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Warlock changes in patch 5.4

Updated on August 22, 2013

Recapturing Mists of Pandaria

In Mists of Pandaria Warlocks have been getting quite a lot of attention from Blizzard. The mechanics/rotations that we used to know from pre- Mists of Pandaria are gone and we have learned to play warlocks with these changes.

The 'new' talent tiers that Blizzard implemented with the launch of Mists of Pandaria each have their own function. As you can see on the picture below, a lot of 'survivability' talents were added by Blizzard in Mists of Pandaria. These talents were quite new to us warlocks, before Mists of Pandaria we had only few survivability spells (Death Coil and Shadowfury for example) and after Mists of Pandaria hit abilities that we used to have were now split-up in different talents and suddenly we had to make a choice between them. This decision making between survivability spells isn't an easy process, but then again Blizzard has implemented a LOT more of these survivability spells in Mists of Pandaria, giving us a smörgåsbord of interesting survivability spells.


The goal of Blizzard with the talent system in Mists of Pandaria was to make players feel less obligated to chose for a particular 'path' of talents. The old talent system, according to Blizzard, forced end-game players in a particular path of talents they had to follow in order to maximize their damage. The talent system as we know it in Mists of Pandaria gives players more freedom to pick the talents that they find most fun to play with, though it still seems that some talents are better than others. I'm referring to the level 75-talent tier: in patch 5.3 it seems that Grimoire of Supremacy is superior to the other taltnes, while prior to patch 5.3 Grimoire of Sacrifice was the better choice. The level 90-talent tier suffers from the same issues: Kil'jaeden's Cunning allows the warlock to cast while moving (giving the player a slow-movement debuff), which is way more preferable Mannoroth's Fury which enlarges the non-talent aoe spells by 500% or the Archimonde's Vengeance which makes the enemy suffer 25% of all damage the player receives.

It is clear that the new talent system hasn't achieved its goal. In order to maximize your damage in end-game content it still requires the player to follow a certain talent-path.

General spell changes in patch 5.4

In this section we will discuss the general changes warlocks will have to face in patch 5.4.

  • Corruption damage has been increased by 10%.
  • Demonic Gateways are no longer attackable once more. The debuff from using a Demonic Gateway has been increased to 60 seconds (up from 15 seconds).
  • Fel Armor no longer reduces all damage taken by 10%.
  • Fel Flame now deals 13% more damage, costs 2% less mana, and no longer increases the duration of damage-over-time spells.
  • Immolate damage has been increased by 10%.
  • Rain of Fire now has a reduced chance to generate Burning Embers.
  • The Codex of Xerrath now infuses additional spells with fel magic (green fire effect).
    • Summon Felsteed, Summon Dreadsteed, Summon Abyssal, Demonic Fury, Dark Apotheosis, and Demonic Leap.

The first significant change that we see is that the damage from Corruption has been increased significantly, by 20%. This is a general change, and not just an Affliction bound specialization only. This means that warlocks that play destruction or demonology may/will have to (re)implement Corruption in their rotation in order to maximize their damage output.

The second change will most likely affect PvP players, especially warlocks that play Arena. The debuff you get from using a Demonic Gateway will be increased from 15 to 60 seconds, This will reduce mobility for you and your team mates in PvP, but will also limit the mobility for the warlock doing the final boss for the Green Fire quest. I won't go in to details for this fight, but one tactic is to place one end of the Demonic Gateway out of sight from the boss. Once the boss casts Chaos Bolt, the warlock can avoid the incoming damage by clicking the portal, going out of sight for the boss and therefore he will fail his cast. The restraint of a 60 second debuff for warlocks in 5.4 on your Demonic Gateway will add a new level of difficulty to take into account during this last boss for your Green Fire quest.

The third change regards Fel Armor. Some of you might even ask yourselves "Fel Armor?" "I didn't know we still had that buff". That is because it was changed to a passive ability in Mists of Pandaria. You still benefited from the effect it had, but it didn't show up as a buff anymore. In patch 5.4 the 10% damage reduction we all got to enjoy is now gone, leaving warlocks more vulnerable to incoming damage.

Fel Flame has some big changes too. On the one hand it's getting its damage increased and mana cost reduced, but on the other hand it loses its beneficial ability to extend damage-over-time spells. In my experience, as a destruction warlock, fel flame was a nice filler. I never experienced it much as a damage-over-time extender, except for extending Immolate by a few seconds. I think the changes in 5.4 will only make Fel Flame a better filler-spell, and may even be included in my rotation.

The fifth general change in 5.4 regards the damage of Immolate. Just like Corruption, Immolate is getting its damage improved by 10%. Nothing special about this change, except that it will mean that destruction warlocks will do more damage (which is a good thing, am I right?).

The sixth general change coming in patch 5.4 is the reduced chance of generating Burning Embers by Rain of Fire. Rain of Fire is used by destruction warlocks as a simple aoe spell for increased damage, but also as a tool to generate Burning Embers. Burning Embers are used to cast spells such as Chaos Bolt and Shadowburn.

The last general change for warlocks in 5.4 is only 'important' for the warlocks that have managed to get Green Fire. It will change the appearances of your class mounts! The pictures below show how the mounts will look (on the PTR, subject to change). It also changes a couple of visual effects for demonology warlocks.

Talent changes in 5.4

When looking at the new talent calculator there are two distinct changes when comparing the old one (scroll up) with the new one (found below). The talent Howl of Terror is now gone, and given to warlocks as a baseline spell (every warlock gets this spell). Demonic Breath is back! We all now this skill/talent from pre- Mists of Pandaria, and a lot of people are wondering: will this require to adjust my rotation? To answer your question: no you will not have to adjust your rotation. The spell doesn't deal any damage, it slows the enemies in front of you by 50% for 6 seconds. The viability of this spell in PvP will have to prove itself, and compete with other talents such as Mortal Coil and Shadowfury.


Another big change are the revamped level 90-tier talents. First of all Archimonde's Revenge is now named Archimonde's Darkness. Previously, this talent returned some of the damage the warlock received to the damage-dealer. The revamped version of this talent gives two charges to your Dark Soul skill. Bear in mind that the glyph Glyph of Dark Soul, which is commonly used by Warlocks, will dissapear, and make Archimonde's Darkness an interesting choice.

The second level 90-tier talent that has changed is Kil'jaeden's Cunning. The movement debuff is now removed and allows the warlock to only cast Incinerate, Malific Grasp and Shadow Bolt while walking.This restricts some of the freedom that was given to Warlocks pre-patch 5.4.

The third and last level 90-tier talent that has been revamped is Mannoroth's Fury. This talent is not a passive ability anymore, but instead you get a 100% damage increase of the aoe spells you use with this talent. For fights with a lot of mobs walking around, this talent might be a very good solution.


It can be said that there a lot of changes coming our way in patch 5.4. Some of them limit the freedom of mobility that we got to know in the beginning and during of Mists of Pandaria, and some of them give us the ability to deal more damage.

In my humble opinion, I am quite excited to work with these new changes and revamped talents. I think a lot of changes will do us warlocks lots of good!

-Skinnyjeanz- (EU, Silvermoon)


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