Newbie guide to Affliction in 4.1

Those of you that know me know that I am not exactly big on guides. I wrote one a long time ago about leveling up a warlock. For the most part it still works with the changed leveling from 4.0, but I should probably update it. A little back story on this post today!

Cynwise was on twitter yesterday asking if anyone knew of an Affliction guide for 4.1 for newbies.  He had gotten an email from a brand new warlock and since he isn’t big on PvE (he is the king of PvP though) he wanted to direct this person to someone who could help them.

After some research we found that there wasn’t a guide for newbies.  There are several that are more advanced, but those wouldn’t really work.  I asked Cyn to forward me the email and I sent a write up explaining how to Aff lock as it were.  I was quite proud of my reply and asked Cyn if he thought it would work for a newbie guide.  He told me yes and so I decided to share it with you all!

First of all here is my warlock – Lyssianna

What will help you is some kind of dot tracker. I personally use Need to Know. It is fairly simple to set up and can be used to track all sorts of things.

I am not big on macros, so I don’t have any tips on how to use those. What I will give you is the basics.

Boss fights:

Curse of the Elements
Demon Soul: Felhunter (this means you should be running with the felhunter aka the fel puppy)
Unstable Affliction
Bane of Agony
Shadow bolt (spam this until you need to refresh your dots)

Ideally you want to have 3 stacks of Shadow Embrace up at all times (something to have on your tracker). Shadow bolt and haunt put this debuff up on your target. Each stack increases your shadow damage by 5% for a max of 15%. Since you will be spamming Shadow Bolt as a filler this is very easy to keep up.

When haunt reaches about 4-5 seconds left you will want to start recasting it. You want to have this spell up at all times. Haunt also refreshes Corruption.

The majority of the time will be spent refreshing your dots (don’t clip them!) and spamming shadow bolt.  Just in case you didn’t know, “clipping” means reapplying the DoT before the duration wears off.

You will want to use your Doomguard ideally when bloodlust (or heroism if you are Alliance) is cast. BUT you need to make sure you will have 45 seconds available for him to dps.  Until you learn the fights this might take a bit to get right, but you will eventually learn when the right time is each fight.  Since this has a 10 min cooldown you will want to make sure you use it each time it is available.

When the boss reaches under 25% health you will need to switch to drain soul. This spell will automatically refresh your Unstable Affliction and Corruption. You will continuously channel this spell until Haunt reaches about 4-5 seconds left or when Bane of Agony falls off. The Haunt application will keep up your Shadow Embrace. The under 25% damage is your largest source of dps/damage. I currently use a power aura (only that one) to pop up a warning whenever my targeted mob is at 25% or less health. You might want to set up something similar to help you. I don’t know about you but I have a hell of time figuring out when the mob has hit 25% so this has helped me immensely.  If you aren’t big on using add ons then changing the health bars to show percentages can make this MUCH easier.

Trash mobs:

I try to find the mob that will be killed last and stick Curse of the Elements on them. Then I load up all my dots on the first marked target (haunt, UA, Cor, BoA) then with a glyphed Soul Swap I pop UA, Cor and BoA to the next marked target. I then find the 3rd target and load that one up with dots. By that point haunt is off cooldown and you can reapply it. I essentially tab target through the mobs and refresh my dots as needed until they all die.

If you are in a place with non-elites and just need to AoE spam then use Soulburn: Seed of Corruption and start spamming Seed. The Soulburn will not only refresh your shard once it explodes, but it will also put Corruption up on every target in the area. It is a ton of fun!

Going OOM:

This should NEVER happen with a warlock. Being that you are affliction you have the best passive healing out of almost every class. This is how I typically life tap.

Once I reach about 60-75% mana I life tap once or twice (I currently get 24k mana each tap unbuffed). I try to time this right before haunt comes back. This way I get healed by haunt and the healer doesn’t have to waste mana on me. Assuming you have corruption rolling on your target at all times, the healing from Siphon life will keep you with a steady stream of health.

If you are still having trouble with remembering to life tap, just put it into your rotation. After you put up a full stack of dots, life tap. That way you are constantly full for mana and your haunt will heal you each time.

Glyphs & Talents:

The spec that Lyssi has is pretty much the standard one.  There isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room if you are focusing primarily on PvE.

