This post was published long before the Mists of Pandara Expansion.
The tips and techniques explained here may be outdated.

“Whar’s ma DPS?” Affliction Checklist

I’ve been watching threads on the Warlock’s Den for a while. There’s some good stuff going on over there.. unfortunately 80% of the threads are people saying “I’m not getting as much DPS as I think I should. What am I doing wrong?” These threads aren’t bad.. but eventually they get a little repetitive. The answers are always the same. The people who reply check the same things every single time to figure out what the poster is doing wrong. So.. here you go.. here is my generalized list of how to maximize your DPS in order of importance. Start with number 1 and work your way down. Don’t skip ahead.

  1. Get to 80. There’s no sense trying to maximize your DPS before 80. You don’t have all the tools, you don’t have all the gear. When you’re questing you need to kill quest mobs. Quest mobs don’t have enrage timers.. so as long as you don’t die you’ll be fine. Frankly you need more stamina and survivability than DPS. So just stop worrying about it an enjoy the leveling experience.
  2. Glyph for success. Make sure you’ve chosen the proper glyphs. At this time the best affliction major glyphs to maximize your DPS are Life Tap, Haunt, and Quick Decay. The minor glyphs are -so- minor they in fact have no effect so choose whatever blows your hair back.
  3. Spec like you mean it. I believe at this time the “best” affliction spec is 56/00/15 with a little bit of wiggle room.
    – if you have the gear to make up the hit you can justify taking up to 3 points out of Suppression and putting them elsewhere.
    – The two points in Improved Drain Soul and the one point in Improved Life Tap do not directly add to your DPS. Indirectly the 10/20% reduced affliction threat can add to you DPS if you are threat capped by your tank. The 10/20% returned mana can add to your dps because over the long run they will save you GCDs by not having to life tap as much. You could argue that those points could be moved elsewhere.
    Other than those points I don’t see any other points that can be moved in this spec.
  4. Choose your pet wisely. If it’s not on cooldown you should summon your Doomguard. If doomguard is on cooldown then summon Felhunter. Then, for the last 60 seconds of the fight (or if your pet dies) call down an Infernal to replace your current pet. Recommended reading: My pet’s better than your pet
  5. Buff to the best benefit. For max DPS you should always have your Fel Armor up and a Spellstone applied to your weapon. For flasks choose the Flask of the Frost Wyrm. For food go for +hit food if you’re under hit cap, otherwise choose +spellpower food. Celebrate the fact that we’re one of the few class for whom fish feast actually -are- the best food to choose.

    If you won’t pull threat, then pre-pot on the fight. This will allow you to get the effect of two potions during combat. I normally pre-pot with a Potion of Speed.
    If there’s a shaman in the raid pop Potion of Wild Magic during the Heroism/Bloodlust.
    If there isn’t a shaman in the raid pop Potion of Speed at the point where you would normally do Heroism/Bloodlust.

    The makeup of your raid, and the buffs each class bring to the raid will greatly influence your dps. Keep this in mind when comparing your dps in different raids.

  6. Make sure you’re always hitting the mobs. In a raid you need to make up 17% hit(464 hit rating). In heroics you need to make up 6% hit(168 hit rating).

    Generally you will get best return by speccing into Suppression and the making up the last 14% from hit rating (368 hit rating) on gear. You can possibly justify only getting 10% hit if you can count on raid buffs (3% from misery from Spriest OR 3% Imp Fairy Fire from druid) and the presence of a Draenei (1%).. personally I hate the idea that I could be 4% below hit cap in the raid if the persons who provide the buffs died (or don’t show up) so I normally gear for the full 14%. Recommended reading: Warlock Hit Rating

  7. Hit the mobs harder/faster. When you’re gearing, make sure you’re maximizing the right stat. For affliction warlocks at the moment your stats, in order of importance, are:
    Spellpower/Haste > Spirit/Crit >> int > everything else

