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Affliction Warlock DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.1.5)

Last updated on Jan 13, 2017 at 06:41 by Furty 108 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Affliction Warlock core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.1.5. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing an Affliction Warlock.

The other pages of our Affliction Warlock guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Author and Reviewer

This guide has been written by Furty, who has an illustrious history in the World of Warcraft raiding scene and race for World First. He has been a member of guilds such as Serenity, Midwinter, and many more, and is currently raiding in Myst. He plays most classes at the highest level. You can follow him on Twitter and watch him play on Twitch.

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Preciousyipz, one of the top parsers as Affliction Warlock. You can watch his videos on Youtube.

1. Playstyle

1.1. Single Target Rotation

When using the single target talent build listed in our talents page, the rotation is very simple:

  1. Maintain your DoT effects (Agony Icon Agony, Corruption Icon Corruption, and Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life).
  2. Apply Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction.
  3. Cast  Icon Reap Souls if you applied 2 or more Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Afflictions.
  4. Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul until Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction expires.
  5. Repeat.

Keep in the mind the above is an actual rotation, not a priority list. This results in very high single target DPS and is extraordinarily easy to execute.

For more information on your opening sequence, please refer to our dedicated section.

1.2. 2-Target Priority List

When using the 2-target talent build listed in our talents page you should perform the following priority list:

  1. Maintain your DoT effects (Agony Icon Agony, Corruption Icon Corruption, and Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life) on both targets.
  2. Maintain Agony Icon Agony on your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy.
  3. Maintain Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction on both targets as much as possible (but never Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy).
  4. Cast  Icon Reap Souls at 2-4 stacks.
  5. Maintain Corruption Icon Corruption and Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life on your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy.
  6. Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul as a filler.

You will not have many free Global Cooldowns to cast Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul using this build.

1.2.1. 3-Target Priority List

When using the 3-target talent build listed in our talents page you should perform the following priority list:

  1. Maintain your DoT effects (Agony Icon Agony, Corruption Icon Corruption, and Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life) on all 3 targets.
  2. Maintain Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction on all 3 targets as much as possible (but never Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy).
  3. Cast  Icon Reap Souls at 2-4 stacks.

1.3. Mythic+

When using the Mythic+ talent build listed in our talents page you should perform the following priority list on trash:

  1. Maintain Agony Icon Agony to up to 5 targets.
  2. Cast  Icon Reap Souls at 2-4 stacks.
  3. Cast Seed of Corruption Icon Seed of Corruption.

On bosses, you can follow this rotation:

  1. Maintain your DoT effects (Agony Icon Agony and Corruption Icon Corruption).
  2. Apply Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction twice.
  3. Cast  Icon Reap Souls.
  4. Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul until Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction expires.
  5. Repeat.

2. Important Notes

2.1. Reap Usage

 Icon Reap Souls is a powerful cooldown that increases damage and doubles the effect of  Icon Ulthalesh, the Deadwind Harvester's traits for 5 seconds per soul consumed. Much of your gameplay and damage is dependent on your ability to correctly make efficient use of  Icon Reap Souls. You should track your stacks at all times. Great times to make use of Reap are as follows:

  • When you have 4+ Soul Shards;
  • You have 2-4 stacks of Reap
  • cooldown windows;
  • to push damage checks and maximize priority target damage;
  • when you have other damage increases active, such as Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest or high stacks of  Icon Wrath of Consumption;
  • on multitarget situations where you are quickly generating  Icon Compounding Horror stacks;
  • with Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust.

Regardless of what Tier 2 talent you use, the correct way to go into a usage of  Icon Reap Souls is with 4 Soul Shards or more and 2-4 stacks of Reap. You should enter your  Icon Reap Souls as follows:

  1. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction.
  2. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction.
  3. Cast  Icon Reap Souls.

If you are talented into Contagion Icon Contagion, you should now follow the normal priority system while maintaining 100% uptime on Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction for the Contagion Icon Contagion damage. If you are talented into Absolute Corruption Icon Absolute Corruption you should immediately dump the rest of your Soul Shards into Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction, then follow the normal priority.

2.2. Unstable Affliction Usage

As discussed in the Action Priority List, there are 2 ways to use your Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction depending on what talents you have chosen.