With Glyphs there are several options.  What you choose will largely depend on your playstyle and what you are planning on doing.

Must Haves:

Options for other slots:


Crowd Control aka CC:

Warlocks are Kings and Queens of CC.  Thanks to the lovely Glyph of Fear (EVERY warlock should have this glyph, there is no excuse!) we can now manage several types of mobs.

You have 4 types of CC – Fear, Banish, Enslave Demon and Seduction.

How I handle keeping track of my CC target is to make the mob my focus.  I know that several people have come up with nifty macros for CCing and changing your target and focus.  I keep it simple.  Right click the target’s frame, set focus.  Then I can easily watch the duration of my CC.

**BIG TIP!**

Keep your pet on passive if you are going to CC a target.  Once your target is CC’d then send your pet to the kill target.  This will stop you from accidentally breaking your own CC.

Here is a breakdown on each CC:

  • Fear – This will be your staple CC.  It works on most mobs in Cata dungeons.  This better be glyphed or you will have mobs running everywhere and pulling their friends with them.  GLYPH THIS!  This can be broken by damage.  You do not have to wait for the timer to finish before you refresh this.  I usually refresh when the duration is about half gone.
  • Banish – This works on elementals and demons.  The best part about this method is the mob becomes immune to all damage.  You cannot refresh this very easily.  This can be taken off by recasting it on the mob.  If you want the mob to stay CC’d then wait for this to fall off then recast it on them.
  • Enslave Demon – This one will replace your current pet with whichever demon you enslave.  This cannot be broken by damage because they become your pet.  While that demon is under your control you can use their special abilities.  Once this wears off (or you dismiss it) you will have to fight the demon you enslaved.  I don’t use this method much.
  • Seduction – Your Succubus channels this spell.  This means you have to run with her.  Since you should be running with your Felpuppy you won’t have this ability as readily as the others.  This can be broken by damage (very easily I might add) and takes a bit more of micro managing than the others.  I usually do not use this ability unless I need more than fear on humanoid targets.



The only way to get good at affliction is to practice your rotation.  Affliction has one of the more difficult rotations to master.  The best tip I can give you is to spend a lot of time on the test dummies.  Once you can go through your rotation with ease (muscle memory for the win!) your dps/damage will go up big time.  Affliction’s main damage comes when the mob is under 25% and we are using drain soul.  Don’t get caught up in your rotation and forget to switch over.

Affliction has always been my favorite spec.  Please feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments and I will do my best to help you.

Once you progress beyond the “newbie” stage there are LOTS of sites out there with advanced techniques and ideas.  Just think of this as a jumping off point.

Good luck and happy dotting!

32 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Delerius
    May 05, 2011 @ 12:35:39

    Don’t forget to wand often, and if you have a high-enough dps weapon, melee as needed.

    (disclaimer: my highest warlock is around level 40. I have died a lot)


  2. repgrind
    May 05, 2011 @ 13:18:20

    I’m slightly confused by one thing, which has always confused me in spriest discussions too (something I know slightly more about since I at least have leveled one of those). The whole ‘refreshing’ of DoTs …. do you refresh them right before they fall off? Or is it more of a reapplication just after they end? Or does it differ depending on which DoT you’re talking about?


    • Cynwise
      May 05, 2011 @ 13:22:51

      Get them right as they’re about to drop off for all DoTs except for Bane of Agony. That one you let fall off and then recast after it’s gone. The best time is right between the second to last tick and the final tick – usually with less than 2 seconds left on any given dot.

      I have a longer post about warlock dots & haste which goes into more detail if you’re interested:


      • koalabear21
        May 05, 2011 @ 13:27:52

        What he said ^^

        The way I do it is see how long each cast will take to cast. That is when I recast the next spell.

        Take UA – it has a 1.5 second cast without haste. So when there is about 2-3 seconds left I start to cast it to refresh.

        Haunt is a bit different because it has a cooldown AND it has travel time. That is why I suggest 4-5 seconds. You usually cannot cast it any sooner because the cooldown isn’t up yet.


