[Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

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Roxanneflowers
Posts: 112

[Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Roxanneflowers » Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:31 pm

Well … it's that time again.
Time for another one of my severely off-meta leveling builds (I know, shocker, right?).

This build does all kinds of things "wrong" to reach an island of stability in which everything works together surprisingly well once you get there. Rather than being a specialist build relying on a One Trick Pony™ approach, this plan attempts to leverage the versatility and flexibility of your ability to summon Fel Minions to equip yourself for being able to take down almost any (and every?) adversary. So instead of specializing in a single Minion and investing everything exclusively into that one Minion to the exclusion of all else, this build attempts to make ALL of your summoned Minions stronger in ways that let them each have something advantageous that they can do to support the sheer pain and misery you'll be inflicting.

The other thing this build does is it attempts to do multiple things simultaneously in order to synergize everything together to your own advantage. There is a rather heavy investment in the talents which offer the best recovery spells that a Warlock can use, so as to stretch precious resources of health and mana further than they otherwise might be able to go.

Once again, this is another build strategy trying to make best use of (Ab)using the 5 Second Rule to maximize mana recovery from Spirit so as to stay flush with resources (mana and health) rather than needing to resort to heavy use of Lifetap or Dark Pact in order to keep these critical resources topped up. A side effect of this preference is that when using a spell rotation which can allow mana recovery to take place while continuously casting, using Spirit as your dump stat like so many Warlocks tend to do becomes counterproductive. Consequently, this build does NOT invest in the Demonic Embrace talent in Demonology like so many other Warlock builds are prone to doing.

So, with that bit of heretical thought in mind, let's have a look at the talents I'm looking at for this build (and of course, my own Warlock who will be using this), and the strategy behind the choices.



Warning: WALL OF TEXT CRITS YOU!!!



Level 60 Warlock ( 15 / 31 / 5 )
https://classicdb.ch/?talent#ItMbVZfMhuGxotZx
  • Affliction (15 points)
    • Suppression - Rank 5/5
      Reduces the chance for enemies to resist your Affliction spells by 10%.
    • Improved Corruption - Rank 1/5
      Reduces the casting time of your Corruption spell by 0.4 sec.
    • Improved Drain Soul - Rank 2/2
      Gives you a 100% chance to get a 100% increase to your Mana regeneration for 10 sec if the target is killed by you while you drain its soul. In addition your Mana may continue to regenerate while casting at 50% of normal.
    • Improved Life Tap - Rank 2/2
      Increases the amount of Mana awarded by your Life Tap spell by 20%.
    • Fel Concentration - Rank 5/5
      Gives you a 70% chance to avoid interruption caused by damage while channeling the Drain Life, Drain Mana, or Drain Soul spell.
  • Demonology (31 points)
    • Improved Healthstone - Rank 2/2
      Increases the amount of Health restored by your Healthstone by 20%.
    • Improved Imp - Rank 3/3
      Increases the effect of your Imp's Firebolt, Fire Shield, and Blood Pact spells by 30%.
    • Improved Health Funnel - Rank 2/2
      Increases the amount of Health transferred by your Health Funnel spell by 20%.
    • Improved Voidwalker - Rank 3/3
      Increases the effectiveness of your Voidwalker's Torment, Consume Shadows, Sacrifice and Suffering spells by 30%.
    • Improved Succubus - Rank 3/3
      Increases the effect of your Succubus' Lash of Pain and Soothing Kiss spells by 30%, and increases the duration of your Succubus' Seduction and Lesser Invisibility spells by 30%.
    • Fel Domination - Rank 1/1
      Your next Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, or Felhunter Summon spell has its casting time reduced by 5.5 sec and its Mana cost reduced by 50%.
    • Fel Stamina - Rank 1/5
      Increases the maximum Health of your Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, and Felhunter by 3%.
    • Master Summoner - Rank 2/2
      Reduces the casting time of your Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, and Felhunter Summoning spells by 4 sec and the Mana cost by 40%.
    • Unholy Power - Rank 5/5
      Increases the damage done by your Voidwalker, Succubus, and Felhunter's melee attacks by 20%.
    • Improved Enslave Demon - Rank 2/5
      Reduces the Attack Speed and Casting Speed penalty of your Enslave Demon spell by 4% and reduces the resist chance by 4%.
    • Demonic Sacrifice - Rank 1/1
      When activated, sacrifices your summoned demon to grant you an effect that lasts 30 min. The effect is canceled if any Demon is summoned.
      • Imp: Increases your Fire damage by 15%.
      • Voidwalker: Restores 3% of total Health every 4 sec.
      • Succubus: Increases your Shadow damage by 15%.
      • Felhunter: Restores 2% of total Mana every 4 sec.
    • Master Demonologist - Rank 5/5
      Grants both the Warlock and the summoned demon an effect as long as that demon is active.
      • Imp - Reduces threat caused by 20%.
      • Voidwalker - Reduces physical damage taken by 10%.
      • Succubus - Increases all damage caused by 10%.
      • Felhunter - Increases all resistances by 1 per level.
    • Soul Link - Rank 1/1
      When active, 30% of all damage taken by the caster is taken by your Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, or Felhunter demon instead. In addition, both the demon and master will inflict 3% more damage. Lasts as long as the demon is active.
  • Destruction (5 points)
    • Improved Shadow Bolt - Rank 5/5
      Your Shadow Bolt critical strikes increase Shadow damage dealt to the target by 20% until 4 non-periodic damage sources are applied. Effect lasts a maximum of 12 sec.


Okay, so first things first.

This is obviously a Soul Link Demonologist build … but rather than being one that specializes in a single summons type, it invests in all of the summoned pet types for maximum flexibility while leveling. However, this build is also intended to function as a Drain Tank, hence Fel Concentration in the Affliction tree. But the real fundamental core of this build is going to be its primary spell rotation for use against single targets while leveling.

For Warlocks, the best cast/channel spell rotation is going to be Shadow Bolt/Drain Life/repeat … but there are potential variations on this.

