Although I'm pretty sure no one takes this talent, I'll probably have to preface that statement with an "almost" just to be safe. Kil'jaeden's Cunning (KJC) is the "default" level 90 talent because Mannoroth's Fury (MF) is seriously situational and because Archimonde's Vengeance just plain sucks.
PvPers might have used it in the beginning of the expansion, but most PvErs don't give it a second look. The passive damage often doesn't actually work because unavoidable encounter damage can be termed "environmental" -- the same reason why your pets don't die while standing in green goop that otherwise kills you. The active damage just doesn't hit that hard.
Archimonde's Vengeance (AV) needs to be better if it's going to live in the same tier as KJC and MF.
Vengeance is a dangerous motive
There's a problem with the tanky-type Vengeance: since Vengeance grants attack power based off how much of a hit the tank takes, tanks are doing some dangerous things like sitting for critical hits or single-tanking fights that should belong under a buddy system.
Archimonde's Vengeance encourages a little bit of the same in PvE. In PvP, of course, it's just best to use when you're getting focused by the enemy, but in PvE, well ... if you're getting continually focused by the boss as a ranged damage dealer, there's something morbidly wrong with your tank. Boss mechanics are not likely to include one-shot mechanics. Either it's a heavy DoT or debuff that gives a healer time to react with an expensive heal, or it's one of those stack up and spread the love type of deals. Let's face it: not everyone can solo-soak a Static Shock, and some can only do it if they borrow from others.
Big chunks of damage on our health bars just aren't going to happen. So when we have an ability that doesn't even deal 100% of the un-100% health bar hits, it's going to end up pretty weak.
So, what should we do -- buff it? Make it a multiplier of damage taken, a la Sacrificial Pact's shield? I guess that's a way to do it, but it's still a pretty boring buff. It also doesn't stop warlocks from standing in junk if we decide the buffed version is something powerful enough to use all the time.
Standing in goop that you would normally be dancing around with the rest of your raidmates doesn't really feel like a good choice to me. It's something along the lines of meter-humping with multidotting on fights like Megaera. Yes, it's more damage, it's more meter epeen, but secretly, everyone hates you for doing it. It feels almost like cheating, y'know? Have a healthy discussion
Warlocks are damage dealers, plain and simple. If you give us a powerful cooldown, we're going to use it on cooldown, or at least as much on cooldown as possible. Situational uses are for non-damage things like utility or survival.
Although KJC is still sticking around as a passive ability, it's been nerfed so that warlocks will have to be a little more active about positioning than before. Mannoroth's Fury is becoming an active ability. The developers want us to use our talents at the right time, to put some skill back into it. So let's throw the passivity of the talent out -- active ability only.
It's a warlock theme to have life pay for death and death for life. I mentioned last week how mutable our unit bars are, and that includes health. We've got so many different ways for healing or shielding ourselves and we often spend health for other reasons. Health is not some sacred bar that must be kept full for us. Health comes and health goes; we just need enough of it to outlast our opponents.
So naturally, Archimonde's Vengeance falls in this health trade-off theme.
We warlocks have this fascination with maximum health. We heal based on our maximum health. We drain our maximum health to run faster. We boost our maximum health, sometimes to ridiculous numbers using stacking effects.
Could we turn our death-defying health bars into dark dispensers of damage?
Back in Wrath of the Lich King, warlocks used spirit. We used it primarily for the glyph of Life Tap, which was definitely not the same glyph that it is today. Back then, when you glyphed Life Tap, every time you used Life Tap -- which was often enough, since it was our main mana regeneration -- you got a spellpower buff for about 30 seconds or so (WTB Old Patch Wowhead to double check my memory).
So there you go, the original health for damage trick. Of course, we got health back often through a spell called Siphon Life, back when it was an actual button press and not a passive or a glyph.
Should we play that game again?
Some of the backlash against Mannoroth's Fury becoming an active ability is that some warlocks don't want another button to press in combat. That's fair: we've historically had and still do tend to have a lot of situational abilities that take up action bar or macro space. So could Archimonde's Vengeance become a passive empowerment of Life Tap, bringing back some of the spellpower-boosting days, sans spirit?
Maybe it could work ... except destruction's Life Tap is the passive Chaotic Energy, which is just super mana regeneration with a hasty twist. There isn't an active ability for them to push, and while you could substitute Ember Tap in there, there would definitely be screaming about spending one whole ember on that instead of on Chaos Bolt.
The old glyph of Life Tap idea isn't going to work passively, then. Archimonde's Vengeance could perhaps keep the spirit of the glyph of Life Tap by being its own active ability. It would have to be a significant chunk of spellpower for a 2-minute cooldown, though the chunk magnitude could be watered down by a duration longer than 8 seconds.
Of course, we all know about the Amplification trinket in the datamined PTR loot, and we're probably all wondering if that triple-stat increase is a typo or placeholder. But when the PTR loot news post when up at Wowhead, I found myself staring a Twitter feed of healers discussing the healer trinkets -- two in particular.
One was a diminishing spirit buff based on the number of casts and one shortened cooldowns. Someone furthered datamined out some of the abilities for specific classes and specs for the cooldown reduction one, and I recall a bunch of angry druids. Something about who uses Bear Hug enough to care?
At the time, I shrugged and thought that clearly the druid set wasn't done yet. Later on, I was thinking about how much AV sucks and I thought something crazy -- wouldn't it be cool if I could boost my health during raid and then Bear Hug the boss? Talented Soul Link and Grimoire of Sacrifice can easily get over a tank's health with a Shadow Bulwark or a Rallying Cry on top.
Could Archimonde's Vengeance turn into another maximum health buffer that immediately deals back that health in damage? Could the talent provide a boost of maximum health and a spellpower or damage buff equal to the health boost, and whether you hit normal health again by the effect fading or by damage taken, that's it, no more boost until the cooldown resolves? Could we drain our current health -- a toggle, like Burning Rush, perhaps -- to deal differing total (and actively controlled) amounts of damage?
Sure, it would be dangerous to drop one's health a great deal for just a buff or even pure damage. But you would have to use it at the right time, now wouldn't you? Having a cooldown based off health had rather than health destroyed would encourage warlocks to stay out of goop on the ground or perhaps to watch for cooldown- and heal-stacking opportunities.
I get it that Archimonde's Vengeance as it is currently designed is a shout-out to the lore involving Archimonde's demise by thousands of wisps fighting against the eredar lord's draining of the World tree. It's the payback-themed talent.
However, I think warlocks deserve a cooler talent for the level 90 tier than purely numerically buffing an amputated middle finger to our enemies. Would you like a pure numbers buff or would you like a different talent altogether?
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.