    Once you get to the hit cap hit rating is no longer valuable (I still pick up +hit items and keep them in my bank for swapping gear around), but until you get to the hit cap, hit is -the- most valuable stat. After that Spellpower is valued slightly higher than haste which is valued higher than spirt/crit. Last is int which only shows up on the list because it grants a smidge of crit.
    Recommended reading: Affliction Warlock Pawn 3.3 and How to gem via flowchart and Raider 101 – Affliction(esp. the recommended enchantments section)

  8. Choose the right curse for the job. Choose Curse of the Elements if you’re in a group that does not have a Boomkin to provide “Earth and Moon” or an Unholy Deathknights to provide “Ebon Plague” (yes, CotEl in this case will improve your personal DPS). Choose Curse of Agony if the mob will live for greater than 20 seconds and the 13% granted by CotEl is covered by another class. Choose no curse if another class is covering the 13% buff from CotEl and the mobs die in < 20 seconds. Recommended reading: Elements VS Agony VS DOOM
  9. All mobs (and mob packs) are not created equal.
    If there are 3+ trash mobs in a pull.. and your tanks generate good AOE threat:
    Seed of Corruption multiple mobs. (seed, tab, seed, tab, seed, tab, etc) Rain of Fire does less DPS but is more consistent and may be preferable if you outgear your tank or if the group of mobs are going to die too quickly to get 3+ seeds cast.

    Single/Double Trash rotation: (trash dies too quickly to get a full dot rotation on them).
    Haunt, Corruption, Shadow Bolt until dead. (Drain Soul if you need soul shards). Sometimes it may even be better to just spam Shadow Bolt (or Searing Pain) especially on -very- quick dying trash.

    Boss/high-HP trash, use a full rotation.

    Double Boss/high-HP trash, use a rotation on both. Haunt/Corruption/UA/Curse/Shadow Embrace on one and Corruption/UA/Curse/Shadow Embrace on the other. This is difficult and should be practiced.

  10. Cast your spells in the right order and refresh in a timely manner.
    Startup:
    If on CotEl duty cast CotEl first. Follow up with Shadow Bolt and Haunt to stack your Shadow Embrace buff (This will change when Shadow’s Embrace changes to 3 stacks. At that point the startup may be Shadow Boltx2, Haunt.). Then Corruption, (CoA, if no CotEl), Unstable Affliction, then Shadow Bolt until Haunt is off cooldown.

    Refresh priority:
    1. (CotEl) (if it drops)
    2. Haunt(whenever it’s 1.5 seconds from dropping to refresh Haunt buff and Corruption)/Lifetap (to keep lifetap buff up or for mana)
    3. Corruption (if it drops)
    4. Unstable Affliction
    5. (CoA) (if you’re not on CotEl duty)
    6. If nothing else, Shadowbolt

    During the last 25% of the mob:
    1. (CotEl) (if it drops)
    2. Haunt (if it will drop before the boss dies)(keeps up your Shadow’s Embrace effect)/Lifetap (to keep lifetap buff up or for mana)
    3. Corruption (if it dropped)
    4 Unstable Affliction (if you have > 18 seconds before the boss dies)
    5. (CoA) (If you’re not on CotEl duty and if you have > 24 seconds before the boss dies)
    6. Drain Soul. Note that the channeling of Drain Soul should be interrupted after a tick to any of the above. Ideally you’d interrupt it in order to refresh two or more of the above at the same time.

  11. Do not clip your dots. That is, do not cause a new dot to land on the mob before the last tick of the dot that’s already ON the mob goes off.

    Corruption: if you’re doing it right it will never fall off because of Everlasting Affliction. If it accidentally -does- fall off then just recast it as soon as you can.


    Unstable Affliction has a 1.5 second cast time(effected by haste)(in Red, with an X across it). This means that you should start casting UA when there’s <1.5 seconds left in the dot. You don’t want to start early as you’ll overwrite the last tick and lose dps. You’ll get the most dps if you can get the cast off as early as possible without overwriting the dot.

