Primer: Level 90 Talents

Or, Primer of the Black Harvest: Demonic Influence

Hello initiates of the dark arts, and welcome to the second of many threads that will 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:

For this second thread, I’ll be going into our level 90 talent tier. Much like my first thread’s topic, I’ve chosen this set of talents because the public opinion of them is for the most part very negative. The general consensus is that the entire tier is pretty much useless. As you can probably guess, I don’t agree with this opinion. Like many of the arguments about our class, it’s lacking in complete information about how these abilities work and it doesn’t fully consider the strengths and weaknesses these abilities provide.
The Tier’s Theme

One common trait among all talents is that their designed around a general theme. The theme helps to provide context for the talents and it suggests how they’re supposed to fit into our toolkit. Usually, a talent tier’s theme is pretty easy to figure out, like our level 15 “healing talent” tier, or our level 45 “defensive talent” tier.

However, for some talents the theme isn’t very clear, like our level 90 talent tier. At first glance, these three talents don’t really seem to have anything in common. I mean, we’ve got a damage reflect, a mobility tool, and an AoE radius increase. What could common theme could they possibly have?

The theme is: Damage Loss Mitigation.

I know what you’re thinking: What? That’s a thing?

Yeah, it’s a thing.

This explanation is going to get pretty abstract, but bear with me here. Okay, as a pure DPS class we have two fundamental responsibilities: do as much damage as possible and don’t die. However, nearly every PvE encounter is designed to both kill us and make it difficult to achieve optimal DPS (most PvP encounters, though not designed as such, tend to operate the same way). Our level 90 talents allow us to partially circumvent some of the most common methods of DPS reduction, and this allows us to potentially achieve close-to-optimal DPS in unusual conditions, which most classes would not be able to do.

Read that last line a couple more times to let it sink in, and if your brain is sufficiently warmed up then we’ll start getting into the nuts and bolts.
Archimonde’s Vengeance

AV is probably the most well-received talent in our level 90 tier, which isn’t really saying much. However, it’s liked for the wrong reasons. Since it’s the only talent that can directly deal damage, many see it as free damage, and since the other two talents aren’t free damage, then it must be the best option, right? Let’s take a look at that tooltip.

Archimonde's Vengeance
Requires Level 90
40 yd range
Instant 2 min cooldown
Causes an enemy to suffer 25% of all damage you take. Lasts 8 sec.

Enemies who attack you suffer 5% of all damage they deal to you.
This effect is disabled while on cooldown.

First thing to note is that AV only works if you’re taking damage. Second thing to note is that, in order to do any notable amount of damage, you need to be taking a massive amount of damage.

For the moment, let’s put AV on the shelf. I’ll get back to it in a bit. Now, normally when you’re taking a massive amount of damage, doing optimal DPS often takes a back seat while personal survival takes the spotlight. While the effect survival has on your DPS often gets downplayed, the fact of the matter is that not-dying is going to hurt your overall DPS (though, a LOT less than dying would). Surviving costs mana, time, and potentially even secondary resources that would otherwise be put towards DPS.

That’s where AV comes in, and how it fits into the 90 tier theme.

Let’s say that you are going to take a great big unavoidable damage spike that will kill you dead. At the very least, you’ll need to spend one GCD on a survival ability to not get killed. Now, the exact value of one GCD is a bit vague, as your DPS is going to shift over time as conditions change. However, it stands to reason that whenever you aren’t actively contributing damage, that your overall damage and DPS are going to go down. If you have to deal with multiple spikes in a fight, or if you need to resort to stronger defenses, those “empty” GCDs are going to have a noticeable effect on your damage.

AV helps to partially fill-in those empty GCDs by reflecting a portion of the damage you take.

Speaking of which, that damage reflect has a few interesting properties to take into account. First, the damage reflected is calculate after the damage you take is reduced by mitigation or absorbed, including damage mitigated by armor and resilience (damage that is avoided isn’t reflected). Obviously, this means that if you use a defensive ability, the damage reflected by AV is reduced, so it's not really a good idea to stack AV's cooldown effect with defensive cooldowns. Second, AV’s damage is “Spell” type damage (a combined school made of all damage types except physical), and it’s damage is increased by any effect which increases spell damage, including CoEl and PvP power.

