Warlock PvP Revamp

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Good Afternoon Blizzard,

I am writing to you as a concerned player that has been playing the game as a Warlock since July of 2005. Over the course of 13 years, I don’t believe I have written out such a lengthy post, but I feel like the Warlock community’s “player vs. player” issues have been disregarded, or simply not addressed. My post is meant to be a respectful perspective, from an experienced player, to highlight some significant issues that have been identified in the current state of PvP. I would like to have a meaningful and open discussion on survivability, utility, and talent changes that could lead to a better gaming experience for the community.

Over the course of World of Warcraft I have gotten to witness the ups and downs of the Warlock class design. I started playing the game prior to the “World of Roguecraft” days (thank you Mute), whom highlighted Warlock insufficiencies and resulted in some significant changes to both rogues and Warlocks. I don’t want to make a video like Mute did 13 years ago demonstrating the current imbalance of the game, but given the announced changes that have occurred up to this point, it just may come to that. I feel like the really big issues behind the Warlock class are being kept in a dark closet, like the Ritual of Summoning, only to never be opened again, which as a player has been rough to witness.

The original design of Warlocks was to be a caster that had little to no mobility, but was compensated by being able to withstand large amounts of punishment. This was achieved by having a passive damage reduction, the ability to heal themselves while dealing damage to others, and an inflated health pool that rivaled tanks. In this current expansion, Battle For Azeroth, Warlocks are getting shredded by melee classes that have extreme mobility, high damage reduction, instant cast crowd control, and 50+% slows and snares. In addition to that, Warlock self-healing and demon skin have been drastically nerfed in the current expansion, which has compounded the issues even further. As a project manager, and as a passionate player of the game for all these years, I want to help untangle this mess with you Blizzard. This is the expansion of bringing abilities back such as tremor totem, arcane brilliance, etc..., so it is time for Warlocks to get their kit back as well.

The first topic to address with the Warlock class is the lack of damage mitigation. As stated above, locks are to have low mobility with high damage reduction. I feel like this can be resolved with three abilities becoming baseline for Warlocks again: Soul Link, Fel Armor, and Demon Armor.

Soul Link becoming baseline for all Warlocks would provide the Warlock with a 20% (minimum, 30% maximum) damage mitigation. This would make pet management relevant again. I understand that there will be melee teams that will focus the fel hunter, fel guard, or succubus down, but it makes pet choice matter again. Using the correct pet in the right situation such as a Void Walker being the hard counter to the “train the pet” strategy. For Warlocks that don’t want the pet and opt for Grimoire of Sacrifice, bring back the 15% HP buff for no longer having soul link. In addition to that Grimoire of Sacrifice provided a passive % heal every 5 seconds. This gives Warlocks an opportunity to make the appropriate talent choices depending on what they’re playing against, choosing either the passive damage mitigation, or gaining a health point bonus for the loss of Soul Link.

The next change that would significantly help Warlock survivability is bringing back the armors, Fel Armor and Demon Armor. Fel Armor was an ability that increased the Warlocks health regeneration through spells and effects by 30% and increased spell power for offensive capability, while Demon Armor reduced physical damage taken, and increased health generated through spells and effects by 20%, the defensive option. Only 1 armor could be active at a time, but we had the ability to pick the armor with no cool down, which gave Warlocks possibilities depending on what you played against. With the current state of melee having instant AOE stuns, instant cast fears, instant disorients, instant single target stuns, high mobility with incredible slowing abilities to line of sight casts, and the ability to run in and out of the caster to cancel a cast, Warlocks desperately need these spells back to survive.
Another topic that needs to be addressed is the pruning of the Warlock tool kit. With melee having instant area of effect crowd control, interrupts, high mobility, more than 50% slows, strong defensive spells, and 4-6 second interrupts that do not diminish with one and other, Warlocks need some critical spells back to their kit, and also require some revert towards the changes made in the past for Warlocks to be competitive. Talents and abilities that need to be discussed is the original Shadow Flame (with the glyphed effect), Conflagrate, Curse of Exhaustion, Chaos Wave, Death Coil (and I said Death Coil, not this “Mortal Coil” non-sense, stop giving Warlock spells to other classes please), Howl of Terror, Shadowfury, Demonic Circle, and Fear.

