Affliction Warlock DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.0.3)

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 6.0.3. 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 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.

6.0.2 Transition Guide

If you want to read all about the Patch 6.0.2 changes and learn how they affect your character, make sure to read our Warlock Transition Guide!

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.

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 Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul.

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.

3. Demon↑top

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

In the same way, the demon you summon with Grimoire of Service Icon Grimoire of Service, if you use that talent, will not impact your DPS, so make your choice based on the special ability the demon casts when summoned.

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 on Haunt Icon Haunt during Dark Soul.

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 4 enemies or less, while Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal is better when fighting 5 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.

DPS-wise, using Soulburn on Seed of Corruption is the most attractive choice. Using it on Soul Swap for applying DoTs was the norm in Mists of Pandaria, but Soul Swap now costs a Soul Shard, which means that it would cost 2 Soul Shards to activate Soulburn and then apply Soul Swap.

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. 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:

5.3.1. 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.

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

5.4. 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!

5.5. 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.

5.5.1. 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, 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.

5.5.2. 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.