A Game of Thorns

General Discussion
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Note to Moderators: I moved this thread from Items to General as it is not so much an item discussion as it is a General Discussion on the state of thorns. If having two of the same thread is not allowed and one must be locked, feel free to lock the original found here:
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/12927622659#3



This thread is an open discussion on Thorns, their mechanics, strategies, items, and suggestions on how to make them feasible as an alternative damage source and build focus.

Contents:
    In first post:
  • Intro
  • UPDATE 2.12 Changes
  • UPDATE 2.1 Changes
  • What are Thorns
  • Thorn Maxes
  • Classes
  • Thorns Buffing Skills by Class (missing WD)
  • Items for thorn Builds (work in progress)
  • Legendary Gems
  • In second post:
  • Issues with current Thorns
  • Ideas for Improvement


Intro
Thorns have been an alternative damage type that's been around from the beginning. As the game stands now, D3 is so crit damage based that it's hard to create a build that's not based on that. With 2.0.1, we got some variance with the introduction of cool-down reduction, resource reduction, area damage, and elemental %, but even these at their core are powered by critical damage.

That said, Thorns is a mechanic that for the most part stands on its own as a damage source. On the offset, thorns seem weak and underpowered, but the mechanic is beautifully complicated and provides a drastically different play style than any other builds. It's great for a change of pace and challenge for those who are tired of their cookie-cutter builds.

This thread is meant as a guide and discussion for those who are either thinking of starting a thorns build or looking at further developing the one they have. So far we have taken a mechanic that was barely feasible in the lower torments, worked it up to mid, and are now beginning to step into high torment play, all from a mechanic based on a secondary attribute.

The discussion is ongoing as more testing, ideas, and builds emerge. Many issues and bugs with the mechanic have shown up, and with the help of the community discovering them and getting the word out, a handful of them have been addressed and fixed. We welcome suggestions on how to improve thorns as well as questions anyone has about the mechanic.

UPDATE 2.12 Changes
    New Ancient Legendaries with 30% increased stats, thorns included! Confirmed maxes: Helm: 2600 up from 2000
    Boots: 2600 up from 2000
    Gloves: 2600 up from 2000
    Bracers: 2600 up from 2000
    Pants: 2600 up from 2000
    Ring: 2600 (x2) up from 2000
    Shoulder: 4550 up from 3495
    Chest: 4550 up from 3495
    Shield: 4550 up from 3495
    Weapon: 4550 up from 3495
    Ammy: 4550 up from 3495
    Gem: 4975 (Unchanged)

    Invoker's 4000
    Demon's 6000
    (leaving out 999 from lvl 60 demon's)

    Item Max Thorns:
    Weapon + Shield: 55910
    Dual Wield: 60885

    Weapon + shield + 50% passive + sets: 83865 up from 74944 ( ~12% increase)
    Dual Wield + 50% passive + sets: 91327 up from 82407 (~10% increase)


UPDATE 2.1 Changes
  • Fixed - Issue with elemental thorns not counting towards the 50% thorns passives for Crusader and Barbarian
  • Datamined - ItemPassive_Unique_Ring_754_x1 - Your allies gain the benefit of your Thorns (REMOVED)
  • Fixed an issue that prevented some crafted level 70 Legendary items from being able to roll Thorns damage
  • All Invoker pieces now naturally roll thorns as a secondary


What are Thorns? (for those who don't know how they work)
Thorns are a secondary affix on items. Thorns damage is an element of their own, separate from physical damage.The total thorns rating from your armor/weapons is multiplied by 25% of your primary stat damage modifier to get what your actual thorns damage is.

For example: A primary stat of 8000 gives an 8000% damage bonus. 2000% of this is applied to thorns, essentially 20X the damage. A 25k total thorns rating with 8000 Strength will deal 500k damage to attackers.

    Thorns damage can be affected by the following:
  • Primary Stat
  • Thorns value on armor/weapons
  • Enemy de-buffs "Enemies take X% more damage"
  • Thorn Damage % increases


    Thorns are not affected by the following:
  • Any elemental%, including physical% (exception being Iron Skin - Reflect Skin) and fire% with Demon's Set fire thorns
  • Weapon damage modifiers, even if using Hack
  • Most skills and items that state increased damage "You deal X% more damage" (some exceptions for Iron Skin - Reflect Skin)


Thorn Maxes
With Elemental Thorns now being included into the +50% Thorns Passives for both Crusader and Barbarian, there are new Max Values in 2.1. I also Included Maxes for all classes and damage for a wider variety of skills/modifiers.

