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Arcane Torrent is a mana efficient pure DPS skill. I use it as my primary DPS solo in Inferno Hardcore.
Arcane Torrent is 210% weapon damage, and with the Disruption rune jumps to 241.5% (210% * 1.15) weapon damage and costs 16 mana per second to channel for area of effect. That works out to 15 damage per arcane spent.
Let's compare that to...
Arcane Orb (post 1.0.7 buff) is 200% weapon damage, 20 arcane with the Tap the Source rune, which works out to 10 damage per arcane.
Disintegrate with Intensify is 221% weapon damage at 18 Arcane per second, at 12% damage per arcane.
Ray of Frost is equal cost, higher damage, but limited to a single target.
Meteor with Molten Impact is ( 390% + 90% = 480% ) @ 50 Arcane is 9.6% damage per arcane.
As you can see, Arcane Torrent is very mana efficient and good for single targets and compact groups. It does have a .5 second delay, which takes some getting used to, and yes it probably could use the ability to shoot over walls.
However, it's not a crap skill at all, IMO, and is actually one of the best wizard mana-dump DPS skills.
So if you're dumping a full mana pool of 100 arcane on a single target, in order of effect: Arcane Torrent nets you 1500% damage, Disintegrate does 1200% damage, Arcane Orb does 1000% damage, and meteor does 960% damage.
Of course each of those abilities has different shapes / AOE effects, so whatever suits your playstyle. But if I'm suiting up for facing an Inferno champ 1v1 with my toon on the line, I'll take Arcane Torrent.
On a side note, post 1.0.7 Blizzard with Snowbound rune jumping to 510% damage looks like it might be sick from a damage and mana efficiency perspective. 510% / 20 = 25.5% damage per arcane.
Edited by notsofst#1108 on 1/31/2013 12:48 PM PST
I like Arcane Torrent.
It's alot like using the WD skill Hungery Bats. Your stuck in place channeling and there is a casting anmition too.
But the up side of Hungery Bats is I can get them to go over walls and they do 350% weapon dmg.
Though in the fact my WD has built in tanks and were freaking melting balls off.
In fact I changed my build and gear around to us FL for better tanks that can hold argo longer becouse Hungery Bats rips it right off of them. They need the thorns to help hold argo from me on Elits that dont just die in one or two hits.
I think have always felt it was 100% harder to use AT on my wizard and for less reward too.
But it looks freaking awsome.
I like Arcane Torrent.
I kind of do the same thing with Mimic or Teleport-Fracture.
Slap the champ to get aggro, pop mimics to tank him, then drop an entire bubble of arcane torrent on him.
Either that or just use torrent from behind the safety of Diamond Skin.
Coincidentally the lifetime of Mimics and Diamond Skin are about the same time as it takes to use up 100 Arcane on torrent. It works nicely.
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