- Author: Zephan
- Date: June 28, 2022
- Updated: July 17, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
Welcome to the home page of our Affliction Warlock Guide for WoW: Wrath of the Lich King! This guide aims to take an in-depth look at everything to do with Affliction Warlocks; each facet of what it takes to play the class to its fullest will have its own guide and be described in detail.
This overview page will cover the role and viability of Affliction Warlocks in Wrath of the Lich King.
Affliction Warlock in Wrath of the Lich King
Where in previous expansions all the viable specs were essentially a variation on Destruction we see a major shift in Wrath of the Lich King. Each different specialization gets its own gameplay style and niches to watch out for. None more so than the Affliction specialization. Switching from being a support spec in the Burning Crusade which didn’t even utilize Unstable Affliction to a single-target powerhouse with a major focus on damage-over-time abilities, as it should be!
Affliction finally starts utilizing its abilities to its fullest potential. Everlasting Affliction introduces a new mechanic surrounding Corruption, where the aim is to get it as juicy and big for as long as possible. Whilst Siphon Life is no longer a damage-dealing ability (which wasn’t all that strong to begin with), we get Haunt instead. Haunt itself does neglectable damage, but is a major boost to any of our damage over time abilities, on top of that refreshes our Corruption. Next up is Drain Soul, dealing four times more damage once the target hits a quarter of their health. Whilst Drain Soul did not see a lot of use outside of farming Soul Shards, now plays a vital and fun role. Drain Soul (sort of like Corruption) snapshots with a bunch of things and has to be interrupted or refreshed at key moments.
All this makes Affliction Warlock a top-tier single-target damage dealer, which also has some high-end cleave potential. However, this does come at a cost. Affliction Warlock no longer provides any unique support that any other Warlock can not bring.
Affliction Warlock Strengths & Weaknesses
- High single-target DPS
Affliction Warlock’s single-target DPS is some if not the strongest there is in this expansion. And the best part about it is that a lot of it is the direct result of how well you can execute the niche functions instead of crit or hit RNG like in previous expansions.
- Superb execute DPS
There is a steep climb in DPS once the target starts dropping health. Drain Soul combined with Deaths Embrace just melts that final bit of boss health. On top of that, it is a good challenge to know when to break your Drain Soul right after a tick to refresh it with new stronger stats or reapply a DoT.
- Good cleave and AoE DPS
Whether it is applying all your DoTs to as many enemies that are far spread or spamming as much Seed of Corruption as possible on a stacked bunch. Affliction Warlocks have the tools to handle any variation of cleave and AoE.
- Engaging and fun gameplay
The basis of Affliction Warlock is incredibly simple, put up your DoTs and cast shadow bolt in the meantime. However, if you want to perform at the highest level there is a lot, and I mean a LOT of room for optimization. From the order of initial spell application to when you want to refresh Corruption, when to intentionally break your Drain Soul channel, what to do in which AoE situation, to Life Tap or not, and so on. We go deep into each of these facets in this guide, so you can get the most out of your Warlock.
- Long ramp-up time
Affliction Warlock DPS starts out slow and steady (which of course wins the race). Damage-over-Time abilities don’t deal a lot of damage at once but deal a significant amount for the time that it takes to apply them (high damage per cast time). On top of that spells like Curse of Agony have a ramp-up time where they deal more damage towards the end of their cycle, or Curse of Doom only deals damage after a full minute. Other things like Shadow Embrace also take time to build up stacks.
- No real burst
While Affliction Warlocks have big throughput and deal massive damage over the length of a fight, they suck when it comes to bursting down focus targets that should die ASAP. All of the abilities that make Affliction Warlock shine take their sweet time to do so.
- No special support
In The Burning Crusade, Affliction Warlocks brought Malediction to the table which gave a unique buff to the Curse of the Elements. However, now a variety of different classes got this worked into their debuffs. (Ebon plague, Earth and Moon). This results in Affliction Warlocks not bringing anything new and unique to the table that another class or another Warlock could not provide.