  • If you are talented into Contagion Icon Contagion, your goal should be to maintain 100% uptime on Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction. As long as Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction is active on your target, you will maintain a permanent 18% increase to damage done to that target. You should not, however, cast Unstable Affliction on your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy under any circumstances.
  • If you are talented into Absolute Corruption Icon Absolute Corruption or Empowered Life Tap Icon Empowered Life Tap it is most efficient to dump all your Soul Shards on consecutive casts of Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction while under the influence of beneficial procs. This allows for the highest amount of compounding damage and burst. This is especially effective on short lived targets, and you will regain a Soul Shard if the target dies while Unstable Affliction is still active.

No matter what talents you choose, it is best to focus all your Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction casts into a single target rather than trying to multi dot using this spell.

2.2.1. 2-3 Targets

If you are playing with Contagion Icon Contagion you should try to maintain Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction on all 2-3 targets as much as possible for the damage buff. If you Shard cap trying to maintain all 3 DoT effects you can let your Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life fall off while you put out more Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction casts. This type of playstyle is very focus intensive; if you are struggling, try Absolute Corruption Icon Absolute Corruption instead.

2.3. Soul Shard Sniping

Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul generates a Soul Shard if the target dies during the channelled effect. You should take advantage of this whenever possible to generate additional Soul Shards. It is especially helpful in raid encounters featuring trivial adds with short lifespans (e.g. they are not worth applying DoTs to), as they can be used as fodder for additional Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction casts. A good example is the Voidlings on Star Augur Etraeus.

2.4. Pet Choice

Use Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard as your standard pet if you are talented into Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy.

You should sacrifice Summon Felhunter Icon Summon Felhunter if you are talented into Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice.

2.5. Agony

Agony Icon Agony is by far your most important spell, as it is the sole source of Soul Shard generation in the regular rotation. It also deals very high sustained damage. The trade off, however, is that Agony Icon Agony has a lengthy ramp up period before it reaches full effectiveness. This means that if you let Agony Icon Agony drop on one of your primary targets for any reason you are going to be hemorrhaging DPS. Keeping careful track of your active Agony Icon Agony casts is the single most important priority of this specialization, and also the most punishing failure if you mess this up.

2.6. "Nightfall" — Shard Generation Explained

Every time Agony Icon Agony ticks, a hidden accumulator is incremented. When it exceeds 1, it generates a shard and rolls over the remainder to start the next one. The added value per tick is currently 0.16 on average, with some variance. Each added amount is divided by the square root of the number of Agonies you currently have active. When you have no Agonies out, the accumulator is cleared. When you next cast one, it is reset to a random value from 0 to 0.99.

2.6.1. With Soul Effigy

With Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy, the increase of shards is calculated by the forumula of √2, which results in an increase of 41.4% Soul Shards. For 2 additional targets plus the effigy, we take (√3/√2) which results in a 22.5% increase in Soul Shards contributed from the Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy. Past 4 targets (excluding the Soul Effigy) it is no longer efficient to use effigy as the contribution of Shard gain and extra damage is not worth the number of globals needed to maintain it.

2.7. "Pandemic" — Learning to Efficiently Refresh DoTs

Pandemic is a hidden mechanic that allows you to refresh certain timed effects early without penalty. You can refresh your DoT effects when they have less than 30% of their maximum duration remaining, and the new DoT's maximum duration will be added with the remaining duration of the current DoT.

For example, if you cast a fresh Agony Icon Agony while your current one has a duration of 3.5s, your new Agony will now have a duration of 21.5 seconds.

All your DoTs benefit from Pandemic with the exception of Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction. Instead, reapplications of Unstable Affliction are folded into the existing debuffs, compounding the damage. Think of multiple Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction applications as all separate debuffs, even though it shows up as a single debuff. They are all applied and expire independently of each other, but when their durations overlap they deal cumulative damage (this is a somewhat confusing concept — TLDR: if you overwrite your current Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction casts you do not lose any damage no matter when you refresh).

The Pandemic values for safe refreshes for your other DoTs are as follows:

Some AddOns can provide helpful Pandemic tracking so you do not have to remember it on the fly.

