So I have been playing almost only DH since the expansion came out. I play both a lot in groups and solo as well. Mostly with my friends (Wizard, Monk, Barb) and I really feel that the DH is strongly underperforming. From my point of view he lacks in both damage (sustained dmg) and defense. Also there is not much build diversity. I play T4+ with the exception for split bounties (T1-T2).
First here is my DH:
3.Item choices, issues with trade offs
4.Discussing Vengeance, RoV, Pets (wolf)
1. Right now, I am sure cluster arrow is the only viable hatred spender. And considering fire to be the best (only viable) element there also would not be much you could switch to. I thought about elemental arrow but it fears on hit which is highly counterproductive if you just want to group the enemies and kill them all at once. Chakram is slow and doesn't do enough dmg. It has a horrible scaling. Maybe it is fine for lower torments where you need the huge area aoe but, again, it is too slow while cluster arrow and multishot come out instantly. For lower torments I would almost always go with multishot and with hexing pants/reaper's wraps I will regen my hatred fast enough to keep going at all times.
Imho strafe is comparably useless. The only thing it provides is the utility to strafe through units. But other than that it is pointless considering you move with 75% of your movement speed if you take a dmg-wise more "viable" rune than the movement rune. You can always stutter step with each and every other ability and achieve comparable movement across the map while attacking/kiting your enemies.
I could not think of any situation impale could be of any use. Even in boss fights cluster arrow outperfarms it strongly. It is single target only. So wasting a slot on this would be even less of a smart idea.
The Sentry+Pet build we have seen is viable but I don't think most of the players want to play that passively. Also it has been fixed in regard to sharp shooter so you have to roll cc again on your items which is a huge hit to the build.
Fan of knives is pure physical. Again, not worth it. Especially since the scaling is really bad again. Haven't tried sash of knives yet though.
Next let's talk about survivability. Dex provides dodge and only dodge. Same for the monk. But the dh doesn't have something like "one with everything" and the paragon points cannot be allocated into flat armor but only armor% and I cannot stack further dodge with paragon points to extend my natural sustain. So the dh is very much depending on his natural dodge which is unreliable due to not even being higher than 50%. Monks in addition not only have their mantras for even more dodge and a lot of mitigation through their abilities but they also benefit from their 30% dmg reduction for melees. So they do have easily higher dodge, more resistances and higher mitigation in general from abilities and natural mitigation. I know they are melee but I have reasonable motives to compare since I see my wizard mates facetanking elites with ease on T4+ without getting any dmg. If I'd do that I would instantly die. And it is not like I would be able to dish out more dmg if I tried and that I would have gone full dmg epeen mode. The only dmg passive I use is archery which I have to think about swapping for higher torments eventually since I cannot play with unity. I would lose too much dmg.
One can argue with Dhs having smoke screen and vault. But why am I forced to use these spells to begin with? I have to go smoke screen + prep or smoke screen + nightstalker/suppression fire while I already to have tactical advantage and perfectionist which already is highly restrictive for a class like the dh who has so many sweet dmg passives to add up (Sharp shooter, Ambush, Steady Aim, Archery, Cull the Weak,..) and I can barely use one. In fact, I have to use it with my build to get enough crit chance. I am kinda forced to play with royal grandeur+natalya ring to achieve sustainable crits with my 3-piece of Nat's and keep all my pets from marauders so I have someone who tanks for me. If I drop RRG I lose my pets, 7%cc and 10disc. If I drop Nat's reflection for Unity I lose a whole lot dmg versus trash mobs due to the loss of additional 250dex, my 7%cc and even 20disc which is ridiculous. And no even if I found Marauder Pants I couldn't use them since Hexing pants aren't replacable (25% more dmg and ressource regen).
You sure can drop magefist, cindercoat and go for lightning, cold or physical but you will quickly notice how bad the scalings on all the other abilities of the DH are. CA:lfb deals around 1500% weapon dmg maximum. Most of the times though not all the grenades will hit and you will not be able to sustain the dmg because either you're out of hatred or you have to back off and kite. Considering you have to go ressource cost reduction you lose out on a lot potential dmg again. Each trade off, no matter how you spin it, will result in an inferior version of all other former glass cannons.
3.Since DHs are kinda forced to play fire, cindercoat and magefist are mandatory. When I dropped my Nat's cloak for cindercoat I lost around 900 dexterity because I had to take amethysts and diamonds into my cindercoat. I have yet to see a wiz taking sustain gems into his chest/pants on softcore.
Weaponwise I am very much bound to play with 1h xbows. For one reason it is the critdmg you gain if you dw for the other it is the more sustained dmg due to higher attack speed. What people lack to see is that 1h xbows have an attack speed of 1.6 per second which is the higher of all weapons in the game. So they scale even better with attack speed than any other weapon. This however does not mean that we particularly hit hard whenever we use a spell.
Right now my weapon setup is not only directed to be viable in terms of sustained hatred and high critdmg (since the weapon dmg is kinda low), it also has to be this choice because i have to play the role of a supporter in group play. I buff my members with my pets (30%dmg from wolf and tanking pets soak up a lot dmg) but also debuff the enemy quickly with calamity and additional marks for death:contagion for 44% more dmg. This is basically pretty much all I do in group play while the wiz and barb destroy everything. =D It is kinda frustrating to not be able to really kill something despite having my equipment.
