Leveling a Warlock: Affliction

NB: This guide begins where my video guides end, the full list of which can be found here. The video guides cover levels 1-10, and the abilities therein. This guide will be structured such that it is based around talents. For the new abilities you can learn from trainers between 11 and 80, check out my guide here.

If for some reason I couldn’t spec into Demonology for leveling, Affliction would be my second choice, and admittedly some people will champion this spec as being the best, at least until you get to higher levels. No one can really say who’s right or not, but if you’re reading this you’ve picked Affliction for one reason or another, so let’s get on with the guide.

Affliction, as a spec, offers huge improvements to the DoT components of your spell arsenal, as well as providing various buffs and procs to do with your health-restoring spells, all of which makes it a very mobile spec. Certain combinations of talents will also allow you to effectively ‘Drain-Tank’, where with excessive use of Drain Life and a few talents you can tank a mob and slowly kill it without losing health.

For the majority – if not all – of your leveling time you should use the Voidwalker (VW) to tank mobs for you. Your main DoTs at the beginning are Corruption, Curse of Agony and Immolate.

This is a link to the complete talent tree which you’ll have at the end of this guide.

Levels 10 to 12

Warlocks are notoriously bad for mana regeneration at low levels, and that, combined with the fact that an Affliction build means you’re going to be casting several DoTs on each mob you kill, means you’re going to go out of mana (OOM) pretty fast. To help counteract this, we’ll start by taking Suppression, which reduces the mana cost of all Affliction spells by 6% after 3 points. The +hit chance will help prevent you missing with spells, which is particularly helpful in instances later on in the game, although less useful right now.

Levels 13 to 14

Two points into Improved Curse of Agony buffs our main curse and brings us up to the second tier of the talent tree.

Levels 15 to 16

Improved Life Tap will increase the amount of mana we gain from Life Tap, but the amount of health we lose remains the same – this ought to help some more with our mana issues without leaving us vulnerable to attacks when at low health.

Levels 17 to 18

We’re going to see that Affliction Warlocks have a lot of talents which revolve around Drain Life, as it’s a pretty staple Affliction spell (and a nice alternative to Life Tap). Soul Siphon is no exception, and maxing out here will increase the amount of damage we do with the spell (and hence, the amount of healing) by an amount for each DoT on the target – talents to do with DoTs are also going to be a theme in this build.

Level 19

For this level, we’re jumping back to stick a point into Improved Corruption, which buffs what is probably our best and most used DoT. The latter part of the talent can be ignored for now, but will be handy later, when we have Seed of Corruption.

Level 20

We get a bit of a different talent at level 20 – Amplify Curse provides us with a passive ability which reduces the global cooldown (GCD) of all our curses by half a second – this means we can cast them faster, basically, because we don’t have to wait so long for them to finish cooling down.

Levels 21 to 23

Back to talking about Drain Life, and you might be noticing by now that if you try to cast it when you’re under attack it will probably be interrupted so much that it’s almost useless. To reduce this problem – to reduce it by 70% to be exact – we have three points into Fel Concentration.

Level 24

Again, drop back and place a point into Improved Corruption (we now have two points in it).

Levels 25 to 26

Nightfall is a really handy talent which actually procs more than you’d think. Whenever you deal damage with Drain Life or Corruption (two of our main spells remember!) there’s a chance that your next Shadow Bolt will become instant cast – this saves a lot of time, and allows for nuking on the move if it’s the tick of the DoT that procs it.

Levels 27 to 29

As I keep saying, Corruption is one of our major spells, and now we can Empower it! Increasing its damage by 36% of our Spell Power is nothing to laugh at.

Level 30

This spell is awesome. This spell is brilliant. This spell is fantastic. This spell is… Siphon Life! Well, it’s not technically a spell any more; now it just adds an effect onto Corruption. I’m not complaining though – look at the numbers, and consider how much you’re going to heal yourself for. Then consider the boost to damage for some of your DoTs. Oh yes.

