Affliction Warlock in Shadowlands
Affliction Warlock mostly relies on DoT spells and periodic damage, unlocking their potential in extended fights. This spec is extremely effective against scattered thick opponents. In addition to cool combat qualities, Affliction Warlock has many useful bonuses for the group and raid. In this guide, you will find all the necessary information to master this specialization!
Affliction Warlock has 2 main resources: Soul Shards and Mana. When out of combat, Warlock has 3 Shards, while the maximum number is 5. Shards allow you to cast powerful spells and summon Demon Pets. Mana is your resource for any other spell.
- Decent damage to single targets + bonus damage based on additional targets
- Sufficient constant damage against multiple targets due to multi-doting
- Good mobility
- Demonic Gateway can be useful for the raid when you need some extra mobility
- Poor focus switch to the primary target, especially at the moment it appears, since it takes some time to increase your damage output
The author of the guide is Laevate1nn, a raider of the Exorsus Guild since 2018. Feel free to check out his Twitch channel –
Agony– one of your main DoT sources, deals Shadow damage over 18 sec (23,4 sec with Pandemic). Damage starts low and increases over the duration, up to 10 stacks. Agony damage sometimes generates 1 Soul Shard, making this ability your main source of Shards.
Corruption– another DoT spell, simply deals Shadow damage.
Unstable Affliction– curses the target with Shadow damage over 21 sec. If dispelled, deals damage to the dispeller and silences them for 4 sec. Refunds 1 Soul Shard if the target dies while afflicted.
Seed of Corruption– spends Soul Shards and places a demon seed in an enemy target for 12 sec. The seed will detonate early if the target is hit by other detonations, or takes damage from your spells. Applies Shadow damage to all enemies within 10 yards, also causing Corruption.
Drain Life– drains life from the target, causing Shadow damage and healing you (channeled).
Shadow Bolt– deals medium Shadow damage, has a 2 sec cast.
Malefic Rapture– your damaging periodic effects erupt on all targets, causing Shadow damage per effect. So the more DoT you apply, the more damage this ability deals.
Pet summoning is still on a 6 second baseline cast, so choose wisely, considering your combat needs. Most often, you will use Felhunter and Imp.
- Felhunter– summons a Felhunter under your command, able to disrupt the spell casts of your enemies and block the magic school for 6 sec once every 24 sec. Purges 1 beneficial magic effect from an enemy.
- Imp– able to purge 1 negative effect from an ally once every 15 sec. Imp’s dispell allows you to assist your healer or save yourself from a dangerous debuff. In addition to that, Imp is the only pet that can deal damage from a distance, thus being the most versatile option.
- Succubus– can seduce enemy Humanoids, preventing them from attacking. Has Invisibility and reduces enemy movement speed by 60%. Almost never used in PvE.
- Voidwalker– can taunt targets and maintain their aggro. Mainly used in the open world. May be slightly more effective than other pets in raids and M+ (on multiple targets, due to his cleave). Nevertheless, this small bonus usually doesn’t justify pet swaps.
Pets don’t affect your DPS that much, so choose depending on their unique abilities.
Summon Darkglare– summons a Darkglare from the Twisting Nether that extends the duration of your damage over time effects on all enemies by 8 sec. The Darkglare will serve you for 20 sec, blasting its target with Shadow damage, increased by 10% for every DoT effect you have active on any target.
Mastery: Potent Afflictions– increases damage done by your DoT abilities.
Shadow Embrace– Shadow Bolt and Haunt apply Shadow Embrace, increasing your damage dealt to the target by 3% for 12 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.
In Shadowlands, Warlocks got some of their most iconic abilities back – Curses – even though reworked.
Curse of Exhaustion– reduces the target’s movement speed by 50% for 8 sec. A warlock can only have one Curse active per target.
Curse of Tongues– forces the target to speak in Demonic, increasing the casting time of all spells by 30% for 30 sec. A warlock can only have one Curse active per target.
Curse of Weakness– increases the time between an enemy’s attacks by 20% for 2 min.
Unending Resolve– reduces all damage you take by 40% and grants immunity to interrupt and silence effects for 8 sec.
