Witch Doctor is the class with the coolest vibe of all the available in the game, and is also my favourite as it merges old necromancer from Diablo 2 with new voodoo magic. But it also seems to suffer from the most design flaws compared to rest of the classes.
It pains me when I see that, so I decided to make research what’s exactly if wrong and how to improve it.
Sadly, as patch 1.04 is going to be released around August 28 I won’t finish my analysis before it, therefore I’m posting results of my analysis as they are, I’ll continue my research and update it later.
I hope Mr Cheng will put that analysis and the community’s input to good use.
Testing ground and methodology
All my research took place in Inferno act 1.
Each described skill has been tested at least from Tristram to Old Ruins clearing the area completely. More promising skills has been tested on whole Act 1 elites run.
All these checks were done with displaying all information about damage inflicted, healed amount etc.
Statistics of my Witch Doctor used for research
· Fear total 5.8% (noFear probability 0.942)
· Stun total 7.0 % (0.93)
· Freeze total 3.4 % (0.966)
· Knockback total 4.5% (0.955)
· Total probability of at least one of the effects will occur is 100*(1 – noFear*noStun*...). The result is 19,18% crowd control total, which means each ~2 hits of 10 should cause one of the above effects.
Critical chance – 17.50% .So on average 2 hits out of 10 should be critical.
Life on hit – 387
Life per second – 616
Mana regeneration and skills cost issues
Sad to say, but witch doctor’s resource system is deeply flawed at the conceptual level.
Unlike other classes, doctors has no free skills (well, except Sacrifice),even defensive skills like Hex,Grasp of the Dead or Horrify cost mana in addition to having a cooldown. Bah,sometimes these costs are just ridiculous, like Grasp’s 122 mana on 60 lv (the same as offensive skill Firebats)
What other classes do when they run out of their resource? They can use primary skills that don’t spend resource or increase its buildup, sometimes they wait few seconds till resource tank is refilled. Moreover, their defensive skills are usually for free.
And what Witch Doctor has?
Poison Dart - 10 mana, Corpse Spiders - 5 mana, Firebomb - 10 mana, Plague of Toads - 34(!!) mana.
What it means?
That our base mana regeneration 20 mana/s (without any items and passives) is lowered down to just 15-10 mana/s,and that’s assuming casting speed of 1.0/s. And it’s commonly known that usual attack speed for a Witch Doctor is 1.40 attacks/s, what lowers our mana gain just to mere ~5 mana/s if we are using Poison Dart or Firebomb fighting an elite pack let’s say. I have a mercy and I won’t take into consideration what would happen when Plague of Toads is being used...
All these mana regeneration bonuses equipment has, passives are not any advantage for a Witch Doctor,but sad necessity to offset flawed resource gain system. For example a monk using a helmet giving 2 spirit per second has a real gain of that as he can manage his resource easily without it. Meanwhile, Witch Doctors wearing all available items granting extra mana regeneration, choosing passives increasing regeneration arrive at what is the starting point for other classes.
How to solve that?
Due to 1.04 release I don’t have enough time to deeply think about the solution,so far I thought out the following:
· Base mana regenerations should be doubled to 40 mana/s without items and passives
· All defensive skills, like Grasp of the Dead, Horrify, Spirit Walk, Hex, Mass Confusion, Wall of Zombies should have mana costs severly lowered down, to around 20 mana.
· All primary skills should be for free.
Animation time issue
Well,almost each of Witch Doctor skill has around 3x longer animation time compared to other classes.That makes playing this class very inconvienient,and also makes usage of 2h weapons pointless.
Damage over time skills versus instant damage skills
Witch Doctor has many cool DoTs,like Locust or Haunt. But the main problem with this kind of skills is they need some time to kill the enemy. During this time monsters still can hurt us.
So to make them attractive compared to instant damage skills they should be given such features:
· Be able to trigger crowd control effects as well as life on hit, life leech etc. during each “tick”. Now they do that only on initial hit.
· Be stackable when it comes to calculate damage, but damage only. Crowd control,life on hit,life leech etc. effect shouldn’t stack from the same skill, it would be too powerful.It should stack only from different skills, e.g. if Locust,Fire Pit,Plagued Bats are used on the same monster they should apply effects separately each skill tick.
· It would be nice if they will display scored critical hits in yellow,as now it’s confusing for players. When it’s become known on Polish forum that I’m working on Witch Doctor class analysis, many players asked me „Why Rain of Toads/Locust/Haunt doesn’t score critical hits? I’ve invested in critical hit chance and damage gear, but I see the skill doesn’t benefit from it!”
· I see Mr Cheng’s project to bound damage of this kind of skills with attack speed (http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/6923456/ ,Weapon Master section).That definetly will make DoTs more attractive.
Advanced tooltips are advanced in name only, as they pretty always misses important information about how the skill works.One of that information is amount of life on hit parameter applied,another one is crowd control processing, and for damage over time skills it’s not mentioned they work in 0.5s period “ticks” to apply damage and effects.
All these covers important part of mechanics,and as you Billzard guys admitted some time ago that hidden influences is unfun. Well,so please fix that flaw.
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/6923456/ ,Weapon Master.
