Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shameful Confessions About My Warlockery

Poneria wrote a great article yesterday over at Fel Concentration. It actually spawned a bit of Twitter-flurry between several of us 'locks on there, as we discussed some of the sentiments expressed. For my part, I simply stated that I sometimes feel the urge to defend the "funness" of playing a Warlock, especially and Affliction Warlock. I suppose I feel like sometimes we get a bad rap for being too hard, too complicated, so as not to be fun. It sometimes seems like, in order to be considered a good Warlock, you have to know how to run simulations and consult spreadsheets and spend a whole bunch of time devote to arcane studies.

To that feeling, I say: Being a Good Warlock is as much an art as it is a spreadsheet.

Many of us find it hard to explain the feeling when you're really "clicking" on your 'lock. It's a feeling I've yet to match with my limited playing of other classes. Frost DK, the class I've played the most outside of my 'lock, does not have the same feeling. When I'm playing my DK, I feel like a brute. With her, it's more like playing an old button-masher fighting game.

On my Warlock, when I'm playing well, it's smooth. It's a thing of beauty. The best comparison I can make is that it is similar to what athlete's describe as being in "the zone." Training and instinct take over, and the shadows flow from me like notes from the fingers of a virtuoso pianist. Indeed, I often feel like some sort of grand conductor, standing high on a pedestal and gesticulating wildly at my own demonic orchestra.

But things aren't always that way. My play is often far from perfect, and sometimes I couldn't find "the zone" if it were a barn in an empty field and I just smacked headfirst into the side of it. Yet, when we bloggers write about our classes, we're often writing from the best case scenarios, not the worst. Sure, we may talk about troubling mechanics, but I think maybe we don't talk as much about how much we actually suck at playing our class some nights. The zone is great, but it's not all there is to playing. In fact, it's generally a small slice of the time I spend online. And sometimes, it's the most rewarding when you're fumbling around for the right key, boss bearing down on you, and just barely manage to tap it before you get squished. Yep, sometimes it's just luck.

So, I'm bringing 'Locky back. I'm going to admit the things I routinely fail at. A dark confession, of sorts.

I'd like to think people consider me a good 'lock. Maybe not, I don't know. But I've been around for a while, and people seem to stop by here to see what's up with Affliction (when there are, you know, some changes). I'm not a hardcore, bleeding edge player by any means, but most of us aren't.

I simply love my Affliction Warlock. I want others to share that love without fear of being a "failure." Aff'locks (and, indeed, other flavors of Warlock) can be a whole lot of fun, even when played sub-optimally. Sometimes, it's very easy to get caught up in eking out that extra 1k DPS, when our sanity would be better served by saying "F the 1%" and focusing on having fun with the other 99. (Percentages may vary. It's probably more like 80/20, but talking about the "one percent" amuses me.)

So here are some ugly truths about my Warlock play:
  • I only use Demon Soul once per fight. It's macro'ed with my guild banner. Even then, I often forget to smash the button. On most nights, I have no idea whether it's conflicting with anyone else's spell (heroism, etc).
  • I have to be badgered to provide cookies. Even then, I generally don't eat mine.
  • I often forget my Doomguard. He's macro'ed to that Demon Soul button.
  • I trust Mr. Robot almost blindly. I've never run a personal simulation.
  • 90% of my 5+ years of play time has been spent running as Affliction with my Felhunter. The other 10% was Demo when I'd already cleared everything as Affliction. I've never chosen a spec/pet based on math/EJ alone.
  • I overwrite DoTs... a LOT. I cringe every time I do it, but I get paranoid about them dropping off.
  • Bane of Agony gets clipped more than I'd like to admit. Generally, I just press the button because I'm used to pressing it. And then let out a big "derp."
  • Especially when I'm raid leading, I get lost in my rotation and forget to keep a DoT up. "Oops, went that whole fight without Corruption."
  • I don't really pay attention to my DPS anymore. Generally, if I'm looking at a meter, I look at how I'm doing compared to everyone else, usually in overall Damage Done. That's the category I want to "win." The only time I'll use DPS metrics is when testing new builds/gear.
  • I don't test things very often, weathering patches with what I enjoy, even if it's costing me some DPS. Only when it looks like something is "in to stay" will I actually pay it much mind.
I'm sure there are others. (To my Warlocky brethren - What do you routinely fail at?). These are just what I could think of off the top of my head. If a Warlock pro actually watched me, they'd probably point out a dozen things I'm doing wrong. Even so, I've had a lot of fun and generally not shamed myself. Absent the over-the-shoulder 'lock observer, my mistakes go mostly unnoticed. I hold my own when I need to, and play with confidence.

