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Warlords of Draenor: Warlock specs
"The only effect the 6.0 stat squish will have is lower numbers on your screen, percentage wise it will not affect you"
Expansion pre-patch 6.0
Before Warlords of Draenor will be released, Blizzard chooses to apply several important changes to the game.
In patch 6.0 healthpools of mobs and players will be reduced quite drastically. Don't be surprised to see your current warlock with 800k+ health be reduced to 80k. However, based from the PTR and beta, it appears that overall warlocks will still have significantly more health compared to other classes (depending on gear obviously).
Another change that will occur in patch 6.0 is the reduction of damage. This is related to the downscaling of healthpools. Blizzard has stated that old dungeons and raids will still be soloable, and you will still be able to deal as much damage as you did before damage-wise. This means that in percentages, your damage will not change (you will still be able to one or two-shot a mob), however your absolute damage will definitely change. If you're a fan of smaller numbers on your screen, this should be a blessing.
The last major change that will be discussed here is the racials. With the removal of several stats such as Hit and Expertise, Blizzard thought this would be a good time to redesign several racials. This change is mostly relevant for any new warlock creators. If you play in a competitive environment and racials are important to you, I suggest you take a look here.
Character models will be redone as well in patch 6.0, I will create a post about this later.
"WotLK is back, and it shows in affliction warlocks"
To put it bluntly: affliction will be drastically simplified in patch 6.0.
Overall, with every class, Blizzard looked at skills that were the least used by players and removed them from the game. Additionally, several important skills have also been removed. An example of this is the removal of [Malefic Grasp].
Blizzard is going back to the Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) style of affliction, which may please some of you. Spells like [Unstable Affliction], [Agony], [Corruption], [Haunt] and [Drain Soul] will be your main damage abilities.
Generally, affliction has been quite the favourite for pvp players, due to its high mobility potential and over-time damage. However, in Mists of Pandaria the damage-over-time couldn't compete with the enormous burst from destruction, even in the pvp-scene.
Mists of Pandaria was (for most people) a destruction expansion, with the green fire questline that changed the color of many destruction spells, plus the overall damage from destruction was much higher than the other two specs.
In the 6.0 patch, Blizzard tries to balance the three specs that we can choose from. Destruction has been the favourite in Mists of Pandaria, so there is a big chance destruction won't be viable in Warlords of Draenor (this is just the way Blizzard deals with specs). As said earlier in, Blizzard is returning to the affliction rotation of WotLK. During that expansion, affliction was very viable both in PvP and PvE.
So who knows? Perhaps Warlords of Draenor will be an affliction lock themed expansion.
In patch 6.0 not a lot of changes will occur regarding demonology. The main damaging abilities such as [Metamorphosis], [Soul Fire], [Hand of Gul'dan] and [Shadowbolt] are mostly left unchanged. However, several tooltip changes are relevant, but it is not yet clear how much they will affect the damage output compared to patch 5.4.8. On top of that, the stat squish regarding healthpools and damage makes it a bit harder to compare, though percentage wise comparisons can still be made.
In MoP demonology had the lowest output of dps, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because in my opinion the spec captures the essence of being a warlock: possessing demonic power and controlling demons.
However, the playstyle of demonology in MoP is significantly different from WotLK or previous expansions. This received both positive and negative reactions, but in my opinion Blizzard had a classic "swing and miss" with demonology in MoP; it is supposed to be a spec with powerful demons and demonic power, yet due to its low capabilities damage-wise it is only played by very few players.
I sincerely hope that Blizzard recognizes its mistakes and perhaps convert back to the original way demonology was played. Spells like [Metamorphosis] look cool, but if their damage potential isn't up to par, then demonology will again be left behind by fellow warlocks.
As stated earlier, Blizzard has favoured destruction quite a lot in Mists of Pandaria. Its burst damage made it one of the most fun and appreciated specs to play. On top of that, it also had quite a high mobility in combination with [Kil'jaeden's Cunning] (especially in the beginning of MoP when you could walk and cast spells indefinitely) for PvP. For PvE [Archimonde's Darkness] was the obvious choice, granting you two Dark Soul's increasing your critical strike chance by 30% for 20 seconds each.
Blizzard hasn't made many changes to destruction in patch 6.0, however they are removing one of the "filler" spells that were useful in fights where short distances needed to be covered: [Fel Flame]. This will be something destruction locks need to get used to, and for some might be enough to switch to affliction, a spec that has always been high on mobility, for example.
In combination with the visuals that can be gained from completing the green fire questline, destruction has nice visuals and can therefore be more attractive if that's important to you.
So far on the PTR, single target damage from destruction is lower than affliction and demonology. However, as stated before, damage is relative and depends on many variables. So destruction might very well be better in some fights than affliction or demonology.
With patch 6.0 Blizzard's goal of evening out the gaps between the different specs has definitely worked. However, there will always be a clear favourite that the majority will go for. I predict that affliction will be the main spec for Warlords of Draenor, due to its significant higher damage output and mobility capabilities. Even though affliction isn't much of a burst-dps spec, I think the WotLK style of playing will bring back many old-school locks that can enjoy playing again in the style that they know. On top of that, the overall stat squish will appeal to older WoW players, which I think will only benefit the community.
Please let me know what you think will be the most popular warlock spec in Warlords of Draenor in the poll below!
What do you think will be the most popular warlock spec in WoD?
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