The Decline and Fall of Warlocks in Cataclysm

Warlock
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And I want biscuits
I've never read anything this guy wrote before, but he definitely did his homework. Look foward to seeing his next few posts.
I did find your latest post a comfort, Cynwise. It lined up with a lot of my own thoughts, only with charts and more words. :) I don't know how many times in Cata dungeons I'd check the DPS meters and have to tell myself, "Well trash doesn't really matter, I'm more of a boss DPS class." I shouldn't have to tell myself that, damnit! Weak AoE and slow ramp up time is just bad design.

And that's really it, isn't it? If the design goal is "Easy to learn, difficult to mastery" with a fairly easy path to acceptable mid-range performance but a steeper climb to true mastery and high end performance, then Warlocks in Cata have failed on both ends. They were difficult to learn with too many things to juggle at once and weak performance for moderate skill. Then for the people who put the time and effort into getting really good the rewards were short of what other classes offered for a similar skill level.

Ugh. I hate the feeling that I've argued myself into the position of QQing because my class is too weak, but that's almost where we're at, isn't it? Too much unforgiving work for too little performance reward. Why kill yourself trying to master the Destruction rotation when you can get higher numbers with a more fun rotation if you roll a Shadow Priest? Well, obviously some of us are too bloody minded to give up on our Warlocks. But I really do hope things improve in Mists.
i have to agree with this man on these write up that he does. the breakdown of this class over the series of the game is on point imo. really great threads...keepit up for us man : ) hopefully blizz will get the point sometime sooner or later
Thanks for the feedback, folks. I appreciate it.

I should note that the 0.9% drop in popularity rating from Wrath to Cata equates to a 12% decline. Only Paladins and Death Knights dropped more, which I think was due both to their insane popularity in Wrath, but also due to substantial revisions to their third resource.

The eye opening figure is in the second article, where Warlocks are 41% less popular than the average class popularity index, the worst rating by far.

I think the class is capable of amazing things, and that there are some amazing players in PvE and PvP who make it sing - the numbers really do bear that out. But there are some fundamental problems with the class, too, which are causing a lot of problems. Both sides can be right. :)

I just want to make sure Mists is really addressing the problems with the class, and not putting lipstick on a voidwalker.

Also: I want biscuits now, too.

I just want to make sure Mists is really addressing the problems with the class, and not putting lipstick on a voidwalker.


I think your discussion of complexity vs. reward spelled out the situation pretty succinctly. Why juggle over a dozen class mechanics for the same results as someone juggling half that? And then there's the consequences when one of those "balls" get dropped...

But I wouldn't worry too much. Voidwalkers don't have lips ;P
while these are good reads they were obvious from looking at WoW census. Only 6% of the population plays warlocks at endgame. The numbers are only slightly better from 10-80.

In the perfect world, all classes would be played equally right? So, every class would be played 10% each.

Warlocks being 6% instead of the 'hoped for' 10% is a 40% deficit. Warlocks are boring or too annoying to play or are broken or have too few options.

No fancy charts needed, just some simple math and WoW census throwing me numbers.
Warlocks overall are just a boring theme. The entire idea around the class is just boring. It's not an appealing class. Has nothing to do with mechanics. It has never been a popular class. Why would someone want to be a emo goth version of a mage when they can be an actual mage?

