Today, I think we should stop to consider a weapon well associated with the true symbolism of warlocks…the Scythe. Developed as an agricultural tool, the Scythe has a long handle like a staff or pole-arm with a long curved blade protruding at an angle. It’s used for cutting crops and harvesting grain. No, we’re not going to be talking about doing menial chores on your farm at Halfhill. Instead, we’re going to be talking about our last Level 15 talent choice known as Harvest Life. Like the Scythe, our Harvest Life ability is a handy tool to have when the timing is right.
If any of you are wondering why I skipped over the Soul Leech talent for this week, it’s because Soul Leech is a very simple and passive “set-it-and-forget-it” talent. A warlock does nothing other than choose the talent and keep up their normal dps. As you do damage, Soul Leech will return a small stream of health. That’s all there is to it :) So let’s move on to some of the fun stuff and talk about tossing green beams!
Some basics and some history about Drain Life
At Level 7, all warlocks will learn the common spell known as Drain Life. It’s a common class spell because it’s shared among all three warlock specialties. As you might already know, Drain Life does exactly what it’s says. Here’s what I mean:
Drain Life - Is a channeled spell that costs 1% of base mana, plus 1% per second with a 40 yard range. It drains the life from the target causing 419 Shadow damage and restoring 2% of the caster’s total health every 1 second for a total of 6 seconds (*For Demonology warlocks it also Generates 10 Demonic Fury per second).
I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but back in the BC era Drain Life became quite powerful and many of our Affliction brethren began using it as a filler spell. Some people loved Drain Life as a filler spell and some people didn’t, but either way the game creators decided against this type of behavior and so in their way of stopping gameplay that was unexpected or unintended they nerfed it.
While Drain Life doesn’t offer huge dps gain, like it did back in BC, it does output some damage on top of it’s ability to self-heal, and if you’re an opportunistic warlock like me, you’ll take what you can get.
Hydra got me thinking
I thought about my conversation with Fimlys and Hydra from The Twisted Nether Blogcast, and how Hydra and I geeked-out discussing our joy for running Affliction as our main spec. What was it about Affliction that was the draw for both of us? What was they key reason for our love of that particular playstyle? After much pondering on these questions, the answer finally hit me. My love of Affliction (and I can’t speak for Hydra) is the same reason why I enjoy the Drain Life spell and it’s talented upgrade called Harvest Life.
Both Drain Life and Harvest Life give the “flavor” and feeling of warlockiness. It’s spells like them that are the reason why I fell in love with playing Affliction. It’s why the Affliction spec has been near and dear to many warlocks, and not just because it’s putting out good numbers atm. With Drain Life and Harvest Life we drain and steal our enemies life from them only to use it against them. How cool is that? Muahahaha!
Back in the day, if your enemy self healed in battle you’d cackle laugh to the point your stomach hurt because all the while you were drooling at the extra life you could drain, so that you could convert it to mana with Lifetap, only to use the extra mana for a continued onslaught of spells against them. What happened next was always inevitable. Your target would watch helplessly as their health bar fell and yours continued to climb until finally they met their end simply because you used their own health bar against them. I’m sure many experienced ‘locks would agree that “Drain Tanking” was a major reason our class is still hated today (besides the fact we’re more fun and we always look good).
Reaching level 15 and the Tier 1 Talents
When you reach level 15, you open up the Tier 1 talent point options which all really boil down to ways to self heal. The three choices are:
- Dark Regeneration – An instant cast HoT (Heal over time) and buff to any other inc heals
- Soul Leach – A passive heal based on damage output
- Harvest Life – A channeled drain restoring health and doing damage
When we take a closer look at Harvest Life’s detail window we can soon see the differences between it and the Drain Life spell it replaces.
Harvest Life – 1% of base, mana plus 1% per second with a 40 yard range. Drains the life from all enemies within 15 yards of the target causing 267 Shadow damage and restoring 3-4.5% of the caster’s total health every 1 second and lasts 6 seconds. (*For Demonology – it generates 10 Demonic Fury per second plus 3 Demonic Fury per second on secondary targets)
One of the things I love about Harvest Life is that there is no limit on the number of targets it can hit because as long as any enemy mob is in the 15 yard range from your main target, all of them will suffer from our ghoulish green beams! For moments when you are surrounded by multiple enemies and AoE damage is incoming in a big way, channeling Harvest Life will fill your Health Bar rather quickly. I recently used this on a Sha of Anger fight with my guild. After I had been mind controlled, the team broke me from being CC’d by bringing my health below 50%. Upon being released I quickly cast this channel to bring my health bar back up and to help lighten the work for my healers.
It’s not instant and it’s not a HoT – maybe we should call it a “battle heal”?
Like all of our talents, Harvest Life is situational. Can you cast it with only one target? Yes, you can. However, it’s much more effective for a large packs of trash, or for dense fighting in a battleground. I’m sure all of you can all ready think of certain situations and fights that stand out in your mind as when it’s best to use this spell. Should you use it for added AoE dps?
