Wizards and the Conjuration School

Wizard
I've posted on my blog about some suggestions for Magic Weapon, Familiar, and the various Armor spells. Feel free to follow the link for sources and images, but I'll post most of it up on this thread.

http://archmagelezard.blogspot.com/2013/03/wizards-and-conjuration-school-why-it.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wizards and the Conjuration School: Why It Sucks And Rocks At The Same Time

If you've ever played a wizard to 60 and above in D3, there's probably 3 spells that have made a near-permanent home in your skill slots. To be exact, these would be Magic Weapon, Familiar (the Sparkflint one to be exact), and an Armor Spell (of any type). The benefits of these three spells are incredible - increased dps for two to five minutes, or some other kind of defensive advantage. All it takes is 25 AP at one pop, and you're good for the next 120 seconds or so. No wonder most people use it.

How do I know that most people use it, you ask? A quick look at the skills used by the top 500 Heroscore players (according to DiabloProgress) shows you the breakdowns. While this obviously doesn't cover every single D3 player, seeing the skills chosen by the top 500 is at least indicative of what skills players trend to. Magic Weapon is at the top of the pack with a whopping 73% usage, with an Armor spell (Energy Armor) in fourth, closely followed by the Familiar spell. Breaking this down further, we see that Blood Magic and Force Weapon are the most used runes for MW, Sparkflint the ONLY rune of choice for Familiar, and Pinpoint Barrier the overwhelming winner in the Force Armor category.

In a side note, Storm Armor makes a healthy showing at number 8 in the list. Ice Armor is number 20, however, showing that most people care about the dps gains provided by the other Armor spells. The prevailing Wizard dogma is "kill it before it kills you", and apparently even the incredible 12% melee damage reduction isn't enough to interest many players in it (As a personal disclaimer, this is one my personal favorite armor spells, as it's saved me more times than I can count and is a cheap way to trigger Cold-Blooded).

With all these spells providing a good duration of free dps, it's clear why many people would use them, probably all at the same time. All three spells are near mandatory for Archon farming specs, while even CMWW and SNS builds carry at least 1 Armor spell each. One could, if I may, argue that they're almost too good.

And that brings me to the next point - why they suck. One is that there's almost no reason not to pack them - common wisdom would say that, if you pack 1 signature spell, 1 AP spender, and 1 ohcrap button of your choice, that leaves 3 slots for MW, Familiar, and an Armor spell. In fact, before Monster Power, I had all three spells for nearly every one of my builds. In other words, they worsen diversity because apart from sacrificing a slot, there's no other downside to using them. They'll mostly be on, they only take a second and a nominal AP cost, they're basically 3 passive slots you swapped for active slots. Which leads me to the next reason they suck - they're BORING.

The Conjuration school has rough equivalents with a couple of the other classes, that is the Barbarian Tactics and the Monk mantras. Every barb has a shout, usually Battle Rage, although a lot of people use War Cry as well (and Threatening Shout is at least represented on DiabloProgress as well at number 16). And every monk uses a Mantra of some kind. But what makes them different and more interesting than the Conjuration school?

In the case of the Barb, using the shouts is a significant decision. War Cry and Threatening Shout restore Fury and have cooldowns, meaning it's better to save casting them when you need them rather than just refreshing them each time the cd is up (especially in the case of a party). While Battle Rage has no cooldown, it costs 20 Fury, usually a significant sum since it actually takes effort to gain Fury. In the case of monks, Mantras have a bonus effect each time it is cast, which is also a significant decision since Spirit is an equally precious resource (We all know there's really only one Mantra worth casting... maybe a second if you're a two-handed weapon monk... but that's a different discussion).

If you've played a Wizard, then you know AP is a dime a dozen. We get ten points of it a SECOND just by standing around and scratching our heads. And we haven't even begun to talk about AP on crit items or Astral Presence. The Conjuration skills are such no brainers that I end up casting them by absent-minded mistake even when I'm playing different classes.

Ok, then, so what can be done about this state of affairs? As a matter of fact, we have a couple of options.

HELL TO PAY: There needs to be a significant consequence to use the Conjuration spells. I'm not saying nerf them to the ground (unless we want another wave of wizards to ragequit en masse right behind the melee demon hunters), but rather that they incur a cost that would at least influence the user's choices. Let's look at Energy Armor - it lowers the maximum AP by 20 in all runes except one, and yet it's still the number 4 spell on the DiabloProgress list. This means that despite the drawback, people are still willing to use it. Why not do something similar to the other spells, then? If you consider that the Conjuration spells last a long time, wouldn't it make sense that they're a constant drain on a Wizard's resources?

