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Build Shop: Warlock 43/0/18


Welcome back to another edition of Build Shop, talent fans! I've gotten a couple of emails about Warlock builds, so this week I'm going to take a look at one of the most infamous builds around -- Affliction. When people complain about Warlock DoTs, they've often just had a run in with an Affliction spec Warlock. Boasting up to 5 DoTs (Corruption / Seed of Corruption, Immolate, Curse of Agony, Siphon Life, Unstable Affliction) and a bevy of channeled drain spells, one of these warlocks can make quick work of your health bar. In addition, Affliction warlocks also sport talents that make their DoTs harder to dispel or make you think twice about trying to dispel them.

Amongst warlocks, it's a popular grinding build, able to handle multiple mobs at a time with very little downtime. Though it lacks the higher health pool and greater survivability associated with Demonology warlocks, or the pure nuking power of a Destruction warlock, Affliction is a build which performs well in many areas of the game. Let's take a look at an Affliction / Destruction build that incorporates threat reduction, DoT protection, and maximizes the damage done by DoTs.

The build I'll be referencing is heavy Affliction and Destruction (43/0/18). If you're planning on doing more PvP, you might consider taking points out of Destructive Reach and Devastation and putting them into Demonic Embrace to boost your Stamina by 15%. Although you will miss out on the increased range and threat reduction offered by Destructive Reach, the loss of Devastation isn't that great -- crit is really a secondary stat of an Affliction build since DoTs are the main source of damage and cannot crit.

As such, when gearing up your Affliction Warlock, you should focus on increasing spell hit, spell damage and stamina first. Dark Pact and Life Tap give you great staying power, making stats like Intellect and Mana/5 less important. I wouldn't completely neglect spell crit and Intellect though, since you'll want your Shadow Bolt to crit as often as possible to proc Improved Shadow Bolt to increase DoT damage.


Affliction (43 points)
  • Improved Corruption (5/5) - This is a must. Since you will be using Corruption so often, having it be an instant cast is invaluable.
  • Improved Drain Soul (2/2) - Great for regaining mana and reducing the threat your DoTs generate.
  • Improved Life Tap (2/2) - Very useful, as this allows you to effectively convert your health pool into your mana pool.
  • Soul Siphon (2/2) - With full DoTs on a target, this turns your Drain Life spell into a monster of inconceivable horror. With full DoTs and Shadow Embrace, your Drain Life will do an additional 20% damage. With more warlocks in your group or raid, this can get up to 60% additional damage.
  • Improved Curse of Agony (2/2) - Kind of a filler talent, but you'll use CoA a lot -- might as well increase the damage it does.
  • Fel Concentration (5/5) - Essential for drain tanking, this reduces the chance your drains will be pushed back by damage by 70%. If you happen to run with a Paladin who has Concentration Aura up, the only thing you'll have to worry about are Interrupts.
  • Amplify Curse (1/1) - A prerequisite for Curse of Exhaustion, this can up the damage you do with CoA or CoD every 3 minutes, or turn CoE into a nice snare -- fantastic for kiting targets around.
  • Grim Reach (2/2) - Increasing the range of your Affliction spells, especially Fear, helps considerably.
  • Nightfall (2/2) - Gives Corruption and Drain life a 4% chance to proc a buff which makes your next Shadow Bolt an instant cast. Fantastic when it goes off.
  • Empowered Corruption (3/3) - You should skip this one if you're leveling or until you've got some spell damage gear, but is great once you've got the gear to support it.
  • Shadow Embrace (1/5) - Many warlocks take just 1 point in this, and I would recommend you do the same, for a few reasons. One, it provides some dispel protection for your DoTs by taking up a debuff slot. Two, it counts as an additional Affliction effect for Soul Siphon.
  • Siphon Life (1/1) - Acts as a fairly nice DoT and renew (for you), and counts as another Affliction effect for Soul Siphon.
  • Curse of Exhaustion (1/1) - Useful for kiting targets around or to help you make a safe getaway.
  • Shadow Mastery (5/5) - Increases your shadow damage by 10%, and scales with your gear.
  • Contagion (5/5) - A 5% increase to damage done by 3 of your main spells, and reduces the chance your Affliction spells will be dispelled by 30%. Fantastic for PvP, as it helps keep your DoTs up as long as possible, as well as making your target waste mana and a global cooldown.
  • Dark Pact (1/1) - Drains mana from your pet and gives it to you. Reduces downtime, and restores mana without sacrificing your health like Life Tap. Turns a pet with a fast mana regen rate (like the Imp or the Succubus) into a portable mana battery.
  • Improved Howl of Terror (2/2) - Gives you an instant AoE fear, whose importance cannot be overstated.
  • Unstable Affliction (1/1) - Aside from giving you another DoT, UA protects your DoTs by punishing (and silencing) any attempts to dispel it. The dispel damage can also crit -- so cast this on your target and watch them squirm.

Destruction (18 points)
  • Improved Shadow Bolt (5/5) - Your shadow bolt crits increase shadow damage to the target by 20% for 12 seconds. This affects most of your DoTs, as well as Shadow Priest spells and any additional shadow bolts you decide to throw at the target.
  • Bane (5/5) - Reduced casting time for 3 of your spells. A solid talent.
  • Devastation (5/5) - Increases the crit chance of your Destruction spells by 5%. Doesn't do anything for your DoTs, but still is a decent talent.
  • Shadowburn (1/1) - Some nice instant Shadow damage on a 15 second cooldown. It does cost a Soul Shard, but if your target dies from it (or 5 seconds after you use it), you'll get the shard back.
  • Destructive Reach (2/2) - Extends the range of your Destruction spells by 20%, and decreases their threat by 10%. Staying as far back as possible has its advantages, but I like the threat reduction part better.

As usual, there's always some room to shift points around. If you need some additional spell hit, you might want to incorporate Suppression from the Affliction tree. If you're focusing on PvP and you decide to take Suppression, please note that any more than 2 points in this talent is wasted, since with 4% hit you'll be at the hit cap for PvP. Affliction can also be difficult to play if you're doing a lot of raiding, since your DoTs need time to cause the maximum amount of damage, so on trash your DPS will suffer a bit. However, it will still perform well on bosses or any extended fight, since mana efficiency is quite high and you can regain mana through Dark Pact or Life Tap.

That wraps up this edition of Build Shop, but I'll be back again next week! What do you want to see on Build Shop? Send me an email with your questions or comments, and we'll talk shop.

Filed under: Warlock, Build Shop

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