Blood Pact: Stones, armor and artistry
Blood Pact is your weekly warlock digest, brought to you by Dominic Hobbs. "You have come a long way to speak with me. But fear not, I know why Gakin has sent you, and he was wise to, for I can help you in your search." -- Takar the Seer
Each week, the voidwalker hauls in the Blood Pact fan mail and dumps it at my desk. Those that don't end up lining the felhound's cage typically get used to fuel the furnaces in the succubus' torture den. Every so often, the imp picks one out and dances round the room reading it aloud, while dodging any spells and other projectiles I hurl in his direction. This week, he snatched up this one from Vincent Quillen.
After suitably punishing the little snot-ball (he's currently cleaning out Matt Rossi's jock-strap drawer), I decided to indulge the little guy for once. Hell, it saved me coming up with anything else to talk about.Hi Mr. Hobbs,
I'm playing my first warlock currently, and it's my first character to make it past lvl 20 after trying six other classes. I'm currently at lvl 65, demonology. I've read all of your articles and they played a big part in feeding my love of the mighty lock.
The reason I write is with an idea for an article. After unlocking fel armor, i began to wonder about the various uses of the two armors and if there were any finer points that I'm missing. Also, the spellstone and firestone. As a demo lock, I expect the 1% perk to be indifferent, and my pet feeds on both stats. Is one beter hands down or are there different times for each?
Also, I've been scouring the internet for how to tell when it's a good time to pop Meta in a raid, but all i can find is people saying that it's "an artform."
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you in advance if you decide to write about these questions.
Fan and loyal reader, Vincent Quillen
Spellstone or Firestone?
You say you are playing in the demonology spec at the moment, and as it happens, applying your weapon buff is more important to demo locks than the other specs. In raiding trim (a good baseline), the stone will account for about a 4% DPS increase for demo locks but only half that for affliction or destruction. The rule of thumb is to use a Spellstone unless you are destruction. That said, at lower gear levels the difference for destro is marginal.
Given the two mechanics of each type of stone, it's interesting to see which part is of the most benefit. We're in an unusual time with high-end raiding, as all three specs are very viable; as such, we can draw comparisons between all three. For destruction, both the crit and the direct damage boost offer about the same DPS benefit. Affliction gets a bigger boost from the haste component of the Spellstone, whereas demonology gains significantly from the periodic damage boost (far more than the haste).
Bear in mind, though, that these differences are all fairly small in the scheme of things. You will see far more variance in DPS results through rotation changes and situational eccentricities. That in mind, the rule of thumb is perfectly serviceable.
Fel Armor and Demon Armor
On the face of it, this is pretty easy to answer: Fel Armor is the one to go for in pretty much every situation. In a group, you are there to do damage, and this is a significant damage boost. At tier 9 gear levels (entry level for Icecrown Citadel), you lose about 10% of your DPS if you forget to put up Fel Armor.
That said, Demon Armor has its place. Every so often, a warlock is called on to be a spell-tank. This means that there is a mob or boss that doesn't hit hard (or at all) but throws a load of spells, and the group want the warlock to tank it. There have been a few raiding instances of this in Wrath, and there were more in TBC. In this case, you typically want to have Demon Armor on. This isn't for the armor bonus but so that the healers can more efficiently keep you alive.
I've heard the "art form" explanation before, and I'm never satisfied with it, either. It would be more honest to simply say, "It's complicated" or "I don't know." Essentially, what you have is something very similar to a trinket effect. You have a damage boost (and some extra abilities) that you can use for a short time and are on a long (ish) cooldown. The simplest way to look at getting the most out of it would be to see how to spend the most time in demon form. So you would look to use the ability as soon as possible and again as soon as it is off cooldown.
You then start to think about other things that might make you change this approach. What about when Herolust is activated? If you can get meta to coincide with that, then it will be an even bigger boost to your damage. Should you time it to work with your on-use trinkets? Sure, you would want to, but if they have different cooldown times then they become out of sync. Will you have a full meta duration during the execute phase? Depending on how long the fight lasts, you might want to time meta so that you get as much time as a demon while Decimation is active. Will you be able to make good use of Immolation Aura? ImmoAura is a very nice bit of extra damage but is far more effective if used against more than one target; if the fight offers a chance to use it this way, you might want to time meta for that. Do you have maximum damage potential at the start of the fight? If you have to wait for a trinket to proc or buff/debuff to become active, you may well want to delay popping demon until it is.
