Steam Sales Review #73: Warlock – Master of the Arcane

It’s happening people

itshappening

Yes it’s finally an official end to the Paradox Interactive boycott.

A little over a year ago (maybe even closer than a year and a half) I was buying every single game that came out and game after game Paradox was giving us unfinished filth that wasn’t worth anyone’s time.  Most of these games were eventually taken off of Steam for being so bad and most had their servers shut down with no opportunity ever for a refund.

So I decided to officially boycott, buying no games from them under any circumstances.  But after keeping in the no we’re at about a year and a half of solid quality releases with the filth being removed.  Their reputation is still in question and so I’ll be buying their games on sale.

So the first game being back on  is Warlock!

This opening loading screen was amazing.

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Righto ff the bat I’m yelling “WHY DOESN’T CIVILIZATION 5 HAVE THIS!?!?!”

Yes it’s another Civilization clone.  It doesn’t quite have the polish of Civilization and you’re still best off getting Civilization if you don’t already own it.

But I think Warlock does a lot of stuff that is great, different, and worth noting.

First and foremost is how they handle barbarians… or as they call them monsters.  Monsters are giant, they are massive, they are able to take over towns and rule them.  There are tones of “brown” towns (the color of monsters) because they are so powerful.

Even the computer AI has problems dealing with these guys.  They are an annoyance and the payoff for them is not very high.  Which makes them perfect, they are a counter balance in the game.

At one point I ran into an elite element who had range 3 (everything else in the game has range 2).  He was able to one shot a unit per t urn.  It didn’t even seem like it was possible to kill them.

They were very much a permanent part of the game and most definitely changed how you deployed your armies on the map.

The second part of the game would be the equivalent to Civilization’s city-states… the neutrals.

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The neutrals are seemingly all undead and are seemingly all at war with you.  I did eventually find some trolls and goblins conquered by the monsters, but most of the neutrals start off with a single defensive tower and are seemingly weak enough (on the non-towered flank) to get easily taken over by the monsters.

One of the “funny” things is that once you conquer a city you don’t just get a brand new city like in every other game of this genre.  No you get their people.  If you conquer an undead city you get undead residents in your empire.  You build undead buildings and you build undead armies.  So what evil buildings can I build?

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A bank!  What’s more evil than a bank!  Yes we will become an evil undead capitalist empire! mwahaha… but seriously…. it’s kinda cool that I can amass an army of humans, undead, goblins, trolls, and elves to take on whoever I want.

The game is worth the sale value but a lot of things keep it from being worthwhile full value.

One of the major issues with the game is the artificial intelligence is pretty terrible.  In every game I played it seemed impossible for there to be a peaceful outcome.

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It just seems like this binary option doesn’t work too well.  Realistically you shouldn’t have to declare war if you don’t give in to their demands.  There should be at least some option to ask for things nicely.

Instead every single computer is always asking you to go to war with them if you don’t give them a resource of which you have tones of.  Then you decimate all but one of their cities and they offer you a peace treaty which of course… you never accept.

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Unlike Civilization which is all about how you interact with other civilizations this game is really missing that diplomatic niche that everyone knows and loves in Civilization.

There’s something about the algorithm which is just a little off.

In a lot of ways it feels closer to Lords of Magic than to Civilization.

The only downside is that there is already a game like this out there that unfortunately for Warlock… does a better job at it.  That game is Fallen Enchantress.  Unfortunately the games also have a similar price point.

So it goes like this.  If you want a piece for piece copy of Civilization that is fantasy themed, Warlock is your game and you’ll save a few dollars.  It doesn’t have the polish of Civilization, but at this price point… who was really expecting it?

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Being a Warlock and Chimaeron

Well I got my fourth heroic Chimaeron kill and I must say it was the most infuriating one yet.

For those unaware of the Chimaeron fight he will splash two raid members with a green ooze.  These raid members have to be healed up or they die.As an additional effect it applies a three second debuff on the target reducing their hit chance by 50%.  The infuriating part of this is that it barely has an effect on melee and hunter DPS.

Hit rating is so poor a stat for feral druids that they make a specific effort to forge out hit.  You see when feral druids miss they get refunded everything (combo points and energy) that they invested in that move.  Similarly if a move does not hit the cost of the move costs 0 rage.  After all when you miss something you actually just get angrier don’t you?  Hunters have a low hit cap (6%) and when their moves miss they can just burn off all the extra focus with arcane shot spams.

However for caster classes there’s no refunding that DPS.  As mana is not much of an issue for mana using DPS so even if mana was refunded it still would not change how our DPS works at all.  Every single time we get hit it is a 100% dps loss for that 3 seconds.