Well,I think the best solution is to write as you Mr Cheng suggest for ordinary tooltips. For advanced versions let it be like „X% weapon damage over X seconds (X% weapon damage per tick)”.It still can benefit from increased attack speed,as during my research I found out that damage per tick is calculated earlier and it is known, so it’s value can be converted to text and displayed.
With your version Mr Cheng it won’t be easy to determine what exact amount of damage is dealt in a second. 1000% weapon damage over 10s or 250% weapon damage over 3s? Which one deals more damage per tick? That’s why tick damage additional info in parentheses is needed.
Please don’t treat us players as morons whose can’t handle larger portion of data. If we set elective mode and advanced tooltips in options it means we wish to get most detailed information about our skills. We don’t want anything to be hidden from us.
Skills design flaws
People who designed skills for Witch Doctor class seems to not think deeply enough about them, and as a result we have skills which duplicate their functionality and purpose in combat. Let’s think about single target skills like Poison Dart(Splinters),Corpse Spiders,Spirrit Barriage and Haunt for example. Considering all (damage output, mana cost, ability to attack chosen target,extra features like autotarget,passing through walls) which would you choose? In 95% of cases there is just one victor, Splinters. That’s doesn’t support diversity of builds. But it absolutely doesn’t mean that Splinters has to be nerfed! It shows only that the rest of the compared skills need research and work how to make them more attractive to the winning skill.
Another issue are skills whose just don’t work on bosses, like Horrify,Mass Confusion or Hex. That wouldn’t be much problem alone, but taking into consideration loose of the Nephalem Valor bonus on skill change it starts to matters. Due to not having enough time prior to 1.04 release I was sadly unable to come up with a solution for that.
And last but not last, passives like Circle of Life and Grave Injustice. The main flaw about them is that they just do practically nothing during elite/boss fights. And these fights are the ones which really matters when we try to create an effective build. And again, we are not allowed to switch these passives to something useful before a fight due to Nephalem Valor restrictions.
Well, you are aware already that Witch Doctor pets just aren’t viable on Inferno, and announced that they will be improved greatly. That’s a good news to hear.
But know the problem has another side related to, unsurprisingly, tooltip info. We just don’t know how our pets scale with our statistics,therefore threads like http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5271500086 or https://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5271499223?page=1 ,or mine were created.That’s definitely not the way it should be handled.
Therefore, both basic and advanced tooltips for Zombie Dogs,Gargantuan and Fetishes needs to be updated to show us pets’ statistics and their relations to master’s statistic, example:
Armor X (related to your armor)
Life X (related to your vitality(?))
Damage X (related to your weapon damage(?))
Attack speed X
And for specific runes like Rabid Dogs/Burning Dogs/Big Stinker it should be mentioned that these can process life on hit parameter.
Hm,instead of writing such huge tooltip it would be better to add another position ‘Info’ in context menu showing that mentioned detail after clicking portrait of a summoned pet.
Up to two runes in a skill idea
The idea is a result of observation several skills whose has ‘must have’ rune,like Unbreakable Grasp,or Crystal Shell,or Splinters.Then I started to wonder about what would happen if any skill would allow to choose up to two runes?What cool combinations that would make,and how it would affect diversity of builds?And maybe that would make Inferno difficulty at least a bit less gear-dependant only?
Anyway,more can be found http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/6080658995#1 ,see the part „A change I was thinking about since open beta”
The next part is analysis of each skill.Due to 1.04 I finished just up to Firebats,then I decided to post it in that unfinished state to allow Mr Cheng's team to read it.
Poison Dart – overall analysis
One of the best Witch Doctor skills.Decent damage,it gains a lot from the increased attack speed too,and it inflicts critical hits and triggers crowd control effects as expected, except damage over time part,but it’s common for all DoT skills.Darts are also pretty fast and have insane range allowing to attack targets lying farther than a screen distance.Darts are blocked by obstacles and champions’ walls, but that’s standard behaviour.
Splinters – This rune is outstanding at scoring criticals, because each of the splinters uses a character’s critical chance separately from each other to calculate if it is a critical hit or not. Sadly, that doesn’t apply to crowd control and life on hit effects, as for these whole burst is treated like just one hit. Another factor is that Splinders always inflict 180% weapon damage – for the base skill 40% over 2s doesn’t stack.The best rune if someone wishes to maximize damage dealt to monsters.It’s only flaw is it’s tooltip – though the rune modifies how the skill works (it no longer deals that „additional 40% damage over 2s”) yet it isn’t mentioned in the advanced tooltip.
Numbing Dart – Decent slow effect, works on elites and bosses.Overall,a good rune,should be taken into consideration by players more often. It process CC and LoH like ordinary Poison Dart.
Spined Dart – +14 mana per hit isn’t much helpful when it comes around to fill a 900-mana tank.Not to mention when a Witch Doctor is out of mana he wants either to finish remaining monsters quickly or to have some control over them.The rune should rather be replaced by something else,or it’s behavior should be deeply changed.
Flaming Dart – The worst of all Poison Dart runes.It does less damage than splinters (160% only, no additional 40% over 2s, just like splinters, the tooltip isn’t accurate) and it has no other effect, is doesn’t increase any chances to trigger CC/LoH. It has to be removed and replaced by something more useful.
