Blood Pact: WoL, 'locks, and damage done

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill wants to coin WoL'lock, but isn't sure if she should.

Last week, I started off with some basics of World of Logs (WoL) regarding warlocks. I started to write a column to go spec by spec, but later I realized that might become a game of find and replace with the different buffs or DoTs important to each spec. So instead, this week is another general World of Logs lesson with a little more specific caster DPS focus with warlock flavor. We'll just build up to the nitty gritty spells next week.

A raid parse on World of Logs opens up through the dropdown menus at the top under the WoL logo. Your guild name links back to your guild's calendar of logs, and the timestamp with the date (in European format with the day first, not the month!) will lead back to the main page of this particular parse. After that, there are the dropdown menu links, which will change their names based on which page you're on.

The "Dashboard" will rename to the basic idea of what you're looking at. It has its own menu of items, or it will say "Details for (toon)" if you are looking at a specific player. The next dropdown menu is a list of all the combat categories, whether attempt, kill, or trash. The next will show you players, and finally there are various creatures or mobs.

My first stop after looking at the ranking info is the Analyze graphs. You can get to this page by browsing the "Dashboard" dropdown to "Analyze." You can navigate right from Analyze in that same dropdown to a specific graph, or you can expand one of the collapsible sidebars on the page that appears (by default: Damage Done). The Analyze page will let you sort the damage or healing throughout the fight by sources or targets or even by spells, which is why I prefer it to the straight damage or healing graphs. During busy times (typical raid times), World of Logs might not have the graphs up for you, depending on your premium account status.

Analyze: Damage Done

I eyeball myself against the other warlock in the raid. While my damage won't be as high as his will, I want to see if we peak either at the same times (major cooldowns or major target switches) or if we peak at approximate intervals, which would mean that we're using our abilities as necessary or on cooldown, but differences in certain buffs or set bonuses might mean we peak at different times.

The side bar has different expandable options to tweak. The main options for caster DPS like warlocks are Damage Done and Damage Taken. Clicking the radio buttons for source, target, or spell determines the list or legend of lines on the graph. One of the dropdowns will be greyed out (depending on which button you've picked) and the other will have all the options.

For example, let's choose "by source" and then select Durumu the Forgotten under Boss in the Target dropdown. When we press the Go button, the list and graph resort themselves. I checked off everyone but myself and the other warlock. I kept open the entry page on another tab, so I have the all-damage graph on one tab and the Durumu-only graph on another tab. I perform a little optical trick by quickly flipping between two tabs, and I notice that the other warlock has a few peaks in damage change, while I only have a tiny change in one peak.
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My first guess is that I wasn't hitting a target the other warlock was hitting, and since this is Durumu, I likely forgot to DPS the Crimson Fog at some point. I know from past attempts and kills that I often forget to DPS the Fog, whether because I'm out of range initially or because our cadre of melee completely wtfpwn it before I can really care enough to channel my filler on the Fog or because I am too focused on driving the red beam around the platform.

To check, I change the options in the Damage Done sidebar. I keep the sorting by source, because I want to compare the damage peaks of the other warlock and myself, but I change the Target dropdown from Durumu (under Boss) to Crimson Fog (under Creatures). After I check off the default top three that WoL always checks and I check on both warlocks, I see I was correct. The other warlock has five peaks (five Crimson Fogs) and I only have one. Bad Ponerya!

So now I know that paying attention to the Crimson Fogs is a point I needed to work on.

Warlocks will usually find the most use with the Damage Done graph, particularly to figure out which targets are correctly being damaged. The other somewhat useful graph for a warlock is the Damage Taken analysis, where you can select a Source of Damage -- Rockfall, for instance, on Tortos, or Acid Rain on Megaera -- and see the spikes on players' damage taken from that particular voidzone or ability.

Player details

The other general damage done area of World of Logs that is useful for an inquiring DPS is the detail on a specific player for a specific fight. To get there, find the Players dropdown at the top, navigate to the class of player and then then player name.

Finally, pick a fight on the dropdown of bosses. If you're evaluating your or another player's overall performance in general, pick a kill, because you'll then have the combat time to see the entire toolkit in play, from opening salvo to cooldown usage to execute spam. Wipes are more useful when looking for a specific problem with a particular aspect of a fight, which is more common during progression on that boss than in general review of a player's skill.
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The initial page of a player's details will give you an overall graph of damage and healing, done and taken. Preferably, you'll see the yellow line (damage done) peaking high and never hitting zero (always be casting!). Hopefully the red and blue lines will line up together; they are damage taken and healing taken, respectively. Even though warlocks have self-healing abilities, the green line (healing done) should be mere bug bites on the skin of the zero line on the graph, since the healing done is negligible comparative to the other lines.

The troughs on the yellow line usually indicate either drastic movement, which is a warlock running without the casting while moving talent, or target switching. Even with tools such as Soul Swap, Havoc, or using other targets to gain resources simultaneously, warlocks are still very dependent on a ramp-up time in order to peak in damage. It's not as bad as it used to be in prior expansions, but it's still noticeable on non-boss mobs.

If adds are dying quickly due to other players' burstier AoE, then your warlock may intentionally ignore targets that are otherwise marked as priorities. Demonology and destruction will often still participate in AoE, but affliction warlocks will be pickier about their targets. In general, if the target isn't going to last the majority of a DoT, aff'locks won't bother to damage it.

Damage by spell

The next tab on player details is "Damage by spell." It's a breakdown of the warlock's damage done and damage taken by spell or ability, whether or not the warlock was the caster. The table details everything, from how much damage the ability did to number of hits or number of ticks, how many times it critted, how many times it was absorbed or missed, and the uptime of the DoT or debuff abilities.

The obvious is that you want more of things to happen on the damage done table and fewer or less of things to happen on the damage taken tab. The only reversals are the absorbs and misses tab: your spells being absorbed or missed is a bad thing and the boss's damage abilities being absorbed through heals is a good thing.

Typically, the damage done table gets more attention. The spells are listed highest to lowest in damage done, and the order is important when looking at a fight overall. The order of the spells should roughly match what happens with the Abilities table in a raid simulation of a similar type of fight. Fights that play like single-target combat should look like Patchwerk simulations.
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The trick is that you need to match the style of fight, not necessarily the number of mobs available. For example, Jin'rokh the Breaker, Megaera, and Iron Qon on normal mode should all play like single-target fights, despite the fact that Jin'rokh is the only literal single-target of the three. Megaera has DPS focusing one head down at a time while Iron Qon has the raid fight each of four mobs (three dogs and one boss) in turn rather than simultaneously.

With expert play, all of the specs can play well on all styles, but for the average player, certain specs do better with certain fight styles. Demonology and destruction have great cleaving AoE abilities -- Hand of Gul'dan, Felstorm, Immolation Aura, Rain of Fire, Fire and Brimstone. (Demonology tends to have the biggest and burstiest AoE.) Destruction and affliction have better skills on dual targets with Havoc and Soul Swap, and affliction typically pulls ahead with non-cleaving multidotting by abusing Soulburn: Soul Swap.

I'm running out of space once again, but next week I'll dive into more warlock-spell specifics with World of Logs with buffs and debuffs important to each spec.
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DOTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll coach you in the fine art of staying alive, help pick the best target for Dark Intent, and steer you through tier 13 set bonuses.

This article was originally published on WoW Insider.