Do you even like playing a warlock?

As I’ve been plowing through the various 4ed tomes, DMed a game and preparing a few more, I’ve started wondering if I even actually like playing a warlock…

I’ve played the warlock only 2 sessions now. I’m starting to get the grasp on the character. What we’ve done is actually reboot our 3.5 campaign into 4.0 and rerolled our PCs but actually kept the characters.

The result of that is that my bard somehow became a warlock. I’ve built the character around that and I’m starting to get a grasp on how it happened and how it affected my character. This part, I love.

What I’m not sure I like is how the warlock plays in combat.

I was having lunch with ChattyDM this week and mentioned this to him. His interest seemed piqued – he wanted to know more.

« I’ve found that not all classes fit all types of players », he said, « , but please elaborate… »

I’m the kind of guy who’ll always pick the oddest classes or races. When I game, I like to be marginal. I like to be different. In all previous editions, I always found the warrior a bland class to play. Its the class that I always propose to shy gamers, intimidated gamers or for girlfriends and wives of gamers.

« Just get close to the baddy and hit him with your big sword », was my suggestion. Pressure to perform was off and most of my newbie players got into the game this way, « graduating« , so to speak, to more intricate classes.

Reading the 4.0 classes, I found that the Fighter class was actually quite interesting – a lot of tactical richness to the powers. A lot of options. And awesome fluff.

But playing my warlock feels more like « I keep my distance, I curse someone, I summon forth eldritch flames ». Basically, I point an enemy from a distance roll dice, miss (because warlocks are cursed), and wait for my next turn.

I grew envious of the tactical aspects of the other classes.

To challenge this, I’ve started setting up small encounters, playing combat scenes alone in my basement. Trying to find an angle. And sounding completely crazy, as I also try to practice my narration.

There’s something that must be unsettling in seeing a grown man playing alone in his basement with figurines, talking to himself and making « woosh » sounds.

But I digress…

Here are my findings so far:

  • Warlock level 1 has lesser options and, if played conservatively, will be mostly « point and shoot ». When I decided to stop trying to keep my daily powers for the real « tough fight of the day », warlock became more fun.
  • I expect it’ll be more diverse as I raise level.

What I want to experiment in my future tests:

  • Experiment with shadow step/teleport. I still don’t grasp why or when I should use these.
  • I’m not Harry potter and I don’t need to use my wand; I can have my sword ready and engage into melee if I want to.

After my discussions with ChattyDM, I’m also wondering if its just the « role » I don’t like. The Warlock is a striker class and I’m more about strategy and synergy.

In my makeshift test party, I did put in my Genasi Jedi Knight (a defender role), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

But being who I am, I tend to think that I missed something in the warlock class… that I’m just not getting it yet… Plus I want to keep playing Quendy(Quendie?) and not just reboot or abandon him right now.

What about you guys, you play a warlock? You like it? Having doubts about your own chars?



8 thoughts on “Do you even like playing a warlock?

  1. Me, I love the Warlock and see it as really 3 classes in one – there’s the Uber-Druid Fey Pact Warlock, the Lovecraftianly crazy Star Pact Warlock and the devil-worshipping Infernal Pact Warlock. They all bring different styles of play to the table if you look beyond the basic combat stats.

    Because we’re playing an arena game where we have multiple characters, I’ve played both the Fey and Star Pact Warlocks (not the Infernal one. Yet), and love the feel.

    Overall, their powers are heavily weighted toward Ranged, but Armour of Agathys is a superb Daily (extra HP and a damaging aura of cold – what’s not to love?). At higher levels, the close bursts and area effect Powers mean the Warlocks gain a degree of battlefield control to rival a Wizard – just check out Hunger of Hadar; it’s a sustainable area of damaging blackness that blocks line of sight; perfect against both melee and missile using foes alike.

    Add in utility spells that grant Spider Climb or boost your Stealth, Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate skills and you’ve got a great class that’s fun to play both in and out of combat.

    Yeh, I like ’em.

  2. @greywulf :Hey, its Grewulf!  Nice to see you drop by 🙂

    So seem to know how to handle your warlocks rather well!   

    Rethinking about it all, I think I just haven’t worked out the tactical possibilities of ranged attacks and teleporting.  I keep playing short combats where I pit my warlock and 2 mêlée fighters against a growing number of zombies.

    As I learn to stop economising my encounter and daily powers, I get much more enjoyment from the warlock.  Still haven’t had an opportunity where teleporting was useful.

    Perhaps I should switch my map to something with more clutter and facing a more varied group – a group where monsters don’t naturally gang up on the mêlée fighters.

