Putting the “War” in Warlock

February 14, 2011

Blame in on Repgrind. She led me into temptation, and pointed me to The Dark Side.

Last spring, she asked me to play a warlock in the Arena Tournament, to fill out a 3s team with her and Fiak. At that point, I had played a little lock (no pun intended), but I was primarily focused on mage. I decided, what the hey, why not? We got in our 50 matches, got our pets, it wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

While I was boning up on lock, I started playing Liris, on Winterhoof. One of the things I discovered, in passing, was how much fun battlegrounds are with a warlock. So, after working my disc priest up into the 50s, and finding myself lost trying to heal in battlegrounds, I decided I wanted to play my little gnomie-lock again. “Liris” was taken, so she became Lirys Only now, the battleground brackets are 5 levels wide, and start at level 10. I didn’t start at 10, as I was on a questing roll, but soon thereafter, and from that point, probably 80% of her experience has come from battlegrounds. She rolled into this weekend at 51 or 52, and last night, I finished up at 62, pretty much all of it in battlegrounds. Over this last week, I did some of the holiday quests, turned in a few charm bracelets, and had Nick run me through Stratholme, in search of a couple nice gear items (what is with the plate and mail drops???), but other than that, it’s pretty much been all battlegrounds, all the time. By the time I hit 60, I had over 5000 honorable kills, and enough honor to buy the Field Marshal’s Threads, my second set of Dryad’s Wrist Bindings, after having bought most of the useful PvP gear up to that point, and still have a couple thousand honor left over. I snagged a Felheart Belt off the Auction House, and the Grand Marshal’s Mageblade and the Grand Marshal’s Tome of Power as well, and jumped into the new bracket, with almost double the health.

After a few battlegrounds, I’m contemplating dropping back to my Grand Staff of Jordan for the extra resilience. There was a hunter on my team talking about his 8K crits, and I was getting outright owned by rogues, so I need to look at more damage mitigation.

Somewhere along the way, I got the idea of leveling completely through the battlegrounds. Blizzard has made this a viable option, for the most part. With my two BoA pieces, plus the 5% bonus from our guild, a winning Alterac Valley would yield over 50k experience around level 50. Even dropping those two pieces, a losing AB or EotS is giving me 9k experience. The best part? Instead of spending my time doing quest chains – some of which, I hasten to add, are simply awesome – I can spend my time at the auction house, leveling professions, or reading, all while queued for a random battleground. So while not necessarily being the fastest or most efficient way to level, it may be more efficient overall.

The biggest problem, of course, is gear disparity. There are relatively few PvP pieces available on the way up, and they fall in level increments of 10. Of course, at lower levels, resilience isn’t as critical as it is at higher levels. I just stacked lots of stamina, and had Layjos make a trip out to Old Hillsbrad once in awhile to fill up a couple bags with Rumsey Rum Black Label every so often, and all in all, I generally do pretty good. Once DKs entered the picture at the 55-59 bracket, things got tricker, as a leveling lock has very few escape mechanisms. Essentially, I’ve got a 5 minute trinket, and a 3 minute escape with Death Coil. Fear? Too long a cast time when a rogue is carving you up, or a DK/pally/warrior is chopping you into kindling. Howl of Terror, likewise, unless you spec it to insta-cast via Affliction.

I struggled with Affliction, though. For Affliction to really rock, you have to DoT everything in sight. I’ve always had a problem with tab-targeting in general, and the Soul-Swap Inhale/Exhale mechanic isn’t going to really shine if you’re not using it. Additionally, on the way up, not all the spells were there yet. I decided at 30 to try Destro, and liked it. My off-spec is still Affliction, though, so I’ll be playing it occasionally.

Back to gear. At level 85, you can buy a full set of PvP gear with honor, before going for the Arena sets. On the way up, however, you have very few choices, as far as outright PvP gear goes. Almost invariably, you’re going to have to run instances or do quests for gear.  Which takes time away from the battlegrounds and other stuff. Here’s the rub… Lirys is 62 right now. Just doing BGs in the evening, I’m pretty confident I can get her to 65 in a night or two. On the other hand, if I spend that time doing LFG, I may get a couple nice pieces of gear (or I may get drops that aren’t any good to me), I may get a couple of levels, I may… you get the picture. Oh, and I may catch a ration of shit from the other people in the random who see PvP gear, and automatically assume you’re going to .  Yes, what she’s wearing are PvP  pieces. However, if I go out on Wowhead, and do a find upgrade for any of those set pieces, most of what I’m seeing is “drops in Ruins of Ahn Qiraj” or “Drops in Blood Furnace”. Here and there, I see “quests – Zangarmarsh”, but those are a minority. And don’t forget, that’s with the PvE stat weighting. Just out of curiosity, I’ve done a few comparisons with other warlocks of similar level off of WoWHead, making sure on the Wowarmory that they’re still active. Lirys Health, Mana, and Spellpower, in general, compare favorably to locks at least a couple levels greater.

In the short term, I have an easy choice. I can go out to Hellfire in the mornings, and do the world PvP quest to get Honor Hold Marks of Honor, and get the Circlet of the Victor and the Band of the Victor. I could go for the Seal of the Exorcist, however, it costs 50 Spirit Shards. Which can only be gained from running Auchindoin instances, and then only when the 5 towers are in Alliance Hands. Um, no thanks. Not good bang for the buck. By the time I get 50 Spirit Shards, I’ll be knocking on level 70.  So, it looks like I’m going to be spending time in Hellfire. Assuming, of course, there’s anyone on the Horde side capturing the towers back.

Long term, it gets harder, and I can only think that this is going to be the norm from here on out.  Get to the “zero” level (i.e. 60,70,80) and get the new set, then augment with off-set pieces from the auction house, or specific quests that I can knock out quickly.

I’ve been giving thought to professions, as well. Initially, I took engineering, for the “gadget” factor. However, when it gets right down to it, I’ve been a bit disappointed with it for PvP. I have yet to notice a real effect from bombs in a battleground. The engineering headpieces are great, if you’re twinking, but for a profession that is damnably expensive to level, it hasn’t been really helpful. Nitro-boosts/rocket boots are awesome for getting away – if you have  a chance to pop them in time, and you can’t carry a flag with them, and you can’t use them in an Arena. To be honest, it may be me. In the heat of combat, bombs, etc. are just one more thing that my mental “what do I do next” sub-routine has to do. I’m going to make a point to think ahead, and fling more bombs over the next few evenings, and see if maybe I’ve just been doing it wrong.

Alchemy, on the other hand, has served me well.  Something as cheap and simple as a Swiftness Potion, for example. I can’t wait until I can make and use elixirs that last through death. Bang for the buck. And best of all, with the exception of something like Swiftness, you have time to consciously think about what you’re doing.

Given the way I’m playing this toon, I’m thinking  taking up herbalism would make more sense. It’s relatively quick and cheap to level, and I can do it while I’m waiting for the queue to pop. I can make money off of it, and support my alchemy. Not to mention Lifeblood has become very interesting, with a combination Heal/Haste buff.

Gear concerns aside, though, I’m simply having a blast.



  1. Bad on me, causing more locks to come into existence. Hehe. I haven’t gotten mine past 20 yet.

  2. An altaholic like you? For shame!

  3. Been too busy with the high level toons. Kaly hit 85 last night. He’s #4. There have been nights where I’ve done a heroic on all three of the previous 85s … that pretty much kills the entire evening, ya know? :p

    • I hear ya… hmmm that inspires another post…

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