Soul Shards are a unique secondary resource available to Affliction warlocks, displayed in the user interface beneath the player's health and mana bars. Warlocks can have a maximum of four soul shards, which slowly regenerate out of combat and regenerate in combat through certain spells. Soul shards have been around in some form since Vanilla WoW and have a long history as a secondary resource for warlocks in general.
The only two spells to directly use soul shards are and . Haunt is a direct damage spell that also debuffs the target, increasing damage taken by the warlock by 30% for 8 seconds. Utilizing this debuff to its maximum potential is an important factor in an Affliction warlock's DPS.
Soulburn has no mana or health costs and is off the global cooldown. The next spell cast will be empowered:
- - Instantly applies , , and to the target.
- Summon Demon - Instantly summons minion and puts summon spells on a 60 second cooldown.
- - Instantly restores 36% health and reduces damage taken by 30% for 10 seconds.
- Curses - Affects all targets within a 10 yard radius of the initial target.
- - Movement speed increased by 50% and become immune to snares and roots for 8 seconds.
- - Applies to all enemy targets upon detonation.
- - Grants water walking.
Out of combat, soul shards regenerate slowly over time up to a maximum of four. In combat, soul shards regenerate through and . Each tick of Corruption has a chance to regenerate a shard, every second tick of Drain Soul generates a shard, and channeling Drain Soul at the time of a mob's death will replenish all shards. The mob must be green level or higher.
Soul shards have been a warlock resource since early WoW, and their use has been revamped many times to make them more streamlined with the warlock playstyle and improve quality of life.
Soul shards were originally items held in the player's inventory and were required to cast many important spells, including summoning any demon besides an imp, summoning other players, and creating Healthstones. They were generated by using on an appropriately-leveled mob.
Raiding warlocks tended to carry large quantities of them to prepare for nights of progression as resummoning their minions and creating healthstones would deplete their stores rapidly. Blizzard introduced soul bags, larger than average bags like ammo bags, to help warlocks with the increased load. However, the inconvenience of having to carry dozens of shards and the difficulty of replenishing them when already fighting a boss had the warlock community clamoring for changes to their design though they would remain largely unchanged for many expansions.
- - Reduces cast time by 50%.
- Summon Demon - Instantly summons minion.
- - Increases movement speed by 50% for 8 seconds.
- - Instant cast.
- - Increases total health by 20% for 8 seconds.
- - Increases the crit chance of Searing Pain by 100%, and subsequent Searing Pain spells by 50% for 6 seconds.
- (Affliction only) - Applies to all enemy targets upon detonation. The Soul Shard is refunded if the detonation is successful.
Regeneration of soul shards was very limited. Out of combat, the warlock could use the spell , which restored 1 Soul Shard per 3 seconds for 9 seconds on a 45-second cooldown. In combat, the only way to replenish shards was through and , a Destruction-only talent that restored three soul shards if the target died within 5 seconds. Both spells required appropriately-leveled mobs.
Since shard replenishment depended on the existence of adds, it meant that for single-target fights, a warlock would have only three shards to spend, no matter how long the encounter. Using Soulburn in conjunction with any spell that was not Soul Fire meant a decrease in DPS, punishing its use as utility especially after the release of Tier 13 granted 10% spell power upon using the two spells together. (The 4pc set bonus has since been changed due to the revamp of the soul shard system for Mists.)
Mists of Pandaria
Mists of Pandaria gave each warlock specialization its own secondary resource system, with Soul Shards made into an Affliction-only mechanic. Soul Shards were changed to regenerate automatically outside of combat, although abilities such as were still useful for replenishing stores mid-fight. Mid-expansion patches saw an increase in the maximum number of shards from three to four.
- Patch 5.2.0 (2013-03-05): Baseline maximum number of Souls Shards is now 4, up from 3.
- Patch 5.0.4 (2012-08-28): Revamp of soul shard system for Mists. Changed to Affliction-specific secondary resource.
- Patch 4.0.1 (2010-10-12): Soul Shards have been removed from the game as items. Instead, they now exist as a resource system necessary for using or altering the mechanics of certain spells.