I’d like to start off a few facts about myself as a player to clear the air on the type of post this is going to be:
- I’ve played Warlock as a main since mid-Mists of Pandaria. I’m also a MoP-baby
- I have played all 3 specs but only 1 since Legion
- Destruction has always been my go-to since the core gameplay always had a shtick I enjoy
- I’ve played Destruction to the top end of it’s abilities as a spec for many tiers and I’ve been in and out of top 10 All Stars for the spec on WarcraftLogs plenty of times pre-BFA
- I do not care for balance as long as I’m eventually competitive
- I think the gameplay of Destruction has been in the gutter since Warlords of Draenor mostly due to pruning, abilities turned into talents and giving us good stuff then taking it away later
With those facts laid bare I’m going to touch on my experiences playing Destruction the last 8 years, how it has shaped the player I am today and why Destruction is no longer appealing to me.
Disclaimer - MoP-baby whining
Yep, I’m sure you’ve heard this tune before. Perhaps you may have already expected a cry-post of asking for Mists of Pandaria’s gameplay to return and I’ll tell you now, no, I don’t want that gameplay back in it’s purist form. We essentially still have it with the exception of things like talents. It was a great jump for Destruction into modern WoW’s gameplay as a whole and has shaped Destruction into what it is today but I’m more a believer in some of the ideas Blizzard has had over the years being meshed together to form a different style of gameplay rather than a plain format of old. There is a good reason why people complain about the game being nothing like how Mists of Pandaria was and why degradation of the gameplay is evident with many examples having been brought forward by the community, streamers and youtubers expansion by expansion.
Why I play Destruction and it’s biggest issues
When my friends brought me into the game it was like nothing I’d experienced before in gaming. I remember days and days of leveling all the classes to (previously) level 90 almost fully through Recruit a Friend. With everything being fresh and new to me I liked nearly all aspects of every class I played but in WoW I had heard of the end game content being raids and the focus on one or a few classes being mandatory to be accepted to guilds or raids. At the time I was really interested in Mage and Fire spec but ultimately landed on Warlock since I favored casters and the tankiness was great for a noob.
I originally started playing Warlock as a main around the time Siege of Orgrimmar was releasing and found it to be a very unique playstyle for all 3 specs. Affliction had it’s classic DoT-TAB gameplay where you felt satisfaction taking advantage of Soulburn/Soul Swap, Demonology made you feel a bit like a Demon Hunter currently does but with a twist of being ranged and Destruction had an excellent build and spend playstyle where lining up cooldowns with anything related to snapshotting gave you big hits of damage and dopamine. Eventually, through the course of being in a few guilds during the final patch of Mists of Pandaria, I grew attached to Destruction’s satisfying gameplay loop and have played it 99% of my time since then.
The gameplay of Destruction, for anyone who knows, has never been too difficult since Mists of Pandaria. You build Soul Shards (formally Burning Embers), you spend on Chaos Bolt. The building consists of maintaining a DoT (Immolate), using a filler spell (Incinerate) and a pseudo filler spell (Conflagrate) which doubles as a cast speed reduction when it’s time to dump resource on Chaos Bolt or Rain of Fire for AoE. The in-between of the gameplay was always how well you could min-max keeping your resource coming in and stacking up cooldowns and effects like trinkets for the highest Chaos Bolt or Rain of Fire damage possible depending on the situation. A spec with a simple yet satisfying premise.
When it comes to Destruction and it’s simplicity it’s not the main reason I stuck with it. Big numbers. Plain and simple. Squeezing out the biggest Chaos Bolts and as many of them as possible is what I love about it. The only real skill tied to Destruction is how well you save for upcoming burst periods or pre-Legion where you Shadowburn sniped mobs for more resource. Apparently I was pretty good at it so I sorta stuck with it and here we are in 2021.
What’s to complain about then? I believe the problem Destruction and many specs in the game face is giving us gameplay options then later taking them away, never to return, or turning them into talents. The problem with this design philosophy is that expansion by expansion we are left empty rotationally or are forced into less interesting talents in the same row as the ones that were previously fun or baseline because the balance of those talents sway heavily one way or another or never get balanced and we’re stuck with the same talents all expansion.
I have my complaints and comments on talents that have not seen use since Legion or pretty much never because they just feel too awkward to pick or are just outshined completely by others in the same row in multiple ways including gameplay and balance. I will attempt to compare previous versions of the same rows and ask why X over Y or Z for the rows I find the most difficult to wrap my head around design-wise.
Flashover - This talent is a simple and effective one. No thinking required and offers good damage and tweaks gameplay ever so slightly. Works well for a level 15 choice.
