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Artifact Series: Warlock

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It's time for the Artifact Series to continue with our masters of darkness and fire: Warlocks!

 

We've got three pretty different specialisations to look at for the Warlocks, so let's get started:

  • Affliction uses intense shadow-based magic to drain the life of its victims through periodic damage.
  • Demonology is the most embracing of the demon world, mastering its magics and holding the ability to transform into a demon.
  • Destruction is a master of chaos and fire, demolishing anything that stands in their path.

Affliction Warlock - Ulthalesh, The Deadwind Harvester

 

The Deadwind Harvester, what an appropriate name for a weapon used by those that seek to drain and harvest souls. Let's see if the story is just as well-fitting.

 

"The first necrolyte to walk the world of Azeroth, Satiel, was given this scythe by the titan Sargeras himself. It grows in power as it draws souls from its victims. The Harvester earned its name as Satiel methodically drained all life from the hapless inhabitants of Deadwind Pass, creating a potent magical nexus there in the process. Hunting down Satiel, the Guardian of Tirisfal turned the scythe on her, sending her soul to join those of her victims. Eventually the Dark Riders recovered the weapon and secreted it beneath the tower of Karazhan." (source)

 

V5BPfnG.jpg

 

Now this is a fascinating story which, incredibly, not only mentions some fantastic lore characters, but also fits the concept of an Affliction Warlock perfectly.

 

Satiel, the necrolyte mentioned, was an Eredar under the command of Sargeras. She was an immensely powerful being, introducing a new way of fighting to the world of Azeroth, in which she commanded the powers of the void. The Orcs would later begin to use these powers in the form of the Warlocks. She journeyed across the world to Deadwind Pass, what was once a normal zone, and drained the life from every inhabitant. This only added to her immense power, but she would eventually be stopped by the Guardian of Tirisfal.

 

Interestingly, we aren't actually told anything about which Guardian did this. The Guardian of Tirisfal is a single champion, granted an immense amount of power by the Council of Tirisfal, in order to defend Azeroth from the Burning Legion. The most well-known Guardian to date is Medivh, the magus who led the Orcs to Azeroth, as well as the inhabitant of Karazhan, the tower in Deadwind Pass.

 

We can't really pinpoint which Guardian killed Satiel, but we can narrow it down slightly. Aegwynn, Medivh's mother, was the 4th Guardian to be appointed.; she "vanquished" Sargeras, after which he inhabited the body of her unborn baby, Medivh. This means Sargeras, after Aegwynn's battle, was unable to grant the weapon to Satiel. 

 

Hence, it must be one of the first three Guardians that fought Satiel:

  • Alodi, the First Guardian
  • Magna Aranda
  • Magna Scavell

All three of these are incredibly powerful and would no doubt have the ability to kill Satiel, so we can't really narrow it down any further. Blizzard give no more hints as to who it might have been.

 

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Aegwynn, one of the possible slayers of Satiel.

 

After Satiel is slain with the weapon by a Guardian, it ends up falling into the hands of the Dark Riders. The Dark Riders are becoming a more frequent appearance in many of the Artifact stories, but they have been around for a long time in the lore. Some of you that have quested in Duskwood might remember an NPC by the name of Jitters. He ends up unearthing the Scythe of Elune in the zone, attracting the Dark Riders. 

 

The Dark Riders were initially a group of individuals that attempted to sell fake artifacts to Medivh. At the time, Medivh was possessed by Sargeras, so he saw straight through the illusion. He cursed them to spend all eternity searching for real artifacts, returning them to Karazhan for his use, as penance for their dishonesty.

 

There are a number of occasions where they are found within game, whether mentioned in whispers, books or quest texts. It's a pretty amazing thing to finally see the artifacts bringing them to life in-game, since we've heard so much about them.

 

The weapon itself is a perfect match for the Affliction play-style, since the concept behind it is drawing out the souls of those it kills. I think Affliction Warlocks can walk away from this one pretty happy with what they've got, both in terms of lore and looks. Good job, Blizzard!

 

I don't think an alternative is really needed here, since you've got everything within this artifact already: soul draining, Legion presence, a Titan, The Dark Riders... I'll leave it be.

