Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Warlock - Part II

My irregular posting habits nonwithstanding finally a new installment of the warlock.

Today we look at the affliction talent tree and the choices I made therein. With a little luck I'll find the time to summarize in a later post and show how you could potentially progress through the various talents.


Let's make a few base assumptions about what the affliction warlock is and what it isn't:

First and foremost an affliction warlock is focused on doing damage with damage over time spells. This means affliction warlocks do damage very, very slowly.

Incoming damage is not mitigated but absorbed and health is reclaimed through drain spells. The affliction lock is not a pet-based class.

Pets are there to provide utility in specific situations where you need some more tanking power (voidwalker), some extra damage or CC (succubus) or an infinite pool of mana (imp).
An affliction lock that relies heavily on his/her pet is gimped and is failing to see the true power of affliction.

An affliction lock _can_ effectively tank single targets and should not be afraid to do so (in fact it is often needed).

Affliction locks are excellent solo players and can really pile on the damage with boss mobs but are generally less useful in larger groups due to the fact that the dots don't have the time to finish ticking.

Affliction locks have 0 downtime.


Before we dive into talets a quick mention of stats. So far I've seen very little use for any stat except stamina and spell damage.
(shadow) Spell damage increases the power of all your dots and more importantly your drain effects. More spell damage means your siphon life and your drain life tick harder which in turn means you recover health faster.
Health can be converted to mana via life tap meaning that as long as you have a big enough pool of health and high enough spell damage you will never have to worry about int, spirit, mp5 and other such silliness.
Ignoring everything except spell damage first and stamina second gives you the advantage that your gear picks are very straight forward and by not spending any item budget on other stats you practically guarantee that you get the maximum possible amount of stamina and spell damage for your warlock.


Before we dive into the all important affliction talents lets take a look at demonology and destruction first and see what we can use from their in the lower tiers:

Demonology has very little to offer at the lower tiers but one talent stands out like a sore thumb namely demonic embrace.

Boosting your stamina at the expense of spirit is a good thing a very good thing since you will be investing heavily in stamina and an x% increase to it is exactly what we want. The tradeoff of losing some spirit is completely irrelevant because the stat means nothing to an affliction warlock (regen mana... ah yes that's why the gods gave us drain mana and drain soul).
5/5 here

Destruction on the other hand will provide us with the necessary improvements to our one solid direct damage spell namely shadow bolt and also gives us a shot at another instant damage spell shadowburn.

On tier 1:

Improved shadow bolt is favored over cataclysm here. Cheaper shadowbolts mean nothing since we will never run into 'real' mana issues and the extra damage resulting from shadow spells (i.e. all your dots) through shadow bolt crits is better even when your shadowbolt rarely crits.

On tier 2:

Bane is a clear winner. Shadow bolts are a slow cast as is, taking off a good .5 seconds doesn't sound like much but can make all the difference when trying to fire as many shadow bolts before having to re-apply dots (which is always more important).

Aftermath really means nothing. A chance to daze the target would be interesting if daze meant stun but it doesnt. It just slows the enemy down for 5 seconds which really doesn't help since you can still get hit casting shadowbolt and all your other spells are instants anyway.

On tier 3:

Plenty of choices here, shadowburn is too good to turn down.
Sure it eats soulshards but it is one of the few instant damage spells we have available and as a result makes an excellent filler for those times that you know your Shadow bolt won't finish casting in time. 1/1

Beyond shadowburn there is really only Devastation that is an interesting choice. More shadow bolt crits means your shadow spells do more damage to the target which is never bad. Still you could ask yourself if you really need this extra crit chance but if you have points to spare this will be a good place to dump them.

On to affliction

We will be putting a lot of points in affliction so as to avoid confusion I will simply give my comments on each and every affliction talent in the tree and the amount of points I dropped into it.

