Warlocks in 3.0 and Beyond
I had a little break the last few days after the hosting fiasco, but it’s time for another useless and non-constructive post. Since many of you asked for it, I’ll try to review the current state of warlocks, the issues which are still not resolved as well as those which are. Expansions are usually the time when we should be happy about all the improvements our class gets, but is that the case with Wrath?
According to many reports, warlocks are consistently beated by many other classes in raids, especially hybrids — moonkins and of course retribution paladins deal nearly twice as much damage. I have yet to check the damage myself, but some of those reports are based on heroic instances where affliction locks are obviously nearly useless since the DoTs barely have a chance to tick before the mob is dead. However, note I said “some” reports: in Sunwell, I hear it’s the same thing. Among other things, Demonic Sacrifice was considerably nerfed, as well as Improved Shadowbolt (down from 20% damage bonus). It might be the first time in history, but even other classes agree we need some help.
Basically, they still suck. I already said in my Warlock Glyphs post some classes received nearly gamebreaking glyphs which are far superior than the ones we got. Not much has changed since then, and I doubt anything will change by the time Wrath hits and even after. Even the Ritual of Souls glyph got nerfed (previously it did not require a Soulshard to cast). There is a handful of good glyphs which will be in every warlock’s arsenal, including glyphs of Fear, Corruption .. You can read Romil’s post for some guidance.
Soul Link no longer reduces 20% damage but rather 15%. Since it’s moved up the demonology tree and it’s available even if you invest a lot of points in some other tree, I can live with that, but keep reading. Demonic Embrace now only grants 10% more stamina, down from 15%. Additionally, there are no warlock-specific items anymore with higher stamina values, plus the armor bonuses are lower on Wrath gear. Demonic Embrace should therefore give us a 20% bonus to stamina since we will loose plenty with the item homogenization or whatever you want to call it, but instead it got nerfed.
Warlocks are known to have higher stamina than most other classes, which we make up with the lack of melee protection and escape tools.
Pet scaling and survivability
I might write more about this issue in a separate post, but I’ll summarize key points here. There are a couple of positive changes: pets received about 15% more stamina, plus demonology locks now have access to Demonic Empowerment. However, both of those are marginally useful. Blizz made their decision and does not want pets to scale with master’s resilience, which often makes them a prime target in PvP ever since arena season two. Supposedly, if the other team decides to waste time killing your pet they should be able to kill it, but today it only takes about five seconds for a warrior to kill your Felhunter. That’s hardly a big sacrifice since the warlock is literally gimped if that happens: we loose Soul Link, Demonic Knowledge, pet abilities like Spell Lock and Devour, and a couple of other benefits. If all it takes is three GCDs for a warrior to kill our pet now, how long do you think it will take in Wrath? They can have all the stamina in the world and it will not be enough until our pets start scaling with resilience.
Health Funnel is still a channeled spell which is another slap in the face. Hunter’s Mend Pet is instant cast for a looong time now, would it really be that overpowered for us to have the same? Improved Health Funnel is certainly a step in the right direction, but still not enough. Additionally, our pets now have significant AoE avoidance (I think about 80%), but that mostly benefits raiders.
And another hunter rant: they received a lot of pet improvements, and even new pets with amazingly good abilities, and got the survivability increased with the new pet talents. I’m not jealous, I’m actually quite happy when I see how many improvements they received, but I’d like a piece of that pie as well.
I’d love to nerdrage about this now, but I’ll just give you something to think about: rogues no longer need to brew their own poisons since “the reagents took a lot of their bag space” according to devs.
Don’t forget to read Smatter’s thoughts about the soulshards for a more in-depth look at this issue.
Still no melee protection
Yeah, you knew I was gonna mention it. Every melee class has been a thorn in our evil eyes for a long time now, and with the decrease in our survivability it will only get worse. We received no stun or snare protection, and while Demonic Circle is certainly useful and fun, it’s not enough — read this post and you’ll see why. Additionally, I feel I need to point out how Demonic Circle is actually quite overpowered in a way: jump down from the bridge in Blade’s Edge Arena, and port back up, or steal the flag in Warsong Gulch and port the hell outta there are two examples. But still, the core issue is not resolved: Intercept, Shadowstep, Death Grip are still the perfect counters.
New spells are boring
Metamorphosis is nearly perfect in this state, at least in my opinion, however it’s too bad you will never see a warlock using it. So far, affliction seems to be the dominant PvP tree and destruction for PvE, and demo just doesn’t fit anywhere right now. It’s cool yelling “YOU ARE NOT PREPARED!” each time you use Meta tho. It’s also susceptible to crowd control with the paladin ability Turn Evil, which can now also be instant cast with a glyph.