Shadow Bolt . Drain Life . repeat = 8 seconds
Shadow Bolt . Drain Life . melee hit . Lifetap . repeat = 10+ seconds

Note that when (Ab)using the 5 Second Rule to maximize mana recovery from Spirit an 8 second cast/channel rotation yields this:

8 second duration Cast+Channel rotation
Formula: 50% + (base mana recovery % / 2) = mana recovery from Spirit during spell rotation
  • 0% base mana recovery = 50.0% mana recovery from Spirit during spell rotation
  • 50% base mana recovery = 75.0% mana recovery from Spirit during spell rotation

And a 10 seconds cast/channel rotation yields this:
10 second duration Cast+Channel rotation
Formula: 60% + (base mana recovery % / 2.5) = mana recovery from Spirit during spell rotation
  • 0% base mana recovery = 60.0% mana recovery from Spirit during spell rotation
  • 50% base mana recovery = 80.0% mana recovery from Spirit during spell rotation


And that's not even including the +100% mana recovery while the Improved Drain Soul buff is active (which also grants 50% mana recovery while casting). Long story short, there is a lot of opportunity here for a Warlock to leverage their Spirit attribute for additional resource generation while in heavy combat … with or without counting the Improved Drain Soul buff into the picture. This means that rather than being a Warlock's dump stat, it is possible to leverage your Spirit attribute to your advantage IN COMBAT while continuously casting spells, if you're willing to do more than just engage in one button spell spamming. I'm going to need to circle back to this point here soon, so hold this thought.



And yes, this can potentially be a point upon which a Human Warlock might have an advantage over a Gnome Warlock simply due to the +5% Spirit racial for Humans rather than the +5% Intellect that Gnomes get, if pursuing this specific build and strategy on the Alliance side. Go figure, eh? But if you really want more info about race choices for Warlocks, I recommend Moonsti as a good way to weigh your options. However, if you're playing Alliance, as far as I'm concerned, which race will be "better" for you to play (all else being equal) comes down to whether or not you want to have Engineering skill on your Warlock, in which case Gnome becomes sufficiently superior, as far as I'm concerned.



My personal preference with this build is to spend Levels 10-40 on completing the Demonology tree in order to get to 5/5 Unholy Power, 5/5 Master Demonologist and 1/1 Soul Link, since these are going to be the real power ups for the build that will allow your Warlock to take on almost anything and win. After completing the Demonology tree, the next tree to invest in is Affliction, so as to reach 5/5 Fel Concentration. The last 5 Levels are then devoted to investing in 5/5 Improved Shadow Bolt.

The basic assumption here is that by the time your Warlock is clearing the Scarlet Monastery and Razorfen Downs, you'll have Soul Link up and and running. With a Succubus as your Minion, you'll have a +13% All Damage modifier … which will affect not only your Shadow spells, but your Fire spells, melee weapon and Wand damage as well. EVERYTHING you do will deal more damage. Furthermore, that +All Damage modifier will affect your spellpower too, so +100 spellpower effectively becomes +113 spellpower (kinda sorta, if you don't look at the math too hard, since that's not how it "really" works, but makes for an easy shorthand for the purposes of our discussion here to illustrate the concept). That stands in contrast to Shadow Mastery which only increases the damage of your Shadow SPELLS by +10%, and thus doesn't act as a multiplier to your spellpower(!) for producing shadow damage. Only the All Damage modifier from Demonology will modify damage output AFTER adding in spellpower.

Contrast that with doing a Demonic Sacrifice of a Succubus for … +15% Shadow Damage. I'm thinking that a Succubus, who isn't acting as an Aggro Magnet, because the Warlock is perfectly capable of Drain Tanking (hint, hint) ought to be able to make up for the difference between +13% ALL Damage and +15% Shadow Damage just by being an active participant in combat, rather than a Sacrifice. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Just be mindful of the fact that Soul Link CAN be dispelled (by hostile Players in most cases, which isn't as much of a concern on a PvE server) and that in order to recover Soul Link you may be obliged to either resummon your Minion or engage in some positional jiggery-pokery in order to try and make the buff resolve and return to you … or a combination of the two. If you're given the luxury, you can "park" your Minion by commanding them to Stay, move far enough away from them to despawn them which will return the Soul Shard used to cast them (if not an Imp) thereby allowing you to resummon your Minion at a net cost of no additional Soul Shards.



Until all that can come together, however, you're going to be leveling and will need to settle upon an engagement strategy. I'm peculiar in that I like to keep using my Imp against everything that isn't Fire Immune and simply just letting my Imp do the tanking(!) for me until I can do that myself.

Now most people will switch to their Voidwalker at Level 10 and simply never look back, but I've found in my own experience that sending the Voidwalker in to melee stuff all the time isn't always the best option. My personal preference has always been to force my target(s) to fight on ground of MY choosing, rather than moving to where they are to fight on THEIR ground. Better to pull them to me than for me (or my pets) to go to them. A lot of this personal preference is borne out of my experiences of playing my Beast o' Melee Hunter (which I plan to post in these forums Soon™) in which I've needed to develop a variety of pulling tactics in order to attract attention the WAY that I want it to be gathered.

So with that in mind, I will often times use my Imp rather than my Voidwalker, simply because the Imp makes for a better ranged puller. By letting my Imp take the first shot(s) at the target before my Warlock joins the fray, it becomes possible to employ a variety of "juggling" tactics, particularly if I move my Warlock after I command my Imp to start shooting. More information about this specific tactical setup can be found in Kargoz Warlock Leveling Guide 2.0 in which you essentially "triangulate" your (melee) target(s) in such a way as to make them spend a lot of time moving without being able to inflict much damage, sparing yourself and your Imp the need to recover as much later on.