Third, there’s a per-hit cap that limits the amount of damage that can be reflected per hit taken equal to 5% (25% on the active effect) of your total health. Consider the fact that at level 90 you should have about 400k health, which means that the AV's cooldown cap per hit is about 100k damage. In order to hit that cap, you are pretty much going to die.

Additionally, you’ll need to spend a GCD to get it rolling, and you can only do this once every minute. 100k damage on a minute cooldown averages to about 1.6k DPS. And that’s not counting travel time to get into and out of whatever damage source you’re dealing with, or any subsequent defensive abilities used to prevent dying at such a low amount of health.

For all that effort and risking unnecessary death, you’re probably better off just not standing in the fire. AV’s a great tool for mitigating damage loss from unavoidable damage, but trying to exploit it for a DPS gain from normally avoidable damage is likely going to get you burned.
Kil’jaeden’s Cunning

KjC is the second-most bad-mouthed talent in this tier, because when most people look at it that immediately ask something along the lines of: “Why would I ever want to both snare myself and slow my cast speed?”

Answering that question is going to take a whole lot of explanation. But first, tooltip:

Kil'jaeden's Cunning
Requires Level 90
Instant 60 sec cooldown
You can cast and channel while moving for 6 sec.

You can cast and channel while moving, but doing so increases the cast time
or channel period of the spell by 50%. Each cast reduces your movement
speed by 10%, stacking up to 2 times.

This effect is disabled while on cooldown.

In order to understand KjC, you must first understand movement.

In PvE, movement refers to your ability to react to and avoid certain distance-based effects, including various types of AoEs, avoiding other players, and group-up effects. In general, there are two fundamental types of movement: short and long. For the purposes of this thread, I’ll define short movement as a distance less than 10 yards, and long movement as more than 10 yards.

Usually, short distance movement is caused by rapid, medium-damage effects. A good example would be a rapid-fire targeted AoE with a small radius. In order to avoid damage, you need to quickly stop what you are doing and move a short distance away. Conversely, effects that require long distance movement usually have a fairly long wind-up, giving you ample time to react and move to compensate for the long distances involved.

So, we have two similar conditions which cause two different types of damage loss. Damage loss from long distance movement is the one most people are familiar with. When moving, you are normally unable to use any ability that isn’t instant, which limits you from being able to use the part of your spellbook that does the bulk of your damage. In that case, it stands to reason that the faster you get to a point where it’s safe to stop moving, the faster you can get back to blasting away with your best abilities.

With that point of view, KjC’s snare looks like a really bad idea. However, that point of view also completely ignores the fact that you’re casting while moving. Even at a 50% increased cast speed or channel tick time, most of your spells are going to be able to do better DPS than Fel Flame. Alternatively, many think that a 10-20% snare will slow you down enough that you won’t be able to avoid whatever you’re moving from. To that I have to say, I don’t think you’re moving as slow as you think you are.

Your base run speed is 7 yards per second. So, if you have to run, say, 15 yards, that would take a little over 2 seconds. With a 10% slow, your move speed is 6.3 yards per second, so that 15 yard dash still takes a bit over 2 seconds. With a 20% slow, your move speed is 5.6 yards per second, which puts your 15 yard dash at a little over 2.5 seconds. Odds are good that an extra .5 seconds of movement won’t kill you unless you’re already lagging far enough behind that an extra .5 seconds likely wouldn’t save you. If you’re still really paranoid about the snare, just use the active ability on KjC. In 6 seconds, you should be able to move 42 yards while casting.

Now, short distance movement reduces damage in a slightly different way. Since short distance movement often happens frequently in an encounter, it will frequently interrupt your spells. Interrupted spells means dead space, and dead space means lower damage. KjC helps mitigate this damage loss by preventing movement from interrupting your spells. The downside is that the remaining cast time or tick period on your spell is increased by 50%, but usually that cost is relatively minor next to re-casting the spell from scratch. Again, many cite that a snare in this situation can kill you, but again I say that a 10% snare is next to nothing. Usually, people eat damage from small-range effects because they often don’t move because they try to squeeze off another shot.

