Blue on Witch Doctor Changes


Higher difficulties in Diablo III punish player diversity. There simply isn’t any leg room for viability. One of the most apparent results of this is the absence of certain builds for the Witch Doctor. In Inferno, the Witch Doctor is reduced to nearly half of what the hero archetype suggests. Pets simply die instantly, forcing the voodooin’ fiends into kite builds that becomes dull and repetitive.

In an upcoming patch (no details on a when), Blizzard is looking at addressing the problems Witch Doctors face when fighting in the higher difficulties with pets.

While the intent is for witch doctors to re-summon DiabloWikiZombie Dogs and DiabloWikiGargantuan fairly often, we agree that pets aren’t living long enough in higher difficulty levels. Of course, the harder difficulties are supposed to be more challenging, but we don’t think it’s fun gameplay to cast Zombie Dogs, watch them die almost instantly, wait for the cooldown to reset, re-cast Zombie Dogs, watch them die almost instantly…etc. And this is happening even when players are wearing pretty reasonable gear.

We’re looking into ways to improve witch doctor pet survivability at later levels, but we don’t have any clear plans to share just yet. One thing we’re considering, though, is having pets scale with your DiabloWikiVitality (which they currently do not do).

The way Inferno is tuned currently, I don’t think the potential fix DiabloWikiLylirra posits would work. Not because the theory isn’t sound on paper, but because it would force vitality builds to stay alive. The sheer amount of damage enemies do currently would imply that they would have to create a fine balance between damage output and ability to tank. Pets, in essence, would continue to be meat shields (as they are now). The light at the end of the tunnel, though, is the tuning of DiabloWikiInferno to better meet the expectations of end game players.

Is this something Witch Doctors enjoy? Do you think this would fix the problem at hand? It feels odd to me that being a summoning-focused hero still must focus on direct damage spells rather than that of their summoned companions.

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  1. uhm, isn’t vitality something everyone has to stack no matter what?  Sure you can sacrifice some life for DPS, but that is the tradeoff you make when doing that.   Seems like a fair solution to me.

    Oh, and I’d like to respond to that blue…I stopped using zombie dogs in act 2 of normal because they die too fast. So to hell with them not being good in later difficulties. They aren’t good period.

    The Gargantuan survives normal just fine tho. Haven’t gotten past normal act 3 with that char tho.

    • I care not about vitality in Inferno as a DH. Nor do Wizards. It’s nice padding, and more is cool and all. However, when you’re pumping out more than 150k DPS that spans across the screen, you really don’t care.

      Monks, Barbs, and now Witch Doctors will be much more heavily depenent on it. Since Monks and Barbs are still having much more trouble than any ranged class, it doesn’t bode well based on current tuning.

    • I found zombie dogs useful through mid-hell. Sure, they die, but then you resummon them. And, situationally, you sacrifice them… sacrifice is a GREAT spell, because each dog is right by a target when you explode it, which means you have a lot of damage exactly where you need it. Never did get the “can’t use them because sometimes they die” idea… I guess people get sentimental because they’re dogs, but I am more of a cat person so blowing em up does not bother me 😉
       
      I’d be OK with stacking vit as a secondary after int to keep my dogs alive longer… ok for WD to be hybrid between ranged and melee IMO.
       
       

    • The vitality thing isn’t going to pan out. A warrior or monk with good amounts of vitality can fall from a few elite hits with potions and self heals. The damage spikes are too much. If they can’t distract an elite pack for a reasonable amount of time, they simply aren’t worth having as they are, much like CC, unnecessary for trash mobs. 

      Preferably, they should just combine sacrifice into the dog skill (maybe as a replacement for fire dogs rune) either the way GW2 does it by changing to a secondary skill activation, or by just having the dogs explode on death like several mobs do. Additionally, adjust the cool down so that it’s more of an attack skill rather than a very poor defensive skill. I hate to use two skill slots for one sixty second cool down effect. 

      Another possibility would be to fix a useless rune by reversing the effect to have 50% of witch doctor damage heal the dogs. I would hate to see this as a fix because it just leaves only one viable rune option for them.    

  2. I’m quite surprised they didn’t already scale with the witch doctor’s health. The wizard’s mirror images do, and they serve a similar purpose.

  3. that’s really disappointing about the pets, one of the things i didn’t like about d2 is how easily most minions and hirleings died, to the point of being useless.

    Sad to see similar things happening with WD, although I will admit the hireleings surived quite nicely through my solo Normal play. 

  4. Does it seem like the devs of blizzard have no idea what they are doing?
     

    • Past normal, no not really. Nightmare was fine, hell was a challenge, but they seemingly dropped the ball on what they had planned for the late game.

    • It certainly seems that way to me when you look at the fact that at 60, gear can be the difference between doing 10k damage and 100k damage (a 1000% increase in dps) or the difference between a single hit killing you vs only taking 1/10 of your HP (1000% increase in survivability), yet they didn’t think minions should scale with your gear?

      It’s brain melting-ly absurd.

  5. Here I thought they scaled with armor.   I’ve been using my pets and I’m in Act 2 of Hell.  I’ve about given up though as the article states.  It’s a lot of struggle and not a lot of fun, with some exceptions.  I dont understand why they couldn’t scale with vit, it seems like a good compromise as currently I’m watching my vit & dps as it is.  

