The Corruption of Earth - Prologue

The prowling fox readied his hind legs for an intrepid pounce upon its unsuspecting prey. Adrift and at peace, the golden butterfly tested the tall grass stalks, fluttering from stem to stem. The verdant hide of the wild fox and his minute two-foot length—half of which was comprised by a playfully vibrant tail—made the creature most delicately furtive amidst the vast meadows of the Dream. Its wings froze perfectly upward as the butterfly made its pick, settling on the grass stalk of its preference. The fox grinned.

An explosion of actions followed as the fox triggered his pounce and the golden flutterer impassively glided between its aggressor’s paws. The green menace retorted with a comical, two-legged dance and a flurry of paw swings in any which direction exhausting both his energy and dignity. The harm-free butterfly mockingly flew a loop around its playmate then fluttered off. The green fox outstretched to his limits, ignoring balance, then stumbled down a gentle slope. Unable to stop his graceless tumble, his lean body began to curve like a wheel and he rolled inadvertently.

After his rough descent, the fox ended exhausted at the bottom of the slope baring his belly to the light aquamarine sky. As it rested, his inattentive eyes shifted to an indignant stare focused on the glimmering wisp that descended slowly towards the fox’s panting mouth. However, to emphasize its undeniable victory, the golden butterfly carefully avoided its predator’s endless chasm and its jagged, white edges and landed gracefully on top of its black nose even as the fox continued to chomp noisily at the air. The silly fox then relaxed his body knowing he had been bested yet again.

The fox’s cross-eyed repose was suddenly disturbed as a large blurry object darted past his field of vision and brought with it a punishing gust. The butterfly glided away on the turbulent current that had been created lest it would be shred to pieces by the winds had its wings fought against them. The verdant fox stood observant, analysing the enormous creature that flew at an extraordinary speed towards the horizon. It was an emerald dragon and it seemed distressed.

Upon the immaculate sky of the Dream, a shade of absolute black spread like a wet ink spill. Tendrils of ebony rushed towards the still-clear areas above, weaving and webbing their corrupt hue throughout the celestial plain. The tiny green fox watched terrified as the surreal phenomenon altered his invariable, complaisant Dream.

In her frenzied attempt to escape the darkness that was spreading upon the sky at a faster pace than her flight, the emerald dragon began to feel the burning effect of exhaustion on her overworked muscles. Although panicked, her mind refused to let her wings flap with the vigor she had maintained for the past hour.

As its prey slowed, the engulfing Nightmare shot sprouts of its own corrupt entirety and lashed at the dragon’s right wing. With each strike, the darkness flayed the scales and seared the flesh with a malefic poison that began to painfully surge through her veins. The assault was too punishing and the creature crashed violently to the ground. Above her, however, the siege upon the beautiful aquamarine sky was relentless and it would soon be conquered entirely by the Nightmare.

The great dragon looked back upon the meadow she had just traversed and spotted the lonesome emerald fox and his discernable concern for her even though they were leagues apart from each other.

Her heart sank as she watched a tenebrous tidal wave of darkness enclosing upon the little creature that was unaware of his danger. The threat materialized all too quickly and drowned the playful fox in a sea of shadows.

There was nothing the emerald dragon desired more than to help defend and save her dearest Dream from this enigmatic horror but she knew salvation would not be found here.

Emeriss took one last look at the world she was so cowardly abandoning. Swamped by a suffocating darkness, the emerald fox awoke from his macabre metamorphosis. The creature’s tail had lost its lustre and volume and it now resembled a boney whip. It was now grotesquely thin and some ribs pierced his flakey fur, exposing pink flesh. Its mandible now exposed deadly, whetted canines of an unnatural length and its once playful eyes now bore a dim maroon glow.
The golden butterfly returned and flew timidly towards what had become of its playmate. It rested cautiously upon its snout and looked intently into its eyes, noting a paralyzing amount of pain within it. Suddenly, the fox snapped the butterfly between his teeth, shattered its delicate, beautiful wings; robbing the Dream of the tiny creature’s warm glow forever.

The entire Dream was fading to black.

The Eye of Ysera, the luminous orb that housed the Queen and always rested upon the horizon unblinking, was beginning to succumb to the creeping Nightmare. Like a tired eyelid, the darkness slowly curtained the golden sphere until it covered it completely, sending the entire Dream into a restless slumber. The emerald dragon resumed her escape engulfed in a darkness that was occasionally interrupted by the magical glow of the flora that had yet to be tainted. She hurriedly entered the forest and headed towards one of the Great Trees: the sprouts of the World Tree and gateways to the world of Azeroth.
Before stepping through the portal, regret clawed at her but an unusual chill made Emeriss realize that this was not her Dream anymore. If she had any chance to mend the colors of the Dream, she would need the help of the dragon aspects and the mortal races of the other world.


