Saturday, April 5, 2008

Warlocking 101: Orc, Undead, or Blood Elf?

"Warlocking 101" is a series that attempts to answer newbie questions about the Warlock class. Articles will include information ranging from the creatiion of your Warlock to basic leveling strategies, etc. For more advanced information, keep an eye out for high-level articles to come. =)

The Burning Question

So, you've decided to roll a Warlock. Congratulations on making a fantastic decision! The class is incredibly fun to play, solo or in a group setting, so your choice is a very smart and understandable one. If this is your first Warlock, you undoubtedly have questions about how to maximize your performance as you fulfill your role. I am happy to help out if I can, and the Warlocking 101 series will aim to do just that.

This session, we'll start by looking at one of the most basic and common questions I am asked by new Warlocks:

"Which race's racials are better for Warlocking? The Undead or Blood Elves?"

Short answer: Undeads make better Warlocks than Blood Elves. No question about it.

The Blood Elf racials are nice, and can be useful in certain situations, but the Undead racials are much more complimentary to the Warlock class. To understand why that's the case, treat each combination of racial traits as if they were a trinket, and consider how useful that trinket would be to Warlocks.

The Racials

First, lets consider the Undead and their Cannibalize and Will of the Forsaken abilities. Cannibalize is a health regenerating ability that is useful in-combat or out. It is effective on humanoids (all playable characters) and undead targets, and regens 7% of your total health every 2 seconds for 10 seconds, with a reasonably short two minute cooldown. Will of the Forsaken breaks Fear, Sleep, and Charm effects, can be used preemptively, and provides a buff that makes you immune to such effects for 5 seconds.

These abilities would make an incredible Warlock trinket that any Warlock in their right mind would pursue. Cannibalize compliments the Warlock-defining Life Tap spell VERY well, and minimizes downtime and increases efficiency in many different situations. It's also on a separate cooldown timer than potions and Healthstones, offering a 3rd option for in-combat healing!

As for Will of the Forsaken, any trinket effect that restores control to your character and prevents loss of control for a period of time is an immeasurably great ability, for obvious reasons. =)

Now lets take a look at the Blood Elves and their Mana Tap and Arcane Torrent abilities.

Mana Tap is a "free" no-mana-cost spell that reduces your target's mana by a set amount that scales with level. It applies a buff that charges you with arcane energy, stackable up to 3 times between the spell's 30 second cooldown. Arcane Torrent silences enemies within 8 yards for 2 secs, and increases your mana by a set amount based on the number of Mana Taps you have stacked.

Warlocks can pretty much ignore the mana-regenerating abilities of these spells, since the class is built around converting stamina to mana and need not concern themselves with other methods. The silence and mana-draining abilities, however, are definitely a draw.

But are they worthwhile enough to trump the very Warlock-strong Undead racials?

In my opinion, the answer is a definitive no.

The distance-limitation of Arcane Torrent is a significant hurdle one must jump in making the spell useful in a variety of situations. And Mana Tap just doesn't drain enough mana to make it as effective as it should be.

Sorry, Blood Elves. At least you look good though. ;)

Orc Warlocks Need Love Too

Now, lets take the question a bit further and introduce another, very important variable. Orcs can roll Warlocks too, and make incredibly effective ones at that. Some even say that their racials are the best for Warlocks, arguing that they directly compliment our strengths and weaknesses very well.

They definitely are complimentary, but the best? Lets take a closer look:

Orcs have Blood Fury, which increases spell damage by an amount that scales with level (up to +150 @ Lvl 60, for example) for 15 seconds, and with a short 2 minute cooldown. Hardiness increases resistance to stun effects by 15%, and Command increases pet melee damage by 5%. All are fantastic abilities/qualities for a Warlock to have in any situation!

The Hard Part: Orc vs. Undead

So which set of abilities would make for a better trinket? Would it be one that increases spell damage, helps resist stuns, and increases pet damage, or one that restores control to your character and offers quick in-combat health regen? Which would you pick up as a Warlock?

Obviously, this is a very subjective question, and to answer it would be situationally or focus-dependent. PvEers may find the Orc racials better for raiding while PvPers may find the Undead racials better for Arena matches, or even the other way around, for example.

Personally, I consider the extra pet damage of the Orc racials to just be okay. The real strength within the Orc lies in the extra spell damage and stun resists, which would be very nice against the Warlock counter-classes -- Rogues and Warriors.

But when it comes down to it, in my honest opinion, both of those abilities are not as dependable as the Forsaken racial abilities. Both are limited by either a "% chance to proc" or an "up to x amount of spell damage" variable, which require a bit of luck to get the most out of. Neither Will of the Forsaken or Cannibalize function in that manner, and will always perform at a specific level, no matter the situation.

That being said, Orcs make very good Warlocks. Better 'locks than Blood Elves for sure, and sometimes, even better than Undead 'locks, based on the situation.

Personal Preference FTW

Racial abilities aside, another question you should ask yourself is this: how important is all of that information to your own perception of your character? If your answer is "very important," than you should probably choose an Undead or Orc Warlock to level. If your answered "not very important," than choose whatever you will be most happy with (read: "looking at"), period.

I wonder which race that will be...


*The bulk of this post is a re-post from an August 17, 2007 topic.


Zyphre said...

Whatever jago. Your just jealous of my belfs style.

Cannabalize is good for warriors and rogues. Circumstantially good for a smart lock that uses his drains effectively. Remember that you can only eat 2 types of creature as well.

For the record I don't have mana tap on any of my bars... But arcane torrent is solid and serves me well. Fel puppy + torrent gives me a lot of time to work over a caster.

Honestly I rolled a belf cause they look better in most armor. I really hate how my mage manages to put his ribs through everything. And the haircuts suck -_- /carebear.