Since the Imp has the highest Spirit attribute of all of your Minions, I find the Imp most suitable for a lot of "grindy" killing in the open world, since the Imp will recover health and mana (from Spirit) faster than any of the other Minions … although the Voidwalker is technically the fastest if you have them Consume Shadows, but that uses up mana. Also, if my Imp pulls too much aggro and gets killed, it only costs me mana to resummon rather than mana and a Soul Shard. I'm sure the calculus for all that will change once I get to Level 35-40 and start wanting to use the other Minions for specific purposes to exploit various weaknesses that whatever I'm fighting is vulnerable to.



Now my personal preference for how to play a Warlock is as a Drain Tank, as I've already mentioned … which is ironically quite similar to the way I prefer to play my Beast o' Melee Hunter (build post pending), in which my character tanks while my pet supports that effort, rather than the reverse (in other words, I'm Doing It Wrong™ as far as most people are concerned, and yet it still works). The means I've typically used to achieve that is heavy investment in the Affliction tree, usually going all the way to Dark Pact (and using my Imp as a Phase Shift(ed) mana battery) before switching over to investing in the Destruction tree. The basic idea (of course) was to DoT stuff up to the point where it was all "You are already dead, you just haven't gotten the memo yet..." and then Drain Tanking them until they expired at my feet (for easiest looting) before pulling a Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

The "problem" with that is … the Affliction tree really doesn't offer all that much in the way of support for that kind of play style. To be honest, all you really need to pull that off is 5/5 Fel Concentration, although 5/5 Suppression, 5/5 Improved Drain Life and 5/5 Shadow Mastery will help. There are however a couple of wildcards in this mix of Affliction talents.

5/5 Suppression functions as if it were +10% chance to hit with Affliction spells. Really nice for preventing those full RESIST results when casting curses and using your Drain spells.

5/5 Improved Drain Life adds +10% damage/healing to the base spell, but does absolutely nothing for any spellpower you might have equipped. Considering that Drain Life (Rank 6) only drains 71 health per second for 5 seconds, that's a whopping 5 talent points for a +7 drain per second at Levels 54+ … or a total of 5 talent points for a max +35 damage/health drained per full 5 seconds of channeling. On the flip side, that's the equivalent of adding +70 spellpower (at Rank 6) to your build (kinda sorta) due to how spellpower coefficients work for Warlocks, which isn't nothing, but it still feels a bit weak for the amount of investment involved.

5/5 Shadow Mastery will (also) add +10% damage/healing to your Shadow spells too, meaning that it will buff your Shadow Bolts in addition to your Drain+Siphon Life spells (since Siphon Life is required to get Shadow Mastery). And again, you're looking at a +7 drain per second at Levels 54+, which if you combine that with Improved Drain Life starts getting almost respectable … but at that point you're looking at investing a whopping 10 talent points for +14 drain per second for 5 seconds at Level 54. That's a lot of investment for +70 drain over a 5 second channel, assuming you take no interrupt/pushback during that channel time.

The one saving grace for Affliction is 2/2 Nightfall, where Corruption and Drain Life both have a 4% chance to proc the Nightfall buff for an instant cast Shadow Bolt. But that's really only an advantage when you've got an aggro magnet holding a whole bunch of mobs' attention and you can load them all up with Corruption (for lots of Nightfall procs) and then you just start doing a one button spam of Shadow Bolt into the crowd until everything is dead. But I'm not angling for a one button spam of Shadow Bolt spell rotation with my build, because that enforces the 5 Second Rule of spell casting, preventing any mana recovery from Spirit while casting.

In point of fact, given that I'm angling to continue (Ab)using the 5 Second Rule to maximize mana recovery from Spirit with my Warlock (of all things), just like I do with my Arcane Spirit of Frost Mage and my Elune's Spirit Guide Night Elf Priest, there is a peculiar consequence of taking Nightfall on the build … namely that instant cast Shadow Bolts prevent there being enough time between mana costs for spells to be able to recover mana from Spirit. So using the spell rotation(s) that I outlined above, it actually becomes counterproductive (from a mana recovery standpoint) to have 2/2 Nightfall at all(!) due to how the timing of instant cast Shadow Bolts will inter(re)act with the 5 Second Rule of spell casting.



Now, when angling for longer cast/channel spell rotations, there's an extremely curious set of alternative spells and circumstances that need to be accounted for … Lifetap, Health Funnel and Drain Soul.

Lifetap is somewhat unique in that it is a spell that costs health, not mana, to cast in order to gain mana. Because Lifetap does not cost mana to cast, it also does not invoke or reset the 5 Second Rule. This means that you can use Lifetap as a "filler" spell after channeling to pad out your overall spell rotation's duration, thereby potentially gaining an extra mana recovery tick (or two?) from Spirit every spell rotation. Due to this somewhat unique "feature" of Lifetap and how it interacts with the 5 Second Rule, the best time to use Lifetap is after channeling and before casting, rather than using Lifetap in between casting and channeling. This means it is better, from a mana recovery standpoint, to do this:

Shadow Bolt . Drain Life . Lifetap . repeat

Than it is to do this:

Shadow Bolt . Lifetap . Drain Life . repeat

That's because by delaying the mana cost of Drain Life after Lifetap, you extend the duration of the 5 Second Rule's debuff effect on being able to recover mana from Spirit, increasing the number of mana ticks "lost" during the spell rotation. So, from a mana recovery efficiency standpoint, it is best to Lifetap after Drain Life, rather than before, when alternating between Shadow Bolt and Drain Life so as to keep the mana costs of these two spells as closely timed as possible.