 

Demonology Warlock - Skull of the Man'ari

 

This might actually be the coolest style of artifact placed into the game in Legion. Let's pray this story is just as perfect:

 

"Before the eredar served the titan Sargeras, one of their greatest leaders, Thal'kiel, had unprecedented skill with summoning and binding magics. Driven by ambition, he reached into the Void and was answered with knowledge of dark creatures unlike any the eredar had seen before. His audacious power grab infuriated the demon lord Archimonde, who struck him down, then had his skull gilded and placed on display as a warning. Today the dreadlord Mephistroth uses it to enhance his ability to summon and command demon armies for the Legion." (source)

 

ZnOpTJv.jpg

 

Now, some of you might be looking at this artifact and thinking, "What is that? An off-hand? A hat? What have they done?!"

 

I'm very happy to tell you that this is actually one of the most unique things that I have seen in Legion and I am so happy about it that I am considering rolling a Warlock. Take a look at the way this artifact is going to be displayed on your character:

 

p6MOemn.jpg

 

Oh yes, a floating skull! The artifact itself is actually a staff, but it's going to be taking on a truly unique appearance. Players will have a floating skull above their right shoulder, where the staff would be held.

 

The appearance is evidently perfect, but let's pray the story holds up. The Eredar were initially a race of extremely talented magic-wielders from the planet Argus. When Sargeras approached the Eredar and offered them the power of the Burning Legion, they split into the two factions that we know today: the Draenei and the Man'ari. The split occurred due to differing opinions between the three leaders of the Eredar. Velen, now the leader of the Draenei, had a vision of what the Eredar would become under Sargeras and so refused his offer. The other two leaders, Kil'jaeden and Archimonde, ignored his warnings and agreed to join the Burning Legion.

 

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Kil'jaeden after receiving his powers from Sargeras.

 

Prior to Sargeras contacting the Eredar, it seems that there were members of the race that were already practicing dark arts. One of the more powerful Eredar, Thal'kiel, had attempted to contact forces within the Void in an attempt to further his power. He was already an extremely powerful summoner and binder of magic, but he wanted more. 

 

Archimonde noticed this audacious grab for power and stopped the summoner immediately. He decided to make an example of him, to show that the powers of the Void were off-limits to his people. The lore of the weapon is slightly strange here, since it names Archimonde as a "demon lord". If this occurrence was before Sargeras had contacted the Eredar, Archimonde wouldn't have been a demon yet. 

 

If we assume this is a typo, then it becomes difficult to describe why Archimonde would have stopped Thal'kiel. When Sargeras offered power to the Eredar, Archimonde immediately accepted his offer, hungry to command the Legion. Thal'kiel took them a step further to more power when he reached out to the Void, so why did Archimonde stop him?

 

One theory is that Archimonde didn't want Thal'kiel to become more powerful than him, so he stopped him gaining the power of the Void. We could also say that Archimonde was perhaps wary of dealing with the vast unknown of the Void. When Sargeras approached them, it was an individual that understood the Nether and understood how to control its power. This meant Archimonde knew he would be granted the power, as opposed to Thal'kiel, who could have lost control.

 

After Thal'kiel was killed and his head turned into a trophy, it eventually found its way into the hands of the Dreadlord, Mephistroth. This is a name that is most likely completely unknown to those that never played Warcraft 3. Mephistroth was a high ranking Dreadlord, his position within the Nathrezim beaten only by Tichondrius and Anetheron, his brothers.

 

SSu0k3R.jpg?1

 

A meeting during the Third War between Tichondrius, Anetheron and Mephistroth.

 

During the Third War, he remained in the Twisting Nether rather than journeying to Azeroth, in an attempt to maintain order within the Nathrezim ranks. Archimonde took Anetheron with him when he invaded,acting as a personal bodyguard to the demon lord. He ended up leading the Scourge against the Great Alliance in the Battle of Mount Hyjal. He attempted to defend Archimonde while he destroyed the World Tree, but ended up dying in the battle.

 

After Anetheron died, Mephistroth became the leader of the Nathrezim; he has since waited in the Twisting Nether, seeking to avenge the deaths of his brothers.

 

The lore for this weapon is, on the whole, pretty amazing. I love the fact that Mephistroth has been remembered (finally!) and will hopefully make an appearance. The visual appearance is just impossible to beat. It's completely unique and I'm so delighted that this is going to be coming in Legion!