*Note that these are the max POSSIBLE Thorns values. Making a feasible build will generally require sacrificing some thorns values.*

Max Thorns possible from Armor: 27992
Max Thorns Possible on Weapons: 8473
Max Thorns Possible on Shields: 3495
*Souces, Quivers, and Mojos cannot roll thorns*
Invoker Bonus: 4000
Lvl 70 Demon's set: 6000
Lvl 60 Demon's set: 999

Maxes by class:
Barbarian (+50%, Dual Wielding, lvl60,70 Demon's, Invoker): 83906
Crusader (+50%, lvl60,70 Demon's, Invoker): 76443
Monk (Dual Wielding, lvl60,70 Demon's, Invoker): 55937
All other Classes (With Shields, lvl60,70 Demon's, Invoker): 50962

---Crusader With 10k Str and 76443 Thorns---
Unmodified Damage Output: 1911075
With 30% Strongarm: 2484396
With Vo'Toyias: 3822150
With 30% Strongarm and Vo'Toyias: 4968795
Sanguinary Vambraces: 16485000
Iron Skin - Relfect Skin: 13319880
Reflect Skin With 30% Strongarm: 17315844

---Barbarian With 10k Str and 83905.5 Thorns---
Unmodified Damage Output: 2097637
With 30% Strongarm: 2726929
Sanguinary Vambraces: 18351750

*Damage calculations are done on the assumption that you are using the appropriate equipment.*

Classes
Right now, thorns are only viable with Strength classes, aka Barbarians and Crusaders. Witch Doctors did have a thorns passive, but sadly that got changed. This is not a bad thing in that only the main melee classes can use thorns. You don't want a Demon Hunter to be thorns based as their survivability is not high enough to be a pokey meat cushion.

As such, this discussion may be geared more to these two classes, but by no means is it inclusive. If you have ideas for any class, feel free to add them.



Thorns Buffing Skills by Class
While the sad truth is that most of the damage increasing skills in the game are attack buffs or weapon damage buffs, there are some the can increase thorns damage. Most of these are done in the form of enemy debuffs that increase damage the enemies take. Others are more direct, like the 50% increase thorns passives.

Although it would be best that all skills that state damage increase would increase Thorns damage as well, here is the list of skills that do increase damage.

*Total Increase is % that excludes items, focusing solely on the abilities, and is the sum of all% increases*

*Max Effective Thorns takes Thorn Max values by class from "What are Thorns" for calculation, multiplied by Total Buff %*

Maxes by class:
Barbarian (+50%, Dual Wielding, lvl60,70 Demon's, Invoker): 83906
Crusader (+50%, lvl60,70 Demon's, Invoker): 76443
Monk (Dual Wielding, lvl60,70 Demon's, Invoker): 55937
All other Classes (With Shields, lvl60,70 Demon's, Invoker): 50962


    Crusader
  • Iron Maiden: 50% thorns
  • Shield Glare - Divine Verdict: 30% Enemy Debuff
  • Iron Skin - Reflect Skin: 800% as Physical Damage, can crit
  • Total Increase: 195%, 1560% for reflect skin.
    Effective Max Thorns: 99376, 795007 with reflect skin.


    Monk
  • Inner Sanctuary - Forbidden Palace: 30% Enemy Debuff
  • Exploding Palm - Flesh is Weak: 20% Enemy Debuff
  • Mantra of conviction: 10%, 20% with activation, Enemy Debuff
  • Mantra of Conviction - Overawe: 16%, 24% with activation, Enemy Debuff
  • Total Increase: 174%
    Effective Max Thorns: 97330


    Barbarian
  • Tough as Nails: 50%
  • Total Increase: 150%
    Effective Max Thorns: 83906


    Wizard
  • Frost Nova - Bone Chill: 33% Enemy Debuff
  • Slow Time - Time Warp: 10% Enemy Debuff
  • Total Increase: 143%
    Effective Max Thorns: 72876


    Demon Hunter
  • Marked for Death: 20% Enemy Debuff
  • Marked for Death - Grim Reaper: Thorns damage also distributed, FYI
  • Total Increase: 120%
    Effective Max Thorns: 61154


Witch Doctor
Coming Soon!

Items For Thorns Builds (Work in Progress)
This section lists the various items for thorns builds and how they work, including synergy (or lack thereof) with other items.

Thorns of the Invoker


Demon's Hide


Neanderthal


Nailbiter
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/nailbiter
  • 1h Mace
  • Comes with up to 15% weapon damage
  • Comes with Thorns as a secondary. Necessary if you want max possible thorns.
  • Barbarians and Monks can dual Wield with Neanderthal to maximize thorns.


