Decisions, decisions – The 3.1 Warlockian Dilemma

qqSo 3.1 is here and there are a whole slew of incredibly important changes to the warlock class. Let’s review the big three:

1) You can no longer reliably keep fear up on a target that is DOTed.
2) You are no longer allowed to use immolate on targets with UA.
3) Affliction has lower single target and multi-target damage.

I’m going to try to not make this a QQ rant. This won’t be a “Warlocks are no longer viable, buffs plz” post. Instead, I’m going to talk about how to make the most from the situation we are in.

The big question is: should I go destruction for arena? The answer to this is complicated. Personally, I do not like destruction’s play style at all. If I have the option I will always play affliction (which I am doing now). I understand, however, that there are some warlocks out there who enjoy destruction and now there seems to be more viable destro comps than ever before.


Assuming you want to stay affliction, your options are somewhat limited. In the 2s bracket, HPally/Warlock is no longer a viable comp (despite being the best Healer/Lock combo in 3.0). The two major problems that affliction will have to deal with is pet survivability and complete lack of single target dps. I am being totally serious when I say that retribution paladins can two shot warlock pets. I know that term gets thrown around a lot, almost always in hyperbole, so I really need to emphasis this point. Pet survivability is complete crap right now, and if you don’t find a way to adapt it will lose you quite a few games.

Due to the fear and damage nerf it is impossible to kill healers without significantly out-skilling them (this is the very definition of not viable, being unable to kill someone unless they are terribad compared to you). Furthermore, paladins do not offer enough CC and burst to assist in kill attempts (not to mention the changes to paladins in 3.1 make them weaker than before). Paladins are OK at keeping your pet up compared to other classes, but this is mostly a moot point.

So what healer should you take? Druids offer quite a bit of CC, which can help compensate for your inability to burst anything down. Cyclone has tremendous synergy with the affliction play style, which is all about creating enough pressure to put healers behind. However, druids are probably the worst at keeping your pet up compared to the other healers. Bottom line is that this comp will do better than HPally/Lock but it will still be very frustrating.

That leaves shaman and priest. Shamans are in general good healers now, except that they are very easy to gib. Priests have received several significant buffs, and are my healer of choice for the patch. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, priests can keep your pet up just about as well as any other healer (no one can keep it up against a ret). Secondly, priests have incredibly offensive pressure. This makes up for your lack of single target DPS. Priests can also mana burn, which offers another road to victory against Healer/X matches if you are having trouble killing the DPS.


Destruction really only works in double dps comps. I wouldn’t try anything else in the 2s bracket and expect to be competitive. Due to immolate lacking dispel protection (LOL), you must put out enough burst to make spam dispelling fatal.
The two most common choices are mages and rogues. Of the two, the rogue is the superior choice. Mage/Lock had some “press” since it was played so well by Torment last season. In the current arena environment, however, Lock/Rogue is superior. I don’t like destruction, so I haven’t played either of these comps in depth. The information I’m relaying to you is garnished from reading other sites.

Destruction seems to shine more in 3s, where as affliction suffers even more. One of the only semi-viable 3s comps for affliction is shadowplay. Destruction, on the other hand, has so much burst you can pair it with a lot of things. Mage/Lock/Shaman seems to be gaining popularity, but has problems with double healer teams. Rogue/Lock/Druid also seems to have great potential. Experiment and find what works for you, but most comps with a healer and a rogue (or any class that can keep a target rooted/stunned) should work out well.

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  • Date posted: April 27th, 2009
  • Post author: Aluraud
  • Category: featured, guides
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This post was written by Aluraud, who contributed 9 posts on Yet Another Warlock Nerf.
You can read a short bio and find all posts by Aluraud by clicking his name.


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12 responses to “Decisions, decisions – The 3.1 Warlockian Dilemma”

  1. Voose says:

    I don’t really know if affliction is that bad, I mean sure it has been nerfed, but myself ( play with a resto shaman) do quite well.. the only big problem is the pet ofc. But if you stack some dot crits and a welltimed Hex or something we usally get one down.

    But I do love destro. I always played it, but it’s not that viable with a shaman (who is behind the point a really good friend don’t want to change him ;). Will see how it goes.

