Warlock Q&A with Shayzani & Kahleena!

September 14, 2009 at 12:17 pm (From Level One to Level Awesome!, Warlock)

What seems like ages ago, Shayzani and I decided to do a Q&A for beginning warlocks with questions.  Now, at long last, here’s the result!

Q:  I’ve got loads of questions, but they’re all kind of specific to my playstyle – like “what advice would you have for a level 66 Warlock trying to three-man Outland with a Cow Warrior and a Tree”?

KAHLEENA:  Cut down the tree and use the fire to cook up some steak?  Actually, my advice would pretty much be the advice I’d give anyone else, since you seem to have the tank and healer legs of the trinity covered.  Do as much damage as you can, but don’t pull aggro.

SHAYZANI:  You’re going to pull aggro anyway. You’ll die but hey, a healer will be right there! Get used to dying after pulling aggro, its a warlock legacy. Oh hey, that should be better now that soulshatter is on a shorter cooldown right? Warlocks are awesome because how many other classes get half of their threat taken away every three minutes provided the target didn’t resist?! Sigh. …I got off on a tangent in this post a lot quicker than I expected.

KAHLEENA:  In your case, as you are CC and DPS wrapped into one (and you have no backup), I might suggest learning to use seduction macros with your succubus.

SHAYZANI:  Ewwww seduction D:

KAHLEENA:  Out of the box, as it were, her cc is completely useless, but with adequate macroing, she’s very useful for crowd control.  Well, fairly useful.  Okay, she dies if you look at her crosseyed.  But she’s more useful in an instance, at any rate, than any of your other crowd controls (unless your enemy is a demon), given the tragic and untimely demise of fear-kiting (RIP Curse of Recklessness).  Consider Heroic Magister’s Terrace, which I’m led to understand from Tam’s blog is a favorite.  How awesome is it to be able to banish one of Delrissa’s minions,seduce another, and fear a third, all by yourself?

SHAYZANI:  Quick story to illustrate that point:

In BC, before I finished leveling my warlock, I had a very scary looking lock in my Underbog party. The pulls were beating me up and back as the tank so I asked if the lock could do something to CC one of the Naga mobs. He said he’d take care of it so I pulled. He got its attention with Searing Pain and then ran away down the stairs we had just come up with the mob following after. Then he was gone for a very long time. Just as the rest of us killed the last mob in that pack he came back up the stairs alone. I asked if he had managed, he said he had taken care of it and was fine and shouldn’t we be pulling the next group?

Warlocks have an amazing box of tools for managing mobs, learn how to use them and you’ll make other people blink in awe.

Q: I’m running Destro at the moment – if you can remember anything about how Destruction plays in late Outland that’d be cool.

KAHLEENA:  Destruction, in late Outland, played for me like shadowbolt spam, but that was the old 0/21/40 build.

SHAYZANI:  When we were gods among men! /brandishes fist

KAHLEENA:  Destruction now is far more interesting, thankfully.  But I have no idea how it plays in late Outland, as I only started playing it at 80.  One suggestion:  pick up the glyph of Conflagrate.  It is absolutely critical to a functioning deep destro build.

Q:  Ooh – that was what I wanted to ask: should I invest in Improved Soul Leech?

KAHLEENA:  Depends – Improved Soul Leech is a tradeoff.  You’re passing up on the opportunity to gain DPS in exchange for utility.  Replenishment (the buff ISL procs) is a very important buff in group play, but there are several possible sources for it, including frost mages and shadow priests. Basically, given the three-person group you describe above, if you go into ISL, you’ll be doing it to help your tree stay in mana (you don’t need it personally, as a warlock – this is pure party utility).  Personally, I have it for raiding, because I’m not infrequently in situations where I don’t have a shadow priest or frost mage in my party, and in raiding, Replenishment is critical on long boss fights.  I look at it as doing my part for the healers that keep me in HOTs as I Life Tap my blackened, withered little heart out.

SHAYZANI:  When you’re out leveling or grinding on your own or what not you tend to get beat the hell up as Destruction. No pet to take the heat and no Haunt healing coming in can really make you feel like you’re made of paper. ISL can help you feel like slightly more resilient paper. Brawny paper towels kind of paper maybe.

Q: I would like to know why it is that your T3 set (which looks like a gas mask in garish colors and is just plain horrible) is beloved of warlocks? They seem to think they look GOOD, when really, they just look comical. Is bad taste a thing that goes with playing a warlock? I just don’t understand.

