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Class Balance: Scourge Warlock

By Andy (StrumSlinger) | Fri 15 Jul 2016 09:10:00 AM PDT

Update 7/21:

Hey guys - 

Another round of changes incoming with another preview patch... soon. Here's the list:

  • Scourge Warlock: Arms of Hadar: Damage increased ~40%. (This overrides the previous damage increase of ~14%)
  • Scourge Warlock: Blades of Vanquished Armies: No longer toggles off when you are Stunned or Dazed.
  • Scourge Warlock: Feat: Creeping Death: Updated tooltip to match the new changes.
  • Scourge Warlock: Feat: Gatekeeper's Empowerment: No longer affects Flames of Empowerment. Instead, now increases the DoT damage of Hellish Rebuke by 5/10/15/20/25%.
  • Scourge Warlock: Feat: Murderous Flames: Damage dealt by this Feat no longer receives double benefit from damage buffs.
  • Scourge Warlock: Feat: Power of the Nine ****: Now extends to the new Damage Resistance buff, in addition to the Damage buff.
  • Scourge Warlock: Fiery Bolt: Damage increased ~33%.
  • Scourge Warlock: Fiery Bolt: Reduced base recharge time to 12s, down from 14s. (This overrides the previous CD change)
  • Scourge Warlock: Flames of Empowerment: No longer increases your damage when your AP is full. Instead, applies a debuff to your target when you hit them with an At-Will power. This debuff increases the damage you deal to the target by 2% (+1% per rank, to a max of 5%), and stacks up to 3 times.
  • Scourge Warlock: Harrowstorm: Damage increased ~50%.
  • Scourge Warlock: Harrowstorm: Reduced base recharge time to 12s, down from 16s.
  • Scourge Warlock: Hellish Rebuke: No longer refreshes the duration of the debuff when the target attacks you. Instead, deals another blast of damage equal to the initial damage dealt by the power. This additional damage can only be dealt to a target once every 2 seconds.
  • Scourge Warlock: Lesser Curse: Should no longer fall off immediately after applying in certain circumstances. This was most noticeable with the new version of Accursed Souls, and should no longer occur.
  • Scourge Warlock: Pillar of Power: This power has had a slight rework. Now always casts under your feet, instead of needing to be placed. Recharge time now starts as soon as you cast it instead of when the effect ends, and has been reduced to 10s, down from 15s. You may only have 1 Pillar of Power active at a time, so recasting it while it is still active will move it to your current location. The effects of the Pillar have changed, as well. In addition to increasing your damage, it now also grants you damage resistance while you stand within it. The Pillar no longer builds up and explodes when an enemy enters it. Instead, it lowers the enemies damage and damage resistance, and deals damage to them.
  • Scourge Warlock: Prince of Hell: No longer increases your Armor Penetration stat by 10%. Instead, directly increases your Resistance Ignored and Life Steal Chance by 5%, plus 1% per rank.
  • Scourge Warlock: Shadow Slip: Increased speed by 15%.
  • Scourge Warlock: Shadow Slip: Now provides damage immunity for 1 second after activation, and loses 20% damage resistance per second while it is active, down to a minimum of 40% (this timer persist through rapid reapplications).
  • Scourge Warlock: Tyrannical Curse: Fixed an issue that caused the "damage link" portion of the power to not work in many cases.


Again, these changes are not on preview yet but should hopefully be there with our next build pushed to preview.

As for some other topics:

Temptation still needs love, that we won't really be able to give it with this review. We have plans for it that require bigger changes than we can make right now. I don't want to talk about them beyond that, as plans can change, and I don't even have a concrete timeline for when they will come. I realize that won't be everyone's favorite answer, but hopefully it is better than none.

We'd like to get Hellbringer into a much better place with this module. It's one of the least use Paragon Paths in the game, and hopefully some of the most recent changes can help fix that.

I read through your concerns and suggestions about Shadow Slip - they're interesting, though we've been discussing how difficult it is for classes without any damage immunity from there Shift powers to survive in our splat heavy end-game, so we still want to see how this plays. That doesn't mean it will make it live - and even if it does, if it ends up causing problems we can't foresee, we will reevaluate.

Also want to just post a reminder of our intent - our intent with these changes is not to nerf the Scourge Warlock. While they have a few outstanding powers, overall, they are underperforming, and we want to bring up the class as a whole while making the "crutch" powers like Tyrannical Threat not an absolute must-have for the class to function.