These are some of the primary considerations for getting more out of meta, and they really do make the decision complicated. Not only are there things that can mean you get more damage by moving away from popping meta as soon and as often as possible, there are also things that will drop your DPS -- such as being carried off by a Val'kyr on Lich King. You need to make sure you don't pop meta and then lose the bonus damage by having something bad happen to you, or a phase change that drops the worth of the demon form.
So, yeah ... I don't know. It's complicated. But with time and experience, you will start to be able to assess the various factors quickly and make more use of metamorphosis.
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 WoW.com's guide to patch 3.3 or find out what's upcoming in Cataclysm from the BlizzCon 2009: Class Discussion Panel.
Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, (Warlock) Blood Pact
Reader Comments (Page 1 of 1)
BelfPriest May 3rd 2010 11:36AM
Ty for this, i plan to make a goblin lock in cata, and this is very helpful:)
Zander223 May 3rd 2010 11:49AM
By the time Cata come out this article will be irrelevant.
Crazyates May 3rd 2010 12:01PM
How is comparing the differences between a few basic spells not considered helpfull? Sure the SP and dps percentages might change, but the general basis behind his choices will still stand. I thought this was a very helpful article outlining some key buffs that are fundamental to the class.
Avan May 3rd 2010 12:02PM
Irrelevant or not, I can only imagine how hilarious it would be to see a Goblin blow up into a demon.
"Oh, do I have a deal for you!"
Jiffah May 3rd 2010 12:05PM
Firestones/Spellstones, Fel/Demon armor and Metamorphisis are features that will stay in the game and most probably remain unchanged. This article will still be relevant somewhat as it is more of a hint to the philosophy behind such features than precise instructions on how/when to use them.
Artificial May 3rd 2010 4:59PM
@Crazyates: He never said it wasn't helpful, and you're right, it is a very helpful article outlining some key buffs that are fundamental to the class. He's also right that it'll likely be irrelevant come Cataclysm, and thus isn't that useful in planning how to spec and play a goblin warlock.
@Jiffah: You're probably right that those spells will all still be in the game. You're certainly wrong in thinking they will be unchanged.
Jackwraith May 3rd 2010 12:41PM
My primary alt is a lvl63 Warlock, so this is useful info.
I agree with the Stones approach, as this is what I've discovered simply through experimentation: Spellstone on Demo for the increase in DoT damage, since I mostly do CoE and Corruption, boost the Felguard, and toss a Shadow Bolt (where the haste comes in handy); Firestone on Destro for the increase in damage and crit rating, since I get haste from Backlash and Backdraft pretty regularly.
I've just gotten to Fel Armor and, thus, don't have a good reference for switching back to Demon Armor. My initial reaction is "why the hell would you ever do that?!", since the damage boost and healing from Fel is so good right now. But I can see the point where raw, high DPS isn't as useful as constant, lower DPS (e.g. DPS not interrupted by unfortunate circumstances like, say, death.)
When I've been using Meta in Demo, at first I just did bosses with it, but now I've begun popping it more often because the cooldown is actually pretty short (same as Feral Spirit (my main's a shaman)) and it speeds the way through larger groups of trash.
What I'm kind of interested in is a column on lesser-used abilities of the Warlock, like Inferno (I have it. I rarely use it, since I like my Felguard or Imp better than the Infernal and don't feel like resummoning them. It's semi-useful as an "oh s#!t!" button. It would be much cooler if it landed in a glittering ball and started a disco theme when it arrived...)
Xayíde May 3rd 2010 1:14PM
Basically, you only use Inferno if you are Affliction and (ideally) when the boss is 1 minute away from dying, so you don't have to resummon your demon mid battle. It is nice to use the Doomguard as much as possible, too, since it is also better than the Felhunter, but inferior to the Infernal in terms of DPS.
