Affliction Warlock PvP Guide in Battle for Azeroth (BfA 8.0.1)

Last updated on Oct 08, 2018 at 05:24 by Mysticall 13 comments

Table of Contents

Introduction

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play an Affliction Warlock in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, PvP talents, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.

About The Author

This guide has been written by Mysticall, a seasoned PvP player who has repeatedly achieved Arena Master and 2500 rating. You can watch his stream on Twitch, and you can also check out his YouTube channel.

1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta for Affliction Warlocks

Affliction Warlocks are in an excellent spot in terms of 3v3 Arena. They not only have the strongest spread pressure, but they also have the ability to burst enemy players down. If left unchecked for even a few seconds, they can easily apply their DoTs and begin melting entire teams. Even if an Affliction Warlock is being focused by enemies, most of their damage is instant and will slowly pressure down teams.

1.1. Strengths of Affliction Warlocks

  • Great spread damage
  • Strong crowd control
  • Multiple interrupts

1.2. Weaknesses of Affliction Warlocks

  • Lack of mobility
  • Struggle to stay alive against melee teams
  • Very few defensive cooldowns

2. Stat Priority for Affliction Warlock in PvP

The stat priority for Affliction Warlock in PvP is as follows:

  1. Intellect;
  2. Haste;
  3. Critical Strike;
  4. Mastery;
  5. Versatility.

Intellect is the best stat in all situations. Haste is the strongest secondary stat at all times due to it reducing the Global Cooldown on abilities and increases the tick rate of your DoTs. Critical Strike increases the chance your damaging spells do additional damage.

3. Azerite Traits for Affliction Warlocks

Azerite traits are unlocked in you helm, shoulders and chest. With each Azerite level in your neck, you get closer to unlocking the center trait in your gear. These traits vary from increasing damage of certain abilities to helping increase your survivability. Depending on what traits you use, it can completely alter your playstyle and what talents you should be using.

3.1. Outer Ring

Below are the best Outer Ring traits.

  1. Inevitable Demise Icon Inevitable Demise
  2. Sudden Onset Icon Sudden Onset
  3. Archive of the Titans Icon Archive of the Titans
  4. Cascading Calamity Icon Cascading Calamity

There is one trait you are going to want in all pieces of your Azerite gear and it should be Inevitable Demise Icon Inevitable Demise. You need this trait so you can kill an enemy player with full DoTs from 100% health to 0. If you cannot get this trait in all of your Azerite gear, there are still other options. Sudden Onset Icon Sudden Onset and Cascading Calamity Icon Cascading Calamity both help increase your spread damage. These traits are great if your goal is to rot an entire team. Archive of the Titans Icon Archive of the Titans increases your primary stat, Intellect, and results in an increase to your sustained damage.

3.2. Middle Ring

Below are the best Middle Ring traits.

  1. Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power
  2. Gutripper Icon Gutripper
  3. Elemental Whirl Icon Elemental Whirl
  4. Earthlink Icon Earthlink

The Middle and Inner Rings are important for additional damage. Elemental Whirl Icon Elemental Whirl, Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power, and Earthlink Icon Earthlink give an increase to your stats. These are minor stat boosts, but still increase your damage. Gutripper Icon Gutripper will help increase both your single target and spread pressure.

3.3. Inner Ring

Below are the best Inner Ring traits.

  1. Resounding Protection Icon Resounding Protection
  2. Gemhide Icon Gemhide
  3. Impassive Visage Icon Impassive Visage
  4. Azerite Fortification Icon Azerite Fortification

All of these traits give you additional ways of surviving. These are all passive, but are crucial to have.

