Tomorrow, we can summon a wrathguard or an observer or a shivarra. Tomorrow, we can have AoE Drain Life. Tomorrow, we can ride felsteeds on water. Tomorrow, we can enter Metamorphosis whenever we wish. Tomorrow, players everywhere will be begging the superior class for summons. (I take bribes).
I've got your back with a summary of what to do as an 85 warlock with Mists of Pandaria mechanics in the final month of Cataclysm. Later, I'll flesh out the differences between levels 85 and 90. We'll visit tier 6 talents again, look at consumables and enchants, and get your gear ready for tier 14 raiding.
But for now, you just need to survive patch 5.0.4.
Tier 1 My default choice is Soul Leech. Dark Regeneration is useful in encounters with periods of high damage, like purple/yellow/red on heroic Yor'sahj. Harvest Life might be dangerous in PvE since it can grab mobs you didn't intend to pull, and it has been nerfed heavily to discourage regular use.
Tier 2 All three are useful and very debatable in PvP. In PvE, I would recommend Mortal Coil as an extra health potion or Shadowfury as a stun option for specific mobs like the Sons of Flame on Ragnaros. Howl of Terror is likely PvP-only.
Tier 3 Dark Bargain is my default choice. A blue post mentioned that Soul Link is operable with Grimoire of Sacrifice; your health is increased by 20%. Sacrificial Pact is not recommended for Grimoire of Sacrifice, since the combination means you will be sacrificing your health and you don't receive an increase.
Tier 4 All three cost health, even if Unbound Will's talent tooltip doesn't say it.
I like Burning Rush for the fun of it, but Unbound Will (especially on a human warlock) is incredibly useful for getting out of sticky situations. In PvE, watch out for adverse dispel effects, such as on heroic Zon'ozz. Blood Fear is likely to remain a PvP-only choice.
Tier 5 Grimoires vary by spec.
Simulation Craft has done a pets comparison with all three grimoires. Sacrifice is itself, Supremacy minions are named, and the regular minions are Service minions. As of writing, the 5.0.4 pet comparison uses the T13 heroic profiles. The tuning is tight enough for fun, with gaps top to bottom of 4.6k DPS for aff 'locks, 3.6k for demo, and 2.3k for destro. If you really wanted to play with the Wrathguard as demonology, I say forget the sims and go for it.
Common cooldowns and curses
The damage cooldowns are similar to Cataclysm's:
- Doomguard, or Terrorguard if you take Grimoire of Supremacy.
- Dark Soul, the redesigned Demon Soul. Each spec gets a different secondary stat increase. Affliction gets haste; demonology gets mastery; destruction gets critical strike.
- Talents: Dark Regeneration is a burst of health as well as increased healing for a period. Sacrificial Pact and Dark Bargain both shield you. Soul Link shares damage with your demon.
- Unending Resolve is a damage reduction of 40% plus protection from interrupts and silences. This means we can do Ultraxion's Hour of Twilight now!
- Twilight Ward mitigates shadow or holy damage. Demonologists in Dark Apotheosis stance can mitigate all spell schools with it. A fresh copy of my warlock on beta saw just under 36k for the ward when buffed with just a 10% spell power buff.
- Sacrificing a voidwalker gets you his Last Stand-like ability.
- Drain Life is nerfed underground and barely keeps me even with the incoming damage on beta. Harvest Life is a similar strength (or lack thereof) in AoE flavor.
- Shifting into Dark Apotheosis can help a demonology warlock avoid 15% damage like a moonkin or shadow priest already can, but it does drain all your demonic fury.
- Curse of the Elements is the primary curse to use; it now overlaps only with the rogue's Master Poisoner and a few select hunter pets. The upside is that this can be any rogue now, not just assassination.
- Curse of Enfeeblement is the combined Weakness and Tongues. Every tank is able to and should cover the Weakness part, so you shouldn't have to use Enfeeblement in a dungeon or raid setting unless it's for the slow casting part. Death knights and rogues can also cover the slow casting.
- Curse of Exhaustion is still affliction-only, as demonology and destruction both have other methods of movement slowing.
Simple things first:
- The sims preferred haste > crit > mastery for T13 heroic gear.
- For major glyphs, you'll want at least Soul Shards and Soul Swap.
- Grimoire (Pet): Sacrifice
- Agony is the only Bane we have, and it stacks to 10, so clipping is mandatory again to keep a full 10 stacks throughout the encounter.
- Unstable Affliction and Corruption need to be hand refreshed now, but you can use Fel Flame (on the move) to do so. Corruption procs Nightfall, which is your main in-combat regeneration of Soul Shards.
- Haunt now costs a Soul Shard and has no cooldown.
- Malefic Grasp is your new filler spell.
- Drain Soul can be used to regenerate Soul Shards (filler-twisting with Malefic Grasp), but it's really meant to be used under 20% target health.
Simple things first:
- The sims preferred haste > mastery > crit for T13 heroic gear.
- For major glyphs, you'll want at least Shadow Bolt (it crits separately in its parts) and Imp Swarm.
- Grimoire (Pet): Service (Felguard)
- You cannot really tank, even with the glyph; the 6% crit immunity has been removed from Nether Plating.
In caster form:
- Imp Swarm (glyphed) to gain demonic fury from the five imps it summons.
- Corruption is your only DoT.
- Hand of Gul'dan will now stick to the target instead of the ground when unglyphed. It has two charges, so you can stack two circles on top of each other or you can space them out.
- Soul Fire when Molten Core procs. This is the main PowerAura-like graphic on your screen.
- Shadow Bolt when nothing else.
- Use your DPS cooldowns just prior to Metamorphosis; if not, directly after.
- Doom replaces Corruption on your bars, but stacks alongside Corruption on the target.
- Use Void Ray (Fel Flame) to refresh Corruption.
- You can continue with Soul Fire on Molten Core procs, but it may be recommended to save those procs (30 seconds) for when you pop out into caster form so you can regenerate fury more quickly.
- Touch of Chaos is the Shadow Bolt replacement in Metamorphosis.
- You also auto-cast bolts of shadow, and can start combat in Metamorphosis this way.
Simple things first:
- The sims preferred crit > haste > mastery for T13 heroic gear.
- For major glyphs, you'll want at least Conflagrate and Burning Embers.
- Grimoire (Pet): Sacrifice (yes, it changed from last week)
- Keep Immolate on the target; you need it for Incinerate to generate burning embers.
- Conflagrate to buff yourself with Backdraft, three charges per Conflagrate cast. Conflagrate two charges itself and a cooldown to regenerate a charge, so you can pace Backdraft or spam to six charges.
- Chaos Bolt spends a full ember. Unfortuantely, Chaos Bolt does not benefit from Backdraft until level 86, so you'll still have that agonizingly long cast feeling leftover from Improved Soul Fire upkeep for another month.
- Incinerate is the regular filler for destro, though Fel Flame will do the same job faster but for more mana. Incinerate generates parts of an ember. I've seen and adopted the term "emberbits" for these parts.
I recommend a staggered buildup of +2-1+2-1 etc. for embers. The time it takes to cast a Chaos Bolt, even under Backdraft, will regenerate enough mana for a comfortable mid-bar fluctuation. Burn the fourth ember immediately if you ever build one so you can continue to not waste later Incinerates.
For AoE, destro 'locks have two options. There's the old standby Rain of Fire for option 1, which is now instant and not channeled for destruction warlocks. The second option is spending an ember on Fire and Brimstone, which will copy the next cast of Immolate, Incinerate, or Conflagrate to all mobs within 15 yards of your target. For dual targets, Havoc is still around for one Chaos Bolt or three single-target spells.
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.