I think every month, the universe tries its best to unseat me from the warlock column. November is notoriously my worst month for anything, because everything wants to conflict with anything in November, for every one of my twenty-whatever years.
But thankfully, when it comes to BlizzCon, I can just replay things over and over on the Virtual Ticket with no problem. While I wasn't expecting a lot of warlock changes, given how ridiculously revamped we were for Mists of Pandaria, there were still a few notes of interest we could go over if you missed out on watching or attending BlizzCon.
Level 100 talents
Let's start with the obvious changes. We saw these first from demo gameplay and later as Wowhead updated their talent calculator with all the proposed level 100 talent changes.
I do hope that the massive revamp warlocks went through for the Mists of Pandaria expansion shed some light on how to test and analyze class mechanics as a player. For one, it made no sense to judge Mists from a Cataclysm perspective; we had to throw our preconceptions of what is "correct" playing out the window to even figure out what Mists was trying to accomplish,
While I realize it's jarring and not quite correct to judge Warlords talents by Mists mechanics, we don't have any knowledge yet of warlock mechanical changes. I'm betting we won't get very many outside of affliction since we did get that massive revamp this past expansion.
Overall, I'm not particularly pleased by any of the three new level 100 talents for warlocks. However pessimistic, I'm sure that in the beta to come, these talents will shape up to be better.
I'm rather disappointed by this one as an affliction lover. Affliction is granted Soulburn to Haunt, which is already confusing. Haunt already consumes a soulshard -- does Soulburn: Haunt consume two? The effect doesn't make it any better: Haunt already increases periodic damage by 45% for 8 seconds. Is this another 15% on top (totalling 60%?!) for another 30 seconds (38 total), or is this 30% less of a buff for 22 more seconds?
Coupled with the rumor flying around that DoT snapshotting is gone, most DoT-heavy specs like warlocks are now standing around with their mouths slightly open wondering what's going to happen to make our spec fun again. Yes, right now in patch 5.4, affliction is on the extreme end of DoT snapshotting with powerful but short-duration trinket effects such that playing a whole fight with just Soul Swap and Haunt is actually the best DPS method.
However, eliminating DoT snapshotting entirely makes me wonder about the future of affliction things like Pandemic. What will make affliction's casts meaningful if your DoTs adjust to your stats on the fly? Boring as this talent is for affliction, I think it signals there are definitely things to come for soul shard spec in Warlords. (And if there aren't? Well, I'll definitely be protesting for some changes to make it fun again.)
Now, for the other two specs, this talent actually lives up to its name and involves resource generation.
For demonology, the passive allows Touch of Chaos to generate fury, but Metamorphosis overall does less increased damage. I'm struggling to really think of a reason for this. Metamorphosis is where warlocks spend demonic fury, so gaining more fury is just a way to get into Meta faster. But then Meta is nerfed? Without a compensation elsewhere, perhaps in caster-form Touch of Chaos, to smooth out the damage spikiness rather nerf it, I don't quite understand what this talent is trying to accomplish. Yes, it's a resource gain, but you're going to end up using it for a nerfed version of something, unless Meta has other surprise uses Warlords.
For destruction, I can see some usage. Your fillers don't deal as much damage, but you'll get to cast Chaos Bolt a lot more often. Even though the item squish took a guildmate's regular 2M Chaos Bolt down to 30k damage ("dannnnnnnnng, son"), Chaos Bolt is still the heavy hitter for destruction. This is an appropriate tradeoff, because the spender of the newly generated resources isn't tied to the damage decrease.
This is the Kanrethad talent, if you have been living under another class's rock for the entire expansion. Along the likes of Defile for death knights, I imagine this is supposed to be a signature visual talent for warlocks.
(It will also make guide writes slightly unhappy because now it will actually matter whether you italicize the word or not in order to mean the expansion or the spell.)
