Posts tagged ‘Macros’

Unmixy things: Castsequence Macros and Affliction

Like Buffy and cars, /castsequence macros and Affliction are unmixy things.

This is because Affliction doesn’t have a set rotation.  What it has is an opening sequence, which (in the 3.0.8 world) looks something like this:

  1. Shadowbolt
  2. Haunt
  3. Unstable Affliction
  4. Immolate
  5. Corruption
  6. Curse of Agony
  7. Siphon Life

Some Affliction warlocks pair Unstable Affliction with Immolate because these spells have the same DoT duration.  Others alternate their instant casts with non-instants to minimize the impact of global cooldowns, or cast Corruption sooner rather than later to maximize Molten Core uptime or Nightfall procs.  (I frequently do this if I’m still moving into position as the tank pulls, and can’t necessarily stop to cast a Shadowbolt or Haunt but can throw a few instants at a boss.)

As far as I can tell, this is largely a matter of personal preference.  Beyond casting Shadowbolt first (to proc Shadow’s Embrace) and Haunt second (for the +20% to DoT damage), there is no significant DPS gain or loss from casting Unstable Affliction ahead of Immolate or vice versa.

For this reason, most Affliction locks will choose an opening sequence that’s comfortable to them or amenable to the situation and simply memorize the keybindings.  For me, it’s 2-1-D-3-4-5-S.  Intuitive?  No.  But after several months of raiding as Affliction, my fingers know the cast sequence better than my brain does — so much so that if I respec Metamorphosis/Ruin or Felguard/Emberstorm, I literally have to trade keybindings.  Otherwise, I’ll find myself casting Shadowbolts instead of Incinerates because my fingers want to spam 2.

The (Sort Of) Exception

If your little black heart is absolutely set on macroing your initial sequence for simplicity or convenience — okay, fine.  I personally don’t see the point (you’ll have to memorize those binds sooner or later, because a /castsequence macro is ineffective for anything beyond your opening salvo!), but there’s no real harm in it.

In this case, a simple macro like

/castsequence reset=12/combat/target Shadowbolt, Haunt, Unstable Affliction, Immolate, Corruption, Curse of Agony, Siphon Life

will allow you to cast all seven spells by spamming the same keybind seven times.  It will also reset after 12 seconds, or every time you exit combat or change targets.

However, once you’ve cycled through your opening sequence, and have six DoTs of various durations rolling on a target — or multiple targets, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious! — then Affliction becomes a priority system rather than a rotation.  Some spells are more important than others (Hint: Haunt > *).  Some DoT’s can be clipped without a significant DPS loss; others can’t, or least shouldn’t be.

If you rely upon your /castsequence macro at this point, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Juggling DoTs

Managing a DoT rotation requires two things: (1) attention and (2) conscious thought.  A /castsequence macro isn’t capable of either — so maximizing DoT uptime is entirely up to you.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Haunt is your #1 priority.  Not only does it increase your periodic damage by 20%, but it also refreshes Corruption via talents.  It’s okay to clip Haunt; in fact, there will be times that you have no choice.  Because Haunt has both a cast time and a travel time, it has to be refreshed early.  If one of your DoT’s is expiring at about the same time, refresh Haunt even earlier so you can refresh the DoT as well.
  2. The final ticks of Curse of Agony and Immolate do more damage than any of the ticks that precede them.  Try to avoid clipping these DoTs.  Your goal is to refresh them immediately after their last ticks.  If you can’t — because Haunt needs to be refreshed or you know you won’t be able to stand still or stay in range long enough to cast — then it’s better to clip the last tick than to allow the DoT to fall off for more than three seconds at a time
  3. You can’t refresh a DoT early if the previous cast was modified by a talent or trinket proc, unless the same or an equivalent proc is also active at the time that you attempt to refresh it.  In other words: if your last Immolate was buffed by Molten Core, attempting to refresh Immolate early while not under the effect of Molten Core will result in “a more powerful spell is already in use” error and a wasted cast time.
  4. Use Shadowbolt as your primary filler when a mob is above 25% health, and Drain Soul when a mob is below 25% health.  You will still need to refresh your shadow DoTs (i.e., everything except Immolate) at 25% and below, but to maximize DPS, cast them after Drain Soul ticks (which come every three seconds) whenever possible.

Timing! is! Everything!

When it comes to Affliction DPS, timing is everything.  That’s why the spec is so hard to play right; it requires active thought rather than simple memorization, which absolutely cannot be replicated with a /castsequence macro. Do yourself and the rest of your party or raid a favor, and don’t use one beyond your opening sequence.  (I would even go so far as to suggest not using one, period, because of the bad habits it can easily engender.)

In lieu of a /castsequence macro, I strongly recommend downloading DoTimers and Quartz.  DoTimers is a wonderful little add-on that creates countdown timers — and, for the more visually inclined, bars — for each mob that you have DoTed.  It tracks the duration of each active DoT in descending order, and even changes colors when a DoT or spell effect is about to expire.  Meanwhile, Quartz is a modular cast bar that accounts for latency; I use it primarily to chain Haunt-Unstable Affliction-Immolate and time Shadowbolt casts.

The advantage to these add-ons over a /castsequence macro is that they will help you manage your DoTs and maximize uptime, not attempt to do it for you — and fail utterly in the process.

The moral of this post?  If you wouldn’t let your cat tailroll across the keyboard (and believe me, mine tries!), don’t use a /castsequence macro for Affliction DPS!

On the Other Hoof: Totems

That said,

/castsequence reset=8 Totem of Wrath, Flametongue Totem, Strength of Earth Totem, Mana Spring Totem

is all kinds of awesome. 😉


April 10, 2009 at 11:00 am 9 comments


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