was so frustrated and almost crying at not being able to play my favored spec on the ultimate boss of a tier.  I went destruction because I did not have the gear or the skill to pull off demonology in a raid progression environment, despite my knowledge of the three warlocks hinting that demo was possibly the favored spec for Raggy Pants.

Then I came back to Aff once I saw phase 3 of Ragnaros.  SO MUCH JOY TO COME BACK! 🙂

Affliction has long had a lack of burst.  Affliction, then, has long been less about the killing now and more about the killing later.  Affliction has always held a sort of sinister playfulness in my mind; we play with our food before we eat it.  Therefore, it does no good to immediately set your target on fire with a burst spell; there must be conscious suffering over a period of time before their doom is set.  I try to keep this in mind as I go through the talents, because I love affliction and would love to continue playing affliction as long as I can.

Implications for Raiding

First off, I wonder how people will keep track of the talent choosings.  Right now, with three trees of 31+ points each, there’s a #/#/# notation.  My affliction spec, for example, is 31/4/6 — 31 points in Affliction, 4 in Demonology, and 6 in Destruction.  Sometimes in theorycrafting they will talk about specific talents in a specific tree by the tier the talent is in; you need 5 points in tier 1 to proceed to tier to grab X talent.  We currently have 7 tiers of talents per tree with 41 points to spend; you need to spend at least 31 points in your spec’s tree.

The new Mists talents are 6 tiers of 3 talents each, and you can choose only one of 3.

So you end up with just six talents, but these talents are switchable like glyphs, they said (out of combat, etc.).  We’ll still have dual-spec, so you can have a set healing spec or a set tanking spec or a set pvp spec, but dual-spec may largely disappear for pure DPS classes.  If we can just switch the talents around with little cost (10s of time if you know what you want), why would you ever change whole spec sets?

For notation, I thought of chess notation at first.  Which tier followed by a letter for which talent in that tier: 1c, for example, would be Harvest of Life for warlocks.  Then I figured people would drop the tiers (we’d still refer to tiers in discussion) and just list the talent letter notations: abbaca, e.g., which would be Harvest of Life, Mortal Coil, Soul Link, Bloodstone, Grimoire of Sacrifice, Archimonde’s Vengeance.

For raiding applicants to guilds (or promotion / guidance within) and discussion of spec choice, I wonder what going away from the cookie-cutter specs will do, for better or for worse.  As of right now, as Bug said, “you put some points in blah, points in bluh, and done.”  There’s little discussion involved in where the points go, and this is especially the case for affliction.  Some other DPS specs might have actual choice in their trees, but affliction still remains largely an obviously-PvE talent versus an obviously-PvP talent.  There’s two PvP-specific (Fears) talents for Affliction’s tree — Improved Fear and Howl of Terror — and the rest you dump points into for PvE, often maxing out the talent.  Even the choosings for subspecs (the other 10 points that can go into other trees) are quite obvious which you should or should not choose.  Any Afflock who chooses Improved Immolate is either trollin’ or stupid.

Now, it will become more about tailoring to the fight.  Now, I imagine guild applications may become more interview-like.  Maybe they will be bland like a list of essay questions (“We’re standing at Baleroc.  Which talents do you choose & why?”).  Or maybe the applicant process can become more personally-involved; maybe your class officer (or fellow raid members) will be in on the Vent interview or vigorously posting on the forum app thread about the mechanics of your chosen talents and spell selection.  Will fraps’d fights become the new requirement for applications? (A WoL or two or three is pretty common nowadays.)

Blizzard appears to want to move away from “competent = correct checkboxes checked and gear worn” and closer to “competent = way you handle the fight with your given gear and spec and spell toolbox.”

But, as always, when you throw in groups of people who repeatedly test specs against a boss (colloquial: wiping on a boss), there will still be “standard” choices and “standard” spell selections.  Just like boss order in a flexible instance: no one says you have to do Shannox first but most people do it anyway because he’s the accepted “easiest”/”entrance” boss.  (UR actually does Beth’tilac first, and then we clear from there to spawn Shannox.)

So…I’m just going to give my (lengthy, rambly) thoughts on the warlock talents, as an affliction warlock raider myself.

The Warlock Talents

Pictures (MMO-Champion): Tier 1 (level 15), Tier 2 (30), Tier 3 (45), Tier 4 (60), Tier 5 (75), Tier 6 (90).

