Feelings about warlocks

There’s a comment that’s been bothering me for a while. The gist is I’ve been negative towards affliction on the Mists of Pandaria beta and someone got tired of article after article about my problems with it. That there’s people who like the new affliction and maybe I should highlight the positives. Also maybe I should do dungeons instead of the testing dummy.

The comment’s probably correct.

I hadn’t been doing dungeons because of a few reasons. My computer was barely working for most of June, and for the other parts of it, I had to go home, aka away from my computer, for personal business. When I did get onto beta, the dungeons were bugged — disconnecting players on the loading screen, thus trapping them until fixed. Or the queue was stupid long and when I finally managed to get a group, they didn’t bother even trying to rub two brain cells together about the mechanics to get through the dungeon, so they’d all drop or the dungeon would take literally hours. The raids continue to schedule during my live-realm raids or when I’m not at home.

I also didn’t install an addon on the non-addon client, so I didn’t even really HAVE numbers to do things with. I just had my feeeeeeeeeeeelings.

Excuses, excuses? Maybe. My beta experience trying to do group content has been super frustrating, so yeah, I have barely done any. So I’ve been doing solo-oriented things like cooking leveling, archaeology, fishing,  faction exploration, or leveling a warlock.

I’m working on guide-type things for FC (for my personal shits & giggles) and for WI. I’m trying to cover all three specs in endgame PvE, maybe some PvP performance at end-game, and leveling guides. And gear, now that the gear datamining have flooded in. I feel like there’s so much I should be covering, and I feel like I’m so fucking behind on it.

There’s two mental-emotional states for me right now.

There’s feeling completely overwhelmed (ALL the warlock things and MORE) and lost (“fuck, which build of changes is this”) and worthless (because I haven’t been writing very much of anything outside my column & the Blood Pacts I’ve written have felt inferior to me).

There’s just ignoring everything (everything? EVERYTHING) and trying to tread water emotionally, which involves lots of mindless Diablo III undead-slaying, since that’s the only thing I really have energy left for at that point. The barbarian is very, very carthartic with its smashy smashy and knockbacks and gore fucking everywhere.

So maybe I’m not very positive toward the spec I’ve played for all of WoW ever, which the devs must fuck with in every build, possibly to the point of incapable of functioning for the duration of that beta build, which lasts for who knows how long.

Or maybe I’m just not into accepting much of anything as positive right now. I really can’t tell.

But I do think people are too focused on the numbers and the endgame content when it comes to improving a spec. I know most of the balance goes on then, so that’s what the developers care about and wish people would test. But that’s not where most of the characters are, and it’s a long way to 90, even if you start at 85. I’m not writing Blood Pact for the developers; I’m writing it for the players.

Existing warlocks will start Mists of Pandaria with questing and then maybe normal dungeons, if not questing all the way to the end. They’ll have to grind faction rep with dailies to get access to better gear. They might do a few scenarios and normal dungeons before they move on to heroic dungeons and raids, or they might just go straight to new content.

New warlocks don’t even get that benefit. New warlocks will start at level 1, and will have to go the entire way to 90. Whether that’s PvP or questing or dungeoning, that’s where their opinions about the warlock class will form. Only the stubbornest out there will go all the way to 90 and then decide that maybe endgame content is where the fun is. The rest of them get to deal with all the imperfection and unfinished spellbooks that come with leveling.

I would think Cataclysm’s lesson about the decline of warlocks would have told you just how much performance at endgame correlates to how many players like to play a class. Warlocks are perfectly fine, if possibly underpowered, at endgame now, and yet we’re the least played.

Destruction is fine number-wise, but it’s a righteous pain in the ass to deal with Improved Soul Fire as a new warlock. Demonology has enough going on even without the top-tier pet-twisting. Affliction actually seems pleasantly easy: just keep DoTs up and spam Shadow Bolt, but it sims third of the warlock specs and requires more effort to equal the DPS of other DoT specs.

Players aren’t playing warlocks because the endgame group content play is somehow unbalanced.

Players aren’t playing warlocks because it’s not fun.

So that’s why I write about the “feelings” of a spec. A spec’s fun factor matters.