P.S. Yes hes male too. 63 and going strong.

P.S.S. All nighters ftw?

Jagoex said...

Heheh, sleep ftw dude. I haven't pulled an all-nighter in a while, and I totally don't miss them.

Arcane Torrent is pretty sweet for sure. The one thing that makes me wince when thinking about it is that you have to put yourself within 8 yards of the caster to silence him. In a tight group PvP situation, I can see how a 'lock may be that close, but generally speaking, that's probably not going to be the case.

And any decent group that sees a BE running towards them knows what's coming, so it's fairly easy to predict and defend against.

It's a decent racial, but it needs to be buffed a little imho. Making it silence enemies within 8 yards AND the mana-tapped target would be win.

Anonymous said...

I play an Orc and regret it cause they are so ugly. :(

Anonymous said...

One thing to note: blood fury is simply a free 150ish damage on use trinket. The "up to" stuff is just Blizzard's broken wording. There is no "luck to get the most out of" involved.

Wotf is certainly sweet, but I had to pick the awesomeness that is Orc.

Jagoex said...

You're totally right about Blood Fury basically being a free spell damage trinket, and that is sweet in it's own right. The prospect of having a 3rd dmg trinket or freeing a slot up for a different type of ability is definitely something to seriously consider when choosing your Warlock's race.

That said, there has always been some confusion as to how the extra damage is actually applied (I can't say that I'm 100% sure myself), but here is how I understand it.

That 150 spell damage is tacked on to your overall +spell damage, increasing the potential amount of damage applied to your ability's base damage. It isn't anything concrete, as is often observed via the range of different Shadow Bolt damage values we often see.

So while it's more damage, it's not necessarily always up near 150 more damage, from my understanding.

Still, it's a great ability never-the-less. And thank you very much for your input. =)

Fuhsnuh said...

1. Love the look of the new site!

2. +spell damage is termed as "up to X damage" due to the spell coefficient of each individual spell affecting how much your spell damage actually adds; the general rule is, the longer the cast time, the greater the coefficient. The exception to this rule are DoTs, which have an (when specced) instant cast time, but considering that it takes a long time for the spell to take effect, they have a much better coefficient, sometimes over 100% in the case of CoA and Emp. Corruption.

^If you want to know the specific coefficient for each particular spell.

3. I'll exchange that tidbit about spell damage for an answer to another question <_< I've rolled a lock alt (go human diplomacy!) to play around, and I'm wondering - when in a casting rotation are you supposed to lifetap? As you go, or do you wait til you're OOM, and spam it like mad? This is pertaining to an afflock, so I guess Dark Pacting goes in the same discussion as well.

B of A said...

@Fuhsnuh. On my mage alt my frostbolts don't all land for the same amount even though they have the same cast time and are not partially resisted. Theres something more than the spell coefficients that effect how much damage the spell does at any given moment. Just don't ask me what it is lolol

B of A said...

Oh and jag just because you made your site all pretty doesnt mean you can hock old posts at us you lazy bum!! LOL!

Fuhsnuh said...

Are you sure it's not just the natural damage range of the spell?

Shows a +/- 50 damage difference there.

B of A said...

I don't think thats it unless it scales cause the difference is more than 50, unless I'm missing something.

Fuhsnuh said...

I don't know if the +/- 50 is pre-crit, or that it's regardless of crits. Fire mages will have Molten Fire which messes a bit when the target's under 20%, but that shouldn't happen for frost mages - I'm not sure then.

Jagoex said...

Fuhs! Thanks for the props bro. The site was in desperate need of a make-over for sure, and everyone but Zy seems to like it so, I think I'll stick with it.

Zy, I'm egging you and your BE's style later, btw. With REAL eggs too.

As for the Spell Coefficients, I'm familiar with how they work (didn't want to touch on them here since it's a newbie article), but there's still something a bit off even when considering the coefficients, and beyond what I think magic vulnerabilities can be blamed for.

Using SB as an example, it's base damage is 541 to 603, with a spell coefficient of (3/3.5=) 85.71%. A Warlock with +1200 Shadow Damage should then be landing SBs for between 1570 and 1632, base. The range stays the same after the calculation - 62 spell dmg between top and bottom, before any talents or buffs are considered, of course.

Back when I was testing out the coefficients (confused by the timing of their application, I tried desperately to understand them), I noticed that my SBs were not landing for above what my calculated Max SB should land for. However, my low-end SB was less than 63 spell damage below my high-end SB. Sometimes, it was a couple hundred lower, and I just couldn't explain it.

Now, this could have very well been a glitch or bad luck or just something that I was unaware was working in the background, but after talking with a good number of people about it, the "Up to" variable came into question as a potentially legitimate explanation.

Now, that theory could very well be wrong. I never did go back and do the math after a multitude of patch updates or even to consider the effects of buffs and talents. And my sample size was pretty small and therefore my results shouldn't make the core of any argument (hindsight is 20/20), but there is still something weird going on with the range of damage spells are putting out, and the coefficients just don't do enough to explain them.


Lol, okay. Life Tap.

You definitely don't want to wait until you are out of mana to LT. You want to be able to reapply DoTS at any given moment, and being out of mana and requiring a LT would make that rather difficult.

Best thing to do would be to LT at about 15-20% mana, after reapplying DoTS and before SB-spamming.

As your DoTS expire, you don't want to be caught wasting a GC on a LT. That's too much down-time. You want to have a SB-cast overlap your DoT expiration as a worst-case scenario.

For example, if you have 1-second left on Corruption, it's better to start casting Shadowbolt than it is to LT. Then, reapply Corruption, LT (twice if you need), and jump right back into SB-spamming.

And oh, how things get easier once you can spec 0/21/40! Phew!

Give the FN boys my best. =)