III. Sample Math
V. WWS and DoT Uptime
VI. Practice Tips
The thread here is about Affliction Rotations. This will answer very common questions such as these: Should I use immolate? Should I drop any DoTs from my rotation? What is the rotation? My DPS is really bad, what am I doing wrong? How can I get better at affliction? This will be broken up into 2 posts. The first, below, dealing with DPCTs and whether or not you should be casting all of your DoTs.
I'll start by clarifying what DoTs should be used. The answer simply is, ALL of them. This includes immolate! Affliction is all about efficient use of the Global Cooldown or GCD. If you're not constantly casting something, then you're losing DPS. This is true with any spec reall, but with affliction, that loss is more noticable. Because affliction is so dependent upon efficient GCD usage, one of the most important things to know for any affliction warlock is called DPCT. (Damage Per Cast Time)
DPCT is a measure of what you get in damage return for the amount of time used to cast a spell. For example. If you cast a shadowbolt, and your shadowbolt's average damage is 1000, with a 2.5 second cast time, the DPCT is 1000/2.5 or 400DPCT. If you cast a DoT that will do 1000 damage (no matter how long it takes to do that damage), and the DoT is instant cast, then the DPCT is 1000/1.5 or ~667DPCT. (Instant casts "time used casting" is whatever the length of your global cooldown is.)
So, what does this mean to an affliction warlock? Simple. Shadowbolt is your "filler" spell. IE, it's what you cast when your dots are ticking and none of them need refreshing. You fill this gap with shadowbolts. That said, any dot that has a higher DPCT than your filler spell (shadowbolt) should be cast, because it will mean more dps for you. This is because you get more damage for the amount of time spent casting the spell than you would casting a shadowbolt.
III. Sample Math
Below, I have listed out the DPCT for all of an affliction warlock's spells, using (22% crit from gear) 40% crit rating, 2000 spell power, and hit capped. This assumes a 56/0/15 build, and the stats are AFTER raid buffs have been applied. (build: Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft)
1080 base damage + ((120% coefficient + 36% empowered corruption + 30% everlasting affliction) * 2000) =
1080 + (1.86 * 2000) = 4800 base damage.
4800 * (10% improved corruption + 15% shadow mastery + 5% contagion) * 3% malediction * 13% earth and moon * 3% sanctified retribution (ret pally) * 20% haunt * 10% shadow embrace =
4800 * 1.30 * 1.03 * 1.13 * 1.03 * 1.20 * 1.10 = 9874 modified damage.
Pandemic: 9874 * 1.22 = 12046
12046 / 1.5 second GCD = 8031DPCT
Curse of Agony:
1740 base damage + (120% coefficient * 2000) =
1740 + (1.20 * 2000) = 4140 base damage.
4140 * (10% improved CoA + 15% shadow mastery + 5% contagion) * 3% malediction * 13% earth and moon * 3% sanctified retribution (ret pally) * 20% haunt * 10% shadow embrace =
4140 * 1.30 * 1.03 * 1.13 * 1.03 * 1.20 * 1.10 = 8516 modified damage.
8516 / 1.0 second GCD (amplify curse) = 8516DPCT
(460 base DD damage + (20% coefficient * 2000)) + (785 base DoT damage + (100% coefficient * 2000)) =
860 base DD damage + 2785 base DoT damage
860 base DD damage * 3% malediction * 13% earth and moon * 3% sanctified retribution (ret pally) = 1031 modified DD damage.
(crit factor) 1031 modified DD damage * 1.40% = 1443 total DD damage.
2785 base DoT damage * 3% malediction * 13% earth and moon * 3% sanctified retribution (ret pally) * 20% haunt * 10% shadow embrace = 4407 modified DoT damage.
1443 DD + 4407 DoT = 5850 total damage.
5850 / 1.5 second cast time = 3900DPCT
810 base damage + ((100% coefficient + 50% everlasting affliction) * 2000) =
810 + (1.50 * 2000) = 3810 base damage.
3810 * 15% shadow mastery * 3% malediction * 13% earth and moon * 3% sanctified retribution (ret pally) * 20% haunt * 10% shadow embrace =
3810 * 1.15 * 1.03 * 1.13 * 1.03 * 1.20 * 1.10 = 6933 modified damage.