Depending on what is being casted it depends on exactly how big of an effect it is on you.  If it goops you as you finish your soulfire cast well… that’s like being gooped twice.  That’s a full 6 seconds of no improved soulfire and a full 6 second period of casting no spells.  Worst yet imagine your soulfire is in the air you get gooped and you are chaining an insta-cast on the end… well that’s 4.5 seconds wasted plus the 3 seconds on the debuff.

Every time we have killed this boss on heroic has been the times where I have been casting a Chaos Bolt every single time I’ve gotten gooped and was able to break the 19k dps marker.  It’s just a good lesson for this boss, always try to bring DPS who do stupid amounts of DPS on this fight because if you get gooped on and they expect you to pull the DPS it just won’t work out.

When feud comes its pure RNG based on what you are casting at the time.  I’ve tried to time it best I can but even with my best attempts at it I’m losing dot up time and soulfire up time is next to impossible.

Warlock Addon: Soulfired

Well I decided at some point that I was sick and tired and looking at buff bars for the duration of Soulfire.  So I took it upon myself to look and see if anyone came up with an addon to alert you when you need to refresh soulfire…. and I wasn’t let down.

Soulfired is a very simple warlock addon developed by Curse Gaming.

The problem of Soulfire, for those who are not aware is that warlocks have a very complicated rotation to worry about mixing in varying cooldown lengths and management of three dots.  In some situations its easy to forget to refresh your improved soulfire debuff.  For me it’s in double dotting situations.  I’m rotationally used to casting Chaos Bolt after I cast corruption so once I’m done multi-dotting I’m usually Chaos Bolting instead of the Improved Soulfire that I need.  This leads to slightly reduced DPS.

What will this addon do for you?

Three things:

Fill up your chat log with warnings on how long you have left to refresh and warn you when your buff expires.

Give you a blinking message on the middle of your screen indicating timings for when it needs to be refreshed.

And my favorite an insanely annoying warning sound that starts at roughly 5 seconds left on the buff.

I felt it fit in well with my UI pack.  Hope you will add it to yours!

Soulfired: http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/details/soulfired.aspx

Battle Rez For Everybody!

It seems the reign of the druid is finally over, everyone is getting an in-combat rez.  Well okay maybe not everyone but it will be death knights and warlocks.  Each ability that is being changed has had a long history of being awkward and almost worthless in raid encounters.  Let me explain, starting with the warlock.

The soulstone was originally devised as a method of wipe management.  Dungeons in Vanilla had insanely long distances from their graveyards.  This is because Blizzard placed dungeons in the deepest depths of the world.  They did not after all want anyone to accidentally run into one of these at a low level.  Their inaccessibility also added time to your total play day.  It was felt that a good value to bringing a warlock was wipe prevention.  If you could bring three warlocks you could rotate wipe prevention infinitely.  Without a warlock you had to bring shamans for ankh or if you played alliance paladins for DI.

In Burning Crusade graveyards were far closer however trash respawned very quickly.  People maintained trash timers for these far more complicated bosses.  Soulstones would be deployed as you got closer to those trash timers so that you could extend your time on that boss.

So Wrath of the Lich King comes along and what happens…. bosses are so easy and have so little trash people start using soulstones to actually aid in killing bosses.  As an example on The Iron Assembly in Ulduar the hard mode of this fight made it so your tank blew up and died after a minute.  A warlock would prematurely soulstone that tank so that he could rez up and allow the other tank to go blow up (in which he might get battle rezes).  This effectively added another minute on this fight so that it was actually killable.  In weaker guilds people began to use soulstones on weaker raid members to give them two chances at getting it right on bosses.  The soulstone effectively became a pre-emptive battle rez and nothing more.

Although the warlock change is being done because it has become a weaker battle rez the death knight change is coming because their ability is currently unusable.  When Wrath first came out everyone was using this move.  It was really cool… and then people realized you can’t battle rez ghouls.  Tied in with range issues this move became something that people took off their bars.

The Dark Intent Problem

Dark intent was debuted for warlocks as a sort of warlocky version of Focus Magic.  Instead of giving 3% crit as Focus Magic did it gave both users a flat 3% haste.  But it also had this cool effect where dot tick crits would proc a buff for both stacking to three.  It was an interesting concept but has some terrible results as far as balancing goes.  Below are two lists.  The first is a list of DPS people gain from dark intent.  The second is a list of people that will give you the most DPS.

