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Patch 3.3 PTR: More Warlock changes

On the WoW Insider Show a few weeks back I made a comment about a lack of patch 3.3 warlock changes. Now I'm not saying that it had anything to do with it, but we have seen an awful lot of changes since then. I've posted three previous articles covering some fairly significant changes to our spells, talents and pets (as well as our clothes) and here we are with a fourth.

The balancing of the different trees continues with one change to each. I'll start with destruction as it's one that a lot of people were anxious about.
  • Conflagrate: Redesigned. This talent now consumes an Immolate or Shadowflame effect on the enemy target to instantly deal damage equal to 9 seconds of Immolate or 8 seconds of Shadowflame, and causes additional damage over 3 seconds equal to 3 seconds of Immolate or 2 seconds of Shadowflame. In addition, the periodic damage of Conflagrate is capable of critically striking the afflicted target.

This ability had previously changed to move a portion of its damage from the initial hit to a subsequent DoT (in the case of Immolate). The concern raised was that this is a damage reduction as the DoT couldn't crit. Now that they have added a crit mechanic to this DoT, the damage imbalance has been somewhat redressed, though a few questions are outstanding.
1. Does the amount of increased damage from criticals increase for this DoT with points in Ruin?
If not then this means the damage drop from the mechanic currently in live is only half compensated for by this change.
2. Will the DoTs have the same crit chance as the direct damage portion of Conflagrate
Fire and Brimstone increases the crit chance of the direct damage portion by 25%, if this is not shared by the DoT portion then this means the DoT is still not making up for the loss to the direct damage.
3. If the Conflagrate DoTs do crit, will they trigger Pyroclasm?
If so then you have four chances to proc the effect for each cast of Conflag.
More testing will undoubtedly be done over the coming week to answer these questions and fine tune the numbers. Whatever the result this is a damage increase for destruction, albeit one that is redressing a prior nerf.

Next we see a change for affliction:
This is a pure buff to affliction damage, though nothing major. Five points in Shadow Mastery is a standard part of affliction, and so is the felhunter under patch 3.3. This means you will always have the 15% damage increase on Shadow Bite. That's about an 8.5% buff to felhunter damage and just under 1% to your total damage.

Finally, for demonology, Molten Core has changed once again:
  • Molten Core: Redesigned. This talent now increases the duration of Immolate by 3/6/9 seconds and provides a 4/8/12% chance to gain the Molten Core effect when Corruption deals damage. The Molten Core effect empowers the next 3 Incinerate or Soul Fire spells cast within 15 seconds (Incinerate: increases damage done by 6/12/18% and reduces cast time by 10/20/30%; Soul Fire: increases damage done by 6/12/18% and increases critical strike chance by 5/10/15%). Molten Core now has a new spell effect.
So what's new? First off there's a change to Immolate, adding 3/6/9 seconds to the DoT. This is a buff to the damage-per-cast-time of the spell but reduces the total damage done by the spell (assuming you don't refresh/clip it). This is interesting for hybrid builds from a 'rotation' point of view as it will require less casts of Immolate to maintain the ability to cast Conflagrate.

Another change is that the effect will now only trigger from Corruption; so no more procs from Shadow Bolt or CoA. This is likely to cause a reduction in MC uptime, especially during the execute phase. Also, interestingly, the Glyph of Quick Decay might become more viable for builds using Molten Core.

The third change is to the duration of the Molten Core effect. Previously this was a flat 12 seconds, which could be refreshed. Now it's for the next three casts of either Incinerate or Soul Fire within 15 seconds. This is a reduction in the number of casts one proc will empower but it will depend on the proc-rate as to whether this is a reduction in the number of empowered casts in a fight. Since that proc-rate is going down it does look like there will be less casts under the effect of MC.

That's not all though, the effect that Molten Core has upon your casts has changed dramatically. Incinerate used to have up to 15% extra damage but now has 18% extra damage and 30% reduced cast time. Soul Fire used to have 10% extra damage but now also has 18% damage increase as well as a 15% extra critical strike chance. This is a huge buff to these abilities, though is offset by the reduction in the number of times they will be buffed.

The changes to Molten Core make it a very complicated but interesting talent. It's likely to mean a change to the standard builds that use it -- to have all three talent points invested in it, probably at the cost of Demonic Empowerment. It is also likely to change the demonology build rotations so that when Molten Core is active Incinerate is cast instead of the normal Shadow Bolt (except where the boss is below 35%, in which case Soul Fire).

One final thing; I forgot to mention previously:
With the felhunter back in the affliction game Dark Pact is more attractive but I still don't think it's as good as Life Tap when you have a healer on hand (and very often a lot of AoE healing). Also, why it only has a chance of triggering the effect I do not know. This seems like an attempt to get affliction locks to use the ability more but it doesn't seem to go far enough. Maybe we'll see more changes in this area before the patch goes live.

Filed under: Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion

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