It’s too early for numbers, I think, especially with some other classes and specs having issues getting simulation mechanics to match what’s on beta. Mechanics are still being tweaked; Malefic Grasp and Drain Soul, for instance, have returned to 100% DoT hastening, up from 50%. That’s just in this build; every build, there’s a significant mechanic changed that shifts everything else around.

I don’t trust SimulationCraft to be terribly accurate right now, but I read it to make sure I (sorta?) understand what’s going on. It doesn’t help that I’m not a strong theorycrafter. Others have to do the math for me because I don’t mathematically know how you apply all the haste and crit and spellpower things to everything. Is it multiplicative? Is it additive? Is it both? There is no EJ cheatsheet for theorycrafting, so most of what I know is from my own tedious tinkering with simulation apps.

But I am good at explaining why the hell things work the way they do to people who initially say they have no clue. People have gotten warlock advice from me. Maybe they’re just leveling an alt for the hell of it, or maybe they’re trying to raid on one. Either way, I’ve been told my advice helped them, especially when I tell them why EJ says to do it this way. It clicks more solidly, I think. You’re not just blindly following a template of how to play, but you can adapt to the unexpected when you know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

You can go to EJ for unfeeling number-ridden templates. I want you to care about warlocks, so I’m going to using my terribly unquanitifable feelings in my columns.

But what about affliction? Is it really as shitty as I’m making it out to be?

Probably not.

I think my problem is that it’s my spec. They’re not just changing affliction, they’re changing my way of playing. So I’m most resistant to it right now because I keep trying to do Cataclysm things when it’s not the Cataclysm spec anymore. I’m having a hard time dumping my habits and relearning my spec again.

It’s easy to do this with demonology or destruction since I don’t normally play those. I can half-ass them enough in raids, and I theoretically understand how each spec plays in Cataclysm, but my fingers don’t have as much a problem with them on beta. Part of it’s because those two specs changed the most, so it really is different. It looks different, so clearly it is different.

Affliction still looks familiar, so it feels entirely wrong to me to play it differently. But I’m slowly adapting to it.

It’s hard to stop thinking of Nightfall as a free damage spell and more of a resource regeneration. Nightfall in Cataclysm is like a Starsurge proc, but in Mists, it’s more like a proc of Tiger’s Fury. It’s entirely fucking weird to adjust to. It doesn’t help that the Haunt button lights up when Nightfall procs, but sometimes I want to hold onto the shard.

It’s crazy, but the bugged Nightfall that won’t actually return a shard might help me learn to ignore it.

Odd how these things work out like that.

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2 responses

  1. Hey Pon,

    Nice post. I agree totally. Affliction has always been my favorite spec as well and to see developers messing with it each time you hop into beta is driving me crazy! Like you, I’m not a number cruncher and I try to play by the “feel” of our class and whether or not it’s fun.

    I think Affliction’s biggest problem right now is the one you have consistently highlighted and that’s the mechanics of Haunt. Start with 4 shards and get a Nightfall proc, toss your Haunt out and you lose one of your 4 shards. That’s just not right. A free proc should be a free proc. It would be nice if they extended the duration of the Nightfall proc as well. If it pops you need to stop everything and cast it or you lose it. Bah! Maybe if they extended the Nightfall proc’s time duration it would help give more of a flow to the playstyle? Maybe that would give us the extra time to refresh if needed and line everything up to utilize the burst instead of the hectic pace it appears to have right now? Who knows?

    If they fix Haunt, I think I can live with the new Affliction and I might even be happy with it. Seeing how our blueberry’s can now hold aggro again gives me hope that they will get it right. This same gigantic class “do-over” occured to my hunter with the launch of Cata and I’ll admit when it first occured I hated working with the focus mechanic. Now, that I’m used to it – I love it. I can only hope it’s the same way for our warlocks.

    Now, don’t get me started on what they are doing to my resto shammy too ;P

    01 Jul 2012 at 00:22

  2. Keep doing what you’re doing. Good blogs are those that promote discussion, excellent blogs provoke thought and dissent and debate.

    You have made Blood Pact yours with your style, thoughts and opinions. Don’t let it become someone else’s column :)

    01 Jul 2012 at 10:24

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