Which flavor of warlock?
The first question to answer before diving into a raid parse is this: what spec is your warlock? Once we know that answer, we can get into the icky details like spell rotation.
Before Mists of Pandaria, warlock pets were tied to certain specs, so you could often tell the spec of the warlock by which pet abilities were in the damage done. Now, pets are rather independent of spec -- besides, warlocks can even be petless!
There's two ways to go about finding the spec of a parsed 'lock in Mists of Pandaria: by spell school (quicker in general) or by specific spells (perhaps a little slower, depending on your familiarity).
By color / spell school: When you look at the spell breakdown in World of Logs, whether that's hovering over a warlock's name in the general Damage Done page or looking at a specific player's Damage by Spell report, each spell has a colored box next to its name. The color indicates the spell school.
Warlocks deal damage with two spell schools: shadow (purple box) and fire (red box). We also occasionally use dual-school spells that are shadowflame (Fel Flame, e.g.), and those boxes have red and purple halves. There may be the occasional odd-colored box like Stormlash (green for nature damage), but all actual warlock spells are either red, purple, or red-purple.
By specific spell
- If the boxes are all purple, you are looking at an affliction warlock. Everything is purple, which means the only damaging things an affliction warlock can hit when spelllocked are Fel Flame or Rain of Fire.
- If the boxes are mostly purple with a red and a few half-n-half boxes, that's a demonology warlock. Demonology deals largely in shadow damage, but dips into fire with Soul Fire, and shadowflame damage with Hand of Gul'dan and its accompanying DoT.
- If the boxes are largely red with a couple of purple boxes, you are looking at a destruction warlock. Destruction deals shadow damage with Chaos Bolt and Shadowburn, but the rest are all fire.
: You can look at any number of specific spells, honestly. The two main ways are by the DoTs or by the filler spells.
The main and secondary filler spells:
The box color method is the quickest and easiest to distinguish warlock specs with, I think. The spell method helps if you're looking at a report of everything, not just of a specific boss, and the warlock obviously has changed specs a few times, so you have red and purple boxes everywhere.Which pet?!
There was a time in Dragon Soul LFR when I cringed as a destruction warlock used his felhunter, but I'll cringe no more. The answer to which pet is more dependent on which Grimoire talent is selected and what the encounter asks for than which spec of warlock you are.
Warlocks use SimulationCraft for many things involving gear, but SimC also does pet rankings with the various Grimoire talents at level 75. You can find the 5.2 graphs here for each spec: affliction
, and destruction
. Grimoire of Supremacy
is noted by the Supremacy minions; Service
is noted by the regular minion name; Sacrifice
is, well, Sacrifice. All are compared to a regular tier profile without any pet talent selected.
The long story short is that the Grimoires are balanced enough that for most, no combination is a terrible crime anymore. Warlocks picky about their DPS will go with the top pick, but smart warlocks will pick the Grimoire that best works with the fight.Sacrifice
is particularly useful for affliction and destruction if most of the encounter is spent casting a filler spell (see above!), but otherwise affliction and destruction tend to use Supremacy with the observer pet instead. For demonology, Sacrifice seems a weird flavor choice, but Sacrifice
buffs the Wild Imps
as well as the main filler spells. If your demo 'lock wants a constant pet, Service: Felguard
is a typical pick. The typical Sacrificed pet in raids is the voidwalker, for the warlock gains a small health-boosting cooldown
Sure, looking at the rankings
for a particular spec and seeing if your warlock can get on the list is an admirable goal. However, beware of what it might take to get on that list. There's a difference between doing the fight according to your raid's selected strategy and doing the fight with as much multidotting as possible, abuse of AoE, or otherwise ignoring what fire you're standing in.
But looking at the rankings can help you figure out where to focus your improvement. To see the overall rankings, you can go to the WoL homepage and select DPS under the little sidebar for the current raid. You can then narrow down the table by raid size, region, boss, and spec. For example, these are the destruction warlock rankings
for 25-man normal in the US and EU regions on Primordius.
To find out how close you were to ranking on a particular fight, go to your raid's parse page. Click the "Ranked Players" in the sidebar, or choose "Ranking info" from the dropdown menus. You can then find your entire raid by boss, including each of their specs.
A score of over 100% will earn you a ranked spot, and you can see that the ranking takes into account what spec you are using. The other caveat to ranking is how dense the pool of players is. Historically, affliction and destruction have been more popular than demonology, but often the pool varies by boss, depending on which is the popular top spec for that encounter.
I'm by no means an amazing player, so let's take a look at one of my parses with the rankings:
On Primordius, I scored the highest, but not nearly enough to actually rank. In truth, I was sort of wearing my affliction gear; affliction hates crit, which destruction actually prefers. I had reforged my gear to a more destruction-based reforge, but the gems and enchants and general piece choices were for affliction. I'm also not a stellar destruction player; I tend to cap on embers more than I really ought to and I refresh Immolate far too often.
On Dark Animus, I scored the lowest of the three. I could truly be just that mediocre, but there's another answer: I died to a Matter Swap
mid-fight. It was a peculiar Matter Swap, too -- I'd gotten two Swap debuffs on top of each other. When one debuff reached 5 seconds, the other was at 8. I was dispelled too late -- probably because of the second debuff overwriting the first on my healers' frames -- and I died.
You'll notice that it's a tad difficult to deal damage while dead. Don't worry, though! The next week, Lady Luck did not pick me for the killer Swap, and I got back up to my usual 75-80% mark on ranking.
On Durumu, I certainly could have done better. What could I have done better? Next week, I'll dig deeper into my log to find out.
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.