In PvP, movement refers to your ability to avoid or pursue other players in order to move into range, out of their range, or into and out of LoS-blocking terrain. For the most part, this makes KjC’s passive effect’s snare a notable hinderance. You won’t be able to catch up with someone running out of range, and you won’t be able to out-run someone who’s following you. There are some potentially interesting tactics involving long cast-time or channeled spells and moving in/out of LoS, but for the most part I would say that if you plan on using KjC in PvP, you’re probably best off making heavy use of the on-use effect.

So, with KjC’s interaction with damage more or less covered, let’s talk about some of it’s lesser known mechanics.
KjC’s snare is a 5 second debuff that is applied if you move while casting a spell. This debuff is only applied once per cast, and it stacks up to two times. Each stack reduces your move speed by 10%, up to a total 20%. The debuff persists even if you stop moving. If you’re casting a spell that lasts longer than 5 seconds, the debuff can drop off and won’t be re-applied. Any effect that can remove snares (such as Demonic Circle: Teleport) can remove KjC’s snare.

KjC's cast speed increase effect is not tied directly to the snare debuff. The cast speed increase is handled separately, and it will only affect spells used while moving. The effect persists until the cast finishes or it is interrupted, and can not otherwise be removed or dispelled. If you move mid-cast, only the remainder of the spell's cast time is increased, not its full cast time.

KjC’s cast speed slow works differently for channeled spells than it does for casted spells. Instead of increasing the duration and cast time of the channel for the entire duration of the channel, it only increases the ticks that happen while you’re moving. For example, if you cast Drain Life while moving (ignoring haste), it will increase the tick period to 1.5 seconds and increase the duration to 9 seconds. If you stop moving, the tick period of the current tick will still be 1.5 seconds, but all remaining ticks will have the normal 1 second tick period (assuming you don’t start moving again), and the channel’s length will change accordingly.

KjC prevents spell interruption from all kinds of movement, including forced movement such as knockbacks and Death Grip-type effects. And a word of warning, since many use short strafes or jumps to interrupt spells, this sort of habitual behavior is going to cause you problems. I would advise you to make a /stopcasting macro if you don’t already have one.

It’s also worthwhile to remember that KjC affects most utility spells as well as our damaging abilities. Summon Healthstone, Ritual of Souls, Summon Demon, and Fear are all usable while moving. As far as I am aware, the only spells that don’t benefit from KjC are Ritual of Summoning and Demonic Gateway.
Mannroth’s Fury

I know what you’re thinking. I’ve set you straight on AV, and sold you on KjC, but there’s no possible way I can justify the use of Mannoroth’s Fury. Right?

First off I’ll ask a question: How can you lose damage when you’re AoEing? Usually, AoEing is a total DPS gain, so many don’t really think about how damage is lost when you’re rocking the charts. And when you aren’t rocking the charts, it’s because your class/spec just has terrible AoE, right?

Not quite. While it is true that there is a theoretical maximum potential DPS, that potential is determined by the number of targets you are able to hit. So, it stands to reason that if you aren't able to hit all available targets, you're going to fall short of your potential maximum DPS.

I can hear what you're thinking next. In PvE, multiple targets are always clumped, and in PvP everyone knows better and stays spread out.

My reply to the first point is that 'always' is a pretty strong term. It assumes that every available target will always fit inside a 6 yard radius circle, and your tank will always stand perfectly still and keep everything perfectly inside the killzone. Spelled out like that it sounds like a pretty unrealistic expectation, doesn't it? There are plenty of examples, both in the past and in MoP, where your targets aren't going to play by the ideal rules.

As for the second point, I'm not sure you realize just how big these AoEs are. Tooltip time:

Mannoroth's Fury
Requires Level 90

Increases the area of your area of effect spells by 500%.