Also note that with a Shadow Bolt (Rank 4+) . Drain Life . Lifetap spell rotation, you're looking at a 3+5+1.5=9.5 second duration for the whole rotation. You can easily extend that out to 10+ seconds by adding a melee hit after the Drain Life channel and before Lifetap. The reason for this is that if you have your melee attack cued up on auto before you finish your Drain Life channel (and you can even initiate a melee auto attack while channeling!) then the swing timer will have "filled" by the time you finish channeling Drain Life and you'll swing almost immediately, rather than needing to wait for the full swing timer. I haven't done enough regression testing to know if what's going on amounts to a "best case scenario" of applying Parry Haste modifiers to the swing timer (an up to -40% reduction in the swing timer), but it certainly feels like it from the number of times I've seen it in action. However, for the purposes of this guide, it's simply enough to know that any weapon you can melee with that has a base weapon speed of 1.00 or more will suffice to create the following rotation duration:

Shadow Bolt . Drain Life . melee hit . Lifetap . repeat = 10+ seconds
10 second duration Cast+Channel rotation
Formula: 60% + (base mana recovery % / 2.5) = mana recovery from Spirit during spell rotation
  • 0% base mana recovery = 60.0% mana recovery from Spirit during spell rotation
  • 50% base mana recovery (Improved Soul Drain buff) = 80.0% mana recovery from Spirit during spell rotation


And if you haven't turned Spirit into your dump stat then that can be a pretty significant savings on (net) mana costs over time while casting spells (enough to be more than you'd get out of Demonic Embrace via Lifetap, quite likely). This then helps keep your Warlock flush with resources to keep casting spells for as long as you need to (and you need to keep casting spells, don't you?).

Health Funnel will kind of do the same thing, except that Health Funnel has a 10 second duration, and if you cast it, you're really going to want to keep up the channel until your Minion has reached full health. Note that in the context of a heavy combat situation, this could potentially result in a Shadow Bolt . Health Funnel / Shadow Bolt . Drain Life pattern of spells, in order to keep both yourself and your Minion "fueled" with health during the fight so that neither of you drop. The important point I'm wanting to make here is that if you swap in a Health Funnel instead of a Drain Life, you'll be extending the amount of time until your next mana costing spell by up to 13+ seconds, which can give you a minimum of 4 mana recovery ticks from Spirit in that time, which certainly isn't nothing.

Drain Soul basically takes this approach and puts it at its maximum version, since Drain Soul can last for 15 seconds. This would be more of a pure DoT "You are already dead, you just haven't gotten the memo yet..." spell rotation for non-elites, and would look more like this:

Shadow Bolt . Shadow Bolt . Corruption . Curse of Agony . Fear (optional) . Drain Soul until dead

The reason for the double Shadow Bolt up front is because the assumption is that you'd be attacking from ~30 yards away, giving the spell projectile a non-negligible flight time, meaning that the second cast would depart shortly after the first arrives on target. Corruption gets cast next because in this build it is not an instant cast spell, so you want to get that casting time out of the way while your target is bumrushing towards you but hasn't gotten into melee range yet. Your target will arrive in melee range right around time that you're able to get Curse of Agony off. You then (optionally) cast (one of) your Fear spells to force your target to waste more time not attacking you. Then you begin to channel Drain Soul, and just let the DoTs slay your target for you (Do Not Pass GO. Do Not Collect 200g.). The nice thing about this rotation is that once you cast Drain Soul, after that it's basically all mana recovery from Spirit starting 5 seconds later, and if you get an Improved Drain Soul proc, that sends your mana recovery up nice and high well after you've gotten out from under the 5 Second Rule debuff to mana recovery from Spirit, meaning maximum reward.



So with all of that in mind, it then becomes a superior choice for my build strategy to invest in 5/5 Master Demonologist and 1/1 Demonic Sacrifice plus 1/1 Soul Link, any of which will augment my equipped spellpower when the Minion involved is my Succubus. Compare and contrast that with investing in 5/5 Improved Drain Soul, 1/1 Siphon Life and 5/5 Shadow Mastery, all of which will only modify the damage of the spells in my spell book, but ignore the spellpower I've got equipped, and then throwing in 2/2 Nightfall into the bargain when going that deep into Affliction rather than Demonology. That's 7 talents (plus a Succubus) versus an investment of 13 talents when going 30-31 talents deep into the respective talent trees.

And that's not even including the fact that 5/5 Master Demonologist is BETTER than either Shadow Mastery or Emberstorm, respectively … simply because Master Demonologist (with a Succubus) adds +10% to ALL damage (including melee and wand and Minion), not just Shadow spells or Fire spells exclusively. Yet at the same time, you can also get other effects out of Master Demonologist, just by switching out which Minion you've got summoned! That's a win-win-win-win compared to Shadow Mastery or Emberstorm, if you're looking for versatility in your Warlock and being able to "tailor" your response to a variety of situations.

At that point, the only thing you really NEED in order to be able to Drain Tank effectively (particularly with a Succubus as your Minion, who doesn't want aggro herself) is to invest in 5/5 Fel Concentration … and that's it. With Master Demonologist and Soul Link working for you (and your spellpower bonuses!) you can get away with stopping at Fel Concentration and then letting the damage stack up in relative safety.



As I mentioned earlier, this build does NOT invest in Demonic Embrace in the Demonology tree simply because I'm planning to use my Spirit attribute on my Warlock for resource recovery, rather than relying on Stamina and Lifetap to shuffle resources between "larger" pools but with a lower recovery rate. Because I'm not investing in Demonic Embrace, that necessitates investing 2/2 into Improved Healthstone and 3/3 Improved Imp to get past tier 1 in Demonology.

Since I plan to use my Minion's mana resources judiciously, rather than indiscriminately, it makes sense to me to invest in 2/2 Health Funnel and 3/3 Improved Voidwalker to get through tier 2 in Demonology. This is because I tend to keep mana consuming Minion spells off auto use and prefer to trigger their use through clever macro scripting instead, keying them to use of certain attack spells my Warlock will use. I'll detail those macros, and how they work, in a subsequent post after this one.

In tier 3 of Demonology, things start getting interesting. Since I want to invest to the maximum extent on all my summons, I chose 3/3 Improved Succubus, 1/1 Fel Domination and then added 1/5 Fel Stamina so as to make my Minions better able to absorb damage (for me). Unlike Fel Intellect, Fel Stamina has a direct benefit when viewed in the context of Soul Link shifting 30% of the damage my Warlock will take to my summoned Minions.

For tier 4 of Demonology, this is pure 5/5 Unholy Power to augment the melee attacks of every Minion except the Imp (who doesn't have a melee attack).

