CoB End-game Progression Guide

Witch Doctor
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Here is a guide, with videos and explanations, for everything that a WD needs to know about the Cloud of Bats build, and building up the character gear with Skorn as the weapon of choice.

This guide is ideal for new players, and casual players on a tight budget. It will keep you focused on how to upgrade your gear as you journey forward, from MP0 to MP10 “end-game”. For some recommendations in the guide, the explanation and justification is from a previous topic, so I do suggest you go topic by topic if you seek an in-depth understanding to CoB-variant gears and builds.

Topics covered:
1) CoB-variant builds, and skill synergy
2) How to – Techniques and casting sequences
3) Gearing path and stat targets
4) 1H vs 2H debate (or the 3% LS vs higher DPS/mitigation debate)
5) Ubers Solo (Video + Techniques), and Miscellaneous Videos
6) Speed farming and advise from other CoB WDs

*Profiles of top-geared players linked at the end of Topic (4). Each of them can handle all aspects of the game at MP10. Feel free to seek their advise or help.
Topic (1): Cloud of Bats – variant builds

When asked “What MP level should I be playing?”, I usually suggest the following "stress" tests on the MP level that they intend to play:

1) Ghom - life sustain, channel in the gas cloud
2) Siegebreaker - reflect and mitigation, tank him head on, reposition only when the channel is broken
3) Azmodan - stacked pools simulating stacked the ground effects of the elite packs in-game. Usually, you get 2 stacks if you stand on the right or left side of Azmodan, if you stand in the middle facing him (walking directly after the video spawn), you’re likely to be tanking 3 or more stacks. You can choose how much you want to tank, and it will be the number of stacks of ground effects you can endure before you are forced to move and reposition.

For balanced game play, I'd suggest these builds for CoB:
1) Solo farm CoB build -!YTa!ZYZcZc
2) Solo Uber -!cea!cYZZcY
3) Group Uber -!eca!YYZcZc
4) Safest build for Solo -!aec!ZYZcZc
5) Group farm - Any combination of those 4 builds, depending on team synergy

If you have specific routes or objectives, you can “optimize” to yield better efficiency. Experiment after you have sufficient CoB experience across all 4 Acts. Similarly for group play, you can adjust your build depending on the team synergy.

These recommended builds are put in place with the suggested gearing path in Topic (3) – Gearing path and stat targets. At MP10, the “balanced approach” in gear and skill-build is essential.

Skill Synergy

Grave Injustice (GI) passive skill comes with in-built 8 radius. Therefore, pick up radius (PUR) on gear is not necessary, unless you’re playing with a group and want to speed up your skills’ cooldown. The balancing point of consideration is whether you actually need such cooldown dependent skills to be ready, and how many of such skills you have included in your build.

Gruesome Feast (GF) passive skill is excellent for Intel DPS and AR buff (reflected on character sheet). It has no in-built radius, and this is where you want some PUR on gear. In a group, it doesn’t matter because any player that picks up a health globe, you get the benefits too. Maximum is 50% (5 stacks).

Soul Harvest (SH) is an active skill that gives a decent buff to Intel DPS and AR (reflected on character sheet), while doing damage per cast. Maximum is about 20% (5 stacks).

Horrify:FA (FA) provides 100% Armor buff (reflected on character sheet), and crowd control that requires some practise and situational awareness to be used effectively. Maghda boss is a good example of using FA to corner her.

Hex:Jinx disables a single target and makes it receive 20% extra damage (not shown on character sheet), an equivalent buff to the whole group attacking it. Note that some mobs cannot be Hexed (usually the big guys), but most of the kiting mobs can be Hexed (Maghda is an exception, she is immune to Hex). Zultan Kulle boss is a good example of using Hex to deal with kiting elites.

Mass Confusion:Paranoia (MC) sets up an AOE for 20% extra damage to mobs for the whole group to focus their fire power (not shown on character sheet). Those elites that are “charmed” will not be casting out their ground effects, so there is a chance for good crowd control. Personally, I use this skill for the damage buff and I won’t rely on it to disable the types of mobs that give problems to CoB channelling.

Big Bad Voodoo:Slam Dance (BBV) sets up an AOE for 20% IAS and 30% DPS buff to the whole party (reflected on character sheet).

Spirit Walk (SW) – the Jaunt or Honored Guest runes are the most popular (useful).

* The group buffs that affect us (players) are reflected accordingly on our character sheet, the debuffs and skills that affect the mobs are not shown on our character sheet, but you can see the effects through the damage numbers.

There are 4 skills that do not interrupt the CoB channel – SH, SW, Hex, Horrify. I have all 4 of them on my toolbar.

In group play, it is rather easy for the whole group to go above 100% DPS buff. Typical group set up:

Monk – MoC:Overawe (48% damage), Guiding Light (20% damage) + Cyclone Strike:SB (to pull in the mobs, and provide the heal to trigger GL passive). Some Monk’s use Exploding Palm instead of GL, which can be even more effective, provided he still maintains the job of pulling in mobs.

WD – Hex, MC or BBV

Other classes can enhance the synergy, but these 2 classes already contribute >100% DPS buff. The more the merrier, depending on your friends list and the group set up.

Group mechanics – usually 1 player will be appointed as the point-man. Every group member goes to his location, and the Monk pulls everything in. Kill, and move on. It is better that the WD is not the point-man. I shall elaborate on this in Topic (2) – Techniques and casting sequences.

Traditionally, we play solo and spirit walk into a big group of mobs. In team play, it is quite different – a good point-man (Barb, Wiz, TR-Monk, DH) goes around really fast and draws aggro from 3-4 big groups of mobs, then goes to the centre of these groups (which is still empty space), and then the Monk will start to get busy. Instead of killing 1 big group and move on, we kill 4 big giant groups and move on.

Sometimes, I choose to go without GI/GF to be “tanky”. When ground effects stack, the teammates shuffle around and I try to maintain the channel so that they can come back to my location and pull mobs in again to the max channel. If the situation is too tough, everybody scatters and we’ll all regroup outside the ground effects.

Here are some videos of typical group play, with no special planning, and friendly chatting while in game:

1) Getting 5NV -

At timer 4:25 - I did not use Horrify:FA against the elite pack with Reflect Damage, Arcane, and Plague. The gear and build synergy is simply amazing!

2) First 2 Ubers -

At timer 2:51 - Typical SW + Hex combo against ZK and kiting mobs.

3) Final Uber -

At timer 2:02 - Using FA to help a teammate
At timer 3:25 - Using FA to fear Maghda into a corner to kill easily.

Planned Uber Run with Teamwork
Video -
108% DPS party buff as described. All 3 pairs cleared within 8:45 mins.

Weaknesses of CoB

Most classes and builds have a tougher time in Act 4. CoB faces the same challenges too. In some aspects, it is even harder for CoB players due to the extremely small AOE of the skill. Many players agree that Act 4 (Silver Spire Level 2) is about the toughest area you can find in the game. This is largely due to the special abilities that the normal mobs come with, and when they use it in combination, it becomes lethal.

I have come to my personal conclusion that it's not about the type of elites. It's about the affix combos that come with them. Even the "easiest" elite pack from Act 1 or 2, if they come with 4 tough combinations of affixes, they will give us an extremely hard time.

The default abilities of the so-called "tough" elites give them a much higher chance to roll other types of combo affixes, that's why players find them "tough" in general. After the affix combinations, I will consider the environment of surrounding trash mobs as the supporting factor to the difficulty we face. Acts 1-2 have much fewer of these mobs with in-built abilities, while Act 4 has the highest concentration of such mobs in close proximity to the elite packs.

I've 2 very good videos to explain my views. Died multiple times in each fight.

Mallet Lords video -
with frozen, arcane, vortex, extra health

Morlu Incinerators video -
with frozen, illusionist, vortex, arcane

** Zombie Bears damage is somewhere between the damage range of the CoB channel. If you keep getting tossed around, or keep having to reposition due to lack of lifesteal/mitigation/eHP, then ZB is the better choice for you.

*** If your main damage is still CoB, and you play solo mostly, then Spirit Barrage:Well of Souls will be a good standby skill to use for kiting. Not to spam, but just to kite and engage the tough packs in smaller numbers so that you can cycle the skill techniques in Topic (2).
Topic (2): How to – Techniques and casting sequences

Often, new players complain about the Fear when using Horrify. Game play is always fluid, we're not a class that always casts 123 or 321. For example, in situation #1 we may apply skills 1&3, in situation #2 we apply skills 2&3, in situation #3 we apply skill 2 only, in situation #4 we apply skills 1&2. You get the idea, our toolkit is important and the application of skills depends on the situation.

This is a video log of how we can react to various situations with our available skills. Anyone with specific questions can request for some help "tutorial" and I'll try to make a video to handle that situation so that you can watch the sequence and approach and/or kiting.

Video – Techniques and casting sequences

Video Log:

0:13 - SW can avoid charging attacks, arcanes, frozen explosions.
0:25 - Defensive FA. If it means survival or death, give yourself some breathing room.
1:15 - CoB weakness, goblins.
2:21 - FA allows us to tank in the poison.
3:19 - SW to avoid bull charge and maintain channel.
3:43 - SW to avoid bull charge.
3:50 - Mistake. Wanted to tank in the poison, but the trees can get feared.
5:20 - SW to avoid bull charge.
5:46 - Kiting method of using FA. SW to avoid bull charge and maintain channel.
6:06 - FA can tank bull charges, dark berserkers, malled lords, etc.
6:14 - Getting knocked around, time to use more of the tools available!
6:23 - MC for buff and some crowd control
6:25 - Defensive FA to maintain channel, prevent getting knocked, and seek out real elite
6:33 - Drop Hex for extra damage, prevent that elite from taking action
6:43 - SW to avoid charge and maintain Max damage channel.
7:38 - Offensive FA, before engaging the crowd.
7:43 - SW to avoid bull charge.
8:07 - SW to avoid bull charge.
8:32 - SW + Hex technique against KW or kiting elites or ZK Uber.
8:33 - Drop Hex. The shaman always goes for the target nearest to him (not us).
8:45 - Offensive FA, before engaging.
9:09 - Another SW + Hex combo.

I tried to get all the possible situations in that video, but the kiting type of elites were absent. The next video shows how we can use FA aggressively to corner the kiters. The technique is the opposite of using Bears, we now want to position ourselves in such a way that the target gets Feared into a corner, and then we stand diagonally to the target to try to prevent it from escaping (or get our team or pets to help to block). This method is very good against Maghda Uber too.

Video - Offensive FA (with Hex combo)

* In general, I don’t use pets with CoB because I want everything to come into my small AOE. The exception is when I solo Ubers and need my Gargantuan to tank Siegebreaker while I hunt down Zultan Kulle.

** A video review is a good way to improve on game play mechanics.

Snap-shot of CoB Channel

The start of the channel is the most important moment to deliver maximum eDPS. You want all the possible buffs to be in place, before you take a “snap-shot” and begin your channel where the base calculation ramps up from your total buffed value, and remains at that maximum value (after 5 seconds) even after your buffs expire, until your channel is broken.

Video – Snap-shot test -
Relevant test data:
Total damage of weapon + accessories = 18-19
Buff from Zuni boots and Tal’s amulet = 14%
Intel – 2565 ==> 2565% +100% = 26.65 times
Critical hit damage = 257% +100% = 3.57 times

Melee damage (non-crit) = 547
Melee damage (crit) = 1952

CoB damage after 5s (non-crit) = 2733
CoB damage after 5s (crit) = 9757

CoB damage after GF buff, after 5s (non-crit) = 3259
CoB damage after GF buff, after 5s (crit) = 11635

GF buffed value = 20% (19.2% calculated) = 2 stacks of GF

Video log:
1:59 – first globe
2:01 – second globe
Start channel
2:09 – 1 globe
2:13 – 1 globe
2:17 – 1 globe
Total 3 stacks within those 10 seconds, but my damage remained unchanged
2:27 – no GF
2:29 – got 1 stack of GF again.
All the buff and expiry conditions didn’t change the damage of my continuous channel.

CoB damage after GF buff expires = CoB damage during max channel with GF buff on
Also = CoB damage during max channel even with additional buffs stacked on later

Additional research with Time Warp
Video -
Special thanks to Gimtuy for helping out with the Time Warp

Melee damage (non-crit) = 572
Melee damage (crit) = 1545

CoB damage after 5s (non-crit) = 2861
CoB damage after 5s (crit) = 7724

CoB damage inside Time Warp, after 5s (non-crit) = 3433
CoB damage inside Time Warp, after 5s (crit) = 9269

CoB damage after Time Warp expiry, at max channel (non-crit) = 2861
CoB damage after Time Warp expiry, at max channel (crit) = 7724

Time Warp provided exactly 20% increased damage.

Additional Research - MC and Hex stacking
Video proof -
Special thanks to Evolution for patiently keeping me company in the research.

Non-crit damage VS Crit damage
1063 vs 3115 (base Melee)
1276 vs 3738 (with MC) - Total 1.2 x
1488 vs 4351 (with MC + Hex) - Total 1.4 x
1276 vs 3738 (MC expired, Hex only) - Total 1.2 x

Note: Ignore the other numbers (my thorns damage on equipment)

- All buffs that show on the character sheet get snap-shot at the start of the channel
- All monster debuffs that enhance damage become real-time variables

* Thanks to Nubtro for the confirmation to some questions.

Keep this in mind, when you want to set up the CoB channel. That’s why WD should not be the point-man for group play [from Topic (1)].

Act 4: Silver Spire Level 2

This place is widely acknowledged as the toughest map in the whole game. Do not be discouraged by the earlier videos of Mallet Lords and Morlu Incinerators. They are extreme cases with very tough affix combinations. Here are some tips of how you can handle Act 4

Video - Part 1 -
Video - Part 2 -

Tip #1: Understand the types of mobs and their special abilities
Terror Demons - Terrorized, healing reduced by 75%
Enslaved Nightmare - Curse of Mud, movement reduced by 80%
Enslaved Nightmare - Curse of Rust, armor reduced by 50%
Enslaved Nightmare - Curse of Resistance, all resistances reduced by 50%
Enslaved Nightmare - Curse of Weakness, outgoing damage reduced by 25%
Enslaved Nightmare - can open summoning portal for more Enslaved Nightmares, Oppressors, Mallet Lords.
Mounted Abaddon - can stun
Morlu Incinerator - can knockback from range
Morlu Legionnaire - can knockback from melee
Corrupted Angel - dashing knock, usually when they are not at melee distance

Tip #2: When you are debuffed, be aware of your "handicap" and kite a smaller group, or disengage from battle.

Tip #3: Deal with the mobs that cause you the most problems first

Tip #4: Hug pillars and rounded paths to prevent direct line of sight/fire. This helps greatly in avoiding dash attacks of Corrupted Angels and knockback from ranged Morlu Incinerators. Being on the opposite side of a pillar also forces them to walk around it without any attacks or special abilities.

Tip #5: The AI of the mobs are timed such that the knockback, dash strike, frost, etc, in a chain-reaction. Following Tip #4 "disrupts" their sequence and gives you precious seconds to kill a few here and there, greatly reducing the chance of getting chain-tossed.

Tip #6: Be familiar with your casting sequences and be aware of your cooldown timers. For example, if you need FA to tank a Mallet Lord, be sure you have it ready before you recklessly go into battle.

Tip #7: Do not panic and use up everything available in your toolkit, all at one instance!

Note - I do not use RoE passive. To me, WoS is just a backup skill for certain moments (lure, kite, goblin, finishing move against Morlu Incinerators maybe), this is mainly a CoB build.

