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Blood Pact: Warlocks are red, mages are blue

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.

One of the most enduring and fiercest rivalries in WoW is the bitterness between mages and warlocks. I'll like to characterize my relationship with Mage friends to be one of friendly, respectful rivalry. In fact, Christian Belt - our Mage columnist - will be my guest here today to offer his side of the story in beautiful italics.

By now, many mage players would have dabbled in at least a little warlocky DoT-slinging, and the converse is probably true. If you haven't, go on - roll a Mage or a Warlock, I'll wait.

So there really isn't any grounds for misconceptions when it comes to the abilities of both classes, and we should all live in contented peace. Or is there?

A quick look at the official Mage forums suggests much self-doubt and even whining, with many mages almost inevitably comparing themselves to warlocks. Arguments usually go like this:

"If we're supposed to be [insert perceived role], how come we [insert list of why mages "suck"]. Why do warlocks have [insert list of why locks "pwn"] that we should have?!!?"

There is a whole lot of whine here. As it stands, warlocks generally do deliver more DPS, especially in longer encounters. But if your guild blindly equates DPS to raid performance, then get a new guild. Can't you guys focus on the utility you do bring to a group - buffs, food/water, and the best darn CC in the game?

Let's imagine a WoW where mages consistently out-dpsed warlocks, where would that put warlocks then? In fact, pre-BC WoW was very much like that, and with limited debuff slots then, warlocks were generally not wanted in raids. In my opinion, the non-DPS utility of mages is greater than that of warlocks - ask any healer, what do they prefer? Food/water and int buff from a Mage, or Blood Pact, healthstone and maybe soulstone from a lock? When it comes to CC for humanoids and beasts, mages are simply the best and most reliable. Many players still do not trust Seduction as a form of CC even after three years of WoW!

Christian: We whine a lot, I know. And you think our tears taste delicious. Our Utility in raids is nice, especially now that we can summon magical cake-stands from heaven. And I agree that your raid shouldn't be measuring the skill of a DPS character by the numbers on a damage meter. If the Rogue is on top of the damage meter but keeps stealing aggro from the tank, is that skill, or incompetence? The problem lies in the perception among Mages--the one we had when we picked the class at the character creation screen--that "Mage" should be synonymous with "DPS." Blizzard has said on several occasions that Mages are intended to be the best nukers in the game, and we simply aren't, and you better believe that displeases us. Give us back our role.

Well, maybe it's time for mages to snap out of their pre-BC mindset: you are simply not the king of the DPS hill anymore. In fact, Blizzard stated at Blizzcon in no uncertain terms that rogues will be best at single-target DPS and mages will be "AoE kings". In other words, how the DPS charts shape out depends a lot on encounters, and warlocks find our DPS niche with DoTs and mana sustainability.

Unfortunately, current cloth itemization also seems to send warlocks, mages and sometimes shadowpriests, on a collision course. There's little differentiation between clothie DPS gear. Generally, I pass on all DPS gear that have a smidgen of MP5 on it. Warlocks should also really defer high-Spirit pieces to the more mana-reliant classes.

Christian: It's incredibly hard not to resent Warlocks when we have the same role in both PvP and PvE (that of DPS/CC) and yet have to compete for the same gear. Tell you what, you can have the Shiny Purple Dress of Casterificness that just dropped, if I can have your Felhound. That sounds fair.

The "failure" of mages in Arenas is also a huge talking point. While the class is under-represented in the smaller Arena brackets, I wouldn't go as far as to call mages "failures", especially in comparison to shamans and hunters. As it stands, a large part of the rivalry stems from warlocks generally destroying mages in PvP. But true to the rock/paper/scissors nature of WoW PvP, mages have a much better time against warriors and rogues than warlocks ever will. If you play a Mage, STOP picking fights with warlocks, and get your teammates to shut them down before they get to you. Or is teamwork a concept that is unheard of?

Christian: You typed all that while casting six DoTs on me, fearing me in the middle of a cast, healing all the damage from my 6 second Pyroblast with one instant Healthstone, and making a turkey sandwich, right? Seriously, PvP against a Warlock is ridiculous for a Mage, we can both agree on that. Yes, there are counterclasses to every class in the game, but why make one cloth DPS caster class so disproportionately more powerful than another?

We both have the same function, hurling flaming death from the back row, and yet Warlocks get a pet to tank for them (and in the case of a felhound, eat my buffs and silence me repeatedly) multiple ridiculous survivability options, a CC that allows them to continue to DPS without breaking it, and a way to drain my mana pool and use
it for their own. That's not a counterclass, that's a slap in the face. It's as if Blizzard decided that at 70 they'd have two main DPS caster classes, a good one and a super-freaking-awesome one. You guess which ones Mages are.

I'm sorry that the perceived power gap is so wide, but mages should find something to rejoice in with Kalgan's reassurance that you folks haven't been forgotten. He went on to say, ""Mages will get new abilities in the expansion too, believe it or not. In fact, we intend to tone down how strong of a counter Warlocks are to Mages through the WotLK spells/talents."

And believe it or not, as a career Warlock, I am looking forward to "fairer" fights with mages as well.

In short, I think mages are QQing disproportionately to the seriousness of the problem, simply because many have been so used to measure their "performance" by their position on the damage meters, and losing sight of what they do bring to the table.

Christian: Mages do sometimes lose sight of the big picture. We judge our own worth too often in comparison to another class. Should the fact that Warlocks perform our own role in superior fashion lessen our value? No. But does it? Sadly, yes. This isn't elementary school, where everybody is special in their own special way and nobody is any better than anybody else. This is a game in which high-end content demands roles be filled. When a class fills a specific role better than another class, they win, and the other class loses. Just ask Shamans. The superior class will get more raid invites, and better PvP gear. In short, Warlocks have more value than Mages in WoW, and that's a cold, hard fact. Hence, the QQing.

*Gasp* Christian, are we agreeing? As long as WoW exists, mages and warlocks will continue to compete for raid spots, gear and girls. Even when the PvP gap is reduced or - heavens forbid! - reversed, these two classes will continue to agree to disagree. Afterall, according to WoWWiki, warlocks were mages who abandoned their studies of the Arcane to delve into Shadow magic for the pursuit of more power. And maybe that's really why mages can't stand warlocks.

Christian: I like what you wrote, it makes me hate Warlocks less. Sort of. Ok I still hate Warlocks. But now I hate them with a begrudged respect.

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