Blood Pact: Playing with Affliction Warlock talents in Legion alpha
In the redone talent selection for Affliction in the Legion alpha, there’s only one talent that both stayed the same as its Warlords version and also didn’t move from its current position. Some spells are changed from what we’ve known them as and some are entirely new to us. With the Legion alpha about to go down for the holidays, it’s time to finish up some of my initial thoughts on the Affliction Warlock talents after playing with them for a couple weeks.
Haunt is not the same spell we once knew. Haunt in Legion is just a direct damage spell that costs only mana on a 15-second cooldown. On the one hand, a 15 seconds in between damage hits feels like an eternity to an Affliction Warlock; on the other hand, Haunt will hit for more damage than contained in one regular, full Unstable Affliction DOT. Since I think the cooldown would restrict multiple Haunts on substantial add fights, this is probably a spell where you have some downtime to cast a filler spell, but there’s enough movement to make Drain Life channeling irritating.
Writhe in Agony is what it says: Agony can stack to 20 instead of just 10. It does take two Agony casts to accomplish this — one to get to 10 stacks and then a refresh to get to 20. Agony is also no longer just our hard-hitting DOT, it’s also our shard generator this expansion, so you’ll probably be putting it on everything you can find. You might be able to keep multiple 20-stack Agony spells going, but the deliberate refresh of Agony needed to obtain the 20-stack is probably exactly so that you don’t have an all-powerful Agony everywhere.
Drain Soul is available if you like channeling purple instead of green. Drain Soul is a trade-off from the normal Affliction filler in Legion, Drain Life. Drain Soul heals for less but damages for way more. It’s a channel as we know it now, so this ought to be a talent reserved for standstill types of encounters.
Absolute Corruption is the simplest talent here. Corruption ticks once every tick period, or somewhere between a reasonable 1.5 and 2 seconds. You can stick it to a target dummy, come back half an hour later after lunch, and it will still be there, ticking away. I imagine this will be a great option for newbies and veterans alike, as it frees up a few GCDs that you would otherwise have spent on DOT maintenance.
Mana Tap is familiar if you played with the Glyph of Life Tap way back in Wrath of the Lich King. Instead of being attached to health, it sacrifices a portion of your current mana to give you a damage buff for 20 seconds. I unfortunately haven’t played with this much on alpha since two builds ago the mana return mechanic off Affliction’s artifact bugged out. Without that mana return, this talent takes a little too much mana which requires more Life Taps which results in less survivability than desired when questing.
Contagion puzzles me. Imagine a spell that buffs your damage done to a target, costs a shard, and only lasts for about eight seconds. It sounds like they redesigned Haunt in the previous tier so that they could… put an Unstable Affliction mask over the current Haunt mechanics. Additionally, other than being a passive talent rather than another action button, I don’t see how Contagion’s 5% damage buff to singular and specific targets for Unstable Affliction’s 8 seconds can ever win over Mana Tap’s 15% damage buff to everything for 20 seconds.
Soul Leech is the same, except the spells that activate it are Drain Life and Drain Soul. I don’t know if it’s a bug or intended on alpha, but currently Life Tap will eat the Soul Leech absorb shield, and a reduced Life Tap will damage you instead. (On live, Life Tap ignores the Soul Leech shield, leaving it up to area or targeted damage to eat the absorb.)
Mortal Coil still does not heal on alpha currently when used on a boss target or a target that otherwise is immune to the crowd control effect, so it still won’t work as a nice self-heal. It might have brighter prospects in PVP, but I don’t understand why it’s still a talent for PVE.
Howl of Terror is now a passive, but when you’re reduced to 30% health or below, it does what Howl of Terror currently does. The fantasy of that sounds less like the aggressive, confident howl of inflicting terror on your opponents and more like cower of self-terror for the Warlock.
Siphon Life has returned from the glyph graveyard to become a DOT again, purely serving the purpose of self-healing for the Warlock. Unfortunately, at the moment it’s quite a wet noodle compared to some other Warlock healing spells; e.g., Drain Life will heal for about 12 times what one Siphon Life will do in under half the time of the Siphon Life DOT. If the healing amount were adjusted up, then Siphon Life could become a powerful self-heal in multidotting situations where you might heal less due to less Drain Life filler time.
Sow the Seeds makes Seed of Corruption much less horrible than it is. Seed of Corruption baseline blends in the old Soulburn effect that puts a Corruption on all targets once the Seed explodes. Instead of tabbing around to place multiple Seeds for a chain detonation, Sow the Seeds puts Seed on four nearby enemies. The radius for finding four enemies seems to be small, however, only approximately 8 yards.
Soul Harvest is the old Soul Harvest graphic paired with an Astral Communion-like mechanic for Warlocks. It generates all your Soul Shards on a two-minute cooldown. Outside of AOE encounters that might see Sow the Seeds, this is probably the default PVE pick of this talent tier.
This tier is full of abilities that act exactly like their current counterparts, except that today’s Sacrificial Pact got renamed Dark Pact. Burning Rush still damages you in return for a speed boost. Demonic Circle bakes its glyph’s snare-removing effect in, as well as combines the two buttons that we normally have. The first use of the button summons the Demonic Circle and all subsequent clicks teleport you to the Circle. You can click off your Demonic Circle buff in order to resummon the Circle in a different spot, so I imagine we will all have modifier macros for that.
But this tier is so painful to consider. I know there have been times where I’ve used all three abilities here in the same fight. I get it, if you choose Dark Pact, you’re probably looking to soak damage rather than move from it, so it makes sense as a choice with our two movement abilities. But we don’t have any baseline movement abilities as Warlocks. Shadow Priests are the only ranged DPS other than Warlocks who have to talent into getting a movement boost at all. It’s frustrating to me that I have a false talent choice in order to have a base ability for raiding.
Grimoire of Supremacy just buffs your current set of demons in health and damage. The old Supremacy demons are coming back as cosmetic glyphs, but their abilities are gone. Although I haven’t tested all of the pets yet, I think the one most impacted is the Voidwalker, since the Voidlord was very superior in survivability. The Voidwalker has a new ability, and seems a little less squishy than the first build, but I’m still far from a conclusion.
Grimoire of Service is exactly the same.
Grimoire of Sacrifice currently doesn’t give a Command Demon button, but then again, the tooltip doesn’t mention acquired demon abilities. I hope that’s just a bug, because it otherwise negates the reasons why you’d sacrifice one demon over another. Instead of empowering your filler spells and health regeneration by a lot, it just occasionally acts like a pet and aggros things without permission by having a small AOE effect.
Demonic Servitude is the only spell that not only stayed exactly the same but also didn’t move from its level 100 right-side spot. Here’s your extra Soul Shard prize. I just hope they balance it so that the permanent Doomguard does the damage that the smaller-cooldown Doomguard in Legion does.
Phantom Singularity is probably going to be the new Starfall, as you’ll at first pull things with it that you didn’t intend to pull. When doing napkin math, it’s obvious that only true AOE situations of many mobs will generate enough healing to make it worth using as a healing spell.
Soul Effigy is a talent I’m unsure of, but one I’ve not yet tested much. I suppose this could be a long distance or lengthy duration Affliction version of Destruction’s Havoc spell. It’s a 10-minute-long connection that only delivers 50% of the damage you deal to the Effigy to one target. There’s no cooldown, so you can move the Effigy after right-clicking the object icon. You don’t have to face the target to apply an Effigy and the Effigy has a 40-yard range to its target. I have one complaint: other than the blue beam that connects the two targets, there’s no debuff on the target to tell it’s attached to the Effigy.
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