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WoWNov 14, 2015 8:00 pm CT

Blood Pact: Rewinding Warlocks in Legion

BlizzCon frustrated me as a Warlock. Blizzard was swearing up and down to me that each class and spec would feel unique due to its fantasy and yet I was reading my current spells’ exact tooltips on slides dedicated to Demon Hunters. I was unable to get hyped about Demon Hunters at all; I felt like Demonology’s heart and soul concerns were being handwav– sorry, they were being demon-waved away.

But on Tuesday, we got the Warlock class preview. And like our expedition to Draenor, it appears we have to go backward a little in mechanics in order to go forward.

Soul Shards

Demonic Fury left with Metamorphosis going to Demon Hunters, though it’s called just plain Fury now. Burning Embers are also being extinguished, because all Warlocks are back to using Soul Shards.

Soul Shards are still hanging out on the UI, though there will be a new maximum of five. We don’t yet know if Shards will hang out visually or not, or if Glyph of Verdant Spheres is also still hanging around (hopefully!). Although Demonology’s new Hand of Gul’dan will be a flexible dump kind of spell that will spend anywhere from one to maximum shards, most abilities read as costing one or two Soul Shards each. Affliction has only one Soul Shard spell listed, Unstable Affliction, and namely because it’s a DOT, so that spec applies the DOT and spends Soul Shards more often. Demonology and Destruction both have greater shard costs, so perhaps their Soul Shard play will continue to be in a pooling-and-dumping cycle rather than spend ’em if you got ’em.

And yes, all Warlock specs will use Life Tap again; no more Ember Tap healing.

by abotiller

image by abotiller

Demon per spec

Supposedly, most people used the Imp when all pets were equal.

That’s funny for me to hear, since I largely used the Observer or Felhunter, or even the Felguard as Demonology. Just about every PVE guide mentions the Observer and Felhunter over the Imp unless you’re dealing with frequently switching targets or your pet can’t get into melee often. And what exactly does Grimoire of Sacrifice count as, because I often sacrificed my Voidwalker the most! When looking at logs, I’ve seen Shivarra, Abyssals, Doomguards, Terrorguards, and Fel Imps, too. The farther up the ranks you go, the more often you see a singular demon, but it often changed from fight to fight depending on what the fight called for. Heavy damage? Grimoire of Sacrifice with Voidwalker sacrificed. Interrupts? Some combination of Felhunters, Observers, or sacrificing these two demons. Knockbacks on add waves? Succubus/Shivarra. Yes, I’ve used some demons less than others, but ever since their introduction, I’ve used many if not all of my demons in a raid fight.

They are right that Voidwalker/Voidlord and the Succubus are niche demons. You can’t really bring your tank demon into a PVE group unless you’re either a party of all DPS and one healer or your tank just died. But a Voidwalker/Voidlord is invaluable for questing, especially when you’re just breaking into an area. The Shivarra is strong enough to count as a DPS minion, but the Succubus unfortunately doesn’t have a purpose in PVE anymore. She used to be the ranged demon for Affliction, back when we had talents in the various specialization trees that buffed our shadow damage dealt, including pets. So the Felhunter was the melee pet and Succubus was the ranged option in case the target was purely ranged (as recently as Alysrazor from Firelands in Cataclysm). Now, when school damage dealt isn’t a thing in talents and passives, the Felhunter/Observer stayed the favorite for a single-target melee pet (Felguard was Demonology’s answer to multi-targets) and the Imp became the universal ranged pet.


In the end, this is the devs’ answer to what pet for which spec:

  • Felhunter for Affliction
  • Felguard for Demonology
  • Imp for Destruction

As for our cooldown demons, it appears they’re replacing Dark Soul by lowering the cooldown on our Doomguard and Infernal. I wrinkle my nose a little at that. I’m not fond of the infamous pet AI being our strongest cooldown unless it’s significantly less stupid and buggy in Legion than it’s been in the past. It’s quite annoying when my Doomguard bugs out and hits only the first target, which means it ends up standing there for half its duration doing nothing but picking its demonic nose. Or I’d be worried about the Abyssal taunting things it shouldn’t and dying instead of contributing more damage. And what happens if we pick Demonic Servitude, the level 100 talent? Or is that talent also being replaced?

