Friday, January 18, 2008

The Warlock - Part I

For the next installments of this tremendously popular blog (*waves at his 1 regular visitor*) I will try to make a somewhat extensive guide on the affliction warlock I currently have sitting at level 65.

Essentially this will be no more than a simple run-through of the things I did and my thoughts behind the process.
With a little luck you'll be able to extract some useful information from this guide or if nothing else will give you something to chuckle about.

Remember, I am no expert... I simply read things and then try things out to see how they work for me.
This has resulted in a nice lvl 65 warlock that can take on 2 - 3 mobs on at one time and leave the battle with full health.

Part I of this multiple blog series is mostly concerned with the basics, initial thoughts on race choice and talent trees as well as professions. Part II will follow up with a condensed levelling guide and part III will go more into the gearing aspect.

Talent options

A warlock has 3 very distinct talent trees each resulting in a very different playstyle. Affliction empowers your damage over time spells (dots) and allows you to go toe-to-toe with some seriously fierce monsters whilst you drain their life and mana away with your various draining abilities.
The demonology tree allows you to let your pet do all the hard work and the 41 point talent will equip you with a felguard giving you one of the best pets available in-game. Felguard specs are amongst the easiest specs to use in PvE and Felguards are often referred to as noob guards as a result.
The destruction tree has all the tools you need to output significant DPS. Destruction is all about bringing down enemies as quickly as possible but adds the utility of the warlock demons to the mix.

Each Talent tree has different gear requirements (or gear recommendations rather) and as a result it's best to pick your main talent tree as early as possible.

The notion that there is a 'best' tree is complete nonsense. After all if you prefer playing your character as a warrior type (go in and crack skulls) then speccing destruction will be a nice challenge but will not necessarily satisfy your playstyle.

On that note I decided to leave the long range bombarding to my mages. Destruction was out (although I now do have some points in it for the spiffy shadowbolt improvements).
Demonology reminded me too much of my hunter where I would simply stand back, let the pet do the work and sit there on autoattack. It's nice if you intend to do some reading on the side I suppose.

This resulted in me picking affliction as main tree, the idea of being able to suck the life out of something whilst they beat the life out of you was interesting enough and the idea of being able to tank anything as a cloth wearing class was too good to turn down.

Race options

There's a couple of race options to choose from for your warlock:

undead: cannibalism (regen health), will of the forsaken (fear removal)
gnome: remove snares / root, extra int
orc: more pe damage, stun resistance
human: perception (rogue spotter), extra spirit and extra faction gain
blood elf: silence spell and mana tap

Much like talent trees there is really no best option but it's clear that a non-demonology lock won't have too much benefit from an orc's extra pet damage so pick to match but primarily pick a race that you think looks good.

Since I am a devout Horde player and I picked affliction the undead seemed like the most suitable choice (and I have no regrets whatsoever). The extra silence and mana tap ability of the blood elf would've been interesting but of those abilities you end up only using the silence ability since the constant mana tapping has no significant benefit and can be arduous to keep doing (plus it eats global cooldowns).
Undead can break out of fear, eat corpses for extra life and spend extensive time underwater.

In the end: Pick a race you're comfortable looking at and whose abilities you appreciate (and use). I for one am a sucker for longer underwater breathing and use this far more frequently than I use life tap on my blood elf mage. Choose what you think you'll use. If you're not going to use the racials then pick a race with passives like an orc to free up slots on your skillbars.

Profession options

Let's assume we're not gold-greedy and we actually want to be able to make some good gear for our warlock. We want our professions to provide things we need during levelling... of course everything can be bought... but there's nothing more frustrating than wanting a full netherweave set only to find out that no one's selling one, the guild tailor is MIA and the one guy that can help you doesn't have enough mats.

If you are gold greedy you're best bet is to mix skinning with either herbalism or mining (I'd say mining) and sell off whatever you skin/mine/herbalize.

Beyond that we already know that a warlock is a cloth wearing class and is more likely to use a spells/wand rather than to rely heavily upon weapons. This makes blacksmithing and leatherworking a poor choice. The items generated do not immediately help the warlock so can be ignored for the purpose of getting to level 70.

alchemy whilst useful isn't crucial for a warlock. Especially affliction warlocks have a fairly easy time to manage mana and health and while elixer/potion buffs can be really helpfull at times they are not a 'need to have' for a warlock. Alchemy can however be considered quite good for a destruction warlock.

With those out of the way that really only leaves tailoring / jewelcrafting, engineering and enchanting.

Jewelcrafting can be extremely useful later on in the game when gem socketing gems becomes an option and can to a lesser extend make getting jewelry easier in the early levels. I did however note never having problems getting rings or amulets either through drops, quests or the AH so jewecrafting also strikes me as more of an 'end-game' option.

Having only dabbled in engineering I can only say that engineering 'adds' utility to your class. Don't have a good way to pull? get engineering. Got lousy ranged attacks? pick engineering.
Engineering really adds more trinkets and doodads to your assortment and if you like mashing buttons or like to be prepared for any situation then engineering is for you. Engineering deserves special mention for PVP oriented people... whilst I tend to stay away from PvP (I get that enough at home) the overall opinion is that engineering really adds to your pvp experience.

This leaves tailoring and enchanting and frankly I think they are both excellent choices. Enchanting can be a great moneymaker by disenchanting things that you don't need and selling the components. At about 300 enchanting you can pretty much disenchant any item currently available in the game and make a profit off of the materials. You can even scour the ah for items that are for sale cheap, disenchant them and sell off the resulting components for a tidy profit.
Not only that but it also allows you to (even if it is just a little) boost the quality of your items and allows you to make up for some shortcomings in your gear. Don't have enough stamina on your boots? add some! Need a fierce glow on your weapon? Add one!

Tailoring... if you don't have a shadoweave tailor yet then now's the time to get one. The capacity to make bags and a wide selection of armor that is extremely useful to any shadow oriented class is superb. Between shadoweave, netherweave and frozen shadoweave you will never have to worry about where your next piece of gear is coming from and I can confidently say that being at level 65 my gear always consisted of at least 70% tailored gear with a few quest rewards or lucky drops thrown in.

Suffice to say that I picked tailoring. I am slightly regretful that I didn't pick enchanting to go with it but instead I picked mining for the money aspect of things as I didn't understand enchanting well enough at the time to see it's potential.

In the end gathering professions are the best way to make money consistently... but they add nothing to your utility.

My recommendation at this point for an affliction lock would be tailoring / enchanting provided you don't have have a shadoweave tailor already.

We conclude by not concluding anything and I hope to see my 1 reader back for the next installment of "The Warlock"

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