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Affliction Warlock Changes in War Within Alpha: April 25th

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Affliction is getting plenty of changes today as well, with Blizzard detailing the reasoning behind certain choices.

Blizzard LogoAffliction (Source)

Greetings Warlocks,

Today, we have various Core and Affliction tree changes hitting the Alpha. We want to take a moment to go a bit more in depth as to what certain changes were made and why. As a refresher, here are the goals for our Core and Afflictions that we posted last week along with some additional goals that we can dig into here.

Class

  • Ensure each capstone is interesting and exciting.
  • Reduce the amount of throughput talents, to free up utility choices.
  • Reduce the number of ranks for talents that don’t warrant multiple ranks.

Affliction

  • Address the tuning of Malefic Rapture in single-target and multi-target situations.
  • Reduce complexity and the amount of active buttons that contribute to it.
  • Erase the need to choose between a single-target or multi-target profile by adding more adaptability and flexibility.

While we cannot go over every change here, we’d like to get a bit more detailed than last week’s update and explain some of the bigger changes coming in this build.

Class Tree Throughput
We’re removing a lot of throughput talents from the class tree to allow warlocks to pick up more utility without feeling forced to take mandatory talents to be competitive. These talents aren’t compelling options when placed against utility as they will always be the right answer to have. This allows us to move that power into the specialization trees and tailor throughput-centric talents to be specific to that specialization’s gameplay.

Malefic Rapture
In addition to becoming baseline for Affliction, we are introducing new talents that will help Malefic Rapture become the go-to spender for both single-target and multi-target situations. This should also shift Seed of Corruption to being a means to apply Corruption to multiple targets rather than what you spam in dungeons. In addition, we are redesigning Siphon Life to be friendlier to Affliction’s rotation and expect that its new design will make it easier to optimize Malefic Rapture.

Affliction’s Adaptability
While we do want Affliction warlocks to have a preferred talent setup for single- versus multi-target situations, we don’t want it to feel like they are powerless if they are in the opposite situation. By focusing on Malefic Rapture being Affliction’s main spender and removing talents that are only valuable in multi-target situations (Soul Flame, Soul Swap, Doom Blossom, etc.), we’re hoping that the Affliction tree feels less punishing to fill out.

Is This It?
Not at all. We expect to make changes based on feedback and our own playtesting. We want to get the ball rolling on changes we knew we want to make, so we could start the discussion early on and make adjustments before The War Within launches.

Thank you all for the continued discussions and we look forward to your feedback!

And here are the full changes from the development notes:

Blizzard LogoAffliction (Source)

  • Affliction
    • Malefic Rapture is now baseline and has been removed from the Affliction tree.
    • Unstable Affliction has been moved to row 1.
    • Writhe in Agony has been moved to row 2.
    • Absolute Corruption and Siphon Life have been moved to row 3.
    • New Talent: Cunning Cruelty - Malefic Rapture has a chance to trigger a Shadow Bolt Volley, dealing damage to 5 enemies within 10 yards of your current target.
    • New Talent: Summoner’s Embrace – Increases the damage dealt by your spells and your demon by 3%.
    • New Talent: Death’s Embrace – Increases Drain Life healing by 30% while your health is at or below 35% health. Damage done by your Agony, Corruption, Unstable Affliction, and Malefic Rapture is increased by 5% when your target is at or below 20% health.
    • New Talent: Relinquished - Agony has 1.25 times the normal chance to generate a Soul Shard.
    • New Talent: Improved Shadow Bolt - The cast time of Shadow Bolt is reduced by 15% and Shadow Bolt deals 20% increased damage.
    • New Talent: Volatile Agony - Refreshing Agony with less than 10 seconds remaining deals Shadow damage to its target and enemies within 10 yards.
    • New Talent: Summoner’s Embrace - Increases the damage dealt or life drained by your Shadow spells and your demon by 3%.
    • New Talent: Malediction - The periodic critical strike chance of Agony, Corruption, and Unstable Affliction is increased by 10%.
    • New Talent: Contagion - Critical strike damage dealt by Agony, Corruption, and Unstable Affliction is increased by 20%.
    • New Talent: Cull the Weak - Malefic Rapture deals 5% increased damage for each enemy it hits.
    • New Talent: Empowered Unstable Affliction - Reduces the cast time of Unstable Affliction by 10/20% and damage dealt by Unstable Affliction has a 5/10% chance to generate a Soul Shard.
    • New Talent: Oblivion - Unleash wicked magic upon your target’s soul, dealing Shadow damage over 3 sec. Deals 10% increased damage, up to 30%, per damage over time effect you have active on the target. Costs 2 Soul Shards. 45 sec cooldown.
    • Siphon Life has been redesigned - Corruption deals 20% increased damage and heals you for 5% of the damage dealt.
    • Kindled Malice has been redesigned - Malefic Rapture damage increased by 4/8%. Corruption damage increased by 10/20%.
    • Malevolent Visionary has been redesigned – Increases the damage of your Darkglare by 70%. When Darkglare extends damage over time effects it also sears the target for Shadow damage.
    • Shadow Embrace has been redesigned - [Shadow Bolt/Drain Soul] apply Shadow Embrace, increasing your damage dealt to the target by [4.0%/2.0%] for 16 sec. Stacks up to [2/4] times.
    • Pandemic Invocation has been removed.
    • Sow the Seeds has been removed.
    • Soul Swap has been removed.
    • Doom Blossom has been removed.
    • Dread Touch has been removed.
    • Soul Flame has been removed.
    • Agonizing Corruption has been removed.
    • Seized Vitality has been removed.
    • Soul-Eater’s Gluttony has been removed.
    • Grand Warlock’s Design has been removed.
    • Grim Reach has been removed.
    • Xavius’ Gambit has been moved to row 6.
    • Withering Bolt has been moved to row 8.
    • Shadow Embrace has been moved to row 7.
    • Inevitable Demise has been moved to row 6.
    • Tormented Crescendo has been moved to row 7.
    • Sacrolash’s Dark Strike has been moved to row 5.
    • Grimoire of Sacrifice has been moved to column 4.
    • Creeping Death has been moved to column 3.
    • Dark Virtuosity has been moved to column 1.
    • Malevolent Visionary has been moved to row 10.
    • Summon Darkglare has been moved to row 9.
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On an intellectual level I understand why the devs like MR so much. Easier to balance, easier to scale, easier to build talents around, fits both ST and AoE at the same time, etc. From a design perspective it's waaaaay easier than something like stacking UA.

On the other hand, players seem to overwhelmingly hate it. It is utterly baffling to me that MR is now going into a THIRD expansion mostly unchanged.

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It's surprising that MR remains largely untouched despite going into a third expansion.

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The specc still feels too clunky. You want aoe agony, but the only way to do that (Vile Taint) has a longer cd then agony's duration. Tab targetting amongst 10 mobs isn't really anyone's idea of fun.

The same is true for single target. Removing siphon is a good idea, but needing 3 dots before you even start doing damage is just weird in 2024. Give Soulburn an effect that applies all the 3 major dots (agony, corruption, UA), either with a 2-3 shard cost and no cd, or a 1-2 shard cost and a short cd. This will also make outdoor play infinitely funner, and at the end of the day speccs are meant to be fun.

Pvp dmg will be tuned by how well the lock can fake cast and get off malefics and soul rots and unstables that they're not spending shards on. But actually applying your dots manually will be something you choose to maximize damage,  in middle of fights, not forced into every new mob. 

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