A bugged Nightfall won't stop me from enjoying the new Seed of Corruption. I am completely willing to channel Drain Soul on full-health trash just so I can get a 'burned Seed and 'burned Curse combo off on the next pack. Chaining Seeds together is too much fun to pass up.
With this new beta build, Mannoroth's Fury received a little nerf, and I thought about all the new AoE abilities for warlocks. Every spec has multiple AoE options now, both small-scale and large-scale. Even better, no spec feels like a mindless spamming anymore. Even affliction's constant casting of Seed requires a little setup.
Baseline: Rain of Fire
In Mists of Pandaria, Rain of Fire is still an every-kind-of-warlock spell. It's still mostly the same -- a big target circle and then you channel the spell. It's the first AoE spell anyone gets
Something new is the way channels work with mana. Despite what the Wowhead tooltip says, the in-game tooltip has a more complicated mana cost. Instead of the flat mana cost of the entire spell, channels will cost a little bit at first (24k for Rain) and then some more mana every second (12k).
That's great when the tank moves the mobs out of your Rain of Fire area. On the flipside, it's slightly weird to see my mana constantly drop while channeling Drain Soul.
Demonology retains its signature AoEs
Demo is the first 'lock spec at 22 to receive its own major AoE, Hellfire, which replaces Rain of Fire. In the low levels, it's the old Hellfire that does damage to the warlock and needs to be channeled. At level 62, demo 'locks gain the passive Metamorphosis: Immolation Aura, which combines the non-damaging, moveable Hellfire with the Meta-only Aura.
At level 19, Hand of Gul'dan is introduced to demonology. I don't consider Hand to be truly AoE, but it can be set up with multiple mobs so the Shadowflame DoT effectively covers a bigger area than the normal 6 yards. At level 79, Hand becomes Chaos Wave in Metamorphosis, which is simply initial damage and the slow effect sans DoT.
In Cataclysm, Hand of Gul'dan suffered from the same problem as Rain of Fire, where the mobs can be moved out of the circle on the ground once the spell was cast. In Mists, Hand by default will center on the mob, moving with the mob if the mob moves. If players want the early-beta targetable circle instead of an auto-mob attachment, they can glyph for it.
At level 54, destro gains both of its major AoE abilities. First, the old talent Aftermath now becomes a passive and allows Rain of Fire to be instant-cast instead of channeled. The change is delightfully weird, so I end up running myself OOM just casting circles of fire everywhere.
Those who PvP might not enjoy the stun limitations on an Aftermath-ed Rain, which has to strike a target twice to daze, but it's an effective AoE slow for the less intelligent mobs that will doggedly tramp through a Rain in order to get to a warlock.
The other new AoE ability at level 54 is Fire and Brimstone. F&B lets the next Immolate, Incinerate, Conflagrate, or Curse to hit all targets within 15 yards. It's a great AoE manuever with Conflagrate. It's a great ember-generating trick with Incinerate, since each Incinerate has a chance to crit. It's a cool DoT-spreading technique with Immolate and curses.
Along the lines of spreading damage around, Havoc is the bane ability at level 36 for destruction. In Mists, Havoc is no longer a set-and-forget spell of 5 minutes, but a 15-second window of doubling up three single-target spells. The best effect for Havoc I think is having double Chaos Bolts spring from your fingertips.
Affliction: Chain Corrupting has never been so much fun
At level 60, affliction warlocks get good ol' Seed of Corruption, and two levels later, it's Soulburnable. But Seed has changed slightly in its explosion requirements.
On live, Seed explodes at any damage done to the mob, whether by the warlock or other players. This leads to the warlock's just spamming Seed on trash, since it almost always immediately explodes due to raid or group damage on the target.
However, in Mists, Seed will only explode off the warlock's damage. This leads to a longer ramp-up time, but now the warlock is allowed to have Corruption and Seed simultaneously on a target. If you want to continue to spam Seed in Mists, it's doable. All three DoTs were enough to blow Seed in a tick, but later on I resorted to just Agony and a Malefic Grasp channel for a quicker explosion.
But I'm enjoying the multidotting of Seed to create a chain reaction. A Seed of Corruption's explosion can blow other Seeds. It's a longer ramp-up time to set up all the mobs with Seed before bursting one, but the end result is ridiculous damage in nearly one hit. For a quicker setup with a more constant chain-exploding effect, I'll Soulburn the Seed to get Corruption going everywhere, and then I'll spam Seed on multiple mobs. It takes a tick or two to get Corruption to pop the Seed, so I can get two or three Seeds down before the whole thing blows.
The multiDoTing of Seed feels like a natural extension to multiDoTing the meaty DoTs. Shard problems aside, multidotting makes affliction fun for me. The swap glyph is sure to see some more action from me now that my haste percent is in the toilet again.
For those mobs with health inferior for Seeding, Rain of Fire remains baseline for affliction to use; however, I prefer the talented AoE, even despite nerfs.
The talented AoE is Harvest Life, available at level 15 even before a warlock gets Rain of Fire! Harvest Life is essentially an AoE Drain Life, and of course it's already been nerfed like Drain Life. Despite the developers' intentions for the life-stealing channels to remain situational and not rotational, Harvest Life is a great quickie AoE for warlocks on mobs that won't last a Seed or a Rain.
In the second tier of talents at level 30, there's a couple of AoE crowd control abilities. Howl of Terror and Shadowfury remain moreorless the same from their old versions. Shadowfury is pulled out of the destruction tree for use by all. Howl for everyone retains its affliction-specific benefits where the cooldown is reduced by taking damaging attacks.
Finally, there's the big AoE-related talent at level 90: Mannoroth's Fury. Mannoroth's Fury got a nerf recently, though some people were fooled by the bigger number in the tooltip. Previously, Mannoroth's Fury increased the radius by 200% of the AoE effect, while the new version increases the area by 500%. Let's do a little math.
"Increasing the radius by 200%" is another way of saying three times the radius; it's the radius plus twice the radius. The area of a circle is pi times the radius squared, so increasing the radius multiplicatively has a big effect on the area. The previous Mannoroth's Fury resulted in AoEs nine times as large.
Similarly, "increasing the area by 500%" means six times the area, which as you can now see is a nerf. But don't worry; the size difference isn't as noticeable as the math makes it out to be. I had to stare for a few minutes at a Rain of Fire target circle lined up on the Stormwind gates, comparing with my old AoE measurement in order to decide that yes, the circle is slightly smaller. The old Mannoroth's Fury had the bold inner circle of rune pattern nearly touching the gate walls. The new Mannoroth's Fury has the outer edge of the rune pattern's circle just touching the gate walls.
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.