Last Updated: 5/31/21
Table of Contents
About the Class
Lightning Sorcerer is a burst DPS class that can deal decent sustained DPS by a skilled player. Lightning is great at target swapping, AoE damage, and has good mobility. As such, Lightning has a lot of flexibility in their role on an Op. Sorcs were very squishy in earlier expansions, but as of 5.0 and 6.0 they have above-average survivability provided the player does not take avoidable damage.
Utility and Mobility
Sorcs have Force Speed and Phase Walk to quickly move around the battlefield, and can also use Extrication to aid other players in movement. Sorcs can off-heal, bubble, rez, and can CC any add type.
As mentioned, most ideal Utilities for Sorcs boost healing received or damage resistance. Combined with a self-bubble, instant self heal, and a hard bubble to avoid many mechanics, a skilled Lightning Sorc should be able to offset the disadvantage of light armor. That said, Sorcs need to be especially careful about following mechanics to avoid damage as much as possible.
Role in Operations
Lightning can swap targets with only a 1 GCD lag (i.e., putting Affliction on the target) and do great AoE DPS with Chain Lightning and Force Storm. As such, they are an ideal class to handle adds during boss fights.
6.0 Impact on Discipline
Sorcerer DPS received some interesting changings in 6.0. The overall class got a great set bonus in The Gathering Storm between making Force Speed apply a powerful damage buff to the next ability and increased uptime and duration of Polarity Shift and an accompanying damage buff during its entire duration. The Gathering Storm is arguably one of the best overall set bonuses in 6.x to date.
Lightning as a discipline received a large buff through the combination of a great class set bonus in The Gathering Storm and one of the most powerful tactical items in Stormwatch. Stormwatch applies a very powerful sustained damage buff. Taken in combination, the outstanding set bonus and tactical combinations gave the discipline arguably the greatest buff of any disciplines in 6.x (with the possible exception of Concealment Operative) and elevated it from bottom of the barrel to among the best burst DPS classes.
I usually take some combination of the following Utilities, though the optimal combination can change from fight to fight. As of 6.0, the tiers have been reorganized.
You must take 3 to advanced to Masterful.
Sith Defiance - Increases damage reduction by 3%.
A straight boost to damage reduction is the best kind of damage mitigation. Take every time.
Empty Body - Increases all healing received by 5%.
A mandatory utility that provides a helpful survivability increase and synergizes well with other utilities that buff Unnatural Preservation as a powerful off-GCD self heal on a fairly low cooldown. I always take.
Corrupted Flash - Reduces the damage taken by all periodic effects by 15%.
Another helpful damage mitigation utility. I always take as a healer and usually take as a DPS unless I know the fight (1) has a lot of AoE damage potential; AND (2) does not have any DoT damage mechanics. In those cases, I will swap it for Tempest Mastery.
Tempest Mastery - Increases the damage dealt by Force Storm by 25%.
A situational utility that can be taken primarily for DPS disciplines where AoE DPS will be relevant to fight mechanics. That said, I usually do not take this utility as it requires sacrificing a survivability utility in the Skillful tree or a utility from a higher tier.
You must take 6 between Heroic and Masterful.
Dark Resilience - Reduces the damage taken by the target of your Extrication by 25% for 6 seconds after you rescue them. Additionally increases the healing done by Unnatural Preservation by 30%.
This utility synergizes well with Unnatural Vigor to buff Unnatural Preservation. The pull buff is nice but rarely useful in an operation, though it could be situationally used for big hitting mechanics where the pull’s aggro drop will not cause issues (i.e., either because the mechanic doesn’t follow aggro or because the boss can’t change targets mid-cast).
Suppression - Activating Cloud Mind grants Blockout, which increases damage reduction by 25% for 6 seconds.
This gives the class another defensive cooldown. A 6 second duration is fairly short, but when timed well for predictable unavoidable heavy/moderate damage can be very useful.
