Sunday, January 03, 2010

Elegant Design: Glyph of Life Tap (WoW)

Since a lot of the time I focus on things that I dislike in games, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some small elements that I consider examples of elegant design.

First up, [Glyph of Life Tap].

In the beginning, there was Life Tap. And the warlocks looked at it and saw that it was good.

So the following scenario unfolded in dungeon after dungeon:

1. Warlock pew-pews until she runs dry.
2. Warlock Life Taps all the way back to full mana.
3. Healer has a heart attack when they see that someone just dropped to 10% health unexpectedly.

Efforts to get the warlocks to Life Tap more often met with failure. It's not that they meant to make life excessively exciting for the healers, it's just that you don't really think about mana until you run low.

But Glyph of Life Tap changes that. It encourages the warlock to Tap every 30 to 40s, keeping their damage buff up (which is what the warlock really cares about) while simultaneously keeping the warlock's mana levels up and keeping the health hit manageable for the healer.

I like Glyph of Life Tap because it nudges the warlock to play in a group-friendly manner, while still preserving the full use of Life Tap. A more heavy-handed solution might have been to impose a 20 second cooldown on Life Tap. But this would make Life Tap more rigid and less versatile. Because Life Tap affects your health, there are many situations where you need to postpone using Life Tap--or use it early--and make up for it later by Tapping multiple times.


  1. Now, everyone is using LifeTap Rank 1 - and then, when they run low on mana, they tap back up to 100%, giving the healers a heart attack - even more than before, because it does not happen that often, so they don't get used to it.

  2. A cooldown would be bad because that would disallow you to life tap back to full mana during phase transitions. (For Meta, a life tap every 40 seconds is not even near to enough to sustain its mana consumption).

    And a warlock could end up in a situation where he is OOM and has to wand the boss, something they removed for every DD class with WotLK.

    What I like about the glyph is that it changes a painful spell into something useful. Without the glyph, life tap is just a spell which reduces your DPS time. Something we try to avoid as much as mages try to avoid to use Evo.

  3. Hmm, interesting idea. I never thought of it that way. I always use life tap in a rotation last time, even before the glyph was around. Together with dark pact and my warlock would stand around in a dungeon group with full health and mana after a pull :)

  4. I haven't planned my warlock in a long time but I'm curious as to if my hubby has the glyph on his warlock. I know that he basically only life taps once every so often. I haven't heard of any mana issues because he couldn't use Life tap or forgot to use it. He doesn't use life tap multiple times to gain mana, he usually does it once and continues to DPS till the next couple of pulls. Warlock do insane amounts of DPS anyways haha!

  5. I've never really seen the "tap down to 10% life" thing. But then, I play on a PvP server and soloing with 10% life was long ago discouraged.

    That said, not every Warlock spec takes the Lifetap glyph. I have it in my Demonology / Metamorph build, but I DON'T have it in my Destruction / Chaos Bolt spec. I don't know what those Affliction guys take.

    It IS a lovely Glyph, though.

    Off topic - but I always thought the "Warlocks bring Replenishment" should have been through Life Tap. The Warlock cuts himself for mana and also gives mana to the entire raid... :)

  6. Using the life tap glyph instead of the immolate one would be a dps increase for your destruction lock.

    It is a dps increase even for 0/13/58.

    There is no common warlock PvE spec where life tap is not one of the 3 best glyphs.