Demonology was the only caster spec that I have tested extensively in the alpha so far. I don’t normally play caster specs because I just enjoy melee so much more, but after seeing the new direction Blizzard had taken Demonology, I knew I had to give it a try. After having played the spec for a few days now, I can definitely say Demonology has a good future, but there are still some problems I want to talk about.
Before I start trashing the spec, I will say that I really do enjoy the big changes Blizzard has done to Demo. Many players are not happy with the switch away, but I believe summoning hordes upon hordes of demons is infinitely cooler than simply turning yourself into an Illidan remodel. In addition to having your standard demon, you can now summon a pair of Fel Stalkers as well as a number of imps based on how many Soul Shards your Hand of Gul’dan consumed. Not only can you spawn quite a few demons at a time, you get to empower your demon squad with the new ability Demonic Empowerment, which is now also how your mastery is accessed. I almost always took the Power Trip talent to augment the ability due to its power, but I also found myself switching to Hand of Doom on quite a few occasions while doing dungeons if the trash was living long enough. The talents felt lacking somewhat overall, as only a few actually worked well together, but I found myself forgetting that problem most of the time because the summoning of demon hordes was so involved. Overall, I enjoyed summoning platoons of demons and then empowering them, and I definitely believe Blizzard is on the right track to making a terrific spec with a unique playstyle and identity.
Despite the strong direction Demonology is headed in, the current iteration left me disappointed; my overarching problem is that nothing I did felt optimal or correct. When I go in to test a new spec, I always carefully look over the abilities and piece together a rotation just using my intuition and common sense and then look for a ‘big money’ moment within the rotation to confirm if I’m doing it correctly. For Retribution Paladins, for example, I found that moment by using Judgment with five Holy Points saved and then dumping a Templar’s Verdict/Blade of Justice/Templar’s Verdict combo into the target. Doing that combo required forethought to make sure I had my biggest abilities ready to make optimal usage of Judgment’s debuff, so getting that big damage from correctly doing the combo let me know I was doing something right. Demonology never really delivered that feeling for me in a neat package like so many other specs do. I figured that satisfying moment would come from summoning many demons, empowering them and then watching everything in my path melt, but I did not notice much change in damage with that method. Perhaps it was simply a number problem, but I believe it is simply a problem with the rotation itself.
The short lifespan of the temporary demons felt like the main culprit behind Demonology’s lack of crescendo. I was able to summon quite a few imps with Hand of Gul’dan, usually following or preceding Summon Felstalker, but Hand can only summon four imps at once and all temporary demons only last twelve seconds. A Warlock player would probably assume, just by looking at the new rotation, that the spec could summon quite a few imps in a small period of time because of how easy it is to generate them with Shadowbolt, but in reality, you will most likely never have more than four or six active for single targets (you can summon many more with Demonwrath for AoE targets). You can run through your four to six imps quickly, but this means you never really have that gratifying moment where you have a massive horde of demons up. I was able to achieve my squad of four imps and two Dreadstalkers in around ten seconds, but I was unable stop casting Shadow Bolt or Hand of Gul’dan or else my flow of demons would stop. Abilities that do not summon demons or generate a Soul Shard are difficult to fit into this rotation, so even though Thal’kiel’s Consumption and Implosion seemed fun on paper, in practice it feels bad to use them knowing I could have dedicated those global cooldowns to creating more demons.
I would love to see Blizzard increase the lifespan of the demons to fifteen or even eighteen seconds and alter how quickly Demonology can generate Soul Shards. It feels very weird that Shadow Bolt always generates a Soul Shard, especially because Affliction uses them in a much slower manner and spending them does more damage. For Demonology the Soul Shard generation/consumption system seems like combo points for casters. If demons lasted longer, then consuming a Soul Shard would mean more and get us away from the spammy style currently; That would also mean reducing how fast you generate Soul Shards, and that would be fine because you could actually use more abilities.
Note: I am not a Warlock main, and I do not even main a caster spec. My viewpoints are strictly from a layman’s perspective, picking up the spec fresh, so any positive feedback on my perceptions offered here are always appreciated. Thank you for reading 🙂