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Blood Pact: Demonology in Wrath Beta

Zach Yonzon

A Demonology Warlock is very easy to spot. Prior to Wrath or Patch 3.0, she'll more often than not have the Soul Link buff. But since Soul Link was moved to Tier 3 of the Demonology tree, it will no longer be as exclusive to Demonologists. But the Felguard is another tell-tale sign of a die-hard Demonologist and is a favored pet for damage and the Warrior-like Intercept. In Wrath of the Lich King, that trend of being easily identifiable continues with the 51-point talent Metamorphosis, which transforms the Warlock into a demon herself. Demonologists are not exactly known for their subtlety.

The most notable thing about Demonologists is their high survivability. Many of the talents in the tree is centered around a synergistic relationship between the Warlock and the demon that keeps both alive and makes them more powerful. In fact, the most hardy of all Warlock specs -- the SL/SL -- relies on Soul Link and Demonic Resilience, deep in Demonology, along with Affliction's Siphon Life. In Wrath, survivability continues with the added bonus of getting pets to scale up the Warlock's DPS. And we all love DPS.

One of my apprehensions about Wrath is the homogenized itemization. Because of statistical consolidation, it's possible we may see less cloth with massive Stamina. For most Warlocks, but specially Demonologists, this is a huge concern. It's too early to tell, but if we'll be picking up Spirit gear, too, it seems as though Fel Armor will be mandatory. Although Demonic Embrace was rebalanced to remove the Spirit penalty (likely because of the change to Fel Armor), it also grants less Stamina in the expansion. Anyway, let's move on to the talents in Wrath...

Fel Vitality
Requires 5 points in Demonology
Increases the Stamina and Intellect of your Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, Felhunter and Felguard by 15% and increases your maximum health and mana by 3%.
A truly excellent talent that's accessible to virtually any spec, particularly since many Warlocks will pick up Demonic Embrace. This takes the place of the weak Fel Intellect and rolls in the effects of the higher tier Fel Stamina. If you're going up the Demonology tree, 3 points here is completely worth it.

Demonic Empowerment
Requires 30 points in Demonology
Grants the Warlock's summoned demon Empowerment.

  • Succubus - Instantly vanishes, causing the Succubus to go into an improved Invisibility state. The vanish effect removes all stuns, snares and movement impairing effects from the Succubus.
  • Voidwalker - Increases the Voidwalker's health by 20%, and it's threat generated from spells and attacks by 20% for 20 sec.
  • Imp - Increases the Imp's spell critical strike chance by 20% for 30 sec.
  • Felhunter - Dispels all magical effects from the Felhunter.
  • Fel Guard - Increases the Fel Guard's attack speed by 20% and breaks all stun, snare and movement impairing effects and makes your Fel Guard immune to them. Lasts 15 sec.
I have to say that this is one of my favorite talents in Demonology right now, even more than the currently loathsome Metamorphosis. It takes the place of the moved Soul Link, but has stringent prerequisites of three talents worth a total of 11 points. Fortunately, none of the talents are garbage and you'll most likely pick them up when going deep into Demonology, anyway. You have to key bind this, it's simply that awesome. It's an uh-oh button for your pet that can be used every minute. It's absolutely critical in PvP and extremely handy in PvE, both for survivability and DPS. It's one talent point for an ability you will, without question, always use. Even though it has different effects, you'll quickly learn to use it depending on the demon you have out.

Fel Synergy
Requires 35 points in Demonology
Your Summoned Demons share an additional 10% of your Armor, Intellect and Stamina, and you have a 100% chance to heal your pet for 15% of the amount of damage done by you.
A tougher demon means a tougher Warlock, and a passively healing demon is even better. This pushes the raid survivability of demons even higher with the addition of Avoidance, and helps demons have fewer, almost negligible downtime. This is also an awesome talent for Felguard Warlocks who often use the demon to tank mobs, although downtime occurs when the Felguard's health dips and needs to be healed with Health Funnel.

Improved Demonic Tactics
Requires 40 points in Demonology
Increases your summoned demons critical strike chance equal to 30% of your critical strike chance.

