Micro: Pyromancer’s feedback form

I have a lot of unfinished posts lying around. It’s partially due to how my work schedule has rather screwed me over this semester by behaving super unpredictably, so I’m having to take entire days to sleep correctly or clean my apartment or otherwise do self-care rather than do the things that I enjoy, like writing. So I end up writing a big long thing with the intent to edit it later, but by the time I finish it, the world has moved on and already analyzed & fixed whatever it was I wrote about.

I had started a longform post on Pyromancer’s Warlock feedback form, but since I had committed the cardinal sin of blogging by typing my first draft on my tablet in the blog editor, the unfortunate atmosphere of competing WiFi networks in an apartment complex smote me down & I lost most of it.

I’m still a little mad about it.

So in the spirit of Cynwise’s CFN posts or, more recently, Sunnier’s microblog posts, here’s a bunch of unorganized thoughts about it.

First off — his numbers/graphs don’t mean much at this point. It’s nice, it’s pretty, but Pyromancer had revised the form quite a few times since its initial release to the public, and had asked people to resubmit for the newest questions. Unfortunately, most of the old questions were still required by Google Forms to complete for the survey, and while Pyromancer could probably go through the form results with some Sheets functions to weed out duplicates, the simple Google Forms graphs are not going to do that. There’s a “what spec do you play” but then the subsequent questions cover the three specs, so, again, I’d prefer to see a more in-depth look at the Sheets version of the form answers to see what Destruction Warlocks said about the two other specs versus their own, etc.

The form is more valuable for the open-ended answers and general thinking on the questions, I think. Ignore the numbers and percentages, really.

As for the form-filler-outer reporting questions, I’m primarily an Affliction Warlock who has been playing both her Warlock and WoW since 2008. I raided from T7 (Naxx 2.0, Wrath) to T18 (Hellfire Citadel, Warlords).

Would you agree that Blizzard has provided adequate responses to our complaints and feedback provided since Alpha and Beta stages of Legion?

Strongly disagree, though Watcher later had a bit of a response I’m looking for. I actually gave up on giving feedback in Legion beta because of the nonresponse & general silence I kept getting. Furthermore, I kept getting a “play optimally or reroll” vibe from the few developer responses, which I strongly disagree as one of the design directions for Warlocks, since we already have seen what that problem results in (Catalysm Warlocks).

The Affliction artifact is basically an example of this inability to respond to feedback in a timely fashion & Pyromancer mentions it in his first look at the form results. They changed our artifact ability halfway-ish through, but didn’t change the artifact traits to match — presumably because it was too late to redesign the whole thing. So two of our three golds deal with effects off the death of mobs, which we would’ve had with the first incarnation of killable souls from Reap Souls, but we don’t anymore. You don’t get 2/3 gold trait benefits until after you’re no longer killing things — which, hello, mob death is the end of killing the mob.

Even in dungeon content, where chain-pulling can be expected, the killing paradigm in WoW tends toward killing large packs all at once, rather than chaining singular mobs kills in a row. Thus, a stacking buff off killing mobs ends up being less of a granular mechanic and more of a binary “maybe minimum” / “almost maximum” stacks mechanic. Furthermore, the explosion one is just stupid in both incarnations of Reap Souls. In the first, you couldn’t really control where the spirit died — it’s not like a corpse explosion or Demonology’s Implosion kind of mechanic where you aim the effect at a target. After all, WoW is incredibly target-centric rather than floor-centric when it comes to offensive abilities — that is, you don’t have much aiming in terms of ground effects outside of AoE, and most abilities come in a cleave-type AoE where it’s centered on one target and then cleaves outward in a circle, cone, or nearby target-number cap. In our current incarnation, well, because things in WoW tend to happen in packs, it’s a pretty end effect that maybe takes out the stragglers in the pack, but doesn’t deal its full damage. If the mob pack dies in a staggering way, then you can maybe get a cascade going on, but it’s an effect that doesn’t do anything for us at all in a single-target situation.

Do you feel that Warlock specs should all have Soul Shards as a resource or would you prefer to go back to Demonic Fury, Burning Embers and Soul Shards?

I didn’t particularly care on this one. Demonic Fury would obviously be problematic since it’s the Demon Hunter model now (they have Fury & Pain). Watcher has already said they liked the granularity of Embers for Destruction but they have to fix it differently going forward.

On the one hand, having Soul Shards for the whole class eliminates a learning chunk for new players who switch to a different spec. On the other hand, Embers were totally cool and I also liked how they had potential to be more than just a 1-2-3-4-5 system.

Do you enjoy the feeling of using Demonic Empowerment?

