Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Best Questions a Warlock Can Ask

Ladies and gentlemen, it's that time of year again. The great (and sometimes sexy) Dr. Eyonix has made his Summer rounds on the official forums, summoning the "questions you may have concerning your class." Playing a Warlock, I know we got a whole bunch of them. But before you go off running to ask why we haven't seen green fire applied to all of our spells just yet, hear me out. There are far more important matters at hand.

Here are 10 of the best questions we Warlocks can ask in the current state of the game. And please feel free to bombard Eyonix's thread with them. Maybe we'll get some much-needed attention!

Will incoming pet/spell-pathing and redirection after a Demonic Teleport ever be tweaked to result in a miss?

While defending the Farm in AB the other day, I was approached by three mouth-breathing Death Knights. After being LOL-Gripped by two of them back-to-back (that's where the "lol" comes in), I Teleported into the shed to escape the ridiculously high damage they were doing... and that's when it happened! A Deathcoil that one of the DK's had fired off came through the wall and hit me square in the face!

If a Rogue Vanishes, a spell headed towards them will miss (unless it's still bugged), and a pet will run back towards it's master. If a Warlock Teleports, a spell will redirect and shoot straight for them, and a pet will hunt them down and continue to attack. Sure, Vanish and Teleport are different spells, but shouldn't their effect on spell/pet-pathing be treated the same? If not, why not? At best, it's an awkward mechanic difference as is, and is in desperate need of a change.

Will our pets ever be allowed to Teleport with us if they are set to Passive?

Our pets. Sometimes I love them. Sometimes I hate them. And I ESPECIALLY hate them when they lead opponents straight to me after I break off a Teleport. They're like the worst little back-stabbing snitches ever, and I often find myself having them attack an opponent and get killed just to keep myself alive. Broken, imho.

Will melee always be able to cut-off spells when "running through" the caster?

At range, Destruction Warlocks are where it's at. They have some of the best combos and burst in WoW (which we'll talk about in an upcoming post), and are game-makers as a result.

In close-quarters, however, they are about as useful as a pair of scissors with no handles. This is mostly because of melee's ability to "run through" a caster and interrupt his class if timed right, and which isn't that hard to do. Melee have a huge advantage over casters as a result, and it is a shame this long-broken mechanic hasn't received the attention it deserves.

Will the Soul Shard cap ever be raised?

Let's face it: Soul Shards will never stack. So the question is, will we ever need anything beyond an Abyssal Bag? Inquiring Warlocks, especially ones that Arena regularly, want to know... because if the Soul Shard cap isn't going to see a change, it's time to get a maxed out shard bag, pronto.

Are there any plans to lower the Soul-shatter cooldown?

Of all the spells a Warlock has in his arsenal, Soul-Shatter is by far one of the most poorly maintained. As a spell, it's fine, just as any aggro-reducing ability is. As a spell that has a 5-minute cooldown and costs a Soul Shard, however, it is not. Almost every other class has an aggro drop on a much shorter cooldown... why not Warlocks?

Are there plans to introduce more consistent burst damage to the Affliction Tree?

Affliction burst is based upon RNG DoT crits that are great during long PvE boss encounters, but not so hot for PvP. In order to make Affliction a viable Arena spec again, it needs to have a controllable amount of burst that is not dependant on an automatic, uncontrollable, and untimable DoT tick. Perhaps make Shadowburn trainable? Or even better yet, give the Afflicton 'lock an ability to consume a DoT for 50% of it's overall damage on-command. That'd be a start!

Are all pets going to scale equally from their master's stats?

When I heard that Ghostcrawler and his development crew had finally decided that it was time to work on pet scaling, I called Hell to see if it had frozen over. It hasn't, so I remain cautously optomistic. We are Warlocks, afterall, and whenever we see something good come our way, there is often a catch.

So I have to ask, when the pets get these incoming buffs, are they going to receive them equally across the board, or are each of their specific weaknesses going to be addressed?

And semi-related to this question comes the next:

Will switching between pets quickly ever become an untalented option?

Warlocks are dependent on their pets, now more than ever at least since the "mushroom" era of PvP. Each has a very specific use and strength meant for a very specific environment. So when we find ourselves stuck in the mud with the wrong pet out... we're pretty boned.

