The Sophisticated Mercenary – or a basic intro to why so many beginner warlocks hate pvp

Today, the sophisticated mercenary is taking employment in Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin or Gilneas, perhaps in Alterac Valley and Twin Peaks, or on some deserted beach or scrag of floating space rock, exchanging his martial prowess for eighty gold and subsequently for imaginary honor points, because all high class warriors know that honor is a currency one magically acquires for doing things that are entirely not honorable. 

Now, the issue facing the sophisticated mercenary in the guise of a Warlock is that he is not built for war.

Let us analyze his war preparations:

Armor: made of cloth, contains decorative metal buckles, sometimes has fire burning on shoulders. 
Armor Grade: C+ (would be a D but the fire on shoulders is cool)

Defenses: imaginary shield pops up above head for a second then fades.  otherwise useless demonic pet provides tangible shield for a few seconds.
Defenses Grade: D

Training: stands in one spot and wiggles fingers and arms.  relies on demonic allies that border on insubordination.
Training Grade: F   (nothing prepares casters for pvp)

Survival Training: imaginary shield that regenerates miniscule amount of health does not increase armor or healing received.  imaginary shield that increases armor and healing received does not regenerate miniscule amount of health. green missile from hands restores some health and delays death by over 2 seconds.  green rock candy restores health and boosts maximum health pool for a few seconds.  green laser beam from hands restores health but interruptable and then death happens. 
Survival Training Grade: A-  (cloth armor removes the higher A and A+)


Despite the great survival abilities, nobody would call 300 Warlocks instead of 300 Spartans when they’re going to war, is what I’m saying.


Are Warlocks effective?

Yes, yes, yes.  A thousand times yes!  But they’re not easy to play well. The difference is that when you’re doing research online to find out how to play a Warlock in pvp, you get lots of advice about how to move, how to think about pvp, how to handle debuffs on classes, how to prolong your survivability, how to juggle cooldowns, etc… you’re researching and being taught “how to pvp” almost from the basics.

When you’re learning to pvp as, say, a warrior, you don’t get any of that.  You get “use this macro for LULZ AND WIN!” and you’re taught how to make a macro to use your trinkets and damage increasing abilities at once and told that you’ll now be a pvp god.  Some sites will have a disclaimer that adds “if you don’t kill your opponent in that time, well, you lost.”

Many classes work like this in terms of basic advice:  unholy deathknights (work up to 5 thingies and then transform your ghoul into the mutated one and pop cooldowns and go to town), hunters (blow all your cooldowns right away and at once), ret pallies (blow all cooldowns asap and win), rogues (look at the warlock and he will die), mages (frost nova ALL the things!)…

You never see such a simplified warlock guide for newcomers.  There is not a single blog or forum post that I have ever seen that says : “so ok as a warlock what you want to do is pop your trinkets pop demon soul and then cast a lot of shadow bolts and win in 20 seconds.”  No, because that’s ridiculous.  The classes I’ve mentioned above in a joking manner have no counters from a Warlock’s point of view when they activate their cooldowns:

Warrior with cooldowns: immune to fear
Rogue with cooldowns: immune to fear
Shaman with totems: immune to fear (more on this later)
Hunter with cooldowns: immune to fear
Deathknight: immune to fear, immune to magic, LOL FUCK YOU
Paladin: ok fine not immune to fear
Mage: I just put them in to quote Allie about “ALL the things”

The warlock with cooldowns activated does not have any immunity to anything, however.  Warlocks, even with all possible procs from all professions and from all trinkets and items, are still prone to fear, terror, polymorph, hex, stuns, the works.  So that’s one issue you’re dealing with.  Warlocks do not have a “stand and cast unimpeded” form of cooldown that makes them immune to anything.

The next problem for Warlocks is that every class seems to have a nearly spammable interrupt (ok, Shadow Priests and Hunters are also pretty shitty with them.  Mages technically have only one but they have so many ways to screw you out of a cast  that it’s sickening).  Interrupts are bad.  Terrible.  You know why?  Because if someone interrupts you, whether they’re successful or not destroys your dps. 

Juking refers to fake casting.  Where you cancel a cast after starting it and let the enemy use his interrupt on you when you’re not casting.   This is actually not a quote. I just clicked that button to move this here. Cool stuff. Ok then.

So you’re fighting a Warrior, let’s say.  You know he’s on top of his game and understands what his interrupts are for.  You however, are not on top of your game and start casting fear.  He pummels you after a second and you’re locked out of spells for 4 more seconds and end up fel firing him a bunch.  Finally you can cast again, but within 5 seconds he can interrupt you again.  And you lost about 5-6 seconds of dps.

What if you’re on top of your game?  Well, you start casting fear, you stop after a second.  Warrior goes LOLPUMMEL and fails.  You now have roughly 9 seconds of relatively freedom to cast spells before his interrupt is available again.  But to make this 9 second window happen, you had to waste 2 seconds.  So if you GET interrupted, you lost 5-6 seconds, if you DON’T GET INTERRUPTED you lose 1-2.5 seconds.  Awesome, eh?

By the way, the slightly extra seconds I’m throwing in here or there are due to human reaction and latency.  If I cast for a second, stop casting, and cast again, there’s a short delay between end cast and start cast (even with macros).  So I round it off to approximations.