Eradication - I have never disliked the idea of this talent. It offers a great way to give more damage while using your head to figure out to get the most out of it. I think it’s just misplaced as Flashover seems to be the better overall choice for damage and feelycraft (but maybe not in 9.1 due a super small change that includes pet damage in Eradication’s damage% increase). Either way it has good scaling potential if certain gameplay elements work in it’s favor.
Soul Fire - Has anyone actually ever used this? PvE or PvP? The one time I did was BFA, begrudgingly, because it looked like it might have been good during a PTR cycle. It feels like, and always has, a less effective Chaos Bolt with a longer cast time and a cooldown. There hasn’t been much effort to make this talent worthwhile and no amount of damage buff will make it feel good to play or be good for the balance of whatever row it’s placed in. Maybe it’s time for this one to go and have it replaced.
Comments on Row 15: As with many rows pre-Legion this one used to be a survival/CC based row as most of our damage was already in our toolkit with the exceptions of later picks. This row could be much better with a replacement of Soul Fire. Outside of that Flashover is consistent and a nice choice and Eradication has potential but maybe could be moved elsewhere. I just wish there was more flexibility here based on the situation.
Reverse Entropy - Boring talent. It seems to do it’s job as far as simulations are concerned but I never notice it when I’m doing my rotation.
Infernal Combustion - Pretty useless outside of really high haste values as it stands. I liked it in BFA for the time it was good but only because it was something else to do in my rotation that was otherwise something I hated as a whole (mostly due to the RNG of BFA). I’m unsure how this talent could be changed to not be a complete nuisance at low haste values or so powerful it’s the go-to pick in the row.
Shadowburn - Sigh. I hate seeing this one as a talent. This was such a great spell for really getting in those extra shards when they were needed in AoE/cleave situations. I firmly believe should be back in our kit baseline.
Comments on Row 25: This one really is just a complete eyeroll. Boring, useless and frustrating. Hot take: I much preferred Legion’s lineup of Reverse Entropy (but not the Legion version), Eradication and Empowered Lifetap. At least you had two talents in the row that were at odds with each other depending on the situation. And again, this row used to be more survival/CC based talents in the past where as now you’re battling with stuff that do not feel good to pick or that was already in your kit once before.
Demon Skin - Not much to say. It exists, it does it’s job in situations where moving isn’t needed much.
Burning Rush - By far the superior talent in the row for almost every situation PvE-wise.
Dark Pact - I’ve never thought this was a bad talent it just gets completely outclassed by the other two by a long shot. Maybe needs to be moved to a different row of survival talents.
Comments on Row 30: What’s to say? It’s mostly fine outside of Dark Pact feeling left out in almost all situations since avoiding damage passively on low movement fights is good and Burning Rush helps you avoid the avoidable.
Fire and Brimstone - Sigh, again, why is this a talent and why is it less than a shadow of it’s former self? This was so much better as a toggle where you had to manage your Soul Shards (Embers) well to get the most out of it. Lets not even get into how fun AoE Chaos Bolts were with this ability in Warlords of Draenor but maybe that’s a little too good to have back. Even as it stands as a talent it’s completely outclassed in nearly every regard.
Cataclysm - By far the most fun talent in the row along with being the most powerful. It wasn’t swapped once in BFA and I don’t see it ever being swapped for something else in the row without huge changes. I think the only way this is balanced as a talent is if it’s stuck in the same row as Single Target talents.
Comments on Row 35: Another case of eyeroll. There is the illusion of choice here and another middle finger to anyone who thought Fire and Brimstone worked better baseline in an older iteration. This row really needs a hard look at.
Darkfury - Boring and pointless. Shadowfury may as well already do this for having a cast time. But at least Shadowfury isn’t a talent anymore I guess?
Mortal Coil - I like this talent. I don’t think anyone dislikes it unless you’re on the other end of it. PvE-wise it’s good for an interrupt when no one else can, peeling a mob off a player and a self heal when needed. Lots of use cases 10/10.
Howl of Terror - I’m glad this made a return in Shadowlands. Not sure how much use it gets these days as I’ve never once thought of it as useful in PvE but maybe PvPers do. Good to see it back nonetheless.
Comments on Row 40: A great row outside of Darkfury. Maybe Blood Horror should take it’s place and Darkfury should be integrated into Shadowfury or don’t do that and remove the cast time of Shadowfury.
Rain of Chaos - I really dislike the randomness of this talent. It’s powerful, don’t get me wrong, it just reminds me a lot of Vision of Perfection from BFA which was one of the worst things to happen to the consistency of Destruction. I hate the feeling of popping cooldowns and not knowing how much use I’m going to get out of them due to pure RNG. I would love to see this talent turned into our Lord of Flames artifact trait from Legion with an internal cooldown so it’s not completely overpowered.