On tier 1:

Suppression helps your spells stick to the target. If you get a lot of resists you can either stack a whole bunch of spell-hit on your gear or drop points into suppression. Spell-hit items really don't come up with good combinations of stamina and spell damage very often so this talent can be very useful. There's no reason to max it, simply look at your situation and see how often your spells get resisted and apply 1,2 or maybe even 3 points to the talent.
2/5 and moving on.

Improved Corruption can turn your slow casting corruption spell into an instant cast killer DoT. Since corruption isn't overwritten by any other dot except seed of corruption this is too good to not have on an instant cast. 5/5 no regrets here.

on tier 2:

Improved curse of weakness can boost your curse of weakness by up to 20% for 2 points resulting in something like 30 less DPS a target does to you at 70 without this skill it's about 25 less.
Well whoopdidoo, as an affliction lock you will have enough problems picking between curse of shadows, curse of doom, curse of agony, curse of tongues and other curses making this curse situational at best. Not worth improving in my opinion. 0/2 no love for you.

Improved drain soul returns up to 15% of your mana to you when you whack someone while drain soul is active. The threat reduction is gravy. Unfortunately drain soul by itself is horrible, the fact that it's the only way to get soulshards makes it a necessary evil. And since we're stuck using it anyway it may as well return 15% of your mana when you kill something.
2/2 for this skill, downrank your drain soul to level 1 and use it every time an enemy is down to 1 or 2% health to get a nice chunk of 'free' mana.

Improved life tap returns up to 20% more mana when life tapping. Affliction warlocks tap often, no wait... all the time. In fact you life tap so often that it is bound to be right smack dab in the middle of all your important spells which means you get to click on it even when you don't want to on a regular basis. 2/2 unless you can live off of dark pact alone (I know I can't).

Soul siphon is your friend. Soul siphon makes your drain life work better the more shadow spell effects are on the target (4% per effect). Considering all your dots and curses are shadow school spells you can easily end up draining targets that have 4 shadow effects on them resulting in a nice 16% more drain. Mutiply this by the amount of other people in your group that use shadow spells and you know why there's a 60% cap on this. 2/2 without a doubt.

On tier 3:

Improved Curse of Agony makes your curse of agony do more damage. More damage you say? That's wonderful... but wait... it's a curse. As a curse curse of agony has to contest with other curses like curse of tongues, weakness, exhausion, curse of doom and a whole bunch of others. So it really depends on how you use your curses. Additionally all the damage in curse of agony is backloaded. I.e. all the damage happens at the end, so the extra damage from this talent only really kicks in towards the end of the curse which doesn't always see completion. Situational at best, since I like all my other curses 0/2 points in this.

Fel Concentration prevents you from being interrupted during spell cast up to 70% of the time. You can't drain - tank anything without this spell. Even with this spell your drain life gets interrupted regularly and playing without it is like trying to get something from the trunk of your car while driving down the highway at 180km/h. 5/5 don't leave home without it.

Amplify Curse boost your curse of doom or curse of agony damage by 50% and also improve your next curse of exhaustion by 20%. While this talent is very much situational and on a long cooldown you'll never want to go without it again after you see an amplified curse of doom hit. For all the math impaired people like me that's about 4200 damage + 50% damage from your amplify curse plus something like 200% of your spell damage. For my poorly geared lock that comes down to 4200 + 2100 + (2*550) = 7400 damage for a curse of doom. Not too shabby for something that you can fire and forget. 1/1 No argument.

On Tier 4:

Grim Reach gives your affliction spells up to 20% more range. More range is nice but it doesn't affect your shadow bolt so you will be in range with your dots before you are in range with your shadowbolt. This is one of those skills you either love or hate. It does however make life easier when re-dotting feared enemies so for me it's clear: 2/2

Nightfall sweet nightfall. Procs every now and then when you damage your enemy and makes your next shadowbolt an instant cast. In lucky streaks you can have it trigger a whole bunch of times turning your shadowbolt into a true killer. The main drawback is that when the nightfall procs you have about 10 secs to pump out that additional shadowbolt which isn't always as easy as it sounds. If you're fast enough on the buttons then don't skip this skill, if you're not then don't skip this either but learn to be faster. 2/2 because warlocks really do work better during nightfall.