    Haunt is kind of special. It’s barely a dot as it does minimal damage. Really it's there because of the boost it gives to your other shadow dots. You have ~4 seconds in which to refresh it (after it comes off cooldown but before it drops). Anytime within those 4 seconds is fine. For highest DPS you should hold off until it’s 1.5 seconds away from dropping. That way in a full boss fights you have it up the most but spend the least time refreshing it.

    If you’re using Curse of Agony, it’s instant and its last tick is really powerful so you do not want to overwrite it. So do not cast CoA until it has fallen off the mob but cast it as soon after it falls off as possible.

  12. ABC. Always Be Casting. Anytime you’re not casting you’re losing dps. While moving you can cast corruption, curse, life tap or Death Coil. Do it!

    Also make intelligent use of you Demonic Teleport to minimize the amount of time you are wasting in moving around.

  13. Practice practice practice.

So, once you’ve done ALL of the above, if you’re STILL having DPS issues then I would blame either poor execution or latency. Examine a parse of a boss fight and check on your dot uptime. More dot uptime equals more DPS. Recommended reading: WWS and the Affliction Warlock

Cutting down on Latency is something I’ll address in another article.. it’s not quite done yet :)

Keep in mind also.. in some cases it’s better to -not- win the dps meter. For example in a large mob pack pull with a healer in the pack you will maximize your dps by seed spamming the whole lot but this will allow the healer to stay up for a long time and to keep healing. In some cases it would be better for the overall raid for you to single target the healer FIRST and then change to seed spamming. Sometimes the needs of the many overcome the DPS maximizing of the few.

So. Did I miss anything?

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34 comments to “Whar’s ma DPS?” Affliction Checklist

  • I like the format of this post. I’m working on a Frost Mage cheat sheet myself, and I’ll be keeping an eye on this page to see if I have all my grounds covered. Nice job nibby :D
    .-= krizzlybear´s last blog ..Meanwhile, Frost is Pretty Awesome =-.

  • Spec like you mean it – That is no lie, a lot of people overlook this. I did it myself on my hunter. There always seems to be a talent that does nothing for DPS but is handy, such as “Hmmm, this’ll heal me and my pet when in combat!” That’s groovy, but if you’re doing it right, you don’t take much damage, and what you do take – there are healers! That was two talent points right there that I rerouted and got an additional 20 or so RAP instead. And these days, for us hunter types, we need all we can get.

    Especially with dual spec now, your raiding spec should be purpose-built for your role, and not hybridized. (izzat even a word?)
    .-= Grimmtooth´s last blog ..Holiday Greetings from the Crew! =-.

  • Figworth

    The biggest thing that I found upping my dps as affliction was not refreshing haunt as soon as it was castable. I was surprised at how much of a difference that made.

  • There is a great deal of info here that honestly never occurred to be to use until now. I’m a bit skeptical about the doomguard being a viable pet for bossfights for afflocks, but I will definitely give it a fair shot now that there is, apparently, room for him to shine. All in all, very informative thread!

  • Nibuca

    @krizzlybear
    Steal away(and by “steal” I mean the format). I’d love to be able to link to quick sheets like this for my guild forum or post them up on Raider101.com.

    @grimmtooth
    Good point. The “it would help the healers” talents are nice-to-have.. but make sure you’re not giving up actual dps increases to get them.

    @figworth
    I agree. Being able to hold off on that has really helped me as well.

    @the Zet
    The only fight in ICC where I’m hesitant to call my Doomguard is Saurfang. I’m worried that if I turn off his AOE he won’t match up DPS wise with my Felpuppy.. and I’m worried that if I don’t turn it off he’ll aggro the beasts. So ATM I’m sticking with the felpuppy for that fight.

  • @Nibs – I was thinking more along of the lines of utility talents that are very very handy to have in leveling and general instancing, but serve little purpose in the highly stratified world of a raider. I chose a healing one because that was what popped into my head.

