In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Affliction Warlock rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Affliction Warlock Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
Removed Abilities and MechanicsMany abilities from the Demonology and Destruction specialisations have been removed or changed, and most of them are no longer available to you; non-exhaustive list of spells you cannot use in Mists of Pandaria: Demon Armor, Demon Leap, Hellfire, Immolate, Incinerate, Searing Pain, Shadow Bolt, Shadowflame, and Soul Fire.
In addition, many Affliction-specific talents, abilities, and mechanics have been removed: Bane of Doom, Curse of Tongues, Curse of Weakness, Death's Embrace, Eradication Everlasting Affliction, Nightfall, Pandemic, Siphon Life, and Soul Siphon.
Changed Abilities and MechanicsThere have been a number of minor changes, such as:
- Twilight Ward replacing Shadow Ward, and absorbing Shadow and Holy damage (instead of only Shadow damage);
- Ritual of Souls being renamed to Create Soulwell, or Create Soulstone being renamed to Soulstone;
- Fel Armor being a passive skill, increasing Stamina and Armor, and increasing healing generated through your own spells and effects;
- Howl of Terror and Soul Link now being Tier 2 and Tier 3 talents, respectively, and having been slightly redesigned (as we will see in the talent section);
- Enslave Demon increasing the time between the target's attacks by 50% and reducing the target's casting speed by 50%;
- Jinx now being provided by Soulburn: Curse, a passive ability;
- Improved Fear, Soul Swap, and Soulburn: Seed of Corruption being granted by default instead of having to be taken as talents;
- Curse of the Elements now only increasing magic damage taken by 5% and no longer inflicting a magic resistance reduction;
- Dark Intent now being a raid-wide buff providing +10% spell power.
- Haunt now increases the damage of all your spells on the target for 8 seconds. It still deals damage when cast, but it now requires a Soul Shard (see the Soul Shard section) and will no longer return life at the end of the effect. Also, it no longer has a cooldown.
- Drain Soul now makes your DoTs tick twice stronger when the target is under below 20%. Also, when the target is below 20% (25% in Cataclysm), Drain Soul deals twice as much damage. Every two ticks, Drain Soul will regenerate a Soul Shard (see the Soul Shard section).
- Agony replaces the old Bane of Agony. Its duration is now 24-seconds, with ticks every 2 seconds. In Mists of Pandaria, the damage still increases over time. Every time it ticks, a new stack is of Agony is applied on the target, up to 10 stacks. As the stacks build up, the damage the target takes from Agony increases. When refreshing Agony before it expires, the stacks are kept.
- Seed of Corruption now always explodes after it expires (previously, it exploded after a fixed amount of damage).
- Malefic Grasp is the most important of your new abilities. Channeling this ability will deal damage to the target and will make your DoTs tick 50% stronger. It is a core part of your rotation.
- Dark Soul: Misery is a new DPS cooldown that is specific to Affliction Warlocks and that grants +30% Haste for 20 seconds on a 2-minute cooldown. Other Warlock specialisations have their own variant of the spell.
- Unending Resolve provides 50% damage reduction for 12 seconds, on a 3-minute cooldown.
- Demonic Gateway is your level 87 spell. It is an extremely interesting ability, the usefulness of which will soon be very obvious to you. It creates a gateway between your current location and the location that you click (the maximum distance seems to be about 100 yards). The gateway initially has 0 charges and will generate a new charge every 15 seconds, up to a maximum of 5 charges. A charge is consumed every time someone steps in the gateway (on either end). Stepping through the gateway, on either end, will transport you to the other end. It will also apply a buff to you, which prevents you from using the gateway for the next 15 seconds and reduces your threat for 15 seconds.
- Curse of Enfeeblement reduces the physical damage done by your target by 20% and increases the casting time of all its spells by 50%.
- Pandemic is your level 90 ability. It causes the remaining duration of your DoTs to be added to the new duration when you refresh them, up to 50% of the base duration.
Soul Shard and SoulburnSoul Shards are now an Affliction-only resource. Demonology Warlocks use Demonic Fury and Destruction Warlocks use Burning Embers.
Previously, Soul Shards had limited use because it was hard to regenerate them during combat. Now, Soul Shards are an integral part of the Affliction Warlock play style.
