WD Skills Suggestions to add variety

Witch Doctor
Now in some ways, making this post is almost selfish as WDs already have the most variety in workable builds. However, there are so many amazing skills that are almost useless, or in comparison become useless to more efficient skills.

I also realize none of these suggestions would happen quickly, but maybe they can catch an ear for an eventual patch or even expansion time. We had lots of these threads at opening of the game, but not that we have had a lot more time to play and experiment I think it is good to bring up some of these again.

These are my opinions, and you can flame away or add your own ideas as you so choose. I make this post in the interest of the WD community to provide discussion and also in the unlikely hope that Blizz might actually like and use some of these ideas to open up skills that are rarely if ever used.

Active Skills

Poison Dart – Initially I thought that the damage needs to be upgraded so that it isn’t left in the dust by the other powerful skills, instead my suggestion is to make it as a skill or with gear able to pass through targets. The single damage to target is pitifully low, however if it could pass through then it could become very versatile as a damaging skill with splinters or a great CC skill.

Grasp of the Dead – Reduce mana cost. There are so many mana dependent skills that another one that does not even provide sufficient effect or damage becomes obsolete as a support skill. And then make breakable grasp 100% root so it can be unbreakable and then increase all Grasp of Dead runes to 80%. With that buff, then maybe the mana cost would be more justifiable.

Corpse Spiders – Make them last longer. The time it takes to cast them removes the DPS that could be being done and makes them in the end inefficient. There are a few niche ways to use them as of now, but if they became more of a pet and less of a hassle you might see more use. Also Medusa spiders says they are paralyzing spiders, then actually make them stun, not just a useless slow. Slow in this game does very little in PvE as it functions currently.

Summon Zombie Dogs – I actually think that there is very little that needs to change, except one nice thing would be to have Rabid dogs “infectious bite” actually be infectious and spread or have some other effect (slow/fear/confuse) that actually makes it worthwhile in comparison to the standard ZD with no rune.

Firebats – Super strong as they stand, and currently need no real change. However, if all of the skills were more balanced out, I would suggest making them do less damage as the other skills would take some of the load for dps need.

Horrify – One of the worst skills IMO for a WD that mostly has short to midrange attacks, unless darts was actually made useful. Frightening aspect is almost the only rune even used, and then it is used for the armor bonus and not really for the fear. The movement is almost cool, but not really in the end. Instead of causing fear maybe have some of the Horrify runes (or all) cause some other effect like enemies defense lowering that would actually be useful.

Soul Harvest – Overall a good skill, maybe increase the amount of mana/life return on relevant runes.

Plague of Toads – My personal favorite, but completely obsolete skill. This is more like zombie bears carebear style. It shoots 3 like ZB, but does less damage, is harder to aim, and does not pass through enemies. Early levels this is a fun and workable skill, until you unlock stronger skills. Make explosive toads have a decent AOE effect with some nice splash damage. Have Toad of Hugeness actually do something? Anything? Maybe gives the caster a bonus based on whatever monster it swallowed? Rain of toads is almost good if its radius was expanded just a hair. Make addling toads and toad affinity pass through targets to get back to further rows. As long as skills like ZB and FB pass through enemies, a low power skill that doesn’t like toads will always be passed over.

Haunt – Just increase the number of spirits flying out for most runes to multiple targets and it could be a really fun skill. Once again when there are AoE skills like ZB and FB that hit harder why go to a single target skill that does less damage and stops after contact?
Sacrifice – A great skill, but some runes lacking in balance. Black blood, make the ichor leave a ground effect. Provoke the pack should be a party buff :D

Zombie Charger – Just balance out the damage so that the different skills have worth. Each rune is very different in effect, but the lack of damage on all but ZB make them lame.

Spirit Walk – I actually think all runes are very nice, if mana management wasn’t so poor for WDs then you would see more runes used other than just Jaunt and HG.

Spirit Barrage – I think just balancing some damage between runes would be fine here. Could be a great skill to form a build around other then the set builds existing currently.

Gargantuan – Once again good runes, just need some balancing.

Locust Swarm – The mana cost is just ridiculous for the damage output. And not all of the runes seem to really even have that different of an effect.

Firebomb - good runes, just poor damage.

Hex – Great runes, just some balancing of damage and healing that actually does something for higher end players.

Acid Cloud – Great skills, but the mana cost just isn’t worth it and not all runes do enough to make them useful. A great thing would be to make it so casting acid rain did not interrupt main skills and then it could really be an awesome support.

Mass Confusion – good effects I think, just not enough difference in what each rune does. In the end it just becomes not as valuable as other skills and is passed on.

Big Bad Voodoo – great skills, just need some change in duration/effect. The heal is pitiful, and the CD makes most of the runes not worth it. Jungle drums should double the length to make it worth it, or maybe extend the radius. Rain and Slam Dance work well. I am not sure boogie man even really has a worthwhile effect with the CD length of the skill. Other than rain and slam dance none of the other runes are worth the wait.

Wall of Zombies – Too little effect overall. The speed of the game makes this skill near worthless. Mobs get around it far too easy, there are already other skills that slow, and any damage is pitiful. Pile On damage is huge but it just is too awkward and doesn’t hit enough. Make it have a nice splash damage and maybe. Or have it knockback everything a good distance, and it could be an emergency panic skill or something.