I'm proposing that each Conjuration spell cast, apart from its AP cost, reduces maximum Arcane Power by 5. Force Armor would reduce it by 25 instead, considering how desired it is. What this means is that, if you used all three Conjuration spells at the same time, your total AP is reduced by 15 (or thereabouts, again assuming you're not using Force Armor). Or maybe each Conjuration spell could, instead, reduce Arcane Power GENERATION by 1 point each, affecting both AP regen and AP on crit. This would make choosing such spells an actual choice, instead of a no-brainer.

GIV 'UM SUM FLASH, BOYZ: But wait - doesn't the above idea just nerf the Conjuration spells to the ground? Whatever happened to making them more interesting? Well, we can do that too - for example, with the Armor spells, why not make them have an effect when they're cast?

But wait - isn't that just a cheap knockoff of the monk Mantras? Sure it would be... if the effect was a buff. We all know from Blizzard's lore overview that Wizards are supposed to be rebellious, flamboyant, and lacking in finesee... in game terms, pure hoses of demon-crunching Dee Pee Ess. So make the Armor cast effect reflect that - when casting an Armor spell, it releases a large area effect wave of X% weapon damage of the corresponding element (ice, lightning, and arcane damage depending on the Armor spell). The damage should not be comparable to actual AP spenders, but rather, give you an incentive to refresh your Armor spell in the middle of combat instead of out of it. Furthermore, the cast effect would be able to proc the corresponding passives (Cold Blooded, Temporal Flux, and Paralysis, which badly needs another source of lightning damage).

ME AND MY LITTLE FRIEND: Familiar these days is pretty much a single rune spell. Sparkflint is just that damn good - no one really cares about Vigoron's bonus hp regen (which is the red headed stepchild of life regain anyway) or Arcanot's AOE effect. That 12 percent bonus, no-questions-asked boost to dps just makes Sparkflint the only choice. But then what do we do? Nerfing Sparkflint is just asking for trouble and forum flames. So... here's a thought... why not BUFF the other runes?

A simple fix would involve looking at WHY Sparkflint is so good - that 12% bonus dps. Why not give a small amount of that to the baseline Familiar effect, say, a 5% dps bonus? If Arcanot gave you bonus 2 AP regen a second AND a 5% damage increase, wouldn't you start looking at it some more? Sparkflint would still be the best choice for raw dps, but the other familiar runes would then offer flexibility with being a dps loss. One would imagine this makes them a LOT more attractive.

I GOT THE MAGIC STICK: Magic Weapon suffers from the same problem as the Armor spells - once cast, it just sits there and adds to your dps. Even worse, its rune diversity suffers because there's only real 2 real choices for the rune; Blood Magic and Force Weapon. The reason behind this isn't even because the other runes are a loss of dps - it's because they can't proc anything. Electrify can't even proc Paralysis, which is downright silly, while Venom not only has zero proc coefficient, it uses an element that isn't supported by any Wizard passive and just feels downright out of place. Conduit, on the other hand, gives much too little AP to make it worth using.

Apart from allowing it to proc and buffing some of the effects, there are other ways to make Magic Weapon more interesting. Does anyone remember the Sorceress' Enchant spell from Diablo 2? What if the secondary effects from the Magic Weapon spell (lifesteal, knockback, DoT, resource gain, aoe lightning) applied to your ENTIRE party? It might require some numbers tweaking (granting an entire party 1.5% lifesteal might turn out to be too good), but doing this would actually give the Wizard some co-op viability, instead of just being the dps glass cannon.

There should be a ton of ideas out there on how to make the Conjuration school more interesting. I'm not saying my suggestions are the best ones, but I hope they're a start. Maybe this'll get people thinking about concrete, positive proposals for these spells.
Thanks for the write up.

However, i thin if they want to make anything more interesting, they should focus on those less used spells currently. That would have more impact and not hurting anyone who relies on the popular spells you mentioned.
Especially if you are Archon, the ultimate min/max build.
03/19/2013 07:54 AMPosted by DoctorDoom
Especially if you are Archon, the ultimate min/max build.


I don't see how increasing the costs of AP or limiting your AP regen affects Archon - you don't spend any AP while you're in it.
03/19/2013 08:39 AMPosted by Lezard
Especially if you are Archon, the ultimate min/max build.