Soul Shards regenerate automatically when you are out of combat, thanks to your Soul Harvest. Previously, Soul Harvest had to be channeled. As before, you can have between 0 and 3 Soul Shards available.
During combat, Soul Shards are generated by channeling Drain Soul. You will regain 1 Soul Shard every 2 ticks. Additionally, each time you deal damage, you have a chance to proc Shadow Trance, which removes the Soul Shard cost on all your abilities for 3 seconds. Finally, Corruption has a 10% chance to regenerate 1 Soul Shard.
Your two Soul Shard consuming abilities are Haunt and Soulburn, which you will use extensively during fights.
Below, you will find the list of spells that are modified by Soulburn.
- All your curse spells automatically apply the curse to all enemies within 10 yards of your target.
- Demonic Circle: Teleport increases your movement speed by 50% and makes you immune to snares and roots for 8 seconds.
- The healing component of Drain Life is improved by 50%.
- The healing component of Harvest Life (Tier 1 talent that replaces Drain Life) is improved by 133%.
- The detonation of Seed of Corruption causes all nearby enemies to become afflicted with Corruption.
- Soul Swap instantly applies Corruption, Unstable Affliction, and Agony on your target.
- Your demons are summoned instantly.
DemonsBy default, you can summon one of four demons to help you fight your foes.
- The Felhunter will be your demon of choice for raiding. It currently deals the most damage. It will automatically cast the following abilities: Devour Magic and Shadow Bite. It can also cast Spell Lock if you instruct it to.
- The Imp may have its uses for raiding, though it does not do as much damage as the Felhunter. It will automatically cast the following abilities: Firebolt, Singe Magic, and Blood Pact. It can also cast Flee if you instruct it to.
- The Succubus may have its uses for raiding, though it does not do as much damage as the Felguard. It will automatically cast the following abilities: Lash of Pain, Seduction, and Lesser Invisibility. It can also cast Whiplash if you instruct it to.
- The Voidwalker will be your demon of choice while leveling up. It will automatically cast the following abilities: Shadow Bulwark, Suffering, and Torment. It can also cast Disarm if you instruct it to.
Also, you have the Command Demon ability, which, if put on your action bar, will change with the demon you are using. For the Voidwalker, the Felhunter, and the Succubus, this ability will cast their manual ability. For the Felguard, it will cast Felstorm. For the Imp, it will cast Cauterize Master, which does not seem to be otherwise available.
Grimoire of Supremacy is a Tier 5 talent that improves your demons with better abilities.
- The Felhunter becomes an Observer. Devour Magic is replaced by Clone Magic, Shadow Bite by Tongue Lash, and Spell Lock by Optical Blast.
- The Imp becomes a Fel Imp. Firebolt is replaced by Felbolt and Singe Magic is replaced by Sear Magic.
- The Succubus becomes a Shivarra. Lash of Pain is replaced by Bladedance, Seduction by Mesmerize, and Whiplash by Fellash.
- The Voidwalker becomes a Voidlord. Shadow Bulwark is replaced by Threatening Presence.
Your demon DPS cooldowns are replaced by more powerful versions: a Terrorguard ( Summon Terrorguard) for single-target damage or an Abyssal ( Summon Abyssal) for AoE damage.
Your Command Demon ability will cast the manual ability of your demon, except for the Fel Imp, for which it casts Cauterize Master (as it does for the Imp).
RotationThe single-target rotation will be along these lines.
- Apply Agony and keep it up.
- Apply Corruption and keep it up.
- Apply Unstable Affliction and keep it up.
- Cast Haunt when you have a Soul Shard or when you are in Shadow Trance.
- Cast Malefic Grasp as a filler.
We still need to properly test whether it is viable to use Drain Soul to regenerate Soul Shards when the target is not below 20% health.
CooldownsIn Mists of Pandaria, you will gain a number of cooldowns (offensive and defensive), the majority of which are obtained through your choices of talents (as we explain in our talent section).
Your offensive cooldowns should be used as often as possible and combining them will usually grant you an increased effect:
- Dark Soul: Misery;
- Summon Doomguard and Summon Infernal or Summon Terrorguard and Summon Abyssal, depending on your choice of Tier 5 talent;
- Grimoire of Service (Tier 5 talent);
- Grimoire of Sacrifice (Tier 5 talent);
- Archimonde's Vengeance (Tier 6 talent);
- Kil'jaeden's Cunning (Tier 6 talent).
