What’s the best Warlock rotation? Our guide to Affliction, Destruction and Demonology priority systems

Warlocks are a fun class to play, with a set of complicated mechanics and the need to juggle a whole handful of different damage-over-time spells. It’s only natural to wonder what type of warlock makes the best warlock, and which is the best spec and the best warlock rotation. Well, the simple answer is Affliction, but if you want to know a few more details, read on.

We have a winner! Sort of!

It’s true that Affliction is generally consider the ‘best’ warlock tree in 4.2, where ‘best’ equates to ‘has the highest DPS potential’. Even then, there’s very little in it. The other two trees are only a tiny fraction behind, and there are plenty of other good practical reasons for choosing the Destruction or Demonology trees. The Destruction tree grants access to the Felguard, a high-DPS pet which can benefit from the synergistic abilities of the Demonology tree. The Destruction tree is actually considered to outrank Affliction for multiple-target DPS. So, the tree you choose is very much a personal choice.

If you want a breakdown of exact numbers, the theorycrafters of Elitist Jerks currently rank the DPS potential of Affliction as being 2-3% higher than that of Destruction, which is itself 5-6% ahead of Demonology. For multiple target fights, Destruction wins out easily. For a fight with two targets, the difference between Affliction and Destruction is negligible (although Demonology does still lag behind).

Affliction rotation

Warlocks are no longer slaves to strict rotations, having moved to a priority system with the arrival of Cataclysm. The basic Affliction priority system is:

  • Haunt if it’s not on cooldown.
  • Demon Soul if it’s not on cooldown.
  • Bane of Doom if this 1-minute DoT is close to expiry.
  • Corruption if the Corruption DoT is close to expiry. Corruption only lasts 18 seconds, so you’ll be refreshing this reasonably often.
  • Unstable Affliction if the Unstable Affliction DoT is close to expiry. Unstable Affliction lasts 15 seconds.
  • Drain Soul, but only once the boss drops below 25% health.
  • Shadowflame if it’s safe to do so (Shadowflame is an AoE spell, so be careful).
  • Shadow Bolt.

 

For a fight with two targets, you’ll need the Glyph of Soul Swap. You can then cast all of your damage-over-time spells on the first target (so that’s Haunt, Bane of Doom, Corruption and Unstable Affliction) and then use Soul Swap to duplicate the DoTs and drop them right onto the second target, which is pretty darn awesome.

For a multiple-target fight, bring Soulburn + Seed of Corruption to the party, and watch the damage fly.

Our guide to Affliction warlock stats, rotation and glyphs has a more in-depth look at the Affliction tree.

Destruction rotation

Like their Affliction cousins, Destruction warlocks operate a priority system rather than a pure rotation.

  • Soul Fire, but only if the Improved Soul Fire talent has proc’ed
  • Demon Soul
  • Immolate
  • Conflagrate
  • Bane of Doom
  • Corruption
  • Shadowflame if it’s safe
  • Soul Fire if your Imp’s buff from Demon Soul is active
  • Chaos Bolt
  • Shadowburn once the boss drops below 20% health
  • Incinerate

 

Take a look at our guide to the Destruction warlock spell rotation for a more in-depth look at the Destruction priority system, or our guide to Destruction warlock stats and spec in 4.2 for an overall view.

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Demonology rotation

The Demonology priority system is made slightly more complicated by the fact that the spec has two viable pets: the Felguard and the Felhunter. Generally speaking, you should be using the Felhunter for boss fights and the Felguard for trash mobs. Demon Soul has a different priority depending on which pet is active.

  • Metamorphosis
  • Demon Soul: Felguard
  • Immolate
  • Hand of Gul’dan
  • Demon Soul: Felhunter
  • Bane of Doom
  • Immolation Aura
  • Corruption
  • Shadowflame
  • Incinerate, but only if Molten Core procs
  • Soul Fire, but only if Decimation procs
  • Shadow Bolt

 

For multi-target fights, or fights with a high AoE requirement, you can simplify this priority system to:

  • Hellfire
  • Felguard Felstorm (if you’re using the Felguard pet)
  • Inferno
  • Shadowflame
  • Immolation Aura

 

Take a look at our guide to Demonology warlock stats, rotation and glyphs for a further discussion of the Demonology tree. In particular, the comments from reader Wolferene suggesting an alternative rotation are very much worth reading.

Dealer’s choice

The choice is to which warlock tree to choose is almost entirely up to you. For single-target DPS fights, Affliction is a strong choice, but for AoE-heavy multiple target fights, Destruction has the edge. Of course, for sheer I-can-turn-into-a-fraking-demon fun, you can’t beat Demonology.

What’s your favorite warlock spec? Do you have any tips for better rotations? Let us know in the comments.

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Patch 4.3 Affliction Warlock Quick Start Guide – Stats, Talent Spec, Enchants, Gems and Reforging, Rotation And Glyphs

Want to get busy afflicting pain and agony on the monsters / other players of the world, but don’t know how to start being an affliction warlock after patch 4.3? Don’t worry. We’ve got the basics of affliction – talent spec, glyphs, gems and reforging, enchants, and of course priorities – covered here so you can be petting fluffy bunnies smiting your opponents in no time at all.

