Recent exploration of the WoW forums, which I usually avoid like the plague, has promted my discovery of a nice little buff to Destruction speced Warlocks who use their fire spells in the form of an improved Emberstorm talent.
For those of you who don't know much about Warlocks or the Destruction tree in particular, there are two different ways to spec Destruction. One involves dealing shadow damage by, for the most part, spamming Shadow Bolt. The other spec is the Firelock spec, which deals damage using Immolate, Incinerate, and Conflagrate.
While some people like the shadow Destruction spec because they believe its simplicity allows them to focus more on what's going one around them and less on casting rotations, other Warlocks, myself included, favor a little bit of variety in our casting, and like the idea of the Firelock spec. The trouble is that, according to Elitist Jerks, while the Firelock spec is more mana efficient, the shadow Destruction spec scaled better with spell damage due to Shadow Bolt's higher cast time, and thus higher spell damage coefficient, compared to Incinerate, the comparable Firelock spell.
The new Embertorm talent, however, may change this. The old talent, still a staple of any Firelock build, only granted the 10% increase to damage done by fire spells. The new version also grants a 10% reduced cast time to Incinerate. Not only does this mean that the base cast time of Incinerate is now 2.25 seconds, but also that Incinerate will scale better than previously with spell haste. Complicated math that I don't understand has shown that the personal dps of a Firelock will now be greater than that of a shadow Destruction Warlock with the same gear.
This will now create a big difference between the two Destruction specs. Since the shadow Destruction spec will still have Improved Shadow Bolt, which improves not only their personal dps but that of Shadow Priests and Affliction Warlocks, I believe that at least one Warlock per 25 man raid will remain as a shadow Destruction spec. The rest, however, or at least those who are not Affliction, will migrate to the new Firelock spec, and begin to favor spell haste. Those Warlocks in Kara and ZA, however, should consider what classes they most commonly raid with before deciding on what spec is best for overall dps. If you raid more often or with more Affliction Warlocks or Shadow Priests, then shadow Destruction will be best for the raid, while those who raid more often with Fire Mages should consider the Firelock build to maximize raid dps.
Edit: Blizzard, please give Warlocks green fire.
For the Horde and the Naaru!