Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All the Single 80's

Put your hands up... No, no. I'm not going to sing today.  I'm going to pontificate on the path that I believe a fresh level 80 Warlock should take.  It's been noted that we're in something of a pre-expansion lull.  For a lot of people, this means leveling the alts that they may have wanted to get to 80 but never had the time.  Thus, I would guess there are a good handful of freshly minted or soon-to-be minted level 80 'locks out there.

I got a comment yesterday from Darthregis reinforcing this supposition and asking for advice.  Basically, he wanted to know what direction I would go if I had just dinged 80 on my 'lock.  Would my love for all things Affliction dictate my moves, or would I go a different route?  Even more specifically, he'd like to know about how to plan his gear.  Should he go with the Tier 9 gear from tokens, or a mix of T8 and T9, or even the gear from ICC 5-mans.  Furthermore, he mostly plans to be running heroics and the occasional lower end raid on this toon, so what would work out best?

It's a great question and one where the answer would not fit easily into the comment area.  Hence, post.

So to break it down, there are a few key points to consider here:
  • T9 is notoriously Affliction unfriendly, though it is easy to get right now.
  • Heroics are notoriously Affliction unfriendly, though they are easy to get into right now.
  • In general, the fresh level 80 is looking to gear up quickly by running heroics.
So you can see, despite my undying (dare I say everlasting?) love for Affliction, the current state of the game is unfavorable to fresh 80 Aff'locks.  Mostly, this is due to how quickly stuff dies.  Affliction is probably the best sustained damage class out there.  Over time, our damage is smooth and constant when done correctly.  It adds up.  When stuff dies too quick, it chops us out at the knees.  Not much to it other than to suck it up.

Or go Demonology.  Yep, as much as I hate to admit it, the best choice isn't to somehow finagle a working spec out of Affliction, it is to seek refuge in the shade of a different tree.  Destruction might work, but I choose Demo.  Let's look at the Pros:
  • Demonology has the highest survivability of all Warlock specs.  This is great news when you're pugging a lot and not sure if your tank/healer is going to be competent.  It allows you to somewhat fend for yourself.
  • Demonology makes great use of the crit that is prevalent on T9 gear.  Destro is still probably the burst king, but Demo isn't bad.  Both benefit from crit far more than Affliction.  You can really make use of those Triumph emblems you'll be raking in. 
  • Demonology is a great balance of sustained damage, burst damage, and finishing power.  It's really a "jack of all trades" spec, allowing you to adapt to the situations you're likely to find in heroics and lower end raids.
  • The spec is FUN.  You get huge crits with soul fire.  You get to be a big purple demon.  You're weaving dots and procs.  You have crazy AoE potential.  It's an active spec that can keep you awake even when you're running Gundrak for the 25th time.
What about the cons?  Well I see only two:
  1. If you plan to eventually raid Affliction (which I would suggest as Affliction is Raid King right now, plus I love the spec regardless), then you are not training your fingers to the rotation.  Practice makes perfect, and you'd be getting it in a different spec.
  2. Again, if you plan to go Affliction, then once you get geared up, it might not be as ideal for an Affliction spec.  A simple respec might actually see a drop in DPS because of how crit is valued.
So here's what I would do (and have done).  I would spec Demonology right away.  I would spec it as I've linked up on the left there (in my Demonology Primer).  I would dual spec into Affliction.  For most of the time, I would run as Demo and gear as Demo.  For some of the harder fights in lower end raids (where you know the stuff is going to live), I might switch to Affliction to practice.  I can always practice on dummies later if I get into more serious raiding on my 'lock and find my finger training lacking.

I'd gear up to T9 as quickly as possible, but keep my eye open for hastier pieces.  Haste and crit are usually the trade-off stats, so any piece that has haste in place of crit, I'd snatch up.  I would not go so far as to keep two gear sets, but I would slowly replace my crit heavy gear with haste gear (probably using the Frost Emblems I begin to accumulate).  After all, haste is not bad for Demo specs, especially when you're trying to be quicker due to fast dying stuff anyways.  I would not get a "downgrade" just for the haste, but I would definitely favor haste pieces when looking for upgrades.  Eventually, you'll have a pretty balanced set that will work well for both specs.

It's simple, it's fun, and it'll keep you playing as an effective 'lock.  The reality is that Affliction is just not effective when the trash is falling over like dominoes in a whirlwind.  Start off Demo, switch to Affliction later.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.


  1. /puts his hand up

    I *still* don't have a second 80.

    Hooray for demonology, though! \o/

  2. Bah, I had a good reply. It got lost in the netherwebz. Here's the short version.

    1) Thanks for the post. It's a gooder.

    2) I was impatient and respec'ed Destro last night. Go figure! :) You're right, though. Everything dies too fast to even bother with a full rotation. Immo + Conflag + Incin is good enough for trash, really. Full roation for bosses. Still die pretty quick, so use CoA instead of CoE. Except for maybe Loken. Usually alive long enough for CoD to work.

