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Or, Primer of the Black Harvest: Multifarious Fiends
Hello initiates of the dark arts, and welcome to the third thread to explore and expose the lesser known abilities, synergies, and effects our class will have in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. For a complete listing of the various Primer guides, check out the Compilation thread:
This third thread will cover our minions and their related spells, glyphs, and talent tier. Unlike my previous two topics, our minions have been fairly well received, or at least most opinions tend to lukewarm at worst, with a few negative outliers. However my intent here is still the same. This thread’s purpose to not just to inform, but to educate. On top of telling you how the new stuff works I want you to understand why you should pick a minion or a grimoire over the others, instead of just doing what some guide tells you to do. And with that, let’s start.
Edited by Fallensaint on 9/17/2012 11:23 AM PDT
The Base Mechanics
Our minions have gotten a pretty heavy redesign along with the rest of our kit, right down to their roots. The two biggest fundamental changes are the new Fel Energy system, some new AI, and some changes to their stat scaling.
Our minions’ mana pool has been replaced with the rogue-like Fel Energy resource. Fel Energy is a fixed pool of 200 points that refills at a rate of 10 points per second (improved by haste). Nearly all our minions’ abilities cost energy, and the few that don’t have long cooldowns to balance them out.
How does this affect our minions? Well, instead of being primarily cast-time and cooldown constrained like they were previously, they are now primarily resource constrained. What that means is that, outside of their initial pool of energy, our demons’ DPS is balanced around their regular income of energy. When they have available energy, they’ll spam their hard-hitting Basic Attacks, and without energy that’ll use their normal melee attack (with the exception of the Imp).
One of the useful side-effects of this new system is that our demons are now capable of doing some burst if you pool their energy, and if they are unable to attack for some reason they won’t lose a significant amount of damage (assuming they don’t cap their energy). Additionally, this change means you don’t need to macro your minion’s Basic Attack into your filler in order to maximize DPS by compensating for slow AI reaction time, because any time “wasted” just means they regenerate a bit more energy, which means the next Basic Attack happens sooner.
For you prospective Demonology ‘locks out there, your demon’s rate of energy income is what’s used to determine how much fury you gain from your minion. Only a demon’s Basic Attacks will generate fury, and the amount they generate is equal to 1 point of fury per 5 points of energy spent. So, if you factor in their base energy generation, that’s 2 fury per second (before haste).
There have been three major changes to your minion’s AI.
First, your demons will intelligently pool a portion of their energy for pet utility abilities. They will automatically reserve enough energy to use your minion’s most expensive utility, plus one Basic Attack. This allows you to make use of your minion’s utilities without needing to manually control their Basic Attacks to do so. Since minion DPS is balanced around their energy income and not their pool size, this effect should not impact your minion’s DPS.
Second, our minions have a slew of new auto-cast functions. The old auto-cast just essentially meant your minion just spammed the ability whenever possible, but the newer ones are much smarter. Most of the new auto-casts only activate if a certain trigger condition is met. For example, the Imp will auto-cast Singe Magic if the ‘lock gets CC’d with a magical effect. The Voidwalker will auto-cast it’s taunt on any target you’re attacking that isn’t attacking the Voidwalker, or on any target that is damaging you.
Third, our pet commands got tweaked a bit. When told to follow, your minion will follow you until told to attack, even if they’re in assist mode. An interesting side-effect for the Imp is that he’ll also continue to try to attack even while following, so if you remain still for a second he’ll fire off a Firebolt.
Minion stat scaling has changed a bit.
Hit and expertise are equal to your hit plus your expertise divided by two. So, if you are hit capped at 15% and have zero expertise, your minion will have 7.5% hit and 7.5% expertise. Since expertise also grants an equivalent amount of hit, and hit is no longer split between spell and melee, if you are hit capped your demon will be as well.
Most of our minions now have 200% of our armor, except for the Voidwalker (and Voidlord) which has 300%.
Our minion’s health is now a direct percentage of our health, with the amount varying depending on the minion used:
Edited by Fallensaint on 8/27/2012 6:27 AM PDT
The following abilities are Warlock spells that interact with our demons.
