Affliction Warlock PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Shadowlands / 9.0.2)
PvP requires you to perform various actions in the course of a duel, match, or battleground: interrupting/silencing enemies, damaging them, bursting them down, defending yourself, keeping yourself alive, etc.. It is a game mode that fully utilizes your kit, especially spells that are rarely used in PvE. On this page, we go through all the spells you need to use in PvP as an Affliction Warlock, how you should use them, and we explain what your playstyle should be.
This page is part of our Affliction Warlock PvP Guide.
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 avoid damage through clever use of mobility. Most of your damage will come from your DoTs ( Agony, Corruption, Unstable Affliction) and you will score kills with Malefic Rapture and Rapid Contagion. What makes this specialization tricky is finding time to chain cast Malefic Raptures while staying alive. You will survive by using your mobility in the forms of Demonic Circle, Demonic Gateway as well as Soulshape to create distance between yourself and your enemies. Additionally, Howl of Terror and Mortal Coil are ways to peel for yourself.
Generating and Spending Soul Shards
Understanding how to generate and spend Soul Shards is crucial to maximizing your damage as an Affliction Warlock. Before going over the rotations, this section will talk about the basics.
Agony damage will sometimes generate 1 Soul Shard. This is the only way for Affliction Warlocks to get Soul Shards and this is why it is extremely important to maintain Agony on as many enemies as possible.
So now that you know how to generate Soul Shards, here is how you will spend them:
- Malefic Rapture costs 1 Soul Shard and deals damage to all enemies that have your DoTs on them. This should be used when you have multiple DoTs on multiple enemies to maximize your spread damage. Ideally, press this when you have Corruption, Agony and Unstable Affliction up on all targets in the Arena. Remember that Phantom Singularity and Soul Rot also contribute to Malefic Rapture's damage. Keep in mind that this ability has a 100 yard range, and will not affect enemies out of line of sight.
Before Gates Open
The opener refers to your team's opening sequence of abilities as soon as you get out of the gates and enter combat. The main goal in the opener as an Affliction Warlock is to maintain max distance while applying your DoT effects.
This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game.
- Cast Demonic Gateway from your pillar to another part of the map.
- Use Demonic Circle and place it behind a pillar close to your Demonic Gateway.
- Apply and maintain Corruption on all enemies.
- Cast Unstable Affliction on your primary target and any enemies around you.
- 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.
The best way to generate pressure and create win conditions is to maximise your spread damage output. 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 play out your burst window.
- Apply Corruption to all targets.
- Apply Agony to all targets.
- Cast Unstable Affliction to all targets.
- If your enemy stays in your line of sight:
- Do the following if your enemies are close to the pillar:
- Use Phantom Singularity.
- Cast Soul Rot.
- Use Dark Soul: Misery.
- Use Summon Darkglare.
- Cast Malefic Rapture until no one is in your line of sight.
- Use Rapid Contagion if no enemy is in line of sight and you have three Soul Shards available.
- Cast Drain Life if you are Night Fae to deal spread damage and make Drain Life cast on all targets affected by Soul Rot.
Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.
- Maintain Agony on all enemies.
- Maintain Corruption on all enemies.
- Cast Unstable Affliction on all enemies.
- Use Phantom Singularity on your primary kill target. This increases your spread damage and will heal you for some of the damage that is dealt. Be mindful as this can break CC every time it ticks around the target.
- Cast Malefic Rapture when you have Soul Shards and have as many DoTs on as many enemies as you can. This is where the pressure from Affliction Warlocks will come from.
- Use Soul Rot if you are Night Fae to deal spread damage and make Drain Life cast on all targets affected by Soul Rot.
- Channel Drain Life if you have 50 stacks of Inevitable Demise.
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 will not be interrupted while this is active, so you can use this time to cast Fear to stay alive or Unstable Affliction for damage.
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 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.
Curses allow you to weaken a target based on which curse you use on them. Effectively using a curse on an enemy could prevent a lot of damage that the target will deal. Here are the curses that you have and the best time to use them:
- Curse of Weakness increases the time between the enemy's attacks. This should be used on a melee DPS to prevent incoming Physical damage. However, this is a low priority spell and should only be used when moving when DoT maintenance is not required. This is the best spell to use against a Warrior's Spell Reflection as it has no adverse effect on you.
- Curse of Tongues increases the cast time of all spells the enemy casts. This should be used on a caster DPS to prevent or slow down incoming spell damage.
- Curse of Exhaustion reduces the target's movement speed. This is a very flexible Curse and can be used to slow down melee DPS or slow down enemy healers to make them easier to crowd control. This is made redundant by the ideal legendary for Affliction Warlocks, Sacrolash's Dark Strike.
- 01 Jan. 2021: Updated for Shadowlands Season 1.
- 05 Dec. 2020: Updated Rotations to include Covenant Ability.
- 29 Nov. 2020: Removed outdated Traits and Essences.
- 14 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands pre-patch.
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