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Blood Pact: Conjuring DPS rotations for patch 4.0.1, part 1


The people are quiet, with red eyes glazed and empty as they stare off into the dark distance. They move slowly, as if anchored to the worn bodies dragging along behind them. Is this a scene of war? A B-rated horror movie? No. It's Monday, the poisonous end to the weekend and dawn of the dreaded work week. But fear not, for Eli Khoury has your cure: a bloody Mary and Blood Pact, freshly poured and on the house. Drink up.

Greetings, conjurers of fire and dark.

With the expansion eyeing a Dec. 7 release date and a major content patch less than a few weeks away, the Blood Pact mailroom has filled to the brim with the stench of uncertainty. Many prodding letters continue to suffocate the space with their incessancy, searching for some much-needed warlock satisfaction and firing off question after question about what to expect of our class in the weeks to come. Those searing questions, and the interesting succubus-themed cosplay images that some of you have sent, are quite the interesting read, let me tell you.

Of all the questions that I've received, however, there is one theme that is a constant amidst all of the babble. No, it's not regarding the rumors of a certain warlock's untimely demise (which have been highly exaggerated, let me assure you). Nor is it about the threesome between the Cobra Commander, Batman and a very unlucky druid, which apparently inspired the wretched warlock T11 design that has had me scratching my head these past few weeks. But what I am talking about is warlock DPS -- or more specifically, what our DPS rotations will look like in the upcoming patch and expansion.

Today, we're going all scabies and starting from scratch. We'll be working with the raw goodness from the Public Test Realm (PTR), grabbing, pulling and yanking data out from our spell books to find a key ingredient to our DPS equation: the overall worth of our abilities. Once that information is gathered, we can calculate the average damage per cast time (aDPCT) of our spells and put together a priority-based rotation, not only helping our understanding and appreciation of the design process, but also (and perhaps most importantly) maximizing our DPS output in patch 4.0.1 and Cataclysm. We wouldn't want to fall behind those simpleton, button-mashing mages and hunters, would we?

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Filed under: Warlock, Raiding, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Cataclysm

Cataclysm Beta: Warlock evilness (goodness) in build 12984

If you follow the WoW Insider team on Twitter (and you should, if you haven't already), you were treated to some sweet hilarity early this morning when information of an upcoming beta build woke us up with a swift fist to the face. And let me tell you -- it has left an impression. Of all the builds that have come and gone, this one screams the loudest, telling the tale of just how close Cataclysm is to breaking the horizon. Instead of another huge list of major overhauls, this patch brings a good amount of substance to smaller but still important elements of the game. We're seeing new achievements, feats of strength, non-combat pets and spell refinements. And for the warlock class, there are changes that look dead sexy and are definitely worth a stare or two.

But before we dive into this fresh cesspool of puppy love, do keep in mind that there are spoilers ahead. If you lay awake at night anxious that the day ahead may shatter your dreams of a virgin expansion experience, you may want to skip this post. However, if you are craving Cataclysm goodness or just can't control the temptation any longer, come on in -- the water is warm and there is plenty of Unending Breath to go around.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, News items, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Cataclysm

Blood Pact: The Soulburning warlock

A familiar necrotic stench fills the air as sights and sounds fade into a fog of Fear. Your hope is not that the warlock considers you a friend among foes, but that he has a use for you -- for that is the only way to survive this hell and receive his hallowed Blood Pact.

It's Friday -- the portal to the weekend and new home of Blood Pact, the festering pot of warlock goodness that seeks to satisfy your burning soul. So sit back, banish away the worries of the week, masticate on newborn flesh and ponder in disgust the obvious reason for a certain class's obsession with sheep, as you plot to kill them all. It's fry day, after all.

