How To Harness The Healing Power of Harvest Life

Posted: December 3, 2012 in Of WoW and Warlocks

Hail All,

Today, I think we should stop to consider a weapon well associated with the true symbolism of warlocks…the Scythe. Developed as an agricultural tool, the Scythe has a long handle like a staff or pole-arm with a long curved blade protruding at an angle. It’s used for cutting crops and harvesting grain. No, we’re not going to be talking about doing menial chores on your farm at Halfhill. Instead, we’re going to be talking about our last Level 15 talent choice known as Harvest Life. Like the Scythe, our Harvest Life ability is a handy tool to have when the timing is right.

This human female warlock looked great in her Tmog along with sporting her Scythe!

This human female warlock looked great in her Tmog along with sporting her Scythe!

If any of you are wondering why I skipped over the Soul Leech talent for this week, it’s because Soul Leech is a very simple and passive “set-it-and-forget-it” talent. A warlock does nothing other than choose the talent and keep up their normal dps. As you do damage, Soul Leech will return a small stream of health. That’s all there is to it :) So let’s move on to some of the fun stuff and talk about tossing green beams!

Some basics and some history about Drain Life

At Level 7, all warlocks will learn the common spell known as Drain Life. It’s a common class spell because it’s shared among all three warlock specialties. As you might already know, Drain Life does exactly what it’s says. Here’s what I mean:

Drain Life –  Is a channeled spell that costs 1% of base mana, plus 1% per second with a 40 yard range. It drains the life from the target causing 419 Shadow damage and restoring 2% of the caster’s total health every 1 second for a total of 6 seconds (*For Demonology warlocks it also Generates 10 Demonic Fury per second).

I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but back in the BC era Drain Life became quite powerful and many of our Affliction brethren began using it as a filler spell. Some people loved Drain Life as a filler spell and some people didn’t, but either way the game creators decided against this type of behavior and so in their way of stopping gameplay that was unexpected or unintended they nerfed it.

While Drain Life doesn’t offer huge dps gain, like it did back in BC, it does output some damage on top of it’s ability to self-heal, and if you’re an opportunistic warlock like me, you’ll take what you can get.

Vol'jin and Garrosh on the beach and not it wasn't a romantic gathering. Someone please put some clothes on Vol'jin...he looks cold. What is it with the Horde leaders feeling like the less they wear the more important they are?

Vol’jin and Garrosh on the beach together and it wasn’t a romantic gathering. Someone please put some clothes on Vol’jin…he looks cold. What is it with the Horde leaders feeling like the less clothing they wear the more important they are?

Hydra got me thinking

I thought about my conversation with Fimlys and Hydra from The Twisted Nether Blogcast, and how Hydra and I geeked-out discussing our joy for running Affliction as our main spec. What was it about Affliction that was the draw for both of us? What was they key reason for our love of that particular playstyle? After much pondering on these questions, the answer finally hit me. My love of Affliction (and I can’t speak for Hydra) is the same reason why I enjoy the Drain Life spell and it’s talented upgrade called Harvest Life.

Both Drain Life and Harvest Life give the “flavor” and feeling of warlockiness. It’s spells like them that are the reason why I fell in love with playing Affliction. It’s why the Affliction spec has been near and dear to many warlocks, and not just because it’s putting out good numbers atm. With Drain Life and Harvest Life we drain and steal our enemies life from them only to use it against them. How cool is that? Muahahaha!

Back in the day, if your enemy self healed in battle you’d cackle laugh to the point your stomach hurt because all the while you were drooling at the extra life you could drain, so that you could convert it to mana with Lifetap, only to use the extra mana for a continued onslaught of spells against them. What happened next was always inevitable. Your target would watch helplessly as their health bar fell and yours continued to climb until finally they met their end simply because you used their own health bar against them. I’m sure many experienced ‘locks would agree that “Drain Tanking” was a major reason our class is still hated today (besides the fact we’re more fun and we always look good).

Reaching level 15 and the Tier 1 Talents

When you reach level 15, you open up the Tier 1 talent point options which all really boil down to ways to self heal. The three choices are:

  • Dark Regeneration – An instant cast HoT (Heal over time) and buff to any other inc heals 
  • Soul Leach – A passive heal based on damage output
  • Harvest Life – A channeled drain restoring health and doing damage

When we take a closer look at Harvest Life’s detail window we can soon see the differences between it and the Drain Life  spell it replaces.

