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Blood Pact: Catching up on Patch 5.3


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill is free to pet battle all day, e'ry day.

I tried to gauge when Patch 5.3 would hit so that I'd end the series on World of Logs just in time, but unfortunately I overestimated and the new patch has cut me off. With my original plan of posts, I'd be a week short, but now...uhhhh it might be a halftime break.

In case you've missed the World of Logs posts so far, here's a recap:

  • A brief overview of ranking and the combo of how to tell what warlock or pet you would or should be looking at,
  • Looking closer at some of the graphs on World of Logs, and
  • How to use the buffs and debuffs graph to gauge proper cooldown or proc usage, as well as a basic understanding of what stats (for trinket procs) do for each spec.
I intend to explore some warlock-specific examples using the expression editor to dive deep into the combat log, but I'm not sure I can fit it all into one post. I'll finish the series off with a deeper look at the damage done tables and how the spells spread for each spec in general raid encounter styles.

But this week? This week is a little shorter and lighter while we go over what Patch 5.3 means for warlocks.

Obligatory information caveat: The patch notes last I looked were updated May 14th, but they could be added to or changed in between writing and patch day.

Smarter smart heals and pet avoidance: Healers' smart heals are now preferring players over pets. However, warlocks apparently already had some pretty OP avoidance pet-wise, so we won't really notice this.

Guardian chain casts! Both versions of the Doomguard and demonology's Wild Imps will now chain cast instead of having that weird cast and then wait effect going on.

Dark Intent costs less mana to cast. I suppose this is cool if you just switched specs, but even if you're Life Tapless in destruction, who cares.

Fire and Brimstone loses its ember cost, gives to affected spells. I goofed last week by accidentally sticking this sentence in with the World of Logs stuff. That'll teach me to work on two posts at the same time. Fire and Brimstone has always let destruction warlocks cast an AoE curse, but in 5.3, warlocks won't be docked a full burning ember when they activate Fire and Brimstone. The next Immolate, Incinerate, Conflagrate, or Curse will drain a full burning ember, instead.

The wording is that the Fire and Brimstone "effect remains active as long as the Warlock has at least 1 Burning Ember remaining," so I'm not sure if this means pressing Fire and Brimstone once allows a warlock to chain together two to four AoE-amplified spells. We'll see on Tuesday.

Soulburn: Health Funnel helps healing, no longer heals: My soloing attempts are saddened by this. No more OP Soulburning back my voidlord's health? Ah, well. Maybe I'll have to switch from Soul Leech to Dark Regeneration now.

Glyph of Siphon Life healing stabilized: Glyph of Siphon Life in Mists of Pandaria has been a heal worth 20% damage dealt of the primary DoT -- Corruption for affliction and demonology and Immolate for destruction. In Patch 5.3, it's changing to a flat 0.5% maximum health heal when either Corruption or Immolate deals damage. Of course, the key phrase is maximum health which can increase with various raid abilities, talent combos, or personal cooldowns.

Currently, in near-all normal-mode Throne of the Thunder gear with Dark Intent up, my warlock sits at about 550k health, so this translates to roughly a 2.7k heal per Corruption tick. On average, my Siphon Life ticks have been giving me only 1k out of the usable healing (it overheals more than half the time). In PvP, on the one hand, I'm not sure if it's a buff because DoT damage is currently very weak.

On the other hand, PvP in Patch 5.3 is changing greatly.

Blood Pact Catchup on Patch 53 MON
Demonic Gateway is harder, better?, faster, stronger: My guild currently jokes that we're recruiting two more warlocks so everyone gets a free ride out of the tornadoes on Iron Qon 25N. Many details are changing with our party-sized portal.
  • The cast is 3 seconds, down from 5 seconds.
  • The first charge generates after 5 seconds (down from 13), and every 10 seconds a new charge generates (down from 15).
  • The gateway has 100% of the warlock's health and 100% of the warlock's resilience.
  • The gateway can now be attacked and killed by enemy players.
This change is clearly for PvP, but the PvPers are less enthused about it. The gateway is going to be easier to set up and use in a tight spot, but it's now killable and not just by the warlock being across the map. Unfortunately, gateways don't have the ability to pop cooldowns or heals like we warlocks do, so who knows how long the gateway will last in PvP to focused fire.

