Your comments in my previous Badge loot shopping article got me thinking about warlocks having multiple outfits, just like tanks and hybrids. Warlocks usually serve a single role - DPS - so our outfits aren't generally as dramatically diverse as what a druid, for instance, might pack.
After accumulating a bunch of epics with varying stats, most of us have moved beyond the "one outfit for everything" situation. In fact, I'd say we're spoilt for choice now and can afford to use the right gear for the right situation.
Resistances obviously play a part in dressing up, especially in specific encounters where warlocks need to go toe-to-toe with certain mobs. Notable examples include arcane resistance for the Curator (if you're "soaking"), fire resistance for Leotheras the Blind and shadow resistance for Illidan.
In most other situations however, Warlock gear choices are dictated by some important numbers:
The key stat for Warlock DPS, and other than our tier 6 pieces, spell hit traditionally comes on gear that lack spell crit or haste. As a result, most raiding warlocks would dedicate an outfit to maximize spell hit. Ideally, you'd want to enter level 73 boss fights with a spell hit rating of 202 (76 for affliction spells, with Suppression talent). For trash mobs who are generally between levels 69 - 71, a spell hit of 202 is simply excessive. You only need 63 spell hit to be capped out against a level 72 mob. Most warlocks trade out spell hit to optimize the other stats below for non-boss encounters.
This stat is pretty much ubiquitous amongst caster DPS gear, so it really is a secondary consideration when it comes to developing outfits. That said, affliction locks will still want to prioritize this stat over crit or haste, after meeting the spell hit "requirement".
Spell Haste & Crit
Without delving into hair-splitting theorycrafting, spell haste seems to be gaining more prominence over spell crit after patch 2.4, particularly for destruction locks. Like spell hit, spell haste is an "exclusive" stat; most haste gear do not come with hit or crit. Given that they are also relatively new to the market and almost always associated with high end content, many destruction warlocks will be hard-pressed to forego crit for haste at the moment. I can also imagine that spell crit will continue to have greater utility in shorter encounters.
Stamina & Resilience
In PvE encounters where random environmental damage is prevalent, I prefer to put on stamina-heavy "survival" gear. Survival gear is also useful in providing a wider margin of error when you are new to an encounter. To quote a Mage guildie, "dead DPS is no DPS" - it's better to survive a 10-minute fight than to deliver stellar DPS for 20 seconds. In many respects, PvP gear is ideal for this purpose, packing loads of Stamina but sacrificing some raw PvE firepower. Other than swapping out some PvP-specific trinkets, most PvP outfits will double up nicely as PvE stam outfits.
For my outfitting needs, I use Ace's Wardrobe2. Outfitter does a fine job too. Switching entire sets of gear outside of combat is as easy as selecting an outfit from the dropdown list, provided you've spent the time setting them up. Based on the discussion above, I would recommend building the following basic sets, as soon as you've accumulated sufficient gear:
- "Boss" outfit: maximized Hit and balanced spell damage, crit and haste, for boss fights
- "DPS" outfit: optimized crit, haste and spell damage, depending on your spec, for all general killing purposes (including the battlegrounds, but this is strictly personal choice)
- "PvP" or "Arena" outfit: a whole load of Stamina and Resilience, the PvP trinkets, and perhaps 38 spell hit to avoid missing your level 70 opponents.
- "Stam" outfit: maximize Stamina - the objective of this outfit is to provide survivability without sacrificing too much firepower.
As an extension to my badge loot article, I'd like to take a look at drops out of heroic Magisters' Terrace. Outside of badge loot, they are probably the most readily obtainable gear from the new patch:
Fel-tinged Mantle from Vexallus
This is essentially a non-raid version of our T4 shoulders, nothing much to write home about especially if you've already wrangled the Voidheart shoulder from High King Maulgar in Gruul's Lair. Looks-wise, it's a recolored Spaulders of Oblivion.
Jaded Crystal Dagger from Selin Fireheart
Another non-raid item that is comparable to raid loot; are we seeing a trend here? This dagger, almost a short sword in terms of length, comes with spell haste, instead of crit on the comparable Nathrezim Mindblade and Bloodmaw Magus-Blade. It is a good addition to the arsenal of a destruction lock building spell haste, as there are only three other Warlock weapons with spell haste currently. Relative to the 150-badge Scryer's Blade of Focus, it definitely packs less firepower - but the Scryer's blade isn't for every Warlock either.
Scarlet Sin'dorei Robes from Kael'thas Sunstrider
Some warlocks might hold off spending 100 badges on Tormented Demonsoul Robes for this, so let's do a detailed comparison. Moving from the demonsoul robe to the Sin'dorei outfit means:
Gain red and blue socket, 3 spell damage from the socket bonus
Lose 8 Stamina, 16 Intellect, 14 spell crit, 11 spell damage
Popping in some gems, like the easily available Glowing Nightseye and Runed Living Ruby, quickly narrows the gap between the two robes. If you are low on badges, this is definitely worthy replacement. You can choose to invest the 100 badges in the pants instead.
Timbal's Focusing Crystal from Priestess Delrissa
This trinket is probably most drool-worthy in this lot. It fires off an occassional shadow bolt (that can crit, but not affected by Ruin) for any DoT-user, and guess who's the biggest DoTs slinger in game? The proc rate is a solid 10% for every DoT tick. With a reported internal cooldown of about 15 seconds, an affliction lock running a full set of DoTs can expect a free shadow bolt fairly frequently. The proc is a passive "Equip" effect, which means it happily stacks with "Use" effects of other DPS trinkets - making this trinket strictly better than the hallowed Icon of the Silver Crescent. A must-have for every lock!