I think I've copied my warlock over to the PTR for most of the copies allowed, but I finally got Unerring Vision of Lei Shen (UVLS) to get into my backpack a weekend ago, so an update to test out playstyles on the PTR is needed. Look at all those imps!
I'm seeing more tweak-type changes being datamined than drastic changes like our tier 90 talents, and most gear names were revealed, so we might be getting down to the end of it.
Farewell, AoE Life, and other nerfs
I'm surprised this lasted as long as it did. Sure, it's a fun graphic, but since the great nerfing of Drain Life's DPS use back in Cataclysm, there was no way Harvest Life was going to work for long as a decent AoE method. Instead, in patch 5.4, Harvest Life is going to act like the current Glyph of Drain Life and then some, augmenting Drain Life's damage and healing done.
Also, don't get too excited -- that is a typo in the original patch notes about an empowered Drain Soul being affected by the new Harvest Life. Drain Soul doesn't have a Soulburn component, but Drain Life does.
Demonic Gateway has a 10-second cooldown now. Erm, OK? I'm not sure why you would reposition a gateway that hasn't generated any charges yet, but go for it. Soul Swap also received a bit of a "duh" change where the exhale only lasts for 3 seconds, but considering you can Swap around all the time in patch 5.4, an extended exhale doesn't matter.
Grimoire of Sacrifice for affliction has been nerfed slightly in additon to the Malefic Grasp and Drain Soul nerfs, so Grimoire of Supremacy will definitely take over now. Demonology is also losing 1 Wild Imp of 5 from the glyphed Imp Swarm. Early math suggests that the glyph would then either break even when used correctly with Dark Soul or be a DPS loss to normal Demonic Calling, so this may be a move to make the glyph less mandatory than it currently is.
Finally, Archimonde's Darkness means the tier 14 warlock set bonus needed to change from a cooldown reduction to a flat damage increase under Dark Soul, in order to prevent creative gear swapping.
The un-nerfs are Haunt with a word change and the legendary cloak also changing up the technical description. Haunt will affect periodic damage rather than all damage. The legendary cloak has been changed from affecting your next direct damage spell to your next harmful spell, which is a relief for affliction warlocks.
After I hoped last week that warlocks would still be allowed to do the tanking Proving Grounds, I was delighted to find this achievement in the new batch of datamined information. You're Doing It Wrong is rewarded from successfully completing a Basic (Silver) trial of a specialization you're not suited for. When I half-heartedly tried for a few minutes on the Proving Grounds at first, I almost completed Silver tanking a few times as plain demo.
While Dark Apotheosis might end up being the best suited, I'm excited to see if I really can protect that NPC with the standard three warlock specs.
Time to think about loot
The Dungeon Journal hasn't matched up loot with bosses yet, so we're not ready for a loot list quite yet. The names of most gear pieces were mined, however, so it's definitely getting closer to finished gear. I do plan on making another by-boss loot list like the one I did for Throne of Thunder. There's already an item whose name I think is oddly absurd for me.
After the, ahem, hard-hitting tier 15 gear, there's a hit piece for every slot outside of trinkets. There are few delicious haste/mastery pieces, but the general comment about gear wearable by warlocks is "ugh, crit again." On the upside, however, there aren't many hit/crit pieces, which means crit is paired often with favorble haste or mastery, and can be used nicely to reforge into hit rather than having an overabundance of hit like this current tier.
With gear reaching stat values like 1388 crit, that's still ~546 hit or haste you're getting out of a reforge. There are a handful of blue sockets, however, and a couple of hit socket bonuses. I don't understand why Blizzard may think we would need more hit with the stat inflation we've got, but sure. None of our tier pieces have hit, so the hit pieces you do go after will likely be from smaller budget pieces rather than huge chunks like 950 off your helm.
I'm still waiting on simulations to develop before I discuss set bonuses. Theorycrafters were waiting on the stats to settle since many tier pieces were still stat-copies of tier 15, but I expect to see the BiS simulations starting up soon now that the gear is being datamined and cleaned up again.
Boss X Loot X: This still-unnamed trinket is perhaps a bit "meh" with its plain intellect passive and a critical strike proc. However, 11.7k crit is nothing to be laughed at, so destro may particularly love to line up a Chaos Bolt of Dark Soul with it.
Frenzied Crystal of Rage is the mastery passive trinket that has a chance to cleave full damage. Unfortunately, "your attacks" reads very much to me like the proc activates on spellcast not spell damage, so this may be a trinket for demo or destro rather than afflicton. However, pet and guardian abilities (e.g., Wild Imps) may count as separate attacks, so this trinket may continue to be worth it for all specs outside of single-target fights.
Kardris' Toxic Totem is the critical strike passive trinket with the Multistrike proc. Multistrike deals a portion of the original damage dealt again, much like the elemental shaman mastery copies a nuke or affliction's Malefic Grasp copies a DoT tick. Again, since I'm not sure if "attacks" covers DoT ticks, this may be more of a demo/destro trinket due to their playstyle involving more direct damage casting or pet attacks.
Alpha and Omega is the haste passive trinket with the Wushoolay's redux proc. Depending on how the simulations work out, affliction will probably pair this one with UVLS or the Amplification trinket, if it doesn't get edged out by UVLS + Amp in the first place.
Finally, the Amplification trinket likely will drop off the first boss, but it's now a simple intellect proc. The Purified Bindings of Immerseus amplify critical strike damage and healing, haste, and mastery by 13% as of writing. This trinket will be interesting because the percent increase instead of a static rating will make stat-stacking extremes even better. Moreover, the amplification may affect procs as well as passive stats, which explains why none of the other trinket procs are of the traditional stats, since they would be amplified here.
All in all, it's been a bit of a quiet week for warlocks specifically, but I will definitely be working on some Proving Grounds coverage for next week.
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.