    Another, possibly more valid, example would be hunter pet talents – a DPS pet that has any of the “make pet move faster” talents is not optimized for DPS. “Dash” is great on my bear, which I use in soloing, but for my raiding stompasaurus it’s a wasted talent point, a mere convenience at the expense of the actual deliverables that I am supposed to bring to the table.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that raiding builds are specialized almost to the point of perversion, especially in WotLK instances, and thus if you moderate it a bit, you’re probably leaving some DPS home in the closet.
    .-= Grimmtooth´s last blog ..Holiday Greetings from the Crew! =-.

  • If your ranged beast kiter/killers are on the ball, the pet AoE shouldn’t cause a problem. I gradually worked from not using Consecration at all to watching the beast timer and using one cast of it right after the beasts were pulled away to carefully timing two of them to just keeping it down all the time. The beasts are so nearly AoE-immune that they’re more likely to aggro on a healer if they haven’t been picked up by ranged than they are to aggro because of a tick of Consecration, and I’d guess the Doomguard’s AoE is weaker than that of a pretty well-geared ret pally. About the only time they’ve come after me (when I wasn’t stuck on kiter/killer duty) was when I was distracted by something and fired off an ill-timed Divine Storm, and that was only enough to get a nibble before he chased after the hunters/locks/mages/rogues he was supposed to chase.

    I was a little worried that my warlock’s FG cleave might grab them, but I don’t think that has happened either. If so, again it wasn’t enough to overcome my first cast to deliberately pull them.

  • New MC post: "Whar's ma DPS?" Affliction Checklist http://bit.ly/5nbtml #warcraft #affliction #maxdps #manifesto

  • Just delurking to say that I absolutely loved this post, and especially loved the format. As a lock who leveled affliction, switched to destro at 80, and am considering going back to affliction, this is amazing. Thanks much, for this and the blog in general!

  • RT @Nibuca: New MC post: "Whar's ma DPS?" Affliction Checklist http://bit.ly/5nbtml #warcraft #affliction #maxdps #manifesto ~ GREAT ARTICLE

  • RT @nibuca: New MC post: "Whar's ma DPS?" Affliction Checklist http://bit.ly/5nbtml #warcraft #affliction #maxdps #manifesto

  • RT @stoppableforce: RT @nibuca: New MC post: "Whar's ma DPS?" Affliction Checklist http://bit.ly/5nbtml #warcraft #affliction #maxdps #m …

  • Great compendium of information for any aspiring Affliction Warlock.

    I would suggest, however, changing the order of importance on some of these points. Things like potting up before/during fights, while necessary to maximize DPS, is not something that will have as signficant an impact as “Always Be Casting.” I think anyone learning the spec will most likely first struggle with getting a grasp of the spell priority. In those moments of indecision, it is much better to just fire off a Shadowbolt and figure things out in the ~1.5 second cast time than to clip a dot or do nothing at all.

    Also, as I mentioned in your Pet post, I wonder whether using the Doomgaurd in a raid encounter is a total (raid) DPS loss versus the Felhunter with his intelligence buff. Since the theoretical difference between the two is so slight, I’m inclined to always go with the Felhunter and pop Infernals at oppurtune times.

    Since you did mention potions, most of the EJ.com discussion I’ve read recommends using the Potion of Wild Magic at the start of fights in something like the following sequence:
    Life Tap (rank 1)
    Potion of Wild Magic
    Shadowbolt (shadow’s embracex1 and ISB on the target)
    Haunt (shadow’s embracex2)
    Pop Nevermelting Ice Crystal trinket
    Corruption (the point of both the trinket and the potion is getting your critical strike value on the target as high as possible since if Corruption is refreshed by haunt/shadowbolt/drain soul/etc, it doesn’t update with your current critical strike rating but retain the initial one)
    Unstable Affliction/CoA
    CoA/Unstable Affliction

    Some other additions to this list might be links to your past posts on UI addons to manage DoTs. While one could certainly use the default UI and be effective, if one wants to maximize their potential they will have to use some sort of advanced DoT tracking addon.