This new ability essentially mimics an all-in-one demon special ability macro. Essentially, when you hit the button, it triggers one of your demon’s special abilities (assuming they have energy), and the ability triggered changes depending on which demon is active. The abilities it uses are: Imp and Fel Imp: Cauterize Master, Voidwalker and Voidlord: Disarm, Succubus: Whiplash, Shivarra: Fellash, Felhunter: Spell Lock, Observer: Optical Blast, Felguard: Felstorm, and Wrathguard: Wrathstorm.
Command Demon also has a secondary function if you use the Grimoire of Sacrifice talent, where it allows you to directly use one of your demon’s abilities. The abilities it uses vary depending on the demon sacrificed, and are as follows: Imp: Singe Magic, Voidwalker: Shadow Bulwark, Succubus: Seduce, Felhunter: Spell Lock, and Felguard: Pursuit.
I’ll go into further detail on the above abilities later in the individual minion sections and the Grimoire of Sacrifice section.
health Funnel is more or less identical to it’s previous incarnation, but it has a couple new things added on to it. The new Glyph of Health Funnel (minor glyph) changes Health Funnel from a channeled spell to an instant 15% heal on a short 10 second cooldown. The overall healing per second isn’t quite as good, but an instant heal for minion maintenance has a much lower negative impact on your DPS.
The new Soulburn: Health funnel for Affliction also turns Health funnel into an instant heal, but it’s a whopping 36% health and a temporary 30% damage reduction for 10 seconds.
Note both these options are unavailable if you take the talent Soul Link, as that ability replaces Health Funnel.
Instant Minion Summoning
All three specs have access to abilities that allow instant minion summoning. Affliction can use Soulburn to instantly summon any minion, though doing so puts all minions on a 1 minute cooldown. Demonology has two instant summoning abilities, as befitting the demon-centric spec. First, there’s Demonic Rebirth, which activates whenever your minion dies and allows you to summon any minion. This effect lasts 20 seconds, and has a 2 minute cooldown, even if your minion dies and you don’t resummon another one.
Demo’s other instant summon is available when Metamorphosis is active, and allows you to summon any minion for a Demonic Fury cost. However, like Soulburn: Summon Minion, this effect triggers a 1 minute cooldown on all minions. Destruction has Flames of Xoroth, which costs a Burning Ember, summons your last summoned demon, and has a 1 minute cooldown. Though it’s a bit more limited than it’s counterparts, it also doesn’t have the same cooldown weakness.
Our level 75 talent tier, or the Grimoire tier, provides three talent options that influence our demons and provide a significant damage increase. The Grimoire of Supremacy gives us access to upgraded versions of our standard demons, improving their damage (by 20%), health, special utility powers, and new skins and voices. Our Doomguard and Infernal also get an upgraded damage increase and a new skin.
Grimoire of Service allows us to summon a second, temporary version of our demons for 22 seconds (20 for the Imp) as a potent 2 minute cooldown and temporary utility boost. Grimoire of Sacrifice allows us to sacrifice any demon for improved damage on select abilities and one special power based on whatever demon we sacrifice.
Supremacy and Service minions will be covered in their respective minion sections, and Sacrifice will receive it’s own section.
Glyph of Demon Training
This glyph enhances our minions (including talented minions). The Imp’s Firebolts have a 50% faster cast speed and he fires three bolts in rapid succession. Since pet damage is primarily limited by energy generation (especially the Imp’s), this isn’t a DPS increase, though it does make the Imp a lot more bursty. Our Voidwalker’s armor is increased by 10%, the Succubus’ Seduction removes all DoTs on the target, the Felhunter’s Devour Magic will also heal you, and the Felguard’s health is increased by 20%.
Edited by Fallensaint on 8/27/2012 6:13 AM PDT
Imp and Fel Imp
The Imp is still securely lodged in it's position as our only long-ranged DPS minion, but it's role as a defensive utility pet that's seen some light in Cata has evolved a bit.
The Fel Imp is pretty much identical to the regular Imp. Firebolt gets replaced by Felbolt, which is functionally the same spell but green. Singe Magic becomes Sear Magic, which turns the ability into a 15 yard AoE dispel that targets up to 5 friendly players.
