Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The Warlock vs. Melee Conundrum
Some of you may be wondering why I have a picture of a little Farm boy on my blog this morning, waiting by the fireside by the buff. Indeed a valid question, especially when considering my one-month hiatus from blogging. But whatever you pervs are thinking, stop. It is simply to illustrate a Warlock/WoW-related point, which we'll come back to it in just a second.
But first, one of the issues, if not THE issue PvP Warlocks are facing these days is the lack of balanced survivability against melee classes. Rogues and Warriors are currently the bane of our existence, with an array of tools and abilities that can keep them close in proximity and preventing us from doing anything substantial. I'm sure you've all had the pleasure of experiencing what seems like hours worth of spell push-back due to fast melee attacks, all while getting intercepted, gouged, cheap-shotted, and kidney-shotted all the way to death, and with no real means of escape.
Fear? Please. If it hadn't been nerfed to death with immunities, trinkets, and diminishing returns, maybe. But in it's current form, it is a VERY weak defensive spell, and sadly, it is our class-defining ability. What does that say about Warlocks as a whole?
Deathcoil, while a great stand-alone defensive spell, only delays the inevitable. Warriors can intercept right back to the Warlock and continue smashing their faces in, and Rogues can, well, do about 10 different things that will keep them in control of the encounter--thinking about all of them makes my head spin, actually.
NO class should have absolutely NO chance to win when engaged with another, but in the case of Warlocks and melee, we are pretty close to that point. Even Soul Link, with the lack of Pet Scaling and the 5% nerf it will be receiving soon, isn't enough to handle the obscene amounts of white damage melee can produce. Such unbalanced encounters can make for very frustrating, one-sided experiences akin to the "Warlocks are Mushrooms" days of early WoW PvP. Add to that the multi-crippling effect that Resilience has on our abilities and the availability of Ignore Armor stats to melee and you can understand the up-hill-balance-battle that we Warlocks are now facing.
Things have got to change, and as we approach the beta phase of WotLK production, our question becomes this: what changes would help create balanced survivability for Warlocks against heavy, fast-hitting melee?
We've all heard of the new self-teleporting Demonic Circle ability Warlocks will be receiving in Wrath of the Lich King, and indeed it's sole purpose is to help the Warlock escape from within melee range. But in thinking critically about the spell, you should also be asking yourself a multitude of questions about it. For example, in it's final form, what will it's range limit be? Will it be affected by line of sight? What will be it's cooldown? Will it be enough?
Since the ability, as with all new WotLK abilities, is still under development, it's tough to say. But the short answer is "no," and here's why:
Each combat stat is designed to have a single counter-stat in the World of Warcraft. Or, at least, this is the ideal blueprint that Blizzard used to apply. Spell Resistance was countered by Spell Penetration. Percent chance to Dodge was countered by Hit Rating, etc. It was simple, and for the most part, successful... until the Arena came along and the concept of Resilience was introduced.
Resilience, from the start, was a terrible idea--to minimize Critical strikes in the PvP equation completely gimped Mages, Destruction Warlocks, and a multitude of other classes and specs that are only successful when they are allowed to crit with no penalty. But, it was what it was, and at least it ONLY severly gimped one Warlock talent tree. That is, until Blizzard strayed from their original blueprints and allowed Resilience to counter a SECOND variable, Damage over Time spells, and therefore indirectly affecting Spell Damage at the same time.
At this point, two Warlock staples, Spell Damage via DoTS and Spell Crit Chance, are countered by a single PvP stat. And it didn't stop there.
Soon, Channeled spells were thrown into the mix, becoming the THIRD variable affected by Resilience. This was only done to minimize the effect of drain teams, but a change to the approach Warlock PvP should be played nonetheless.
Lets put everything together now to put this problem into perspective.
The Warlock class has had its defensive spells nullified by buffs to melee. What offense we did have left is nullified by the effects of Resilience on our spells and abilities. What on earth do we have left? An SL/SL build that requires us to ride the coattails of our Rogue or Priest or Druid or whatever other cookie-cutter combo we can team up with?
Things have got to change, and it is up to the Warlock and general player communities to place pressure onto Blizzard and it's backward-stepping e-Sport fetish to refocus the game and help make things right again.
Now, consider the picture of the child at the top of this post again. Notice what he's wearing? Chain mail armor. In a system where Resilience exists in it's current form, THAT KID HAS MORE LASTING POWER AGAINST MELEE THAN A WARLOCK DOES.