Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill gets cleansed of disease and starts on a new rivalry.
*cough* *cough* *haaaaaack* Megan coughs violently into a clutch of raggy, mucused-up robes.
It's all good. I'm going to survive. The healers haven't cleansed me since that last time I dropped the Gateway still inside the windstorm, so I'm stuck to my cookie cooldown. I really don't blame them for that. But, I gotta say it was worth a little cough to see all the melee drop dead like that. Don't worry, I'm not cursed or anyth--
What is that. No -- THAT. Who the ... You guys let a mage in here?!
Well. *Megan steeples her fingers.* No matter. Warlocks are still better than those muffinmakers in patch 5.4.
Most raiders reading this column are likely to be in normal modes right now -- I know my guild and I are having fun being slobbered over by a giant mechatech dinosaur. So looking at a chart of heroic mode DPS doesn't really do much good if you're not in heroic modes yet.
Yes, if you flip over to the 25-man heroic Raidbots, demonology is on top of the median DPS list. But even if you flip to the max DPS, destruction is on top; demonology doesn't take a lead until the 80th percentile.
The advantage of looking at the Top 100 parses here is that we're comparing the best players from public logs. But these apples aren't done yet, because the heroic mode race isn't quite over. Even after Garrosh dies under a 4th phase, we need them to do it several more times to get enough samples for serious conclusion making from data about this tier.
The other problem with World of Logs right now is that Flex mode -- and sometimes heroic mode! -- ends up tagged as normal mode. I've even seen some weirdness with my own guild having duplicate Spoils kills in the same parse despite only having one raid, or our 25-man will show up as a 10-man. Plus, Raidbots doesn't even have a column for Flex raiding to pick bosses from.
So let's skip the Raidbots analysis for now until everything log-related has had the time to stop being so funky.
I don't often receive email from other warlocks -- I know y'all are all going to Icy Veins to hang with Zagam, it's OK. But Robert M. wanted to know about what stats are good this tier.
Hybrids may never believe us when we tell them that pure DPS have offsets too if you truly want to maximize. Since a second set of otherwise identical gear is complicated and expensive to maintain, most warlocks will go for the gearing and speccing strategies that play well under two specs. Fortunately, all three specs at the moment deprioritize crit and love a good combination of haste and mastery.
The 9778 Aff setup You may have heard the number 9778 thrown around and wondered exactly what it is. 9778 is a haste breakpoint under the standard 5% raid haste for Agony, the heaviest-hitting DoT in the affliction arsenal. Even though simulations will perk up your haste rating wants for other DoT breakpoints, Agony is the most important.
Affliction is strong this tier in normal mode, and because of how the patch nerfs and buffs came out, affliction's damage is centered heavily on its DoTs. Affliction's mastery increases the damage of the three main DoTs: Agony, Unstable Affliction, and Corruption. 9778 haste rating ensures a strong Agony DoT under raid haste before devoting the rest of the gearing strategy to mastery to buff the other two DoTs.
Other haste thresholds There are other DoT thresholds, especially those specific to demonology and destruction, as well as later thresholds with better gear. The rule of thumb is this:
- Affliction: 9778 (Agony +4) and 13737 (Agony +5)
- Demonology: 8064 (Hand of Gul'dan +2) and 13737 (Corruption +4) and 14873 (Hand of Gul'dan +3)
- Destruction: 10124 (Immolate +2)
Haste translate to a better single-target output while mastery translates to a better multi-target or AoE burst output. Raiders need strong single-target damage to deal with focus targets and kill orders, but also a great pool of mastery to deal with many adds. Warlocks tend to have good padding damage -- that is, we're incredibly good at shared health fights or sustained damage because so much of our damage is in our DoTs compared to other casters. Haste helps us on the ramp-up while mastery helps us do what we do best.
What about crit? Warlocks still don't like crit as much, despite unfortunately finding it on a lot of pieces this tier. Crit isn't completely useless this tier due to the 2-piece set bonus. For all three specs, something critting procs something, and since Soul Fire always crits, it just gets a flat chance to do something. So even with a low crit chance like 25% in raid for affliction, the 2-piece set bonus still has a high uptime and effect because of how the bonus is set up on the DoT.
Not ilevel related: Tier bonuses and Yu'lon's cloak proc
Comparing boots or daggers is all fine and dandy when you only need to worry about higher item level adding more of a stat. Fuzzier upgrades are found in deciphering what procs and set bonuses add more oomph to your DPS.
How important is the legendary cloak? It's more damage done, so it's a boon to your DPS, but it's just a damage proc. You don't need an aura to track it and you don't have to adjust your rotation around it. The cloak has its own cleave mechanic if more targets are available, so there is absolutely no maintenance on your part around this proc.
The cloak proc does middling damage, often just above Malefic Grasp on my affliction single-target logs. On more cleave-type encounters with more adds for the proc to affect like Sha of Pride or Galakras, Yu'lon's blessing bumps higher bars with Corruption and Doom under demonology. On Galakras, our destro warlock wasn't in the tower group, but saw Essence of Yu'lon in the middle again squeezed between Rain of Fire and Immolate in damage done.
When should I drop my old tier 15? If you're affliction, you probably dropped to 2-piece tier 15 when the patch landed with the nerfs to Malefic Grasp and Drain Soul. Demonology and destruction might be more reluctant to drop the 4-piece due to their nerfs of Wild Imps, UVLS, and ember generation in single-target fights.
However, the 2-piece is pretty good for at least two of the specs, so you might drop your 4-piece just to attrition.
How good is my 2-piece? Affliction and demonology will want to pick up 2-piece as soon as possible. Affliction's 2-piece is a DPS boost to Malefic Grasp and Drain Soul, and also appears to have a very high uptime (50% on average, but sometimes more). Demonology's 2-piece smells of the old Improved Soul Fire mechanic, but this time we can pool Molten Core procs far better than our old imp would proc its insta-Soul Fire on demand. Affliction does not need to change its gameplay around the 2-piece, and demonology just needs to keep the buff up as much as possible.
Destruction will get 2-piece in the process of getting to 4-piece, but the 2-piece for destruction isn't turning out as awesomely as the other two specs, mainly because of inconsistent and possibly low uptime (~10-15%).
How good is my 4-piece? 4-piece for all three specs is highly desired. Critical strike for destruction ties in ember generation, Chaos Bolt extra damage, and back into the otherwise cruddy 2-piece. More shards for affliction means more Haunts, which will mean more shards hopefully. After proccing the 2-piece buff, demonology will want to switch to shadow-based filler to proc the 4-piece under the buff.
Set bonus proc names: Each set bonus has a different proc for each of the specs, so it's not one giant tooltip under a single, generic 2-piece or 4-piece buff. In case you want to track the buffs or look for them in World of Logs:
- Affliction: 2-piece = Empowered Grasp; 4-piece = Dark Refund
- Demonology: 2-piece = Fiery Wrath
- Destruction: 2-piece = Destructive Influence; 4-piece = Ember Master
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.