Archive for the “Specs and Spells” Category

So, the new talent system for Mists of Pandaria has been announced, and I, as always, am considerably underwhelmed.

One of the things I liked about WoW talent trees is the sheer amount of stuff that was in there.  Other games have always left me feeling a little let down at the lack of options I have for specialising my character.  I like to be able to play with talents, to see what different things I can make my character do through making different choices.  I want to be able to make my character that little bit different from everyone else… if I’m not really keen on the whole cookie cutter idea.

The argument for the new system is that it will give us more choice.  We apparently will have a wider range of options, and there won’t be a ‘cookie cutter spec’ any more.  Honestly, I find that very difficult to believe.  We all know balance is almost impossible to achieve – the likelihood of every talent on each tier being perfectly equal and balanced is almost non-existent.  We will still have cookie cutter specs – they’ll just be a damn sight easier to remember.

If anything, this seems to be another move towards (you all know I’m going to say it, so head off now if you don’t want to hear it!) dumbing down the game.  Let’s all make it easier by giving people less options!  People won’t be so intimidated if we don’t have big talent trees!  I think that ultimately, it will back fire.  Having less choice means the ones you do have to make are all the more important.  Not to mention easier to laugh at and ridicule. 

I think it will also be interesting to see what effect this has on specialisations, particularly for DPS classes.  Will it dilute the differences between specialisations, or will it make them more prominent?  For this to work, I think Blizzard really have to aim for the latter.  It could just be me, but I feel that there is a lack of class identity, and a lack of specialisation identity.  I know a lot of this happened for ‘good reason’ – I find it difficult to argue with the ‘bring the player, not the class’ philosophy.  However, it definitely came at a cost of identity.

Each tier has three talents, and each of these talents are apparently going to be similar in their focus.  While this will make balance easier, I think it will make the system bloody boring.  Which DPS increase talent is going to be marginally better than the other two?  Oh yay, that’ll be so exciting for us to figure out!  Which is better suited to this fight?  Awesome, that’s going to be massive amounts of fun in raids – “Now for the five minute interval before each boss where everyone changes their talents –again”  Respeccing, re-glyphing… it’s going to be the biggest time waste since some guy got paid to work on Mage design. 

Mists of Pandaria is the first expansion where I have been left totally unexcited.  Not a single thing has appealed to me at this point. Pandaren do seem kinda silly to me, but perhaps that’s just me being a fantasy snob.  I can’t really see the need for another class – Blizzard appear to have enough difficulty balancing the ones they already have.  The changes to talents have ruined one of my favourite things about WoW, and that is really disappointing for me personally.  MoP (is this the worst acronym ever?) feels like a massive amount of filler, and I am just not keen on the whole idea.  Will it cause me to leave the game (again) come expansion time?  Probably.  If I can get my way with other things outside the game in my life, most definitely.  Is it annoying enough for me to have a huge hissy fit right now?  Nope.  I’ll have this minor one, and that’ll be that.

So, really… Dude, Where’s My Talents?

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So, we’ve all had a couple of weeks now to play around with the new talents and abilities the patch has dropped in our laps. Let me just say this, Affliction is the freakin’ bee’s knees! Soul Swap is my new favorite spell. I didn’t think anything would overtake Seed of Corruption but I’ll be damned if I don’t love the instantly applying all my DoT’s on a new target. When I first looked at this spell, I figured it would only see situational use on trash mobs and in PvP. Thanks to the Soul Swap glyph, this spell is pure freakin win. For those of who don’t know what it does, the Soul Swap glyph allows you to transfer all your DoT’s onto a new target while still leaving the original ones on the target in exchange for a 10 second cool down on Soul Swap. I shed a tear when I first discovered the glyph.