Lightning Barrier - Your Static Barrier crackles with Force Energy, blasting attackers for energy damage when it absorbs direct damage to you. This effect cannot occur more than once each second.
A situational utility. It is useful on any fights where you as a DPS or healer are likely to be directly attacked by adds or the boss to add incremental DPS. It is especially useful on fights where there is raid wide steadily ticking damage such that one shield can tick damage multiple times before collapsing. Only take if you know how to maximize its benefit. This is usually my third choice in this tier.
Electric Bindings - Overload unbalances its targets, immobilizing them for 5 seconds. Direct damage dealt after 2 seconds ends the effect prematurely.
A PVP utility that has highly situational use in PVE content. A few specific fights in Hard or Nightmare modes may benefit from this utility. The best example if Tyth in the Gods from the Machine operation, where using your knockback as a root is extremely helpful to root adds during the Inversion mechanic so they do not get cleaved by the boss. There are a few other examples and should only be taken when the root will be relevant to key mechanics.
If I need to take this utility for mechanics, I will let it replace Lightning Barrier since I would rather maximize my survivability as a healer over dealing additional DPS.
Surging Speed - Reduces the cooldown of Force Speed by 5 seconds, Force Slow by 3 seconds, and Force Barrier by 30 seconds. In addition, Force Speed lasts 0.5 seconds longer, Polarity Shift increases your movement speed by 100% while active, and the active cooldown of Force Speed is finished when Force Barrier ends.
Previously a utility primarily limited to PVP, in 6.0 it offers a strict DPS increase for DPS players running the Gathering Storm set bonus. As the set bonus causes Force Speed to provide a +20% damage buff to the next damaging ability and to reduce the cooldown of Polarity Shift, this utility’s reduced CD means more frequent usage of this buff and thus higher DPS potential.
A maximum of 3 utilities
Shapeless Spirit - Reduces all damage taken while stunned by 30%. Also, reduces damage taken from area effects by 30%.
Another powerful survivability utility that should always be taken as very nearly every operation has AoE damage.
Force Mobility - Thundering Blast, Innervate, and Force Leech can be activated while moving.
A mandatory utility. All Sorc disciplines struggle at times to be mobile and this utility makes a big difference. Always take.
Unnatural Vigor - Unnatural Preservation increases your damage reduction by 15% for 6 seconds. Also, reduces the cooldown of Unnatural Preservation by 5 seconds.
I like to take this utility whenever possible to synergize with Dark Resilience. When combined with Suppression as well, that gives me two extra defensive cooldowns between Cloud Mind (25% damage reduction for 6 seconds) and Unnatural Preservation (15% damage reduction for 6 seconds and a buffed self-heal on a reduced cooldown).
Emersion - Force Speed grants Egress, removing all movement-impairing effects and granting immunity to them for the duration.
A highly situational utility, I rarely take this utility in PVE except if a fight has a stun/root/slow. The best example is HM Underlurker where the adds AoE damage imposes a very powerful Slow debuff, and this utility lets me Force Speed behind a rock if the adds are still alive.
Example Utility Build
Here is what I run for most encounters, though I frequently take other situational utilities for specific fights.
Lightning Storm - Lightning Strike, Lightning Bolt, Thundering Blast, and Force Storm grant Lightning Storm when activated. Lightning Storm immediately finishes the cooldown on Chain Lightning and makes your next Chain Lightning activate instantly and consume 50% less Force. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 seconds.
This passive is key since it enables a proc of Chain Lightning. Based on the cooldown of this passive and its similarity to Thundering Blast’s cooldown, it should nearly always be procced by it in the rotation.
Lightning Effusion - Direct Force attacks grant Lightning Effusion when they critically hit, reducing the Force consumed by your next two non-channeled Force attacks by 75%.
This is one of several passives for Lightning that makes its pool of Force essentially limitless while DPSing.
Subversion - Reduces the pushback suffered while activating Chain Lightning, Lightning Strike, Crushing Darkness, Thundering Blast, and Lightning Bolt by 75%. Also, you have a 25% chance when taking direct damage to gain Subversion, which causes your next Lightning Strike or Lightning Bolt to activate instantly. This effect cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds and lasts for up to 15 seconds.
