This blog, in general, is about Warlock topics – well, it says it is in the corner – but up to this point it would be more accurate to say it’s a blog about Affliction Warlock topics. The reason for that is simple – I play Affliction, and I don’t play anything else. I played 4.3 Destruction and it is still probably my favorite spec (but keep in mind, I’m a Cata baby), and I played Demonology for Spine, but for the entirety of MoP I’ve played Affliction and only Affliction.
This choice to only play one spec hasn’t come to haunt (ha ha ha) me yet, but it’s always nice to have another specs or all specs available to you because each specialization actually does have its own unique strengths – or least that’s the case for Warlocks. As my current guild is constituted there’s no need for Demonology on any fight we’ve done – on Will of the Emperor Heroic our current comp nukes down grouped Emperor’s Rages quickly enough, and on Wind Lord Mel’jarak Affliction is every bit as strong as Demonology, but is there a compelling case to play Demo on Sha of Fear Heroic? There seems to be, so I’ll be writing about my process and experience as I learn this spec.
The above is the SimC action list for Demonology with all the non-rotational (Life Tap, Fel Flame) elements, taken out. This is the foundation on which I’m going to build my Demo play off of – sit in front of the dummy, practice this until there’s some muscle memory. Afterwards, I’ll layer on extra elements – how do I open? What do I do when there are multiple targets? What about AoE? But to start, having the foundation to always be able to DPS acceptably when in a single target situation is important.
Now, I started with the SimulationCraft list, but I could have just as easily started with Evrelia’s guide, or a resource like Noxxic. Using the SimulationCraft list has the extra benefit that it’s not immediately human readable, and so I’ve tricked myself into doing a little homework: “Translate the SimCraft APL into a set of rules that you can use to play.”
There are groupings that we can use to simplify the process of making this list: both Touch of Chaos and Shadow Bolt are fillers. Wrathstorm/Service/Doomguard/Dark Soul are cooldowns. Corruption and Doom are just DoTs. The main things to pull out of the list are the Fury thresholds and the fact that ToC is used to refresh/extend Corruption.
Here’s my list then:
- Maintain DoTs
- Metamorphosis if Corruption about to expire/Demonic Fury > 900/fight ending
- Caster Form if all of the following are true: Corruption just refreshed, no Dark Soul, < 750 Demonic Fury
- Hand of Gul’dan
- Extend Corruption with ToC as needed
- React to Molten Core
WIthout looking all the tricks that Demonology uses to maximize its DPS (and there are a lot), this is a pretty simple action list. The next stop is an hour or two in front of the raid dummy. But before I do that, there’s one other thing that I need to do, something I’ve written about as so important for Warlocks/my playstyle: adjusting my UI.
Just based off of my list above, there are a few things I know I need to track:
- Cooldowns – Grimoire of Service (just in case), Dark Soul, Imp Swarm, Wrathstorm/Felstorm, Doomguard.
- DoTs – Doom (since my Affliction UI already tracks Corruption), Shadowflame DoT
- Hand of Gul’dan cooldown/charges
- Demonic Fury
- Molten Core proc/stacks
In addition, I have to bind my skills. All of this is fairly simple. HoG replaces Haunt. Shadowflame goes into the Haunt debuff tracking. Doom aura directly replaces Agony aura. Meta goes into my Soul Burn slot. Soul Fire replaces Drain Soul. Shadow Bolt/Touch of Chaos replace Malefic Grasp. The fact that Doom/Corruption are the same key means my keybinds shift up by one.
The Importance of Keeping Informed
All of the above is fine for playing a simple Patchwerk fight adequately, but not to any earth-shattering degree. To be the best at any given spec, not only do you have to be mechanically sound, but you have to be active (a term I use to mean that you should be planning ahead and not being reactionary), know the spec’s quirks inside and out, and understand the flow of the fight as it relates to your spec. For all of those things, you need knowledge you’re not going to have as you’re first starting out. Any quest to learn or master a spec will be shortened considerably if you’ve kept up with the theorycraft and/or tips for the spec. Here are a few things I’ve read about that I’m going to incorporate from the get-go into my Demonology play:
- Opener, as explained by Zinnin
- Demonic Calling/Imp Swarm interaction, also as explained by Zinnin
- How to best utilize Hand of Gul’dan/Shadowflame, base cases
- Extended opener/priority notes, as explained by Teye
- Hand of Gul’dan/Meta weaving, also as explained by Teye
But what about Stats/Talents/Glyphs/Gemming/Reforging/etc.?
*one big shrug*
My only concern now is to learn how to play the spec correctly, and to feel comfortable. In terms of Talents and Glyphs, those things are either obvious generally, or obvious on a fight-by-fight basis. Finally, as I’m still main spec Affliction, I have that leeway to just stick with Affliction gemming and secondaries. When it comes down to it, playing correctly trumps having the perfect secondary stat allocation. Until I am comfortable, any time spent on Demonology should be spent achieving that aim, not by squeezing extra DPS out of my gems and reforges.
And that’s it to start! After dummy practice comes LFR practice, where I’ll get some logs and then I can really compare what I’m doing to what I should be doing.