Affliction Warlock Playstyle and Rotation Guide

Patch 10.2.7 Last Updated: 8th May, 2024
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Playstyle & Rotation

General Rotation

Modern WoW classes don’t have a strict rotation but a priority for spells. For Affliction Warlock, they look like this:

  1. Never drop your dots, such as unstable affliction, Agony, Corruption, and siphon life. (Try to refresh dots when there are <5 seconds left if playing pandemic invocation instead of default pandemic timers)
  2. Never drop Haunt and shadow embrace debuffs
  3. Sync every Vile Taint / Phantom Singularity with Soul Rot (2 points vs 1 point in Soul-Eater's Gluttony)
  4. summon darkglare when Soul Rot, phantom singularity / vile taint are up
  5. Don’t overcap on shards
  6. Try to keep up Dread Touch debuff as much as possible, especially if your strong dots are up, such as Soul Rot, phantom singularity, and/or vile taint. That means you don’t want to overlap Dread Touch debuff too much unless you are close to overcapping on shards
  7. Spam malefic rapture to 0-1 shards if your strong dots are up
  8. Use Drain Life (if talented) if you have inevitable demise stacks >45
  9. Use Drain Soul or Shadow Bolt as your filler spells

As a side note, don’t forget to use malefic rapture when you have tormented crescendo talented and already have two stacks of it up. The same goes for Nightfall and Drain Soul/Shadow Bolt, respectively, but this buff has much less priority, so if you don’t have any free globals for it, it’s not a big deal to lose the buff or overcap it a bit.

Without Dread Touch, you would want to “bank” shards when your strong dots are up and want to try lining up Soul Rot with phantom singularity or vile taint.


Unlike the General Rotation opener, here is a strict sequence of spells. These vary slightly depending on whether you are playing PS or VT.

Vile Taint Opener

  1. Pre-cast Haunt 2 seconds before the pull
  2. vile taint
  3. soul rot
  4. unstable affliction
  5. Corruption
  6. siphon life
  7. 1x Malefic Rapture
  8. Drain Soul or Shadow Bol until 3 stacks of shadow embrace
  9. summon darkglare + On-use trinkets, potion, etc.
  10. Spam malefic rapture
  11. Proceed to normal rotation

Phantom Singularity Opener

  1. Pre-cast Haunt 2 seconds before the pull
  2. Agony
  3. PS
  4. SR
  5. Corruption
  6. SL
  7. 1x MR
  8. Drain Soul or Shadow Bol until 3 stacks of SE
  9. DG + On-use trinkets, potion, etc.
  10. Proceed to normal rotation

Multi Target:

  1. Haunt (if talented, on the primary target)
  2. Unstable affliction on primary target
  3. Cast Seed of Corruption (applies Corruption)
  4. Siphon Life (only if talented into Grim Reach, on primary target)
  5. Vile Taint (applies Agony)
  6. Soul Rot (if talented)
  7. Summon Darkglare + On-use trinkets, potion etc
  8. Malefic Rapture 3 times
  9. Spam Seed of Corruption
  10. When out of shards Drain Soul to apply 3 stacks of SE (on primary target first)
  11. Siphon Life primary target if needing to move and Agony doesn’t need refreshed

On Multiple Targets, you go with the same priority of spells as ST but apply them differently in large packs (3+) by using Seed of Corruption instead of malefic rapture if there are three or more targets stacked. Keep Agony on up to 5-8 targets, this will need to be refreshed manually once in-between Vile Taints if the pack lives long enough, and don’t overcap on shards. After each Soul Rot you want to spend shards on 3 Malefic Rapture to extend the DoTs if the pack will live for their duration.


Warlock is an easy class when it comes to survivability.

  • It has 2 powerful defensive cooldowns as unending resolve and dark pact.
  • It also has Soul Leech, which is a passive absorb with a talent.
  • A passive damage reduction through Soul Link, which can be buffed by Profane Bargain to further increase the absorb % or grant increased stamina (if talented into grimoire of sacrifice).
  • An on-demand heal from Drain Life, which can easily save your life, especially when combined with Soulburn, which, at the cost of 1 soul shard will empower the Drain Life giving the Warlock an absorb shield equal to the amount healed (up to 30% of max health).

Thus, Warlock barely needs any external attention from healers and can sustain itself solo if required.

If you are talking about mobility, Warlock also has no issues with it, but you need to think ahead and pre-plan to be good at it. Demonic Gates and Demonic Circle are great mobility spells, but they need some planning to be really useful. A Demonic Gateway can be placed without a cast time if Soulburn is used, this can be useful in a pinch to act as a 40 yard pseudo-blink, albeit on a 2 minute cooldown. We also have Burning Rush which requires less foresight to use, but you still need to spend a global for it.

Due to affliction being a DoT based spec, with most of the DoTs being only on the global cooldown, affliction as a spec is quite mobile. There are talents like Tormented Crescendo that can make Malefic Rapture into an instant cast, allowing further movement. As such, Affliction doesn’t lose as much damage as other specs should you have to move during cooldowns, as even going into full cooldowns with 5 shards you will quickly spend them all and be casting Drain Soul while waiting for more.