Grimoire of Sacrifice - I wish this talent had more use cases in PvE. Sometimes I just don’t want a pet in exchange for a useful ability and reasonable damage to compensate for their loss. It’s a shame balance doesn’t play in it’s favor. Also, where is the bonus health from sacrificing your pet?
Comments on Row 45: This row is probably the most interesting row out of all of them. Funny I say that and still have complaints. Well, it’s still a good row I just want to see it changed slightly to be less RNG (Rain of Chaos) and have Grimoire of Sacrifice actually be a more competitive pick.
Soul Conduit - This talent played better when you had something else also randomly refunding shards aka Feretory of Souls legendary from Legion. I can only think of a few niche scenarios this talent would be good and those situation rarely, if ever, happen in Mythic+ dungeons. You can’t make this talent good single target either because then it would be too good in cleave. What a disaster. Unsure why it’s still a talent considering how much it’s been picked since Legion even between all of the Warlock specs.
Channel Demonfire - Good damage, great filler spell and no complaints from me.
Dark Soul - This one makes me angry and has since Legion. Why? WHY? Why is this a talent? This used be baseline and is one of the only cooldowns we had for DPS. Outside of Infernal this is the only actual DPS cooldown period in the entire spec that is Destruction. I’m sure Affliction and Demonology would also appreciate this for pure gameplay reasons and not just damage. What an absolute slap in the face from whoever thought this was a good idea.
Comments on Row 50: Soul Conduit really is a problem and I think Blizzard has to realize that. If you buff it, it’s too good, if you nerf it it’ll never be picked and feels bad to play. As for Channel Demonfire it should stay how it is and be a solid pick for a filler spell with good single target and cleave potential. I’ve already said my piece on Dark Soul; make it baseline where it should have stayed.
Summary: The Destruction talent tree really is a mess. There is simply too many boring and obvious picks that have been taken from us and made talents for reasons that have never once been explained by Blizzard. Really, out of all the things Blizzard could’ve done in Shadowlands, if, and only IF action bar clutter was an issue, why did we get curses back over some of the obvious illusions of choice and things that clearly play so well they probably should’ve been made baseline or were already baseline once before? I haven’t talked with or heard of a single Warlock who is more happy to have curses back over actual gameplay enhancers. These talents have been an absolute disappoint since Battle for Azeroth and all we got was our worst offender (Grimoire of Supremacy, BFA version) removed, Roaring Blaze got a small change and Demonic Circle was made baseline with Howl of Terror taking it’s place. This is far too little for how many problems I personally believe our talents have.
Entitled player asking for things we’ve already had before
I’ll come out and say it right away: whoever is making the final decisions for Destruction the past few expansions don’t have a clue what they are doing. Do I have clue? Maybe not as good as someone else out there but 8 years of experience with one playstyle has shown me the possibilities of what it could be like. The talent choices in multiple rows of the tree for Destruction is downright not up for debate in a lot of situations you put yourself into while playing through a majority of content and the choices are also super uninteresting. In my own opinion I believe if there is a single dominate talent in a row and it’s not revised to a different row, made baseline or change the non-dominate ones in a way that makes them better picks it is a failure of design. I understand that no matter what you will end up with a dominate talent in a row, it’s inevitable but the one thing that has to be realized is that if it’s happening two expansions in a row that it is a problem. There should have been planned changes in the works the moment you see the statistics of a talent being taken game patch to game patch within the expansion previous changes were made. This should be simple stuff to get right.
Here is a list of abilities and talents I’d like to see return that would enhance the gameplay and overall give us some more interesting options:
- Archimonde’s Darkness
- Dark Soul
- Dimensional Rift (including Flame Rift)
- Fel Flame
- Fire and Brimstone (toggle version, pre WoD)
- Grimoire of Service
- Grimoire of Supremacy (pre BFA version)
- Kil’jaeden’s Cunning
- Mannoroth’s Fury
- More survival talents
- Summon Doomguard
A lot of this should be self explanatory as to previous reasons given in the talents section either due to them once being baseline or just to replace ones that are not that great of picks. There are a few I’d like to explain my reasoning why:
Dimensional Rift: This was a fun spell with an excellent animation to pair. If it could return and give a small damage buff when active, like in Legion with Lessons of Space-Time legendary, it’d be a nice filler to dump shards with and gives you something to think about before dumping. It’s also an excellent filler spell for moving positions which Destruction suffers at.
