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WoWAug 15, 2015 8:00 pm CT

Blood Pact: Metamorphosis and the Demonologist fantasy

I’m angry. I didn’t start playing WoW because I played an RTS back in 2002, or even in 1995 or 1994. I joined much later in 2008, because rather than pay attention to my chemistry lecture, I was paying attention to my friend’s laptop. I asked him what game he was playing that let him be my favorite animal, and where this green city he was jumping in was at. He told me, oh, you don’t want to get into this game, because it’ll take over your life. So I joined in early 2008, just before Sunwell came out. I was Affliction the whole ride up to 70, two weeks before Wrath hit live servers. The first time I actually looked at the Demonology talent tree, people were killing Yogg-Saron and Metamorphosis was at the bottom of the talent tree.

In my years of playing, I have never known a Demonologist without Metamorphosis. And now they want to take such an iconic ability away from me simply because they want to resurrect a decade-old class concept?

What the Mother Shahraz’n fel.


But it’s the Warcraft 3 Demon Hunter ultimate ability

…and yet it has also has been the signature Demonology Warlock ability for going on seven years and ten raiding tiers. Metamorphosis was introduced as a Warlock ability in Wrath of the Lich King, sitting at the bottom of the Demonology talent tree. Ultimate talent-tree-bottom abilities for Demonologists before Metamorphosis included:

  • Summon Felguard (Burning Crusade)
  • Soul Link (Vanilla WoW)
  • Improved Spellstone (Vanilla WoW)

Oh my Gul’dan, Spellstones. I’m not nostalgic for those. Soul Link is your Warlock’s favorite level 45 talent now, mostly because when it was rearranged to the top of the Demonology talent tree, it was a powerful talent when used in combination with one of the other Warlock specs. Soul Link/Siphon Life Affliction/Demonology Warlocks were very hard to kill.

Let’s look at other talents in the old pre-Metamorphosis Demonology days:

  • Improved Healthstone: Healthstones are a flat amount for everyone now.
  • Master Summoner and the various Improved (Demon) spells: Baseline or cut.
  • Master Demonologist: A major class glyph.
  • Improved Health Funnel: Affliction eventually received this but the old Soulburn effect that did this got pruned.
  • Demonic Embrace: Increases your stamina … which is part of the class-wide Blood Pact passive now.
  • Improved Enslave Demon: A minor class glyph.
  • Demonic Sacrifice: The class level 75 talent Grimoire of Sacrifice offers utility abilities off demonic sacrifices, instead of damage or survival buffs. Funny thing is — Demonology isn’t allowed to sacrifice pets anymore.

Later talents after Metamorphosis would include more familiar spells like Molten Core and Shadowfury, though Shadowfury would later go on to be a class-wide spell in the form of a level 30 talent choice. Summon Felguard is about the only thing left from the deep Demonology tree that is still specifically Demonology today.

That, and Metamorphosis.


Class fantasy, feel, image

Demon Hunters, I’m sorry, but Metamorphosis has been a Warlock thing for too long. It’s much like the Pandora’s box that is flying — you can’t have entire expansions designed and redesigned around the players being able to fly for most if not all of the endgame lifetime, and then just yank it back without backlash.

It’s not just the ability Metamorphosis that’s been a Warlock thing. Wearing wings has been around since the Malefic Raiment Warlock tier 6 set — but maybe we’ll count that as an Illidan-thing since Black Temple was in tier 6. But we’ve been wearing demonic horns since the Felheart Raiment back in Molten Core — that’s tier one. We’ve been carrying the semi-demon hunter vibe from the beginning of the game to as recently as Mists of Pandaria, where our Challenge Mode set was named “of the Betrayer” and looks very much like a Demon Hunter cloth kit.