    Lastly, for your “execute phase” spell priority, wouldn’t one want to continue to refresh Unstable Affliction and Curse of Agony over Drain Soul?
    .-= Sean´s last blog ..Bring Out Your Dead! =-.

  • Darkeyii

    Great Post, I am leveling my lock right now just over 72 so this is timely as I was trying to get my to hit up etc. I will focus now on getting to 80 not worrying about hit caps etc. The glyph list was great, I can get all the majors easily, the statment about the minor glyphs was priceless, they seem only sugar coating for your toon and they are. I skipped getting my doomguard pet so I will have to go back and track down the quest line doing it mid 70′s should be a snap. Great post as always

    Dark

  • Thanks for this. My main is a healer so I’m a little shaky at times when I do play my lock, especially when he’s been on the shelf for a while. This was very well laid out and clear, and a lot easier than trying to jump all over Warlock’s Den. You definitely pointed out some things (particularly the timing of potions) that I hadn’t even considered.

  • This is really well done. While the specifics vary for Destruction, of course, the general advice is very good for any Warlock.

    Bravo!
    .-= Cynwise of Stormwind´s last blog ..The Battleground Finder =-.

  • excellent
    .-= jong´s last blog ..Say Goodbye =-.

  • Grim

    At my current gear levels (2PT9.5, 2PT10) I’m not convinced that affliction is the superior DPS spec over destro. After spending far too much time in ICC25 this weekend, I was able to do better DPS as destro on every boss. I didn’t believe what I was seeing, so I ran Simulationcraft on both specs. Simulationcraft resulted in ~8500 DPS destro and ~8200 DPS affliction.

    Grim

  • Mandaril

    I prefer to:

    LT->SB->Haunt->UA->Corr->CoA->SB fill until I refresh Haunt/UA/CoA. Everlasting Affliction takes care of refreshing Corr :P

  • Accolon

    My 2cents:

    1) Grab the [url=http://www.wowhead.com/?item=50259]Nevermelting Ice Crystal[/url] from H POS. 2nd BiS trink for affliction locks due to rolling crit.

    2) Opening Sequence:
    Pre-pot(wild magic) > LT(rank1) > Sbolt > Haunt > UA/CoA > NIC trink > Corr > UA/CoA

    Life tap to activate glyph, then Sbolt and Haunt to stack 2 Shadow Embrace debuff on the target. The reason UA/CoA is in there is to give time for Haunt to actually land on the boss. A crit from Haunt when activating NIC doesn’t give you the full benefit of trink. You want to maximize you crit JUST BEFORE casting corruption (which explains the wild magic Pre-pot). Casting UA/CoA during this travel time fixes that. Depending on your range relative to the boss, cast UA if you’re at max range, or CoA if you’re fairly close. Then activate trink then cast corruption. This in turn will give you an additional 28% chance to crit on your corruption (20% trink + 5% Sbolt debuff + 3% wildmagic) not to mention additional debuffs/buffs from raid. Finish off with UA/CoA whichever spell you haven’t casted yet.

    3) Just keep refreshing you dots as necessary without clipping them.

    I’m not a pro or anything but I was able to do 7k+ on Festergut 10man without an elem shaman/boomkin/ret pally/unholy dks in the raid. My corruption crit-ed for 63% after the fight.

  • Latentcy and low fps was my biggest DPS killer. Changing my video card dropped my fps, from 10fps, to 60fps. This made it so I no longer stood in fire/black smoke/poison and died = 0 dps.

    Other items..

    Addons to watch cooldowns/ cast time, like dottimer or quartz. Very helpful in watching cast time and getting the next one off.
    Removing unnecessary addons – I now turn off Auctioneer (et. all) while raiding.
    Gem and enchant correctly in addition to glyph. So often the forgotten step-child on many up-and-coming toons.

    .-= Elkagorasa´s last blog ..From the new Wow Armory =-.