  2. Aluraud says:

    I outlined why affliction is bad right now. No matter how you slice it, the spec is significantly weaker than it was in 3.0. Does it still work? Sure, but not as well as many other setups (Priest/rogue, Mage/rogue, priest/ret, Warrior/druid, etc).

  3. Voose says:

    You are probably right, I like some changes though ( like the new melediction and that pandemic only need 1 point) but rest of the changes are moslty rubbish.
    And i only played affliction with a shaman and a priest.. always had been destro otherwise.

  4. Keldara says:

    I agree with Voose on the malediction and pandemic changes, but after 3.1. I remain clueless how to spec my lock. She’s just a 75 so far, but still … I never really liked the Destro play either, mainly because of the OOM factor when leveling. Am also leveling with BF’s shadow priest, so I’m leaning towards Affl/demo with felpuppy out to help his regen. Slightly off topic from the arena perspective, but yeah … It seems destro has quite the potential burst wise. Mana issue still nags me though :p

  5. WLambros says:

    I love the fact that demo is not even mentioned. Demonology is clearly dead in both pve and pvp (i do demo pvp btw)

  6. Aluraud says:

    Why? Demonology does not offer significant increased survivability, despite incredibly lowering your damage.

  7. Voose says:

    I would at least say that Demo works for pve.. At least in some aspects.

  8. Aluraud says:

    So you pvp with demo because it sort of works in pve?

  9. Morgenstern says:

    Actually, I totally disagree with the demo comments. 0/41/30 Is the most popular PVE spec at the moment after the amazing affliction and destro nerf. Srsly guys :P

  10. Zak- 80 lock- ruin says:

    My server was down so i wrote this
    ok so i tried all 3 specs for both arena’s (mage/lock, mage/lock/priest, mage/lock/priest/rogue/shaman) n bg’s n this is how it goes:
    affliction:(2v2) good long survivability, even against warriors but sometimes not rogues, healers are not much of an issue except for the extended fighting, just keeping their partner CC’d (sheep capped w/ fear) n mana draining the crap out the healer, these can be hard fight I’ve had to use up to 3 healthstones in a good 2v2 team. (3v3) now this is a bit harder since u have to depend on other to actually get a kill, basically your job here is to put pressure on every target, which takes a long time until u put ur DoT’s on every target, and accept the fact that you probably wont get a killing blow even if you do amazing damage. (5v5) now affliction shines in here if u manage your DoT’s well, the mass damage quickly becomes unmanageable. (BG)its good in bg’s since it helps you stay alive until someone comes to help u kill wat u been draining. ofcourse im exagerating. it is all about well timed Haunt if you ask me. n a lot of corruption for the night fall proc (+healing) U DEPEND ON DRAINIG LIFE AND ITS SHADOW TRANCE PROC

    Destro: fact is that destro kill shit so fast i laugh, 3 shoting people is good for every arena. (BG) a lot of honor is coming your way with as many killing blows as ull get. good against rogues wen you learn to play it decently, you depend on your pet against melee classes except paladins

    Demonology: demonology….(laugh for about ten minutes**) pretty much the only useful side to demonology is staying alive against rogues until metamorphosis wears out. only viable specs ive seen are felguard/destro or felguard/SL. OK heres how it goes. demonology survivability is as good as that of your pet which is definitely not good. yeah having 35% percent crit chance is awesome but only if you can actually cast something before u get interrupted.only time i seen some acceptable damage is when decimation procs. which is really unlikely in pvp. so plz NO META.

    i used to play demonology back in BC and destro for 2’s, now i play destro full time but this is the best advice ull ever c GET YOUR DAMN GLYPHS!!!!

  11. Wlambros says:

    Right 41/30 takes the bonus spell provided by demo and combines it with the crits of destro.
    Problem is 3.1.2 is a big nerf again for destro

    Kalgan, you are an idiot

  12. Fellshadow says:

    Now i have tried the 41/30 spec and got good results. Only problem i have noticed is you get a good chunk of your damage in the last 35% of most boss fights which sometimes is not good. Now the spec 3/13/54 is a simple desrtro rotation that gives good crit and massive haste bonuses it allows for massive dps in a short period of time. If you like the 0/41/30 spec you should give this a try still wearing blues i manage to pull in 4k pure dps on most boss fights.