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Blood Pact: Is Demonic Circle the Warlock answer to melee?

As some of you have correctly pointed out in my last article, most warlocks use rank 1 of Drain Soul to return a soul shard (I've covered this in tips and tricks). Thank you for your comments as this reinforces my point that the new Soul Siphon buff to Drain Soul is pretty much pointless.

Rank 6 of Drain Soul was used as an example to illustrate the fact that even at its highest rank, it's still a woefully inadequate spell to do damage with.

There are also some who insist that Green Fire is not an issue that "real, raiding" warlocks care about. Yes, I understand that raiding is serious business and endgame warlocks are supposed to be single-minded shadowbolt-spamming machines. To the real, raiding warlocks out there, I'll quote this from my favorite movie this summer: "Why so serious?"

Now that we've got that out of the way, some of you may have noticed that I didn't address the escape mechanism portion of the wishlist. I'd figured that this topic was intriguing enough to warrant its own article and a look at probably the most interesting ability - in terms of Warlock mechanics - that we'll get in the expansion: Demonic Circle.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Expansions, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Wrath of the Lich King

Blood Pact: The Warlock wishlist revisited

Many moons back, I looked at some wishes that warlocks had to improve our lot (but didn't break the game). We're now here in this pre-expansion funk, where players are generally more interested in things to come than things that are. So let us see if any of our wishes will be granted with the Wrath beta changes.

Michael did an excellent analysis of the first beta patch notes for warlocks, and he'll be following that up with a look at the new talent trees and spells. At this stage of development, it's still too early to characterize the changes as an overall class buff or nerf, but one thing's for certain: Blizzard is shaking up our game.

The changes will break some cookie-cutter specs, namely those that relied on Demonic Sacrifice and Soul Link. Shaking up the so-called "best" builds that players have become dependent on, is always a good thing to keep things fresh and interesting.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Wrath of the Lich King

Blood Pact: Curses!

We warlocks have a litany of curses at our disposal, with wildly varying effects and durations. Fortunately for our targets, we can only land one curse per target, whether it's a straight-up DoT like Curse of Agony, or a debuff effect like Curse of Tongues.

Much of the Warlock's group utility and versatility are defined by our access to these various effects. While some curses have wider applications than others, it is hardly a one-curse-fits-all situation. Knowing which curse to use in the right situation is key to maximizing your Warlock's potential.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Guides, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Blood Pact: Gearing a Lock for Karazhan, part 2

We continue with our look at how to get your Warlock up to speed for Karazhan content and beyond. Note that the recommendations here are intentionally narrow. I'm focusing on the easiest and surest way of making progress in the gearing game, without relying too much on dungeon drops or grind-to-exalted rep items.

Yes, there are better pre-raid items out there in the various heroics - Magisters' Terrace is probably the best instance to get quality non-raid loot. Badge loot is also another good avenue for outstanding upgrades. Unfortunately, heroics may be challenging affairs for a fresh 70 lock, unless you have a group of geared friends or guildies who are willing to "carry" you through those runs.

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Filed under: Warlock, Tailoring, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Guides, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Blood Pact: Gearing a Lock for Karazhan, part 1

'Grats on your new 70 Warlock! You've just turned experience into gold (at least until WotLK lands) and unlocked the wonderful world of BC raiding and Arena PvP. What do you do now? Gear up, of course!

I've touched on some general gearing guidelines for the pre-Karazhan Warlock in "Locked and loaded", it's time now to drill down to the specific pieces, especially since the introduction of Battlegear with patch 2.4.

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Filed under: Warlock, Tailoring, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Guides, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Blood Pact: The Warlock's way ahead, part 2

In my last article, we looked at the Warlock in alpha: Atrocity, Metamorphosis (yay, demon form!), Decimate, and new synergies between our spells. All three top tier talents seem to have more utility in PvP and the Arenas, with Atrocity possibly having some amazing utility in some PvE situations. The synergy between DoTs and nukes is something to watch, particularly Eradication and Everlasting Affliction. New additions to the Destruction tree that seem to encourage cross-school casting turn out to be just minor improvements to the tree's PvP viability in their current form.

We turn our attention now to the other talents, and Blizzard definitely plans to make Spirit matter to warlocks.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Talents, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Wrath of the Lich King

Blood Pact: The Warlock's way ahead, part 1

Most of you would have already sneaked a peek at the leaked details of the Wrath of the Lich King alpha. It's really premature now to decide on your new leveling build or comment on the level 80 endgame, but the new info is a good indication of the direction of the Warlock class in terms of class design and role.

Is the new stuff PvP or PvE? Which tree is going to be the DPS king? Let's take a two-part look at some of our new, not-so-secret abilities, and whether some of our dark wishes are fulfilled.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Talents, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Wrath of the Lich King

Blood Pact: Tanking Leo

Apart from our traditional role of chuckling diabolically while we dispense death and destruction, warlocks are drafted into the tanking role in some raid encounters. The history of tanking warlocks is not new; drain-tanking is possibly the most mundane example of tanking due to our unique kill-you-to-heal-me mechanic. In pre-BC content, warlocks have been asked to tank Emperor Vek'lor in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. Now our PvE tanking portfolio has expanded to include Leotheras the Blind and Grand Astromancer Capernian in the Serpentshrine Caverns, Illidan himself in one of his phases, and most recently, Grand Warlock Alythess in the Eredar Twins encounter.

Why warlock tanks?

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Bosses, Guides, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Breakfast Topic: Alt-o-holics better at WoW?

"I have five level 70s, therefore I'm good at the game!" This comment, or others that express a similar sentiment, is often heard in-game, on forums and here on WoW Insider.

Having multiple characters of different classes exposes you to many more facets of the game. An alt-o-holic, with multiple alts, enjoy a range of gameplay that is indisputably wider than someone who plays just one or two characters. While leveling content is largely the same, the classes are designed by Blizzard to be as different from each other as possible. Running through The Barrens on a Priest is a very different experience from running through the same zone with say, a Druid.

However, does sheer breadth of gameplay experience translate to a "better" player of WoW? Understanding how other classes work is definitely an advantage when you're playing in a group or raid, but is it fair to dismiss the "specialist" player who, through choice or simply lack of time, plays only a single toon?

In other words, does breadth of experience trump depth of knowledge as far as playing the game is concerned?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Classes, Alts

Blood Pact: Destro the only way to go?

Raiding warlocks have a very specific role - dealing damage. As we progress further in the high end-raiding game, one thing becomes more and more apparent. Our much-envied range of playstyles diminishes and we seem to be shoehorned, like other classes, into pretty much a single cookie-cutter spec.

The spec in question is destruction or 0/21/40 specifically. This spec capitalizes on the wonderful scalability of shadow bolt and consistently outperforms affliction when good spell hit and crit gear becomes available. For a detailed look at the 0/21/40 build, check out my "A Warlock's descent into Destruction" article.

I've recently respecced back to an affliction spec (40/0/21) just to revisit the good ol' days of mobility (instant DoTs) and an "unending" mana pool (Dark Pact). I know we tend to look back on the past with rose-colored glasses, and true enough, my experience with affliction again was ... less than satisfying. Why the difference?

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Talents, (Warlock) Blood Pact