AoE RotationYour AoE rotation is going to be relatively unchanged from Cataclysm.
Against 2 or 3 enemies, use Soulburn and Soul Swap to add your DoTs to all the targets. Then, use a combination of Malefic Grasp and Haunt to deal damage, and Drain Soul to regenerate Soul Shards. Maintain your DoTs with Soulburn and Soul Swap.
Against 4 or more enemies, you will need to start using Soulburn with Seed of Corruption. While Seed of Corruption is ticking, you can choose to maintain your DoTs on as many targets as possible using Soulburn and Soul Swap (and Drain Soul to regenerate Soul Shards), or to spam Rain of Fire, depending on the number of enemies.
TalentsTier 1 talents give you the choice between self-healing talents.
- Dark Regeneration is a 3-minute cooldown that restores some of your life and increases healing received for 12 seconds.
- Soul Leech is a passive ability that grants self-healing capabilities to your three most important offensive abilities.
- Harvest Life is an improvement over Drain Life, which it replaces. It deals AoE damage and regenerates more health, between 3% and 4.5% maximum health per second, depending on the number of enemies.
Tier 2 talents offer crowd control abilities.
- Howl of Terror used to be an ability available by default to all Warlocks. Its effect has not been changed.
- Mortal Coil is the new name of Death Coil.
- Shadowfury used to be only accessible to Destruction Warlocks.
Tier 3 talents offer damage reduction mechanics.
- Soul Link causes the damage you and your demon take to be shared. However, your demon's health is reduced by 50%.
- Sacrificial Pact is on a 1-minute cooldown and causes your demon to sacrifice half of its current health to give you a shield for 200% of the sacrificed health. If you do not have a demon out, your health is sacrificed instead.
- Dark Bargain is on a 3-minute cooldown and prevents all damage for 10 seconds. After the 10 seconds are up, the damage prevented is dealt over 20 seconds.
Tier 4 talents offer crowd control and utility abilities.
- Blood Fear is an improvement over Fear, which it replaces. It is instant cast and no longer has a mana cost. Instead, it costs 10% of your maximum health.
- Burning Rush sacrifices health and increases your movement speed.
- Unbound Will removes all magic and movement-impairing effects, as well as effects that cause loss of control of your character. It costs 20% of your health.
Tier 5 talents provide various modifications to your demons.
- Grimoire of Supremacy replaces your minions by more powerful demons that deal 20% more damage.
- Grimoire of Service is a 2-minute cooldown that enables you to summon a second demon for 20 seconds.
- Grimoire of Sacrifice sacrifices your demon to increase spell damage by 30% to 50% (depending on the specialisation) and to regenerate 2% of maximum health every 5 seconds. Resummoning a demon cancels the effect. Finally, you gain one of your demon's abilities:
- Imp: Singe Magic;
- Voidwalker: Shadow Bulwark;
- Felhunter: Spell Lock;
- Succubus: Seduction.
Tier 6 talents provide various means of increasing your DPS.
- Archimonde's Vengeance is a 1-minute cooldown that causes the enemy to suffer 50% of all damage you take for 12 seconds. When Archimonde's Vengeance is not on cooldown, enemies who attack you suffer 10% of all damage they deal to you.
- Kil'jaeden's Cunning is a 1-minute cooldown that enables you to cast and channel while moving for 6 seconds. When Kil'Jaeden's Cunning is not on cooldown, you can cast and channel while moving, but at the expense of a 50% casting speed reduction and a 20% movement speed reduction.
- Mannoroth's Fury increases the area of your AoE spells by 500%.
GlyphsThe following major glyphs will be come in handy:
- Glyph of Dark Soul, which should be used when you want to transform the effect of Dark Soul: Misery into a less powerful, but passive bonus;
- Glyph of Demon Training, which should bring a DPS increase to your Imp, but it does not seem to be working as intended on the beta;
- Glyph of Everlasting Affliction, which causes the duration of your DoTs to be extended when you refresh them;
- Glyph of Soul Shards, which increases your number of Soul Shards to 4;
- Glyph of Soul Swap, which causes your Soul Swap to leave your DoTs on the old target.
This concludes our Affliction Warlock preview for Mists of Pandaria. We hope you have enjoyed reading it and that it proved useful to you. As always, we are looking forward to reading your opinions on the matter!