Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Art of Seduction

Yes, I know, I'm a Druid blogger, and this is a druid blog. But I said at the outset that one of the topics I would write about is my alts, and so today, I bring you an article about playing a warlock. I encourage you all to read it, though, since one of the marks of a great WoW player is not just knowing your own class, but having a working understanding of the other eight classes, as well!

So anyhow, I have a confession to make. For the last couple of weeks, the Rambling Bear has fallen to the corruped influence that is Kirari Jacol, the Affliction Warlock. Sure, when it comes to raiding with the guild, I've been hopping on Surania and tanking it up like a pro, but in my off time, I've been working on gearing up the gnome. Well, at least in the time I haven't been spending grinding out daily quests with the Shattered Sun Offensive. Been trying to save up money for an epic flyer for the missus once she hits 70, and while I could technically make gold faster by farming primals and such, I get bored of that REAL fast.

Anyhow, one of the big things I've been doing on Kirari (or at least trying to do, when groups are available) is running Heroic Magisters' Terrace (Or MrT, if only because that abbreviation amuses me greatly). The first boss has a dagger I desparately need (as I'm using the Continuum Blade, and have yet to see the Netherzim Mind-Blade), the third has a trinket that is absolute sex for warlocks (and shadow priests, I hear), and Kael himself sports some nice gloves (which, admittedly, also drop in normal mode), and I'd love to get a shot (rather, a second shot) at the rare mount or phoenix pet.

Now, for those of you who may have warlocks, or have done Terrace runs with them, you know that one of the most important jobs of a 'lock in there is providing crowd control. And since 90% of the mobs in there are humanoids, we're not talking about banish here (though banish definitely has its place, making the succubi into a non-issue). Indeed, this is one place a warlock will be called upon to summon their succubus and utilize seduce, unless your group is willing to trust in your ability to fear-kite mobs without pulling extra groups (Just be careful, they might then want you to do BOTH!)

The problem with using Selrah (or whatever your succubus' name might be) for CC is. . . well, there are multiple problems, really. Seduce has a lot of limitations that the more mainstream methods, such as polymorph or ice trap, do not, at least not all at once:

1:) Short Duration. Admittedly, this isn't a direct limitation, as you can always re-cast, but with only 15 seconds of duration per cast, your seduce target does require plenty of attention in even the easiest circumstances.

2:) Channeled Spell. Fortunately, since it is your pet, not yourself, channeling the spell, it does not necessarily limit your ability to contribute damage to the group. In fact, it technically opens you up to DPS even more, as you don't need to spend time re-casting your CC every once in a while. It does, however, mean that you need to be extremely careful where your pet stands while seducing, as any damage (from AoE especially) will break the seduce and send your succubus running back to you . . . or worse. . .

3:) Can't Be Refreshed. Yes, your succubus can recast seduction whenever it breaks. But since she has to channel the spell, she can't RECAST it before the first one has expired. This means that not only is it harder to prevent early breaks by recasting long before the spell should expire, but also that at the very LEAST the mob you're controlling spends 10% of the time free from your spell's influence, during which time it is likely to go after either the succubus or your healer, both of which are less-than-ideal situations.

4:) Succubi are Frail. The succubus isn't exactly the most hearty of travelling companions. Last time I looked, Selrah was sporting about 4k health, and I think that was with a fortitude buff. So not only will her taking damage break the seduction, it may very well break HER, too.

5:) . . . And have Limited Mana. Unless you're deep into demonology, there is no way to lifetap and regenerate your minion's mana like you do for your own. And while seducing every 16.5 seconds isn't a huge mana drain, you still have to be mindful of her mana (and that goes DOUBLE for affliction 'locks like me who are used to stealing mana from a phased imp all the time).

