Affliction Warlock DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.2)

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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 WoD 6.2. 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 Zagam, our in-house Warlock theorycrafter.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

Your rotation consists in the priority list below.

  1. Apply Agony Icon Agony and refresh it when it has less than 7.2 seconds remaining..
  2. Apply Corruption Icon Corruption and refresh it when it has less than 5.4 seconds remaining.
  3. Apply Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction and refresh it when it has less than 4.2 seconds remaining.
  4. Cast Haunt Icon Haunt when:
    • one of the following is true
      • Haunt's debuff is not applied on the target;
      • you have 4 Soul Shards;
    • and one of the following is also true
      • you have a trinket proc;
      • Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery is up;
      • the boss is approaching death;
      • you have at least 3 Soul Shards (so that you have Soul Shards left when Dark Soul is up).
  5. Cast Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul as a filler.

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

Tier 18 set bonuses change your rotation, so please refer to our section about Tier 18 bonuses for more information. To sum it up, you no longer need to refresh Haunt Icon Haunt during Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery.

1.1. Soulburn: Haunt

If you have chosen Soulburn: Haunt Icon Soulburn: Haunt has your Tier 7 talent, then Haunt Icon Haunt applies Haunting Spirits Icon Haunting Spirits on you every time you cast it while Soulburn Icon Soulburn is active. This buff lasts for 30 seconds and increases the damage of all your DoTs (including those already ticking) on all targets. With this talent, the Haunt part in the rotation is replaced with the two actions listed below.

  1. Cast Soulburn Icon Soulburn when you have at least 2 Soul Shards and Haunting Spirits Icon Haunting Spirits has less than 9 seconds remaining (or is not applied). Then, cast Haunt Icon Haunt immediately.
  2. Cast Haunt Icon Haunt when one of the following is true:
    • you have 3 Soul Shards and Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery or a trinket proc is up;
    • you have 4 Soul Shards (to prevent wasting a Nightfall Icon Nightfall proc).

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

Against 2 and 3 enemies, use your normal rotation on one of them and keep your DoTs up on the others.

Against 4 or more enemies, you should start replacing Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul with Seed of Corruption Icon Seed of Corruption as your filler spell. Use Soulburn Icon Soulburn+Seed of Corruption Icon Seed of Corruption to apply Corruption Icon Corruption and prioritise maintaining Agony Icon Agony over Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction. If you need burst AoE damage, you should simply spam Seed of Corruption Icon Seed of Corruption, as DoTs will not have enough time to tick. If Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm is your Tier 7 talent, then you need to use it on cooldown, unless delaying it for a few seconds can cause it to hit more targets.

3. Demon↑top

If Demonic Servitude Icon Demonic Servitude is your Tier 7 talent, then use the Doomguard for all situations where you fight less than 9 enemies and the Infernal for more enemies. If you have also talented Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service, then use it to summon a second Doomguard or Infernal, depending on the number of enemies.

If you use another Tier 7 talent, demons are tuned in such a way that they are extremely close in DPS, so you can use whichever demon you want. In some situations, you may want to use a specific demon. The same applies to Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service without Demonic Servitude Icon Demonic Servitude.

  • The Imp/Fel Imp works great on fights where the boss moves a lot, but you remain mostly stationary.
  • The Felhunter/Observer is crucial if you need to interrupt.
  • The Succubus/Shivarra is great for movement.

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. The general advice is to start saving Soul Shards when there is less than 30 seconds remaining on Dark Soul's cooldown, so that you can keep Haunt Icon Haunt up during Dark Soul. For more advanced Dark Soul usage, please refer to our advanced Dark Soul usage section.

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 7 enemies or less, while Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal is better when fighting 8 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 only by ticks of Corruption Icon Corruption. Each tick has a 6% chance to generate a Soul Shard. When you regenerate a Soul Shard, you gain Nightfall Icon Nightfall, which is 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, the former of which you will use extensively during fights.

Below, you will find the list of spells that are modified by Soulburn.

While raiding, you will only use Soulburn Icon Soulburn on Haunt Icon Haunt and Seed of Corruption Icon Seed of Corruption, but not usually on Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap, except on the pull.

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.

