Affliction Warlock DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (MoP 5.4)

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General Information

On this page, we list your Affliction Warlock core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. 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 Reviewers

This guide has been reviewed and approved by two prominent Warlock theorycrafters: Gahddo, who maintains the Warlock profiles and rotations in Simulation Craft, and Evrelia, who raids in ScrubBusters and frequently publishes video on Youtube.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

Your rotation consists in the priority list below.

  1. Apply Agony Icon Agony and keep it up.
  2. Apply Corruption Icon Corruption and keep it up.
  3. Apply Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction and keep it up.
  4. Cast Haunt Icon Haunt when:
    • one of the following is true
      • Haunt's debuff is not applied on the target, or has less than 2 seconds remaining;
      • you will not have to refresh any of your DoTs for the next 8 seconds;
      • you will not need to use Life Tap Icon Life Tap in the next 8 seconds;
    • and one of the following is also true
      • your DoTs are buffed with trinket procs;
      • Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery is up;
      • you have four Soul Shards.
  5. Cast Malefic Grasp Icon Malefic Grasp as a filler.

When the enemy is below 20% health, Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul replaces Malefic Grasp in the rotation. Doing so will grant you more Soul Shards than you can possibly spend. This means that, when the enemy is below 20% health, you should always refresh your DoTs by using Soulburn Icon Soulburn and Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap (this causes Soul Swap to apply all your DoTs on the target).

At the pull, apply your DoTs by using Soulburn Icon Soulburn and Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap twice (to apply them with the maximum duration).

Remember to apply and maintain Curse of the Elements Icon Curse of the Elements if no one else in your raid/party can provide the same debuff.

Pandemic Icon Pandemic and DoTs play a major role in your performance as an Affliction Warlock. Made sure to read our section dedicated to Pandemic and DoTs.

For an opening sequence, make sure to check out this section.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

Against 2 enemies, use your normal rotation on one of them and keep your DoTs up on the other.

Against 3 or 4 enemies, keep your DoTs up and cast Malefic Grasp Icon Malefic Grasp or Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul (if target is below 20%) the rest of the time.

Against 5 or more enemies, you will need to start using Soulburn Icon Soulburn with Seed of Corruption Icon Seed of Corruption. While Seed of Corruption is ticking, you should maintain your DoTs on as many targets as possible.

To apply your DoTs, use Soulburn Icon Soulburn+Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap twice on one target (this will apply the DoTs at their maximum duration). After that, use Soul Swap Exhale Icon Soul Swap Exhale to copy those DoTs over to the other targets and then to keep the DoTs up.

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3. Demon↑top

For single-target and multiple-target DPS, your demon of choice is the Felhunter (or the Observer), if you have all the raid buffs. If your raid is missing the 12% armor reduction and the +4% physical damage taken debuffs, then you are better off using the Succubus instead. If you use Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service, use the Felhunter.

For fights where you often have to switch targets (and these targets are not right next to each other), use the Imp (or the Fel Imp) or the Succubus (or the Shivarra).

If you use Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice, the demon you will sacrifice will not affect your DPS. However, bear in mind that you are given their Command Demon Icon Command Demon ability.

4. Cooldowns↑top

Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery is your main DPS cooldown. It increases your spell haste by 30% for 20 seconds. Use it on cooldown. When there is less than 30 seconds remaining on Dark Soul's cooldown, start saving Soul Shards to use them during Dark Soul (for Haunt Icon Haunt and Soulburn Icon Soulburn+Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap).

Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard and Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal share a cooldown. As such, you will have to decide which of the two you will use. These two abilities are on a 10-minute cooldown, so you will realistically only use them once per fight. Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard is better when fighting 3 enemies or less, while Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal is better when fighting 4 enemies or more.

If you choose Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy, as a Tier 5 talent, then Summon Doomguard becomes Summon Terrorguard Icon Summon Terrorguard and Summon Infernal becomes Summon Abyssal Icon Summon Abyssal.

In addition, a number of defensive cooldowns are available to you to compensate for your frequent use of Life Tap Icon Life Tap, which is mandatory for mana management. We detail these cooldowns in a mana management section.

Finally, your talents give you a number of offensive cooldowns, which we detail in a talent cooldowns section

5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Affliction Warlock↑top

Overall, playing an Affliction Warlock is not difficult, and following the priorities listed above will yield excellent results. Despite this, there are a few concepts that we feel require a bit of additional explanation for you to fully understand your class.

5.1. Soul Shards and Soulburn

Soul Shards are an Affliction-only resource. Demonology Warlocks use Demonic Fury and Destruction Warlocks use Burning Embers.

Soul Shards regenerate automatically when you are out of combat, thanks to your Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest passive ability. You can have between 0 and 4 Soul Shards available.

