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Blood Pact: Demonology and the art of closing the gap

Zach Yonzon

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology and destruction warlocks. For those who disdain the watered-down arts that other cling to like a safety blanket, for those willing to test their wills against the nether and claim the power that is their right, Blood Pact welcomes you and invites you to take a seat.

Demonology is a curious spec. When Metamorphosis first came out, I panned the talent for having abilities that clearly push the warlock to engage in melee. It didn't make any sense to have a squishy caster have abilities like Shadow Cleave, Demon Charge, or even -- gasp -- Challenging Howl. The latter spell has thankfully been expunged from the data repositories of Wowhead, but some of you may remember it as a spell that taunts nearby enemies for 6 seconds. An AoE taunt. For a clothie. Never mind that Metamorphosis pumped up warlock armor to tank-like levels or that it reduced damage ... I always questioned the wisdom of having an AoE taunt followed by high-damage (and consequently high-threat) abilities while in a form that would shortly, inevitably expire.

Two years later, the developers finally scrapped all the seriously dumb (but strangely cool) abilities and replaced them with Demon Leap. It serves pretty much the same purpose as Demon Charge, but it looks a lot more awesome and it can save your butt from falling to your death. The stun component has a shorter duration but is now an AoE effect, which is great because it works even better in PvE situations. Metamorphosis retained Immolation Aura, which was probably the best spell among the bunch, so the form wasn't totally stripped of special abilities. The idea is the same -- demonology is a warlock spec that deals its best damage up close. That makes it play completely differently from the other two specs, and there's a whole lot of required mobility.

Keeping it close

Whenever possible, you'll want to be up close and personal with your target. Unfortunately, most of the time, those targets also hit hardest up close, which is why groups rely on a tank. You, my friend, are not a tank. Neither is your felguard. But you'll want to be as snuggly with your target as possible, kind of like a tank, whenever you're in demon form, which is about a third of the time. This can be quite annoying to other raid members -- especially your healers, who sometimes have to take extra special care of you. You can tell them not to worry, but they will, anyway. It's their job.

Metamorphosis doesn't trigger the global cooldown, which means you theoretically can bind it with Demon Leap to get to your target immediately. But latency being what it is, that macro often fails (or maybe it only fails in Asia, where we throw parties whenever our latency numbers are green) because it'll take some time to remind the server that you're a demon, which is required for Demon Leap. Just remember that it doesn't trigger the GCD, which means you can bind it to something or immediately press another button. You're best off immediately getting to Demon Leap, since you only have 36 seconds of demon form goodness to abuse.

Why is it so important to get close? Because you want to squeeze as much DPS out of your spec as you can, plain and simple. As theorycrafters have it, demonology is the lowest DPS spec at both levels 80 and 85, which means if you want to be competitive in DPS, you'll have to do something extra. That something extra is getting as close to your targets as possible so you can pop Immolation Aura and Shadowflame. Both spells deal excellent damage so make the most out of your spec by casting it when you can. You lose out a lot when you're casting in demon form from a distance, so get in there and blow things up.

Burn 'em all

One of the places where demonology can shine -- or at least have some crazy fun -- is on AoE fights. Immolation Aura is great against one target, but if you're in the thick of things against a lot of mobs, it becomes downright sexy.

To make the most out of an AoE situation, cast down an Infernal to wreak havoc, pop Immolation Aura, get your felguard to Felstorm everything, and blast everything to the nether all the while channeling Hellfire. With the Inferno talent, you'll get to move around even while channeling the spell. Hellfire has a pretty large radius now, and the fact that you can move around with it means you can do some pretty crazy stuff, especially in PvP. Hellfire is demonology's AoE spell, while affliction warlocks get Seed of Corruption and destruction can play with Rain of Fire.

Notice something interesting? Seed of Corruption and Rain of Fire can both be cast from 35 yards off. Hellfire, on the other hand, is a caster-centered AoE. That means, yes, Blizzard wants you to get right in there and mix it up.

Make friends, add consternation

You want a guardian out, either an infernal or a Doomguard, when you're in demon form for crazy DPS. Guardians are 10-minute cooldown spells that are different from minions, your run-of-the-mill summoned demon. This means you can have both of them out at the same time, which means that there's some crazy demon action going on right there. Pop a Bane of Doom on your target, and pretty soon, you'll have one, big, infernally happy demon family beating the snot out of your enemies. So maybe demonology falls a little bit behind the other two specs in terms of actual DPS, but it spanks the shorts out of either spec for pure fun and visual spectacle.

Because guardian spells have such a long cooldown, you're unlikely to cast one on every boss attempt but most certainly at least once every boss fight. For longer fights, you'll have to be very prudent about when you call down your big baddie. The optimal time would be when the target is in the throes of death -- at about a fourth or fifth of their health, when all these cool spell effects and damage increases kick in and the target is all softened up and stuff. In theory, you slam down your infernal in an AoE situation and call forth your doomguard against single targets. However, doomguards have gotten lazy lately and sort of just chill instead of actually striking down foes like good bad demons, so for now, the infernal is your go-to-hunk-of-blazing-demon-rock.

Aside from your usual demon friends, you'll need to go outside your tiny social circle and make other acquaintances. A paladin is a good friend to use have, especially when he can be convinced to throw you a Hand of Salvation when you run up to the enemy and start bursting into flame. That way, you can go all out and not worry about ripping off aggro. Your demon form may look all macho, but you'll pop like a grape when it wears off. A holy priest is also a great companion, especially when he has the Body and Soul talent that can help you extricate yourself from a sticky situation. It's also important to be nice to your healers because you'll demand as much attention as a melee DPS when you're in demon form. Compliment their skirt or something.

But your best friend, as you should know by now, is yourself. Always, always have a Demonic Circle ready for you to pop back into as soon as Metamorphosis expires. You have the tools to create some distance but also enough abilities to close it. So here's the deal: Close it. Play recklessly. Infuriate your healers. Add consternation to and crowd your melee DPS. You have spells that were made to be cast at close range; that's simply how your spec plays. So cast them at close range. Move forward and backwards (without using your silly and slow "S" key, mind you). Demonology was designed to be crazy, so play it crazy.

And, oh yeah, the Shattering

Meanwhile, the Shattering recently dropped on our heads, so let's take a look at what the patch brought us. Let's see ... oh, hmmm. Nothing to see. Move along. What? You want me to post the warlock changes in Patch 4.0.3a? They aren't interesting. No, really. Do you still want to see them? Are you sure? Fine. Here you go:

  • Bane of Agony damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Bane of Doom damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Corruption damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Death Coil damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Drain Life damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Drain Soul damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Immolate damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Incinerate damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Rain of Fire damage has been increased to be more comparable to other area-of-effect abilities.
  • Searing Pain damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Seed of Corruption damage has been reduced to be more comparable to other area-of-effect abilities.
  • Shadowbolt damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Soul Fire damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.

    • Hand of Gul'dan damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.

    • Chaos Bolt damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
    • Conflagrate damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
    • Shadowburn damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.

    Bug Fixes
    • Drain Life: The Soulburn version of this was charging 17% of base mana instead of 12% like the normal version. This has been corrected.

So, um ... hey, how about race changing into that dwarf or troll, eh?

Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DoTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll steer you toward tip-top trinkets and Soulburning your way through Cataclysm.

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