Soul Shards. These two simple words have been the source of much warlock angst. Ask any warlock, especially those who have played since the days of old, what he thinks of the tiny purple reagents and you will likely be met with a shaking finger in your face and a foaming rant about losing an entire bag slot and precious farming time to the little devils. Personally, I clearly and regretfully remember the redundancy of having to seek out "green" level mobs to farm Soul Shards from before patch 3.1. And even now, my bags are still constantly full (thanks, Abyssal Bag). If there was ever a reason to overly appreciate a dumb and inanimate hunk of wood or develop an unimaginable hate for pixelated bag space issues, Soul Shards would be it.

Bombarded by complaints of inconvenience, calls for stackable Soul Shards -- or something, anything that would improve a warlock's quality of life or death or whatever -- Blizzard has been listening. Come Cataclysm, the Soul Shard reagent will be no more, and the entire outdated system will cease to exist as we know it. In its place will spawn a resource mechanic, not completely unlike the death knight's rune system -- but different enough to make it fresh, new and completely our own. With this new mechanic arrive some sexy spell-altering effects, some of which are more attractive than others, but all of which warrant a closer look nonetheless.

Now, the following statement may be a tad obvious, but after suffering the displeasure of raiding with individuals who sport ilvl277 gear and still stand in fire, ooze or whatever the hell else is beneath their feet trying to kill them, I have lost all faith in the common sense of man, and so this must be said: The information in this post may contain what some consider to be Cataclysm spoilers. So please, proceed with caution.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, News items, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Cataclysm

Blood Pact: Destruction warlock changes in the beta

Echoes of distant incantations fade through the stagnant air, announcing the warlock's departure. His maddening enslavement is no more, and fearful citizens once entrapped in darkness now fill the streets in celebration. But such revelry is hollow, for with the warlock lies the protection of his Blood Pact -- and where it is removed, destruction follows.

Greetings from the eternal dark, master summoners.

Here we are again, at the beginning of another week, and dealing with the hot mess that the beta continues to splatter all over our computer screens. It is quite the experience, let me tell you. In some ways, it is glorious and satisfying. In others, well, let's just say that I have witnessed numerous screen flickers, program crashes, and enough bugs to warrant an exterminator. And yes, I know -- such is the testing phase and I should just be happy for the opportunity to enjoy four frames per second of Cataclysm goodness while so many others just hope for an invitation. Believe it or not, I am thrilled about it. You just can't tell because, as usual, I am in an incredibly wretched mood -- I play a warlock, after all.

During our last meeting, we took to the trees to break down the interesting changes made to the once lowly but now supremely sexy demonology specialization, which has developed beyond puberty to become a stunning piece of work. This week, we shift our focus to the right. We'll be eyeing the key changes made to the least DoT-dependent of warlock specializations. Some call it the "shadow mage equivalent" and should be slapped in the face with meat cleaver. The more intelligent call it "destruction."

As is always the case with posts like these, there will be what some consider to be spoilers in the information ahead. So please, click responsibly.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Cataclysm

Blood Pact: Demonology changes in the beta

Bloody tears stream from the eyes of the hopelessly insane, huddled silently in wait and separated from reality by the voices echoing within their minds. The whispers speak their names in bidding, and the horror lies not in their sinister calling but in knowledge of a dreaded fate if a summon were to go unanswered. This is the life, and death, of enslaved demons, warlock minions, and the Blood Pact they dare not deny their masters.

The darkest of salutations, warlocks.

Monday is upon us. You know what that means, don't you? It is time to check your kill quotas for the month, browse the local newspapers for a fine selection of newborn baby announcements (aka dinner plans) and peruse the obituary section for mage funerals to attend, corpses to desecrate and mourners to cast into mage heaven (read: a Celine Dion concert, aka warlock hell) with their fallen brethren. I hear that Julia Sunstriker is going to meet a timely, explosive, bright and violent death soon. It would be a pity to miss that party, wouldn't it?

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves with images of pain and our pleasure, Mondays also mean that we have class matters to attend to. And with the incoming Cataclysm on the not-so-distant horizon, we are going to continue processing the goodness that a lucky few of us are witnessing in the beta.

