Warlocks don't have a true niche in World of Warcraft. (We're not alone in this.) Like in virtually any RPG that has been influenced by D&D, there are four core classes. Warriors take the hits; Rogues sneak & deal damage up close; Mages deal damage and nasty effects from afar; Priests heal. Like most RPGs, WoW also has its share of hybrid classes. Paladins fit between a Priest and a Warrior. A Druid fits somewhere between a Warrior, Rogue, and Priest. A Shaman fits somewhere between a Warrior, Mage, and Priest. A Hunter fits in somewhere between a Mage and Warrior. Naturally, the Paladin, Druid, Shaman, and Hunter can't fill the niche of their "base" classes as well as the base classes themselves. Paladins don't have the combat prowess of Warriors or the healing capability of Priests; they are good in these roles, but not best. The same applies to the Druid, Shaman, and Hunter and the classes they fit between. To make up for this, they have their novelties and tricks to make them unique; Paladins have the best buffs, Shamans have the best AoE buffs and debuffs in the form of totems, Hunters have the best support in the form of pets, Druids have the novelty of Shapeshifting. Warlocks are a bit of an odd breed, since we don't cleanly fit between any of the four "base" classes. Instead, we're sort of between a Hunter and a Mage, with a bit of a Priest in there as well. Our pets aren't as good as a Hunter's, and we don't hit as hard as a mage. We certainly don't heal as well as Priests. Our "unique trick" is debuffs and DoTs, which is by no means a bad trick. But here's where the trouble begins. We're worse at surviving than a hunter and worse at nuking than a mage. This is fine, because a Hunter doesn't hit as hard as a mage or survive as well as a warrior; a Shaman or Druid don't tank, deal damage, or heal as well as their base classes; a Paladin doesn't fight as well as a Warrior or heal as well as a Priest. HOWEVER, the four other hybrid classes don't have Soul Shards, either. They are sub-par in the roles they imitate. Warlocks are sub-par in many of the roles they imitate, but they also have the annoyance of Soul Shards. Soul Shards are present for "balance" reasons. I would understand this if Soul Shards made the abilities that required them about as good as the abilities from other classes that they imitate. This is not always the case. On a spell-by-spell basis: Soulstone: What it tries to imitate: Rebirth, Reincarnation, Ancestral Spirit, Resurrection, Redemption. Drawbacks: It has a long cooldown, it must be prepared ahead of time and therefore can't be applied to a dead target. Advantages: It can be activated in combat, which is shared only by Reincarnation (which has a longer cooldown) and Rebirth (which has the same cooldown). It heals for more than any other resurrection spell, except for Rebirth. Only it and Reincarnation are useful for preventing party wipes. Only it and Reincarnation are good for soloing. Conclusion: It's a hybrid of Reincarnation (usable on self, usable in combat, wipe prevention) and Rebirth (usable in combat for a large healing upon resurrection). These spells both have cooldowns as long (or longer than) Soulstones, and both require reagents. Thus, the Soul Shard cost may be justified. Demons: What it tries to imitate: Hunter Pets. Drawbacks: Not nearly as powerful as hunter pets. Not as customizable as hunter pets. Summoned slower than hunter pets. Advantages: More diverse and situationally more powerful than hunter pets (what pets counter spells, remove magic, help stealth detection, seduce humanoids, can be sacrificed into a shield, or provide a stamina buff for the whole party?) Don't need to be kept happy, the skill management is simpler than a Hunter's, you don't have to worry about stabling different creatures, leveling the demons is simpler, reviving demons is no worse than reviving pets. Conclusion: The raw power of Hunter pets is much better than the raw power of Demons. Demons have some cool tricks of their own, however. Demons require a reagent, but don't require food to be kept happy and you save a lot of money Thus, the shard cost may be acceptable. Ritual of Summoning: What it tries to imitate: Portals. Drawbacks: Requires the help of friends. Advantages: Can bring someone anywhere in the world. Conclusion: It's different than Portals. Portaling someone to Ironforge isn't useful when you're trying to get a group together for BWL. Likewise, summoning someone to BWL isn't useful when you want training, buying/selling, or the auction house. While different, they can perhaps be seen as "equivalent" in utility. Note that Portals do require reagents; thus, it makes sense perhaps that Ritual of Summoning requires a Soul Shard. However, portals don't require two friends. It seems to me that the two friends should take the place of a reagent, or vice versa.