Soul Leech– all single-target damage done by you and your minions grants you and your pet shadowy shields that absorb 8% of the damage dealt for 15 sec, up to 10% of maximum health.
Unending Breath– allows an ally to breathe underwater and increases swim speed by 20% for 10 min.
Demonic Gateway– creates a demonic gateway between two locations, 10-40 yd range. The first gate is created at your character’s location, the second one – at a chosen spot. Activating the gateway transports the user to the other gateway. Each player can use a Demonic Gateway only once per 1.5 min. Watch the debuff the ability provides to track its CD. Keep in mind that when you fly through various dangerous areas, you are exposed to their effects.
Banish– banishes an enemy Demon, Aberration, or Elemental, preventing any action for 30 sec. The banished target is Invulnerable, but unable to act. Casting Banish again on the target will cancel the effect. You can only banish one enemy at a time.
Soulstone– slightly modified resurrection, has the same mechanics as other similar spells. CD 10 min out of raid combat. In a raid, its CD timer depends on the number of players (90/X = CD, where X is the number of players in the raid). The trick is that you can apply this effect to an ally in advance, it lasts for 15 min.
Eye of Kilrogg– summons an Eye of Kilrogg and binds your vision to it for 45 sec. You control it in the third person, exploring the world. The eye is stealthed, moves quickly and can detect Invisible targets, but is very fragile.
Subjugate Demon– subjugates an enemy demon up to level 61, forcing it to do your bidding and replacing your Pet for 5 min. You can only control one demon at a time.
Ritual of Summoning– Warlock’s unique ability to create a summoning portal, requiring the caster and 2 allies to complete.
Create Healthstone– creates a Healthstone. The stone can be consumed to restore 25% max HP. One stone has 3 charges.
Create Soulwell– places a Soulwell for 2 min. Party and raid members can use the Soulwell to acquire a Healthstone.
Fear– disorients an enemy target for 20 sec. Damaging the target may cancel the effect. Limited to 1 enemy at a time.
Demonic Circle– summons a portal for 15 min. On the second cast you teleport to its location and remove all movement slowing effects. 40 yd range, teleport CD 30 sec.
Fel Domination– your next Pet Summon spell is free and has its casting time reduced by 5.5 sec.
Ritual of Doom– begins a ritual that sacrifices a random participant to summon a doomguard. Requires the caster and 4 additional party members to complete the ritual.
General information. On reaching several levels, you will open new Talent tiers. In each tier, you can choose one Talent at a time. Talents can affect your abilities in different ways: add new ones, replace old ones, passively modify various effects and spells. You can change Talents while you’re in Sanctums or in rest areas, but if there are no such places nearby, you can use Tome of the Tranquil Mind, which allows you to change Talents within a minute. Note that Talents can’t be changed in combat. Also, if a Talent selected in a certain tier is on CD, you’ll have to wait for it to recharge in order to change it.
Tier 1 Lvl 15, Talents that affect DPS
- Nightfall– Corruption damage has a chance to cause your next Shadow Bolt to be instant and deal 50% increased damage.
- Drain Soul– channeled (5 sec cast), deals Shadow damage. Damage is increased by 100% against enemies below 20% health. Generates 1 Soul Shard if the target dies during this effect. Replaces the Shadow Bolt ability.
- Inevitable Demise– damaging an enemy with Agony increases the damage of your next Drain Life by 15%. This effect stacks up to 50 times.
* Drain Soul is the best choice against single and multiple targets. Empowers your execute and grants a constant source of Soul Shards in M+.
Tier 2 Lvl 25, Talents that affect DPS
- Writhe in Agony– Agony’s damage starts at 4 stacks and may now ramp up to 18 stacks..
- Absolute Corruption– Corruption is now permanent and deals 15% increased damage. Duration reduced to 24 sec against players.
- Siphon Life– siphons the target’s life essence, dealing Shadow damage over 15 sec and healing you for 30% of the damage done.
* Siphon Life works best against 1-2 targets, while the 2 other Talents are great for AoE and multi-dotting. Writhe in Agony is used when enemies position chaotically, and Absolute Corruption – when you can use Seed of Corruption to maintain Corruption on the targets that are close to each other.
