Blizzcon 2011 PvP Demo: The Wizard


Hot on the heels of his Demon Hunter write up, here’s The Eliminator’s take on the Clvl 60 Wizard in the Blizzcon Arena Demo.

This article covers the pros and cons of all six of the Wizard’s runed skills, plus general class strategy and play details, with appropriate links for more info in the Diablo Wiki. Here’s the start and the first skill, click through for the whole thing.


The Wizard


In the Blizzcon demo the Wizard really lived up to her theme. She was the glass cannon. She dished out the most damage but could also die in a blink. The wizard was my favorite class, mostly because it was the class with the most skills to use, thanks in part to DiabloWikiArchon. Each skill had its use and place in the build, and unlike with the Demon Hunter, I never questioned any of the assigned skills. At least not after I read what all the skills did with their rune effects.

There was a theme to the build and even though Arcane Torrent had its problems it was the key skill to melt another player down. Teleport comes in third (behind Smoke Screen) as far as escape skills go. Diamond Skin saved my bacon more the a few times, as did, Frost Nova. And, Magic Missile could do some nice damage after a target was disrupted. Even the Passives felt like good picks, with maybe the exception of Prodigy.


DiabloWikiDiamond Skin with Obsidian Runestone: “Crystal Shell”
At first I didn’t think 5 seconds was going to be long enough to make this skill useful, I also thought that the amount it absorbed was a ridiculously high number, boy was I wrong. When a Barb could deal out 6k with a crit the Diamond Skin would only last about 2 seconds. A lot of times 2 seconds is all you need to blasted down by someone or to get the hell out of there with Teleport. The 5 second duration made you have to think when to and when not to use it. Times when I saw a barb already in WotB form and he was leaping at me I wouldn’t hesitate to hit Diamond Skin, and it saved me many times.

The 25 second cooldown felt reasonable. If the Wizard had had the passive DiabloWikiEvocation (reduces all cooldowns by 20%) it would have been nice, but not a game changer.

On the aesthetics side, Diamond Skin the spell looks cool and at times it could be used as a deterrent. Some players would turn around and attack another target if they saw a Wizard with Diamond Skin on, since they knew they couldn’t kill me just then. It was a great skill and gave the Wizard the survivability she needed.


DiabloWikiTeleport with Alabaster Runestone: “Wormhole”

We all know what Teleport does, but thanks to the ambiguous wording of the Alabaster tool tip, players spent weeks debating the exact function of Wormhole.

DiabloWikiWormhole: After casting Teleport there is a 2.0 second delay before the cooldown begins.

Some thought this meant each Teleport reset the 2.0 second delay, so a Wizard could cast infinite Teleports as long as each new one was within 2 seconds of the last. (Arcane Power permitting.) Others felt that it meant the Wizard had 2.0 seconds to cast as many Teleports as possible, before teh 18s cooldown began. The latter were correct. After casting the spell you have 2 seconds to cast Teleport as many times as you want/can. From my experiences, that was about 4 times. Four times was more then enough to get you to the other side of the arena and then some.

Hands down, Teleport is still king of the movement skills. It was never more evident during the match when you wanted to get away from a group of opponents. You could Teleport twice to get out of sight, then turn left or right and lose almost any pursuer. Teleport wasn’t just for running away, either. It was also great to catch up to people so you could finish them off.

One thing I did a few times was to Teleport to a fleeing player, freeze them with Frost Nova, Teleport again (to get some distance in case things went south), then finish them with a few Magic Missiles before they thawed out. Teleport could also help line you up to get more then one player when you went into Archon form. So, although it wasn’t as powerful as some hoped, (with the Alabaster runestone) It still made the skill awesome. (Besides if it was the other way it would have been OP.)


DiabloWikiMagic Missile with Crimson Runestone: “Charged Blast”
We have seen it a million times in the beta, but we have never seen it with the Crimson Runestone. To tell you the truth I don’t think you would even know it had a rune in it. The spell effects look almost exactly the same. Crimson seems a little bigger and a little brighter, but that’s it. The rune doesn’t change the color to red or anything that would make it really stand out from the un-runed skill, even though it increases the damage considerably. The only way you would know is when you get hit by the bolts and see your health disappear a lot faster then normal. Something that this build is really good at.