4. Talent Choices for Affliction Warlocks

Level Choices
15 Nightfall Nightfall Drain Soul Drain Soul Deathbolt Deathbolt
30 Writhe in Agony Writhe in Agony Absolute Corruption Absolute Corruption Siphon Life Siphon Life
45 Demon Skin Demon Skin Burning Rush Burning Rush Dark Pact Dark Pact
60 Sow the Seeds Sow the Seeds Phantom Singularity Phantom Singularity Vile Taint Vile Taint
75 Darkfury Darkfury Mortal Coil Mortal Coil Demonic Circle Demonic Circle
90 Shadow Embrace Shadow Embrace Haunt Haunt Grimoire of Sacrifice Grimoire of Sacrifice
100 Soul Conduit Soul Conduit Creeping Death Creeping Death Dark Soul: Misery Dark Soul: Misery

While the above table provides a generally accurate overview of the viability of talents, some finer points are discussed in the sections that follow, and we recommend you read those for a deeper understanding.

4.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

Deathbolt Icon Deathbolt is the best choice in this tier. This gives you a strong, instant spell that is an overall increase to your sustained damage.

4.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents

Absolute Corruption Icon Absolute Corruption is the best choice in this tier. This makes your Corruption Icon Corruption significantly stronger and is an increase to your spread pressure.

4.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents

Dark Pact Icon Dark Pact is the best choice in this tier. This is a great tool to increase your survivability. The only downside to this talent is that it sacrifices 20% of your health. This means you need to keep track of your health at all times. Use this talent when you are high on health. If you find yourself low on health often, or have a hard time tracking your health, Demon Skin Icon Demon Skin is another option. It is slightly weaker, but a great passive defensive.

4.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Phantom Singularity Icon Phantom Singularity is the best choice in this tier. This talent is the best choice because it deals a good amount of damage, as well as healing you for 25% of the damage done.

4.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle is the best choice in this tier. This is a strong talent to have to help you get away from incoming damage, or to reposition with your team.

If you are playing against a team and will not have to kite damage often, Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil is a better choice. This allows you to crowd control an enemy and also heal for a large amount.

4.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Grimoire of Sacrifice Icon Grimoire of Sacrifice is the best choice in this tier. The abilities that this talent gives your pets makes it the best talent in this tier.

A quick note on pets: Against a team that has multiple magic crowd control for your healer (Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice, Polymorph Icon Polymorph, Fear Icon Fear), you should sacrifice your Imp for Singe Magic Icon Singe Magic. Against any other composition, you should sacrifice your Felhunter for Spell Lock Icon Spell Lock.

4.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery is the best choice in this tier. This is a very strong offensive burst cooldown.

5. PvP Talents for Affliction Warlocks

The first PvP talent tier will give you a choice between Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion, Relentless Icon Relentless, and Adaptation Icon Adaptation. Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is the best choice in this tier. It is great for removing crowd control on you that your healer cannot dispel. You will normally save your trinket for a stun, followed by Demonic Circle: Teleport Icon Demonic Circle: Teleport.

You can choose 3 of the following PvP talents. Each of them has their uses, but some are better for certain strategies than others. The top three choices are the most useful, but can be replaced with other PvP talents, depending on your team's goal.

Gateway Mastery Icon Gateway Mastery increases the range of your Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway by 20 yards, and reduces the cast time by 30%. It also reduces the time between how often players can take your Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway by 15 sec. This is a crucial talent no matter what team you are playing against. This allows your team to avoid incoming damage or reposition more often.

Rot and Decay Icon Rot and Decay increases the duration of your Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction, Corruption Icon Corruption and Agony Icon Agony on the target each time your Drain Life Icon Drain Life deals damage, by 1 second. This is an overall large increase to your sustained damage.

Nether Ward Icon Nether Ward surrounds the caster with a shield that lasts 3 sec, reflecting all harmful spells cast on you. This is a strong talent against classes with magical spells. It is also important to note that this can also reflect interrupts from some melee classes (Demon Hunter, Death Knights or Enhancement Shaman).

