Okay folks, it looks like Blizzard cleared several websites to release alpha based talent/ability information so I'd like to take the time to post what I've wanted to for several weeks now. If you haven't had seen already go check out WoWhead and get a look at the new talents- but make sure to come back!
For a few weeks now I've been discussing with various people (covertly of course!) the inadequacies of the Wrath of the Lich King (alpha) Affliction talents. I've talked with several big names in the Warlock community, guildies, and even random locks on my server. Most have agreed with my points- if not fully then at least partially. Some might say I'm a tough sort to satisfy but it seems in this case these thoughts reflect those of at least a handful of players.
The current dilemma is that Affliction Warlocks are dumped as guilds go into Sunwell due to very poor damage output as DoTs gain no DPS from Haste or Crit- both stats that are very prevalent on endgame gear and necessary to multiple off spellpower and one another to create increasing levels of DPS like you see from most classes/specs. Even considering the added raid utility Affliction brings with Malediction and Shadow Embrace Affliction is deemed not worth the raid slot. Let's see how Blizzard has fared in the alpha and if they've fixed the problem...
Eradication: Admittedly not a bad idea in concept. DoTs proccing a Haste buff is pretty cool. But what is that Haste going to be used on in raiding? Shadowbolt. Last time I checked Shadowbolt wasn't the focus of Affliction- DoTs, Debuffs and Drains were. Shadowbolt is filler. Poorly scaling filler at that. This talent alone wouldn't be too bad if it were accompanied by several other strong and purposeful talents- but that's unfortunately not the case.
Death's Embrace: This talent needs the axe. Yet more Shadowbolt. +15% crit chance on targets below 20% health. It may look potent, but keep in mind this only affects Shadowbolt/Shadowburn- not UA, not Siphon Life, not Corruption. Plus add into the fact that other classes/specs have similar "sub 20%" effects and so that 20% starts to go by really quickly since raid DPS rises so much when the 20% mark is breached.
Everlasting Afflictions: Okay, this is what I'm talking about! Boosted DoT coefficients is just the type of thing Affliction needs. It fits the theme and it fits the function. A perfect addition! Too bad all this does is counteract Improved Shadowbolt no longer effecting DoTs...That's right! ISB only effects nukes now. Let's not forget the secondary portion of the talent: Corruption refreshing itself when Shadowbolt hits. Aside from the fact that this could be a very dangerous effect on encounters with aggro drops(Corruption tick = aggro) it's another blow to the gut by further divorcing us from our DoT rotations.
Cripple: I've read that this talent is being removed in favor of something else yet to be announced. This is certainly very Affliction worthy theme-wise, however it would appear to offer very little in the raid game. Hopefully when Blizzard thinks up it's replacement they will consider something more like Unstable Affliction- useful in both the PvE and PvP game.
My thoughts in a nutshell? Blizzard is attempting to shove Shadowbolt down our throats- maybe they're encouraging a 50/0/21 raid build but I can't help but sneer at the thought. It just doesn't fit with the style of Affliction. I realize this is veering further from math and towards opinion but c'mon Blizzard! If we wanted 70-80% of our DPS to consist of Shadowbolt wouldn't it make sense to spec Destruction, not Affliction? You're taking the lazy way out- rather than fixing DoT scaling you're diluting the differences between the two talent trees. More Shadowbolt spam. Less casting DoTs. Less overall DoT DPS. It all feels oh so poorly inspired. I could sit here for hours and spout off ideas that would work better but the fact remains: Blizzard is ruining the identity of the Affliction tree and we can do nothing but sit here and hope that someone at Blizzard reads this and takes note.