Notation-style: (a-c x6)

  1. (a) Dark Regeneration, (b) Soul Leech, (c) Harvest of Life
  2. (a) Howl of Terror, (b) Mortal Coil, (c) Shadowfury
  3. (a) Hour of Twilight, (b) Soul Link, (c) Sacrificial Pact
  4. (a) Bloodstone, (b) Soul Drain, (c) Nether Ward
  5. (a) Grimoire of Supremacy, (b) Grimoire of Service, (c) Grimoire of Sacrifice
  6. (a) Archimonde’s Vengeance, (b) Kil’jaeden’s Cunning, (c) Illidan’s Guile

Notes on Malefic Grasp: There’s an ability called Malefic Grasp (abbrev. MG) that’s mentioned in the talents.  Judging by search hits from the mere mention of it, warlocks everywhere are searching for what this new spell is exactly.  Where it’s mentioned in the talents is alongside Shadow Bolt (SB) and Incinerate (Incin), the known and current filler spells for warlocks.  Therefore, my (& others’) speculation is that MG is the third filler spell to further differentiate the three specs of warlocks.  Currently, demonology shares a filler with Aff or Destro, depending on whether shadow (SB) or fire (Incin) ends up being a better damage per execute time (DPET) spell.  With the nerfs to Drain Life in tier 12, Blizzard has already said that it intends for Shadow Bolt to be affliction’s filler, and Incinerate naturally fits destruction’s fire focus, so the concluding speculation is that Malefic Grasp will be demonology’s filler spell.

Tier Themes: After looking at all the warlock talents, I first wanted to see if I could spot the separate spec talents.  Which ones belong to affliction, which to demonology, which to destruction.  Then I realized each tier has a theme, more or less.

Tier 1 = Drain / Self-Healing

  1. Dark Regeneration | Restores 50% of your maximum health over 25 sec.  No resource / Instant-cast / 3m CD.
  2. Soul Leech | Your Shadow Bolt, Incinerate, and Malefic Grasp heal you for 25% of the damage dealt.
  3. Harvest of Life | Drains the life from the life from the target and all targets within 20 yards, causing 94 Shadow damage and restoring 2% of the caster’s total health per target every 1 sec.  Lasts 3 sec.  640 Mana + 20 per sec. / Channeled / 40yd range / GCD.
    Empowered Channel: Recasting this spell before it finishes boosts the duration by 3 sec.  Stacks 5 times.

Dark Regeneration and Soul Leech are both straight healing from ability use: DR is a CD itself, while SLeech is a rebate-like heal (you cast a spell and get some of it “back”).  The percentages make Dark Regen sound like a powerful cooldown, so I did some napkin math to put the two in perspective.

My maximum health right now, on my Armory, is about 130k.  50% ~= 65k; over 25s that means ~2.6k HPS, which is 2% max health per sec.  Without raid buffs, mind you; so with raid buffs, I’d imagine this amount would be a bit higher.  DR is a set heal over a long period of time.

Looking at a WoL log from a 25man raid, my Shadow Bolt does about 15k on an average hit (over the whole night) and 31k on a crit.  This leads to a ~3.75k heal or 7.75k heal on a crit.  SL is dependent on my firing off Shadow Bolts, which is dependent on various things like DPS assignment (multiple targets, alive-time of targets) or movement (…without KJC (t6) of course).

The difference ends up being in the healing/damage pattern, because I think the healing numbers would come out about the same.  DR is a set HoT; it will tick every so often for a fixed amount.  SLeech is a variable direct heal, which is dependent on your current DPS performance.

SLeech I imagine would be the standard raid talent; you do nothing different as your filler is what procs the effect.  It also invokes a bit of a choice; if you need a small heal NOW, you can cast your filler spell and receive one without putting strain on the healers to heal everyone up.  SLeech’s healing would also be a major factor of your self-healing, probably like how Siphon Life is now.  It’s not much, but it helps when it counts (Chimaeron as affliction is ridiculous).

DR sounds more of a heavy healer helper (it has a cooldown’s cooldown) than a regular heal.  DR sounds like something you would use when the boss fight mechanics include a large period of little to no raid damage followed by a short period of very heavy raid damage.  Typical over-time spells (HoTs & DoTs) tend to follow the rule of 3s for standard ticks, but this one might follow a rule of 5s, considering 24s would be more in line with a 3s tick.

