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Affliction Warlock DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.0.3)

Last updated on Sep 05, 2016 at 09:14 by Furty 48 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 7.0.3. 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

This guide has been written by Furty who raids in Serenity, one of the top World of Warcraft guilds. He plays most classes at the highest level. You can follow him on Twitter and watch him play on Twitch.

1. Ability Priority List

Affliction is a very consistent and predictable specialization. With the proper forethought, you can easily plan your global cooldowns far in advance and optimize your efficiency. This specialization will test your spatial awareness and punish players who cannot keep track of multiple timers simultaneously. The priority list for Affliction is detailed below, based off of the raiding talent build we outlined earlier in the guide:

  • cooldowns
  • aoe
  1. Maintain Agony Icon Agony (on up to 3 targets, including Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy) at all times.
  2. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction if you reach 5 Soul Shards.
  3. Maintain Corruption Icon Corruption (on up to 3 targets, including Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy) at all times.
  4. Place your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy if absent.
  5. Maintain Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life (on up to 3 targets, including Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy) at all times.
  6. Cast  Icon Reap Souls when you hit 12 stacks, burst damage is important, or you have stacks from  Icon Wrath of Consumption.
  7. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction as a Soul Shard dump.
    • If you are talented into Contagion Icon Contagion, your goal should be to maintain 100% uptime on Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction to take advantage of the 15% damage buff. Every time Unstable Affliction, you should recast it so that you do not lose the damage buff.
    • If you are talented into Absolute Corruption Icon Absolute Corruption, you should build up your Soul Shards then cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction several times in a row to compound the damage. It is most advantageous to do this during procs, such as trinkets or weapon enchant.
  8. Cast Life Tap Icon Life Tap when you have to move, providing your DoTs are all fully refreshed.
  9. Cast Drain Life Icon Drain Life/Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul as a filler.

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

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:

  • cooldown windows;
  • to push damage checks and maximize priority target damage;
  • if you hit 12 stacks;
  • 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.

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 15% 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 Mana Tap Icon Mana 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.

2.3. Pet Choice

Summon Felhunter Icon Summon Felhunter is your standard pet, as it deals increased damage based off of the number of DoT effects present on the target. You should also use Grimoire: Felhunter Icon Grimoire: Felhunter as your cooldown summon if you are talented into Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service.

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

2.4. 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.

2.4.1. Tier 1 Talent Selection

Writhe in Agony Icon Writhe in Agony is an exceptionally strong talent for dealing high sustained damage over time, however, it also takes a significant amount of time to ramp up to full damage (usually ~30 seconds). On fights where constant target swapping is a priority, or add fights where Agony Icon Agony will not fully ramp up, Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul is always going to be a better option for overall DPS. Fights with large stretches of movement can also be troublesome for Writhe in Agony Icon Writhe in Agony, as you will have to replace your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy to stay in range of the boss, sacrificing your Agony Icon Agony stacks. While Writhe in Agony Icon Writhe in Agony is a very powerful talent, it amplifies the punishment of letting your stacks fall, so be extra vigilant when using this talent.

2.5. "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.

2.5.1. With Soul Effigy

With Agony on 1 target and 1 Effigy, you will get 1.25x as many shards per unit time as you do on only 1 target. The only new handling of Soul Effigy is: when a shard roll succeeds, it checks if the Agony that procced it was on a Soul Effigy. If so, it performs another roll with a 75% chance to cancel the shard (but still reset the player's shard proc chance in either case).

2.6. "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.

2.7. Service vs. Sacrifice

As explained in the Talents page, Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service should be your default talent choice for most raid encounters. Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice, however, will pull ahead on fights with a lot of stacked cleave and AoE. If you choose to use Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice, try to place your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy (if talented) right on top of the boss. If you stand in melee, on top of your Effigy, your Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice will splash onto your target and your Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy, which will in turn splash more damage back onto your target. This double dipping is a minor gain, but worth doing if possible.

2.8. Effigy vs. Conduit

At 4+ targets it is no longer efficient to continue to apply DoTs to new targets. Therefore, the maximum amount of targets we will ever apply Agony Icon Agony to is 3 targets. The Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy counts as a target, so on council style bosses that have 3-4 bosses we need to choose a new talent. Soul Conduit Icon Soul Conduit is the ideal alternative, as you can keep DoTs applied to 3 targets without the damage penalty of Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy and also receive a reasonable amount of Soul Shard refunds, allowing you to apply more pressure to your primary target. Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy is still the superior talent in 2-target scenarios. For straight AoE, you should use Phantom Singularity Icon Phantom Singularity.

2.9. 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.

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

4.1. With Contagion

  1. Use Potion of Deadly Grace Icon Potion of Deadly Grace at 2 seconds on the countdown.
  2. Pre-cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction.
  3. Apply Agony Icon Agony.
  4. Apply Corruption Icon Corruption.
  5. Place Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy.
  6. Cast Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard if a Soul Shard is available.
  7. Cast Grimoire: Felhunter Icon Grimoire: Felhunter if a Soul Shard is available.
  8. Apply Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life.
  9. Apply Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life to the Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy.
  10. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction if a Soul Shard is available.
  11. Follow regular priority.

Your opener is very taxing on Soul Shards as Contagion Icon Contagion. You should activate Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard and Grimoire: Felhunter Icon Grimoire: Felhunter immediately after Agony Icon Agony and Corruption Icon Corruption are applied to the main target and Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy. If Soul Shards are not available, activate them as soon as you have shards.

4.2. Without Contagion

  1. Use Potion of Deadly Grace Icon Potion of Deadly Grace at right before the boss is pulled.
  2. Cast Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard.
  3. Apply Agony Icon Agony.
  4. Apply Corruption Icon Corruption.
  5. Place Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy.
  6. Cast Grimoire: Felhunter Icon Grimoire: Felhunter if a Soul Shard is available.
  7. Apply Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life.
  8. Apply Siphon Life Icon Siphon Life to the Soul Effigy Icon Soul Effigy.
  9. Follow regular priority.

5. ChangeLog

  • 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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