Original Post:

The Scourge Warlock presented a different, though similar, set of problems to the Hunter Ranger. While not dominated solely by one build, the second build relied on bugs to be viable.

This is my sad face -> :(

For the Damnation build to work, it relied on Soul Puppets unintentionally getting buffed by various large scale buffs intended for enemy critters – like the Epic Dungeon buffs. Clearly, this was not something we wanted, so we fixed that. Then we made a lot of changes to Soul Puppets so that they can still be effective in end-game dungeons, without being overpowered – they gain a percentage of your max HP, and we made it so they gain a fair amount of many other defensive stats – such as Damage Resistance, Life Steal Chance, and Deflection Chance – so that gearing up at end game continues to grow the effectiveness of your Soul Puppet.

Analysis of Scourge Warlock data was of course useful:

While this makes it clear that Tyrannical Threat and Immolation Spirits are the clear Daily power winners, across the board, the main thing we noticed was – Warlocks were predominantly Soulbinders. While the Soulbinder Paragon Path does add an interesting new resource mechanic to the class, the real crux of the issue came down to Essence Defiler, Immolation Spirits, and Soul Scorch being awesome powers, while the Hellbringer powers, especially Hellish Rebuke and Gates of Hell… weren’t. The main drawback with these Hellbringer powers (as well as many other Scourge Warlock powers) was their very long activation times. We reduced the activation time of Hellish Rebuke from 1.2s down to 0.8s, so it should feel much more responsive, and gave it a lot more upfront damage. For Gates of Hell, we reduced the activation time from 5.35s (such slow, very cast time, wow) down to 2.2s. It also knocks its targets down now, too. We also reduced the activation times of many other Scourge Warlock powers to help them feel more responsive, and less stuck-in-place.

Tyrannical Threat was also a problem. In addition to the base power being very abusable, with great big damage loops being possible, it had a bug that made it increase your damage by 40%, instead of the stated 20%. It also had lots of weird interactions (both positive and negative) as a replacement for your normal Warlock’s Curse. So, we made some big changes to Tyrannical Threat:

  • Tyrannical Threat: Renamed to Tyrannical Curse. No longer causes your normal Warlock's Curse to be replaced by Tyrannical Curse. Instead, immediately casts Tyrannical Curse on your target. This means you can no longer have multiple targets affected by Tyrannical Curse at the same time.
  • Tyrannical Curse:  Was actually increasing the damage you deal to the target by ~40%, instead of the stated 20%. Now properly only increases your damage by 20%.
  • Tyrannical Curse: The initial damage dealt by this power will now properly be affected by damage buffs, debuffs, and immunities.
  • Tyrannical Curse: Your regular Warlock's Curse can be placed alongside this power now. However, the damage increase caused by Tyrannical Curse and Warlock's Curse do not stack.


This means that now, your Daily Power no longer replaces your normal Warlock’s Curse with Tyrannical Curse, which would let you have 3 of them out at a time. The Daily Power now applies 1 copy of Tyrannical Curse to your target, and you can’t have more than one out. This is clearly a big change, but it was unfortunately necessary as Tyrannical Threat was so much further ahead of all other Daily Powers. It’s still an incredibly useful power, but other Dailies actually have a chance to compete with it.

One other big area of concern was the Curse Consume mechanic – many felt that it ran counter to the core mechanic of placing Curses on your target. To some extent, we agreed. Mostly, though, we felt like if something was going to remove my curse, it better feel worth it. In many cases, this wasn’t happening, or it was at least very frustrating to setup (like Dread Theft). So we took a big pass at Curse Consume and Curse Synergies:

  • Curse Consume: Renamed to Warlock's Curse Consume. Now only triggers from and consumes Warlock's Curse, not Lesser Curse or Tyrannical Curse. This will allow you to have more control over when you want these effects, and won't remove curses you don't want removed.
  • Dreadtheft: No longer consumes Curses. Instead, now has a similar effect as a Curse Synergy. While you are using Dreadtheft, affected Cursed targets take increased damage from all sources, and you gain damage resistance based on the number of Cursed targets hit. Both of these effects stop occurring when you stop maintaining Dreadtheft.
  • Deadly Curse: Increased the base damage dealt when applying your Warlock's Curse, but reduced the rank up benefits to 10% per rank, down from 12% per rank. Net result at rank 4 is a ~35% damage increase.
  • Fiery Bolt: The Curse Consume effect has been replaced with a Curse Synergy effect. Curse Synergy now causes secondary targets to take full damage.
  • Hadar's Grasp: Previously, the Curse Consume behavior stated that it doubled the duration of the lift. However, this is not what it did. Instead, it increased the duration by 50% and applied a stacking debuff that would lower the targets damage resistance from armor by 3% for every stack. For players that did not have enough Armor Penetration to fully negate all damage resistance from armor, this could be fairly powerful. For anyone that had enough Armor Penetration, this debuff would do nothing. As such, we have changed the behavior and updated the tooltip accordingly. The new behavior for the Warlock's Curse Consume is: Increases the duration of the lift by 50%, and causes the target to take 15% more damage from Curses and Soul Puppets. This effect does not stack.
  • Feat: Parting Blasphemy: Damage increased to 10% per rank, up from 1.2%.
  • Feat: Relentless Curse: Redesigned. Now has a 20% chance per rank to apply Lesser Curse to a target when you remove your Warlock's Curse from that target.


This means that there are now only 4 powers with Warlock’s Curse Consume effects, and if you choose to use those powers, everyone has access to the Feats that makes removing curses valuable, as well as ways to make reapplying curse feel good. Internally, we see builds splitting on the “build for Curse Consume” or “build for Curse Synergy” side, and they’re both fun and viable.

One other issue we heard brought up about Scourge Warlocks repeatedly was their lack of survivability options. Warlock survivability took a big hit when Life Steal got its big revamp. We have some long-term plans to address Life Steal for Warlocks, though that won’t be coming just yet. However, we did make several changes to help address Warlock survivability:

  • Shadow Slip: Now starts off granting 60% damage resistance when activated. This value then decreases by 5% every 0.5s, down to a minimum of 40%. This value is maintained between rapid reapplications.
  • Shadow Walk: No longer increases your movement speed while Shadow Slipping. Instead, increases your movement speed at all times, and grants a small amount of Deflection Chance and Life Steal Chance.
  • Blades of Vanquished Armies: Now increases your Deflection Chance while active. Amount of Deflection increases with each rank up, starting at 10% at rank 1, and reaching 25% at rank 4.
  • Infernal Spheres: Now grants you 5% Damage Resistance for each sphere surrounding you. This power can now be toggled off so that you don't have to wait for all spheres to fire before being able to recast it.


There are several other smaller tweaks that will help with survivability, but these have made noticeable improvements internally, both in end-game play (where the damage resistance from Shadow Slip can help survive getting hit by a splat), and in solo play, where swapping in Infernal Spheres or Blades of Vanquished Armies (or both) can help immensely.

For good measure, here are some other patch notes worth pointing out early:

  • Accursed Souls: Now applies Lesser Curse to all affected targets, in addition to its existing effects.
  • Brood of Hadar: Spawned broodlings now deal additional damage over time, equal to double the initial damage they deal.
  • Immolation Spirits: No longer consumes Soul Sparks or gains bonus damage or damage resistance based on consuming them. Instead, base damage of the summoned critters attacks has been increased by 50%, and their attacks have a 50% chance to grant you a Soul Spark. As they no longer receive bonus damage resistance, they now always have 50% damage resistance, up from their old base of 34% at level 70.
  • Lesser Curse: Damage increased ~25%.
  • Feat: Creeping Death: Can now proc when hitting a target affected by any of your Curses, instead of just Warlock's Curse and Tyrannical Curse. This means Lesser Curses and Warlock's Bargain will now enable Creeping Death.
  • Feat: Creeping Death: Instead of triggering off any necrotic damage dealt by you, this Feat now triggers off of any damage dealt by your At-Will, Encounter, and Daily powers. This means more powers now work with this (powers that deal Fire damage, such as Hellish Rebuke, Killing Flames, and Immolation Spirits), but certain triggers from Class Features and other Feats will no longer proc small amounts of damage (for example, it no longer procs from Deadly Curse, Critical Promise, or Executioner's Gift).


Again, this is not the full list, though many of the others are smaller tweaks to individual powers. Check out the forum thread with the patch notes for more info and stay tuned for our blog on the Guardian Fighter.

   -Chris “Amenar” Matz

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