Empowered Corruption A lovely 36% extra damage on your corruption. If you invested the points to make it instant cast then strapping on another 36% worth of damage on it is definitely not a bad idea. With this 36% extra damage your corruption will almost be level playing field with unstable affliction meaning that this is now a serious DoT to consider. 3/3 for me

On tier 5:

Shadow Embrace causes some of your spells to trigger the shadow embrace 'debuff' on the enemy reducing the physical damage they do by up to 5%. Woot you'd say, 5% less physical damage doesn't really tickle my fancy especially when you can easily outdrain that damage. But wait... there's something we need to consider. Shadow embrace counts as a shadow effect on the target because it's a debuff and as such it adds another 4% to the power of our drain life via soul siphon. If you really love your tank make it 5/5 so you can save them some damage on instance bosses... but that means you really really have to love your tank. So 1/5 for me because 1 point is plenty and I only have so much love to spare.

Curse of exhaustion reduces the enemy speed by 30% or 50% with an amplify curse. A highly situational spell at best and more often than not overwritten with one of the more important curses. I'd recommend not taking it, but since I can't not pick up a shiny new spell for one point I invested 1/1 shame on me.

Shadow Mastery is a nice and straight forward skill that'll add up to 10% damage to your shadow spells. It's not necessary a lot, but since pretty much every spell in your arsenal is shadow based you can't really argue with this skill. 10% extra for your unstable affliction, corruption and curse of agony whilst draining life adds up quickly and shouldn't be ignored. 5/5

On tier 6:

Dark Pact takes some of your pet's mana and adds it to your own. Depending on your preferred pet dark pact is more or less effective. Voidwalkers will run out of mana quickly but dark pact and an imp on passive will pretty much ensure that you never run out of mana. Dark pact is a good alternative to constantly life tapping as it doesn't take your life away and with me being the imp lover I am that means I'll definitely put in the 1 point it needs. 1/1

Contagion increases the damage of corruption, seed of corruption and curse of agony by up to 5% and reduces the change that your spells are dispelled. Well this is a PVE build and I haven't seen all that many mobs actively dispelling my spells. The 5% damage increase doesn't sound too great for a 5 point investment and on top of that doesn't apply to all shadow spells but only to a few of which 2 can't be cast at the same time and the last is often replaced by other curses. Of course we have to look on the bright side and celebrate the damage increase somehow because without it... you don't get unstable afflction your final talent. 5/5

On tier 7:

Improved howl of Terror to reduce the casting time of your howl of terror right down to making it an instant cast spell. If you can get into the concept of dotting up a whole bunch of mobs and letting them gather around you before using this then you will find that howl of terror dot grinding is one of the most efficient ways for a lock to take down mobs. Completely unbeatable for solo grinding where there's a lot of space, completely useless in groups.
2/2 here for I am a soloing machine

Malediction improves the effect of your curse of shadows and your curse of elements by up to 3%. 3 points for 3% extra damage from curses that are highly situational? Sure curse of shadows is nice but euhm not 3 points worth of nice unless you're glued to a shadow priest friend and like to run with other locks. 0/3 for me.

On tier 8:

Unstable affliction is another dot worth adding to your arsenal. Get it and use it frequently. A good opener due to the fact that it is one of your spells that actually has casting time and if you're in groups won't draw aggro meaning you can get started sooner. At full capacity slightly better than curse of corruption in terms of damage. Returns a nice chunk of damage to the person crazy enough to try and dispel this. 1/1

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Guilds and intrinsic sub-structures

Ok ok the title was a little far fetched and made to be a little bit complex sounding but this post will actually be about guilds and various sub-structures in guilds so it's not completely off base.

The whole thing was brought on by one of our guild's resto shamans deciding to respect enhancing and skip town. The primary reason was that he didn't have enough to do as a healer. There was no real reason for him to leave because no one would've complained about him being an enhancing shaman for as long as he liked.

