Blood Pact: Affliction and Demonology in Patch 3.0.2

Zach Yonzon
Z. Yonzon|10.23.08

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Blood Pact: Affliction and Demonology in Patch 3.0.2

It's easy to be disappointed with Warlocks, really. The best tree we have right now is Affliction, and is just really fun to play while dealing incredible damage. This is sad news for a lot of players who enjoyed playing Demonology or liked pressing their Shadow Bolt button with a dead Succubus. For one thing, going deep Demonology nets us a half-baked 51-point talent (more on that later) and killing off your Succubus for 10% more Shadow damage doesn't seem as compelling anymore.

To top it all off, we're simply squishier than ever in PvP. We've lost Stamina, lowered survivability, and need to make major sacrifices in PvP if we're to pursue deep Affliction or Destruction. Thankfully, Blizzard recognized this and -- according to Ghostcrawler -- will be making an important change to Soul Link by increasing the damage absorbed to 20%. It will still be inacessible if we take 51-point talents at Level 70, but it should be alright by Level 80. Unfortunately, when we finally get there, we'll be sharing gear with lowlife Mages and Priests. I mean that literally -- those guys simply used to have lower life totals.

I tried out an Echoes of Doom version of SL/SL with Demonic Empowerment, Demonic Resilience, and Siphon Life for PvP but it simply wasn't viable. At Level 70, at least, I found that SL/SL no longer stood a chance against the incredible damage potential of the other classes. Retribution Paladins, particularly, deal such ridiculous burst damage that putting points in survivability is pointless. Pardon the irony. Clearly hybridization of this sort is no longer viable in the new age, and I hear the death knell of SL/SL, which I deeply mourn.

Well, forget SL/SL. That clearly wasn't working for me. In this day and age of Arcane Barrage, Divine Storm, and Bladestorm, it's all about dishing out damage. So I went full 56 / 0 / 5 full Affliction and decided to focus on just dishing out some pain instead of trying to take it, even skipping over PvP talents entirely just so I could keep up with all this insane damage in the 3.0.2 world. The good news is that Affliction is incredibly fun. I know Ghostcrawler said in the same post as the Soul Link change that Warlock DPS isn't where it should be, and I'm glad that we're getting passive buffs. Shadow Mastery for 15% more Shadow damage? Nom nom nom nom!

Affliction is hauntingly beautiful. The tree feels so synergistic for me and coupled with Glyph of Corruption stacking with Nightfall, it feels like I can spam Shadow Bolts more than ever. Because of this, I slapped on Glyph of Shadow Bolt, too, although I never quite run out of mana with this spec. Haunt is phenomenally fun, and I've been scrambling for more crit gear just to squeeze more out of Pandemic. Damage output feels good, natural, and synergistic with many talents in the tree. The new Spellstones are brilliant, and I think I'm going to save money off not ever having to buy mana oils again.

In PvE, the spec feels great. I press lots of buttons, slowly getting my rotation in order, end up doing whopper damage. I cheat in Mount Hyjal because it's just a Seed of Corruption fest and getting haste from my spellstone and Eradication procs only means I can keep spamming it that much faster. It crits quite a bit, too, because of Improved Corruption. But Affliction damage on bosses is pretty awesome, too because the length of the fight just lets the periodic damage just get stronger and stronger, thanks to Everlasting Affliction. I'm not going to throw out any numbers here because I just don't have them right now, but I'll say that playing Affliction right now is about the most fun I've had in a long time.

The only real caveat is in PvP, because going full Affliction with 5 points in Bane means I have about as much survivability as a wet tissue paper. I skipped the move impairing abilities because I'll tell you right now that they're useless in PvP in the current environment. Classes simply have too many abilities to counter kiting and the one class that's easy to kite -- the Paladin -- can instagib me. Affliction is not about survivability right now. That is still the domain of Demonology.

Let's face it, players dive into the Demonology tree just for survivability. With the loss of SL/SL, the best way to get some measure of protection against the banes of our class is to get the half-baked Metamorphosis (here we go). I hate Metamorphosis. It epitomizes exactly what's wrong with the Demonology tree right now. The 51-point talent is a half-baked ability that helps us escape the crunch of melee, as well as gives us a massive armor boost -- it's excellent for PvP. In fact, aside from the 20% damage boost, it feels very much like a PvP talent.

So... why on earth do we get Challenging Howl? Exactly when will we need to AoE tank? Challenging Howl is so narrowly useful that I feel like it's a complete waste of an ability. We certainly don't ever want to use it in a raid, 600% armor notwithstanding. Then there's Demon Charge, which is an awesome stun, but the classes we have trouble with and want to stun are the classes we want to get away from. I don't know why I would want to charge towards a Rogue, a Warrior, or -- demons forbid -- a Retribution Paladin. What am I supposed to do when I get to them? Shadow Cleave? Why? So they can unleash Kiling Spree, Bladestorm, or Divine Storm on my demon ass, probably. In PvE, I'm not about to charge a boss and start whacking away at him, am I?

The best ability as a demon is Immolation Aura, which deals excellent damage but again -- and this really boggles me -- I need to be in melee range for it to work. Metamorphosis transforms us from a ranged class to a melee class for 30 seconds. It's a complete paradigm shift that's unnecessary and clumsy. The only great part of this spell for PvE is the 20% bonus to damage, which we can work into our DPS cycle at least once per fight. One workable use is to sacrifice either the Succubus or the Imp for the duration of Metamorphosis for all-out damage.

Still, when we do this, we won't be using any of the abilities as a demon! When we've sacrificed our pet and start spamming Shadow Bolts and cycle through our spells, we won't be touching any of the unique demon abilities because it will drop our DPS significantly. I'm upset about this talent because I seriously can't figure it out. It had the potential to be one of the coolest spells in the game, but instead it's just confusing. If you guys manage to use this successfully in raids, or even PvP against melee classes, feel free to discuss in the comments below.

Furthermore, there are no other active ways to increase our pet's crit rating other than to invest points in Improved Demonic Tactics. Why isn't there a crit version of Sporeling Snack or Kibler's Bits? With full Demonic Empathy and Demonic Pact, we want to have our pet crit scale somehow. We want the Demonic Pact buff to be competitive other spell buffs with which it won't stack.

The Demonology tree feels a little wanting to me right now, and I'm willing to place it on the possibility that I probably just need to learn2play. I want to try out Demonology some more but it hasn't been as fulfilling for me in Patch 3.0.2 as Affliction has. In the next Blood Pact, we'll take a look at Destruction, Warlock Glyphs, and other niggling things.

Do you like consorting with those insidious creatures from below? Do you smell of fire and brimstone? Well, Blood Pact is the column for you. Read about the how Affliction evolved from Wrath Beta to live, as well as Demonology and Destruction before they became real in Patch 3.0.2.
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