    3) Will probably switch back to Demo once I get a few pieces of gear or people start punting me because I'm not doing anything to trash. :P

    4) Looking forward to annoying a bunch of people in PvP. Full face melting will happen once I get some proper PvP gear. Should be fun! :)

    Thanks again for the post!

  3. As a raiding demo lock just wanted to say haste is actually better then crit. Stats weights for demo is hit until capped > spell power > haste > crit. You are right, demo is a strangely fun spec to play. I was dreading it when I was asked to switch from dest to demo....but I'm liking it.

  4. Aren't Haste and Crit pretty close? Either way, I know Demo makes more use of Crit than Affliction does, so the T9 stuff will suit it better and it would make wanting to pick up haste gear even more important. So good stuff either way.

  5. So, reading up on the ol' Demo primer (again). Didn't see anything to increase +hit.

    Does that mean I should be trying to gear myself up to a 446 (17%) hit rating? (although not necessary to be that high for Heroics)

    Just something I'd like to know for a few of my gear decisions.


  6. Great post, 1 questions.
    By way of background, I played exclusively as an Affloc over the past 3 months as I leveled my first ever character from 0 to 80.
    I recently dual spec'd into Demo and it is a blast. However, I don't see an effective way to manage health/mana without Siphon Life or Soul Leach. How do you effectively keep your health up without leaving your rotation for Drain Life?

  7. @Darth - I actually think I still have 3/3 Suppression in-game so that I'd only need 14% hit, same as I would if I were Affliction. I have too much hit so I should probably dump it and go with what my actual plans were, I'm just not sure I've done it yet. In any case, I think in heroics the hit cap is only 6% to make up because no bosses are more than 2 levels above you. I think you only start seeing 83 bosses in raids. It jumps from 6% miss on 82's to 17% miss on 83's, so you can kind of use that to help plan. If you're rarely in raids, don't worry too much about it. If you're actually doing a lot more raids than you though, then get to 17% (with or without suppression, depending on how the gear falls for you).

    @Anon - I've never had any life problems. With Soul Link especially and the other damage reduction/stamina increasing talents in the Demo tree, I'm a lot less squishy. You have to be careful not to overtap, but you should be doing that anyways. In any group with a healer it shouldn't be a problem. If you're out solo'ing, then I don't think you have a choice but to rely Drain Life, but you should be less squishy in the first place, so it is sort of a trade-off. I just try to kill stuff quick then :-).

  8. @Fulgaris,

    I guess my healer wasn't paying me much attention. It was a PUG after all.
    Thanks for the great blog-


  9. Yeah, that'll happen. You're still a clothie after all. At that point I'd break the rotation to resort to Drain Life as well. You could also pop demon form as a "defensive" cooldown in an especially bad group; it really boosts your armor.

  10. @Fulg

    You are correct about the hit cap for heroics. It's considerably less than Raids. So, no, I'm not all that worried about it right now.
    Like I said, it's mostly for gear choices when they arise. Should I be looking at the +hit/crit EoT shoulders or the +haste EoT shoulders? The +hit EoF belt or the +haste EoF belt? Stuff like that. Where I will eventually want to get into a raid or two with the toon.

    But really, I'll probably be looking at non-demo specs by the time that stuff comes 'round.

  11. I suppose it all depends on where you're sitting at as far as hit goes and what you're running. One of the first places I dumped hit when I was over cap was the EoT shoulders. The non-hit ones are great. Usually, I tried to gem for hit and not get it on gear so that I had maximum flexibility. I also went for the hit trinket since I'd rather have the straight stats on gear and "waste" a trinket. The hit trinkets from emblems are really good.

    I don't remember the belt being super awesome either way, but if you can get the hit elsewhere, those non-hit shoulders are good stuff.

  12. Circle of Ossus. Have it on my mage. Red gem slot, blue gem, +122 SP, +80 Haste. It is indeed a sexy upgrade. :P

  13. I've posted before as a raiding affliction lock... who's just switched to demo.

    For a few weeks, I've been playing demo when our Elemental Shaman was out of action (or sitting that week). Since 3.3.3 and Demonic Pact's 100% uptime, a demo lock is pretty much required for serious raiding, so I've switched until we recruit one specifically, or Blizzard design a hard-mode fight that isn't total balls for Affliction.

    FWIW, I wrote myself a little mod that measures the average spellpower buff to the raid - with almost all 264 gear, I'm providing ~530 spellpower. Personal DPS is certainly lower, but trash? Muahahahaha!

    Affliction is not bad for trash, though: UA or two, spam SoC, switch to the target with the highest health, repeat. New dark pact ftw.

  14. Yes, if you're able to AoE. Sometimes they're not properly grouped up (think wave battles), or CC has been elected to be used (gasp). But yeah, AoE is pretty solid for Aff'locks.

    Also, as you pointed out, demo brings some (mostly one, the SP) really great buffs to the table.

  15. Trash =/= add fights. Affliction's still lacklustre for add fights like Dreamwalker, Saurfang hardmode... actually most of the damn hardmodes. >.<

    If your trash isn't being nicely rounded up, get new tanks ;p