Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More on Warlocks and Weaknesses

Some of the comments to the previous post on Why People Hate Warlocks are getting way too specific.

People don't usually have emotional reactions to classes based on highly specific setups in PvE or PvP. They react to classes on a more general level. Take a step back, and look at the warlock from a higher vantage point.

Imagine a new Warcraft player making her first character. She asks you to tell you what the strengths and weaknesses of each class are. Are you going to tell her that warlocks can be melee-assist-trained down in Season 3 Arena? I rather doubt that.

If a new player asked me about paladins, I would say that a paladin's strengths were that they were hard to kill, could heal, and had great buffs. Their weaknesses are lower damage and almost zero ranged options.

What can you honestly say for warlocks? The only downside I can come up with that warlocks are fairly complex to play.* And while that's a downside for a new player, it is not a weakness for the class as a whole.

Again, I'm not saying that warlocks are too strong. Just that they lack obvious weaknesses, and that provokes an emotional response from the other classes who do have weaknesses.

*As an aside, that's one of the reasons I don't really like warlocks for high end PvE. All that marvelous complexity gets shafted in favour of spamming Shadow Bolts.


  1. While the replies may have been "too specific", they were still indications of obvious weaknesses.

    - Like all other clothies, a Warlock is fragile. While a Demonology spec Warlock can pick up Soul Link to help some, it only increases the protection to roughly Leather, and is dependent on the demon.

    - Like all other casters, a Warlock is weak to melee. They have 3 "escape mechanisms" so to speak should they get jumped, but only 1 is instant. The other 2 have cast times which can be locked indefinitely, and can be easially broken by any melee class.

    - Like all other casters, a Warlock is heavily dependent on mana. While they have ways to regain it, it costs them more then other classes.

    - Warlocks are dependent on their demons (some builds much more then others).

    - And yes, Warlocks are a little more complex to play. I'd say some classes are a lot more-so, though.

  2. I'm not terribly clear on why you're trying to provoke discussion but quashing attempts to discuss details.

    It minds me of saying "Why don't people like taxes?" While there are many specific points that could be made in response to this question, it seems you'd prefer to say "Don't get too specific, people just don't like taxes because there is no 'obvious benefit' to paying them".

  3. With all due respect but I think you're generalizing a bit too much although I guess the topic is one based on 'feeling'.

    An affliction lock is a completely different animal than a demonology or a destruction build and each tree has seperate weaknesses that you are negating by treating them as 1 class.

    A warlock is still a dps class. They're squishy, they die easily to melee although not as easily as most casters.
    Attempting to outdrain a melee class with drain life will get you a chuckle at best even if you are a top of the line affliction spec.

    Dotting stuff up in instances is completely useless since your dot timers will not run through reducing any non-destruction build to spamming shadowbolt (scaleability or nay, you don't have other options).

    Multiple targets that aren't fearable (and there's plenty of those) kill a warlock faster than they would a frost mage.

    Warlocks require intense health vs mana management. Warlocks get good at that as they level but it doesn't mean that warlocks can handle all situations better than other classes.

    You want a general weakness for your warlocks? They're a dps class, they're squishy and they have no instant protection spell like ice block, bubbles, feign death, dispel.
    They have no cast interruption abilities. If something is casting a spell at you they're going to finish casting it whether you like it or not.
    The only real protection a warlock has is a large pool of health which can also serve as mana which won't help you if you can't outdrain your target.

    Percieved OPness of the warlock is based in large on the history the lock had (blizzard at one point put warlocks on the map as serious dpsers /pvpers after who knows how long of warlocks being utter crap) and a few builds like SL/SL that continually cause upset in the PVP community.

    Hatred towards a specific class is often based upon what other people say, past patches, a few individuals who play their class too well and the lack of knowledge of the class usually stemming from not having played one to lvl 70.

  4. Well, every class has weaknesses.

    For a new player, getting a squishy 'lock up to voidwalker may be painful (then they have to figure out pet control and how to turn on pet taunt).

    But as a more experienced player, I find that the pet classes (hunter and 'lock) are 'PvE easy mode' while leveling -- the pet gives you built-in tank-n-spank. You get some handy features; my wife likes to do blind pulls, like from inside buildings, with eyes of the beast.

