I am going to try to convince you that fetishes are actually quite viable as a part of a high MP build.
Here is the build I currently run:
Here is my explanation of the build.
First, the build is a “tanky” build designed for damage mitigation. The combination of damage reduction passives (Jungle Fortitude and Bad Medicine) and my use of an Echoing Fury weapon help to proc lots of crowd control in form of feared monsters. Also, I have standard life on hit gear, which means that Rain of Toads and Acid Cloud are going to be restoring massive amounts of life per cast (as is well known). Additionally, the Lob Blob Bombs allow me to use AC + RoT very efficiently. Since the blobs stack and 3 blobs is the max that can be on the screen at any one time, I can focus most of my time spamming RoT while intermittently tapping AC to refresh the blobs as they expire. Finally, the use of poison damage on my dogs and garg is to take maximum advantage of both LoH and BM.
So far, this is pretty standard stuff. So, where do the Fetishes fit in?
Well, the Fetishes have a very nice synergy with the rest of the build, as described below:
1. They distract enemy minions. Every second chasing a fetish across the screen is one less second that the minion is hitting your dogs, garg, or you. It really helps to keep your pets alive, especially in long fights.
2. They DO deal damage. A lot of posters say that the Fetishes just run around giggling and never hit anything. Not so. After at least 50 hours of using the exact build listed above, I can say with confidence that they do hit stuff both hard and frequently. In fact, you can hear every time they hit something in the sound effects. If you don’t believe this, just try this build and listen to how many times the Fetishes slice something in a two minute fight – especially when the mob doesn’t have DoT spells so that the Fetishes can stack. It might surprise you how much they actually hit the mob.
3. They are great for “non-ideal” gameplay. Let me explain what I mean by this. Back in the day, I used to be a bear build guy. Bears are awesome and deliver awesome damage … assuming that you can actually hit your target. In many situations, either you are running from your life from an arcane laser or you are trying to chase down a flying or fast monster that is circling you and your bears end up missing. This happens even when you don’t use an EF as a weapon. So, if you can use bears and land all three bears on something, you’re going to cut through monsters like butter. But, if you miss, you’re going to be out of mana and have to start spamming spiders.
By contrast, the fetishes are good even when stuff is running around in every direction. They can chase down stuff and stab it in the back. Also, they like to gang up on monsters and get surrounds. It’s a lot of fun to see a huge group of fetishes and a dog surrounding an elite minion and working the minion into the ground while the minion tries to fight back againt 6 to 1 odds.
4. They are essentially free. The fetishes proc as a normal part of gameplay. Unlike PTV, they don’t require extra mana. So, all of the damage that you get from the fetishes is free and comes with no downside – other than the use of a passive slot.
1. The Fetishes don’t do damage
a. See above
2. The Fetishes die too fast
a. This complaint comes from people who have typically never used the fetishes much. Let’s look at possible situations:
i. White mobs: No
ii. Elites without DoT spells: No
iii. Elites with DoT spells: Yes. However, so does the other pets. With my stats and even using JF +BM, I can’t keep my Garg and Dogs alive past MP8 in things like molten, arcane, plague, electricity, etc. This is also true even if I have the ZH passive active. Typically, an elite mob with the right affixes will burn down my pets every 20-40 seconds at MP8 or above. The ZH passive – in my experience – gives me another 5-15. I will still have down time where I have neither my gargs nor my dogs up. In these situations, the fetishes actually help because they continue procing, even when my gargs are down. So, if they can distract for even a few seconds until I get my other pets back up, they increase my survivability and decrease my kiting time a lot.
3. The fetishes take up a valuable passive skill spot that could be used by something else.
a. If this argument is to hold with my build (above), then the question becomes one of which other skill I should use instead of FS. As mentioned above, ZH has been tried and doesn’t work. So, that leaves PTV, TR, a bunch of passives that don’t work at high MPs, and the mana passives (VQ, BR, SA). Let’s look at each.
i. PTV: Discussed above. But, to reiterate, the increased damage really isn’t worth the increased mana cost. I’ve experimented with PTV before, and it’s too hard to keep up 3 blobs without dumping a defensive passive for a mana passive – which means I am going to die in the upper MPs.
ii. TR:. The increased cooldown for the dogs and garg is nice. However, I have the same problem here as with ZH – pets die too fast in a lot of fights at high MP levels. At MP10 – in my experience – there are even a lot of white mobs that can kill me. Again, fetishes help reduce this damage.
iii. GF, GI, etc.: Not useful at high MPs
iv. Mana passives: This is a bit more of difficult question. The mana passives are very nice to have, especially BR with its life regen. For me the tipping point comes from two considerations: 1)The AC + RoT build is very mana efficient if you use blobs. With my gear, I can keep 3 blobs constantly up even if I don’t have mana passives. 2) The damage mitigation is just too much to pass. In my experience, my main impediment to farming upper MP levels comes from 1) Not dying a lot and 2) dealing enough DPS to burn down monsters. For 1) the fetishes help a lot. For 2) the fetishes certainly don’t hurt.
Testing: I have tested this build all the way though MP10. With my current stats, I am able to farm very comfortably in MP7. My observation has been that, with this build, I can farm one higher MP for each 5-10K dps I get. I am at ~130K currently, and have little doubt that I could farm somewhat comfortably with 150K dps at MP10.
As it stands, I can stay alive and tank at MP10, but the mobs just take too freaking long to burn down (usually 4-8 minutes per elite mob, depending on affixes). With more dps, I am sure I could bring this down to a reasonable level.
1. Key Farming: The fetishes help a lot with every Key Warden fight (though less so with the Act 2 warden). With the key wardens, they can basically trap warden in a corner (when combined with the EF) and make it easy to burn down.
2. Ubers: Fetishes DO help with high MP ubers. The way in which they help depends on the specific fight.
a. Maghda/King: This is a nice fight for a WD with my build and an EF because you can perma-stun Maghda in a corner while the others 3v1 King. The fetishes help to keep the skeleton minions off your back while you stun Maghda.
b. Ghom/Rak: Again, the fetishes help keep the minions off your back so that you can continue to dps. With my build, I can easily solo tank either rak or ghom on MP8 (never tried to MP10, but am assuming someone with a little better stats could).
c. Kulle/Siege: This is where fetishes really shine. With my build, I can perma-tank Siege. This is not only because the LoH +RoT proc makes me pretty much immune to reflect damage but because of the fetishes. The fetishes keep siege busy with his ground hitting animation so that he inevitably wastes it on one of them, instead of killing my dogs or garg. Then, the animation timer resets.
I have been able to “tank” for uber groups before with siege while the others 3v1 Kulle using this exact idea.
3. General Elites: See above.
Changes: I have also experimented with swapping out SH for Hex/Jinx at MP 8-10, and it seems to help a lot with burning the elites at those levels. SH is nice though because it has a nice synergy with any pet build because the extra int helps not only with pet damage but with the pet resists as well.
Also, I too would love to see other types of fetishes proc from the FS passive. We should protest and petition Blizzard for Tikis!
Caveat: I am not claiming that FS works with every build. However, I feel it works very well with mine.