Soul Swap isn’t the only new cool toy we got. We got a completely overhauled Soul Shard system. Gone are the days of carrying around 20 or more soul shards for all our spells. Now we have 3 soul shards for use primarily during combat. I’m not sure how it’d working out for the other specs, but I’m underwhelmed by this new mechanic for Affliction. There’s not really a whole lot for us to benefit from with this. Instant cast Soul Fire is nice when you’re on the move but chances are you’ll be using this time to reapply a DoT so it’s a situational ability. My favorite use for Soulburn is to enhance Seed of Corruption. It’s like Blizzard said to us affliction warlocks “yo we heard that you guys like DoT’s so we’re putting a DoT inside of your DoT’s to give you more DoT’s while you’re casting a DoT.” Gotta love instantly applying Corruption to every target in sight.

Our rotation remains pretty much the same, the main difference is that now Haunt is the main method for refreshing Corruption and not Shadow Bolt. Making sure we’re casting Haunt when it’s off cooldown is a bigger priority than it was before. Bane of Agony lasts longer so we’re having to reapply it less often. Aside from that, our rotation remains pretty much intact. All in all, I’ve been very happy with the changes Affliction has seen in the new patch.

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With 4.0 literally on top of us, I thought it was high time I got off my rotund rear and wrote a guide to what I think is the best spec for Destro Warlocks.  This, of course, comes with the previously mentioned caveat that I haven’t played in the beta or the PTR, and so I could make a mistake.

Destro Click me to go to the talent calculator page

We are forced to put 31 talents into Destruction, which really makes those choices a bit of a no brainer.  However, for those who might be curious, I have highlighted my choices below.  To be fair, it’s more a matter of ‘what don’t I need’ than ‘what do I need’ with these trees.  But hey… let’s see anyway.

Bane (3/3): A reduction of cast speed wasn’t the first thing I reached for, simply because I wasn’t sure how Haste works out in 4.0.  However, it is a handy talent to have, and you are forced to choose it to progress further down the tree.

Shadow and Flame (3/3): I think Shadow and Flame is worth having solely for the 12% increase to Incinerate.  However, the Improved Shadow Bolt is always nice for those looking for utility, and if you are lacking an equivalent buff in your raid, it could be very handy.

Improved Immolate (2/2): Again, kinda a no brainer.  20% to your Immolate is pretty shiny.

Improved Soul Fire (2/2): Improved Soul Fire changes up the Warlock rotation, giving us a hard hitting opener.  Improved Soul Fire causes you to receive a 15% increase to spell haste for 15 seconds if you hit a target at 80% or greater health.  Think of it as a reverse execute.  I’m not sure yet how this pans out mathematically, but you’ve got to spend the points somewhere regardless.

Emberstorm (2/2): Another boring, make you cast faster talent (this time affecting Soul Fire and Immolate).

Improved Searing Pain (2/2): This talent confuses me, as it would confuse anyone who hasn’t played PTR or beta.  I’ve heard talk that Blizzard have buffed the holy hell out of Searing Pain, although this spell still scares me.  An increase in damage is fine, but is it accompanied by an increase in threat generation?  Because, really?  More threat?  I’ll test Searing Pain out when the patch hits and see what happens.  It is also worth noting that it only increases the crit chance of Searing Pain when the target has less than 50% health.  Searing Pain is probably not worth casting before that point.

Aftermath (0/2): PvE stuns are a snore.  Especially when half the crap in an instance is immune to your stun effects anyway.  If you are lacking in stun effects in your raid, I guess you consider it, but I am not seeing any PvE raiding worth in this talent.  Probably a fight specific talent.

Backdraft (3/3): Pretty similar to the old Backdraft (as in, y’know… not new).  Just as worthwhile as before.

Shadowburn (1/1):  Shadow damage, but it will be interesting to play with, considering the new Soul Shard mechanic.  I imagine it will kick absolute arse on long boss fights with more than one target  (something in the style of High King Maulgar).

Burning Embers (2/2): Finally, getting to the new stuff in the tree!  Burning Embers puts a DoT on the target, caused by your Imp’s Firebolt or your Soul Fire, equal to 30% of the damage dealt by said spell.  The DoT lasts for 7 seconds.  Again, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.  Things I would like to know: do you and your Imp have separate Burning Embers DoTs?  I am guessing that it can not proc while it is up, although it may be that it refreshes if it procs while it is going.  Lots of question marks here, but it’s nice to see something new and interesting.