Still we're not here to judge the little bastard for his decision but to take a look at how to deal with the constant flux of members especially in the healer and tank department because well... I've never heard of a DPS shortage.

People will leave guilds. Reasoning is not important, some are selfish, some get a life, others are just burnt out or looking for attention but people will leave.

Assuming that you can't prevent people from leaving a guild the only realistic thing you can do is make sure that the gap that's left by the person leaving is filled as good as possible.

Sure you can ask people to respec, but more often than not this has it's own downsides: People playing a spec that they don't enjoy, people feeling 'forced' to do things they don't want to do and so forth and so on.

This doesn't leave much room for anything else except to work with new healers and train them as fast as possible but also leaves the possibility of motivating to provide healer/tank alts once in a while for the occasional raid / instance.

Sounds good, but too vague to actually be useable so lets see if we can come up with a basic scenario on how to make things work by looking at some very simple motivators.

1. Levelling is easier in a 'guild' group (or at the very least is generally more fun)
2. Levelling is more pleasant when at fixed intervals you have guaranteed upgrades
3. Motivation improves if there's other people taking an interest in your progress
4. Motivation improves if there's other people working on your progress (for example sending you pieces of gear while you are offline)
5. Character building is easier if there's someone who can lay out a basic guideline on how to do things
6. Character building is more pleasant if there are clear goals involved.

Properly motivated people will have more fun levelling, will be more likely to return whatever assistance they may have gotten and will generally be positive about their outlook on the guild.

Ok... all things that are still very obvious so lets dive a little deeper on how these various levels of motivations can be achieved.

0. All guild members should be motivated to have alts on various levels, if they pick up a new class commend them for the effort, offer them some simple crafted gear to start out or boost their coffers with a small offering of 10g (which is a lot to lower level chars).
1. Each and every day assign a few people (volunteers) to help other people level. Compensate them for this levelling activity via some arbitrary reward system (I.e. guild rank, some consumables, recouping the cost of not doing dailies, brownie points, hugs etc.) and some friendly comments for every person they manage to drag through the day.

2. Stop disenchanting BoEs. Bind on equip items can be guild banked, sent around to various people or even saved up. The disenchant value is never higher than the value of seeing someone get an item in their mailbox that they didn't ask for but can use anyway. Should there really be no takers for the items then and only then should it be disenchanted. you're better of losing bankspace and stockpiling items than to DE them. On a side note it is important to keep the guild bank 'clean' from trashy items (useless food, sharpening stones and whatnot) because it gives the impression that it is used as a trashbin.

3. Comment often and in a positive way to someone's progress. If you know someone just dinged tell them good job, take the opportunity to see if they need a hand with a few quests. The point is to at least pretend you care even if you couldn't care less you have to keep up with appearance.

4. Similar to 2, but extend your thought beyond that. Sure you could DE that BoE green or blue but before you do simply think about each item, each resource that you get and are considering turning into enchanting mats / gold. Can someone else use this? If the answer is yes then for heaven's sake pass the item along. If you're low on cash and have been giving out a lot of items approach the guild leader for some form of compensation which can always be arranged.

5. Appoint someone who is knowledgeable about a class to give brief instructions or to be the contact point for class questions. Post the appropriate guides in short versions on the forums and focus on providing knowledge through central places. The forum is an excellent place to display class builds, discuss them and figure out what works. There's nothing more annoying than to pick a new class levelling it to 40 and then figuring out you've been stacking the wrong stats and picking talents that don't do the job as well as others. People should not have to look elsewhere for basic information, basic information must be at hand at all times. Leave the math and the spell coefficient to the elitist jerks and focus on providing basic information on what works and what doesnt.

6. Tell people what they can expect for levelling the character they're levelling. If they won't be seeing the inside of specific instances that they're expecting to get in with their new char make sure they know this and offer them alternative goals. Don't ever let people wonder why they levelled a char to 70. Most people can figure out their own motivation, but add to it whenever you can.