    Then again, even non-pet DPS classes I've tried -- feral druid, shadow priest, frost mage, combat rogue -- are rather easy in PvE solo situations. I found the gear-dependent warrior to a bit more of a pain (but not terrible) mostly because of lower DPS, and more difficulty in getting away from bad PvE situations.

    Bottom line, though -- I think that most of what people are complaining boils down to "grass is greener".
    If you think 'locks are overpowered, do what I did: Roll a 'lock!

  5. First off, I do have a 70 warlock, so I am familiar with the class.

    Second, I don't think that you can convince me that warlocks are "squishy". We're talking about a class that I "drain-tanked" to 70, one that is routinely used to tank magic using bosses--Twin Emperors, Capernian, Leotheras, Illidan--without the benefit of a Spellsteal gimmick, the class that was the usual AoE tank before paladins came into prominence (I remember using warlocks to tank adds during phase 1 of Nefarion).

    Generally, that's not the mark of a fragile character.

  6. Tanking magic is, from my experience, mostly dependent on how much life you have, since the normal ways of tanking are pointless. Warlocks do tend to have much more life then other casters because of their itemization, and Fel Armor makes it easier to heal them.

    But the fact that they can do these doesn't mean that they're not squishy. All a Warlock has is their large health pool, and even with Soul Link it still goes down fast.

    It just shows that some encounters in the game are designed with different abilities in mind.

  7. Hello All!

    I play a lock and have for quite soem time. Mazaroth on server: Destromath. I am not a PVP grandmaster but can handle myself.

    I have to be honest, most of these comments are correct. And the only thing that will make a class over-powered is player skill. Granted, some classes make it easier on the player, but in the end, someone who knows how to play will make thier class seem OP'd.

    Warlocks have weaknesses. Seems most players I fight point them out to me too quickly! Having a few K more hp than other casters doesn't make us invunerable to death. Our one super spell, fear has ways around it long enough to take us down. And shadow bolt is, on average with talent build, a 2 second cast. Longer without a good 'fast draw' build. I could go on, but no point really.

    A good player can devastate another player.

  8. So tony, your weakness is that you "are not invulnerable to death"?

    I think our definitions of weakness differ.

    Seriously, guys, are you going to tell a new player that a warlock is "fragile"? That does not square with my experience at all. A priest, mage, or rogue is fragile, not a warlock.

  9. A friend of mine who was new to WoW, but not gaming, tried a warlock and gave up before level 20. He was dying too much.
    Now he has a level 68 pally.

  10. It was said in the blog that the weakness of a mage is being 'fragile'. So yes, I would that also applies to a lock since, warlocks are, indeed, fragile.

    I would say the weaknesses of a warlock were covered pretty well by RJ's first post here.

  11. You have to provide some context to have a proper discussion.

    In PvP, warlocks have a few weaknesses. The most obvious are melee classes due to a lack of escapability talents. Rogues and Warriors whip the pants off a Warlock. To try and counter that, 95% of all Warlocks who Arena go SL/SL which moves 20% of incoming damage to their pet. Note, it doesn't mitigate it, it moves it. This exposes the two greatest weaknesses of a PvP Warlock; 1)relying on your pet to stay alive, and 2) a complete lack of burst damage.

    Without a pet, a warlock has no talents to soak up damage (e.g. we don't have ice barrier, ice block, or frost nova, or blink, for example). A lack of escapability + a dead pet = dead warlock.

    PvP warlocks have next to 0 burst damage. It's a slow burn using a few dots (CoA, Siphon Life, Corruption, and Immolate if you're luck). To keep going with the Mage comparison, we have no fire blast, ice lance, CoC, Icy Veins, etc. Just a few dots, because our high-burst spell (Shadowbolt) takes too long to cast, and will be pushed back indefinitely because we have no way to escape far enough to cast it.

    In PvE, there is no weakness. Locks can top the DPS charts, can tank some special bosses due to our High HP and high-threat spells (searing pain). Locks can pretty much do it all.

  12. I'm sorry, but I disagree with the suggestion that because there are a few fights where a Warlock is the/a ideal tank, that makes them not fragile. It just means that the fight was designed with many options in mind.

