Racials for warlocks in Warlords of Draenor
Out of the recent Developer Watercooler and the resulting Twitter hour of clarification by senior game designers Celestalon and Holinka, there was one of a few major topics: the reworking of all the racials. With hit and expertise going away in Warlords of Draenor (WoD), a lot of racials needed to be redesigned, which made a perfect opportunity to create new ones for some races to bring them in line with others.
While some of the proposed racials like the night elf’s day-and-night one are interesting, I’m going to focus on the races and racial properties that are warlock-applicable. While I could list out all the racials possible for each category, I feel I’ll list out the racials I feel either win the category or are most important to discuss.
New or changed racials are highlighted in fel green. The factions are also represented in colors: Alliance and Horde.
- Gnomes had a 1% expertise racial to daggers or 1H swords in the main hand.
- Humans had a 1% expertise racial to 1H swords in the main hand.
- Orcs had a 1% expertise racial to fist weapons, which affected a wand in the main hand, oddly enough.
- All the other expertise racials dealt with weapon types not usable by warlocks.
Expertise as a stat is gone in Warlords, so these racials are gone as well.
Perks: Spell & CC resistances
We’ll get to CC-breaks later. There’s a category of racials that provide some resistance to a certain spell school, and then there’s a couple races that provide a duration reduction for certain crowd control types.
- Orc: 10% Stun reduced duration (Hardiness)
- Troll: 15% movement-impaired reduced duration (Da Voodoo Shuffle)
- No resistances: human, goblin
- Spell resistances: Frost (dwarf), Arcane (gnome, blood elf), Nature (worgen), Shadow (worgen, undead)
With spell resistance as a stat gone from gear and flasks, etc., there’s nothing for a player to control spell resistance, so encounters aren’t designed around spell resistance being a deal-maker. But we can discuss it anyway.
Warlocks have Twilight Ward which provides a big absorb against shadow or holy damage. The current PvP 2-piece for warlocks also allows Twilight Ward to absorb from any magic school, so having a spell resistance perk is really just that, a perk. The “tanky warlock” stance changes Twilight Ward into Fury Ward, which absorbs all magic schools plus physical damage. When Twilight Ward doesn’t apply, we will use Unending Resolve or our health and self-healing in response.
The crowd control duration reductions don’t draw a lot of attention either, as everyone usually focused on the active ability CC-breaks which provide a complete escape from crowd control. But the usual PvP counter to a warlock is a burst, CC-crazy melee like a warrior. Reduced duration against tools a melee uses to lock a warlock down is a plus in PvP.
Perks: Profession bonuses
Races offer some kind of bonus to a profession, whether primary or secondary. Humans and trolls don’t have a profession bonus, but what they have falls under the category of “this is useful when you’re in the progress of doing something.”
- None: Orc, Undead
- Secondary profs: Archaeology (dwarf)
- Primary gathering profs: Skinning (worgen)
- Primary production profs: Alchemy (goblin), enchanting (blood elf), engineering (gnome)
- Reputation gains (human)
- 20% XP from killing beasts (troll)
The troll racial makes me wonder how they came up with that one. It replaces Beast Slaying’s extra damage done to beasts, so I see the theme of killing beasts, but, really? An XP bonus? I guess if you’re desperate, you can race-change to troll for leveling and then race-change back when you’re done.
The professional bonuses are obvious when leveling a profession, and perhaps are actual advantages for twinks, but at endgame once everything is leveled, there’s no real difference. If it matters to you, goblin, blood elf, or gnome are the winners, as warlocks in both PvP and PvE endgames tend to run double production professions. (If there were such a thing as a Tauren warlock, we could have an Herbalism bonus, whose haste through the active Lifeblood ability we might like.)
The only racial that really stands out for PvE endgame is the human reputation racial, because it makes grinding for rep a little bit easier, whether through killing things or doing quests.
Advantages: Passive stat boosts
Generally the passive stat increase is the main reason a race is picked as best in PvE. With an extra 1% of a favored stat, players can use different gear to further maximize another stat without losing effectiveness. To make up for missing passive expertise racials, many of the races got new passive stat boost racials.