 

Destruction Warlock - Scepter of Sargeras

 

This just gets better and better. Let's pray this weapon is exactly what I think it is:

 

"Created through incredible effort by hundreds of Sargeras' servants, this scepter can rip open dimensional gateways between worlds. It was entombed beneath the sea for centuries, then used by the orc shaman Ner'zhul to open the portals that tore the world of Draenor apart, leaving behind the shattered realm of Outland. The scepter was finally secured by the elite magi of the Kirin Tor. Unable to destroy it, they hid it away in a magically protected chamber and put it under eternal watch to prevent it from ever being used again." (source)

 

9j5Rroy.jpg

 

It is indeed what I thought and it's just as beautiful as I had hoped. Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we're going to be wielding the same staff that Ner'zhul used to rip a world apart. The entire premise of Destruction is, well, destroying things. This staff was used to cause Draenor to implode, completely fracturing the world and its surroundings. 

 

For those of you that don't know what happened, Ner'zhul spent a large period after Gul'dan's ascension in the background of the story. He became an important figure once again when Gul'dan died and he became the leader of the Shadowmoon Clan once more. One of the apprentices of Gul'dan, Teron Gorefiend, who had become the first Death Knight, ventured to meet Ner'zhul. He expressed the need for the Horde to grow in power, so he convinced him to aid in opening portals to other worlds, which were more easily conquered.

 

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Teron Gorefiend, the first Death Knight.

 

Ner'zhul was essentially tired of doing nothing other than living as a puppet of the elements once more, so he agreed. He sent Teron on a quest to find various artifacts of power: the Skull of Gul'dan, the Book of Medivh, the Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras, and the Eye of Dalaran.

 

He used these items to start opening portals across Draenor and, through the influence of Gul'dan and his own greed, he forgot his initial goal. He began searching for any means to further his own power, tearing open rifts in attempt to satiate his thirst for power. 

 

Ner'zhul left the Horde behind and journeyed through the portals with his close followers. His greed quickly caught up with him, since Kil'jaeden was waiting for him on the other side of the portal. He tore Ner'zhul apart and used his spirit to create the Lich King.

 

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Kil'Jaeden awaits Ner'zhul in the Twisting Nether.

 

Meanwhile, on Draenor, the portals had created such an instability that the world itself was completely torn apart, hence its fractured appearance as Outland.

 

The fact that the Kirin Tor managed to retrieve the Scepter is actually pretty amazing. Since Kil'jaeden caught Ner'zhul as soon as he left Draenor, one would assume that he held the scepter. Does this mean, at some point, the Kirin Tor fought Kil'jaeden for the weapon? There is no further elaboration on this, but it's a pretty cool thought.

 

They recognised just how powerful and dangerous this artifact was, so they locked it away in order to stop it ever being used again.

 

Once again, there just isn't an alternative to this. I have ideas for some, but Blizzard have done an absolutely incredible job with planning the Warlock artifacts. I'm amazed at how well they have been done and I'm sure I will end up playing a Warlock in Legion at some point. I can't wait to see the quests to gather each artifact, but I can only hope they live up to the hype I'm feeling for them.

 

A simply fantastic job, Blizzard. Best artifacts yet. Let's hope things are just as good for the Priests next week.