Harvest Life – 1% of base, mana plus 1% per second with a 40 yard range. Drains the life from all enemies within 15 yards of the target causing 267 Shadow damage and restoring 3-4.5% of the caster’s total health every 1 second and lasts 6 seconds. (*For Demonology – it generates 10 Demonic Fury per second plus 3 Demonic Fury per second on secondary targets)

One of the things I love about Harvest Life is that there is no limit on the number of targets it can hit because as long as any enemy mob is in the 15 yard range from your main target, all of them will suffer from our ghoulish green beams! For moments when you are surrounded by multiple enemies and AoE damage is incoming in a big way, channeling Harvest Life will fill your Health Bar rather quickly. I recently used this on a Sha of Anger fight with my guild. After I had been mind controlled, the team broke me from being CC’d by bringing my health below 50%. Upon being released I quickly cast this channel to bring my health bar back up and to help lighten the work for my healers.

Prepping for a guild Sha of Anger run. Please Blizzard designers, can you please allow Galleon to spawn anytme in the evening between say 7 pm and 2 am CST? Thank you.

Prepping for a guild Sha of Anger run. “Dear Blizzard designers, can you please allow Galleon to spawn anytme in the evening between say 7 pm and 2 am CST? Thank you.”

It’s not instant and it’s not a HoT – maybe we should call it a “battle heal”?

Like all of our talents, Harvest Life is situational. Can you cast it with only one target? Yes, you can. However, it’s much more effective for a large packs of trash, or for dense fighting in a battleground. I’m sure all of you can all ready think of certain situations and fights that stand out in your mind as when it’s best to use this spell. Should you use it for added AoE dps? No Maybe? Kinda? Sorta? Situational? See the comments from Sevrun below to get his take on it the dps power of Harvest Life. Keep in mind that there are effective AoE spells for all three specs that can offer high damage numbers besides spamming Harvest Life. Harvest Life is a good tool for keeping you up when your health is dropping fast around any enemy group. Due to RL sadly, I don’t find much time to PvP anymore; however, I do plan to start doing more after the holidays and I can’t wait to use this spells in a bg! If a large group is piled on my FC or protecting a node, I’m sure Harvest Life could be a rear-end saver with all of the close fighting and splash AoEs.

Are any of you using this in PvP? I’d love to hear about it so let me know! I don’t know about you, but I’m sure I’ll have to target macro and add a /laugh to it as well.

I'll post a better pick of the green beams showing Harvest Life. I'm so bad at taking screen shots, this is the only one that turned out at all.

I’ll post a better pick of the greeen beams of Harvest Life. I’m so bad at taking Screen shots, this is the only one that turned out at all.

Scarlet Halls and how Harvest Life saved me

I ran the Scarlet Halls with a few guildies and a pug tank. The tank was newly geared to run heroics and was still learning the craft of being a Prot Warrior. He shared this information with us from the start of the dungeon and the team agreed it would be no problem. Well, it wasn’t a problem except for one bad pull. When we go to the area with the cannons, the tank ran ahead of the group and pulled everything before we could catch up with him. Instantly, he was pummeled. What happened next was no shock.

All of the aggro’ed mobs ran to pummel the rest of us starting with the healer who dropped the second the elite trash pack reached him. After dying, the healer used the Soulstone I had placed on him only to drop to the floor again. Ouch! That’s when you know it’s going to hurt, right? So what was I to do? I looked down at the chat channel to see the tank type, “Just die and run back”. Obviously, this tank didn’t know that I’m the type of player who will fight to the end no matter what. Never give up and never surrender right?

I had already Sacrificed my demon and I was out of shards from DoT’ing everything up when we first tried to save the Tank and Healer. So I quickly Death Coiled a mob that was attacking me for the 3 seconds of CC and another boost to my health. I then put Blood Fear on a casting mob that stood across the room to lessen the oncoming pain as best I could (I’m Glyphed with Fear). I dropped my Infernal to help bring some AoE damage while I ate a cookie (aka Healthstone) for some instant health and to keep me from dying. The incoming damage was hitting us hard and another player died! So then I channeled Harvest Life. Within seconds the green bar on my character portrait went back up instead of down and so I turned my attention to one of the mobs who was at <20% health. I drained his soul until I got a shard replenished. I Soulburned the shard to summon Hukrath, my voidwalker to save the day next to the Infernal! /em cheers for demonic minions!

Once my Voidwalker was up taking and tanking the hits, it was a standard rinse and repeat from there. Dps’ing the mobs down one by one, recasting Blood Fear as needed and using Death Coil when it was off cooldown.

BTW, I typed /dance after all of the mobs were finally destroyed ;)

Here’s a warlocks only option for growing crops: carrots, carrots, and more carrots! I like carrots raw, but not cooked. Odd I know, but it’s an option!

