Another week goes by and we see further patch 3.3 developments on the PTR. Last week's changes were pretty far reaching for warlocks. I was pretty excited by just how much they shook up the default raid builds, in terms of which one would pull the highest numbers. One thing that really stood out to me was that the theoretical maximums were all looking pretty even.
There are a couple new elements on the patch notes this week, as well as some reworking. Demonology was previously looking like it was going to be the top DPS spec, as well as the best utility build. The margin was slight, but as ever the number one slot has some prestige and we could have seen felguards cropping up a lot more in raids.
After the break we'll have a closer look at the warlock changes and what they mean.
- Create Soulstone: The cooldown on this spell and duration of its buff have been lowered from 30 minutes down to 15 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.
- Decimation: Redesigned. When Shadow Bolt, Incinerate or Soul Fire hit a target that is at or below 35% health, the cast time of Soul Fire is reduced by 20/40% for 8 seconds. Soul Fires cast under the effect of Decimation cost no shards.
- Molten Core: Redesigned. Shadow spells and damage-over-time effects have a 12% chance to increase the damage done by Incinerate by 5/10/15% and Soul Fire by 4/7/10% for 12 seconds. In addition, Molten Core now has a new spell effect.
Currently, I understand 3 points in Molten Core to give an uptime of around 60 to 75%. This will depend on your casting rotation -- more shadow spells and DoTs equals more uptime. Specs that have only two points invested can still attain a 60% uptime however; this will be partly because of the rotation but also because when the buff is refreshed you essentially 'lose' the remaining time of the initial buff; this means that as you increase the proc chance the uptime increase reduces. I could be wrong here, but I think that this change is a very minor element of the reworking and I'm not expecting any builds changing because of it alone.
The second change Molten Core sees is that it no longer affects all fire spells but now only increases the damage to Incinerate and Soul Fire. While this excludes a number of fire spells, most are not generally cast under the effects of the Molten Core buff anyway (such as Chaos Bolt or Rain of Fire). The two spells for which this will be a nerf are Immolate, for all MC builds, and Conflagrate for the 0/40/31 build. For the most popular (currently) MC build (Demonic Pact) I work it out to be around a 0.3% DPS loss from Immolate alone. Not huge but not insignificant either.
Thirdly, while Soul Fire keeps its buff value, Incinerate's gets bigger. This will be a bonus to the hybrid builds (40/31 & 41/30) but since deep demonology builds use Shadow Bolt rather than Incinerate this has no impact. The buff itself seems far too small to change this rotation even from a pure damage point of view, let alone factoring in any buff from ISB. That said it seems mages have lost their cause to whine about ISB being better than Scorch now anyway.
It's not in the patch notes yet but the glyph we mentioned that applies haste to Corruption has been added to the PTR as well. Glyph of Quick Decay is working pretty much as we expected and adding a nice little buff to affliction damage values.
With affliction getting its glyph, and demonology being given a bit of a kick in the painful bits, the provisional leader-board of warlock DPS has changed once again. I'm still impressed with the balancing of affliction and destruction at the top of the table -- their values are simply too close to call. Demonology and the demo/destro builds are all sitting a little way behind but all giving similar numbers.
That pretty much leaves the hybrids out in the cold as they don't really offer anything more than DPS -- and don't seem to be able to keep up with the pure builds there. That said, they offer an execute phase that destro lacks, and if you can make the spec work, then I don't think they are dead and gone. Demonic Pact spec is once again doing it's best to keep up with the big-boys and the Decimation change is making that easier. I still doubt we'll be seeing more than one per raid but it looks to me like more guilds are going to make sure they have this in their arsenal, even if it's as an offspec.
Destruction hasn't had any major changes and is still right up there, but it's looking like affliction might be about to have another turn as the warlock's "favourite child". The Glyph of Quick Decay looks like it will work well and while it doesn't mean that affliction is way out in front, it does push it slightly to the fore. Affliction is a spec that is dear to many a warlock's heart -- for some is the whole reason they rolled a lock. It's good to see it /flexing once again.