I suppose the major caveat is this: I'm not a hardcore raider, player, etc. I'm the epitome of casual, and don't place a whole lot of importance of playing "perfect."

That being said, I've raided since TBC and seen all the content. I've been in big raid groups and small raid groups, led both kinds. I've never been kicked from anything, never been greifed about my playing. Though, I will admit that I'm not the most outgoing player, and I try to surround myself with good people.

So, I suppose I should distill this into something potent that you can take home with you. Let's go this route... let's postulate Fulguralis's Keys for Being a "Good" Warlock. (And by good I mean satisfyingly evil.)
  1. Educate yourself efficiently. In a broad sense, you should generally know what a Warlock is, even if you don't strictly adhere to the idea. Knowledge is power, but choose your resources carefully. You don't want to get mired in minutia if you're only interested in the basics. This goes for both strats and builds. Good Warlocks are experts at seeing the true soul of things.
  2. Focus first on living. Good Warlocks prize their own lives very highly. Dead DPS = 0 DPS. A lot of people do not understand this. They're so worried about getting the big numbers that they die halfway through the fight. Raid Leaders can't depend on people like that. Instead, look at your Damage Done for a boss fight. It's the actual damage that kills the boss, and that's what you want to be contributing to. If your rotation is sub-par because you're trying to live... so be it.
  3. Kill what needs killing. This means following directions if you're not the leader, or following the kill order. This is also why I blatantly ignore meters on a lot of trash/add fights. My numbers aren't going to reflect that I swapped from the drone to the spiderlings to help finish them off before they caused the boss to regain life (at great personal DPS expense, I might add). Good Warlocks simply enjoy killing things for the sake of killing things. We don't need to e-peen about it. Act like you've killed something before, even if you haven't.
  4. Shard your soul. Not the spell, but in real life. Warlocks should have a solid, crystalline exterior that allows us to be true to ourselves and our own Warlocky ways. If you've followed 1, 2, and 3, then you're probably already doing the right thing. Let the rest roll off you. Good Warlocks don't deign to recognize the criticism of others, including other Warlocks. A big part of having fun in social games (I'm finding) is firmly defining your own boundaries. Decide what is important to you, and then be true to that. No one can take that from you.
That's it. Four steps. Learn 'em. Live 'em. Or come up with your own. I could care less. I'm a Warlock, after all.


  1. Don't get me started on my, "Shameful confessions of a disc priest."

    The latest and greatest being: Don't heal Ultraxion in your dps gear. The scary thing is that we won.

    As for the list:
    1) no problem. I've got plenty of resources on the internet that have helped me immensely
    2) same deal. Dead disc priests don't heal. Go holy if you want to try that.
    3) same deal. Heal what needs healing. If the dps is standing in the fire then don't stop healing the tank to do something about it. The meters are only a tool and for healing it is entirely backwards from the way the dps may look at it. When things are going smoothly the healers health per second will be low. If the dps is not standing in fire and the tanks are using their defensive cool downs intelligently then healing becomes simple maintenance. It is when the fit hits the shan that the healing meters go through the roof. This is not a good thing.
    4) same deal. You can't save everyone. Sometimes peeps die from bad play and sometime peeps die from bad luck. Don't beat yourself up over this. If anyone complains about what was going on with the healing then tell'em what I tell'em: "We were busy sipping martinis in the jacuzzi." The stories I can tell about the discussions in group five are sexy and funny and you'll never know. <--props if you can get the quote reference.

  2. No props for me, and Google isn't helping. Though, when I hear it, I'll probably slap myself.

  3. I could have done the quote better:

    Jayne: [interrupting] Now, Inara - she's gotta have some funny whorin' stories, I'd wager.
    Inara: [laughing] Do I ever! Funny and sexy. [laughs] You have no idea... [suddenly serious] and you never will.

