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Blood pact: The birth of a warlock, page 1

Each week Dominic Hobbs brings you Blood Pact. The weak mind fears the darkness because it holds the unknown. Blood Pact knows what resides in the shadows and yes, they should be afraid.

I was afflicted with some kind of corruption of my own last week, not sure if a warrior spell reflected it or what but it had me out of action either way. I don't know how much attention you pay to spell icons but it took me a little while to realize just how nasty the icon for Corruption really is -- nasty enough for China to censor it, in fact. It speaks well of how I was feeling, but hopefully the articles on the PTR changes kept you topped off with warlock goodness in Blood Pact's absence.

This week we're looking at starting a new warlock. This could be for someone new to the game, or rolling an alt. Either way, now is a great time to start leveling as a lot of the world you'll be passing through will be changing with the advent of Cataclysm. So if you've never played a warlock, or even if you have, then get onto that character selection screen and stare blankly at the screen for half an hour while you try to think of that perfect warlock name.

What is a warlock?

Warlocks are magic-users with balls. I obviously don't mean that in any literal way but rather to say that where other magic users risked getting beaten up in gym class, warlocks put their very souls on the line for their power. That said, if you're given the chance, it's better to take somebody else's soul, and risk that instead. Warlocks reach through the very fabric of creation to pluck demons from the Twisting Nether and bind them to their bidding. They become a living conduit for chaotic fel energies, tapping into this most potent force and warping it to their will.

In choosing to be a spell caster you have pushed aside the pursuit of physical development. Others can mould their mortal flesh into something that can run up to their enemies and poke them with sharp objects. This is not for you -- you are smarter than that. It is with the power of your mind that you gain dominion over your foes.

In choosing to be a warlock you have realized that real power requires sacrifice, sometimes personal, preferably of others. There are those casters that commune with nature for their power, but nature is fickle and they don't call her a mother for nothing. There are, of course, those who turn to the arcane for their power but they end up being mages, and you don't want to be called a "mage" now, do you? Of course not, you have some dignity.

Choosing a race for your warlock.

Other than choosing your class (warlock, by the way), the race you select is the next most character-defining choice you are likely to make. While it has little impact on how you will play and the spells you will cast, it sets what faction you will be a part of and moulds your character's outlook on Azeroth. Your character's race has always been an immutable choice as well, though this is becoming less true recently with faction changes and (soon) race changes available for a fee. Even with that available, I advise caution -- pick your race carefully.

Many will look at the racial abilities to help them in their selection; this isn't a bad idea as plenty of the races do have abilities that compliment the warlock. Be warned however, racial abilities are going to be dramatically overhauled in Cataclysm, so what you get now may well go before too long. I personally don't think the impact of racials is significant enough for me to solely use them in picking a race but I'll run through a few of the more important ones so you know what they are.

Each race has its own home city, mount and starting location but all of these are pretty inconsequential -- especially the mount as you'll be able to summon one of your own. I'll detail them but don't worry about them if you're making up your mind on your race. As mentioned above, you do want to bear in mind which faction you are going to join. If you have friends on the Horde or Alliance side that you wish to play with, then you will want to pick a race on that same side. Even if you don't plan to play this character with anyone you already know, then your choice of faction is still relevant. Have a look to see what the balance of faction populations is like on the server you select. If you are going to play on a PvP server then joining a heavily outnumbered faction is going to be harder work.

Blood Elf
  • Faction: Horde
  • Staring area: Eversong Forest
  • Home City: Silvermoon City
  • Racial Mount: Hawkstrider
Blood Elves were introduced with the Burning Crusade expansion, so if you don't have this you won't be able to play as one. They can come in for some derision among the other horde players as they were not part of the original 'cool gang', and they are somewhat... effeminate. This is obviously not great for male Blood Elves, but even for females, when being the "pretty one" is a negative thing in your circle of friends you have to wonder about these friends of yours. That said, as a warlock you will always be cool, and you won't have any friends anyway -- just people you know and use.

They have a resistance to magic, which doesn't mean they are better or worse at casting it, but will protect them a little against others casting it at them -- this can help in PvP. They also have a very cool little spell called Arcane Torrent which will gain you a little mana and silence those nearby. It can be handy for levelling and in PvP but is not considered a great racial.

Being one of the Burning Crusade races it currently has a more 'friendly' starting area than the others. All the NPCs you need are to hand, the quests are well centerd on your starting location and you are given bags during your questing. Bags are great for leveling. The more bag space you have the longer you can stay out before coming back to sell all the junk you collected (or the less junk you have to throw away). Selling junk is how you get to be able to afford all those lovely new spells when you start out, so try not to throw things away. You'll gain (and need) a few levels before you can complete your imp quest, but it's quite a fun one.

Imp quests are being removed in patch 3.3 so enjoy them while they last. If you're reading this after 3.3 has gone live (it was the one where Icecrown Citadel opened up for raiding) then you can just go and ask the warlock trainer to tell you how to summon your imp.

  • Faction: Alliance
  • Staring area: Dun Morogh
  • Home City: Ironforge
  • Racial Mount: Mechanostrider
Gnomes are the butt of many a joke and come in for some harsh racial abuse; but don't dismiss or underestimate a gnome warlock. Al Pacino, in The Devil's Advocate, has a great speech about not underestimating "the little guy". I'm not certain whether he was talking about his gnome lock or not, but he could have been.

The gnomes have it a bit hard for the starting area -- their imp quest is the hardest of the lot, so you'll be leveling alone for a while (pre patch 3.3). Coldridge Valley quests involve a lot of running about too. The speed of leveling up to 10 is hardly important in the scheme of things but I found this area the slowest to level through. To make it worse, when you get to level 10 they send you off to Stormwind, as there's nobody about who can show you how to summon a voidwalker in Ironforge. These are minor gripes though, so don't let them stop you if you fancy a gnome lock.

The Expansive Mind racial is very nice for warlocks and while you may think that a bonus to intellect will come in handy with the way stats are going to change in Cataclysm, then be wary; there's a good chance this racial will change or be removed altogether. Escape Artist is handy as well, especially for PvP.

  • Faction: Alliance
  • Staring area: Elwynn Forest
  • Home City: Stormwind
  • Racial Mount: Horse
I thought the undead starting area was easy until I went and redid the Northshire Abbey quest chains. This was some seriously quick leveling with little hassle (and I found a bag!). Once you get out into Elwynn Forest there can be a few dangerous points in the quests and I must admit I died a few times. I wasn't being very careful though so hopefully you'll not do that.

Perception and Every Man for Himself are excellent PvP abilities, Diplomacy is great for getting all those faction deals quicker and The Human Spirit is a nice (but small) buff to damage for warlocks. The weapon specializations mean nothing to us and are just for the muscle-heads.

Playing a human character really brings out a sense of empathy. It's much easier to immerse yourself in a character that more closely resembles yourself. Most of the warlock items look good on a human (though arguably, not as good as on an orc) and frankly if you're going to put all this effort into getting nice clothes you should at least look good afterwards.

Flip to page two for orcs, undead and the first ten levels.

Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Warlock) Blood Pact

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