Hey guys time for an affliction guide.

Table of contents:
Affliction in Comparison to other Warlock Specs
Stat Priorities
Gemming
Talents and Glyphs
How do Dots work and the Refresh Mechanic work
Rotation Basics

Cooldowns/Procs

Play Style

Clipping Dots is bad
When Clipping Dots is not bad
Optimal Opener
Corruption Rolling
Haunt Delaying
Drain Soul
Optimal Life Tap Usage
Shadow Ward
Multi Targeting
Kill Adds or Tunnel Boss
Dotting for Buffs
CoA and CoD
Macroís and Addons


Letís first discuss the spec in comparison to the other warlock specs. The comparison is done for ICC gear levels which is average ilvl 251 or above.



Affliction is technically the highest DMG spec for warlocks in 3.3.5 and will give you the most damage on most fights. Combine that with excellent DPS while moving. And youíll see it stand out on any movement intense fight, of which there are a lot in ICC.
Next to that are Demonology and Destruction. While they can keep up fairly well especially when standing still, the moment movement comes into play they will lose to affliction. Demonology has the added benefit of providing a raid buff. Maybe later I will write a more detailed comparison of the specs but for now this is enough.

To summarize Affliction > Demonology (with buff) > Destruction

Ok letís dive into the actual guide.

Stat Priority:



This chart shows how much DPS Rating you would gain for getting 1 point extra in the stat. These numbers are by no means the exact DPS gain from the stats but they can be used to compare them to each other so I will use the term DPSR (DPS Rating) instead of just DPS. Programs like Rawr use similar charts like this to calculate the DPS gain from items, this is one that I made myself so the calculations you find may differ a bit. In this chart the Spirit came out higher than the Crit because it was made using my own gear and I currently have more crit on my gear than spirit, which favored the spirit in the scaling.
This shows that the stat priority is:
Hit Rating* > Spell Power > Haste > Crit / Spirit**



*Hit Rating: it is absolutely vital that you reach hard hit cap which is 17%. When doing this keep in mind that if playing with Shadow Priest or Balance Druid in the raid they will provide 3% hit which brings the cap down to 14%. Furthermore it is highly advised that the suppression talent is taken which provides another 3% hit, bringing the cap to 11%. Then finally if you play alliance and you have a Dreanei in your group you get another 1% hit which makes hard hit cap 10%. So gear your character accordingly.

**At high gear levels (264+) Crit and Spirit are about even, however for lower geared affliction warlocks Spirit is better.



11% Hit -> 289 Hit Rating

10% Hit -> 263 Hit Rating



Gemming:



Now that we know the stat priority it is fairly easy to determine what gems to use:

Meta: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond
Red: 23 Spell Power no exception unless severely under hit capped.
Yellow: 12 Spell Power 10 Haste (Hit Capped) or 12 SP 10 Hit / 20 Hit (Not Hit Capped)*
Blue: 12 Spell Power 10 Spirit or 23 Spell Power**



*It is better to first fill up all your yellow sockets with 12 SP 10 Hit before gemming 20Hit gems. Example: you lack 20 Hit till cap, you have 2 Yellow Sockets so you can gem in 2 ways
1: 1x20 Hit, 1x12 SP 10 Haste -> DPS Rating following DPS Scaling Factors chart
20x2.68+12x2.43+10x1.75 ≈ 100 DPSR
2: 2x12 SP 10 Hit -> 20x2.68+24x2.43 ≈ 112 DPSR
So it is more beneficial to reach the cap with 12 SP 10 Hit gems if that is possible.
**To determine whether to use a 12 SP 10 Spirit gem in a Blue Socket or not you can follow some simple rules. (you can also calculate the DPSR for each scenario but that takes more time)
1: Do you meet the requirements for your Meta Gem which requires at least 2x12 SP 10 Spirit gems.
2: is the Socket Bonus >5 Spell Power (For this only count the non-red Sockets)
Iíll give a couple of examples to show how it works.