Extra Video – Act 4 - Techniques and casting sequences
Video Part 1 -
Video Part 2 -

Part 1 Video Log:
1:56 - Take out Enslaved Nightmare (EN) first, then Morlu Incinerators (MI)
2:08 - Spotted elite, but the MI come in pairs, take out remaining MI first
2:13 - Scan Morlu Legionnaire elite affixes - Arcane, Frozen, Electrified, Knockback (tough!)
2:18 - SW + MC for damage and crowd control
2:34 - SW to avoid frost
2:36 - Hex
2:53 - SW + Hex combo
3:03 - Clear out the MIs first
3:09 - SW + Hex combo
3:18 - Mallet Lord melee range is further than CoB range
3:25 - No SW, either FA or drink potion or die
4:27 - Take note of handicap - 50% AR reduction
4:41 - Screen very sluggish, too much graphics
4:47 - Engaged elite, no idea what type of elite yet. Retreat!
4:51 - Corrupted Angel (CA) elite pack with Reflect Damage.
4:54 - SV triggered, still no idea what other affixes come with the CA elite pack
4:58 - Defensive FA
5:13 - CA pack with Knockback, Vampiric, Reflect Damage, Molten (tough!), noted handicap from Enslaved Nightmare (EN) next to SV icon
5:15 - SV for extra 2 secs of safety, searching for EN (top priority)
5:19 - Defensive FA
5:21 - EN cleared, go for MI next. Corner is good to avoid line of sight.
5:23 - MI escaped
5:26 - SW almost ready, spotted another EN handicap (new top priority). EN didn't die, it was turned into a pig earlier
5:29 - SW for mana and to avoid explosions
5:48 - Crowd gone, elite boss is easy
5:52 - MC nicely into a corner, but the elite went for something outside my screen. In hindsight, just use Hex or fight head-on
6:12 - Handicap from Terror Demon
7:27 - Mallet Lord attacking from beyond CoB range (again!)
7:54 - Use corner to avoid line of sight. Unknown elite pack.
7:57 - Morlu Legionnaire elite pack with Plague, Arcane, Nightmarish, Shielding (tough!). Hold channel for as long as possible (strategic terrain)
8:06 - Drop Hex for defense and extra damage. Taking rapid in-coming damage too.
8:09 - Use SW to reposition quickly, too many ground effects

Part 2 Video Log:
0:12 - Avoid line of sight
3:04 - EN summoned a Mallet Lord
3:42 - SW to help. 2 secs should be enough to kill many trash mobs
3:52 - go for MIs first.
Topic (3): Gearing Path and Stat Targets

The reason why different players give numbers that are all over the place is because we all play with different styles and concepts. To enable our skill build to work as we want it to, we will need to gear accordingly. The most obvious example will be the hotly debated 1H vs 2H path. If you want to play with half the lifesteal, obviously your gear must have much higher mitigation.

Fortunately, the Skorn path is the most cost-effective way to clear the game at MP10. For most of us, upgrading our gear is probably the longest (endless) journey.

To go along with the builds recommended in Topic (1), the bare minimum to be effective on MP10 is about 180k unbuffed DPS, 2800 Intel, 3250 Armor, 600 AR, 65k Life. Preferably with 5%-7% reduced damage from elites.

Why these numbers? These numbers allow a lifesteal Skorn user to take massive damage in quick bursts and survive to maintain the CoB channel.

Video proof -

To balance the weakness in gear, Horrify:FA and JF passive must be part of the build, until you are geared well enough to remove the JF passive. For solo play, keep FA on your toolbar as it has other good uses, as shown in Topic (2). For group play, use the skills as you wish, as long as you understand the gear-build relationship.

Recommended Stat Targets
I recommend > 200k unbuffed DPS (the more the merrier), > 3000 Intel, 3500 Armor, 700 AR, 65k Life, 5%-7% reduced damage from elites, to have a comfortable time for all game content at MP10. If budget permits, go as near to 50% unbuffed CHC as possible. Skorn is a weapon with high CHD. CHD on its own is useless, unless it is paired with CHC. Having a high CHC will bring out the full potential of the Skorn.

What’s so special about 50% CHC? It is the breakpoint such that 1 out of every 2 ticks is going to be a critical multimillion damage tick, which also means that you will get at least 1 critical tick every second as long as you don’t die within 1 second and you’re hitting something, you will tank very well. If you die within 1 second, please reduce the MP level.

I find it essential to understand how to allocate the gear stats into different “compartments”. This will avoid very costly mistakes of getting on the wrong path and spending even more gold ($) to re-gear. Common gearing traps are getting Vit on weapons, and IAS on chest/pants. You may see other players doing well in those gear (or other fanciful gear combinations), but they may not be playing the same style as you. The more important question is: Do you have the gold ($) to make that gearing path suitable for you? Having IAS on chest/pants will severely reduce the defensive capabilities of those items. Where are you going to find the equivalent stats from other gear slots to make up for the defenses? Can you afford those items?

Defensive Slots
Shoulders, chests, pants, and boots. Stack as much Intel, Vit, %Life, AR, Armor as you can. Special mention about Zuni boots – the 8% elemental damage is very helpful to the Skorn user, because the Skorn is a full “black damage” weapon.

Offensive Slots
Gloves, rings, amulet, and weapon. Go all out for DPS on these slots – Intel, CHC, CHD. Whatever defensive stats you roll here, regard it as a bonus or go for such purchases if you can afford it.

Balancing Slots
Helm, bracer, and belt. After placing most of the gear items, you will notice some weaknesses here and there (eHP, mitigation, DPS, etc). Use these slots to balance up your character. At MP10, a balanced approach is essential. Most of us will choose The Witching Hour belt, which can come with excellent DPS and eHP. At this point, I do suggest a Lacuni Bracer for the IAS and CHC (12% movement is very nice as well). Having 2 pieces of IAS gear is a good fit with mana consumption as well as the breakpoint APS bracket for CoB. Details at the end of this topic.

Keep your eye on your target total stats as you upgrade piece by piece. When you sort out your gear properly, you can upgrade 1 piece of gear without affecting a few other pieces. If you want more DPS, look at your offensive slots. If you want more eHP/mitigation, look at your defensive slots. Your overall stats and gear configuration will keep improving until you are able to clear MP10 comfortably.

Be warned though, when the basics are in place, every extra point of Intel or DPS stat is going to cost exponentially higher for the offensive slots, every extra point of Vit or mitigation stat is going to cost exponentially higher for the defensive slots.

* Zuni 4-piece is a must (boots, helm, ring, chest).

** Everytime you change a gear item or skill, do the “stress tests” in Topic (1) to make sure you’re able to handle the MP level of your choice.

The 50% CHC Dilemma

For a long time (about 6 months), I was torn with various ideas on how to get the elusive 50% unbuffed CHC. I considered Inna’s pants, Inna’s belt, Tal Rasha’s belt, any item that could possibily give that final 1% to reach 50%.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that it is a psychological feel-good number (just like a 1399 DPS weapon versus a 1400 DPS weapon). The eHP/mitigation sacrifice is simply not worth the final 1% CHC.

When solo, I have my Scoundrel to help with 3% CHC. When in a group, that’s where teamwork and team spirit come alive, my friends are much better than my AI follower. Therefore, I do not need that final 1% CHC.

Fire Element damage and Fire Skill damage
Video -

EDIT: This section has been updated on 20 August 2013 because of new proven information about CoB mechanics and "wasted" damage. Details of CoB mechanics are near the end of this Topic. To minimize the discrepancy of the "wasted" damage, I had to modify the test such that the APS of having Enchantress, without gloves (APS = 1.0974) is almost the same as the APS of wearing gloves, without Enchantress (APS = 1.0980). The difference in APS was only 0.0006 APS, which leads to an insignificant difference in the "wastage". Both of these configurations should experience the same "wastage" in DPS.

Don't be confused by the tool-tip and description, the 2 types of gear stats are very different!

"Adds 6% to Fire damage" is added to the character sheet, and buffs the black damage component of the weapon damage directly. The type of element does not matter.

"Fire skills deal 20% more damage" is calculated from the character sheet, and only affects skills that output "damage as Fire". In our topic of interest, CoB deals Fire damage. After obtaining the "damage per hit" from our character sheet, CoB damage is calculated from half that value because 1 cast = 2 ticks, and the numbers we see are for each tick.

The glove used is:
Adds 2% to Fire damage
Fire skills deal 20% more damage
IAS 4%
Intel 21 (worth about 1% damage from a base of 2215 to 2236)

Test results:
-----------------No gloves, with Enchantress -------- With gloves, no Enchantress
Melee ------- 971 (Non-crit) --- 2428 (Crit) -------- 1002 (Non-crit) --- 2504 (Crit)
"Melee/2" -- 485.5 (Non-crit) - 1214 (Crit) -------- 501 (Non-crit) ----- 1252 (Crit)
max CoB -- 4645 (Non-crit) -- 11611 (Crit) ------- 5727 (Non-crit) -- 14317 (Crit)
multiplier --- 9.567 --------------- 9.564 -------------- 11.431 ------------- 11.433

For Melee,
Damage "with gloves" is about 3.2% higher than "no gloves", proving that "Adds 2% to Fire" goes into the character sheet, together with 21 Intel (worth about 1% increase in Intel). This is consistent with expectations, although we had extra 0.2%.. It may be due to the rounding of 971 or 1002, or both numbers.

For CoB multipliers,
If we divide "no gloves" melee damage by 2, we get a CoB multiplier of 9.56 (almost 10), consistent with the damage "wasted" and what we understand about CoB mechanics. When I added the glove, the CoB multiplier became 11.43. With the Magefist glove, multiplier increased by 19.5%, consistent with the Fire Skill stat. 19.5% on screen will show as 20%. The 0.5% could also be due to rounding error of the damage shown on screen.