  4. Ah, see, Google helped that time. Put another feather in the cap of TV shows I've been told I need to watch, so I was unfamiliar. I'm going to go right now and force one of my friends to set me up so I can slowly partake the goodness.

  5. I haven't done nearly enough with my 'lock, I'm afraid. I haven't even done the Hour of Twilight heroics with her yet, let alone LFR (not with a 366 iLvl). I'm still wondering if it's worth it to drop a Destro spec I never use to Affliction (I'm usually Demo).

  6. Right now? I forget to use my 4pc t13 set bonus (Soulburn + Soul Fire ALL THE TIME). I need to make a flashier Power Aura in my face. I don't know if it's because it's just not in muscle memory (it's not) or if I'm still subconsciously protesting my affliction spec using a pure fire spell.

    I have a Power Aura for when I am in a raid and don't have a Flask in my buffs. I turned it off once and kept forgetting to flask.

    On the flip side, me playing Demo or Destro is absolutely hilarious at how many things I mess up. "So...I had my imp on passive for all of Ultraxion. Whoopsy."

  7. Let's see failures:
    1) Money badly spent. I've went through and reforged, gemmed and enchanted a healing helm simply because it was 50 points better than my previous one. Now I don't have the gold to put a real enchant on my long-term weapon. Opposite that, I have been know to buy upgrades for items that have regular drops in dungeons.

    2) Not having mats for the fancier flasks or food. I suppose I could eek out another 1% improvement if I ran with something other than the endless int flask, but why? Plus, I rather tap + soul harvest than eat a buff food. Simply cheaper. Gathering? Pwsssha, never.

    3) Wrong minion for the job. I am just starting to swap pets regularly on fights. Felguard is great for aoe situations, aka trash, but he's bad at boss fights.

    4) clipping, clipping, clipping. I have the worst kind of muscle memory. I took on Kripparian's DPS method. This now creates enormous clipping especially on those instant cast spells. (Corr ... c... cor.. corruption..) If I really looked, I probably cast some spells 2,3 times each time I rotate around the group. I do have cast timers, but darn it if I don't spam the button each time it's ready. I've casted 3 shadow bolts after I quit hitting the key.

  8. @Cyg - That IS shameful. You should feel intense, dark, shadowy shame. Fwiw, Destro has always been too mage-like for me. That is to say, I only really feel the flow with one spec: Affliction.

    @Pon - I'm still protesting. I don't SF pretty much ever. Of course, I don't have the tier bonus either, so I suppose it's not as egregious.

    With flasks, I sometimes play a game where I don't put it on for the bosses on farm, give others a chance to think they're beating in on the meters, and then... BAM, I sneak up slowly. They don't usually say anything, but I'm sure they're all secretly seething.

    In Demo, the highest usage of Meta for me is running around a neutral city, casting shadowflame like an idiot.

    @Elk - I once re-modded all my gear on advice from Mr. Robot. Then I realized I was in my Demo spec (for no reason), and they, of course, have different stat weights. It wasn't until I'd bought the gems and used them that I realized it.

    Unless someone drops a feast, I don't do buff food. We generally have feasts, but even then, our raid organizers chastises me (the leader) with her auto-detect buffs addon. Oddly enough, IRL this isn't a problem, as if there's food nearby, I'll probably eat it even if I get no buff.

    I generally stick with my FH even when he's running off the edge of a cliff because of a Blizz design flaw. Imp? What's that?

    Or, the reverse of this phenomenon: I hover over the BoA key to hit it just right... and then notice I've let three other DoTs fall off in the mean time. Shadow Tunnel Vision Disorder?

  9. I am late to the party (as usual) but I wanted to chime in and share.

    I um, wow this is tough, but uh, I forget to Life Tap.


    I've actually caused my raid boss kills because I was the last dps alive and I had no mana and not enough health to tap safely.



  10. Your comment is up now, don't have to post it again :-). Everything over a week or so old has to be approved (spammers tend to try to hide comments in back posts... so I turned off the filter but turned on the timer and it has been pretty effective. Anyway, I just now got to it).

    To make you feel better, I occasionally do this too. I'm more apt to tap several times in a row these days, preferring to refill my bar when I know the healers can handle it than try to spread it out like we used to. That's worse for my DPS, though.