Now, although Magic Missile does good damage when it became the face melter was when you paired it up with Arcane Torrent. Arcane Torrent had the rune that put a debuff on a hit enemy that caused that player to suffer a 100%+ more damage from any Arcane source. On top of Arcane Torrent there was the damage bonus from Frost Nova. So, If you attacked someone that had been hit with both Frost Nova and Arcane Torrent your Magic Missile would land for over 450% more damage then a normal unruned Magic Missile.

A normal hit with this skill did around 500 damage, and a crit was up around 1300. Big crits with everything going you could see 4-5k damage. Since the characters had around 10,000 hit points in the demo, It didn’t take long for something to die at that rate. Smart players would just run, and most did, but unfortunately for them the Wizard had Teleport. This build also had the passive skill “Prodigy” so every Magic Missile you cast gave you back 5 arcane power. This skill was proof that a level one skill could be useful even to a level 60 character.


DiabloWikiArcane Torrent with Crimson Runestone: “Disruption”

The skill description doesn’t really tell you how effective this skill is. It just tells you how much damage it does, and it reads nice, but its not all rainbows and unicorns. The Torrent throws Arcane bolts up in the air and then they fly towards the targeted enemy. In short, its not fast, but if your target isn’t running you will hit them.

When you hit an enemy they where Disrupted. Being disrupted puts a debuff that lasts about 10 seconds with the level 7 rune. When the debuff is active the target takes more then 100% more damage from any Arcane source. As I talked about with Magic Missile, this defuff was a big proponent to its success. Where it helped MM it also helped Arcane Torrent’s own damage.

Damage wise, this skill did about 350-750+ (the high number are crits) per hit. If the enemy didn’t move the skill would land about 3 hits per second. The skill could grow intoxicating to use, and most of the time in a bad way. I saw a lot of players using it over and over again, trying to bring down moving opponents. They’d have been better off switching to Magic Missile, after missing the first try.

Arcane Torrent is a great looking skill and with the runestone it is a good damage buff, but it wasn’t a very efficient skill. (The team might want to let this spell attack locations without line of site or give it a small amount of splash when it hits the ground to even out how slow it is.)


DiabloWikiFrost Nova with Crimson Runestone: “Bone Chill”
Frost Nova was most effective when used on Barbs and other Wizards, because they didn’t have a way to break the freeze. That said, most players with other classes didn’t know about the skills that broke the freeze effect anyway, so I never felt like Frost Nova was a waste to use. Not only was this skill excellent a crowd control, but with the Crimson rune for DiabloWikiBone Chill it more then doubled your damage taken by frozen targets. This gave the skill an offensive and defensive aspect.

With the skill’s dual function I found myself using it as as often as I could, in many different situations, even immediately after the cooldown ended. I would use Frost Nova on a single target, then hit them with Arcane Torrent, then melt them with a few Magic Missiles. Other times If I saw someone running to a health globe I could Teleport, Frost Nova, and steal the health globe before they got out of the Freeze effect. Frost Nova synergized very well with other skills.

The damage wasn’t huge, around 75 normally or up into the high 200s when it hit with a critical, but the damage was just the icing on the cake. I’m sure this will be a very popular skill in the full game.


DiabloWikiArchon with Crimson Runestone: “Improved Archon”

I saved the best (also the longest) for last. When you use the Archon skill your character explodes with energy and begins to float above the ground. Its a very cool looking skill. It disables the Wizard’s other normal skills while bringing in a whole new set of skills, all auto-allocated to the hotkeys.

When you activate the skill you lose the effects of Diamond Skin, and you may lose other buffs as well but I never noticed if they were gone. I found this out to my surprise when I tried to use Diamond Skin at about half health. I thought it would be a good time to go Archon, so I could take some extra damage as I wretched some fools. Well, the only fool that was wretched was me.