Keep in mind the DH is also the only class not being able to utilize 30% additional damage against elites from Sunkeepers, which right now is one of the best weapons for higher torments. Not only is it one of the very few weapons with this unique weapon stat but also hits quite hard for being a one handed weapon. The combination is neat!
Talking about Unity once again, how is a DH supposed to play higher torments without it while all other classes have to (ab)use it despite having much better effective health than the DH? There is literally no option for many DH-builds to implement this item into their build. Especially when going Nat Set and for the 4 Set Bonus you cannot do without Nat Reflection (Ring). Worst Case would be if you went without RorG and had to equip the boots which have two really useless standard affixes (unreasonably low armor+ms wasting two affix slots which could be better used for AR, Cluster Arrow). But this, however, would mean you're barely viable for T6 cause you miss out on the Marauder 4 Piece (shoulders, pants, chest, hands left whereof you need two slots for magefist and cindercoat.)
Last but not least we have SoJ which is much likely the best item in the game. Too bad we already have a very restricted choice between RorG, Unity, Nat's.
4.The last thing I would like to talk about is Vengeance. Compared to the wolf cooldown and Rain of Vengeance I doubt highly it impacts the DHs effectivity much. I barely feel a dmg increase when activating it and due to its high cooldown it is not even worth being picked up for the sustained dmg with the Seethe rune. RoV can be used on almost every occasion on higher torments when fighting elites and it provides a lot of utility either with stampede. Imo it is also not worth to pick up much cdr for vengeance since you would lose too many critical stats which are much more important for the dh. I would strongly suggest to reduce vengeance's cooldown tremendously and/or give it sustain/defensive boosts in addition. Compared to Archon this ability is quite a joke. Vengeance doesn't give you resistance, nor armor, nor raw dmg. It does not give you stackable dmg. It doesn't even give you sustained CA-spam unless you really went for ressource cost reduction in the first place. Other than that it is has the same cd/active time ratio as Archon. Furthermore, Archon has the capability of being used with all runes with the Vyr set. So you would get 20 second less cd, another 20% flat dmg increase, teleport each 3 seconds (much less with common cdr archon builds), slow time around the wiz, 3.6k% weapon dmg on activation. Archon is not only stronger on paper. You get different kinds of spells in Archon form which deal significantly more dmg.
5. Thinking about the set bonuses we got compared to other classes it just confirms my theory of Blizz not having the slightest clue of how bad the DH actually is. They really seem to overestimate his damage potential since they gave us merely defensive or passive set bonuses.
The 6-piece bonus is very specific. Who would have thought dhs would want to play very passive and even more restrictive sentry/pet builds? I didn't. Going Tasker and Theo and the sentry quiver just running around and setting up sentries. We got Vengeance as a new ability with a huge cooldown which went into the right direction of giving us more potential of dealing enormous dmg actively but the set bonus directs us into passive sentry builds.
-Ring of royal Grandeur
-Nat Helmet + Slayer + Reflection (swap it for SoJ for longer fights/single target fights after using RoV)
-hexing pants (too strong to take marauder pants.)
-marauder boots (since nat boots have 2 useless affixes) + shoulders + gauntlets (dropping magefist)
It is restricted, yes. But this is the only rational way of combining the 2 strongest set piece bonuses of the dh into one build. still you cannot cookie cut with even both of these bonuses. While the barb/wiz have only to take one 4 piece (eq/vyr) to destroy higher torments you will have to rely on 2 4-piece bonusses and still not be able to do the same. And while we need to kite and dodge everything having 6 set items + rorg equipped other classes pull everything together and oneshot everything (wd soul harvest 2 hits t6 bosses, barbs perma-eq for 16000% weapon dmg, wizards crit for 100m+ on average in archon and still can go face to face).
Now what does the set give us? For one we get another defensive bonus which potentially allows us to stay longer in the fight unless we are oneshot anyways which would be easily the case. It is a free smokescreen whenever we mess something up bigtime. Not too bad. Not gamechanging either. Now the 4 piece bonus! This actually could have become really interesting if it was not for the "demons" Reduce all cooldowns by 1 second every time you kill a demon. This could have become the perfect bonus to synergyze with our new Vengeance and would allow for some interesting combinations with different cooldowns if it worked against all monster types. Too bad we don't have too many cds anyways and the Nat set already covers RoV cd so it would become obsolete with the Shadow set. This set is a complete disgrace since it doesn't work in rifts at all. Not only would I have to sacrifice a bunch of vital battle stats but also would I only get an unreliable set bonus which probably wouldn't have worked in most rifts anyway.
Don't take this as a rant. I am just seriously concerned of how my favourite class is balanced right now. And I think atm the DH has to be build very restrictive to be able going for higher torments. He exceeds on lower difficulties but loses all his effectivity when going up in torment levels.
edit: structured my text a little. it was quite a wall of text. sorry for that. i hope you now can read it more comfortably.