I think of tier 5 of Demonology as being the "empty" (of useful choices) tier. I take 1/1 Demonic Sacrifice only because it is a requirement to get Soul Link later. I then pick up 2/2 Master Summoner and throw in 2/2 Improved Enslave Demon in order to get past tier 5. One thing to note is that the talent points invested into Improved Enslave Demon can be shunted over into Fel Stamina (bringing it to 3/5 instead) if you don't want to invest into the Improved Enslave Demon at all. As it turns out, the ideal investment breakpoints for Improved Enslave Demon tend to be either 2/5 or 5/5 depending on how much a … slave driver … you intend to be as a Warlock. The 2/5 Improved Enslave Demon increase of +4% reduced chance to resist the spell is very beneficial for minimizing opportunities to "miss" or have the spell be resisted when cast, causing the spell to either fail on initial casting or otherwise break early. So having 2/5 invested here actually hits one of the two "sweet spots" for investment into the Improved Enslave Demon talent.

Also note that one of the strategies you can use is to Demonic Sacrifice your Pet for a buff and then use Enslave Demon while keeping the sacrifice buff because the sacrifice buff will last until you SUMMON a new Pet (Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus or Felhunter) … and no, that is NOT an exploit. As advertised in the Demonic Sacrifice talent, the buff is canceled by summoning a new Pet … and enslaving is NOT summoning, just to be clear. Additionally, for those Players who might be new to (or rediscovering) best practices for use of (Improved) Enslave Demon, it is recommended to cast Curse of Shadows on demons before you attempt to enslave them so as to lower their resistance to the Enslave Demon spell (which can be resisted, costing you a Soul Shard for the attempt).

Upon reaching tier 6 of Demonology, all of the investments are finally starting to pay off, particularly once completing 5/5 Master Demonologist. 1/1 Soul Link is then the capstone to the entire Demonology tree at tier 7.



Moving into the Affliction tree next, I invest in 5/5 Suppression, since this will directly combat the chance of targets to RESIST Affliction spells. This gets me past tier 1 Affliction.

In tier 2 Affliction, I invest in 2/2 Improved Drain Soul and 2/2 Lifetap, but then have 1 talent point left to spend before I can get to tier 3. In this case, I invest that into 1/5 Corruption.

Now I know that a lot of people are of the opinion that you either go to 5/5 Corruption, to get it down to instant cast, or go home … but you need to ask yourself WHY that opinion is so prevalent. Well, for one thing, it's just really convenient to be able to cast Corruption at instant cast speed! On a PvP server, this is almost mandatory, simply because you aren't going to be (often) given the luxury of being able to just stand still casting spells. Also, you can be silenced while casting, so having an instant cast time significantly reduces that vulnerability.

But here's the thing … if you're repeat casting Corruption (on more than one target, for example), even if Corruption has an instant casting time, you're still invoking the 1.5 second global cooldown. That means that you'll need to wait 1.5 seconds between instant casts against multiple targets no matter what you do. However, if the spell has a cast time, the global cooldown will run while the spell is casting. That means that with a 1.6 second casting time (at 1/5 Improved Corruption), your casting time will complete just 0.1 seconds after the global cooldown finishes, resulting in next to no casting time "wasted" (so long as you weren't getting attacked while casting). In a PvE context, where it is relatively trivial to arrange situations in which you can spend 1.6 seconds casting Corruption without "delaying" the casting of spells afterwards hits something of a sweet spot for me in terms of getting the most benefit out of a minimal investment.

Also, I need to make a side note here about how the Drain spells as well as Lifetap and Health Funnel work, under the hood. I know that the tooltips on the Affliction talents tend to say damage/drain, but that's mainly to avoid Player confusion. The way that Drain Life and Siphon Life work is that whatever damage they inflict is then added to the caster as health. This means that all you need to do in order to increase the amount of health you get out of the spells is to increase the damage that they do, since +1 more damage is +1 more health drained and transferred to your Warlock. But ironically enough, the same applies to Lifetap and Health Funnel as well, since they're essentially "transfer" spells too. Lifetap "damages" the caster's (your Warlock's) health, and then converts that damage taken to health into mana … and the same thing happens with Health Funnel.

Now with Master Demonologist (Succubus) and Soul Link, that means an extra +13% (in this case, Shadow) damage done to the Warlock when using either Lifetap or Health Funnel to set up the initial "amount" of health to calculate for the transfer of resource(s) between pools … but then Improved Life Tap and Improved Health Funnel will modify the yields per spell cast/channel even more. This means that when you're working with an extra +13% ALL Damage from Master Demonologist (Succubus) and Soul Link, you'll move even more of these resources around than you would per cast/channel (particularly when factoring in spellpower too!) resulting in a need to use fewer cast/channel cycles to move a given amount of resources from pool to pool. In other words, your Lifetaps will be "bigger" per cast, and yield more mana, with a Succubus than they will with any other Minion summoned.

Tier 3 for Affliction is completed by investing in 5/5 Fel Concentration, which brings reliable Drain Tanking performance online (for the first time?).



The final investment is to pick up 5/5 Improved Shadow Bolt. The 20% increase to Shadow damage taken will improve pretty much everything that this build is designed to do, when you're able to critically hit with a Shadow Bolt. Considering that my standard "alpha strike" to open combat involves casting 2 Shadow Bolts back to back before switching over to Drain Soul (because the target will have closed from ~30 yards to ~20 yards by then) essentially grants 2 chances to critically hit from the beginning of any engagement. Combine the Improved Shadow Bolt debuff procs with Master Demonologist (Succubus) and Soul Link and you're already looking at inflicting +33% more Shadow damage (+10 +3 +20 = +33). That's not peanuts. Note that the Succubus spell Lash of Pain also does Shadow damage, meaning that Improved Shadow Bolt procs will increase the damage output of this spell too (although the 12 second cooldown on Lash of Pain will limit how useful that really winds up being).



