Why did Warlocks vanish in Cataclsym?

I’ve said in the past that I was going to wait until Cynwise’s current magnum opus was finished before featuring it, but it’s just too damn good – and I’m off for a week. So… Have you ever wondered where the Warlocks went in Cataclysm?

Some time ago, whilst going through a period of disenchantment with what was formerly his favourite class, well-known warlock blogger Cynwise wondered that question. And so he started doing some research, little knowing how deep the rabbit hole would go.

His attempt to answer a simple question has become a fascinating, statistic-rich journey into the very heart of MMORPG gaming – why people enjoy playing what they do, and what happens to make them stop

“What does Bring the Player, Not the Class have to do with the decline of Warlocks? Quite a bit.

The goal of Bring the Player is to equalize performance and utility across classes, in effect to remove the impact of class choice on common endgame activities. Raids shouldn’t be canceled or fail because you don’t have a certain class. DPS, tanks, and healers should all be relatively interchangeable.

So if all DPS classes are equal, what is the reward for mastering a complex class like the Warlock?

In many ways, this is the same question we ask when discussing pure and hybrid DPS classes, isn’t it? If all DPS specs are equal, what’s the advantage of rolling a pure over a hybrid? It’s the same concept at work, only dealing with spec complexity instead of role flexibility.

I think we need a new name for this idea that Warlocks are wrestling with. We already have the Hybrid Tax, the idea that hybrid DPS should do less damage than pure DPS because they have role flexibility. Perhaps we need a Simplicity Tax to capture this question: should complex rotations outperform simple ones?.”

It’ll surprise few regular readers when I say that Cynwise’s posts are pretty long – and there are three of them so far with more planned. Nonetheless, I’ve read every word of every one so far, and eagerly awaited the next one each time. This is really remarkable stuff – deep, insightful, data-led and research-driven writing that penetrates to the heart of far more than just why one class is less popular than others.

Did you know that the Paladin is one of the most likely classes for a player to stick with from 1-85, rather than giving up half-way? Or that warlocks are one of the few classes whose three specs are all balanced, mid-level damage dealers? Did you ever wonder how many separate factors go into a class’s popularity at maximum level? Cynwise covers a huge breadth of detail in his observations in this series, and he’s promising more to come.

I don’t think it’s an exaggaration to say that if you’re interested in how WoW works and why it works, “Where did all the Warlocks go?” is a must-read series.

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