Chaos Bolt looked extremely fun at first, but now it looks more like just another Shadow Bolt. It no longer pierces through immunities, plus it has a cooldown (small but still). Honestly, Frostfire Bolt looks way cooler and even has a snare, and you don’t need 51 points in a tree to have it.
Haunt is a nice ability which really hits the nail in the affliction tree and I like it, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the duration increased. I’d also love to see Unstable Affliction becoming instant cast now since it’s a necessity in PvP (duration has by the way been nerfed from 18 to 15 seconds).
Shadowflame is nice as an additional source of burst damage, but come on, couldn’t they think of anything … I dunno, fun? The damage was increased in the last build to be close to that of Cone of Cold, but… Simply by adding a snare component or a knockback would fix a few issues I already mentioned: melee protection, Demonic Circle might be more useful, and we’d have a decent snare, unlike the ones you will read about in a few moments.
You probably already realized downranking spells is no longer a valid tactic, and it did have a considerable effect on warlocks. Which ones, read here.
Haste, critical and DoTs
Haste can now be found everywhere, it’s one of the most common stats on the new gear yet we receive no benefit other than lowering the GCD.
Critical strike rating was obviously a less important stat for affliction locks so far, but with the new Pandemic talent it does have some use. However, note how it only affects two of our six DoTs in total.
Curse of Recklessness & Weakness
CoR can no longer be used for Fear-juggling mobs, which makes it nearly useless.
There are many other spells I’d like to see revised, especially Inferno & Doomguard, and I recommend you read this post for further info.
Practically every other threat wipe ability is better: Vanish, Invisibility, Feign Death. They all have lower cooldowns and some even reduce all of your threat. Soulshatter can often be resisted, has a reagent cost, a five minute cooldown and it’s only useful for PvE. I think I mentioned somewhere I’d like to see a knockback effect added to it.
Curse of Exhaustion is, I believe, the only snare in the game which slows your opponent down for less than 50%. Give it a cooldown and a ten second duration, but increase the effect to 50%. Again, it would help with other issues. Additionally, we used to be able to use Amplify Curse to increase the effect to 50% once every three minutes, but that talent has been changed.
Improved Fear is cool but it does not stack with CoEx.
Talent trees in general
What is supposed to be our PvP/PvE tree? Destruction has several stuns and snares and at a first glance it’s perfect for PvP — both fun and has great burst potential. However, we are far too squishy and it might never make a serious break. So far, it looks it will still be a dominant tree for raiders.
Demonology also has many PvP-centric talents, especially the Metamorphosis, but the damage is still too weak to compete with aff or destro. We are heavily reliant on our pets which are easier to kill than ever before. It does have great potential, but needs some work.
Affliction received the most love for sure. There are many revised talents and great improvements, however it’s a pain in the ass to keep all of the DoTs up at the moment, and still lacks proper scaling with crit and haste to be as effective as it should. Also, we are just as squishy as with destruction. Having Soul Link doesn’t help since our pets die in the time it takes for us to apply a couple of DoTs on the enemy.
SL/SL is no longer a viable option, which makes me both happy and sad in the same time.
Not all is dark
We still did get a lot of improvements, but that doesn’t change the fact some core issues still need to be addressed. Here are some positive changes (or lack of negative changes):
- New Drain Life, Mana & Soul animations
- Spellstone and Firestone are finally useful
- We can get new haircuts
- Pets received some stamina and new abilities with DE, however, it sucks
- Spell pushback change
- Ritual of Souls now has 25 charges, up from 10
- Shadowfury is now instant cast, but why did it take 2 years?
- MS effect on HoTs - situational, but still useful
- Demon Armor is back on my bars
- Armor penetration is now changed and it reduces a certain percentage of your armor, so we should never drop to zero
- We still have Fear
- We still have Seed of Corruption
As Blizzard staff mentioned on several occasions, the spells and damage is supposedly based on level 80 values, and hopefully we will be competitive then with all the talents and proper gear. Yes, some classes are severely imbalanced now and according to Blizz it will sort itself out, but I’m suspicious about it — can you honestly say the classes were balanced even before this patch hit live realms? I get the feeling we have a long way and a bunch of patches ahead of us.
Smatter was right, there’s no magic. Christmas did not come early for us. They be taking our bucket! Most of us hoped we will see additional improvements in the last few weeks, but unfortunately none of them made it. As I said in the beginning of this post, even other classes post threads asking for some warlock love. We don’t need to be overpowered nor have to be the first on damage meters, but we want to be competitive and have fun playing a lock. Remember when we got Seed of Corruption in BC? That’s the kind of evil, fun and twisted spells we want. We just want to be evil, kill rogues and cackle like maniacs.
Did I miss something, am I just imagining things? What are your experiences with warlocks post 3.0?