This builds upon the filler-type Demonic Tactics, which is a 5 point talent that grants a 5% critical strike bonus to the Warlock and her demon. My problem with Demonic Tactics is that it gives too little effect for something too deep into the tree. Other classes get a 5% critical strike chance bonus with 15 talent points, so I don't know why Warlocks needs to spend 40. So it includes the demon, too, but come on. 40 talent points for a flat 5% crit. Anyway, Improved Demonic Tactics is what we're talking about here. Three words: useful, not fun. The crit bonus is synergistic with other talents in the tree that confer special effects when your pet crits -- making this spell mandatory -- but I've just never been a fan of deep talents with purely passive effects. Ok, fine, I'm still just whining about Demonic Tactics. If you're going deep Demonology, three points here is mandatory, anyway.

Demonic Empathy
Requires 40 points in Demonology
When you or your pet critically hits with a spell or ability, the other's damage done by their next 3 spells or abilities is increased by 3%. Lasts 15 sec.
Now this is cool. If you're looking for fun talents, here it is. Your pet crits, you get stronger. You crit, your pet gets stronger. You both crit... well, all hell breaks loose. Come on! This talent was nerfed in the last build, but hopefully it'll be tuned upwards before Wrath is released because you really barely feel 3%, specially with pet damage. Demonology isn't particularly crit-heavy, either, although it looks as though Blizzard is pushing critical strike rating for Warlocks in Wrath. With enough crit, you can keep this buff up indefinitely, although a 3% damage increase is still a bit low for 43 talent points. Yes, it's the Demonic Tactics argument again, but at least this talent is fun.

Demonic Pact
Requires 45 points in Demonology
Your pet's criticals apply the Demonic Pact effect to your party or raid members. Demonic Pact increases spell power by 10% of your Spell Damage for 12 sec.
I told you we'd need Improved Demonic Tactics. This spell gives Demonologists that all-important raid buff that is thematically perfect for the tree because it scales with the demon and the Warlock's gear. It's a pretty good buff considering that Level 80 Demonology Warlocks will have over 1500 spell damage. Considering that Flametongue Totem at Level 80 grants a flat 144 spell power, Demonic Pact becomes a considerable upgrade as the buffs do not stack. The great thing about Demonic Pact is that it scales with gear. Not so great when starting to get gear but scales incredibly well as the Warlock gets stronger.

Requires 50 points in Demonology
According to Ghostcrawler:
"You keep your pet.
You keep your spells.
It buffs spell damage (for that "blow your cooldowns" feel).
It buffs mitigation (you could even tank for a bit).
It provides the current snare reduction for PvP.
You'll still get a few fun demon abilities, but you can just use your normal spells if you'd rather."
Alright, it's hard to do a proper analysis of this spell when it's currently not working as the design team would like it to, hence the spell description above. Right now in Beta, you lose your pet, you get new spells but lose access to the old ones, and get an attack power bonus. Yes, an attack power bonus. Don't ask me what the developers were thinking when they designed it that way. But the good news is that a new Metamorphosis is on the horizon and to be quite honest the verdict on the tree rests on that one talent. Because it's such a spec-defining talent, Metamorphosis has to serve the right purpose -- sort of like a panic button for the Warlock that just unleashes hell. Literally and figuratively.

With a 5-minute cooldown, Metamorphosis is not Moonkin Form and it is not Shadowform. It is closer to The Beast Within, and more appropriately so because like the Hunter, the Warlock is a pet class. That's why it was so important not to lose the pet when Metamorphosis is activated, specially with all the new talents that increase demon and master synergy. We'll do a more thorough review of Metamorphosis when it finally comes out in Beta... which had better be soon. If reports are to be believed, this means that the Warlock class has very little time to mature before release, which leaves me very worried.

Final thoughts
Why does everything hinge on Metamorphosis? Because unlike the other trees, Demonology doesn't have too many active abilities. This is why I love Demonic Empowerment so much. It's fun, it's useful, and it gives that extra kick when needed. But Demonic Empowerment is for the demon, not for the Warlock. The new Demonology tree is full of passive buffs and effects that it doesn't feel very different to play from the live realms. Metamorphosis can change all that.

If Blizzard does it right, Metamorphosis will become the cornerstone spell upon which a Demonologist's DPS spell cycle will revolve around or plan for. The PvP implications are obvious, with the mitigation and snare reduction it provides, but in PvE the spell needs to serve as a massive DPS boost for a short period of time. Done right, Metamorphosis will change the way Demonology is played. I like how Demonology is shaping up, but right now it still needs some work. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

PS - Metamorphosis seriously needs a female form.
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. Find out how a Warlock alt is played depending on your main or if Demonic Circle will solve our problems with those bad widdle Rogues in PvP. Also check out Afflction in the Wrath Beta!

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