Curse of Weakness Icon Curse of Weakness reduces the target's Physical damage dealt by 25% for 10 sec. This is a talent that should be chosen when playing against melee DPS. If there is only 1 melee DPS on the team, you can replace Rot and Decay Icon Rot and Decay for this talent. If there are two, you can replace Nether Ward Icon Nether Ward instead.

Endless Affliction Icon Endless Affliction increases the duration of your Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction, but the damage remains the same. This talent is helpful versus teams with multiple interrupts, as it gives you more time to use Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction. You can replace Nether Ward Icon Nether Ward with this talent.

6. Racial Bonuses for Affliction Warlocks

Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.

6.1. Horde

Orc is the best race for Affliction Warlocks, thanks to the passive Orcs have (Hardiness Icon Hardiness) reducing all stuns, which greatly improves survivability.

6.2. Alliance

The Human bonus (Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself) is a great way to escape stuns.

7. Playstyle for Affliction Warlocks

The Affliction Warlock has two roles when in an Arena: keep applying spread pressure and survive. Affliction Warlocks are powerful because they have strong AoE damage and the ability to crowd control enemy teams. Most of your damage will come from your instant-cast DoTs (Agony Icon Agony and Corruption Icon Corruption) and you will score kills with Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction. What makes this specialization tricky is determining when to use your Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Afflictions. It is important to note that healers can dispel this and you should try to use this spell when they do not have a dispel at the ready. If you are in a situation where you have 5 Soul Shards and the enemy healer is able to dispel, use Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction on multiple enemies and not just one. You will survive by using Fear Icon Fears on enemies. You can also use your Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway to create distance between you and foes.

7.1. Before Gates Open

Have a plan for who you will be mainly using your crowd control on. Affliction Warlocks are able to use their main crowd control, Fear Icon Fear or Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil.

You should also use Create Soulwell Icon Create Soulwell to create Healthstone Icon Healthstones for you and your teammates.

7.2. Offensive Playstyle

7.2.1. The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns.

If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. In the opener, Affliction Warlocks should focus on applying their DoTs to every enemy on the other team.

This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game.

  1. Cast Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway from your pillar to another part of the map.
  2. Use Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle (if talented into it) and place it behind a pillar.
  3. Apply and maintain Agony Icon Agony on all enemies.
    • Agony Icon Agony is your biggest source of damage and spread pressure.
    • It is very important to keep it active on all enemies, including pets, at all times.
    • This helps you generate Soul Shards much quicker.
  4. Apply and maintain Corruption Icon Corruption on all enemies.
  5. Once you have Agony Icon Agony and Corruption Icon Corruption on all enemies, start using Drain Life Icon Drain Life to extend the durations of them.
  6. Once you have at least 3-4 Soul Shards and the enemy healer in crowd control, you will be able to use your burst rotation.

7.2.2. Burst Damage

The best talent setup for Affliction Warlocks is the "spread pressure" build for strong spread damage. It is important to note that you should be focusing on spread pressure rather than single target. With that said, the following is how you will burst if you have crowd control on the enemy healer and are trying to secure a kill.

  1. Use Dark Soul: Misery Icon Dark Soul: Misery.
  2. Refresh Agony Icon Agony.
  3. Refresh Corruption Icon Corruption.
  4. If the enemy healer cannot dispel, do the following on your kill target:
    1. Use Phantom Singularity Icon Phantom Singularity
    2. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction
    3. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction.
    4. Use Deathbolt Icon Deathbolt.
    5. Use Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare.
    6. Channel Drain Life Icon Drain Life if you have 100 stacks of Inevitable Demise Icon Inevitable Demise.
  5. Do the following if the enemy healer can dispel:
    1. Use Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction on multiple enemies.
    2. When the enemy healer dispels, cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction on your kill target.
    3. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction on your kill target.
    4. Use Deathbolt Icon Deathbolt.
    5. Use Summon Darkglare Icon Summon Darkglare.
    6. Channel Drain Life Icon Drain Life if you have 100 stacks of Inevitable Demise Icon Inevitable Demise.