Valanar's Other Signet Ring

1 Blue Socket and a 5 Spell Power Socket Bonus. The Bonus is NOT >5 SP so in this case gem 23 SP



Plague Scientist's Boots

1 Blue Socket, 1 Red Socket and a 7 SP Socket Bonus. Red Sockets are not counted towards the bonus since a Red Socket is always 23 SP, so you count this as if it was 1 Blue Socket and a 7 SP Socket Bonus. 7 SP is >5 SP so in this case gem 12 SP 10 Spirit in the Blue Socket



Sanctified Dark Coven Leggings
1 Blue Socket, 1 Yellow Socket and a 7 SP Socket Bonus. This one is a bit complicated so therefore we will calculate the DPS gains again via the DPS Scaling Factors Chart.
1x12 SP 10 Spirit + 1x12 SP 10 Haste + 7 SP Socket Bonus ≈ 106 DPSR
2x23 SP ≈ 112 DPSR
So in this case 2x23 SP is the better choice



Talents:



53/0/15 +3 https://imgur.com/a/6xU1SVt.

Affliction Tree:

Improved Curse of Agony - rank 2/2
Suppression - rank 3/3
Improved Corruption - rank 5/5
Soul Siphon - rank 2/2
Fel Concentration - rank 3/3
Nightfall - rank 2/2
Empowered Corruption - rank 3/3
Shadow Embrace - rank 5/5
Siphon Life - rank 1/1
Shadow Mastery - rank 5/5
Eradication - rank 3/3
Contagion - rank 5/5
Malediction - rank 3/3
Death's Embrace - rank 3/3
Unstable Affliction - rank 1/1
Pandemic - rank 1/1
Everlasting Affliction - rank 5/5
Haunt - rank 1/1

Destruction Tree:
Improved Shadow Bolt - rank 5/5
Bane - rank 5/5
Ruin - rank 5/5

The 3 extra points can be used for:
Improved Felhunter
Amplify Curse
Improved Life Tap
Fel Synergy
Intensity

It is also possible to drop points from Fel Concentration and take Amplify Curse or Improved Life Tap instead. Improved Drain Soul is not very useful as it only reduces the threat from your Affliction spells and does not affect Shadow Bolt threat making the total threat reduce in the order of 6-7% for 1/2 Imp DS. Where you put the 3 extra points is not that important but I personally found that Improved Felhunter 2/2 and Intensity 1/2 would give me the highest DPS.



For Glyphs youíll always want to use:
Quick Decay
Life Tap
Haunt
Glyph of Corruption is a very poor choice because you wonít get much extra out of it. Shadow bolt cast time in good gear is already fairly low so the gain you would get out of a few instant shadow bolts is practically none. Of course the DPS gain from Life Tap depends on the amount of Spirit you have but even without any Spirit on your gear it still beats Glyph of Corruption by a lot.
Elitist Jerks did a more in depth Glyph comparison using similar DPS Scale Factors as me and these are the results:


How Dots and the Refresh mechanic work:



For a Dot the DMG is calculated for the stats you had when the Dot was applied. This goes for all the stats. That means if you apply a Dot letís say Unstable Affliction and after a few seconds you gain Siphoned Power (1207 SP for 20 sec from Phylactery of the Nameless Lich). The DMG from UA will not increase since its DMG was set the moment you applied it. However if you reapply UA when Siphoned Power has 1 second left UA will have the +1207 SP for its entire duration although the buff has already faded. This is important to keep in mind when trying to maximize your DPS which will be discussed later.
Dots do damage on set time intervals itís important to know this in order to get a better understanding of how bad Dot Clipping is. As an example we use Unstable Affliction again. UA has a cast time of 1.5 seconds a duration of 15 seconds and it ticks 5 times. So this is what you would see when casting it.
0 sec: Start casting UA
1.5 sec: UA debuff applies on Target
4.5 Ė 7.5 Ė 10.5 Ė 13.5 sec: UA ticks
16.5 sec: UA ticks and at the same time the debuff expires



With the Refresh Mechanic we refer to the talent Everlasting Affliction which makes it so that Drain Life, Drain Soul, Haunt and Shadow Bolt reset the duration of your Corruption on the target. The refresh is not the same as reapply the dot. When you reapply (just casting the dot again) all the stats get taken from when you cast it, in other words all the stats get recalculated. However the Refresh Mechanic does not recalculate all the stats. The Refresh only recalculates your Spell Power and Haste only, your Crit chance and %DMG modifiers are not recalculated. How this is used to your advantage will be explained later.



