Current as of Patch 5.4

Role | Talents & Glyphs | Stat Priority | Reforging
Cooldowns | Single Target Rotation | AOE Rotation

This guide aims to provide all of the most critical details about how to play an Affliction Warlock at level 90 in PVE content.  It covers talents, glyphs, stats, reforging, and rotations. 

It is assumed that since you are level 90 you will be able to take the basic information and run with it, simple topics like addons, macros, targeting, and more are not covered.

The Role of an Affliction Warlock

As an Affliction Warlock your role in a group is to provide DPS.  Unfortunately, as of patch 5.4 Affliction Warlocks are theoretically one of the lowest DPS classes. This is a dramatic change from the start of the Mists of Pandaria expansion where the were in the top 3. In addition to DPS, Affliction Warlocks also provide the following abilities and benefits:

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  • Can provide many forms of Crowd Control (CC) with: banish, fear, seduction, enslave, and mesmerize. 
  • Can buff the groups spell power by 10% with Dark Intent and cause enemies to take 5% more damage from spells with the Curse of the Elements debuff.
  • Can provide healthstones to players for a quick 20% heal, as well as resurrecting players with Soulstones. This resurrection ability is great as only Druids and Warlocks can provide in-battle resurrections.
  • Can provide some added group mobility with the Demonic Gateway ability. 

Affliction Warlock Talents and Glyphs

Since the introduction of the talent system 2.0 when Mists of Pandaria launched, players for the most part are free too choose talents and glyphs that they like rather than specific ones.  There are however a some specific talents and glyphs that are required for the best DPS performance in PVE content, for an Affliction Warlock they are:

Grimoire of Supremacy (Tier 5 talent) - This talent allows you to summon a second demon every 2 minutes for 20 seconds, which greatly increases your burst DPS. Since you can control when you bring the extra demon in, and if you only summon it while you have other cooldowns activated, it provides a bigger overall DPS boost that any other talent at this tier.

However, if you are not fully geared and just learning the spec, then Grimoire of Supremacy, which supplies upgraded versions of your deamons, can provide a nice steady no-maintance DPS increase that is not hugely lower than Grimoire of Service.

Glyph of Unstable Affliction (Major Glyph) – Reduces the cast time of your Unstable Affliction by 25%.

This talent boosts your DPS by allowing you to cast your Unstable Affliction faster and move on to other spells. Since it is only one abilitiy it is only a small boost to DPS, but it is a boost.

Glyph of Siphon Life (Major Glyph) – Heals you for 0.5% of your health each time your Corruption DOT ticks.

This talent provides both a survivability boost and an indirect DPS boost by providing health which you can turn into mana to keep casting in long fights.

Affliction Warlock Stat Priority

It is critical to understand your stat priority for any class as going after the wrong stats can really hurt your DPS output.
The stat priority for an Affliction Warlock is:

Intellect > Hit (to 15%) > Mastery > Haste > Crit

Important Notes:

  • Hit - DPS players have been trained over time to highly value hit and reaching the hit cap.  Since Affliction Warlocks deal most of their damage through their DOT abilities which can not miss once applied, hit can in theory be less important for them than other classes.  Therefore you can choose to rate it after Mastery and Hit in your priority structure if you choose. However, if you do, you need to watch for misses on your DOT applications and make sure you recast it, which can be difficult while focusing on other aspescts of a fight. The best idea is therefore to focus on getting to 15% hit.
  • Mastery – Mastery is your best stat after Intellect and Hit, due to Potent Afflictions, which raises the damage caused by your three main DOTs (Agony, Corruption, and Unstable Affliction) based on the amount of mastery that you have.

  • Haste – Haste is an amazing stat for Affliction Warlocks due to the extra ticks that it supplies your DOTs. There are key break points that you should aim for though that provide the most benefit. Aim to get to these points and if you can not reach the next one focus on other stats until you can reforge to reach the next one. They are (when fully raid buffed): 9,780 and 13,740, The first will give you 2 extra ticks on Unstable Affliction, 3 on Corruption, and 4 on Agony. The second grants a further extra tick to Corruption and Agony.

Reforging as an Affliction Warlock

When reforging simply follow the stat priority for Affliciton Warlocks and move the lowest stat to the highest stat that the piece does not have on it. You can also follow this simple table:

If your gear has these two stats…

Reforge this stat…

… to this stat (to hit cap)

… this stat to this stat (after hit capped)

Mastery + Hit

Do not Reforge

Do not Reforge

Hit to Haste

Mastery + Haste



Do not Reforge

Mastery + Crit



Crit to Haste

Hit + Haste



Hit to Mastery

Hit + Crit



Crit to Mastery

Haste + Crit



Crit to Mastery

Affliction Warlock Cooldowns

There are only two main cooldowns to worry about as an Affliction Warlock.  They are Dark Soul: Misery and your two large demon summons (Infernal and Doomguard).

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Dark Soul: Misery – Use this one on cooldown at all times.  The only real exception is when an trash mob is within a few percentage points of dying, then you may want to save it for the next enemy or boss.

Summon Infernal or Summon Doomguard – These two demons share a 10 minute cooldown.  They should be used for any boss fight when they are off cooldown as appropriate, meaning the Infernal for AOE and the Doomgaurd for single targets.

Affliction Warlock Single Target Rotation

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As with most classes now there is no specific rotation for abilities, but rather a priority based list that should be followed for highest DPS output. 

The priority rotation for Affliction Warlocks against a single target is:

1 - Curse of the Elements – Put this debuff up at the start of the fight unless someone else can apply it.

2 - Agony – Keep this active at all times and make sure you refresh it before it expires so that it stays at 10 stacks.

3 - Corruption  - Keep this active.

4 - Unstable Affliction – Keep this active.

Important: Priority items 2 – 4 can all be applied at once using Soulburn and Soul Swap.  This will consume a soul shard, but apply all three DOTs instantly instead of having to cast them individually.

5 - Haunt – Cast this whenever Haunt is not already on the target and you have a soul shard and will not need to use it to reapply your DOT’s with a Souldburned Soul Swap within about the next 10 seconds.

6 - Drain Soul – Use this if the target is below 20% health or if you are in dire need of additional soul shards.

7 - Malefic Grasp – This is your default filler spell when everything else is active already and the enemy is still above 20% health.

Affliction Warlock AOE Target Rotation

There are two AOE style rotations for Affliction Warlocks, the first is for 2-3 targets, and the second is for 4 or more targets.

Against 2-3 targets, essentially use your single target rotation against all the enemies to keep DOTs ticking on all of them.

Against 4 or more targets as an Affliction Warlock use the following rotation:

1 - Soulburn + Curse of the Elements – Applies CotE to all targets at once.

2 - Soulburn + Seed of Corruption – Applies Corruption to all targets affected when the seed explodes.  Use this whenever corruption is going to fade from the enemies.

3 - Seed of Corruption – Cycle through the various targets applying a seed to each of them so that the AOE caused by each one chains to cause further AOE explosions.

Comments on Affliction Warlocks

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.


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