    Remember that there's at least one raid fight that a Mage tanks. Does that mean that a Mage is not fragile? I've also been in PUGs where I had a Rogue main tank. But even with these, they are still fragile. Manage to get a good hit through the defense they're using for that encounter, and they're out.

    I'll admit that I have no experience with most of the magic bosses you named, but from all the Leo runs I've been in, while the Demonology Warlock is good for the Demon phase, they can't take many of the fireballs. He lives only on the high spell resist given by his Felhunter, plus all the fire resist gear. An Affliction or Destruction Warlock would be just as effective as a Mage at tanking that fight.

    So basically, one specific build has some additional toughness to it in some specific encounters. I disagree that this makes the class as a whole less fragile.

  13. A late response maybe. But as a 70 warrior, 70 pally and 62 lock I must say that Coriel is right.


    I thought back at when I usually die as a lock soloing (playing affliction). And the only time that I bite it is when I try to juggle too many mobs with fear and dots.

    I know there are more situations than that - but I must say that if I need to define the play style in a generic way I'd say that soloing is the biggest one. Sure we have arenas (learnt a lot from ya Megan) and raids. But they are very specialized encounters.

    I am not a squishy in solo/group play.
    Fear/dot juggle will make me able to kill up to 5 same level mobs at once. Hard but very possible.
    In instances I have been OT by drain tanking and at the same time dotting the main target.

    My greatest acomplishment was actually instancing 3-ways. OT by drain tanking, dotting main target and CC with succy at once. (Close to bragging I know. Not my intention since I failed it half the time but it felt like, with a bit of practice, possible to get used to doing).

    This shows that I was able to actually do all the 3 roles at once (although just ok). I was tanking, dps'ing and cc'ing at once. No other class can do that.

    This is only a way to show that we have no obvious weakness. Aff is a bit of a mixed bag. But a good one.

    Another way to aproach the subject of no obvious weakness is the arena argument.
    As a not too good arena player (w my warr) in my 2vs2 team we put up general tactics. Like: root rogues, get up close to hunters (I liked deadzone) and such. With rogues its more of a mixed bag they can kill you in many ways according to spec. Will they try chain fear/draintank/nuke me?

    I will give Coriel 100% right. Warlocks aint that obvious. Sure they have weaknesses but they aint obvious from an onlookers perspective.

  14. I won't rehash my argument from the previous thread, but I find the assertion that locks have no obvious weaknesses to be very misleading.

    Going back to Coriel's post, if you were introducing someone to Warcraft, someone who has never played the game before, what class would YOU recommend they play?

    Most people would suggest a Hunter, maybe a Mage. The problem with Warlocks is that their complexity requires a lot of effort to play WELL.

    How many "bad" warlocks have you ever met? The kind that don't know how to keep up DoT rotations, can't reliably CC with seduce, stick with the same pet no matter what the situation, and generally have all the subtlety of a brick? I've seen warlocks at 70 that still don't know what their doing.

    Daddy Gamer makes a good point, a warlock has incredibly utility, but to pull off that level of multitasking requires huge amounts of skill and concentration the likes of which, by his own admission, he only pulls off once in a while.

    So either he's being falsely humble, or it proves the point: warlocks take work.

    That's without even considering the efficacy of doing all three roles at once. From personal experience, I know that I can CC and DPS together very effectively. OT'ing at the same time in anything beyond Normal instances is not only impossible, it's suicidal.

  15. To say that people who do not know the nuances of the class are intimidated is a criticism that could apply to any of them, really. I've taken a priest and warlock to 70 but never played a paladin myself, and my skilled friends make them look like invincible pillars of both PvE and PvP, with mysterious golden wings and seals and hammers flying everywhere. And with "Again, I'm not saying that warlocks are too strong. Just that they lack obvious weaknesses, and that provokes an emotional response from the other classes who do have weaknesses." I'm also reminded of how horde forum posts about paladins used to read, before TBC made them available to both factions. :)

  16. PVE Horde did have a legitimate complaint about paladins though. Salvation is overpowered, and it wasn't really fair that Horde didn't have access to it.

  17. I'd say the Horde posts Cat is referring to had nothing to do with Blessing of Salvation, and everything to do with PvP capability.