6933 / 1.5 second GCD = 4622DPCT
1150 base damage + ((100% coefficient + 25% everlasting affliction) * 2000) =
1150 + (1.25 * 2000) = 3650 base damage.
3650 * 15% shadow mastery * 3% malediction * 13% earth and moon * 3% sanctified retribution (ret pally) * 20% haunt * 10% shadow embrace =
3650 * 1.15 * 1.03 * 1.13 * 1.03 * 1.20 * 1.10 = 6642 modified damage.
Pandemic = 6642 * 1.22 = 8103
8103 / 1.5 second GCD = 5402DPCT
730 avg base damage + (85.7% coefficient * 2000) =
730 + (.857 * 2000) = 2444 base damage
2444 base damage * 15% shadow mastery * 3% malediction * 13% earth and moon * 3% sanctified retribution (ret pally) = 3369 modified damage.
ISB factor = 3369 * 1.085 = 3655. (this assumes 85% uptime which is inline with 40% crit rate)
(crit factor) 3655 modified DD damage * 40.0% = 5117 total DD damage.
5117 / 2.5 second cast time = 2046DPCT
So, as you can see, ALL of your DoTs should be cast. You can use the above formulas to plug in your own stats, including haste, crit, and spell power. For crit, without ruin, you simply cut your crit rating in half, and insert that % into the above formulas. For haste, simply change the cast time to match your cast time.
One exception to the above is that you can consider dropping immolate from your rotation once Death's Embrace kicks in since it boosts all of your shadow damage considerably.
Up next, it's time to talk about rotations, and how to raid with affliction. This will also include a section on how to run a WWS parse, and calculate your DoT uptime.
Let's start with what's normally called the "rotation". Rotation is not really an appropriate name, since after the initial casting of each DoT, you'll pretty much never cast them all in the same order again, due to the fact most of them have different durations.
Always start with a shadowbolt, and then haunt. Now, many people often ask why you would do this, and some people are even under the misconception that casting haunt after your DoTs is somehow more efficient. Think about it this way: Haunt should have 100% uptime for the entire fight. And since DoTs receive the bonus no matter when the debuff went up (before the DoT was cast, after the DoT was cast, makes no difference), it only matters that the debuff is up. So, why would you cast DoTs first, and have the first several ticks not get any benefit from Haunt? If you're going to have Haunt up the entire fight anyways, wouldn't it be better to have ALL ticks benefit from Haunt? Of course. The same goes for shadow embrace. The first stack is put on by that shadowbolt, and the second stack by Haunt.
So, your intial cast rotation will look like this:
Shadowbolt > Haunt > UA > Immolate > CoA > Corruption > Siphon Life. After that, you're now into what is called "filler" time. If your raid does NOT have a moonkin druid or unholy death knight, you will use CoE for your curse instead.
From this point on, your goal is to refresh DoTs as efficiently and quickly as possible. I HIGHLY recommend Asheyla's DoTimer. It is a great mod for tracking your DoT durations. You can get it here: DoTimer : WoWInterface Downloads : Warlock
The goal is to refresh a DoT the very moment the last tick expires. For DoT's with cast times, this is done by starting to re-cast the DoT when the amount of time it has left is just slightly less than the DoTs cast time. For example. If your Unstable Affliction has a 1.5 second cast time, you start to cast a new UA when the current one has 1.4 seconds left on the timer. Now, being realistic, obviously it's rare that this will happen. The reason for that is you do NOT want to stand around doing nothing just because you're waiting for that timer to hit 1.4 seconds. It is better to do something, whether that's casting a shadowbolt or using dark pact / life tap. Even if it means you will be a bit "late" refreshing the DoT.
Generally, you do not want to "clip" a DoT. This means refreshing the DoT before the previous one had its last tick of damage go off. And since Corruption is automatically refreshed by Haunt via Everlasting Affliction, you never have to worry about corruption.
Next, there is a reason we cast UA and Immolate together. They both have a 15 second duration, therefore every successive refreshing of these 2 DoTs will always be UA and then Immolate immediately following. You can essentially think of them as just one dot with a 3 second cast time.