Soul Leech (2/2):  Same ‘blah, play nice with the others’ raid utility as Soul Leech and Improved Soul Leech, condensed down into two talent points.  No reason not to take it, really, and I’d make a comment about utility here if every other bastard didn’t have some form of Replenishment as well.

Backlash (0/3): It’s PvE.  Stop getting hit, foo’.

Nether Ward (1/1):  Eh.  It might be useful, and I had to throw a point somewhere.  Basically takes Shadow Ward, and makes it better by turning into a damage absorption bubble of every magical flavour.  No, it won’t stop that Rogue from hurting you when he stabs you in the kidney.

Fire and Brimstone (3/3):  Increases damage, increases this, Increases that.  You know the drill: it makes you hit harder, it makes you crit more, you want it.  Because, really, Destruction Warlocks are like diamond connoisseurs – the small ones are pretty, but the big ones are so much better.  And yeah, I had to use diamond there, because the other things that are better big, just aren’t pretty when they are small.  No one likes a small yacht.  Just ask Ghostcrawler.

Shadowfury (1/1): I’m not enthused at all about Shadowfury.  I know a lot of people who think it’s an exciting PvE spell, and it does give us a little more mobility, but I have just plain never liked it.  I put a point into it because I had to, more than anything else.  I’m totally not all about the Shadow either: while I have always thought it would be nice to have to use a mix of shadow and fire in our rotation, the buffs we receive to fire through specialising in Destruction make me disinclined to use Shadow spells.

Nether Protection (0/2):  PvE raiding.  Stop pulling aggro, foo’.  Or, you know, only spec into this when the situation requires it.  Which won’t be too often, except for if you are Lock Tanking. 

Empowered Imp (2/2): Imps handing out Instant Soul Fires, hopefully like candy.  Which leads to (hopefully) more Burning Embers uptime.  Nommy.  … OK, so maybe not like candy.  4% seems pretty low.  I’m hoping this gets increased or something. 

Bane of Havoc (1/1): The other new hotness in the Destro tree.  To be honest, my first thought was ‘This is REALLY going to screw some people over in PvP’, but it will also be pretty damn awesome in PvE as well. Add fights?  Whoo hoo!  For those who can’t click through to wowhead, bane of havoc causes 15% of the damage dealt to other targets to also hit the baned target.

Chaos Bolt (1/1): Do you have to ask?  It’s shiny, it’s fun, and we hopefully get to use it quite a bit.

Crap in the other trees

This was actually a more difficult decision process than the Destruction tree.  I decided to go with the following:

Improved Corruption (2/3): I’ve heard that Corruption is working its way into the Destro rotation.  However, if it is not, then of course you do not want this. 

Dark Arts (3/3):  More Firebolts = More chances for Empowered Imp and Burning Embers to proc. Just makes sense, really.

Thoughts, queries, notions, theories?  Fire away in the comments!

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I have to preface this with the obvious warning – I haven’t played in the beta.  I haven’t played in the PTR.  Hell, I haven’t played in live in forever and a day.  This series is compiled purely on my intuition, and a smidgen of research.  As I have a minimal depth of knowledge of the other trees, my choices in talents there could be very questionable.  There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of information floating around on the interwebs about Warlocks in Cataclysm (perhaps because there is a lot of discontent with the state of the class currently, but I am not really qualified to comment on that, being that I haven’t been playing and all!)

So.  With the arrival of Patch 4.0 staring us in the face, I am sure we are all asking ourselves ‘What the fricking hell am I going to do when my talents reset?’  Which, of course, is a damned good question.

Cataclysm and 4.0 bring us the most drastic overhaul to talent trees I have ever seen.  With a mass culling of talents, the introduction of ‘masteries’, and a different way to approach talents, the game is looking very different.  But, of course, you knew all this already.  So let’s get down into the nitty gritty.

Talent trees info

Affliction: Shadow Mastery grants you a lovely 25% increase to Shadow damage.  Certainly nothing to scoff at. At 80, you are able to train into your Mastery: Potent Afflictions (no link available, alas), which also increases all periodic shadow damage by 13.04% at level 80, increasing by 1.63% with each point you gain in Mastery.