I don’t know how well a 25s period of heavy raid damage would go over with the healers, but it would provide a bit of a buffer for healers if there’s a heavy raid damage period or blast (almost die, like Ashbury’s Stay of Execution or Chimaeron’s Massacre), and then a period of nothing for the follow-up raid healing.

Harvest of Life.  Oh boy.  This reads like an AoE Drain Life.

HoL on a single-target boss fight would even out in the healing that DR & SLeech offer: 2% per sec.  HoL on a multi-target fight, on the other hand, would have some potential awesome healing.

Except warlocks are not healers.

This might be the token PvP talent (proximity in PvP happens all the time), or, it could be a burst affliction spell, if the damage scales well enough (a good chunk of AoE dmg every second? yes please!).  Seed of Corruption has a cast time to it.  Rain of Fire tends to be both weak and takes a long time (considering raid DPS) to tick the first time, as well as being very position-dependent (targeting circle…and then the tank moves everything out of the area = sadface).  Even as a single target spell, it would be nice to get some usable burst action for affliction.

I would like to wait and see on HoL as to how worthy it can be in a raid situation.

The other interesting tidbit I found about HoL is the Empowered effect.  Naturally, I figure Empowering will come through by Soulburning, since affliction is said to still have soul shards as a resource system.  Demonology was reported with “Demonic Fury” and destruction would get “Infernal Embers.”  Demonic Fury is a powerup to a buff, while Infernal Embers sounds like combo points.  Soul Shards will remain the same mechanic, with hopefully more interesting things to do.

However, the weird part about HoL’s Empowered effect is that it encourages you to clip the ticks!  (At least, until the fifth and last stack.)  DoT clipping — that is, recasting the DoT before the last tick has ticked — has long been a big no-no in warlockery (unless a major buff proc just happened and it is worth it to recast the DoT).  In Cataclysm, the “continuation” of the last tick into the new cast somewhat fixed clipping, but you can still clip spells with variable damage on ticks, like Bane of Agony.

Tier 2 = CC (Fear, Horror, Stun)

  1. Howl of Terror | Howl, causing 5 enemies within 10 yds to flee in terror for 8 sec.  Damage caused may interrupt the effect.  1280 Mana / Instant-cast / 40s CD.
  2. Mortal Coil | Causes an enemy target to run in horror for 3 sec.  The caster restores 25% of their maximum health.  1920 Mana / Instant-cast / 30yd range / 45 sec CD.
  3. Shadowfury | Shadowfury is unleashed, stunning all enemies within 8 yds for 3 sec.  1600 Mana / Instant-cast / 30yd range / 20s CD.

All of these are existing spells; Mortal Coil is merely Death Coil renamed with some added health restoration.  The cool thing is Shadowfury, currently a Destro-only talent, will be open for Demo & Aff to use.

This tier will definitely change on your CC needs per fight; it will change up affliction PvP a bit with having a choice between either Howl or Coil, but not both (as you currently have both).  Death Coil is a good cover for a Fear (since DC is a horror effect, which does not share diminishing returns with Fear), and in PvE I sometimes use it as a clutch 2nd healthstone (Lady Blaumeux, anyone?).  Shadowfury is useful now on Ragnaros as destruction during the phase transitions, and Howl is a popular melee peel in PvP.

Tier 3 = Damage Reductions (Straight)

  1. Hour of Twilight | When a damaging attack brings you below 20% of your maximum health, all damage taken is reduced by 50% for 10 sec.  This effect cannot occur more than once every 90 seconds.
  2. Soul Link | When active, all damage and healing the Warlock takes is shared with her active demon.  That damage cannot be prevented.  Lasts as long as the demon is active and controlled.  1600 Mana / Instant-cast / 40yd range.
  3. Sacrificial Pact | Your demon sacrifices itself to prevent all damage you would take for 10 sec.  No resource / Instant-cast / 100yd range / 5min CD.

Hour of Twilight …I think this one depends on how often we should find ourselves sub-20% health.  Sounds great for PvP (except, perhaps the internal cooldown), but I don’t know how many times in raid I find myself sub-20% when it’s not a wipe situation or a specific fight mechanic (Chimaeron).  Hmmmm.