CoB damage comparisons,
CoB damage "with gloves" is about 23.3% higher than "without gloves", for both Non-crit comparison as well as Crit comparison. We note from the Melee attacks that the glove brought 3.2% damage to the base calculation. The damage increase was expected to be 1.032 x 1.195 = 1.233 or 23.3%, exactly the same as the test outcome!

"Fire skills" clearly add significant damage output that scales with the CoB channel. "Add % damage as Element" can be of any element type, and affects the character sheet baseline calculations.

Gearing a New WD

Since this guide is about CoB using a Skorn, I suggest the initial gearing put priority on CHC, even if it means lower Intel initially. This will allow you to get a feel of the 50% CHC dilemma, and to experience how powerful a Skorn can be, even at the entry level.

The Zuni helm and ring are extremely expensive (for a good reason), so you may have to put up with 0% CHC on those items or go with 3%-4% if you have the budget for them.

Armor and AR

Why 3500 Armor and 700 AR? When you "mouse-over" the Armor or AR on your character sheet, these are the numbers that you will see:

Armor ---------------- 3572 ---- 4030 ---- 7144 --- 8060
Damage Reduction 54.35% 57.33% 70.43% 72.88%
Difference -------------------- 3.5% ------------- 2.4%

AR --------------------- 594 ----- 697 ----- 795 ---- 901
Damage Reduction 66.44% 69.91% 72.60% 75.02%
Difference ----------------- 3.5% ----- 2.7% ----- 2.4%

There is diminishing returns at the higher end of the spectrum. Therefore, Armor and AR will reach a level where % damage reduction from elites/melee/range becomes significant. Even in unbuffed conditions, my 5% elite damage reduction and 4% melee damage reduction are already better than the equivalent 2 rows of gear stats. Under buffed conditions, the enhanced method of mitigation is magnified.

The only exception is ranged attacks, for which I will recommend the SW + Hex technique against the kiting mobs (yet another example of gear-build relationship).

Special mention - the Chest armor and Ring are the only places where we can get % damage reduction from elites. I chose to search hard for that stat on my Zuni chest, so that I can move away from the Litany ring and go all-out DPS on that ring slot. I also mentioned about the Bracer being a character balancing slot. Where I find potential weakness in my gear-skill (forget to FA, or having teammates engaging mobs nearby and not wanting to FA), the % melee damage reduction comes in handy against most of the hard-hitting sudden attacks.

When you see different recommendations from players, you will notice they have a different gear-skill relationship, which accounts for the different stat requirements.

Here is a short and sweet thread on mitigation, without too much arguments:

How to evaluate a Skorn?

Whenever I look at a Skorn, I will consider:
1) Damage range (the range of white numbers per hit)
2) +% Damage stat (49% or 50% gives the flexibility of Ruby or Emerald in socket)
3) Intel – when all else are at the bottleneck, Intel makes all the difference
4) CHD – the reason why Skorns are popular
5) Lifesteal – the higher the better

When I was doing research on Skorns, I had 7 in my stash, DPS ranging from 1074 to 1397. To my surprise and amazement, I discovered that all the Intel + LS + Skorn listed on the AH are end-game quality!

Video proof -

Profile used -

To avoid confusion, "End-Game" refers to doing all the quests from Act 1 through Act 4 and completing the game. Some players may want to add Ubers solo at MP10, since that is the most recent content in the game.

Special thanks to KyKah for his feedback.

Websites such as D3up allow you to make detailed study of your character. You can adjust and toggle active and passive skills to see how your DPS, eHP, and mitigation changes, you can simulate gear changes and see how your overall character is affected. Overall, an excellent place for you to evaluate your character and plan out your gearing path and upgrades.

In the profile example above, look at the right column, you will see:
Total Damage Reduction 87.13%

This is already inclusive of the help from JF passive. The “bare minimum” stats are actually weak for MP10, that’s why you need some synergy from the skill build to be effective.

Now click on the left column “Skills”, and “Activate” the checkbox for Horrify:
Total Damage Reduction 91.6%

You can also “Activate” Soul Harvest and see how the skill impacts the Intel, AR, and CoB damage. You get the idea now, do your own evaluation as you journey forward.

When all the gear items are in place, any Skorn better than 1074 DPS is just for ego and efficiency.

At the time of testing, my unbuffed DPS for the 7 Skorns ranged from 167k to 211k. The difference in the kill times was only 25 secs. This means, for the common elite packs in the game, the difference in efficiency may only be 10secs – 15secs, due to the high multipliers and leverage we get from CoB.

CoB Mechanics (Part 1): Wasted Damage

*Special thanks to sssc, Nubtro, Wachati for the research collaboration:

CoB begins channel at 500.5% damage and rises every tick until 1001% damage. This is a multiplier of 10.01 at maximum efficiency. However, we seldom get maximum efficiency and we always encounter some "wasted" damage.

The game calculates the
Tick Incremental Damage = [ (Half Melee Damage x 5.005) / (APS x 10) ]

The missing portion of the CoB multiplier comes from the way the Tick Incremental Damage is calculated. In my test, I had an APS of 1.45, which means I can expect 14.5 ticks over 5 seconds. I only enjoyed 14 increments instead of 14.5 increments. The final 50% of the tick increment value fizzled off, because in the game, we either get a tick or no-tick. The decimal point is discarded.

If my APS is 1.49, 90% of the final tick increment value will fizzle off.
If my APS is 1.41, 10% of the final tick increment value will fizzle off, getting closest to the 10x multiplier.

It seems strange that slower sheet APS and lower sheet DPS can actually produce higher CoB DPS in-game, but it is true (accurate as at Patch 1.08).

For practical purposes in-game, focus on the 3rd decimal place of your APS. It cannot be seen on the data sheet, it needs to be calculated. Always test your intended APS with cheap gear before gearing for very expensive end-game gear.

1.x0y, or 2.x0y. Make sure "y" is 1 or higher. This will lead to minimal losses in CoB DPS. The closer you get to 1.x01 or 2.x01 attack speed, the closer you will get to the 10.01 CoB multiplier. The most losses will come from 1.x999999 or 2.x99999 APS.

CoB Mechanics (Part 2): APS Breakpoints, Tick Frequency

Special thanks to Nubtro, for excellent research work on the mechanics of CoB:

He tabulated the following breakpoints-
aps - frames per tick - frequency - channeling cost per sec –
0.90000-0.90909 aps - 33 frames - 1.82 ticks - 60 mana
0.90910-0.93750 aps - 32 frames - 1.88 ticks - 62 mana
0.93751-0.96774 aps - 31 frames - 1.94 ticks - 64 mana
0.96775-1.00000 aps - 30 frames - 2.00 ticks - 66 mana
1.00001-1.03448 aps - 29 frames - 2.07 ticks - 69 mana
1.03449-1.07142 aps - 28 frames - 2.14 ticks - 71 mana
1.07143-1.11111 aps - 27 frames - 2.22 ticks - 74 mana
1.11112-1.15384 aps - 26 frames - 2.31 ticks - 77 mana
1.15385-1.20000 aps - 25 frames - 2.40 ticks - 80 mana
1.20001-1.25000 aps - 24 frames - 2.50 ticks - 83 mana
1.25001-1.30434 aps - 23 frames - 2.61 ticks - 87 mana
1.30435-1.36363 aps - 22 frames - 2.73 ticks - 90 mana

Look at the profile example again, the APS is 1.17 which falls under this category:
1.15385-1.20000 aps - 25 frames - 2.40 ticks - 80 mana

Lacuni is 9% IAS, and WH belt is 8% IAS. In hindsight, I could have bought a cheaper 8% IAS Lacuni and still fall within the same APS bracket. Although the sheet DPS shows higher number for higher APS, my eDPS casting CoB at 1.16 APS is actually higher than 1.17 APS (see CoB Mechanics Part 1 above).

If I purchase or craft another glove with 9% IAS, I will skip one APS bracket and fall under this category:
1.25001-1.30434 aps - 23 frames - 2.61 ticks - 87 mana

Then the important consideration is whether my gear and build can handle that level of mana consumption. When using SW:Honored Guest, I'll probably be slightly negative on mana, but the channel can still be maintained for a long time.

Combining the knowledge from the CoB Mechanics above, we get super breakpoints at APS of 1.201, 1.305, 1.501, 2.001.