When things go bad, it’s nice to have options

I’m sure if I think about it long enough there might have been a better way to handle what happened to my group in the Scarlet Halls. Other options I still had at my disposal was a Health Potion and my Lifeblood ability (I’m an Alchemist/Herbalist by trade), or channeling Harvest Life again. If I had chosen Dark Regeneration as my talent, I probably would’ve had to utilize both the Healing Potion and Lifeblood to continue to stay up while casting Drain Life. If I had been running with Soul Leach I know with total certainty that I would have found myself at a Spirit Guide getting ready for a corpse run.

Do situations like this always happen? No. Is it fun to gloat when they do? You bet! But, the point I’d like to make is no matter what talent choice you have chosen, you’ll serve you and your team well to know what options you have and how they can help you. Luckily for me on this run, Harvest Life bought me the needed time to save me from a large repair bill :) it was a nice option to have!

Harvesting Demonic Fury

It’s been a while since I ran Demonology in Beta, but don’t forget Harvest Life helps regenerate your Demonic Fury as well. Is it something you should use all the time? Not really, but for the same scenarios listed above it’s a great warlock life saver! I remember quite often when I was leveling in the beta, when in a large pack attacked (after knocking me off my Fel Steed), using Shadowfury for a stun and then unleashing Harvest Life just after I unleashed my imps! Muahahaha! So much fun! After the Christmas Holiday, I plan to switch my second spec back to Demo for a few weeks just for the added enjoyment and the challenge of playing a spec I don’t normally play. Plus, it will be nice to go back to Demo for a bit since it feels so long ago when I was using it.

I have to admit that it will be nice to see my Dark Angel wings again because they sure look better than seeing pink soul shards floating above my head!

OMG, they took a great name for a quest and ruined it! I may have to do a rant about this one. It's a complete fumble and horrible way to drop the ball IMHO.

OMG, they took a great name for a quest and ruined it! I may have to do a rant about this one. It’s a complete fumble and horrible way to drop the ball IMHO.

Other things about Harvest Life to consider

We talked about timing and situation already with regards to Harvest Life, now let’s chat about placement shall we? Don’t forget Harvest Life has a 40 yard range and a 15 yard AoE range from whatever target you plan to cast it on. I mention this because I want you to be careful not to over reach and pull too many mobs. I’m sure everyone will understand that it pulling too many mobs may happen accidently from time to time, the trick is we don’t want it to become a habit.

I’m sure the last thing any self-respecting warlock wants to do is to make our wonderful warlock class look bad. I’m sure you’ve seen the guy (a mage with a ‘lock alt trying to be cool) who spams Immolation Aura or Rain of Fire all of the time? Trust me, I’m sure they’ll be doing it with Harvest Life too. So for the love of Hellfire and Fel flame – if you have any dignity or self worth, please don’t be that person! Besides, it’s bad enough when EVERYTHING Blizzard adds in the game about us is that we’re always completely evil. Does anyone want to join me as I go fry some small helpless critters ingame with my Fel Flame to let off some steam about the name chosen in the quest above? I can’t look at it otherwise, I’ll have to rant!

  1. lllseverunlll says:

    I ran affliction back in the LK days and was so very saddened to see it nerfed so heavily in cata. but as ive said before any true lock bends the will of the creators to work for him instead of bending to the will of the creators…we are the masters of fire and shadow and chaos. we have multiple tools at our disposal. in cata i migrated to destruction and rocked the world with the fire and chaos aspect of our beings. now that the mists have parted and teh true calling of warlocks has been brought to fruition i have moved to demonology and affliction as my secondary.

    i agree 99% with everything you said. why only 99% you might ask? well there is one line in that entire beauty of an article which i disagree with, ONLY because i have proven different on a regular basis….BUT as you did say harvest life is situational…

    you said “Should you use it for added AoE dps? No. We have other more effective AoE spells for all three specs that offer higher damage numbers”

    however in the right circumstances which as a raiding lock i have found that more often thatn not at the begining of a pull (heres the situational part) of 3 or more mobs….harvest life will increase your DPS output.

    my standard rotation as a demo lock is hand of gul’dan X 2, wrath storm via my wrath gaurd, our lock standard tab target corruption on 2-3 mobs and then harvest life.

    if you have 3 or more mobs your dps should rise to the top of the charts within seconds. i have personally reached 250k+ on large mobs. HOWEVER once you drop to 3 and below your dps will instantly plummet to to the bottom.

    so as a seasoned lock one would stop harvesting early and utilize one of our other AoE options in order to avoid such an instant drop….


    also i have recently delved into the world of dark apothesis…..i will be writing an article shortly about lock tanking as i am really quite impressed with is viability if performed properly. of which harvest life has brought back a feel of the drain tank of old….