Now, one interesting side effect of making all of these investments in this fashion is that it becomes possible to do some rather interesting trickery when it comes to maximizing damage output for specific situations. If you're doing a lot of AoE mop ups with Rain of Fire, you can either use your Imp to reduce your threat, due to Master Demonologist (Imp), and make life easier for your aggro magnets … or you can turbocharge your Rain of Fire with Master Demonologist (Succubus). And since Rain of Fire can't critically hit (being strictly a DoT effect), you won't miss not having Ruin in your build. Likewise, I'm hard pressed to think of any Affliction spells that can critically hit, so again, not having Ruin in the build isn't that great of a loss. Indeed, since this build isn't meant to one button spam Shadow Bolt exclusively, nominally less than 40% of the build's casting time will be spent on casting spells that could be damage boosted by Ruin. This then relegates Ruin to the category of "Nice To Have But Can't Afford" in the overall scheme of things, and not having it really isn't that great of an overall loss.

Obviously this build isn't especially optimized for a max DPS output in a raiding context, but that's because this build is more focused on being flexible during the leveling experience from 1-60. If anything, this is just yet another build of mine exploring what happens when moving away from the assumption that the Spirit attribute is trash because it never does anything for you during combat (and that you need Mp5 gear for that purpose instead). To meet that goal, as you can see from this build I'm moving AGAINST a lot of the conventional wisdom so as to meet a goal of creating a mana efficient(!) build optimized for DPM (Damage Per Mana) performance, rather than dumping out the highest damage numbers possible in the shortest span of time regardless of the mana efficiency. Also, I find it rather appealing to be able to make use of both Shadow and Fire damage types with (near) equal efficacy with this build, in addition to empowering my summoned Minions to the greatest extent possible in a way that extends and increases my Warlock's versatility so as to move away from being a One Trick Pony™ that is awesome until the trick doesn't work anymore.



Anyway, if anyone is really curious as to what it's like to play a Warlock this way, the best way I can explain it (aside from a play through video which I can't make) would be, well … THIS.


/point
/say YOUR SOUL IS MY CHEW TOY!
/cast Drain Soul

Roxanneflowers
Posts: 112

Re: [Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Roxanneflowers » Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:32 pm

Useful Warlock Macros

These are some of the macros that I've set up for my Warlock, which I figure other Warlocks will find useful. First, I'll provide the macro, its character count (which can be important depending on what add-ons you've got loaded) and then what the scripting does line by line.



First up, is my Drain Soul macro.

Drain Soul 244/255

Code: Select all

/stopcasting
/cast Drain Soul
/run local a=GetBagName(4); if a=="Core Felcloth Bag" or a=="Felcloth Bag" or a=="Soul Pouch" or a=="Box of Souls" or a=="Small Soul Pouch" then PickupContainerItem(4,GetContainerNumSlots(4)) DeleteCursorItem() end
Line 1 is the stopcasting command, which allows me to interrupt any other spells I might be casting/channeling so as to cast this spell.

Line 2 casts the Drain Soul spell. In this case I've deliberately neglected to specify which rank of Drain Soul I want to use, so as to automatically use the highest rank of the spell that I have available to my Warlock. A side effect of this is that whenever I purchase a rank upgrade to Drain Soul, the tooltip on the spell on my hotbar will automatically update to reflect the increase in rank.

Line 3 is a complex IF-THEN operation which checks if the leftmost bag in my inventory is a dedicated Soul Shard Bag, and if it is, it will pick up the Soul Shard in the last/bottom right slot (and ONLY that slot) of the Soul Shard Bag and automatically delete it. What this does is create an automated process of deleting the "last" Soul Shard in the Soul Shard Bag (if there is one in that slot) to as to ensure that use of the Drain Soul spell doesn't just fill up my entire inventory with an excess of Soul Shards. In practical terms, this IF-THEN operation limits the acquisition of Soul Shards to the contents of the Soul Shard Bag and prevents overflow into other (general purpose) inventory bags. Since if the Soul Shard Bag is partially empty, it will automatically refill from the top/left until reaching the bottom/right, all this part of the scripting does is empty that last bottom/right slot if it there is Soul Shard in it so as to make room for a Soul Shard if Drain Soul is successful. If there's no Soul Shard in that last slot in the bag, nothing gets deleted. Automatic Soul Shard acquisition management, contained in the macro for use of the Drain Soul spell, as an All In One Solution™ to inventory problems caused by using Drain Soul on everything you can.



Next are my Shadow Bolt and Drain Life macros, which I've coded to do something that helps with Minion management.

Shadow Bolt 125/255
Drain Life 124/255

Code: Select all

/cast Shadow Bolt
/script local start, duration, enabled = GetPetActionCooldown(4); if duration==0 then CastPetAction(4) end

/cast Drain Life
/script local start, duration, enabled = GetPetActionCooldown(4); if duration==0 then CastPetAction(4) end
Line 1 casts the Shadow Bolt or Drain Life spell (obviously).

Line 2 runs a quick "sanity check" on whatever Pet Skill I've got in the Pet hotbar in slot 4 (immediately to the right of the Stay command, by default) to determine if that Pet Skill is on cooldown or not. If the cooldown of the skill in that slot is complete, then the Minion will attempt to cast that skill (limited by range factors, of course). Since I arrange my Pet hotbars with Firebolt (Imp), Torment (Voidwalker) or Lash of Pain (Succubus) in slot 4 here, that means that this bit of scripting checks to see if those skills have finished cooldown, and if so, commands the Minion to use that skill. This prevents annoying "I can't do that" verbal error messages from occurring due to this skill being on cooldown at the time I cast a Shadow Bolt or use Drain Life.

In practice, what this means is that rather than keeping my Voidwalker's Torment skill on auto attack, I instead have my Voidwalker's Torment skill keyed to be invoked automatically (if cooldown is completed and the skill is available) anytime I cast Shadow Bolt or Drain Life. This then helps with not only aggro management, but also with mana management, by preventing my Voidwalker from routinely "spamming" all of his mana away by repeat casting Torment every 5 seconds … and thus never getting out from under the 5 Second Rule so as to recover mana in combat. Keying things this way will, of course, mean that my Voidwalker won't be using Torment quite as often as it could, but so long as it holds aggro for me just fine, that's good enough for me.