The community doesn’t understand why it was decided that 50%+ slows and snares would be put back in the game, but here we are in Battle for Azerorth with abilities reaching new all-time-high slow percentages and the Warlock class not having mobility or baseline slows is a big issue. As it stands, the only abilities that Warlocks have in their kit to slow or root enemy targets are for destruction Warlocks (note that affliction and demonology do not have a slow, unless using a succubus, to which the pet dies almost instantly when used in arena) with Fel Fissure and Entrenched in Flame. Fel Fissure provides a whimpered 5 yard range for the slow at a 50% run speed reduction and Entrenched in Flame is a 3 second root. Now when taking those two talents and comparing them to a Mage’s Frost Nova or Frost Bolt, a Rogue’s Crippling Poison, a Warrior’s Hamstring, a Hunter’s Concussive shot, etc... The Warlock’s kit is lacking.

It is because of these slows and snares from other classes that the Warlock community is advocating that Warlock’s receive the glyphed version of Shadowflame baseline. Shadow flame on its own was pretty weak in Wrath of the Lich King, but when glyphed, the AOE coned spell would provide a 70% slow to all targets hit. This would be a nice course correction and give locks a tool to use both offensively and defensively for all 3 specs.

In addition to bringing the glyphed version of Shadowflame back for all three Warlock specs, there is a valid argument to be made that the 8 second daze from Conflagrate needs to return, as well as Curse of Exhaustion (50%, not the original 30%, slow), and the root/slow effect that Chaos Wave once had being baked into Hand of Gul’dan for Demonology. This would provide Warlocks with the ability to threaten melee and prevent them from just running behind a pillar free of charge anytime there healer sat in any type of crowd control.

As stated previously the only slow that Affliction and Demonology have available is at the cost of their pet choice. The slow is a single target slow and the Succubus that provides the slow is very susceptible to dying almost instantly. By bringing these staples back into the game, Blizzard you’re one step closer to providing some balance in the “slows” department.

The next points of discussion are the key talent abilities that Blizzard pruned over the years; Death Coil, Howl of Terror, Shadowfury, and Demonic Circle. All four of these abilities are critical survival tools that are prevalent to a Warlock competing in the arena and yet three of the four abilities have now been made talents across the same row. This allows a Warlock player to select 1 of the three crucial survival talents, and being stuck with a watered down version of Shadowfury.

When Warlocks look across the defensive abilities of other classes, we are left scratching our smashed-in-heads and asking, “Why is Death Coil and Demonic Circle not baseline for Warlocks any longer?” Death Coil (some of you may call it “Mortal Coil”) is an excellent “get off of me” ability that sticks with the Warlock fantasy, “hurt the enemy while healing the Warlock.” Death Coil being on a 45 second cool down, and healers having the ability to dispel the horror effect on partners, does not make this an overpowered ability, but again necessary in the Warlock baseline kit. This argument can also be said for Demonic Circle. Another ability that was placed on our talent tree for no justified reason.
With Warlocks having little to no mobility, the Demonic Circle baseline gave Warlocks another defensive tool virtually all classes can counter. We can’t use the ability when we are stunned, disoriented, or silenced, and with Warlocks not having any form of a slow, enemy players are able to get to a Warlock playing this talent with no consequence if the Lock were to port. When looking at the landscape of other classes mobility spells, I see charge on a 20 second cool down, Shadowstep 30 second CD, Death Grip 25 second CD, Fel Rush 10 second CD, Disengage 30 second CD, Blink 15 second CD, and probably the most triggering mobility button in the game that is baseline for a class that is not Warlocks, Transcendence: Transfer 45 second cool down.

