Decisions, decisions – The 3.1 Warlockian Dilemma
So 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.