Snake to the Face – That rune is also pretty useful. The problem with it is that snake is in fact too similar to the Numbing Dart,though in slightly different way – NB is reliable,the slow effect is always applied (well,apart from slow-resistant monsters) while snake has only 30% chances to trigger,but its control effect is much stronger.
Skill runes competition:
It is not bad,as actually there is a choice – those who want to maximize damage would choose Splinters due to its tripled critical chance,while others desiring some control effect have either Numbing Darts or Snake to the Face to take.Even Spined Dart isn’t totally useless.
Hints for improvement:
Flaming Dart just simply has to go.It can’t compete with Splinters when it comes to do damage,nor with other runes whose have some extra effect.I suggest to replace Faming Dart by Razorsharp Dart – 80% chance to pierce through each hit monster,+15% weapon damage as bleed over 1s,+35% critical damage as an addition to the base skill effect.And of course leave 40% poison damage over 2s.Each hit after pierce should be treated like ordinary hit when it come to calculate crowd control effects,critical chance and life on hit.Bleed shouldn’t trigger crowd controls nor life on hit.The dart should fly as usual,on the straight line except it now can pierce through enemies.If it does,it continues to fly forward,it’s trajectory shouldn’t be changed like Demon Hunter’s Hungering Arrow.
Spined Dart is the second worst rune after Flaming Dart.It could be replaced too,but I have no idea for the replacement (maybe community will help there?).Besides,the effect is nice enough to keep it anyway,just refactore it to some level of usefulness.Maybe let it restore X% of max mana on hit?Like 10% for example?But assuming Witch Doctor spells costs will be reduced there will be no need for such prosthesises to fix character flaws like mana orb being emptied too fast.
Splinters – while it’s understandable why Splinters doesn’t calculate crowd controls for each separate dart (doing so would cause other runes to be too weak compared to splinters),it could process life on hit effect the same way like critical chance.
Numbing Dart and Snake to the Face – as mentioned above,both are a bit similar to each other.To solve that situation,there are two options – either replace or alter acting one of these runes.But I have no slighest ideas for that.Community,please help if you can.Also,both runes can be left as they act now,their similarity isn’t a big issue.
Runes combinations analysis:
Splinters + Numbing Darts – good combination for both single target control and simultanously inflict serious damage.
Splinters + Spined Dart (assuming each splinter triggers spined dart effect,and it works as I proposed) – quick replacement of mana,and decent damage output.
Splinters + Razor Dart (assuming each splinter benefits both from bleed and increased critical damage on each monster hit) – the best combination to inflict the most possible damage.Very potent against crowds if you have enough DPS to decimate them quickly,as well against bosses due to 3x 15% bleed and 35% extra critical damage.
Splinters + Snake to The Face (assuming that there will be only one check to apply the stun) – Good combination for someone who wants to inflict good damage and to have decent control.I checked option when each of the 3 shots could trigger the stun,but with my current control from equipment the probality of applying any effect was 82%,which is way too good.
Numbing Dart + Spined Dart – I suppose this one should be nice against elites,as simultanously slows them and replenish our mana tank for usage on stronger skills.
Numbing Dart + Razor Dart – large crowds control instrument,especially in narrow corridors.Also it has greater damage output,which is also nice.While adding razorsharp dart instead of splinters isn’t that strong against act bosses,this combination has an advantage when it comes to fight against larger numbers of enemies,or elites packs.
Numbing Dart + Snake to the Face – While it offers outstanding control over a single target,it isn’t so well combination in my eyes due to dublication of effects of the both runes.While someone would rely on the slow effect then why wouldn’t he/she to take ex Splinters to finish the enemy quicker?Or Spined Dart to replenish mana?Or Razorsharp Dart to hande whole pack the same time?Yet I admit it shows signs of potential against act bosses,as it at least slow the enemy if it won’t stun him
Spined Dart + Razorsharp Dart (assuming Spined Dart works as I proposed for each target it hit due to pierce) – Though it won’t fill mana tank as quickly while paired with Splinters against a single target,but in exchange it has better ability to deal with groups of enemies – moreover,in that case also it replenishing part starts to work much better,possibly better than using Splinters as a 2nd rune.
Spined Dart + Snake to the Face – Looks like another weaker combination. It neither refills mana tank so efficiently as while used with Splinters/Razorsharp Dart nor gives sure control effect like Numbing Dart.But there will always be some better and some worse skills,and their combinations.
Razorsharp Dart + Snake to the Face (assuming each time the snake will pierce a monster and inflict hit on another one it will also have 30% chances to stun) – On single target it works as ordinary Snake to the Face,but it inflicts more damage,which is good.On groups of enemies it works even better,as with each pierce and hit there is a chance of temporary disabling a monster from fight.
These combinations look good,as there are various possibilites attractive depending on what a player wants to archieve,and what’s more important,there are no situations there is only one ‘must have’ runes combination.
Corpse Spiders – overall analysis
Very weak skill. The spiders don’t triger any crowd control effects,they don’t process life on hit either (except Queen rune),only hit by jar containing them do. Thanks the designers they didn’t forgot to allow them to inflict critical hits normally – the other matter is that critical damage amount is very low due to low % damage of the skill (just 16%).Moreover,the spiders are so slow they can be outrun by some faster monsters like Quill Fiends from Act 1,or champions.But that’s not the end of flaws,as the jar containing spiders is blocked by walls created by elites,though it should fly over them due to lob trajectory.The skill benefits from the increased attack speed,as with it more jar can be thrown per second.Also,the advanced tooltip isn’t much accurate,for example there is no mentioning that each spider can bite up to 3/4 times,as well as no information about lifespan of the spiders.