7.2.3. Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

  1. Maintain Agony Icon Agony on all enemies.
    • Never let this fall off any enemies at any point of the Arena match.
  2. Maintain Corruption Icon Corruption on all enemies.
  3. Once you have Agony Icon Agony and Corruption Icon Corruption on all enemies, channel Drain Life Icon Drain Life to extend your DoTs.
  4. Cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction on a single enemy if the enemy healer cannot dispel, or on multiple enemies if they can.
  5. Cast Shadow Bolt Icon Shadow Bolt as a filler.
  6. Channel Drain Life Icon Drain Life if you have 100 stacks of Inevitable Demise Icon Inevitable Demise.

7.3. Defensive Techniques

Unending Resolve Icon Unending Resolve is your primary defensive ability and should be used if your healer has no defensive cooldowns and you are at high health. You cannot use this when you are stunned. You will not be interrupted while this is active, so you can use this time to cast Fear Icon Fear to stay alive or Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction for damage.

Dark Pact Icon Dark Pact is a great defensive, but it comes with a price. You have to make sure that you use this ability at high health or classes like Warrior will take advantage of their Execute Icon Execute. Besides that drawback, this will help you survive against teams with high sustained and burst damage.

Healthstone Icon Healthstone should be used when you are at very low health and your healer does not have defensive cooldowns to keep you alive.

Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle, if talented, should be placed away from the enemy team, but close to your healer. Make sure you coordinate when you will be using this, so your team can position themselves accordingly. You will want to use this when the enemy team is using their offensive cooldowns and you need to create distance between you and them. Use the same concept when you need to take Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway.

Curse of Weakness Icon Curse of Weakness should be used on a melee DPS to prevent incoming Physical damage.

Curse of Tongues Icon Curse of Tongues should be used on a caster DPS to prevent or slow down incoming spell damage.

8. Best Team Compositions for Affliction Warlocks

Now that you have the correct talents and understand your damage rotation, it is time to step into the arena with your team. Affliction Warlocks do not have much burst damage, but if they get a chance to cast, they have the ability to rot entire teams.

8.1. 2v2 Arena

In 2v2 Arena, there are not many options. Your primary goal is to get a full Fear Icon Fear on the enemy healer and use multiple Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Afflictions on the enemy DPS. If you cannot fear the enemy healer, try to make them use their dispel. This will allow you to cast and apply DoTs, without having to worry about them being dispelled. It is very important that you maintain all of your DoTs on as many targets as you can. Agony Icon Agony should not expire. Make sure to cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Afflictions on multiple targets so the enemy healer cannot dispel them all at once.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 2v2:

  • Affliction Warlock + Holy Paladin;
  • Affliction Warlock + Restoration Shaman;
  • Affliction Warlock + Restoration Druid;
  • Affliction Warlock + Discipline Priest.

8.2. 3v3 Arena

Your role in 3v3 is similar to 2v2 Arena. Make sure to maintain your DoTs on all enemies, including pets. It is best to be playing with another caster, so you are not the only person being interrupted. Try to use your burst rotation when the enemy team does not have any interrupts. Use Fear Icon Fear on the enemy healer and have one of your teammates stun your kill target. It is important to note that Fear Icon Fear should also be used to help your teammates. If you or a teammate is struggling to stay alive, use Fear Icon Fear on an enemy DPS without a trinket. If they both have trinkets, use it on whichever enemy you want. Make sure to cast Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Afflictions on multiple targets so the enemy healer cannot dispel them all at once.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 3v3:

  • WLS (Affliction Warlock + Arms Warrior + Holy Paladin/Restoration Shaman);
  • FLS (Affliction Warlock + Feral Druid + Restoration Shaman);
  • Affliction Warlock + Elemental Shaman + Restoration Druid/ Holy Paladin;
  • Shadowplay (Affliction Warlock + Shadow Priest + Holy Paladin/Restoration Druid).

9. Useful Macros for Affliction Warlocks

Macros are crucial to be successful in PvP. They allow players to use abilities on enemies without having to target them. This helps increase overall damage/healing and general awareness in the arena. Here are a few macros that all Affliction Warlocks can benefit from.

9.1. Fear 123 Macro

  • #showtooltip Fear
  • /cast [target=arena1] Fear

Using this macro will cast Fear Icon Fear on arena enemy 1. This makes it easier to crowd control an enemy while staying focused on your target. If you want macros for the second and third enemies, simply change the arena1 to arena2 or arena3.

9.2. Fear Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Fear
  • /cast [target=focus] Fear

If you find that you do not have much room on your action bars, you can use a focus macro. This is much simpler to use than the arena123 macro. Put an enemy on focus and this macro will cast Fear Icon Fear on that player while you are still focused on your target.

9.3. Spell Lock Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip
  • /cast [target=focus] Spell Lock

This macro will use Spell Lock Icon Spell Lock on whichever enemy you have on focus. Because you will be primarily using Spell Lock Icon Spell Lock on the enemy healer, you should only need this focus macro.

9.4. Mouseover Banish Macro

  • #showtooltip Banish
  • /cast [@mouseover] Banish

This makes it so you can use Banish Icon Banish on another Warlock's demon or an elemental pet, while still damaging your main target.

9.5. Mouseover Corruption Macro

  • #showtooltip Corruption
  • /cast [@mouseover,harm] Corruption; [harm] Corruption

This makes it so you can use Corruption Icon Corruption on any enemy without having to target them. Mouseover macros are not required, but they make it much more efficient than clicking your targets.

9.6. Mouseover Agony Macro

  • #showtooltip Agony
  • /cast [@mouseover,harm] Agony; [harm] Agony

This makes it so you can use Agony Icon Agony on any enemy without having to target them. Mouseover macros are not required, but they make it much more efficient than clicking your targets.

9.7. Mouseover Unstable Affliction Macro

  • #showtooltip Unstable Affliction
  • /cast [@mouseover,harm] Unstable Affliction; [harm] Unstable Affliction

This makes it so you can use Unstable Affliction Icon Unstable Affliction on any enemy without having to target them. Mouseover macros are not required, but they make it much more efficient than clicking your targets.

10. Changelog

  • 08 Oct. 2018: Added stat priority section, Azerite traits section, talent table, and updated Burst Damage section.
  • 02 Oct. 2018: Removed PvP Gear and War Mode sections.
  • 01 Sep. 2018: Updated Defensive section.
  • 25 Aug. 2018: Updated guide for patch 8.0.1.
    • Updated Introduction and spec overview.
    • Added Stat priority.
    • Updated all regular talents sections.
    • Added PvP (War Mode) talents and gear sections for the new BfA system.
    • Updated Racial Bonuses section.
    • Updated Burst Damage and Sustained Damage sections.
    • Updated Macros section.
    • Removed Gear section.
    • Updated Artifact Traits and Relics sections.
  • 02 Jun. 2018: Added an Arena Compositions section.
  • 19 Apr. 2018: Made several updates to the guide and its structure.
    • Added sections for Macros, Strengths, and Weaknesses.
    • Moved Gear, Artifact Traits, and Relics sections to the end, since they are not that important.
  • 21 Jan. 2018: No major changes needed for patch 7.3.5.
  • 08 Dec. 2017: No major changes needed for patch 7.3.2. Updated "About the Author".
  • 30 Aug. 2017: Removed artifact trait description.
  • 30 Jun. 2017: Made several updates to the guide.
    • Updated description for Tier 1 and Tier 2 regular talents.
    • Updated talent choice for Tier 4 and 7 regular talents, and tier 5 and 6 honor talents.
    • Updated Opener, Burst, and Sustained damage rotations.
  • 05 Jun. 2017: Guide created.
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