Blood Pact: Affliction 101 at 90 in the end of Mists

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill wants Drain Life filler back despite knowing it won't happen.

So you just boosted your warlock to 90 and... You decided that playing destro at 90 isn't for you, but you still want something easy to pick up. As of patch 5.4's changes to Soul Swap and the boost to DoTs after the KJC change, I'd argue affliction is easier to pull off than destro. Due to Soul Swap, everything is a single target to an "aff'lock."

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Pets, talents, glyphs

I want to play with a pet. That's cool, because Grimoire of Supremacy (GoSup) will be featured today. In pure DPS situations like dungeons and raids, you'll want to use the observer eyeball pet (most often) or the fel imp (ranged/switches targets easier), but when solo you'll often want to use the super voidwalker, the voidlord.

The way Blizzard balances affliction is pretty swingy these days. When our fillers do a lot of our damage, GoSac is the best. When our DoTs are much stronger, GoSup does better. In patch 5.4, our fillers relatively suck, so GoSup is best in nearly every situation.

Command Demon gives you a pet ability for GoSac, and you get a new set of abilities for GoSup:

The pets themselves also come with other abilities sometimes, such as the fel imp's AoE dispel, that are useful in select encounters.

The base talents I use as affliction are the same as what I suggested for destruction, for much the same reasons:

  1. ​Soul Leech -- Passively affects your filler. Easiest to learn.

  2. Mortal Coil -- Another heal.

  3. Soul Link / Sac Pact -- Split damage with and heal your pet or a shield using your pet's health.

  4. Burning Rush -- I like to be speedy.

  5. Grimoire of Supremacy (voidlord/observer) -- We already talked about this.

  6. Archimonde's Darkness -- Main DPS CD for level 90 group activities.

Some commenters mentioned taking Sacrificial Pact (Sac Pact) instead of Soul Link, and you can certainly do that. I prefer to split damage and heal my pet with my damage done. Kil'jaeden's Cunning (KJC) can make more of a difference to a beginner because of learning to move with a channel.

Glyphs again don't change as much in PvE: Siphon Life, Healthstone, and Life Tap. Sometimes I switch out Siphon Life with Unending Resolve for some encounters (Thok) and commenters suggested the Soulstone glyph for smaller groups. For affliction PvP, Eternal Resolve and Unstable Affliction are favorites. My favorite minor glyph as affliction is Verdant Spheres.

What spells do I use?

Affliction has a few more buttons than destruction, but the chunking is simple enough: get your DoTs up and keep them up. Again, I'll include popular abbreviations in parentheses.

Affliction's main spell damage is done by its DoTs:

  • Agony -- Instant, ramping DoT. This is often the most powerful and important DoT.

  • Unstable Affliction (UA) -- Cast-time DoT that will silence targets if dispel (this also applies to NPCs like the healers in Scarlet Monastery!). This DoT can compete with Agony damage-wise.

  • Corruption (Corr) -- Instant and weakest of our DoTs, but most bread-and-buttery of affliction.

  • Malefic Grasp (MG) -- Main filler, a channeled spell that duplicates DoT ticks on its DoT ticks.

  • Seed of Corruption (SoC or Seed) -- Our traditional exploding AoE. Most often used with Soulburn to place Corruption on every target.

  • Soul Swap (SS or Swap) -- Copies all the current DoTs from one target to another. Used often with Soulburn to apply all the DoTs at once to a target.

  • Pandemic is an important passive that allows a reapplication of a DoT before the DoT falls off a target to bundle most of its old leftover duration into the new DoT's timer. We call this "extending the DoT."

Affliction's secondary resource is soul shards, and you start with a full 4 most of the time. You can spend shards with two abilities and regain shards with one active, one passive ability:

  • Haunt -- Main debuff that increases DoT damage. Spends 1 shard.

  • Soulburn (SB, often SB:action) -- Lets you do a special version of an ability. Spends 1 shard.

  • Drain Soul (DS or sometimes DrS) -- Our execute filler, like MG. Generates 1 shard every 2 ticks or full 4 shards upon target death while channeling.

  • A passive through Corruption's ticks allows a chance of regenerating a soul shard.

Other essential abilities you'll use:

Priority rotations and being skill capped by addons

Affliction's skill cap unfortunately includes a need for better debuff timers than the default interface, though you can certainly play the spec just as well without addons if you know what you're doing. The current popular choice is AffDoTs, which tells you when a DoT would be more or less powerful than the currently applied DoT. You can also use a basic buff addon like Raven to show your DoTs or you can use a specialized addon like TellMeWhen to show relative DoT timers. I use a combination of Raven and Weak Auras (you can find auras here) with AffDoTs off to the side.

Due to the way affliction interacts well with targets, having special unit frames on your interface can make some encounters like Fallen Protectors a snoozefest.

Got your UI squared away? Alright, here's the priority:

  • Make sure CoE is up at some point (Can forego if you overgear something).

  • Use Soulburn: Soul Swap to apply all your DoTs to the target.

  • Cast Haunt on the target.

  • Refresh DoTs manually as needed or with SB:SS if you get a major proc that increases the damage of both Agony and UA.

  • Use Malefic Grasp (above target health 20%) or Drain Soul (below target health 20%).

  • Life Tap occasionally to regain mana.

  • Use Fel Flame if you have to move and none of the instants above applies.

Affliction can use Drain Soul to snipe dying mobs for full shard regeneration, so nameplates with percent health are very useful.

For AoE, affliction used to use SB: Seed and then would tab-target around more Seeds for extra exploding damage. However, in patch 5.4, our DoTs are so strong and Soul Swap's ability to copy became baseline with such a short CD that aff'locks often use Soul Swap as an AoE DoT application. Apply SB: SS twice to get the max Pandemic duration of DoTs and then just exhale + inhale around to all the target you can.

Back to the Timeless Isle

Last week, I did the woodland animal-type mobs as destro. This week, let's talk about the next progression of hard mobs on the Timeless Isle -- those yaungol up in the Firewalker Ruins. The first big chest is up here and this steppe is a popular farming spot for Emperor Shaohao reputation.

The mobs here will encourage you to move around even more so than the animals, so taking KJC isn't that bad of an idea at first. The voidlord is great to take some pressure and damage off yourself, but you'll still need to move for some mobs.

Ordon Candlekeepers are non-elites that accompany the nearby elites. They are the kobolds of this area. Watch out for:

  • Their breath of fire, which they cast in front of them.

  • Their sacrifice melee-range explosion when close to death.

Ordon Fire-Watchers are caster-type mobs. Watch out for:

  • Their Pyroblast, which is often aimed at your voidlord.

  • Their AoE Rain of Fire-like spell, which you can often out-range just fine.

Ordon Oathguards are the melee-type mobs and perhaps the most annoying for warlocks. Watch out for:

  • The line of rumbling ground (Cracking Blow). Side-step this to avoid a big hit to your health.

  • Defensive Shield will deflect anything you cast at the mob from the shield's side. Get behind and cast.

  • If you pull an Oathguard with another Oathguard or Fire-Watcher, the Oathguard(s) will sometimes channel Oath of Guardianship, which reduces your damage on both mobs by 75% until the cast is interrupted. Remember: death is the best interrupt, but use the observer's interrupt if you really need to.

Finally, we'll finish up Mists at 90 with demo and the heavy-hitting yaungols higher up on the Timeless Isle.

Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DOTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll teach you how to get green fire and what a warlock is really all about, even if you're just looking for a loot list or a 101 guide at 90.