Several tweets and blue posts — over especially the new night elf racial that switches its secondary stat bonus depending on the time of day — have said that stats will be a lot closer together in value for Warlords. All I can say is that we’ll see about that. I have to wonder how not having haste breakpoints for DoTs will go for haste’s priority. DK theorycrafter Magdalena brought up the point of possible readiness “breakpoints” where you can get some cooldowns to line up with other cooldowns or possibly cooldowns lining up with specific boss phases.
Haste, crit (aff/demo), and readiness fall into the category of stats you want to have “enough” of; mastery, crit (destro), and multistrike tend to be “stack ‘em high” stats. Usually the best passive stat bonus racial goes to helping out the “enough of” stats, so that players can go for the gear that has more of the “stack ‘em high” stats on.
- 1% real haste: gnome, goblin
- 1% crit: worgen
- 2% crit damage: dwarf
- 2 secondary stats: human
- 2% pet damage: orc
- Health regen: troll
- Drain attack: undead
The goblin racial was clarified to be 1% real haste, as opposed to only cast speed; I assume the addition of the gnome haste racial would be the same. Real haste can affect other things like RPPM mechanics, so this is a subtle change with big DPS impacts.
There’s another subtle different between worgen and dwarves. Worgen give +1% crit chance, which lets you crit more often. Dwarves give +2% crit damage/healing, which lets you crit harder. The default meta gem for warlocks has been Burning [Whatever] Diamond, which had some intellect like numerous meta gems did, but the second effect was 3% increased crit damage, and that’s why we took that meta gem over others. Since haste can be a crappy stat for single-target destruction warlocks, they still even debate whether to use the old Burning meta gem or the legendary meta gem (LMG). Dwarves have a pretty good racial here.
Orc’s 2% pet damage is a boost to demonology, and troll and undead see limited benefits in PvP. Generally, if it was down to passive stat bonuses, goblin wins out for the Horde.
The new Human Spirit (no longer 3% Spirit) is going to be interesting. The biggest question I have is something Celestalon tweeted about; whether the racial will offer enough of each stat to make a competitive difference. If human doesn’t provide enough stat to make a difference, dwarf may win out as the default go-to race. The biggest benefit to human racial is a ridiculous amount of min/maxing such that you can effectively change your passive throughout a tier or maybe even fight to fight without needing to spend money on an entire race change.
If haste or crit is valued a lot, gnomes and worgen will beat out humans for desirability in the passive stat field. If mastery, multistrike, or readiness take control of stat priorities, human will be the go-to passive stat bonus racial. If priority is balanced between one of each bunch, then human may be competitive depending on how much it offers for each stat. “Pure-stat” races will probably be the “best” in the beginning of an expansion, but as gear gains more secondary stats, we see priorities shift more toward the stack-em-high stats, which include multistrike and mastery, neither of which is in a racial beyond human.
Advantages: Active abilities
The active abilities are often what makes or breaks a race beyond the passive stat boosts in PvP activities. Alliance active racials are usually defensive or reactive racials (though you can argue using Darkflight’s movement speed boost offensively like in flag carrying). Horde active racials are usually offensive or proactive racials.
Instead of going by faction, I put similar active abilities near each other.I realize there are other racials like undead’s Cannibalize, the worgen self-mount, or the goblin personal bank option, but those aren’t the racials that get brought up for endgame balance. Similarly, goblins have a jump-forward ability; if you really need a jump ability, you’re going to be a demonology warlock and Demonic Leap everywhere.