CoB Mechanics (Part 3): Mana Consumption, -FB casting cost, PTV and BR

*Special thanks to GunnersDream for the excellent frame by frame analysis:

The reduction from the -FB gear is only half value per "cast", or quarter value per "tick". The initial casting cost is reduced by a quarter value of the -FB item.

This means the initial cast is missing three-quarters of the -FB value, and the subsequent channel maintenance is missing half the -FB value. As at Patch 1.08, Blizzard has done a terrible job on the gear stat description.

Pierce the Veil works exactly as described.
Initial cost = 287
Cost per tick = 43

Blood Ritual works exactly as described.
Initial cost = 188
Cost per tick = 28

* This portion has been updated as we now know the behaviour of -FB gear stat. Although -FB stat scales with APS, we were short-changed by getting only half the -FB value. The cross-over APS is very high (about APS = 2.5) for -12FB to become as effective as +14 Mana Regen. As another example, -10FB SoJ needs about APS 3.0 to be more effective than +14 Mana Regen.

To SoJ or Not?

That is the question!!

I'm definitely not top-geared, but let's just assume that I am, and that I've used up all the other means to increase my DPS (including +average damage stat). To push the DPS limit for the Skorn path, I only have 2 choices now:
1) equip a 6%/30% SoJ
2) get more IAS on gear

I'll use this profile as example now -

Unbuffed DPS = 211k
When I take out my Outcast Loop ring and put on the SoJ,
Unbuffed DPS = 180k, DPS to Elites = 234k (11% increase from 211k)

Since this is a CoB build, the SoJ will be -10 to Firebats casting cost. This is great news for mana management! Instead of just the gloves (say 7% IAS), I can go and purchase a trifecta Zuni ring with 7% IAS. Total 14% IAS added (1.31 APS now), and I will be under this category:
1.30435-1.36363 aps - 22 frames - 2.73 ticks - 90 mana

Being "top-geared", my mitigation is not a problem, neither is gold ($). I can remove JF passive and put in SA passive to support my higher APS. The higher base mana from gear, and SA passive may even allow for another piece of IAS to punch the next APS breakpoint.

DPS to elites jumps to 262k unbuffed for APS 1.31! Add > 100% DPS buff for group play gives half-million DPS before starting the CoB channel.

So what about the 50% CHC dilemma? Going SoJ means my maximum possible CHC drops to 43%, but getting 2.73 ticks per second means that I will still be getting 1 critical tick every second (mathematically). Survival is not affected at all.

This flow of analysis and simulation is just an example of how you can push your WD to further limits, while staying on the 2H path. 1-Handers can also use this simulation method to map out and plan for gear upgrades.

Belial and Ghom Tests using SoJ with just 187k unbuffed DPS

Tanked Belial and killed him without moving, just 38 secs needed, average critical tick = 4M damage. Very few players in the world can beat that timing, even with top gear. This is a demonstration of gear-build synergy, using high leverage of CoB damage.

and... Ghom at 25 secs

Advanced gearing for Skorn (SoJ & IAS)

When all the mitigation and other DPS stats are in place, Skorn WDs can really push their DPS to higher limits.

IAS Gears APS Mana/sec Remarks (Using BR & SA passives)
3 pc ------- 1.21 -- 83 ------
3 pc ------- 1.26 -- 87 ------ BR, SA, no SW = Mana +ve
4 pc ------- 1.31 -- 90 ------ BR, SA, no SW = Mana -ve, channel >10 mins in town
5 pc ------- 1.37 -- 95 ------ BR, SA, need SW = Mana +ve
5 pc ------- 1.43 -- 99 ------ BR, SA, need SW = Mana +ve
6 pc ------- 1.51 -- 105 ----- BR, SA, need SW = Mana +ve

* Note: I only used 1 ring for IAS, because the other ring is reserved to slot in an SoJ. WDs that are not fond of SoJ can stack IAS on glove, both rings, amulet, belt, (bracer or pants) - 6 pieces total, without affecting your current survival.

Using SoJ -6FB & BR passive, without the need for SA passive.

A higher FB reduction SoJ will perform even better. SoJ frees up 1 passive slot, and delivers much higher eDPS against elites. Adding even more IAS pieces is not practical.

IAS Gears APS Mana/sec Remarks (SoJ & BR passive)
0 pc ------- 1.0 ---- 66 -------
1 pc ------- 1.08 -- 74 -------
2 pc ------- 1.16 -- 80 ------- no SW = Mana +ve
3 pc ------- 1.21 -- 83 ------- no SW = Mana -ve but channel >8 mins in town
3 pc ------- 1.26 -- 87 ------- need SW = Mana +ve
4 pc ------- 1.31 -- 90 ------- need SW = Mana +ve
5 pc ------- 1.37 -- 95 ------- need SW = Mana +ve
5 pc ------- 1.43 -- 99 ------- need SW = Mana +ve
6 pc ------- 1.51 -- 105 ------ need SW = Mana -ve, channel about 6 mins in town

A 2H Mace or 2H Polearm will be even more mana-efficient.

Simulated High-End Gearing for Skorn

Profile -

Following the SoJ path, we stick to the 5 pieces of IAS gear to remain mana positive, without negative impact on defences.

DPS 236,437.6
DPS vs Elites 307,368.88

Attacks per Second 1.44
+% Attack Speed 44%
Critical Hit Chance 42.5%
Critical Hit Damage 511%
MH Weapon Damage 164,192.78

Armor 3,439
All Resist 650.1
Block Chance 0%
Dodge Chance 15.95%
Armor Damage Reduction 52.19%
Total Damage Reduction 86.74% (with JF passive)
Thorns 1,794

Maximum Life 66,270.86
HP:EHP Ratio 1:7.54
Life Steal 5.4%
Life per Hit 425
Total Life Bonus 46%
Life per Second 1,325.42
Life per Kill 0
Health Globe Healing Bonus 0
Bonus to Gold/Globe Radius 7

Skorn with > 300k DPS against elites is a reality, if you can afford it.
Topic (4): 1H vs 2H Debate

This topic is close to the hearts of many players, because the choices made reflect how they want their heroes to be represented. There are all sorts of pros and cons, but we shall limit the scope of this presentation to just one:- anything and everything that concerns Cloud of Bats only.

This topic is not intended to tell you which path is better, but to help you make an informed decision for your long journey ahead. Before you read this topic, you are expected to be familiar with the game, and have quite extensive experience with the various skills and play style of the WD.

Key Points to Understand

- Each attack or cast has 2 ticks.
- We shall loosely call the channelling “casts”, where the initial set up is the “initial cast”.
- The weapon’s damage is the damage per cast, this is not the same as DPS. Therefore each tick is calculated from half the weapon’s damage.
- The sheet APS is not the same as the frequency of casts in-game, the frequency of casting goes according to Nubtro’s APS Breakpoint Table [Topic (3)].
- The mana consumption is not based on the sheet APS, it is based on the APS Breakpoint Table, as well as GunnersDream's research on mana consumption [Topic (3)].

Understanding the Weapons & APS

Example profile:
+%attack speed on gear = 17% (9% IAS belt, and 8% IAS bracer)

The impact of IAS gear is multiplied to the weapon’s base attack speed. Here is what my sheet APS will be for the whole list of weapons:
2H Mace – 0.9 x 1.17 = 1.05 APS
2H Polearm – 0.95 x 1.17 = 1.11 APS
2H Axe – 1.0 x 1.17 = 1.17 APS
2H Staff / Sword – 1.1 x 1.17 = 1.29 APS
1H Mace / Spear – 1.2 x 1.17 = 1.40 APS
1H Axe – 1.3 x 1.17 = 1.52 APS
1H Knife / Sword – 1.4 x 1.17 = 1.64 APS
1H Dagger – 1.5 x 1.17 = 1.75 APS

Now for a very important modifier – if the weapon itself comes with an +%IAS or +APS modifier, that total APS on the weapon becomes the base attack speed of that weapon.

Example: 1H Sword with 8% IAS, base attack speed = 1.4 x 1.08 = 1.51 APS
------------- on my profile example, the sheet APS = 1.51 x 1.17 = 1.77 APS

Thanks to Nubtro for a good summary, the order in which you calculate APS is:

1. Base weapon APS
2. %IAS on the weapon itself - multiply base weapon aps by (1 + (bonus/100))
3. Add attacks per second bonus from the likes of Echoing Fury and Enchantress
4. Sum of gear %IAS and skill %IAS - multiply the previous result by (1 + (sum of bonuses/100))

The APS of fast hitting weapons multiply rapidly just to catch up with the same proportion of DPS, comparing against the APS multiplication for slow hitting weapons. The evidence is clear that the threshold of limiting mana regeneration for a 1H Dagger will be exceeded far earlier than a 2H Mace.