Last week, we spent a great deal of energy and saliva lusting over the devilishly delicious talents placed into the affliction tree -- I am still recovering from the loss of fluids. This week, we're going to switch specs and dissect, discuss, devour and digest the key changes made for those master summoners among us, the demonology warlocks. Needless to say, there will be what some may consider spoilers ahead, so if you're the type that wants to experience every detail of the expansion as a virgin and first hand, be careful where you click. That giant "Read more" is probably something you should stay away from.

Those of you who are yearning for more, you may want to grab some food and drink for sustenance and have a mop and bucket ready for easy cleanup, because this is going to get nasty -- in a good kind of way, of course.

Ready? Good. Let's press on.

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Filed under: Warlock, News items, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Cataclysm

Blood Pact: Affliction changes in the beta


The people are quiet, with red eyes glazed and empty as they stare off into the dark distance. They move slowly, as if anchored to the worn bodies dragging along behind them. Is this a scene of war? A B-rated horror movie? No. It's Monday, the poisonous end to the weekend and dawn of the dreaded work week. But fear not, for Eli Khoury has your cure: a bloody Mary and Blood Pact, freshly poured and on the house. Drink up.

Ah, affliction. How I love thee. Nothing says "warlock" more, in my mind, than slowly withering enemies away with powerful damage over time spells -- spells that will continue molesting their target long after the warlock has moved on, cursing his next victim to an eventual death with banes and profanities. Where destruction and demonology warlocks explode their targets, the affliction warlock forces them to suffer within the grief of their incoming demise. That is, in a word, pure evil (okay, two words), and the current affliction tree (live realms) is a testament to the atrocious, having stood the test of time near the top of single-target damage meters since patch 3.0 and enjoying much PvP success as well.

When early beta patches showed minimal changes to affliction, I will admit that I was a little if not completely relieved. Aside from the filler talents that I am happy to see removed from their unimportant duties, the tree has a balance to it that I hope remains undisturbed. The DPS rotation is as smooth as a mage's bottom (they all cry like babies, after all), and PvP options are aplenty.

But changes are coming, and they are coming fast. The modifications to the affliction tree that we were promised amidst the barrenness of previous beta builds are beginning to show their faces. So, are they sister's-best-friend fine or frying-pan ugly? Let's take a closer look at the major differences amongst the old and the new and find out, shall we?

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, News items, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Cataclysm

Cataclysm Beta: Warlock specializations and talents


A familiar necrotic stench fills the air as sights and sounds fade into a fog of Fear. You tremble at the searing touch of flame that has enveloped those around you. Your hope is not that the warlock considers you a friend among foes, but that he has a use for you -- for that is the only way to survive this hell and receive his hallowed Blood Pact.

Finally, it has happened. The alpha has met its omega, the nondisclosure agreement is no more, and a freshly patched beta has released a swarm of much-anticipated Cataclysm information onto an unsurprisingly anxious and open-mouthed crowd. Standing before us are the revamped talent trees, relieved of the rot that has infested them for so long and ready for us to dissect and devour. I hope you're hungry.

Many talent changes have already been covered here at WoW.com, but what is missing is most important, not only because it pertains to what may become the most-shaken and altered class of patch 4.0, but also because their presence alone keeps the population of mages at bay. And too many mages means too much Lady Gaga, apple martinis and glittery body sprays. Ugh.

So, let's not waste a moment on pleasantries or poems, warlocks, for the time of our new arrival is nigh.

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Filed under: Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Cataclysm

The Guild season 4 begins

The Guild fans, rejoice!

The award-winning web series starring Felicia Day is back for a fourth season of quirky comedic goodness. Episode 1, entitled Epic Guilt, is available right now for your viewing pleasure via Bing and the Microsoft Network. If you need to do some catching up on the storyline or just wish to refresh your memory of the happenings in the season 3 finale, head on over to The Guild series channel and search for what what you need -- it's all there.

We've previously interviewed Felicia Day, most recently at BlizzCon 2009. And of course, she was also kind enough to stop by our BlizzCon reader meetup and say hello to everyone.

Enjoy the show!

Filed under: News items, Humor

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