The service Imp will spam Firebolts and use Singe Magic once if you trigger it’s auto-cast. Also, though the service Imp’s duration is a bit shorter than the other minions, this is because the imp doesn’t need to run into melee range to start doing damage, making it slightly more effective at long range, and slightly less effective at short range.
Edited by Fallensaint on 8/27/2012 6:30 AM PDT
Voidwalker and Voidlord
The voidwalker got a pretty significant increase to his threat generation and defensive ability, which means old blue can finally function as a pet tank again.
The only different ability the voidlord gains is Void Shield, which replaces Shadow Shield. Void Shield works against all damage instead of just physical. This gives the Voidlord a fairly substantial amount of defense.
The service Voidwalker uses Suffering when summoned, and spams Torment.
Edited by Fallensaint on 8/27/2012 6:32 AM PDT
Succubus and Shivarra
The Succubus is pretty much entirely unchanged from Cata. However, with her damage comparable to other minions, and her pretty useless Demon Soul ability removed, she's going to be a lot more useful.
The Shivarra's big change is Seduction into Mesmerize. Mesmerize works on beasts, dragonkin, giants, mechanical, and undead targets in addition to humanoids. As for cosmetic changes, Lash of Pain becomes Bladedance, and Whiplash becomes Fellash.
The service Succubus will use Seduce if the target is humanoid, but otherwise will spam Lash of Pain.
Edited by Fallensaint on 8/27/2012 6:33 AM PDT
Felhunter and Observer
The Felhunter is still our anti-caster minion, but Shadow Bite is no longer so extremely powerful.
The Observer has two mechanical changes. Devour Magic becomes Clone Magic, which will spellsteal the buff instead of dispel it. Spell Lock becomes Optical Blast, which will also deal some damage. Shadow Bite becomes Tongue Lash, but that's just a cosmetic change.
The service Felhunter will use Spell Lock on the target when summoned, and spam Shadow Bite.
Edited by Fallensaint on 8/27/2012 6:33 AM PDT
Felguard and Wrathguard
The Felguard is now definitely our AoE pet. However, thanks to better damage balance he's not completely terrible outside of AoE situations.
The Wrathguard swaps Legion Strike for Mortal Cleave, which increases the healing debuff up to 25% reduced healing. The Wrathguard also swaps Felstorm for Wrathstorm, but that's mostly cosmetic.
The service Felguard uses Axe Toss when summoned, Felstorm when it reaches its target, and Legion Strike spam for the rest of it’s duration. Definitely a potent option.
Edited by Fallensaint on 8/27/2012 6:35 AM PDT
Grimoire of Sacrifice
The damage bonus portion of Grimoire of Sacrifice varies depending on your spec, and the bonus ability varies depending on the demon sacrificed.
Affliction receives a 50% bonus to Malefic Grasp, Drain Soul, Haunt, and Fel Flame. This bonus also applies to MG and DS’s extra DoT tick effect, increasing the damage to 75% for MG and 150% for DS.
Demonology receives a 30% bonus to Shadow Bolt, Soul Fire, Hand of Gul’Dan, Metamorphosis Melee, Wild Imps, Touch of Chaos, Fel Flame, and Void Ray.
Destruction receives a 25% bonus to Incinerate, Conflagrate, Shadowburn, Chaos Bolt, and Fel Flame, but does not affect spells modified by Fire and Brimstone.
Imp: Sear Magic
Voidwalker: Shadow Bulwark
Felhunter: Spell Lock
Shadow Bulwark is definitely going to be an attractive option, as it grants a defensive ability that is otherwise not available to us (it’s also worth noting that we have many effects that depend on a percentage of our health, positively and negatively). Sear Magic and Spell Lock are also decent utility choices depending on the situation. Seduce and Pursuit are tougher to find a purpose for, though I don’t doubt that someone cleverer than I can probably make good use of them.