All of us want to upgrade our DPS, but many WD players have got it wrong by stacking IAS gear with a fast hitting weapon. Just as many WD players have got it wrong by refusing to stack IAS on slow hitting weapons, For many players, the weapon choice and gear stat path shows a clear lack of understanding of the WD class, or lack of budget to have a proper weapon-gear compatibility.

Additional Research on all 1H Weapons
Some important details first:
1) The SoJ when used, was -6 FB. There are better SoJs around.
2) The SoS mojo used was +150 max mana, +14 mana regen. This is the highest available in AH. The SoS mojo can come with %CHC too, so your DPS will not be weakened.
3) The VoG mask when used, was -12 FB, and +14 mana regen. This is the highest available in AH. The VoG mask can come with 6% CHC too.

Your results will vary if you use items that are different from the above 3 points.

The conclusion is that mana "discount" is better than mana regeneration, because BR passive scales directly with APS. However, our community has learnt recently that "-FB" gear stat is wrongly implemented by Blizzard. We only get half the -FB value per cast (or one-quarter the -FB value per tick), and one-quarter the -FB value for each initial cast. This means that -10FB from SoJ needs around 2.51 APS to be nearly as effective as +14 Mana Regen.

The whole idea is to find a solution to use 1 passive only. The purpose of this test below using BR & SA is to serve as a benchmark, to get a feeling of how many IAS items can be supported. Only the threshold limits are listed.

Using BR & SA passives, and Zuni SoS
1H Spear or Mace (1.2 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
4 pc ------- 1.58 -- no SW, mana -ve, channel about 6 mins in town
7 pc ------- 1.88 -- need SW, mana about breakeven
* 8 pieces or higher is not practical

1H Axe (1.3 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
6 pc ------- 1.88 -- need SW, mana about breakeven
7 pc ------- 2.01 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel about 2 mins
* 8 pieces or higher is not practical

1H Sword (1.4 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
4 pc ------- 1.88 -- need SW, mana about breakeven
5 pc ------- 2.01 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel about 2 mins

1H Dagger (1.5 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
3 pc ------- 1.88 -- need SW, mana about breakeven
4 pc ------- 2.01 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel about 2 mins

1H Knife (1.4 base APS), with 147 max mana and 14 mana regen
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
6 pc ------- 2.15 -- need SW, mana +ve
7 pc ------- 2.15 -- need SW, mana +ve
* 8 pieces or higher is not practical

Using BR passive, Zuni SoS, and -6FB SoJ
1H Spear or Mace (1.2 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
6 pc ------- 1.77 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel > 10 mins in town
7 pc ------- 1.88 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel about 2 mins

1H Axe (1.3 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
4 pc ------- 1.77 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel > 10 mins in town
5 pc ------- 1.88 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel about 2 mins

1H Sword (1.4 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
3 pc ------- 1.77 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel > 10 mins in town
4 pc ------- 1.88 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel about 2 mins

1H Dagger (1.5 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
2 pc ------- 1.77 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel > 10 mins in town
3 pc ------- 1.88 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel about 2 mins

1H Knife (1.4 base APS), with 147 max mana and 14 mana regen
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
5 pc ------- 2.01 -- need SW, mana +ve
6 pc ------- 2.15 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel about 2 mins
7 pc ------- 2.15 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel about 2 mins

Using BR passive, Zuni SoS, and VoG with -12FB and 14 mana/sec
1H Spear or Mace (1.2 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
6 pc ------- 1.77 -- no SW, mana -ve, channel > 8 mins in town
7 pc ------- 1.88 -- need SW, mana +ve
* 8 pieces or higher is not practical

1H Axe (1.3 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
4 pc ------- 1.77 -- no SW, mana -ve, channel > 8 mins in town
7 pc ------- 2.01 -- need SW, mana +ve
* 8 pieces or higher is not practical

1H Sword (1.4 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
3 pc ------- 1.77 -- no SW, mana -ve, channel > 8 mins in town
5 pc ------- 2.01 -- need SW, mana +ve
6 pc ------- 2.15 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel < 2 mins

1H Dagger (1.5 base APS)
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
2 pc ------- 1.77 -- no SW, mana -ve, channel > 8 mins in town
4 pc ------- 2.01 -- need SW, mana +ve
5 pc ------- 2.15 -- need SW, mana -ve, channel < 2 mins

1H Knife (1.4 base APS), with 147 max mana and 14 mana regen
IAS Gears -- APS -- Remarks
5 pc ------- 2.01 -- no SW, mana -ve, channel > 10 mins in town
7 pc ------- 2.15 -- need SW, mana +ve
* 8 pieces or higher is not practical

If you plan on using both SoJ and VoG, you can stack higher IAS, but it may not be practical to do so.

Stacking IAS benefits slower weapons more than faster weapons

Example of MCK VS Skorn

Let's say: MCK - 1000 DPS (1.4 APS), and Skorn - 1400 DPS (1.0 APS).
Due to attack speed, the MCK average damage is 714, and the Skorn average damage is 1400.

If a ring provides +50 average damage, it buffs the MCK by 7%, but it only buffs the Skorn by 3.5%. The "+average damage" stat benefits dual wielders the most because the stat goes into the character sheet and affects both weapons.

Stacking +Average Damage benefits 1H weapons more than 2H weapons.

Let's consider another ring with +100 Intel, added to the character sheet from 3000 Intel to 3100 Intel. The additional 100% damage affects the MCK by 714 damage, and affects the Skorn by 1400 damage. So the impact of the +Intel is better for a Skorn. The impact on the MCK matches the original 1000 only if the player has enough mana to cast 1.4 times.

Therefore, you can say that Intel is not biased or prejudiced against either weapon choice because it is already % based, but it does demand more mana for weapons with faster APS.

Ruby in Weapon Socket
Special thanks to Radre for providing the following formula:
(base dps)+{(grade of ruby)x(weapon attack speed)x(1+weapon % dmg)x(1+ %IAS stat in weapon itself)} = new socketed dps

Example, 1.2 APS spear, DPS of 1000, +45% damage, +8% IAS on weapon.
Using Marquis Ruby, DPS = 1000 + (160 x 1.2 x 1.45 x 1.08) = 1300.67

Method of calculating the effectiveness of Ruby for your weapon type
DPS example = 1200 DPS, all weapons having +45% damage stat,
Weapon’s average damage for,
Skorn = 1200 / 1 = 1200
Spear/Mace = 1200 / 1.2 = 1000
Axe = 1200 / 1.3 = 923.08
Sword/Knife = 1200 / 1.4 = 857.14

Marquis Ruby adds (160 x 1.45) = 232 damage

Damage added by Marquis Ruby in weapon,
Skorn = 232 / 1200 = 19.33%
Spear/Mace = 232 / 1000 = 23.2%
Axe = 232 / 923.08 = 25.13%
Sword/Knife = 232 / 857.14 = 27.07%

The relationship between Ruby and weapon is clear. As the weapon’s average damage goes up, Ruby provides a smaller % gain. Ruby provides significant damage gains for faster weapon types.

Emerald VS Ruby

This topic is extremely popular and frequently debated, for the purpose of considering damage, DPS, and lifesteal. We shall consider similar numbers from the example above (weapons at 1200 DPS). As 1Handers and 2Handers gear differently, we will consider 1Handers to have 55% CHC and 300% CHD (using Ruby) and 410% CHD (using Emerald). We will consider 2Handers to have 45% CHC and 400% CHD (using Ruby) and 510% CHD (using Emerald).

Over a span of 100 CoB ticks, 1Handers will get 55 critical ticks, and 2Handers will get 45 critical ticks.

