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[UPDATED] Patch 3.1 PTR build 9658 Warlock changes

A new build went up on the PTRs today, and there's a little bit of good news for Warlocks. Some lingering questions are answered and some fears are put to rest. Most of the changes this patch were to Affliction, so expect more changes to the other trees in later builds. Let's have a look:

Affliction

Pandemic - Grants the periodic damage from your Corruption and Unstable Affliction spells the ability to critically hit for 100% increased damage.
The talent was simplified to enable Corruption and Unstable Affliction to crit, but could have been interpreted as a nerf because spells normally just crit for 50% more damage. The new build should quell those apprehensions. The spell is effectively the same for one point instead of three. That, my friends, is a buff.

Malediction - Increases your spell damage by 1/2/3%, and increases the periodic critical strike chance of your Corruption and Unstable Affliction spells by 3/6/9%.
With the bonus to Curse of the Elements made baseline, Malediction became a vanilla spell damage increase. The build 9658 version makes it a mandatory talent that will do crazy, sexy things to Affliction DPS. Send some donuts to Irvine. Let's make sure this makes it to the live realms.

Eradication - When you deal damage with Corruption, you have 6% chance to increase your spell casting speed by 6/12/20% for 10 sec.
This is a reversion and an effective nerf. An earlier build redesigned the talent to increase Shadow Bolt crits, but this change nerfs the talent by forcing players to invest three points (most builds currently put only one) to get the full effect but with a lower proc rate. Hold those donuts.

UPDATE: I said before in my last post about the Warlock changes on the PTR that Blizzard seemed intent on removing Immolate from Affliction's rotation by removing all incentive to cast it. I was dead on. In fact, in the current build Immolate now shares the same debuff category as Unstable Affliction. Only one or the other can be up on one target from the same Warlock. Now Affliction Warlocks can't cast Immolate even if they wanted to. Well, they could, but why would they want to? This is a nerf. Unless the damage component of Immolate is compensated through other means, this looks like a DPS drop.

Siphon Life - When you deal damage with your Corruption spell, you are instantly healed for 40% of the damage done. In addition, the damage done by your Corruption, Seed of Corruption and Unstable Affliction damage over time effects is increased by 5%.
In an effort to simplify Affliction's rotation, the Siphon Life talent was changed so that it was no longer a spell but a heal effect tacked on to Corruption. That means the life drain component was lost, which is a net loss in DPS. Ghostcrawler admitted as much, but felt that the minor nerf was offset by the fact that not casting Siphon Life freed up some GCD. Not really. The damage boost in this latest build should probably even it out, though.

Soul Siphon - Increases the amount drained by your Drain Life and Drain Soul spells by an additional 3/6% (up from 2/4%) for each of your Affliction effects on the target, up to a maximum of 9/18% (down from 24/60%) additional effect.
Napkin math indicates that this is a nerf. There are less Affliction effects to stack in 3.1 and more importantly, Warlocks can now only get the bonus from their own Affliction effects. Not that there ever was a problem with Warlock stacking, but this greatly lowers theoretical potential by a huge margin.

Demonology

Ritual of Doom - Cooldown lowered from 1 hour to 30 minutes.
Send those donuts anyway, because this is all sorts of awesome. The Doom Guard is the highest DPS pet Warlocks have right now, and the more times we can bring out this big boy, the sexier our DPS gets.

UPDATE: Doom Guard Damage reduced approximately 30%, and health reduced approximately 30%.
Ugh. So much for celebrating. Eat those donuts yourself, because having it usable every thirty minutes isn't as good considering the big bad boy has been nerfed.

UPDATE: The health bonus on Voidwalker has been reduced from 60% to 10%.
Alright now this is just stupid as hell. Sure, Voidwalkers tanked Sartharion and that wasn't intended to happen, but those guys can't hold aggro worth jack and the Sartharion fight was a special case. The nerf is massive and hurts Warlocks in a major way, particularly in PvP where they're used as damage soak. Poor blueberries.

Destruction

Decimation effect added - Soulfires cast under the effect of Decimation cost no shard.
This is just a technical change, as the Decimation talent already allowed Soul Fires to consume no shards. Excellent talent, although a bit buggy the last time I tested it, as it didn't always reduce the cast time of Soul Fire.

There are just a few changes for build 9658, but it's enough to whet the appetite. I wouldn't get so worked up with the nerfs just yet, as there's a lot of time for things to change. The buffs are good enough that I'm inclined to let Blizzard tinker with everything some more before throwing any kind of fit. I mean, Doom Guards every thirty minutes! Those guys are on to something.

Filed under: Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion

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