We have the Glyph of Demon Hunting, whichever side of the warlock tanking fence you're on. Maybe it's just for soloing old content. Maybe it's for tanking in a pinch while the real tank gets battle ressed. Maybe it'll just be the chunky flag-carrier glyph for PvP.
Any way you slice it, there's going to be a beefier stance than Metamorphosis. Someone in your future pickup group will try to tank with it, guaranteed. Let's explore the possibilities of warlock tanking before we tell that pugger how silly they are.
Dark Apotheosis, like Metamorphosis, is a stance you can enter into as a demonology warlock. You can enter into it at any amount of demonic fury, but it's most beneficial to enter at 100% or 1000 fury. Like Metamorphosis, Dark Apotheosis also transforms some of your abilities instead of giving you outright new abilities.
Two core spells remain the same in Dark Apotheosis. Corruption does not become Doom and Hand of Gul'dan does not become Chaos Wave. Soul Fire, Imp Swarm, Immolation Aura, the curse auras, and Drain Life all remain the same as their Metamorphosis abilities.
I like to think of Corruption and Hand as fury generators, with Imp Swarm as a small fury generation CD once it's finished. Auras, Soul Fire, and Drain Life are all damage-dealing fury dumps, like Maul is a rage dump for bears.
Dark Apotheosis has a few new shinies
Fury in Dark Apotheosis acts more like rage than Metamorphosis's fury. In regular Metamorphosis, fury still decays in combat as you auto-attack with shadow bolts. In Dark Apotheosis, fury only decays when the player is out of combat, and fury resets if the player drops out of Dark Apotheosis, much like a guardian druid popping out of bear form wipes all his rage. Inside of combat, fury is generated and fury is spent, but fury doesn't naturally decay.
Soulshatter transforms into Provocation, flipping itself to become a taunt instead of a threat dump. Fear also transforms into Sleep -- for what reason, I don't know. I would think a warlock with demonic wings sprouting out of her back would be more frightening than a normal human warlock.
Demonic Slash replaces Shadow Bolt much like in Metamorphosis, but the spell mechanics change a little. Demonic Slash is now a long-range melee ability at 10 yards, and it has 3 charges that regenerate every few seconds. Demonic Slash also generates fury instead of spending fury. This is obviously the main filler attack, but it's not absolutely spammable all the time.
The final new transformation is Fury Ward, which comes from the Twilight Ward ability. Fury Ward absorbs a good chunk of any damage -- at level 86 it was absorbing almost 29k damage -- and scales with spellpower. It has a 10 second cooldown but also a 10 second duration, so it's entirely spammable, if you have 200 fury to spare.
As for passives, you still have the old Nether Plating passive that ups your armor and makes you uncrittable for melee attacks, as well as decreasing the duration of stun and snare effects. There's Demonic Synergy where the attacks of your pets and guardians generate fury for you. Finally, your mastery changes to suit your needs. At 500 fury or above, mastery reduces the damage you take by a certain percent.
But is it enough to tank in?
Tanks have some sort of mitigation or avoidance mechanic: dodge, parry, block, shield absorbs. Whatever it is, if they stick their noses up against a boss and take a swing, it's not the end of the world.
Warlocks are still caster DPS at their cores -- we don't have the normal defensive stats to rely on. Perhaps we could reforge to dodge, since everyone inherently dodges at least a little bit, but I think our stat strength would lie in mastery. The warlock tank things scale off either the mastery (reduces damage taken) or spellpower, both of which are plentiful on our natural cloth armor.
Everything has to be a cooldown for warlocks to tank, whether it's Fury Ward or Unending Resolve or even a talented absorb ability. Fury also has to remain above 500 in order for the damage reducing mastery to kick in -- at least, that is how it is currently on beta. When it's not an absorb ability, it needs to help for healing, since we won't have the awesome health pool of a tank. Instead of Soul Leech, we might pick Dark Regeneration.
Since warlocks are ranged casters, we're natural kiters. Demonic Slash, Immolation Aura, and the curse auras are limited by short range, but the rest can be used at range alongside our personal portal and, at level 88, our group gateway. Provided your group doesn't suck out all your Demonic Gateway charges, portal dancing would prove fun, if tricky, to perform with a boss.
If we go the kiting route, it's likely warlocks might want the Glyph of Hand of Gul'dan, which gives back the early beta targeting circle for Hand. Currently, the unglyphed Hand drops the meteor where most of us would put it -- on our target -- and it gloriously follows the mob it landed on rather than staying stationary like on live. Glyphed, Hand stays where you put it, but you get the targeting circle back to place it specifically. Specific spots for a slowing Shadowflame effect would certainly help a kiter who doesn't have a Curse of Exhaustion otherwise on hand.
I've also debated sharing tanking duty with a pet, particularly the Supremacied Voidlord, whom I've used on beta before as an impromptu dungeon tank via Health Funnel. A pet can tank the mob for you while you generate fury, which happens faster when outside of Dark Apotheosis than inside the stance.
My biggest concern about warlock tanking is the same concern I have as a normal tank (like a bear tank): starting the fight. Once I get into a rhythm of using Fury Ward and other cooldowns in Dark Apotheosis above 500 fury, if I pay attention, it's not too hard to keep it that way. Easy too is chain-pulling mobs while questing -- I can chain all day off a full fury bar.
It's starting cold that's the issue. With Dark Apotheosis, a demonology warlock out of combat resets to 200 fury, which is just enough fury for one, maybe two abilities. But I need more than two abilities to start tanking. Adding injury, below 500 fury my mastery effect disappeared from me, according to the combat log, so I lost a good 7-10% constant damage reduction until I built back up to 500. It was also difficult to keep Fury Ward up, since the fury generation wasn't going very well for me as I wanted things like Curse of Enfeeblement up to compensate.
It's one of those unrealistic dreams we warlocks have, to tank. I know the developers have said that it's not intended to let warlocks sign up as a tank in the dungeon queue. Warlock tanking isn't supposed to be "for real." But it is meant to be something fun, so for fel's sake I'm going to go have fun with it while it lasts on beta.
I've tanked on my guardian druid some of the new MoP dungeons for Matt Low on his priest. This time, I've asked Matt to try to keep my clothy bum up as I attempt to demon hunt my way through a dungeon.
I'll let you know next week how that works out.
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.