DEMONS AND DOTS; or, What Does This Button Do?

Your brand-new baby Warlock… Wow. Exciting, isn’t it? It’s also a little confusing, especially if you’ve never played a caster or pet-class before. The Warlock class combines the best of those worlds. Since World of Warcraft’s release, Warlocks have run the gamut from free Honor Kill to ridiculously over-powered, face-rolling pwnage; at the time of this post (pre-patch 3.1), I’m sad to say that we’re on our way back.

Arguing aside, Warlocks are just as easy – or complicated – as the player chooses to make them. They are similar to Hunters in that it’s really easy to play them… but pretty difficult to play them well. Getting the basics down early in your career is essential to mastering the more complex strategies later.

Soul Shards and You

At level 10 you’ll learn Drain Soul. Keep this ability handy – if a mob that yields xp to you dies while under the effect of your Drain Soul spell, you’ll create a Soul Shard. These shards are used to summon your minions and for certain other abilities and spells. Make sure you keep a good supply on you at all times; they will not disappear when you log out.

Match the Minion to the Situation
The first summonable minion becomes available to you the first time you level up. Meet your imp! This little guy really only has two uses: a Fireball spell to add a little dps (until he draws attention and gets killed) and Blood Pact, which is a Stamina buff for you and anyone with whom you group. The imp will be your minion of choice in dungeons during the early levels.
When you reach level 10, you’ll be offered a quest that rewards with you with the ability to summon a Voidwalker. The “blueberry” is your own personal tank. You should have him out and let him attack first whenever you’re soloing. He will gain the ability to AoE aggro and also to heal himself.
The Succubus minion is available at level 20. She’s good for supplementing your dps in parties and PvP, or for crowd-control against humanoids and enemy players. Enjoy her now, because when level 30 hits, you’ll miss her.
Why level 30? Because the Felhunter is now yours for the summoning! His Fel Intelligence spell buffs your Intellect & Spirit, and he’ll eventually learn how to silence casters and de-magic both harmful and buffing spells. When combined with Fel Armor, the bonus to your Spellpower is awesome, and he’s pretty handy in PvP, as well. He’s going to be your friend for a long, long time… unless you decide to spec Demonology.

Putting 41 points in the Demonology tree gives you access to the Felguard. This minion does the most damage, with slightly less damage mitigation and threat generation than the Void. He’s great for PvP against melee classes, while the ‘hunter’s Spell Lock and Devour Magic abilities will probably do you better against caster-classes.

“Curses!” She Cried

Along with demonic pets, a Warlock’s curses are her class-defining abilities. Most of the curses are situationally useful, while some aren’t even worth pulling down onto your hotbar. The majority of the time you’ll be using Curse of Agony (CoA), a damage-over-time spell (DoT).

  • Curse of Tongues – can be used to slow down casters. Put this on a healer that you can’t otherwise interrupt or crowd-control.
  • Curse of Elements – debuffs the mob, reducing their resistance to Fire, Frost, Nature, and Shadow magics. In large parties with several casting classes, you might be asked to “take one for the team” and keep CoEl up to benefit everyone.
  • Curse of Recklessness – keeps the mob from fleeing; increases attack power and reduces the armor of the mob. At the time of this post, it’s the ‘lock’s anti-Fear.
  • Curse of Weakness – debuffs the mob, reducing its melee attack power
  • Curse of Doom – ticks for 60 seconds, at which point it does 7300 shadow damage to the mob (+ modifers). If the mob is at least ‘green’ to you, it will also summon a Doomguard.
  • Curse of Exhaustion – Talented ability; reduces the target’s movement speed. Primarily a PvP curse

Warlocking for Fun and Profit. Mostly Profit.

Getting familiar with your pets, spells, and other abilities is essential to getting the most out of your class, and there is no better way to do so than to practice! You can ask a friend to play guinea pig for you, jump into a battleground, or find a nice, quiet, and heavily-populated grinding spot. Try some of these strategies:

– Seduce-nuking. Summon your Succubus and select your (humanoid) target. Start channeling the Seduce spell, and then move behind your target. Wind up a big Soul Fire or Shadowbolt and let ’em have it. As soon as the spell hits, be ready to start channeling Seduce again. Repeat.
– Enslaving Demons. You can heal them just like your own minions! Use CoEl to lower their resistance before using the Enslave ability. Grab an elite level demon for maximum dps and survivability, but make sure to stop healing and release them when their health is low.
– Banishing demons and elementals; you can combine both levels of the Banish ability (one is 20 seconds while the other is for 30) and the Curse of Doom spell for a full 1 minute break and a dead mob at the end of it.
– Chain-Fearing. You can set a mob as your ‘Focus’ target in order to keep an eye on it while you dps a different mob. If you’ve got a nice, clear spot to Fear, you can juggle between the two targets and keep one out of the fight for quite some time by reapplying Fear to the Focus.

Next in this series: Managing Your Minions!

edit – Thx for the input, and now Curse of Recklessness doesn’t even exist anymore.

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