Fetish Army – One of the coolest yet lamest skills of all. The low damage, with huge cooldown, and with short duration makes this one just plain out weak. They should either just stay out for the majority of the cast (90 of the 120) or do a hell of a lot more damage. Or make them explode when they die giving us a grim satisfaction to exact retribution for all of the times we died to them in D2.
Passive Skills:

A lot of passive skills already are very good so I am only going to address the ones I feel need some work.

Pierce the Veil – Reduce the mana cost (this could also come with reducing the damage increase), or make the low mana cost skills more worth it so that this skill becomes useful. Also fix the stupid ghost casting of firebats when PtV is active.

Fetish Sycophants – up the percent / max allowed alive / or duration. Or make fetishes more useful in general (such as my earlier idea of making them explode on death like in d2).
Rush of Essence – This skill takes up a whole passive slow which is HUGE. Make it actually do more. In the end this is almost a redundant skill to VQ. You have to cast a skill to get mana back. This one works different, but in the end is the same thing.

Vision Quest – The skill that forces you to use an inferior skill so that you can get mana….Now if those other skills were to be improved then this skill could be useful, but as is it is meh. Or apply the VQ bonus to skills that do not interrupt the cast of the main skills.

Fierce Loyalty – A really great skill in idea, but when you look at the other options and the fact that pets are not what they were in D2 it is not a first choice. Thorns has been nuked, and really if they die you can recast easy so life regen doesn’t even matter. This skill should let your pets gain some of your damage bonuses from items or let pets damage scale with monster power.

Tribal Rights – as it stands only useful to 1 build. Expand the cooldowns included or make it worthwile for the other skills. Cooldowns on garg is not needed at all, Fetish army is near useless, and hex is already almost always active.

Please leave comments and add your own suggestions.
I do agree that buffing certain skills will open up others, some of the passives are great until you realize that the skills they support suck.

However, I do not think it should center around "sets" of skills. Then you just end up with a few builds rising to the top again based on those sets.

I think the real solvent is to level out runes for each skill so that each one has equivalent potential. Then the builds become very malleable and a lot of options for people to be creative with their builds. One of the strengths with D2's skill tree was that you could make a viable build based around almost any skill. Yes some were more efficient than others, but still doable. You could have a full account of one class and have very different successful builds for each character. Currently, there are only a few WD builds that can survive in inferno mp10. It shouldn't matter which rune in zombie charger I use for damage, it should just mean change in play style.

I do agree with you that no nerf is needed. Bears and Bats are where they should be, and the rest of the runes and skills should be buffed to match. Right now its almost every WD using the same skills. But it needs to be mroe than different skills. I think it needs to be where you don't see everyone using different skills but all the same rune. It would be awesome to see a game where you go in and 3 WDs could be using 3 different charger runes, and none of them being the ugly step child.

Every skill and every rune should be mp10 viable without having to rely on the same main skill as everyone else.
First off, PB can out DPS CoB because the damage can be stacked with other skills, it is just harder to learn to play efficiently. PB/Bears build done well can clear maps extremely fast. I do not think PB needs any buffing, it is already on par to tackle mp10, CoB is mostly chosen for the ease factor. Most other bat runes cannot effectively handle mp10.

I agree that people seek the most dps but that alone does not force people into those one or two builds. D2 had points where people tried to say Blizzard was the strongest farming mf sorc skill, and then lightning, and I could show how a nova/FW could outdo both with a little more effort. I played with so many people that used so many different builds that could work in any difficulty. The problem is D3 is extremely limited on what can work in every difficulty and it needs to be opened up. D2 the majority may have chosen specific builds, but in D3 we are forced into them if we are to play the full content.

Yes, some skills will always take more work to be as efficient as others, but as it is right now there are some runes that are so far behind, they are not even considered.

Bat runes all have very different uses, but currently their DPS output is nowhere near equal. 220% for Dire is nowhere near the equivalent of the 500+ of PB and CoB. Especially when you consider how much more fitted the AoE of those skills are for this game. Yes, buff it until it makes people consider it and the other unused runes as viable options.

ZC runes are even worse in that the dps is not equal and as you said there is no utility (which there could be if certain things were buffed). WoZ vs ZB....both shoot 3 but bears is double the damage....it makes WoZ obsolete as soon as you get Bears. Now I know blizz wanted some progression feeling as you level and that may be their reasoning, but we all know the majority of play in this game comes after level 60. LZ rune has a lingering cloud, which could be very useful similar to AC for LoH.

There is room for all of these runes in the game, it just takes some balancing.

Example: Undeath could be a way to have a ZC skill that is super ranged. But it shoots only 1 and that one does less than 1 bear even.....with a base of 225k dps I still run out of mana before I have even beat one group of whites with that skill. Now if they buffed the damage enough, it could be like a super ranged ZB, just maybe tone down the dps so it never quite reaches if all 3 bears hit. Maybe have the zombie charger do as much as 1 bear or 1 1/2 bears. Then the skill becomes useable, and have a different utility than ZB which is for more area and overall more DPS.
I enjoyed reading through the ideas in this thread, and even more so the concepts of interrelation.

Touching on forced synergy, I don't think this is problematic as long as there is still flexibility in the overall build set. eg. you don't see 0doggers complaining about having to use tribal rites to achieve this build, instead it's awesome that by using this passive it opens up a whole new build that would otherwise be impossible.

That said, the rune choices could still do with some love. eg. grab an unused locust swarm rune and turn it into a front loaded chain lightning type skill, bam, you got a new primary to play with and I just made that up on the spot. You get the picture.

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