Tier 3 Lvl 30, Mobility and Survivability
- Demon Skin– Soul Leech absorption now passively recharges at a rate of 0.5% of maximum health every 1 sec, and may now absorb up to 15% of maximum health.
- Burning Rush– enhances your movement speed by 50%, but also damages you for 4% of your maximum health every 1 sec. Movement impairing effects may not reduce you below 100% of normal movement speed. Lasts until cancelled or until your current HP drops below 4%.
- Dark Pact– sacrifices 20% of your current health to shield you for 250% of the sacrificed health for 20 sec. Usable while under control impairing effects.
* The choice is yours. If you need mobility, take Burning Rush. Want to counter regular damage? Go for Demon Skin. And if you take burst damage once every minute,then select Dark Pact.
Tier 4 Lvl 35, AoE DPS boost
- Sow the Seeds– Seed of Corruption now embeds demon seeds into 2 additional nearby enemies.
- Phantom Singularity– places a phantom singularity above the target and deals damage to all enemies within 15 yards, healing you for 25% of the damage done. CD 45 sec.
- Vile Taint– deals Shadow damage over 10 sec to all enemies within 10 yds, reducing their movement speed by 30%. Costs 1 Soul Shard, CD 20 sec.
* Phantom Singularity for single targets, Vile Taint for AoE damage.
Tier 5 Lvl 40, Control
- Darkfury– reduces the cooldown of Shadowfury by 15.
- Mortal Coil– makes an enemy target flee for 3 sec, healing you for 20% of maximum health. 20 yd range, CD 45 sec.
- Howl of Terror– unleash a terrifying howl, causing 5 enemies within 10 yds to flee in fear, disorienting them for 20 sec. Damage may cancel the effect.
* The choice is yours. Howl of Terror with its additional control can be useful for interrupting enemy abilities in M+, while Mortal Coil is a good alternative for immobile encounters. Darkfury is quite situational and can be useful in M+ if your group has problems with AoE control. Mortal Coil is your sustain tool.
Tier 6 lvl 45, Talents that affect DPS
- Dark Caller– reduces Summon Darkglare’s CD by 60 seconds.
- Haunt– a ghostly soul haunts the target, dealing Shadow damage and increasing your damage dealt to the target by 10% for 15 sec. If the target dies, Haunt’s cooldown is reset.
- Grimoire of Sacrifice– sacrifices your Demon Pet for power, gaining its command demon ability, and causing your spells to sometimes also deal additional Shadow damage. Lasts 1 hour or until you summon a Demon Pet.
At the moment, Haunt is the best Talent in most raid situations. Dark Caller is good for M+.
Tier 7 Lvl 50, Talents that affect DPS
Creeping Death has a nice potential in fights with massive multi-dot. This Talent is mostly useful when you fight against 3-7 targets for a fairly long time. Its main disadvantage is the amount of additional casts you need to use to implement it.
Soul Conduit isn’t used at the moment.
Here are your common builds:
For single targets and cleave:
Dark Soul: Misery.
For AoE / Mythic+:
Dark Soul: Misery
The best choice:
Raids: The Kyrian
Mythic+: The Kyrian
- Scouring Tithe– deal Arcane damage instantly, and over 18 sec. If the enemy dies while affected by Scouring Tithe, you generate 5 Soul Shards. If they survive, Scouring Tithe’s cooldown is refreshed. CD 40 sec.
Has some potential in M+ dungeons, but it’s still questionable.
- Summon Steward – call your steward to bring you a Phial of Serenity. CD 4 min. It may seem useless, but don’t underestimate the extra heal. It also removes all Curse, Disease, Poison, and Bleed effects – very useful throughout the game.
- Impending Catastrophe– call forth a cloud of chaotic anima that travels to the target enemy, dealing Shadow damage to enemies in its path. When the anima reaches the target it explodes, inflicting either Curse of Weakness or Curse of Tongues, and dealing Shadow damage over 12 sec to all nearby enemies. CD 1 min.
It’s a strong AoE ability.