KAHLEENA:  The questioner must be a mage – “You’re ugly and your art department dresses you funny” is the level of discourse one expects from vending machines. Besides, the mage set has glowing purple crystal antlers.  Such things breed hostility towards one’s sartorial betters.

Seriously, though, I actually agree with the criticism of the T3 set.  In fact, when I read that they were recycling the art, I wrote a post on the forums (which I now can’t find) more or less /wristing over it (my precise phrase was, I believe, that the set looked like the 1970s had thrown up all over a hazmat suit).  I’m still not entirely crazy (to put it mildly) about the 10-man T7 (which is identical to T3).  The recolor in T7.5, on the other hand, is very, very nice looking, and quite warlock-y.  Black and red suits the design much better than  yellow and green and brown and whatever other colors form the T3/T7 melange.

SHAYZANI:  Like the 1970’s had thrown up all over a hazmat suit… goodness that’s the best description of that set that I’ve ever heard in my life. While I also hate the T3/T7 look I do have to say one thing in its favor. The shoulders emit poison gas. That’s pretty darn cool.

Q:  What glyph(s) do you find most useful? Why?

KAHLEENA:  Depends on your build.  I could simply recite the cookie-cutter list of the glyphs that Elitist Jerks claims are the highest DPS glyphs, mathematically speaking.  As I’m a raider, and so much of raiding comes down to math, I tend to be partial to such lists.  It doesn’t help that warlocks are a bit (well, a lot) short on the “sexy” glyphs.  As I mentioned in response to Temi, even ignoring those lists, if you are Destruction, you simply must have Glyph of Conflagrate, or the rotation doesn’t work.  That may be the closest thing we have a to a truly sexy glyph.

SHAYZANI:  Nearly all the warlock glyphs are fairly boring “increases damage of x by y%” or “reduces cooldown of x by y seconds” sorts of things. Conflag is, as mentioned several times already, absolutely a must if you’re Destruction. If you’re feeling spiteful towards your raid members you can opt for the Glyph of Succubus. This makes it so Seduction clears away all debuffs on your target. You can do this after the mages put up Scorch and Living Bomb and what not to lower their dps.

Not that I recommend doing that!

Q:  Aside from pulling worms and standing in fire, what should I absolutely NOT do?

KAHLEENA:  Never permit a mage to show you up on the DPS charts.  Never Life Tap to 5% moments before the pull and expect your healer to heal you.  Never put your pet on aggressive.  Never cast Fear in an instance (Death Coil may, and I stress “may”, be okay, depending on layout and proximity, but “Fear” or “Howl of Terror”, absolutely not – better to die than to wipe the group/raid by pulling more adds, which Fear tends to do).

SHAYZANI:  Its shocking how many warlocks will cast Fear in a crowded instance. If you’re ever in a situation where a mob is coming after you because you pulled off the tank or something then you damn well better handle the consequences like one of the big kids: stand up straight, look stoic, mash the crap out of soulshatter and when that fails and your tank doesn’t like you enough to get the mob back, you die like the fragile scrap of tissue you are and then do your best to act sheepish about it.

Q: I tend to use my voidy and felguard as pseudo-tanks when I’m levelling, and the imp for (what I understand to be) a party-boost in instances… but I have this nagging feeling that I’m overlooking better ways to use my pets. Do you have any recommendations?

KAHLEENA:  For soloing, use whatever works (felguard/voidwalker for tanking is definitely one effective approach – I tend to either drain-tank, if affliction, or nuke-the-mob-down-before-it-reaches-me, if destro).  In instances, pet selection is very situational.

SHAYZANI:  Yes use whatever works. The imp works for Destro, the felhunter or succubus for Affliction and the Felguard for Demo. The voidwalker doesn’t work for anything and even if he does work, he works poorly.

KAHLEENA:  If you’re Demonology (you mention the felguard), you should be using your felguard in instances, not your imp.  Make sure, however, to turn your felguard’s taunt off autocast (I would say “ditto the voidwalker”, except you should never be bringing out a voidwalker in an instance anyway).  You might also consider turning off cleave, unless you’re facing multiple mobs. Cleave’s a major mana-suck.

SHAYZANI:  With the point in Mana Feed the cost of Cleave shouldn’t be too problematic, especially if you’ve got replenishment going. It used to be that Cleave would sometimes break crowd control if your positioning was bad but that’s not so much an issue in a time when crowd control is needed so rarely.