Hack
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/hack
  • 1h Axe
  • 75%-100% of your thorns damage is applied to every attack
  • The thorns damage dealt by hack is applied separate from your attack's normal damage, showing 2 separate numbers, and will not crit
  • Hack alone only applies to the target of target-able attacks, meaning many AoE abilities do not proc hack
  • Synergizes with 4 pice Invoker bonus, dealing area thorns centered on yourself for every damage tic you deal
  • Enemies provoked while having the shield Vo'Toyias equipped will also take double thorns damage from Hack, meaning with the 4 set Invokers bonus, you can apply double AoE thorns damage to provoked enemies as much as able during the time they are provoked instead of relying on them to attack you
  • The actual thorns damage dealt is multiplied by the attack's proc coefficient, meaning attacks with low proccing will deal less damage, and attacks with 0% proc will deal no thorns damage (ex: Explosions when blocking from Crusader's Punish-Roar)
  • Spreadsheet showing proc coefficients:

  • https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AgL5S3Revw9ddEhScEpSLWhnRDZKV25OaWZJcHdkN0E&usp=drive_web#gid=0


Faithful Memory
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/faithful-memory
  • 2h Sword
  • Comes with thorns as a Secondary
  • Good with Crusaders using the Heavenly Strength passive to equip single handed as it does more damage than Neanderthal or Nailbiter
  • Can equip with Hellskull for a 10% damage boost that includes thorns


Hellskull
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/hellskull
  • Crusader Shield
  • Gain 10% increased damage while wielding a two-handed weapon, includes Thorns damage
  • Comes with Cooldown Reduction
  • Equipable with Faithful Memory using the Crusader Holy Strength Passive


Sanguinary Vambraces
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/sanguinary-vambraces-1385JU
  • Bracers
  • Come stock with Thorns secondary and Crit Chance primary
  • Chance on being hit to deal 1000% of your Thorns damage to nearby enemies.
  • The thorns damage is multiplied by 25% of your primary stat damage multiplier
  • Estimated proc chance at 5% each time you are hit (confirmation?)
  • Area damage dealt over 15 yards
  • Usable with Thorns of the Invoker if you have Ring of Royal Grandeur equipped


Vo'Toyias Spiker
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/votoyias-spiker
  • Shield (Normal, but the effect only applies to Crusader)
  • Enemies affected by Provoke take double damage from Thorns.
  • Provoked enemies will attack once, reposition, then attack again, making it so that only one or two attacks occur in the brief time they are provoked
  • The Double Thorns damage is applied to the enemies provoked allowing other party member's thorns to also deal double damage
  • Provoked enemies also take double damage from both Hack applied thorns and AoE thorns from the 4 piece Invokers bonus giving you conrtoll of application of thorns while the enemy is provoked rather than waiting for the enemy to reposition and attack


Strongarm Bracers
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/strongarm-bracers
  • Enemies hit by knockbacks suffer 20–30% more damage for 5 seconds when they land.
  • The damage increase taken by enemies applies to Thorns damage
  • Not only knockback, but also "pull" and any other enemy repositioning attacks gain the effect of Srongarm Bracers
  • Best used with skills that do not slow attack speed or, if knocking back, movement speed


Harrington Waistguard
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/harrington-waistguard
  • Opening a chest grants 100–135% increased damage for 10 seconds.
  • Any openable "container" gives the effect, whether it be a chest, corpse, weapon/armor rack, loose rocks, etc.
  • Damage increase does not apply directly to thorns, but skills that use thorns for damage calculation, like Crusader's Iron Skin - Reflect Skin, gain this bonus
  • Belt ability is useless in update 2.1 Greater Rifts due to the lack of any openable "containers"


Akarat's Awakening
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/akarats-awakening
  • Every successful block has a 20–25% chance to reduce all cooldowns by 1 second.
  • Thorns builds generally make use of blocking. This shield takes the blocking and gived it cool down reduction for the high CD skills like Iron Skin


(To be continued)

Legendary Gems
This section explains how each gem could help (or not) a thorns build.

    The * next to the names are to show how useful I personally think they would be to a thorns build (opinions may vary).

      Bane of the Powerful **
      (damage increase after elite kill, Elite%)
    • No increase in normal thorns from damage boost, even when applied by hack. Damage increase, as well as elite % affect Reflect Skin, however.


      Bane of the Trapped
      (damage increase to control impared enemies, slow aura)
    • Weapon damage increase. No effect on thorns or Reflect Skin


      Enforcer
      (pet damage increase, pet survivability)
    • N/A, No way to apply thorns through pets.


      Gem of Efficacious Toxin *
      (poison damage, enemy de-buff)
    • Enemy de-buff. Presumably all thorns damage affected (needs confirmation, didn't have lvl 25 gem)


      Gogok of Swiftness **
      (increase attack speed, CDR)
    • Increased attack speed can aid in hack application and CDR useful for Reflect Skin, Provoke, Shield Glare, or any thorns damage aiding skills.


      Invigorating Gemstone *
      (damage reduction while control impaired, healing)
    • Good for extra survivability. That's about it.


      Mirinae, Teardrop of the Starweaver
      (holy damage)
    • N/A, offensive gem. Good for extra damage, and hybridized builds.


