While I will go over specific changes in the coming weeks, I think I can give you an overall impression of the warlock talent calculator changes to hold you over until I make my other thoughts legible.
At first, I was down a bit about the recent update to the talent calculator regarding warlocks.
They changed some of the talent wording, and I think mostly for the poorer or “nerf-er.” I liked the talents how they were: Mannoroth’s Fury, for example, went from interesting cleave damage to boring AoE radius increase. I don’t know many times that I use my AoE spells while needing a 20-40 yard radius of a space to do it in. Not even in PvP do I need an AoE spell that large. Needing an AoE spell that large speaks more to your laziness about not wanting to do proper multi-target rotations (why, hello there, Wrath 5mans) than it does about an interesting talent choice. I am disappointed and want the old Mannoroth’s Fury back.
Most of the talents are intact; in fact, all the general ideas for each talent are still there. But the wording on the vague tooltips has been changed, cleared up a little, and it changes the meanings and implementations I read from before. I’ll write more thoroughly about these later.
There are largely minor notes for the base spells. Eye of Kilrogg is still fragile, but finally gets to be stealthed. Fear is limited to one target everywhere, which might draw some PvP attention. Dark Intent got buffed from 6% mage buff spell power to the 10% spell power buff that Demo currently brings (with elemental shaman). Fel Flame now refreshes Corruption (or Immolate if you’re Destro). Demonic Portal got renamed to Gateway (pft, we’ll still call it Portal probably), and got a minimum range of 20 yds.
For specifics, I’m puzzled by the introduction of new spell Malady. Another DoT? That isn’t buffed by Affliction’s mastery? Is it just supposed to be the low-level major DoT? Is it meant to be used at endgame?
It wasn’t until later that I realized it replaces Corruption as a class spell for warlocks. Maybe? I’m still not sure. Corruption got moved into the affliction tree under “spec only” spells. However, it’s also under Demo’s “spec only” spell tab. The exact same Corruption as affliction. Later on, Immolate replaces Malady for Destro locks. Destro doesn’t have Corruption listed under its spec spells. So is Corruption just not for Destro? If so, why introduce Malady and then have Immolate replace that new spell? Why not just have Corruption as the base spell and have Immolate replace Corruption for Destro? Do we even need Malady? What’s the purpose of Malady supposed to be?
Then there’s a level 1 Demonic Tactics passive that makes the Imp, Voidwalker, and Succubus “behave more intelligently.” It doesn’t let on how much more intelligently. I have an inkling that with it being level 1, it’s essentially as spell to be there until the level when the pet bar opens up in full functionality.
If, however, it’s supposed to be a hint at smarter pets overall, I’m confused as to why they didn’t include the felhunter. I understand leaving out the felguard, as he is supposed to be more of a reckless pet, and he’s spec-specific anyway. The felhunter is a base pet for all warlocks. As an affliction warlock, I would be incredibly put out if my preferred pet — with an ability called Fel Intelligence, no less! — was unceremoniously excluded from leading a better life simply because he isn’t obtained in the first 20 levels.
Affliction looked like it hadn’t changed very much.
Sure, we have Malefic Grasp replacing Shadow Bolt, but in terms of regular boss rotation, I don’t see much that will change for us. We might use Soulburn more, or we might not. I would hope they would give us incentives to use Soulburn more, since Soul Shards will be an affliction-specific resource. The newest update still didn’t have many if any game-breaking changes for affliction.
I’m in a mellow mood at this point about Aff. Nothing has been “broken” for me, but nothing has been enhanced or added from the first Mists calculator, either.
I was disappointed a little bit at the tooltip clarification on the affliction mastery. Potent Afflictions now clearly states it only buffs Bane of Agony, Unstable Affliction, and Corruption. That’s the equivalent of what mastery buffs for us right now — Corr, UA, and the Bane — and the amount is still the same. Currently, mastery is our least desirable stat as affliction. Everything is haste, haste, haste, more haste. While it makes gearing simple, it also makes gearing boring.
I was looking forward to mastery possibly buffing our nuke as well, even if Malefic Grasp ends up doing damage equivalent of an old hand clap game. But no, mastery as a stat will continue to remain boring and useless as ever, unless the spells scale differently to it at 90.