    • Sev!

      Love the comments, btw! You know, since warlocks are a dominating bunch I’m glad you don’t agree with me 100%. To each his own playstyle and his own opinions. If we all acted exactly the same they would label us mages.
      I’ve used it in several dungeons on 3 – 5 mobs and I didn’t see a huge difference IMHO. However, I was running Affliction. I’ve been hitting Destro this week for a change of pace so I’ll let you know what I think. My only fear (no pun intended) is that I’m seeing a lot of new warlocks everywhere and the last thing I want to see happen is to have our renown image muddied up by an uninformed player spamming Harvest Life on everything. I’ve seen the RoF and IA spammers quite a bit. Oh, and before I forget…nice job on the Deviant Warlocks post and I’d love to read about your endeavors into warlock tanking. Let me know and I’ll link it when you have it up.

      I’m such a bad warlock. Really, I am. I need to update my links and call out the new blogs and podcasts I’m discovering. I’m going to try to revamp the links on my blog, and I’ll make sure I get the Elizabella Chronicles with your spot added. Plus, I have to add Hots n Dots and about 20 podcasts links too :)

      As far as the healing meters are concerned, I’m going to have to let Navimie read your comment. She’s going to rub that one in my face because she sent that in as a reason for warlocks to /dance and I thought she meant healing with her druid. She really meant her warlock! Ha! (Shhhhhhh! Maybe she won’t see it to give me grief?)

  2. lllseverunlll says:

    oh and i also as it was recently pointed out to me in an LFR with one of the best holy pallys on undermine (who also happens to be my raid leader) that i out healed every healer in the raid doing this by more than 10k. it was on the Wind Lord Mel’jarak fight in Heart of Fear, not only did i top the dps charts but aparrently i topped the healing charts with that simple rotation unitl there were only 2 dds and the boss left at which point i switched to single target rotation…just a added bit of awesomeness for you locks out there to have reason to dance after a fight….and /dance i did

  3. Prinnie Dood says:

    I have a blueberry now! He is very, very tiny. I hope he gets more impressive some day.

    • Prinnie Dood says:

      I don’t know why, but I feel compelled to tell you of my itty bitty warlock accomplishments that aren’t relevant whatsoever to the topic at hand. :P

    • Hi Prinnie,

      Call me crazy, but I was playing around on a low level warlock for fun and trying out some addons and I noticed the VW was quite small at level 15. Maybe I’m used to running with a Voidlord or maybe I’m just too accustomed to looking at on an Undead (which as you know, is the smallest race next to Goblins and Gnomes). But on this low level Human warlock the VW really did look quite small. I wonder if they changed something? Maybe it grows in size as you gain in levels? Hrm, I’ll have to look into that! I’ll let ya know. BTW, there are no itty-bitty warlock accomplishements, everything is just a step towards our larger goal of dominating the world. So please keep that in mind because I really do like to hear EVERYTHING about warlocks. So share everything! Trust me, hearing from new players or older players returning back to talk about their excitement for the class gets me motivated like them. Passion and fun are infectious. Sharing a common interest with others is a great bonding agent. It’s why peer groups play an important part of our world. Who better to talk with than others who are like you and understand? A silly mage would never comprehend it.

  4. dakotarick says:

    BC was a very good time to be a Warlock. I remember questing in Nagrand and feeling invincible.

    Thanks for the post, I always pick up little bits and pieces that help.

    • Hey There Dak!

      *coughs* It’s always a good time to be a warlock my friend :P We’ve suffered ups, downs, and everything in between. Whether OP or nerfed, just go out and enjoy! I’m not sure if I’m a good teacher; however, I hope I can generate some discussion and get ‘locks talking and sharing tips, and tricks that work best for them. Example: Having run a lot in the beta, I was already using SB: Soul Swap to apply DoTs in Affliction when MoP launched. I wish I had written something about it because I’ve had a few warlocks tell me this was news to them – even three months after MoP’s launch. No one is a great warlock naturally, like anything else it takes some time, patience, and practice. Plus, having someone help guide your way helps too :)

  5. tyraeon says:

    I agree with most of this. As sev pointed out, using hand of gul’dan-aka meteor- twice with a harvest life is a very fast damage builder early in a fight. Often times I use the shadowbolt-glyphed for three shots- and fel flame to force my procs out on main target while tank grabs threat, then boom boom harvest to watch the large amounts of QQ beverage from all the hunters in the run raging.