Omen and Clarity

The merciless Brutallus of Sunwell Plateau was a great teacher.

Within the progressive knowledge of game mechanics, this particular pit lord was an enormous milestone for many damage dealers. While the mechanics were nothing new, it was the imperative gravity of threat--and all the notions associated with it--that received the spotlight.
Regrettably, many players did not get to experience this encounter and the intricacies it presented.

Brutallus was a gear-check as tenacious as Patchwerk was in Naxxaramas, 60. What set him aside [and above] from the abomination, was the fact that threat was a problem (and damage was raid-wide but that's not what I'll be focusing on.)

But why, with the myriad of simple tank&spank bosses in TBC, did this issue only surface at the end of the first expansion?

The sheer magnitude of DPS needed to down Brutallus was unprecedented. Many damage dealers sacrificed their profession to pick up Leatherworking so they could chain trigger Drums. Every acquirable buff was a necessity and raids were stacked to maximize the damage in hopes of beating the unforgiving enrage timer.

With all the scrutiny for the ultimate damage dealing setup a problem emerged: tanks were not outputting enough threat to maintain aggro against warlocks (and others.) The only feasible solution was a compromise between damage dealers and their Omen Threat Meter; the former having no option but to acquiesce to the proposed number:


A warlock, at a range greater than that of melee, will not pull aggro from a tank until it surpasses 129.9-% of said tank's threat according to Omen. The Blizzard UI threat meter will convert the percentage regardless of range and present it in a scale that ranges from 1-100%.

Assuming you, as a competent warlock, can produce 6000 DPS, your tank would be required to output 4615.+ threat (assuming that 1 point of unmodified damage equates to 1 point of threat.)
After modifiers are applied--say 10% from Vigilance and 5% from 1/2 Destructive Reach--your tank will only need to generate 4000~ TPS.

But I digress. The moral of the Brutallus encounter was not the restrictions set by your tank's ability to generate threat. The moral presents itself in a new aspect wherein maximization plays a part yet again. In other words, to be the best warlock you can be your gear must be the best you can attain; your stats must be mathematically seamless; your talents must be optimal; your timing must be impeccable... and your threat must be at 129%.


Spellstones, Firestones and Equivocality

If there is one thing I can concretely conclude from all the research posts and math-riddled essays I have read, it is this: the smartest authors are those who realize and admit that their proverbial theories are nothing more than isolated proofs; calculated numbers that stand alone and untouched by the plethora of variables found within any raid scenario.

These calculations build upon themselves creating sound foundations (presuming they are accurate), not results that can be translated in to absolute certainty. (This is not to deter from the fact that fundamental, unequivocal numbers exist and can be recognized as such (i.e. the supplementary 17% to hit and stat scores.))

A clear example in which we can observe the effects of misinformation would be the case of the warlock-specific weapon enchants: Spellstone (60 Haste Rating, 1% DoT damage) versus Firestone (49 Crit Rating, 1% DD damage.)

When Ulduar was fresh, posts based on Simcraft and gear-optimizing programs were published. These determined the “exact” value of each stat and the public proceeded to treat these numbers as gospel. For Destruction Warlocks (0/13/58), it was ascertained that Spell Power was the most valuable, Haste Rating was its near-equivalent and Crit Rating paled against the two.

What people failed to understand while regurgitating these revelations was that these values were not universal; in fact, they were based upon very strict Best-in-Slot gear scenarios wherein Crit Rating was abundant compared to Haste Rating.

Soon after, every warlock began hoarding Haste Rating (so, using Spellstone), ignoring Crit Rating and the natural synergy that exists between the three stats.

To illustrate the aforementioned mathematical synergy of crit and haste one can look at a simplified equation:

Average Damage per Cast = x ( 1 + ( Crit / 100 )) + ( x ( 1 + ( Crit / 100 )) * Haste / 100 )

Where ‘x’ is the damage of your spell, unmodified.

What one can extrapolate from these variables is that haste is applied to the original spell damage after it has been multiplied by the critical chance (or vice-versa.) In other words, the two stats are applied multiplicatively and the more you have of one, the more valuable the other becomes.

So what can we infer from this in relation to our Stones? The more people continued to amass Haste the more potent Firestone became; yet, since Crit had been dubbed as unfavourable, it was dismissed altogether even though its second effect (1% to DD spells) buffed the sources of about 65% of your damage; a bonus which easily trumps that of the Spellstone.

Ultimately, which one is better? I can only tell you what is best for me. With my T8.5 and T9 I have an abundance of crit to the point where it's actually unpleasant; therefore, I use the Spellstone for its 1.8%~ Haste Rating. Without it, my incinerate would have a cast time of over 2 seconds which I think is unacceptable for a warlock my ilevel.

That is all for today. Join me next time for the following segment, "Pulling Aggro and Why It's Not That Bad Sometimes".

With love, Minina