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Warlock > WoWJul 4, 2015 8:00 pm CT

Blood Pact: Warlocks in Patch 6.2 featuring Final Boss TV

As I was working on bringing my fellow warlocks a summary and small loot watchlist for Warlocks in Patch 6.2, Final Boss TV interviewed some Warlocks for its newest episode this past Sunday. I did a Blood Pact with the third episode way back in 2013, and in the class column absence of 2014, I wrote summaries for Final Boss episodes that didn’t include Warlocks at all. So if you can’t stick around to watch the entire 107-minute Episode #86 – Warlords of Chaos, I understand. It’s a jam-packed episode of wonderful Warlock discussion, and I’ll do my best to summarize it all here.

Bay, the host of Final Boss, is an enhancement shaman in US top-100 guild <Crisp> and who does video editing not only as a hobby, but as a meatspace job. For Warlock guests we have top raiders Furty of US-Sargeras <Midwinter> and Pyromancer of US-Sargeras <Vulgar>, and also SimulationCraft Warlock theorycrafter, Gahddo of US-Mug’thol <Awakening>.

Strengths and weaknesses

The first third of the show is an open interview format where Bay asks all three guests general class and spec questions, letting the discussions and sometimes rants explore the abstract concepts that go into playing a Warlock. Furty touches on how things have been so far for Warlocks in Warlords, explaining that things started out a little rough but doable in Highmaul and then culminated in utter Demonology domination in Blackrock Foundry. We expect Warlocks to be viable still in Hellfire Citadel.

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Two class-wide topics emerged from the discussion third of the show. One was how AoE and single target strengths contribute to downing a fight. Single target damage is always desirable for the need of pushing or killing a priority target, whereas AoE is a bit of a trap for ranged and caster DPS. Melee toolkits are set up very well for cleave and incidental AoE, so they tend to take care of the AoE problems, especially if ranged need time or number of targets to make significant damage. The guests agree that for the most part, single target will win out in Hellfire Citadel for Warlocks.

Another topic grew from comparing and contrasting the three Warlock specs. Is playing all three specs of a pure DPS class required or optional? Furty disagrees that players should stick to only one spec, and should learn to use at least two if not all three specs in their different situational strengths. Unfortunately, as Bay points out, if one spec excels at too many niches, it becomes the de facto spec for the tier, and the other two specs die out. Pyromancer points out that Demonology played the too-powerful spec role last tier, and Destruction is setting up to repeat the problem this tier. Gahddo reinforces this conclusion, explaining that Demonology and Destruction often compete for the same spec strengths, and whichever one is better in the cycle of patches and balance tends to dominate as choice for that damage situation. Furty nails in the coffin by adding that Demonology often requires a bit of control and planning for its burst, whereas Destruction is king of on-demand burst with target switching.

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Bay starts out with “The Nerf Heard ‘Round the World,” discussing Demonology and how it isn’t actually as dead as the ability nerfs make it sound. Gahddo explains that although the spec is healthier from a design standpoint this tier, players fixated on the ability nerfs, and as a result missed the big boosts to Cataclysm, Immolation Aura, and Demonology’s mastery. Furty chimes in that the Demonbolt playstyle is actually quite useful and was overlooked by players due to its nerf in tier 17. Gahddo points out that Demonbolt is very good for burst single target damage, as you can front-load all your damage in about 7 seconds. Pyromancer and Gahddo both like having the Demonbolt playstyle back, but Furty begs to differ and points out how overall damage using a Demonbolt spec could swing drastically based on whether your string of Demonbolts critted or not.

Although Destruction is set to be the almost universal top spec in Hellfire Citadel, it had its problems at the start of Warlords. Pyromancer goes over the movement problem due to both losing Fel Flame to the ability pruning and the neutering of Rain of Fire. While Fel Flame was an obvious injury, Rain of Fire’s ember generation helped support AoE for Destruction, and now, without either ember generation or significant damage, it’s absolutely worthless to cast.

Affliction’s problems round out the discussion with many sighs and frustrated thoughts. Furty summarizes Affliction in Mists of Pandaria as being easy to understand and pick up, hard to master, and how that was really attractive as a playstyle and felt really fluid to play. Now it feels clunky and awkward, as if the developers can’t pick which playstyle they want Affliction to excel in. Gahddo reiterates over and over again that the removal of DoT snapshotting solved most of Affliction’s overpowered problems, but that the developers overreacted and further nerfed the spec in ways that have broken the previous fluidity it had.

Soul Swap is now a hinderance at the cost of a shard rather than a useful tool for switching targets. Nightfall is wretchedly capped at one target for generating shards, so the Affliction Warlock experiences a pendulum swing from having so many shards she’s hitting random targets with Haunt to the polar opposite of playing perfectly yet being horribly punished by an absolute lack of shard procs. Finally, the tier 18 set bonuses and the Archimonde class trinket for Affliction directly oppose each other, as Gahddo says, resulting in very awkward play with a very useless feeling.

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Technical Stats

“So in other words, uh, just stack versatility.” — Pyromancer, jokingly

Mastery is the king stat for all Warlocks, which makes our spec-switching much easier than other, lesser classes. For single target, Affliction prefers Haste after Mastery and Destruction prefers Crit after Mastery, but Gahddo points out multiple times that the moment you add a second target into any situation for any of the three Warlock specs, Mastery wins out by a mile. Furty illustrates with an example for Destruction, where Mastery is better than Crit for Chaos Bolt 3-to-1.

Tier set bonuses and the class trinket gather a mix of reactions, depending on the spec. Affliction’s set bonuses are terrible, as Gahddo illustrates that the full tier 17 Mythic set is almost even with the full tier 18 Heroic set. Furty explains that the set bonuses focusing on Drain Soul is almost ignoring how raid fights actually play out, as there’s often not much continuous Drain Soul usage, especially, as Pyromancer points out, when you’re busy refreshing the shorter DoTs off the class trinket.

Demonology’s tier 18 2-piece isn’t fantastic by itself, but the tier set really locks in together when you get 4-piece. Pyromancer remembers being unable to lose fury because so many imps casting from the Archimonde trinket were outcasting him.

Destruction wants the tier 18 2-piece as soon as possible, including grabbing Normal mode pieces to get it. The 4-piece is still good, but you won’t be terrible without it. The class trinket also synergizes with the set bonuses. The main problem with the 4-piece, the three Warlocks agree, is the idea that you won’t know that your Chaos Bolt will be free until the cast is over, when you may already have a now-wasted ember generator on the way. Gahddo suggests that a proc that let your next Chaos Bolt not consume embers would have been a better received set bonus.

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Bonus roll wishlist

There’s generally three categories of items you’ll ever bonus roll on and feel deflated when you don’t get anything: weapons, trinkets, and tier set items. Weapons count for a third of your spellpower, trinkets have powerful procs, and tier set bonuses can often make or break your spec’s performance.

Gahddo goes into some of the trinkets, and there’s a gigantic chart of trinkets for each spec on Icy Veins, using a Mythic tier 18 Patchwerk simulation. Aside from the class trinket off Archimonde, Desecrated Shadowmoon Insignia does well for all three specs as it has a traditional Intellect proc. Iron Reaver Piston is a good runner-up.

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Here’s my bonus roll wishlist:

The episode closes out with a long discussion of talents that transforms into tips and tricks for playing a Warlock, but I’m running out of space, so go give it a listen!

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