*In cataclysm blizzard changed how dots work so this information is invalid for cata and later patches.



Rotation Basics:



The basic rotation for affliction is very simple. Apply and maintain your Dots without clipping them, apply and maintain Haunt, spam your filler and below 25% use your Execute.
The Dots: Corruption, Unstable Affliction , Curse of Agony, (Haunt)
Filler spell: Shadow Bolt
Execute: Drain Soul
So this means you have 4 debuffs to keep track of and if they are taken care of you spam as much Shadow Bolt as possible, under 25% Drain Soul replaces Shadow Bolt



Cooldowns/Procs:



As Affliction Warlock you don't have class exclusive cooldowns however there are still a number cooldowns to work with and timing them properly is key to achieving above average DPS. Apart from that you also have some great Procs.

Eradication: 20% haste for 10 sec which has a 6% chance of proccing from Corr Ticks. More haste means more Corr ticks which in turn means more Eradication procs. This is the main reason why Haste is such a good stat for Affliction Warlocks.

Nightfall: Corr ticks have a 4% chance to make your next SB instant cast. Sounds great but in reality it has fairly low procs and the dmg gain from an instant SB is minor.

Devious Minds: Buff from 4p t-10 set bonus. 10% DMG for 10 sec 15% chance on UA ticks. A really good buff making it an extremely good set bonus. This buff can be used to roll %DMG on corruption which is explained in the Corruption Rolling section.

Tricks of the Trade: 15% DMG for 6 sec. The rogue threat buff can be used in the same way as Devious Minds to roll %DMG on corruption (again see Corruption Rolling section). Be careful that you don't overaggro with it though!

Power Infusion: 20% haste for 15 sec. Discipline Priests can buff you with this one. It's a really nice dmg increase so ask the Disc Priest in your raid to cast it on you. More haste in turn gives you more eradication procs as well so affliction warlock is one of the best choices to give Power Infusion.
Potions: Pre-pot with Wild Magic (explained in greater detail in optimal opener section). Use a Potion of Speed at 25% just before you start casting Drain Soul, don't ever use Potion of Wild Magic during the fight.

Bloodlust/Heroism: 30% haste for 40 sec, you all know this one no need to explain more. Do note that BL/Heroism and Power Infusion do NOT stack you can only have one of the 2 buffs at any given time.





Play Style:



Clipping Dots is bad:
As explained in the How Dots and the Refresh mechanic work the last tick of a dot and the dot expiring happen at the same time. This means that when you clip (reapply it before it has fully expired) a dot you lose a lot of DMG. In the example of UA if you clip 1 second before expiring you will have a gap of 5 seconds where the Dot does no DMG instead of a 3 second gap which can account for a massive DMG loss if done repeatedly.



When Clipping Dots is not bad:
There are certain rare situations in which clipping dots is not bad. In order to spot these situations you need to know the encounter and have a good eye on your procs. Here I will discuss the 2 situations in which Clipping is not bad one is more obvious than the other.
The obvious time when you can Clip dots is when you know that you canít attack the target for a long duration. Simple example is when Sindragosa flies up in the air for the air phase you cannot cast spells on her. So clipping dots when she is just about to leave is a good idea because this will ensure that she stays debuffed for a longer period and thus dealing more damage.
The other situation can only be spotted if you keep track of your procs such as trinket procs and DM procs. If you currently have a dot like UA up on the target without having any additional procs rolled on it (itís casted without having additional power from DM, Trinkets or other modifiers) and shortly after you get a lot of procs it can be beneficial to clip the dot because then it would do a lot more damage because of all your procs. The exact cutoff point is hard to determine but you always want to aim for a reapplication just after the dot has ticked and only if you gain major benefits like both trinkets proccing at the same time. So for this you need to pay close attention to the time on your dots (to determine when they are going to tick) and how many procs you had when last casting the dot and how many you have currently.