During combat, Soul Shards are generated by channeling Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul. You will regain 1 Soul Shard every 2 ticks. Additionally, each time you deal damage with your most recently applied Corruption Icon Corruption, you have a 10% chance to proc Nightfall Icon Nightfall, which regenerates a Soul Shard. When Nightfall procs, you gain the Shadow Trance Icon Shadow Trance effect, which is just a temporary cosmetic effect to let you know that you have just regenerated a Soul Shard.

Your two Soul Shard consuming abilities are Haunt Icon Haunt and Soulburn Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon Drain Life is improved by 50%.
  • The healing component of Harvest Life Icon Harvest Life (Tier 1 talent that replaces Drain Life) is improved by 33%.
  • Health Funnel Icon Health Funnel instantly restores 36% health and reduces damage taken by 30% for 10 seconds.
  • The detonation of Seed of Corruption Icon Seed of Corruption causes all nearby enemies to become afflicted with Corruption Icon Corruption.
  • Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap instantly applies Corruption Icon Corruption, Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction, and Agony Icon Agony on your target.
  • Unending Breath Icon Unending Breath enables you to walk on water.
  • Your demons are summoned instantly.

DPS-wise, using Soulburn on Soul Swap and Seed of Corruption is the most attractive choice.

5.2. Refreshing Your DoTs

As an Affliction Warlock, a great part of your DPS comes from your 3 DoTs (Corruption Icon Corruption, Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction and Agony Icon Agony). For this reason, you must strive to maintain 100% uptime on all of them.

Maintaining 100% uptime with Agony Icon Agony is particularly important as this spell stacks every time it deals damage, up to 10 stacks. It deals the most damage at 10 stacks. When you refresh it, the stacks are preserved. If you let the stacks drop, then you will lose DPS, as it will take the full duration of one application of Agony Icon Agony to reach 10 stacks again.

5.2.1. Pandemic

Pandemic Icon 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.

If a DoT has a base duration of 24 seconds and you refresh it when there are 10 seconds remaining, the new duration will be 34 seconds, thanks to Pandemic Icon Pandemic.

5.2.2. How do DoTs benefit from statistics?

DoTs benefit from your statistics at the time when the DoT was cast or refreshed. This means that the DoT will take into account your haste, spellpower, etc. at the time when you cast the DoT, and it will not be affected by any change in your stats while the DoT is running.

5.2.3. Pandemic and Statistics: When to Refresh?

The implication of Pandemic Icon Pandemic and the fact that DoTs benefit from your statistics as they were when you applied them is that whenever a DoT has less than 50% of its normal duration remaining, you should refresh it, if you have better statistics than when you cast it (trinket proc, Dark Soul, potion, encounter-specific buff, etc.). Otherwise, refresh the DoT when it is about to expire.

As an Affliction Warlock, when you have a temporary stat increase and all your DoTs are below 50% of their duration and you have a large temporary increase in stats (like 9 stacks of Wushoolay's Final Choice Icon Wushoolay's Final Choice, for example), then you should refresh them with Soulburn Icon Soulburn and Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap, if you have a Soul Shard.

At certain times, you may want to recast DoTs when a powerful proc is up, even if they are not below 50% of their duration. This can be very hard to track, so using an addon like affdots can be very useful.

A special case occurs if you have Unerring Vision of Lei-Shen Icon Unerring Vision of Lei-Shen. This trinket temporarily increases your critical strike chance by 100%. If you have a Soul Shard available when this proc occurs, then you should immediately refresh your DoTs with Soulburn Icon Soulburn and Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap, regardless of the remaining duration on them.

5.3. Opening Sequence

Your default opener is:

  1. Haunt Icon Haunt;
  2. Dark Soul Icon Dark Soul;
  3. Soulburn Icon Soulburn+Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap;
  4. Malefic Grasp Icon Malefic Grasp (until your procs are up);
  5. Soulburn Icon Soulburn+Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap again (to improve your DoTs);
  6. keep Haunt Icon Haunt up for the full duration of these strong DoTs and channel Malefic Grasp Icon Malefic Grasp.

5.4. Demons

By default, you can summon one of four demons to help you fight your foes. Except for the Voidwalker, they are all viable for raiding.

You also have two demons that you can use as DPS cooldowns: a Doomguard (Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard) for single-target damage or an Infernal (Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal) for AoE damage.

Finally, you have the Command Demon Icon 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 Imp, it will cast Cauterize Master Icon Cauterize Master.

5.4.1. Grimoire of Supremacy

Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy is a Tier 5 talent that improves your demons and gives them better abilities.

The Observer remains the demon with the highest DPS.

