Guide "Patch" Notes
12/10/09 - started updating ratings based on November massive errata and Adventurer's Vault 2.
1/4/10 - haven't finished the errata updates, but AV2 is almost done and I added the new feats and powers from Dragon 381 & 382.
1/8/10 - Dragon 381-2 fully added. Updated for errata thru December. Adding last of equip thru AV2 & polishing guide formatting to incorporate sblocks while still maintaining easy-to-search bulleted format.
1/20/10 - Updated for January errata and added all powers from Dragon 372, 374, & 375, bringing the power list current. Also cleaned up some of the formatting and rerated some powers.
1/26/10 - Added new Vestige'lock powers and paragon paths from D383
3/11/10 - Updated for March errata.
April 2010 - Added Dragon 383-5 material, PHB3 material, reformatted most of the guide to fully use sblocks.
7/28/10 - finally reformatted the equipment section so that it makes more sense. Added a few new items and powers from Dragon, etc.
10/6/10 - redesigned guide to make more room for all of the powers, etc. out there now
7/7/11 - finally finished adding the Dark Sun powers, and revised a few powers/feats.
Selling Points: Why Play a Warlock
- You serve up good damage with a hearty side of control - You will never hit as hard as a Ranger, but with the right feats, items, and powers you aren't that far behind, and almost everyone of your spells offers some kind of control (dazing, imposing attack penalties, dealing damage if move/don't move.
- You are the most defensive Striker - Your Shadow Walk feature makes it possible for you to have concealment all the time, which is basically +2 to all defenses. And most of your powers are ranged, putting distance between you and the monsters. And if you are Con based, you have more Hit Points than some defenders and more surges than most defenders!
- You are extremely mobile - Shadow Walk encourages you to move every round, and you have more teleportation powers than anyone, including one that lets you teleport at-will!
- You have great flavor - You made a deal with a mysterious master for your powers, and you're not quite sure what they get out of the bargain. The power they granted you allows you to unleash terrible curses and grow more powerful with each soul you send on to your master.
Power Source and Role: How Your Corruption Helps Your Party
Your power source is Arcane, and your role is Striker. Arcane characters are predisposed toward controller aspects, as most arcane powers produce some kind of effect rather than just dealing damage. Strikers focus on dealing damage and imposing the most important condition in the game: dead. When you combine those two you end up with a class with a very split focus. You are nearly a hybrid from the get go, with almost all of your powers dishing out big damage as well as a status effect. Here's a breakdown on how well you do at each aspect traditionally associated with the Striker role:
Burst/Nova/Spike Damage - This is usually defined as the maximum amount of damage you can come up with on short notice by expending encounter or daily resources, and it is definitely a weak point for you. With few exceptions, your encounter and daily powers offer significant control, but only slightly increased damage over your at-wills.
Damage Per Round (DPR) - This is a classic benchmark on these boards, it means statistically the average amount of damage you deal when you attack factoring in misses and critical hits. Back when 4e was first released, you were rather far behind your colleagues, but since then new feats, powers and magic items have been released which have drastically increased your DPR. Most of your DPR numbers come from accuracy. Thanks to Prime Shot, the ability to target different defenses, and most importantly your easy access to Combat Advantage (via the Shadow Warlock Armor), you rarely miss. All told, you are about in the middle of the pack, as far as striker DPR goes.
Debilitating Effects - Another way to approach the "put down a single target" goal of the Striker is by making your target so unable to do anything it's like he's not there. You are the best Striker for this bar none. You can daze, teleport, knock down, and push around your enemies with ease. Almost everyone of your powers hinders your opponent in some way, from a minor attack penalty to dazes & stuns, to pushing, sliding, and even teleporting your foe all over the battlefield.
Survivability - One of the key aspects of a successful Striker is how well he can handle it when enemies come after him. Given that you are primarily a ranged striker, you have the simple advantage of some breathing room (and hopefully a defender) between you and melee foes. This equates to much fewer attacks even being directed at you as compared to your melee colleagues. You get Shadowwalk as a class feature which grants to concealment whenever you move 3+ squares on your turn. given that you primarily strike from range, there is very little to prevent you from moving every turn and thus effectively gaining +2 to all defenses every single round! Lastly, for Con'locks you have the advantage of your primary stat boosting your HP and surges to near Defender levels, which means you are tough as hell to actually bring down.
