Friday, November 8, 2019

Letting My Fear Flag Fly

The Warlock Follies continue unabated, starring me as a Warlock who'd prefer to be in a good match of Warsong Gulch right about now.

I experimented with just Fearing packs while attempting to use the Voidwalker to tank the one that I've left behind, and I've had mixed results. About 3/4 of the time the baddies that I cast Fear on ran right into another pack, and I went from having 2-3 enemies at at time to 5-7. That's pretty much in line with what I expected, particularly given the closed-in nature of some of these groups.

Given these results, maybe going Destruction is an option to try to quickly AoE down mobs. I'll have to think about that, although I'd prefer to run Battlegrounds with the Lock than, say, instances.


Speaking of instances, I've run Deadmines twice on Dominius. First time, things went fairly well up until the Healer dropped group. Second time, not so much.

Since I hadn't run any instances on Adelwulf back in the day, my Warlock experiences in an instance were limited to the effect that Warlocks have on group dynamics. Just like any player, good players enhance the effect of the group and do a great job of DPS-ing down mobs and bosses. But bad players have a greater effect than, say, your average DPS.

While a Mage, Rogue, or Druid can pull mobs like crazy if they don't watch their threat, the presence of the Demon companion adds a level of complexity that only the Hunter shares. I can't count the number of times over the years that I've experienced a wipe caused by a Hunter's pet or a Demon was set to "Aggressive" in an instance. And then when you factor in the Warlock's Howl of Terror or Fear abilities, well....

Yeah, I'm not the greatest fan of poorly played Warlocks in instances.*

So... Let's talk about some things that I need to improve on.


In the first Deadmines run, almost as soon as we started, the Healer started giving the Warrior tank grief.

First, about tank's lack of a shield. Second, about how he wasn't going to bail the tank out if he wasn't keeping up sufficient rage. And after a few pulls, he started grumbling about the tank's pulling technique.

These grumblings weren't whispers to the group leader (me**), but said out loud in party chat. I've been in runs where I get whispers from someone complaining about another person in the group, but nothing quite like this.

Nevertheless, we kept going and downed the first boss. I'd made a point of the following rotation when fighting, and it seemed to work well enough: DoT the pack, do a Life Tap to boost my mana, Drain Health to add some health back, then repeat the cycle. Instead of a Voidwalker, I opted for the Imp and kept him on Passive until I told him to attack specific targets. This is the "prior experience with Warlocks" working here.

Once that first boss was downed, we started forward, and I realized the Healer remained in place.

I called out for the group to hold up a sec, steeled myself for another set of complaints, and asked the Healer what was up.

He said nothing.

And then he DCed.

"Really?" the tank asked. "Was I doing that bad a job?"

"No," I replied. "You were holding threat well enough, and you weren't running around like crazy trying to pull the entire area."

I took stock of the situation, and started putting out requests in LFG, LookingForGroup, and in the instance chat for a replacement healer.

No dice.

We eventually had to drop group, because without a healer we weren't going to proceed.


The second Deadmines run was, well, different.

Unlike the previous run, I was struggling to keep up with everybody. Not as in running with everyone, but trying to keep the DoTs up and whatnot. I'd also run out of Soul Shards prior to the run, so I was trying to kill as many Defias in Moonbrook as I could to obtain them, make Cookies, and distribute them to the group I was putting together. (Again.) By the time the group was ready, I had even managed to get a Soulstone together, so I figured that if I needed extra shards, I could suck them out of mobs we'd run into.

But still, it felt like I wasn't pulling my weight in the fights, as I was at that level (L18) where you get boosts to some of your other abilities, but not a new ranking in the DoT capabilities. Being specced as Affliction, DoTs were kind of my thing. And not being L20, that meant I didn't have an AoE I could use in an emergency.*** Even beyond that, I felt I was missing something that I couldn't place my finger on.

At the same time, the Mage began running ahead, exclaiming "Look, I'm a tank!!" and aggroing the next mob, forcing the Druid tank to catch up and pull aggro back to keep the Mage from getting plastered.

Oh, this isn't going to end well, I thought.

Two bosses down, we headed into the Foundry, working our way down the ramp. This is the locale where those remote control units the Goblin Engineers drop can wreak havoc. At the base of the ramp, the Druid pulled, and we had another three enemy mob to deal with.

Then all hell broke loose.

I was busy dropping DoTs and when I focused on the main screen again****, we didn't have a mob of 3, but 8-10.

"WTF!" the tank called.



We wiped.

We all appeared back at the graveyard, and the tank asked me "Did you use ss back there?"

For a brief second, my mind went blank. Was he accusing me of pulling all those extra mobs? "It wasn't me," I responded. "I only hit the mob you pulled."


"And," I continued, "I keep the Imp on a tight leash so this sort of thing doesn't happen."

"... I meant soulstone."

Oh crap. I completely forgot to set the Soulstone on the Healer.

"OH," I finally replied. "I thought you were accusing me of aggroing the entire group back there. No, I forgot. Sorry about that."

We got back into the Deadmines and I made a point of creating a Soulstone and tagging the Healer with it, and then letting the tank know I did that.

Or I thought I set it up, until I realized that something wasn't right again, but I didn't have time to find out what it was because everybody was running forward.


