The Lady Is Not For Burning

Outrunning the Frostbolts.png

Oh no, I’ve been tagged!

I have been watching Death Goddess’s DPS Survey spread through many of the blogs I read with some interest, but as an infrequent raider didn’t feel like I had much to contribute.  It’s a very raid-heavy questionnaire.

However, Cassandri made an interesting request in her entry, asking that I balance out the raiding discussion with my PvP perspective.  So who am I to decline such a nice request?

I will substitute “battlegrounds” for “raids” whenever necessary, of course.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary dps?

Cynwise is my Destruction Warlock. I am currently experimenting with three different PvP builds: a 0/20/51 Demonic Brutality build (for anti-melee big battleground fighting), a 0/20/51 Improved Succubus build (for smaller engagements) and a 0/17/54 Soul Leech build (for self-healing).

I’m considering dropping my secondary raid spec and giving Affliction PvP (54/17/0 Haunt/SL) another try when 3.3 hits.

What is your primary dpsing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

Wintergrasp, followed by Alterac Valley, Strand of the Ancient, Eye of the Storm, and Arathi Basin. I’ve found I like those 5 battlegrounds the best but don’t run them in any particular preference aside from whatever holiday weekend is up.

I sometimes run Warsong Gulch and Isle of Conquest for the daily, but they’re just not my favorites on my warlock.

What is your favorite dps spell/ability for your class and why?

I considered several non-DPS spells for this question — Demonic Circle: Teleport and Fear, especially — but in terms of my damaging spells, my favorite is Shadowfury. It’s not my highest damage spell, nor is it part of my damage rotation, but it is so incredibly useful in battlegrounds that I consider it the defining talent of a Destruction PvP warlock.

Death Coil came in a very close second, because it is so full of awesome.  Instant Horror, damage, and healing?  More of that please!

What dps spell do you use least for your class and why?

Shadowburn. The Soul Shard requirements on it make it worthless in longer fights. It is good surprise DPS, but I can never justify the shard.

It’s pretty sad that I can find a use for almost every other spell in my arsenal, but not this one.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your dps class and why?

While I’m tempted to say damage — horrifying burst damage, terrifying DoT damage, maddening demon damage — I think it’s the wide variety of crowd control options available to Warlocks that makes us so strong.  That change of attitude has made me a more effective combatant.

(Yes, I know Fear has been nerfed, repeatedly. It’s still incredibly potent when used in combination with all the other abilities a Warlock has.)

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your dps class and why?

Warlocks are extremely vulnerable to melee who can close the gap. We are lacking in escape abilities, especially if your Demonic Circle isn’t down.  The ability to maintain range is vital to surviving as a Warlock.

(You do drop your Demonic Circle whenever you dismount, right?)

In a 25-man raiding environment 40-man battleground, what do you feel, in general, is the best dps assignment for you?

Setting aside that there aren’t formal assignments in the PuG battlegrounds we have today, I should ideally be out on the front lines, maintaining range and providing a combination of damage and fear-induced chaos. I should not be driving a vehicle or operating a cannon, because that is a bad use of my abilities. I do it when necessary, but it shouldn’t be my primary assignment.

Riding shotgun on a Wintergrasp Demolisher is okay, because I can still cast as we move.

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with most and why?

I pretty much like them all, as long as the players are good. Battlegrounds teach you to not be picky.

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with least and why?

Honestly? I get a little irked when we are short on healers and I see hybrids who could heal the battleground, but aren’t. Healers are absolutely the most critical resource in a battleground.   I will lay down my life repeatedly on a battleground for you if you are a healer.

This is situational ire. If the healing is good, I don’t even look twice at Retribution Paladins running amok. Running the flag in Warsong Gulch as a feral Druid doesn’t make me blink. I know you can’t switch specs on the fly in an instanced battleground, and that you come as you are.  I also know that hybrids bring awesome utility to PvP and that they’re hugely fun to play that way.

But DPS doesn’t win battles. Healers win battles.

What is your worst habit as a dps?

Tab-targeting as Destruction. For Affliction it was great, but I should be more focused in my targeting now that I have to stand and cast.

Old habits die hard.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while dpsing?

Players who attack my Seduced targets. Talented Seduction is a great way to escape from opponents, but not when it’s getting broken every GCD. Having someone attack my seduced target while trying to escape made me switch my talent build to Demonic Brutality and run with the voidwalker instead.

Let me take a break from this questionnaire to bring you the scene that caused me to switch my talent build. It is set, as all good dramas are, in Alterac Valley, right outside Stonehearth Bunker.

Ret Pally: Casts Judgement of Justice, closes to range, hits Cynwise.
Cynwise: Ow. *pvp trinket*
Ret Pally: *hits again*
Helola (Succubus): Hi, sailor! *Seduces*
Ret Pally: I love you. *drools*
Cynwise: Audi 5000, g! *flees*
Random Hunter: *shoots Ret Pally*
Ret Pally: *runs after Cynwise, hits her again*
Cynwise: Uh, stop it?
Helola: Hello, sailor! *Seduces*
Ret Pally: I like you, but you scare me a little. *drools*
Random Hunter: *shoots Ret Pally*
Random Mage: *frostfire bolts Ret Pally*
Ret Pally: *runs after Cynwise, hits her again*
Cynwise: Dude, stop it. Seriously!  *Shadowfury, runs.*
Ret Pally: *Hand of Freedom, hits her again*
Helola: Hello, sailor! *Seduces*
Ret Pally: Okay, but this is the last time. People are starting to talk. *drools*
Cynwise: *runs, stops, starts casting Fear*
Random Hunter: *shoots Ret Pally*
Ret Pally: *bubbles, heals, chases the Warlock*
Helola: Hello, sailor! *Seduces*
Ret Pally: No. You messed up my hair last time.
Cynwise: Fear’s not going to work on you, is it?
Ret Pally: Probably not. *Casts Hammer of Wrath on Cynwise*
Cynwise: *dies, glaring at Random Hunter*

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other dps?