- Door of Shadows – castable blink with a great potential (skipping enemies in Mythic+ dungeons and teleporting over dangerous areas in boss fights).
The Night Fae
- Soul Rot– wither away all life force of your current target and up to 3 additional targets nearby, causing your primary target to suffer Nature damage and secondary targets – Nature damage over 8 sec. For the next 8 sec, casting Drain Life will cause you to also Drain Life from any enemy affected by your Soul Rot, and Drain Life will not consume any mana. CD 1 min.
It combines well with Inevitable Demise in M+ dungeons and raid cleave battles.
- Soulshape – turn into a Vulpin, teleporting 15 yards forward and increasing your movement speed by 50%. You may reactivate Soulshape every few sec to teleport again. Lasts 12 sec, or indefinitely while in a rest area.
It’s the best ability for single-target damage, which also empowers your execute.
- Fleshcraft – form a shield of flesh and bone over 4 sec that absorbs damage equal to 20% of your maximum health for 2 min. Channeling near a corpse claims their essence to grow the shield, up to 50% of your maximum health. This is most effective against powerful enemies.
Surprisingly powerful absorb, a bit better than the kyrian Phial. It can be extremely useful against raid bosses that periodically take massive damage.
Potency (In descending order, disregarding covenants):
The best soulbinds:
The Venthyr – Nadjia,
The Kyrian – Pelagos,
The Necrolords – Emeni,
The Night Fae – Korayn.
Nadjia the Mistblade:
Dauntless Duelist– The first enemy you damage in combat is marked as your Adversary. You deal 3% more damage to them, and they deal 1.5% less damage to you. You may only have one Adversary at a time.
Thrill Seeker– while in combat, you gain a stack of Thrill Seeker every 2 sec, or 4 stacks on killing an enemy. At 40 stacks Thrill Seeker is consumed to grant you Euphoria, increasing your Haste by 20% for 10 sec. Thrill Seeker decays rapidly while you are not in combat.
Exacting Preparation – the benefits of Well Fed, Flask, and weapon enchant effects are increased by 20%.
Theotar the Mad Duke:
Soothing Shade– your spells and abilities have a chance to call Tubbins and Gubbins to your side for 12 sec, parasol in hand. Standing in the shaded area grants you 525 Mastery.
Wasteland Propriety – activating Impending Catastrophe signals the start of tea time, granting 10% Versatility to you and 4% Versatility to up to 4 nearby allies. Lasts 10 sec. Tea time may only occur once every 1 min.
Refined Palate – the effects of combat potions last 100% to 200% longer.
General Draven is good for survivability and maybe PvP, while for DD’s he’s not quite useful.
Let Go of the Past – using a spell or ability reduces your magic damage taken by 1% for 10 sec. Using another spell or ability increases this amount by 1% when it is not a repeat of the previous spell or ability, stacking to 3%.
Combat Meditation – activating Scouring Tithe increases your Mastery by 5% for 20 and occasionally expels Sorrowful Memories. Walking through Sorrowful Memories extends this effect by 3 sec.
Valiant Strikes – your critical strikes grant you stacks of Valiant Strikes, up to 20. If a nearby party member drops below 50% health, you consume these stacks to heal them for 1% of their maximum health per stack. After healing this way, you may not benefit from Valiant Strikes for 1 min.
Pointed Courage – chance to critically strike is increased by 1% for every nearby enemy or ally, up to 8%.
Forgelite Prime Mikanikos:
Hammer of Genesis – damaging a new enemy grants you 2% Haste for 10 sec, up to 5 stacks.
Bron’s Call to Action – after using 90 damaging or healing spells and abilities, your next spell or ability summons Bron, knocking back enemies on arrival and attacking and healing your targets for 30 sec.
Plague Deviser Marileth has no useful abilities for DD’s.
Gnashing Chompers – gain 3% Haste for 10 sec after defeating an enemy, up to 15%.
Lead by Example – activating Decimating Bolt increases your primary stats by 5% and nearby allies’ primary stats by 2% for 10 sec. You gain 2% additional primary stats for each ally affected, up to 8%.
