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Blood Pact: 4 thoughts on destruction in Mists of Pandaria

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill finally dives into beta and found that she was having more fun flinging fire than draining souls.

I got into the beta a week ago (and with the last Annual Pass wave, a lot of the rest of you should be, too). So I went marching around Jade Forest and found myself continuously crashing to affliction spells triggering a fun little error. I'd heard things about moonkin and fire mages also having troubles, primarily when DoTs or debuffs were being cast. But errors are odd things, and I found I could cast Immolate all day long on my destruction spec.

So I did destro for a day of questing and flinging fire at the training dummy. Here are a few of the first thoughts I had.

1. The oddity of Fel Flame When I think of destruction, the first images that come to my mind are the first spells -- Immolate, Incinerate, Rain of Fire, even Soul Fire. I see the whole orange talent tree in my mind. But if I want to sum up the spec in a spell, I want to say Chaos Bolt. I've had a fondness for the spell, and I don't really know why. I feel sad it's going away.

It might be that whole destruction warlock versus fire mage debate again. The green fire makes a cosmetic, virtual-physical difference. It's not just a fire spell -- it's fel fire. It's warlocky.

We'll have one green fire spell left: Fel Flame. I'm not sure what exactly Blizzard wants to do with Fel Flame. Ghostcrawler flat-out said that for demonology, Fel Flame is meant for movement.

Fel Flame's mana cost is increased by the passive regeneration mechanic Chaotic Energy, and I think that might be how some destruction warlocks are reporting the ability to go OOM, even after the passive mana regeneration was obviously fixed. Sure, it refreshes Immolate faster than you can recast Immolate, and Chaotic Energy also increases its damage to almost equal Incinerate. It also generates embers (for the moment).

There are similar rotational musings among affliction warlocks. The problem with Fel Flame now is that it take more GCDs to refresh Unstable Affliction with Fel Flame than it does to just recast Unstable Affliction and fire off another Shadow Bolt in the space left by the Fel Flame. But in Mists, Fel Flame refreshes Unstable Affliction and Corruption.

Is it enough to tip Fel Flame over into the normal priorities? I'm inclined to say no, not really. I think Blizzard is going the way of demonology, that Fel Flame is meant to be for movement only.

2. Auto Wand? Yes, Auto Wand is there. It gives me a red error message if I try to auto-attack with my Dragonwrath, but it will fling your wand's magic if you have a wand in the main hand slot. We warlocks can't actually melee anymore (in this build, anyway).

I tried it for a moment. I swapped Finger of Zon'ozz into the main hand slot and flung my wand for a few whips. It didn't feel right at all to me, so I swapped it back as soon as the mob died and I got out of combat.

I'm a powerful master of chaotic destruction, but Blizzard wants me to hold off on burning myself to death and flick a little stick? Are you serious?

Some warlocks have snuck a little wand action in by flinging the stick when they have that miniature moment in between the end of yet another Incinerate and Conflagrate's cooldown coming up. I just Fel Flame instead. It does a lot more damage than my wand does, and it takes just about as long for the GCD to run as it does to watch the animation wind back for the wrist pitch. The main-hand weapons and off-hands have more stats on them than the wands, too, so I don't really see the point of wands in the main-hand slot.

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3. Destructive Influence and Soul Fire As far as I can tell, Destructive Influence is gone. This is mostly a good thing, but also a not-so-great thing.

While demonology is rightly the demon-centric spec for warlocks, destruction has also had quite the symbiotic relationship with its demon. The imp in Cataclysm currently procs Empowered Imp off its basic attack, which greatness can depend on how awesome a day you're having with the RNG of it. But it's one of the reasons some old destro 'locks still have the /petattack macros to force the imp to cast Firebolt as much as possible.

It's been said that the aim of warlock pets in Mists is that a warlock gets to choose which pet she wants out, independent of spec. Of course, theorycrafting will find the right pet for every job, but the pets are meant to be more or less even in DPS. Talents, too, are not meant to be cookie-cutter-esque. Warlocks get more choice.

So when the official talent calculator included Destructive Influence, most warlocks sat there with a straight tilted line for a smile and said, "Well, there goes the choice of Grimoire of Sacrifice." We knew Soul Fire would have the same hellishly long base cast time, so it would be stupid to let the pet die.

Unfortunately, without Destructive Influence, no cast time shortening mechanic for Soul Fire means that Soul Fire is still hellishly long to cast. With destro's emphasis on a critical strike build, having a ridiculously long cast time as the focus spell of the specialization doesn't sound like a great idea for anything that requires periodic movement, like raid bosses or PvP.

Sure, I'd just hit 86 and my ratings took a dive, but I still had about 2,800 haste and yet my Soul Fire was still nearly 3.5 seconds long. When I was still 85, it was still around 3 seconds. It was so long I'd regen as much as 20% mana back due to Chaotic Energy just while casting one Soul Fire.

4. Fel Imp still a strong pet candidate It was really weird watching another destruction warlock at the target dummies with a Shivarra out instead of a Fel Imp, but destruction is no longer limited to the imp as a demon. But as much as I wanted to play with the Observer pet, I found myself going back to the Fel Imp for destruction.

I also liked the Fel Imp anyway due to its new ability, Cauterize Master. Originally, I was spending my full embers on Soul Fire and Ember Tap when my health started to dip low from riding the high of the glyphed fourth ember. But as I cast faster and faster, I started to use Cauterize more and more.

I realized that Cauterize Master had some advantages over Ember Tap. First, it's your imp's spell, so therefore off your GCD, while Ember Tap still has to wait out your GCD before you can activate it. A small tangent is you can also now directly put your pet's abilities on your action bars, instead of wasting a macro or keybinding on the pet bar. The 9 in the second screenshot is Cauterize Master from my Fel Imp's abilities tab!

Second, Cauterize Master doesn't take a full 10 embers to do, and it returns only 3% less health to you for it. Sure, it costs your pet 40 Energy, but without Destructive Influence and the old talent Burning Embers (not to be confused with the Mists resource), I see saving 10 embers outweighing saving energy for more imp Firebolts.

But, if you don't want to play with the Fel Imp, that's fine. Maybe you'll get lucky and a feral druid will trade you a Rejuvenation. Hey, don't be bummed -- at least it's not Healing Touch.

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.

Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact

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