Unlike some classes, Warlocks maintained their status quo for most of 2008. There were no big buffs or nerfs and no real changes to class mechanics. The biggest shake-up happened with Patch 3.0, which many argue kind of broke the class. In a way, it's true. Blizzard's new philosophy of "bring the player, not the class" is working incredibly well. Too well, in fact, that nobody misses Warlocks in raids or Arena teams. I can't recall the last time anybody actually asked for a Healthstone, and the last time I felt useful (or used, to be more precise) was when my guild used up most of my Soul Shards to summon everybody after losing a lot of guys in the run to Loatheb. As we bid 2008 a not-so-fond farewell, here are a few wishes I have for 2009:
1. Fix Soul Shards
Blizzard removed the entire poison skill as well as reagents for some abilities from Rogues to -- according to a blue post last August -- "free up a fair amount of bag space." Ouch. While Rogues get reagent requirements removed, all we get are bigger, 32-slot bags. Shadowburn, a talent, requires a Soul Shard, making it impossible to spam on a boss unless we want to lose our raid utility later on. It's meant to be kind of our version of Kill Shot, but doesn't deal quite as much damage.
Casting Drain Soul when a mob is at a sliver of life is second-nature to me, but let's face it, the whole Soul Shard mechanic is clunky. It's a great concept -- and since I also play a Hunter, I'm used to the whole bag space thing -- but there's something extremely cumbersome about having to kill a ton of mobs just to prepare for a raid. Patch 3.0.8 will relieve that somewhat by reworking the Ritual of Summoning, but there's got to be a more elegant way to do this.
2. Fix our squishiness
After getting used to so much Stamina, I don't think I've ever felt so squishy in my Warlock life. Rogues have always had our number, but now they've got us on speed dial. And it looks like they've forwarded our calling card to all the other classes. This doesn't matter so much in PvE, where we've got tanks to soak all the hits for us, but where Warlocks were once feared (literally and because we've Feared them) in PvP, we're now primary targets. We don't have Ice Block, we don't have any form of shield (Demon Armor doesn't count), and even after Blizzard re-buffed Soul Link, it takes ten seconds to summon our even squishier pet.
3. Give us some outs
Corellary to number 2, I wish Blizzard would give us some real escape options. In a Death Gripping, stun-locking, Fear-breaking world, Warlocks simply don't have any way to get the hell out of a tight spot. At least Hunters can Disengage or Feign Death to break targeting. There's Demonic Circle, I know. But a 40-yard range is pretty sad, particularly in Arenas. Besides, you can't teleport when you're crowd controlled. At least Mages can Blink through a stun.
4. Make us loved / feared again
Alright, I know it's not an easy fix, but when nobody is playing the class anymore, there's something wrong isn't there? It's not the DPS -- although it'd be nice if it were actually a bit easier to play -- but I think it's got a lot to do with our survivability and overall place in the scheme of things. This must be how Mages felt when all people wanted them to do was make some food and water...
The good news is that we're dealing with the new Blizzard. Class changes and balancing comes at a relatively faster pace. If they can fix things now, they will. As bad as 2008 ended for the class, I think 2009 will end up being a pretty good year. After all, after falling so low, there's nowhere to go but up.