What about green fire? As much as Destruction gets to display green fire, many Warlocks considered green fire to be Demonology’s thing. It goes back to the quest — Kanrethad and Jubeka went to Black Temple in Outland to learn about summoning demons, an obvious Demonology pursuit, while the other two Warlock pairs went off in search of soulful corruption (Affliction) and fiery empowerment (Destruction). Green Metamorphosis is impressive, as is weaving Shadow Bolt and then seeing a green Soul Fire shoot out. What happens with learning green fire as a Metamorphosis-less Demonologist? I go all the way to Black Temple to take a Metamorphized Kanrethad down, suck out his essence with the help of Jubeka, and then … what? I’m so sorry, the file containing the GetDemonForm() function was extra corrupted in the download, it seems.

Fine. If you’re not going to give me Kanrethad’s Metamorphosis back, then I want a permanent pit lord pet for this. If Gul’dan and Teron’gor get to do it and I’m going to wield a powerful Artifact weapon on par with Ashbringer and Doomhammer, then I think summoning a pit lord for a pet is reasonable.


What makes me really angry about all this is the big experiment that was Glyph of Dark Apotheosis. I don’t care that Demon Hunter tanks will wear leather or have some kind of dodging active mitigation that hearkens back to their Evasion ability rather than our Dark Apotheosis shield absorb mechanic. Our experiment with it as a half-done glyph clearly worked, but it wouldn’t work in the Demonology spec as the spec was, for the same reason that bear-cats didn’t work for Balance in one spec. Obviously, a spec split (or a new class) would have to happen.

What else will the so-called masters of fel and chaos magic take from us?

Do we at least get to keep the imp-spawning Doom? Hellfire? Does Soul Fire count as fire or fel magic? I know some Destruction Warlocks were mad about the whole losing Soul Fire to Demonology thing back in the Mists of Pandaria, but at least the spell stayed within the class instead of being pruned.


Demons: Synergy or sacrifice?

Demonic Sacrifice is an old talent that would likely satisfy my gameplay fantasy needs if I can’t have Metamorphosis. I’m not merely a demonic beastmaster, because Hunters form symbiotic bonds with their pets. I’m a Warlock — although I’ve grown attached to my specific demons over the years, they’re my demons to do what I want with, even if I summon them just to be sacrifices for greater power. If demons are going to be my thing, I don’t want them to just be my passive pets — I want to sacrifice them for my needs.

I don’t think a Demonic Stampede of pets is going to go over well for gameplay reasons. One, I don’t want most of my damage tied to the pet AI doing various dumb things that remain buggy for months or even years. Two, Stampede was often combined with complaints of lag, as every pet added a new body for computer calculations happening. You think a few Hunters with Stampede was bad? Just wait until you get a couple Demonologists each with about 50 imps running around shooting 10 Firebolts apiece. Demonic hordes look impressive, but they will wear down on game performance fast. Three, although the tier set bonuses like to experiment for future reasons, I don’t want more random new demons passively spawning off my spells. It looks cool, but if they don’t do anything besides blindly damage a target and disappear, it’s just a bunch of felstalker sprites running around and no actual interesting gameplay.


I also don’t just want bigger, better demons, even if they’re Demonology only. We already have that with Grimoire of Supremacy, so “even bigger and even better” just sounds like another flat “you get 4% more Intellect” kind of buff. Again, that’s going back to the Hunter pet model with Spirit Beasts. Another really impressive pet is merely a passive, cosmetic bonus.

I want to see what pets as resources would look like. An idea that’s somewhere between totems and combo points, where if I build up say five Wild Imp spawns and then perform a special sacrifice ability, I get a temporary buff to my fire damage abilities. On the good hand, we could have shiny new demons as permanent pets, but use old minor demons as the resource. We could have something as simple as number of one demon (imps come to mind) or we could have a few demons with various abilities (the next iteration of the rune system, maybe?). On the bad hand, players don’t like stacking buffs — think old Improved Soul Fire — especially if they depend on pets doing things.

Of course, Legion isn’t even in alpha yet, and things have time to drastically change. But for now, I’m burning with anger at the void of information on Demonology’s future.

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