The whole point of a guild is to work as a team on something that looks like progress and have fun doing so. Each and every guild member should be considered one of your alts and given the love that you would provide your alts with. Be that money, items or simply the occasional boost.

Will people abuse this help? Well of course, there are always greedy bastards who don't think beyond their own gain. But those people will eventually be found and removed, or will leave on their own accord.
Wasting 100 BoE items on someone who leaves hurts, but it will also build up a coherent and loyal core of guildmembers and improve motivation dramatically.

Perhaps my lacking wow experience made me draw the wrong conclusion, but in all fairness there really is no point to a guild if the guild doesn't operate as one person (with lots of split personalities).

Friday, February 15, 2008


It is done, I have my dreadsteed.

We took a team of guildies into DM the other night together with the lock I had been pushing through the dreadsteed quest. He wanted 125g for the summoning items from me which clearly indicates to me that he's a greedy bastard who doesn't listen. After all I told him not to buy the items because we had a lock who already had them.

But besides the utter waste of 125g on a guild member who can from now one rely on the fact that I won't help him with anything it was a fairly good run. We had a non-resto spec shaman healing, we missed the first 3 pylons and had to run back and in the summoning event everyone died except me but other than that no complaints.

I am now the proud owner of a dreadsteed, finished my final piece of my frozen shadoweave set and barring a few enchants and gems my lock feels pretty done.

Some attunements and whatnot will probably be handy but I'll rely on the guild to set up the necessary runs for that.
Which for me means wrapping up my lock, finishing the guides I have been promising and do a switch to my now lvl 38 paladin who will be fashioned as a protection paladin.

Beyond that I am now having ambitions for a healer of some sorts, probably not a priest or a pally but I am considering a druid or shaman to do these jobs.

Suggestions are always welcome of course.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Having had no luck in getting myself a trip to DM the last few days I decided to take a different approach. I looked up the guild roster and noted a few decent level locks and decided to get them motivated to work on the dreadsteed quest.

The general idea is that the more locks are sitting around waiting for a trip to DM the better the odds are that I will actually gain the sympathy of the guild elders and get a decent escort there.

So to further my goals we ran one of the 'new' locks through scholo yesterday with 3 warlocks and a warrior... I think either arms or fury I didn't really pay that much attention beyond him not having a shield.

The run could've been better coordinated. As usual the group leader tag was tossed around a few times and no volunteers were found to do any marking so we just... euh... brute forced it.

And with any brute force approach there's a few deaths that could have been avoided.

Still, there was no ill will, no bickering over loot and generally good attitude all around and I even remembered to bring my argent dawn commission for all the lovely scourgestones and whatnot.

I really should pick up the leader role for places I am starting to know better since it would really help how we tackle things. Just blindly rushing in and laying on the pewpew is fun but very very inefficient.

In comparison we did the same run with 2 locks and a bit of marking and had substantially more control over things. I need more practise if I am ever going to be good at anything. I am not sure if the guild I am in at the moment is really interested in training me in any way shape or form.

I guess being 'just another lock' there's not really much I should hope for anyway.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fear - jojoing

Lately I've been doing a lot of experimenting with various (warlock) spells and have come across a little something I like to call fear- jojoing. I am sure someone else already has figured this out and it's by no means new, but it was new to me and as a result I thought I'd share.

Warlocks, even affliction ones, need a bit of breathing space now and then. We do quite well with single targets but in multiple enemy situations we need to rely on a spot of CC to give us enough room to do a spot of safe draining.

The problem here comes in is that our only real universal CC is fear which is incredibly unpopular in groups because it increases the chance of pulling a significant amount of adds (yes there's banish and deathcoil but both are situational and/or on lengthy cooldowns).
10 seconds of fear can often result in 5-10 new enemies attacking you which kind of defeats the purpose of the CC.

To combat this affliction locks use curse of exhaustion slowing the target down as it runs, but even then the odds of pulling extra adds are not in our favor.