The Bad News About Juking

So you are a successful juker and have given yourself a 9 second window against the warrior.  Your face contorts into the best impression of Mel Gibson in Braveheart as he shouts FOR FREEDOM!!!! And you cast immolate… and a second in get thrown on your ass, stunned for 5 seconds.  Ok, you gather yourself back up, start casting and BAM, interrupted, locked out for 4 seconds.  Damn, did it wear off already? Sure did…  Ok, all is not lost.  After your lockout ends, you start casting because hey, his throwdown is on cooldown, his interrupt is DEFINITELY on cooldown for another 5 seconds, and you need to finally do some damage, you’ve done fuck all this entire time.

So ok mr Warrior, prepare to run in terror as I successfully get a cast off!  Wait, what’s this? You’re running in fear because the warrior just cast intimidating shout.

And when it wears off and you’re about to cast, he charges you, interrupting that.  And then interrupts your next cast because it’s available again.

JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU’LL GET A CAST OFF, he backs off a little and suddenly BAM, intercepts and you’re stunned for 3 seconds.  Then his interrupt is available.


So now his intimidating shout, thrown down, charge (15 sec cooldown) and intercept are on cooldown.  He JUST used a pummel.  You’re in the clear.  You cast your fear, excited to put some distance between you two.


Warrior trinkets out of it.

And that’s assuming he didn’t pop berserker rage to get out of it or had it up at the time.

The True Issue

Yes, I embellished that to hell and back, mostly because most people are not going to be that methodical or talented, and most warlocks will not stand there trying to cast something and will pop all the insta-casts they can against this warrior.  Warlocks also have an insta-cast aoe fear which can be used. A death coil.  A teleport.  So yeah, things will not happen the way I overemphasized them up above in this post, but the theory is there.

The main problem with this scenario is that there will be fear of casting with a warrior on your butt, and possibly no casts of value because without a full cast, you can’t get unstable affliction up and can’t get haunt up.

Without unstable affliction, your other dots aren’t protected from dispels and your corruption and curses will simply vanish off the enemy.  Without haunt’s debuff, even if they don’t vanish, they’re not doing anywhere near the damage you want them to do.

What is the warrior doing all throughout this time?


Science has proven that a blindfolded child with a blow-up baseball bat can kill a Warlock in under 10 seconds, so a warrior with one or more big huge swords or axes will do so as well.

The best part of pummel?  It’s off the global cooldown, so the warrior doesn’t break a sweat to interrupt you and doesn’t lose any of his dps time while doing it.

The Ugly Picture

The problem for developers is that our dots are very poweful IF they are all applied and the debuffs are up on a target.  That warrior will not live very long if he’s got a full complement of dots + a bane of elements.  But good luck getting it up there.

It’s not even good luck getting it up there, it’s more, “good luck not being dead before you get your dots up on an enemy warrior.”

The ugly picture is that melee wipe the floor with Warlocks.  That’s how it is.  Get used to it, expect to be slaughtered and it can only get better from there.


Any shred of hope?

Yes, of course! We’re Warlocks not Whinelocks!  For anyone who claims that Warlocks die easily, someone always has a friend or knows a buddy that destroys ALL classes on his or her Warlock.  Of course, great Warlocks are out there, and people who know how to use the Warlock class to it’s full extent are incredibly powerful PVPers, whether in arenas or in battlegrounds. 

I complain about the interrupts and the melee but I don’t think I will die to them one on one, or with a healer.  I know I can beat them, BUT to do so I must be on top of my game.  I must be absolutely brilliant (modesty is my strong point) at my play to do so, while they seem to be ok with being mediocre and still having a chance.

In the game of Warcraft Class RockPaperScissor, Warlocks are scissors to melee’s rock.


Wtf is this

I meant to write something about tips for WSG specifically as a Warlock, but changed my mind and went off on a tangent.  I described a Warrior’s abilities but it can apply for many classes.  If you don’t know what they can do, you cannot beat them, so it’s probably smart to look things up like enemy cooldowns, what they can do and when.  In fact, if I wasn’t such an impossible procrastinator when it comes to blog posts, I would say I’ll present the information in a future post, but we all know that won’t happen now that I’ve stated any shred of desire to write that kind of piece.


You said you’d get back to Shaman later, but you didn’t…

Shit, that’s right.  So Shaman don’t have a fear immunity like the other classes in that list wayyyy up there except that they have two things: a tremor totem and a grounding totem.  One breaks fears the other absorbs the first offensive spell cast against them or an ally.  And they have interrupts coming out of their asses, seriously, Wind Shear with a 6 second cooldown that locks you out of a spell school for 2?  What I’m saying is they don’t have a literal immunity to fear like Warriors, DKs, Rogues  and Hunters can pull off but they are still very well equipped to counter your fears for a decent chunk of time.  And when melee classes are on you and you can’t cc them, your health is quickly, quickly going down.


1 Response to “The Sophisticated Mercenary – or a basic intro to why so many beginner warlocks hate pvp”

  1. 1 Tania November 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Few things make me quite as annoyed as glancing away from your health to help DPS a healer for a few seconds, and looking back to find you dead or nearly dead. Grr.

    Frost mages want to sheep all the things!

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