The original question had Life Tap included. Life Tap is…weird. I think we got used to Life Tap not being a thing in Destruction (since we had a Reverse Entropy style of mana regeneration in Warlords), so having it back is super weird for Destruction. However, I think it’s fine in Demonology, though a bit annoying, and it actually fits in Affliction.

Affliction has been the main focus of the sometimes-godly Warlock self-healing problem that inevitably gets nerfed into the ground every new expac alpha-beta cycle before being reluctantly restored upon interacting with Life Tap. Affliction’s mana costs are much higher per base mana than other classes, so we use Life Tap rather frequently compared to other mana regeneration uses, even in expacs where Evocation and Innervate were rotational things. Fireball is 2% base mana over a 2.25 second base cast time; many Affliction spells are ~3% base mana on an initial cast plus ~3% per second on the drain spells. In 6-7 unhasted seconds, a Fire Mage has spent roughly 6% base mana with 3x Fireballs, while an Affliction Warlock with a full Drain Life channel has gone through 18% base mana (an equivalent base mana cost is a Holy Paladin casting 1x Flash of Light).

On top of that, Affliction’s current model is that single target situations don’t exist — because we use Soul Effigy to make it at least a dual-target situation — so we’re spamming our DoTs every GCD we need or can, even if we’re not using full Drain Life channels. Affliction gets self-healing (through Drain Life and Siphon Life) to live through Life Taps as a result of using a lot of mana all the time.

In summary, Life Tap absolutely fits Affliction, in my opinion. It could fit into Demonology, but I think it doesn’t fit in Destruction.

As for Demonic Empowerment…There was no “fuck no” answer slot, unfortunately.

Honestly, I don’t get why it’s not a player buff that buffs the damage of all your pets by X% for Y time. I liked the buff N pets (N != all) pets model from alpha better, because it meant you casted Demonic Empowerment after specific summoning sequences, rather than after Literally. Every. Pet. Summon. Ever.

One of the initial Demonology talents was “Demonic Empowerment now applies to all pets” so I think that’s why we got our current incarnation of it, because duh, everyone was going to pick that talent. I think this is an example of when to not listen to the players — because while players know they don’t like a thing but they don’t know exactly what they want — because they proceeded to make Demonic Empowerment super bland instead of removing the all-pets option & keeping the interesting limitations.

This rolls into:

If you could return old abilities to Warlock that have been removed, what would you bring back and why? Is there anything you’d like to see removed?

Kil’jaeden’s Cunning made a major appearance. I disagree with it — we should not be moving-while-casting casttime casters. After all, we ended up using Archimonde’s Vengeance/Darkness more often than KJC — it’s completely fine to stagger-step versus dealing your full damage on the run. I also think that allowing Destruction to deal full damage on the run like that is damaging to the intraclass spec balance where Affliction is supposed to be decent at movement-heavy fights because of their DoTs damage investment. Affliction can burst a little better now with the stacking UA mechanic model, but it’s still more heavily dependent on longer time spent damaging than the other two specs are. (Affliction damage historically doesn’t rise as well over expansions since everyone else, particularly melee, are contributing higher and more frequent burst windows.)

Fel Flame was cool when DoT extension was a new thing, but with the pandemic effect of DoTs, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Affliction would be the most in-need of it, since it’s incredibly annoying to have literally every spell I own resisted/evaded by totems. “Use your pet” is the most annoying dev response on that subject, as if having your pet run around to chase totems would ever be anyone’s idea of a desirable totem counter.

Again, on this blog it’s been known that I miss the old ISF mechanic, though I agree that it was a bit complicated for newbie/casual players to pick up.

There were a few answers in Pyromancer’s first look that are still in-game — like Haunt (Affliction talent), Curses (PvP talents), & Demonic Circle (talent) — so I don’t know if those were answers for bringing back (& that player doesn’t realize that it’s a talent choice, albeit not the “optimal” one) or if those were answers for getting it removed. Again, I think this is a flaw of the survey itself, for cramming too much of a question together instead of separating out the two into their own questions.

How do you feel about being the only DPS class without a baseline interrupt? Fel Hunter has to be summoned, which is not considered baseline.

Some trolls were trying to tell Pyromancer that Shadow Priests don’t have one. They do — it’s the longest CD interrupt but also the longest lasting interrupt duration.

But yeah, this is annoying in dungeons when I’m the only ranged and none of the 2 melee + tank can use their 10-15 second interrupt once. It is annoying, but as ranged, interrupting isn’t our primary priority — it’s a melee thing, largely.