Leaping Spiders – The best rune as it counters one of the main flaws,which is low speed of the spiders.Increased damage to 19% is also nice,as well as possibility to increase range off a screen due to leaps.The spiders can’t jump over walls of elites.BUG – I spotted several threads on D3 forums about these spiders being unable to reach Belial in his ultimate form.
Spider Queen – This rune alone among all available runes can trigger crowd control effects, though with far lower probability than expected.Besides it serves as area damage.The queen also has the longest lifespan of all spiders,but also it is the slowest one. Its AI is very dumb,as the queen just wanders here and there instead of keeping close to the monsters.
Widowmakers – These little insects,opposite to Spined Dart,actually can refill even a huge mana tank in quite reasonable time,as there are 4 spiders hitting 3/4 times,and each hit gives 3 mana points.Yet even in the best scenario mana amount per jar is just 4*4*3=48 at the cost of 5.And to make that happen,the enemy mustn’t be quicker than our spiders,they have to live long enough to deal these 4 bites...well,to say it short,this rune loses competition with Locust Swarm – Devouring Swarm,as the spiders have much worse damage and mana gain sometimes can be 0,while locust can inflict decent 360% and always gives 37 mana.They have two advantages over locust,thought,they work well against a single target and they cost just 5 mana.
Medusa Spiders – 2nd the best rune in the skill,similiar a bit to Leaping Spiders when it come to think about chasing monsters – 1-3 bites and enemies are slowed.It also supports defense,as the jar can be thrown between us and incoming monsters,and the spiders will bite attackers slowing them.But still,this usage can’t beat good ol’ Grasp of the Dead,the only advantage over it is low mana cost of Medusa Spiders.
Blazing Spiders – In case of greater number of blazing spiders on the battlefield they seem to block mutually themselves,so only few can attack an enemy,the rest stays back and do nothing.Besides,this skill makes no interesting modification,just more damage.Boring.
Skill runes competition:
Well,to say it short – Corpse Spiders sucks as a whole.No matter what rune is chosen,the skill will stay lame anyway.Only Leaping Spiders shows some weak signs of usefulness due to being able to be fast enough to hit any kind of monsters.
Hints for improvement:
To make this skill worthwhile serious refactoring is required.
At first,speed of all spiders has to be greatly increased,so they always will be able to chase and bite all enemies,including fast ones like champions/scavengers.At second,they have to start to trigger all crowd control and life on hit effects-that will make them valuable for crowd control and tank builds.
Spider Queen should get it’s own attack dealing 20% of a player’s weapon damage,and it’s AI needs to be made more aggresive,so it always will be near enemies.It also should to attack pointed during casting target,or the nearest one if there wasn’t.
Blazing Spiders are just boring.Make them similliar to Burning Dogs,or add them chance to ignite monsters (damage over time,each tick check if the monster resisted flames and continues figh,or flee because of pain and fear) – any of these options would make the rune more interesting.
Runes combinations analisys:
Well,the main problem here is to determine what output should give merging Spider Queen with other runes.But this is up to you Billzard.
Also,there is no sense to ponder about that now,as the whole skill is lame.It needs to be fixed first.
Plague of Toads – overall analysis
Skill with one of greatest vibes of all.It also can inflict tremendous damage compared to other skills from this level,as well as benefits from increased attack speed.When it comes to trigger crowd control effects,criticals and life on hit it works well,as expected.Sadly,the frogs paths are too unpedictable for the skill be reliable.Also,the skill is overpriced. Apart from the above,collision areas of the frogs seems to be weird,and they sometimes don’t hit enemies while player see they should do. And as usual,the tooltip isn’t accurate – it doesn’t mention clearly that each frog deals 130% damage,and an opponent can be hit by more than one frog.
Explosive Toads – Greater damage is always welcome.But besides that,this rune is a bore,as it offers no interesting alterations.
Toad of Hugeness – While Hex with Angry Chicken rune is the Emperor of Uselessness this rune is his right hand.It doesn’t swallow champions/elites,it can’t be targeted to devour a particular enemy.It works only on white monsters,but not even on each kind. Which is far worse,huge frog won’t swallow an enemy who is already attacking us!Another issue is that the toad sometimes is blocked by obstacles – check http://youtu.be/BCExc2kC3l8
Too bad the skill turned out lame,as the idea itself is very interesting.And a curiosity – it once happened that the toad swallowed 2 monsters at once.
Rain of Toads – It’s disadvantages is wrongly taken target’s position when casting on particular enemy,which causes that rain sometimes misses when used against fast monsters like scavengers,or carrion bats/cultists even.Also,it can’t be cast beyond elites’ wall,though it should be possible.Another upside is it’s visibility – on longer distances in dark places like crypts on Foresaken Cementery(or Festering Woods even) map you can’t see where exactly the rain is falling.Damage inflicted is decent,applying crowd control is a bit too low that expected.About cooperation with life on hit this rune is just a miracle – having only 200 LoH sometimes I was able to score 8k life per second!.Sadly,it scores critical hits far below expectations.There is also a strange thing in the rune mechanics,it can be easiest spotted when Rain is used on some breakable object-after casting the object breaks before any frogs will fall on it!WTF??
