A unique feature of warlocks is the dependence on talent points. A warlock can vastly change their play style based upon which talent tree they specialize in. From powerful curses, to summoning the dreaded felguard, a warlock must learn all aspects of the talent tree to determine their casting powers. The next section of this guide will look in depth for all three talent trees, starting with the affliction tree.
The affliction tree concentrates on damage over time and curses. This build is well suited for those warlocks that like to watch their target die slowly from maximized curses. One of the first talents any warlock should maximize is Improved Corruption. This talent reduces the total casting time of the Corruption spell to a point where it becomes instant cast. No matter what build a warlock chooses, this talent is a must for all.
Further down the talent tree is Nightfall. This talent will sometimes allow a caster to instantaneously cast Shadowbolt. Although the percentage for a successful cast is low (4% if maxed out) it seems to proc quite often when you cast Corruption.
If enough talent points are spent in the affliction tree, the warlock can learn new curses. An important curse to learn is Curse of Exhaustion. This curse will reduce the target’s speed by 30% and is very useful when kiting around a target. For those not familiar with warlock kiting it is very simple to do. Cast Curse of Exhaustion, Corruption, Immolate, and Siphon Life if you have it. The key thing is to keep a far enough distance away from your target so that it cannot hit you. If done correctly, even high level elites can be kited and killed with slow damage over time.
Siphon Life is another DOT which act’s as a healing spell. At rank 6, Siphon Life will transfer 66 life to the caster every 3 seconds. This spell is affected by items that increase spell damage or healing. It is not uncommon to see high level warlocks using Siphon Life to gain over 100 hit points every 3 seconds. In addition to being another DOT, it is very useful when attacking mobs. If numerous targets are affected with Siphon Life, a warlock has a higher survivability as each target will contribute to the healing process.
One of the most important talents in the affliction tree is Improved Howl of Terror. To maximize this talent it takes 2 points however the effect is very powerful. A warlock with a maximized Improved Howl of Terror will be able to instant cast this spell. Not only does this offer a warlock another fear option, it affects all enemies in the area. This skill is especially handy is pvp and battlegrounds. It is not uncommon to see a warlock as the main line of defense in Arathi Basin as the Improved Howl of Terror will not allow opponents to capture flags easily.
The final talent that is obtainable in the affliction tree is Unstable Affliction. This is essentially another DOT with a twist. If this is dispelled, the target will take 1575 damage and will be silenced for 5 seconds. This is very useful in pvp situations, especially against casters. A caster who is silenced for 5 seconds can be easily killed.
The affliction tree concentrates on improved curses and added damage over time. This tree is very useful for warlocks that like to stack DOT’s on targets and watch them slowly perish over time. Warlocks that follow this tree should concentrate on obtaining gear that increases their spell damage as well as spell hit rating. Critical strike is not as important as the damage is dealt over time. Affliction warlocks can be a valuable addition to any raid or pvp group.