  18. Warlocks are a mis-designed class - they are a caster which relies on (at least in Arenas, where you're specc'd SL/SL) tanking melee classes, whereas other "fragile" classes have active defenses. Mages have Ice Block, Ice Barrier, snares, Blink, etc... Rogues have Evasion, Stealth, Ghostly Strike, Vanish, Gouge, Blind, Crippling Poison, etc... Priests kind of get the sort end of the stick, but they do have one instant cast AOE fear, Pain Supression and a bubble.

    But that's Disc Priests and they get the sort end of the stick when left alone. But they work great when they have the proper support - like in Priest/Rogue or RMP. A Disc Priest is in all the top 5s comps - 2345, 2346, 2347, 5432 (Euro), drain teams, double melee, 4 DPS - everything.

    That being said, for MELEE classes, Warlocks are easier to kill than Mages ATM. They cannot get away - and while Fears suck, in an Arena environment, they get resisted, trinketed and dispelled far too often to be reliable - so you see a Warlock doing his slowed high-step around the Arena while a Rogue tunnel visions him.

    Fortunately, all this does is bring their damage output to something acceptable - that is DoTs. Good teams that can will dispel the crap out of DoTs.

    Warlocks do annoy me, but they are hardly un-killable (that's a total myth) and there are far more unbalanced classes in the Arena. I think the emotions you talk about make people more afraid of Warlocks than they should be.

    I assume we're talking about PvP and not PvE, because let's be honest - survivability in a raid? It means having 10k+ health for AOE damage. Any raid boss will one-shot anyone but the MT/OTs.

    Teams go into Arenas with this preconception that they CANNOT (or maybe should not) kill certain classes (Druids, Warriors, Warlocks - or something), but they forget that positioning, team composition/teamwork are the things that win Arena matches - not that a certain class might be slightly harder to kill than another. By attacking a Warlock, you cut down on his damage output, and turn that Warlock into a mana sink for the healer, especially if you have an aggressive dispel-er on your team.

    As for what I'd tell a new player - Warlocks can take the most damage as far as melee classes go, but they are not tanks. They can 'tank' certain situations. Rogues can Evasion tank for 15 (30) seconds, a Boomkin tanked Gruul, Mages tank with Spellsteal.

    And for one thing - Warlocks tank Leo in maxed FR gear. It's just easier to get a Warlock to max FR and yes, they do send 20% of their damage to the pet. But I'm sure a Mage could do it - or a Boomkin.

    Blizzard has said it many times, but the game is not balanced around 1v1 anymore - it's being balanced around Arenas and raiding - mostly Arena comps and Arena representation at various brackets.

  19. - Like all other casters, a Warlock is heavily dependent on mana. While they have ways to regain it, it costs them more then other classes.

    (No, warlocks use health to gain mana, to cast spells that regain health.)

    - And yes, Warlocks are a little more complex to play. I'd say some classes are a lot more-so, though.

    (No, fear fear dot bolt dot fear fear, no skill is required to get good at a warlock)

  20. "*As an aside, that's one of the reasons I don't really like warlocks for high end PvE. All that marvelous complexity gets shafted in favour of spamming Shadow Bolts."

    It's a bit of a tangent, but isn't that true of all dps in raid situations? Look at mages: a dizzying arraying of damage spells and they end up spamming scorch and fireballs. Even my own spell rotation, as annoyingly asynchronos as it is, gets monotonous. You can't single locks out for that.

  21. It's a bit of a tangent, but isn't that true of all dps in raid situations? Look at mages: a dizzying arraying of damage spells and they end up spamming scorch and fireballs. Even my own spell rotation, as annoyingly asynchronos as it is, gets monotonous. You can't single locks out for that.

    To a certain degree that's true. However, it's more of an issue that there are three different trees: Affliction, Demonology, and Destruction. Affliction and Demonology are complex and warlocky. However, Destruction outstrips them.

    As well, Affliction/Demo tends to be the way you level, and thus the playstyle that you consider natural.

    For mages, even when levelling you tend to lean heavily on one or two spells. Spamming Fireballs or Frostbolts is still mage-like. They're the quintessential mage spells.

    Whereas warlock solo play is all about the DoT-LifeTap-Drain Life cycle and adjusting and controlling your health and mana levels. Spamming Shadowbolts just doesn't fit into that playstyle.