  3. telanarra
    May 05, 2011 @ 13:35:25

    The CC section needs a Sorak disclaimer


  4. Screwlewse
    May 05, 2011 @ 16:43:02

    Your information on CC is super helpful! Thanks.

    I am looking forward to the changes to CC in 4.2, it’s almost as if they want you to use CC??

    My only gripe is the range of casting Fear… it just seem to short to grab the caster in the back of a group of mobs. Hunter CC has HUGE range tho.
    Is the range same for banish and ED?


    • koalabear21
      May 05, 2011 @ 17:44:40

      I’m not sure on ED but I know that banish feels like less of a distance than fear.


    • Astoreth
      May 06, 2011 @ 15:16:51

      Fear has a 30-yard range. YMMV, but I frequently find that it is often difficult for me to grab ‘that caster in the back of the group’. Let whoever’s marking know that either you need a closer mob (so you can get close enough to Fear without facepulling) or you will need to Fear a melee mob ‘on the run’ (i.e. after the group is pulled, but before the mob reaches the tank. It takes practice). Sometimes tanks notice that Fear target start to run forward forward and assume that CC didn’t take, when in fact you’re just still casting and everything would be FINE if the tank would just chill out and TRUST YOU GEEZ.

      Er. Yes. Well! Banish has about the same range, but is NICE in that it cannot be broken by damage done to the mob. So go ahead and land that Banish right as the mob reaches the tank; D&D and Consecrate won’t break the CC and any hits the tank (would otherwise) land on the target will build aggro for when it does break.*

      * Except in Stonecore. Lock that shit down early and keep it there, unless you like mouthfuls of stone death.


      • koalabear21
        May 06, 2011 @ 15:23:36


        If we have a hunter (which in my guild we usually do) I will make sure we have him get the guys in the back because I just can’t reach them. It can make for a big mess on the trash packs in front of Cho’Gall


  5. Fulguralis
    May 06, 2011 @ 06:35:14

    Great starting point. When I caught your guide, I remembered… hey, I have guides too, and they’re totally not up to date! So yeah, thanks for giving me more work ;-).

    Here’s one thing I caught in my research:

    Apparently as of 4.1, Affliction ‘locks would benefit more from using Bane of Doom as opposed to Bane of Agony on single targets (bosses). The damage is better and you have to refresh it less (apparently). The down side is that BoD can only be up on one target at a time, so with soul swap it basically moves to the new target (removing on exhale, not inhale!).

    Complicated point made simple: Maybe we want newbie ‘locks to be using BoD instead? I’m trying to think of how to make it simple and what best to begin to train your muscle memory. I totally agree with what you say at the end about how you just need to practice to get good. We rely so much on routine and flow. That’s why Warlocks can be cranky about change (even good change), because it requires us to retrain our fingers.

    Changing to BoD would definitely change how I glyph, so it can be complicated. I talk about it in a lot more detail in my guide (which is update now:, but for a newbie it may be better to pick one or the other. I don’t know, just wanted to point out that it was sort of a sly change.

    The upside to BoD is that you don’t have to worry about clipping!


    • repgrind
      May 06, 2011 @ 07:14:07

      A few weeks back, I got all excited when my 20-something afflock procced his first Ebon Imp, and Lyssi was all like “you’re not supposed to use Bane of Doom omgggggggg!!!!!!!!!!” but I didn’t know, and it sounded cool. 😛

      So … now I *can* use it? Man, this DPS stuff is too confusing.


      • Fulguralis
        May 06, 2011 @ 07:21:24

        lol. I loves me some Ebon Imps too.

        You may want to check out your personal numbers on a dummy, but that is the “word on the street.” And by street I mean EJ.


        • Fulguralis
          May 06, 2011 @ 07:27:47

          The biggest complaint I have about using EJ to make decisions is that it can often be hard to tell what you’re giving up if you want to go with, say, “second best.” They are superbly confident (with good reason) about what is best. But what about when you’re not in BiS gear? What about if you have a slightly different spec?

          For example, back before the Felhunter got its groove back, I always wondered how much I was giving up by sticking with the guy. I mean were we talking 100 DPS less? 50? 10? (Keep in mind I’m talking without the glyph too).