Though mostly true, the 500% increase to area is a bit deceptive, depending on how you perceive space. In actuality, this talent increases the radius of most of our AoEs by 125%. So, we get the following increases to our AoEs:

Base Radius: 6 yards
/w MF: 13.5 yards
Affected Spells: Hand of Gul'dan, Chaos Wave

Base Radius: 8 yards
/w MF: 18 yards
Affected Spells: Rain of Fire, Hellfire, Immolation Aura

Base Radius: 15 yards
/w MF: 33.75 yards
Affected Spells: Seed of Corruption, Soulburn: Curse, Fire & Brimstone (all)

Base Radius: 20 yards
/w MF: 45 yards
Affected Spells: Curse Auras

Base Radius: 50 yards
/w MF: 112.5
Affected Spells: Soulshatter

First thing to note is just how damn big these all are. All of our AoEs that are 15 yards and up are so huge that their diameter is larger than the maximum distance of our spells. Our smaller AoEs are so large it takes nearly 4 seconds to get from one end to the other. That's BIG. Certainly big enough to allow us to AoE in many situations where it would otherwise not be possible or not efficient.

Second, you should note what isn't on the list. Our talented AoEs, pet AoEs, Infernal, Void Ray, and Carrion Swarm are not affected by MF.

It’s possible that you still feel that hitting a couple extra targets isn’t really as big a deal as I’m making it, and that it likely can’t top the potential ~2% DPS gain by capping AV. Much like figuring out the DPS value of one GCD, figuring out the DPS value of one extra target is a bit vague. A close estimate can be derived with a simple X/Y formula, where X is the number of additional targets and Y is the number of base targets. In reality, this number is going to be a bit off, due to multi-DoTing, extra resource gains, different pet/guardian use, and the 10-target cap. But, X/Y should be close enough to get a good idea.

Going from 4 to 5 targets is around a 25% increase in damage, which is above an beyond the measly potential 2% from AV. Going from 8 to 9 targets is a 12.5% increase, not as big but still much bigger than AV. Beyond 10 targets our equation falls flat, but you are still going to see a DPS increase thanks to AoE DoTs which ignore the target limit, and a higher rate of secondary resource gains.

I’ll finish up with a word of caution. While I do believe that MF is a fine talent for raiding and PvP, it is incredibly risky for dungeons. They’re just too cramped. With our AoE’s massive size, it’s far too easy to accidentally pull the entire room, even if your group is being extra cautious about it.
So, that’s our level 90 tier. My next thread will be Primer of the Black Harvest: Multifarious Fiends, where I’ll talk about our demons and our grimoire talents. That thread shouldn’t take me a week to do, since I’ve gotten a fair chunk of pre-written material to draw from.

Feel free to use the rest of this thread to talk about our level 90 talents, discuss information, and ask questions.
08/22/2012 12:29 PMPosted by Fallensaint
Any effect that can remove snares (such as Demonic Circle: Teleport) can remove KjC’s snare.
so you can trinket your own snare if need be as well i asume.

Can you singe magic the casting debuff off of yourself or is it dispelable by a friendly healer? Guessing that it's just a better curse of tongues and not a magic debuff.
so you can trinket your own snare if need be as well i asume.

Can you singe magic the casting debuff off of yourself or is it dispelable by a friendly healer?

It's an untyped debuff, so traditional magic dispels won't work. Anything that specifically removes snares (or provides immunity) should work though. Trinkets, EMFH, Escape Artist, Hand of Freedom, Windwalk Totem, etc.

Oh, and I neglected to mention that the cast speed slow isn't tied to the debuff. It's handled separately on a per-spell basis and activates whenever you move while casting. There is no debuff involved for the cast speed slow (or at least there isn't any visible, removable debuff). I'll edit that info in.
I missed the part where KJC allowed us to move while casting all the time as a passive effect. Hmm, this could be interesting perhaps. Even if you are being slowed you could still be running away from someone casting UA, Haunt, and Fear?
I'm not in the beta, so I'm asking what I can from what I can find.