Soul Link looks the same as current for the most part, except this time it adds in the effect from a maxed-out Fel Synergy talent — the healing of your pet.  It sounds great at first, but I remember pets have a passive Avoidance for AoE spells (the Doomguard appears to ignore EVERYTHING it stands in), and even without Fel Synergy, my pet didn’t die that often.  Considering the other two read like PvP, I think this will be the de facto raid talent for this tier.

Side-track: I am of the mind that healers are not responsible for my pet in a raid setting, even if it is a large portion of my damage.  I’m one of the route where I’m responsible for my pet, even when it bugs out and stands in fire (that’s what passive is for!).  So talents for healing pets are welcome in my book.

Sacrifical Pact.  Ohhhhhhhh, I’ll be honest, this reads like old-style paladin bubble for warlocks.  All damage immunity for 10 seconds?  While that would be a great cooldown in raids, this reads for the nerf path with heavy concerns in PvP.  The 5min CD would probably prevent it from seeing action in Arenas, but in Battlegrounds, I see possible nerfing down the road in either duration or allowing some damage through or possibly exception spells like Chaos Bolt (used to be) and Heroic Throw (is).

Tier 4 = Damage Reductions (Absorb/Heal)

  1. Bloodstone | Instantly restores 44% of the Warlock’s base health and increases healing received by 50% for 10 sec.  No Resource / Instant-cast / 2min CD.
  2. Spell Drain | The next single target spell focused at you heals you for half the damage it would have dealt.  Lasts 4 sec.  640 Mana / Instant-cast / 20s CD.
  3. Nether Ward | Transforms your Twilight Ward into Nether Ward.  Absorbs 3141 damage.  Lasts 30s.  30s CD.  When you absorb damage, you gain Nether Protection, reducing all damage by that spell school by 15% for 12 sec.

Bloodstone is a straight-up heal, and then a bonus to healing receive.  Spell Drain is a half-heal ward, and Nether Ward is an absorb plus some reduced spell damage taken (what it is now, just not limited to the Destro tree anymore).

Both NW & SD are limited to spells only; any fights with physical damage will use Bloodstone better.  Spell Drain particularly sounds like a great PvP spell for when you’re getting focused down.

Personally, when I go destro on Ragnaros, I use Nether Ward (or try to!) all the time.  I figure Nether Ward will be the go-to raid talent, especially since the duration seems to line up with the cooldown.  I figure the numbers will get changed, but as is, you can add Nether Ward into your line-up as a 30s-CD spell for raid damage.

I don’t know that theorycrafting guides will advocate NW; after all, it has no DPS increase besides “you live to cast another day.”  However, I grew up a warlock who took surviving as a central part of DPS.  I approach DPS as I should take as little attention from the healers as possible; I’m responsible for any damage I can avoid.  If I can throw in a ward every 30s to reduce my damage taken, I will do it, and I’ll advocate it.

Tier 5 = Minion Enhancement

  1. Grimoire of Supremacy | You command stronger demons.  replacing your normalminions.  These demons deal 10% additional damage and have more powerful abilities.
    Summonable Demons: Fel Imp, Voidlord, Shivan, Beholder, Abyssal, Terrorguard.
  2. Grimoire of Service | Instantly summon a second demon who fights for 30 sec.  Instant-cast / 2min CD.
  3. Grimoire of Sacrifice | You sacrifice your pet to gain increased damage and health.  Lasts for 3 min.  Summoning another pet cancels the effect.  Instant-cast / 2min CD.

Ah, tier 5.

From looking at Twitter when the talents were previewed, Grimoire of Supremacy was a jizz-in-the-pants moment for warlocks everywhere, even if you weren’t Demo.  At the very least, the minions we love most have outdated models, and new, shiny things make anyone smile.

Minion choice is a thing we do in our theorycrafting; it’s why Demo uses the felhunter even though the felguard is the “demonology” flavor pet.  It’s why, for a time, affliction used the succubus, even though the felhunter is the “affliction” flavor pet.  In raid theorycrafting for a warlock’s personal DPS, you take the pet that does the best job.  Currently (as of 4.2), the felhunter is the best single-target pet for pet DPS by itself.  The felguard jumps up if you’re Demo and you have Meta and other cooldowns going, and the imp is Destro’s pet because of additional DPS benefits it provides to the warlock herself.