The answer came to me in the form of Curse of Recklessness. Curse of Recklessness amongst other things also makes the target mobile fear-immune. However it is also the case that curse of recklessness does not actually remove a fear effect on the monster but simply cancels it out.

Lets take a look at a bit of practical application:

1. You fear a mob and it starts running
2. You want it to stop running after 3 seconds or so because it'll end up pulling adds otherwise so you apply curse of recklessness. The curse cancels out the fear effect resulting in that the mob now comes after you again.
3. Now apply a different curse (curse of exhaustion, curse of tongues, curse of weakness or other) to cancel out your previously casted curse of recklessness.
Since your curse of recklessness didn't remove the actual fear effect and there's probably still a few seconds left on the fear timer the mob will now once again run in fear.

At this point you can decide to re-fear the target after the initial fear wears off and once again apply curse of recklessness to call the mob back or take other actions as you see fit.

With a little practice it's very much possible to have the enemy run from you for a few seconds, apply a curse of recklessness, have the mobile come back and then use a different curse to break recklessness and re-activate the fear effect.

Essentially the monster is trapped in an endless cycle running and returning without ever coming close enough to do damage and without being able to go far enough to pull adds.

Add a nice stack of dots into the mix and the mobile will die swiftly without leaving any nasty stains in your clothing.

It requires a bit of presence of mind, so practice it and you will find that you can comfortably control 2 mobs this way with none of the drawbacks of regular CC (damage prevention, fast regeneration and whatnot).

The only significant drawback is that people still cuss at you for using fear... something I didn't really find a workaround for.

Now go and fear fear no more.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Guilded and future expectations

So despite my previous antics about wanting a guild to invite me to DM I decided to tag along with the Solace fellows and join my second choice guild Monstrous Regiment.

The leadership seems fairly level headed and have a couple of high level alts / mains that would indicate at least some past experiences raiding.

Not that that really matters to me but it's nice to have some people available that can voice opinions on various skills and whatnot.
Plus I am fairly certain they will take the time to help me out with this inane dreadsteed quest before I give in and just buy the skills to ride some other silly epic mount.

Either way it's time to re-focus and put some useful information in this blog rather than bother you with my endless deliberations about what guild to choose.

So for the month of february you can definitely expect the arrival of part 2 of the The Warlock. A little warlock guide I've been working on.

The primary reason for the slow progress of the guide is related to the fact that I want to end up with some kind of guide template so that I don't have to re-invent the wheel when I decide to write a quick guide based on my paladin.

I am also wondering to what extend I should keep the guides up to date. After all patches come quick and hard and really affect how to pick skills. I could leave that part out but how valuable is a guide without a talent description?
I don't have time to keep guides up to date for each patch so I am thinking of delving into the skills and devising a more 'general' evaluation of talents that can be utilized throughout at least a couple of patches.

For us noobs it's usually really important to be fairly clear on why things are the way they are which is hard to combine with a generalizations... ah well February here I come, I'll probably have some luminous idea on what to do at some point or the other.

In the meantime expect more useless ramblings about whatever tickles my fancy during my limited time in WoW.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Well there we are... as far as I can possibly be removed from WoW in a hotel in germany attempting to deal with the fact that the y is where the z used to be (and yes I meant to type the opposite).

Worse still I can see my internet time ticking away slowly because apparantly this crummy hotel is too cheap not to charge for internet after billing me who knows how much for a small room with 2 beds.

Can I trade in a bed for 1h of internet time? no of course not.

But to give you a little update on whats been going on:

My first choice guild solace is no more, apparantly their healer went server surfing and never turned up again thus leaving the guild without a healer. Not so bad were it not for the fact that the healer was also the GM.

I took pity on the fools and let them in on my second option... lets see how they like it. I for one am now lvl 69 and well on my way to 70 which apparantly I will reach without seeing the inside of DM for my dreadsteed.

Color me amused...

On that... I better finish this post before time runs out...
back to business after tomorrow, just a little work to wrap up before I can resume ... euhm... life I suppose.