      Moratorium ***
      (damage received staggered, chance at clearing staggered damage)
    • Good for survivability as thorns players take a lot of damage.


      Pain Enhancer *
      (physical bleed damage, increase attack speed)
    • Mainly offensive, but increase in attack speed can aid in hack application


      Simplicity Strength *
      (increase primary skill damage, healing)
    • No increase in thorns damage even by hack applications using primary skills. Healing useful for survivability. Good for Punish builds.


      Taeguk *
      (stackable damage increase, armor increase)
    • Thorns damage unaffected by damage increase, but Reflect Skin affected. Increased armor also helps for survivability.


      Wreath of Lightning
      (lightning damage, speed boost)
    • N/A, offensive gem. Good for extra damage and hybridized builds.


      Zei's Stone of Vengeance
      (damage increase the further the target, stun)
    • Thorns damage unaffected by both long range hack application and ranged attacks receiving thorns damage. Reflect skin also unaffected for ranged attackers. Stun harmful to non-hack thorns builds.


Let our voices be heard! Feel free to show off your thorns build as well to show Blizz that there are people who want this play style. I personally would also like to see what people have!

Well thought out builds will be placed in the "Classes" section for examples.

Here is mine: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/profile/MightyMidgit-1823/hero/45261484
The Issues with Current Thorns Design
These are the ones I am aware of. Feel free to add to the list.

  • Pretty much ALL new legendary gems that state damage increases for whatever reason do not affect thorns damage.


  • In order to make use of thorns, you need to MASS it on all your equipment. Even then, you get 40k thorns rating equaling only about 1 mill damage. This damage is only useful in low difficulties. Once you hit T1 or higher, 1 mill damage does nothing. T6? worthless.


  • Few Thorns abilities from legendary items and skills synergize together. They overwrite one another in order of priority. For example, the shield Vo'Toyias' 200% increase when an enemy is provoked does not work if Sanguinary Vambraces procs. Sanguinary has the priority and registers the hit before Vo'Toyias can have the chance. Ideally they would work in tandem.

    For those wondering about Reflective Skin, it does not synergize with Sanguinary. It also has highest priority and will register the hit before Sanguinary or Invoker has the chance, meaning your Invoker 4 piece bonus AoE thorns will not work with Reflective Skin active.

    (Update) The Provoke Thorns damage from Vo'Toyias does seem to proc when Reflect skin is active.


  • FIXED
    Elemental thorns are included in your overall thorns rating and damage but are not included in some thorns-based items, passives, abilities. For example neither Sangunary Vambraces nor the 50% thorns increase passives account for the 6000 fire thorns from the lvl 70 craftable Demon's set.

    06/23/2014 07:53 AMPosted by Raspbuten
    Demon's Set thorns doesn't work with Reflective Skin either.


  • Elemental % affixes on items don't even effect elemental thorns!


  • The Invincibility (Shield) Pylon in rifts eliminate all thorns proccing. It doesn't reduce incoming damage to 0, it makes it so the hit doesn't make contact. For a thorns based build, this kill their DPS output substantially, and when running in groups, your now normal difficulty damage output makes you vote-kick fodder even if you can land 50mill hits with Reflictive Skin when the Invincibility is not active.


  • FIXED
    The thorns themed set, Invoker, does not come with thorns as standard affixes on all its pieces meaning you have to sacrifice rolling a better main affix to get that secondary. There is a discussion in detail about this here: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/12878508204#12


  • Provoke does make enemies attack you, but there is an AI override scripted into the skill that makes the opponent run around and reposition themselves after the first hit. Depending on how far the opponent runs or how slow they are, Only one attack occurs while the Vo'Toyias shield effect is active. This essentially makes it a one shot, double thorns damage ability with a long cooldown. This would be fine, except that the double thorns damage is still comparatively low to the point that another skill would do more damage even with a high thorns rating.


  • Provoke does not Effect some special mobs and all bosses making Vo'Toyias useless against them.


  • FIXED
    Lvl 70 Crafted Pants and Boots are missing the ability to roll thorns as a secondary affix.


  • In group play, a thorns build is less effective due to there being more targets than you for enemies to attack. Also, they will tend to clear things faster than you. Their skills that stun, pull away, imobilize, bounce, or cause any other effect on enemies that prevents them from hitting you will kill your effective DPS.
    -AllbyAll


  • Souces, Quivers, and Mojos cannot roll thorns


Ideas for Improvement
Each idea should be viewed on it's own as some ideas may conflict with others and implementing them all may make thorns OP, not that I would mined. ;D Feel free to suggest your own improvements. I will add them to the list.

  • To make Topaz just as viable as Emerald in weapons, double or more it's thorns bonus.


  • Alternatively, Change Topaz to a thorns % adding up to 50% more thorns for a flawless royal Topaz


  • To make Thorns more feasible in higher Torment levels, possibly increase the primary attribute damage multiplier as the character levels up.