Demonology: Demonic Knowledge grants you a 15% increase to Fire and Shadow spell damage.  Your Mastery: Master Demonologist, Increases damage done by your demons and by yourself in demon form by 12% at level 80.  This increases by 1.5% per point.

Destruction: Cataclysm (see, Destro is so damned awesome that the name of the expansion is in our talent tree!) increases fire damage by a shiny 25%.  Our Mastery: Firey Apocalypse, increases all fire damage by 10% at level 80, increasing by 1.25% per point.

While the above are interesting to consider, they don’t actually help you much in the way of choosing a tree to follow.  I can’t make a substantive judgement at this point to say which tree is shaping up to be the best damage in Cataclysm, and (unless I am blind, which is very likely), there is little around on EJ or other sites to suggest which is most viable at the moment.  I would say to go with the playstyle you are most comfortable and happy with for the remainder of Wrath, operating on the (perhaps foolish) assumption that each of the specs will be more than viable for end game raiding at this point.  Preliminary speculation suggests that Affliction is the strongest tree, with Destruction being a close second (Affliction edges us out with their Execute) and Demonology being third (which I personally find to be rather disappointing).

A breakdown of the talent trees and glyph choices will be published over the next few days.  As each post is published, I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post for future reference.  I more than welcome any criticisms or queries on any of the following – I know that my research is bound to be flawed, and I’d love to be able to fix errors!

4.0 Destruction Derby: Guide to speccing for Destruction ‘Locks

All About Affliction: Guide to speccing for Affliction ‘Locks

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So, the Hunters (as usual!) are all ‘raargh raargh raargh’ because Volley has been removed from the game.

“We’ll be at a disadvantage!” “No one will take us to raids!” “I can’t AoE while I’m questing!”

So, I have an idea.

Blizzard, give Volley back to the Hunters.  Please.  Please please please.  That lot is so damn loud and everything, and I just want some peace, damn it.

Take my Rain of Fire instead.

Yes.  I’m serious.  If Blizzard took away Rain of Fire, I’d do a little victory dance.  Naked.  In the middle of my lounge room.  That’s how excited I’d be.

Don’t you guys get bored using channelled spells?  Seriously?  I mean, yeah, they are handy for a few things.  You can cast it, then tab out.  You can cast it, then get a snack.  You can cast it and wax your legs at the same time.  You can cast it, then check out the guy washing his car over the back fence.

But oh my fricking ever loving monkey god is it boring to cast a channelled spell over and over.

I’ve had instance runs on my Hunter where I use Volley almost exclusively.  I’ve had the same on my Warlock.  Sure, my Warlock is slightly more awesome, simply because fire balls coming from the damned sky kicks the arse of arrows any day of the week.  But it’s the same old snorefest.  Press button.  Wait.  Press button.  Wait.  Press button.

I want to have to use a rotation.  I want trash where I might have to think (gasp!) a little.  I don’t want to watch my bloody cast bar crawling downwards, and I don’t want to play a game where the main advantage is I can wax and play at the same time.

Besides, you only have so much body hair, and then what do you do?

So, Blizzard: abolish all channelled AoE’s.  I’m putting this one down to Hunter bias: why are they allowed to have a fun playstyle experience while the rest of us get to suffer the crawling cast bar of doom?  Damn you Hunters.  Damn you!

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Ah the joys of leveling a new alt. Soon after you begin your new journey you find yourself at level 10 and with it comes that very first talent point. Deciding in which talent tree this point will go is a very important decision for most people just starting out, but for me and my new lock this was a no brainer. My first talent point went into Improved Corruption and so I began my trip down the Affliction tree.

From the moment I created my Warlock, I knew her spec was going to be Affliction. The whole reason I created the character, aside from Warlocks being awesomesauce, was because I was intrigued by play style of the class. Warlock’s are the masters of DoT’s and having played a class that was all about straight up nuking its target into oblivion, I was looking forward to the change of pace. After doing a bit of research and running down the talent trees, it was obvious to me that Affliction was the tree that was most focused on managing DoT’s and would be the tree to give me the Warlock experience I was looking for.