How is it that the Monk class got to keep a Warlock ability baseline, and it even provides an AOE slow around the circle? Not to mention monks are one of the highest rated mobility classes in the game. So again the question is thrown out there to you Blizzard, “Why has Demonic Circle not be given to the Warlock class as a baseline ability?” I think the community would like to understand how this was determined in Legion, and has carried on in Battle for Azeroth.

This leaves us with Howl of Terror, Shadowfury, and Fear as the final key thoughts of this post. I consider these three spells the “meat and potatoes” of the Warlock utility kit. Howl of Terror being a powerful 5 man AOE fear that can be broken by damage on a 40 second cooldown, Shadowfury providing an AOE stun every 30 seconds, and Fear being our primary crowd control spell. The current iterations of all 3 abilities have significant issues, and require some tuning to allow locks to be viable once more.

Howl of Terror, once a staple of the Warlock class for all specs, has not seen much play since the Demonic Circle/Death Coil change in Legion. I am not advocating that Howl of Terror be baseline again, but instead keep it as a talent with a slight change. To make Howl of Terror viable again, Blizzard should consider reverting it back to an older version of the talent. I am specifically referencing that the cool down of Howl of Terror be reduced when the Warlock receives a physical attack by 2 seconds.

This mechanic baked into the current state of Howl of Terror will see a general uptick in gameplay and provide a degree of punishment for teams that specifically train the Warlock all game. Melee teams will then have to make the choice on whether or not they want to work around the Warlock, or suffer the consequences of being feared. The reason why this change is viable and not overpowered is for the sheer fact that fears can break on damage and there are currently strong class mechanics in the game that already counter fear harder than any other crowd control in the game. This also leads into the change for Shadowfury.

I am sure the community likes having Shadowfury baseline, but I believe that this needs to become a talent for all 3 specs, especially if Death Coil and Demonic Circle are reverted back to the original Warlock kit. The only caveat is that Shadowfury should be an instant cast once again. It is ridiculous that locks are required to cast Shadowfury while spells like Chaos Nova and Fel Eruption still exist in the game as instant cast AOE stuns. To make matters worse, Warlocks currently don’t have a slow to secure the stun while casting. This allows for a lot of counter play from classes with high mobility, disruption, kicks, etc.… In order to get this ability off in the arena I have to dodge 2-3 spell interrupts on a 15, or less, second cool down, 3 stuns dumped into me, and usually a disorient in there for good measure. By making this ability instant cast again, you would make the spell viable, especially in critical situations. Funny enough the same thing can be said about the Warlock’s bread and butter spell, Fear.
Fear is the Warlock’s strongest crowd control ability and is the button that has defined the class over the past decade. This ability has torn down forums, forced streamers to go on excruciating rants with its pathing in the arena, and has infuriated hardcore PvE Warlocks for many years. Unfortunately Fear has suffered an unforeseen consequence since the removal of Life Tap, our only mana generator in the game. The current state of Fear costs a Warlock 10% of their overall mana, and without Life Tap, has no abilities to compensate for this mana lost. Once a Warlock is out of mana, they have to wait for mana to come back, and Warlocks are not fast mana regenerators. Blizzard I can’t emphasize how embarrassing it was to play arenas the other night with my team on my Alliance Warlock, asking me to fear the healer, to which I said, “I can’t guys, I have no mana.” To put things in perspective our caster counterpart, Mage, has a 4% cost on polymorph and mana regeneration mechanics. Something really needs to be done in this department, such as reducing the cost of fear to 4% and allowing Soul Leach to have a mana mechanic. Either that or bring back Drain Mana, which I don’t believe other classes would be thrilled about.

