WALL OF TEXT INC
This seems as good a place as any to post.
I am currently a level 60 WD in Act 3 Inferno.
I love this character. I played the Necromancer for many years back in Diablo 2 and I chose the WD because of the similarities in uniqueness compared to the other playable characters. I'm into odd $@#@, what can I say?
Leveling to 60:
I have a small tribe of friends that I run with. One a barbarian, one a wizard, one a demon hunter, and one a monk. As I was leveling I felt more like a controller and off-tank than anything else. The damage I was doing did not compare to those I ran with. I could barely use any of my high mana skills which were only barely moderately better because I simply ran out of mana too fast which left me vulnerable and unable to perform CC + re-summon pets as the dogs died commonly. Later into late nightmare/early hell, I simply did away with the dogs and relied on just my gargantuan for a pet. It just was not worth the skill slot for my dogs to absorb a few hits and die while doing almost no damage (9% weapon damage x3 if each dog focus fires = 27% weapon damage per pack strike; for those who do not play Witch Doctor). What was very disappointing was that I had no reason to use haunt, spirit barage, sacrifice, firebats, and zombie charger.
Haunt - High mana cost for an ability you spam on each individual mob. Damage is too slow. If I ran with anyone, the mana cost would be wasted because the mobs simply died and not by me. Locus Swarm is easily better. Only somewhat useful on boss fights for hit and run tactics while keeping dps up on them (plus you don't have to run up to them like you would locus swarm.)
Spirit Barrage - I really wanted to like this ability. I can find no use for it whatsoever. It uses WAY too much mana for the damage. Splinters for Dart does 180% weapon damage for almost no mana. This ability uses 190? mana max level for 10% more weapon damage. (can be runed for mana return but even with inferno gear + mana regen on weapon, offhand and helm it still drains very quickly).
Even the runes are of little use. Well of souls seems to send spirits in random directions, rarely ever hitting a far away target. The target needs to be close. Manitou has the very same issue. I tested it on some mobs in a lower difficulty. Very little damage in addition for the requirement for the mob to be just a few yards in front of you. Phantasm is the very same issue. Low aoe damage for a ton of mana.
Sacrfice - The idea is cool. The requirement of 2 skill slots and a minute cooldown is not. A well placed Pile On does about the same damage with 1 skill slot and 25 second cooldown.
Firebats - Another close range issue and huge mana drain. The main issue here is the mana drain. If I use this on a pack of mobs, I'm sure to be out of mana by the time I'm done due to the range plus mana cost. If I am to use this for a more productive dps increase on an elite, I am in a dangerous position as I have to be close to use most of the runes of this abilitiy. Dire Bats is the only useful rune but, again, the mana cost for damage and pathing of the bat is too narrow and too high a cost.
Zombie Charger - SAME issue as the others. The need to be very close plus high mana cost makes it useless. In a pack of mobs, you're not going to kill anything with just 1 of these in nightmare+. You will need a few which would leave you mana-less. The close range puts you in danger again. The Explosive Beast idea is ideal all around due to the range increase and damage increase but the damage is poor for the mana cost which drains you very very quickly. Zombie Bears is the issue x10. You do a TON of damage but you put yourself in very great danger. Even to use it regularly end game, you need to have 4 abilities on cd at all times OR use Big Bad Voodoo for mana regen... or both for optimal up time. You essentially dedicate your whole skill set to supporting just Zombie Bears. Very boring build and very dangerous in Inferno.
What I did use while leveling:
Firebomb - Acid Cloud - Locus Swarm for AOE
Poison Dart for Boss and Single Target fights
Hex, Grasp of the Dead, Mass Confusion for CC
Spirit Walk for Defense
Not all in one skill set mind you.
Firebomb in general just does lousy aoe damage. I couldn't wait to use it... and then couldn't wait to find something better. The Wizard and Demon Hunter destroy the aoe category with minimal effort while doing WAY more than 85% weapon damage. I can spam it, sure... but by then the mobs are dead from the up front burst damage of those classes. I have to set up locus swarm, acid cloud, and spam Firebomb to do decent damage while draining my slow regen mana down to almost nothing leaving little room to do anything else. It is just disappointing. Wizards and Demon Hunters regen very quickly, being ready to burst from fight to fight.
Inferno -> Inferno farming
WD lacks in the exciting department for inferno. I'm stuck using Splinters as my main source of damage while having almost all my skill sets being taken up by CC. I don't mind so much but the problem is that I really have nothing else to use OTHER than splinters. Nothing works as good as 3 darts being spit into someones face. I hate it. I really do. Haunt is a joke. Spirit Barrage is a joke for reasons above. Our only damage is an ability that does 180% weapon damage with 3 darts + cc assist damage if any. I wont even go into what DH offer because most know it's much more than that. I am the CC in the group and I can live with that but I really want my abilities to be more exciting. To be useful. I can't even use my pets anymore because they just die too fast and the CD is a joke at that point. So I am a pet less pet class who is forced to kite and cc to get stuff done. Kiting is expected in inferno but with only splinters it gets old very fast.
I think I said most of what I wanted to say. I'm tired and I'm passionate about the class so I fought to post as much as possible. Hopefully it helps blizzard gain a different perspective.
Edited by Magus#1604 on 5/31/2012 9:55 PM PDT