In addition to the damage buff and utility button, Sacrifice heals you for 2% every 5 seconds. It’s not much, but it’s free and it adds up (roughly equivalent HPS to using Cauterize Master on cooldown). Sacrifice also has some unique synergy with Soul Link. When you have both talents selected, Sacrifice provides a 20% health increase on top of it’s other bonuses.
So, given the massive number of different options, how do you determine which is the best for the job?
The Imp’s greatest strength is definitely it’s range. A full 40 yard range means the Imp can switch to distant targets more quickly than other minions, and it can completely avoid any dangers typically present in melee range. Additionally, it’s utility powers are very solid. The downsides of using the imp are that it’s not particularly strong on defense, and it has the unfortunate habit of turreting which often exposes the Imp to targeted AoE, and can put the Imp in a position to easily be despawned by distance.
The Voidwalker is now a solid pet tank, with proper threat tools, some solid defensive ability, and even a bit of unique utility with Disarm. However, due to that same tank role it’s possible Voidwalker isn’t likely going to see much use in endgame PvE content (though it’s a solid option for Scenarios). In PvP I suspect that many will overlook or underestimate the Voidwalker, despite it’s strong defense and Disarm utility.
The Succubus hasn’t really changed directly, but she’s loads more viable now that some of her bad synergies were cut. She has some very potent control options, and her only notable weakness is that Seduce is still channeled, which isn’t even as significant as it has been in the past.
The Felhunter still has some very strong anti-caster utility. However, I’d say that the felpup got the short end of the stick this expansion, as damage balance means Shadow Bite isn’t as much of a powerhouse as it was previously, and it’s power list is a bit shorter than other minions. Still, it’s two utility powers are very strong options, and in the right situation this minion is still quite powerful.
The Felguard is an incredibly strong minion. It’s no longer hobbled on single targets, it’s got a little extra kick in avoidance stats, it’s got AoE, a ranged stun, and great mobility. I would say that the Felguard is definitely the go-to minion for Demonology, unless you really need the utility provided by one of our other minions.
Grimoire of Supremacy provides some unique utility options and a consistent damage bonus.
Grimoire of Service provides flexible utility options and burst damage on a 2 minute cooldown.
Grimoire of Sacrifice is kind of in-between the other two. It provides some unique utility options and an alternate sort of flexibility. It’s damage bonus is applied to our spells, so it can provide either consistent or burst damage depending on how you use your abilities.
I know, why did I take so damn long to get to damage? Well, like I said in the first post, my intent here is to both inform and educate. If I had just listed the optimal talent/minion combos for all three specs, it’s likely you’d just take that information, use it, and never think about it. I want you to think outside of the standards set by a whole lot of math and simulation. I want you to consider unusual combinations in unusual situations for personal gain, like using a de-threatened Voidlord in a fight with consistent raid damage.
Still, it’s useful to know what the “best” options are, as long as you understand why they’re considered the best.
Sacrifice is definitely the dominant talent choice for Affliction, as it’s currently simming at about 5% higher than the next best option. The remaining talent choices are fairly close, at about a 2-3% difference between the second-best talent and the worst. There is an incredibly small difference between Supremacy minions and Service ones, with Supremacy leading slightly. Minion choice breaks down to Felhunter at the top, followed by the Succubus, Voidwalker, and finally Imp.
Given the rather small difference between minions and between Supremacy and Service, I would say that the choice between those options is close enough that utility and fight mechanics can easily beat out raw numbers. However, Sacrifice has a pretty significant lead, which makes it the best choice for most situations. Personally, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Sacrifice got trimmed down a tiny bit to put it closer to the other options, but at 5% it’s not necesarily the end of the world.
The Felguard and Wrathguard definitely have the lead with Demonology. However, unlike Aff’s Sacrfice, the lead for these minions is only about 2%. The reason for this disparity is that currently Fel/Wrathstorm is a notable DPS gain on single targets. Whether or not this will change is anyone’s guess. For these two minions, the Service Felguard has a slight lead over the Wrathguard.
For the various remaining options, they more or less follow Aff’s balance, with about a 2-3% margin between the third best and second worst option. Unlike the top two minions, Supremacy minions have a slight edge over their Service counterparts, and the list from best to worst breaks down identically to Aff’s. One notable exception to the above is Sacrifice, which is about 2% lower than the second worst option, which is even lower than going talentless. The lack of Demonic Fury generated from minions has a notable impact on Demo’s DPS.