Levels 31 to 35

What Shadow Embrace largely means for you at the moment is that when you use Shadow Bolt, your target will take 5% more damage from all DoTs on it – this is a good reason to open with a Shadow Bolt, and then cast your DoTs afterwards. This effect also stacks twice, so it could potentially be 10% if you have time.

Levels 36 to 40

Time for a bit of a simpler talent – a nice five points into Shadow Mastery increases your shadow damage by 15% (that’s a lot) and also increases the life you drain (i.e. with Drain Life) by 15%, too.

Levels 41 to 45

Contaigion – more damage, less chance of your DoTs being dispelled.

Levels 46 to 48

Another nice and simple talent – Malediction gives us 3% more damage with all our spells and also increases the critical strike chance of some of our DoTs (they can’t crit yet, but soon).

Level 49

Time for a shiny new spell! Dark Pact is like a safer alternative to Life Tap – at least, you won’t feel like you’re killing yourself. Instead, you can just drain some mana from your pet to restore your own. Be wary of using this too much, however – the VW needs mana to taunt nasties away from you.

Level 50

And another new spell, though not so shiny looking – Unstable Affliction. This is another nice DoT to add to your arsenal, although I don’t think it stacks with Immolate. Therefore, from now on, your main DoTs for your rotation will be Curse of Agony, Corruption (with the Siphon Life effect) and Unstable Affliction.

Level 51

A point into Pandemic gives us a very interesting effect, which is to say it allows the periodic damage from your DoTs to crit, greatly increasing your damage. If you remember the Malediction talent, you’ll see it’s now more useful too, as the increased crit chance applies.

Levels 52 to 54

Death’s Embrace is really two talents in one. The first part happens when you are on low health, and it causes your Drain Life to heal you for more (the idea is that you’re less likely to die). The second part happens when the enemy is low on health, and it causes your shadow spells (not that Affliction Warlocks use fire at all at this level) to hit harder. The idea there is that the enemies die faster.

Levels 55 to 59

Time to beef ourselves up further with Everlasting Affliction. As well as buffing our DoTs, we also get a neat effect whereby each time we use Drain Life (very often) or Haunt (don’t have it yet, but you’ll be using it a lot) it resets the duration of Corruption. This means that your Corruption DoT will never expire on a mob once you’ve cast it, unless you stop attacking, saving you from the mana and time of recasting it.

Level 60

Haunt is one of the spells which sets Affliction Warlocks apart from the other two specs. Providing you with a fourth DoT, casting this not only increases the damage you do while the DoT is active, but when the effect ends you will be healed for however much damage Haunt does! Pretty cool, no? In instances, and indeed all the time, this wants to be cast before the other DoTs so you don’t miss out on that potential extra damage.

Levels 61 to 63

Right back to the bottom now, to fill in our last three points in Improved Corruption.

Levels 65 to 69

Jump over to the Destruction tree briefly to check out a five-pointed Bane, which reduces our Shadow Bolt casting time by a nice amount. Soul Fire isn’t very important to us as Affliction.

Levels 70 to 71

You’re stepping into Northrend around now, if you’re not there already, and you might notice the large increase in the amount of haste on items. We’ll follow this trend in our talents, and continue going for faster spell casting with Eradication.

Levels 72 to 73

It’s now also time to consider instances, which you might well be doing. First up, Grim Reach to help you stay away from those big and nasty instance mobs.

Levels 74 to 75

Secondly, Improved Drain Soul reduces our threat with the nice side effect of giving us some mana back when things die.

Levels 76 to 80

As with my other leveling guides, at this point I’m going to be honest – the distribution of your last few talent points really does not matter. I’m going to suggest Improved Shadow Bolt for more damage, but it might as well be up to you.

Well, congratulations on level 80, and I hope the guide helped! Remember to change to a decent spec, as your leveling spec will probably be awful in PvP and sub-par in PvE, and then enjoy the endgame.


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