I don't see how increasing the costs of AP or limiting your AP regen affects Archon - you don't spend any AP while you're in it.

I tihnk he was referring to archon users especially are known for running MW and familiar. Most your CM/WW or SNS builds dont use either, if they do its usually blood weapon or electrify.
Vigoron is a failure as predicted. It used to be Dartling.

I agree that familiars should give a base % dps increase plus some other spiffy function -- Vigoron should have been damage plus 3% lifesteal, which I would have used, alternating with Sparkflint.

Arcanot -- meh. Even with my APOC gear on I couldn't spam orbs.

Cannoneer. What?


I don't see how increasing the costs of AP or limiting your AP regen affects Archon - you don't spend any AP while you're in it.

I tihnk he was referring to archon users especially are known for running MW and familiar. Most your CM/WW or SNS builds dont use either, if they do its usually blood weapon or electrify.


Right, except that I never called for nerfing either of those spells damage-wise - just buffing the rest of the runes in their school. Also, if you check DiabloProgress, none of the top 500 use the Electrify rune at all.

I tihnk he was referring to archon users especially are known for running MW and familiar. Most your CM/WW or SNS builds dont use either, if they do its usually blood weapon or electrify.


Right, except that I never called for nerfing either of those spells damage-wise - just buffing the rest of the runes in their school. Also, if you check DiabloProgress, none of the top 500 use the Electrify rune at all.

I am well aware, that is because at super high gear levels the dps gain of MW is not nearly as much of an efficiency boost as teleport wormhole for CM/WW or SNS. Force weapon is terrible for CM/WW or SNS since the knockback actually makes it harder. At lower gear levels a lot of us use electrify do to it being slightly less dps than force weapon but without the knock back. At lower dps levels we can tank just fine but need more kill speed to boost efficiency. At higher dps teleport kills it. For archon and most other specs the dps is all they need to increase efficiency.

Sampling the top percentage of players does not represent the wizard class as a whole. There are abilities that are much more useful at lower gear levels than at high gear levels. For example teleport - safe passage is nice at lower mitigation levels to help you absorb more damage, but once you have the gear to handle it, wormhole is the only option. Frost nova cold snap is used a lot for lower attack speed/crit ratios to help with premafreezing, but bone chill is much better if you have the crit and attackspeed to not have an issue with permafreezing. Back to the conjuration stuff though. MW I gave examples above. Energy armor can be used as force arrmor, prismatic, or pinpoint it all depends on gear level. At extremely low EHP force armor is the best for entry level inferno, after that prismatic over takes it, until you get to MP10 SK/Magda which then you might take either or. Pinpoint is a good in between of using storm armor or energy armor, mostly used at mid gear levels or by archon users. Storm armor is amazing for CM/WW or SNS but not so much for archon since their channels spells dont proc it well. Shocking aspect is the way most use it, but almost every rune has its uses. Ice armor, I cant really say I have used it and really dont much about it so I wont act like I do. Familiar has only one useful rune as stated, never will see CM/WW or SNS using it though.
It's curious to me why one rune is always the standout and everything else is meh. Example: venom hydra, then other hydras needed to be upgraded badly. Familiar is the next hydra. One usable rune while the rest languish. The other runes need major, major help.

I will say that they look cool. When was the last time you checked out how cool they look.
Again, though, the point I'm making is that buffing the rest of the runes for MW or Familiar, or causing them to impact AP, can't possibly hurt an Archon build.
It's curious to me why one rune is always the standout and everything else is meh. Example: venom hydra, then other hydras needed to be upgraded badly. Familiar is the next hydra. One usable rune while the rest languish. The other runes need major, major help.

I will say that they look cool. When was the last time you checked out how cool they look.


Actually, I have checked. It's almost painful how well rendered Vigoron and Guardian are considering how useless they are otherwise. =P And I'm glad you agree, no one's really asking to nerf Sparkflint, just do something to the other Familiar runes to make them more attractive.
Right now, Cannoneer is the worst of them all. If you want splash damage, you would put arcane hydra on your skillbar. Why would you pick Cannoneer?

Make it into something else like Levitate with 6-8% increase damage, levitation, and increased resistances to ground effects.
Most people don't know what the hell they are doing.

The premise of the blog article is flawed, because it assumes popularity is an effective measure of optimal builds and efficiency, which many of us who frequent this forum know, full well, it is not.
Up for great justice. Was googling something and found this. Deserves visibility.

Join the Conversation

Return to Forum