I often wish that I could play in a perpetual bubble. Somewhere nice and safe, where no one could hurt me. One thing I hear from many Warlocks is that they have immense troubles managing their threat. Warlocks are a high threat class, with very little threat reduction ability. This often means that we are the first to get munched on by a hungry mob when it decides the tank just doesn’t look like fun anymore! Here are a few pointers for the locks amongst us who become breakfast far too often.
1. Get a reliable threat meter
Omen seems to be the popular option, but I did have some success with KTM for a long time. Omen is much more reliable though. Install it, put it somewhere easy to see on your screen, and watch it like your life depends upon it, because it does!
2. Configure any other add ons you may have to show threat warnings
I also use X-Perl, which flashes red around the edges of your screen when you get close to pulling aggro, and has a big aggro warning when you do actually manage to pull. I am sure that there are other mods out there with the same sorts of functionality. These are great for fights where you may forget to watch Omen (like when you are too busy looking for fire or something!), but can not replace a good threat meter.
3. Check your spec
Warlocks have threat reduction talents available in each tree. Destruction Warlocks should always spec into Destructive Reach, which increases the range of your Destruction spells by 10% and reduces the threat caused by Destruction spells by 5%. Affliction Warlocks have Improved Drain Soul, which increases the effect of Drain Soul and decreases threat caused by Affliction spells by 10%. Demonology Warlocks potentially fare best of all, with Master Demonologist potentially reducing threat caused by 20% (with an imp active). Ensure that you have specced into threat reduction talents, and if you are really having issues, consider a respec to Demonology, which is generally speaking a lower threat, but high damage spec.
4. Make the most of your Life Tap
We all know that Life Tapping can be a pain in the backside. No one likes to lose DPS because you have to waste a couple of seconds tapping. At the same time, no one likes having to reign in their DPS because you are about to pull off the tank! When you notice that you are getting horribly close to the threat cap, consider pausing DPS for a second and lifetapping. Lets face it, you will probably have to tap anyway over an average boss fight, and you may as well do this while you have to lay back on the damage.
5. Soul Shatter at the most advantagous time for you
Soul Shatter is unfortunately a pain in the rear. Hunters have it so much easier, being able to feign every 30 seconds, while we are stuck with a 5 minute cooldown. This means that on the average boss fight, you will only be able to shatter once. I generally try to refrain from shattering until the boss is at 50% health, because if I shatter earlier my aggro will be waaaay up well before the boss is dead. Remember, shatter is also not an aggro wipe. This means that mobs pulled off you in an AoE fight will not necessarily get off you if you pull them, because they may not be fighting anyone else. All too often I hear Warlocks complain that ‘shatter is broken’. Well, no… it is working as intended (although my issues with it could fuel a whole new post!) If you pull a mob off a tank through AoE, and no one else is attacking it, most likely it will go to you and stick on you. Likewise if you are the last lock to hit your shatter button when one pops loose!
So, hold your shatter for as long as possible. In an AoE fight, try other tactics to get a mob off you (I am generally a fan of running around like a headless chook over the top of a Pally tank’s Consecrate). When you DO shatter, remember it only wipes 50% of your threat, so you will get back up there awfully fast. Do not be afraid to lay back on the damage.
While you will still inevitably pull aggro at some point (I don’t know a Warlock who hasn’t!), watching a threat meter carefully and making the best use of your talents and abilities means that you will have much less to worry about. While you can go to 129% of the tank’s threat, it is always best to leave a safety buffer for that big crit that might sneak out.