Targeting Capacity - The fact that you are attacking from range means that you effectively have a much greater reach, and so have a much easier time of picking alternate targets. In addition your Shadow Walk and many teleporting utilities offer tremendous mobility to get into just the right position. The only thing holding you back is that you can only curse the nearest target(s), and only get Prime Shot when no allies are closer.
Controller - Many have described the Warlock as a single target controller, and for good reason. If you specialize in control you can hinder an enemy as well as many full fledged controllers. But the other aspect of controllers is dealing AoE, and that is harder for you, generally limited to your Daily powers.
Defender - If you're a Con'lock, you have nearly as many HP as a Defender, and likely more surges, so you can easily step into the role of 'meat shield.' However with no way of marking targets, you can't demand an enemy's attention and shelter your squishy allies in the traditional sense. But generally speaking monsters target the biggest threat to them--and thanks to your Striker damage (as well as debuffs) that's likely to be you! Now defending generally requires you to be in melee as most monsters are primarily melee, so you will have to be picky with your power, equipment and feat selections to facilitate this. Cha'locks by contrast have low HP and surges, and so should avoid defending.
Leader - When 4e was first released, your capabilities as a leader were limited to just the ally-friendly effects of your debuffs. Now Vestige'locks have a few powers and features which actually cater to this subrole.
- Red: A very weak choice, or one completely overshadowed by another.
- Purple: A sub-par, situationally useful, or heavily build-specific choice.
- Black: A middle of the road choice. Not bad, but not great either.
- Blue: A very good choice.
- Sky Blue: The optimal choice.
- Gold: the choice that is so good it is essentially mandatory.
All ratings are based on the general case, so power ratings assume you do not have the associated Pact, but when the additional pact rider increases the rating of the power that will be noted. (This is why so many powers are rated so low by default, since WotC seems to balance the powers with riders where it is only worth it for the associated Pact, instead of making the pact rider a bonus.) Additionally the assumption is that you are playing the class as intended (a ranged striker), so everything's default rating is based on that assumption. When specific builds (such as the Gish build) get drastically more benefit out of something I will note that in the writeup. I am very open to discussion, and am glad to add or reconsidering anything you guys find that I have overlooked.
If you are looking for info on the new Essentials Class, the Hexblade, then please check out Lord_Ventnor's new guide here as this guide only references the material that applies to "old school" warlocks.
General Build Advice
Warlocks have a bad reputation on the CharOp boards as the lowest damage (and thus "worst") striker. This is not true. While Warlocks do trade damage for control with a lot of their powers, and will never match the ultimate multi-attacker, the Ranger, they are still a very damaging class... if built properly. Basically there are a lot of bad options that WotC has released for Warlocks, and you have to make sure to avoid these pitfalls or else you will find yourself very frustrated by the inadequacy of your character. I think this graph that Stoutmeister created, says it better than I can:
Essentially, Warlocks require more optimization that any other class in order to achieve impressive results. So please read over this guide carefully, and think twice before taking any thing that is rated red or purple. And if you disagree with a rating, don't hesitate to call me out. I am not perfect, and feedback is the best way to improve this guide for everyone.
AP - Arcane Power
AV - Adventurer's Vault
AV2 - Adventurer's Vault 2 (in progress)
DP - Divine Power
D### - Dragon Magazine, issue ###
DA## - Dragon Annual, year ##
DMG - Dungeon Master's Guide
DMG2 - Dungeon Master's Guide 2
Dragonborn - Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn
DSCS - Dark Sun Campaign Setting
EPG - Eberron Player's Guide
FRPG - Forgotten Realms Player's Guide
MM - Monster Manual
MM2 - Monster Manual 2
MM3 - Monster Manual 3
MOTP - Manual of the Planes
MP - Martial Power
MP2 - Martial Power 2
PHB - Player's Handbook
PHB2 - Player's Handbook 2
PHB3 - Player's Handbook 3
PHH# - Player's Handbook Heroes - Series #
PrP - Primal Power
PsP - Psionic Power
Tiefling - Player's Handbook Races: Tiefling
- AIP - An acronym for Arcane Implement Proficiency, a game changing feat which will get referenced a lot.
- AP - Action Point
- BBEG - Big bad evil guy (end boss monster)
- Cha'lock - A Warlock who focuses on Charisma for a primary stat including Fey Pact Warlocks, Dark Pact Warlocks, and some Star Pact Warlocks.
