The Dark Portal opens
The Burning Crusade launch on January, 16 of 2007 brought many new useful toys to our class. Warlocks are no longer just shadow bolt spammers, they can spam fire now in the form of Incinerate, complete with a nifty flaming animation that should really be Green.
Warlocks also got an active aggro shedding mechanism in Soulshatter, in addition to passive talents. This truly paved the way for warlocks to consistently share the top of the DPS charts with mages and rogues.
Ritual of Souls worked so well that mages got their own version recently. Making 10 healthstones out of a single soul shard is a sweet deal, and can be seen as Blizzard's effort to address the perennial soul shard 'problem'.
With BC, warlocks also got a nasty new way to deal AoE damage in Seed of Corruption, as explosions rocked through walls (fixed in 2.3, thankfully), dungeons, battlegrounds and the world in general.
Already the king of soloing, hitting 70 is really just a rite of passage for warlocks with these powerful toys - setting the stage for heroics, raids and Arena PvP.
"Warlocks are OP"
The introduction of a horror effect with death coil back in October 2006 truly changed the Warlock's PvP game. From being arguably free HKs, they became the class to beat in duels and other small scale PvP encounters.
Many players balked, unaccustomed to their Warlock targets fighting back and - horrors! - winning. Warriors, rogues and some others shrugged, "What's the problem? They're not that bad." Mileage may vary, but the whines continued to flowed freely, despite nerfs and fixes peppering the class in 2007.
Both the damage and control potential of warlocks have been systematically reduced through the year:
Jan 9 - Felguard's melee damage reduced; damage mitigation component of Soul Link reduced; the bonus that the spells "Corruption" and "Curse of Agony" receive from bonus spell damage effects decreased by approximately 10%.
Feb 2 - Spell damage coefficient for imp removed totally. Reinstated later but at an "obviously lower" level.
Feb 13 - Seed of Corruption can't proc off explosions from other seeds. Talent Improved Firebolt changed from 0.5 second to 0.25 second reduction per point.
May 22 - All targets over level 60 have slightly larger chance to break out of crowd-controlling effects when they take damage. Death Coil subjected to diminishing returns in the Horror category. Durations of curses of tongues, elements and shadows reduced in PvP. The felhunter's Spell Lock duration reduced to 6 seconds.
Sep 25 - Banish, Seduction, Enslave Demon and Fear duration against PvP targets reduced to 10 seconds. Resilience also reduces the damage dealt by DoTs.
Nov 13 - The healing effects of Drain Life, Siphon Life and Death Coil now affected by healing reducing effects like Mortal Strike. Hellfire does not add casting time to affected casters, nor reduce channeling time, nor prevent flag captures in battlegrounds. Damage bonus of talent Soul Siphon reduced and it no longer affects Drain Mana. Fear Ward made available to all Priests at level 20.
Being a Warlock myself, I'm not whining, but trying to de-mystify the power of warlocks. For those who have yet to overcome the psychological barrier, warlocks CAN be beaten. Just ask the warriors and rogues! ;)
BlizzCon and Wrath
Unfortunately in August 2007, BlizzCon confirmed many of our worst Fears (pun intended). Amidst much boos (and applause), Mr Kevin Jordan confirmed that warlocks are the best dueling class.
"But WoW isn't a dueling game," the class designer continued. "The stigma actually carries over ... into the various (PvP) formats."
This "stigma" is alive and well in the Arenas, evident in the strong representation by warlocks in smaller brackets.
Will this mean more nerfs in the future? How will it affect the development of the class's new abilities in the expansion? Will the developers be more inclined to give warlocks less cool abilities?
The announcement of the Death Knight hero class at BlizzCon brings another "dark magic" class into the fold. While the Death Knight is obviously melee and wears plate, the class' flavor is not unlike that of warlocks and shadowpriests.
How will Blizzard truly differentiate these three "death and decay" classes? Will we see more fear-like effects from death knights? Horrifying thought: Will they be like warlocks in plate??
Here's to looking forward to the brand new year and all that it brings - nerfs or buffs - cheers!