Optimal Opener:
Wild Magic pre-pot->UA->SB->Haunt->Corr (before pot expires)->CoA
This differs from most guides but this is aimed at getting the highest chance of Devious Minds proc (Devious Minds is the name of the 4p t-10 bonus proc which gives +10% DMG). DM is procced by UA ticks so you want the max amount of UA ticks before wild magic pot expires. The reason Haunt is a little delayed is because the effect is most important for Corr, and since you are not going to cast Corr yet you might as well delay it a bit and stack Shadow Embrace it also helps to get the impSB debuff up but most likely a fire mage will have cast impScorch before you.
If you donít pre-pot there is no real reason to delay Corr since you donít need to stack DM+pot, but the opener does not change a lot.

Instead SB->Haunt->UA->Corr->CoA.
(Pre-potting is when you use a potion before the combat starts this way you can use 2 potions in a fight instead of only 1)



Corruption Rolling:
If you are not lucky and you donít get DM proc in the opening you want to refresh Corr as soon as it procs. Corr rolls with crit and %DMG modifiers so refreshing on the first DM proc means your Corr will have +10%dmg for the remainder of the fight. Iím currently not sure what benefits you more the Wild Magic crit roll or the DM proc roll so refreshing for DM proc when you pre-potted is up to debate, although I suspect it that DM proc will be much better.
Second refresh:
Deathís Embrace talent gives you +12% shadow DMG when the target is below 35% hp. This is very nice on itself but remember Corr rolls. So if you donít reapply Corr itís not going to get the 12% DMG benefit (kind of an awkward design from Blizz tbh). So this means in order to gain the full effect you need to reapply Corr sub 35%. And then there still is the DM proc. 12%*10%=23.3% so reapplying Corr upon DM is worth it. What I decided to do for this is again debatable. When the boss is below 35% HP I wait for DM proc and then reapply corr. If the DM proc doesnít happen before 30% HP I reapply Corr regardless. The reason I do this is because Iím already rolling Corr with DM before 35% so I already have +10% DMG. Changing it to +12% DMG is only a 2% net increase. However if you wait for the DM proc then reapply you are getting a 13.3% DMG bonus which is worth the wait.
On a sidenote if you are using pots I assume that you are already pre-potting Wild Magic, however do NOT pot wild magic again when doing the 2nd Corr refresh. It is much more beneficial to wait for 25% and then use a Speed Potion to get extra DS ticks.



Haunt delaying:
Haunt has 8 sec cd and 12 sec duration. So it is fairly easy to keep 100% uptime on it by Clipping, however clipping is not optimal so you want to reapply Haunt at the last moment possible. The difficulty comes in the fact that the Haunt projectile has travel time to the boss. This means you want to cast Haunt as late as possible but you never want it to fall of the boss. Not having Haunt on the boss even for a split second is bad. Better be on the safe side with the reapply. You can learn proper haunt delaying by just practicing it. Go on a dummy or even just practice during raids on the farm bosses. Haunt delaying can save quite a few seconds which means you can cast more shadowbolts = more total DMG.
The overall dmg increase is minor so if you are not confident that you can pull it off correctly then just dont do it.



Drain Soul:
DS does not recalculate during the cast! This means casting it at 25.1% hp means that you do not gain the DMG bonus for any ticks. This also means casting DS at the last second of Bloodlust/Heroism will maintain the haste effect for the entire duration of DS.
When using Drain Soul you still have to reapply Haunt, UA, CoA and still maintain the Corr roll. This can be pretty difficult especially maintaining Corr when you have high haste. Therefore Drain Soul is the only spell you want to clip. To properly clip you need a casting bar addon that shows you when the DS ticks occur then when you need to reapply your dots you can wait till just after a tick and then reapply them. Reapply it at the wrong time can cost you a lot of DPS as DS ticks are easily more than 20k DMG so you donít want to lose them.