With this rune a player can determine where exactly the rain will fall,which makes it most useful among all of them.The tooltip is not accurate (heh,a suprise) as it doesn’t mention neither effect range (this rune turns Plague of Toads into area of effect) nor the fact that rains can stack over each other.
Addling Toads – Potent skill,as it process crowd control effects like ordinary Plague of Toads besides it’s chance to charm.It’s good as it is, apart from issues that affect the skill as whole.
Toad Affinity – As primary skills should be free, this rune needs to be replaced by something else.
Skill runes competition:
Theoretically,there are few nice runes there to pick up,like Explosive Toads,Rain of Toads and Addling Toads.But in fact,only the Rain of Toads is worth something due to ability of exact targeting.During my tests I couldn’t hit enemy standing next to me in a few seconds while using non-rain rune.What a pity.
Hints for improvement:
Well,the greatest issue with that skill is how the frogs move and act.They are slow,and what is worse they sometimes just stop moving. I know that’s how real frogs behave,but this kills all usefulness of the skill.Luckily,the solution is simple,and perhaps very easy to implement – just copy both the speed and behaviour from Wizard’s Shock Pulse.I found Shock Pulse reliable and useful to be played,opposite to frogs.It should have one difference,through – as the frogs are living beings they should not crash on walls and obstacles,instead they should sidestep them.The other important issue is collision detection between a frog and an enemy,please take a look into it,as for me doesn’t function properly. Besides that, specific runes need their own fixes:
Explosive Toads should be worthy of it’s name,and deal explosion damage in 6-8 yeards radius.This explosion should process critical hits,crowd control and life on hit as ordinary hit.
Toad of Hugeness...well,everything wrong with this skill has been already mentioned above.Just fix these issues,and it will make really useful and climatic rune.Ah,and while cast without targeting it should to swallow nearest enemy,not some from the edge of the screen as it happens now.
Rain of Toads needs to be fixed to be able to cast over champions’ walls,and its targeting system on fast-moving target should be better.And it misterious mechanics (breakable objects test) needs to be either changed or well explained in tooltip.
Toad Affinity as mentioned needs to be replaced.But by what?I was thinking about somesuch like ToadSkin Armor – it incrases our all resistances by flat 100 and additional 75%,increases movement speed by 20% and deals 200% dps as poison to each melee attacker,processing critical hits,life on hit and crowd control as expected.It should last for 120s,as Wizard’s armors.Also,I’m counting on community help there.
Runes combinations analisys:
Well,let’s assume that ToadSkin Armor can’t be merged with other runes,and what results combining Toad of Hugeness should be as an output it to be determined by Billzard.In that case,there are such combinations:
Explosive Toads + Rain of Toads – Bombing rain dealing 169% area of effect,excellent for someone looking to make devastation with great accuracy.
Explosive Toads + Addling Toads – Decent damage output with nice crowd control effect.A compromise between massive damage granted by ET + RoT and control of RoT + AT.
Rain of Toads + Addling Toads – Assuming that this will stack and process charm chance like ordinary Rain of Toads this combination will make great crowd control tool.
Healthy situation – there is a choice depending which option is the most attractive to the player.Would he/she wants to inflict the most possible damage then Explosive Toads + Rain of Toads is useful.If crowd control is what she/he desires then Rain of Toads + Addling Toads is to pick up.And for those who wants both damage and crowd control Explosive Toads + Addling Toads is handy.Not to mention that there will be also fixed Toad of Hugeness for battles against elites and perhaps ToadSkin Armor to choose,which will greatly improve overall skill usefulness.
Firebomb – overall analisys
Nice area of effect skill.It process critical hits and life on hit well,but sadly,it triggers crowd control effect far too less beyond expectations when used against a single target.According to my calculations,there should be ~2 control effects applied per 10 hits,but there aren’t – during my research I didn’t scored any control effect in 30 hits.The other issue is trajectory – skulls don’t fly over obstacles or elites’ walls while they should be able to.Check this video http://youtu.be/ThG4ruq4CsI ,I was trying to throw bomb to the left of the rubble.And for the last,when targeting an area near own foot the bomb still is thrown using lob arc, which doesn’t make sense.Should be thrown directly at the location in my opinion.
Flash Fire – Very nice idea broken by bad design.What’s the purpose of the -15% penalty per each hit??Wizard has Electrocute dealing almost the same amount of damage,but with far greater range and speed without any reduction for each next target.So why Witch Doctor is treated far worse?Moreover,this rune process life on hit the worst of all runes (only 20% per hit),and practically doesn’t trigger any crowd control effects (one effect per 50 hits?Nice joke).It also has not so bright AI – if monsters are near any breakable objects the skull sometimes jumps onto these objects instead of another enemy.It has interesting ability,it can be thrown on a ground and if there is anything which can by hit in jump range the skull will bounce to that object.About critical chance,the rune seems to trigger it accordingly to expectations.The tooltip...eh,as usual not so accurate.It isn’t mentioned what’s the radius for bounce to the next target.