Unlike the above two specs, Destro has no notably high or low options. At 85 Destro has about a 3-4% margin for minion options, but surprisingly this drops down to 2-3% at 90. Additionally, the difference in gear/stats between T13 and T14 has a notable effect on talent options. At 85 in T13 gear, Sacrifice is the highest DPS option, however at 90 in T14 then the Observer takes the top spot. Overall I’d say Destro’s minion options are slightly better balanced than our other two specs, since there’s no big winners or losers it’s a lot easier to take whatever you like or need without severely hindering your DPS.
Last but not least there’s out Doomguard and Infernal.These two still make up a very significant portion of our DPS, though not quite as large as it was in Cata. Additionally, they no longer snap-shot their stats on use, and they can benefit from Bloodlust/Heroism. They still have a 10 minute cooldown, but for PvE this cooldown should reset on boss resets (wipes). Oh, and the Doomguard’s Doom Bolt now has an execute effect, and does 20% extra damage when the target is below 20% health.
When to use these guardians is pretty situational. Ideally, you want to pop the, when you have as many temporary DPS buffs active at once, which usually is early on in the fight.
Guardians and Challenge Mode Instances
I’m touching on this particular subject because I know it’s a concern for some, and I don’t think we’ll be abnormally weak in this particular niche.
So, the common concern about our guardians in Challenge Modes is that since these instances are moving so fast, we won’t have our guardians up on every boss, and since these guardians are a chunk of our damage we’ll be weaker than other classes.
In response to that concern, I think that you need to take a couple factors into account. First, as a powerful cooldown on a very long timer, our guardians are much stronger in shorter fights than they are in longer ones. It stands to reason that f a fight lasts one minute, our guardians have a much longer uptime than on a five minute fight. Second, most of the gold timers for challenge Modes are very short. Most are below 15 minutes, and the longest gold timer is 21 minutes. If you’re aiming to be at the top of your realm’s high-score list, you’re looking at times even shorter than that. That’s about two, maybe even only one, guardian per instance.
Third, try a different perspective. Instead of thinking we’re weak without our guardians up, think of just how damn strong we are for the minute they are active. I like to think of them as demonic bulldozers, potentially capable of quickly plowing through otherwise time-consuming bosses or trash. For example, if a boss has a timed invulnerability phase, then it’s clearly a good idea to push that boss so hard that it’s dead before it gets a chance to bubble, which would significantly shorten the fight and give you a significant time advantage.
And with that, my coverage of our minions is done. Next up will be Primer of the Black Harvest: New Hotness, where I’ll be covering Destruction. Destro is the spec I know best, and the one that I’ve spent the most time testing, but it also has the most new core mechanics to explain, so hopefully that thread should take about as long as this one did.
90 Orc Warlock
Nice job. I'm a little torn on what to do for PvP. Supremacy for the damage boost all the time, or Sacrifice to take the ability on myself and skip pet management all together. Or possibly Service for double spell lock or something along those lines.
hey fallen if i'm using the felhunter's spell lock then sacrifice him does that refresh the spell lock for me when i sac him do i have to wait on the cd?
Also if you use grim service, you can actually chain stun someone for 8 seconds with axe toss?
Also if you have soul link and say you lose your demon , can you soul link to a gaurdian?
Edited by Dochaelian on 8/27/2012 12:17 PM PDT
hey fallen if i'm using the felhunter's spell lock then sacrifice him does that refresh the spell lock for me when i sac him do i have to wait on the cd?
The Felhunter's Spell Lock and the Sacrifice Spell Lock are on different cooldowns, so yes you should be able to chain them.
No, since they share DR you should get a 4 second stun followed by a 2 second one for a total of 6 seconds.
No, only permanent minions can be Soul Linked.
I would assume it does, though I'd need to double check. Fun fact, the Glyph of Demon Training works on the Seduce you get from Sacrificing your Succubus.
Edited by Fallensaint on 8/27/2012 4:46 PM PDT
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