Thursday, January 22, 2009

DPS Check, Post Patch or Warlock Inauguration Speech

I made some simple upgrades with gems and a clustergrasp head piece (netting me a meta slot, check 'em out at the vendor in the borked zone) and saw significant DPS increase. How much is from gear and how much is from fixes, I couldn't tell you. The good news is I was competitive for the top spot again pushing around 1800DPS on the bosses of OS (decked out in mostly 80 blues from quests and early rep). The bad news is, with the complicated rotation, it takes all of my attention on one target to keep that kind of DPS up. When you have to help deal with adds and such, it really starts to fall off fast. Not to mention I don't feel like I add a whole lot on the adds (ha, a pun!).

I'm not sure how to remedy this. The problem is that as an Affliction 'lock I have just about zero burst DPS. For instance, when you pop into the timed egg portal on one of the mini-bosses in OS, you only have about 10 seconds before the eggs hatch. Any good aff'lock could tell you that that just isn't enough time for a DoT rotation on one target, much less 6 in quick succession. Our shortest DoT is 12 seconds long.

For you non-warlock types, it helps to think of a DoT like this. Say you have a(n) [insert class here] who has a spell, [insert spell name here]. That spell does a certain amount of damage with perhaps a cast time and cooldown period. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the spell is instant cast, uses the GCD, and normally does about 800 damage on average. So as a(n) [insert class here], you use the spell, a pretty number 800 pops up above the mob, then you move on to the next attack, repeating as desired. After x amount of time, you've done y number of 800 spells and gotten z damage.

As a warlock, that 800 damage spell for me is spread out over a certain amount of time. So I may cast the spell, get 0 damage initially, but I know that after, say, x seconds, I'll be getting the full 800 and can do other stuff in the mean time. Thus, all things being equal (things being stats and skill), over the same period of time, I can use y number of 800 spells and get z damage as well. Hence, equal, balanced, good.

I've QQ'ed before about the state of Warlocks, but upon closer inspection, I believe I may not have been very clear about what I really think is wrong. Sure we have some bugs and stuff that need worked out, but I don't think the class is broken by any means. Blizz keeps saying "you're not broken" and I'm inclined to believe that diatribe. I believe that given the same stats and gear and skill as another class, we can compete in damage and probably win against a hybrid type (as we should). We CAN do the uber DPS we want, we just don't. Why is this? What is the problem? Did we all wake up after TBC and just take "suck" pills?

In my opinion, the problem exists when the monster doesn't live for enough time that my DoTs equal out your burst damage. We're just not getting x seconds on anything anymore, plus with the decreased dependency on shadowbolts we asked for (and got), that "x" has been extended somewhat. However, since just before WotLK released, we were seeing "x" decrease on trash, on adds, on some bosses even. Thus, where do Warlocks get to shine? Right now, end game raiding is one place where most people claim "Stop your QQ, 'locks are fine, I'm in T120 gear and can push just fine DPS, you lolsuck" (or something like that).

Looking at that though, it makes sense... stuff is harder to kill there, stays up longer, etc. Also, most of the referenced fights are long, boss fights with few adds. That, or that adds are handled by others. In short, they are warlock friendly fights.

Where am I going with this? Okay, you caught me, I'm ranting a bit. But the whole point I wanted to make here is just that when I QQ about 'locks being broken or under powered or whatever, I think I know why it is. It isn't that Warlocks are broken in the game, its that the game is broken for Warlocks (at a certain level).

I know, I just blew your mind. But look, we were given a more complicated rotation in WotLK, trying to decrease our dependency on shadow bolts. We're became MORE dependant on to hitting longer living stuff because we're constantly keeping a rotation up. However, there are FEWER longer living things, and more bosses with "cool" mechanics, necessitating more than just a "tank and spank" mentality. Sure affliction locks are more mobile, able to reposition while DoTs are ticking with minimal DPS loss, but we just CAN'T keep up good DPS on multiple targets right now. Not without losing a good portion of the DoTs we need to keep up. Especially when those targets die too quickly for us to get even one full spell to tick.

