What enchants will help me hit hit cap? What will help me reach that haste breakpoint? How can I get more mastery? Should I gem for the socket bonus? What professions are best for warlocks?
OK, I might be lazy or otherwise occupied with all the Lorewalkers scrolls to figure out which professions are best before the Elitist Jerks do. But I've put it off long enough and raiding won't wait: it's the consumables, enchants, and profession perks post.
Is expertise useful?
With the normalization of the hit rating system, expertise rating now applies to spell hit 1:1 with actual hit rating. Expertise racials are even applying bonuses to their races depending on the main-hand weapon equipped.
So yes, technically, warlocks can find expertise useful. I would still prefer not to use expertise items. Expertise has historically been a melee stat and therefore tends to come with melee-preferred items that have otherwise useless-to-warlocks stats like agility.
But ... I can't deny that sometimes it might help in a pinch.
Use expertise with caution: you can gem expertise, for example, but it's a red-based gem, which would deprive you of a possible intellect gain.
The best stat increase for you in raids will be intellect. The only time you might choose a secondary stat food would be if you are just shy of the hit cap.
Food If you can cook up or buy some Mogu Fish Stew (600 Way of the Pot skill), you'll have the best food available at a 300 intellect buff. However, a Banquet will give you 275 intellect if you have a high cooking skill in the Zen Master range, else you'll get only 250 intellect.
Spicy Salmon (300 hit rating) requires exalted with the Tillers to buy the recipe, so go with Wildfowl Ginseng Soup (275 hit) if you need a hit rating food. You can learn the soup from Sungshin Ironpaw at 510 cooking.
Warlocks don't need to worry about the pandaren racial applying to the food buffs since pandaren cannot be warlocks.
Flask Warlocks will love the Flask of the Warm Sun, which gives 1000 intellect for 1 hour.
If you'd rather go for a combination of elixirs, remember you can only have one Battle elixir and one Guardian elixir active at the same time. The only guardian elixirs are dodge or armor, which we won't want normally in PvE. So choose your favorite secondary stat if you wish to pop a battle elixir:
- Elixir of Perfection -- 750 hit
- Elixir of the Rapids -- 750 haste
- Mad Hozen Elixir -- 750 crit
- Monk's Elixir -- 750 mastery
The base PvE gem for warlocks has always been the red gem, for intellect. From there, to fill in yellow or blue sockets, warlocks reach for orange or purple gems unless they absolutely need a whole primary color's worth of a non-intellect stat.
After intellect, gems can be used to get closer to certain caps or breakpoints in addition with reforging (hit/expertise, haste), or simply to add more of a stat (crit, mastery). I'll let you decide what you need.
Meta gem: Burning Primal Diamond.
Reds (Primordial Ruby): Brilliant (320 intellect), Precise (320 expertise).
Oranges (Vermillion Onyx): Potent (80 intellect + 160 crit), Reckless (80 intellect + 160 haste), Artful (80 intellect + 160 mastery)
Yellows (Sun's Radiance): Smooth (320 crit), Quick (320 haste), Fractured (320 mastery)
Greens (Wild Jade): Green is the mix of secondary stats, both PvE and PvP, so there are many combinations. Here's the PvE combos:
- with 160 hit rating: Piercing (160 crit), Lightning (160 haste), Sensei's (160 mastery)
- with 120 stamina: Jagged (160 crit), Forceful (160 haste), Puissant (160 mastery)
- Nimble (160 hit + 120 stamina)
Purples (Imperial Amethyst): Veiled (80 intellect + 160 hit), Timeless (80 intellect + 160 stamina)
Cogwheels are the special engineering gem, which can be put in BoE items like the Ghost Iron Dragonling trinket and used by non-engineer warlocks. I know because an engineering guildmate made me one. Each cogwheel grants 600 of a secondary stat, and you cannot stack them because each cogwheel is unique-equipped.
For the trinket, I chose hit, haste, and mastery cogwheels as an affliction warlock. I suspect demonology will pick up the same combination, and destruction may switch out mastery for crit. You could possibly have the ultimate hit trinket with a hit/expertise/something setup, and I envy spirit-using DPS casters who could possibly use all three spell hit sources: hit, expertise, spirit.
The socket bonus question: Blizzard has said already that they want to make gemming more interesting than red gems in everything this time. The socket bonus reasoning remains the same, however. Weigh the importance of the intellect-laden gem setup with the appropriate color scheme and socket bonus.
Enhance your gear
I haven't yet figured out what's the cheap enchants and what are the expensive enchants yet. I'm rolling in cloth as a tailor who does 25+ dailies every day, and the newest enchanting allows me to combine or shatter enchanting materials up and down the rarity line.
If you're out to raid as soon as possible, you'll likely want the best you can get, no matter what it costs.
Let us ignore profession perks for a moment.
- Head -- There are no more head enchants! Rejoice!
- Shoulders -- Go for the Crane variants. Greater is better than regular, obviously.
- Back -- Superior Intellect
- Chest -- Glorious Stats
- Wrists -- Super Intellect, which is bought from the August Celestials at Revered reputation, which is behind the great Golden Lotus reputation gating as well as Shado-Pan. Until you get to that one, Mastery or the old Cataclysmic Mighty Intellect.
- Hands -- Greater Haste or Superior Mastery, whichever one you love more or hate less.
- Waist -- Living Steel Belt Buckle
- Legs -- Greater or regular Cerulean Spellthread. The Greater version is bought from Golden Lotus at Honored.
- Feet -- Pandaren's Step if you like mastery and moving or Greater Haste if you like haste and don't need more movement.
- Weapon -- Jade Spirit is the best enchant, but it's behind Shado-Pan reputation at Revered. Windsong or Elemental Force can be cheaper alternatives, as well as old Power Torrent.
- Off-hands -- Major Intellect
Let's reconsider those professions now. Required skill points in said profession are listed in parentheses. "??" skill points were unlisted on Wowhead; perhaps commenters can help me out!
- Alchemy (500) -- A cool trinket, a reusable flask that scales with your level, and your flasks last longer.
- Blacksmithing (550) -- An extra 2 gem sockets.
- Enchanting (550) -- Enchant both rings.
- Engineering (550) -- Synapse Springs gets an update to Mark II and you can craft a spiffy helm at 600 skill.
- Herbalism (??) -- Lifeblood gains rank 9.
- Inscription (600) -- An even better shoulder enchant.
- Jewelcrafting (550) -- 2 Brilliant Serpent's Eyes.
- Leatherworking (575) -- A better bracer enchant.
- Mining (??) -- 480 Stamina. Aw yeah!
- Skinning (??) -- 480 Crit.
- Tailoring (??) -- You can buy the best pants enchant off a vendor mount and you get a better back enchant.
The PvP exception
In PvE, it's preferred to kill things before you die, but I've had many satisfactory killings blows while under a res timer in PvP. Outsurviving your enemy is heavily preferred in PvP, but not entirely necessary.
In the high-stakes PvE setting of raiding, you are guaranteed certain buffs as well as a tank to take your hits and a healer to get you out of trouble. But in PvP, you might be out there all on your own, so it's on you to balance your survivability with your ability to kill the red name tags. The stat priorities can shift from the PvE core, making the enchants or gemming different.
As Season 12 starts soon, I'll take a look at warlocks in PvP. I may not be as spectacular in the arena as I am in the raid zone, but that doesn't mean I'll leave you PvP'locks hanging in Blood Pact.
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.