pve lich king affliction warlock rotation, cooldowns, and abilities
  • Author: Nevermore
  • Date: October 26, 2021
  • Expansion: WotLK Classic

Affliction Warlocks specialize in withering down their enemies with powerful curses and “Damage-over-time” abilities, wreaking havoc upon their targets while steadily ramping up their damage.

It is often a class that is said to be able to race with mages on damage but to do that we must properly understand how DoT upkeep time works and how to properly prioritize our spells to get the maximum effectiveness of our curses.

Affliction Warlocks have a sort of “mini-game” system built into the class, which revolves around the Corruption spell. This spell copies all the stats and buffs currently affecting your character at the moment that it is placed upon the target. Having said that, the mini-game itself consists of placing Corruption upon the target at the beginning of the fight when your trinkets proc and maintaining Corruption on the target by using your filler spell, Shadow Bolt, which refreshes its duration.

Remember when we said that we will be talking about an extremely important Glyph? This glyph is called Quick Decay, it allows your haste rating to affect the ticking rate of your Corruption on your target, which means the more haste you have at the moment you apply the dot on your target, the faster it is going to damage the target. It works the same for critical strike rating or spell power, just like in the case of Nevermelting Ice Crystal.

We must not forget about our highly sought after utility spells, those being Ritual of Summoning, which allows you to bring allies to the fold of battle; Create Healthstone; Ritual of Souls which provides health stones for you and your allies, and lastly, Create Soulstone, a very useful ability which lets you store the soul of yourself or an ally to resurrect the person if they fall in battle.

One thing that we have to take into consideration is the fact that the Affliction Warlock heavily relies on haste, so you will want to make the most of it since your dots tick faster the more haste you acquire.

Single Target Rotation

When it comes to a single-target rotation the Affliction Warlock is one of the classes with the highest damage potential, specializing in withering down one enemy in a devastating way. Just like we talked about earlier, the Corruption “mini-game” will be essential to your damage output but now we will talk about your other essential dots that require careful upkeep. Just as  Corruption is a trademark ability of Affliction Warlocks, so is Unstable Affliction. 

Unstable Affliction synergizes with your tier 10 4-set bonus and it also places a devastating debuff on the target that must be kept up at all times to maximize the shadow damage you are going to cause to the target. You must also keep Haunt up on the target at all times because it is a debuff that increases the over time-periodic damage of your shadow spells and also heals you for a portion of the damage it has dealt after its duration is complete.

Curses are powerful utility tools for your dungeon or raid and  can either powerfully damage your target or weaken it by reducing its attack power or casting speed. Two main curses we are going to take into consideration as an Affliction Warlock are Curse of Agony and Curse of Doom. While Curse of Doom might look like the better option, it only ticks once and deals 200% of your spell power as shadow damage. It is useful for a fight that requires a lot of movement or the boss has some form of direct damage mitigation that does not apply to dots. Meanwhile, Curse of Agony has a ramping-up effect, ticking for 160% of your spell power each tick and increasing your damage every time it ticks, resulting in more damage at the end of its duration. Depending on the type of fight it can be more effective to Curse of Doom on the target since it does not require you to reapply it every 24 seconds but you must make sure that you place Haunt up on your target at the moment it explodes. Your filler spell is going to be Shadow Bolt and whenever you are not reapplying your damage-over-time abilities you will want to cast Shadow Bolt to maintain stacks of Shadow Embrace and Improved Shadow Bolt.

Lastly, we are going to explain your most evil spell, the trademark of Warlocks which is playing with souls, no pun intended. This powerful execution tool is called Drain Soul. When your target reaches the 35% health threshold, you will want to use Drain Soul for the remainder of the fight. With the talents we have selected this powerful execute tool will wreak havoc on the target along with your dots and it will also refresh your Corruption mini-game.
Now that we have explained all of the abilities, here is how the rotation will look. You will want to start with a Life Tap since your Glyph of Life Tap will offer you a 20% spellpower increase, along with your trinket procs you will want to first place Corruption on the target, then immediately apply Haunt followed up by Unstable Affliction and either Curse of Doom or Curse of Agony. Once the dots are applied to the target you will want to spam  Shadow Bolt until the time comes to refresh your Unstable Affliction, Haunt, and Curse of Agony. Once the target reaches 35% you will want to start casting Drain Soul while maintaining the damage-over-time abilities on the target and throwing in a Shadow Bolt on each Nightfall procs.  Easy right?

Area of Effect Rotation 

When it comes to an Area-of-Effect rotation, Warlocks benefit from a very fun spell called Seed of Corruption. This special debuff has a very sweet effect in which it explodes whenever you or any of your party members damage the target, and alongside Haunt, Unstable Affliction, Curse of Agony, it will make you deal massive amounts of area-of-effect damage.

Ever heard of the concept of “multi-dotting”? Multi-Dotting implies that you enable your target nameplates for easy selection and then you proceed to apply your most powerful debuffs to each target, afterward you can simply spam Seed of Corruption on one or two targets to create a devastating wave of damage.

Because of Contagion, Affliction Warlocks benefit from increased damage on Seed of Corruption unlike the other specializations, so it is pointless in trying to use Rain of Fire as an AoE spell.

Remember, even if you are having a single-target fight, you should multi-dot every mob that appears in the fight to maximize the damage output.


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20 days ago

not worth to shadowbolt during drain phase even with nightfall procs unless you need to keep up 5% crit on boss

Reply to  michael
4 days ago

Below 25% only drain soul?
Thats it?

Reply to  Zephy
1 day ago

Yes cuz only at 25% and lower does drain soul get 4x stronger

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