Cataclysmic changes for Warlocks

Blizzcon! And with it, truth. All of the previous speculation has proved correct, except, thank the Titans, anything to do with Thrall being the next Guardian of Tirisfal… This means we’re seeing the new races, race/class combinations, areas, bosses, Azerothian flight, and much more, all of which will be covered in posts over the next few days as I go through everything which we’ve heard and give my perspective at a time which is not late in the evening when I’m sleepy (like now).

Despite the lateness of the hour, there is one thing I simply cannot – no, will not – leave for another day, and that is the announcement about the complete overhaul, revamp and probable maybe definite improvement to the Warlock class.

Announced in the Class Discussion panel along with something about an inferior class called a Hunter, it’s now official that the Soul Shard system is finally getting that makeover. No, the shards won’t start to stack and no, they won’t be removed from the game. It’s much better than that folks. Let’s take a look…

  • Soul Shards are no longer items in the inventory but are part of the Warlock UI.
  • Soul Shards are not consumed by any Warlock spell other than the empowering ability, Soul Burn.

I also have a pretty picture, courtesy of WoW.com:

Warlock changes in Cataclysm. Source: http://www.wow.com

Warlock changes in Cataclysm. Source: http://www.wow.com

As we can see from the former bullet point and the above image, we no longer have to put the shards in our bags (and hence lose bag space) – we’re instead going to see them on the screen, similar to Death Knight runes, which is awesome and really much better. This, however, would be nothing if we didn’t have the rest of the story.

The shards are not going to be used for any of our spells any more, except for one – an ability on a thirty second cooldown called Soul Burn, which can’t be used more than three times per fight. When this ability is used, it uses up one of our shards and gives us a sort of proc effect which affects the next spell we cast. For example, we could use Soul Burn, and our next Soul Fire might be instant, or Death Coil might heal us for more. Some spells won’t be affected by using Soul Burn, but many will, and it seems that picking which one gets the affect will be the important thing.

The limiting factor here is the thrice-per-fight statement. This means that for PvE, particularly in a long boss fight, it’s going to be important for us to control when and how we use our enhanced abilities. In PvP, fights are obviously much shorter, but it’s going to be necessary to get out of combat as much as possible to regenerate the shards. On that note, we don’t really know how fast they will regenerate, but Ghostcrawler has just said ‘quickly’.

Personally, I find this change very exciting. Firstly, we’ll no longer feel like Mages, because they have nothing like what we’ll be getting as a mechanic. Secondly, we no longer need to endlessly farm what are nothing more than glorified reagents. Plus, as I mentioned, we can at last free up that darn bag space!

I’m going to go and daydream now about a Demonology talent tree where Metamorphosis is enhanced by Soul Burn and lasts twice as long or its effect gives us twice as much damage or something equally awesome.

An excited Vel.

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