I’ve been watching threads on the Warlock’s Den for a while. There’s some good stuff going on over there.. unfortunately 80% of the threads are people saying “I’m not getting as much DPS as I think I should. What am I doing wrong?” These threads aren’t bad.. but eventually they get a little repetitive. The answers are always the same. The people who reply check the same things every single time to figure out what the poster is doing wrong. So.. here you go.. here is my generalized list of how to maximize your DPS in order of importance. Start with number 1 and work your way down. Don’t skip ahead.
- Get to 80. There’s no sense trying to maximize your DPS before 80. You don’t have all the tools, you don’t have all the gear. When you’re questing you need to kill quest mobs. Quest mobs don’t have enrage timers.. so as long as you don’t die you’ll be fine. Frankly you need more stamina and survivability than DPS. So just stop worrying about it an enjoy the leveling experience.
- Glyph for success. Make sure you’ve chosen the proper glyphs. At this time the best affliction major glyphs to maximize your DPS are Life Tap, Haunt, and Quick Decay. The minor glyphs are -so- minor they in fact have no effect so choose whatever blows your hair back.
- Spec like you mean it. I believe at this time the “best” affliction spec is 56/00/15 with a little bit of wiggle room.
– if you have the gear to make up the hit you can justify taking up to 3 points out of Suppression and putting them elsewhere.
– The two points in Improved Drain Soul and the one point in Improved Life Tap do not directly add to your DPS. Indirectly the 10/20% reduced affliction threat can add to you DPS if you are threat capped by your tank. The 10/20% returned mana can add to your dps because over the long run they will save you GCDs by not having to life tap as much. You could argue that those points could be moved elsewhere.
Other than those points I don’t see any other points that can be moved in this spec.
- Choose your pet wisely. If it’s not on cooldown you should summon your Doomguard. If doomguard is on cooldown then summon Felhunter. Then, for the last 60 seconds of the fight (or if your pet dies) call down an Infernal to replace your current pet. Recommended reading: My pet’s better than your pet
- Buff to the best benefit. For max DPS you should always have your Fel Armor up and a Spellstone applied to your weapon. For flasks choose the Flask of the Frost Wyrm. For food go for +hit food if you’re under hit cap, otherwise choose +spellpower food. Celebrate the fact that we’re one of the few class for whom fish feast actually -are- the best food to choose.
If you won’t pull threat, then pre-pot on the fight. This will allow you to get the effect of two potions during combat. I normally pre-pot with a Potion of Speed.
If there’s a shaman in the raid pop Potion of Wild Magic during the Heroism/Bloodlust.
If there isn’t a shaman in the raid pop Potion of Speed at the point where you would normally do Heroism/Bloodlust.
The makeup of your raid, and the buffs each class bring to the raid will greatly influence your dps. Keep this in mind when comparing your dps in different raids.
- Make sure you’re always hitting the mobs. In a raid you need to make up 17% hit(464 hit rating). In heroics you need to make up 6% hit(168 hit rating).
Generally you will get best return by speccing into Suppression and the making up the last 14% from hit rating (368 hit rating) on gear. You can possibly justify only getting 10% hit if you can count on raid buffs (3% from misery from Spriest OR 3% Imp Fairy Fire from druid) and the presence of a Draenei (1%).. personally I hate the idea that I could be 4% below hit cap in the raid if the persons who provide the buffs died (or don’t show up) so I normally gear for the full 14%. Recommended reading: Warlock Hit Rating
- Hit the mobs harder/faster. When you’re gearing, make sure you’re maximizing the right stat. For affliction warlocks at the moment your stats, in order of importance, are:
Spellpower/Haste > Spirit/Crit >> int > everything else
Once you get to the hit cap hit rating is no longer valuable (I still pick up +hit items and keep them in my bank for swapping gear around), but until you get to the hit cap, hit is -the- most valuable stat. After that Spellpower is valued slightly higher than haste which is valued higher than spirt/crit. Last is int which only shows up on the list because it grants a smidge of crit.
Recommended reading: Affliction Warlock Pawn 3.3 and How to gem via flowchart and Raider 101 – Affliction(esp. the recommended enchantments section)
- Choose the right curse for the job. Choose Curse of the Elements if you’re in a group that does not have a Boomkin to provide “Earth and Moon” or an Unholy Deathknights to provide “Ebon Plague” (yes, CotEl in this case will improve your personal DPS). Choose Curse of Agony if the mob will live for greater than 20 seconds and the 13% granted by CotEl is covered by another class. Choose no curse if another class is covering the 13% buff from CotEl and the mobs die in < 20 seconds. Recommended reading: Elements VS Agony VS DOOM
- All mobs (and mob packs) are not created equal.
