Affliction Warlocks to Receive Important Changes in Next PTR

Affliction Warlocks in World of Warcraft have already received a nerf to Malefic Grasp in the most recent PTR patch, but the change came without any explanation. One of the WoW designers shared the reasoning behind the change and announced heavier adjustments to the class, as seen below.

Here are the changes you'll see in the next PTR patch:
  • All Affliction damage done increased by 15%
  • Malefic Grasp will go down to a +25% damage increase (down from +70% on live)
  • Writhe in Agony will be reduced to increase Agony's max stacks by +5 (down from +10 on live)
  • Haunt will stay as it currently is on PTR

Designer comments: Based on our numbers, the 15% damage buff negates the 70% to 25% reduction to Malefic Grasp, coming out as neutral change DPS-wise for Affliction Warlocks using Malefic Grasp going from 7.2 to 7.2.5. Second, this brings the relative balance of the Level 15 talent tier much closer to each other.

Of course, the weight of the adjustments may change in the PTR after further playtesting and feedback.

The developers felt that Malefic Grasp was too powerful on the live servers. Currently, the talent is taken on nearly every encounter in Nighthold, whether it be a single-target or multi-target boss fights.
It's not ideal that even on a sustained multi-target fight right now, Malefic Grasp wins out over Writhe in Agony on the same row, when at first glance Writhe in Agony looks like it should be the go-to talent for sustained multi-target since its benefit scales up uniformly per additional target whereas Malefic Grasp reads as a single-target talent. 
Affliction's first talent tier is a really high-power talent tier compared to most talent tiers we have, with Malefic Grasp being over a 20% DPS increase as a single talent. Generally, we aim for talent tiers to be more in the 5-10% range. Very high values can both have distortive effects on the spec and make it hard to balance other talents on the same tier.
In addition to the Malefic Grasp changes, the developers want to make Haunt a "viable Soul Shard spender talent." They are looking into ways to make Haunt competitive with Malefic Grasp at the current 70% damage increase value. However, none of their current ideas for Haunt "would feel right on Affliction for a variety of reasons."

The Affliction Warlock changes will be implemented into the next World of Warcraft PTR patch, and after continued feedback and testing, should make their way onto the live servers.

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