Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Some thoughts on the Witch Doctor (part 2)

A lot has changed since my last post, not only in my playing but also in the game. As I started to feel like Inferno was kicking my ass a little bit too much, I decided to have a serious run through of my stats and  ponder what I had to change to be able to advance further into the game. As it was, I was literally being two shot by anything, even non-rare mobs and it was quickly getting a lot more frustrating than fun. Everyone wants some challenge but I recall, after having died to the same lame crap for the tenth time in five minutes, that I was just about to give up on the game. Fortunately, some of my friends play WD as well, and offered some advice.

Turns out, I had been doing rookie mistake 101, by stacking health and intelligence rather than any other stat. As I was doing Hell a friend of my bf said I'd notice in Inferno that stacking health wasn't all that good for this type of class, because even with shitloads of health you'd be pretty much one shot if the mobs got a hold of you (which they do). The trick was to out run the big blows and survive the "smaller" ones. I say small, but obviously they're still massive. with health regen, armor and resistances however, you can mitigate them enough to live to see another rare mob. I didn't heed that advice then though, thinking that there was no way that a couple of hundred extra resistances could make up for tens of thousands of hp. Turns out, I was wrong.

After consulting further advice, all of them pretty much saying the same thing, I decided to give it a try. After all, it couldn't get much worse and worst case scenario I would've have wasted a lot of money. In the end I swapped about 20.000 dps to about 250 extra resistance in all schools, 800 hp/s and some more armor and dps. And I did notice a difference. Suddenly I could take a couple of hits of Mortar/Plagued/Arcane/all the other shit that kept killing me. And surviving more than two seconds meant I had a chance again. Seems everyone else was right.

Like many of you I had noticed just how powerful attack speed was pretty early on. I am guessing this is somehow related to how much you already have in dps, making attack speed more and more valuable the more dps you have, but this is just a guess. Seems like Blizzard thought it was a little bit too good, so when I logged on the other day I had a couple of thousand dps less than before. Twitter solved the mystery for me, and I didn't actually notice much of a difference, although I didn't particularly like it anyway. It kind of reminded me of the spell power nerf they did in BC, where most casters saw their spell power halfed over night, which caused a minor outrage. Until people noticed they were still performing about as well as before. Thinking of it now I can't really remember why they did that nerf.

I can see the point in nerfing, or lets say fine tuning, a stat. What I didn't enjoy however was the nerf to repair costs. I went from paying somewhere around 8k for red gear to a three double cost of around 25k. At first I didn't think much of it, because to be honest it seemed like the market would quickly be flooded with gold what with the amounts that were dropping. But then I noticed what a spiraling effect this had on everything else. suddenly, I didn't actually profit anything from a run, in fact after an encounter with an especially horrid elite mob I would lose more money from playing than I could regain. This turned out to be a real issue, because when I needed better gear to counter the increased difficulty, I found that I had no money to buy them with. Apparently I wasn't the only one with that problem, because my sales on the Auction House dropped significantly as well, eventhough I had the same level of prices. That in turn meant another drop in income since I didn't get my crap... er, awesome rares sold anymore.

I've found that the only way
to battle this is to go and farm old content. And we all know how much I love farming. Not. I agree that the overall money income from just playing was a bit high, but I can't help but thinking Blizzard went a little bit overboard with the repair costs. Or am I just being whiny?

I have been further experimenting with my skills since last time. I am pretty satisfied with Spirit Walk and Poison Darts, but I found I really missed not having Grasp of the Dead, with the extra slowing rune. As for cc I definitely prefer it over Wall of the Dead and even Horrify. The short cooldown is what does it, allowing me to run around kiting mobs a lot better than with the other two cooldowns. I really enjoy Hex as well, although since I am currently farming Butcher *sigh* I've chosen not to use it since it isn't very useful on bosses. People keep telling me to use Firebats with Direbats rune, and I can definitely see why people like it. I just think it is a bit too unprecise, and it drinks my mana like nothing. But most annoyingly, it doesn't really respond to cast the way I want it to, meaning I have to stand still and pause to get it to work. At the moment I am using Haunt and Spirit Barrage instead, two skills that are awesome when kiting.

As promised last time, we'll take a closer look at the passives this time around;

Circle of Life - I haven't found much use for this skill. As I mentioned in my previous post, the average life expectancy on a Zombie Dog is about 5 seconds. Having a low chance to summon something that probably won't be around long enough to do any good doesn't seem very interesting. I would think this skill is only interesting to people who go a pet handling spec, with skills like Sacrifice for instance.

Jungle Fortitude - A skill I currently use, because taking 20% less damage from everything is pretty nifty. I do occasionally swap this for other passives though, depending on my mood.

Spiritual Attunement - A must have for me currently, due to my mana issues. I constantly run out of mana and that is even with the mana regen rune on Spirit Walk. I definitely need to get more mana regen gear.

Gruesome Feast - This is a decent passive I think, if only it lasted for longer than 10 seconds. It might stack up to five times, but you rarely get the stack that high because health globes simply aren't that frequent, unless you happen to coop with a barbarian who has the extra health globe drop passive. Which I am not.

Bad Medicine - This is probably a really good skill when coupled with an aoe poison attack like Acid Rain, or perhaps to use on a boss coupled with Poison Darts for example. As changing skills removes my Nephalem buff, I tend to avoid boss-specific skills and have been trying to find a set of skills that works well both on bosses and running through dungeons, meaning I'm not using this passive at the moment.

Blood Ritual - This could probably be a pretty good solution, or at least help, to my mana issues. I have not dared to use this however, because my life is scarce enough as it is without me having to spend extra everytime I cast a spell. That would be extra horrible against Reflective Damage mobs.

Zombie Handler - Back when I was still using summons I found this quite useful. The usefulness of this passive drops about as fast as the usefulness of the summons, because even the extra health doesn't save them.

Pierce the Veil - A skill I am currently using, and of course a big of my mana issue. I find it is worth it though, because I can definitely use all and any extra damage I can find.

Fetish Sycophants - I've noticed a couple of builds that use this passive, but I find it more fun than useful. I definitely don't get a proc often enough for me to like this passive, and of course the rare times I do it's always when I don't really need it. I try to avoid passives that have more downtime than uptime.

Spirit Vessel - I used to use this, mostly for the proc which saved me countless of times. But then I realized it was probably a better idea to use passives that prevent me from even ending up in a situation where I could die, rather than one that saves me after the fact. Kind of like how I didn't like Spirit of Redemption in WoW because it was only useful when dying and dying is something you're supposed to avoid anyway.

Vision Quest - I haven't tried this yet, although it could possibly be very useful. At the moment I am not using as many as four skills that even have a cooldown, and I am not sure how this passive works with non-cooldown skills. Do you know?

Fierce Loyalty
- I have never used this skill either, because when I had my pets I didn't really have any life regen and now that I have life regen I don't have my pets. If I do get enough life regen even my pets might survive longer than a handful of seconds. What they really would need though are my resistances.

Grave Injustice
- A pretty good passive for farming, but basically useless on most bosses since only a few bosses have any amount of adds. 8 yards is a very short range however, and not one you want to be within as a WD anyway, so this really needs a lot of extra pick up range to be really useful.

Tribal Rites - The only cooldown I use out of the three is Hex, and I find the cooldown on that one is short enough already. Using a passive slot for that alone would be very wasteful.

Which ones are you using?

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