  • @pikestaff CotEl > CoA unless an Unholy DK or Boomkin are covering the 13% buff. http://bit.ly/7V4zqk See also http://bit.ly/affManifesto

  • @geekgirldiva http://bit.ly/5SPZq7 there's one for size :-)

  • Baako

    With DS you should also NEVER let it run its full course.

    Doing so will cause Corr/Haunt to drop off.

    I normally let it do 2 ticks and recast it.

    ForteExorist is a great dotimer which shows when your channeled spells will tick.

    This helps in recasting/refreshing Haunt/UA/CoA.

  • Liho

    In case noone else mentioned it, Haunt buffs SoC. So on trash i usually Haunt one mob and continue with SoC on him, anyway in raid it will explode way earlier than i finish casting the second one.

  • Toliman

    before 3.3 i was pretty happy about being a casual player, however, after 3.3, i’m now well on my way to the unofficial goal of hitting 5k GearScore with gear from pugging and LFD’s, so i don’t get my foot slammed in the door on raid pugs.

    So, instead of leaning on GS alone, i’ve been calc’ing my new DPS and scale factors via simcraft, it is truly disappealing:

    a) with 5k GS, i can do 6.98k DPS on an optimal fight (patchwerk), but i can do 7.38k as affliction. on a more reasonable scenario, it’s 5.4k / 5.7k for affliction.

    without buffs, 4.6k destro vs 4.9k affliction .

    while i trust simcraft to do it’s mojo, the numbers are incredibly inflated compared to what i see in recount, or on the training dummies.

    i have not tried switching to afflic full time yet, i’m still trying to nail down the timing for haunt, omniCC/power auras works, but it’s all over the place. i recall several addons with brightly visible timers, but it gets manic during the fighting, and having haunt fall off with only ~2 seconds to refresh, is akward.

    so instead of affliction FT, i’ve compromised, from RoF to SoC in heroics, and boy does that educate about threat management.

  • Accolon

    @Toliman, the reason you’re getting smaller numbers from a training dummy compared to simcraft is because simcraft factors in raid buffs (unless you specifically configured it not to). Don’t forget that in an ideal 25man raid, which simcraft simulates, you’d get a ton of buffs you don’t have when testing your dps alone against a dummy.

    List of buffs you’d typically get in a raid:
    1) Misery/Improved Fairie Fire – 3%hit
    2) Earth and Moon/Ebon Plaguebringer/Curse of Elements – 12%dmg
    3) Totem of Wrath/Heart of the Crusader – 3%crit
    4) Moonkin Aura/Elemental Oath – 5%crit
    5) Imp Moonkin Form/Swift Retribution – 3%haste
    6) Wrath of Air Totem – 5%haste
    7) Flametongue Totem/Demonic Pact – +spellpower
    8 )Scorch/Improved Shadowbolt – 5%crit
    9) Kings/Wisdom/Mark of the Wild/AI/Prayer of Spirit
    10) Flask/Bloodlust/Heroism

    I think that about covers it.

  • RT @Nibuca: "Whar's ma DPS?" Affliction Checklist http://bit.ly/5nbtml

  • @stompalina I'm happy to help. My Affliction DPS checklist: http://bit.ly/affManifesto

  • @Mconniff @Stompalina I wrote a post about that: http://bit.ly/cMlsCn

  • Glaaki

    Question for ya: Is doomguard still a dps increase over felpuppy? Or have talent changes benched O’l Doomie forever.

  • Nibuca

    It’s the Cataclysm baby. All bets are off. Fend for yourself. Try not to die. Have fun.

    In otherwords, I have NO idea :)

  • In cata (beta), you don’t need to choose. Run both minions doomguard + puppy. Doomguard and Infernal share same 10 minute cooldown. So every 10 minutes, summon a new one. No shard, no loss of current pet.

    (miss you on TNB, Nibuca)
    .-= elkagorasa´s last blog ..Youre all in the Beta now!! =-.