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      Blizzard (Source)
      In our next major content update, Visions of N’Zoth, we’re working on some tuning updates to a few specs that are under- and over-performing in various ways.
      Developers’ notes: Specs which excel at DoTs on multiple targets have, over the course of many tiers of content, generally had very high performance on the average. Their DPS advantage in raid encounters that play into their multi-target strength (which are relatively common) is not balanced by a comparable disadvantage in other areas. A small reduction in damage on these specs will leave them noticeably strong in the situations in which they’re strong (albeit slightly less than before), and give other specs more opportunity to stand out at other times. At the same time, a few of the Essences added in Rise of Azshara are not performing as well as we would have liked, so we’re increasing the effectiveness of some parts of them to help keep them competitive with the other Essences available.
      With the first build of the update on our Public Test Realm (PTR), you will see the following changes:
      Classes
      Druid Balance Moonfire damage and periodic damage reduced by 10%. Sunfire damage and periodic damage reduced by 10%. High Noon (Azerite Trait) damage increased by 11%. Power of the Moon (Azerite Trait) damage increased by 11%. Mage Frost Ice Lance damage increased by 20%. Developers’ note: Ice Lance damage hasn’t kept up with Icicles scaling, making builds that ignore Ice Lance possible. The intent of this change is to give Frost Mages a better incentive to use Ice Lance within their rotation, as a DPS net gain. Monk Brewmaster Stamina bonus reduced to 30% (was 35%). Stagger percentage reduced to 90% of Agility (was 105%). High Tolerance now increases the effectiveness of Stagger by 5% (was 8%). Developers’ notes: Brewmaster’s extremely high effective health against Physical damage meant that they are rarely in danger against spike damage that threatens other tanks. This should still be a strength of Brewmaster, but not by such a wide margin. Fixed a bug causing Gift of the Ox orbs to spawn too often for players with high amounts of Stamina. Mistweaver Rising Mist healing increased 30%, and now extends Heal-over-time effects by 3 seconds (was 2 seconds). [Coming in a future PTR build] Developers’ note: This talent is currently overshadowed on its row, and we want to make sure it’s competitive enough to make its unique playstyle a viable option. Life Cocoon now absorbs for 55% of the caster’s maximum health (was 1100% of the caster’s spellpower). [Coming in a future PTR build] Developers’ note: This ability had gotten weaker compared to player health pools since the start of the expansion, and this will help it better maintain its value. Windwalker Rising Sun Kick damage increased by 25%. Blackout Kick damage increased by 10%. Developers’ note: These changes are intended to help Windwalkers perform better in single-target fights. Paladin Holy Glimmer of Light (Azerite Trait) may now be applied to a maximum of 8 targets. Developers’ notes: Over the past year, builds centered around this trait have steadily pulled ahead of all other Holy Paladin playstyles, and to some extent all other healers in high-end content. This change is meant to preserve the gameplay of the trait, but limit the ability to increase its value drastically by stacking every possible bonus that reduces Holy Shock cooldown. Priest Discipline Atonement healing reduced to 50% (was 55%). Mastery: Grace effectiveness increased by 12%. Developers’ notes: Discipline’s ability to contribute both damage and healing is slightly too high for what one character can bring to a group composition. At the same time, we’re making their Mastery stat slightly more attractive. Schism now increases damage done from Priest spells and abilities only. Developers’ notes: This is intended to be consistent with other class cooldowns. Shadow Auspicious Spirits damage bonus reduced to 25% (was 50%). Fixed a bug causing Spiteful Apparitions (Azerite Trait) to be increased by 75% if you do not have Auspicious Spirits talented. Developers’ notes: The multiplicative interaction between Auspicious Spirits, Spiteful Apparitions, and Chorus of Insanity has specifically been a big part of Shadow’s damage scaling somewhat out of control at high target counts. Chorus of Insanity critical strike bonus reduced by 25%. Shadow Word: Pain damage reduced by 8%. Vampiric Touch damage reduced by 8%. Warlock Affliction Deathbolt now deals 20% of the total remaining damage of the Warlock’s damage over time effects on the target (was 30%). Developers’ note: Under certain conditions, Deathbolt provides a degree of single target burst damage that feels out of line for a spec designed around damage-over-time spells. Additionally, it has been the dominant choice for Affliction’s level 15 talent row for much of the expansion. We’re reducing its effectiveness to bring it more in line with the other two options in that row. Essences
      Worldvein Resonance Major rank 1, when used, now additionally causes you to gain +50% bonus to stats from Lifeblood Shards for 10 seconds. Vision of Perfection Proc rate increased by 12%. Unbound Force Major rank 1 damage increased by 40%. Minor rank 1 duration increased to 4 seconds (was 3 seconds). Minor rank 3 increase of duration increased to 2 seconds (was 1 second). Purification Protocol Major rank 1 damage increased by 15%. Major rank 2 now has the potential work on targets that are part of raid and dungeon encounters. Vitality Conduit We’ve rebuilt the way this Essences works, and it should be visually more impactful, as you will now see healing on your targets. As always, changes like these are a work in progress. We are likely to make further adjustments for testing throughout the PTR.
      Thank you very much for your testing and feedback!
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