Roll the Bones – The good point is that it inflicts critical hits as expected,or even better.About triggering crowd controls,1st hit works a bit better than Flash Fire(which is very poorly),2nd and 3rd hit doesn’t trigger any control effects.When it comes to process life on hit this rune performs very poorly,only 22% per enemy.After using is awhile it becomes clear that this rune is only good looking,as the bounce distance is too far.Also,it can attract enemies outside a screen,and does nothing when enemies are near each other,not behind.Most useless rune after Pyrogeist.
Fire Pit – Just amazing for crowd control purposes due to leaving pits, that can trigger the effect too each “tick”.Moreover,pits stacks with each other (but it isn’t mentioned in advanced tooltip,as usual),which makes the rune even better.It also scores critical hits well,it happened pretty often there were more than expected 2 per 10 hits.
Pyrogeist – Although it applies crowd control effect and critical hits as expected,and it has very solid processing life on hit (33% per projectile,and Pyrogeist shoots 8-10 bolts) this rune is the worst one.What makes it rune extremely lame is the fact that there can’t be set more than one column and these 140% DPS is dealt when ALL firebolts hit.It takes around 5s,and during that time with typical for a Witch Doctor attack speed 1.4 there can be performed 5-7 attacks using ordinary Firebomb for 85% DPS each.That gives 425% dps at least,and it can be dealt to multiple targers.Well,where is a reason to use Pyrogeist rune then?
Ghost Bomb – The greatest upside of that rune is excellent scoring critical hits,it happened much often than expected (around 5/6 crits per 10 hits).About crowd control,it works a bit better than ordinary Firebomb – 6 effects total since beginning of Tristram (including The cave under the well) to completely cleared Old Ruins.Looks like it has increased critical chance,but as usual,why it is not mentioned in advanced tooltip?
Skill runes competition:
Hm,considering all (criticals,life on hit,crowd controls) only Fire Pit works well.For non-control builds Ghost Bomb seems to be useful due to extended range and hidden critical chance bonus.But that’s all.
Hints for improvement:
Well,all mentioned during overall analisys downsides (crowd control triggering,flying over obstacles and elites’ walls,throwing on very short distances – check this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPwHNaMBqFE) of the skill needs to be fixed.Ah,and a curiosity.On the old D3 previews we can see that a flaming skull is thrown,also it’s suggested by icon as well as rune names,not to mention the story “Doubtwalker” about Witch Doctor Benu.So why we have Firebomb instead of Flaming Skull??
Particular runes also needs improvements:
Flash Fire – remove 15% penalty for each new hit,allow to process crowd control normally during each hit,increase life on hit amount to 66% per hit.
Roll the Bones – Each explosion should be able to trigger crowd control effects and give 66% life on hit per enemy.Reducing bounce distance by half(so primary target would be hit twice) would also make the rune much more attractive for choosing.
Fire Pit – Good as it is.You could only increase pit damage to 10%,it’s a nice round number as opposed to 8%.There should be mentioned in tooltip that the pits stacks with each other.
Pyrogeist –At the very least,this has to be made stackable up to 5 pillars.Firebolts deal so little damage that it won’t be overpowered.What else...I think a circle on ground showing range of bolts would be nice.And the tooltip needs to be more accurate,for example it should be something like „~ creates a pillar that throws 10(?) firebolts dealing X% dps damage each (140% total within 5s) in X yards range.Each firebolt triggers critical chance,crowd control effects and life on hit (33% LoH value per bolt) separately. There can be up to 5 pillars at once.”.Opposite to initial lob thow,the bolts shouldn’t fly over elites’ walls.Others parts of the rune work well.
Ghost Bomb – Increase that additional damage to 40%,or better add 20% chance to fear.Or add both effects at best.BUG-it doesn’t affect waller elites on the other side of a wall,though skill graphics shows something different.That should be clipped at obstacles to avoid such misunderstandings.
Runes combinations analysis:
As usual,let’s assume all the runes are fixed exactly the way I proposed.
Flash Fire + Roll the Bones – Well,for the first an output of such combination should be defined.I think the best choice is to allow to jump on a target more than once and increase number of jumps to 8,ex there are 2 monsters with jump range so the skull will attack continuosly both of them scoring 4 hits total per enemy.Of course,in that scenario there should be no explosion on impact.
FlashFire + Fire Pit – Each hit should leave burning pool,but the skull itself shouldn’t explode.This combinations seems to be potent for crowd control purposes and for tanking against larger number of opponents.
Flash Fire + Pyrogeist – Well,let’s rather say it would be rather Pyrogeist + Flash Fire,the output of the combination of runes should be ordinary Pyrogeist whose bolts can jump between targets as ordinary Flash Fire does.This one could be very fun to play against larger crowds.
Flash Fire + Ghost Bomb – Only extra explosion provided by Ghost Bomb should be applied.Seems to be great tool against any crowd,dense or not.
Roll the Bones + Fire Pit – 3 burning pools at one throw?Sounds nice,our own minidesacrator on demand ;]
Roll the Bones + Pyrogeist – It’s better to say Pyrogeist + Roll.Hm,let’s assume that each Pyrogeist bolt can explode on hit in 8yeards radius,and can bounce 2 times 4 yeards away exploding each time it hits the ground.
Roll the Bones + Ghost Bomb – That would turn Firebomb into decent anti-single target utility as well as being still nice AoE skill.
