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Warlock changes in Beta build 8926

Zach Yonzon

The nerf bat swung low and hard. Did it hit Warlocks? Well... yes and no. This is the stage in Beta where things are tuned downwards -- notoriously labeled the nerf patch -- and Warlocks are big, fat nerf targets. On the other hand, some spells got buffs and others were reworked. This is just Beta, so don't panic. Classes are buffed and nerfed throughout the testing process until everything is finely tuned.

Without further ado: they nerfed Death's Embrace to grant 9% crit to all Shadow Spells when an opponent is at 20% or below health, down from 15% crit. Eradication can no longer be a permanent buff now as it now notes that, "This effect cannot occur more often than once every 30 sec". On the other hand, Death's Embrace and Eradication got cool new icons. Dark Pact, which I raved about when I talked about the Felhunter, has been nerfed back to its current form of granting 100% of the mana drained from pet (down from 200% in previous builds).

Curse of Exhaustion was nerfed to a 30% movement speed reduction, down from 50%. It's now back to the live realm's value but without the benefit of Amplify Curse, which was reworked in Beta. Fel Armor's mana regeneration was removed and replaced with a health regeneration rate of 2% per 5 seconds. I'm not too sure how to feel about that, but since Warlocks treat health as mana, anyway, it's not such a substantial nerf but merely a mechanical change. More nerfs and a few pleasant surprises after the jump.

Demonic Empathy on Destruction Tier 9 has been nerfed to a 3% bonus, down from 6%, but gets a pretty new icon. I discussed the Metamorphosis changes in a previous post, but forgot to mention that the cooldown has been increased to 5 minutes. Think of the demon form as an uh-oh button rather than a Moonkin or Shadowform and you'll appreciate it better. It also has a new icon, no longer using Illidan's face. Demonic Sacrifice has been nerfed slightly to grant a 7% bonus to Shadow and Fire damage, down from 10%.

The Destruction tree is finally completely accessible, with Chaos Bolt and Fire and Brimstone finally in the game, with new icons to boot. The funny part? Chaos Bolt was nerfed even before it got tested, with damage reduced from 1012-1278 to 990-1256. Fire and Brimstone was nerfed, too, to keep Chaos Bolt company, granting 15% of spell power bonus to Immolate, down from 25%. Still an underwhelming 45-50 point talent if you ask me, but hey, test it, anyway. Empowered Imp has been made less powerful as procs now grant a mere 20% crit bonus as opposed to 100% -- I think we should've seen that one coming since Destruction was dealing ludicrous damage through crits thanks to cooperative Imps.

Improved Soul Leech was retuned to work in a similar fashion to other mana regeneration mechanics by not scaling with damage dealt but instead return a flat percentage, in this case 2%, of maximum mana. Emberstorm was nerfed to reduce Incinerate cast time by .25 seconds instead of .5 previously. This actually puts it back in line with the old Emberstorm, which conferred a 10% increase to Incinerate's casting time. And finally, Cataclysm was nerfed to reduce the cost of Destruction spells by up to 3%, down from 6%.

Whew. That wasn't so bad, was it? Now for a bit of good news. Unstable Affliction's silence effect was reverted to its original 5 seconds, up from 3, which is cool but it's still down to a 15 second duration with a cast time. So it's not quite a buff, but definitely not a nerf. Improved Felhunter now increases the effect of Fel Intelligence by up to 10%, which still doesn't match Arcane Brilliance and Divine Spirit but is an awesome change nonetheless. I mean, I can't have my little Rhuunum make Mages and Priests lose their raid spots, you know? The tooltip for Demonic Empowerment now includes the proper durations and Shadowfury is now, at long last, instant cast. That .5 second cast was always very strange, but now it works the way the Demons intended. Then there's one last thing:

Shadow Embrace

Requires 20 points in Affliction
Your Shadow Bolt and Haunt spells apply the Shadow Embrace effect, increasing all periodic damage dealt to the target by you by 5%, and reduces all periodic healing done to the target by 15%. Lasts for 12 sec. Stacks up to 2 times.
This talent was reworked to proc off Shadow Bolt and Haunt instead of DoTs, which forces Affliction Warlocks to toss up their spell cycles a bit. The tooltips are bugged, but in a nutshell the total damage increase is a substantial 10% with 2 stacks and the healing debuff is at 30%. This version of the spell is worlds better than the one on live, and the inclusion of Haunt as a trigger only incentivizes going deeper into the Affliction tree. Mechanically a nerf, if only because DoTs are easier to apply. Otherwise, still an amazing talent.

So there we have it. Warlocks in Beta build 8926, aka The Nerf Build. Don't worry too much about the nerfs, as most of them are simply for testing purposes and will -- if found to be too weak -- be re-tuned to the proper numbers and scaling when the time comes. In fact, if I mention the new icons, it only means that the devs are just about ready to give the class some real work. Look out for more, and better, changes in future builds. Right now, it should be a good time to try out Destruction now and see Chaos Bolt blow up pesky Priests and their shields.

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