          To some extent, that’s completely frivolous thinking. I mean it’s like “what if’s,” and those can go on forever. On the other hand, in this case I don’t really have a good answer if someone asks “How much do I lose if I do BoA over BoD?” Truth is, I suspect they’re pretty close, but in top simulations, BoD is ahead. Is there a tipping point somewhere in there, or is it always ahead?

          And now I’m further muddling a newbie guide. Apologies. I guess the take home that I wanted to stress is to take what I said with a grain of salt. BoD *is* better right now and you probably *should* use it, but that doesn’t mean someone who uses BoA is ZOMG NOOB. (Or visa versa).


          • koalabear21
            May 06, 2011 @ 07:39:02

            I most likely will not change. They were trying to get us to change to Doom back in Wrath for a while too. I stuck with Agony. The way I figured it was if we have talents in our tree to make something better then we should probably use it.

            I used that mentality when they told us to use Immolate as affliction instead of Unstable Affliction too.

            A big thing to note with Sims (as you kind of pointed out) is they are in an ideal “stand there and pew pew with no movement” kind of fights. They expect you to be in the VERY best gear out there and have your rotation down perfectly. These sims have warlocks doing over 20k dps.

            I am almost in all purples, I am pretty good with my rotation and I still pull only 13-15k dps depending on the fight.

            For new Warlocks – stick with Bane of Agony. Once they move beyond “newbie” and want to get into the realm of EJ then they can go that route.

            heh At that point they will probably decide that Destro is top dog and people won’t be sticking with Affliction anyway.

          • repgrind
            May 06, 2011 @ 08:01:40

            That’s probably one of the reasons I’ll never be a top DPS player. I play the spec I personally enjoy the most, because if I’m not having fun, well ….my hunter is BM because she worked her butt off to get Loque. They screwed up arcane mages (yes, I know they’re coming back, but they still play differently now). My warrior briefly tried fury because, come on, two 2Hers is badass … but I have more fun as arms. (charge ftw) I guess what I’m saying is … affliction just *feels* like what I imagine a warlock should be. Demo is cool too, it makes sense.

            I’m rambling again, aren’t I ….

  6. gravedust13
    May 06, 2011 @ 12:52:59

    I will say this:

    I played Warlock for a looongg time.

    I never stopped hating it.

    So props to those of you like it and can make it work, ^^ for my money it’s the toughest DPS class I’ve played.

    ..The new glyphed fear sounds rad, though.. What the hell are succys good for now? They used to be the only non-stupid lock CC. (and even then they were still pretty stupid.)

    …And dammit, why the shit did I never think to set PowA to tell me when a mob was <25%? That's like, the perfect use for it.



  7. Trackback: The Daily Quest: Let’s talk about specs, baby | World of Warcraft Observer
  8. phil
    May 06, 2011 @ 15:54:47

    As of 4.0.6 dots no longer clip, so you don’t need to worry about that anymore. Although it’s true that you want to let BoA drop off since its damage goes up with every tick. And while clipping isn’t a problem anymore, you still don’t want to recast dots too early since you could be casting something else instead.

    There’s a really good writeup of this at:


    • Maccabeus
      May 07, 2011 @ 11:21:41

      Not only do DoTs not clip anymore, but by refreshing them before they are over (even BoA =O), you will add that extra tick onto the beginning of the nxt DoT.

      In addition, use Haunt, and THEN use Demon Soul: Felhunter. Contrary to popular belief, Haunt is a debuff, not a DoT, and so will not benefit from the Demon Soul damage increase.


      • koalabear21
        May 07, 2011 @ 11:35:35

        This is a newbie guide, just want to get them the main rotation. They can get into the specifics when they become experienced


      • rustbeard
        May 07, 2011 @ 11:42:53

        Not every guide is for raiders. It seems (as I often point out), that some forget this. Let them learn the class, then get into the specifiics. If you overload the new lock at the beginning, then you can’t complain when they miss something in the fight. You don’t learn calculus when you’re starting addition – you need the fundamentals first.

        Keep it up Lyss, one day I’ll write the definitative hunter guide – about 10 days after they end WoW…


  9. Zerlegen
    May 06, 2011 @ 16:12:52

    You really wish you were a mage……


  10. Trackback: The Daily Quest: Let’s talk about specs, baby | World of Warcraft Storyline

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