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Blood Pact: Warlocks in Blackwing Descent, part 1

Tyler Caraway

Every week (when the regular warlock writer hasn't been eaten by a prince of hell or something, that is), 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.

There will be no silly wand-waving or worthless incantations in my class. The curse of the warlock writers on WoW Insider strikes once more. Your normal master of darkness, Adam, is still lost in the Nether, presumably off hunting some new, rare, malformed demon-spawn. The last fill-in, the dark conjurer Zach, has also become lost to the void. I assure you that both situations are merely a setback. For the moment, that leaves you with me -- a minor power in the demonic struggle, but hopefully with enough tricks hiding up my proverbial sleeves to share a trick or two.

Warlocking (or is it warlockery?) is rough stuff. People expect a lot of you! You have to kill things, summon people, provide glowing hell-health fragments, command a vast array of demonic forces. Then there are the fight mechanics to worry about as well. You've gotten the first part of all that down, but each new raid brings new encounters with new mechanics to learn. It's a daunting task, but that's what I'm here to help with. Well, hopefully. It could also be that I'll just wind up getting you killed a horrible, gruesome, if not glorious, death. Either way, I'd say your prospects look good!


This sad excuse for an overgrown hunter's pet is one of the first two bosses that players are pitted against. Although most guilds usually start with Omnitron Defense System, I would still stand and argue the point that Magmaw should be the first encounter that players throw their heads against. Why? Because Magmaw has two specific tests that stand to guage whether or not your group is actually ready to begin raiding.

The basic mechanics Before going into the nitty-gritty of what actually challenges players about the encounter, here's a list of the basic abilities that you are going see in this encounter.

  • Pillar of Flame A target location is marked. After 4 seconds, a pillar of fire and rock explodes from the ground, dealing heavy damage to any player caught standing it in and throwing them up into the air. Also spawns Lava Parasites.
  • Lava Parasites Small, creepy crawlies that will swarm into your raid, leaping at targets and infecting them with Parasitic Infection. After 10 seconds, Parasitic Infection will cause additional parasites to spawn.
  • Mangle Not like the druid Mangle -- in fact, it's totally cooler than that. Magmaw will pick your tank up inside of its mouth (pinchers, maw thing) and chew on him for a bit.
  • Ignition Covers half of the room in nasty flame ooze. Generally, you don't want to stand in it, unless you enjoy burning to death.
  • Lava Spew A generic AoE ranged attack that will hit random group members.
Generally speaking as a warlock, the only mechanics that really bother you at all would be Pillar of Flame and Ignition. The general tactic is to have all of the ranged players group up together on one side of the room, stacking on top of a single player. After Pillar of Flame is cast, the entire group then moves over to the opposite side of the room and summarily rips apart the parasites that spawn.

It is imperative that everyone moves out of Pillar of Flame. The damage from the ability, although drastic and enough to run your healers OOM, should enough people get hit too frequently, isn't the only issue; the major issue is being knocked into the air. Upon landing from eating a Pillar of Flame, you are going to find yourself surrounded by Lava Parasites; that's bad. If you dodge the pillar, you'll be far away from all of the nasty critters; that's good!

The last mechanic that I hadn't previously mentioned is when Magmaw slumps forward, allowing two to three players to hop onto his back and toss some chains around him. Doing so will cause Magmaw to become impaled upon the large spike in the middle of the flood and expose his weak point. Attack it for critical damage! Warlocks, though, don't jump his back; that's the work of lesser melee grunts.

AoE DPS As I had mentioned, Magmaw is a far better check to determine if a group is ready for raiding than the golems. That's because the 'Tron System doesn't really have any true gear checks other than whether or not your healers can manage to keep people alive; Magmaw, on the other hand, will test you.

The first and most important test is one of DPS. There is no Enrage timer to worry about; however, there is something of an "enrage" is the loosest sense of the word. The ability to kill the parasites before they reach your group is the first DPS check that you are going to come across. If your group is not capable of killing all of the parasites and they end up eating your collective faces off, chances are you simply don't have the gear required for this encounter or you are simply messing up somewhere.

Killing the parasites is a matter of AoE damage, but traditional AoE isn't always the best course of action. Most general AoE spells such as Rain of Fire simply don't put out enough damage anymore in order to be effective -- plus, the parasites can easily be spread out enough to where not all of them are being hit. Instead, this is how you should deal with parasites:
  • Affliction Soulburn: Seed of Corruption actually does work rather well. The parasites have enough health that they should last long enough for you to easily get at least one off, possibly two or more if you can find targets with sufficient health. After that, you can find yourself in a bit of a hard spot. Multi-DoTing and finding low targets to use Drain Soul on is your best course of action. Jinx is also your friend, as you probably won't have a death knight to spread diseases.
  • Demonology Hand of Guldan is exceptionally useful for this encounter. Further, if you can spare it in your standard spec (or at least in an off-spec that you can switch to), the Aura of Foreboding talent is actually excessively helpful. Rooting the parasites is always a plus, and they should be slowed to begin with allowing enough time for the stun to go off as well. Hellfire is risky against them, so it is probably best to instead try and find low-life targets to trigger Decimation with.
  • Destruction Bane of Havoc on Magmaw is beyond amazing; keep it up constantly! Rain of Fire is slightly mana-intensive; usually you'll want to tab + Immolate, then toss out a Conflag followed by a RoF or two. If any remain at that point, just stick to single target.

If for some unknown reason you do manage to get hit by a Flame Pillar, do not do anything but move. Although it is wonky, the parasites normally only jump to infect their current aggro target. So long as some of your group members are in a safe location and pumping damage into them, you should be safe enough to quickly run to where you should be and not get infected.

Coordination Magmaw is all about coordination, and it's the second check that he performs. As mentioned before, your raid needs to dodge pillars, dodge flame on the ground, and hook Magmaw properly in order to win out. Fail at this and you fail the encounter. The healing isn't that intensive; tanking is simplistic; and there's no real timer to fight against. It is simply a matter of doing the process correctly.

A couple of notes to assist with avoiding the bad stuff:
  • Put your Demonic Teleport directly in the middle of the room. This will allow you to escape Pillar of Flame every single time and allow you to quickly move out of Ignition.
  • DoT Magmaw just before his head is exposed. Magmaw himself still takes damage even when his head is exposed, so those DoTs will keep on ticking. Similarly, Bane of Havoc is disgustingly strong on this phase due to the damage increase that the head takes.
  • The parasites should not infect your pet, so it's safe to send them in to wreck some bugs!
  • Although raid damage is not high, Nether Protection is slightly useful in reducing the damage you take as Magmaw only deals fire damage.

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