Fel Flame: A nice little spell to spam on the move. It does less than an Incinerate but generates just as many soul shard fragments. Again, great for moving positions which Destruction suffers at.
Kil’Jaeden’s Cunning: If we can’t have Fel Flame I’d at least like to see this as a talent again. Casting Incinerate on the move wasn’t ever much of a balance issue and with how Incinerate sits balance-wise it’s literally on the move wet noodles building for the dessert (Chaos Bolt).
Summon Doomguard: Our single target blaster pet should make a return as a cast, not a summon. Lets face it: we all know Ritual of Doom is almost never used and just not fit for modern WoW and always felt like a weird pander to Classic players. In my experience I’ve not thought once about asking my guildmates during raid to summon it. I’d rather just cast a spell and not think about it much further.
Survival talents: I personally miss the days of us being tanky. I’m not fond of being invincible but stuff like Dark Bargain, Dark Regeneration, Searing Flames (paired with Ember Tap) and Soul Link were cool ideas. The problem is having them in different rows with too many choices between rows. Now we have a single row of mediocre picks where one is clearly superior (Row 30).
Mastery - I hate our current mastery. I don’t like my Chaos Bolts going from 14-18k (inside of Dark Soul’s cast) which is a huge margin with how mid-range my mastery is currently. I’d like to see it go back to being a boring increase.
Soul Shards - Homogenization really took away a fancy UI element and striped us of our Burning Embers and floating orbs. Yeah, I know about the floating shards but it’s just not the same thing to me. As far as gameplay goes I think Burning Embers worked better and allowed us to store up more damage. I feel like I remember in Legion someone asking a question for a Q&A about Burning Embers returning and it being stated as a possibility but I can’t seem to find the source on that. Maybe I just want to remember it that way.
Rain of Fire - The cost of this spell feels terrible. 3/5 soul shards for 1 cast sucks when there is Havoc’d Chaos Bolts or priority Chaos Bolts to be casted. The only real use this spell gets is in Mythic+ and stuff either dies so fast you’re better off casting Chaos Bolt or waiting until the stars align with massive AoE. I really can’t stress how much the 3 soul shard cost makes this spell feel terrible to cast and wish it’d go back to no cost with no overlap or a lower cost with lower overlap.
Pet summon time - Current pet summon time is annoying and not needed. You could remove Fel Domination and replace it with something else that should probably be baseline.
As with a lot of specs in the game Destruction could use some love. Plenty of people that I know thought this would be the expansion we’d see many revamps but we were undersold and Blizzard oversold their own abilities. Hell, more than half the specs in the game were not entirely playable (legendary items included) until weeks before the release of Shadowlands. Should I have expected them to give me special attention? No. Maybe they don’t think anything is wrong with Destruction which is fair enough based on the last 2 expansion releases. No one can know what goes through the minds of those in charge of changes to the game because they simply do not communicate with us on what our issues might be. We’re served up what we get each expansion and we have under 2 years to complain before the next iteration. Communication of the people in charge of particular things like class and spec changes should be better because clearly it’s not working. What ever happened to the exclusive feedback forums? Seems to me like it worked for Mists of Pandaria and ever since has just not worked for Blizzard as a feedback loop. At least in regards to Destruction it worked out very well. Not to say there hasn’t ever been a good addition it’s just not retained much of anything since then. I highly suggest you give the links below a read and you’ll have your eyes opened.
Classes are the vehicle you experience all the content Blizzard puts out. If our vehicle is fun the content is also fun. I really wish there was some more priority on getting them right so people like me don’t have to make long posts about what I wish was better. It really is exhausting thinking patch by patch, expansion by expansion now if the gameplay will progress forward instead of taking a step forward then two steps back.
Needless to say I’m not paid to figure out all the problems and give clear-cut answers with mathematics to back it up. This is for Blizzard to figure out but it doesn’t have to be them alone. Communicate with your players and get it as close to right as possible before an expansion launches. Players want to enjoy playing your game and use their time playing it, especially me. What I’ve enjoyed since Mists of Pandaria has just been through so many different ideas but can’t seem to retain the best of them and seemingly ends up with no more than how it started if you regard Mists of Pandaria Destruction as the template. I only ask for one revision of Destruction and to keep adding on rather than stripping away mechanics and abilities.
I thank anyone who actually read through this complain-fest and I hope anyone who plays a spec and enjoys it, like me, can understand where I’m coming from. I love WoW. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have used so many years of my time to play it and write a lengthy post on how the game could be better in regards to this single part of a class I enjoy.
Side note: As of 11/1/2021 Blizzard has reintroduced the idea of an exclusive feedback forum. This is great but it is yet to be determined how effective it will be. I have high hopes for it.