Last are my "universal" Follow and Stay commands for keeping Pets from freelancing without permission.

Follow 45/255
Stay 45/255

Code: Select all

/run CastPetAction(10);
/run CastPetAction(2)

[code]/run CastPetAction(10);
/run CastPetAction(3)
Line 1 of these two macros puts my Minion into Passive mode, which is the default 10 slot of the Pet hotbar.

Line 2 commands my Minion to either Follow my Warlock (the first macro) or to Stay (the second macro). Slots 2 and 3 are the respective default locations for these two commands on the Pet hotbar.

Snigery
Posts: 20

Re: [Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Snigery » Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:02 pm

Are mp5 ticks meant to occur during a channel spell? If not, I am a bit confused about the spell rotation including Drain Soul as Drain Life is sufficient for reaching mp5, though not if receiving damage. I think that spell rotation does not work at lower levels while completing Demonology tree first without Improved Drain Soul.

I have experimented a little and prefer to have Agony up due to mp to damage edficiency and cast corruption before Drain Soul (again due to mp to damage) because the DoT is alongside the channel. Having Agony & Corruption up with Drain Soul helps to finish off enemy.

Am I doing something wrong? Is mp5 meant to tick and begin while channel spell duration is in effect?

Roxanneflowers
Posts: 112

Re: [Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Roxanneflowers » Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:54 pm

My answer here might be a little tangential to your questions since there seems to be a slight confusion of terminology. I'll try to be as clear with my intent as possible.
Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:02 pm
Are mp5 ticks meant to occur during a channel spell?
Mp5 ... also known as Mana per 5 seconds ... is an item modifier found on gear that you can equip. Mp5 will simply add mana to your pool (up to max) every 5 seconds, regardless of whether you're in combat or out of combat, spell casting/using mana or not. It simply adds mana every 5 seconds. Because most spell rotations have mana costs more frequently than every 5 seconds (the 5 Second Rule of Spellcasting), use of Mp5 itemization is one way to recover mana while spellcasting.

The other way to recover mana is from your Spirit attribute. Mana recovery from Spirit happens every 2 seconds ... however, if you spend mana you will be given a hidden debuff that applies a -100% mana recovery from Spirit effect for 5 seconds. This is why you usually won't be recovering mana from Spirit immediately after casting. Some classes will have talents and/or spells that reduce this -100% debuff for 5 seconds effect so as to continue to gain mana from Spirit after spending mana to cast spells at a reduced rate below normal. This debuff effect is commonly known as the "5 Second Rule of Spellcasting" to adequately explain the effect and how it works. Since mana recovery from Spirit happens every 2 seconds, a 5 second debuff to that recovery will negate/minimize 2 mana recovery ticks following the casting of a spell that costs mana (note: zero mana cost spells do NOT invoke the debuff!).

It is important to not confuse these two sources of mana gain, since they basically follow different rules and game mechanics and depend on different sources. This is why I made a separate post on the topic of (Ab)using the 5 Second Rule to maximize mana recovery from Spirit while continuously casting spells that relies on carefully configuring exactly WHEN mana is spent for spellcasting in a way that puts the costs adjacent to each other (basically back to back) but has a total spell rotation time of 6+ seconds in order to gain mana from Spirit while continuously casting. Note that this phenomenon is why most casters will tell you that Spirit is worthless in combat (it isn't, but you have to "shape" your spellcasting in a way to allow Spirit to work for you while continuously casting) and recommend taking Mp5 over Spirit in your gearing choices.
Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:02 pm
If not, I am a bit confused about the spell rotation including Drain Soul as Drain Life is sufficient for reaching mp5, though not if receiving damage. I think that spell rotation does not work at lower levels while completing Demonology tree first without Improved Drain Soul.
There are various strategies that optimize differently at different character levels and spell ranks, and of course itemization can also make a big difference (spellpower being the most obvious). My discovery relies on the fact that a Cast+Channel repeating rotation permits the recovery of mana from Spirit while casting continuously, which most other spell rotations will NOT allow, due to tempo/timing of mana consumption for that spellcasting happening in increments shorter than 5 seconds.

Improved Drain Soul, while active for 10 seconds, will 2x your mana recovery from Spirit and give you 50% mana from Spirit while spellcasting (so the -100% debuff for 5s after spending mana on spells becomes only a -50% debuff for 5s). This is very beneficial in a solo context where it's not that difficult to ensure that your Warlock delivers the killing blow to your target so as to get the Improved Drain Soul buff ... but if a Pet or another party member delivers the killing blow you won't get the Improved Drain Soul buff, so you definitely want to load up the DoTs on the target before using (Improved) Drain Soul on them in a team context so as to give yourself the greatest quantity of chances of delivering the killing blow to your target while you channel (Improved) Drain Soul onto that target.
Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:02 pm
I have experimented a little and prefer to have Agony up due to mp to damage edficiency and cast corruption before Drain Soul (again due to mp to damage) because the DoT is alongside the channel. Having Agony & Corruption up with Drain Soul helps to finish off enemy.

Am I doing something wrong? Is mp5 meant to tick and begin while channel spell duration is in effect?
Loading up Corruption and Curse of Agony onto a target before use of Drain Soul makes perfect sense to me ... however I wouldn't expect those spells alone in isolation to be an ideal solution to achieving every kill you need to make. They're part of the solution, but not the entire solution ... if that makes sense.

Hope that helps.

Snigery
Posts: 20

Re: [Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Snigery » Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:48 pm

Thanks for the clear response! I feel dumb because I was saying mp5 in reference to mana per five seconds after five seconds. You cleared up a lot.