Outside of game play reasons, Affliction appealed to me for another reason. I have a tendency to RP my characters in my head. Each of my characters has their own distinct personality and reasons for doing the things they do. Faelican, my druid, is a tree hugging nature worshiper concerned with returning balance to Azeroth by forcefully removing those who are upsetting said balance. My Death Knight Athena is solely focused on exacting her vengeance from Arthas for turning her into the monster she has become. I am well aware that this may be a tad over done in most RP circles but quite frankly my dears, I don’t give a damn. Gingerlei is border line psychotic and delights in pain. She delights in the pain of others or her own, she is not picky. The slower, more excruciating the pain, the more she savors it. The ability to use multiple spells to prolong her victims demise to the point where death is a welcome release from the suffering she is inflicting upon them made the Affliction tree perfectly suitable to her sick little desires.

Currently, her recipe for a well prepared enemy is as follows. Apply liberal helpings of Corruption and Curse of Agony. Immolate for crispy shell and to seal in all the juicy flavors. Sprinkle on Shadow Bolts to taste and serve. Works great with all varieties of monsters and gnomes. So now my dear readers, I’d like to hear about what drew you to the Warlock class and your particular spec in general. Was it strictly a game play decision or are you a closet RP nerd like me? Look forward to seeing your comments.

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And that is possibly the longest post title ever.


I know the talents aren’t finished.  I know you have to work on them a lot more.  Thank bloody goodness for that, because, as they stand, they are a pile of crap.

When you get around to editing them, think of poor little Fluffy sitting there in the corner.  So small and cute and cuddly and utterly defenceless.

And remember… I’m waiting.

<3 Sar

P.S.  Don’t even ask how my Druid feels about the Restoration tree.  Let’s just not go there.

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I’ll be honest: Destruction Locks nowadays are few and far between.  With the majority of raiding Warlocks going for the Destro/Demo hybrid build, and many of those who aren’t going Demon or Aff, well… we are a dying breed.  Unfortunately, this makes us a dying breed that seems to have very little idea of how to spec!  There is not a great deal of discussion of the spec, and as I am a total slouch at theorycrafting, this is kinda based upon what I think.  If I had endless pots of gold (note: I want a leprechaun for Christmas!), I’d respec more often and test stuff out.  Unfortunately, I am but a poor struggling Warlock with mouths to feed (damn hungry minions!)

Part A:  The Spec

Now, my spec is not the optimal raid spec.  The Hybrid Specs are the most effective for damage output, but when you are a die hard Destro spec lover like myself, you just need to deal with feeling a little gimped and move on.  If I can’t get to the last talent in the tree, well… I just don’t feel right.  Strange but true.

specI will admit, there are a couple of… interesting choices in that spec.  Don’t get me wrong, i know it is far from perfect!  However, I’ll discuss these shortcomings as we go.  I don’t want to talk about every talent – if I view it as a bit of a ‘no brainer’, I probably won’t mention it.

1.  The Destruction Tree

i) Yeses!

Improved Shadow Bolt: While I don’t throw Shadow Bolts like I used to, having ISB means that I save the mages the effort of keeping stacks of Scorch up for much less effort than what it takes them.  Sure, I lose a little bit of DPS, but utility is a wonderfully awesome thing that should never be underestimated.  DPS can be found most anywhere: utility and versatility can not.  Please note – if you regularly run with more than one Warlock, co-ordinate your Shadow Bolting.  If more than one person casts it, it cancels out the previous one.  Don’t waste raid DPS by having every lock cast it!  Also remember to let your Mages know they don’t need to Scorch (I forgot that myself today, whoops!)

Aftermath:  Ignore the daze effect – it’s not that important – and focus on the increase to your Immolate.  An additional 6% to your always up (it is always up, isn’t it??) DoT is awesome.

Demonic Power:  The faster your Imp can cast, the more likely Empowered Imp will proc.