We can still AoE decently, but when you get into that grey area when you're supposed to be following a kill order for things that are going down far too quickly, what is a 'lock to do?

The good news here is that as we all progress and see new content, things will live longer and we'll get our chance to shine. We may get an easier rotation that can alleviate some of the pain. We also aren't really "broken". We're just out of our element in most of the content right now.

The good news is that Affliction Warlocks are setting the bar for the biggest headache to play. How is that good news, you may ask. Well, that's why I love my class. It's no walk in the park and on a complicated fight I'm afraid my fingers and brain might explode. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Those of us sticking it out will be better players for the struggle right now.

Look at my Pally cohort. Her class was the very picture of broken for some time. When they "fixed" it, now she seems to be completely OP/easy mode. I have to believe part of that is because she struggled to be a good player with a broken class, and when it got some love, she was still a good player, but now had abilities to match. This can make a deadly combo.

So fear not, my warlock brethren, our time will come again. Until then, sharpen your staves(?)! Hone your nimble fingers! And stay the course. Ask not what your class can do for the game, but what can the game do for your class.

Or something like that anyways. :-D

And since you're now bursting with the faux pride that I inspired with spirited writing (right?), here is a photo of OS success from the Warlock front. A dead dragon always makes me proud...


  1. The key I have found on trash pulls, with more then 3 mobs, Rain of Fire. With two, Corruption + Immolate on both then SB spam (with the 2 pc T7 bonus, it's still a bit RNG but it does push a bit more dps), with a Haunt on one of the mob towards the end of one of the Corr. Not going to put you up there in the top 5 dps for trash in 25-man but then again it's never been our target to do well on trash.

    On Satharion, we can do better... simple statement since with a little practice you can easily keep your DoTs up full time... don't worry about those adds that comes out, let the melees (DK) and mages deal with them, we just don't contribute as much to taking them out anyway so stay on Satharion (this is assuming the straight forward no drake up fight).

    I'm currently dropping my Haunt/Ruin build for the full Destruction build to see if there is a better place for me. With the deep Affliction build I can dps FOREVER but I really feel like there is a glass ceiling that we won't ever break through (negating the gimmicky encounters, I can never push more then 2.6k dps and I consider my gears to be pretty decent). Previous my concern about mana in raid is pretty much a non-issue with a Ret Pally or a Shadow Priest in raid which is every raid I have pugged. Also, it seems most healers I have come across gets offended if I don't Life Tap more then once during a boss fight. The only fight I have seen that Life Tapping might be a bit dangerous is against Loatheb, I think I will just have to be careful and time my LT to occur when the healing debuff goes down. From my limited test last night on the ?? target dummy, the new destro rotation isn't as boring as the old SB-spam, it's not as complicated as the Haunt rotation but it's at least 40% or so as complicated.

  2. As a fellow DoT class, I feel your pain but the big picture is downing bosses, not killing trash. I can tell you that in Naxx, I push over 2k dps on most of the bosses in there but in heroics I can barely break 1800. It's a similar factor in that I need fights to last long for me to really shine. I assume its the same for you.

    On trash, I dont load anything up with dots. I put one or two and use my burst spells. When I raided as Affliction in TBC, trash = Corruption + Shadowbolt spams while praying for Nightfall to proc. If its not gonna live the full DoT duration, it's not worth putting up more than one IMO.

    The OS portal bosses aren't really good measures of your DPS potential since you're shifting from single target dps (your bread and butter) to zoning in and out of portals, killing adds that die in 10 seconds or less, zoning out.. there is a lot of downtime.

    Wait until you get in to Naxx and try DPS race fights like Patchwork. Any joe shmoe can kill trash fast but can they last long enough to kill a raid boss?