Updated Feb 22nd 2012 for Patch 4.3

Patch 4.3 changes for Affliction Warlocks

Not much has changed in ‘flick land with this patch. Soul Fire has had a small buff (but we don’t really use it anyway), and Shadow Bolt has a new graphic, but that’s about it.

Our tier 13 set bonuses are fun. The 2-piece simply gives us more fun times with our Doomguard or Infernal, but our 4-piece tier bonus changes our rotation fundementally. When we achieve 4T13, we should use Soulburn with Soul Fire whenever it’s available.

Affliction warlock rotation

Affliction Warlocks don’t use a strict rotation – instead, they use a priority system. So, cast the spell nearest the top of the list that’s off cooldown:

Single target: Haunt > Demon Soul > Bane of Doom > Corruption > Unstable Affliction > Drain Soul (if target is below 25% health) > Shadowflame > Shadow Bolt

  • Always use Haunt and Demon Soul whenever they’ve cooled down.
  • Keep Bane of Doom, Corruption and Unstable Affliction up on the target at all times.
  • Make sure to use Curse of Elements if another class isn’t providing an identical debuff (CoE is also covered by Unholy DKs, Mut rogues and Boomkin.)

Two targets: Get your DoTs on a target them use (glyphed) soul swap to transfer them to the other.

Three or more targets: Use Soulburn: Seed of Corruption.

Remember to keep Dark Intent up on a healer (if you’re on progression) or other DPS (if you’re on farm content). Use your Doomguard for single-target fights or your Infernal for AOE fights, during burn phases.

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Affliction talent spec

Which warlock demon should I use?

Like most WoW warlock builds, you should use the Fel Hunter.

Stats, reforging and gems as an Affliction warlock

Stats order: Intellect > Hit (until hit capped at 1742 /17%) > Haste > Critical Strike Rating > Mastery

  • Reforge Mastery and Critical Strike Rating into Hit until hit capped, then everything into Haste. If you can’t reforge to Haste reforge to Critical Strike Rating.
  • Gem for intellect (Brilliant Inferno Ruby). Use split intellect/haste (Reckless Ember Topaz) in yellow sockets or split Intellect/Hit (Veiled Demonseye) in blue sockets in the socket bonus is +20 Int or +30 of another stat or more.

Affliction Warlock enchants

Remember to check if your profession enchants are better! (Check the stat weights above – it’s likely to be pretty obvious if so).

Head Arcanum of Hyjal
Shoulders   Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone
Back Enchant Cloak – Greater Intellect
Chest Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats
Wrist Enchant Bracer – Mighty Intellect
Hands Enchant Gloves – Haste
Belt Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs Powerful Ghostly Spellthread
Feet Enchant Boots – Lavawalker
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Power Torrent
Off-Hand Weapon Enchant Weapon – Superior Intellect

Glyphs

Primes: Glyph of Unstable AfflictionGlyph of CorruptionGlyph of Haunt

Major:Glyph of Soul Swap Glyph of Shadow BoltGlyph of Life Tap. If you need to CC, you should use Glyph of Fear instead of one of the other Glyphs.

Minor: Glyph of Drain Soul and user’s choice.

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WoW Affliction Warlock Stats, Rotation And Glyphs {Patch 4.1}

This guide is now out of date – so get the latest info on Affliction Warlock talent specs, glyphs, reforging and gems, and rotations in Patch 4.2 instead!

Want to get busy afflicting pain and agony on the monsters of the world before Cataclysm, but don’t know how to start being an affliction warlock after patch 4.1? Don’t worry. We’ve got the basics of affliction covered here so you can be off petting fluffy bunnies smiting your opponents in no time.

Affliction warlock rotation:

Single target: Haunt > Demon Soul > Bane of Doom > Corruption > Unstable Affliction > Drain Soul (if target is below 25% health) > Shadowflame > Shadow Bolt/Drain Life

  • Always use Haunt and Demon Soul whenever they’ve cooled down.
  • Keep Bane of Doom, Corruption and Unstable Affliction up on the target at all times.

Two targets: Get your DoTs on a target them use (glyphed) soul swap to transfer them to the other.

Three or more targets: Use Soulburn: Seed of Corruption.

Affliction talent spec:

Which warlock demon should I use?:

  • Fel Hunter.

**Stats, reforging and gems as an Affliction warlock:

**

Stats order: Intellect > Hit (until hit capped at 1742 /17%) > Haste > Critical Strike Rating > Mastery

  • Reforge Mastery and Critical Strike Rating into Hit until hit capped, then everything into Haste. If you can’t reforge to Haste reforge to Critical Strike Rating.
  • Gem for intellect and hit until hit capped, then for intellect. Use split intellect/haste in yellow sockets in the socket bonus is worth it – i.e. +20 stat.

Glyphs:

Primes: Glyph of Unstable AfflictionGlyph of CorruptionGlyph of Haunt

Major: Glyph of Soul Swap Glyph of Shadow BoltGlyph of Life Tap

Minor: Glyph of Drain Soul

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