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Blood Pact: Embrace your inner demonic lord at level 90


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill is forever remembering to soulstone herself while questing after falling victim to the across-the-map graveyard in the Dread Wastes.

I should know better by now than to expect the beta to hold off on its new builds until I've finished working out my latest testing idea. The night I had planned to get Matticus to wipe with me valiantly heal my Dark Apotheosis tank warlock through a dungeon, the beta unveiled level 90 and other things. Along with such wonderful content was a bug involving dungeons that left numerous characters stuck at the loading screens for hours, some almost the entire day.

At least I knew enough to have a Plan B, C, and D for posting this week.

I was able to get my first warlock to level 90 and play with the final tier of talents in non-group formats. So let's review those three talents while I plan my warlock tank adventure again.

Tier 6 talents include two abilities with somewhat passive effects. What is "somewhat passive" supposed to mean? If you do nothing after you take the talent, there is a passive that you get. But the talent is an ability, so if you use the ability, the passive no longer works while the ability is on cooldown. The third talent choice is just a pure passive that doesn't require any action bar space.

Defile your enemies

Just once, for flavor's sake, I want to wreak sweet Vengeance on someone using a Wisp Amulet.

It's a fitting talent for the Legion lord who destroyed himself by absorbing too massive a part of the Well of Eternity's power to survive. Warlocks of the future have taken note, and now with Archimonde's Vengeance, we will destroy our enemies as they take care to destroy us.

An important note is that the effect isn't a transfer of damage but a copy. I'm not relieved of damage taken -- I'm just also sending some of the same damage another way. The passive effect is like if you put a small, reverse Bane of Havoc on yourself: "Enemies who attack you suffer 5% of all damage they deal to you." Five percent sounds like poking at our enemies, but in affliction fashion, I'm fine with whittling enemies down over time.

The active effect is much more powerful but more limited in scope. One target gets all the hate for 10 seconds, and by "all the hate" I actually mean 30% of whatever non-self-inflicted damage the warlock is taking, not just what the target is throwing at the 'lock. The passive 5% throwback disappears while the ability cools down for 1 minute.

Blood Pact Embrace your inner demonic lord at level 90
My first thought of what this would be useful for involves the words "PvP" and "flag carrier," and not necessarily for being the home team's flag carrier. Imagine attacking the enemy flag carrier and getting focused, only to pop this darling ability on the EFC. Mmm, delicious.

Are there any downsides to Archimonde's Vengeance in PvE? I'm not sure there are. Though I'd expect a trinket-like 90-second or 2-minute cooldown, I'll take a 1-minute cooldown without griping. I think of heroic Yor'sahj and imagine what this ability would do for me on a red-yellow combo. Thirty percent doesn't seem too horribly small to me, especially if I time the ability to coincide with a heavy-hitting boss ability.

The only downside I can think of now is this might encourage suicidal warlocks, which would then upset healers. If you could survive Blackhorn's shockwave, would you stay in it to deal damage to him? This makes me wonder if the damage must be targeted specifically at the warlock in order to copy to the target, rather than the warlock standing in any area of fire.

Demonwalker's swagger

A shaman has Spiritwalker's Grace. "Grace" is fine and dandy for those who are bound to help keep the elemental peace. I would think warlocks would have more ambitious pomp about us, so I think we will swagger while casting. Vocabulary aside, Kil'jaeden's Cunning is Spiritwalker's Grace with strings attached. We can't go gallivanting around Azeroth casting spells while moving without paying for it.

First, there's a penalty to the casting or channeling that's going on while moving. Moving makes the channel or cast time increase by 50% -- so it's 1.5 times the original cast. I'm not quite sure if the 50% is the base spellcast time or if being in haste-heavy gear also diminishes the penalty.

I didn't test it fully, since the ability didn't always work as advertised. Sometimes the cast time penalty didn't apply despite being able to move while casting. This especially occurred if I started moving first, then started casting while still moving, as opposed to casting first and then moving mid-cast. Other times, I would still be able to move while casting even when the ability was on cooldown; I thought that while on cooldown the player was supposed to be returned to the normal state of no casting while moving.

Blood Pact Embrace your inner demonic lord at level 90
The other string on the talent is that the warlock's movement speed is reduced by 20% while the passive casting and moving is in effect. We will swagger-step as we take large encumbered steps while casting. A simultaneous speed boost will also be dragged down. I activated the Burning Rush talent -- normally a total movement speed of 150% -- while casting a Chaos Bolt and moving, and predictable one-fifth was chopped off my movement speed, leaving it at 120% for the duration of the cast.

I'm not too happy about the movement speed reduction on this talent. The reason to move most of the time is to get out of where you were, not to hang around. I thought increasing the cast or channel time of the spell was enough penalty, especially since the shaman get two and a half times as long to cast and move without cast time penalty. Dragging us down further with a movement speed reduction seems overkill.

There are other timey-wimey aspects of the talent that I'm unsure on. I don't know what the final DoT tick speed is if you channel Malefic Grasp while moving with Kil'jaeden's Cunning up. I do know that the channel itself is slowed. I also expect to stand still if I ever need to channel for shards, because Drain Soul's shard replenishing ticks are far enough apart, thank you. I expect the theorycrafters will figure it out in the coming week or two.

No Viagra needed

A simple-minded pit lord means a simple passive: Your areas of effect are bigger. Specifically, the radius is increased by 200%. Do you remember what the area of a circle is? This isn't about hitting the next training dummy over. This about covering the Stormwind gate in one effect.

Blood Pact Embrace your inner demonic lord at level 90
Sadly, there's a bit of a snag to the talent. If we recall when the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator first started to appear, Mannoroth's Fury included text about non-talented AoEs. That is, the 200% area increase did not apply to Harvest Life, Howl of Terror, and Shadowfury. That restriction has now vanished from the talent's text, but it still currently operates as if talented AoEs can't apply it.

Apparently, hitting more things with fire is OK, but 24-yard AoE stuns and 30-yard AoE fears are not. Bummer.

That's the other snag -- hitting more things. Back in Wrath of the Lich King, area of effect spells got a damage cap. Eventually it was smoothed out to scale with gear instead of being a hard number cap, but the gist is this: The damage cap of a spell is 10 targets' worth.

For 10 or fewer targets, the spell does exactly how much damage it says it does per target. For more than 10 targets, the damage per target drops off. The example is that if a spell does 1,000 damage per target, with 20 targets, it's actually only hitting each for 500 damage. So making an AoE bigger or able to hit more targets without also increasing the damage it does actually decreases the damage per target.

Maybe it's not the size of the AoE that matters, after all. Maybe it really is all about where you put it.

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.

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