    On a side note, for those who recall drain tanking, there is a very cheap way to do it now-I managed to survive pulls prot pallies died in- using wrathguard with soul link, dark apotheosis and harvest life. The trick, pop the meteors, pop immolation aura, pop wrathstorm, pop harvest life…nothing will pull and you will top dps charts ridiculously.

    I am pro warlock tanking-I do better than on my warrior and paladin sadly, but I started drain tanking in bc XD- and find harvest life is the best tool for drain tanking out there.

    Another note is I use it with my destro spec, reason being this: Fire and Brimstone powered immolate, pop rain of fire, pop harvest life…not the best rotation but it will put out far more dps than hitting incinerate nonstop and going single target fighting 5+ mobs…personal opinion, my main is demonology-I have refused to change it- and I will never give it up ^_^

    • Heya Tyraeon,

      Nice! I can’t wait till I run back on Demo in a few weeks and try this! Fire and Brimstone with Havoc and RoF isn’t bad either IMHO. I’ll have to try that spread with Harvest Life. When I go back to Demo I’ll have to hit you up for tips :P As far as Warlock Tanking is concerned I’m kind of on the fence about it. It would have to have a very appealing playstyle for me to consider it. My only concern is that I’m not a fan of melee to begin with – I’m kind of a die-hard range / heals players. Melee, while I know many enjoy, is not my forte. Thanks for the comments Tyraeon! BTW, you should follow @Demonicric on twitter. He’s a die hard Demo lock as well!

  6. Elkagorasa says:

    Thanks, that gives me a few ideas. I was running Destro the other night, went through a dungeon feeling rather invincible, so I tried flipping back to Demo to do the Landfall dailies. I am definitely doing something wrong, because me and that spirit healer came good friends before I finished destroying 8 alliance supply chests. Kept aggroing 3 or 4 mobs and dying rather too quickly. The non-glyphed felguard seems really, really soft. It wasn’t until I had all my minions running around that I survived better (i.e. imp swarm, second felguard )

    * Change talent from 2 felguards possible to use improved felguard.
    * Cast 2 hand of guldan, so that I get the 2x dps

    • Heya Elk,
      Yeah, the standard Fel guard does appear squishy. GoSupreme with the wrathguard for Demo I think might be the way to go. It worked like a charm for me in beta. A friend of mine who runs Demo said that he likes running with dual Fel guards because they mow everything down. Personally, I’m more of a set it and forget it type and dislike trinket type abilities.

      I suppose with all the DoT watching I’m doing I don’t want any more timers to watch :) Maybe I’m too much of a minimalist now that I removed all of my DoT timers. I just remember back to the days of WotLK and I don’t want to go back to watching Forte Exorcist all night long.

      Don’t get me wrong because there’s several good DoT timers out there; however, I’d rather watch the beauty the designers built into the dungeons rather than stare at a timer bar all night. If you run the 2 Felguards let me know how you like!

  7. Elanas says:

    *laugh* So I start reading the article, and I think, hey, that warlock had the same transmog idea as me…gradually it sunk in.

    Harvest Life is one of my very favorite warlock spells. It feels like what I imagined an uber warlock might do, back in vanilla. Just a wonderful thing for questing, doing old raids and dungeons, the works.

    • Hi Elanas,

      I hope you mean that we both have good taste in Tmogging our locks ;P Yeah, I like Harvest Life a lot. I’m actually going to update this post because I learned a few things doing some playing around and I forgot to mention something as well. Gah! That’s what I get for writing my posts in the wee hours of the night when I’m doing desk faceplants from lack of sleep! Stop by anytime…and yes, it does feel warlocky doesn’t it?

  8. lllseverunlll says:

    “good news everyone!” haha, i wish i could macro that and use it in game for all to hear….

    anyway, just got informed that my tanking piece is going up post haste! so just fyi amijade…and thanks, i enjoyed writing the deviant piece.

    also on another note, i ran with the silver thread set tmogged for a while as well, and still do here and there, still havent had my white shoulders drop for me…though its not as hard now that bliz is allowing us to go into raids without groups now! yay!

    • Heya Severun,

      Yep, I read your WTF!? post and really enjoyed it. I hope you don’t mind, I’m going to link to it on my next post :P I may have worn out my Silver-Thread Tmog, but I can’t help it. It’s one of my favorites next to the Nemesis and Nemesis recolor sets. Although, I’ve got my eye on the new scenario reward outfits. Now, I just need to find a three man team for running scenarios!

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