I admit: I don't play demonology. As much as I'm a maestro at affliction, corruption gliding from my fingertips, I just fall apart when it comes to mastering the demonic arts like Illidan. So on the one hand, I don't really know where demonology is supposed to be heading in Mists of Pandaria, apart from Metamorphosis being just more awesome now.
On the other hand, I don't have the old habits to rewrite over. I'm new blood, much like the revamp of warlocks in Mists will certainly attract people who don't play the class now. I'm perfect for testing how easy the spec is to pick up for newbies.
I can tell you this: I was having fun on beta demonology. All you have to do is Demonic Leap with me beyond the break.
Demonology 101, MoP-style
I started my demonology premade up not by looking through forums at what abilities I should be pressing, but by looking in-game. In your spellbook, among the bottom tabs sits Core Abilities, which is a single page that lists six abilities the spec has and what to do with them.
First, there's the new secondary resource, Demonic Fury. It builds up to 1,000 as you cast various spells. Once you hit 1,000 Demonic Fury, you can use Metamorphosis to do awesome amounts of damage. The truth is that you can hit Metamorphosis at any time, but 1,000 fury lets you stay in Metamorphosis the longest, probably.
As for spells, there are four to be worried about. Corruption is a DoT that generates demonic fury that you should keep up as much as possible, and so is Hand of Gul'dan, though indirectly. Hand of Gul'dan applies Shadowflame to targets in the area, and Shadowflame is what generates the Demonic Fury.
Soul Fire is a special nuke that always crits but is a pain in both resource cost and cast time normally, so you save it for when Molten Core procs, since its resource cost and cast time are halved. A Blizzard power aura pops on screen when you have one Molten Core proc, and when you get two or more, you get a second mirrored aura. Shadow Bolt is what you cast when nothing else is going on.
Corruption becomes the old Curse or Bane of Doom (simply "Doom" now) that deals shadow damage over a minute, and it can also coexist on a target with Corruption when you eventually pop out of Metamorphosis and Doom is still going. Hand of Gul'dan becomes Chaos Wave. Shadow Bolt becomes Demonic Slash that is range-friendly in normal Metamorphosis, but Soul Fire remains the same old Soul Fire. Fel Flame becomes Void Ray, Rain of Fire gets called Immolation Aura but it felt more like movable Hellfire, and your curses become self-auras as well.
New abilities to augment the awesome
For starters, I'm happy that pet-twisting is dead. Pet-twisting, or the frequent switching of summoned pets in a single fight, exists in Cataclysm because of how both our main DPS cooldown Demon Soul and our spec is tied to specific minions. For demonology, the Felhunter is the best single-target pet, but the Felguard is the better Demon Soul match.
In Mists, that all goes away, because demonology the spec buffs the damage of all demonic pets in its mastery, and Dark Soul, the MoP version of Demon Soul, isn't tied to minions but to spec. Dark Soul for demonologists will give increased mastery, no matter which pet you pick.
Demonic Leap is an old ability, but it's got a new twist in Mists. Using Demonic Leap will activate Metamorphosis if the warlock isn't already in form and will cause the warlock to leap forward quite a distance. At first, I didn't like it -- after an expansion of getting into Shadowflame range, I was often too close to the mob and ended up overleaping things. I wanted a simple Intervene ability. But as I got used to the leap, I got the distance correct more often, and I even started using it as a semi-Blink as I traversed across questing lands.
I think it's buggy right now, since I won't always leap forward. If I'm strafing or backing up, Demonic Leap will move in those directions, and if I'm jumping at the time, it just jumps straight up. But I've heard that the monk ability Roll has the same problem, so it will probably get fixed at some point.
Wild Imps is also an activated ability where you get five of those imps right now, generating all that fury pretty soon after. It costs fury whether you are in or out of Metamorphosis but generates quite a lot back. There's also a glyph that can take away the passive to the ability (no Shadow Bolts summoning imps), but the cooldown on the ability can then be reduced by haste.
Carrion Swarm is the last new ability to discover at level 86. It's a Metamorphosis-only ability, but it's essentially Typhoon, only cooler. It deals damage and knocks back targets as well as interrupts spellcasting -- and yes, it can be glyphed to remove the knockback. I thought it would look like the very cool Carrion Swarm that the dreadlords in Well of Eternity use, but no matter how high I turned up my graphical settings, the spell remained just a bunch of fel-green mist. I grumble now, but maybe it'll be touched a bit later.
Looking the part
As for looks, demonology is shaping up nicely. From watching my character pew-pew, I certainly feel more awesome. When you summon a wild imp via the passive proc, it looks like you're just tossing a felbolt casually over your shoulder, and when it hits the ground, it materializes into an imp. Having a handful of imps, your regular minion, and your guardian demon feels like you've got the demonic mafia trailing behind you everywhere.
Since demonology warlocks will be the only spec to really use Shadow Bolts in endgame, they'll be the only ones to use the glyph that splits the spell into three. Soul Fire might give your healers a heart attack, but promise to cackle maniacally for me? You'll look like you're being bathed in ground fire, and when you finish the cast, you can actually see the missile as it takes off and hits big.
As for the dark purple wings some of you may have seen others wearing, that's what Dark Apotheosis looks like. But you'll have to wait until next week to check out how the tanky demonologist holds up for play.
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DOTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll coach you in the fine art of staying alive, help pick the best target for Dark Intent, and steer you through tier 13 set bonuses.