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Blood Pact: Locked and loaded


Between Arenas, V'Ming spends his time as a lock laughing ominously in AV, tanking Olm with his own minions and pondering troll fashion from Zul'Aman.

Sweet 70! Time to rest on your shadowy laurels, or press on into "endgame"? Stripping it down, WoW endgame is raiding and PvP. You may have reputations to grind, heroic instances to run and daily quests to complete, but raiding is truly the only way to experience content you haven't seen before, at least from the perspective of a Warlock. Similarly, PvP - with unpredictable opponents, ever-changing scenarios and the thrill of competition - is another way to keep things fresh and challenging.

Most players engage in a little bit of everything, and the choice really lies with you. Since The Burning Crusade, PvP has become a good alternative means of progression, with rewards that rival those from PvE. Many raiders also dip into PvP as a reliable source of gear upgrades to improve their raid performance.

Regardless of what you choose to focus on, the game at 70 definitely involves more group work. If you have soloed all the way to 70, your lone wolf days are over, if you wish to progress further. Let's look at some of endgame expectations for warlocks.

Getting into a guild

Endgame is all about group work. A guild should ideally offer you like-minded individuals to play with, and thus progress with. Keep these in mind while looking for a guild:
  • Is the guild's objective in line with yours? Are the guild member focusing on PvP or raids? Can you work your goals around them?
  • What stage of progression is the guild at? If the guild is already working on The Eye, your fresh 70 toon would definitely be out of place. While a few established level 70s might help you out, can you really count on having nine such players consistently helping you with Karazhan?
  • When does the guild play? Obviously you want a guild that is largely online when you play. At the same time, you also want to be able to consistently show up for raids. Many raids fall apart simply because of no-shows.
  • Can you fit into the guild's culture? Are guildmates friends or more like colleagues?
As with any real life group situation, it's not only about the guild serving your needs. What do you have to offer the guild in return: contributing mats? Voluntarily helping other guildies? Or just simply showing up on time for scheduled events consistently?

Gear

Love it or hate it, gear is a large component of your PvP and PvE performance. Getting a good set of pre-Karazhan gear from PvE or crafting should be your immediate priority. Battlegrounds and Arenas are also good ways to get great gear for both PvP and raiding.

A PvE warlock's most important stats are: spell damage, spell hit, spell crit and spell haste. Spell hit is generally an easier way to increase DPS than spell crit, up till its cap of 202 for raid bosses (more doesn't help). Warlocks who have 5/5 Suppression need a spell hit rating of just 76 to maximize the chance of their DoTs landing on raid bosses, although they'll probably want more as Suppression does not affect shadow bolts and other destruction spells. Spell haste benefits Destruction warlocks the most, by shortening the cast time of their nukes. A spell haste of 15.7 improves your casting time by 1%, but obviously does nothing for instant spells.

As a pre-Karazhan Warlock, you should aim for a spell damage of about 700 (with Fel Armor), a crit chance in the early teens, and a 30-ish spell hit rating.

PvP warlocks focus on a different set of stats: stamina, resilience, and spell damage/crit. Since you're fighting targets of equal level (other players), you need a spell hit rating of just 38 to achieve the 3% needed to max out your hit chance at 99%. For affliction locks, just 2 points in Suppression (2% spell hit per talent point) will max out the hit chance for affliction spells.

Naturally, your choice of gems and enchantments should be focused on these respective stats. Some obvious gem choices are Veiled Noble Topaz and Runed Living Ruby. Consider Steady Talasite and Solid Star of Elune for your PvP gear. You may also want uncommon equivalents of these gems. Chaotic Skyfire Diamond is a good metagem choice for destruction and demonology locks, while Swift Starfire Diamond is great for afflliction locks.

Raid DPS


Your main job in a raid is to kill stuff. To have an idea of how you are performing, get a damage meter like SWStats. A DPSer playing without a damage meter is like a driver racing without a speedometer. A damage meter isn't meant to stroke your DPS epeen - it's a tool to show you where you are, with respect to other DPSers. It also highlights problems: if your total damage and DPS is significantly lower than other similarly geared DPSers, it means you're not fully exploiting what your class can do.

Generally warlocks should be among the top five in the DPS charts. If you're not, look at other warlocks: how are they specced? How are they geared? What enchantments and gems do they have? Talk to them about their spell cycles.

A DPS discussion is never complete without talking about its evil twin - threat. The Warlock has one of the highest threat-to-damage ratios. In other words, for an equal amount of damage, the Warlock can generate more threat than other DPSers. An overzealous Warlock can pull aggro from the tank, leading to his or her demise at best, or at its worst, wiping the raid. Get a threat meter like Omen, and learn to use Soulshatter pro-actively to correct your threat level before bad things happen. Using soulshatter intelligently can also maximize your damage output.

Raid utility

As a Warlock, you offer more than DPS to the raid. Expect to do crowd control, whether it's seduce, banish, enslave, fear-kiting or even pet off-tanking. Be aware of your CC limitations and durations; you're generally expected to still deliver damage, even while you're CCing.

Some raid encounters will demand very specific abilities from warlocks - don't be caught not having a critical spell on your interface. Learn the encounters and have the appropriate pet summoned all the time - don't let the raid play the game for you.

Offer healthstones without being asked, particularly before a boss encounter. Soulstone a rezzer intelligently, keeping in mind that soulstones aren't only for wipe recovery, but for battle rezzing as well. In certain situations, the raid will benefit more with a soulstone on a Druid, on a squishier DPSer like a Mage, or even yourself!

Work out curse assignments among warlocks, especially debuffs like Curse of Elements, Shadow, Exhaustion, Weakness and Recklessness. A separate Warlock channel is great for this purpose. Remember that what benefits the raid benefits you as well - don't get DPS tunnel vision.

Other useful references

Besides the warlock column here, there is a wealth of information out there - if you are keen to play this amazing class to its full potential, read on ...

The Warlock's Guide to Raiding
Warlock PvE Raiding Compendium
Wowwiki.com

Filed under: Warlock, Guilds, Raiding, Guides, (Warlock) Blood Pact

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