Fire Pit + Pyrogeist – This time,let’s combine the runes differently.Instead of leaving a burning pool the bomb after explosion forms a Pyrogeist pillar working as usual(damage,life on hit,crowd control),except it should last 3s,but in exchange the pillars can be stacked without limits.
Fire Pit + Ghost Bomb – This seems to be weakest of all combinations,as Ghost Bomb would be fired just once opposite to let’s say Roll the Bones/Flashfire + Ghost Bomb.
Pyrogeist + Ghost Bomb – First,result of such combination needs to be determined.I propose to be nice looking,’ghostly’ pillar attacking as usual whose bolts explode in 12m radius for 7% damage.
Hmm, it seems that combinations containing Ghost Bombs seems to be the most potent.But if fact it’s hard to say,there are the most choices in attractive rune combinations so far,comparing them to other primary skills.
Grasp of the Dead – overall analysis
Very nice defensive skill,having a cool look’n’feel too.It has ideally set duration time and cooldown time,which makes it one of the most useful skills in game.It process critical hits as expected,besides each tick calculates separately for each monster in the area if a critical hit is rolled.Crowd control effects are triggered below expectations,it’s approximately around 1/5 what is should be.Life on hit amount is weakest among all Witch Doctor skills, only 16.5% per tick per enemy.The skill doesn’t benefit from increased attack speed,except Groping Eels rune.It’s also blocked by elites’ walls,but that’s seems to be okay.The skill has an downside,which is very high mana cost.Why?It already has a cooldown,it is a defensive skill,so why it is also punished by requirement of 122 mana?The same cost like Firebats.Another downside is applying slow effect to enemies having kind of acceleration ability,like Carrion Bats,Torsos,Cultists,Ims appearing from devices in Act 2 Zoltun’s Archieves etc (check the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l3JDtNpUUo ) – they are slowed not since beginning of the Grasp area,but since middle of it.The skill doesn’t affects Lacouni jumps,while it affects flying sand wasps,which is kinda weird.
The tooltip,as usual,isn’t much informative,as it neither mentions the radius of the skill nor tick period.Bah,it’s misguiding even,as the skills seems to deal more than 20% damage – for me,it deals 1837 per tick (not to mention criticals) happening each ~0.5 second.With 10 ticks taking ~5s it’s 18370 at least,while my DPS is 20873.
Unbreakable Grasp – Most useful of all runes,as it appliest very strong effect capable to significantly slow down even a fast elite.It misses these cool ghoulish arms from base skill version.
Groping Eels – Damage output of this rune is affected by attack speed. An oddity, the period between ticks is not shorter in case of increased attack speed,but damage inflicted during each tick increases.
Death Is Life – 5% chance for a health globe drop?It’s so lame it must be an unfunny joke.And no ghoulish hands too.
Desperate Grasp – Seems to be unnecessary,as both the cooldown and duration time of ordinary Grasp of the Dead are perfectly set.But lower cooldowns are always nice.
Rain of Corpses – Falling corpses scores critical hits as expected,and shows them in yellow.But,it is not so good rune – zombies chooses their victims randomly,and there are only four of them.Besides,we already have Acid Rain,Rain of Toads...enough rains in my opinion.Not to mention this one is hmm kind of very unrealistic;corspses failing from the sky??LOL.
Zombies trigger crowd control effects upon falling,but very,very poorly.Same for the life on hit,looks like it’s even weaker than ordinary Grasp of the Dead.The tooltip doesn’t describe radius of the explosion.
Skill runes competition:
This is just one rune skill – none of the runes can compete with Unbreakable Grasp when it comes to fight against elites.It is just the best choice (BUT it absolutely doesn’t mean it has to be nerfed by some finks to „increase build diversity”!),though Groping Eels and Rain of Corpses are playable too till Inferno.
Hints for improvement:
Because Grasp is defensive skill and has only one rune to choose issue I suggest to replace Unbreakable Grasp by something else,and move 80% slow to the base effect.Even my idea of combining two runes in a skill would not help much,as it always would be Unbreakable Grasp + something.And from what it’s known you wish to support diversity of builds.
What else – area radius is a bit too short,considering these accelerated monsters.I suggest to increase it by 50%,and leave accelerated monsters ability to run short distance in Grasp area unaffected,as that makes sense.But they shouldn’t be allowed to accelerate since they are inside and move at normal speed – this seems to be already in game,but I’m just saying in case of.Besides,the skill needs to break monster leaps,charges and similiar.Of course,due to higher speed they should be able cross some distance in Grasp area before they become affected (let’s say 1/4 or 1/5 of radius),but they shoudn’t be able to leap/charge while staying inside.
Mana cost is definetly too high.Other classes have their defensive skills free usually but with a cooldown,so why Witch Doctor needs to wait 6.5s assuming base mana acceleration if the skill has a cooldown already?That’s ridiculous and pathetic.It should be reduced greatly,to 10-20 mana on 60 level.
The skill graphics is improper after cast,as it doesn’t accurately shows exact area of effect.Just leave these hoop showing radius while casting visible.
