The Decline and Fall of Warlocks in Cataclysm

This page is an index and table of contents for The Decline and Fall of Warlocks in Cataclysm, my series of posts on the declining popularity of the Warlock class in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. The posts were written between March and May of 2012, during the first months of the beta test for the next expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

The entire series is collected on a single HTML page for your convenience. A collection of eReader formats is also available, though with the caveat that some formats didn’t translate all the graphs as well as I would have liked. The HTML version is complete.

Where Have All The Warlocks Gone in Cataclysm? – An analysis of WoW census data to determine the extent of decline in the Warlock population in various activities in the game.

Leveling Data on Warlocks is Worse than I Thought – Revisiting the data specific to leveling with a different methodology highlights the problems of players trying to level the class to the level cap of 85.

The Decline and Fall of Warlocks in Cataclysm – A look at the game design philosophy which drove Warlocks to becoming a niche class, the introduction of the Simplicity Tax, and why niche classes are good design but bad for business.

Warlock Complexity and the Magic Number – An examination of the increase in rotational complexity between Wrath and Cataclysm using theories of cognitive limits and “task chunking,” which leads to the unsurprising conclusion that Warlocks really did get harder to play in Cataclysm.

The Care and Feeding of Baby Warlocks – A look at the leveling game and how inelegant ability and talent flow created a poor training environment for new Warlocks, thereby reducing the number of potential new players of the class.

The Loss of the Warlock’s Soul – The question of theme and fulfilling the fantasy of each spec is addressed here. Did the Warlock class live up to player’s expectations in Cataclysm?

Out of the Mists: Reclaiming Warlocks in Pandaria – A look at Warlocks the Mists of Pandaria beta to answer if the class changes address the issues of Cataclysm, or will they further the decline of the Warlock population?


Appendix A: Warlock Spell Changes in Cataclysm – A detailed look at some of the spell changes that happened in Cataclysm and the effect they had on the Warlock class.

Appendix B: The Problem of Evil – The perennial problem of Warlocks is that they’re the bad guys and gals of Warcraft. Unfortunately, looking harder at the data we have really just shows us the limitations of that data set.

Appendix C: Haste and the Butterfly Effect – Small changes to how Haste interacted with Damage over Time spells in Cataclysm improved their DPCT, resulting in making them too good not to cast for all Warlock specs and contributing to the rise of non-thematic complexity.

Class Distribution in Cataclysm Patch 4.3.3 – Class popularity numbers in 4.3.3, with some references back to 3.3.5.

Ranged DPS Complexity in 4.3.3 – Overview of different spec rotations in 4.3.3.

Here’s to hoping that Mists brings improvement to this class.

47 responses to “The Decline and Fall of Warlocks in Cataclysm

  1. Pingback: Interlude: New Series on Warlocks in Cataclysm « Cynwise's Warcraft Manual

  2. Pingback: The Decline and Fall of Warlocks in Cataclysm « Cynwise's Warcraft Manual

  3. Scathbais

    Excellent! I think Blizzard must agree, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to write article 5 on reclaiming Warlocks in Pandaria.

    Three specs with major changes and very little in common except for having minions. So looking forward to playing a Warlock in MoP.

  4. I agree. But i love my Warlock. So even if it is the least played class, i have too much fun with him to care if anyone else plays.

    • Dejara Thoris

      Sure, but what if Blizz decides to change the class out from underneath you again because it’s not popular enough?

  5. Pingback: Where Did All The Warlocks Go in Cataclysm? « Cynwise's Warcraft Manual

  6. Pingback: Leveling Data on Warlocks is Worse than I Thought « Cynwise's Warcraft Manual

  7. Interesting posts, I’m going through and reading them all now. I’m new to the warlock class — it was the only one I didn’t have at 80 in Wrath, so I started one in Cata. It never really “clicked” with me, though generally I love casters. It’s great to read the perspective of a long-time lock player!

  8. Pingback: Warlock Complexity and the Magic Number « Cynwise's Warcraft Manual

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  12. Pingback: Appendix B: The Problem of Evil « Cynwise's Warcraft Manual

  13. Pingback: The Care and Feeding of Baby Warlocks « Cynwise's Warcraft Manual

  14. Jax

    I’ve always played a warlock, but didn’t like the LK changes much. When Cata came the class just became so fiddly (I counted something like 12-14 things I had to keep track of at once) that I just swapped over to my DK and Shammie toons and barely play the lock any more. I’m also the first one to confess I have no idea how to play these new locks in the beta, either. For me BC was the golden age for locks. Everything we did had purpose–bans, curses, enslaves, direct damage was awesome…I was never a “one-button lock.”

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  29. Teru

    Thank you for this series, Cynwise.
    It’s been both a pleasure and a privilege reading it, and I feel you’ve done an incredible job in laying out all that we, as warlocks, felt was wrong about the class we love so much.

    Personally, I look ahead with cautious optimism, in the hope that I can learn to enjoy my class once more.

    Thank you, again.

  30. darthades

    The answers are easy, you can send me a check later =P

    It is a combination of factors (duh..)

    1- dps rotation complexity PvE, raiding.- Having to do twice the work as a dirty mage to get same results, lower most of the time, gets old really fast

    2- non rated PvP uselessness. Yes warlocks are amazing at rated PvP but outside of that realm we are the worst PvP class in the game, we are support we cant survive alone, we cant kill alone, we cant escape. Basically you put all the effort on your toon to be a sitting duck.

    Many people underestimate this factor, fact is rated PvP is just a tiny part of PvP in this game and is not the most important for most.

    3- Lack of cool QoL nuggets compared to other casters: A mage can blink + superspeed, teleport, shamans can go wolf, priest can heal, bubble, etc. Warlocks are just slow and painful.

    So to put it in numbers relative to the great decline since wrath:

    1.(weight: 40%) dps rotation complexity PvE, raiding
    2.(weight: 38%) non rated PvP uselessness.
    3.(weight: 8%) Lack of cool QoL nuggets compared to other casters
    4. a bunch of other minor elements combined

  31. This was an incredible read, I ran across it randomly linked in some comments on insider and I figured I’d read a bit of the beginning and get to the rest later when I had some time. Next thing I knew an hour had past and my neck hurt from nodding so much. The entire series captured so much of what I’ve suspected and how I’ve felt the entire expansion, and the general sentiments I’ve always felt as a warlock since the earliest days of Vanilla. Thanks so much for putting this work together Cynwise.

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