What do you feel is currently the biggest issue with Warlock? If you only play one spec, please focus on that spec. If you don’t believe there are any issues, feel free to put “N/A” or skip.

Mobility is the biggest one that shows up.

While I like being sturdy in a fight over having Blink/Disengage, etc., often it’s not worth it. WoW’s problematic cycle with healers is the large flash heal arms race, where the game has to create ridiculously powerful hits on players to challenge strong healers, and in return compensation, healers optimize for the fast & strong healing. Triage style healing gets reintroduced every expansion & eventually falls to the strong flash heals by the end. Part of this is due to stat inflation, which helps create the super heals and super fast cast times.

But it eventually ends up in a raid environment damage situation where, if you get hit by an ability, you’re likely to be one-shot if you don’t have an immunity ability. Warlocks don’t have immunity abilities — we had Dark Bargain, but not anymore — so we have a lot of cooldowns that reduce or absorb damage, but are utterly useless when the hit is so large that we don’t stand a chance.

There’s also the argument of our health pool. On the one hand, you get complaints from players that Warlocks are OP because we barely get hit by normal hits due to have insane amounts of health for clothy. But on the other hand, PvE raid mechanics requiring immunities & oure lack of immunity abilities are why insane health was a need for Warlocks.

The other thing about raiding is that getting hit by a fight mechanic isn’t always about damage taken by you — it’s often just as much about an effect on nearby raidmembers or on the raid as a whole if you “fail” the mechanic. This is a moment when having the ability to move quickly far outweighs personally surviving the mechanic.

I don’t think the devs have quite understood yet that it’s a looping problem, that in order for a survivability over mobility design to work for a class, the raid environment also has to change so that’s often a doable or desirable tradeoff during fights. And that’s just not the case right now, as moving out of an ability to take 0% of its damage or raid-altering effects is always preferable to personally surviving its damage while triggering the raid-altering effect.

On a completely aesthetic note — I missed the elevator going up in Throne of Tides in a recent Cataclysm Timewalking dungeon. It wasn’t a case of I was last, I was AFK & straggling — I actually started mid-pack of my dungeon group, and then I completely missed getting on the elevator, simply because I wasn’t talented into Burning Rush. That’s pretty fucking stupid as far as lack of mobility goes.

Are there any PvE talents that you tend to stray from? Anything that seems to be less useful compared to other talents on the same tier?

I would really prefer that instead of adding the Mana Tap button, it just transformed Life Tap into taking your mana away to grant increased damage. To solve the Affliction mana usage problem presented by Life Tap, maybe it could increase passive mana regeneration in combat or have a Replenishment-style passive effect like “every time you gain a Soul Shard you gain 2% mana” or whatever. It’s as bland as Demonic Empowerment — as soon as you use Mana Tap, Life Tap is imminent. It adds a boring button without adding equivalent interesting gameplay.

Soul Effigy just pisses me off in general, despite having to use to be decent at anything. I got better at Soul Conduit mostly because I hate this talent.

Instead of trying to redesign Affliction out of the binary we have at either being gods or terrible at AoE depending on how our single target is adjusted, the devs chose to make it so we don’t have single target ever. Which is fine, except in order to do this you need to talent for it. Soul Conduit is nice on AoE, which means it feels great in dungeons where the majority of the killing is done with trash, but it makes single target just horrible to do because you don’t have that second target for proccing shards off with Agony.

You have to use your focus to track Soul Effigy’s DoTs unless you can have Soul Effigy in front of or beside you the entire time (which happens almost never). You can’t use your focus for looking at what the boss is casting (better hope you have boss frames set up). You can’t use your focus for a raid member to follow their target direction. You can’t use your focus for an enemy player. Your focus is basically restricted to Soul Effigy & you have to create a macro to set it as focus, in addition to all of your DoTs so you can cast a DoT on it without having to find it in the sea of nameplates every single time.

Watcher has at least confirmed that Soul Effigy is a literal drag on Affliction play (along with Demonic Empowerment).

Personally, i’m still waiting for them to make our target DoTs bigger on the default UI. Our Soul Shard resource icons are bigger, for fuck’s sake. Blizzard’s lack of good default UI for DoT management pisses me off, because it’s super aggravating to play without my custom UI via addons whenever I want to test Affliction on the PTR or alpha/beta. Having to deal with Soul Effigy’s clusterfuck of a clunky UI management makes me threaten underbreath to throw my computer through a window while cursing profusely.

Soul Effigy: cool concept, but terribly implemented. Please try again.

OK that’s it.

Yeah, 2.6k words is “short” for me.

Micro: Pyromancer’s feedback form

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