The State of Warlocks
Warlocks have been, and I assume will continue to be, one of the most highly represented classes in the top levels of World of Warcraft PvP. Ever since season one, Warlocks have excelled in every bracket of arena. As affliction, the most powerful Warlock spec, they have extremely high damage over time and exceptional CC capabilities. Having most of their damage doing spells being damage over time, also known as “DOTs,” they can control other players while putting out high damage simultaneously. This is something that very few classes can do and it is what makes warlocks so powerful.
Currently, Warlocks are still one of the most powerful classes in the game, especially when paired up with a resto Shaman. Ever since the first season of Cataclysm, season 9, I found it was possible to make any Shaman/Lock/(anything) combo work. This rule of thumb has changed slightly, but even now in season 11 if you are a warlock, grab a resto shaman and any other non-obscure spec (No enhance, fury warriors, beast mastery hunters, etc.) and you can expect to do better in arenas. The damage that warlocks can put out has scaled pretty well throughout all of the Cataclysm seasons, but even more so in season 11 with the introduction of a few specific items from PvE.
I cannot stress enough how important damage output is to playing a Warlock. With this, if you play high-end arena, you’ll know a few items can make this so much easier. Cunning of the Cruel, an item from Dragon Soul, can make up to 10% of your damage in any given arena match without any skill needed what so ever. It’s honestly kind of a joke. I’ve seen warlocks jump up 100-200 points from where they usually find themselves stuck because of Cunning. I have the lesser version, from LFR, and even that seems overpowered to me. Along with this trinket, the heroic version of the poison dagger off Deathwing can also make up to 7% of your entire damage in any given match. Without any button pressing needed! I don’t believe any item(s) in the game should be able to increase damage output by this much but that’s just how the game is right now. I would hope to see less of this in the upcoming expansion. On the other hand though, other classes have also been given unfair advantages with PvE items.
Warlocks have to be more defensive in current arena play. I know when I first started playing Rogue/Lock/Shaman, a very popular setup; I was told “an offensive RLS is the best kind of RLS.” I can’t tell you how wrong this statement is. In WOTLK I might agree, but not with the current state of Warlocks. Yes it is important to be offensive when the stars align, but I have won countless games from playing a defensive play style rather than risking it for the biscuit…. Especially now that rogues with legendary daggers + heroic vial (Dragon Soul Items) can almost solo any class in the game, with the current state of the Warlock class I have found in most situations you really shouldn’t stray more than 15 yards away from your shaman if you don’t have trinket + portal up and there are still smoke bombs left. Not only do Warlocks have plenty of range on their spells to put out damage on anything they want but the biggest flaw I’ve seen with low rated warlocks is their positioning. The doing damage part of playing warlock is the EASIEST! Damage is very important but when it comes to becoming a better Warlock positioning, juking spells, how you use CC, communication, setting up swaps etc. are all what separate you from the rest of the pack. The X-factors if you will.
Honestly though, in lieu of talking about what makes a Warlock good, with the current state of gear in season 11 fluke games are much more common than they ever have been. An idiot virgin rogue with legendaries + heroic vial can put out enough pressure to solo shamans, or even banished pet warlocks this season in a dance when before it was never really possible unless you got lucky. Several times this season I’ve had games go completely in my favor and then lose to RNG damage because of the PvE gear players have access to. Being a better Warlock will reduce the amount of fluke games you get but even the top players have experienced undeserved losses because of random 100%-0 gimps that simply haven’t happened in prior seasons. For example, here’s a video of an RMP killing Azael’s shaman in 3 seconds (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AT4uYNM32Y0). That RMP team could have been duelist retards but it didn’t matter because, to put it simply, it’s easy as fuck to roll your face on ice lance and have a rogue dance. The RMP did nothing special, at all, but the gear available makes this possible. Almost makes you want to quit, doesn’t it? :D. Hopefully MOP will be different.
From what it looks like so far, Warlock arena play in MOP will be fun. My favorite arena seasons of all time were The Burning Crusade arena (seasons 1-4). This is because games were played like a chess game. Cooldowns meant so much more in those seasons than they do currently and damage was way less bursty. I think arena was better the way they had it. I think MOP is going to be more like it was back then because of the changes to Dispels, Healing, etc. I will touch more on what we can expect in the future.
I will go on as to how you can improve some of these “X-Factors” in upcoming articles but I just wanted to touch on the current state of Warlocks and what you can expect jumping into the arena in season 11. Thanks for reading the article and expect supplemental videos coming soon.