Demonology, of course, is getting exciting changes with its Metamorphosis form. Finally, Demo locks might be recognized as melee casters, perhaps just a tad more castery than enhancement shaman. This excites me since I spent nearly all of Firelands along with our Demo lock trying to convince our raid leaders to put the Demo lock in melee, that he belongs in melee, and we finally gave up after repeated un-success. Of course, the moment he went Destro in Dragon Soul, they finally got it and put him in melee. As Destro. /facepalm
But, really, Metamorphosis got an update in the form of a cooldown removal. Meta will be an ability you could activate at any Demonic Fury you wish, instead of trying to, mid-fight, line up a cooldown, which you can’t control, with the fight mechanics, which you also can’t control. With all the parallels floating around with Nether Plating transforming Demo into a warlock tank spec, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Meta crop up as the warlock parallel to the active mitigation model the devs are pushing for tanks.
Activating Meta at the right time looks like the driving force for playing a Demo lock well in Mists. I am excited for it.
As bear player, at least amateurishly, I’m already looking into the tanking rotations as they develop, and the lines I can draw between Demo and tank specs will probably end up being a dream, but I’m currently entertaining the fascination.
Oh boy. Assuming I can read tooltips and infer correctly, Destro is looking to be some hot & intense fun with its rotation. I know I’ve been devout to affliction since I started playing, but the fleshing-out that’s happened in the Destruction spell tab is enticing me to pick up a second spec that isn’t just another Aff spec.
Destro’s problems right now hang off the clunky spell cast that is Soul Fire. You need to cast it to keep an essential buff up, but it’s eras-long to hardcast even with nearly 3000 haste rating, and the procs just don’t happen either often enough or at enough right times to completely avoid hardcasting it. All the other secondary fillers that Destro uses are relatively short-casts with the appropriate haste, and they have to be balanced with their own cooldowns around this out-of-place long cast.
Now, in our newest public look at Mists, Soul Fire got a bit of a revamp. It’s looking far more powerful than the current wet noodle it is. Even more to the point, Destro’s secondary resource is designed around using Soul Fire (& the main filler, Incinerate). The imp even helps out with shortening the Soul Fire cast time as he attacks.
Now, I feel that Blizzard is finally understanding what they need to do about Soul Fire to get warlocks to use it. All Cataclysm long, it’s felt like Blizzard has had a love affair with a spell warlocks just didn’t want to use in play. The more they tried to get us to use it, the more we ended up hating it. They had to package it into a powerful tier set bonus to get us to use it regularly, and even then we hate it. With the spell’s damage being worth the GCD, and the incentive to work your secondary resource, we’ll finally see a compelling and useful Soul Fire, I think.
I’m excited about the Destro changes, to the point of thinking of maybe playing Destro sometimes in Mists. I really think the rotation will be dynamic and fun. I like the secondary resource design’s flavor, that feeling like I’m half-dying to the fel fire I’m recklessly wielding will differentiate me just enough from the fire mage who studiously wields the more wildly tempermental & natural fire.
I’m excited about Demo finally getting its melee ticket. I’m excited that Demo will become actively hard to play (hopefully!) rather than just a mess of cooldowns to balance together. I’m excited for no more of trying to re-figure every new raiding tier what exactly Demo is supposed to be doing. Demo can finally come into its own as its own strong flavor of warlock, rather than being the literal in-between playstyle of the other two specs.
I’m … ambivalent about Aff right now. Not much has changed, so there’s nothing freshly new to be excited about. But I still think Malefic Grasp will change us for the better, that it’s a step in the right direction for fixing the balancing act of buffs by Shadow Embrace/Haunt. I’m happy to embrace it in my future playstyle.
I don’t think I will be quitting affliction at all; I’ll still be flying that flag highly and proudly. I think I will just be also trying more of the other two specs more often.
The next changes and states I’ll be watching for are what happens with the leveling warlocks.
Warlocks are disappearing today, I think, because the old playstyle is starting to, if not already, fall apart in raiding the Dragon Soul encounters, and the leveling process is either frustrating to play or just plain too much to pick up at once for newcomers to the class. So we lose warlocks at the top to design frustrations and aren’t gaining any new ones because not many can make it through the leveling without becoming bored or giving up, the way I hear it from thoughts on Twitter and through guildmates.
I think the future of warlocks and whether we’ll shove the rogues back down to Least Played Class status will depend on how much Mists can redesign and invigorate the lower levels of warlockery. There will be people looking at PvP as always, but I would like to see the leveling process looked at next.