If there’s a talent that introduces vastly more awesome pets for all three specs, then this will be the mandatory talent to take.  Which is a problem for Blizzard, since Blizzard wants to move away from cookie-cutter specs.  The other two talents would need to boost our damage by a similar amount to compete with this one.

My other concern with Supremacy is the Blizzard Killed My Dog effect.  I love fighting with Bheezhem by my side.  Or Ormmon.  Or Bizmir.  I remember when Blizzard temporarily killed all our dogs.  I cried and canceled my raid spot because it just was not the same raiding without my felpuppy.  I felt stupid for being so upset over just a name change, but…it’s my Bheezhem.  He goes everywhere with me.

So with Supremacy will my Bheezhem just evolve or transform into something more powerful?  Or will I need to meet new minions?  Will I have to stay with these new minions? Or will Blizzard be able to balance and diversify the fights such that I can take another tier 5 talent (& my default minions) on other fights?

Service at first sounds like a mini Mirror Image for minions.  (Type “Mini Minion Mirror Image” five times fast.)  Will I get the true mirror image copy, and then have two Bheezhems running around?

Or does this mean I can summon a completely different pet and have both out simultaneously?  For Demo, currently alternating between two pets, this would be amazing.  Thirty seconds is just long enough for ability and trinket cooldowns to finish their course (and then some).

Sacrifice is the last one, and after reading the other two, it sounds a bit meh (at first).  Perhaps with some actual numbers for the increased damage done, we’ll be able to discuss it better.  Right now it is just a straight DPS increase, with the possible side-effect of a mini max-health boost, but without your minion by your side (as summoning another minion cancels the effect).

I think Sacrifice will be the choice for affliction, actually.  Saccing your demon just before you launch into cooldowns or into a multidotting situation would benefit the affliction lock more than just a second demon or a stronger demon.  None of Aff’s secondary stats significantly boost our demons’ performance; rather, we often use our demons to boost ours (Demon Soul, CC, etc.).  Versus: the tandem that destruction locks have with the casting imp macros & procs, and the almost complete dependency demonology locks have with their demons.  A straight damage increase would be more appealing to the affliction warlock as we do the heavy-lifting on our combined master-and-minion DPS.

Tier 6 = Special Ability

  1. Archimonde’s Vengeance | Curse an enemy, inflicting 25% of all damage you take to also harm them.  Lasts 15 sec.  Instant-cast / 1min CD.
  2. Kil’jaeden’s Cunning | You can cast and channel while moving, but doing so doubles the cast time or period of a spell.
  3. Illidan’s Guile | Shadow Bolt, Incinerate, and Malefic Grasp deal splash damage to enemies within 10 yards of their target.  Lasts 30 sec.  Instant-cast / 2min CD.

First off, I was sad there was no Gul’dan or Cho’gall reference in there.  Three demons just do not offer too much variety in my warlock role models.  (Also, Medivh, though I’m not sharp enough on lore to argue he’s a warlock versus a mage.)  Besides, demon warlocks are just plain boring.  I mean, they’re demons — of course they will be full of fel.  Zzzzzzzzz.

At first I thought that Archimonde’s Vengeance was Bane of Havoc redone.  Then I reread it, and, well, it sort of is.  Instead of transferring damage you deal to another target to also the cursed target (Bane of Havoc), it transfers damage you took from the cursed target.  Sounds great for a major boss-nuke phase, especially if you’re not in a position to be actively dealing damage (moving, out of range, etc.).

For PvP, it also sounds pretty cool, especially since it does not specify caster of spell damage on you.  It doesn’t say if you poke me, I reflect some back to you.  It says if you poke me or if Tom pokes me, I reflect some damage back to you.  The anti-focus-fire for warlocks, I suppose.  For PvE, this means it will work like a Bane of Havoc if we have more multi-“room” fights, like Beth’tilac’s up & down areas.  Makes me wonder if we will still retain Bane of Havoc in Mists.

It also tickles my “Demo likes melee” thought.  Demo likes melee because of Immolation Aura and Shadowflame, but Aff and Destro also like melee range for Shadowflame if they can get there.  There are other times when we need to stand in melee with others — “share the love” mechanics (Argaloth, Scorpion Majordomo, etc.).  While you almost never die to these mechanics due to the majority of the raid in the same spot splitting all the damage, it’s pretty cool to have a damage-increase incentive to share the love with my raid members.

