Glyphs are odd things. We're no strangers to bolting things onto other things to make them better. Gems for example -- you look about for the best one for your class and add them to your gear in the most beneficial way. Glyphs are much the same but instead of boosting the stats of your gear they modify your actual spells. This is something we locks have been thinking about recently what with the Soul Shard changes expected in Cataclysm -- boosting our spells and driving even more power out of them is going to be our thing. I can't wait.
In this article I'm going to take a journey through the glyphs available to us as we level up to 80 and then have a look at those we want to use while raiding. I must warn you that there is no mention of a glyph to make our fire green and I have refrained from any defamatory remarks concerning a certain Mr Belt. I hope this doesn't spoil this week's warlock moment too much for you.
Glyphs through the levels
You should first start shopping for glyphs at level 15. At this point you can only add one major and one minor glyph to the tab on your talents frame. You can choose from any of the following:
- Glyph of Corruption
- Glyph of Curse of Agony
- Glyph of Fear
- Glyph of Health Funnel
- Glyph of Healthstone
- Glyph of Immolate
- Glyph of Imp
- Glyph of Life Tap
- Glyph of Shadow Bolt
- Glyph of Voidwalker
What you decide to use is obviously going to depend on your play style at the time. Many locks like to level with their Voidwalker and if you find he's taking a pounding then you could think about beefing him up a bit. Immolate and Life Tap will both boost your damage and are actually popular raiding glyphs. Another one that stands out is Shadow Bolt. The Patch 3.3 PTR changes are looking to increase mana regeneration rates for low level characters but this boost doesn't last beyond level 15. I would suggest the Unending Breath minor glyph as it's probably the single most useful minor glyph we have (not saying much) and you're not going to need to carry around a big bag full of soul shards for some time yet.
Level 30 brings your Fellhunter buddy and an extra major glyph slot. You will also now have the following glyphs at your disposal:
- Glyph of Searing Pain
- Glyph of Soulstone
- Glyph of Shadowburn
- Glyph of Soul Link
- Glyph of Succubus
- Glyph of Incinerate
- Glyph of Felhunter
- Glyph of Siphon Life
If I'm honest there's nothing there I would swap anything out for unless the way you are playing particularly calls for it. If you're planning on using your Succubus a lot then that could be worth a shot. If you are pushing deep into affliction then Siphon Life can further reduce any down-time you may have. Don't get excited by the Glyph of Incinerate, you still can't learn the actual spell until level 64. It becomes available to you at 28 because it used to be the Glyph of Banish. The minor glyphs can be handy, though situational. If you find yourself scouting ahead with Eye of Kilrogg more than swimming around, then the extra 50% speed (and therefore range) is nice, though you will have to wait for Outlands (or Cataclysm) before it will fly for you.
At level 50 you get another minor glyph slot but since all our minor glyphs are pretty dull this is nothing to get excited about. Don't let that stop you being excited though, level 50 opens up Unstable Affliction, Felguard and (if you are all about destruction) Shadowfury. Could be time for a talent respec so you can reach down to these very cool talents. You will also have these major glyphs to choose from:
- Glyph of Conflagrate
- Glyph of Howl of Terror
- Glyph of Death Coil
- Glyph of Felguard
- Glyph of Unstable Affliction
Conflagrate is a lovely destruction glyph and Unstable Affliction might be worth taking but it's not overly powerful. If you have decided to level with a felguard then I think it's only fair you buy him a glyph, it's a nice damage boost, it will help with threat and it'll stop him giving you dirty looks quite so often.
You have to wait until level 70 before you get another glyph slot and, I'm afraid to say, it's only another minor one. You can now pick glyphs from:
These major glyphs aren't bad but there's a good chance they are not as good as the ones you already have equipped unless you have specced to cast Haunt. I appreciate that a 70% mana reduction on a spell is impressive but can anyone think of a good reason for reducing the cost of popping up a Soulwell? We had a "buff" not that long ago that meant we could cast this spell faster. Is there a spate of warlocks casting Ritual of Souls mid-fight that I haven't heard about? Mana reductions on buff spells for those drinking-classes is all well and good but I'm a warlock who has just given out Healthstones, I'll tap and be healed, thank you very much.
You've finally dinged to 80. Gratz! You have also just enabled your third major glyph slot. This is great and you might now want to think about changing your talent build and glyphs to match. Here are the final glyphs available to you:
So there you are, all grown up; a master of the dark arts. Now it's time to get down to work and maximise your damage dealing capabilities.
So lets have a look at those glyphs that form a part of our cookie-cutters for raiding. These come in four groups over the standard seven builds.
Conflag builds: Glyphs of Conflagrate, Incinerate, Life Tap.
These are your bread and butter in destruction builds, be it deep destro without or with Suppression or the Decimation/Conflagrate hybrid.
Glyph of Conflagrate
The first incarnation of this glyph was a simple mana reduction (20%). That's a decent mana saving but it didn't do great things for DPS. You were left with reducing the casts of Conflag to only when you had a single tick of Immolate remaining or consuming more of the damage Immolate should be doing. This was one of the reasons destruction wasn't up to much in early Wrath and was often only taken to Emberstorm with a Felguard. Patch 3.0.8 changed it to play nicely with Immolate (and Shadowflame) and there was much rejoicing.
Glyph of Incinerate
Incinerate is around 50% of your damage in all three of these builds (a bit less in the hybrid). This means that a 5% increase in damage to this one spell is a flat out 2.5% DPS increase. Yummeh!
Glyph of Life Tap
I'm a big fan of this glyph. Warlocks burn mana at an alarming rate but that's cool 'cos we can tap it back. The problem is, that every time we tap we invoke the dreaded global cool-down (GCD). GCDs are bad, they make us wait to do more dee-pee-ess. Rather than feeling that Life Tap is a necessary evil this glyph adds a buff element to your taps. Don't forget, you can activate this effect before the pull with a rank 1 Life Tap.
Glyph of Immolate is the only viable alternative as it offers a comparable bonus to GoLT. The difference is marginal but Life Tap has it slightly on the damage meter and more so on the coolness meter. You might be tempted by Glyph of Imp or even Glyph of Chaos Bolt -- don't be; neither are very good at all. It would be nice to see the Imp glyph have a casting speed increase rather than damage, for those with Empowered Imp.
Meta builds: Glyphs of Felguard, Metamorphosis, Life Tap
These are the standard for the two primary meta builds, be they with Demonic Pact or without.
Glyph of Felguard
At current raid levels you're looking at about a 250 DPS bump from this one glyph, over 3%. Very nice, don't leave home without it.
Glyph of Metamorphosis
With the extension on the time in demon form you can get another 6 seconds of Immolation Aura as well as all that extra damage. This is the theoretical best glyph but you need to make the most of it to make it work.
Again, Glyph of Immolate is a solid choice if you don't fancy trying to get every last drop out of meta.
Felguard hybrid: Glyphs of Felguard, Incinerate, Life Tap
0/41/30 was popular in Naxx but was mostly abandoned when the Conflagration Glyph made 0/40/31 more viable and, well, more fun.
Glyph of Incinerate
Incinerate is your main nuke and accounts for well over half your personal DPS; 5% more is lovely, thank you very much.
Immolate could be swapped for Life Tap but it seems to make less sense on this build than on others. A couple of direct damage spells make up almost all of what you cast so buff them all you can.
Deep affliction: Glyphs of Curse of Agony, Haunt, Life Tap
Although deep affliction has fallen out of favour because of the higher potential DPS of destruction at the moment it is still beloved by many. Glyph of Life Tap is the best damage improving glyph for this build for the same reasons stated above.
Glyph of Haunt
3% on all your shadow DoTs sounds really good but bear in mind this is less that the 5% Glyph Incinerate offers. Also, all your DoTs won't make up as high a percentage of this build's DPS as Incinerate does for 0/41/30. This Glyph only manages to increase DPS by just about one percent. This is, however, better than the alternatives.
Glyph of Curse of Agony
Unliked by affliction locks and not without reason, it's not very good. Best of a bad bunch you could say.
There aren't any really. Glyph of Unstable Affliction and Glyph of Corruption are even worse than GoCoA. High hopes are being held for the reworking GoCorr to give haste to Corruption. It's not clear how good this will be but it certainly looks nice.
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DoTs, demons, and all the dastardly deeds done by Warlocks. If you're curious about what's new with Locks since the last patch, check out the Patch 3.2 Warlock Guide or find out what's upcoming in Cataclysm from the BlizzCon 2009: Class Discussion Panel.