No Maybe? Kinda? Sorta? Situational? See the comments from Sevrun below to get his take on it the dps power of Harvest Life. Keep in mind that there are effective AoE spells for all three specs that can offer high damage numbers besides spamming Harvest Life. Harvest Life is a good tool for keeping you up when your health is dropping fast around any enemy group. Due to RL sadly, I don’t find much time to PvP anymore; however, I do plan to start doing more after the holidays and I can’t wait to use this spells in a bg! If a large group is piled on my FC or protecting a node, I’m sure Harvest Life could be a rear-end saver with all of the close fighting and splash AoEs.
Are any of you using this in PvP? I’d love to hear about it so let me know! I don’t know about you, but I’m sure I’ll have to target macro and add a /laugh to it as well.
Scarlet Halls and how Harvest Life saved me
I ran the Scarlet Halls with a few guildies and a pug tank. The tank was newly geared to run heroics and was still learning the craft of being a Prot Warrior. He shared this information with us from the start of the dungeon and the team agreed it would be no problem. Well, it wasn’t a problem except for one bad pull. When we go to the area with the cannons, the tank ran ahead of the group and pulled everything before we could catch up with him. Instantly, he was pummeled. What happened next was no shock.
All of the aggro’ed mobs ran to pummel the rest of us starting with the healer who dropped the second the elite trash pack reached him. After dying, the healer used the Soulstone I had placed on him only to drop to the floor again. Ouch! That’s when you know it’s going to hurt, right? So what was I to do? I looked down at the chat channel to see the tank type, “Just die and run back”. Obviously, this tank didn’t know that I’m the type of player who will fight to the end no matter what. Never give up and never surrender right?
I had already Sacrificed my demon and I was out of shards from DoT’ing everything up when we first tried to save the Tank and Healer. So I quickly Death Coiled a mob that was attacking me for the 3 seconds of CC and another boost to my health. I then put Blood Fear on a casting mob that stood across the room to lessen the oncoming pain as best I could (I’m Glyphed with Fear). I dropped my Infernal to help bring some AoE damage while I ate a cookie (aka Healthstone) for some instant health and to keep me from dying. The incoming damage was hitting us hard and another player died! So then I channeled Harvest Life. Within seconds the green bar on my character portrait went back up instead of down and so I turned my attention to one of the mobs who was at <20% health. I drained his soul until I got a shard replenished. I Soulburned the shard to summon Hukrath, my voidwalker to save the day next to the Infernal! /em cheers for demonic minions!
Once my Voidwalker was up taking and tanking the hits, it was a standard rinse and repeat from there. Dps’ing the mobs down one by one, recasting Blood Fear as needed and using Death Coil when it was off cooldown.
BTW, I typed /dance after all of the mobs were finally destroyed ;)
When things go bad, it’s nice to have options
I’m sure if I think about it long enough there might have been a better way to handle what happened to my group in the Scarlet Halls. Other options I still had at my disposal was a Health Potion and my Lifeblood ability (I’m an Alchemist/Herbalist by trade), or channeling Harvest Life again. If I had chosen Dark Regeneration as my talent, I probably would’ve had to utilize both the Healing Potion and Lifeblood to continue to stay up while casting Drain Life. If I had been running with Soul Leach I know with total certainty that I would have found myself at a Spirit Guide getting ready for a corpse run.
Do situations like this always happen? No. Is it fun to gloat when they do? You bet! But, the point I’d like to make is no matter what talent choice you have chosen, you’ll serve you and your team well to know what options you have and how they can help you. Luckily for me on this run, Harvest Life bought me the needed time to save me from a large repair bill :) it was a nice option to have!
Harvesting Demonic Fury
It’s been a while since I ran Demonology in Beta, but don’t forget Harvest Life helps regenerate your Demonic Fury as well. Is it something you should use all the time? Not really, but for the same scenarios listed above it’s a great warlock life saver! I remember quite often when I was leveling in the beta, when in a large pack attacked (after knocking me off my Fel Steed), using Shadowfury for a stun and then unleashing Harvest Life just after I unleashed my imps! Muahahaha! So much fun! After the Christmas Holiday, I plan to switch my second spec back to Demo for a few weeks just for the added enjoyment and the challenge of playing a spec I don’t normally play. Plus, it will be nice to go back to Demo for a bit since it feels so long ago when I was using it.
I have to admit that it will be nice to see my Dark Angel wings again because they sure look better than seeing pink soul shards floating above my head!
Other things about Harvest Life to consider
We talked about timing and situation already with regards to Harvest Life, now let’s chat about placement shall we? Don’t forget Harvest Life has a 40 yard range and a 15 yard AoE range from whatever target you plan to cast it on. I mention this because I want you to be careful not to over reach and pull too many mobs. I’m sure everyone will understand that it pulling too many mobs may happen accidently from time to time, the trick is we don’t want it to become a habit.
I’m sure the last thing any self-respecting warlock wants to do is to make our wonderful warlock class look bad. I’m sure you’ve seen the guy (a mage with a ‘lock alt trying to be cool) who spams Immolation Aura or Rain of Fire all of the time? Trust me, I’m sure they’ll be doing it with Harvest Life too. So for the love of Hellfire and Fel flame – if you have any dignity or self worth, please don’t be that person! Besides, it’s bad enough when EVERYTHING Blizzard adds in the game about us is that we’re always completely evil. Does anyone want to join me as I go fry some small helpless critters ingame with my Fel Flame to let off some steam about the name chosen in the quest above? I can’t look at it otherwise, I’ll have to rant!