In general, I feel like the identity of the Warlock class has been lost by the people who are responsible for the design of Warlock gameplay. I know my statement could be perceived as harsh in text, but that is not my intent. This post comes as constructive criticism and feedback for those responsible. It’s time to take some of the Warlock tools out of the shed, polish them up, and start using them again. If you have made it to this point, throw out a post bump. If you’re a community manager, please share this with the folks that can make real and meaningful changes. Warlocks need your help too. Thank you for your time!



P.S. If you need a project manager for this, I am here!
As much as I'd thumb through this essay, the TLDR is that you'll be fine once they nerf physical damage some more. They've done a good job so far, just needs some more. Warlock strength against other casters is so good, its just overshadowed by ridiculous physical damage.
God, what I’d do for personal maintence buffs again like mage/warlock armors
Honestly dude I'm sure you put a lot of thought into that but the issues Warlock is facing right now are not complicated. They take massively too much physical damage and they have zero control. That's it. Two things.

The various other weaknesses (lack of mobility, easy to attack and shut down, no ability to chase and secure a kill, etc.) are all what we signed up for when we clicked on Warlock in character selection. None of that is a problem. But we are supposed to have above-average control, and we are supposed to be the tankiest caster. Make those 2 things true. This could be accomplished with literally minutes of work -

* Put demon armor back in the game. This fixes the problem with melee in 2 different ways; first with the armor obviously, and second through the fact that melee destroys warlocks by tunneling them into the ground without doing too much else. Healing taken bonus makes a huge difference there. Casters generally care much less about that, as the large majority of their pressure and kills comes at times when the warlock's healer is not healing him due to CC.

* Make SOMETHING baseline - port, coil, howl, instant shadowfury. We should be able to have port and an instant CC, BARE minimum. Maybe even port and 2 of those.

Do that, nerf a couple more of the remaining overtuned crap (hunters, rogues, ferals, rdruids, rshams) and Warlock no longer has a problem. It might not be tier 1, but itd' be fine.
Great post. I agree with most.
Yes please.

All great ideas, though Demo has got its own issues that weren't included as much in the OP.
Fantastic post. Hopefully this gets some traction and we get a response...
blizzard need to fix warlocks, how can all three specs be broken in pvp?
Bumping this post and look forward to your responses tomorrow.
Great post, hopefully a dev takes a look at this. I would just love a blue post stating they are looking into the pvp aspect of lock, just something.
Awesome post and i hope a dev sees it.
We need a hand with this.
I agree, these posts are well thought out and constructed. I want to main this lock for this expansion, but their viability in pvp is atrocious. We're at such a high handicap against melee because we just cannot get away from them. I know this may be an unpopular stance to take, but to be honest, I don't agree that our damage mitigation should be increased. We are a cloth, ranged, damage-dealing, caster class, our strengths need to be more in our offensive control as well as improving our mobility. If we're going to have increased passive damage reduction, you might as well slap mail or plate on us and turn demonology into a tank spec. It's clear that buffing our damage mitigation is a nightmare to balance in pvp, it's what made aff locks in legion completely broken.

I don't want them to nerf melee damage throughput, you can lessen the one shot capabilities of certain class/specs, but melee definitely still needs to be a threat when they're within melee range, they just need to have a slightly more difficult time reaching us, hell, not just locks, but pretty much all casters that don't presently have any real escape or kiting ability needs to have something reliable to help put some distance between themselves and melee. If the developers give casters a truly balanced means to keep out of the incredible mobility that nearly all melee have, then it can be more about a game of skill.

Please blizzard, when it comes to class balance in 8.1, seriously consider doing something to alleviate the current state of affairs, because Warlocks definitely need help, we want to be relevant and fun.
So much wall of text that blizzard will not read

P.s. I 110% agree though.
warlocks are fine, get over it.
I read that, I'm not even a lock & I agree, changes need to happen to restore queue diversity again.

I haven't queued into a lock/dk throughout the last two weeks.

Only bumped into a couple in the opening week of arenas >.<
09/21/2018 04:08 AMPosted by Xom
warlocks are fine


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