Lightning is a heavily RNG dependent discipline for its overall damage due to this passive ability as well as Forked Darkness.
Forked Darkness - Crushing Darkness makes its targets vulnerable for 45 seconds and has a 25% chance to tick twice. Vulnerable targets take 5% more damage from Force attacks. In addition, when you activate Thundering Blast, there is a 25% chance the ability will produce a second blast that strikes the same target for 25% damage.
This passive provides another RNG dependent DPS boost.
Convection - Force Speed gives 2 stacks of Convection which allows Lightning Strike and Lightning Bolt to be activated instantly. In addition, while Deionized by Static Barrier your damage reduction is increased by 10%.
This passive is extremely helpful for mobility purposes.
Forked Lightning - Lightning Strike, Chain Lightning, Lightning Flash and Lightning Bolt have a 25% chance to produce a second attack that strikes the same target for 25% damage. Also, Chain Lightning overwhelms its targets for 45 seconds. Overwhelmed targets take an additional 10% damage from area attacks.
Another RNG dependent passive ability that affects DPS.
Focal Lightning - Damage dealt by Chain Lightning and Lightning Flash has a 100% chance and damage dealt by Lightning Strike and Lightning Bolt has a 50% chance to grant Focal Lightning, which increases alacrity by 1%. Stacks up to 5 times. Lasts 15 seconds.
This passive ability is very important with respect to gearing. Due to the passive 5% alacrity buff that should have full uptime starting very shortly after beginning combat, less alacrity is required for Lightning than most other disciplines to have optimal gear.
Charged Reaction - Direct damage dealt by your Crushing Darkness and Chain Lightning abilities refreshes the duration of your Affliction on affected targets. Also, Lightning Bolt increases your Force regeneration rate by 10% for 10 seconds. Stacks up to 3 times.
Another Lightning passive ability that boosts Force regeneration. Lightning should never run out of Force unless doing a LOT of off healing.
Fulgurous Fortification - Lightning Bolt increases your damage reduction by 5% for 10 seconds. Stacks up to 3 times.
This passive is often overlooked and is another of the many ways that Sorcs have significantly better survivability than most believe.
Convulsing Currents - Shock deals 35% more damage to targets affected by your Crushing Darkness. Crushing Darkness deals 10% more damage while Polarity Shift is active.
This passive makes Shock a high priority ability during the Crushing Darkness window.
Gearing in 6.0
Gearing Stat Allocation
For Lightning Sorcerer, I gear as follows:
Set Bonus: Gathering Storm
Amplifiers: Force Sensitivity
Mods: Unlettered Lethal Mods
Relics: Devastating Vengeance & Primeval Fatesealer (Serendipitous Assault & Focused Retribution for Dxun/PVP)
Adrenal: Critical (Attack for Dxun only)
For Lightning Sorcerer, I allocate my tertiary stats as follows:
Accuracy: 1,585 - 1,630 (anything outside this approximate range and I usually try to re-optimize by swapping around enhancements and augments)
Alacrity: around 2,300 (at least 1,000 if the Zeal guild perk applies)
Critical: all remaining tertiary points go into Critical
Increased drop rate from operations.
(2) +2% Mastery
(4) Force Speed makes your next Force attack deal 20% more damage and Force attacks deal 20% more damage while Polarity Shift is active.
(6) Activating Force Speed reduces the cooldown of Polarity Shift by 5 seconds. Polarity Shift's duration is extended by 5 seconds.
Gathering Storm is an amazing set bonus. The 4-piece set bonus alone is quite strong. Force Speed has a cooldown of 15s with the Surging Speed utility (reduces CD by 5 seconds), so this provides a very frequent 20% damage buff to your hardest hitting abilities. In addition, the 20% damage buff during Polarity Shift is quite strong even before the 6-piece set bonus based on its 15s duration and 105s cooldown.
Enter the 6-piece set bonus to provide a massive synergistic buff to the 4-piece. Using Force Speed on cooldown for the 20% single ability damage buff should significantly reduce the effective cooldown of Polarity Shift from its base 1:45 minute cooldown. Combine that with extra 5 seconds of duration and together you get much higher uptime on a very powerful cooldown and its 20% damage buff.
So to recap, using Force Speed on cooldown and Polarity Shift on cooldown grant a 20% buff to your high damage abilities once every 9-10 GCDs and grants high uptime on a 20% damage buff to ALL abilities.
Impact on Rotation:
No impact on the priority of damaging abilities. Force Speed should be used very close to on cooldown. Polarity Shift should be used on cooldown.
When to Take:
Recommended in all cases for Sage/Sorc DPS.
Increased drop rate from flashpoints.
Lightning Flash applies Stormwatch to its targets. For the next 10 seconds, whenever the target takes damage to Affliction, Crushing Darkness or Thundering Blast a lightning bolt is called down upon the target, dealing energy damage.
This tactical has shown itself to be one of the most overpowered tacticals and a big reason Lightning jumped up the DPS charts in 6.x. Stormwatch ticks for decent damage and should get several ticks during each window and adds considerable sustained damage to supplement the discipline’s already quite strong burst DPS.
Impact on Rotation:
Lightning Flash is elevated to second priority ability after Thundering Blast (this assumes Affliction is active on the target, as if applying it takes top priority). It was already third priority after Crushing Darkness so represents only a very minor tweak in priority.
When to Take:
Recommend for all PVE encounters.
Increased drop rate from flashpoints.
Volt Rush triggers Lightning Storm when activated. Chain Lightning gives you Volt Flux, causing your next Volt Rush to arc to multiple targets for the next 10 seconds.
Elemental Convection is intended to be an AoE tactical for Lightning Sorcerers. Volt Rush is not a very good ability generally for Lightning Sorcerers but this tactical provides some interesting buffs for AoE DPS.
First, Volt Rush triggers Lightning Storm, a passive ability that resets the cooldown of Chain Lightning and makes it activate instantly. Lightning Storm is triggered by Thundering Blast, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Strike or Force Storm and in the normal rotation should be triggered by Thundering Blast approximately every 10 seconds. Volt Rush has a cooldown of 10 seconds so by using it on cooldown a Lightning Sorcerer can use Chain Lightning twice as often.
Second, using Chain Lightning buffs Volt Rush to make it an AoE ability. I haven't done much testing of Volt Rush as a replacement to Force Storm (w/ the 25% damage buff utility) but I would expect it's likely to be equivalent damage to Force Storm as it does slightly more than half the base damage over slightly more than half Force Storm's channel time. As such, I'm not sure it's much of a DPS increase but making it an AoE helps avoid it being an AoE DPS loss by having to trade Force Storm for Volt Rush.
The combination of these is interesting for making Lightning Sorcerer a stronger AoE discipline by doubling the rate at which you can use Chain Lightning.
The question then becomes what is the trade-off for taking Elemental Convection over Stormwatch? You lose a LOT of damage without Stormwatch in exchange for higher AoE DPS. When is that helpful? In my opinion, only rarely at least for PVE content.
The biggest AoE DPS checks in PVE content are Hive Queen and the Control Center encounter in the Dxun Nature of Progress operation. Both encounters feature lots of adds. The Control Center encounter is especially difficult in higher difficulties as a team can be quickly overwhelmed by adds. However, even those difficulties ultimately still depend more on single target damage to clear. Once you have enough AoE DPS to avoid being overwhelmed by adds, the priority is single target DPS to kill the Hive Queen before the soft enrage or to kill the big adds and droids in Dxun before you run out of flares.
Lightning Sorcerer gives up so much single target damage that it's tough to recommend Elemental Convection when many other disciplines can outperform its AoE DPS without even taking an AoE tactical. Most DoT-based disciplines can do so.
The primary use case for Elemental Convection in PVE then is in group compositions where no one has strong baseline AoE DPS. In that case, a Lightning Sorcerer might need to completely prioritize AoE DPS so that other DPS players can remain focused moreso on single target damage. Elemental Convection might be a great choice in that circumstance. However, it is also worth mentioning that a more optimal answer would be to respec to Madness since that discipline can output superior AoE and single target DPS compared to a Lightning player with Elemental Convection.
Impact on Rotation:
Use Volt Rush on cooldown to proc Chain Lightning a second time in addition to the proc provided by Thundering Blast. Make sure though to use the Chain Lightning proc from Thundering Blast first! Try to use filler spots in your rotation to apply Affliction to multiple targets so Chain Lightning can keep the DoT refreshed and ticking on multiple targets for additional AoE damage.
When to Take:
See Analysis above, I only recommend Elemental Convection when the group composition has very low AoE sustained DPS and encountering a PVE boss with very high AoE DPS requirements such as Hive Queen or the Control Center in Dxun Nature of Progress.
Increased drop rate from operations.
Force Speed grants an additional Convection stack. 3 Convection stacks allow Thundering Blast to be activated instantly, consuming all stacks. Lightning Bolt deals 10% more damage and Thundering Blast deals 20% more damage while Convection is active.
This tactical sounds nice by providing a damage buff to Thundering Blast via Force Speed, which synergizes nicely with Gathering Storm’s additional 20% damage buff. Using Force Speed solely to buff Thundering Blast while under the effects of Polarity Shift and its further 20% damage buff could make Thundering Blast ridiculously strong and very attractive for PVP.
The downside is that optimizing the buffs would require delaying Force Speed and having less uptime of its 20% damage buff and somewhat less uptime of Polarity Shift as well. From a sustained DPS perspective, Stormwatch noticeably outperforms it.
Impact on Rotation:
No difference in priority for damaging abilities but Force Speed should be aligned to use before Thundering Blast exclusively to match up the damage buffs.
When to Take:
PVP but Stormwatch should always be taken in PVE encounters as it provides superior sustained DPS buffs and the discipline already has plenty of burst capability.
All Lightning attacks deal force-based damage so this is an easy one. Madness is the same so synergizing amplifiers for both disciplines is much easier than many other classes.
Volt Rush NEW IN 6.0 - Deals energy damage to your target and energizes you for up to 5 seconds. The Energize effect can stack twice, with each stack increasing Volt Rush damage by 30%. The ability has 3 charges and recharge timer of 10 seconds.
The new ability in 6.0. It offers lackluster damage so is not highly useful in most situations. It can be used on the move so represents a useful ability when other abilities are on cooldown. It is best to use all 3 charges consecutively to ensure the 2nd use does +30% damage and the 3rd use does +60% damage.
Thundering Blast - Deals high internal damage to a single target. Automatically critically hits targets affects by Affliction. 9 second cooldown.
Biggest hitting ability that should be an auto-crit assuming Affliction is active (as it always should). Use on cooldown.
Affliction - DoT that deals moderate internal damage over 18 seconds.
The first of two DoTs for Lightning, this one is applied in the opener and is automatically refreshed in the rotation. Must remember to re-apply when swapping targets to ensure Thundering Blast is always an automatic critical hit.
Crushing Darkness - Deals low kinetic damage instantly and additional moderate kinetic damage over 6 seconds. 2 second activation prior to passive abilities. 15 second cooldown.
A powerful DoT that has a 1.5 GCD cast time. It can be hard cast in the opener but afterward should only ever be used under the effects of Lightning Flash to reduce its cast time to 1 GCD. In such situations, it is your second highest priority after Thundering Blast.
Chain Lightning - Deals high kinetic damage to up to 8 targets within 8 meters of the primary target. 6 second cooldown.
A high damage ability that should generally be procced by Thundering Blast via the Lightning Storm passive, it also deals very high AoE splash damage. Since its effective cooldown is triggered by time regardless of when it is used, it has a fairly low priority in the rotation.
Lightning Flash - Deals moderate kinetic damage and grants Force Flash, which reduces the activation time of your next Crushing Darkness by 0.5 seconds. This effect lasts up to 12 seconds. 15 second cooldown.
A high priority ability that is instant and deals high damage and also procs Crushing Darkness to have a reduced cast time.
Lightning Bolt - Spammable filler ability that deals moderate kinetic damage.
Your main filler, it will be cast very often in a typical encounter. Any other ability should generally take priority.
Shock - Deals moderate instant kinetic damage.
A priority filler while a target is under the effects of Crushing Darkness, otherwise it should never be used as Lightning Bolt normally does more damage and provides more benefits to Lightning via various passive abilities.
Cooldowns & Other Abilities
Polarity Shift - Grants 20% alacrity and immunity to pushback and interrupts for 15 seconds. 1:45 cooldown prior to any reductions to passive abilities.
Recklessness - Grants 2 charges of Recklessness, which increases the Force critical chance of your direct attacks and heals by 60%. Each time a direct Force ability critically hits or each time a channeled Force ability is activated, 1 charge is consumed. Lasts 20 seconds. 1:30 cooldown.
Expunge - Cleanse
Static Barrier - Applies a force shield around the target that absorbs a high amount of damage and lasts up to 30 seconds. The target becomes Deionized and cannot benefit from Static Barrier again for 20 seconds.
Force Barrier - Force bubble channeled ability that makes you immune to most damage and controlling effects for 8 seconds. 3 minute cooldown (prior to utilities).
Cloud Mind - Threat drop for all enemies. 45 second cooldown.
Unnatural Preservation - Instant off-GCD self heal. 25 second cooldown.
Resurgence - Provides low immediate healing and a low level of healing over time over 9 seconds.
Dark Heal - Spammable healing ability that heals moderate damage.
Extrication - Lowers the targets threat by a moderate amount and pulls them to your location. 1 minute cooldown.
6.0 NOTE: If equipping the Gathering Storm set bonus, use Force Speed as close to on cooldown as possible and specifically to buff Thundering Blast as often as possible. Chain Lightning and Lightning Flash are the next best options to use Force Speed's +25% damage buff. Delay it if necessary 1 or 2 GCDs to avoid buffing Lightning Bolt. Also use Polarity Shift on cooldown.
Chain Lightning - Pre-cast as tank pulls boss. We use this as our pre-cast since we will immediately reset its cooldown with Thundering Blast, whereas any other option (Crushing Darkness is a popular alternative) will just go on cooldown.
Polarity Shift OFF-GCD - Used for the alacrity buff before applying Affliction as the alacrity buff will make the DoT permanently tick faster so long as it is continually refreshed on the target
Lightning Flash - Used next to get Stormwatch ticking on the target and to start its cooldown as quickly as possible. Using early in the opener ensures we get extra ticks up front during the burst window with adrenal, Unlimited Power and Polarity Shift.
Affliction - Need to apply the DoT before beginning burst due to the auto-crit on Thundering Blast when Affliction is ticking on the target
Recklessness OFF-GCD - Offensive cooldowns for opener
Unlimited Power - OFF-GCD (adrenal also if available)
Force Speed - Used here to apply 20% damage buff to Thundering Blast and to grant the cooldown reduction to Polarity Shift
Adrenal - Make sure to use best available attack adrenal for non level capped content / parsing or best available critical adrenal for level capped content.
Thundering Blast - Biggest hitting ability and procs instant Chain Lightning
Crushing Darkness - Used here as next priority ability and to make sure we get all or nearly all of its ticks during Stormwatch.
Shock - We can use here and benefit from the Convulsing Currents passive ability to deal significantly more damage than a filler
Chain Lightning - This proc is still available and was delayed for higher priority abilities so we use here before beginning to use Lightning Bolt as a filler
Lightning Bolt - Instant from Force Speed's Convection
Lightning Bolt - Instant from Force Speed's Convection
Lightning Bolt - Filler ability while better abilities are on cooldown
Thundering Blast - Used on cooldown, should be an auto-crit
Lightning Flash - Used on cooldown
Chain Lightning - Used after proc when no higher priority ability is ready
Lightning Bolt - Filler when nothing else is available (instant proc from Force Speed)
Lightning Bolt - Filler when nothing else is available (instant proc from Force Speed)
Crushing Darkness - Used on cooldown
Shock - Used within the Crushing Darkness duration for +35% damage from the Convulsing Currents passive.
Force Speed - Used on cooldown to buff Thundering Blast as best ability
Thundering Blast - Used on cooldown
(continue priority rotation)
Single Target Priority Rotation
The Lightning Sorc has a priority rotation that strictly prioritizes certain abilities. Several abilities have differing cooldowns that prevent the development of a concise and repeatable rotation. However, with practice the priority system is relatively straightforward to learn and good DPS can be accomplished so long as the top priority abilities are consistently utilized.
Force Speed - Used nearly on cooldown to buff major abilities such as Thundering Blast, Lightning Flash or Chain Lightning, can delay 1-2 GCDs to avoid using the buff on Lightning Bolt
Polarity Shift - With the Gathering Storm set bonus, this ability has significantly higher uptime and grants a 20% damage buff for its duration in addition to its significant alacrity buff. This should be utilized strictly on cooldown.
Affliction - Should only need to be applied in the opener or when swapping targets, as the DoT is refreshed by Chain Lightning via the Charged Reaction passive ability.
Thundering Blast - Is your highest damaging ability and should always be an auto-crit with Affliction ticking on the target.
Lightning Flash - Your next highest priority ability to proc Stormwatch with the tactical.
Crushing Darkness - Is a priority damage ability only when glowing due to the Force Flash passive ability granted by Lightning Flash
Shock - Only preferred as a filler while Crushing Darkness is ticking on a target due to the +35% damage provided by the Convulsing Currents passive.
Chain Lightning - Using the proc is a priority and should not ever be wasted, however it can nearly always be delayed as long as necessary to use higher priority abilities and still have a free GCD to use it before Thundering Blast comes off cooldown again.
Lightning Bolt - Your spammable filler
As a refresher, Weaken Mind is a "fire and forget" DoT due to the Charged Reaction passive ability. This passive ability causes direct damage dealt by Crushing Darkness and Chain Lightning to refresh the duration of Affliction on affected targets.
Prior to alacrity, Affliction has a duration of 18 seconds or 12 GCDs.
Prior to alacrity, Chain Lightning can be used every 10 seconds via the Lightning Storm passive that makes the ability free and instant. Chain Lightning also deals AoE damage to up to 7 additional enemies in close proximity to the main target.
Prior to alacrity, Crushing Darkness can be used every 16.5 seconds based on its 15 second cooldown and 1.5 second activation time with the Force Flash passive granted by Lightning Flash.
So what does this all mean?
There are two important takeaways when considering how to keep DoTs ticking on multiple targets:
If 8 or fewer enemies are closely grouped together, you can apply Affliction to multiple targets and each use of Chain Lightning will refresh ALL Affliction DoTs on all targets.
If 2 enemies are spaced far apart but within your 35m range, the 10 second cooldown on Chain Lightning and 16.5 second cooldown on Crushing Darkness are both lower than Affliction's duration of 18 seconds. Either Chain Lightning or Crushing Darkness can refresh Affliction, so by using one of those abilities exclusively to each boss (Chain Lightning for one boss, Crushing Darkness for the other), you can keep Affliction ticking indefinitely on two enemies.
The first strategy is very simple to execute. For fights with lots of adds in close proximity with high health, replace a Lightning Bolt filler with an Affliction application on another target. Be thoughtful about how many targets to apply Affliction given how quickly they may die. If the adds will survive at a full duration of Affliction then the application is useful even if the DoT refresh may not be as useful.
The second strategy is super useful in multi-boss fights such as Jarg & Sorno in Karagga's Palace, Zorn & Toth and Firebrand & Stormcaller in Explosive Conflict, Phase 1 Tunneling Tentacles in the Terror From Beyond last boss encounter, the Dread Masters in the Dread Council, Master & Blaster in Ravagers, Revanite Commanders in Templte of Sacrifice, and Trandoshans in Dxun.
My strategy is to keep my DPS and Chain Lightning damage on my main target and use Focus Target (Alt + F is the default keybinding for Focus Target) on my secondary target. Every time Crushing Darkness comes off cooldown I hit Alt+F to swap to my secondary target and cast Crushing Darkness, then Alt+F back to my main target.
The main thing to be careful about with this strategy is that Crushing Darkness's cooldown is very close to Affliction's duration. As such, you need to be careful not to delay it's use or Affliction might fall off. Chain Lightning is a bit safer due to its 10 second cooldown as in some windows you will get two uses of Chain Lightning inside Affliction's duration.
This strategy sacrifices a little DPS on the main target since you are devoting one out of every 11-12 abilities to deal damage to another target. You lose some damage from Stormwatch on your main target, as Crushing Darkness ticks Stormwatch and its refresh of Affliction ticks Stormwatch a second time, while Chain Lightning refreshes Affliction and ticks Stormwatch once. That said, the incremental damage from having Affliction active on a target the entire fight is typically much greater.
Chain Lightning - Highest damaging AoE ability whenever it is instantly procced by Force Storm
Force Storm - Spammable AoE channeled ability and also procs Chain Lightning via the Lightning Storm passive ability
Tips & Tricks
The most important part of the spec is using Thundering Blast as often as possible and never letting Affliction drop off. Thundering Blast should always be a 100% crit as a result.
The next most important part of the spec is casting Crushing Darkness as often as possible but only when it is buffed by Lightning Flash. The buff reduces the cast time from ~1.8 seconds to ~1.3 seconds (~1.1 seconds with Polarity Shift). For beginners, a good rule of thumb is to just cast Crushing Darkness on cooldown except when you are only 1-2 GCDs away from Lightning Flash coming off cooldown, in which case you can delay it until after you re-apply the buff. This is recommended for beginners only because it is a huge pain to either inadvertently do a long cast of Crushing Darkness or to start a long cast and interrupt it to cast something else. Make it your primary focus learning this discipline to get comfortable with how these abilities interact so you can eliminate/minimize any ability delay in these high priority abilities.
Use Polarity Shift on cool down at all times unless a transition phase or burn phase is imminent.
Try to use Recklessness right before Thundering Blast. You always want one charge to be utilized on Thundering Blast as the additional critical chance by Recklessness will be converted to additional critical hit damage. The second charge should then always be used by Chain Lightning, Crushing Darkness, Lightning Flash or a buffed Shock. You NEVER want Recklessness to use a charge on Lightning Bolt if at all possible.
A pro tip is to use Polarity Shift in the opener BEFORE applying Affliction to the target. Since the DoT will be continually refreshed through the rotation, as of 5.10 the DoT will always be affected by the alacrity boost and will tick faster as a result. The DPS increase is modest but easy to achieve.
Make sure to prioritize Shock after using Crushing Darkness on a target. The Convulsing Currents passive buffs its damage by 35% making it a sizable DPS increase.
Static Barrier can be used as an offensive filler ability if taking the Lightning Barrier passive ability and if the fight involves predictable damage that can trigger the reflect.
Force Barrier can be used with the Surging Speed utility to proc an additional use of Force Speed. Try to time it right after Force Speed is used (ideally during Polarity Shift’s duration and +10% damage bonus) to get an extra +25% damage buff. I like to use Force Speed first on Thundering Blast then hit Force Barrier and move to break its channel then hit Chain Lightning then use Force Speed for Lightning Flash.