Intensity: Utterly useless within itself, but essential for ->

Backlash: An additional 3% to your spell crit rating!  You might not get too many instant cast procs off it, since you wont often be being hit (I hope), but that 3% crit makes it all worth while

Pyroclasm: I find that Conflagrate crits a LOT.  That increase to spell damage after a crit is always nice, especially since that’s when I unleash the big guns in my rotation

Conflagrate/Backdraft: I never used to have Conflagrate and Backdraft.  I found keeping Conflag in my rotation made it feel really clunky and awkward thanks to the annoying GCD.  However, I have recently fallen in love with Backdraft, so I have learned to live with the GCD and it’s clunkiness.

Chaos Bolt: This for me tends to hit reasonably hard, especially for a short cast.  It also times well with the rest of my rotation – it comes up just as I am ready to cast Conflag, which makes me happy.


Cataclysm:  Mana Schmana… sure, it’s nice to not Life Tap as often, but I don’t think the savings work out to enough DPS to warrant it

Shadowburn:  Too annoying to work into a rotation, especially when you are throwing Soul Fires

Destructive Reach:  I currently have no real threat issues, and the range is a moot point when my CoA won’t reach anyway

Improved Searing Pain: unexciting damage, definitely unexciting threat generation… save it for the tanking, kiddies

Nether Protection:  Highly situational, I haven’t found much of a use for it personally.  Heck, I didn’t even have it in BC when a lot of Warlocks had it!

Soul Leech/Imp Soul Leech:  OK, so Imp Soul Leech has raid utility… I really ummed and ahhed over this one.  I might let you have it, I suppose, if you can find somewhere better to lose the points from.

2.  The Demonology Tree

Improved Imp: Imp Imp is a wonderful talent for a spec that is so pet dependent to work

Improved Healthstone: Not really required, but the raid appreciates nice cookies, and the points have to go somewhere to get further down.

Fel Synergy:  My Imp has a nasty habit of occasionally getting hurt a bit, and this is an attempt to balance it out.  I felt the 1/2 was more beneficial than the 2/2 personally, but really, this isn’t an essential.

Demonic Embrace: While extra stamina is always nice (especially in Ulduar I hear), I didn’t want to invest points in this personally that I could spend elsewhere.  The one point is a filler point to get me further down the tree

Fel Vitality:  Makes you and your pet’s hardier and gives you more mana.  Intellect also adds a small small SMALL bit of crit to your Imp

Demonic Aegis:  I really like having the best type of Fel Armor.  Every bit of extra damage counts!

3.  The Affliction Tree

Suppression:  I am WAY off hit capped, so I need this talent.  If I was hit capped I would consider investing these points into Improved Corruption or within the Demonology tree.

Improved Curse of Agony:  This really is a dead point that should be somewhere else – I am too cheap to replace my old Glyph of CoA, so I still cast this to make me feel a little less like I am wasting a glyph slot.

Part B.  Spell Rotation

a) Trash/Bosses when you are low on shards

Shadow Bolt – CotE– Immolate – Incinerate (until 5 seconds left on Immol) – Conflagrate – Chaos Bolt – Immolate etc etc

# Refresh ISB and CoA where necessary

# Feel free to use CoD on bosses if someone else is covering CotE – it doesn’t stack!

#Communicate with other locks to see who else has and is casting ISB – if someone else is covering it, don’t bother with it!

b) Boss Fights

Shadow Bolt – CoD– Immolate – Incinerate (until 5 seconds left on Immol) – Conflagrate – Chaos Bolt – Soul Fire – Soul Fire – Immolate etc etc

I have dropped Corruption from my rotation – I know it’s recommended to use it, but I got more DPS out of a slightly cleaner rotation.  Realistically, it isn’t a very difficult spell to keep up, I am just rather lazy.  If you have trouble with your rotation, consider dropping Corruption or CoA.  Keeping ISB up is a little tiresome, but it helps the raid in the long run.  The reason why I put my two Soul Fires there is because Backdraft reduces their cast time by 30%, making it a much more efficient spell than it usually is.

