Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Raid Finder Gear for 5.2 Warlocks

A new raid tier brings a lot of things. New encounters, new lore, new mounts, auction house activity and, in this case, a new daily hub. However, as much as raiders tend to brag about how they're in it for the story and the challenge, the truth is that a lot of us really only care about one thing.


Shiny new purples, powerful trinkets, cool set bonuses and one more step towards the final legendary weapon of the expansion. That's what we really want to see.

It's not reasonable to cover everything in one post since we now have three seperate difficulty levels, each with their own idiosyncrisies and limitations. Best-in-slot for a 10M raider may now be different than the best-in-slot for a 25M raider due to the addition of higher item level Thunderforged gear and someone who primarily runs LFR won't have access to anything off of Ra-den. C'est la vie.

As such, I'll be taking a look at your gear options for each slot and how they all compare. Today, it's everything available outside of normal or heroic mode raiding, including crafted items, rep gear, world boss drops and Raid Finder items. The idea here is to look at what you'll be wearing if you're a casual, non-raiding or alt Warlock that will not be seeing the inside of a typical raid. A first glance analysis of trinkets will come in a later post since it's going to be a similar lineup regardless of which difficulty you raid in.

Some disclaimers:
  • All comparisons and recommendations are based on Heroic T14 stat weights since this is the item level you'll be at or near once you start collecting more gear.
  • I'm assuming that your raid situation for Tier 14 is similar and aren't looking to replace Normal mode or Heroic raid drops.
  • More tuning and numbers adjustments are happening on the PTR lately, but so far the only change to warlocks (as of this writing) is the Grimoire of Sacrifice adjustment discussed in my 5.2 post a few days ago. I fully expect to see Affliction nerfed to within an inch of its life (for reasons also previously discussed), but stat priorities should stay mostly the same.
  • All sockets have been matched for their bonuses when comparing these items because I generally find it to be worthwhile. There may be some anomalies where one item will drop out of its best-in-slot position due to a shift in gemming strategies, but with secondary stats being stronger and socket bonuses being more appealing in Mists of Pandaria than they were in Cataclysm, it's unlikely that you'll be making a significant mistake by matching a socket. This means that all blue sockets have recieved an Intellect/Hit gem, yellow sockets have recieved an Intellect/Mastery gem (Mastery over Crit or Haste because it's a universally strong stat for all three specs) and red sockets have recieved standard Intellect gems.
  • I'm not accounting for racial Expertise bonuses because our only weapons this tier are daggers, wands and staves. Gnomes will recieve an extra 1% Hit rating while wielding a dagger, but Gnomes are creepy and don't count.
  • I'm including Normal Mode tier for the leg and glove slots because I expect them to be available from an easily pugged world boss like the Sha of Anger, as they've been since Tier 7.

One general piece of advice: As you're gearing up and replacing your 476/483 gear from Tier 14, the 502 gear from Tier 15 is going to be a pretty massive increase in stats, even if they're not ideal. Don't shrug off an upgrade just because it's not your absolute best-in-slot.

Lastly, there is an epic truckload of Hit rating on gear this tier. Be prepared to reforge away from it at every opportunity.

 - Imperial Cowl
 - Flamecaster's Burning Crown
 - Hood of the Crimson Wake
 - Hood of the Thousandfold Hells

Purely from a numbers standpoint, the crafted Imperial Cowl is a significant upgrade over LFR items for Affliction and Destro (it barely edges out LFR tier for Demo), but the lack of a Meta slot makes it a harder pill to swallow. Considering the (likely) high price of admission, it’s probably not worth it unless you’re bleeding money and are replacing a much lower ilvl item.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Black Harvest: Super spoiler walkthrough edition

While progressing through the Black Harvest quest chain on the PTR, I managed (for the first time ever) to have enough foresight to take a truckload of screenshots to document the journey. We may see some minor changes to text and dialogue before 5.2 goes live but I doubt that we'll see any major revamps to it as a whole. In light of that, I thought I should post the journey for any who either don't have a warlock or don't care about being spoiled. I'll also inject my thoughts about each section and some pointers on getting through some of the tricker obstacles.

Disclaimer: PTR is, of course, PTR. This quest chain has only been accessible for a couple days and may change radically before release.


