- Author: Zephan
- Date: June 28, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
Unlike a lot of other DPS specs, Affliction Warlocks have a lot of flexibility in talent selection — so much so, that it can certainly be intimidating for newer players. This section of our Affliction Warlock guide will focus on building your Affliction Warlock in a way that maximizes your damage output, while also giving you some room for personal preference talents that allow you to express your particular playstyle.
Mandatory and optimal
The following is a summary of all the most important talents, what they do and why you should have them, or what choices you have.
- Increases the damage done by your Curse of Agony by 10%.
On beta testing, it has been confirmed that this talent increases the total damage (including damage from spell power) instead of only the base damage, like how it worked in previous expansions. This makes it a must-have talent.
- Increases the damage done by your Corruption by 10%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Seed of Corruption by 5%.
Corruption is obviously one of the core center spells of what makes Affliction Warlocks tick. However, it remains to be tested if this talent affects only the base damage (before spell power) of the spell or not. The bonus to AoE damage from Seed of Corruption alone already makes it a worthwhile talent.
- Increases the amount drained by your Drain Life and Drain Soul spells by an additional 6% for each of your Affliction effects on the target, up to a maximum of 18% additional effect.
- Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Drain Life, Drain Mana, Drain Soul, Unstable Affliction, and Haunt spells by 70%.
Pushback has a big impact on throughput as all the time you aren’t casting (or casting efficiently) you aren’t dealing damage. On top of that certain forms of damage (aka pushback) can not be avoided even if you are well positioned.
- Your Shadow Bolt and Haunt spells apply the Shadow Embrace effect, increasing all shadow periodic damage dealt to the target by you by 5%, and reduces all periodic healing done to the target by 10%. Lasts for 12 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.
This essential debuff not only is a straight up 15% damage boost for us, but also for all our fellow raiders who deal shadow damage (Looking at you Shadow Priests and Demo Locks).
- Increases the damage dealt or life drained by your Shadow spells and your Felhunter’s Shadow Bite ability by 15%.
It goes without saying that a 15% extra damage for our only school of magic (shadow) is big. And whilst when you hear Affliction Warlock you think DoTs, a good chunk of the Affliction Warlock’s DPS comes from his trusty Fel Doggo (and a good chunk of his DPS in turn comes from Shadow Bite).
- Increases the damage of Curse of Agony, Corruption and Seed of Corruption by 5% and reduces the chance your helpful Affliction spells and damage over time effects will be dispelled by an additional 30%.
Spells being dispelled often isn’t the biggest concern when it comes to PVE content. Straight 5% extra damage for a couple of our core spells especially Corruption is more than welcome though.
- When you deal damage with Corruption, you have 6% chance to increase your spell casting speed by 20% for 10 sec.
Each tick from your Corruption has a chance to proc Eradication. 20% cast speed is roughly equal to 656 Haste Rating. Multi-Dotting corruption will significantly increase the uptime for the buff. The buff stacks along with any other haste effect.
- Increases your spell damage by 3%, and increases the periodic critical strike chance of your Corruption and Unstable Affliction spells by 9%.
Instead of buffing Curse of the Elements like in TBC, this talent now straight buffs all of our own damage. Along with that it also increases the crit chance of two of our main Damage over Time abilities. Note that you need to have Pandemic to benefit from this.
- Increases the amount drained by your Drain Life by 30% while your health is at or below 20% health, and increases the damage done by your Shadow spells by 12% when your target is at or below 35% health.
Whilst having a slightly stronger Drain Life when you are about to die is nice in the open world, it doesn’t really benefit us in group content where healers are present. The significant benefit from this talent is the second part, when your foe is below 35% health you deal extra damage. Practically this also means you might want to refresh your Corruption to apply the effect (If Devious Minds which provides 10% damage was active at the original application and is not currently then it most likely isn’t worth reapplying Corruption for only a 2% gain).
- Shadow energy slowly destroys the target, causing 1150 damage over 15 sec. In addition, if the Unstable Affliction is dispelled it will cause 2070 damage to the dispeller and silence them for 5 sec. Only one Unstable Affliction or Immolate per Warlock can be active on any one target.
