Yet Another Warlock Nerf

Fat cows with grounding totems stuck up their ass

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.

The System

First, let’s look at the abilities that require shards:

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.

PvE Shards

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).

PvP Shards

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.

Simple Solutions

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.

Another Dimension

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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This post was written by Smatter, who contributed 16 posts on Yet Another Warlock Nerf.
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20 responses to “Shine On You Crazy Pink Diamonds”

  1. Gell says:

    very good points you made here, and i like the ideas for new shard only spells,

    im in a BT progression guild, and it is a pain in the @$$ when we are working on council for a good while, and im the only lock(/cry), so of course everyone in the raid has to go back to shatt every 10 secs for god knows what and i have to summon every one back(usually more then once) very frustrating at times, i dont mind the farming for them persay, just let us hold more.

  2. Badge says:

    I would definitely talk to your raid leader about this. Raiders should show up to raids prepared.

    Especially if you’re the only lock, people coming to raids unprepared will leave you shardless at the end of the night and make the last few runs that much harder without healthstones, soulstones, your succy sac, and soulshatter.

    “You are not prepared! -50 DKP!”

    Also, shard stacking x5 would be fantastic. Trading my enchanting bag into the bank for an empty bag i keep in my bank just so i can have enough shards for a raid is ridiculous. A 28 slot bag should be enough to hold something required to contribute as lock.

  3. Christopher says:

    Why can’t they implement some mechanic for warlocks whereby playing the Bejeweled addon can generate soul shards? Seems only natural to me.

  4. Gell says:

    oh he knows, but in general when we are on a progression night, shards are getting scarce about half way through mob reset

  5. PimpyMicPimpy says:

    Even if they just gave Shardbags a bonus to haste, damage, or something, like ammo bags/quivers, I’d be happy.

  6. hydra says:

    With wrath coming I am concerned at how easy will it be to farm shards. At 70 you can just hop outside of Shatt and kill spiders and wolves. If Shatt is still the hub (unless that changed) you will have to travel to Dalaran.

  7. Valkirs says:

    Great topic. Interesting ideas!

    Helpfull for a lvling lock (lvl 58 atm).

    Really look forward for bigger bags and stuckable shards!

  8. Mark says:

    elbon shadowbag dont have exactly 28 slots???

  9. Mace says:

    Soul shards need to go, period. Here is why.

    When balancing abilities around soul shards you face an inescapable dilemma:

    1) The ability makes the warlock OP
    2) The ability is not OP and is in line with all other abilities
    3) The ability is worse than normal (ie: firestone)

    Let’s take situation 1. We take an ability, let’s say it is an instant nuke. Now we make that ability do more damage than shadow bolt (or some arbitrarily high number) — point is, make it OP. To “put this ability in line” you add soul shards with the reasoning that “oh, the lock can only cast it so many times”. Unfortunately, since we can hold like 150 or so soul shards this means that a lock can either: 1) Farm and be OP (which is bad), 2) Not farm and be underpowered (also bad).

    Situation 2 is also a lose/lose because now you have to farm just to be in line with everyone else. Situation 3 is a super lose/super lose for obvious reasons.

    The ONLY way to make shards a part of the game would be to apply them to situation 2 (normal abilities) and make them ridiculously easy to get (ie: if a target dies with a DOT on it or something) and make them not take up any significant amount of bag space. Given this, what’s the point? Flavor? I guess.

  10. Smatter says:

    Excellent points, Mace. However, I think there is a need to preserve Warlock flavor to a certain extent. Realistically, all we need if some way to make shards more manageable.

  11. modulok says:

    I really like the idea of removing the shard requirement from Shadowburn. This wasn’t listed as a detractor, but I find it significantly more difficult to shard farm as destro than afflic or demo. This is simply because I one or two shot at level mobs on accident. Thus my OP is slapped in my evil face.

    When I am destro I have to actually break out my Blueberry which is so lvl 30 and have it tank stuff. It is quite irritating. Meanwhile if I am affliction I dont have the ultra high rate of shard burn that is shadowburn and yet I am swimming in shards because including Drain Soul is the most mana efficient way to end a mobs life. It is quite the study of contradictions.

    How about a good way to farm shards as destro and a good way to use shards as affliction? Is that too evil to ask for?

  12. Mace says:

    Keeping shards as a way to add flavor to the Warlock is fine. To do this you basically have to make shards absurdly easy to get (so that they will never have to be farmed) and store (make them stack in stacks of 100). To do this you could give a shard to a lock whenever a mob dies that is under the effects of one of his debuffs/dots (should be basically every mob). You could cap it at 400 shards or so that a player will never have to delete shards since they keep popping up.

    Shadowburn is an excellent example of an ability which isn’t balanced by soul shards at all:

    It is perfect possible to fill up all of your bags with shards and spam cast shadowburn in arenas/battlegrounds. Doing this doesn’t make a warlock OP and just gives every lock (or most locks) who refuse to farm that much a disadvantage. In PvP, we need to limit the amount of “more time = more success” factors that influence the outcome of a match. This is an MMO, so there will always be gear, but things like shard costs on a simple instant nuke spell that doesn’t even do that much damage is ridiculous.

  13. james says:

    my feeling is this, if hunters have to lose a bag slot, then so can locks. big difference is, if a hunter is out of arrows he is Sol, a lock can always make more shards- anywhere

  14. shinkakakumei says:

    These are GREAT suggestions! ‘Tis a pity that these ideas can’t be implemented…

  15. Kasha says:

    How about a similarity to the elder scrolls games, in which different mobs create more powerful shards? or maybe higher numbers of shards? I don’t think a level 77 mammoth should yield the same benefit of sucking its soul that a level 82 elite slime in nax does when I’m scrambling to farm up another shard mid raid. If shards have different levels of power, perhaps it could be reflected in multiple charges?

  16. Basia says:

    Well seeing as we got nerfed hardcore in all other areas I’m gonna go with this. Hunters don’t need soulshards to summon their pets why do we? Mages don’t need a reagant to make food why should we to make spell/firestones? Our only instant cast with a reasonable cooldown requires a shard and it isn’t even very good. Our lvl 50 trinket got nerfed considerably that was basically an oos counter. I have 4 18 slot bags. When you add up my various trinkets, potions, bandages, various loots and soul shards I get pretty full. Hunters need a quiver/ammo pouch, but guess what it increases their attack speed.

    Make shards stack.
    Make certain abilities not require them.
    Make it easier to obtain them.

  17. samxara says:

    if it become very easy to farm shards, players will get their bags fillef and filled with it and have to dastroy them for emty slot. afflication or demonology doesnot need soul shards as mush as destro(shadoburn) i got so fed up with this shards that now i never use shadowburn(i`m destro) shard requarement for shadowburn must be removed and refunding ability as well. for stone and minion shards can be farm any time.

    and soul shards stack x5

  18. Kasha says:

    that’s not even english, man.

  19. samxara says:

    ya i dont know english very good but i think you understood what i said and ment :

  20. blacktalon says:

    a lot of interesting points, but some of your ideas are already fixed or exist. “Sacrifice three shards: Next pet summon’s cast time is reduced by 50% (15 minute cooldown).” for example is present, Fel Domination i think its called, unless you just want to have it as a non-Demo ability, which is understandable, most raids do not benefit from a Demo lock as they would a Aff, Destro, or combo lock.