Heirmir’s Arsenal: Marrowed Gemstone – after landing 10 critical strikes, you gain 18% increased chance to critically strike for 10 sec. May only occur once per 60 sec.
Forgeborne Reveries – upon death your armor anchors your soul, allowing you to fight for an additional 10 sec. During this time, your damage and healing done is reduced by 50% and you cannot receive healing. Additionally, your primary stat and Armor are increased by 1% for each enchantment on your armor, up to 3%.
The Night Fae
Niya’s Tools: Burrs – your damaging attacks and spells have a chance to toss Niya’s Spiked Burrs under your target. The burrs latch onto the first enemy to cross them, reducing movement speed by 20% and inflicting Nature damage over 6 sec.
Niya’s Tools: Poison – your interrupting abilities apply Niya’s Paralytic Poison to the target, dealing Nature damage over 30 sec. Targets with Niya’s Paralytic Poison take additional Nature damage if interrupted once more.
Grove Invigoration – healing or dealing damage has a chance to grant you a stack of Redirected Anima, which increases your maximum health by 1% and your Mastery by 25 for 30 sec, and stacks overlap. Activating Soul Rot grants you 6 stacks of Redirected Anima.
Dreamweaver has no useful abilities for DD’s.
First Strike – damaging an enemy before they damage you increases your chance to critically strike by 25% for 5 sec.
Wild Hunt Tactics – your damage to targets above 75% health and healing to targets below 35% health are increased by 10%. When your spells and abilities are enhanced this way, you gain 15% bonus movement speed for 5 sec.
Overall, Affliction Warlock has 16 available Legendary Items.
The best item effects:
- Pillars of the Dark Portal– Demonic Gateway is now instant cast, and your first use of the gateway does not trigger its cooldown. In addition, nether energy lashes enemies you pass through, knocking them away.As for non-class Legendary Item Effects:
- Echo of Eonar – summons a spiritual familiar to your side, increasing your damage and healing by 5%. Your spells and abilities have a chance to send your familiar to a nearby ally, increasing their damage and healing by 5% for 15 sec.
You can buff an ally to increase your raid’s DPS, but hardly your own. Use this effect only if you are sure that your allies play better than you 😉
- Sephuz’s Proclamation– reduce the effectiveness of crowd controlling effects by 10%. Successfully applying a loss of control effect to an enemy, interrupting an enemy, or dispelling any target will increase all your secondary stats for 15 sec. Cannot occur more than once every 30 sec.
This effect has a great potential when you can permanently trigger it.
- Use Haunt before pull if you have the Talent, otherwise – Shadow Bolt, if you have Drain Soul and not Haunt then go for Unstable Affliction.
- Siphon Life, if you have the Talent
- Dark Soul: Misery
- Active Damage trinket, if you have one, and racial bursts
- Unstable Affliction
- Phantom Singularity or Vile Taint on recharge
- Summon Darkglare
- Active Mastery or Intellect trinket, if you have one
- Deathbolt, if you have the Talent
- Malefic Rapture until you spend all Soul Shards, further on cast it when you have ~5 Shards.
- Keep dealing damage according to the rotation
- Racials and active trinkets, whenever available
- Haunt on recharge, if you have the Talent
- Keep up Shadow Embrace on your target
- Same with Agony
- Also Siphon Life, if you have the Talent
- Maintain Corruption
- Drain Life if you have 50 stacks on Inevitable Demise
- Phantom Singularity on recharge, if you have the Talent
- Vile Taint on recharge, if you have the Talent
- Dark Soul: Misery on recharge, if you have the Talent
- Malefic Rapture when you have ~5 Shards.
- Unstable Affliction if it’s not on the target or the effect is about to end before the next cast.
- Deathbolt on recharge, if you have the Talent
- Shadow Bolt or Drain Soul
- The rotation slightly changes when Summon Darkglare is about to recharge. Try to keep 5 Soul Shards if you want to maximize the benefit of this ability. You should stop spending Shards ~45 seconds before Summon Darkglare is ready. At the same time you don’t want to have extra Soul Shards – use Malefic Rapture if you’re about to reach the cap.
