I finally (read: FINALLY) got to raid after all my speccing shenanigans (you know, just in time for Blizz to refund my talents so I could do it all again. Luckily, there didn't appear to be any tree changes that I'm aware of), and last night we were able to do our Naxx-25 run for the first time since the patch.
The cliffnotes version: so far, so good.
My average DPS for the night was good for 3.5k, bringing me in at number 2 on the overall damage done (my fave stat personally). My patchwerk DPS shot up to 4.2k and topped the charts. Good stuff indeed.
I've had a few gear upgrades just before the patch, so I feel I'm not able to clearly gauge whether the final verdict is "nerf" or "buff", but I feel more powerful. I think overall, the changes are a good thing.
I've had some trouble getting used to the new rotation. Partly, I feel lost sometimes like I should be doing more than I am or that I'm missing something. Often, I am missing something (like my curse) and have just forgotten about it. When one gets used to a rotation, you get used to seeing the same DoT timers up in the same order and it gets really easy to tell which spell you're missing. So far, I'm not consistent enough or used to the rotation enough to have the quick recognition factor on my side. The good news is that that will develop over time.
I have trouble remembering to lead off with a life tap. It's just not natural yet. Same with trying to spread my taps out regularly so as to space the buff nicely. I've been trying to do it right after casting each Haunt. That way, the returning haunt will heal me for almost what I lost due to the tap. Also, Haunt is refreshed about every 12s, so with the 20s glyph bonus, it should almost always be up. That seems to be the best way IMO, and usually precedes refreshing many of my DoTs anyways (if its not already up), so seems to be a good time to squeeze it in.
I have trouble mixing in Drain Soul at under 25%. Conceptually, its easy. Where you would be casting filler, cast your drain soul. Try to refresh DoTs that need refreshing right after you see one of those big 10k ticks. In practice? It's not so easy. Usually things tend to get more chaotic at the end of a fight, so I may be trying to do other things (especially as a raid leader) and forget to watch for a number to pop up or just time things poorly. One of the things I'm assuming is that we'd want to keep Shadow's Embrace up in the Drain Soul phase of fights as well. I can't see a reason why you would want to let that fall off, so that means you don't totally get rid of shadowbolts either and have to toss one in with a haunt every now and then to keep that refreshed as well. This can easily be done in your normal rotation, but causes me a bit of a brain confusion because, like, I'm supposed to be subbing for s-bolts, right? It's dumb, I know, but scatter-brained ftl. In any case, this is another area where it'll take some getting used to.
I have trouble deciding on a pet. As an affliction 'lock, I like to just pull out a pet and forget about it for most of the night, letting it do its thang. However, Blizz has succeeded in enticing us to pull out some of our "other" pets. I think this is a good thing, though kind of a hassle. Still, I'd rather have choices to make than just one way to have to play. For most off the night last night, I just ran with a Succubus. We had both a disc priest and a mage in the group (overwriting the felpup buff), so I figured it was a good night for some S&M Demonology. I also stocked up on infernal stones an demonic figurines in anticipation of pulling them out some (for bosses only).
Over the course of the night, I only pulled out one Doomguard and one Infernal. I just never quite "felt it". I saved the DG for the last boss of the first wing (figuring that was the best time to use the cooldown so maybe I could hit each "final" boss with a DG). We struggled to get focused early on, so the first wing (spider) saw a few wipes. I never really got comfortable with the chaos, so pet choice slid down on my priority meter and I just ran the Succy until that final spider dude (I can't pronouce or even spell the name... Maexxerna? Far too many x's. I guess if it were a triple-x spider though I'd want none of that, even on S&M Demo night, but I digress...). I used the DG on that, and it was good, then we had some afk issues before starting the plague wing... my remaining few minutes on the DG were wasted, which made me sad, but he did his job and boosted my boss DPS.
We refocused after a few and quickly one shot everything in the plague wing, meaning we hit the final boss without my DG refreshing. Thus, I decided it was a good time to try out the infernal. I think I pulled him out with about 15% health left on the boss, and that was just about the right amount of time to make nearly full use of his minute tenure in the world... of warcraft. Again, good times. However, unfocus had taken its toll and we were only able to go to patchwerk before calling it a night. We were trying to hurry up since it was getting late, so it was a quick buff and pull, meaning I didn't really have time to go through a ritual of doom and ran it with the Succy. Thus, I only used one of each alternate pet type on the night, but both seemed to be good for my DPS.
Part of it is getting comfortable enough to maximize when I throw them out. It's hard enough trying to remember to drain soul and keep all my crap up, then trying to gauge when to use what pet is just another headache. As I get more comfortable with everything, it'll stop being so much thinking and start being automatic, and then I can use that thought power on pet stuff. I just haven't gotten into that groove yet.
The bottom line here is that I'm far from playing perfectly yet. I was a lot crisper before the patch and I know it. I just need to work up to that again and get all these nifty little new nuances down. If the goal of Blizz was to make the affliction rotation more forgiving, though, they certainly did that, as even not playing my best, I feel like I'm doing more damage. This is why I would side with the "buff" opinion of the patch. Still, its not like we're seeing a destro-conflag sized buff, its more that the class was "refined" in the patch.
This brings me to an interesting point. We complained that the rotation was being "dumbed down", but I argue that in its place, other complexity has been added: Where to mix in life taps (especially for those of us who never had the tier bonus)? How to mix in big Drain Soul ticks while keeping Dots up at the end of a fight? When to use which pet as an affliction 'lock? CoA or CoD? These are questions with easy solutions before the patch. Now, I'm not so sure, and, to me, that's a good thing.
(Caveat: I need to read the article Abi linked in comments yesterday concerning CoA vs CoD. If it's as good as he says, I suggest other's check it out as well. I've decided to stick with CoA for now because I'm used to it and don't want to throw in too much newness at once. Also, I may try to add some pictures to this when I get home, I took some screenies but didn't send them to work...)
Unrelated - Small Plug For A Podcast:
If you like WoW podcasts, I got an email from friend-of-the-blog Syrana about one she'll be adding some warlockerly insight too. Apparently Epic Dwarven Blogger (Davlin) and 80 BloggerElite (Nexultor) have been doing some live podcasts for a while and she's going to contribute soon (like tonight). I personally fail at keeping up with podcasts (it's a challenge for me to keep up with all my reading alone!), but she is excited about being able to guest host and asked me to pass along the plug, and I always like to pass along cool stuff if I find it. If podcasts are your bag, definitely check it out. Here's the info she sent me:
Linky goodness: http://nukmnation.com - Livestream The show is scheduled for 8pm cst/9pm est on Wednesdays. There is also an irc chat on the site, which allows interaction with the hosts and listeners that join the chat channel.
16 hours ago