Friday, May 3, 2013

In which Coreus goes into far too much detail about things nobody cares to read about

I was running a random 5-man dungeon [I now refuse to use the word "Heroic" for these] on my Warlock last night for the bonus reputation, and it occurred to me how ridiculously overgeared we are for these now.

I think most DPS players will be familiar with the situation where the damage is flying around so fast that mobs feel like they're dying before you can get a cast off. And then afterwards you check the meter to see that actually you were 70% of that damage. It's a bittersweet feeling.

Coreus isn't even in real raid gear [though he has a few pieces of 522 from Valor and crafting]. My mind breaks trying to imagine what the next raiding tier is going to do to 5-man content.

--
I want to talk a bit about what I love about the recently-redesigned Warlock class.

Let's start with Destruction because it's the simplest. The resource mechanic is Burning Embers, which are generated by your fire spells and spent on Chaos Bolt [massive nuke], Shadowburn [massive-er instant execute-range nuke], and Fire and Brimstone-- a new spell which turns your fire spells [and curses] into AoE volleys.

Your primary fire spells are Immolate [a DoT], Conflagrate [instant, two charges, ten second recharge time], and Incinerate [filler nuke]. Rain of Fire is an instant-cast AoE spell which covers an area of the ground for six seconds. Using this spell rotationally as a second DoT is a minor DPS gain even on a single target, and obviously only gets better as it hits more two or more targets. Embers are generated when any of these spells crit [I'm simplifying that point for brevity].

Casting Conflagrate gives you three stacks of a buff called Backdraft, which can stack up to six and decreases the cast time of your nukes by 30%. Incinerate consumes a single stack and Chaos Bolt consumes three. Because it's a lot more efficient to use these on Incinerate it's important to manage your Backdraft stacks against both your Embers and your Conflagrate charges to avoid a situation where either caps and you're forced to waste Backdraft stacks un-capping it.

Dark Soul is your primary CD; twenty seconds of 30% additional crit chance every two minutes. Obviously a major focus of your rotation will be to try to max out your Embers and Conflagrate charges just as Dark Soul comes off CD so that you can get as many of your hard-hitting spells as possible out during this window.

Havok is a very cool spell unique to Destruction. On a 25 second CD, you cast it on a mob and the next three spells [or single Chaos Bolt, a la Backdraft] that you cast on a different mob will also be cast on the Havoked mob. The absolute best way to use Havok is to cast it on the mob with the highest health while one or more other mobs are in execute range -- Shadowburn only consumes a single charge, despite doing more damage than Chaos Bolt. Duplicating three Shadowburns is a ridiculous amount of burst regardless of the situation-- over two million damage in three globals under ideal conditions.

Fire and Brimstone is probably my favourite AoE mechanic ever, and again is unique to Destruction. It transforms your fire spells [and curses] into Ember-costing AoE versions that deal 60% [percentage increased by Mastery] of their normal damage. So Immolate will dot everything, and as long as you keep that and Rain of Fire up you will be overflowing with Embers and can typically Fire and Brimstone the whole of your normal single target rotation [sans Chaos Bolt].

FaB Conflagrate is probably the most satisfying spell in the game to cast, lighting up an area instantly with brilliant green death. And we haven't even gotten to our filler nuke Incinerate-- shooting a volley of snaking fire that spreads out to hit everything in the room looks amazing every time.

The way the different resources interact is a big part of the magic of this spec. Managing Backdraft stacks adds a higher skill cap, but it's not going to kill your damage if you ignore the mechanic completely. Ditto for using Rain of Fire on a single target-- it's a great option for those who don't mind managing another DoT but wont kill your DPS if you skip it. The faster and more RNG Ember generation from using Rain also means that you need to be more conscious of that resource because a string of crits can easily cap you before you're ready, and having fewer spare GCDs for Incinerate means also means fewer opportunities to consume Backdraft stacks efficiently.

Hm. It didn't really occur to me until I wrote it down how much there actually is to Destruction. It all feels very cohesive and easy to understand when you're playing it. A triumph of simple mechanics with significant depth to them.

I might leave Demonology for another time, because it's actually a bit more complicated.

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