As I said – this is not the optimal raid spec.  However, unless you are in a guild which expects you to be optimal spec, I see no reason why you can’t spec Deep Destruction and still do decent damage.  Not to mention, we all know Destruction is more fun!

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I am not a believer in gear lists.  There, I said it.  I know that ‘Gearing for Heroics’, ‘Gearing for ‘Insert Raid Here’ lists and the like are very popular with people, but quite frankly, I find them to be very irritating to read.  I will admit I have looked at one before (specifically for my druid, since I know diddly squat about tanking), but I have never felt the need to use one for my Warlock.  We only have one cap that we really NEED to worry about, and then gearing is (relatively) simple if we keep in mind a couple of basic principles.  Of course, these rules aren’t necessarily set in stone, and sometimes breaking them a little bit will give you better results.  Not to mention people always disagree on what should be aimed for!

1.  Hit -> Haste <-> Damage -> Crit.

Hit will always be the most important stat.  Point for point hit is more valuable than any other stat, and all the damage or crit in the world wont help you when your spells resist.  The hit cap at level 80 is as follows:

Untalented Hit Cap: 446

Talented (Suppression and/or Cataclysm): 368

Talented and Grouped with Draenei: 342

For the purposes of being hit capped, I would aim for the 368 mark rather than banking on the Heroic Presence buff.  This is of course assuming you have put talents in Cataclysm!

Haste is highly beneficial for Fire Destruction as it maximises the already slightly shorter cast times of fire spells, and allows you to cast more Incinerates during the duration of an Immolate.  This allows you to take advantage of the ‘deals more damage while the target has Immolate’ mechanic.  Keep in mind the GCD on instant casts (Curses, Corruption, Conflagrate and Shadowflame) can only be reduced to one second.

1% increase in cast speed: 32.78998947 Haste.

The reasoning behind having Haste and Damage being somewhat equal is that they both need to be balanced.  Clearly having a heap of haste but little damage isn’t going to help you, and vice versa.  My usual tactic where possible here is to aim for small chunks of both stats at a time.  In BC, I would aim to increase my Crit in 5% increments, then my damage by 100-200.  Might not be the best approach, but I found that I felt less ‘gimped’ on a stat working that way.  I will probably adopt a similar approach with Haste and Damage in Wrath.

2.  Spi <-> Sta -> Int.

To be honest, I am still really umming and ahhing over this.  Stamina has always been a primary stat for Warlocks, but with Spirit now having an impact on Spell Damage (thanks to Fel Armor) and directly affecting Life Tap, I would say they are equally important.  Intellect is overrated (in my opinion), providing a minor increase in spell crit rating and increasing your mana pool.  While a large mana pool is nice, it is not essential.  One overlooked benefit of Intellect is that it will also increase your Imp’s critical strike rating, which gives you those shiny Empowered Imp buffs!

166.6666709 Intellect = 1% Crit

30% of your Spirit = Spell Power WHILE Fel Armor is active

Life Tap (Rank 8): Converts (1490+Spi*3) Health into (1490+Spi*3) Mana.

So, my basic rule when looking at upgrades?  Don’t focus on too high above your current content level, look at what is to be had and compare it to your current gear.  If it drops and you think it is better (keeping these things in mind), go for it.  Remember you will be competing with ALL cloth wearers for drops, and try to remember that what is good for you may be good for someone else as well! 

Credit must be given where due!  Now, we all know I am horrible at maths.  Most numbers stolen from Whitetooth’s post on the EJ forums (Thanks!!)

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First things first – I haven’t played every possible spec that there is for Warlocks in the beta.  I have had a VERY small tinker with Demonology to look at Metamorphosis, and have spent the rest of my time levelling as Destruction.  These are comments based upon my own and other people’s research and experiences.

Affliction will be the PvE king.

At the moment in beta Affliction is the most powerful Warlock spec by far.  Affliction Warlocks are currently topping the damage meters in Naxx pushing approximately 5200DPS, and are beating out the other two specs by large amounts.  Destruction is a mid range DPS spec with approximately 4500 DPS, and Demonology is down the bottom unfortunately with approximately 3900 DPS (see post on Elitist Jerks for tables).  Of course, this is also dependent on gear scaling as to whether it will hold true for later raids.  If Wrath is similar to BC, Affliction is very viable in entry level raiding and peters out further into progression.  Conversely, Destruction was rather weak at entry level raiding and grew stronger as people gathered the gear to support it. 

