While I try not to read Arcane Brilliance if I can help it, I did notice that the one on January 16th had a lot of comments and an intriguing title. While I didn't expect Mr. Pants to actually start flaming mages I did hold out some hope for all those comments. Anyway, the piece inspired me to write a similar article. Not so much because there are a lot of warlocks that need improvement but rather they need a place to point others, so they may learn how to play with a lock.
So here's a short list of things I see in groups and raids that could be improved and make the whole experience a lot smoother.
As locks we are masters of managing our health and mana. While we have limited ability to fill up the green one, this should be no issue when we have a healer around. The problem is that so often the healer doesn't realize that his healing you after Life Tap is a direct link to his being able to get his gear (...emblems or whatever). You are there to kill the stuff for him, he is there to let you do that faster and with less dying. It gets so bad that sometimes we have to actually ask the healer to heal us! This sorry state of affairs has gone on so long that there are even locks that extol the virtues of self healing abilities and Dark Pact simply because they make it easier on the healer.
Healers, please listen. We locks want to kill all the nasty things between you and the goal, be they bosses, trash or that creepy looking spider that startled you earlier on. We will happily do this and never shirk on the dealing of the damage. Please remember us in your healing and think about how we want to use the health bar for our mana. We get through mana so much faster than you (seriously locks, if you have never played a healer you wouldn't believe how long they can go without drinking and they have no Life tap at all!), and while you regenerate it passively all the time we have to tap. Throw us a HoT after every pull and we'll just tap for the duration, or be ready to throw a heal before each pull as we tap between fights.
After all that though, there are some things that us locks can do to make things easier on our more healing-shy healers.
- On long fights (bosses) tap little and often, this plays well with GaLT anyway but also means that you will probably either heal yourself up or pick up incidental heals from the likes of PoM, CoH, CH etc.
- Don't tap away half your life just before the next trash pull. Make sure you have what you need but if you go into the fight with a big deficit then you not only distract the healer from the tank (which may be nasty) but also force that healer into a big(ish) heal at a time when the tank may not have much threat on all the mobs (especially any ranged mobs).
- If you just want to proc GoLT then use a rank one Life Tap.
- Make sure you can see HoTs when they are on you, if you notice one then you can consider using it to top up your mana as well as your health.
- If you use addons such as PitBull you can set this to show any heals incoming. If it is going to have some overhealing to it then you might want to get a quick Life Tap in before it lands. The healer is only going to be frustrated by the lock that taps just after they topped them off.
Pets are part of the team. Pretty much every pet or minion has some synergy with their master and as such the better one performs, the better both perform. When a minion or pet dies a significant portion of what that character has invested in, has been removed from the fight. Healers, for the love of God, have pets on your healing bars and show them a modicum of care. I'm not suggesting that any pet gets heals in favour of a player (well, maybe a mage) and especially the tank, but to disregard them completely is crazy. Minions these days are pretty damn hard to kill (probably because Blizz knows they are important and can't persuade healers to care) but that doesn't mean they are invulnerable. On the other hand, they are very easy to heal, with all that mitigation something as simple as a disc bubble lasts them for ages and a small heal will normally fill up any health bar.
And buffs. Dear lord how many times have I entered an instance after a wipe and every buffing class rattles through their buffs while I summon my minion. Yes it is good to get back into the fight faster but you wouldn't give the mage a lower rank spell than everyone else just because it saved you a few seconds, would you? That's what you do to pet classes by not buffing their pets. Demonology locks make great use of minion buffs with talents like Demonic Knowledge. So to all buffing classes, don't forget the pets.
Again, there are things we locks can do to help here:
- If you have the chance to summon your pet before you get to the place where buffs are cast then do so. Even the most fastidious pet-buffer can easily forget how many pets there should be before he can start. No good in TotC, but most other places you can summon as soon as you step through the instance portal then move on for buffs.
- Tell your imp to stand away from you (and anyone else) if the fight includes targeted AoE attacks (such as Northrend Beasts and Professor Putricide) so they don't end up standing in nasty stuff for ages. Just not so far from healers that they can't reach them.
- Switch off Phase Shift. Seriously, it was standard form in TBC to have your imp act as a portable and immune mana-battery but these days he is (or should be) actively taking a part in combat. Having Phase Shift on auto-cast is just a waste of his mana and means he is safe when he is out of combat and is completely impervious to getting buffs. Switch it off.
Ok, this is a tough one for the PUGs that many of us are doing these days but it is one of the easiest ways to reduce the "WTF factor". Let the tank mark up, if that means he has to become the group leader then so be it. Tanks, mark the target you want us to make dead first. Tanks will often bemoan the difficulty of AoE tanking and blame the AoEing DPS for pulling aggro. This is all very well if you want the DPS to focus one target but if you don't tell them this, then you'll likely get the DPS doing whatever delivers the most damage per second, that's what they are there for. Slap a skull on any mob and most DPS will be itching to see how fast they can kill it, affording you a little time to throw in some AoE moves on the rest. Threat generation in Wrath is crazy and while AoE threat-gen may feel weak in comparison these abilities are tuned to be effective enough for burst damage classes to wail on even with every buff n the game.
What can we locks do to help here?
- If the leader marks something to die then kill it first. The tank should be generating their threat hard and fast on that target so go for it. If you are asked to nuke skull then don't AoE simply because there are more than two mobs within 20 yards of each other.
- Get a feel for your tank's abilities. While it's the tank's fault if they're about as threatening as a sock puppet it's still the DPSers fault if they pull aggro. Use a threat meter and watch it. If you are constantly well behind the tank then you know you can open up with every can of whoop-ass in the larder.
- Know how to ramp up damage. This might be by starting with slow DoTs (CoA for example) or even waiting a little while. If your tank needs time to generate threat then give it to them; it's frustrating but better than paying repair costs.
- Be aware of threat ranges. In the Blood Pact about voidwalkers we talked about threat mechanics; remember that you can have more threat before taking aggro if you stay at range.
- Know when you have aggro. It may sound silly but many people don't even know if they pull aggro. Addons like PitBull again make this very easy with the banzai module but there are many, many ways to know and this is something not to be ignorant of.
- Run towards the tank. If you do get aggro, then running from the fight and leading the mob away from your tank like some Benny Hill sketch will probably result in the mob chasing you till he catches you and kills you. if you run towards the tank then they have a better chance of getting it off you.
- Shatter. I know it uses a shard and has a cooldown but don't be that guy that never uses his cooldowns in case one day he needs them. If you rise high on threat then dump it if you want to carry on blasting. If you get aggro then get rid of it.
- Don't always just assist the tank. This is kinda opposed to what Pants said but he made the assumption that the tank was not swapping targets much or at all. It is true that what the tank is looking at as he starts the fight is probably what he wants dead first, this isn't sure enough to work with. Having the focus frame and seeing their target is good but a decent tank will be tabbing away and making sure none of the mobs he is controlling runs off and splats their healer (yes, they care more about the healer than you). Get used to knowing which mob is next to die (assuming you aren't AoEing) and work on that. Often it's better to reduce the enemies number one at a time than keeping them all alive until the end, even if that makes the fight shorter. A mob on half health hurts just as much as one on full health (normally).
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.