Extra! Extra! Changes for warlocks are a-coming!
I was planning to do a post today about how to select gear as a warlock at any level, but the information which was just release means I'll have to save that post for another time. For now, lets dive right into the changes announced, and my thoughts on them.
Improved Shadow Bolt – this talent now provides a 5% spell critical strike buff (similar to Improved Scorch)
This is clearly in response to Blizzard's stated concern that Improved Scortch was, as they put it, "too much of a unique snowflake." That said, I'm not sure how happy I am about this change. On the face of it it seems very obviously to be a buff, but if this new function of the Improved Shadow Bolt talent removes the OLD function, then this is probably going to work out as a nerf for affliction warlocks. On the bright side, perhaps, it might make shadow destro / shadow demonology a more viable choice (provided more changes are enacted) which will certainly be beneficial to people who don't like casting nothing but fire spells these days.
Improved Soul Leech – this talent now provides Replenishment (similar to shadow priests)
I'm pretty happy about this change. It will add some badly needed utility to the destruction spec, which I'm always happy to see. Furthermore, it turns destruction warlocks into a mana battery, which makes them more attractive for raids. Move over shadow priets! We're here to take your raid spot. =P
Drain Soul now has a chance to produce Soul Shards even if the target doesn’t die.
I'm not quite sure what this means, but I'm really happy to see that blizzard is continuing their recent trend of making soul-shards less of a pain in the ass. Between resummoning your pet after every death, making firestones, summonging people, passing out healthstones, and soul-stoning the healer, I'm ready to accept any change that makes acquiring some souls easier in situations such as PVP, and instances with very few trash pulls.
Siphon Life no longer as an active ability but the talent grants the old Siphon Life effect to Corruption.
What precisely this means is a bit confusing. Fortunately Blizzard explained it a bit further later on. So it seems that the simplest way to put this is that Siphon Life will no longer be a button on your action bar; rather, it will simply be automatically applied when you cast corrupion. Two dots, once cast. Good news for everybody who thinks affliction is too complicated, so-so news for everyone who relishes in that complexity. I can only imagine that the new Siphon Life will join corruption in being re-applied by Haunt.
Curse of Recklessness and Curse of Weakness have been combined into one spell.
More curse combinations! If these keeps up, the debuffer class will only have a handfull of debuffs left. Still, this conjunction of two semi-useless debuffs will hopefully be more useful than their contingent parts were.
Consume Shadows – this Voidwalker ability is no longer channeled but has a cooldown.
Nice little quality of life buff here. No longer will we have to stand still while our voidwalker heals himself. Instead, he can run along beside us while he regens health!
Several other warlock talents have had their ranks reduced, their effects changed or removed. This list includes but is not limited to Demonic Empathy, Shadow Embrace, Eradication, Suppression, and Pandemic.
I'll avoid speculating as to what exactly these changes are. My sincere hope is that the shadow damage buff afforded by Shadow Embrace has been increased, that the amount of dots Pandemic applies to has been improved, and the internal cooldown of Eradication has been lowered. I'm also wondering if, perhaps, suppression is being combined with Cataclysm. Damn, I speculated. >.>
Additional new talents have been added.
I trust they are as generally promising as these have been! =D
Obviously, as the blue post points out, this is all subject to change. I remember there were a LOT of things in 3.0 that I was looking forward to with great anticipation; things which never saw release on a live server. Still, this is at least a good indication of things to come, and we can always hope that things will only improve for the better as this patch is developed further.
In closing, I'd like to thank Blizzard from the bottom of my heart. I want to thank them for being more open with us--the community--than they have been in the past. It makes the game much more fun for me to be able to follow the development process in something like real-time. And I further think it is our duty, as the World of Warcraft fan community, to respect Blizzard's decision to be more open with us. We should respect it by remembering that they could have easily kept all of this secret from us until it was more finalized. We should respect it by not bitching if a change we liked is reverted before the patch goes live.