Ah, warlocks. Before the Burning Crusade, there was no class I hated more. Of course, my opinion of the class did a 180 once I got my own Warlock to 70. This build (and variants of it) is often called SL/SL, because it picks up both Siphon Life and Soul Link (talents in the Affliction and Demonology trees, respectively). Unlike most other Warlock builds that focus on damage output, this build is meant to help you outlast your opponents by mitigating some of the damage you take, while using Siphon Life and Drain Life to get your health back. Warlocks with this build can be annoyingly difficult to kill, and is still a popular spec in 2v2 Arena.
The downside (and there's almost always a downside, folks) is that you won't top any DPS charts when it comes to PvE -- it's just the nature of the build. If you think you can live with that, I strongly encourage you to try this build out for yourself. I'm a big fan. And if you're looking for even more info on it, Zach covered this build in-depth last week.
Affliction (24 points)
- Improved Corruption (5/5) - Reduces the casting time of Corruption by 2 seconds. This makes Corruption an instant cast spell, which is a real boon because you'll be doing some kiting with this build and it helps to have DoTs you can cast without stopping.
- Improved Curse of Weakness (2/2) - Increases the effect of your Curse of Weakness by 20%. Very handy for using against a Warrior, Rogue, or Retribution Paladin. This will lower the attack power of whoever you cast it on by 420, which is 30 DPS. This is a significant drop in attack power, and will help you survive against melee classes.
- Improved Life Tap (2/2) - Increases the mana you gain from Life Tap by 20%. You're going to be using Life Tap a lot, and this will make sure you get the most mana possible out of it.
- Soul Siphon (2/2) - Increases the amount drained by Drain Life by 4% for each Affliction effect on the target. You'll be using Drain Life when you're "tanking" mobs and other players, and this gives your drain a bit more muscle.
- Fel Concentration (5/5) - Gives you a 70% chance to avoid interruption caused by damage when channeling Drain Life, Drain Mana or Drain Soul. Highly useful for keeping that drain going when you're getting beat on. For grinding, this allows you to "tank" a mob, keeping your health up while taking damage.
- Amplify Curse (1/1) - Increases the effect of your next Curse of Doom or Agony by 50%, or your next Curse of Exhaustion by 20%. This is a prereq for Curse of Exhaustion, but it also comes in handy for doing extra damage or slowing your target down even more, which is handy for kiting.
- Grim Reach (2/2) - Increases the range of your Affliction spells by 20%. Again, quite useful for kiting or just staying at max range.
- Nightfall (2/2) - Gives your Drain Life and Corruption spells a 4% chance to proc Shadow Trance, which reduces the cast time of your next Shadow Bolt by 100%. An instant Shadow Bolt can provide you with some burst damage occasionally -- it may not be reliable, but it's better than nothing, especially since this build is short on burst damage.
- Shadow Embrace (1/5) - Causes your Corruption, Curse of Agony, Siphon Life and Seed of Corruption to all apply Shadow Embrace, which decreases physical damage dealt by 1%. You're taking 1 point in this mostly to provide some protection for your DoTs. Also, it was thought that this no longer counted towards Soul Siphon but some testing has shown that it still does count as an additional Affliction effect, and thus will raise the amount drained by Drain Life by another 4%.
- Siphon Life (1/1) - Transfers 66 health from the target to the caster every 3 seconds for 30 seconds. One of the two talents that lends its name to the build. On a single target, this can act as sort of a weak renew. When you can get this up on multiple targets, you can get a serious amount of health flowing in.
- Curse of Exhaustion (1/1) - Reduces target's speed by 30% for 12 seconds. With Amplify Curse this goes up to 50%, but even without it, this will help you kite your target while your DoTs are doing their thing.
Demonology (37 points)
- Improved Healthstone (2/2) - Increases the amount of health restored by your healthstone by 20%. This brings the base amount healed by the healthstone up to almost 2500, which will help keep you (and your group) alive if things go south.
- Demonic Embrace (5/5) - Increases your total stamina by 15% but decreases your total spirit by 5%. Don't pass this one up. More health = more survivability.
- Fel Intellect (3/3) - Increases the intellect of your pets by 15% and your maximum mana by 3%. Not a great talent, but does increase your pet's intellect which means more spell damage later thanks to Demonic Knowledge.
- Fel Domination (1/1) - Your next pet summon has it's casting time reduced by 5.5 seconds and its mana cost reduced by 50%. Helps if your pet dies mid-fight and you need to re-summon it, and when combined with Master Summoner allows you to re-summon your pet in 0.5 seconds for almost no mana.
- Fel Stamina (3/3) - Increases the stamina of your pets by 15% and your maximum health by 3%. Another health boost for you, but buffing your pet's health gives your more spell damage later (through Demonic Knowledge) and helps them to live longer.
- Demonic Aegis (3/3) - Increases the effectiveness of Demon and Fel Armor by 30%. This translates to an extra 30 spell damage when using Fel Armor, which is not a huge boost, but any additional spell damage is good.
- Master Summoner (2/2) - Reduces the casting time of your summon pet spells by 4 seconds, and reduces the mana cost by 40%. Useful for summoning a pet more quickly when Fel Domination is on cooldown, and also saves you some mana.
- Unholy Power (5/5) - Increases the damage of your Voidwalker, Felhunter, Felguard, and Succubus' melee attacks and your Imp's Firebolt by 20%. Not really a super talent on its own, but it is a prereq for Master Demonologist, which is reason enough to take this.
- Demonic Sacrifice (1/1) - When used, this sacrifices your pet for a buff which lasts 30 minutes. The buff is canceled if any pet is summoned. You'll probably never use this because you'll want your pet to be alive most of the time. However, it's a prereq for Soul Link, so we must have it.
- Mana Feed (1/3) - When you use Life Tap or Drain Mana, your pet gains 33% of the mana you gain. One point in this talent is generally all you need to ensure your pet always has mana.
- Master Demonologist (5/5) - Grants both the Warlock and his pet a buff so long as the pet is active. The buff varies from pet to pet, but you'll likely either be using a Voidwalker (Reduces physical damage by 10%) or a Felhunter (Increases all resistances by 1 per level) with this build.
- Demonic Resilience (2/3) - Reduces the chance you'll be crit by melee and spells by 2%, and decreases the damage your pet takes by 10%. If you're already resilience capped this talent doesn't do that much for you, but it does help your pet to live longer.
- Soul Link (1/1) - Causes 20% of all damage taken by the caster to be shared with your pet or enslaved demon. In addition, both you and the pet will deal 5% more damage so long as the pet is active and controlled. This is the other talent that gives this build its name. It's an amazing talent that shouldn't be missed.
- Demonic Knowledge (3/3) - Increases your spell damage by an amount equal to 12% of your pet's total stamina and intellect. More spell damage is a beautiful thing. Don't pass this one up!