Buffs, debuffs, and how they affect you
Typically, we call applied beneficial effects "buffs" and applied adverse affects "debuffs." But when it comes to raid parses and damage output, we don't care about the positive or negative distinction. We care about the game mechanic difference.
In raids, players can have buffs, and these buffs are typically applied by the player herself, her allies, or various spell and gear procs. Enemy mobs can have buffs, and these buffs are typically applied by the mobs themselves through whatever boss mechanic is going on. Players can have debuffs, which are applied by non-NPCs like voidzones or by enemy NPCs. Enemies can have debuffs, which are typically applied by players or NPCs friendly to players.
The important distinction is that if a player receives an effect during a boss fight, there's a high chance it's mechanically a debuff. This is important because warlocks have both DoTs and pets.
Pets benefit from your stats and buffs, but not from your beneficial debuffs. Your demon isn't getting anything from you standing in Jin'rokh's water pool, unfortunately. Pets supposedly update dynamically instead of the old snapshot method, but you still want to pop your Doomguard along with your intellect potion.
DoTs, on the other hand, are affected by debuffs dynamically -- both the debuffs on the target AND the ones on the player. If you run the add-on AffDots, you'll notice during this. During Jin'rokh, if you step into the pool and get no other procs, AffDots doesn't suddenly turn green or blue to indicate a significant stat change. The downside to DoTs is that they snapshot buffs, which requires you to refresh them for a more powerful effect every time you get a proc that increases your priority stats enough.
Therefore, as a warlock you should be mindful of what buffs and debuffs are present during a boss fight.
Favorable stat-buff composition for warlocks
Some of this might seem fairly obvious to veteran raiders, but the presence or absence of some buffs can affect a warlock's performance. Intellect and spellpower:
All warlocks will love intellect boosts, since it's our primary stat. We will never refuse a 5% Stats buff, which you can get from druids
, or shale spiders
. We can provide spellpower ourselves with our Dark Intent
buff, so who cares if a mage is there.
The typical intellect or spellpower procs come from enchants
, or gear
. Critical strike and critical damage:
Destruction warlocks will prefer these buffs, though demonology will like it to. Affliction might not care that much as crit is the lowest priority for them. The raid buff is 5% crit from a bear or cat druid
, a mage
, a monk
, or various hunter pets.
Critical damage, however, is a boost to all specs. (Critical strike affects how often your spells crit; critical damage determines how hard they hit.) So be on the lookout for any Skull Banners
from warriors that appear. Mastery:
All of the specs will like this buff, since mastery is either a first or second priority stat for the specs. Shaman
primarily bring it, though a cat
or a spirit beast
can give it, too.
For affliction, mastery
increases the damage done by the three DoTs, which helps in multiDoTing scenarios. Demonology's mastery
gives a damage buff to both minions and master, and especially to master in Metamorphosis form. Mastery
will buff the regular fire-spell rotation by a little bit for destruction but it mostly affects the shadowy ember consumers like Chaos Bolt
This is usually the make-or-break stat when it comes to a warlock's damage, even if it isn't the best stat ever for a particular spec. Haste simply makes you do more things, but for warlocks, it can also add an extra tick to every DoT in use. It's a big enough difference that the way a warlock gears can depend on whether or not the 5% haste buff is present in the warlock's raid. Destruction and demonology can typically live without the raid haste buff, but affliction will definitely feel a difference in damage. You can acquire 5% haste from an elemental shaman
, a sporebat
, a moonkin
in form, or a shadow priest
or Time Warp
) is a big deal for warlocks. Optimally, we would know when Heroism is going off in a fight so we could plan hasty cooldown
use better, but raids and fat fingers aren't always that nice. Target debuffs:
Though some demons will deal physical damage, warlocks are spellcasters by far. We can provide magic vulnerability
ourselves, though we prefer to let the rogues
spend the GCD for us in their rotation.
Both rogues and warlocks can provide an AoE version -- rogues with Fan of Knives
plus the passive
, affliction warlocks with Soulburn: Curse of the Elements
, and demonology warlocks with the Metamorphosis: Cursed Auras
passive -- but the warlock will guarantee the debuff will hit the first time. (Edit: Fire and Brimstone
will allow destruction warlocks to achieve an AoE curse effect. It's been there since 5.0; I just goofed on writing.)Buffs and debuffs in WoL
Looking at buffs and debuffs in World of Logs is part table and part timeline. On the player details page on a particular fight section like a boss attempt, there are two tabs: buffs gained and buffs cast. Each tab has three tables that display number of times a buff or debuff was applied and how often it was present during the fight segment (uptime).
Unfortunately, the power gains table isn't very useful to warlocks -- I'm guessing it hasn't really been updated for the MoP 'lock. It will show soul shards procced by Shadow Trance for affliction, but it shows rather useless mana gains for destruction and demonology. Is that warlock using Rain of Fire
as a legitimate AoE damage method or is it simply another way to get tons of burning embers? The world (of logs) may never know.
Under buffs on the buffs gained tab, we have everything you could possibly be buffed with: your trinket procs, potion effects, spell effects, raid buffs, and heals. For most of your buff-watching needs, you can use the buffs cast tab instead, which has a shorter and more personal list of buffs. These are the buffs that specifically came from your class or spec, or your gear. Just be warned that some buffs -- like the weapon enchant proc -- are only on the buffs-gained tab.
For watching debuffs, you'll have to use both tabs. Debuffs on you -- including the beneficial debuffs like Fully Mutated
, et al. -- will be on the buffs gained tab. All of your DoTs and effects will be on the buffs cast tab. Some overlap will happen, but I like to think of the buffs gained tab as things that came from the boss and the buffs cast tab as things I did.
The fun visual part comes from the little pound or number sign (#) next to each tabulated line. Click it, and your buff or debuff will appear above under a graph of DPS. The light yellow line is raid DPS, which I haven't found much personal use for, but the bright yellow line is your personal damage done, so you can compare when buffs or DoTs applied or fell off to peaks or troughs in your performance.
Under the graph will now be a series of green boxes -- these are the buffs or debuffs you've selected. They appear in the order you clicked them, and you can set up duplicates. You can remove bars The bars start out as dark green and increase in brightness as they overlap due to stacks of the effect. hovering over the green bar will give you a tooltip which will indicate stacks in parentheses and it'll tell you what target the debuff was on. (An oddity is the affliction DoT Agony
, which will say (1) no matter if you stacked it to 10 or not. Again, I'm not sure that WoL fully updated to the MoP 'lock mechanics.)
An example of comparing when the green bars line up is when a destruction warlock uses Grimoire of Sacrifice
. Chaos Bolt
has a small DoT when a destro 'lock takes the Sacrifice pet talent. So while you wouldn't see a normal Chaos Bolt on this graph, you can see the DoT effect, and so you can guess whether a Chaos Bolt was properly cast under a good proc. Above, you can see one of my Primordius kills, where I take Grimoire of Sacrifice to buff Chaos Bolt. I did a good job spamming while disguised as a saurok, but I missed a couple of procs off my trinket
Time to stop for now. Next week, we'll get into the gritty part of World of Logs with some hearty warlock examples: the expression editor and the combat log.
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.