After an arduously long wait, Blizzard finally rolled around to Warlocks in their series of Class Question and Answer sessions, and we got some questions answered. Or did we? In the past I've often been told that I'm far too forgiving of Blizzard, that I tend to support their position too easily. But even I couldn't help but feel dejected after this Q&A session. It would be hyperbole to say that we didn't get any answers, but it certainly seems like you could replace most of the answers we got with "maybe we'll address this someday, possibly," without losing too much in translation.
The questions themselves weren't bad. I often find Q&As and Interviews disappointing, because the things I care about are never asked, but that wasn't the case with this. Some people have complained to me that several of the questions were frivolous, but I honestly think it's about damn time Warlocks got some kind of official acknowledgment on the green fire issue. That said, many of the answers were, at best, vague and unhelpful, and evasive at worst.
Whatever the overall merit, however, the Q&A was long enough that I wont waste any more of my word count introducing it. So lets jump right into analyzing individual answers shall we?
Nick W.: I'd like to roll a Craft(Writing) check to make a column.
Game Master: Alright, make your check.
*Click clatter of rolled dice...*
Nick W.: I rolled a four...
Game Master: You create an episode of Blood Pact.
Nick W.: Damn!
Though it may have been watered down by the "bring the player, not the class" mantra, Warlocks are a utility class at heart. We can rock the DPS as hard as anybody else, but our real value comes in our summons, our debuffs, and our Soul Stones. That's what I'd like to talk about this week.
Proper Soul Stoning is an important topic. One which I've never seen covered to my satisfaction. The general one line of advice everybody gives to new Warlocks is "make sure the healer has a Soul Stone." But that's about as helpful as "cast spells at things to make them die." Sometimes it's not true, and even when it is true, the fact of the matter is a great deal more complicated than the single sentence of instruction can convey.
So what is proper Soul Stoning procedure? Soul Shards are easy enough to come by these days that there really isn't any excuse for not being prepared to Soul Stone whenever it's appropriate, but when is that? And when it is appropriate, who is the best candidate for having the stone cast on them? The latter question is far too often ignored, particularly in raid situations where there's more than one healer to choose from.
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Ah, mid June. That blissful period between the end of finals, and Blizzard answering my questions. Time to sit back, unwind, and get back into my gaming and my writing. However, since I didn't spend much time in WoW during this past finals week, I found myself lacking inspiration. So, as I am wont to do now and again, I spent some time perusing the writings of my class columnist colleagues, hoping to happen upon some inspiration. And as it turned out, I stumbled across a gem of a post from the gentlemanly fellow over at Arcane Brilliance. He really is a rather dapper chap.
Sadly, I am particularly ill-suited to write a post on useless Warlock spells. You see, I have a dark and terrible secret. And not just the ones that come standard issue for all card-carrying Warlocks: this is a truly dire bit of personal arcana which I am mortified to admit in public... but here goes: I am a spell pack-rat. I use action bar supplementing addons just so I can keep every single spell or ability I've ever acquired somewhere on my screen. If my raid leader demanded that I ride my felsteed around in eleven circles, then dismount and dizzily cast a rotation made up entirely of Curse of Weakness and WANDING, then I wouldn't even need to open my spell book. Might need to find a new raid leader, but at least I wouldn't be unprepared.
Given my unseemly disability, I've decided that rather than directly emulating my esteemed counterpart, I'll simply write a column from the opposite perspective! Many spells in a Warlock's arsenal are unduly maligned as "useless" by mobs of rampaging children demanding to be buffed. It's downright unfair to call these spells useless when in fact they are only (if you'll forgive my overused joke) usefulness challenged.
With a flash of flame and a gout of smoke, Blood Pact appears again! It demands that columnist Nick Whelan make a sacrifice! Either he must write on a relatively simple subject this week, or be doomed to perform poorly during his finals! Left with no other recourse, Whelan submits to the will of the column.
Spells are the essence of playing a Warlock. Just about every part of playing the game, save role playing, has spell casting as a central feature for us. Fighting for control of Arathi Basin, dueling on matters of honor with some upstart Mage, questing and leveling, or any instance from assailing Defias scum in The Deadmines, to unlocking the secrets of Azeroth in Ulduar. Without spells the only things a Warlock could do would be run, jump, and weakly bonk our foes with our staffs. And there just aren't enough platforming sections in WoW to make that kind of thing fun.