I’m specifically looking ahead to Morchok‘s Resonating Crystal mechanic, where you need 3 people minimum to share the love, and I figure raids will often stick to just 3 people sharing.  While life isn’t so bad when you’re a clothy sharing with 12-24 other people, life might get a tad hairy if you’re a clothy sharing with only 2 others (who, if the crystal spawns in range, might also be clothies!).  With AV, on the other hand, the more damage you take, the more damage AV deals.  I think it’s an interesting concept of almost-dying-to-deal-more-DPS.

Kil’jaeden’s Cunning is Spiritwalker’s Grace for warlocks.  With a time penalty.  That makes sense since KJC would be the de facto talent everywhere if it did not have such a penalty.

I don’t think it would be terribly attractive for affliction at all.  Affliction loves haste, specifically for more DoT ticks rather than just a shorter Shadow Bolt cast time.  Affliction especially loves haste for more DoT ticks once everyone else in the raid has geared up.

You’ll notice this in the beginning of tiers and comparing them to later in the tiers.  When everyone is struggling to perform, affliction starts to shine because our DPS is more dependent on how long the target is alive / how much health there is to destroy.  The longer the fight goes, the more DoT ticks we can fit in, so the higher our DPS seems at the beginning of a tier.  As everyone gears up around us, even though we ourselves have also improved with gear, our DPS actually starts to go down on trivial fights like trash in instances, since the available health pools aren’t up as long for us to get our DoTs up and ticking.

Introducing a longer period between ticks wouldn’t be attractive to an affliction warlock.  As we are, now, affliction is actually better on movement than destruction or demonology is.  We don’t lose as much DPS from moving, and we lose even less if we’ve learned to stagger-step our Shadow Bolts in.  (Stagger-step = cast, move, cast, move, cast, move, cast, move, etc.)

Illidan’s Guile sounds a bit meh to me, possibly because I already paw at Seed of Corruption like candy on Halloween.  The difference between which AoE a warlock (or any DPSer) uses depends largely on the pattern of mob position.

If mobs are in a fixed position, more or less, then a warlock is more likely to use a target-circle (Rain of Fire) or cone effect (Shadowflame) type of AoE.  Target circles are often channeled, too, and often the only time you have to stand still for AoE is a stack-up point.  If the mobs are stacked on top of raiders (Ragnaros phase 2), then the radial AoEs will be used if they are stronger (and usually are) than the target-circle or cone-effect AoEs.

Rain of Fire just doesn’t really work out for warlocks.  Shadowflame is awesome on bosses for a bit of single-target DPS, but it’s not a typical AoE.

Radial AoEs — Seed of Corruption, Hellfire, e.g. — do not have a specific target-circle on the ground placement.  Instead, they radiate outward a set distance from a specific point; Seed radiates from the current target, and Hellfire radiates from the warlock herself.  Hellfire is currently only utilized by Demo locks, who can move while Hellfiring, and Seed is a short enough cast that Aff and Destro locks can stagger-step it at the worst.  The advantage of radial AoEs is that if the mobs move, your AoE is still very effective.  Either you move with Hellfire, or you learn with Seed to place it on the most-central mob.  (Another thing with Seed if you try to pick the target which will live longest, so you can spam it longer, which leads to sometimes switching Seed target mid-fight.)

Splash damage works like a radial AoE.  It hits things nearby.

I don’t know why specifically IG was introduced when we already have Seed of Corruption.  I think perhaps if you are Demo or Destro you may like IG, since you can deal normal damage without switching to a weaker AoE (Seed is outside of Destro’s main spell school, but Rain of Fire is a much weaker AoE).

As for affliction?  My Seed casts are faster than Shadow Bolt, reaches farther than IG (15yds versus 10yds), and if Soulburned Seed doesn’t go away, it’s actually more beneficial for me to switch to Seed to spread my DoTs than it is to use some filler splash damage (which is most likely NOT a DoT).  I suppose it could be a way to get some burst damage in; Shadow Bolt definitely hits harder as a single hit than Seed, but that would depend on how much of the original hit splashes.

My Affliction Raiding Spec?

Of course, as Blizzard intends this to be switchable on a per-fight basis, I don’t think I can say anymore that any one spec is the way to go.  But, what are the talents I will pick first?  Which talents would I wear if I was walking into a Mists raid tomorrow?

