Hello Affliction, my old friend
Hello, Affliction, my old friend
I’ve come to raid with you again
Because with all six DoTs slowly ticking
I can forget that we need fixing
Yet the vision that was planted in my brain
And so I dream … of green fire
In undeath I walked alone
Dalaran’s streets of cobblestone
Above the woods of Crystalsong
I heard the echo of Zul’Drak’s gong
And my sockets were stabbed by a Flash of Holy Light
That lit the blight
And shone like fire … green fire
^ This is what happens when you blog at work while listening to Simon & Garfunkel on iTunes. I was actually kind of proud of myself until I texted the first verse to my boyfriend and he responded, simply, with “wow.”
So the man who growls irl when he tanks thinks I’m a geek. Great.
Like most raiding warlocks in The Burning Crusade, I specced Unstable Affliction for T4, Felguard for T5 and succubus-sacc’ing shadow mage for T6. As anyone even remotely familiar with the class knows, this wasn’t so much a choice as it was an inevitability: while other classes specced to fullfill raid roles or achieve a certain playstyle (e.g., a paladin could choose Protection to tank, Holy to heal or Retribution to provide comic relief), TBC warlocks chose talents based entirely on the quality of their gear.
Pre-3.0.2, a level 70 UA build would outdamage Demonic Sacrifice/Ruin until ~1,000 spell power and ~20% crit chance (usually achieved at the T4 to T5 transition), at which point a respec was all but required to remain competitive on the damage meters. Meanwhile, due to issues with pet scaling, the Felguard’s DPS and survivability peaked in T5, so would-be Demolocks tended to milk their two-piece bonus for as long as they could before succumbing to the inevitable and joining the rest of us in the shadowbolt-spamming land of 0/21/40.
I can’t find the post now that I’m looking for it (naturally!), but one of the warlock bloggers in my feedreader — and there are only three of them, so it has to be Out of Mana, Destructive Reach or Mystic Chicanery — recently speculated that WotLK would be more of the same, at least in terms of the linear progression from Affliction to Demonology to Destruction.
For the record: I hope not.
I really, really, really hope not.
Of the three talent trees, Affliction is by far my favorite. When I’m not attempting to simultaneously guild lead, raid lead and DPS (something that happens entirely too often), I find that I enjoy the challenge of keeping five or six DoTs rolling, sometimes on multiple targets—
No, scratch that. Especially on multiple targets.
There’s nothing quite like furiously tab-targetting between mobs, timing an Immolate or Unstable Affliction cast so the new DoT is applied the precise moment the old one falls off, casting Shadow Bolt as soon as Nightfall procs and then switching to Drain Soul on the kill target at 25% to take full advantage of the 400% execute.
For me, Affliction is what playing a warlock is all about. Not only do Affliction locks provide raid utility in the form of Malediction (which isn’t as critical as it once was, since Balance druids and Unholy death knights provide the same +13% spell damage buff), but their instant cast DoTs, improved Lifetap and health-returning spells (Haunt and Siphon Life) and drains make them more mobile, more mana-efficient and more self-sufficient than Demolocks who are constantly micromanaging their pets and Destrolocks — largely stationary, mana-eating glass cannons — who rely on their healers for longevity and DPS.
I leveled from 1-70 as deep Demo, from 71-80 as deep Affliction and, since dinging 80, have experimented a half dozen different builds. I’ve run heroics as mini-Illidan with an empowered Felguard, fire Destruction with a machine gun imp, and Haunt with an improved felpuppy.
As of last night, I’m back to Affliction — and while I love the playstyle, I can’t help but be disappointed with the output.
It never seemed entirely fair to me that Affliction had the most complex rotation in the game and the lowest damage at the highest tiers. Shouldn’t the hardest spec to play be the one that, played right, does the most damage?
My DPS has been disappointing, to say the least. Some of it, I’m sure, is gear. I passed on minor upgrades while I was leveling simply because the idea of trading in my hard-earned T6 for Northrend blues made me /cringe. Now that I’ve finally replaced the last of my Black Temple gear and acquired a few new epics, I’m starting to see my DPS increase — up to 2.4k on Patchwerk last night, which was enough in our mix-matched group to eke out the top spot on the damage meters.
In heroics and especially on trash pulls, I’m often below the tank — sometimes even under 1k DPS, but usually anywhere from 1.2k-1.6k depending upon the group. (The more melee classes there are, the faster things die and the less damage I’m able to do.)
I’ve tried getting around this by DoTing multiple mobs before coming ’round to nuke/drain the current kill target, as well as simply focusing whatever the rest of the group is beating on with a simple glyphed Corruption > Shadow Bolt “rotation.” Either way, my trash damage is abyssmal … and it doesn’t matter how many times my boyfriend (who is also my raid leader) tells me that trash damage doesn’t matter, I know that the rest of the guild is watching Recount and it’s embarassing to be near the bottom because I can’t burst through trash the way a Warrior, Hunter or Death Knight can.
At the moment, Affliction’s saving grace is its longevity, mana efficiency and high DPM — all characteristics that make it excellent for longer boss fights but thoroughly underwhelming for heroics, trash and raid bosses that “phase out” through various gimmicks and clip DoT ticks (or force me to reapply all of my DoTs at once) in the process.
I have a feeling that as my raid gears up and long boss fights become shorter, Affliction will become less viable for PvE rather than more. I’m determined to enjoy it while I can, but rather than attempt to make Affliction simpler (as Ghostcrawler has claimed he’s trying to do, most likely by eliminating Immolate and Siphon Life from the rotation), I wish Blizzard would focus on making Affliction better.
Two things would do it:
1) a capacity for burst damage — something like Shadowburn, perhaps, with a high mana cost and reasonable cooldown but no soulshard requirement; and
2) a way to benefit from spell haste and spell crit, if not to the extent that Demonology and Destruction, than at least enough to make these stats feel at least somewhat useful to us.
An optional number three?