When you do go Archon your armor and resistances are increased, but it didn’t seem to help that much. There were two common reactions to a Wizard going Archon. Groups that played as a team would gang up on the Wizard and smash her down fast before she could deal her huge damage. Groups that were not organized would scatter. Groups that did neither dropped like flies.

The most popular skill in Archon form was the Beam. It worked just like a much more damaging Disintegrate, though it had a shorter range. I don’t know if the skill does critical hits, because I can’t remember ever seeing any when I used it. The beam did do a low of 900 to a high 1300 a second. That was without things being hit by Arcane Torrent or being Frozen by Frost Nova. If they had either debuff on them they died fast.

There were two other skills to use but to be honest they really didn’t do nearly as much as the Beam. One skill looked like Wave of Force but it didn’t seem to have any knock back nor did it have any slowing effects on enemies. It did do about around 900 damage. The Last skill was a melee ranged skill it seemed, I only used it once and don’t remember what it did. (it obviously wasn’t that good if I didn’t remember it) Most of the times players didn’t want to get anywhere near the Archon so those close range skills hardly ever got used.

It only took one encounter with an Archon to know you don’t want to mess with a healthy one solo. One that was at about half health would go down rather fast from a WoTB Barb and a few Hammers. An Archon Wizard really felt like a game changer, but they weren’t unbeatable if you dealt with them quickly, and since the Wizard does not have Teleport in Archon form, they could be avoided as well.


Passive Skills

DiabloWikiWizard passives.

DiabloWikiBlur: This one was helpful against Monks and Barbs

DiabloWikiProdigy: I never was low on Arcane Power so I am not sure if this passive was ever needed, With all the cooldown skills I think I would have taken DiabloWikiEvocation instead.

DiabloWikiTemporal Flux: With everything (save for Frost Nova) doing Arcane damage this was a good passive to have. The slow wasn’t great but it was better then some of the other classes movement impairing.


In Conclusion

The Wizard was a lot of fun to play as. The build made sense, and worked better then most of the other classes. She did damage but wasn’t totally out of control. She could be killed rather quickly if her skills were on cooldown. But, if she had Frost Nova or Teleport useable she could escape. There will be a lot of Wizards running around when the game comes out so beware.


Blizzcon 2011 PvP Arena: Hands-On Reports:

  • The Diablo Podcast #48: Forty minutes of Arena demo conversation with Wolfpaq and The Eliminator.
  • The Barbarian, by The Eliminator.
  • The Demon Hunter, by The Eliminator.
  • The Monk, by Adivirgi.
  • The Witch Doctor, by Adivirgi.
  • The Wizard, by The Eliminator.
  • Comments

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    1. “when used on Barbs and other Wizards, because they didn’t have a way to break the freeze”

      What do you mean? Doesn’t ignore pain and diamond skin break cc? Did they change that?

    2. Resistance to cold might make the freeze time go down, but the Barbarian has the passive Juggernaut which lessens impairment by 20% (which I assume effects Frost Nova. The barbarian might not have a lot of reduce impairment moves, but they have quite a few reduce damage by % both in skills and passives.
      The Wizard has quite a few armor spells and with the armor upgrade passive skill can also heal (which would be useful unless the hits are incredibly high). Familiar with Ancient Guardian is also useful if you’re stuck in an impaired state (but won’t lessen the time).In essence, the wizard has to anticipate the impairment attacks and retreat with teleport before the skill is used. Armor/diamond skin would only help against taking a beating while under that impaired state.
      Nice review though 🙂

    3. Wow that looks like a really good wizard build and I may have to change my anticipated builds to include frost nova now. Do you think arcane torrent would fare better versus single targets in PvE, for example, against uniques? It seems like a skill that you only use to power up magic missile, but it also powers up itself, so it could be a spammable skill against dumb monsters. For one thing you used the tactic of frost nova->arcane torrent to ensure it hits, so that should carry over well into PvE. 

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