And finally, since haunt has a 12 second duration, and you start with Haunt, then UA, and immolate, eventually haunt will work its way around and end up right after you refresh UA and Immolate. When this happens, on the very next "refresh", refresh Haunt early, allowing you to reset the rotation back to Haunt, then UA, then Immolate. So for example, with about 2.9 seconds left on UA's duration, cast Haunt. This brings you to 1.4 seconds left on UA's duration, so you immediately follow Haunt with UA, and then of course immediately again with Immolate.
Lastly, never interrupt a spell cast mid-cast just so you can cast something else. You want to try and avoid that whenever possible.
V. WWS and DoT Uptime
Now that you have the basics of DoT casting order, rotations, etc, let's work on applying that, practicing, and seeing results for yourself.
To start, a quick explanation of WWS (wow web stats). WWS is an online DPS parser. It takes a combat log you record in game, and allows you to see the information in a very useful and detailed format. To create a WWS report:
1. Before you start WoW, browse to C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\Logs. If you have a file called "wowcombatlog.txt", delete it!
2. Now, in game, before you start whatever it is you want to log, hit enter in your chat window and type: /combatlog (this will get wow recording your combat log parse)
3. After you are done with everything you want to record, go to Wow Web Stats
4. Click on "Start WWS Client" (note, you may have to quickly sign up for a free account)
5. Click on "Add Combat Log" and browse to C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\Logs, and add wowcombatlog.txt.
6. Click on "Host Report". You will now see a WWS report of your combat log!
The sample below references one of my WWS reports, but can be applied to any WWS report you use.
Let's figure out doT uptime first. To start, we need to know what the total combat length of the boss fight was in seconds. At the top of a WWS report, you'll see the date, time, and length of fight in minutes/seconds. In my example, the fight was 2 minutes and 39 seconds long. So, that's 159 seconds.
Next, we need to determine what 100% uptime would be for each DoT. This is done by taking the length of the fight and dividing it by the interval of a DoT's tick. For example, corruption, UA, siphon life, and immolate all tick every 3 seconds. 159 / 3 = 53. So, if I had 53 ticks of each of those DoTs, that would be 100% uptime. To see how many times your DoTs ticked, look under each spell, and look under the column that says "Dots".
In my example, I had as follows:
-Corruption: 48 ticks
-UA: 42 ticks
-Immolate: 39 ticks
-Siphon Life: 46 ticks
Remember that 100% uptime is not realistic. Especially if the mechanics of the fight stress execution over DPS via moving around, doing other things, etc.
For CoA, which ticks every 2 seconds, that would be 159 / 2 = 79 (round down). I had 68 ticks, so that's not too bad. To determine uptime, take the number of ticks you had and divide it by the number of ticks you would have had with 100% uptime. So, for CoA: 68/79 = .86 or, 86% uptime. 90% uptime is a realistic goal in a stand-up tank and spank single target fight.
VI. Practice Tips
If you're struggling with DoT uptime, start by simplifying the rotations by temporarily dropping a DoT. Drop siphon life and CoA. Then, practice, and get that rotation down and working. Then, add in Curse of Doom. Practice more! Then, add in Siphon life. Practice practice practice. Now finally, replace Curse of Doom with Curse of Agony again.
I am open to all suggestions, corrections, and advice that others may have. Please post them for discussion!
Special note about imp vs felhunter:
This may be a dumb question, but why use the Felhunter at all? I presume the only reason is that you can't rely on having a discipline priest? If you were just looking at it from a DPS point of view the Imp would seem a better choice. He's ranged and so easier to keep track of, he does more DPS than the Felhunter and his mana regen is so ludicrously high that if for some reason you do need to Dark Pact he can handle that just fine.
There's a big caveat with this. Technically, the felhunter is actually more dps. On beta we were seeing him do 100+ more dps than the imp for affliction builds. However, currently both pets are bugged. The imp's mana regen is 2-3 times higher than it should be while casting or in combat. So, the imp never goes OOM. But if I recall, on beta he'd go OOM for an afflock after about 3-3.5 minutes.
Also, the felhunter currently bugs out and stops attacking randomly during fights. So it makes it look like he's doing less dps than he really should be.
So, for now, yes use the imp. But both bugs have been reported, so I would assume that the felhunter will reclaim his throne once the bugs are fixed.