We finished the Foundry, and then the DPS Pally dinged. He then surged to the front, exclaiming "I'm the tank now!"

Not again.

This is how it went through the instance, up until we got to the ship. We fought through Smite, went up the ramp, turned right, and then the Pally jumped up onto the Wheel. Everybody else followed, except for me, because the mob he'd aggroed zeroed in on me as I was in the back, and as I was surrounded I couldn't do anything even if I ran.

The Healer jumped down to rez me, while the Pally tank was saying, "Hey, I thought you guys were skilled."

Given that in the number of times I've run Deadmines --both pre- and post-Cata-- I think I've only jumped onto the wheel as a viable strategy to bypass mobs maybe 2-3 times. And this was definitely the first time since roughly 2013 or so.

But still, it was incredibly humiliating, first forgetting to Soulstone, and now not remembering the wheel.

Ah, but things weren't done.

While I was trying to climb on the Wheel after I'd been rezzed, I aggroed that same damn pack again and jumped off the platform into the water to escape them, figuring that I'd lose them after jumping down.

Well, that didn't work, as the pack came down and zapped me from behind.

"You'd better go rez him," the Pally tank said to the (former) Druid Tank, who came down and rezzed me.

"You should have died up here so we could rez you from here."

"Right," I replied, just focusing on finishing this damn thing and being done with it.

Even if I'd have managed to get up on the Wheel that first time, it wouldn't have saved us any extra time as we still had to fight the same mobs because the Pally tank got cute and ran around, picking them up anyway for no reason other than "just because".

The rest of the instance proceeded without incident, but it wasn't until afterward that I realized that I hadn't actually clicked on the Healer before setting the Soulstone, so it was actually set to me. But since we didn't lose the Healer, I was actually spared that further humiliation.


About the best thing that came out of those two runs was that the Rogue in the second Deadmines run, who'd remained pretty much silent the entire run, whispered me at the end that he was going to be doing some dueling and asked if I wanted to come. I told him no thanks, as I had to get going to bed. While that was technically correct, I just wanted to log off and not think about Warlocks, Soulstones, and the Deadmines for a while.

For a person who'd actually played a Warlock before, I felt woefully unprepared for being in an instance as a Warlock. While I knew a lot about what not to do, what I should do was where I was lacking. Rotations are one thing, since you can figure out a mana efficient way of inflicting damage while being out in the field, but forgetting how to do a Soulstone? That's pretty basic --and critical-- stuff.

And the activity a Warlock has to balance is insanely high compared to a Rogue or Mage. Managing the demon, making sure that it is actually doing damage to the right toon, and keeping all the DoTs going means that a Lock's instance activity is actually harder than in the average Battleground, where the Lock is looking more to lay crowd control via Fear nearly as much as DoTs and AoEs. In a BG, a Lock can let their Demon just go do their thing with minimal supervision, but in an instance I was tempted more than once to simply dismiss that Imp so I could focus on the rest of what was going on.

I realize that this was good for me in the long run, as I needed this experience if I'm going to level Dominius up to L60. Better to learn these lessons now rather than at, say, L35-40. I'm not going to lie and say it was fun, however. It wasn't.

*And that's coming from a player who --the past several years, at least-- prefers to play Rogues. My brethren don't make my job any easier, as poorly played Rogues will forget that what they do in an instance affects the entire group, so if you get cute and try to sneak past mobs --accidentally aggroing them-- they all come after your companions if you decide to use Vanish to escape.

**I'm not kidding when I say that I frequently get assigned the job of pulling a group together. And if you knew me in real life, you'd laugh because I'm a big introvert.

***The first Warlock AoE is Rain of Fire, learned at L20.

****I was cycling through the entire pack, making sure I had DoTs up on each Goblin, so I was focusing on the enemy target icon and making sure the right DoTs were present.


  1. One tip for pet management: make a petattack macro for one of your DoTs.

    /cast Immolation

    That way your pet is always attacking your Immolation target, and shouldn't need any more babysitting.

    1. I really like that idea. Won't you also have to update that as you update your levels in Immolation?

    2. No, if you just use the spell name without a rank, it will automatically cast the highest rank spell you know.

      Some people make a macro for every spell so they don't need to deal with spell ranks. That alway struck me as overkill, though. And I play a healer, so using the correct rank is important.

    3. When I used to play Ret back in the day, I'd use the second highest spell rank for some of my spells just so I wouldn't run out of mana. But having dealt with how weak some of those spells are when you're not using the highest rank, I think I'll stick to the highest rank.

  2. That definitely sounds embarrassing and like the rest of the group would have come away from it thinking you quite a noob. ;)

    There is a big difference between knowing and doing though. I've had a fair number of pet mishaps on my hunter too for example. Yes, most of the time the pet's on passive, but then you get one of those AoE pulls full of weenies, so I set it to aggressive for a bit just so it will quickly go from one mob to the other as they die, and generally that's also okay, but sometimes I forget to instantly switch back to passive and then all hell breaks loose... :)

    1. I've tried to err on the side of caution and just let the Imp not provide as much DPS on those huge mobs, like the tons of Scourge with the mini-Boss in Razorfen Downs.

      But yeah, it was incredibly embarrassing.