- Con'lock - A Warlock who focuses on Constitution for a primary stat including Infernal Pact Warlocks, Vestige Pact Warlocks, and some Star Pact Warlocks.
- Dark'lock - A Dark Pact Warlock.
- DIS - An acronym for Dual Implement Spellcaster, a game changing feat which will get referenced a lot.
- DPR - Damage Per Round refers to the average damage you will do factoring chance to hit, average damage on a hit, miss and critical hit. The measuring stick for Strikers. It is calculated by multiplying your chance to miss times the average damage you deal on a miss plus the chance to hit (without critting) times the average damage you deal on a hit plus your crit chance times the average damage you deal on a crit.
- ED - Epic Destiny
- Fey'lock - A Fey Pact Warlock.
- Hell'lock - An Infernal Pact Warlock.
- HP - Hit points
- L# - Level # (i.e. L20 means level 20)
- MAD - Multiple Attribute Dependency which means needing 3 or more high stats to make a build work
- MBA - Melee Basic Attack
- NAD - Non-AC defense (fortitude, reflex and will)
- OA - Opportunity Attack
- PP - Paragon Path
- RBA - Ranged Basic Attack
- Split'lock - A (generally Star Pact) Warlock that focuses on both Constitution and Charisma for primary stats.
- Star'lock - A Star Pact Warlock.
- SWA - An acronym for Shadow Warlock Armor, a game changing armor enhancement, which I will reference a lot.
- THP - temporary hit points
- Vestige'lock - A Vestige Pact Warlock.
Courtesy of the DM's hotline on 10/9/09 I got some answers to some rules questions that drastically effect some warlock powers:
- When a power allows you to teleport an enemy, can you teleport them into midair (causing them to fall and take falling damage)?
That's the DM's call.
- Follow-up: What about giving the enemy a saving throw as for being pushed off of a cliff?
That is a great compromise! It makes you choose between a guaranteed teleport along the ground, or a gamble between teleporting up in the air for falling damage + knocking prone, or no teleport at all, although the target would fall prone in their current square
- Follow-up: What about giving the enemy a saving throw as for being pushed off of a cliff?
- UPDATE: As of 1/19/10 this is an official rule (although you do not fall prone on a successful save).
- Does Teleporting count as movement? Such as effects that trigger when you move X number of squares (like Shadow Walk), if you teleport that distance, does the effect trigger?
This was actually a question that came up very early for us around the office, mostly due to Warlocks. Every time we agreed that yes, teleporting does trigger movement effects. It is because Teleportation is just a subset of movement modes. Movement means basically any method of moving from one square to another on the board.
- Conclusion Teleport junkies can breath a sigh of relief that you can still gain Shadow Walk when you teleport, as long as you teleport 3+ squares. Note the double edge of this sword is that teleportation is not a way around effects like Blood Pulse which harm you if/when you move.
And from the PHB FAQ:
- 33. If an enemy is already cursed by another warlock does my warlock get his extra damage against that enemy?
The warlock curse class feature does not require that you be the one that cursed the target only that the target be cursed.
- Conclusion: Now warlocks in the same party don't clash with each other, and can even save each other actions cursing for each other.
And from the PHB2 FAQ:
- 7. With a power like Explosive Pyre do I add my implement bonus to extra damage rolled when and enemy enters a square adjacent to the target?
Yes, each time you for roll damage with an implement power you add your enhancement bonus.
- Conclusion: Powers that deal rolled damage separately from the initial damage roll get to add static mods again! This makes Hellish Rebuke, Dire Radiance, and many other powers by far the most damaging options you can get!
This was brought up in this guide by Theziner and was discussed in detail in this Q&A post:
- Can the Bloodied Boon feat trigger the Rod of Corruption? And if so, can you recurse the bloodied enemy?
- Conclusion: No and no. Because of the specific wording of Bloodied Boon, it does not "trigger" your boon only award you with a boon, and the Rod of Corruption requires your boon to "trigger." And should your DM rule otherwise, it should still not be able to recurse the bloodied enemy because powers which include the original target in the area of effect have to specify that directly.
Lordduskblade for the gold standard of handbook formatting
EHarper256 for a great guide that got me started optimizing warlocks
Joemama1512 for doing a lot of the math and analysis that affected this guide
you, the poster, for the feedback that let's me improve this handbook! :D