Because of these limitations, using seduction as crowd control is a skill that takes lots of practice to master. And while I by no means claim to be God's gift to warlocks, I felt the need to post a guide because of all of the comments I've gotten from people I've grouped with regarding how amazed they were at my ability to keep a mob locked down in seduce. Such comments say two things to me: I do pretty damn well for myself, and there are a large number of warlocks (I'd dare guess the majority of PuGgers) who do NOT.

U Can Has Macros

The very first thing you need on your quest to become a master pimp (Hey, your succubus is the one seducing people, not you big guy) is a focus macro. Actually, I would recommend using a similar macro for ANY classes with crowd control duties; Mages, Priests, Hunters (for distracting shot), and even, dare I say it, Druids. The point of macroing your seduce is simple: without macros you have to change your target to that of the CC'd mob in order to apply/reapply control, a process that is both time consuming (as you have to pick your mob out of the crowd) and dangerous (sometimes you CANT find the right mob fast enough). By writing a focus macro, you never have to take your eyes off of the next mob in the kill order to reapply your control of choice. So what IS a focus macro? Well, try this simple two-liner on for size:

/cast [target=focus, exists] seduction; seduction

Yeah. Thats it. All she wrote. End of story. . . well, almost. I haven't told you how to USE it yet. But that part is simple, too. Just type "/focus" while you have your intended victim targeted to set your focus target before a pull (or you can make a macro for that, too, not a bad idea if you're a shaky typist). Got that? Good. Now whenever you press your seduce macro, it will look for your focus target and, if it exists, your succubus will be told to cast seduce on it. And as a bonus, if you DONT have a focus target, the macro is smart enough to say "Hmm, well, he hasn't specified a target, so he probably just wants to seduce whatever HE is targeting." Heck, if you want to get REALLY fancy, you can go with a more complex macro such as:

/clearfocus [target=focus,dead]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus] Seduction

Which works exactly like the previous macro, except it will also, if you dont have a living focus target, set your current target as your focus.

Preventing Lovers' Quarrels

Ok, now you have a nice, simple macro that lets you seduce your intended target at a moment's notice without having to target them first. All set, right? Well, not exactly. You see, those first four disadvantages I mentioned make it so the successful pimp has to take special care of his subject. You have a short duration crowd control that cant be refreshed, breaks if your succubus takes damage, and cant be recast at all if your succubus' limited health pool depletes. This means three things: You need to make sure your succubus stays at full health, you need to ensure your succubus is out of the way of any AoE, and you need to make sure that your succubus doesn't get eaten by her "man".

The first two conditions are relatively straightforward. Make sure you have health funnel on your bar somewhere convenient and that you keep an eye on your pet's health bar, and you have the first pretty well covered.

As for the second, make like a good trapping hunter and stand to the side of your group, at the very least away from the tank, so that any AoE hitting the main group doesn't strike your succubus. If you're in a situation where you cant be apart from the group, things get a little trickier. Either stand way back behind the group, or if you're feeling daring, have your succubus go invisible, and tell her to attack something behind the group you're planning to fight. Don't let her get to her target, though, we just want her to move to where the group to be fought currently is (or at least further out there, depending on how far she can go without being in a position to aggro the NEXT group when she drops invisibility. When she gets to the desired position, either type/macro the /petstay command, or click stay on your pet bar. That way, even though you have to stay with the group, your succubus will stay positioned where the mobs were, which generally isn't where they are fought, and thus wont be where any enemy AoEs are going off.

The third, however, requires a trick. When I first started playing Kirari in groups, I HATED being asked to use my succubus for one reason: The minute the first seduction expired, the mob would almost ALWAYS beeline it for my succubus and gank her, as her casting seduction was the only threat on the mob. Sometimes I'd manage to get a second seduce off before Selrah bit the dust, but at the end of the second cast she was pretty much guranteed to be a goner. So basically, I got a sap with 1/3 the duration that cost me a soulshard and prep time after every pull.

