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Blood Pact: Core summary for warlocks in patch 5.0

Blood Pact Core changes for warlocks in 50 MON
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill binged on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series while trying to gather faction loot when the beta's LFR was out of service. She's still in Season 2, and still has more loot to collect.

I didn't realize my paladin's transmog from last week would be so popular. For those who are still wondering, here are the items on Wowhead, with a sword and that fel green, two-handed axe for extras.

Moving on, it's time to break out the 101 skills again. Warlocks have been reworked in several ways, though the core still remains familiar. In the coming weeks, I will go over the changes to and general likings of all warlocks, everything you need to know about our pets, and a quick rundown of how each spec should play out.

As we get closer to the release of raids, I'll write up the item enhancements like consumables, enchants, and gems, as well as collecting all the faction and dungeon gear in one spot for readers.

This week, let's get changes that affect every warlock out of the way.

Differentiating specs

Warlocks are complicated. We share DoTs and fillers across all three specs. Each spec in PvE or PvP may favor a certain pet, but the talents and glyphs to boost all the available pets are open to all. The Soul Shard system can be seen as a failure, as it tried to accommodate all three 'lock playstyles without favoring any particular one.

We simply share too much right now. In Mists of Pandaria, that changes.

Thematic focus We still have many of the same spells that we're using now, but the main combat spells are segregated to their specs. Corruption is the only thing shared between two specs, but demonology will only use it outside of Metamorphosis. Each spec will have its own theme. Affliction is about shadow DoTs and channels, demonology is all about the demons, and destruction is about strong, fire-based nukes.

A resource of its own for each spec Affliction keeps Soul Shards as they are. Demonology gains Demonic Fury, which fills up as a bar to 1,000 (100%) by using certain abilities and drains down to 0 using the same if modified abilities when the warlock is in the Metamorphosis stance. Destruction gains burning embers; the warlock builds a whole ember in tenths by casting fire spells on the target and spends them by casting special abilities like Chaos Bolt.

One backbone underneath all the flavor A common worry at the beginning of the beta was that drastically different warlock specs would hinder those learning to switch between two specs. It won't be a problem. Every spec has at least one DoT and at least one nuke before variation, so action bars can be thematically arranged. You can have the DoT key, the execution key, the filler key, the curse key, the bane key, the AoE key.

Talents for all As you may well know, the talent system got completely redone in MoP, and we're left with six tiers of three choices each. Some tiers were controversial, like the splitting of our crowd control in tier 2 or whether the devs could really create a pet-affecting tier of equals. The talents are meant to provide extra utility rather than straight DPS increases.

Currently, the only talent tier taken into account on theorycrafting simulation software such as SimulationCraft is the Grimoire tier, which affects pet performance. Which some talents may provide damage, the other five tier choices will be reviewed on a boss-by-boss basis.

Glyphs simplified There are no prime glyphs. Major glyphs affect gameplay or spell functionality significantly, and some may be considered required for certain areas of play. Minor glyphs are either purely cosmetic or improve quality of life for some spells. I'll address specific majors when I go over the three specs in a later column, but you can take a look at the minors.

Blood Pact Core changes for warlocks in 50 MON
Dark Intent and Symbiosis

I went over this previously, but I'll go over it again. I figure there will be much repeating, maybe even sarcastic macros, regarding Dark Intent's change from an intimate monogamous relationship with another raid member to a group-wide buff-and-forget.

Dark Intent will no longer be a buff moonkin will murder shadow priests over, but a simple, straight spell power buff of 10% for everyone. This fixes the headache of balancing an output-affecting buff in a raid as well as unlocking warlocks from having to play demonology for a buff.

Warlocks will share or overwrite this buffing ability with mages (Arcane Brilliance) and shaman (Burning Wrath).

The headache of pairing up raid members will pass on to the druids in the form of Symbiosis. When you're grouped with a druid, an ability called Symbiosis will become available in your spellbook. It won't do anything until the druid actually casts Symbiosis on you. Once linked with a druid, the druid grants the warlock a druidic spell and the warlock will grant the druid a warlock's spell, based on the druid's specialization role.

Here's the rundown on Symbiosis:
  • All warlocks will receive Rejuvenation to use. It's not amazing as a pure DPS class, but since we still sacrifice health in order to regenerate mana and our self-healing has been significantly reduced from that of Cataclysm, it isn't a terrible gift.
  • Moonkin will receive Unending Resolve, which is a damage reducing cooldown that also protects against interrupts and silences.
  • Cats will receive Soul Swap, which transfers DoTs from one target to another.
  • Bears will receive Life Tap, which will grant them rage for a portion of health.
  • Trees will receive Demonic Circle: Teleport, with the caveat that the teleport returns the druid to the warlock's portal, instead of granting the druid the whole summon and teleport set.
I'm still looking into how Symbiosis might be handled in a macro, whether the /cast command would be better directed at Symbiosis or Rejuvenation. If anyone has found the answer already, feel free to comment or send me an email at megan@wowinsider.com.

Blood Pact Core changes for warlocks in 50 MON
Stat priorities

Intellect remains the reigning champion of favored warlock stats, closely followed by spell power. Intellect increases crit chance slightly along with providing spellpower per point. While spirit is present on cloth gear to aid priests, it remains a useless stat for those who consort with demons.

The hit cap is still important, but the percentage has changed up a bit. Raid bosses (+3 levels above players) will now require only 15% hit, while 5-man heroics (+2 levels) will still be 12% and PvP will remain at 6% (+0 levels). According to Wowpedia, these percentages convert at level 90 to 5,100, 4,080, and 2,040 rating, respectively.

As far as haste, crit, and mastery go, I'm not sure we can tell yet. In the actual game, Demon Soul has transformed from a pet-based to a spec-based DPS cooldown. The new Dark Soul buffs a different secondary stat based on spec. Affliction gets haste, demonology gets mastery, and destruction gets critical strike.

You would think that each spec would favor secondary stats in this direction. However, the latest SimC results as of writing have mastery ranking first on all specs. This might be because of the widespread presence of mastery on preraid and T14 gear, or it may be because not all bugs or miscoded mechanics are ironed out in the simulations yet.

Haste break points for periodic spells are being explored by both Keldion and Binkenstein, and may still change as certain glyphs and spells are mechanically adjusted.

PvP stats Spell penetration is gone along with spell resistance. Instead, you'll have PvP power, which improves your damage done on other players and their minions. Power is present on all the pieces resilience was and is, instead of being restricted to a cloak, necklace, or enchant. Resilience, too, has been renamed PvP resilience, though it functions almost the same, as far as I can make out. Neither PvP stat is reforgeable.

No worry about large numbers As it was in Cataclysm, there will be a ton of rating on gear, as the devs decided to go with Mega Damage over the Great Item Level Squish when it came to dealing with gear inflation.

Next week on Blood Pact

I will cover all things pets. I'll cover all the pet abilities and affecting glyphs from classic pets to Supremacy. I'll explore for each spec the Grimoires (level 75 talents) at level 90, including the recent changes to Grimoire of Sacrifice. If I have room after all that, I'll touch on whether the devs achieved pet equality for encounters or if there will still be a clear, cookie-cutter winner for all things warlock.

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, Mists of Pandaria

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