With this talent you get access to your final DoT spell that rounds out the spec. The spell does not benefit from Glyph of Quick Decay but can crit thanks to Pandemic. It also can proc Devious Minds the four-piece bonus from our Tier 10 set.
- Grants the periodic damage from your Corruption and Unstable Affliction spells the ability to critically hit for 100% increased damage, and increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Haunt spell by 100%.
No longer are only the Destruction Warlock drooling over crits, now you too affliction brother can enjoy the sweet nectar of crits and RNG. Your Haunt crits are harder, but a tad bit harder than a wet noodle is pretty much still like a wet noodle.
- Your Corruption and Unstable Affliction spells gain an additional 5% of your bonus spell damage, and your Drain Life, Drain Soul, Shadow Bolt, and Haunt spells have a 100% chance to reset the duration of your Corruption spell on the target.
This talent is one of the few talents that truly makes Affliction play unique compared to TBC. The additional damage to your DoTs is nice, but what especially is great is the ability to refresh your corruption without having to recast it. The hidden benefit to this is that certain conditions and stats “snapshot” on the moment when it was originally cast, whilst others get actively updated with refreshes from Everlasting Affliction. This makes it possible to min-max to try and get an as big and strong as possible corruption rolling for as long as possible. Certain conditions might have you refresh your corruption, etc. You can read more in-depth what all snapshots or rolls over in the Rotation section of this guide.
- You send a ghostly soul into the target, dealing 405 to 473 Shadow damage and increasing all damage done by your Shadow damage-over-time effects on the target by 20% for 12 sec. When the Haunt spell ends or is dispelled, the soul returns to you, healing you for 100% of the damage it did to the target.
Haunt isn’t a particularly high damage dealing spell on its own. However, where it shines is in the additional damage-over-time that it provides for your other heavier damage-dealing DoTs. Note that you can only have the spell up on one target, if you cast it on a subsequential target it will be lost from the first. Haunt stays up on the target for 12 seconds and has an 8-second cooldown, you should aim to keep the overlap/clipping as minimal as possible accounting for the travel time of the spell.
- Increases the damage done by your Shadow Bolt spell by 10%, and your Shadow Bolt has a 100% chance to cause your target to be vulnerable to spell damage, increasing spell critical strike chance against that target by 5%. The effect lasts 30 sec.
The first in the list here that isn’t from the Affliction talent tree, though very much essential. Whilst we are the bringers of plagues, curses, and all kinds of nasty things a good chunk of our DPS still comes from our trusty Shadow Bolt. This talent not only boosts your main filler spell but also increases the crit chance of all our spells (Corruption and Unstable Affliction included).
- Increases your chance to hit with spells by 3%, and reduces the mana cost of your Affliction spells by 6%.
The value of this talent is highly dependent on the target you are facing as well as how well geared you are. In Phase 1 you are most likely to get the biggest use out of the hit rating whilst facing bosses (requires 17% hit chance in total). The mana cost reduction for Affliction spells whilst nice won’t have any noticeable impact on throughput.
- Reduces the global cooldown of your Curses by 0.5 sec.
In previous expansions of the game Amplify Curse increased the damage from Curse of Agony, this is no longer the case in WoTLK. Instead, it only decreases the global cooldown of our curses. In practice this doesn’t make the biggest difference, the more geared you get, the more haste you have, the lower the GCD is already (minimum 1s) the less use you will get out of the talent. This is especially true during cooldowns such as Heroism and Accelerator.
- Gives your Corruption and Drain Life spells a 4% chance to cause you to enter a Shadow Trance state after damaging the opponent. The Shadow Trance state reduces the casting time of your next Shadow Bolt spell by 100%.
- Your Felhunter regains 8% of its maximum mana each time it hits with its Shadow Bite ability and the cooldown on that ability is reduced by 4 sec. In addition, increases the effect of your Felhunter’s Fel Intelligence by 10%.
Fel Intelligence gets a slight boost to be closer to Arcane Intellect and Divine Spirit, though both are still stronger on their own. The best part of this talent by far is the benefit to Shadow Bite, your pet does a good chunk of your DPS and his main ability to do so is Shadow Bite.
- Drains 1200 of your summoned demon’s Mana, returning 100% to you.
