Last week, I had this whole thing planned to talk about the Thunderstruck scenario of damage with the olde Glyphe of Lyfe Tapp style Archimonde's Vengeance. But literally before the deadline, the PTR builds finally caught up with the PTR patch notes and Archimonde's Vengeance was completely replaced by the new Archimonde's Darkness. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like I could spend at least 1000 words on a double cooldown; today, I can't even break 150.
But before we get seriously into settled number-tweaking things like the datamined loot, let's talk about some other changes on the PTR.
Archimonde's Darkness (AD) now lets your Dark Soul ability have two charges. Unlike Hand of Gul'dan where you can stack the Shadowflame DoT to two if you're careful with the timing, AD won't let you have a doublely potent Dark Soul for 20 seconds. If you try to hit Dark Soul immediately again while you have Dark Soul up, it simply gives you a "Spell not ready yet" error. What AD does do is let you have Dark Soul for 40 seconds -- Dark Soul back-to-back.
Since AD now affects our major personal cooldown, AD is likely to become the new "default" level 90 talent for all warlocks, where KJC is reserved for heavy movement encounters and MF for heavy AoE. It may also be the new PvP talent since it provides an extra period of powerful pressure.
Dark Soul and Amplification
Dark Soul has changed a bit for demonology warlocks. Instead of 18k flat mastery rating, demo will now get 30% added mastery effect. 18k rating is 30% -- is it a buff, is it a nerf, is it a wash? What's going on?
The change from flat value to percentage is likely to help with weird micromanagement with trinket procs like Amplification. Amplification is going to mess with the value off your mastery rating, much like equipping a new piece of gear would. The old Dark Soul: Knowledge also does that, but the new Dark Soul: Knowledge is going to mess with the base mastery instead (making it 38% instead of the base 8%), and leave all the gear-related mastery to actual gear.
I'm not quite sure how Amplification is going to affect warlocks, because I don't know if the trinket is done being experimented with yet. Although Wowhead shows the trinket as flat intellect plus the Amplification proc, the actual version on the PTR has all that plus a passive 14% increase to critical strike damage, healing, haste, and mastery. You can see this in my tooltip for Amplification, as my mastery increases from 5k-something to 7k-something.
I'm not sure how much the Amplification proc is doing exactly, either. In the open Vale, the tooltip for the proc does indeed read 84%. In the Proving Grounds, the tooltip reads 36%, but this could be a result of scaling a 553 trinket down to 463. Paper doll stats and tooltips aren't changing when the trinket procs, and I definitely don't see a casting increase due to a ton of added haste, but I see some damage increase when I eye my combat log. So I'm not sure if the trinket is completely working yet.
Major glyph changes
With Archimonde's Vengeance changing, Glyph of Dark Soul naturally got a redesign. Well, by redesign we mean replacement, because it's going to become Glyph of Curse of the Elements. This glyph lets you cleave CoE into two targets without having to spend some secondary resource to do it.
Glyph of Shadowflame is dissolving into Glyph of Unending Resolve. This new glyph reduces the damage Unending Resolve mitigates, but also reduces the cooldown by mrrrggggle seconds. Since the glyph halves the damage reduction, I'd like half the cooldown (1.5 minutes), please.
Glyph of Fear won't cause Fear to have a stupid cooldown anymore. Glyph of Havoc is a new glyph that doubles the number of charges for Havoc for a little more than double the normal cooldown. So, much like the double Dark Soul from Archimonde's Darkness, you can double dragon someone twice in a row almost every minute, instead of only one double dragon every 30 seconds.
In patch 5.4, Soul Swap unglyphed acts like our current Soul Swap glyphed, copying over DoTs from a target rather than removing them. This change alleviates that annoying problem when a bit of lag interferes with a Soulburn: Soul Swap. Instead of instantly reapplying DoTs, a warlock accidentally pulls all the DoTs off a target, and of course, since you can't swap back to the same target, you're stuck with a 20-second Swap exhale unless you can click off the exhale buff or dump the DoTs on a new target.
Some warlocks have suggested then that perhaps the glyph should allow DoTs to be completely removed, basically swapping actions with the base ability. It is occasionally handy when you need to absolutely stop all DPS and you don't want to play the DoT expiration guessing game. However, that would just reintroduce the old problem back again, so I'm not sure that glyph idea will work.
The other glyph that is waiting on a redesign is the Glyph of Everlasting Affliction. The developers are not happy with the idea that warlocks (demonology in particular) can roll powerful DoTs off trinket procs for longer than normal periods of time. The combination of UVLS and the Amplification trinket with Glyph of Everlasting Affliction as they all are now just brings DoTs to ridiculous levels of awesome should the procs align.
The devs believe that something has to be done to the Glyph of Everlasting Affliction before we spontaneously discover mauve fire without an involved solo questline, or discover the cure for imps exposed to rainbows, or become a living beacon of corrupted power for the Burning Legion to hone in on.
Granted, I've been taking a different tack to the Proving Grounds, often failing waves on purpose just to see what it will do. I haven't focused on going beyond Gold as I swap talents, specs, and glyphs around for science. I haven't finished doing all the wave levels on all four specs, so I'll leave guiding analysis for another day, closer to patch 5.4's actual release.
My initial impression -- which, yes, was near the initial PTR release of the Grounds, and thus may be outdated already -- was that the DPS test felt like heroic Spine, unfortunately. If I could line up cooldowns and reasonably burst, it was fine, but when my CDs were down or if I wanted a different talent for a different mob type composition, I couldn't have it, since you don't drop combat in between waves, even if you finish early. Perhaps it works well for hybrid classes who change talents when they change roles, but we pures will change some talents like we change our underwear.
I hear that the tanks and healers were having an easy time of it, but I am a bit skeptical about only one DPS level to cover both melee and caster playstyles. Melee and casters have different cloak challenges; why would we have the same Proving Grounds challenge?
Also, the tank and healer Proving Grounds place the player in a group. Duh; those roles have a natural dependency for other players, whether for keeping the mobs or the damage taken at bay. But the DPS Grounds are solo. So you're kiting, interrupting, controlling the position of runaway mobs, and CCing, all while also doing your very best burst damage ever since each wave is under 1 minute, if not under 30 seconds.
In no real group would you be doing all of that. In reality, even jobs in the entire DPS role are shared between all the DPS in a group. Today's encounters are nowhere near Vanilla-style, so you know we don't bring 16-17 DPS to a 25-man encounter just because the boss has a lot of health. It's because there are multiple mechanics going on at once and you either need multiple people to deal with the mechanics while pewpewing or you need some people to take care of the mechanics while some other people just pewpew hard all fight long.
We can't really do the healing challenge because the NPCs don't understand the demonic arts very well to shield themselves with the damage they do. Those slackers.
However, I've done Tanking: Bronze as a demo 'lock sans Dark Apotheosis before a string of server disconnects kicked me off. Provided Blizzard doesn't lose their sense of fun and limit warlocks to the DPS challenge only, I plan to take a warlock as far through the tanking challenges as I can, hopefully exploring how Dark Apotheosis or warlocks in general could possibly function as "real tanks."
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.