Monday, March 3, 2008

Entry 2 - The Early Years

It's been so very, very long since I've contemplated those first few seasons after I undertook the calling of the Warlock, so bear with me if I stumble along.

The decision to be a warlock was a simple one. Of all the classes I could have chosen, this one appealed to me from a pure ascetic sense. Having known no other worlds besides Azeroth, I was not swayed by the notions of role or mechanism that some of my contemporaries were. I just wanted to jump as far into the dark as I could. Good, justice, all that is fine and dandy, but we all know that evil has more fun.

The first spell at my disposal was shadowbolt. Oh the carnage I have wrecked with shadowbolt! As a young warlock I became completely focused on that one spell, to the point (and I am humbled to admit) of neglecting almost all of my militant skills. Where other warlocks might have bolted once to draw the enemy in before finishing them off with a dagger stab, I would attempt to obliterate things with shadowbolt until they were little more than black stains on the landscape, heedless of the pounding I was receiving and the strains it placed on my mana reserves.

Looking back, I think that I suffered under a painful misconception of the role of my class. Having been given shadowbolt to start with, I believed that a warlock killed things by hurling magic at them, like a mage. Even when I learned the later spells of Immolate, Curse of Agony and the like, still I failed to understand the mechanism of damage over time.

Gaining my voidwalker helped shift my perspective a little, after I realized that hurling shadowbolts endlessly at something was a surefire way of drawing its attention. Using the DOTs gave me more leeway, but the voiwalker always seemed to loose aggro anyway. At this time I was leading with Immolate because of the cast time and front-loaded damage, not realizing at the time the nature of threat, and actually working against my Voidwalker's attempts to keep my squishy self unharmed.

Around the same time, I got access to my first few talent points. Remember when I mentioned misconceptions about direct damage spells? I'll bet you can guess where this budding warlock put his talent points! I started speccing into destruction almost immediately, going for what I thought at the time was a more potent set of tools for taking down my enemies. And in many cases, that statement is true. Destruction is incredibly good at dealing damage quickly to a single target, but it leaves the warlock drained, and requires significantly more downtime between enemies than either Affliction or Demonology.

A small caveat, to help me save face; this was WELL before the revamp of the demonology tree, and the introduction of Master Demonologist and a constant Soul Link. Despite my inexperience, I believe I had guessed correctly, at the time, that Demonology was was least appealing of the three talent trees.

I'm not sure how many other warlocks made the same choice I made in their early years, but I'd be curious to know. I sincerely wonder if my shadowbolt-induced tunnel vision was unique to my experience, or something others can relate to. Has there ever been a class skill that has totally skewed your opinions of your class? Has this changed over time, or have you stuck to your first instincts?

I can say for certain that, over time, I realized that destruction just wasn't cutting it for me. I actually went as far as Conflagrate before I made the switch to Affliction though. if that gives you any indication of my mental state. I 'may' have had the foresight to put 5 points into Improved Corruption, but I can't be certain. More likely I just dumped every talent point into Destruction until I hit the max tier. I'm not sure exactly what sparked my desire to switch specs, but at the time I was becoming more and more involved in the forums, I was more interested in various aspects of Theorycrafting, and was starting to notice the disparity between my play experience and that reported by my peers.

With not a little hesitation, I unlearned all my talents (my, what an uncomfortably naked feeling that is the first time, coupled with some irrational fear that the game will glitch and you'll never get those points back) and respec'd into Affliction. I've been kicking myself for my initial decision ever since, as my grinding efficiency went through the roof (comparatively speaking). Since then I've switched talents numerous times, trying out the update to Demonology, going full into Felguard at the outset of the Burning Crusade, and then switching back into Affliction at 70. To date though, I have never gone back to Destruction beyond the arguably essential 11 point initial investment. I'm not sure I'm willing to call it an aversion, per se, but I think I'd miss the versatility of the other builds.

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