Your demon DPS cooldowns are replaced with more powerful versions: a Terrorguard (Summon Terrorguard Icon Summon Terrorguard) for single-target damage or an Abyssal (Summon Abyssal Icon Summon Abyssal) for AoE damage.

Finally, you have the Command Demon Icon Command Demon ability, which, if put on your action bar, will change with the demon you are using. For the Observer, the Shivarra, and the Voidlord, this ability will cast their manual ability. For the Fel Imp, it will cast Cauterize Master Icon Cauterize Master (as it does for the Imp).

5.5. Mana Management

Life Tap Icon Life Tap is your main source of mana regeneration. You will need to use it roughly every 30 to 40 seconds. This ability costs health to use and for this reason, you are given a number of defensive abilities.

You have a total of 6 defensive cooldowns/abilities, 3 of which are granted by talents. You have to make use of them wisely to preserve your health and prevent your casts of Life Tap from giving more work to your healers.

  • Soulshatter Icon Soulshatter reduces your threat by 90% for all enemies within 50 yards. It has a 2-minute cooldown.
  • Unending Resolve Icon Unending Resolve reduces all damage taken by 40% and prevents your spells from being interrupted or silenced for 8 seconds. It has a 3-minute cooldown.
  • Dark Regeneration Icon Dark Regeneration is a Tier 1 talent that restores 30% of your health and that of your pet, and increases healing received by 25% over 12 seconds.
  • Sacrificial Pact Icon Sacrificial Pact is a Tier 3 talent that sacrifices 25% of your demon's health (or 25% of your health if you have no demon) to create an absorption shield on you for 400% of the sacrificed health.
  • Dark Bargain Icon Dark Bargain is a Tier 3 talent that prevents all damage from 8 seconds. When the effect fades, 50% of the damage prevented is dealt over 8 seconds.
  • Healthstone Icon Healthstones can be much more beneficial to Warlocks than they are to other classes, because of Glyph of Healthstone Icon Glyph of Healthstone. Do not hesitate to make good use of them!

5.6. More on Offensive Cooldowns

In addition to your Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery, Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard, and Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal, you have other offensive cooldowns, the majority of which will depend on your choice of talents. We present them in this section, but first, a we need to say more about your Doomguard and your Infernal.

5.6.1. Doomguard and Infernal

For most situations, summoning a Doomguard is your best choice. In case you are faced with a large number of enemies that you wish to use extra burst on, you should use Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal.

Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard/Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal will summon a Doomguard/Infernal to fight by your side for 45 seconds. The ability has a 10 minute cooldown, meaning that it will realistically only be usable once per fight. Your Doomguard/Infernal's damage will scale dynamically with your own Spell Power and Critical Strike Rating, so any change in your stats after your Doomguard/Infernal has been summoned will affect him.

Ideally, you need to use your Doomguard/Infernal at the pull or when your raid uses Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Heroism Icon Heroism/Time Warp Icon Time Warp.

Everything we said in this section is still valid for Summon Terrorguard Icon Summon Terrorguard and Summon Abyssal Icon Summon Abyssal, if you choose Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy as your tier 5 talent.

5.6.2. Offensive Talent Cooldowns

Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service is a Tier 5 talent that enables you to summon an additional demon to fight for you for 20 seconds. This ability should be used on cooldown and preferably when you have a trinket/weapon enchant proc or when you deal increased damage on the boss, as your demon benefits from a number of your stats.

Mannoroth's Fury Icon Mannoroth's Fury is a Tier 6 talent that enables you to greatly increase the damage and area of your AoE spells. Use it whenever you need to do heavy AoE damage. It has a 1-minute cooldown, which lets you use it many times a fight.

6. Changelog↑top

  • 20 Nov. 2013: Evrelia's improvement of the advice for choosing your demon.
  • 11 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
    • Added more information for when to use Haunt Icon Haunt.
    • Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap can now be used to spread DoTs to other targets.
  • 18 May 2013: Evrelia's review and Patch 5.3 update.
    • Added opening sequence.
    • Added Imp (and Fel Imp) as advised demons for fights where you often have to move.
  • 10 Mar. 2013: Improved conditions for refreshing DoTs with Soulburn Icon Soulburn+Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap. Removed advice to use Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul in AoE situations for the sole purpose of regenerating Soul Shards.
  • 06 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.
    • Added a condition for using Haunt Icon Haunt: no cast of Life Tap Icon Life Tap in the next 8 seconds.
    • Updated and improved the multiple-target rotation.
    • Improved advice for using Doomguard/Infernal.
    • Greatly improved section about refreshing DoTs. Added a note for Unerring Vision of Lei-Shen Icon Unerring Vision of Lei-Shen, a new trinket from Patch 5.2.
    • Removed mention of Kil'jaeden's Cunning Icon Kil'jaeden's Cunning, which no longer has an active component.