If there are 3+ trash mobs in a pull.. and your tanks generate good AOE threat:
Seed of Corruption multiple mobs. (seed, tab, seed, tab, seed, tab, etc) Rain of Fire does less DPS but is more consistent and may be preferable if you outgear your tank or if the group of mobs are going to die too quickly to get 3+ seeds cast.
Single/Double Trash rotation: (trash dies too quickly to get a full dot rotation on them).
Haunt, Corruption, Shadow Bolt until dead. (Drain Soul if you need soul shards). Sometimes it may even be better to just spam Shadow Bolt (or Searing Pain) especially on -very- quick dying trash.
Boss/high-HP trash, use a full rotation.
Double Boss/high-HP trash, use a rotation on both. Haunt/Corruption/UA/Curse/Shadow Embrace on one and Corruption/UA/Curse/Shadow Embrace on the other. This is difficult and should be practiced.
- Cast your spells in the right order and refresh in a timely manner.
If on CotEl duty cast CotEl first. Follow up with Shadow Bolt and Haunt to stack your Shadow Embrace buff (This will change when Shadow’s Embrace changes to 3 stacks. At that point the startup may be Shadow Boltx2, Haunt.). Then Corruption, (CoA, if no CotEl), Unstable Affliction, then Shadow Bolt until Haunt is off cooldown.
1. (CotEl) (if it drops)
2. Haunt(whenever it’s 1.5 seconds from dropping to refresh Haunt buff and Corruption)/Lifetap (to keep lifetap buff up or for mana)
3. Corruption (if it drops)
4. Unstable Affliction
5. (CoA) (if you’re not on CotEl duty)
6. If nothing else, Shadowbolt
During the last 25% of the mob:
1. (CotEl) (if it drops)
2. Haunt (if it will drop before the boss dies)(keeps up your Shadow’s Embrace effect)/Lifetap (to keep lifetap buff up or for mana)
3. Corruption (if it dropped)
4 Unstable Affliction (if you have > 18 seconds before the boss dies)
5. (CoA) (If you’re not on CotEl duty and if you have > 24 seconds before the boss dies)
6. Drain Soul. Note that the channeling of Drain Soul should be interrupted after a tick to any of the above. Ideally you’d interrupt it in order to refresh two or more of the above at the same time.
- Do not clip your dots. That is, do not cause a new dot to land on the mob before the last tick of the dot that’s already ON the mob goes off.
Corruption: if you’re doing it right it will never fall off because of Everlasting Affliction. If it accidentally -does- fall off then just recast it as soon as you can.
Unstable Affliction has a 1.5 second cast time(effected by haste)(in Red, with an X across it). This means that you should start casting UA when there’s <1.5 seconds left in the dot. You don’t want to start early as you’ll overwrite the last tick and lose dps. You’ll get the most dps if you can get the cast off as early as possible without overwriting the dot.
Haunt is kind of special. It’s barely a dot as it does minimal damage. Really it's there because of the boost it gives to your other shadow dots. You have ~4 seconds in which to refresh it (after it comes off cooldown but before it drops). Anytime within those 4 seconds is fine. For highest DPS you should hold off until it’s 1.5 seconds away from dropping. That way in a full boss fights you have it up the most but spend the least time refreshing it.
If you’re using Curse of Agony, it’s instant and its last tick is really powerful so you do not want to overwrite it. So do not cast CoA until it has fallen off the mob but cast it as soon after it falls off as possible.
- ABC. Always Be Casting. Anytime you’re not casting you’re losing dps. While moving you can cast corruption, curse, life tap or Death Coil. Do it!
Also make intelligent use of you Demonic Teleport to minimize the amount of time you are wasting in moving around.
- Practice practice practice.
So, once you’ve done ALL of the above, if you’re STILL having DPS issues then I would blame either poor execution or latency. Examine a parse of a boss fight and check on your dot uptime. More dot uptime equals more DPS. Recommended reading: WWS and the Affliction Warlock
Cutting down on Latency is something I’ll address in another article.. it’s not quite done yet 🙂
Keep in mind also.. in some cases it’s better to -not- win the dps meter. For example in a large mob pack pull with a healer in the pack you will maximize your dps by seed spamming the whole lot but this will allow the healer to stay up for a long time and to keep healing. In some cases it would be better for the overall raid for you to single target the healer FIRST and then change to seed spamming. Sometimes the needs of the many overcome the DPS maximizing of the few.
So. Did I miss anything?