    For example: Lvl 1-60 is the same 25%. From Lvl 60-70, that multiplier is increased from 25% to 50% to keep up with Torment levels.


  • Or, you can just increase it overall to 50% or whatever percentage feels right. In any case, the damage is too low for how unpredictable it is.


  • Thorns damage is technically an "element" of it's own. It's not Physical damage. Because of this, Thorns damage % could roll for Barbarians and Crusaders on any piece of equipment that other elemental damage %s can.


  • Thorns damage % could be rollable on any shield as a primary affix for Crusader or Barbarian. If for whatever reason you want it on another class, give it to a Barbarian or Crusader to bring to the mystic.


  • Thorns affixes on items that can roll critical chance/damage could be increased and made a primary affix, making people have a more dynamic choice between what damage output they want. If they are going for thorns, a strong option is there that can compete with the critical hits.


  • If not a passive for Witch Doctors, make a legendary that gives their pets your thorns. This could work with any class that has enemy targeted "pets" whether is be summons, phalanx, ancients etc.


  • FIXEDThorns needs to be rollable as a secondary affix on lvl 70 Crafted Pants and Boots. They're the only ones missing it.


  • Vo"Toyias's effect should last longer to balance out the repositioning AI. Something along the lines of "Enemies effected by provoke take double thorns damage for 10 seconds."


  • 05/20/2014 11:56 PMPosted by AllByAll
    It would be very easy for Thorns to to have scaling relevant damage along with every other silly special legendary efffect if they all did % weapon damage instead of flat damage values (even with a multiplier, eventually flat damage values become useless)


  • Furthermore in the case of thorns it would need to be effective regardless of whether or not the player is "hit". The Monk's mantra of retribution got this treatment and now has some value as it triggers off dodges / blocks / etc.


  • 05/25/2014 09:00 PMPosted by MhBlis
    I would in turn suggest that the Thorns damage formula has a % value multiplier added to it based on the difficulty similar to the short lived "Iron Maiden" passive attempt. This means that you can balance the value in Normal difficulty but it can be equally efficient at the higher Torments as it will deal the same % of the monsters HP.


  • 05/25/2014 09:22 PMPosted by CptJero
    The hack weapon with thorns damage% needs to be looked at as the BiS weapon

    As it currently stands, Neanderthal<Nailbiter = Hack. You have a choice between Nailbiter and Hack due to the fact that Nailbiter can roll thorns and Hack cannot. If hack could also roll thorns, It would in no doubt be the go-to as the BiS thorns weapon




  • 06/07/2014 03:48 PMPosted by NailNewob
    And to make the thorns viable and balanced for each of the 6 classes, I suggest that Blizzard may use different primary attribute damage multipliers for different classes.


  • Skills, passives, and weapon abilities that state increased damage should apply to ALL damage ouput, including Thorns. This would give a lot more variety to Thorns builds, especially hybrid builds


  • 07/01/2014 07:05 AMPosted by Raspbuten
    I just wanted to comment that after seeing some streams of the PTR Grifting, it's fairly safe to say that Thorns should scale as a percent of mobs health.


  • Souces, Quivers, and Mojos should be able to roll thorns, if not naturally (some might find that annoying), at the Mysitc for those who want to make off class thorns builds.


  • 07/15/2014 06:20 AMPosted by Zeross
    it would have been better if thorns would have applied even to certain skills' procs, like Punish-Roar and Punish-Retaliate
Just wanted to add I have a thorns build with 49,550 thorns and even in T6 with almost 30mil unbuffed and over 60mil toughness buffed and double unity, the thorns dmg does not do enough.

I got a frozen elite pack in T6 with double unity and got destroyed and barley took off 1/4'th of the elites HP.

Needs some improvement indeed.
They did say the Invoker set would get buffed, I'm expecting the 2-set bonus to add like 20,000 thorns instead of 4,000 and the 4-set bonus to add another 20,000 and apply the AoE. I've kept a full set of Invoker (replacing items as better rolls are found) since RoS was released and you can add my +1 to the voices calling for an upgrade.
I'm going to play devils advocate here since someone has to. I've been looking at ways to make thorns work since ROS release but so far no luck beyond T3 in the "Efficiency" stakes.

The problem is, Thorns, as you have said is a secondary affix. This means it is effectively free damage on top on any build you want to do. If you make the damage output too high you end up creating another affix like Crit and Crit Damage that is must have which will trivialize much of the content. I don't actually have to do anything but more around in the lower difficulties since my Thorns will kill everything for me.

I would in turn suggest that the Thorns damage formula has a % value multiplier added to it based on the difficulty similar to the short lived "Iron Maiden" passive attempt. This means that you can balance the value in Normal difficulty but it can be equally efficient at the higher Torments as it will deal the same % of the monsters HP.
I love the idea of thorns, and have wanted to make a Thorns build for quite awhile, and am sad it isn't viable in higher Torment.