When you refresh a DoT, the remaining duration is added to the new duration, up to 30% of the base duration. So, if a DoT has a base duration of 24 seconds and you refresh it when there are 5 seconds remaining, the new duration will be 29 seconds.

DoTs automatically scale with your statistics, so there is no need to cast them while you benefit from trinket procs or other damage-increasing effects. In other words, snapshotting is gone, so do not bother taking it into account anymore.

5.3. Soul Swap

When you use Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap, it create copies (strength, duration, stacks) of the DoTs you currently have running on your target. Then, you have 3 seconds to cast Soul Swap again on a different target to apply the DoTs you copied. With Glyph of Soul Swap Icon Glyph of Soul Swap, you have 30 seconds, instead of just 3, to re-use the ability.

Because of its cost of 1 Soul Shard, Soul Swap needs to be used carefully. Typically, it is useful when you need to burst down a high priority add and do not have time to get all your DoTs up. In this case, you can copy the DoTs you have on your current target and paste them on the high priority add when it spawns.

On the pull, Soulburn Icon Soulburn+Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap is used to apply all your DoTs at once. This allows you to enter Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery earlier, in order to have it up at the same time as your trinket procs.

5.4. Advanced Dark Soul Usage

The general usage of Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery we gave earlier (saving Soul Shards before activating Dark Soul in order to keep Haunt Icon Haunt up until Dark Soul ends) works well in mosts cases, but there are subtleties, which we present below.

5.4.1. With Soulburn: Haunt

If you have chosen Soulburn: Haunt Icon Soulburn: Haunt as your Tier 7 talent, then your goal is to have Haunting Spirits Icon Haunting Spirits up for the entire duration of Dark Soul and possibly save some extra Soul Shards to apply the Haunt debuff (without Soulburn) on your target.

It is also important to learn to delay Dark Soul so that you can line it up with a trinket proc (which means paying attention to when your trinkets last procced). It is also crucial to delay Dark Soul for fight mechanics. For example, let us consider the situation where Dark Soul is available, a trinket procs, but a high-priority add spawns 30 seconds afterwards. In this case, you should hold on to your Dark Soul charge so you can use it for the add.

Note that, in our previous example, with two charges of Dark Soul from Archimonde's Darkness Icon Archimonde's Darkness, it would have been possible to use Dark Soul both for the trinket proc and the add.

5.4.2. Grimoire of Service and Demonic Servitude

If you are using Demonic Servitude Icon Demonic Servitude+Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service, then you should always use Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery together with Grimoire: Doomguard Icon Grimoire: Doomguard. They both have a 2-minute cooldown, so they line up easily.

Because you are using Dark Soul on cooldown with Grimoire: Doomguard Icon Grimoire: Doomguard, you end up with an extra charge when using Archimonde's Darkness Icon Archimonde's Darkness. This charge should be used during a period of time where you have trinket procs active (very much like in the example of the previous section).

5.5. Opening Sequence

We offer you two different single-target opening sequences, depending on whether you are using Soulburn: Haunt Icon Soulburn: Haunt or Demonic Servitude Icon Demonic Servitude+Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service.

5.5.1. Soulburn: Haunt

  1. use a potion and precast Soulburn Icon Soulburn+Haunt Icon Haunt (i.e., before entering combat);
  2. cast Summon Doomguard Icon Summon Doomguard (right when the boss is pulled);
  3. cast Soulburn Icon Soulburn;
  4. cast Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap;
  5. use your racials and on-use trinkets, then cast Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery;
  6. continue with your normal rotation.

5.5.2. Demonic Servitude + Grimoire of Service

  1. use a potion and precast Haunt Icon Haunt (i.e., before entering combat);
  2. cast Grimoire: Doomguard Icon Grimoire: Doomguard (right when the boss is pulled);
  3. cast Soulburn Icon Soulburn;
  4. cast Soul Swap Icon Soul Swap;
  5. use your racials and on-use trinkets, then cast Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery;
  6. continue with your normal rotation.

5.6. 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:

5.6.1. 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 Fel Imp, Observer, and Shivarra deal similar damage, so choose one for the abilities it brings you.

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. When using the Terrorguard, it is advised to turn off its Cripple Icon Cripple ability off, as leaving it on is a DPS loss.