Currently, the only way to summon a pet quickly is to spec at least 10 points into the Demonology Tree, where you'll find Fel Domination. Fifteen points in, you'll find Master Summoner, which will reduce the cast time of your next summon by 9.5 seconds to a mere half-second. Unfortunately, each of these talents is on a 15 minute cooldown, which doesn't do much for the Warlock enjoying World PvP or a day in the Battlegrounds.

We need more... and faster too!

Is Fear going to be tweaked to better compliment the Affliction tree?

After the recent Fear "nerf," the spell seems fairly balanced to a Destruction Warlock. Destro 'locks don't DoT, so the spell can easily be used as an off-target CC or to setup a powerful destruction spell combo.

As an Affliction 'lock, however, whose quasi-purpose and strength is to afflict damage to as many targets on the field as possible, it is quite useless. It cannot be used as an off-target CC, because Affliction Warlocks SHOULD be doing consistant, constant, dependable damage to as many enemy players as possible. And almost any damage to Fear currently breaks the CC, making it one of the worst offensive spells in the game.

And yes, you read that right. I wrote "offensive," because that is how it was originally designed. Afflicton Warlocks are SUPPOSED to DoT their targets and Fear them to death. Now, sadly, that's not the case, and they need Affliction-tree-specific buffs to Fear that will allow them to do so competitively. Add a talent, add a glyph, whatever. Just do it already.

Is Immolate going to get some much-needed dispel protection?

As is stands, Immolate is one of the most important spells in a Destro 'locks arsenal. It increases the damage of Incinerate and Chaos bolt via Fire and Brimstone, and is the opener of choice for an instant-Conflag. However, it's as easily removed as Paris Hilton's panties, yet unlike those panties, it comes with no STD penalty whatsoever.

An Afflicton Warlock's DoTS are the bread and butter of his offense, and protected by Unstable Affliction. Immolate is the core ability of a Destruction's Warlocks offense, and has no protection whatsoever. Without Immolate, we lose the burst damage of Conflagrate, and the CC of Aftermath -- both of which are very necessary to keep the spec a successful one.

So those are my questions -- ten issues that need addressing. Hopefully they won't fall upon blind eyes or deaf ears, and hopefully yours won't either.

Speaking of yours, what Warlock questions do you have for the devs? Is there anything that you see as vitally important to the class and wonder why it hasn't been addressed? Let me know in the comments section -- link to it in the official thread if you wish.

Now, lets get this done, people. Good luck to us all.


Anonymous said...

Good insight Jagoex. I would add improvement to shadowflame and the list would be complete.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

WTB a pet that jumps of a ledge with me and lands where I land...be we dead or alive.

Hate standing down there looking at my pet wondering what the hold up us... /beckon /impatient

Lab Monkey said...

I agree with the Teleport issue, this clearly needs work. For PvE the only one of those I think we NEED is the soul shatter CD reduction. Not only is our aggro dump on a long CD and it costs a reagent...it can frickin' MISS (if not hit capped). A little unfair IMHO.

Anonymous said...

"Will switching between pets quickly ever become an untalented option?"

My primary raider is a Hunter, I don't PvP at all, and I've never levelled a Warlock past 20. So, with that in mind... :)

Blizzard has said that they want Hunter pets to feel like a big decision, not something you flippantly discard on a whim. Currently, Hunters can travel to a Stable Master to swap pets, or use the Call Stabled Pet from anywhere, with a 30m cooldown, but can't be used in combat.

Warlock pets are bound to the Warlock, are received at the same level as the Warlock, and level up simultaneously with the Warlock. While that would imply a slightly more care-free attitude toward the pet, appropriately lowering them to "minion" status, Blizzard likely wants the choice of pets still to be more of a decision than for DKs (who only get one or two anyway).

As a Hunter, just from reading this question I'm already jealous of your ability to summon pets at will, anywhere in the game, with a 10s cast that has no cooldown, that can be cast in combat (I think?).

My uninformed thinking is that without seeking the benefits of the pet-specific talent tree, that's still an amazing convenience.

Anonymous said...

Like I have said previously I am only level 50. I love my lock and have a great time. I am specced Affliction.

I did the first 40ish levels demonology and consequently used my voidwalker to tank. The issue I have that (maybe) falls into pet pathing, is every time I send my pet in to tank something, he takes it far out of my range so inevitably end up running after my minion or putting him on passive to bring him closer just to switch to defensive again when he is in range. My main is a hunter and I find this awkward pet mechanic extremely irritating.