I have a warlock, I am leveling it up now as my 2nd to last class to level up. I'm just about to hit wrath leveling. So far, nothing has stood out to me to be annoying about the mechanics. My leveling experience has been similar to any other class. The spells and such of the class feel fun to use. The only glaring issue I have with the class is that they are warlocks. It's a dumb theme. If they were exactly like they are, but all their spells were renamed to sound good, all their effects were made to be sparkly, all their pets were more like guardian angels, make them look like heroes that help their friends, and change their name of course, the class would be 10,000 times better than it is. The whole dark/purple/emo/goth thing just isn't working.
Thank you Cynwise for putting to words what I am almost positive every Warlock is thinking in a calm, eloquent, and thoroughly researched manner. I will be sure to check frequently for updates as this is truly an excellent read.
I started in Cata (right after 4.1 hit) with this Lock as my first toon, and all through leveling and even currently I'm hearing all sorts of fantastic stories about the Warlocks "Glory Days" from Vanilla through Wrath. I'm glad I missed those days because that very well may have ruined the fun I currently have raiding. I had a feeling other casters had it much easier when I came to the realization that every other caster I've tried is just too boring (with the exception of fire mage), but that got me branching out into tanking and healing, so some good has come of it, but it still does feel unfair that other classes can do the same for less effort. I'm glad that someone has done some analysis and given me something solid to show instead of "It just seems so much simpler".
now like I said, I'm still relatively new to class balance as a whole, but would it break the class balance that much (i.e. ele shammies, boomkin, spriests, and mages could not find high level raid groups) if we were rewarded even a 1% higher average DPS than other casters because we were able to pull off the complicated setup that Warlocks required?
The gist of the article is simply that warlocks are in decline, for reasons that (presumably) have little to do with how well the class performs (ie, as far as numbers are concerned).

Personally I think this is because Blizzard's attempt to make the warlock more of a "people" (party? interdependent?) class for Cataclysm actually worked - too well. All players want their share of gratification, unfortunately Blizzard underestimated how much instant gratification the average WoW player wants. People do no want the complicated hodgepodge of curses, DoT's, nukes and vicarious combat capability that the warlock presently is, they just want what is basically a "dark" mage. Because dark is cool. Everything else is optional, utility is garbage, statistics don't lie and all that writ.
In a game where the word "supportive" carries highly negative connotations, especially considering how roughly and (yes I will say it) tactless that aspect of warlocks was implemented in Cataclysm (and has yet to be fine-tuned btw) the result was inevitable. Better perhaps if Blizzard simply introduced the new warlock as an all-new hero class. I -hated- the old warlock. Regardless, MoP seems to be an attempt at a compromise between the two warlock versions. And so far, it's been promising. While the "standardization" of summoned minion abilities was a big step backwards, it was about time they combined Curse of Tongues and Curse of Weakness into a single spell. Perhaps this time they'll get it right, and to that end I honestly wish them the best. All this is starting to affect even locks who have absolutely no problems with their class.
04/01/2012 12:45 AMPosted by Bravehearth
Has nothing to do with mechanics. It has never been a popular class. Why would someone want to be a emo goth version of a mage when they can be an actual mage?


Because I like evil and darkness, not you prissy little mages. DOn't expect a pally of all classes to understand.

And given the later comments in your post, I pray you're trolling.
Serious question, What are they doing to improve warlocks in mop?
~ I see three things...new warlock pets, somewhat simpler dots and they took out "have group will travel" thing.

I do not see Anything meaningful at all.
Where Have All The Warlocks Gone in Cataclysm? - An analysis of WoW census data to determine the extent of decline in the Warlock population in various activities in the game.

Leveling Data on Warlocks is Worse than I Thought

- Revisiting the data specific to leveling with a different methodology highlights the problems of players trying to level the class to the level cap of 85.
The Decline and Fall of Warlocks in Cataclysm - A look at the game design philosophy which drove Warlocks to becoming a niche class, the introduction of the Simplicity Tax, and why niche classes are good design but bad for business.
The High Cost of Playing a Warlock
Cataclysm Changes and the Loss of the Warlock’s Soul
Out of the Mists: Reclaiming Warlocks in Pandaria
Warlocks and The Problem of Fun


It is true, Locks are a fail class right now. If you don't believe it, take a lock and duel vs a rogue. You have zero chance to do something :D

Hey Blizzard, Haven't you ever think to delete lock class? Please don't make it worse and let locks die with some of dignity.
first of all, let me just say : Great article dude!

Well, that being said, i have a hunter a priest and now im rolling this guy. Although im still learning the ways of the lock, i can already see that compare to others classes, lock's are way more complex.

My main is a hunter sv, and let me tell u, the rotation is way too easy and dps is high as hell. Now, regarding lock's, what i see from the most of then is that rotation is hard and the dps is low.

That disencourage most of then, and if u realy think about it, WoW is in a process of renewing its player base. Since Cata, a lot of subscriptions were lost and to make up for this lost, Blizz started to invest in other countrys searching for new player base.