1) Shadow Priest 4194 2) Fire Mage 3072 3) Feral Druid 3035 4) Balance Druid 2984 5) Survival Hunter 2774 6) Enhancement Shaman 2387 7) Assassination Rogue 2356 8) Elemental Shaman 2322 9) Combat Rogue 2302 10) Subtlety Rogue 2273 11) Frost Mage 2271 12) Arcane Mage 2053 13) MM Hunter 2005 14) Unholy DK 1H 1699 15) Unholy DK 2H 1683 16) Ret Paladin 1665 17) BM Hunter 1581 18) Frost DK 1H 1579
1) Balance Druid 1691 2) Survival Hunter 1685 3) Shadow Priest 1683 4) Fire Mage 1654 5) Feral Druid 1651 6) Frost Mage 1643 7) Enhancement Shaman 1530 8) Elemental Shaman 1520 9) Subtlety Rogue 1457 10) Combat Rogue 1430 11) Assassination Rogue 1403 12) Arcane Mage 1339 13) BM Hunter 1082 14) MM Hunter 1080 15) Frost DK 1H 1076 16) Ret Paladin 1055 17) Unholy DK 2H 989 18) Unholy DK 1H 980

Source: Elitist Jerks

If you’re reading through that you should find the results shocking.  It should be especially shocking for the fire mage and shadow priest.  Dark intent is going to represent between 10-15% of their total DPS.  Basically it gives warlocks a very significant power in raids (which is good).  However, blizzard wants to make DPS roughly the same for everyone.  It’s hard to balance DPS when a warlock can give anyone a 10-15% dmg increase at any given time.

As a general move blizzard has always tried to make dots do a higher percentage of a class’ DPS so that they would not have too much burst in PvP.  Now developers are reverting to making more damage direct damage so that this buff doesn’t make dots tick too hard.

Possible fixes:

  1. Make the dot dmg portion of dark intent apply only to the warlock.
  2. Lower it to 1% haste
  3. Remove the buff and bake those stats directly into warlocks

Be a Better Warlock

Hello folks Troublmaker here.  When I was doing Burning Crusade content DPS came hard for me.  This sounds kind of odd considering that the max DPS rotation for a warlock in the Burning Crusade was repeating Shadow Bolt.  It stemmed from a lacking of understanding on how the game worked and how to manage my DPS time effectively.  I’m sure some of these DPS tips can be applied to any caster DPS but this is worded and framed exclusively around my experiences as a warlock who has set DPS records for the last two expansions (but due to being in 10-man only won’t set any for this one).

Tip #1: Latency and the Dreaded MS

MS stands for milliseconds.  You click a key on your keyboard.  A command is sent from your keyboard to the computer.  Your computer processes this and sends it through the internet to Blizzard’s servers.  Blizzard processes this signal and sends a response.  Your computer receives the response and shows it to you through your monitor.  So when you hit 2 (shadow bolt) and you initiate the command for casting the shadowbolt, the shadow bolt doesn’t actually start casting until Blizzard has sent you a signal back saying it is casted.  Latency then is the measurement of reaction time between your key strokes and receiving a signal back from Blizzard.  Latency leads to a lot of ghost activity.  Ever notice when you mount your mount doesn’t always show up in the time you expect.  It is even possible to move before you are actually mounted at the speed of the mount.

If you’re actually understanding this gap in between finishing your cast and actually receiving the benefits of your cast you’re probably afraid of losing a lot of DPS.  During Burning Crusade we had a trick to deal with this.  We would use a stopcasting macro at the point where lag cut off.  Below is a picture of Quartz an addon that monitors lag on your casts:

Source: Curse Gaming

As you can see in this picture the red part at 512 MS adds a total of 1.1 seconds on your cast.  So before a major patch change what we would do is hit a stop casting macro as soon as we hit that part and queued up another cast.

Blizzard released a patch roughly after the end of Burning Crusade to “fix” this.  Basically before you couldn’t just spam keys.  They put something into their system so that when you spam a key while casting it doesn’t set a global cooldown.  In other words before this patch if you spammed your keys you would proc a global cooldown.  The keyboard on the right is a HP laptop from a gamer who has been spamming his keys and it has pretty much fallen apart on him.  I’d suggest if you’re playing on a Laptop you should get a keyboard. Specialized gaming keyboards can help increase your performance.  I personally use the Razer Lycosa because of the nonslip rubber finish makes keystrokes feel good.

With a gaming keyboard you can program in a basic repeat macro.  Think of a repeat macro like queueing up your next spell.  I am currently casting shadowbolt but next I want to cast corruption.  So what you are going to do is make a keyboard macro so that shadowbolt will get spammed and corruption will get spammed.  So while shadowbolt is casted you tap corruption once and at the end of your shadowbolt cast make sure to tap your next key.  This means you are constantly queueing up every single GCD and ignore all that lag 100%.

Think about it this way.  You have 20% haste.  Your cast should be reduced by 20%.  But you have 25% lag.  That means your cast will be slowed down by 25%.  Effectively what will happen is every single time you cast you will not be getting the benefit of your haste.

If you are losing keys on your keyboard from spamming I would suggest getting a gaming keyboard.  The Razer is $80 and it will last you forever.  I used to go through a keyboard every month, this one has lasted a year.