Optimal Life Tap Usage:

Almost every encounter requires you to move your character. While moving you can only cast instant cast spells. Therefore moving results in a DPS loss, as a general rule of thumb any caster DPS: Less moving = Higher DPS. To mitigate some of the DPS loss while moving you can use instant cast spells while moving. Warlocks have very little usefull instant cast spells to use while moving, the most important one is Life Tap. To optimally use Life Tap, you only want to use it only to keep up the Glyph of Life Tap buff when standing still. Then when you are forced to move you spam Life Tap while moving to regenerate mana. When Life Tap is used like this you waste less GCDs on Life Tap while standing still, which results in more Shadow Bolt casts during a fight increasing your DPS.



Shadow Ward:

A dead DPS does no DPS. Survival is a very important part of doing good DPS. To boost the odds of survival Shadow Ward is an often overlooked DMG mitigation buff. Most of the end-game raid encounters have mechanics that deal Shadow DMG. This DMG can be absorbed by smart usage of Shadow Ward. Shadow Ward is also an instant cast spell so whenever you need to move consider casting Shadow Ward to boost your odds of survival.



Multi Targeting:
Multi Targeting and AoEing are 2 different things. What I consider multitargeting is when there are 1-3 additional mobs to take care of and these mobs in some cases last for a long time. AoEing is when you get more than 5 targets or itís just low HP mobs down in a few casts.
Multi Targeting can be pretty difficult but itís another strength of the Affliction Spec. Most debuffs can be applied on multiple targets however not all of them. Haunt is a very important spell as it increases your dot DMG by 23% however it can only realistically be applied to 1 target. With its 12 sec duration and 8 sec cd you could get it to overlap for up to 3 seconds (remember it also has min cast time of 1 sec) however usually multi targeting happens between a main target like a boss and one or several less important targets.
-The first step when going from 1 to multiple targets is simple. Just apply your dots (Corr, UA, CoA) on the extra target(s)
-The second step is to get 3 stacks of Shadow Embrace on the target, you do this by hitting the target(s) 3x with shadow bolt. Only do this if the target(s) live long enough to actually maintain the 3 stacks for a while. If they die quickly like Valkyrs on lich king you donít even have time to apply the stacks.
After these things have been taken care of itís up to you to determine which target to spam your filler on. Donít forget to maintain haunt on the main target as well.



Kill Adds or Tunnel Boss:

A lot of fights have adds that need to be killed quickly, here some tips on how to best handle them. If an add lives less than 10 sec just spam shadow bolt and don't bother putting up dots. If an add lives longer than 10 sec it is more beneficial to use your normal rotation on it (use haunt depending on the priority of the target).

The Affliction spec is bad at dealing burst DMG, switching to adds that live less than 15 sec will hurt your DPS. When comparing the DPS loss when switching targets with other specs and classes it shows that Affliction suffers a bigger DPS loss from switching targets than other specs. So while it goes against raid etiquette, you should consider tunneling the boss when you know the adds will be killed very quickly.

For the best DPS follow these steps:

-Add lives < 10 sec. Ignore add tunnel boss. (example: Marrowgar, Bone Spikes)
-Add lives < 15 sec. Put up Corr and UA on add, then tunnel boss. (example: Saurfang, Blood Beasts)
-Add lives > 15 sec. Focus on add and use Multi Targeting where possible. (example: Putricide, Oozes)

Always inform your raid if you are going to tunnel the boss to avoid conflicts.



Dotting for Buffs:

Some fights have adds that do not need to be DPSed down (most notably Shambling Horrors during phase 1 Lich King). Some Warlocks put Corruption and Unstable Affliction on these adds. Though it does not increase their effective DMG (the dmg from the dots itself means nothing) it increases their uptime on Eridication and Devious Minds. However, the increased buff uptime comes at the cost of being able to cast less shadow bolts at the primary target. So, does the increased buff uptime lead to a DPS increase on the primary target? See Posts in the guide for the exact math.

