Zach has done a great job of boiling down several weeks or months of beta testing into a three-page missive. I'll try to boil it down to the stuff that has me excited. No guarantees.
I know of a couple of locks that hit some crazy numbers rolling affliction, but my gear does not lend itself well to that. However, the new trees might make Affliction a viable raiding build. This would be especially handy on bosses like Netherspite, when playing the blue beam.
This is a good thing because I have always liked the beauty of the Affliction tree's way of doing things. The only worry I have here is having to keep so many balls in the air at once. A risk I will be happy to live with.
- Improved Corruption - not only a DPS boost for Corruption (which, by the way, is now an insta-cast for everyone), but a crit boost for Seed of Corruption. Hey, Illhoof - you thought I was a pain before? Say hello to my leetle friends!
- On the other hand, there is something terribly wrong with what happened to Amplify Curse. Dare I say it? A SLAP IN THE FACE!!!111! :: ebil warlock laughter :: Where was I? Oh, yeah. Giving new meaning to the word "talent".
- Improved Felhunter makes Affliction stand closer to the true Warlock Way by making your pet truly beneficial, and more raid-friendly to boot!
- Eradication makes me all tingly.
- Pandemic makes me want to sing.
- If ever there was a talent that belonged on the Affliction tree, Death's Embrace is it. Just look at that! The only downside I see here is the possibility of it proccing on a boss and getting unwanted attention. We're going to have to play that one by ear.
- Look at Everlasting Affliction and give me a HOLY CRAP, BATMAN! Thank you. Am I reading that right? A stacking damage tick that has a chance to reset? That's just crazy!
- Haunt is beautiful. They have again come up with something that truly captures the spirit (heh) of the Affliction tree.
What can I say other than this is my all time favorite tree? I desperately miss my Felguard; he always made those long nights out in the field go by easier. He has a hell of a poker face, so you gotta really be on your game playing "Go Fish." (I heard that, you pervs.)
But I digress.
The changes here are exciting to me because it may mean that Old Axeface will be back in my stable, and I'll still be able to bring the pain in raids. Yay!
- A note on Improved Healthstone: it will no longer be possible to have more than one Healthstone on your person, so gone are the days of having locks of different levels on this talent so provide two, or even three different stones. But to be honest, I always felt that was a futile practice - the stones are too wimpy to provide a solid rescue, and the cooldown is so long that the fight will be over before you get to crack the second one. At any rate, there is no strategic reason to pick a lower rank now, other than having better things to do with two talent points than getting an additional diddly-squat improvement.
- Master Conjurer is actually worth it now, because Firestones and Spellstones (I wonder if we will be able to pass these out now?) are now buffs applied to your weapon rather than sitting in the wand slot. Excellent change! The only other viable change would have been to remove them completely, really, so I'm glad to see they found a more positive response than mine. (What can I say? I like to destroy things.)
- Demonic Pact is the warlock's answer to the Hunter's Ferocious Inspiration, except it focuses on spell damage. I can live with that, and so will the mages and boomkins and mana batteries. Oh, yes.
- There are a number of other talents that scale our damage or crit or both, and sometimes the demons' too. I won't go in to them individually other than to say: take 'em all, as many as you can stuff into your spellbook.
- Metamorphosis is a huge disappointment. As Zach notes, it is analogous in a way to the Hunter's Bestial Wrath, but without all the usefulness. I can't really say I'd take it, though, as one Blizz employee stated, "All warlocks really want to be Illidan." Well, OK, yeah, but can we agree that that's not Illidan? Thanks.
My current spec, and a very fun one. In this spec I am 1st or 2nd tier ("Tier" being some ill-defined level of being, subject to change without notice) in our guild for damage output, hands down. One other warlock can bring more hurt than I can, and our Guild Leader's veteran frost mage gives me a solid run for the money, but almost nobody else can touch my output when I have all my things ticking. In fact, I usually have to shut things down so I don't pull mobs off my tank. So, while Destruction is not my favorite tree, it does have a level of satisfaction to it.
Having said that, it is the last spec that I wanted to play. It is a fragile spec, good for raiding but not very survivable in solo play; one has to be extremely careful.
It's also the spec that seems the most confused; Blizz seems to want to draw us off of Shadowbolt spam into a more AoE-ish fire spec. I'm not convinced that will help. I guess it will depend on what happened to my shadow- and fire-specific damage bonus togs, such as my Shadoweave robe.
And then there's what they did to Nether Protection; This sucker has saved our raid multiple times in the Illhoof encounter by virtue of keeping me out of harm's way while I hammered the imps. Now it is mitigation, rather than immunity. I'm not sure what to think of this, but my gut reaction is that Illhoof just became a two-warlock fight.
Overall, I didn't see a lot to excite me in Destruction. If I see good numbers in Demon or Afflic specs, I may never find out. This is not to say that Destro is a bad spec. It simply means that there wasn't much jiggered on it. Maybe because it was in pretty good shape to begin with.
I will need three weeks to figure this out, raiding Kara with a different spec each time. I know Grimm's going to be jockeying for position as well, so it's hard to say how long it will take me to find out for sure which spec is the best. But right now, it looks like it's a very good time to be a Warlock!