Blood Pact: Inner demons in our talent selection

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Blood Pact: Inner demons in our talent selection
Blood Pact Inner demons in our talent selection MON
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill thinks it's too difficult to convey moving while casting in a static screenshot, so, instead, have the Scholomance potion guy in front of a Demonic Gateway.

We covered Karazhan's pets, mounts, and fun last week, so this week, we'll cover Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep in the continuing quest to colle--

No. Sorry. If you really thought I was going to skip this past week's bombshell of warlock PTR patch notes for collecting pets from retro raids, I will scold you later for having no faith in me. Let's talk level 90 talent problems.

The changes so far
  • Kil'jaeden's Cunning (KJC) is no longer passive at all, but purely an active button-pressing ability.
  • Using KJC no longer snares the warlock, but provides regular cast-time casting unimpeded while moving.
  • It activates for 15 seconds.
  • It's a 1.5 minute cooldown.
Blizzard Community Manager Lore has posted on some changes to the original PTR patch notes concerning KJC nerf backlash:
  • KJC is off the GCD.
  • KJC can be used mid-cast.
  • Haunt can be cast while moving without KJC.
However, when I let my copy of the PTR fully update on Sunday, I could not replicate any of Lore's additions to KJC. Movement interrupted my Haunt and KJC was on the GCD. KJC interrupted a Malefic Grasp channel.

It's entirely possible the build Lore is talking about hasn't been pushed to the PTR yet, so relax, guys. We can brainstorm about the changes in the meantime while we wait for the opportunity to test them.

Should casters be able to cast everything while moving?

I may be immolated for this, but I think that no, casters should not be able to cast everything while moving. Target range impedes melee DPS, as should movement impede caster or ranged DPS. I think casters should be penalized for lazy or unnecessary movement.

Will not having KJC dip our DPS a little? Sure, but it's not going to be the end of the world. If you want an experience without KJC, trying using affliction on Primordius with Mannoroth's Fury. I began to pick my standing spots more carefully, and I would let other players get the killing blow on oozes so I could continue running to pick the dead ooze debuff up. I began to use the old practice of stagger casting, where I move a little then cast a little then move a little more.

It isn't the most optimal thing in the world, but then again...movement is supposed to impede casting. It's not supposed to be optimal.

Even with other caster specializations like elemental shaman having the ability to cast a certain spell 100% on the run, I think KJC can be balanced in active time and cooldown such that movement is an important thing to casters but we're not completely gutted in our DPS by movement. Currently, the shaman Spiritwalker's Grace is 15 seconds with a 2-minute cooldown, so clearly the current PTR KJC iteration is the base test before number tweaking. Warlocks should get on the PTR to properly test the spell in various PvE and PvP situations if they think the numbers should be different.

When would you use the PTR KJC versus stagger casting? Stagger casting obviously works in short distances with slower voidzones where you have time to stop and get 1-3 seconds of a cast off before you need to move again. KJC will help warlocks when we need to be constantly moving for a long distance or period of time. 15 seconds is the short end of a trinket proc's length of active time, so if you don't think you'll be able to stop and get that Chaos Bolt off before your proc fades, then you might want to use KJC.
Blood Pact Inner demons in our talent selection MON
Losing DPS during movement

Lore mentioned Haunt as a spell we could cast while moving without the aid of KJC.

Ehhhhh, that's not really good news there. Haunt already is a short cast time; in fact, standing in my current raid gear of 14399 haste, Haunt is a 1.22-second cast time according to my tooltip. Unless I'm in a 100% running streak, I can definitely pause and stagger cast a Haunt off during a run.

We don't care about casting Haunt while moving; we care about casting Malefic Grasp (or Drain Soul) while moving. If we get our 2-piece T16 to proc, but then we have to move for a while, the proc is wasted. We also don't really care how hard the base Malefic Grasp channel is doing -- we care about that duplicate DoT damage we get off the channel ticks. Having to interrupt the channel and recast the entire channel due to movement is, frankly, going to suck, not to mention if you have to interrupt Drain Soul on an odd tick instead of a shard-granting even tick.

