Suffer, Wither, Die! Affliction 101

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Ah, Affliction. It’s apparently going to be the new hotness, the go-to Warlock spec in 6.2, and I’ve been promising to do another spec guide for a goddamn long time, so why not Affliction?



Tier 1: Self Healing

  • Dark Regeneration: Restores 20% of maximum health over 12 sec to you and your pet, and increases all healing received by 25% for the duration (2 min cooldown)
  • Soul Leech: Drain Soul and Haunt grant you and your pet shadowy shields that absorb 30% of the damage they dealt for 15 seconds
  • Harvest Life: Drain Life deals 50% more damage and 100% more healing

Dark Regeneration is your default here. Soul Leech, unlike Destruction, doesn’t activate from a wide range of spells, and the Drain Soul damage it DOES activate from is merely the spell’s base damage, and NOT the damage from triggering the DoTs, which means any shield you make is going to be pitiful.

Harvest Life, when taken with the Glyph of Drain Soul, turns Drain Life into a VERY powerful heal, even able to heal through damage from soloing a Mists of Pandaria raid boss, but comes at the cost of DPS.

Tier 2: Crowd Control

  • Howl of Terror: Your howl causes 5 enemies within 10 yds to flee in fear, disorienting them for 20 sec. Damage may cancel the effect. Being hit by a damaging attack reduces your cooldown on Howl of Terror by 1 sec. (40 second cooldown)
  • Mortal Coil: Horrifies an enemy target into fleeing, incapacitating them for 3 sec, and restores 11% of the caster’s maximum health. (45 second cooldown)
  • Shadowfury: Stuns all enemies within 8 yds for 3 sec. (30 second cooldown)

Now that Mortal Coil’s healing only activates when it successfully Horrifies, its usefulness is diminished in a boss fight, unless you have adds you can Horror. Shadowfury is therefore the default.

Tier 3: Damage Mitigation

  • Soul Link: 20% of all damage taken is split with your demon pet, and 3% of damage you deal heals you and your demon.
  • Sacrificial Pact: Sacrifices 20% of your demon’s current health to shield you for 400% of the sacrificed health for 20 sec. If you have no demon, your health is sacrificed instead. Usable while suffering from control impairing effects. (1 min cooldown)
  • Dark Bargain: Prevents all damage for 8 sec, but when the effect ends, you take 50% of the damage prevented over 8 sec. Usable while suffering from control impairing effects. (3 min cooldown)

Your choice will fluctuate between Soul Link and Sacrificial Pact. Soul Link is best taken when there’s constant yet small damage. Sacrificial Pact is best with large, periodic spikes of damage.

Tier 4: Utility… At a Cost

  • Blood Horror: While active, any time an enemy melee attack deals damage to the Warlock, the enemy will run in horror, incapacitated for up to 4 sec. 1 charge. Blood Horror lasts 60 sec. (1 min cooldown)
  • Burning Rush: Increase your movement speed by 50%, but also deals damage to you equal to 4% of your maximum health per second. Movement-impairing effects may not reduce you below 100% of normal movement speed. Lasts until cancelled
  • Unbound Will: Purges all Magic effects, movement impairing effects, and loss of control effects from yourself and your demon. (2 min cooldown)

I tend to stick with Burning Rush as a default. A speed boost is NEVER not useful, and the damage it inflicts can be mitigated through Sacrificial Pact and other shields. Unbound Will is good if there’s a debuff you KNOW you don’t want.

Tier 5: DEMONS

  • Grimoire of Supremacy: You command stronger demons, replacing your normal minions. These demons deal 20% additional damage and have more powerful abilities
  • Grimoire of Service: Instantly summon a second demon which fights for 25 sec. The demon will instantly use one of its special abilities when summoned. (2 min cooldown)
  • Grimoire of Sacrifice: Sacrifice your demon to gain one of its abilities, and to increase the damage of your Drain Soul, Haunt, and Drain Life by 25%. Also causes you to regenerate 2% of maximum health every 8 sec. (30 second cooldown)

Currently, Grimoire of Sacrifice is not useful. Service is taken if you use Demonic Servitude, whereas Supremacy is taken if you use Cataclysm or Soulburn: Haunt.

Tier 6: Situational DPS Increases

  • Archimonde’s Darkness: Dark Soul now has 2 charges
  • Kil’jaeden’s Cunning: The cunning of Kil’jaeden allows you to move while casting Warlock spells for 8 sec. Castable while casting other spells. (35 second cooldown)
  • Mannoroth’s Fury: Increases the area of effect by 500% and damage by 100% of Seed of Corruption, Hellfire, Immolation Aura, and Rain of Fire for 10 sec. (1 min cooldown)

Mannoroth’s Fury might as well not exist. Take Kil’jaeden’s Cunning if you need to move around a lot, otherwise Archimonde’s Darkness is your default.

Tier 7: Performance Enhancers

  • Soulburn: Haunt: Grants the Soulburn empowerment to your Haunt spell. Your Haunt spell also increases the damage of your Damage Over Time effects to all targets by 20% for 30 seconds
  • Cataclysm: Conjures a cataclysm at the target location, dealing [750% of Spell Power] Shadowflame damage to all enemies within 8 yards, and applying Agony and Unstable Affliction. (1 min cooldown)
  • Demonic Servitude: You are now able to maintain your control over even greater demons indefinitely, allowing you to summon Doomguards and Infernals as permanent pets

All three talents are viable here. Demonic Servitude is best for single target or highly mobile fights, Cataclysm for burst cleave/AoE damage, and Soulburn: Haunt is best for sustained cleave damage.

Cataclysm is your default when there’s 3 or more targets to use it on.