Another piecemeal solution to this is to get a mouse with a mouse wheel.  Gaming mice are cool and will allow you to bind Shift and Ctrl to your mouse.  I use the Gigabye GM-M6880 which is a little under $20.  But you will need a wheel on your mouse.  Basically what you do is take your most casted move (and it must be cast not instant) and bind it to your mousewheel up.  Just left click on the empty secondary binding and wheel your mouse up.  Now take your second most casted move and bind it to mouse wheel down.  Now when you mousewheel up or down you will be spamming those moves every millisecond so that you will lose no time from lag in casting.

If you’re not playing to adjust for lag you will lose 20% of your DPS flatly.  So either you’ll have to learn to be a better player or just flat lose damage.

Tip #2: Knowing When to Move and When to Cast

In the destro priority system you have:

  1. Curse of Elements
  2. Improved Soulfire Buff (maintained from Soulfire)
  3. Immolate
  4. Conflagrate
  5. Bane of Doom
  6. Corruption
  7. Shadowflame
  8. Improved Shadowbolt Debuff (applied from Incinerate)
  9. Chaos Bolt
  10. Incinerate

This is a pretty massive priorities list with a lot of moves.  Consider for a second that in this DPS priority list that 5 of these moves can be casted while moving and one of them can be made instant every 45 seconds.  Also below 19% Shadowburn can be used.  Considering that roughly 60% of your DPS can be done while casting why is it that most people who have to move during fights are cutting their DPS numbers in half?

The main problem comes in with the distinction between high DPS priority and casting priority.  As a DPS you should know what fights you will be moving often and which ones you will be moving based on timing or even ones you won’t move at all.

A good example of a fight that you will move often is the Halfus Wyrmbreaker encounter:

In this encounter you unlock a number of drakes or in heroic difficulty all of them.  Each one of them grants Halfus a power or ability and each one when unlocked and tanked will weaken that ability.  Additionally each time a drake is killed Halfus will take more damage (100% more).  One of the drakes in this fight offers Halfus the ability to shoot out a flame buffet that will target a single player and hit everyone in the direct vicinity of that target.  When you release this drake players can responsibly dodge them.  As you can see in the video above little fire circles and puff fire appear on the ground.  This is very easy to dodge but will hamper your DPS some.

If you know you may potentially constantly move why would you cast something that is instant cast while you are standing still?  On a fight like this it is a good idea to only keep up necessary debuffs (improved shadowbolt, immolate, curse of elements, soulfire) and keep the others spells (corruption, bane of doom, shadowflame, and conflagrate) for when you have to move.  If you don’t have a high DPS instant cast for when you have to move you are in trouble.  You will be forced to use fel flame to fill in your DPS as you move which of course… sucks.  Fel flame is one of your lowest DPSing moves and has no spot in a rotation.  Fel flame is that spell you use when every single other instant cast is exhausted.

There are also fights where you are moving on a timer or at a very predictable timing.  It may be momentarily to relocate or it may be indefinitely for some boss mechanic.  A good example of this is Lord Walden in Heroic Shadowfang Keep:

In this sort of fight you will be standing still for quite a long period of time and you will be moving for quite some time.  This means that hoarding out all of your instant casts for the movement part of the fight is not a viable option.  The DPS loss from missing corruption for a minute will just suck your DPS out too badly.  However as you are getting closer and closer to the movement phase you should stop reapplying dots that you can move while on the run.

Tip #3: Have Cooldowns up for Heroism/Bloodlust/Time Warp

In order to get maximum efficiency out of your trinkets and engineering gloves if you have them you have to use them every single cooldown.  Otherwise trinkets with proc chances or passive stats will out weigh them every single time.

Three things to consider:

1. How Long is the Fight?

Engineering gloves are a 1 minute cooldown.  Most trinkets are 2 minute cooldowns.  So if a fight is three minutes long you will be able to use your trinket twice if you use it at the very start of the fight and two minutes in.  In a three minute fight you would have almost 33% up time on that trinket.  However if the fight is 4 minutes long suddenly you have exactly the same number of trinket useages except less up time on them.  This means that using your trinkets will be more strategic and you will have to have one of them correspond with blood lust/heroism.

2. What Doesn’t Stack with What?

The engineering gloves do not stack with most trinkets.  Volcanic pots do.  Things that stack you presumably want up at the same time for lust/heroism.

3. When the bloody hell are they popping hero/lust?

Lust/hero are considered to be the most strategic resource in a fight.  They not only help DPS but also tank threat and healing output.  Different fights people choose to pop this cooldown at different times. So know when it’s supposed to happen and pool some cooldowns for it.  If it doesn’t get called for or popped in time… call for it yourself.  You’re sitting on cooldowns waiting to do max DPS… don’t let their fail interrupt that.

I hope in some way this has been helpful.  I can guarantee if you do all three of these you should increase your DPS by about 50-60%.