Doing High Damage With Warlocks

Recently I went with some friends down to a Living Forgotten Realms battle interactive, where I knew we would be facing some challenging combats.  My warlock had just leveled to 18, so I had the opportunity to do some retraining.  Here were my goals for reworking the warlock:

  • I wanted to feel like a real striker doing real striker damage.  Warlocks are known for being more “controllery”, so I considered focusing on those kinds of powers. But then I decided that if you’re looking to impose status effects, “dead” is the best one…
  • Since the last time I played my warlock, Wizards updated the class by making it so that you can apply curse damage once per turn, rather than once per round (this is analogous to the change to rogues).  I tried looking for as many out-of-turn attacks as I could, but the Con warlock doesn’t have many.  Charisma has a few nice dailies that have the potential to give you out-of-turn attacks for the whole encounter, but I chose to stick with Con.
  • The only out-of-turn attack I ended up with was Killing Flames, which is an encounter Immediate Reaction triggered when an enemy within 10 becomes bloodied, and you attack it for 3d8+Con damage.  Add another 3d8 from curse dice, and that’s a pretty good hit.
  • We also had a warlord at the table, and since I had a melee basic attack (Eldritch Strike), I got some free attacks from that as well.

All in all, I was pretty impressed with the damage output.  I went Academy Master for my paragon path, which gives you +3 damage on at-wills, and gives you an encounter power to use an at-will and gain 2 extra damage dice.  Since I am sorcerer-king pact, that means that on the first turn I can use my encounter power to attack a target for 7d8+30 (+35 if I have prime shot).  I crit with that once… it was awesome.

How to get awesome damage (mostly from feats):

  • Blood Pact of Cania (+2/3/4 damage with Con powers)
  • Dual Implement Spellcaster (adds your off-hand implement bonus to damage rolls)
  • Called Shot (+5 damage with prime shot)
  • Killing Curse (d8’s for curse dice)
  • Implement Focus (+1/2/3 damage)
  • Mindbite Scorn (extra die of curse dice)
  • Siberys Shard of the Mage (+3 damage when using a weapon as an implement)
  • Staff of Ruin (always awesome)
  • Gauntlets of Blood (+4 damage vs. bloodied targets)

So with all of this, I used a +4 Staff of Ruin with +4 off-hand Wrist Razors to get +27 damage on most powers:

+7 (constitution) +4 (enhancement) +4 (staff of ruin) +4 (dual implement) +3 (siberys shard) +3 (blood pact of cania) +2 (implement focus)

This goes up to +30 with an at-will (from Academy Master), and can get up to +39 with an at-will when I have Prime Shot vs. a bloodied target.  Even better, I have +2 to hit bloodied targets with Prime Shot since I’m a tiefling.  So I didn’t miss much, and if I did, I have a couple of daily rerolls, and the U12 from Academy Master keeps me from expending an encounter power if I miss all targets with it.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions for doing lots of damage with warlocks?  Leave them in the comments below!

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10 Responses to Doing High Damage With Warlocks

  1. Jeff Dougan says:

    There’s a feat (which might be human-only) that’s pretty useful in heroic, although probably not so much by paragon, that boosts damage to at-wills when you’ve used all your encounter powers. IIRC, the feat Empowering Shadows gives a boost to damage when you’ve got concealment from Shadow Walk.

    Accuracy boosts damage, too — there are a few feats (again, some of which are human only) that boost attack rolls. Reckless curse gives you CA against cursed targets, but causes you to grant CA to them as well. There are a few items that grant you CA either if you have concealment from Shadow Walk or against cursed targets.

    And there’s also WLR and WLMR, the latter of which has the potential to trigger curse damage again.

    This is all off the top of my head and without looking at the compendium, but I think that’s hit most of the important ones that you missed. (Could I request that you note any relevant prereqs for the feats you listed above?)

    • James Hamblin says:

      It took me a while to figure out what “WLR” and “WLMR” were (White Lotus Riposte and White Lotus Master Riposte). That’s definitely something worth considering, though 2 feats is expensive. Certainly Empowering Shadows is another source of more damage, but it’s only +1 and doesn’t scale, so for me that wouldn’t make the cut.

      Prerequisites for the feats I listed:
      * Blood Pact of Cania: Tiefling, Cha 13, Infernal pact warlock
      * Dual Implement Spellcaster: Dex 13
      * Mindbite Scorn: Sorcerer-King pact warlock

      I should also have mentioned that you need the Twofold Pact paragon-tier feat in order to take both Blood Pact of Cania and Mindbite Scorn.

      • Jeff Dougan says:

        Yeah, the usefulness of Empowering Shadows falls off in late Heroic when you’ve got a near-full complement of encounter powers and multiple dailies. Not a bad feat for level 1, though, especially as a human.

        Sorry about the unintended obfuscation with the two White Lotus feats.

  2. Is the sorcerer-king pact solely a Dark Sun setting thing or is there an equivalent for play in the Forgotten Realms?

  3. LanguageDM says:

    With twofold pact you could go dark and fey with a rod of corruption. Kill enemies to spread your curse, and when cursed enemies die, it adds a tick to your Darkspire Aura, then unleash it when you’ve gotten it powerful enough.

  4. Charisma says:

    “Warlocks are known for being more “controllery”, so I considered focusing on those kinds of powers. But then I decided that if you’re looking to impose status effects, “dead” is the best one…”

    I just love this quote.

  5. Steve says:

    While the name escapes me at the moment, there is a Warlock feat that lets you reroll curse dice if they come up 1, effectively making your curse damage Brutal. I always pair that with Killing Curse. Over a character’s lifetime, guaranteeing 2 damage minimum per curse die definitely makes an impact and at early levels, I am betting it can shave a round off almost any combat.

    • James Hamblin says:

      The feat you’re thinking of is (appropriately enough) Brutal Curse. On average, this adds only 0.5 damage per curse die (average 4 damage per die on brutal 1 d6 instead of 3.5 on a regular d6). That’s not even as good as Implement Focus, even at heroic tier! By comparison, Killing Curse adds 1 damage per curse die (average 4.5 damage on a d8 versus 3.5 on a d6). So that’s on par with Implement Focus, though IF gives you the extra damage even when you’re not doing curse damage.

  6. Shaun says:

    I was looking over your math – and at first blush it’s rock solid. But I had some questions and hope you could walk me through it like I was a 3rd grader. Sometimes these bonuses don’t look/add up right.

    +7 (constitution) +4 (enhancement) +4 (staff of ruin) +4 (dual implement) +3 (siberys shard) +3 (blood pact of cania) +2 (implement focus)

    Really the question sits with the + 3 Siberys Shar – now is this attached to any item specifically or is it counting as being in your off hand as your secondary item?

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