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Blood Pact: Warlocks buffed in 2.4

V'Ming Chew

Between Arenas, V'Ming spends his time as a lock laughing ominously in AV, tanking Olm with his own minions and pondering troll fashion from Zul'Aman. He's recently started to plumb the depths of SSC with his 0/21/40 build and bragging about 8k shadow bolts.

With the current furore over patch 2.4, one may be hard-pressed to keep up with the latest news and developments, especially if you've got raid/ work/ school schedules to keep to and tax forms to struggle with. Ultimately, few of us really read through the patch notes line-by-line, often just skimming for parts that matter to us. As warlocks, we'd naturally be concerned with how patch 2.4 affects us - are we nerfed or buffed? Can warlocks ever not cause the world to end?

Allow this intrepid columnist to dive into the murky depths of patch 2.4, to surface with hopefully some pearls of wisdom that answer the hundred-dollar question: What does it mean for me?

For really busy warlocks, 2.4, in a nutshell, is a buff in terms of group and raid utility for warlocks.

Ritual of Summoning can be used to summon players into instances if they meet the instance requirements.

This simple line in the Warlock section of the patch notes says it all. Besides the obvious time savings (saving one minute of running outside the instance to summon = 25 man (and woman) minutes saved for a raid!), this great buff can:

  • Make PUGs more bearable: PUG member gone emo and dropped group? No problem: summon a friendly guildie to resume the run almost immediately!
  • Ease repairs: Gear all red? Easy: get him or her to port or hearth and summon the poor sod right back!
  • Facilitate substitutions: MT not geared enough for encounter? Kick him and summon a better tank!
  • Fix "oops!" moments: Someone forgot to bring nature resist gear? You know the drill. Don't forget to charge a 5g summoning fee.
This ability to summon from within instances, coupled with the lifting of the summoning restriction in Netherstorm, will truly make warlocks and mages masters of instantaneous transportation. I have a sneaky suspicion that it'll make people more forgetful when it comes to reagents and gear, since the time penalty of traveling to and fro has effectively been removed.

For warlocks, however, this summon-from-anywhere ability is another reason to never run out of soul shards.

Demonic Knowledge: This buff will no longer remain on enslaved demons when Enslave Demon is removed. Pyroclasm: This talent now works correctly again with Rain of Fire.

These other two lines of the patch notes are essentially bug fixes for minor problems. Warlocks who aren't specced into these talents would probably be unaware of them. Pyroclasm is considered an under-whelming talent anyway and even destruction warlocks generally do not spec into it.

Shadow Ward: Using low ranks of this spell will now be penalized the same way healing spells are penalized.

Patch 2.4 is Blizzard's big push to correct the scaling for lower ranked spells across the board. Not a biggie for warlocks unless you're spamming shadow wards instead of shadow bolts.

Spell Haste: Spell haste now reduces the global cooldown on spells, down to a minimum of 1 second. This change does not apply to melee and ranged abilities.

Ah, the big spell haste change that's got all casters into a tizzy. Marcie did a great job looking at what spell haste is in her Raid Rx article (go ahead, look, I won't bite) for all of us, so I'll just deal with some basic math for warlocks. Basically, 1% spell haste translates into 101 spells, instead of 100, in the same amount of time.

To get 1% spell haste, you'll need a haste rating of 15.7.

To reduce the typical shadow bolt cast time from 2.5 (with Bane) to 2.0 seconds, you'll need a haste rating of 1570 * ((2.5 / 2.0) - 1) = ~393

The previously untouchable global cooldown (GCD) of 1.5 seconds is reducible to 1 second by spell haste when patch 2.4 hits. This change will probably be of interest to Affliction warlocks who generally have three instant DoTs to sling around. To get instant DoTs with just one second between them, you'll need to have 1570 * ((1.5 /1) - 1) = 785 haste rating!

Like what Marcie said, this rating is currently unachievable through gear, but caster nirvana can still be reached with abilities like Bloodlust/Heroism and trinket procs. For DPS casters, there are currently three trinkets that proc spell haste:
  • Quagmirran's Eye: Most easily obtainable (relatively), 10% drop rate from the final boss of heroic Slave Pens.
  • Blade of Wizardry: Random BoE world drop. Prepare to pay a lot of gold for this if you see this in the AH.
  • The Skull of Gul'dan: A lore item drop off Illidan himself. Pretty understated considering that it turn Illidan from an emo elf to a emo super-demon.
Here are some other items you can look at for some passive hasty goodness pre-2.4:
As you can see, spell haste is strictly an endgame stat to squeeze more DPS out of our spells. Leveling warlocks have no access to spell haste at all. In terms of endgame PvP, now that every one and their alt is running around with some resilience, spell haste may be the next stat to chase in the perpetual arms race. For raiding warlocks, the consensus is that destruction warlocks (0/21/40) benefit most from spell haste, due to their reliance on shadow bolt.

While faster spells mean more DPS, warlocks can't go crazy with spell haste without considering spell hit and crit. Spell haste items generally do not come with hit or crit, at least until patch 2.4 items come onto the scene. To achieve the hallowed one-second GCD when your friendly shaman pops Bloodlust or Heroism, a spell haste rating of 109 is a good target to build for. For most warlocks, spell hit and spell damage remain the most important stats.

What other patch 2.4 items are you concerned about as a Warlock? Do you think this "progressive patch" has enough love for locks?

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