KAHLEENA:  The succubus has a bad reputation as a crowd control, largely because without macros, her Seduction is nearly impossible to use effectively without a level of micromanagement that gimps the rest of your performance. Also, she dies if she’s so much as downwind of a mob.  With assistance, though, her crowd control can be useful – see wowwiki for a good one-button seduction macro.  Also, as of the last time I checked (which was, admittedly, 3.1), the succubus is the top DPS pet for an affliction build.

SHAYZANI:  Right, I haven’t seen anything yet saying any other pet outperforms the succubus for Affliction after the patch. Just to make sure the point is driven home, the succubus dies quickly and easily! She has absolutely terrible performance anxiety, give her something important to do and she’ll muck it up quick.

Don’t be fail and use a voidwalker in instances.

KAHLEENA:  The felhunter is another situational pet – I recommend practicing with its Spell Lock and Devour Magic until you’re very comfortable with them.  They are very powerful abilities, used properly.  The Int/Spirit buff isn’t terrible.  Despite that Felhunter-buffing talent in the Affliction tree, though, the felhunter is not top DPS for Affliction (or any other build).

If you’re Destro spec, then barring special cases (for example, I’m Destro spec, but I tend to drag a felhunter with me through around half of Naxx10’s Military Quarter to eat the bone shields), you bring out the imp.  Also, if your party needs the stamina boost to survive, bring out the imp.

SHAYZANI: …I’m totally useful in the Military Quarter like that too. Definitely. I never forget to do helpful things like create soulstones or healthstones or dispel things or… ok so sometimes I’m a little fail. I can change!

Some of those pet control macros at Wow Wiki really are quite good. Damn near essential really.

Q: Even when I’m spec’ed destro, I seem to be doing lower DPS than the fire and arcane mages of equivalent level (high 60s/low 70s) I run around with a lot. If nothing else, I FEEL less effective. What should I be looking at first to improve my damage?

KAHLEENA:  First, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples – is your gear equivalent?  Second, not to sound like a broken record, use the Glyph of Conflagrate.  Your cast priority (and it’s not a rotation, it’s a priority) should be: (a) Immolate (don’t clip, don’t let it fall off), (b) Conflagrate (this is why the glyph is so key, because if you’re not glyphed, you have to then reapply immolate, or drop Conflagrate altogether), (c) Chaos Bolt, (d) Incinerate.  If it’s a lengthy boss fight, go Curse of Doom, otherwise don’t bother with a curse (unless your party needs CoE – something you should be doing at the beginning of every instance run is looking for a Boomkin or an Unholy Death Knight to see if Curse of Elements duty is covered).  Now, you’re missing about ten talent points from what a level 80 Destruction warlock would spec, presumably from the Demo tree.  So you’re missing some nice DPS-boosting talents like the talent that improves Fel Armor.  Finally, realize that even in your burstiest tree (Destruction), you still take longer to get up and running than a mage does.  I often start runs in the mediocre middle of the pack.  Then we hit the first boss fight, and I tend to jump ahead (and stay there).

If you’re not specced Destruction, then at least on short fights, you have no possible way to keep up with a mage.  So don’t try.  Know that where you really shine is long fights, the longer the better.  On that 10-minute boss fight, when the mage is gasping for mana, you will be continuing to perform at the top of your game.  If you’re Affliction, the longer the fight, the higher your DPS goes.  Until the mob’s down to the last 25% of its health, and then you really start to bring the pain.  Embrace it.  And make sure to look at boss-fight-specific DPS meters – you’ll be more encouraged.

SHAYZANI:  One thing I notice a lot with people new to caster dps is that they don’t chain-cast like they should. You aren’t melee so you don’t have an auto-attack doing white damage while you ponder what you should cast next.

Increase the number of Incinerates you cast, increase your Immolation uptime, keep Chaos Bolt on cooldown, mash Haunt whenever its up, don’t waste Decimation procs, don’t let your dots fall off generally. There shouldn’t ever be a time when you’re just standing around with nothing to do. Time your casts so that the second the first one goes off you’ve got a second one starting immediately. Again, no gaps between casts!

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1 Comment

  1. Abi said,

    What a lot of people don’t understand about taking Improved Soul Leech is that it’s not just a “replenishment talent”. The mana refunded back from the proc prevents us from having to Life Tap too often and allows us to cast damaging spells more frequently. This was the main reason Destruction Warlocks didn’t take Glyph of Life Tap until the duration was recently buffed in a patch. We didn’t Life Tap enough to keep the buff up and it didn’t provide as much damage as the Immolate glyph.

    I love reading player interviews and it’s sad that aren’t playing WoW for the time being. Hopefully when you come back you’ll continue with these kinds of posts =)

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