- Quality of Life talents are expensive
Every class has some nice to have quality of life talents that just make the experience that little bit more enjoyable. Affliction Warlock has these as well, but where other classes often can take those without a trade-off, this is not the case for Affliction Warlocks. You will always have to give up either essential talents or trade off some damage potential.
Affliction Warlock Utility
Besides their high damage, Affliction Warlocks bring the following raid buffs & debuffs to a raid:
- Fel Healthstone
Who doesn’t like some green healthy fel candies? Healthstones have been a staple provided by Warlock since the dawn of time, saving people’s lives and helping your raid deal with high burst mechanics. At least 1 Warlock will be mandatory to have in every raid, just for these alone.
- Combat Resurrection – Demonic Soulstone
Warlocks are 1 of the 2 classes that possess the ability to resurrect someone in combat, which is always going to be a massive boon for your raid. Every expansion there are more and more methods of wipe prevention, so Soulstones lose a small bit of value, but still incredibly handy to have.
- 13% increased spell damage taken (does not stack) – Curse of the Elements
This debuff was unique to Warlocks in previous expansions, with Affliction Warlocks offering an enhanced version. This is no longer the case, as Death Knights (Ebon Plague), Druids (Earth and Moon), or other Warlocks specializations can all provide the same bonus. Affliction Warlocks lose a lot of DPS from having to use this curse over Curse of Agony or Curse of Doom, so you generally won’t be the one to use this debuff, but it’s still an option in your toolbox.
In certain encounters, Curse of the Elements does have the benefit of having a 5-minute duration. Death Knights (Ebon Plague) and Druids (Earth and Moon) duration of their debuff is shorter, meaning if they have to move out of range it will eventually fall off.
- 5% spell crit (does not stack) – Improved Shadow Bolt
The Improved Shadow Bolt talent has been redesigned in Wrath. and there are no two ways about it, this was a pretty significant nerf for Warlock utility. It now increases the chance for the target to be crit by spells by 5%, which is a debuff that we share with Fire (Improved Scorch) and Frost (Winter’s Chill) Mages. You still take the talent, but largely not for the utility aspect — though you may get use out of it in 10-man raids if there’s no Fire Mages around.
- 5% reduced armor (does not stack) & reduced attack power (does not stack) – Curse of Weakness
This curse gets a minor buff in Wrath, providing the same 5% armor reduction debuff that a Druid’s Faerie Fire does, along with its previous attack power reduction effect, which still doesn’t stack with other similar effects. Whilst very useful, this curse suffers from the same issues as Curse of the Elements: you lose too much DPS if you use it as an Affliction Warlock. Luckily, Druids are better at providing the armor reduction debuff, while other classes are better at providing the attack power debuff, so you generally will never need to use this one.
- 30% cast speed slow (does not stack) – Curse of Tongues
This handy little debuff has seen a pretty significant nerf, with its cast speed slow reduced to 30% down from 70%, but besides that, is still pretty good. Rogues can also apply it with their Mind-numbing Poison, but Warlocks are generally better at it thanks our 30 yard range. Similarly to other curses, you generally don’t want to use this as it’s a major DPS decrease, but there occasional boss fights (f.e. Sindragosa and her Blistering Cold) where it can come in handy.
- Increased intellect (does not stack) & increased spirit (does not stack) – Fel Intellect
This handy little passive buff that your Felhunter pet offers combines Divine Spirit from a Priest with the Arcane Intellect of a Mage. However, it is a weaker version of both even if buffed with Improved Felhunter. In most raids there will be both Mages and Priests so you will most likely only benefit your mates with this in five-mans.
- Ritual of Summoning
Being able to quickly get everyone where they have to be is a major boon, like it has always been. There’s a massive convenience change to summoning in Wrath: instead of manually having to summon each player individually, you summon a summoning stone, that everyone can use to summon others. This will save you many Soul Shards and a lot of time.
I hope this guide provides you with all the information you need to make the best out of an Affliction Warlock. Please navigate to the other pages to get information on gear, rotation, talents, and more.
Thank you for taking the time to read our Affliction Warlock guide for Wrath of the Lich King. I hope it was helpful, and if you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to leave a comment below, or find me as Zephan on the Warlock Classic Discord.