This new player based, usualy uses the friend buff thingie of x3 xp, and no litlle or nothing about WoW. So, as u can see, most of then tend to avoid warlocks for being to complex, and the ones who stick with the lock's usualy tend to give up in the end game, due to its more complex dps rotation.

In the end, its like a lot of previous post and the article already stated : Lock's have a complex gameplay in exchange of an ok dps. A hunter survival can do its rotation wrong, not conect the tics of the LnL and still make a resoable dps...
Best part of MOP is that all pets will be doing around the same dps. I loved early Cata when the Succi was the top dps pet for Affliction/Demo.
Nice job Cynwise. The developers would do well to read your articles and take action to address the design deficiencies surrounding warlocks. I've played this character since vanilla and it has been my main on and off since that time. I've also played a great deal of mage, dk, hunter and rogue. I still enjoy playing this toon a great deal but warlocks were more fun to play in vanilla and wrath without a doubt.

In PVE it is far easier to excel with any of the other classes I've mentioned. In PVP all of the other classes mentioned have better escapes, better self healing (hunter excepted), and way better burst. What I would love to see in MOP is:

1. At least two talent trees in PVE that let us achieve excellent DPS ranking at or near the top of the charts. We're not a hybrid so unless we can bring top flight DPS we're not adding much to our groups.

2. A viable spec in PVP that lets us step outside of a support role and into a primary PVP dps role. I don't want to be pigeon holed into a fearbot and I think the vast majority of the warlock community feel the same way.

Given the decline in the warlock class when it comes to balancing warlocks in MOP the developers would be wise to err on the side of giving us too much rather than too little if they want the trend to start reversing itself. We all know perfect balance between the classes is never going to be achieved but we have been on the short end for too long now. Players perceive this and either reroll or cancel their subscription.
They either need to make 'pure dps' classes more desirable by being able to pump out superior DPS or they need to throw us a bone and just get rid of the 'pure dps' concept.

Mage Healers, Rogue Tanks, Lock Tanks.

Just delete Hunters altogether.
1. At least two talent trees in PVE that let us achieve excellent DPS ranking at or near the top of the charts. We're not a hybrid so unless we can bring top flight DPS we're not adding much to our groups.

We currently have three.
2. A viable spec in PVP that lets us step outside of a support role and into a primary PVP dps role. I don't want to be pigeon holed into a fearbot and I think the vast majority of the warlock community feel the same way.

At 1171 rating, Demo is MORE than "viable".

04/01/2012 08:49 AMPosted by Infernalist
They either need to make 'pure dps' classes more desirable by being able to pump out superior DPS or they need to throw us a bone and just get rid of the 'pure dps' concept.

I don't want to be expected to tank or heal. I bring l33t d33ps to my raid and they appreciate that. Having three different DPS specs allows us to excel in multiple ways that hybrids cannot. Of course, this also affords hybrids certain advantages, since they need both burst AND sustained DPS, but this is a mechanic balancing issue (Destro should be burstier, Demo should be playable in PvP).

03/31/2012 09:05 PMPosted by Yaliw
In the perfect world, all classes would be played equally right? So, every class would be played 10% each.

The article addresses this and I agree with it, "No." Certain classes can appeal to niche audiences to widen the appeal of WoW as a whole. But, there needs to be certain provisions in place. The class should appeal to its niche and ALL of its niche audience (or, at least, the large majority) and it should obvious what niche that class fills. As it is now, that certainly isn't the case. I haven't checked the character creation screen lately, but here's the description from the official site:
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/game/class/warlock
Warlocks burn and destroy weakened foes with a combination of crippling illnesses and dark magic. While their demon pets protect and enhance them, warlocks strike at their enemies from a distance. As physically weak spellcasters bereft of heavy armor, cunning warlocks allow their minions to take the brunt of enemy attacks in order to save their own skin.

Unless you're reading way too into it, that's not a very accurate or concise description of Warlock gameplay. Our minions are pretty lame and often a burden, in PvE we stand in melee range, and our debuffs really aren't all too "crippling" outside of Fear and maybe Tongues.

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