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World of Warcraft: Legion: Affliction Warlock guide (7.1)

How to level up your Affliction Warlock nice and quickly in Legion.

Affliction Warlocks are - to borrow an expression from the Death Knight spell book - the masters of death and decay. Playing an Affliction Warlock is all about placing and managing multiple damaging and debilitating curses on several enemies, and then reaping - no pun intended - the rewards over time. This Affliction Warlock guide will help you do just that.

In WOW Legion, the Affliction specialisation was further tuned towards this direction of managing multiple damage-over-time spells across several targets, yet at the same time it retains the ability to summon and control powerful demons to fight for the Warlock and enhance his or her abilities.

In this Warlock guide, we’re going to showcase a fantastic Affliction levelling build that's a lot of fun to play and will take you through the levelling process at a brisk pace. We’ll also provide clear instructions for your ability rotations and the reasoning behind them, so you can truly master this build and customize it to your liking if you so choose.

As usual, this levelling build can be easily adapted to the endgame upon reaching the level cap - and, of course, the growth of your character is far from over once you get there. You will need to keep developing your Artifact Weapon, something that we will also help you with on the next update.

As the expansion progresses, we’ll move into more endgame content - advising on specialisations that maximize dungeon and raid DPS output - and help you build an Affliction Warlock that will shine in both PVE and PVP scenarios.

Editor’s Note: Update #1 (Patch 7.1) - The Return to Karazhan patch brings an overall increase in the Affliction Warlock’s damage output, boosting many of its staple spells and abilities, while changing Unstable Affliction, allowing it to stack up to five times per enemy. Our talent recommendations and rotation sections have been updated to reflect these latest changes.

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Affliction Warlock talent build

What follows are our choices - and the reasons behind them - of Warlock talents. At the moment, we’re focussing on a levelling build, but soon we’ll add a version focused on end-game content.

This is our preferred build for levelling as an Affliction Warlock. It focuses on survivability and mobility over raw damage output, as Warlocks have more than enough of that by default.

Level Talent Option Reason for Choice
15 Drain Soul - Upgrades Drain Life, increasing its damage and healing output while generating a Soul Shard if the target dies while channelling. As you will see below, our levelling build is based around placing damage-over-time spells upon multiple enemies and letting these kill them passively. This strategy requires extra survivability.
30 Absolute Corruption - Upgrades Corruption, making it permanent and increasing its damage by 25%. Against enemy players, the duration becomes 60 seconds. This is the better talent to use when fighting multiple targets at once, which is our goal with this build. If you find yourself being overwhelmed and feel the need to only take care of 1-2 targets at once, pick Contagion instead.
45 Demonic Circle - Demonic Circle summons a circle that lasts 6 minutes at its target location, and to which you can teleport to on demand, clearing all movement slowing effects. This gives you an interesting movement option, and a sort of "escape plan" if you decide to face an enemy several levels over you.
60 Siphon Life - A new DoT ability that lasts 15 seconds and heals you as it damages the target. Another survivability-based choice, this is in fact the ability that holds the build together, giving you a fire-and-forget tool that damages targets and recovers your life.
75 Dark Pact - Sacrifices 20% of your demon's current health (or your health, if no demon is present) to shield you for 400% of that value for 20 seconds. It has a 1 minute cooldown and works even if suffering from control impairing effects. It’s possible you're sensing a pattern to our choices here. Yup, this makes you harder to kill. Again. If you feel you’re invincible as it is, go with Burning Rush instead for a nice quality-of-life speed boost improvement.
90 Grimoire of Supremacy - This allows you to permanently use Doomguards and Infernals as pets. These big, meaty demons are great for distracting enemies while your spells kill them over time. Which one you use is mostly a matter of preference, but the Infernal is our recommendation.
100 Phantom Singularity - This is a high-damage AoE with a big range, that deals its damage over 16 seconds, and heals you for 30% of the damage dealt. When a bunch of enemies are hitting you while dying from your damage-over-time spells (but not dying fast enough), this one seals the deal.

Affliction Warlock rotations

Warlock rotations and spell priorities are highly variable between specialisations. That said, the common ground is that they all tend to be proactively methodical rather than reactive. While some of your abilities may generate buffs that you need to take into account during combat, playing a Warlock is more about thinking ahead and planning your casting sequences so you can make the most out of your empowering cooldowns, or periods of increased enemy vulnerability.

The Affliction specialisation places particular emphasis on damage-over-time spells. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it helps to visualise a Warlock as someone who places a curse on an enemy, making it wither and die over a short period of time, as opposed to a Mage who blasts their opponents with a high-impact, immediately effective spell.

This means that against a single-target, a Warlock can maintain a sustained output of very consistent damage. While questing in particular, this class can easily damage several enemies at once.

