Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The game is changing

Well, lookie here, boys and girls, we haz talents and stuff.

Since 3.0 hit, we as a class have been struggling. Rugged and durable, we can weather a lot of damage in the field, but in a raid situation, even Destruction is lackluster, with Affliction having real problems in some situations (Trash mobs, anyone?).

Let us not forget, I was highly excited by the 3.0 changes when they first came out. I was so wrong as to make Wrong look right by comparison. Mostly, I think I failed to take into account the stellar boosts many other classes got. Suddenly, we're not the belle of the ball, are we?

But first, a word about dual specs


Before I get into all that talent stuff, a quick word about the new dual spec thing coming out.

I don't like it.

I've never liked the concept, for two reasons.
  1. It relieves Blizzard from having to focus on making all trees viable for each class - a formidable task, but one that is far less compelling if they can simply throw up their hands and go "Oh, just go dual spec" rather than tackle that task.
  2. It relieves players of the task of learning the class well enough to play the appropriate talent tree well.  Granted, that is currently impossible given some of the spec builds, but it ties in to the possibility that Blizzard will now no longer have much motivation to make it possible.
There, I've said it, and if anyone ever reads it, I'll get to be a shadoweave-clad pinata for those More Enlightened By Level than I.

All right. Let's look at specs, and see how badly I can screw up this time.

Affliction

Affliction got the most love in the 3.0 patch, and I was all over it back then. It's still a great tree, but takes a lot of work to use, and doesn't deliver the amazing damage in comparison with others at this time. It does in some situations.

My overall impression here is that they are pushing Corruption as the foundation spell from which to drive the spec. SL drives off this, and several talents enhance it (Pandemic, Eradication, Shadow Embrace).

Suppression now applies to all spell types, at least for +hit. This is a good thing.

Demonology

This talent tree seemed to get some love in 3.0, but it turned out not to be all that. I still vainly try to eke out good damage with this build, to no avail. Damage output is barely above BC levels.

In 3.1, there are two major changes.
  • Demonic Sacrifice is gone. In 2.4, this would have been major, but my feeling is that it's become the red-headed stepchild in the WotLK world. Previously, a Destro lock would drill down far enough into the Demon tree to get this, and then boost damage or enhance Mana regen, depending on the demon. But lately I've seen Destro locks go so much deeper into the Destro tree that they can't get to this talent, anyway.
  • Master Conjourer now grants 150/300% boost to the Firestone / Spellstone effects.  This is an amazing improvement, and I still feel like it might be a typo.
They are also moving one talent over from Destro, and that makes little sense to me.

There are quite a few improvement for even the Afflic and Destro types to enjoy, and quite a few improvments to pet performance and management. Not a huge improvement, though.

Destruction

Pre-3.0, this spec was the Hotness for raiding. It got a marginal boost in 3.0, but nothing like other classes got, and the other builds did not help to compensate. In fact, 3.0 made this build less survivable, even.

Now, all the talents are pointing me towards fire if I want to go Destro. See: Conflagrate, Pyroclasm, Improved Immolate, Aftermath, and Cataclysm. Well, OK, Cataclysm still applies to Shadowbolt. Doesn't it?

The only big change that gave love to Shadow, really, is Improved Shadowbolt - which appears to now convey an effect similar to a BM Hunter's Ferocious Inspiration.

Wrap Up

So, anyway, there you have it. Destro still appears to be the Fire branch, Afflic Shadow, and Demon ... profoundly changed.

I'm expecting incremental improvements here, not profound, else we end up with a Paladin-like nerf that will just upset more people. Given that people are prone to cry bitter, bitter tears about not getting candy hearts, we wouldn't want that, would we?

The game for warlocks is changing, though. The question is: to what?