Also, I don't understand why Soul shards don't stack. With them doing away with the necessity for hunters to have a quiver, I believe (could be wrong) that warlock is the last class to require a reagent that needs its own bag to be effective.

Anonymous said...

to comment briefly on the teleport question is shear stupidity to compare it to rogue vanish.

the rogue disappears hence the miss you dont disapear hence the hit its the same with mage blink or hunter disengage to move from combat areas but if something is in the air when you move it will hit a mage or hunter anyway so dont complain about teleport and still getting hit with a ranged spell.

the pet issue is a big one b/c it affects hunters as well so dont feel like its only your problem

and finally burst dmg for affliction...lol...no wait still not done laughing...you want burst go destro you already got crit on dots what more do you want.

Gfunkalock said...

Spell pathing is broken and always will be. When I first started playing the game I wondered how people were shooting me while I was dead in the graveyard. Only later did I find out they were spells casted when I died and that redirected toward my spirit. wtf is that? Spells shouldn't redirect at all like heat seeking missiles.

Jagoex said...

@Anon 1:03 pm

Comparing two different abilities with the same mechanic (removing from the path of an oncoming offensive attack) isn't "stupid." And one could even argue that a Vanish does not remove a Rogue from the path a spell is traveling and that therefore it shouldn't miss if it is already in the air. How would you deal with that statement?

The problem here is the spell pathing mechanism -- not the similarities or differences between Vanish and Teleportation.

Hatz177an said...

Typical for a lock to single out rogue abilities. Vanish is a disapearing ability. Incoming dmg or not, in theory, you can't hit a target you can't see. I say in theory because every actively playing rogue knows it's about as reliable as Lindsay lohan's sexuality. Teleport is not a disappearing act as vanish is intended to be. So, you remain exposed albeit at another location, and will rightfully get hit by what's coming. Locks make me laugh. You wear skirts, guess that's why you whine so much.

chronic said...

I'll tell you why you can't "portal-immune" incoming spells: because it would be massively overpowered at the current cooldown!

Flavor, lore and world-consistency are important. But not as important as game balance!

Good article though, I agree with pretty much all of your points here.

Jagoex said...


Good point about the potential OP-ness due to the cooldown. But we're not talking immunities here (which would definitely be OP), but a miss of an already incoming range attack. While this would open up a new approach to tactical PvP for the 'lock and a few other classes, I do not think it would greatly disrupt the current state of PvP.


You can "hit a target you can't see." I do it all the time (Shadowfury AoE, for example). The "invisibility" argument doesn't stand because the player is still vulnerable and on the field of play. It's just a matter of targeting him.

A Vanished Rogue SHOULD be hit by a ranged attack that was fired before the Rogue vanished. However, the ability is supposed to make them miss (ala Cloak of Skill). How does this make sense when a complete change in position results in a hit?

The fact of the matter is, the spell-pathic is broken, no matter how it is spun.

Wear your leather a little less tight, my friend. You'll understand. ;)

PS - I'll call you tomorrow about my August schedule. We should do a meet-up in Seattle.

chronic said...


"But we're not talking immunities here (which would definitely be OP), but a miss of an already incoming range attack."

A miss of an already incoming ranged attack is exactly what vanish does currently, I referred to it as an "immune" because that's how it shows up in the combat log when you avoid damage from a spell this way.

This whole "spells shouldn't follow me after I portal" thing just strikes me as a giant can of worms. What about this scenario then: I'm standing twenty yards from you, you cast a shadow bolt at me. As it starts flying, I run five yards to the left. Should the shadowbolt still hit me?

It's tiny and I clearly moved out of its path; seems to me that if you want your spells to hit vanished rogues because "they're still standing in the same place" then the reverse also applies.

The way spell pathing works is essentially a limitation of their engine, but the game is balanced around it now. If your argument is that letting warlocks negate a projectile every 30 seconds is something they need to be competitive; I respectfully disagree.

Anonymous said...

Lots of slippery slope arguments. Pathing changes will not impact the games in a negative way.

I don't agree with your pet summoning stance though. It should take a while for a warlock to summon a different pet. It keeps them careful instead of having all of their cards to play.

chronic said...

I guess what I was trying to say is that you need to carefully separate "this change would be good because it would make the game more realistic" from "this change would be good because it would be more internally consistent" from "this change would be good because it would make the game more balanced."

