First things first – I haven’t played every possible spec that there is for Warlocks in the beta. I have had a VERY small tinker with Demonology to look at Metamorphosis, and have spent the rest of my time levelling as Destruction. These are comments based upon my own and other people’s research and experiences.
Affliction will be the PvE king.
At the moment in beta Affliction is the most powerful Warlock spec by far. Affliction Warlocks are currently topping the damage meters in Naxx pushing approximately 5200DPS, and are beating out the other two specs by large amounts. Destruction is a mid range DPS spec with approximately 4500 DPS, and Demonology is down the bottom unfortunately with approximately 3900 DPS (see post on Elitist Jerks for tables). Of course, this is also dependent on gear scaling as to whether it will hold true for later raids. If Wrath is similar to BC, Affliction is very viable in entry level raiding and peters out further into progression. Conversely, Destruction was rather weak at entry level raiding and grew stronger as people gathered the gear to support it.
Destruction will swap to being a fire based tree.
This is based on the buffs that we received to our fire spells and the chance of a Molten Core proc. Improved Shadow Bolt has been slightly nerfed, which has greatly reduced the strength of Shadow Bolt. With Corruption becoming an instant cast spell untalented, Destruction Warlocks will keep Corruption up and running while casting Immolate, Incinerate and Conflagrate. I am anticipating heavy theory crafting about the usefulness of keeping Curse of Agony up and running (GCD versus extra chance of Molten Core proc). With CoA running rather than CotE, I had approximately 200 more DPS.
What spec and spell rotation will be best for Destruction PvE locks?
To be honest, I can’t guarantee that the spec which I have been using is the best possible spec. However, I think that I have maximised the damage that I can deal through my talent choices, which aim for the highest DPS. The points in ISB could easily be moved, as the spell rotation that I found to be most effective on test dummies did not have Shadow Bolt within it. I merely put them there to advance further down the tree.
I was practicing on a ‘Heroic Training Dummy’ (which is a level 83 dummy), so there were some misses involved. My stats can clearly be seen in the image to the left. My hit rating is clearly very poor, which would allow for some of the lost DPS. I am also trying to be realistic – not everyone will be hit capped at level 80. I was not hit capped until after I finished with Kara myself.
I experimented with 3 basic Destruction spell rotations, allowing for some basic principles:
1. Corruption had to be up at all times to try and get Molten Core to proc
2. Immolate also had to be up at all times
3. Every Immolate had to be finished with a Conflagrate to proc Backdraft.
4. My Imp was DPSing to try and proc Empowered Imp
5. Only buff I had running was Fel Armor.
Unfortunately, Backdraft makes it difficult to have a stable ‘spell rotation’ I still have not maximised my spell rotation yet, as my two DoTs also finish ticking quite when Backdraft is up, which means that I am wasting the valuable time that I could be casting Destruction spells in. I could have also been casting Shadow Bolts rather than constant Incinerates to try and force a Molten Core proc, but Shadow Bolt is a weaker spell now with the nerf to Improved Shadow Bolt (which had previously made it so strong).
Ultimately the strongest spell rotation I could work out was the following (please note this is not necessarily the best one, and I will keep testing):
Corruption, Curse of Agony, Immolate, Incinerate x 4, Chaos Bolt, Corruption, Conflagrate.
After that point however, things became somewhat chaotic as I tried to maximise the value of Backdraft, keep Corruption up at all times, and keep Curse of Agony up WITHOUT cutting the end off the spell (because we all know that is bad!). I could stick to the same basic pattern, but occasionally had to refresh my DoTs half way through the rotation. Managing it would be much simpler if you were assigned to CotE in a raid however. I also noticed that you suck mana like nothing else – at least some things never change!
Actual numbers for those who enjoy maths!
Please note – I have not done any calculations. To be honest, I wouldn’t even know where to start. These are probably the most accurate numbers from my many, many, MANY tests on the test dummy. The image is the graph from my most successful testing, although I do have many more of the other spell rotations. Feel free to email me if you are curious about any of the others.
Individual Spell Stats (Boss Dummy, 5/14/52 Spec)
|Spell Name||Hit (Avg)||Crit (Avg)||Tick (Avg)|
|Curse of Agony**||-||-||304|
** First tick of CoA at approximately 200, final tick at approximately 400.
*** Not from above test, but the numbers may be useful. With CoA up as well, not CotE. Spell rotation as above, with Immolate replaced by Shadow Bolt.