Eventually, though, I realized there was a simple solution to this problem. Since the tank wasn't going to hold aggro off of my succubus, it was up to ME to hold the aggro by slapping it in the face with a nice dose of shadow or fire. I personally prefer slapping the mob to be controlled with a shadowbolt, if only because it takes a bigger chunk out of the mob's health, especially since I have a number of shadow-only DPS pieces. Searing Pain may be preferable to use if you absolutely need to seduce your target the instant the pull starts, as you can start casting it, hit your seduce macro a split second later, and the two spells will go off near-simultaneously. Talk about a hunka hunka burnin' love!

Anyhow, the advantages of you having aggro instead of your succubus are threefold. First, you probably have a LOT more health than your succubus, and thus are more able to take a hit if it comes down to that. Second, healers are a lot more likely to keep a warlock alive than his pet, so you wont have to spend precious time channeling heals like you would if the succubus were getting hit. And third (and most importantly), unlike your succubus you are MOBILE. Every time you recast seduce, your next action should be to get as much range as possible on the seduce target, preferably in a position where the succubus is between the two of you. This gives you plenty of time to recast the seduce without getting beat on in the meantime. If you're seducing a caster, try to get out of their line of sight, as well, though if they cast spells with >1.5 second cast times, its likely they wont be able to get anything off anyhow.

The Advanced Class

I've already covered what you need to be a decent crowd controller in instances. But there are some extra techniques you can use to get that extra edge in every fight so you never have to blame a wipe on your own failed CC.

First of all, always put a Curse of Shadows on your CC target. CoS reduces a target's shadow resistance signifigantly, and seduction is a shadow spell. If you're absolutely sure the mobs you're fighting dont have shadow resistance, this isn't strictly necessary, but its a good precaution to take, since it will reduce the risk of seduce being resisted or breaking early.

Second, know how to fear kite. This means having control of a feared mob via use of curse of recklessness to suspend the fear effect when needed. Mistakes happen, and succubi bite the dust sometimes, even for experienced warlocks. If your succubus dies, or for whatever reason *coughswipespambreakingCC* runs out of mana, you're going to have a pissed off mob barreling down on you. Instill fear in that mob, and keep an eye on it! If it runs for a nice safe, clear area, you can try resummoning the succubus mid-fight, but most of the time you're likely to have to simply maintain the fear until the group can get to it. Always watch to make sure the mob doesn't run to another group of mobs, and be ready to hit it with curse of recklessness if it tries. Which means moving with the mob, keeping it at a nice moderate distance from you. Too close, and it might break fear and kill you before you can get another fear off. Too far away, and you might not be in range to cast CoR when you really need it. Oh, and dont DoT up the mob you're fearing, unless you're very confident that you can keep a safe distance while doing it, since DoTs greatly decrease the average duration of fear. For that reason, dont use Curse of Agony to overwrite CoR when kiting.

One more thing. If you're like me, and still wearing all three pieces of your Frozen Shadoweave, be very careful using shadowbolt on your seduce target at the pull. Either use searing pain to get aggro on your target, or wait until the first seduce timer is almost up to toss a shadowbolt. Using a shadowbolt right off the bat is likely to get you aggro on ALL of the mobs in the pull, due to the 2% heal you get from shadow spells, which is not a pretty situation , I assure you.


Sharmarli said...

Sheesh I get no credit in this writeup *points at Prophecy warlock forums from a year ago*...I'm hurt *smirks* just kidding by the way. While Sura and I occasionally about individual tactics, for instance I use the fear/CoR much less and rely more on Deathcoil/reseduce and a few other personal techniques than he does.

While you point out above that you often have issues with the seduced mob killing you're succubus I have almost never run into this issue myself. I really can't say why but in most cases the Seduced Mob will usually go after the healer instead of my Succy.

There is a easy remedy to either one of these however and that is Deathcoil. Using Deathcoil does 3 things. 1) The 3 second CC is perfect for giving time to reseduce the MoB. 2) it usually puts some additional distance between the MoB and Succy/healer and 3) It usually generates enough threat so that when the second seduction breaks the MoB goes after the warlock (which definitely has advantages listed above) instead of anyone else unless it's picked up by the tank.