- Shortly before using Summon Darkglare, you should use Dark Soul: Misery, and then refresh all DoT’s on the target if they are about to end. If you have Vile Taint, keep 1 Shard for it. Then cast Summon Darkglare and spend the remaining Shards on Malefic Rapture.
Base AoE priorities are similar to single-target priorities.
- Keep up Agony on up to 8 targets.
- Maintain Corruption on all targets.
- Use Seed of Corruption on 3+ grouped targets to save time.
- Keep up Siphon Life on up to 4 targets. However, Absolute Corruption or Writhe in Agony can be more useful in this tier.
- Maintain Unstable Affliction on different targets to gain 10% increased damage to them. At the moment, Unstable Affliction is more effective than Seed of Corruption. The seed works best only in fights with 5+ enemies. With Sow the Seeds this requirement drops to 3+ targets.
Choosing a race
For single targets:
- Human (Alliance)
- Troll (Horde)
- Gnome (Alliance)
- Goblin (Horde)Stats
Your basic stats priority is the following:
Intellect > Haste = Mastery > Crit > Versatility
Haste reduces the cooldowns of your main abilities, GCD and the cast time of spells.
Mastery enhances your DoT spells.
Versatility simply amplifies damage dealt and reduces damage taken.
Crit increases your chance to deal double damage with your abilities.
These stats are connected quite tightly, while their value is constantly changing.
For that reason, we recommend that you use Simcraft or Raidbots.com after getting new equipment, so that you can know for sure what attribute to focus on.
Based on the above-mentioned characteristics and your own simulation results, let’s move on to Gems, Enchants and Consumables.
Stones, Oils and Armor kits
Flasks and Pots
BiS Gear & Trinkets
- Banish at the cursor position.
/cast [target=mouseover] Banish
/cast [target=mouseover] Soulstone
- Fear at the cursor position.
/cast [target=mouseover] Fear
- In Mythic+ you often have to call off your Pet, as you don’t want accidental pulls (when on a Mount, your demon doesn’t pull anything).
- Imp’s ability to remove debuffs off friendly targets.
/cast [target=mouseover] Singe Magic (Command Demon Ability)
Bartender4 is a highly customizable panel addon.
Chatter allows you to customize chat.
Deja Character stats – adds more information about the character.
Sexy map – makes your minimap super sexy!
Shadowed unit frames – an alternative to ElvUI for unit frames.
WeakAuras is probably the most important addon in modern WoW. With its help, you can set up almost anything, and on wago.io you can find hundreds of useful auras and import them to your game in a few clicks. You can also find a full pack of auras for any spec, check out this link!
BigWigs/Deadly Boss Mods – addons with timers and announcements for bosses in raids and M+, choose either of these. It’s also super useful in PvE. For BigWigs, the instance module, LittleWigs, must be installed separately.
ElvUI is an all-in-one global build for fans of a neat and concise interface. Replaces several addons at once. On wago.io you can also find a large number of different customized profiles for ElvUI.
Details! Damage Meter is the most up-to-date and advanced damage meter at the moment.
Plater Nameplates– an addon from the author of Details that changes enemy nameplates. Fully customizable design and a huge number of available features, as well as the ability to import profiles and mods from wago.io – what else do you need?
Pawn – helps you find upgrades for your gear, requires SimCraft.
SimulationCraft – a tool to explore combat mechanics and optimize your character.
Exorsus Raid Tools is an addon for raids that includes a lot of useful features.
Move Anything – allows you to move and resize any part of your interface.
World Quest List – groups your world quests to the left of the map and filters them by zones.
Useful macros that give you a better control of the pet, for example, for more precise casts, dispells and attack commands:
To make your pet attack the desired target:
You can also separate these macros and use or combine them as you want.
Make your pet idle:
Command to attack:
Order to follow you:
In order to send a pet to a desired location in advance, use “Send”.
Sometimes when you want to use a dispell on yourself or an ally, your Imp is too far away. To make it return to you and apply the cast, use the following command (click a few times):
/cast [target=mouseover] Singe Magic (Command Demon Ability)
That’s quite it, guys! We hope you have no more questions and are ready to get down to practice. Thanks for tuning in! Best of luck in the world of Azeroth!