With all Blizzard expansions comes big change, and their next little gem, The Burning Crusade, is no exception. This expansion will change the way everyone plays, both in PVE and PVP. I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about my play experiences as a warlock:
So I played 2v2 arena fights with my partner, Cronuz, last night, and I decided to test out destruction again for tonight.
Up until this point, destruction has been pretty terrible for arena fights because of a destruction warlocks very limited mobility, in addition to how easy it is to break LoS (Line of Sight) with the many obstacles in the arena. Once you figure out you're up against a dest lock, a fire mage, etc, all you really have to do is dance around one of the pillars and assist on the other target. Arena fights are all about positioning. A lot of the fights, especially at the beginning, start wih both teams jockying around each other for the most advantageous position.
So how does destruction stack up now? Actually with a warrior partner, very well! I don't want to get into too much theory craft, but I will say that the new shadowfury on a 20s cooldown helps immensly, and provides a very viable alternative to the felguard (which is still quite nuts to fight sometimes) for arena fights. With me cc'ing one target, and Cronuz and I burning down the other, shadowfury can often seal the deal, using it as a ranged kidney shot, persay, and locking the target down at the critical moment I need to. I can't get over how incredibly useful this spell is. Does it take a little planning and foresight to use properly? Yep. But it's amazing once you get it down. If I can catch an opponent in just the right situation, I can pretty much ranged stunlock them 100>0. Between Seduce, fear, deathcoil, and shadowfury, It's pretty sickening what this spell can do, in the right situation.
You can't spec shadowfury, and expect to mash buttons and win. You will have to learn how to constantly move around setting yourself up to be in the optimal position. You will have to learn how to dance around just outside of a warriors intercept range, but still in range to launch a few nukes off. Then you will have to weigh the option of repositioning yourself to CC his partner (usually a shaman or priest of some sort), and it is generally a good idea to walk around the long way out of range of intercept (and ultimately hamstring). Once a well geared warrior gets ahold of me, I don't have much time left, and I run out of tricks real quick. All it takes is one mistake, one careless extra nuke, which can lead to that hamstring, and my fate is generally then sealed. It lasts way too long for me to buy enough time using deathcoil and shadowfury combined to regain my safety net of 35ish yards. I really, really wish warlocks had some sort of way to break snare effects on a cooldown. Even if I could only use it one per fight. It's pretty silly that I have to run 3 miles around the edge of the arena to get to his partner (who can also run around the pillars out of my LOS, forcing me into intercept range.)
This is just a small example of the tactical decisions you will have to face. You will have to learn how each of your opposing classes play with their new TBC skills. You have to be very perceptive and plan out your sequence of attacks and CCs, and prioritize them as such, based on who you are fighting with, and against. You can't just run around and spam instacast dots on everyone with this spec. You can't just /pet attack on a target and hotkey your black book trinket, spam a couple instacast dots and win. It takes practice. It takes finesse. It will take a lot of trial and error to master. I highly suggest you setup a perfect set of keybindings to maximize your potential with this ability.
Rogues "can" be a problem, but I'm ok with this, as we need a class that will balance us out. Also, grouping with a warrior is wonderful when fighting against rogues. Generally, the rogues will try to sap me, instead of cronuz, as he can just zerker rage right out of it. The problem with that strategy for them, is that Cronuz can outlive their damage, pop his life giving gem and 2.5k healthstone, and then we're back to the start of the fight with the warrior near full, rogue without some cooldowns, and me no longer CC'd, assiting Cronuz on burning down the rogue. All it takes then is a well place seduce on the rogues partner, and a few hard hitting nukes, (incin, immo, conflag), immediately followed up by a shadowfury to lock the rogue down, and another immo > shadowburn for the win. 8)
For those of you who loved to play 7/7/37 builds, or nightfall conflag builds, you will NOT be disappointed by heavy destruction in TBC. The recent change to shadowfury has made it so that ranged stun + nuke combos can, when positioned and timed correctly, win you the fight when used in conjunction with your CC. The best part is, this isn't really much of a 2v2 spec, but it CAN be used as one now. I can only see the power of this spec growing exponentially as the scale of the fight grows larger, and I am more free to stand behind the lines and throw my nukes out while CCing. I simply cannot express how happy I am with shadowfury.
By the way.. I'm not sure how things are on the PTR, but as of last night on the beta, this is how shards work in the arena. Healthstones do not consume shards during the "warmup" period, and neither do pets. This means that cronuz and I both have a 2.5k healthstone for every match, and mine heals me for about 3147ish due to demonic aegis + fel armor. That puts me at about 12k health between commanding shout and the stone. The only time I had to replace shards was on heavy use of shadowburn/soulfire/fel domination after a few matches. It's really not so bad anymore, and the shard usage is much more manageable now.
Other than the current issue with flying mounts forcing me to land petless, I am absolutely in love with this class moreso than ever before. Affliction tree is just nasty, Felguard + soul link is extremely powerful, and destruction is all about burning peoples faces off once again. Backlash is an amazing talent and I love it when other warlocks sick their felhunter on me, only to proc 4 backlashes throughout the fight, throwing 2.6k crit incinerates back in their face left and right. I'm only hoping that blizzard won't make the same mistake again and put massive amounts of resists as a set bonus for warlock pets again, because it makes banishing an MD felhunter just impossible. I'm all for having powerful abilities in the game, but there needs to be counters for things. Luckily, it looks like the fights are all about using the proper counters in the 70 arena, as fights are drawn out longer and you actually have time to use tactics, switch targets, and change strategies on the fly.
Two thumbs up so far. TBC PvP is the best WoW PvP has ever been.