A lone shadowed figure approaches the village as it settles down for the approaching night. A hush falls with his passing and all eyes turn to follow. Who can say what has brought him here but there's no mistaking his calling; there's a Warlock in town.
With more than seven weeks since the last Blood Pact column there was bound to be a few things that weren't covered. Not too much though, right? It's not like anything major happened in those weeks. Did it?
I'm kidding of course; the last couple of months have seen huge changes and awesome announcements. There's simply no way I can cover them all, and do justice to any of them, in one article. That said these things can't be left on the shelf to moulder. So I'm going to do a quick run-down of what's been going on in Blood Pact's absence and then we can start plunging into their dark and squishy innards going forward.
The Patch 3.2 Warlock Guide took us through most of our class changes but what have they meant to us? The back end spell mechanics have probably had little direct impact on the way we play; changes to Pandemic, Fire and Brimstone and Empowered Imp haven't moved destruction from the top DPS slot for PvE. Whereas the changes to Shadowflame, Banish, Soulshatter, Fel Domination and Glyph of Life Tap are more noticeable.
General changes also included:
- Epic gems
- Profession buffing
- A replenishment nerf (Improved Soul Leech being twenty percent weaker for the group, but no change for the Lock)
- Big changes to the Emblem system opening up easier high-end loot
- Pet resilience and spell penetration scaling
Oh yeah, and there was something about a new tier of raid content:
One open-air room with six instances (normal/heroic, 5/10/25 man). Now that all the bosses have been opened up we can really start to get a feel for what they have to offer us Warlocks; both in terms of game-play and gear.
A few Warlockish things jump out from the raid fights, such as worm tanking, infernal banishing and Horde CCing. I like it when an instance has some Lock roles within its boss fights; and the Coliseum doesn't disappoint there. It's nothing that demands a Lock be present but we can certainly play a part of the strategy beyond pure nukage.
Speaking of nukage, how about all the new gear? Ok, so Crusaders' Coliseum is something of a loot piñata (and with good reason) but there's just so many nice things to roll on. I also quite like that there's been so much debate on what is best in slot. Maybe it's fuelled by less than inspirational set bonuses but then again, I don't always want to think that the set items are 'must-haves'. I think it's more fun to have to find the balance that suits your play-style and looting opportunities.
There's certainly a lot more to be said about the tier pieces as well, not least the look of them. My feeling for the styling has wavered back and forth since I saw the initial screen grabs. To be honest, I compare everything to tier 5 anyway and can't expect that level of emotion for everything I wear. The changes made to the Horde pieces are pretty nice but the Alliance sets are still depressingly Mage-like.
Gallery: Warlock tier 9 items
Where to start? I wasn't able to make BlizzCon live but I did watch the live streams. The Class items and Professions panel really blew me away. Sure, we knew about the new races and class combos but right off the bat we were seeing the new racials. How will Rocket Jump and our Circle play together? Haste and alchemy buff for Goblins sounds very nice too. That said, a damage buff for Worgen is bound to be good. Hold on a minute... did Ghostcrawler just say that curses last 15% less time on Worgen? Oh my.
And the race/class combinations; interesting that there are no new Warlock races other than the Goblin and Worgen. The same is also true of Rogues though they already cover more classes than Locks. Mages also currently have slightly more race coverage than Warlocks but for some reason will have this increased to all races besides Tauren. I guess this all comes down to balancing the numbers of people playing each class and race. Do we really need more mages?
And then we came to the Warlock bit. Well, really it was the "Soul Shards bit" but then it's something that Ghostcrawler has been promising for quite a while (as well as that pony). Most likely anyone reading this already knows most of what is out there around these changes (not least because of Zach's article posted during BlizzCon). Shards working more like runes than reagents, a new spell to empower existing spells and only used within combat. I'm sure as more information around this new shard system emerges there will be plenty to discuss.
Not that it was only the class-specific changes that shook the Warlock boat. Changes to item stats have a huge impact on all classes. Forget spirit and spell power, intellect will become the Warlock stat du jour. Not a great deal else stood out for Locks in that section, there were changes to stamina that might only have a small impact and the haste change seemed to be only for melee.
There was something else that caught my attention in that panel though; after the announcement of an axe legendary in Icecrown someone did stand up and 'ask':
"Casters had Atiesh for about a day, and now we're going straight to Shadowmourne and well... darn!"
The response was that a caster weapon didn't really fit in Wrath so we'll get the first one from Cataclysm. I was initially concerned about the possibility of casters getting what will be the lowest level legendary in the expansion but feel it's going to benefit from use in the same way Aitesh suffered.
On the surface this didn't do anything for Locks other than the bug fix for Circle and FFB. However with the return of Ony comes the revamping of Ony loot. Wowhead won't have the Nemesis Skullcover on their database until it's been looted but here's a preview with stats from the MMO-Champion database. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on one of these.
New Arena season
This is far too new for me to really get into but I'm expecting all sorts of discussions to come flying out of season 7. I'll be sure to be talking to our new Arena columnist who I know is an expert on what we want to find out here.
Not only can you change your faction but also race changes are on the way. It's not specific to Warlocks but, well who hasn't wondered what their Lock might look like in someone else's skin?
So anyway, yes, there's a new Lock in town.
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DoTs, demons, and all the dastardly deeds done by Warlocks. If you're curious about what's new with Locks since the last patch, check out the Patch 3.2 Warlock Guide or find out what's upcoming in Cataclysm from the BlizzCon 2009: Class Discussion Panel.