--------------------- Emerald ------------------------- Ruby
---------------- Crit ------- No-crit ------------- Crit ---------- No-crit
Skorn ---- 45 x 6.1 --- 55 x 1 -------- 45 x(1.19x5) --- 55 x 1.19
Skorn total -------- 329.5 -------------------------- 333.2 (Ruby better)
Spear ---- 55 x 5.1 --- 45 x 1 --------- 55 x(1.23x4) --- 45 x 1.23
Spear total -------- 325.5 -------------------------- 326.0 (Ruby better)
Axe ------- 55 x 5.1 --- 45 x 1 --------- 55 x(1.25x4) --- 45 x 1.25
Axe total ----------- 325.5 -------------------------- 331.3 (Ruby better)
Sword ---- 55 x 5.1 --- 45 x 1 --------- 55 x(1.27x4) --- 45 x 1.27
Sword total -------- 325.5 -------------------------- 336.5 (Ruby better)

So when will an Emerald be better in a weapon?
Consider a Skorn at 1330 DPS, same +45% damage stat.
Consider a Spear/Mace at 1250 DPS, same +45% damage stat.
Marquis Ruby adds (160 x 1.45) = 232 damage
Skorn damage added by ruby = 232 / 1330 = 17.4%
Spear/Mace damage added by ruby = 232 / (1250/1.2) = 22.3%

--------------------- Emerald ------------------------- Ruby
---------------- Crit ------- No-crit ------------- Crit ---------- No-crit
Skorn ---- 45 x 6.1 --- 55 x 1 -------- 45 x(1.174x5) --- 55 x 1.174
Skorn total -------- 329.5 -------------------------- 328.7 (Emerald better)
Spear ---- 55 x 5.1 --- 45 x 1 -------- 55 x(1.223x4) --- 45 x 1.223
Spear total -------- 325.5 -------------------------- 324.1 (Emerald better)

There are 2 main factors when considering gems:
1) CHC and CHD as a combination. Higher pairing values will favour Emerald.
2) Ruby as a % gain in weapon damage, which is affected by the base weapon damage as well as the “+% damage” stat on the weapon.

From the common numbers listed in the examples above, a Ruby is better for most 1Handers. For Skorn, an Emerald is better as the player upgrades the overall gear. Top-geared 1Handers of slow weapon types will also benefit more from Emerald.

Check the details using the websites and simulators [Topic (3)].

% Elemental Damage -
Using the same example as above, MCK as 714 average damage, and Skorn has 1400 average damage. All of the Skorn's 1400 is "black damage". For the MCK, the "adds 300 - 500" stat is the elemental portion (averaging at 400 in this example). That means, the "black damage" portion for the MCK is only 714-400 = 314. That is a miserable number compared to the 1400 for the Skorn. If a player uses 8% Zuni boots, 6% Tal's amulet, 6% SoJ, the 20% added damage will be applied to the full Skorn, but for the MCK, only the "314" portion receives the 20% added damage. That's why most MCK users choose Ruby in their weapon.

Stacking % elemental damage benefits “black damage” weapons more than “elemental damage” weapons. % elemental damage also benefits 2H “black damage” weapons more than 1H “black damage” weapons.

Overall, the 1H path will “hit” faster, but is more demanding on the mana. 1H Spear or Mace seems to be the best balance considering all the factors listed above, but this also comes with the opportunity cost of 3% LS compared to an even slower 2H weapon. With less lifesteal, the gear-build requirements for the 1H path needs to have more eHP / mitigation. In terms of stacking IAS and DPS, the 1H Spear or Mace, or the 1H Axe will give the highest potential due to the most number of IAS gear those weapon paths can support in terms of mana management.

One distinct difference between the 1H and 2H paths, is that the mojo can provide 10% CHC. 1-handers can easily get %CHC but will find it hard to get the %CHD stat. 2-handers can easily get %CHD from the Skorn, but will find it hard to get %CHC. The irony is that CHC and CHD are best of friends, they need each other to be effective!

Skorn really solves a lot of the headache due to the double dose of lifesteal, and Skorns are generally budget friendly. I've proven in Topic(3) that the lowest DPS Intel+LS Skorn available in the AH can fully clear MP10.

Especially for new WDs coming into Inferno MP0, the Skorn path is safer (anyone in Hardcore mode?).

The choice, is yours to make.
Good luck, and most importantly, have fun!!

Here are some profiles of top-geared CoB WDs. Feel free to add them in-game or ask them questions in the forums.

1H Path (not in any ranking or order of listing):
(1) James1v12#1875 -
282.0k unbuffed DPS, 375.7k DPS against Elites (SoJ)

(2) REAPER666#1553 -
334.5k unbuffed DPS, 354.6k DPS against Elites (no SoJ)

*still waiting for gear-build tweaking and links from more 1H players.

2H Path (not in any ranking or order of listing):
(1) RobertVarga#1345 -
271.5k unbuffed DPS (no SoJ)

(2) Luffy#1946 -
257.1k unbuffed DPS, 334.2k DPS against Elites (SoJ)
314.0k unbuffed DPS (no SoJ)

(3) freakinjstu#1760 -
259.1k unbuffed DPS (no SoJ)

(4) REAPER666#1553 -
301.6k unbuffed DPS (no SoJ)

(5) Madlibs#1899 -
291.4k unbuffed DPS (no SoJ)

(6) Cogito#1486 -
248.3k unbuffed DPS, 322.7k DPS against Elites (SoJ)
Topic (5): Ubers Solo (Video + Techniques), and Miscellaneous Videos

SB & ZK Video -

Video log:
0:21 - Walk to SB, make sure SB and Garg engage
0:23 - SW + Hex combo. Focus on ZK.
0:40 - SW + Hex combo
1:49 - FA to tank. Should have cast 1 sec earlier, when falling rocks was obvious.
1:53 - Garg died. Beware of SB charging.
2:20 - When grabbed by SB, use FA just before he throws me. FA immediately if ZK has a tornado or cast the falling rocks.
2:23 - SW + Hex combo.
2:40 - Gard died (again). Be careful.
3:05 - Slow to cast FA. Summon Garg.
3:33 - After getting used to the fight, cast MC to stack DPS.
3:34 - How unfortunate to be grabbed, right after using MC.
4:05 - FA to absorb damage, and go for the counter attack.
4:38 - FA to absorb damage.
4:44 - MC to stack DPS. Use SW to get back life.
5:01 - SW to absorb the swipes. Surprisingly, spirit form could withstand 2 swipes ("Absorbed") and channel was not broken.
5:07 - Looking at SB life, forgot to FA.

Ghom&Raka Video -

Video log:
0:07 - Dismiss Garg. Go for Raka, let Ghom come to me, thus hitting both together.
0:26 - Raka dashed away! Just cast MC, didn't want to waste it.
0:37 - When Ghom shakes his arms, he is going to hit hard.
0:42 - MC timer over. SW to engage Raka - he and his minions can knockback
1:11 - Got a handicap from Raka, looks like "chill" effect, attack speed very slow.
1:12 - I was not attacking at all, can hear the recast of CoB even though I could not see myself.
1:13 - SV triggered. Use FA. Drink potion.
1:17 - Go for Raka again.
1:19 - Hex Raka's minions to reduce the chance of knockback.
1:20 - Finally started to hit both bosses together
1:44 - Go for Raka again.

SK & MD Video -

Video log:
0:11 - Aggressive FA. Good corner position.
0:18 - See how SK comes right in to let me hit both together. If there is a good CM Wiz in the group, both bosses can die right there, including MD's minions spawning at that corner for quick kills.
0:23 - When SK teleports away, he will summon minions around me, then he will teleport back in
0:28 - SK broke my channel 2 times very quickly
0:29 - caught off-guard without mana to cast my FA + MC combo
0:46 - Very messy. SV triggered because of SK "walk" (he was doing his swipes without animation, only noticed during video replay). SK raised his weapon at 0:44 and began his swipes. I walked right into it without FA. Must have been hit by 2-3 swipes including MD's swarms.
0:52 - SW to avoid arcane and replenish mana
1:04 - Need to re-organise
1:13 - SK animation for his swpies. SW to reposition.
1:18 - Wanted to chase MD away, but she was Immune to the fear
1:25 - MD is too close with arcane and swarms. Easier to look for new battle ground since SK is away from me.
1:35 - SK animation. Time to back off.
2:02 - SK animation.
2:08 - MD Immune to fear again. Must be her immunity bubble, which stays activated when SK is still alive.
2:41 - MD remains Immune, until all of SK's minions are dead.
2:46 - Can summon Garg now.
2:58 - Aggressive FA. Good corner.
3:16 - Aggressive FA. Thought I could tank the arcane beam, should have cast FA earlier
3:20 - Skills on cooldown, arcane approaching. Better run.
3:27 - Waited for MD Immunity bubble, didn't trigger
3:45 - cast MC
3:47 - Summon Garg again by mistake. Soul Harvest is usually on that key when I play in a group
3:53 - Aggressive FA. Got interrupted by Scoundrel
4:02 - Good corner position.
4:09 - Aggressive FA
4:36 - Was waiting for Immunity bubble, didn't trigger
4:44 - Bad corner. Just wanted to trigger the bubble
4:56 - When minions are scattered, it becomes more tedious (need to be careful too)
5:32 - Aggressive FA badly cast. Wanted to get MD to top-left corner

World Records for solo self-buffed WD?