I think I will go BCBCCA: Soul Leech, Shadowfury, Soul Link, Nether Ward, Grimoire of Sacrifice, and Archimonde’s Vengeance.  (Wowhead has a Mists calculator now!  Here’s my build.)

I also find it a tad funny to see the specs flip talent screen sides.  Traditionally, the specs go in alphabetical order, so you’ll see today affliction, demonology, destruction, left to right.  The Mists talents, on the other hand, appear to have right-side affliction and left-side destruction talents.

Soul Leech is a do-what-you-do healing effect for me.  Shadowfury is a CC I enjoy when I go destro, and sometimes wish I had as affliction, since affliction’s utility is either curse application or pet-dependent.  Soul Link is because it works well enough now, and I also think it would be awesome and hilarious to have an SL/SL build* again.  Nether Ward is a great reduction for spell damage, and most raid damage, even in melee stack-ups, is spell-based.  Grimoire of Sacrifice, I gave my reasons above; in short, I think it would provide the most benefit as affliction spec.  Archimonde’s Vengeance because as an affliction warlock, I really do feel that my health, mana, and damage are fluid and connected concepts that are swapped and transformed between each other often enough.  One of affliction’s strengths is self-healing, so I’m not too afraid to take a few hits for more damage.  It also feels exciting when you’re at that point of your health pool where you could very well die in the next hit, but by definition you’re not dead yet, so you keep casting.

*SL/SL (short for Siphon Life / Soul Link) was an old Wrath build where the warlock went down the affliction tree just enough to get Siphon Life (about halfway down), and then went down the demonology tree the rest of the way.  This resulted in a high-survivability/damage build that was pretty awesome for soloing old dungeons and for PvP.

What will you pick first?  Whys are most welcome. 🙂

Affliction & New Talents

Project 5×2: Brainstorm

Begin the Brainstorm | The Challenge is ON!

Cynwise suggested a macroless setup.  It got my creative juices flowing a bit — reminded me of certain spells I took for granted.

I started to write out macros, using my favorite macros resource, Fitzcairn’s Macro Explain-o-matic.  I looked up using conditionals on /castsequence, I made sure I put aside some pet control, I looked up how to incorporate Soul Swap into a macro.

At first I thought it would be simply writing a handful of castsequence or modifier macros.

Hoo boy.

No matter how confusedly difficult it gets, I plan to see it as a challenge to demonstrate what I know about affliction PvE play (I’m not quite ready to tackle this for PvP), but also to learn more about affliction PvE play.  The things I take for granted, like spell usage.

Spell Usage | Difference Between Group and Solo

The more I wrote some snippets and thought about things, the more I realized that solo often has a laxer and Drain-Life-esque rotation than in group.

Group is typically the raid rotation, or close to it.  You use Haunt, you use Curse of the Elements, you use Shadow Bolt, you end with Drain Soul.  Solo, I typically toss out Corruption, maybe UA and a BoA, then pop a Shadowflame if I want to, and move on to the next mob, draining as necessary.  I even slap up Curse of Weakness more often than not in solo because I’m drain-tanking mobs, and it always helps that the melee mobs don’t smack off chunks of my health.

Can I add a Soul Swap macro in?  Do I even need Soul Swap, or can I still multidot old-school fairly effectively?

When I’m in raid, I of course need access to my Life Tap.  When I’m solo, or in a 5man (presuming the fight isn’t too terribly long), I Life Tap out of combat.

I need Fear and Banish at the ready in 5mans (focus macros are amazing), but not so much in raid or solo.  Can I fit both in one focus macro?  What if I need to control two targets?  (Multi-CC in Grim Batol comes to mind.)

I use my Doomguard in raids; I hardly ever use a guardian outside of raids.  (Maybe just for Infernally stunning fun.)

Dark Intent can be placed out of combat, but I still want the ability to place it on someone when I’m not grouped.  Doing dailies around Tol Barad & the Peninsula, I tend to trade buffs since it appears I can’t soulstone non-group members anymore.

The AoEs — Seed and Rain — have their places and times, so I’ll need to work up something for those as well.

Then there’s Soulburn, there’s Soul Harvest, there’s healthstones and soulstones and summoning.  If I’m expected to utilize the soulstone as a brez (combat!), can I fit it in somewhere?

Can I get a pet bar or a macro of pet control in there somewhere?

Possibly Using Addons | The One Ring

Originally, upon learning addons were okay, I thought of Dominos‘s advanced use.  You can add macro conditions to Dominos’s bars (the default is [combat]show;hide), and there’s a few dropdowns where you can use Bar 2 if you’re targeting a friend or Bar 3 if you’re targeting an enemy.  I thought of using those, to lighten up the macros.

Then, I used my hearthstone, which is in a ring I made in OPie, and it hit me.  The One OPie Ring.

Of course, if OPie is ever discontinued or breaks beyond fixing, you’re totally screwed out the ass, but as long as it works, it appears to be a wonderful idea.  You can embed rings inside rings, so it would make the perfect out-of-combat keybind.

You could make a Pet Bar inside one keybind.  You can make a pet bar, a stone bar, a CC bar, a consumables bar …all inside one keybind.

As long as you can macro it, you can fit it in an OPie ring slice.

Keybind Arrangement | The Nuke Center

The 2 key is my nuke button, since my 1 key broke its top off a long time ago, and the 2 key is still fairly close to my navigation keys (W, AD strafing, S).  I still use the number row (1-0,-, =) as my main bar, and then I have a Dominos bar for clicking set just above that one.

Then I have a plethora of OPie bars bound to nearby keys (alt-Q, alt-R, shift-F, shift-X).  Then I have even more macros bound to more keys via BindPad (Soulshatter is shift-Q, mounts are alt-E, boss macros are shift-E, etc.).

I wonder sometimes what would happen to my current setup if I used a Razer Naga or similar multi-button mouse.  (I currently use a simple USB Logitech two-button mouse with a scrollwheel.)  Or even if I had an actual gaming keyboard versus my compact laptop one.

I mouse-turn while casting spells, sometimes (Shadowflame is a cone, you can sweep it).  I have to move while casting my instants — that is the whole point of Fel Flame, isn’t it?  Do the navigational keys count in the 5 key count?  Do disabled players mouse-turn (alternating with movement keys?) or keyboard-turn?  Do they use that special clickable movement interface addon instead?  (Can’t remember the link ARGH)

Should I arrange my 5 keys in the 1-5 row or use multiple rows in a cluster?  Should I position them more like a PvP setup, curling around the WASD keys?  Should I position them on the right side of the keyboard, for better keyboard-to-mouse movement, if the player plays with a right-handed mouse?  Should I design the keybinds to operate separately — that is, there’s no “order” to press them in?

Does It Work? | Testing Needed

At the end, once I’ve got a setup I think with work, I’d like to try it out myself.  The big difficulty will be breaking my habits and trying as faithfully as possible to play in a disabled fashion.

I can’t remember the movement pad addon, but I’ll try using that.  I’d have to make a special profile for Dominos and OPie and BindPad, so I’m not tempted to use my many many keys.

I’m not sure whether I should just go pug something on Live with it, or whether those who are also working on this project can get a 5man together once on the PTR (for max-level testing), where we can test multiple classes and specs and ping ideas off each other.


This is an initial brainstorm of a post.  I plan to continue thinking and scribbling on this.  I encourage others to try it out for your class and spec, even if just for kicks.

If you’ve got other brainstorms going on, feel free to comment, whether it’s aff-locking or not.  I find my best brainstorming happens when I can think for a bit and then talk to others.

If you don’t feel like putting it in a comment, feel free to leave a link to a post in a comment or talk about it on Twitter (I’m @slowpoker).

Update: I’ve started a page to compile things.  Feel free to comment there to add references & links.

Project 5×2: Brainstorm

My Gearsheet

Inspired by the Blueberry Totem post about how much BS is in “BiS lists.”  I agree, so I’m going to show you my own Excel spreadsheet of items for my own PvE gearset.  It’s not really a BiS list; in my view, it’s more of a source list than anything.  I encourage you to make your own; I’m just showing you mine (& possibly how I make mine).

I double-checked with people (via Twitter) whether uploading my own Excel sheet would be useful or not.  General consensus was people will use it just to tweak their own sets, so it’s meh if not useful.  I then commented the crap out of my Excel sheet, so putting a minimal FAQ (by worksheet) here.

If you have questions or comments, just comment on this post. More-tag time.

My Gearsheet

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. I keep forgetting the more tag.

4.0.6 Affliction Spec Discussion