From Level One To Level Awesome! Choosing Your Race

August 4, 2009 at 6:29 pm (From Level One to Level Awesome!)

In this first post, I’ll be discussing the choice of your warlock’s race.

Okay, so, you’ve decided to create a warlock.  Excellent choice.  Warlocks are, almost certainly, the most robust of the cloth-armor-wearing caster classes, and have an amazing variety of options in defending themselves, and killing their enemies.  The warlock playstyle (well, playstyles, really, but it takes a while for them to really differentiate themselves) has aspects in common with hunters, mages, and shadow priests, but really, is quite unique.  Additionally, warlocks, as of a certain very low level, will have virtually no down time whatsoever in the ordinary course of soloing.  I virtually never kept food or water on me when soloing, only when instancing.  This is in comparison to the mage, half of whose life is spent drinking water that is barely adequate to fill half her mana bar.  This is why mages are so bitter about warlocks.

You’ve already decided on your class, or you wouldn’t be reading this.  So the only decision of consequence to make before getting started is picking a race.  There are five races capable of being a warlock – for the Horde, you can be an orc, an undead, or a blood elf.  For the Alliance, you can be a gnome, or a human.  Obviously, the aesthetic elements of the decision are yours to make as you see fit, as are any decisions regarding which faction you would prefer to join.  The question, insofar as I could give you advice, is which racials are good for a warlock (which is, in my opinion, the least useful question, but I tend to give greater weight to aesthetics in race choices than some).  Note that some classes have particular racials that are useful for PvP (i.e Every Man for Himself, Will of the Forsaken, Escape Artist, etc.)  As these are primarily of PvP interest, I’m not really qualified to weigh in on how important they are, but if your interest is primarily PvP, you probably aren’t reading this guide anyway.  Some racials are also potentially useful to a warlock as much as anybody else (i.e. a blood elf’s five point bonus in enchanting), but are of general interest, so my opinion as a warlock is no more useful than anybody else’s.

Orcs have an extra damage trinket in Blood Fury, which is nice for those who intend to raid end-game.  Orcs also have Command, which boosts pet damage by 5%.  This is a nice racial for a warlock, particularly a Demonology warlock.  Our pets, in end game, make up a decent chunk of our damage (even for affliction or destruction locks), so a 5% boost, while not overpowered, is quite decent.  And the faster you’re killing things while soloing, the faster you’re leveling.

Undead have what is, for a warlock, one of the least useful racial abilities, namely extended ability to hold one’s breath.  You will (after level 16) never be underwater without the spell Unending Breath anyway, so it’s irrelevant (and before level 16, you’re extremely unlikely to be underwater at all).  Cannibalize, however, is a very nice racial that synergizes very nicely with lifetap.  You kill a humanoid or undead, lifetap to full mana, and cannibalize their corpse – voila, full mana and health bars (something you’ll mostly have anyway, courtesy of Drain Life, but it’s a backup option when you end a fight with your health/mana bars not quite maxed out).

Blood elves have no racial abilities of particular value to warlocks, just of general applicability.  One of a warlock’s pets already has a far better silence/interrupt than Arcane Torrent, and it’s one usable at range.  Obviously, this doesn’t mean one shouldn’t play a blood elf (as I said, racial abilities are probably the least useful criteria for choosing a race, in my opinion), but they don’t have any racials that really help or hurt us in non-obvious ways.

For gnomes, the racial I want to address is Expansive Mind.  Expansive mind gives an intellect boost.  Intellect is probably less useful to us than it is to any other caster, which is a hard thing for new warlocks to get their heads around.  For a mage, once they’re out of mana, they’re a paperweight, so every increase in their mana pool is critical.  Ditto priests.  For us, not so much.  Mana’s good, and you’ll get intellect on your gear anyway, but for us, always keep in mind – we have two mana bars.  We have a blue mana bar, and a red mana bar. So the intellect racial for gnomes is not all that great – better than nothing, but not as useful as a caster whose primary experience comes from playing a mage or a priest might think.

For humans, the relevant racial is The Human Spirit.  Spirit, once upon a time, was a worthless stat for a warlock.  It no longer is.  Spirit has two effects:  (1) at high levels, spirit boosts (mildly) the damage your spells do, and (2) spirit boosts the amount of health converted to mana via Life Tap.  So a boost to your spirit is not a bad racial ability at all.

I chose human for Kahleena for two reasons.  I started playing on Duskwood because my father played on Duskwood, and he played Alliance.  So I played Alliance.  I then chose humans over gnomes (and a human female over a human male) on entirely aesthetic grounds (human males look silly as casters, in my opinion, and gnomes look silly doing absolutely anything).  It’s a worthwhile object lesson to point out that, since I created Kahleena, racial abilities across the board have changed quite a bit, which is why racial abilities are a poor reason, in my view, to choose a race.  Human males, however, still look silly as casters, and gnomes still look silly period.

In this case, I’m going to go with something a bit different.  I’m on a new server (Scryers), so I have no sugar-daddy or sugar-momma main toon to keep me in money, so I think I’ll go blood elf – better starting zone in terms of wealth.  I’ve done the undead and orc starting zones, and am not a fan.  Plus, blood elves are Teh Pretty.  I told you I was an aesthete.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Morgulion.




  1. Salvà said,

    I really hope you continue on with this series. It is really interesting for me as I am thinking of ditching the raiding game completely and am looking for something to attract my attention. Love the writing style, keep it up!

    • Kahleena said,

      Thank you, glad you’re enjoying it so far! No question I’m continuing with the series, at least for a while. I got Morgulion to level 6 (an absolutely pivotal level for warlocks, for reasons my next post will get into), and wrote a small tome on the matter. So there will definitely be more to come.

  2. Tamarind said,

    I would like to draw your attention to the fact that human males look silly regardless of class =P I keep trying to progress with Genericus (male human warrior) but his generic looks and his porn star facial hair keep putting me off.

    I have a belf warlock myself, alas languishing in the high teens as a bank alt for the moment (a FEL bank alt) so I applaud you choice. Also he is quite remarkably pretty. I went for the goth-nerd look for mine, long dark hair, dodgy goatee, spends-too-long-at-the-computer shaded skin 🙂

    • Kahleena said,

      Well, yes, human males are certainly challenged in that regard. There are one or two hairstyles that are adequate, and a couple of facial hair configurations that don’t scream “70s porn star”. Every time I get bored with Albeon’s hair & beard, I pop into the barbershop, try the rest on, and run away screaming. I forget periodically that I chose the only acceptable options – at most, he can get a dye job.

  3. Astoreth said,

    Hallo! I found you through 2fps — I’m the “young warlock” who inspired the letters in question. I’m so bummed I didn’t find your blog sooner! Thank you for your posts — I’m going to be reading with interest!

  4. Schadenfreude Sunday « standing at the back in my sissy robe said,

    […] young warlocks not to give their healers a heart attack by discriminate life-tapping. Part one is here, part two here and the floor is opened for questions […]

  5. Schadenfreude Sunday at Righteous Orbs said,

    […] young warlocks not to give their healers a heart attack by discriminate life-tapping. Part one is here, part two here and the floor is opened for questions […]

  6. Abi said,

    I’ve been playing a Warlock for over 3 years and really wish I could go back in time and slap myself. I made an Undead because I was new to the game and had that “cool, a zombie” mindset.

    WTB the ability to pay and make my Undead an Orc for Command and Blood Fury.

    Great posts. Hopefully you continue with them =)

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