DC:T works like every other movement effect in this regard: shadowstep, blink, disengage, charge, etc etc. Vanish works like every OOC effect (feign, shadowmeld and invis come to mind).

~-,, Miesche ,,-~ said...

The answer is no. They hate us, Jagoex. =)

The teleport thing sucks. Severely. Like I hate teleport anyway, its like a cantrip parlor trip.. and with the fact that our pets can't follow us, and it doesn't really give us any real utility (ie, your deathcoil example).

I was really sad to see it the answer to the level 80 spell. No PVE utility for it at all. We can't even use it to drop down out of the whirly thing in Malygos anymore. I use it twice. Both in Naxx (which I'm no longer doing.) Waste of a spell.

Sorry.. had to rant. =P I never comment on warlock blogs or threads. I didn't know how much aggression I had.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about the pathing question as well. My opinion sorta hinges on the mechanics of how magic works in the Warcraft universe.

Physical attacks are easy. If you move out of the path of an attack, it should miss. So, if a Hunter attacks a Rogue, and the Rogue vanishes, the Rogue should still take damage. If the Hunter attacks a Warlock and the Warlock teleports, the Warlock should not take damage.

Magical attacks depend on how the spell reaches the target. We see it in game as a range attack, but it's not physical. Is it guided by the mind and concentration of the caster? If a caster's concentration is interrupted, should that interrupt a spell reaching its destination, or only any cast that is in-progress? And how are others detected or observed in a magical universe?

My opinion is that this is some sort of "The Force" thing, where trained practitioners can detect the magical fluctuations of others within the magical field encompassing Azeroth. In this kind of model, a caster creates a link to his or her target not based on sight alone, but based on unseen properties from the observed magical field.

A Rogue vanishing temporarily disrupts the caster's link, so spells should miss (even though they currently do not). However, a teleport does not remove the Warlock from the caster's link, it just repositions him or her. This, of course, doesn't address line-of-sight issues, unless you assume that line-of sight is necessary only when establishing that link -- maybe casters can't sense and detect this magical field very well, but once that link is established, it's pretty solid. DoTs should depend more on the target's connection to the magical field, once applied.

(Cloak of Shadows doesn't disrupt the link, it just shields the Rogue against damage, strengthening his or her magical defenses)

With this perspective in mind, physical attacks should work against vanished Rogues, but not against teleported Warlocks, and (targetted) magical attacks should work against teleported Warlocks but not against Rogues.

I think Blizzard just went with what was easiest to code :)

Hatz177an said...

Asking for the teleport option to grant temp immunity from incoming dmg is like asking for casting abilities for a rogue. Both absurd.

...and it's now a conflict of interest to hang out with you when your out here. Re-roll a rogue and delete your needy lock and I might reconsider=p

Gregorious said...

"Asking for the teleport option to grant temp immunity from incoming dmg is like asking for casting abilities for a rogue. Both absurd."

I don't think its absurd. I think it makes perfect sense because I think it is linked to line of sight. And we all know how Blizzard handles that.

"My opinion is that this is some sort of "The Force" thing."

Then why can't we cast a spell against an enemy we have targeted but who is out of LOS?

"I think Blizzard just went with what was easiest to code :)"

Yup. "Hit target x" is much easier than writing "if the target moves" rules. But it wouldn't be hard with the teleport. When a warlock teleports he leaves behind a pile of dust. The spell could just hit that.

Anonymous said...

"Then why can't we cast a spell against an enemy we have targeted but who is out of LOS?"

... "This, of course, doesn't address line-of-sight issues, unless you assume that line-of sight is necessary only when establishing that link -- maybe casters can't sense and detect this magical field very well, but once that link is established, it's pretty solid.

Already had you covered :)

Judas said...

Great write up Jagoex. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The fear change was necessary. It was a bit out of hand. You should, however, be able to expect a fear to stick with only an unstable and a corruption on the feared target (unstable for dispel protection, corruption because... its just kinda always there). This provides dispel protection against the fear which is one of the main reasons I play affliction. The biggest threat however, is scaling. This works fine in blue gear and low level epics, but as our spellpower increases, the threshold to break fear becomes retardedly narrow. As is, with a few trinket procs and 2 crits in a row, unstable by itself will break a fear. This will only get worse as our spellpower gets high later in the expansion.