Yes. As a class, Warlocks are viable threats in battlegrounds without being overpowered There are some classes that do better against us than others, but the reverse applies, too. Protection Warriors, Rogues, or a well-played Death Knight should have little trouble with a solo Warlock.

Destro and Affliction are both stronger than Demonology in PvP right now. 3.3 is going to change the balance between the specs, so we will have to see if that equalizes the three trees.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a dps’er?

Did I win?

No, seriously.  Battlegrounds are not about Recount, or DPS.  DPS is a totally worthless metric in PvP.  Total damage done on the scoreboard can be useful as a personal metric, but once you realize you have additional abilities you should be using to help win (*cough Crowd Control cough*) topping the leaderboard isn’t a good goal either.

Instead, I focus on winning individual matchups.  When I lose a matchup I try to review my combat log to see what my opponents did to win.

I should note that evaluating my individual performance is very different from evaluating my team’s performance.  When we win well I try to figure out what the team did right, and when we lose I try to figure out what went wrong.  Sometimes I find myself staring at the scoreboard for the full 2 minutes trying to figure out who did what where.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?

That we’re not fond of kittens.  That’s not true.  I love kittens.  Especially braised with a light cherry sauce.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new dpsers of your class to learn?

The number of abilities you gain as a Warlock can be quite overwhelming, especially when trying to use them all in PvP.  You have a lot of tools at your disposal as a Warlock; learning to pick the right one for the situation takes time and work.  You have to balance your pet, your curses, your nukes, and your fears all in the right combination on a battlefield.  This is not helped by having such dramatically different playstyles between the three talent trees.

What DPS class do you feel you understand least?

Rogues, followed by Enhancement Shamans.  I literally have no idea what the different talent trees mean for Rogues, and I flail about on my Enhancement Shaman to the point where it’s embarrassing.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in dps?

Ha!  This question I can answer quickly!  I have done fairly comprehensive reviews of my addons and macros, so go there for more answers.  The quick list of addons is: DoTimer, MikScrollingBattleText, Quartz, and SaySapped.

SaySapped is an awesome, lightweight addon that you really should have.  It announces via /s that you have been Sapped, which is absolutely fantastic when defending a node with others.

What stat to stack, and why?

Oh boy!  Another one I’ve already posted on!

Hit (6%) > Resilience (700+) > Stamina > Spell Penetration (50-120) > Spellpower > Haste > Crit

Since I wrote that post I have revised my thinking on gear priority, and that Resilience doesn’t always trump Stamina.  I swapped out my Platinum Disks (with +190 Resilience) for the Brewfest Stamina trinkets (+340 Stamina) and found the extra 4k life instead really helped my survival better than 900+ Resilience.  I’ve further augmented this in the Demonic Brutality build so that, with Sacrifice and Soul Link active, I have an effective health of 38k, which means I can afford to wait for the Rogue to finish stunlocking me before returning fire.

But other than those minor changes, I still what I wrote holds true.


Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual, Warlockery

9 responses to “The Lady Is Not For Burning

  1. Khi

    On a very very OT note… I love your title ^.^ One of my favorite plays ever.

  2. So how come nobody ever attacks me when I’m seduced?

    One of the most deadly combinations that I’ve come across was a Warlock vs myself (Priest) and a Paladin. The combined CC was just too much to escape. They cut us down pretty fast 😦

    • I love the Seduction build, but I also love the big chaotic battlegrounds, and they just don’t go well together.

      I think I’ve told this story before, but the absolute best time I’ve had in Wintergrasp was facing 4 Horde with 10 stacks of Tenacity each at Eastspark Workshop with only a Holy Priest as backup. I had a healer, they did not. It was the most intense two minutes of fighting I have done, ever, trying to keep that priest protected. But when the dust cleared, he and I were the ones left standing.

      That incident has shaped my entire attitude on how DPS should relate to healers.

  3. 🙂 I only wish people would stop attacking the targets that *I* repented. That’s my only PvP closing/escape ranged ability Ret Pallies have.

    So I feel your pain there.

    Anyhow, on-topic, reading your post was a great view into how ‘Locks work. I have a level 27 (that was once my main) but other than the VERY basic knowledge, I am totally baffled, so your post was a GREAT read.


    • Glad you liked it! I need to spend some more time writing about the lower levels. Perhaps I should level a Horde warlock for a change of pace. 🙂

      You will note that I don’t subscribe to the viewpoint that retadins are hard to kill. They’re like Warlocks in reverse — keep your distance, drain their mana, and keep up the damage until they have no more escape CDs. Every class can be countered if you know what their weaknesses are.

      (Yes, even Rogues. Warlocks have very few defenses against them though.)

  4. Bloody Huntards…

    I have more to say, but I gotta run…

    Ohh last thing… Healers don’t really win BGs, it’s when they work together with DPS, protecting each other… That’s when the BG is won… But of course you know I agree with the general sentiment.

    Great read!

  5. While it’s true that you can’t switch specs on the fly, you CAN before the bg officially starts. That’s why I always make the most of those starting 2 minutes to find out how many other genuine healers are in the group — if you don’t have enough, you might find a caring soul (ha! ha! assuming it’s not sharded in some warlock’s bag) to swap out.

    Actually who am I kidding…nobody cares enough to do that in a pug. But it’s the thought that counts.

    • I didn’t know that, actually. It will be interesting to see if it becomes important in rated battlegrounds to have enough hybrids who can switch based on the rest of the raid composition.