To that feeling, I say: Being a Good Warlock is as much an art as it is a spreadsheet.
Many of us find it hard to explain the feeling when you're really "clicking" on your 'lock. It's a feeling I've yet to match with my limited playing of other classes. Frost DK, the class I've played the most outside of my 'lock, does not have the same feeling. When I'm playing my DK, I feel like a brute. With her, it's more like playing an old button-masher fighting game.
On my Warlock, when I'm playing well, it's smooth. It's a thing of beauty. The best comparison I can make is that it is similar to what athlete's describe as being in "the zone." Training and instinct take over, and the shadows flow from me like notes from the fingers of a virtuoso pianist. Indeed, I often feel like some sort of grand conductor, standing high on a pedestal and gesticulating wildly at my own demonic orchestra.
But things aren't always that way. My play is often far from perfect, and sometimes I couldn't find "the zone" if it were a barn in an empty field and I just smacked headfirst into the side of it. Yet, when we bloggers write about our classes, we're often writing from the best case scenarios, not the worst. Sure, we may talk about troubling mechanics, but I think maybe we don't talk as much about how much we actually suck at playing our class some nights. The zone is great, but it's not all there is to playing. In fact, it's generally a small slice of the time I spend online. And sometimes, it's the most rewarding when you're fumbling around for the right key, boss bearing down on you, and just barely manage to tap it before you get squished. Yep, sometimes it's just luck.
So, I'm bringing 'Locky back. I'm going to admit the things I routinely fail at. A dark confession, of sorts.
I'd like to think people consider me a good 'lock. Maybe not, I don't know. But I've been around for a while, and people seem to stop by here to see what's up with Affliction (when there are, you know, some changes). I'm not a hardcore, bleeding edge player by any means, but most of us aren't.
I simply love my Affliction Warlock. I want others to share that love without fear of being a "failure." Aff'locks (and, indeed, other flavors of Warlock) can be a whole lot of fun, even when played sub-optimally. Sometimes, it's very easy to get caught up in eking out that extra 1k DPS, when our sanity would be better served by saying "F the 1%" and focusing on having fun with the other 99. (Percentages may vary. It's probably more like 80/20, but talking about the "one percent" amuses me.)
So here are some ugly truths about my Warlock play:
- I only use Demon Soul once per fight. It's macro'ed with my guild banner. Even then, I often forget to smash the button. On most nights, I have no idea whether it's conflicting with anyone else's spell (heroism, etc).
- I have to be badgered to provide cookies. Even then, I generally don't eat mine.
- I often forget my Doomguard. He's macro'ed to that Demon Soul button.
- I trust Mr. Robot almost blindly. I've never run a personal simulation.
- 90% of my 5+ years of play time has been spent running as Affliction with my Felhunter. The other 10% was Demo when I'd already cleared everything as Affliction. I've never chosen a spec/pet based on math/EJ alone.
- I overwrite DoTs... a LOT. I cringe every time I do it, but I get paranoid about them dropping off.
- Bane of Agony gets clipped more than I'd like to admit. Generally, I just press the button because I'm used to pressing it. And then let out a big "derp."
- Especially when I'm raid leading, I get lost in my rotation and forget to keep a DoT up. "Oops, went that whole fight without Corruption."
- I don't really pay attention to my DPS anymore. Generally, if I'm looking at a meter, I look at how I'm doing compared to everyone else, usually in overall Damage Done. That's the category I want to "win." The only time I'll use DPS metrics is when testing new builds/gear.
- I don't test things very often, weathering patches with what I enjoy, even if it's costing me some DPS. Only when it looks like something is "in to stay" will I actually pay it much mind.
I suppose the major caveat is this: I'm not a hardcore raider, player, etc. I'm the epitome of casual, and don't place a whole lot of importance of playing "perfect."
That being said, I've raided since TBC and seen all the content. I've been in big raid groups and small raid groups, led both kinds. I've never been kicked from anything, never been greifed about my playing. Though, I will admit that I'm not the most outgoing player, and I try to surround myself with good people.
So, I suppose I should distill this into something potent that you can take home with you. Let's go this route... let's postulate Fulguralis's Keys for Being a "Good" Warlock. (And by good I mean satisfyingly evil.)
- Educate yourself efficiently. In a broad sense, you should generally know what a Warlock is, even if you don't strictly adhere to the idea. Knowledge is power, but choose your resources carefully. You don't want to get mired in minutia if you're only interested in the basics. This goes for both strats and builds. Good Warlocks are experts at seeing the true soul of things.
- Focus first on living. Good Warlocks prize their own lives very highly. Dead DPS = 0 DPS. A lot of people do not understand this. They're so worried about getting the big numbers that they die halfway through the fight. Raid Leaders can't depend on people like that. Instead, look at your Damage Done for a boss fight. It's the actual damage that kills the boss, and that's what you want to be contributing to. If your rotation is sub-par because you're trying to live... so be it.
- Kill what needs killing. This means following directions if you're not the leader, or following the kill order. This is also why I blatantly ignore meters on a lot of trash/add fights. My numbers aren't going to reflect that I swapped from the drone to the spiderlings to help finish them off before they caused the boss to regain life (at great personal DPS expense, I might add). Good Warlocks simply enjoy killing things for the sake of killing things. We don't need to e-peen about it. Act like you've killed something before, even if you haven't.
- Shard your soul. Not the spell, but in real life. Warlocks should have a solid, crystalline exterior that allows us to be true to ourselves and our own Warlocky ways. If you've followed 1, 2, and 3, then you're probably already doing the right thing. Let the rest roll off you. Good Warlocks don't deign to recognize the criticism of others, including other Warlocks. A big part of having fun in social games (I'm finding) is firmly defining your own boundaries. Decide what is important to you, and then be true to that. No one can take that from you.