2.8. Defensive Utility

Take full advantage of your defensive spells. The Tier 5 talents, in particular, offer an array of movement and defensive cooldowns. In many situations, the mobility advantage from Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle or Burning Rush Icon Burning Rush gives you more survivability than Dark Pact Icon Dark Pact. Unending Resolve Icon Unending Resolve is a solid damage reduction that can be used any time you feel threatened.

2.9. Doomguard and Infernal

You should use Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard as your primary DPS cooldown for single target. Whenever 2+ targets will be present for the majority of the duration, you should instead use Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal.

3. Core Concepts

Affliction is an extremely predictable specialization, with a focus on planning and forethought. Great spatial awareness is required to simultaneously juggle multiple debuff clusters of varying duration on several targets. While this specialization is quite simple to perform on a single target, the concentration required goes up exponentially as more targets are added to the mix. Focus on perfecting these 2 core concepts to achieve the best possible results from this specialization:

  • DoT uptimes & Soul Shard expenditure;
  • movement management.

Managing movement is a fundamental skill shared by all the caster classes in World of Warcraft, however, it still pays dividends to have a proper understanding of how to perfectly execute movement. This is particularly true in Legion, as many of the raid encounters involve high movement.

3.1. DoT Uptimes & Shard Expenditure

This largely comes down to combining all the knowledge from the earlier parts of the guide and applying it in a practical environment. Maintaining all your DoTs, properly handling Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction when talented into Contagion Icon Contagion, and keeping track of your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy are all important parts of this specialization. It can be helpful to keep your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy close to the boss to ease with line of sight, as it doesn't appear on your boss frames. Use of powerful aura tracking AddOns such as Weak Auras can also be extraordinarily beneficial to helping you keep track of multiple targets and your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy.

3.2. Movement Management

While it is difficult to describe the best ways to position and move during a dungeon or raid encounter, it is essential to your success as an Affliction Warlock. Since all of your DoTs (with the exception of Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction) are instant casts, it is very efficient to plan your refreshes during movement. If you have recently refreshed your DoTs, you can also cast Life Tap Icon Life Tap on the move to regenerate Mana. Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway can be highly effective on many encounters, and is under appreciated by many players and raid groups. Think of Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway as a raid cooldown that can instantly teleport your entire raid group 40 yards, and the potential this ability holds quickly becomes clear. Ask your group if they want Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway anywhere specific; if not used for your strategy, use it instead as a personal cooldown. Finally, always try to position yourself in a location central to fight movement. For example, if the boss is being moved in a circle, try to stay on the inside of the kite path to ensure minimal movement.

3.2.1. Quiet Movement

Many players will unconsciously move during fights, despite it being unnecessary. For example, sometimes the boss or adds will be moved by the tank a couple yards, and though you are still in range to cast, you subconsciously mirror that movement, costing you global cooldowns. Consciously work to "quiet" your movement, and reduce unnecessary movement to a minimum. The best way to see this in action is to take a video of your raid, then watch yourself play. Most players will be surprised by the amount of wasted movement they commit. When you are forced to move, do not forget to use your instant casts, and make your path as direct and decisive as possible.

4. Opening Sequence

  1. Use Potion of Deadly Grace Icon Potion of Deadly Grace.
  2. Apply Agony Icon Agony.
  3. Apply Corruption Icon Corruption.
  4. Apply Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life.
  5. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction.
  6. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction.
  7. Cast  Icon Reap Souls.
  8. Cast Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul.

On 2 targets, you should pre-cast Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy, apply DoTs to both targets followed by the Effigy, then apply Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction to both targets and cast  Icon Reap Souls.

5. ChangeLog

  • 13 Jan. 2017: Expanded on the single target rotation.
  • 09 Jan. 2017: Fully updated for 7.1.5 - new rotation section, opening sequence, updates to various sections, and added a "Shard Sniping" section as Drain Soul is now baseline.
  • 12 Dec. 2016: Major update to Reap Souls usage and Opening Sequence.
  • 25 Oct. 2016: Updated Action Priority List to more clearly illustrate how to effectively deal Area-of-Effect damage (while taking into account Patch 7.1 changes).
  • 14 Oct. 2016: Updated Shard calculation for Soul Effigy.
  • 05 Sep. 2016: Simplified rotation by adding checkboxes to hide or reveal specific lines (cooldown, talents, AoE, etc.).
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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