Finally, Command Demon Icon Command Demon gives you the following abilities:

5.6.2. Demonic Servitude

If you choose Demonic Servitude Icon Demonic Servitude as your Tier 7 talent, then Doomguard and Infernal (Terrorguard and Abyssal with Grimoire of Supremacy Icon Grimoire of Supremacy) become regular demons that you can summon and dismiss at will. They also gain new abilities that you can control.

Doomguard has Doom Bolt Icon Doom Bolt, Shadow Lock Icon Shadow Lock (a 6-second silence), and Cripple Icon Cripple (a 30-second slow that is channeled). Terrorguard replaces Cripple with Debilitate Icon Debilitate (a 30-second root that is channeled). Both versions of the demon cast Shadow Lock with Command Demon Icon Command Demon, which is also the ability you get when sacrificing them with Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice.

Infernal has Meteor Strike Icon Meteor Strike (AoE damage), Burning Presence Icon Burning Presence (passive tank buff), Seethe Icon Seethe (taunt), and Torch Magic Icon Torch Magic (purges 1 beneficial effect from 1 enemy or 1 harmful effect from 1 ally). Abyssal replaces Torch Magic with Blaze Magic Icon Blaze Magic, which does the same thing, but on more targets. The Command Demon Icon Command Demon for Infernal and Abyssal is Meteor Strike, which is also the ability you get when sacrificing them with Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice.

The Infernal / Abyssal is a particularly good choice for solo content, thanks to the tanking abilities it receives from Demonic Servitude Icon Demonic Servitude.

5.7. 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. You typically want to use it to survive a very damaging ability, in which case it synergises very well with Unending Resolve Icon Unending Resolve. To achieve the best damage reduction, you need need to cast Dark Bargain 6 to 7 seconds before the damaging ability and Unending Resolve 1 second before. This way, Unending Resolve will be active when the damaging ability hits you (reducing the damage that Dark Bargain will deal back to you when it expires) and it will also be active for a portion of the 8-second period over which Dark Bargain will deal 50% of the prevented damage, further reducing the overall damage you will end up taking from the damaging ability.
  • 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!

5.8. 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.

5.8.1. 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 60 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, 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.

5.8.2. 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. The demon you summon matters very little for your DPS, so make your choice based on the special ability that each demon casts when summoned. Grimoire of Service 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.

5.9. Legendary Ring

Since Archimonde's Darkness Icon Archimonde's Darkness is used on most (if not all) fights this tier, this section is written with it in mind.

You should aways aim to have 1 charge of Dark Soul available when your raid will use the legendary ring. When your raid uses the legendary ring on cooldown, then you will simply end up using Dark Soul on cooldown with the ring, but other fights, you may have to delay Dark Soul to have it ready when the ring is used.

5.10. Tier 18 Bonuses

The T18 2-piece bonus is entirely passive and changes nothing in your playstyle. It simply gives you a longer Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery.

The T18 4-piece bonus causes your Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul ticks to refresh Haunt Icon Haunt when Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery is active. This means that you no longer need to spend Soul Shards refreshing Haunt during Dark Soul, granting you more freedom to use your Soul Shards and removing the need to pool for Soul Shards before Dark Soul. That said, with Soulburn: Haunt Icon Soulburn: Haunt, you still need to cast Haunt during Dark Soul to refresh Haunting Spirits Icon Haunting Spirits.

Note that in multiple-target situations, the T18 4-piece bonus allows you to maintain Haunt Icon Haunt on multiple enemies. To achieve this, you need to rotate the target on which you channel Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul.

6. Changelog↑top

  • 22 Jul. 2015: Added legendary ring section.
  • 23 Jun. 2015: Added Soul Swap section.
  • 22 Jun. 2015: Patch 6.2 update.
    • Improved conditions for using Soulburn: Haunt optimally.
    • Added a new section to explain optimal Dark Soul usage.
    • Added opening sequences.
    • Added section about T18 bonuses.
  • 08 Apr. 2015: Added explanations on the synergy between Dark Bargain and Unending Resolve. Added tips in the demon section.
  • 24 Feb. 2015: Patch 6.1 update. Rewrote conditions for using Haunt with Soulburn: Haunt talented. Improved multiple-target rotation section.
  • 16 Nov. 2014: Updated rotations for Level 100. Added a new demon section for Demonic Servitude.