Devious Minds:

The DMG buff from additional Devious Mind procs translates to an average DMG buff of ~2.9% (Note: Corruption DMG is not increased from additional DM procs because of Corruption Rolling). The cast time of Unstable Affliction is exactly 0.6 of a Shadow Bolt cast time, meaning that every 15 sec (cast UA every 15 sec to keep perfect uptime on the add) you miss out on 0.6 Shadow Bolts. It turns out that the loss of Shadow Bolt DMG is greater than the DMG increase from higher DM uptime. Conclusion putting UA on useless adds (like Shambling Horrors) results in a DPS loss on the primary target of about ~200 DPS.

Eradication:

Still has to be calculated.
If you cast corr on the add while moving you do not lose a Shadow Bolt cast, so then it's totally worth it.



CoA and CoD:

As most probably know Curse of Agony deals more DMG than Curse of Doom. So in the standard rotation always use CoA. However, there are certain cases in which CoD is better than CoA. CoD can be better than CoA when the target is unreachable for a while. An example of this would be Sindragosa's Air Phase if you apply CoD just before the Air Phase it will be better than CoA.

Extra info on CoA:

Because CoA deals such little DMG dropping CoA from your rotation during the execute phase (when a boss is under 25% HP) does not affect your DPS while standing still. So you can decide to not use CoA under 25% on stationary fights. However, while moving CoA still results in a DPS increase.

The ideal usage of CoA and CoD:

-Boss HP 100% - 25%, use CoA in your normal rotation. If the boss is unreachable for a long time cast CoD just before the boss becomes unreachable.

-Boss HP <25%, While standing still do not cast CoA, when you are forced to move use CoA while moving similar to the Optimal Usage of Life Tap.



Macros and Addons:

Macros and Addons are in my opinion a vital part of playing affliction. Without any addons playing affliction properly is near impossible.
First of all the macros I use and why I use them:

/cast [@focus,exists][] Haunt
When multi targeting I always /focus my main target. With this macro Haunt will always go on my focus target if I have a focus target. When you donít have a focus haunt will behave normally.

/cast [nochanneling: Drain Soul] Drain Soul
If you are like me and you mash your buttons you will know that if you spam a channel spell it will just restart the channel. With this macro it wonít restart the channel so you can just spam DS like all your other buttons.

#showtooltip [mod:shift]Life Tap(Rank 1);[nomod:shift]Life Tap(Rank 8)
/cast [mod:shift]Life Tap(Rank 1);[nomod:shift]Life Tap(Rank 8)
A lot of people including myself like the use Life Tap rank 1 to activate the life tap buff before combat. With this macro you can simple hold shift and press your life tap to make it cast rank 1 instead. So you donít need to place it on the action bar (I use the same macro for demonic circle and teleport).

/petattack [target=pettarget,noexists]
/petfollow [target=pettarget,exists]
A 1-button pet macro to control your pet. When your pet is doing nothing it will start attacking the target. If it is already attacking it will come back to you.

I use some other macros apart from these but with these 4 you can cover the basic rotational needs.

Here are some examples of addons to help you perform as affliction warlock. There are many alternatives to these addons but here are the ones that I use.

Quartz

This is to track DS ticks. The horizontal white lines indicate when DS is going to tick, which helps time reapplication of other dots.

Classtimer

I use this addon to track my important debuffs. I prefer this over simply making my debuffs bigger on the target because I donít need to track Imp SB and Shadows Embrace the entire fight. Additionally for me personally the timing is easier if I see a moving bar instead of a number inside an icon.

Power Auras

I use this to show my procs that donít have a CD, like DM and Eradication but also other important buffs on me like Heroism/Bloodlust/Power Infusion.

Need To Know

I could track my trinkets and other item procs with Power Auras as well but NTK allows you to also display a timer for the internal cd of trinkets. Red is for duration when procced and the black bar shows the internal cd left on the item. This gives you a good idea of when the next trinket proc is going to happen so you can anticipate using your potion and other major cds (like when to use metamorphosis when playing demo).

Platebuffs

When multi targeting Classtimer can only show debuffs on your target and on your focus. If you need to track more than that platebuffs is very useful.