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Blood Pact: The birth of a warlock, page 2

Dominic Hobbs

  • Faction: Horde
  • Staring area: Durotar
  • Home City: Orgrimmar
  • Racial Mount: Wolf
Orcs were the original warlocks (of the playable races) and it's nice to know you're continuing a tradition that reaches back to someone as auspicious as Gul'dan himself. This history really makes the orc form seem appropriate for us as you level through Azeroth meeting NPC warlocks -- it just feels "right".

The racial abilities for orcs also fit very nicely with warlocks. Blood Fury gives you a spell power boost and Command provides a damage bonus for your pet. These racials also fit very well for hunters and death knights (Blood Fury has an attack power counterpart) but I like to think that these racials were build around warlocks because of their history. Again though, remember they may be gone in Cataclysm.

The starting area is good but doesn't stand out in any particular way. The quests are fun (who doesn't enjoy ordering peons about) and fairly close together at first.

  • Faction: Horde
  • Staring area: Tirisfal Glades
  • Home City: Undercity
  • Racial Mount: Skeletal Horse
Whenever I see the question "What race should I choose for my new warlock?" invariably the most common answer is "undead". I think there are two reasons for this, and they're both pretty good. First off, there's Cannibalize. This is a truly amazing racial ability that works perfectly with the warlock's abilities and play-style. Since you can convert your health into the power to destroy your enemies, it's poetic to be able to then convert your slain foes back into health.

The second reason is a matter of warlock style; the undead have it. That's not to say other races can't embody it, but the undead really live it (in a manner of speaking). A single-minded devotion to goals -- not letting qualms, misguided moralities or a weak stomach, get in the way. The overcoming of physical frailties through sheer strength of will. Also, while there is nothing that says either undead or warlocks are intrinsically evil, they both have that 'evil-chic' that makes them so much fun to play.

The starting area is very easy to quest through, nicely introducing you to how to play. The imp quest is incredibly easy so you get him with you for almost the whole time. I really like the early levels for an undead warlock, it just oozes atmosphere and barely concealed malice -- much like the forsaken themselves.

Goblin and Worgen

Cataclysm is on the way and we already know that warlocks will be able to choose from either of the two new races. Both the goblins for the Horde and worgen for the Alliance look like they will make really interesting additions to the brotherhood. I have always felt that goblins have a hidden malice and they certainly seem the sort to sell their grandmothers up the river for... well, anything really. Then there's the worgen, gothic buildings, afflicted with a curse, kinda all 'dark and brooding' -- it's what the Alliance have been crying out for and it's warlock shaped.

The first ten levels

Whichever race you choose, you will start with the same two main spells; Shadow Bolt and Demon Skin. You should immediately track down your warlock trainer and also learn Immolate (and Summon Imp after patch 3.3) -- gnomes, he is there, hidden at the back of that building up the hill.

Shadow Bolt is your standard nuke. You charge it up and then launch a shadowy, screaming skull at your target which will take a chunk of damage from it.

Demon Skin is a protective armor spell that you should keep active on yourself at all times.

Immolate is your first DoT. DoTs (Damage over Time spells) are at the core of a warlock's abilities, in many ways they define the way we play. This one comes with a nice punch at the start by dealing some direct damage and then a bit more every few seconds, for 15 seconds in total.

When you start off it's a good idea to set your targets on fire with Immolate and then launch a series of Shadow Bolts until they die. This way the DoT part of Immolate will continue working while you throw bolts. If you have your imp already then it's worth getting him to attack first, that way the target will hit him and not you. He might complain about this but don't listen, imps are notorious for over-exaggeration, he'll be fine.

If you find yourself out of mana then for the first few levels you'll probably be ok using your dagger while the DoT finishes them off, but it's a good idea to go into each fight with enough to kill the target using spells. Feel free to let your imp do as much of the work as you like but remember he has to use mana too, so make sure he has some. Don't let your imp do all the damage to a mob though, as you won't get any experience for the kill or be able to loot the corpse.

At level four, and every two levels after that, the warlock trainer will teach you new stuff -- learn it all, it's all good. Corruption is a great spell (another DoT) and if you send your imp to attack one target and then put Immolate and Corruption on it you can move right on to start attacking a second target. The first one will slowly die from your DoTs and imp. This method of "DoTing up and then moving on" is something worth getting used to -- it can greatly increase the speed at which you kill things. It takes practice, and experience of what targets you are attacking, but it's a fundamental warlock skill.

At level 6 you get the one spell that most defines us; Life Tap. This spell lets you convert some health into mana. Warlocks use mana very quickly and it's by using this ability that we can recover some of it to continue. This is where the undead racial, Cannibalize, comes in very handy but all the races can do something similar. If you make sure you train in First Aid then all the cloth scraps you find can be turned into bandages, this will give you a quick health boost ready to be turned into more mana. By tapping and bandaging you can reduce the amount of time spent not killing things and therefore level up faster. Food and drink are fine as well but don't forget that you can use those bandages in combat while your pet is beating on things (or rather, while things are beating on your pet).

Level 8 sees your first damaging curse, Curse of Agony (CoA). This is a fine spell but generally I find that fights at this level don't last long enough for it to be very handy. The damage it does starts off small and increases so it's last ticks hurt the most. If the spell does not run its full duration on the target (because you killed it with other spells) then CoA was probably a waste of mana for the damage it did. It will become more useful later on.

You also get Fear. Now this is a lovely spell but be careful with it. This is a thinking-man's crowd control spell. It's not going to turn the target into some passive, fluffy grazer that you can ignore for a while -- Fear will break the mind of your target and send them running all around the area screaming. This is great fun, but not so amusing when all their friends come running to see what happened to them -- that just lands you in a load of trouble. Take care with this spell.

By now you will have been sent out of the starting area to the closest village and be doing quests for them. They will also have an inn (that should be your home) and more vendors about the place. Try to blend in, they might not welcome the warlock at first but you're doing their chores for them (well, for their money) so don't take any grief.

At level ten the game changes a fair bit, with a new pet, the introduction of talents and battlegrounds and major cities. We'll delve into the early years of warlock leveling in the next installment.
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DoTs, demons, and all the dastardly deeds done by Warlocks. If you're curious about what's new with Locks since the last patch, check out the Patch 3.2 Warlock Guide or find out what's upcoming in Cataclysm from the BlizzCon 2009: Class Discussion Panel.

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