I realize these talents are probably still in alpha stage, if that, but I don't get the point of Cataclysm providing a DoT on all targets, except perhaps in demonology's case if the Corruption changes to a Doom when Cataclysm is used inside of Meta. Affliction already has a use for this is Soulburn: Seed of Corruption, and this is pretty much the point of destruction's Fire and Brimstone spell. It's true, Cataclysm is nothing but a cast; instead of spending resources, it's got a cooldown.
At this point, it probably just looks amazing, and you can cackle at how Xelnath's proddings for Kanrethad finally made it into the game for warlocks, but I still worry about the mechanical use of this spell.
Summary: Perma-Doomguard or Perma-Infernal. As permanent pets, the Doomguard and Infernal might also gain new abilities, which PvPers may or may not find useful to fit in with our current selection of pet control.
I'd like to whoop and scream in joy with everyone else. I really would. But my ever-present pessimism reminds me that pets still bug out plenty on encounters, and I really don't want to see my major DPS cooldown also have a random chance to bug out in more ways than present.
The doomguard already somewhat bugs for warlocks based off a change to how treants work for moonkin. In a recent patch, moonkin treants were changed to switch targets more easily with the moonkin and to follow the moonkin around more rather than staying put. That's spiffy for moonkin, but this change got applied to all guardian-type pets, which doesn't work as well for warlocks as it used to. Warlocks by nature are a multitasking DPS class: we have DoTs going everywhere and might not even be DPSing our pet's target. We actually prefer pets that can take an order to go whack on a mob by themselves. We might be firing off our signature spells at other targets simply to add more damage, but we would prefer our pet sit on the primary target.
But after putting Corruption on my heroic pink dinosaur on heroic Horridon (because Corruption was the cheapest instant spell I had), my Doomguard wouldn't go after Horridon in the final phase even if I was channeling on Horridon himself when I summoned the demon. It would go after the only completely useless damage target in the entire room. Every single time. ... That's just GREAT.
So I'd like to be happy about this talent, but I''m not really thrilled to have this talent end up as particularly awesome for DPS only to see a raiding tier where pets like to bug out due to room layout or residual bugs from other classes' changes.
Hit is gone.
I think I will go in-game in Warlords to find Gul'dan and thank him in person instead of merely saying "Thank Gul'dan."
Reforging is also gone, which I made a sound of unhappiness at, but I think I'll be OK in the long run. I don't really want to have to hold several pieces in my bags because of a haste breakpoint, but perhaps the DoT snapshotting going away will have something to do with resolving gear haste breakpoints. I'll hold my judgement for now.
The tertiary stat "Lifestealing" made me laugh, as we warlocks already have several forms of that in talents or in glyphs. But then, if Lifestealing is going into the game, are we going to lose our forms of health-for-damage or shields-for-damage? Again, I'm purely speculating at this point, and I think I'll need to wait for more information to proceed.
Gear changes with your spec, drops with role
It started off as the obvious example: strength plate versus intellect plate. Hybrids rejoiced as Ghostcrawler revealed that primary stats -- i.e., Strength, Agility, and Intellect -- will change on your gear with spec changes. This reduces the need (to a degree) for a completely separate gearset for hybrids to change roles. Different gearsets altogether are not gone: secondary and tertiary stats will certainly mix it up in a gearset, but it was mentioned that the non armor-class items (jewelry, cloaks, trinkets, weapons) will be role-focused rather than stat-focused.
But a moonkin in her intellect gear can switch specs and become a guardian who is already wearing agility gear.
... Do you not see the door that is opening there?
Drink the Gul'aid, Blizzard
OK, let me rephrase: A warlock in her DPS intellect gear can switch to a possible, maybe fourth, maybe darker spec and have a tanking-stat orientation like Agility already in place, combined with non-cloth items that focus on the tanking role.
Let me be clear: they DID NOT announce warlock tanks.
All I'm saying is this is one more barrier down for a clothie taking hits to the face on purpose. For now, we still have plenty problems with warlock tanking -- fourth spec, how our style fits with other tanks, PvP balance, etc. -- that we shouldn't expect anything about warlock tanks in Warlords.
But, oh, we can dream.
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.