Blizzard said that they'd be introducing a lot of changes for the Warlock class in Patch 3.1, and if the incomplete patch notes are any indication, it looks like they're following through on that promise. You can read through the patch notes, but the Warlock changes are incredibly interesting. There are a lot of them, so let's go through them one by one and I'll weigh in with my thoughts on whether the changes are good, bad, or badass. Let's start with the baseline changes.
Curse of the Elements (Rank 5) - Increased to 13% spell damage, up from 10%.
It appears that the effects of Malediction has been rolled into the highest rank of this spell -- which means raiding Warlocks regardless of spec no longer have an excuse not to throw it up during a boss fight. Of course, this also means the Warlocks in the raid will have to talk amongst themselves as to who gets that assignment. It's like the Scorpid Sting of Hunters. It's a fantastic debuff, but it doesn't show up on the damage meters.
Curse of Recklessness - Removed
One of the least utilized curses, if only because there are better armor reduction effects which don't actually help your enemies. The good news is that the armor reduction has been rolled into the next spell...
Curse of Weakness - Now also reduces the armor of the target by 5%.
Warlock curses aside from Curse of Agony are generally utility spells, and this one has just been improved. I'm still wondering where the flee prevention fits in now that Curse of Recklessness is gone, though. We'll see if Blizzard addresses that through another ability.
More changes after the jump...
Enslave Demon - Spell haste penalty reduced by 10%, Melee haste penalty reduced by 10%. Warlocks have an increased 10% spell hit chance with this spell.
Not terribly useful now that the Infernal and Doom Guard no longer need to be enslaved, this change rolls the Demonology talent Improved Enslave Demon into the baseline spell. Will there be demons in Ulduar? A Warlock can only dream.
Fire Shield (Imp) - You can now cast this ability on raid members, rather than party members.
Mandatory change now that most buffs are raid-wide.
Ritual of Summoning - The summoning of the initial portal is now instant cast, down from 5 seconds.
This is one of those 'quality of life' changes Blizzard talked about. Considering the spell doesn't even summon anyone (it just summons a portal), I'm thankful for this tiny change.
Eradication - Redesigned. When you deal damage with Corruption, you have a 2/4/6% chance to gain the Eradication effect. The Eradication effect increases the critical strike chance of your Shadow Bolt spell by 30%. Each critical strike reduces the critical strike bonus by 10%. Lasts 30 sec.
I can't do the math on this yet, but this looks like a good change that firmly cements Shadow Bolts in Affliction's spell repertoire. Just like the old Eradication, though, the first point in this talent is worth more than the next two, which only increase the chance to proc the effect.
Haunt - Now only increases your shadow damage-over-time on the target. (No longer includes non-Shadow damage over time spells.)
I think this is Blizzard's way of telling Affliction 'locks to remove Immolate from their rotation. A definite nerf.
Malediction - No longer increases the effect of Curse of the Elements.
Because the bonus effect was rolled into the highest rank of the baseline spell, Malediction is now just a vanilla increase in spell power. It's a buff to the class, a nerf to the spec. There are now better talents to spend three points on.
Pandemic - This talent has been reduced to a 1-point talent, now grants your Corruption and Unstable Affliction the capability to critically hit.
This should work identically to three points in the old Pandemic. A pretty good change that frees up two points.
Shadow Embrace - Now only increases the damage done by your shadow damage periodic spells.
The writing's on the wall: stop using Immolate. It's a destruction spell. This seems to be one of Blizzard's methods of 'simplifying Affliction's rotation'. A nerf to the talent.
Siphon Life - The Siphon Life spell has been removed. Siphon Life now causes your Corruption spell to instantly heal you for 40% of the damage done.
Again, this is one of Blizzard's ways of simplifying Affliction's complicated repertoire. However, this looks to me like a DPS reduction as it no longer drains life from the target. This is good for multi-target situations, however, allowing us to cast Corruption in succession for both damage and healing. It's a buff to Corruption but the talent itself no longer offers a DPS boost. This, along with the disincentive to cast Immolate, should reduce the debuffs Affliction Warlocks need to apply to a more manageable four (aside from Shadow Embrace) -- Haunt, Corruption, Unstable Affliction, and a curse.
Suppression - Now increases spell hit for all of your spells.
This is a great change, which means Affliction 'locks no longer have to go up Destruction just for Cataclysm. It's also on the first tier, which means all specs have access to it.
Before we move on, it's important to note that the DoT effect of Immolate is improved with the redesigned Aftermath, which is still low enough in the Destruction tree for Affliction Warlocks to get. Conceivably, the rotations can still include Immolate, but doesn't benefit from bonus effects as much as it used to.