WoW, Warlocks, Soul Shards, and Balance
Soul Shards are - somehow - supposed to balance a warlock's abilities. The concept is inherently flawed. It can never work.
The basic problem comes down to input and output. Soul Shards can only be gained one at a time through a fight. Therefore, warlocks should - conceivably - be balanced around the concept of using one Soul Shard a fight. This currently doesn't happen as there are many abilities that are only usable outside of combat (and used to prep for combat) that require Soul Shards. However, even if only in-combat abilities used Soul Shards, they still would fail to allow balance.
There are three simple scenarios that we can assume for warlocks in a "perfect world:"
- Gain 1 - balanced 50/50 odds
- Use 1, Gain 1 - balanced 50/50 odds
- Use Many, Gain 1 - balanced 50/50 odds
None of those are any good.
In Scenario #1, using a Soul Shard would unbalance things, giving the Warlock more than 50% odds of winning. This would be unfair. In Scenario #2, the Warlock must never lose a fight to remain balanced. In Scenario #3, the Warlock will simply eventually become unbalanced and be forced to leave and farm shards if they ever wish to compete on a level playing field - even if they win every single fight.
Scenario #1 is the only scenario that can be made to be balanced, since it does not require the warlock to never lose a fight. In fact, PvE with a warlock is very close to Scenario #1 - the odds are in the Warlock's favor, and they can gain a Soul Shard without spending a Soul Shard. This can never be the case in PvP, or Warlocks would be overpowered.
The only way to make Scenario #1 balanced is to make it so that even if the Warlock spends a Soul Shard, the odds do not change to be in their favor. Of course, if using Soul Shards doesn't improve the odds - what's the point in having them in the first place? They would become useless. No one would ever bother with them.
There's simply no way to find a balance with Soul Shards. The most logical balance would be 50/50 odds based on using a Soul Shard and gaining it back. However, that requires that the Warlock never lose to remain balanced.
Soul Shards can't work. They can't be "fixed." They'll simply never work.