That being said, it is the ultimate do-nothing build if it becomes too powerful. Literally, monsters will kill themselves while beating on you, and I'm not sure how viable a build like that should even be.
Hmm, I did not realize that about Thorns and I run a full-on complete Lightning Thorns build on my Crusader. Sure, I probably could use some more Thorns affixes on pieces of my gear but, for what I got, I am happy.

As for how far I can go Torment-wise, I'm pretty comfortable in T4. I can grab Elite Packs and take off a fair chunk of their health, if not completely obliterate them, before the rest of my group can even touch them. Course after that, I am sorta useless while I wait for my CDs to come back up. Gotta work on that CDR a bit, heh.
Thanks for quoting my thread! I think you've laid out some really great suggestions. Here are some I would like to add.
thorns should trigger off blocks.

Mystic should be able to roll secondary affixes and primary simultaneously

Damage should scale with torment difficulty like iron maiden used to before 2.05

Damage should be increased by a larger percent of main stat

Invoker set needs it as a guaranteed stat

The hack weapon with thorns damage% needs to be looked at as the BiS weapon

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/hack
Also thorns should crit, possibly as a bleed for thematic effect?
05/25/2014 09:22 PMPosted by CptJero
Thanks for quoting my thread! I think you've laid out some really great suggestions. Here are some I would like to add.
thorns should trigger off blocks.

Mystic should be able to roll secondary affixes and primary simultaneously

Damage should scale with torment difficulty like iron maiden used to before 2.05

Damage should be increased by a larger percent of main stat

Invoker set needs it as a guaranteed stat

The hack weapon with thorns damage% needs to be looked at as the BiS weapon

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/hack


Hack's a pretty good weapon for Thorns builds but I'm honestly having a blast using Schaefer's Hammer with my Crusader. Turns me into a Lightning Rod whenever an enemy strikes me, giving me additional damage against enemies alongside my Thorns. It has a great synergy too alongside Thundergod's Vigor, so that's three different sources of damage going out (Schaefer's, Thundergod's, and Thorns) anytime I get hit. It's pretty cool stuff.
That's one of the cool things about a thorns build. It leaves a lot of skills and items open to interpretation. Thundergods vigor would easily be the BiS belt.
05/25/2014 09:33 PMPosted by CptJero
That's one of the cool things about a thorns build. It leaves a lot of skills and items open to interpretation. Thundergods vigor would easily be the BiS belt.


Personally, I'm having fun with Harrington's Waistguard for my belt. It adds even more to the importance of setting up the right conditions for Reflective skin, but if you can, It pays off. Just hit my first 100 mill Reflective Skin yesterday. Made me giddy. But then it was back to long cooldowns... =P

Reflective skin is the only attack that can deal endgame damage, but the reliability of it makes it unusable in endgame.

So, on another note, I did some calculations to find what the maximum possible thorns damage is currently:

Max Thorns possible from Items: 37963
Including Invoker Bonus: 41963
With 50% Passive: 62945
Including Demon's set: 68945
(Demon's Set is not counted in the passive calculation)

--With 10k Strength--
Unmodified damage output: 1.72 Million
With Vo'Toyais: 3.45 Million
Sanguinary Vambraces Proc: About 15 Million

I added this to the "What are thorns" section up top. The math for the Sanguinary Vambraces continues to confuse me. It's like they are only partially accounting for elemental thorns. I have 57k Thorns rating in game. If Sanguinary counted for all thorns damage, I would be dealing 14.2 million with it. I am dealing 13.3 million. If you do the math, that means it is reading 53.2k thorns... The Thorns bonus for Demon's set is 6k. I don't think it is skipping Invoker's thorns bonus in its calculations because I had tested this previously.
05/25/2014 09:00 PMPosted by MhBlis
I'm going to play devils advocate here since someone has to. I've been looking at ways to make thorns work since ROS release but so far no luck beyond T3 in the "Efficiency" stakes.

The problem is, Thorns, as you have said is a secondary affix. This means it is effectively free damage on top on any build you want to do. If you make the damage output too high you end up creating another affix like Crit and Crit Damage that is must have which will trivialize much of the content. I don't actually have to do anything but more around in the lower difficulties since my Thorns will kill everything for me.


05/25/2014 09:04 PMPosted by Kaniran
That being said, it is the ultimate do-nothing build if it becomes too powerful. Literally, monsters will kill themselves while beating on you, and I'm not sure how viable a build like that should even be.