Destro and Demo don't use either. Destro = Imp (always*), Demo = Felguard (always*)
* = Of course I'm not talking about PVP and there are some Demo specs that use the imp.
ladydeth May 3rd 2010 6:31PM
I raid in affliction also, but find using the Infernal is not worth the trouble. I stick with Felhunter. I may not be the top dps, being that Im affliction. But, in a heroics on single targets we can get around 5k. My gearscore is just over 5k, so I bet we can hold our own very well with 6k GS.
Remember affliction is all about the rotation. Personally, I do Life Tap, Corrupt, CoA, UA, and Haunt. Spam SB until Haunt and UA come off, reapply, spam SB until CoA comes off......make sure you dont clip CoA!
This rotation might be a bit off, but Im not that guy who pulls agro from the tank :D
This might not be important to some of you, but they are bringing back crowd control, and it will make a difference then. Should be interesting to see the newer players learning to CC......
epic May 4th 2010 8:29AM
if you are affliction you should be the top damage with comparably geared mages rogues and hunters...destro and demo bring up the rear only slightly but still behind
Stannislaus Jun 20th 2010 7:11AM
@Ladydeth: you should try hitting lifetap, then shadowbolt (for stack of shadow embrace) followed by Haunt for maximum DoT modifier uptime (and x2 shadow embrace). Follow with corruption and the others and you should see a pretty decent DPS upgrade. Since every time corruption reapplies itself without falling off uses the same spellpower/crit/haste etc as when it was cast, having all these modifiers on will significantly boost your dps. Also try it with popping a trinket first, and your corruption will roll all fight long with an extra 500-1200 spellpower on it depending on gear.
pest May 3rd 2010 1:41PM
I'm saddened that more people don't play Demo. It has the best AOE combo for trash, or multiple mobs. It doesn't do well on bosses until the last part of the fight when you can spam soulfires. The demonic pact also helps shammys use another totem rather than the spellpower one.
Do this for fun if you ever have a chance. Put on a spell stone, On an ICC trash group, (preferably one that the tanks pull all together in a stack) walk up right next to them, pop meta, pop a sp trinket, pop Immolation Aura, cast rof over and over till done (make sure you recast it when it has about 1/2 a second left, then use a very evil laugh while you look at the 10k-32k dps you just did.... And yes, I hit 32k on the traps that spawn next to fester and rotface.
bilbomoody Aug 25th 2010 2:39PM
Oh dear... RoF? No, no, no.
You must learn to use your Seed of Corruption young padawan, you will like it, I guarantee!
RerunAway May 3rd 2010 6:04PM
Where do I send a question?
ladydeth May 3rd 2010 6:18PM
I am a pvp affliction lock with 1230ish resilience, and I am a devout user of Demon Armor.
The amount of armor is small, yes, but as a clothie, we can use all we can get.
However, that 20% increase to healing spells (not including our own Haunt and Siphon Life) helps immensely!
Fel Armor does help with DPS, but when survivability is key, use Demon.
Rhamona Q May 4th 2010 12:49AM
I found Demon Armor to be very helpful on Faction Champs in ToC. Gave enough of an armor boost for them to eye the mages instead of me.
Kabuki Joe May 3rd 2010 6:34PM
Sir, I love your article but there is a tendency amongst WoWers to use a term that drives me nuts and I figure I would mention it here. At lower gear levels. I have (and never have) any idea what that means even in a roundabout way. Below 40s? Before Heroics? Pre-ICC? I would appreciate it if you could give some type of generalization as to what point that would apply to. I still think your awesome even though my Felguard likes you more than me. Blah, blah, blah, Dominic wouldn't do that, blah, blah, Dominic would fight his own battles, blah, Dominic taught me to play my records backwards. Sheesh, he's like boss. Thank you sir.
Kleene May 3rd 2010 8:38PM
"At lower gear levels" - pretty much everything written about wow is written with the assumption that you're at max level (80). "At lower gear levels" means you're 80, but not gear from the current tier of raiding gear (T10).
David Aug 30th 2010 10:36AM
Yes, SoC works even better, slightly more tricky to use (switching targets), but you can get better dps with it. Thanks for the tip!