In order to achieve good results though, it is of the highest importance to keep track of the debuffs placed on your targets and their duration - something that is made much easier by enabling Blizzard's new and improved combat plates (press V on the keyboard). In addition to this, you might want to experiment with the “Interface - Names” options menu, and increase the size of said combat plates.

While tracking debuffs is the most important factor when playing Affliction, it’s worth noting that Warlocks have an additional resource called Soul Shards. Some of your abilities generate Soul Shards when you kill an enemy, and your character can hold up to five.

As with all resources in World of Warcraft, the key concept here is to be ready to spend one once you reach the 5 Shard limit, so you won’t waste any that are generated as a result of your ongoing rotation.

More WOW class guides:

Death KnightDemon HunterDruid
Blood Death Knight guideHavoc Demon Hunter guideBalance Druid guide
Frost Death Knight guideVengeance Demon Hunter guideFeral Druid guide
Unholy Death Knight guide-Guardian Druid guide
--Restoration Druid guide
HunterMageMonk
Beast Mastery Hunter guideArcane Mage guideBrewmaster Monk guide
Marksmanship Hunter guideFire Mage guideMistweaver Monk guide
Survival Hunter guideFrost Mage guideWindwalker Monk guide
PaladinPriestRogue
Holy Paladin guideHoly Priest guideAssassination Rogue guide
Protection Paladin guideDiscipline Priest guideOutlaw Rogue guide
Retribution Paladin guideShadow Priest guideSubtlety Rogue guide
ShamanWarlockWarrior
Elemental Shaman guideAffliction Warlock guideArms Warrior guide
Enhancement Shaman guideDemonology Warlock guideFury Warrior guide
Restoration Shaman guideDestruction Warlock guideProtection Warrior guide

Other WOW guides:

Affliction Warlock: Single-target rotation

We’re including a single-target rotation here for completion’s sake. The truth of the matter is that the optimal Affliction leveling build thrives in “multi-dotting”, which means you are supposed to place your damage-over-time spells on a target and then move on to the next one - the previous target(s) might harass you for a while but will often die without need for any further interaction on your part.

This single-target rotation will only be of use when you need to fight a tougher mob, although even in these cases you will most often use the multiple target rotation, as that kind of enemy will usually have minions.

As of Patch 7.1, a single target can have up to 5 Unstable Affliction at once, so it’s in your best interests to stack it up to that point and then recast as often as needed to maintain this level of damage.

Action Condition / Further Instructions
1 Unstable Affliction If you have at least 2 Soul Shards. Repeat until you are at 1 Soul Shard.
2 Agony If target has no Agony debuff, or it has 5 seconds or less remaining.
3 Corruption If target has no Corruption debuff. Due to our talent choices, this should not need refreshing.
4 Siphon Life If target has no Siphon Life debuff, or it has 5 seconds or less remaining.
5 Reap Souls (ability provided at lvl 100 with your Artifact Weapon) If at 12 stacks of Souls.
6 Summon Infernal
7 Phantom Singularity
8 Drain Soul If under 35% HP. Cast on the target with the lowest health.
9 Unstable Affliction If you have 2-5 Soul Shards. Cast on the target with the highest health, and multiple times if possible.
10 Drain Soul If there’s nothing else to do.
11 Repeat from Step 2

Affliction Warlock: Multiple-target rotation

Action Condition / Further Instructions
1 Unstable Affliction If you have at least 2 Soul Shards.
2 Agony If target has no Agony debuff, or it has 5 seconds or less remaining.
3 Corruption If target has no Corruption debuff. Due to our talent choices, this should not need refreshing.
4 Siphon Life If target has no Siphon Life debuff, or it has 5 seconds or less remaining.
5 Switch Target. Repeat from Step 2 into as many targets as you feel comfortable with. Feel free to move around and repeat the initial rotation on new mobs as the previous ones die while chasing you. Most questing mobs will die from the initial debuffs before they become a threat. If you feel like you are in danger of dying (dropping under 50% HP is a good mark) or it’s obvious one or more mobs won’t die from the initial DoTs, move on to the next step.
6 Reap Souls (ability provided at lvl 100 with your Artifact Weapon) If at 12 stacks of Souls.
7 Summon Infernal
8 Phantom Singularity
9 Seed of Corruption If 4 or more targets close to each other.
10 Drain Soul If under 35% HP. Cast on the target with the lowest health.
11 Unstable Affliction If you have 2-5 Soul Shards. Cast on the target with the highest health, and multiple times if possible.
12 Drain Soul If there’s nothing else to do.
13 Repeat from Step 2

That's it for now. Next up we’re going to go through your Artifact Weapon and how to best upgrade it. Let us know in the comments what else you'd like to see from this guide moving forward!

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