Looking back over the replies, I noticed that MhBlis and Kaniran struck on something rather substantial. I could make a WD joke about sitting around doing nothing while you watch the enemies die, but there is something behind that anecdote. Not all WD play like that. It's a chosen build. Efficacy and rationale of such a lazy build aside, MhBlis is correct in that if thorns alone are buffed, due to thorns being a secondary affix, it would add another must have affix to all your equipment, more complicating the gearing situation. Going back to the WD reference, if thorns were to be buffed enough to become feasible in higher torments, it would need to be through a build you have to gear towards, just like Pet focused WD builds.

This is probably one of the major concerns the developers would face should they choose to increase the power of thorns. In my perfect little world, damage would at best be a choice between thorns, crit chance/damage, and other damage types where choosing one means you have to give up on another. What this comes down to is itemization in respect to thorns.

Right now we have Invoker, 3 weapons, Sanguinary, and Vo'Toyias. In all honesty, having 1 set and 5 legendaries based around a single element is more than many others get. The problem is that Invoker is weak on it's own, the weapons are mediocre at best, and the damage from Vo'Toyias is so low for it's cooldown that throwing another attack like Falling Sword in the slot and switching out for a better, more dynamic shield, would be preferable in pretty much every circumstance.

So, to continue discussion, I ask 3 questions:

What if thorns became a primary affix instead of secondary?

What changes could be made to existing items to better encourage/improve thorns builds?

What new legendary/set ideas do you have that could help the Thorn cause or just make a fun/unique thorns build?
if thorns became a primary it would be hell when you dont want it, thorns as-is needs to synergize the benefits of all the thorns legendaries, right now each runs on their own so while they multiply your damage, they dont multiply enough.

1) thorns should always deal area damage <- AREA DAMAGE 100% chance, the base area damage is zero so you need to invest on it if you want it to benefit you, bye bye to one of your BIS affixes. The catch to separate thorns builds from non specialized builds that have paragon level 1000 being that thorns area damage has a ZERO yard radius, so by default it only hits whoever hit you.

2) change the code so that whenever thorns damage is invoked, it runs through this single function

3) invokers set changes its wording to "adds 15 yards to thorns area damage", with the change in 2) thorns has automatically been improved for all your thorns damage appliers

4) the vambraces should be changed to "chance on hit to increase your thorns by 900% and add 10 yards to its area effect for 2.5 seconds", by adding 900% to your thorns now they are 10x their value, and everything that uses thorns on your character will benefit from it for a short duration, as opposed to as a single event of 10x damage.

5) hack procs thorns damage, as of 2) the function is global so the hack proc applies damage on an area and may get boosted by the vambraces, since it uses skill coefficients the damage will still be crappier than a regular build sadly, hack should probably get its own set of coefficients 100% for single target, 50% for aoe, hack is meant to attack as fast as possible to apply your thorns constantly (so youd need area damage and attack speed, two things that most dont try to get on items)

6) balance the thorns skills so they are not overpowered yet useful (not all classes have these, yet thorns rolls for everyone), thorns is constant damage, long cooldowns are best avoided

7) make bleed useful by turning it from "40% chance to do 80% non-stacking weapon damage for 5 seconds" to "apply 8% of your damage as a bleed over 5 seconds, stacking". That makes bleed an 8% improvement affix, below %damage which does 10. Dual wield? no problem, stacking two bleed affixes makes it "apply 16% of your damage as a bleed over 10 seconds", the damage is increased but the damage per second doesn't change.

The game only used to stack 5 fives because it adds proccessor time and memory?, no problem, define bleedDamageLeft, timeSinceLastBleedHit, whenever you deal bleed damage refresh the timer and add the new bleed to the counter, apply one fifth of the damage if the timer is just refreshed, if it is 1 second ago apply 1/4, and so on, remove the damage applied from the stack. This is only one way to solve the issue of course, you could have an array of size 10 to hold the damage of each of the next ten seconds (for a 10 seconds bleed) if you wanted your bleed to be perfectly accurate over time yet have low footprint on the server, and many other solutions.

Since bleed affects all type of damage thorns adds bleed stacks, bleed keeps them aggroed to you, proccing more thorns. Your hack + thorns build would ideally want dmg, stat, socket with topaz and bleed, 4 primaries. It would want attack speed and area damage as well on the rest of the gear, possibly cooldown or resource reduction depending on (ideally support so thorns doesnt go the critical hit path) skills.
These suggestions are excellent. I think this would be a great way to expand on viable build possibility .
@Gia

Making thorns work off of area damage is actually a rather interesting idea. The positives to this is that it would scale up with your gear becoming viable in higher difficulties. On the down side, it would go back to making people have to gear for straight damage kind of defeating the point of it being an alternative damage source.

I guess if you think about it, area damage is an alternative way to increase damage output, so, I don't know.

I do have to say I like the idea, and making everything part of the same equation would help synergy dramatically!
I only tackled thorns being for a "thorns build", not for general use, for general use it would suck as much as it sucks at the moment, no more, no less. At the same time, I tried to make other "sucky" affixes useful like area damage (it is useful, but very very low priority so it ends up underused), and bleed (this one just sucks), so that a thorns build requires different gear with different rolls, making more gear drops useful ("hey this one doesnt have the rolls i want, but hmm it got rolls for that thorns build, i'll keep it!").