Destruction will swap to being a fire based tree.

This is based on the buffs that we received to our fire spells and the chance of a Molten Core proc.  Improved Shadow Bolt has been slightly nerfed, which has greatly reduced the strength of Shadow Bolt.   With Corruption becoming an instant cast spell untalented, Destruction Warlocks will keep Corruption up and running while casting Immolate, Incinerate and Conflagrate.  I am anticipating heavy theory crafting about the usefulness of keeping Curse of Agony up and running (GCD versus extra chance of Molten Core proc).  With CoA running rather than CotE, I had approximately 200 more DPS.

What spec and spell rotation will be best for Destruction PvE locks?

To be honest, I can’t guarantee that the spec which I have been using is the best possible spec.  However, I think that I have maximised the damage that I can deal through my talent choices, which aim for the highest DPS.  The points in ISB could easily be moved, as the spell rotation that I found to be most effective on test dummies did not have Shadow Bolt within it.  I merely put them there to advance further down the tree.

80statsI was practicing on a ‘Heroic Training Dummy’ (which is a level 83 dummy), so there were some misses involved.  My stats can clearly be seen in the image to the left.  My hit rating is clearly very poor, which would allow for some of the lost DPS.  I am also trying to be realistic – not everyone will be hit capped at level 80.  I was not hit capped until after I finished with Kara myself.

I experimented with 3 basic Destruction spell rotations, allowing for some basic principles:

1.  Corruption had to be up at all times to try and get Molten Core to proc

2.  Immolate also had to be up at all times

3.  Every Immolate had to be finished with a Conflagrate to proc Backdraft.

4.  My Imp was DPSing to try and proc Empowered Imp

5.  Only buff I had running was Fel Armor.

Unfortunately, Backdraft makes it difficult to have a stable ‘spell rotation’  I still have not maximised my spell rotation yet, as my two DoTs also finish ticking quite when Backdraft is up, which means that I am wasting the valuable time that I could be casting Destruction spells in.  I could have also been casting Shadow Bolts rather than constant Incinerates to try and force a Molten Core proc, but Shadow Bolt is a weaker spell now with the nerf to Improved Shadow Bolt (which had previously made it so strong).

Ultimately the strongest spell rotation I could work out was the following (please note this is not necessarily the best one, and I will keep testing):

Corruption, Curse of Agony, Immolate, Incinerate x 4, Chaos Bolt, Corruption, Conflagrate. 

After that point however, things became somewhat chaotic as I tried to maximise the value of Backdraft, keep Corruption up at all times, and keep Curse of Agony up WITHOUT cutting the end off the spell (because we all know that is bad!).  I could stick to the same basic pattern, but occasionally had to refresh my DoTs half way through the rotation.  Managing it would be much simpler if you were assigned to CotE in a raid however.  I also noticed that you suck mana like nothing else – at least some things never change!

Actual numbers for those who enjoy maths!

Please note – I have not done any calculations.  To be honest, I wouldn’t even know where to start.  These are probably the most accurate numbers from my many, many, MANY tests on the test dummy.  The image is the graph from my most successful testing, although I do have many more of the other spell rotations.  Feel free to email me if you are curious about any of the others.
























Individual Spell Stats (Boss Dummy, 5/14/52 Spec)

Spell Name Hit  (Avg) Crit (Avg) Tick (Avg)
Incinerate 2597 5536 -
Immolate 1249 2523 484
Corruption - - 474
Curse of Agony** - - 304
Chaos Bolt 3177 - -
Conflagrate 1451 2641 -
Shadow Bolt*** 2441 5092 -


**  First tick of CoA at approximately 200, final tick at approximately 400.

*** Not from above test, but the numbers may be useful.  With CoA up as well, not CotE.  Spell rotation as above, with Immolate replaced by Shadow Bolt.

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