- Dwarf: Self-dispel (poison, disease, bleed, magic, curse) + damage reduction + non-CC break (Stoneform, 2min CD)
- Undead: Self-dispel (Charm, Fear, Sleep) + shares 30 sec CD with similar effects (Will of the Forsaken, 3min CD)
- Gnome: CC-break for snares/roots (Escape Artist, 1min CD)
- Human: CC-break for just about anything + shares CD with PvP trinkets (Every Man For Himself, 2min CD)
- Orc: Spellpower increase for 15 sec (Blood Fury, 2min CD)
- Troll: 15% haste for 10 sec (Berserking, 3min CD)
- Worgen: 40% movement speed boost for 10 sec (Darkflight, 2min CD),
- Blood Elf: Restore 3% mana + silences NPCs for 3sec (Arcane Torrent)
- Goblin: Fire damage ability (Rocket Barrage, 2min CD)
The “miscellaneous” is pretty obvious: worgen (speed boost), blood elf (silence + resoure restore), and goblin (extra damage). Blood elf might be useful in PvP, but usually the worgen would be the best miscellaneous racial. In Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, worgen was typically the “best” Alliance race, and PvE/PvP sometimes showed that having an extra movement speed boost really helps.
Dwarf got an upgrade to Stoneform to remove just about any type of debuff, plus its usual damage reduction. However, the ability is not going to be a CC-break and will be unusable while CC-ed. The dwarf racial will be best for reacting to a damaging debuff in PvE raids or as a defensive proactive ability in general.
The CC-break abilities — undead, gnome, and human — all have a variety of three characteristics:
- What CC it breaks: movement speed impairments, loss of control, or both
- Whether it shares CD with any similar break abilities: No sharing, partial sharing, or complete CD sharing
- Its own CD: short, medium, long
|Breaks loss of control CC||Breaks both movement & loss of control CC||Breaks movement CC|
|Partial shared CD||Completely shared CD||No shared CD|
|Longest self CD (3min)||Medium self CD (2min)||Shortest self CD (1min)|
Gnome will break only snares and roots, which leaves the warlock still able to cast both defensive and offensive spells. Roots are only dangerous to us when we try to peel from a melee, and we can use our CC to help us in that regard. Thus, the really short CD on a not amazing CC-break.
The human EMFH ability is still being looked at; primarily, its fate rests on how the PvP trinkets that share its CD get designed. I presume that the undead racial gets the larger CD because it only partially shares a CD with other effects, rather than completely locking out both options.
Finally, when it comes to straight-up throughput, the orc Blood Fury (spellpower) and troll Berserking (15% haste) are the winners, and not just for warlocks. Berserking might not be as big a deal with haste breakpoints gone, but it’s still a powerful haste boost. The biggest deal from these racials is that their cooldowns line up with many of our cooldowns so we can stack them for bigger spikes of damage. Typically, orc wins out in the beginning of the expansion where spellpower is a massive boost while we played the secondary stat breakpoint game, and troll wins out in the late expansion as we have enough secondary stat on our gear to support going balls-to-wall on stacking a particular stat.
Of course, the “winner” is completely subjective based on what a player cares about when picking a race. A player with pure performance in mind may choose a different race than someone who picks using the casting animations.
They took out the expertise racials and put in new passive stat racials, but the active abilities that are thrown about as OP didn’t get touched too much beyond Berserking getting nerfed a little. We’ll need to discuss passive stat racials when we get closer to simulating gearsets, but that’s quite a long ways off.
However, we shouldn’t get too excited about the passive stat bonuses, since supposedly the stat priorities will be a lot closer to each other than the ridiculous “hit X haste breakpoint and then just stack mastery” that we have right now. The passive stat racial is likely to affect your warlock to a minimal degree.
Dwarf maybe got improved with Stoneform, but as warlocks are a hale and hearty class anyway, I’m not sure it compares to EMFH’s get out of jail free card. Orc and troll are still very strong for PvE damage throughput. I’m not sure they’re done looking at the active abilities, but they’re still keeping to the factional theme: Alliance gets strong defensive abilities (Stoneform and EMFH) while the Horde gets strong offensive abilities (Blood Fury and Berserking).
The conclusion is that we’ll likely see the higher raiding warlocks stay Horde for the DPS output racials, but the Alliance warlocks won’t be completely SOL because of their newly reworked passive stats. In PvP, we might see more dwarf warlocks, but I imagine the same old trinket replacement argument will live on for human/undead.