Basically if you go area damage, your thorns doesnt aply more damage than before because its radius starts as zero. So no change for a fire build, also the fire build would lose damage if they go heavy area damage. If they grab the invoker set, now their thorns does splash damage on thorns, but thorns damage is quite low by default, and they just dropped whatever they had for the invoker set, of course havent done the math but I assume the change is not noticeable, and definitely not something that can't be fine tune. Same if you get sanguinary vambraces, because for once its a chance on getting hit, so you have to have some basic defense going or that won't work, and two even when it triggers its just a limited duration buff. And then if you get all of it (with hack and attack speed), you just made a thorns build, that thing is no longer fire :P

If you want to design a thorns build then you have to remember it is a BUILD, what I mean is, your primary source of damage has to be thorns, at the same time, to be balanced, the build's damage has to be equal or near equal to the standard build (fire right now, tends to do at least 10 million aoe per attack, and more depending on class, skill, and gear). With the changes I made, and once fine tuned, thorns damage would be the main dps source, while your standard fire skills be just a minor source, since they'd be a minor source, or basically just a way to spread your thorns with hack, support skills would be favored. Thorns users would want pull and vortex skills, roots, heals, any defense buffs for you, debuffs to enemy defense but not to attack speed, etc, so it wouldn't be just stand and let them suicide on you, just a different gameplay.

What I proposed keeps thorns working as it is, with just some upgrades. I could think of ways that made thorns a useful secondary on your average build while also be the meat of your dps on a thorns build. We'd have to define how much % of the total dps a secondary source of damage has to do though, because right now thorns does a minimal %, and I assume you'd want to up it, but any noticeable increase is an increase in total achievable dps, and as such I'd consider that broken, since the current dps can do t6 already. Thorns could be hp% damage, thorns could be damage reflection, some "thorns" skills could draw power from thorns (eg. wizard's x armor: also +1% damage per 500 thorns) those would scale better than the current thorns too!
The concept behind thorns itself is bad game design and not compelling gameplay.. the idea that your primary source of damage is enemies hitting you and then dying.. it just shouldn't even be in the game imo
Commenting on an earlier concern:
I don't think a mage using thorns and just afking would be a possibility. Remember, thorns means you need to get hit...a lot. This pretty much means only barb and crusader can make this build work. Monks if they make thorns proc on dodge, but that wouldn't make sense.

Barb and crusader have a plethora of skills that mitigate damage. No normal build would stack them all but if thorns damage was increased it could be a possibility. Because of this lack of mitigation in the other three classes I don't believe thorns should be viable. Maybe WD if the pet idea gets implemented.
I don't think there's really an issue with a WD or Wizard doing Thorns from the defensive side.

Sure they don't benefit from an overall 30% damage reduction, but their main stat is still Int, and they have some pretty hefty toughness skills. Plus just throw a shield on any class and you gain an absurd amount of toughness.

The Wizard for instance can throw on:
  • Energy Armor for 35% armor and 25% resistances
  • Blur - 17% Damage Reduction
  • Unwavering Will - 20% Armor, 20% resistances. Standing Still is no issue with a Thorns build
  • Archon - Increases armor and resistances by 20%


    Now I know that Archon has a rather long cooldown, but given that thorns is a secondary property, you can really stack the cool down reduction on your gear to make your down time in Archon maybe 20%.

    Also, you would really be looking at your primary rolls to be: Main Stat, Vitality, Cool Down Reduction, Armor and/or All Resist. For the other Secondary, you would be looking for Damage Reduction, or Resist.

    I was thinking about trying a thorns build, but after reading the first post it's clear that the ceiling for such a build is simply too low at the moment. I somewhat agree with the sentiment that thorns is a secondary property, so it shouldn't be as powerful as primary property, but then again to make thorns even remotely useful you are still sacrificing a lot of other legendary properties and set bonuses, so I think it deserves a larger kick.

    You also need to consider that thorns alone as a secondary property isn't really useful, since it requires you to get hit. Anyone stacking the traditional CHC, CHD, Main Stat, +%Elemental Damage, +%Skill Damage will likely have very poor returns on thorns, given that their toughness wont support being hit. A true thorns build would require you to sacrifice a lot of your damage for toughness to proc thorns.

    And on a similar note, there are a lot of secondary properties that are essentially primary rolls, so I see no issue keeping thorns as a secondary. Melee and Ranged Damage Reduction secondary rolls are often better than the 450 vitality you would roll as a primary. And 40% CC reduction is absurd. Life on Kill is often better than the Life on Hit primary, unless you are playing way above your level, which most people don't.

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