Warlock Artifacts

If you’re Affliction, you wield the scythe that created Deadwind Pass and was long hidden under Karazhan. If you’re Destruction, you wield the freaking Scepter of Sargeras, which was unsuccessfully hidden by the Kirin Tor. If you’re Demonology, you have Skull of the Man’ari, the dreadlord Mephistroth’s instrument for summoning and controlling demons — which leads me to wonder how we go get that.

Affliction’s artifact quest likely involves Karazhan, and I hope it involves Karazhan Crypts, a non-area below Karazhan that players would often try to bug out into. Maybe this will become a real area in this questline. As Demonology, I guess we get to perform a magic trick that maybe involves killing Mephistroth and stealing the skull from his hand. Destruction gets to steal (back) things from those stinkin’ mages, which can’t not be fun.

Warlock Demo

On cosmetic opinions — it’s weird that the Destruction staff looks purple, considering we get to keep green fire and fire is almost all that Destruction flings. Chaos Bolt isn’t a purple dragon — it’s green. I don’t really care what color the Affliction scythe is, but I just hope for an animation of a soul being sucked into it every time we generate a Soul Shard. Or I’d like it even if that were a just-cosmetic kind of animation that occurred occasionally out of combat.

Demonology’s skull, well…people have already come up with names for their skull. Although I originally heard Wilson (the volleyball from Cast Away), I’m going to stick with Murray the talking skull from Monkey Island, since I remember that game plenty from my childhood. Others still insist on Bob the talking skull from the Dresden Files. We can add more inspiration in the comments. Athough the devs have clarified that classes with one-handed or off-handed Artifacts will get a full main-hand/off-hand combo, it wasn’t depicted yet and I still think the (re)naming of the Demonology Artifact(s) will continue.


Initial spec impressions

We’ve got so much to talk about before Legion launches — and a lot could change between now and then — but here’s a run down of my first impressions from reading our class preview.

Haunt is going to be reworked and will show up as a talent for Affliction, so the focus is going back to DOTs. I’m happy with this because I feel that the focus on Haunt and filler ticks has gotten way out of hand for Affliction. There were mentions of Unstable Affliction costing a Shard looks like Devouring Plague, as if Shadow Priests are taking on Demonology’s old resource and playstyle while we take their Shadow Orbs away. I’ve decided to reserve judgment on this, since we don’t know how our shards fit in until we see our complete toolkit, and I’m not entirely an expert on Shadow Orbs either. I’m excited to see old talents like Contagion, the Affliction talent mentioned in the preview, make a return. (Except old-Contagion was far more boring.) Finally, Drain Life is returning as a filler spell to Affliction, after we were sure it was gone forever. Although it will be bitter to lose Drain Soul, our Artifact should make up the soul harvesting flavor and it will be sweet to have Drain Life back. The main concerns for Affliction to solve in beta are viable AOE options for the spec and burst opportunities.

Destruction remains largely the same. The new Mastery is a little weird considering Multistrike is being removed. The “randomly” does refer to the amount your damage gets buffed, not when the Mastery applies to damage. Some spells not mentioned are showing up in talents, like Fire and Brimstone (FnB) and Shadowburn, which makes me a bit less excited since I wanted to see how current-FnB plus Immolate and that suggested talent would work out.

Demonology…well here it is. I’m not quite convinced yet that Call Dreadstalkers won’t be Demonic Dire Beast. Supposedly, skillful gameplay will revolve around Demonic Empowerment play, and that might be what changes the spec from Demonic Beast Mastery. With the lowered cooldowns of Doomguards and Infernals, plus your primary pet, plus other guardian demons thrown in, perhaps the gameplay will be unique enough timing the buff spell with the three best pets. At least we’ll have Implosion, the best named spell ever.

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