Affliction Warlock DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1
On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Affliction Warlock in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.
1. Playstyle for Affliction Warlock
Affliction Warlocks aim to apply a series of damage over time effects to targets, weaving in empowerments and buffing them up where possible. Much of the optimization revolves around maintaining your active effects while ensuring you spend Soul Shards correctly.
1.1. Single Target Priority for Affliction Warlock
- With the Deathbolt talent selected.
- With the Haunt talent selected.
- With the Phantom Singularity talent selected.
- With the Siphon Life talent selected.
- With the Dark Soul: Misery talent selected.
- With the Vile Taint talent selected.
- Maintain your Agony and Corruption effects at all times.
- Apply Unstable Affliction if you are at maximum Soul Shards.
- Maintain 1 Unstable Affliction as often as possible for the damage increase.
- Cast Shadow Bolt/ Drain Soul as a filler.
1.2. Cooldown Usage for Affliction Warlock
Summon Darkglare is our main cooldown. Darkglare should be used once we have applied as many DoT effects as possible, in order to get the maximum value out of the 8-second extension. You should also ensure that the main target has as many DoT effects as possible, due to the increased damage Darkglare will gain.
1.3. Opening Sequence for Affliction Warlock
- Use Battle Potion of Intellect.
- Pre-cast Haunt if talented.
- Apply Agony.
- Apply Corruption.
- Apply Siphon Life if talented.
- Cast Dark Soul: Misery if talented and/or any Haste trinket or racial.
- Dump all Soul Shards into Unstable Affliction.
- Cast Phantom Singularity if talented.
- Use your trinket and/or racial which has any stat other than Haste.
- Cast Summon Darkglare.
- Cast Deathbolt if talented.
1.4. Multiple Target Priority for Affliction Warlock
- Maintain Agony and Corruption. If there are 3+ targets stacked together, use Seed of Corruption to apply and maintain Corruption.
- Spend Soul Shards on Seed of Corruption if there are 5+ targets stacked together.
- Cast Unstable Affliction if you have 5 Soul Shards.
- Cast Phantom Singularity / Vile Taint (if talented).
- Apply Unstable Affliction to each target individually.
- Cast Shadow Bolt as a filler.
2. Important Notes for Affliction Warlock
2.1. Soul Shards
All Warlocks use Soul Shards as their primary resource. Properly managing your Shards is crucially important to success, as Unstable Affliction increases all damage you do. We can also use Soul Shards for AoE damage and Corruption application via Seed of Corruption.
2.2. Deathbolt Usage
Deathbolt is a confusing talent for many players. At first glance, you are probably are thinking of the best way to use it, or what order you should refresh your DoTs in.
The truth is that Deathbolt is often best used on cooldown. The unofficial rule is that you should prepare for it, but never delay it. When Deathbolt has between 4-6 seconds remaining on cooldown, you can plan your refreshes and Unstable Affliction applications such that Deathbolt is ready when your final cast finishes. It is usually ideal to have one Unstable Affliction cast finishing right as you cast Deathbolt.
Deathbolt is an interesting ability, because it is a high priority spell to keep on cooldown, but generally lower priority than other abilities from a resource investment perspective. A common mistake is investing too much for each Deathbolt, which results in wasted global cooldowns and Soul Shards.
When in doubt, simply always cast Deathbolt on cooldown while following the normal priority.
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 has a lengthy ramp-up period before it reaches full effectiveness. This means that if you let 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 casts is the single most important priority of this specialization, and also the most punishing failure if you mess this up.
2.4. Unstable Affliction Usage
As Unstable Affliction increases all damage we deal by 10%, we want to attempt to maintain as high an uptime as possible on this debuff. There are moments, however, where you may have to hold Soul Shards for a short period to the benefit of other effects:
- You should have several Soul Shards ready as Summon Darkglare is about to come off of cooldown, so you can apply several Unstable Afflictions and extend them.
- You should have at least 2 Soul Shards ready for each Deathbolt cooldown, in order to maximize its damage.
On multi-target, you should spread your Unstable Afflictions around the targets that have DoTs, in order to deal damage and apply the 10% increased damage debuff.
2.5. "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 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. Instead, reapplications of Unstable Affliction are folded into the existing debuffs, compounding the damage. Think of multiple 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 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:
2.6. Pet Choice
The Felhunter is the best choice in terms of single target damage and if you need interrupt or purge, consider swapping to Imp if you need a dispel.
2.7. 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. Demonic Gateway can be highly effective on many encounters, and is under-appreciated by many players and raid groups. Think of 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 anywhere specific; if not used for your strategy, use it instead as a personal cooldown.
Agony and Corruption can be refreshed when you need cover movement. Nightfall actually has a lot of potential on higher movement fights, particularly with cleave, as the instant Shadow Bolt procs can be invaluable for filling global cooldowns.
You can mitigate the need to move by positioning in locations central to fight movement. For instance, if a boss is being kited in a circle, you should stay on the inside of the kite path to ensure minimal movement. You should also determine how your Demonic Circle can make a fight easier for you. There are many boss mechanics that can be trivialized with a clever portal, which can free you up to deal a lot more damage.
2.7.1. 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, make your path as direct and decisive as possible.
- 21 Dec. 2018: Updated rotation section to include racial and trinket usage.
- 11 Dec. 2018: Updated pet advice.
- 10 Dec. 2018: This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
- 30 Oct. 2018: Updated rotation priority.
- 26 Aug. 2018: Added toggles for various talent setups in the rotation section and updated priority/opener.
- 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
- 23 Jul. 2018: Added a Deathbolt usage section to help alleviate confusion. Updated single target priority (re-added Haunt).
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