Fel Flame keeps getting mentioned as that band-aid to warlock DPS during movement. In previous expansions, yes, Fel Flame was the solution to DPS on the move. It was at the absolute bottom of our spell priority, even below Life Tap, because it's so mana-expensive and GCD-expensive for the damage it does. But now in Mists of Pandaria, Fel Flame has an additional problem: it extends DoTs. Affliction can get a little of the previous DoT on the target with proper use of Pandemic, but otherwise Fel Flame will refresh your DoT's stats.

So, with the new KJC change, if you have a very powerful DoT on the target and you need to move immediately, you're stuck either blowing KJC to continue DPS or not doing anything but running, because while Fel Flame will give you some direct damage, it will likely overwrite your powerful DoT with a weaker one. That's not cool.
Blood Pact Inner demons in our talent selection MON
Improving moving DPS

How can we make Fel Flame useful again? Fel Flame is sometimes useful as a spell to refresh or extend a DoT when you can't get the normal DoT cast time off, but I think many warlocks use it more for the instant and moveable damage rather than the DoT extension. I'd like to see Fel Flame reverted back to its normal direct damage form.

Destruction will want to bargain for a spell to be cast while moving, so as a last resort they might appeal to using Fire and Brimstone to empower Fel Flame as a DoT extender if they're stuck using Fel Flame while moving. Demonology can easily cast either of the two instant-cast DoTs, or it can refresh or extend Corruption through a couple of abilities. Affliction already has the habit of reapplying DoTs with Soulburn: Soul Swap, so empowering a Fel Flame through Soulburn is just duplicating an ability we already have.

I think affliction won't give a crap about Haunt being cast while moving, but destruction might want the ability to cast Incinerate while moving. Destruction would absolutely love Chaos Bolt to be cast while moving, but I don't know that the developers will bend that way. Incinerate, on the other hand, is comparable to the elemental shaman's Lightning Bolt filler, and I think we can make an argument for destruction to be able to generate embers on the fly, just not necessarily spend them. Fel Flame is incredibly mana-expensive for destruction as it's not meant to be the filler spell, so spamming Fel Flame on the move for a long run is likely staying a poor decision.

For solving affliction's problems, it gets a little tricky. The obvious solution to not having as much filler Grasp going on is to put more damage on the DoTs. The problem is that it's been made clear multiple times that the developers don't want affliction to go back to being multidotting maniacs on any and every add fight. So a possible solution is to grant Haunt more of a damage bonus. This would promote smarter use of shards, but if you get screwed by RNG shard regeneration, you could possibly get really screwed on the DPS meter.
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Demonology and our level 90 talents

Does demonology care about the Kil'jaeden's Cunning nerf? Not really. Demonologists typically shift into Metamorphosis when they really need to move and spam Touch of Chaos for a bit. Demo's DoTs are all instant-cast as well, so movement might become an issue only during execute range when demo would prefer to cast Soul Fire instead.

Demonology might care about Mannoroth's Fury, though. Everyone appears to agree that having a gigantic Hellfire all the time is not necessarily useful, as in PvE at least mobs tend to get tanked and grouped up in a matter of seconds. Besides, Hellfire is already castable while moving, and Immolation Aura is an aura not a channel. You can maneuver your warlock with around the add pack like a weedwacker around a pole -- the extended range of the AoE doesn't really matter.

But maybe you're fond of bigger Hand of Gul'dan, like I am. A bigger Hand radius means more mobs affected with the Shadowflame DoT that generates fury, and the Mannoroth's Fury-less Hand of Gul'dan just looks puny after so much play under the talent. I foresee many macros of Mannoroth bound to Gul'dan, which might devalue the 4-piece T16 proc for demo a little.

But overall, demonology will be OK. It's destruction and affliction who are worried about the future of our level 90 talents.
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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