Blood Horror ignores pets: This is bad if you wanted to scare away that pesky hunter pet or this is good if you really wanted to save it for that rogue rushing up to you.

Haunt refunds a soul shard when dispelled. This is a good thing in PvP, should you try affliction instead of destruction. I still wish missing a Haunt in PvE (delayed Dead Zone, I'm looking at you) would give me back a shard.

Warlock PvP set bonuses change:The previous 2-piece set bonus was a cooldown reduction of 20 seconds on Unending Resolve. That still left Unending Resolve at a roughly 2.5-minute cooldown, which is only somewhat helpful in PvP. The cooldown can't be short like Sacrificial Pact or Twilight Ward because Unending Resolve can be used offensively with its protection of spellcasting.

The new warlock PvP set bonuses start off with a strictly defensive 2-piece and an offensive 4-piece. The new 4-piece set bonus particularly harkens back to a comment about how affliction PvE damage is doing fine, but affliction PvP could see some more help, so perhaps this 4-piece is hinting toward that direction.
Blood Pact Catching up on Patch 53 MON
With the base resilience of every player becoming 65%, fights are stretching out to be much longer, even with high gear disparities between participants. There is also a new effect called Battle Fatigue where damaging a player reduces the effectiveness of healing and absorb spells and abilities by 45%. While DoTs could stand to keep Battle Fatigue on a player constantly, watching some of Cobrak's Chaos Bolts hit for under 100k doesn't fill me with confidence for DoT damage prowess. Finally, we warlocks receive 40% bonus to healing from PvP Power, not that PvP Power is looking to be a good stat at all in patch 5.3.

Speaking of Cobrak, he tested out stat and gear changes for destruction warlocks in PvP on the PTR in a video here. Resilience is gone from PvP items, including the set bonuses and sockets. Sockets are PvP Power or Intellect, and the set bonuses increase PvP Power. Testing Chaos Bolt damage, intellect matched mastery, coming out on top of both PvP Power and critical strike. On regular Incinerate damage, mastery lagged a little behind intellect, but that should be obvious given that mastery only boosts ember-consuming spells. Interestingly, intellect gemming countered resilience gemming very well. Gemming defensively will mean gemming for resilience or mastery (since mastery will increase the heal on Ember Tap), and gemming offensively will mean gemming for intellect or mastery (since mastery increases the Chaos Bolt hit).

Cobrak only did destruction warlock stats, but we can draw guesses from our knowledge of the other specs' stats. PvE affliction likes haste, but PvP gear won't grant that much delicious haste. Affliction might stick to mastery better, with hopes of making the DoTs feel worth it in longer combat. It's rare that I've seen a demonology warlock in PvP, to be honest, but the obviously answer is to go for mastery as it increases caster, pet, and Metamorphosis damage.

Will PvE trinkets once again top PvP gear lists? That's the fear, but before you go trinket-hunting in LFR or regular raids, know that there are already some PvP-special effects for certain trinkets listed in the patch notes. The typical Blizzard half-nerf is to nerf the potency but lengthen the duration of a buff. When in a battleground or arena:
  • Wushoolay's Final Choice has its proc effect reduced by 33%, but has a 100% increase to duration. I did not get the chance to test whether the duration increase affects the tick rate or not, but I'm assuming the tick length will also double.
  • Everything else above ilevel 502 has a 50% effect reduction and a 100% duration increase.
Until next time...

Patch 5.3 may possibly earn its Escalation name through nerd rages over PvP changes. It's also the start of summer, and although I have pet battles and hoping for a Hearthstone beta to keep me content, I think I will try once again to kill some Horde in PvP. It'll give me something to write about, at the very least.
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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