Tuesday, August 26, 2008

To imp, or not to imp: that is the question:

I've touched on this in the past and have agreed to disagree in the past with other warlocks over this subject.

I originally posted it because we had a low performing warlock in our Karazhan runs that was demonology/destruction. And they'd bring out and sac their succubus instead of giving the tanks the Blood Pact buff.

I had someone, presumably a high performing demonology/destruction warlock tell me that warlocks shouldn't feel obligated to sacrifice their DPS to give the tanks a fort buff.

I disagreed then and I still disagree now (with qualifiers, as most things have).

Blood Pact at max rank (non improved) gives 66 stamina. Improved it gives 86.
Stamina improves health by 10 health points per one point of stamina (10.5 if you're a tauren!).
Feral druids recieve an additional 20% if they have Heart of the Wild (tauren druids 25%).

(In an aside, c'mon Blizzard. Favor Horde much? ... Ooh, next blog idea. Racial imbalance.)

That's 660 health or 860 health depending on if you have an improved imp or not. I don't do math, so I'm not going to figure out how much feral druids would get.

(caveat: My values are obtained by research through WoWWiki. Please point out any errors.)

So the question becomes... when does it become more valuable to a raid to have a demonology specced warlock keep out (or sacrifice) their minion versus keeping an imp out for blood pact?

That's a very tricky, subtle, variable line.

Master Demonology gives you a variety of buffs if you have out certain minions (or if you sacrifice certain minions with Demonic Sacrifice).

Demon: . . Master Demonology: . . . . . . . . . . .Demonic Sacrifice
Imp: . . . . .Decreases threat by 20%: . . . . . . . Fire Damage increased by 15%
Succubus: Increases (spell) damage by 10%: Shadow Damage increased by 15%

In the beginning, when we were starting Karazhan, our tanks needed every little bit of health they could get, to counteract long drawn out boss fights and low healer mana pools (and low tank health pools). Underperforming DPS raidwise that couldn't be made up by one person increasing their damage by 10 or 15%.

Now, our runs are staffed by awesome healers and tanks that are close to 19k-20k health buffed (14-15k unbuffed). Is that extra bit of health worth it? Not for the tanks necessarily, but I still say it's situational.

Splash damage can effect the 8k health priest, who may benefit from that extra 600-800 health? (Counterargument is that healers should be able to keep people up, and there's a reason we have minimum health requirements for raids. Additionally, a high performing warlock that's performing even higher? Possibly the difference between a raid wipe and a raid success.)

(Case in point: This last weekend we downed Halazzi in ZA. Both tanks were dead at 4% boss health. We still downed him. One of the last DPS still standing was our Demonology warlock. Was that the difference? It's unlikely that the blood pact buff would have saved anyone in that group, but the extra DPS could have been the difference!)

For the warlocks who complain that they have to hit soul shatter early and then back off on DPS because they're hitting the threat cap ... having the imp out for the reduction in threat (20%!!!) may be beneficial, and then they can buff the group as well.

We ask people all the time to not DPS to their utmost for the benefit of the raid. We have mages in ZA who spend several fights doing nothing but chain-sheeping mobs. We sometimes need to have hunters chain-trap mobs in the Moroes fight if we're short on priests.

Do we need to have them do it all the time (mages in ZA, sorry.. you're out of luck!), no. But we don't hesitate to expect someone to stop DPSing to help the raid.

A drop in 10 or 15% of their damage to benefit the raid (or allow them to keep DPSing with that tasty 20% threat reduction)... where do you draw the line? When do you say their DPS isn't as important as the extra health?

Has anyone calculated how much more damage they could do if they could go nuts on the boss with 20% threat reduction? In addition to the 30% of salvation? The 2% on their cloak? If they have Destructive Reach, 10% on their SB and Immolate?

C'mon, who isn't drooling at the thought of a 52/62% threat reduction for their top damaging class that sometimes has to simply STOP damaging at all to stay below the tank in threat?

So I've moved SLIGHTLY from my original thoughts.

At very high health pools on tanks and healers and DPS, the small amount of health from blood pact may not be worthwhile ...

(though we still expect our Kings and Fortitude buffs. Why don't we say that little bit of health isn't worthwhile, either? Where do we draw the line on that? We eke out every last little benefit we can get to buff ourselves, why are we not demanding Blood Pact? And yes, I hear you demonology people going: We're ekeing out the most of our damage with that tasty 10-15% damage increase!)

(Maybe the difference is that Kings and Fort doesn't negatively affect the classes casting them, whereas Blood Pact could technically negatively affect the warlock as they then lose out in proverbial damage done.)

... while the increase in damage may be.

At lower health pools or where lots of people may be taking damage or for the mage tank in Gruuls...

Do you see my point? (Rambling and tangental though it may be.)

Where does the benefit to the raid outweigh the benefit to the individual? When does the benefit to the individual outweigh the benefit to the raid?

Such are the questions of our lives. I'm happy to hear comments, criticisms and thoughts! Because honestly.. where do YOU draw that proverbial line? And what is your rationale for drawing it?


  1. Ultimately the success of a raid is determined by all its raiders. We make fun of rogues because they are ALL dps. As a lock, one of our few tools to help the raid is not only dps but what we can provide to others. As a lock it is really limited, mostly to our Imp.

    So yes, as a sometimes destruction lock I have run with my imp. Why? The goal for the raid should be a successful one. I look at the gear in my group. If I am unsure, I will wsp the RL and ask their opinion.

    We need to not only think about our dps but what we bring to the raid. Sometimes that is less dps *gasp* and more survivability.

  2. Also, depending on how many locks you are bringing, you should make the worst performing one

    a) Use the imp as needed
    b) Keep curse of elements up while the others use curse of doom.

  3. I think this depends on the situation.

    In 10 man raids, there is usually only 1 Warlock. Most raiding locks are 0-21-40 so they don't get the MD buff for threat reduction and having to fight with their imp out is going to gimp their DPS by 15% anyway so I don't think they'd need it. I also think threat reduction is multiplicative, not additive so having the threat reduction buff from MD with Salv or Tranquil Air totem doesn't give 60% threat reduction.

    Most 25-man raiding guilds on the server I play on have 1 Affliction lock with 5/5 Shadow Embrace, 3/3 Malediction and 3/3 Improved Imp for a support/dps role and they're stuffed in the tank group. The rest of the locks are generally 0-21-40, 0-40-21 or the 5-46-10 felguard raid spec.

    I've been every spec in the book and generally, even as 0-21-40, if the tank has low health in ZA they don't belong there IMO. I don't think the extra 860 health is going to be that drastic unless your party is undergeared and/or doesn't heal themselves to take stress off the healers. Thats like asking a Demonology/Felguard specced raiding Warlock to raid with their Imp instead. A lot of their DPS comes from the Felguard and it's buffs and taking that away is brutal for them.

    sorry for the wall of text. this was a great post and I just wanted to give my 2 cents.

  4. If fortitude gave -15% healing no priest would ever cast it.


    And this is coming from a normal imping-affliction lock.

    If you're a threat capped uber destro lock running with under geared tanks, maybe then you put the imp out...

  5. No need to apologize, SW:B. :) I asked for commentary and you supplied a good one! Thank you for weighing in.

    (It wasn't 2 cents, it was 25 cents)

  6. Yes, it totally depends on gear level. If the Warlock won't get the imp out when the tank is clearly dying, he's an idiot. On the other hand if the tank is easily taking it and people are forcing the Warlock to sacrifice DPS, they're the idiots.