Depending on our spec and in-game vocation, different Warlocks focus on different spells. And the decision of which spells to focus on is based on numbers. Such as the time required to cast the spell, potential damage output the spell has, or the amount of time that the spell will allow us to reign destruction on our foes while they run around screaming in abject terror. Understanding the mechanical uses of spells is essential if we're to be effective Warlocks. But as I've said in the past: Rain of Fire isn't just an area of effect spell channeled over 10 seconds which causes 2-3k non-crit damage every 2 seconds to enemies within a 15 yard radius--it's fireballs falling out of the sky!
It's no secret that I haven't exactly been in a PvE mood lately. I don't know what it is, but every year around this time I just...lose all motivation to progress. I've come to accept it as the natural cycle of my WoW-life, but lately I've been thinking I want to get back into it. I'm not ravenously trolling Dalaran looking for a raid, but I've been doing some heroic pugs to dust the rust off of my shadowbolting finger.
Frustratingly, though, I've been having an exceptionally difficult time getting back into Affliction. Not only does the rotation and casting style fail to engage me, but it feels like far too much of a struggle to dish out DPS. Back during that golden age between patch 3.0 and patch 3.1, Affliction was a zen thing for me. My rotation was so deeply ingrained that typical spell casting was handled by my subconscious mind. My fingers seemed to move on their own! Post 3.1, Affliction seems to have been made so user friendly that I keep stumbling whenever I try to do something. Like switching from Windows 3.1 to Vista overnight.
The most reasonable course of action, I concluded, was to revisit the first instructions given to me by my Jedi teacher. I needed to unlearn what I had learned, by switching to a completely different spec. So without further ado, welcome to Project Respec: Post 3.1. As clever readers probably divined from the title of this post, the subject this week is Destruction!
On a whim, I pulled out some of my Dungeons and Dragons books a couple weeks back, and convinced a buddy of mine that we should pick up where we left off in one of our old games. Since then my head has been wrapped around Zalekios Gromar, Vasharan Warlock on a mission to kill the gods that spited his people in millennia past. And while the Eldritch Blast of D&D isn't exactly the same as WoW's Shadow Bolt, it certainly got me in the mood for role playing.
There was a time between my adventures near Northshire Abbey, and my discovery that I had a passion for group content while I was fighting a torrential updraft of trolls in Zul'Farrak, when RP was my primary reason for playing the game. And while you don't usually see me walking through Stormwind these days, there was a time when I was Lord Sentai Grehsk, The Corpseseeker. A Warlock driven by the horrors of war to seek world peace at any cost, regardless of how many people he needed to quietly murder to achieve it.
Welcome Warlocks! Once weekly, Nick Whelan delves into the despicable underbelly of Dalaran to consort with cabalist casters, who help him channel Beelzebub into a fresh Blood Pact.
When I first took over this column, I remember discussing with several people my worries about the content I wouldn't be able to provide. At my best I'm a casual raider, and my PVP experience is limited to that time I did With a Little Helper from My Friends. Certainly I'm passionate about the class, can write better than a few other people I've seen published, and usually play enough to have some Warlock-specific ramble prepared every week. Still, I wanted to find some way of providing content for PVP oriented locks that they would at least find entertaining--even if it was simply footage of me getting one-shot by a level 75 tree Druid.
Then last week one of my readers left a comment suggesting I find a kickass PVP Warlock and interview them. The next few hours are kind of a blur. I remember banging my head against the wall a couple times, and waking up in a hospital, but that's not important.Interviewing a Warlock skilled in PVP could make for some interesting column content. So, I went to the armory to do some hunting.
Wrath of the Lich King brought us Northrend, Naxxramas, and of course, ten more levels of DoTing, Rain of Firing, Shadow Bolting Warlockery. So saddle up your Dreadsteed, and float or fly your way to the frozen north--crown of the world. It's time to get diabolic. And this time, it's personal.
Transitioning from Outland to Northrend is a lot like transitioning from vanilla-WoW content to Outland was. The mobs hit a little harder, and the gear is a little better. The step up isn't quite as sudden or as large as it was last time, but you definitely want to take a good look at some of those quest greens you're offered, and it's best not to take a level 68 Vrykul too lightly. They're kinda mean.
These last 10 levels are rather straightforward in comparison with their predecessors. If you've made it this far, then what you're going to see over the next 10 levels is mostly just an inflation of your numbers that will make you squeal and clap your hands in glee. Other than that, though, you should continue playing as you did in the later part of the 61-70 bracket. If you're leveling Affliction, DoT-DoT-Fear still gets the job done with gusto. If you're leveling Demonology, the felguard still tanks, and your nukes still burn. If you're leveling Destruction, you're still insane and should get your head checked.