Disclaimer 3: There are a ton of pictures included in this post. Beware of slow load times.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A look at 5.2 Warlock changes

PTR changes for Warlocks have slowed significantly which means that we’re probably at a point where Ghostcrawler and his team are mostly satisfied with our abilities (in fact, they’ve outright said as much). A numbers and tuning pass is still pending, but it’s a good time to look at what 5.2 holds for us mechanically. In general, with the exception of some tweaking to Grimoire of Sacrifice, we’re mostly looking at some quality of life changes and survivability buffs, which is a good thing. 

You can read the most current and complete list of patch notes here on Blizzard’s site


Complaints have risen within the Warlock community about being tied to the Imp for the Stamina buff when no other source is available, prompting a change to Dark Intent that will allow it to provide Stamina as well as the 10% Spell Power we’re used to.  Blood Pact has been removed as a result. While I see the logic in the complaint (particularly because the Imp is fairly low on the DPS gain list and Sacrifice is currently better for two of the three specs), I have to wonder how many raid groups actually have this problem and how many simply weren’t using the tools they had at their disposal creatively. I don’t have any evidence to back my assumptions, but I find it hard to believe that there are that many  10M raids out there that don’t have at least one Warrior, Priest or BM Hunter (especially now that BM is viable and popular again).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Black Harvest: Spoiler-free thoughts on the "Green Fire" quest line

Shortly after getting home from work last night, I was making my rounds on the internet and stopping by a few of my favorite blogs and websites when I saw this on MMO-Champion's Blue Tracker:

After giggling like a school girl, I hopped off the couch and ran to the computer to start installing the PTR client and copy over my Warlock. A short while later I was flying across Pandaria in search of the item to start the quest chain.

While I didn't have time to completely finish the chain before I had to get back to live servers for my guild's raid, I did see probably 97% of it and I'm confident that I've seen enough to share my thoughts. As the post title indicates, I'm trying to keep this as free of spoilers as I can and simply focus on the overall experience. A full writeup with spoilers and screenshots will be up in a few days after I beat the last boss. However, I'm going to assume that you already know the following as they've been fairly heavily discussed:
  • It involves the Council of the Six Daggers.
  • You'll be sent to Outland.
  • There's a Black Temple solo-scenario.

 . . . seriously, I couldn't focus on progression at all last night. All I could think about was getting back to the PTR and curb-stomping some demonic heads.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Soloing old raids: A quick and dirty guide - MC and BWL

Since pre-Mists raids no longer require you to be in a "raid group" (which, for most of us, meant grouped with an offline level 10 alt on a trial account) and Blizzard has added new Battle Pets as drops from several old raid bosses, it seems an appropriate time to get around to that "Extreme Soloing" post I've been putting off. First some background and disclaimers.

I've been doing this sort of thing since Wrath when I was farming Zul'Gurub for the now unavailable Swift Zulian Tiger. After a while, I got bored of simply killing the same boss or two and started aiming for bigger clears. Whether it was for that cool looking weapon or just to say I did it. Over time I'd found that putting myself in situations where I had to completely rely on my own abilities to stay alive rather than expecting a healer to do the heavy lifting made me a better tank. I learned how to smooth out my rotation to reduce incoming damage and utilize my cooldowns while maximizing my DPS in order to beat enrage timers. This continued into Cataclysm when a guildmate and I started making weekly trips into Molten Core for her rep grind and my Thunderfury Bindings, sometimes pulling multiple bosses simultaneously to maximize our usage of guild rep banners. The more I did it, the more I wanted to do and I kept trying new bosses and raids.

Now, I should make it clear that, while I tend to consider myself a pretty decent player, I make no claims about being on the level of someone like Raegwyn or Mione. My biggest problem is simply that I get distracted or bored (or in the case of C'Thun before he was heavily nerfed, discouraged by the prospect of a nasty corpse run) and only give a handful of attempts before moving on to something else. It's also worth noting that I'm did most of this on my 478 ilvl Warlock. These days I'm sporting much better gear, but I also want to make it clear that you don't need to be decked out in full best-in-slot gear for a lot of fights. Understanding your class and the mechanics of the encounter are far more valuable than a couple points on your item level.

I've done several of these bosses or raids on multiple characters so I'll try to keep this from being too class specific, but my Warlock has seen the most action and is where my expertise lies so I can't tell you if Cloak of Shadows is effective against whatever debuff or something like that.

Let's start with Vanilla raids: