Hmmm... a look back at changes for warlocks in 2009. Well there was... no, wait, that was 2008. Well what about... nah, that's planned for Cataclysm. Wow, this is harder than I thought. Nothing particularly outstanding has happened in the warlock area this year; but so much has happened and, well things have changed. It's like waking up each morning and something is subtly different. Your blue toothbrush is now red... The sofa is now against this wall, not that one... each change is pretty unremarkable in it's own right but by the end of the year you are a stuntman living in LA married to a small, blond Portuguese skier who when she's not training does abstract painting, practices yoga and brews her own beer.
As we surfaced, bleary-eyed into January our memories of sacrificing succubus and SL/SL were fading faster than those of December 31st. Those heady days of power that also led to FotM wannabes flooding our ranks. Skill and complexity had been leaking out of the class for a while and Naxx wasn't really providing any of us with much of a worthwhile proving ground. Affliction spell rotations were causing carpal-tunnel injuries on those who were determined to take the cold-turkey approach to dropping their addiction to Shadow Bolt spam. Fans of demonology were taking felguards like some sort of methadone for simplistic raiding, meanwhile retaining the use of their fingers.
Towards the end of January we stopped the quick summoning of one person, and instead summoned a strange demonic wardrobe-like object and let everyone else summon whomever from wherever (often that guy who just fell off the pipe). Shortly after this we remembered that one of our minions came in a box labeled 'tank' and used him as one. It turned out that this invalidated some kind of warranty, and there was a global recall of tanking voidwalkers. I think we got a big, blue vanity-pet as compensation but I can't be sure as I haven't seen one since.
Anyway, by now Ulduar had opened up and the move towards destruction began. I don't personally believe that the destruction talent build makes us like mages but it's true that those who like piling on DoTs, running with demons or being raid-useful were starting to feel a little disenfranchised about now. Not all bad though, a change was made to ease our soul-shard problems (a problem acknowledged by Ghostcrawler himself). Drain Soul might give a shard on each tick and we were now no longer able to carry more than 32 shards.
I did say at the start that there wasn't anything outstanding. To be fair this did mean we no longer had to head out and find things to kill for our fragments of soul. Instead we find a load of locks lining up by the practice dummies before and after raids, presumably gathering wooden practice souls.
Well, Ulduar was fun and destruction fairly interesting, the tiered items pretty nice (if a little weird); things were ok and moving along. Then the Argent guys finished their arena and... well, not much changed really. If you weren't raiding but leveling then you could summon your mounts sooner and just by speaking to the trainer. Also Banish could be removed by yourself or some other warlock with a sense of humor. For those that were raiding, demonology (or more specifically Demonic Pact) was making a name for itself and felguards making a raiding return.
Now we're seeing Arthas' homestead invaded and the pull between affliction and destruction hotting-up as they are both up to fighting weight -- with demo looking on in amusement throwing spell power to them both. It certainly feels a different world that we woke up in 12 months ago and there sure seem to be less locks kicking about these days (where did all those death knights and paladins come from?).
Looking forward to the next year seems a little odd since there's high hopes that it will contain the release of Cataclysm -- the expansion set to shake up the warlock class as much as Deathwing shakes Azeroth. Certainly I hope for a shard system that feels more like a benefit than a burden. I quite like the sound of the new system as it has been communicated so far, but I do have some reservations that it's just going to be another set of numbers to watch. This is the burning of a soul -- the very essence of a being -- to unleash its power for our own aims. It should be something emotive and worthy of the sacrifice made, not a simple resource like a rune or a candle.
I'm also going to kick the termite mound that is 'green fire'. This debate has gone back and forth for so long I'm wary of getting anywhere near it but... If I have any voice at all I add it to those calling for a minor glyph to make warlock spell-fire become fel-fire. I don't say this because I dislike our spells as they are, or because I feel like a mage when casting them. I just think that many people play a warlock because of the 'RP' nature of them. Sure, most people don't role play in the least, but warlocks have a dark edge to them, they have a sinister tang, a malicious essence. I would like to see more that enhances this feel and frankly, green fire is just freaky and 'wrong' enough to capture that demonic nastiness nicely. Also, our minor glyphs suck.
Ghostcrawler has stated that demonology locks should be included in raids for their own damage, not just for an awesome buff. I do hope there are plans afoot to deliver on this statement. Demonology should be able to offer so much to a raid but is almost always left out in the cold. Beastmaster hunters have been raid viable before so we know the theory can work though wouldn't it also be nice to have to consider demon selection for each fight? While I approve of the measures made to get formerly ignored minions summoned once again (welcome back felpuppies) it would be great to have all of them powerful, if situational. Unlike hunters, we can summon any of our pets (minions) at any time but we don't. We are pretty much tied into one minion when we select our talent spec. Only when soloing (or the very occasional boss fight) do we summon something else. Let's see more of the minions next year.
Well, that's it from Blood Pact for this week and 2009. While I've only been writing it for these last few months I hope you'll accept my thanks to all the loyal Blood Pact readers this year (even the mages in IAPEWARLOCKS). I hope that while you are reading this, you and yours are happy and well. A very merry Christmas and joyous new year to you all from myself and Blood Pact!
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 WoW.com's guide to patch 3.3 or find out what's upcoming in Cataclysm from the BlizzCon 2009: Class Discussion Panel.