The proposed benefit of using Dark Pact over Life Tap is getting more mana back. Both spells have different base amounts of mana return and spell power scaling. The turnover point where Dark Pact provides more mana is at roughly 3300 spell power.
Note that this benefit only really shows up if you actually save out a global cooldown due to having to cast less, certain fights have where you got to move you essentially get to use a Global Cooldown for free.
- Increases the amount of attack power reduced by your Curse of Weakness by 20%.
Whilst a useful upgrade to Curse of Weakness most often this role will be fulfilled by another class.
A Paladin’s Vindication, a Warrior’s Demoralizing Shout with 5/5 Improved Demoralizing Shout, or a Feral Druid’s Demoralizing Roar with 5/5 Feral Aggression provides an equal amount of Attack Power reduction.
- Returns 15% of your maximum mana if the target is killed by you while you drain its soul. In addition, your Affliction spells generate 20% less threat.
In Wrath we use Drain Soul already as our finisher, making the small amount of mana regain a nice bonus to have. However, the bigger and more important addition of this talent is threat reduction.
- Increases the range of your Affliction spells by 20%.
This talent increases the range of only your Affliction Spells, which means you will also need to take Destructive Reach in order to be able to fight from the increased range all the time. In order to do so, you would need to give up on other possible stronger talents.
- Increases the range of your Destruction spells by 20% and reduces threat caused by Destruction spells by 20%.
This talent increases the range of only your Destruction Spells, which means you will also need to take Grim Reach in order to be able to fight from the increased range all the time. In order to do so, you would need to give up on other possible stronger talents.
Another benefit this talent does have over Grim Reach is threat reduction for your Destruction spells.
- Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting or channeling any Destruction spell by 70%.
This talent is a must-have for any encounter with unavoidable damage. For more than half the fight you will be casting Shadow Bolt. It should be noted that maxed out in combination with aura from a paladin you reach maximum pushback reduction. However, only roughly 1/3 of our damage comes from Destruction spells.
With talents out of the way, it is time to go over our Glyphs. Glyphs are a new addition to the class build mechanic introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. Glyphs can be crafted by the new profession Inscription.
Thi glyph is great for any Warlock spec. It provides a significant amount of spell power for little effort. Most often we have to Life Tap anyway within 40 seconds or we have to move somewhere and have no other instant casts to use.
- Increases the duration of your Curse of Agony by 4 sec.
Curse of Agony deals its damage split over 12 ticks and ramps up in damage per tick. This Glyph will add 2 ticks that deal the max damage. The benefit from this is twofold:
- you increase the Damage per Cast Time (DPCT) of the spell due to the addition of two extra heavy damage ticks
- You have to cast Curse of Agony less due to it lasting longer.
Overall this results in less of a DPS gain than the above glyphs.
- Reduces the mana cost of your Shadow Bolt by 10%.
Mana really isn’t a big issue in WoTLK, this is a very minor DPS gain.
- Decreases the casting time of your Unstable Affliction by 0.2 sec.
Whilst this decreases the cast time, it does not reduce the Global Cooldown (GCD), meaning no extra casts. The only gain from this is 0.2 seconds of free movement.
- Your Drain Soul ability occasionally creates an additional soul shard.
Overall most Minor Glyphs are situational however, this one always comes in handy. We use Drain Soul liberally, whenever we have to finish off a mob. Extra Soul Shards always come in handy whether it is for Summoning, Healthstones, Soulstones, Soul Shatter, etc…
- Reduces the mana cost of your Ritual of Souls spell by 70%.
It doesn’t happen too often that you will need to summon closely before combat, so the benefit of this is rather a small bit of convenience.
- Increases the swim speed of targets affected by your Unending Breath spell by 20%.
Who doesn’t like to take an ice-cold bath out in the Howling Fjords?
- Reduces the cast time of your Enslave Demon spell by 50%.
Unlike in previous expansions, there aren’t a lot of worthwhile to enslave demons inside raids, If I am mistaken please correct me and I’ll be sure to add them here inside a list.
Phase Locked Glyphs
Certain glyphs (which also tend to be the strongest glyphs for Affliction Warlocks) were added later in the game in various patches. It remains to be seen if all of these will be available at release or if they will be added in progressively.
The following are the relevant glyphs for Affliction Warlocks and in which patch they originally were added: