Shine On You Crazy Pink Diamonds
(Props to my buddy Roger Waters for the title inspiration)
The debate has rage on for years: Soul Shards. What is their purpose? Why are they important? Why is it a pain in the ass to farm them? And so on.
Blizzard has stated that collecting souls fits with the Warlock lore. After all, what’s more evil than keeping the souls of your defeated enemies? That, my fellow Warlocks, is badass.
Wrath has brought about many “quality of life” (I love that term; it’s so absurd to be talking about life quality in a game) changes for players. For example, Rogue poisons have seen a revamp to make creating poisons a lot simpler. Evidently, Blizzard has felt the need to make players’ lives a little bit easier. As a result, the Warlock community has requested a little love.
First, let’s look at the abilities that require shards:
- Pet summoning
- Soul Fire
- Shadowburn (talented)
Now let’s look at the ways we obtain shards:
There seems to be some disproportionality here. A good number of our essential Warlock abilities are dependent upon a spell that is a) channeled b) resistible c) causes DPS loss to use. Now, don’t get me wrong, Drain Soul does do the trick, but the problem is that Warlocks need to go out of their way to use it.
Take a raiding Warlock, for example: One hour before a raid, a Warlock has to grind on some level 62+ mobs to farm shards (a lot of shards; any good raiding Warlock will tell you that). Moreover, depending on the instance and guild’s progression, there may be little-to-no trash mobs from which the Warlock can acquire shards. This creates problems for progression nights (Archimonde comes to mind).
Think about the numbers:
- 1 shard for Soulwell each wipe.
- 1 shard for pet summoning each wipe.
- 1 shard every 30 minutes for a Soulstone.
- 1 shard every our for the new Spellstone/Firestone.
- 1 shard for Soulshatter when necessary.
- 1 shard for each raid’s latecomer(s)/lost players/ghost-runners.
These numbers add up. I remember back in my raiding day, I used to bring around 70 shards to raids; I’d walk out with numbers in the low teens. It would take me at least 30 minutes to get shards together and be to the raid 30 minutes early (I am a stronger believer in timeliness; late-raiding sucks).
Now take a PvP Warlock for example:
- 1 shard for initial pet summon.
- 1 shard for pet replacement (we all know they die so quickly).
- 1 shard for a Healthstone or Soulwell (survivability).
- 1 shard for Spellstone/Firestone.
- 1 shard for Soul Fire (for Destruction).
- 1 shard for Shadowburn (for Destruction if talented).
The PvP Warlock has it a bit worse than the PvE Warlock. Shadowburn is nice PvP finisher; thus, a MASSIVE shard-dump. The target needs to die within five seconds in order for the Warlock to get his shard refund. In PvP, we can’t always count on Shadowburn to be the killing blow because of healing and damage reduction/prevention abilities (e.g. absorbtion mechanics) and also because Shadowburn scales horribly. Furthermore, if it’s resisted, the shard is never refunded.
Shard-collection in PvP is far more difficult than that of PvE. Of course, you can go out of your way to farm shards for some BG grinding and Arena matches, but it gets rather tedious to have to stop what you’re doing just so your arena team can keep playing. While it is true that you can Drain Soul in PvP, it is also much harder to do so. You’re not going to want to drain the soul of a Warrior or Rogue who’s beating on you. Also, if you see an enemy getting pummeled by a lot of your allies, it’s very difficult to time your drain soul to get that shard, especially in the Arena. Sometimes (and it happens frequently) the drain soul hits the target and the animation goes off, but you don’t get a shard because you cast it right when the target dies.
The Big Issues
The major problems with the Soul Shard system are as follows:
- Bag space.
- Lack of shard stacking.
- Lack of additional ways to acquire shards.
- PvP abilities that require a PvE component (Soul Fire and Shadowburn).
- The time it takes to farm shards.
- Shards place a hard cap on how long a Warlock can function at 100% efficiency.
- The shard-requiring abilities aren’t game-breaking enough to justify the farming.
Of course, there are other, more individualized complaints about the system as well. These are the complaints I find most relevant to my own playing.
Make shards stack. Preferably, in stacks of 5, I’d take stacks of 2. This way, extended shard-farming sessions have more longevity for optimal playing.
Add other ways of obtaining shards. Shadowburn, for example, is not powerful enough to justify its shard requirement; there’s an ability that requires no reagent, has a shorter cooldown, and is trainable at level 6. There’s no reason why Shadowburn should require a shard. If it becomes a way for Warlocks to obtain shards, this will relieve a lot of the shard-farming stress, especially in PvP (while we’re talking about Shadowburn, what’s wrong with increasing the five-second debuff? Wouldn’t that make the spell a lot less of a shard drain? 10 seconds would be a perfect fix—a glyph?).
If the system isn’t made any less stressful, at least make shard-dependent abilities more potent, especially pet summoning. The excessively long summoning time and reagent cost do not justify a pet’s survivability.
I don’t want to see the shard system removed entirely. In fact, I think it has a lot of potential to be a fun/useful aspect of the class. So, what if we added another dimension to the Warlock class? I have an excellent idea. As a disclaimer, this is just an idea I have; I’m not pushing it. I do not feel it’s overpowered or unreasonable. For this suggestion to work, assume that soul shards stack and that there is more than one way to acquire them (e.g. through Shadowburn).
Create abilities that cost only soul shards. For example, with the last beta/PTR patch, we lost the dispelling effect of our Spellstone. What if we sacrificed several shards to have the same effect (on a cooldown, of course)? Do you see where I’m going with this? The use of several shards and long cooldowns prevent abilities such as these from being overpowered. Some more ideas:
- Sacrifice three shards: Dispel all magic effects from the Warlock (3 minute cooldown).
- Sacrifice three shards: Next pet summon’s cast time is reduced by 50% (15 minute cooldown).
- Sacrifice three shards: Decrease the cast time of your next spell by 30% (8 minute cooldown).
- Sacrifice two shards: Remove all movement-impairing effects from your pet (3 minute cooldown).
- Sacrifice two shards: Resets the cooldown on your Healthstone (10 minute cooldown).
- Sacrifice a shard: Teleports the pet back to its master (2 minute cooldown).
- Sacrifice a shard: Refresh the duration of [insert debuff here] (5 minute cooldown).
- Sacrifice five shards: Remove all movement-imparing effects from the Warlock (2 minute cooldown).
- Sacrifice a shard: Reduce the mana cost of all spells by 10% for 15 seconds (5 minute cooldown).
You get the idea. These are merely suggestions. Abilities like these make soul shards worth farming, while simultaneously making playing a Warlock. Honestly, I feel soul shards have a lot of potential to be useful and enjoyable. Please, tell me what you think of this idea.
I do see the value (and potential) in the system. Yes, it is a pain-in-the-ass, but it is a manageable pain-in-the-ass. Honestly, I’d be content with soul shards stacking in bags—hell, I’ll take larger soul bags. Really, I just want Blizzard to throw us some help. Ultimately, however, I do want the system to be as beneficial to the class as it is essential.
Nevertheless, Blizzard cannot ignore the cries of the Warlock community.
Shine on, you crazy pink diamonds.