5.2! Early Impressions

Blizzard posted a 5.2 PTR patch note preview just a few days ago – an early Christmas present and a little something to whet our appetite for Azeroth in the new year. By now, a variety of outlets have covered the ins and outs of the patch, and some of the new things. Out of all the things, I’m excited about the new raid size (12 bosses, and 1 on Heroic only!), about tap to faction World Bosses, about some of the farming improvements, and about the pet changes.

But what about for Warlocks?

First, two words about the upcoming armor sets (images courtesy of MMO-Champion here and here):

Boring

Boring

OHMYGOD

OHMYGOD

The Season 13 PvP set is probably my favorite Warlock set ever. I’m a full blown Cata baby, so I don’t look up to the old Tier sets with nostalgia and fondness. For me, sets begin with T11, and I’ve been none too impressed up until now (although T14 is pretty nice). S13 easily surpasses them all.

Warlock Class Changes

First, here’s the full list of changes for Warlocks on the 5.2 PTR:

  • The Felhunter ability Spell Lock is now an interrupt, and no longer applies a 3-second blanket silence.
  • Blood Fear has been redesigned. This ability is now cast on the Warlock, and causes melee attacks that strike within the next 60 seconds to fear the attacker. When cast, the ability has 1 charge, costs 20% health to activate, and has a 30-second cooldown.
  • Soul Leech now provides an absorption shield instead of healing.
  • Sacrificial Pact now requires the pet to sacrifice 25% of its health to activate (was 50%).
  • Kil’jaeden’s Cunning is now a passive talent, and its activated ability has been removed.
  • The passive damage from Archimonde’s Vengeance no longer has a visual effect.
  • Grimoire of Sacrifice now increases the damage of abilities by 20% (was 25%) for Destruction, and 45% (was 50%) for Affliction.
  • Grimoire of Sacrifice now provides the spell Whiplash instead of Seduction when a Succubus is sacrificed.
  • Glyph of Burning Embers has been removed, and its effects are now baseline for Destruction Warlocks.
  • Glyph of Soul Shards has been removed, and its effects are now baseline for Affliction Warlocks.
  • New Glyph: Glyph of Ember Tap. This glyph increases the healing gained from Ember Tap by 50%.
  • New Glyph: Glyph of Drain Life. This glyph increases the healing gained from Drain Life by 30%.
  • And Green Fire.

A few of these changes were obvious – both the Soul Shards and Burning Embers glyph were mandatory for a DPS gain (not to mention utility) for both PvP and PvE, and since Blizzard wanted to do away with mandatory glyphs, changing these two to be baseline was a foregone conclusion.

As for the replacement glyphs, Glyph of Ember Tap (for Burning Embers) is going to be pretty good, while Glyph of Drain Life (for Soul Shards) is going to be pretty mediocre. Ember Tap is already very strong in BGs due to the Ember gain rate, so having this healing boost is almost a no brainer.

The Blood Fear change is obviously PvP-oriented: it had long been known that Blood Fear would be getting a rework since it was ‘too strong’ despite it being one of the only things keeping Warlocks PvP-viable. By starting over with Blood Fear, Blizzard gives themselves a chance to reevaluate the class for PvP without having Blood Fear artificially propping up the viability of the class.

For PvE, the changes can be summed up as “+ Survivability, – Damage”. Grimoire of Sacrifice had to be nerfed to bring it in line with the other talents in that tier, especially for Affliction. Math seen on MMO-C has the change as roughly 3% DPS loss for Affliction, which isn’t crippling by any means, and there’s not much, if any, effect on Affliction’s multi-target performance.

The nerf to Sacrificial Pact might have a sizable impact on PvE, depending if the change affects the Grimoire of Sacrifice version as well. For various encounters during this tier (Spirit Kings, Imperial Vizier Zor’lok), using Sacrificial Pact while under the effects of mind control would break you out of the mind control, thus sparing your raid from your Demonic wrath. A change to 25% health sacrificed would rob us of our easy way out.

For the price of these two nerfs, Warlocks gained a pretty hefty sum in survivability. Soul Leech gets a very big boost with the change – in a recent log of mine, 44% (or about 440k) of the healing from Soul Leech was overheal. As an absorb, all that is converted into the most effective form of healing. In addition, the change to the glyphs mean that Warlocks gain a glyph slot. In many cases, this will be Glyph of Healthstone, another sizable self-heal buff.

Overall, color me excited, if not exactly impressed. It doesn’t seem to be the most game-changing patch for Warlocks, but it does bring an all new raid tier that really does seem ‘Ulduar-like’ in scope, a mega-baller armor set, as well as some things like Pet Battle changes that I’m sure I’ll love when I get around to that aspect of the game.

Coming Soon

I’m on vacation this week, but this only means I’ll be writing a bit more here during my time off. In the next few days I’ll be posting my SimC results for some of the more common trinket combinations in mix and match upgrade combinations (upgraded trinket A + non-upgraded trinket B), a breakdown of my UI because some people have asked for it, as well as a more in depth ‘how I approach Affliction’ guide with some encounter specific tips and tricks. Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

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