In terms of Demo PvE, and looking at Mannoroth's Fury, I actually have a few questions about Harvest Life, since it works differently than the other specs in that it generates resources. Looking at Wowhead, it generates 10 DF/s, +3DF/s for each extra enemy. Hellfire, on the other hand, only generates 3DF/s per enemy, so Harvest Life will always generate 10 more DF per second. It also restores health, as opposed to doing a ridiculous amount to ourselves, can be used at range (even though we will likely be in melee to max dps), has a larger radius than Hellfire even with MF, and costs less? (Wowhead says Harvest Life costs 1% base, while Hellfire costs 4% base. Don't think this is right, but is the ratio the same? Even then, healing might help offset life tap costs, unlike Hellfire)

I suppose my first question is that I heard that Warlocks could use Harvest Life to stay DF positive during Meta? That still true? Since Meta consumes 6 DF/s, it means that we could potentially stay in meta form, benefit from mastery, spam cast Harvest Life, and maybe even throw in an Immolation Aura or Curse of the Elements somewhere along the line.
Even if not, it might still be better to use it to generate, and then toss out a Chaos Wave, Void Ray, or Immolation Aura when you get enough resources.

In general, I suppose my question is Harvest Life>Hellfire and does that make MF less valuable in return?

Also, can we cast Hellfire while moving normally, or do we need KjC for that?
08/22/2012 02:12 PMPosted by Skeld
Even if you are being slowed you could still be running away from someone casting UA, Haunt, and Fear?


08/22/2012 02:20 PMPosted by Umbros
I suppose my first question is that I heard that Warlocks could use Harvest Life to stay DF positive during Meta? That still true? Since Meta consumes 6 DF/s, it means that we could potentially stay in meta form, benefit from mastery, spam cast Harvest Life, and maybe even throw in an Immolation Aura or Curse of the Elements somewhere along the line.

When in Meta, HL's fury generation is deactivated and it's mana cost is replaced by a 30 fury on cast + 30 fury per second cost. That makes it a very weak option while in Meta, though it's higher rate of fury generation while in caster form makes it a good option when you're building fury for your hungry AoEs.

08/22/2012 02:20 PMPosted by Umbros
In general, I suppose my question is Harvest Life>Hellfire and does that make MF less valuable in return?

I would say that HL is better for AoE fury generation than Hellfire, but that doesn't necessarily invalidate MF. A larger radius on your HoG and Meta AoE is a pretty big deal. In addition to hitting more targets (which for HoG means more fury), a larger AoE radius for Demo means there's less movement required to move into position, since most of Demo's primary AoE abilities are centered on the 'lock.

08/22/2012 02:20 PMPosted by Umbros
Also, can we cast Hellfire while moving normally, or do we need KjC for that?

Hellfire does not need KjC to be used while moving, and it shouldn't trigger the debuff, which I suppose can give it a situational advantage over HL.
08/22/2012 02:12 PMPosted by Skeld
Even if you are being slowed you could still be running away from someone casting UA, Haunt, and Fear?
so there is no longer a facing requirement on Ua and haunt /Timed spells when in moving mode with KJC?
The spells that have a facing requirement still have one, but that shouldn't stop you from strafing or using a spin-jump to pull off a casted spell while running away. Channeled spells also only need facing on the initial cast, and can ignore facing for the rest of it's duration.
You have to be in LoS/Range of the target when you first cast it and finish the cast. Facing requirement too if the spell requires it (direct damage spells, Fear/non DD spells like UA don't have a facing req.)
Probably could spin to start Haunt then and keep running. At least UA and Fear could definitely be done.
You really may have sold me on KjC. Since I was already planning on using Burning Rush, and main speccing Demo, the decrease in cast time might actually be in our benefit. Being able to run with that constant auto attack, even while casting, will net a nice chunk of white damage in addition to what our spells and dots do. Granted it might even out, but this would increase the time we have in meta.

Heck, for fights when we got to frigging move, meta can use that auto attack, hard cast, and even add in burning rush to make sure that decrease in speed doesn't do crap. In caster you could use the passive of KjC with drain life or harvest life and burning rush to minimize the damage on your self, and keep some form of aoe damage going.

Just my noobish two cents. Might actually b good motivation for me to hit 90 on the beta now.
Wheres that next section at Fallen? chop chop! we're waiting.
08/23/2012 08:09 PMPosted by Dochaelian
Wheres that next section at Fallen? chop chop! we're waiting.

I did say "less than a week." I'm working on it, hold on to your pants. :O
08/24/2012 06:58 PMPosted by Fallensaint
I did say "less than a week." I'm working on it, hold on to your pants. :O

You don't tell me how to live my life!

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