Belial video -
- 20 secs, 216k unbuffed DPS. 5-stack SH, 5-stack GF.

Ghom video -
-14 secs, 216k unbuffed DPS, 5-stack SH, 2-stack GF.

Azmodan video -
- 19 secs, 216k unbuffed DPS. 5-stack SH, 2-stack GF

The videos also show the exact method and technique used, so that any player can replicate the concept and achieve better results. Any player with better gear or more stacks of GF will be able to perform better.

*Borrowed some pieces of high-end gear from friends to proof the concept of PTV + BBV + SH + GF + sac:PtP at 1.33 APS. Although 1.31 APS is the ideal breakpoint, I could not expect too much when borrowing gear. There were some doubters and trolls in the research thread, but here's the proof that 1.31 APS can be supported.

**Special thanks to skitzflik, REAPER666, and kurOsawa for helping out with the proof of concept.

Miscellaneous Videos

Concepts from the previous 4 topics. This is just a collection of assorted videos. After you have some experience with the CoB gear-build relationship, you can experiment with the gears and build for different objectives in the game.

(5.1) Frightening Aspect Appreciation
Video 1 -
- defensive FA, standing on poison

Video 2 -
- anyone hate The Old Man (poison trees elites)?

Video 3 -
- offensive FA, do this to kiting elites and Magdha

(5.2) Skorn Appreciation
Video -

- at the time of recording, this was the weakest LS Intel Skorn in AH.

(5.3) Act 4 Silver Spire Level 2
Video -

- using techniques and casting sequences from Topic (2).

(5.4) Act 4 Diablo
Video -

- Timer 0:40, SW can avoid the cage, but we look caged up while holding channel.
- Timer 2:07, use Hex against the shadow
- Timer 5:42, 6:03, 6:28, 7:24, FA appreciation to tank Diablo's channel.

(5.5) Diablo MP1
Video -

- using pets to kill, with me as cheerleader. Fun!

(5.6) Act 3 Keep Depths Level 3
Video -

- short and sweet video with anti-CoB elite packs and a goblin.

(5.7) Act 3 Keep Depths Level 2
Video -

- hunting the fallen maniacs

(5.8) Act 3 Azmodan
Video -

- Getting 5NV to hunt KW, killing Azmodan along the way.

(5.9) Act 3 Key Warden
Video -

- Continuation of the Azmodan run, killing KW with 5NV.

(5.10) Act 3 Siegebreaker 60 secs
Video -

- high leverage skills used. 187.5k unbuffed with SoJ.

Lifesteal Skorn makes handling RD affix easy. Credits to Luffy for this defensive CoB-variant build - BR, SV, JF, Dogs:Life Link. Along the way, there was an elite pack with RD + Vortex + Firechain, and a Goblin too :)
Video -

(5.11) Act 3 Ghom
Video 1 -
- 25 secs, high leverage skills used. 187.5k unbuffed with SoJ.

Video 2 -
- 18 secs, after getting some defensive gear upgrades 8 Aug 2013, 188.5k unbuffed DPS (SoJ).

Video 3 -
- 15 secs, personal best timing, 187.9k DPS (SoJ), highest critical tick 6M.

(5.12) Act 2 Belial
Video 1 -
- 38 secs, high leverage skills used. 187.5k unbuffed with SoJ.

Video 2 -
- 29 secs, after getting some defensive gear upgrades 8 Aug 2013, 188.5k unbuffed DPS (SoJ).

Video 3 -
- 22 secs, personal best timing, 187.9k DPS (SoJ), average critical tick 6M.

(5.13) Act 2 VotA
Video -

- using techniques and casting sequences from Topic (2).

(5.14) Act 2 Oasis
Video 1 -
Video 2 -

- specifically looking for Fallen Masters on how to deal with their knockbacks
- getting the KW after 5NV.

(5.15) Act 1 Butcher
Video -

- just be careful with the big hammer attack and the charging attack

(5.16) Act 1 Fields of Misery
I did several runs, and these 2 videos give the most similar "pattern" for Locust:
LS:DS Video -
LS:P Video -

(5.17) Ubers Solo
Video 1 - SK & Magdha -
Video 2 - Ghom & Raka -
Video 3 - ZK & SB -

- these were recorded using the "bare minimum" recommended stats in Topic (3).

(5.18) Double Paragon 100
Video -

- a good reason to celebrate! Wish you well in your journey!
Topic (6): Speed farming and advise from other CoB WDs

This section is dedicated to the contributions from other CoB WDs. They are very experienced and have tested their recommendations thoroughly. Some of their suggestions are "conditional" and may not be applicable for all situations.

Speed Farming - Contribution from hANNO
He says - absolutely most efficient build for high-end (MP10) solo play:

DE farming in VOTA:!eYT!cZacYb

Farming high density mobs area (fields of misery etc):!eYT!caacYY

*hANNO is from the EU server, so you can't add him in-game, but you can post there to ask him questions.

Handling Reflect Damage (1-Handers) - Contribution from KyKah

There's nothing new here - it's a popular generic COB build variation a lot of WDs use:!TYc!.cbac

For empty slots choose whatever you like, MC for monster debuff, hex for debuff+control etc. I use bears+widomakers combo because I like to have powerfull ranged skill in my arsenal. BBV will increase damage output vs multiply targets, for 1hander GI+GF+BR is perfect mana/hp/damage buff combination + cd reduction. Jaunt will increase your safetime against RD, Soul Harvest is too good to pass on for mitigation and dps buff. This build is good enough for farming and killing bosses, for ubers you may want to change it.

Pretty standard one-hander setup: Zuni set, 1h, mojo with mana regen, some pickup radius helps too. SOJ can be used, but not necessary. Attack speed I use is 1.54-1.64, u can use more or less - depends on you gear and party. 500k EHP is viable, standard 4k armor/800 all resist/60k health recommended for mp10. If you die a lot and have trouble killing stuff - lower your mp.

Video is pretty much self-explanatory, you have to rely on jaunt during first reflect phase, on health globes/health potions/trash mobs during the second reflect phase. It is not always working that way and you can have problems with some affixes at the beginning. It takes some practice, there is no "universal" tactic and no guarantee that you will never die , but it works most of the time if you pay attention.

Important note: don't try on hardcore
Video -

*Kykah is from the EU server, so you can't add him in-game, but you can post there to ask him questions.
Hey bro...what about gearing and stats? Waiting for it :-) Morlu and his gang utube vidya. What a pain, very informative guide Paul, keep it up.
paul, good work bro...must have taken you a quite a while to put that together
07/03/2013 07:27 AMPosted by fabbyhunter
paul, good work bro...must have taken you a quite a while to put that together


Yes, indeed. I'm still filling up the details and videos for topics (1) & (2) and already people are asking for topic (3).

Soon, my friends.... all in good time.
07/03/2013 07:29 AMPosted by PaulNg
paul, good work bro...must have taken you a quite a while to put that together


Yes, indeed. I'm still filling up the details and videos for topics (1) & (2) and already people are asking for topic (3).

Soon, my friends.... all in good time.

lol...people are so damn demanding lol.
great collection of top-quality WD info here.
Topics (1) to (3) are ready now.

Thanks to everyone for reading. :)
so much typing my friend..
good work
! )
@Paul wow man. That's a lot of love for us WD's
Hey Paul, eagerly waiting for the other sections - absolutely no pressure though, I am patient. In the mean time do you have any advice for me? Thanks.
07/04/2013 12:42 AMPosted by Anwin
In the mean time do you have any advice for me? Thanks.

Please ask specific questions that demonstrate you have understood all the concepts that I have written. Gear? Skill? Sequence?

If your question is a concept that I've not covered, I will include it under Topic (6). If your question is to clarify something I have written, please be specific too.

My advise to you for the moment is:
- Decide on your path (bats, dogs, bears), 1H or 2H
- Look for someone who plays that way comfortably on MP10
- Learn from that person. Don't take advise from too many people, the concepts will conflict.
- Gear and Build synergy is different for everyone
I was asking in terms of gear. Since I am a new WD I have a lot to learn in terms of build and skill. However, gearing is what I am currently interested in.

I do have a WD friend who I can play MP10 with.

I am interested in a bats build going forward.

2H is what I am starting off with.

I am still crafting shoulders, gloves and amulets until I get decent ones.

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