And last but not last,the advanced tooltip.It is so inaccurate it should be completely rewritten to somelike this: „Ghoulish hands emerge from unholy ground in X radius area,slowing enemies movement by 80% and dealing X% weapon damage to them as Physical each 0.5 second.During each tick 16.5% of Life on Hit value per enemy is applied,and X% vaule of Stun/Fear/Freeze/etc.”(I suppose 0.5s is a tick period,anyway,put correct and exact value there)
About particular runes:
Unbreakable Grasp – as mentioned above.
Groping Eels – This one is good as it is,only there should be mentioned in tooltip that it benefits from increased attack speed.
Death is Life – Increase the chance to 50% to make the rune worth considering,and useful for builds utilizing Fearsome Feast or tank builds.
Desperate Grasp – Good as it is.
Rain of Corpses – Why not the corpses emerge from underground and explode?That won’t change functionality of the rune much,but will make in different from other rains and more reasonable.Of course,name of the rune needs to be changed too in that case.
Runes combinations analisys:
Well,as the skill runes are right now only combinations incuding Unbreakable Grasp make any sense.And all of them would be good,maybe with exception of Death is Life.
Firebats – overall analisys
Very nice skill,having a great vibes and graphical presentation.It’s advantages are one of the greatest range among similar Witch Doctor’s AoE skills and cone area of effect,and it’s direction can be changed during using.
This skill has the most misguiding description how it really works,though.If fact,it applies X% damage (not 150%,it seems) 0.5s after start and each 0.5s during sustaining the burst.
Sadly,Firebats process crowd control effect very,very poorly.I couldn’t even estimate how much below expectations it is.Definetly,it is not average 2 per 10 ticks,however.
Critical hits are inflicted as expected.A curiosity,if a critical is scored during initial hit it is displayed in yellow.Criticals archieved during sustaining are displayed like other damage over time skills criticals.(WARNING!I just got yellow critical during sustaining while I was making research about Vampire Bats!In that case,please Billzard check deeply how the skill really scores criticals)
Life on hit is processed extremely bad, only 16.5%/tick/enemy.
Dire Bats – These bats triggers crowd control effects the best of all runes it seems,but still far too rarely.They also have much better life on hit cooperation,as it’s 66%LoH per enemy struck.Giant bat flies suprisingly slow considering it’s butt is on fire ;),and it’s trajectory is very unreliable.About critical hits,the chances are as expected,but due to high and instant damage this rune works with that statistic very well.
Vampire Bats – It has just one upside,it works exactly as ordinary Firebats,in cone area of great range and has insignificant life leech.Crowd controls,life on hit(probably,it’s hard to check that out) and critical hits work the same like base skill.
Plague Bats – Very nice rune,but with inaccurate description.Bats during sustaining deal more damage with each tick up to that maximum 225%,which usually takes 3 ticks (~1.5s).But that’s not all,it passes a disease on monsters after applying and deals damage to them equal to the damage value during last tick for a quite long time even if you stop sustaining the burst,which makes it excellent for kiting.Moreover,you can just tap button to apply 1st level of disease,and when you tap again 2nd level will be added to the previous one,and since then Plaguebats will deal damage over time equal to the value of that 2nd tick.For example,my Witch Doctor deals 4228 damage per tick at the beginning,and after tapping she reduced a Inferno act 1 Risen’s life from 39387 down to 10636 after 5s.Sadly,disease damage does not trigger neither crowd controls nor life on hit effects.
Processing crowd control effects,life on hit and critical is the same like ordinary Firebats.
Hungry Bats – It turns our area of effect skill into one target missisle with autotargeting system.It benefits from the increased attack speed,and it processes scoring critical hits as expected.It also utilizes greater value of life on hit – 33%.
The main problem with this rune is that it retains it’s mana cost,and which is much worse Hungry Bats are very unreliable.Autotargeting of bats just sucks – they can ignore nearest enemy even if pointed by cursor and instead attack a monster far away,bah!Any breakable object!Also,they can fly elsewhere even if an enemy is standing next to us.Ah,and their range is worse than Spirrit Barriage.As bonus,this rune practically doesn’t trigger crowd control effects (one affected enemy within ~50 hits)
Cloud of Bats – Another rune that significantly alters the main skill rune.And sadly,another crappy one,as it pins us into a place allowing monsters to attack us without any effort.A pity,as it has a very cool look’n’feel.
It inflicts critical hits as expected and these are displayed in yellow,though the skill still works 0.5s tick-based way to apply the damage.The rune processes life on hit pretty vell,it’s 50%/tick/enemy.Crowd control triggering is more or less the same as Hungry Bats rune has.
Skill runes competition:
Poor result,as there are only two runes worthy choosing,Dire Bats and Plague Bats.
Hints for improvement:
Generally Firebats is a successful skill,considering both how it works and it’s look’n’feel / vibes.What needs a fix is triggering crowd control effects and life on hit amount,16.5%/tick/enemy is pathetic.And of course advanced tooltip should be rewritten to exactly descripe how the skill works.About runes:
Dire Bats – These bats should be speeded up a bit (75% speed of Hungry Bats should be perfectly fit) and their fly trajectory should be more flat.Besides mentioned everything is well with the rune.
Vampire Bats – Their life leech effect needs to be raised to some level of usefulness.5% of max life/tick/enemy would allow to feel like real vampire and make the rune worthy of taking.
Plague Bats – This rune is good as it is now.Only advanced tooltip should very precisely descripe how these bats work.