I'm still confused about channeling mechanics; I had expected mana regeneration to continue after 5 seconds into Drain Soul yet rather this does not happen until the channel is no longer active (either by interruption or ending). Again as you mentioned with Life Tap this is not the case with Health Funnel because it does not cost Mana and mana from spirit continues throughout the entire channel duration. So Drain Soul can last 15 seconds and no mana will tick until the channel is ended, after 5 seconds into the duration.

I find this behavior strange, and again, it seems lower levels do not benefit much from Drain Soul. Overall I like this playstyle, though it is slower and in certain situations where I aggro several enemies I panic finding it difficult to maintain these spell rotations.

I am pleased to see that DoT's are not taboo as it felt weird to exclude them.

Roxanneflowers
Posts: 112

Re: [Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Roxanneflowers » Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:05 am

Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:48 pm
I'm still confused about channeling mechanics; I had expected mana regeneration to continue after 5 seconds into Drain Soul yet rather this does not happen until the channel is no longer active (either by interruption or ending).
I've not encountered such difficulties myself, so I'll need to cross-check what you're saying here on my own Warlock when I get the chance (which won't be instantly). To my knowledge, that's NOT how things should be working.
Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:48 pm
Again as you mentioned with Life Tap this is not the case with Health Funnel because it does not cost Mana and mana from spirit continues throughout the entire channel duration. So Drain Soul can last 15 seconds and no mana will tick until the channel is ended, after 5 seconds into the duration.
That sounds very odd.
Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:48 pm
I find this behavior strange, and again, it seems lower levels do not benefit much from Drain Soul.
Improved Drain Soul is something you need to grow into using. Without the talent points, Drain Soul is simply a weak DoT that gives you a Soul Shard if the target dies while you're channeling.
Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:48 pm
Overall I like this playstyle, though it is slower and in certain situations where I aggro several enemies I panic finding it difficult to maintain these spell rotations.
It is slower compared to other options, but that slower pace gives the build more time to accumulate resources in order to be more sustainable over time and less downtime to eat/drink. That in turn creates a more relaxed playstyle where I don't feel like I constantly need to rush all the time. Of course, that calculus changes in multi-target situations, but that's simply another circumstance to adapt to so the game doesn't get stale.
Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:48 pm
I am pleased to see that DoT's are not taboo as it felt weird to exclude them.
DoTs have their place for Warlocks. However, long duration DoTs aren't always maximally efficient when targets tend to die in under 10 seconds ... so again, context is key.

Snigery
Posts: 20

Re: [Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Snigery » Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:19 pm

Roxanneflowers wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:05 am
Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:48 pm
I'm still confused about channeling mechanics; I had expected mana regeneration to continue after 5 seconds into Drain Soul yet rather this does not happen until the channel is no longer active (either by interruption or ending).
I've not encountered such difficulties myself, so I'll need to cross-check what you're saying here on my own Warlock when I get the chance (which won't be instantly). To my knowledge, that's NOT how things should be working.
What I meant was this; when I first read through your guide and tried the spell rotations for myself, I understood the purpose of increasing cast/channel rotation cycles to be that while channeling, say Drain Soul with a 15 second duration, because a channel spell deducts mana at its beginning, mana regeneration would begin into the channel duration if it exceeded the five second "hidden debuff". Rather, this does not happen as I perhaps wrongly assumed, given your reaction yet therefore I see little benefit of longer mana consuming channel spells for lower levels who do not take Improved Drain Soul, which you already touched on in your response.
Roxanneflowers wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:05 am
Snigery wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:48 pm
Again as you mentioned with Life Tap this is not the case with Health Funnel because it does not cost Mana and mana from spirit continues throughout the entire channel duration. So Drain Soul can last 15 seconds and no mana will tick until the channel is ended, after 5 seconds into the duration.
That sounds very odd.
What I meant here was that I believe Health Funnel is quite a good channel because to my surprise mana regenratiom continues while channeling. I believe it is as you said, mana consuming spells apply this "hidden debuff". Still, I think it is odd that the debuff is not removed until the channel spell is interrupted or ended.

Roxanneflowers
Posts: 112

Re: [Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Roxanneflowers » Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:59 pm

Snigery wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:19 pm
Still, I think it is odd that the debuff is not removed until the channel spell is interrupted or ended.
If that's true, it would mark a major discrepancy departure from how that specific game mechanic works on other servers that I've played on (Darrowshire at Elysium, Light's Hope and Symmetry). This is why it would be necessary to test the prospect for verification of the behavior here on Turtle WoW. It's always possible that a bug has been introduced somewhere at some point.

Snigery
Posts: 20

Re: [Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Snigery » Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:37 pm

Okay, I had tested this before and thought I simply misunderstood you. So, I am home now and just placed a full Drain Soul (Rank 1, I am lvl 22), uninterrupted. I did not see any ticks. I also use Scrolling Combat Text addon which shows mana gains. I saw neither my bar move or any mana gains.

Roxanneflowers
Posts: 112

Re: [Warlock] Drain Soul Linked Spirit (15/31/5)

Post by Roxanneflowers » Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:37 pm

So I had couple of minutes to do some testing with my Warlock on a Training Dummy (in Stormwind, if that makes any difference to anyone) and I can corroborate your findings. For whatever reason ... and I'm not sure why this is ... here on Turtle WoW the 5 Second Rule of Spellcasting is doing the expected -100% debuff to mana recovery from Spirit for 5 seconds after spending mana behavior as normal ... but also imposing a similar condition of (the same?) -100% debuff while channeling of a spell is actively maintained (so expiring immediately when the channeling ends).

For spells with a 5s channel time or less (Drain Life, for example) these two factors do not combine to produce unexpected behavior(s) ... since 5s after spending mana is when the 5s channel duration ends, assuming no spell pushback factors. However, it is something that becomes a consideration with channeled spells that are longer than 5s in duration, such as Drain Soul.

I'll need to do some cross-checking with other classes that use channeled spells with durations of longer than 5s ... so Starshards at 6s becomes a candidate (albeit a poor one for this testing purpose), along with spells like Hurricane and Tranquility for Druids (both 10s channeled spells) to verify the broader implications of this finding.

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