Useful Glyphs

  • Glyph of Eternal Resolve: Turns Unending Resolve into a passive effect that reduces all damage taken by 10%. Useful for fights where you’re constantly taking damage. You can’t use this glyph when using either Glyph of Strengthened Resolve (increases the cooldown of Unending Resolve by 60 seconds but increases the damage reduction by 20%, useful if you need stronger UR less often)  or Glyph of Unending Resolve (reduces the cooldown of Unending Resolve by 1 minute, but halves the damage reduction, useful if you need UR more often). Each of these glyphs has its uses, so swap them out depending on the fight requirements.
  • Glyph of Demonic Circle: Reduces the cooldown of Demonic Circle: Teleport by 4 seconds. Use this glyph if you need to use your circle often.
  • Glyph of Healthstone: Doubles the health restored by your Healthstone, but turns it into a 10 second heal-over-time. Double the healing is great, no matter what form you get it!
  • Glyph of Siphon Life: Each tick of Corruption restores 0.35% of your health. It’s a small amount, sure, but if you have no other useful glyphs, more healing is always good.


Abilities and Rotation

The playstyle of Affliction has you cast and maintain 3 DoTS (damage over time spells) on your enemies. Your filler is a channeled spell, and you have a single target nuke that costs a Soul Shard. You start a fight with 4 Soul Shards, and regenerate them through ticks of Corruption. It has a chance (6%) to proc Nightfall on each tick, which restores a shard.

Key Spells

  • Agony: Inflicts increasing agony on the target, causing [120 + 388.8% of Spell Power] Shadow damage over 24 seconds. Damage starts low and increases over the duration.
  • Corruption: Corrupts the target, causing [210.6% of Spell Power] Shadow damage over 18 seconds. Your most recently applied Corruption has a 6% chance to generate a Soul Shard each time it deals damage.
  • Unstable Affliction: Causes [7 + 210% of Spell Power] Shadow damage over 14 seconds. If dispelled, the dispeller suffers [8 + 240% of Spell Power] instant Shadow Damage and is silenced for 4 seconds. This damage is always a critical strike.
  • Drain Soul: Drains the target’s soul, causing [4 + 83.6% of Spell Power] Shadow damage over 4 seconds. If the target dies and yields experience or honor, one Soul Shard is energized. When Drain Soul deals damage, it causes all your other damage over time spells on the target to instantly deal 40% of their normal damage. (courtesy of a Draenor Perk while levelling, it deals 100% additional damage on targets on 20% health or below)
  • Haunt: A ghostly soul haunts the target, dealing [1 + 412.5% of Spell Power] Shadow damage and increasing damage over time you deal to the target by 30% for 8 seconds. (courtesy of a Draenor Perk while levelling, the damage over time increase lasts a further 2 seconds)
  • Dark Soul: Misery: Infuses your soul with the misery of fallen foes, increasing Haste by 30% for 20 seconds.
  • Seed of Corruption: Embeds a demon seed in the enemy target, causing [94.5% of Spell Power] Shadow damage over 18 sec.  Detonates for [68.25% of Spell Power] Shadow damage to all enemies within 10 yards after the target dies or takes [94.5% of Spell Power] damage from your spells.

Your basic single target rotation goes as thus:

  • Cast Agony and ensure it stays on your target. It deals increasing damage for each stack of itself on your target, dealing maximum damage per tick at 10. Having Agony drop off means the stacks need to build up again.
  • Cast Corruption and refresh before it runs out.
  • Cast Unstable Affliction and refresh before it runs out.
  • Cast Haunt if you are capped on Soul Shards, or if you have Dark Soul: Misery or powerful trinket/legendary ring procs active, or if the boss is at <20% health.
  • Drain Soul as filler.

Haunt is best saved for when you have powerful buffs on you, like your legendary ring proc, Dark Soul, or trinkets, as it amplifies damage already amplified by these effects. If you have no shards when these effects trigger, it’s wasted potential damage. However, if you have 4 Soul Shards, you should cast Haunt, so that future procs of Nightfall are not wasted. Try to keep Haunt active for the whole duration of your Dark Soul buff (20 seconds, so 2 casts of Haunt).

If you choose Soulburn: Haunt as your level 100 talent, then you want to keep the Haunting Spirits buff active at all times, so recast Soulburn: Haunt when the buff has about 8-9 seconds remaining, but favor regular Haunt when previous conditions are met, and you have more than half the Haunting Spirits buff timer remaining.

Your multiple target rotation doesn’t change much when you have 2 or 3 targets. You keep DoTs rolling on all the enemies, and otherwise continue Haunt/Drain Soul-ing as normal on one of them. With 4+ targets, start using Seed of Corruption as a filler, and use Soulburn: Seed of Corruption to apply the Corruption DoT. Prioritize maintaining Agony over Unstable Affliction, as it does more damage. Use Cataclysm on cooldown, if chosen as your level 100 talent.

Always remember, Life Tap when you’re low on mana!


If using Demonic Servitude as your level 100 talent, then your demon of choice is obviously the Doomguard/Terrorguard. If Grimoire of Service is your level 75 talent as well, then use it to summon a second Doomguard on cooldown.

Otherwise, the other demons are tuned roughly the same in terms of DPS, bar the Voidwalker/Voidlord. If a fight features a lot of target switching across large distances, then the Imp/Fel Imp may well be the best choice, as it’s a ranged demon, and thus doesn’t need to move to switch target. The Felhunter/Observer demons have your interrupt, so choose them if that’s needed in a fight.

Stat Priority

Haste = Mastery >> Multistrike = Critical Strike > Versatility

Mastery increases the damage of your damage-over-time spells, and Haste reduces cast times and increases the number of times your damage-over-time spells tick over their durations.

Mastery pulls ahead slightly when facing more than 1 target, so generally it’s wise to gem/enchant full-on Mastery.


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