Hi fellow witch doctors, I wanted to use this topic to be the starting ground for current and future thorn builds for the voodoo user we all love/hate. Its in my opinion that thorns is still very much underrated and under appreciated as a stat (which is usually the case in many games, but more so in D3).
The recent buff to pets survivability made me incredibly excited to finally test the build out. Feel free to post your own builds as well, as this is a community effort to inform others. Please also include information as to why you chose what you did, the general gearing pattern, and the results thus far. Thanks!
I'm currently (as of 8/27/2012) running a thorns/dot attrition build and its been a cakewalk farming act 3 and 4. I focused my gearing to be mostly tanky at first, with each piece having at least 1k thorns damage.
As of now though, I'm experimenting with raising my dps with soul harvest stacks and keeping my LoH acid cloud up for me and locust swarm simultaneously. My gear is currently reflecting the dps gear testing, but it was originally way tankier.
Im getting used to the ring around the rosie aspect of it and feel I can squeeze more dps at the cost of a little of my survivability, since the dogs still live forever unless they get exploded by keep depth banelings or champ packs with 3+aoe affixes, with the latter still taking a decent amount of time to do, given that I health globe hunt like no other.
All in all, I'm loving the build. It certainly is not the fastest to level but the efficiency lies in the durability. My role in it all is usually just the combat looter/health globe healer. Feels like a pretty close pure summoner role, which I love.
Disclaimer: Its currently the build I'm using to test some aspects of the overall thorns setup, so some choices (such as blood ritual) are questionable to some and rightly so. It should have a degree of variance in choices, and hopefully there will be more over time.
Pets are way tankier than you are. I'd go so far to say that they have the potential to be the best tanks in the game, given that they have the passive life regen & force armor on top of what we pass along to them. These pets are amazing at pulling off some hilarious zergling surrounds and blocking off choke points (eg. doors in Keep Depths). They allow a nice atmosphere many times, given the overall lack of aggro control we have of them. The gear is somewhat of a pain in the !@# to find in terms of finding a nice roll of stats (Vit/All Res/Armor/1k Thorns primarily). Price ranges from annoyingly expensive to dirt cheap, depending on how the seller views the value of thorns. HP is a pretty important stat, if not the most important. I'm currently 45kish, but started at 52k. Seeing as how the zombie handler increases their HP by 20% after the transferred HP, its a damn good amount of health. For multiplayer parties, the build is pretty good, allowing the others to go a little more glass cannon sometimes. I feel more like the tank and healer aspect in the party, with the pets keeping the mobs busy while I'm dancing around grabbing health globes, since my dps is dot based. (See Above: Surrounds & Bottle-necking Choke Points) Also, feel free to substitute Soul Harvest for more CC oriented abilities like Grasp or Zombie Wall. The dps aspects of the build can be lowered if you want to really control the field and let your party do the heavy damage. For this current experimented build, I'm running blood ritual to increase the life regen of the pets. My gear (other than my weapon) has hardly any life regen, if any at all. Feel free to use Pierce the Veil/Jungle Fortitude/etc. to your liking. As mentioned above, I'm testing life regen through skills and passives and less on gear. Spirit Walk for me was originally Jaunt, but I ended up going with Healing Journey to increase my life regen, which transfers to my pets in emergencies. Any will work though and its still being tested. Honored Guest is nice too for more dps and healings with LoH Acid Cloud. You are tanky too, but not even close to them. They can have a dance party on plagued/electric/molten, but I take pretty moderate damage with my setup. That's why I use a decent amount of LoH to keep myself up while doing damage. I had originally 1.2k+, but this experimental gearing is around 700ish. The playstyle might resemble kiting builds, but works somewhat like a middleground between kiting and RoT tanking. Your role is to run around and dodge aoe's from yourself. The pets will be fine by themselves. While you're running, be sure to have the 5 stacks up and keep locust swarm & acid cloud up (spamming more clouds for LoH when needed). If you solo, your follower should be the enchantress imo. Her armor increase and atk speed buff are invaluable. The charm and polymorph are experimentation aspects right now. No matter which follower you choose, build them dps primary stat and protect them. By protection, I mean to maneuver how you move as to have them stationary AWAY from you, so the champs target you with the aoe's (eg. desecrate) but avoids them dying and losing potential dps time. Ranged followers are better at this since you have melee pets already. If the mob cleaves, stand in the cleave and take some hits yourself to give out more thorns damage. The builds strength is also its weakness. You rely on your pet getting hit to do the primary damage. However, when you clear that wave of scorpions and are left with one big yellow elite, the damage fall off is unfortunate (especially if they dont cleave, leaving only 1 pet to reflect) The experimenting with the gearing and build I've been working on is attempting to remedy that one flaw in the overall core of the thorns.