Deathcoil is a huge advantage to maintaing seduction CC. I've been know to deliberately break Seduce with DC before the seduce channel runs out just to make it easy to put the MoB right back under seduction. For those locks that are full destruction Shadofury can also be used in much the same way and in conjunction with deathcoil as long a care is taken not to break any other CC's with the AoE.

When I played destruction spec my typical rotation was Seduce---Deathcoil/reseduce---Shadofury/reseduce. By that time there was something wrong if the group hadn't gotten around to DPSing the seduced target down.

Another thing I wanted to address additionally is group tactics.

Most importantly how/when the seduced mob get's picked up and tanked. Most importantly because of it's reliability or rather lack thereof a seduced mob should almost always be picked up first out of the rest of the CC's. Okay this makes sense for Traps and Polymorph but what about a rogue's sap? Well if you have a rogue in the group using sap be prepared to switch targets. As soon as the seduced target gets picked up by the tank switch targets and seduce the sapped target. It will keep them out of the action much longer.

In short working with the tank can make any run go alot smoother.

Damn Sura, I think I almost typed as much as you did *laughs*.

SuraBear said...

Hehe, hiya sharm. Would have given you credit, but I make it a rule not to name other people in the blog, even if its a positive mention. You're definitely the one I learned a lot of my 'lock tricks from.

I don't know why I always have problems with the succubus getting eaten, while your mobs always go for the healer, but ultimately, neither is a good situation. And deathcoil is definitely a good tool for keeping the seduce target from running rampant, but I prefer to save DC as a last line of defense, rather than a primary tool. I actually used to use instant Howl of Terror as my first "Oh, shit" button, since it has a mere 40 second cooldown, but alas, I have specced out of it.

As for my leaning on Fear-kiting. . . yes, I used to fear-kite the seduce target whenever I could, but over time I got some practice in with the whore (What my fiancee calls her), and as I got used to the idea, I stopped leaning on fear kiting so much. Now I only use it as an emergency measure (or on the Princess fight in Magisters')

Regarding break order. . . it really depends on the situation whether seduce or sap gets picked up first by me. Mind you, I rarely even use CC, let alone multiple forms, but when I do, odds are sap will be the first thing picked up simply because it will break while still dealing with the uncontrolled mobs in the pull, or shortly after. And if I'm dealing with a good warlock and questionable hunter, I may break trap before the seduce, too, if only because I know from experience that a warlock has a ton of options for when seduce goes wrong. Hunters, on the other hand, seem to have a tendency to feign death, then go back to DPSing without regard to the fact that their trap target is now beating on the healer.

Bell said...

Thank you for this article! I just started levelling my baby lock because I found her to be like a reverse resto druid (woo instant cast DoTs!) and loved that playstyle. One thing I was really worried about was being in charge of CC; it seems so complicated when compared to being a healer. This page has been bookmarked now, so if she ever gets to 70 or I am asked to do CC, I have some clue what I'm doing. :)

K said...

Ouch. My comment got eaten.

Let me recap!

Like Sharmarli, I tend to use DC with my seduction. It's very useful when you're running with paladin tanks that are using consecration as a means of aggro generation. Sometimes the mob will wander into consecration, othertimes, consecration wlil wander into your mob. Deathcoil will give it enough run time to get out of any AOE, and enough time to reseduce.

In terms of group dynamics, definately keep in mind what mob is next likely to break CC and cause problems. Sap is #1 after seduce is gone (if sap hasn't already been taken!), but after that, a lot of hunters will sing your praises if your next target is to seduce their trap.

And, if you have two warlocks in a group and one seduce target is taken out, but the other is still up, stagger your seduce with the other warlock, so when his breaks, yours is still up, then he recasts before yours breaks. It helps keep the mob under better control. :)

(Here's to hoping this one posts.)

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