  3. I have to say I kind of feel what you are saying about the Warlock. I chose them as my first 4E class to play as I thought it would allow for a good way to combine decent damage with some play with Magic as Powers. I very quickly found that I was a superhero-like blaster tossing Eldritch Blast hither and yon. And when I wasn’t doing that I was popping around like a blink dog, especially when fighting minions. Maybe it gets better with higher levels but 1 to 3 just seemed like the familiar rinse & repeat complaints of 4E.

  4. I didn’t get the chance to continue my exploration of combat with the warlock yet… so no updates on that front – my Warlock didn’t manage to make me feel like a mixture of Cyclops and Nightcrawler yet.

    I do have some pretty cool idea character wise, so maybe I’ll find its place in there.

    I’m going to play a mêlée class this weekend (a Kobold Fighter!) – so I might get a chance to see if I prefer the extra options of flanking, charging, grabbing and shoving that these kind of characters give.

    Eric Maziade´s last blog post..DM vs Player

  5. You mentioned in your article that the ‘role’ might be the reason you don’t like the warlock. I would tend to agree with you that the warlock lacks the strategic and synergy elements of other classes. However, the rogue is a delicious striker with lots of strategy and synergy elements as you strive to get the all important combat advantage. Another striker, the ranger, deals damage from afar and may lack some of the strategy characteristics, but the ranger has flair and style.
    The warlock seems to lack the strategy elements since their skills don’t rely on others. And the synergy doesn’t appear to be their either. Synergy is lacking from the warlock is because the powers are self centric. In the warlocks that I have seen the powers can be employed with marginal style and creativity but ultimately they are used to enhance the warlock, not the party.
    In addition, the damage dealt by warlocks is woeful compared to other strikers. I think the class tried to capitalize on a dark character type, but failed in the implementation of it. It is just not interesting… But don’t abandon strikers, Eric. Give a rogue a spin if you like strategy. Pair up with a defender and work towards getting 90% of your attacks with combat advantage. You will enjoy tons of strategy and synergy…

  6. @jstgtpaid :Hi there!  Sorry for the delay in getting your comment up – it got caught up in the spam filter for some reason…

    You seem to be right – warlocks apparently don’t show too much synergy with other classes.  I’m certain we’re overlooking something.

    I remember one of the thing that was attractive to me for the warlock that I had completely forgotten: the choice of various defense targets.

    I was doing some more tests when I realized that I was machinally doing CHA vs AC… while in fact, the warlock can target just about any other defense, depending on his choice of attack.

    I also decided to play him closer to the enemies to try and take advantage of prime shot and the teleportation aspects of the class.

    I didn’t end up doing much teleportation, but taking greater risks surely enhanced the combat.  I dished out pretty good damage.  I also realized that I completely underestimated « eyebite ».

    (edit): just remembered – another thing I originally forgot about the warlock is probably one of its most potent feature: shadowwalk. Being more mobile and doing my move action before my standard action allowed me to remain concealed most of the time, curse just about everyone and keep out of reach of my primary target… who was often ‘eyebitten’ and couldn’t see me anyway.  So I remained at mid-range and managed to be hard to hit.  Not so bad.

  7. Yes, there are interesting methods of attack. A warlock in my group has multiclassed his warlock with a paladin. So he does a divine challenge, eyebite or move more than 3 squares and he is invisible. Makes it difficult for the challenged monster to attack him. Unlike other challenges the paladin challenge will do damage.

    It is a clever use of the multiclass, but does it make the warlock interesting to play? Hmm… I tend to think the warlock is not an interesting character class to play. I prefer the other strikers…

    If your play tests uncover an interesting aspect of the warlock, or if you encounter one that is interesting, I would love to hear about it…

    Thanks for the great site and articles, BTW… I have enjoyed reading your stuff so far…

  8. @jstgtpaid :Thanks for the kind words 🙂

    There’s an interresting thread on the subject at – the thread is enormous and most likely derails into flame, but its quite interesting nonetheless.  I’m reading it, taking notes, testing out things and I’ll be back with another post on the subject of warlocks when I’ve digested it all.

    In my recent tests with my level 1 warlock, I had a great time fighting a group of zombies.  I can now easily fight a group of zombies just by staying mobile… but since I outrun them and they don’t have any range attacks, that’s not too interesting.

    I soloed it against a gravehound and a zombie and still manage to (barely) come out on top.

    I’m still not entirely convinced about the class, but I think I at least made enough progress to find the fun in it for me… and a motivation for my warlock who risks going rather power hungry…

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