Saturday, October 18, 2008

Evil Is In My Genes

Recently, my cousin (who also plays an affliction 'lock) asked me a good question about my spec. Why did I avoid points in "Improved Shadow Bolt"? Here was my response:

That’s a good question. First, lets make sure we understand what that talent is doing: 2% damage increase each time a s-bolt crits, stacking up to 4 times. Now, as an affliction lock, I don’t really stack crit on my gear. Although, with the addition of “Pandemic”, crit takes on a little more significance in DPS (before DoTs couldn’t crit). Even so, I have my doubts about how effective this is. Not to say it isn't a great change, but I just wonder how effective it will make stacking crit vs. stacking any other attributes.

So, if it IS worth it, what points would I sacrifice for this "Improved Shadow Bolt"? I choose Bane over it because obviously more s-bolts means better DPS. If you want to sacrifice the improved fear or improved Howl of Terror, which I took for utility, you could justify putting those points here. However, you could also justify putting them in improved imp or demonic embrace too, depending on what’s important to you. Those all depend a whole lot on how you itemize your gear. If you’re like me and go for hit (until capped) > spellpower >> stam/crit/int/spirit (spirit has some use now too!), then I would question how much use it’ll be in bumping your DPS, as my crit rating just sort of "happens" with my gear choices.

Also, if you’ve picked up haunt, reliance on s-bolt spam has been greatly reduced. Formerly, we were seeing about 50% of our damage coming from bolts, but that is almost cut in half with the new spell rotation and skills. In my recent Kara raid, I found that I’m shooting only 1 or 2 bolts before refreshing dots, if I'm quick about it. The new rotation really keeps you on your toes and I love it; less s-bolt spam! It’s actually difficult sometimes to squeeze a bolt in before having to refresh haunt, etc.

Additionally, I was almost always using the bolt as a “finishing” move (right before it died). So, even if it did crit, I wouldn’t see a whole lot of benefit from that skill point anyways. Also, the Death’s Embrace skill already increases your damage when the mob is near death, so, similar to soul siphon, it’s probably made up for. I would guess this is very play style dependant though, but that’s my 2 cents.

I stand by my reasoning here until proven otherwise :-). I find, in speccing, there are a lot of talent points that are "no duh's". Therefore, the real thinking comes when looking at those talent points that are "on the fence". What are you finding it difficult to choose between?

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