  6. There’s a reason the Zombie Dogs are categorized as “Defensive”. You’re supposed to use them as temporary distractors while you do the damage or while you try to get the heck out of dodge, and a good way to find out if a group coming at you does a lot of damage.  They’re not supposed to be permanent meat shields.

    Yes, they’re not useful enough in later Nightmare and beyond, but in the earlier modes they serve the purpose quite nicely.

  7. I think this is not going to help in the long run.  The animals will simply die in 1.5 seconds instead 1 second.  The animals need a built in thorns or something.  The fact is (and the is not a complaint troll) Inferno is just wicked hard and as it stands most players need to think outside the box to build a “viable” char.  I’m glad they posted this as I am planning to re-roll tonight with a WD.  I probably still will do it because he/she won’t be in inferno for a long time.  This one is just for fun for now.

  8. So having pets die in just a few shots is a problem, but having players die in 1-2 hits is just fine then? God blizzard failed with this game.

    • Players are smart enough to dodge those hits…  well, some of us, anyway.

      • Yeah, its a real blast playing a melee class and having to kite every single champion pack.

        • Players that picked barbarians or monks did not do so to be forced to kite end game. That is not the game play they were expecting and that is a shame.  

  9. Don’t other classes face a similar issue WRT being forced into a certain build/playstyle? 

    I’ll admit, I’ve only played the wizard for any length of time, but every wizard is using the same skills/strategy.  Everyone kites, everyone uses Magic weapon (and/or familiar), everyone uses venom hydra, and everyone uses either blizzard or arcane orb (with snare passive), almost everyone uses force armor as well. There very little room for variation.

    It just seems like this might be a problem for all classes – build diversity is viable at lower levels, but in inferno we’re pigeonholed, and half the skills are essentially worthless.

  10. State of the WD seems pretty bad. I stopped playing mine after doing Inferno Act 1 for a long time. They have several problems, but all basically lead to a limited selection of viable skills:

    Mana is horrible. More than any class, Witch Doctors rely on mana regen from their items to make certain skills viable. If you pick a skill that costs over 100 mana, you can only cast it a few time before being completely out of mana, and mana regen is incredibly slow. The only way we can generate mana is by blowing a skill that is useful for other reasons: spirit walk (needed to save your life), horrify (possibly needed to save your life), big bad voodoo, etc. The other option is vision quest, which is just as bad if not worse. Using vision quest, you can’t save spirit walk for when you need to save your life. If it were 3 skills on cooldown, it could work, but devoting 4 skills to being on cooldown is far too restrictive. As far as I’m concerned, there are only 2 viable setups: \free mana\ – poison dart and firebomb, or vision quest and something hard-hitting like zombie bears.

    Many skills don’t offer anything worthwhile over others. Zombie charger is almost entirely worse than dire bats in every variety except zombie bears, acid cloud doesn’t do enough damage to justify use over firebomb. Many spells are too short range to be useful given the witch doctors almost complete inability to reduce incoming damage. Jungle fortitude is 20% reduction, and spirit walk is amazing but for emergency use only, so if we are in melee range we are going to get destroyed, but how else are we to use frogs, zombie charge, locust swarm, etc.

    Pets were very helpful in earlier difficulties, but they are pretty worthless in inferno. Even the bulkiest, strongest pet (enraged gargantuan) can die in 3 seconds vs some packs of champions and rares, and sometimes can even die fast to normal monsters. Dogs are a joke and completely worthless. The only pets that are honestly worth a damn are the fetishes, especially from fetish sycophants, because they last 60 seconds and come out constantly rather than a horde for 20 seconds. They die fast, but at least they are a constant factor, rather than a 60 second cooldown that dies in 5 seconds. Without reliable pets, we’re forced to use slows (which are almost worthless vs champs and rares) and other CC. I honestly can’t solo inferno without waiting a minute between every pack, or kiting for a minute, and if anything runs faster than me I can’t kill it. I can play in groups and blow big bad voodoo and do decent damage, but I can’t solo at all.

    I’m just going to play Barb and DH.

    • my feelings exactly 

      got my hardcore WD to the end of NM, lvl 50,
      died and that was it for me

      having to wait 60 seconds is ridiculous

      I’m also changed to leveling a barb and DH 

  11. I stopped playing my WD in part due to this problem.  I think the obvious scaling with vitality is a good start.  I can’t believe Blizzard could be so stupid to think that not scaling them with vitality was a good idea.  This is the first thing you do when implementing pet scaling.

    However, I don’t think it’s entirely a fault of their scaling though.  There are general scaling issues with Hell and Inferno difficulty that need to be fixed to make it more open to all class builds.  Everyone is being pigeon-holed, not just WDs.  That needs to be fixed before we can really say what else needs done with the pets.

    I think it should be perfectly reasonable for a player to keep his minions alive at least until the cooldown has ended if he is building his character around them.  If not, then it is fair for them to die early.  I don’t want to invest my three passives, let alone the two skill slots themselves, towards my minions if I can only have them active for a fraction of the time.  

  12. I think it would be better if they scaled with a player’s generic attribute score, or some general measure of player power.  The whole point of having meat shields is so that you can focus on DPS (for instance) and *less* on vitality.

    • This is partly why I feel that vitality scaling isn’t enough.  I don’t feel that they should entirely substitute though so I think it is still appropriate since it isn’t realistic to balance any class to play with virtually no vitality.

  13. Problem with WD is they are given huge manacost and CD to compensate they have some tanks.  With pets being unavailiable they are left gimped.  A Demon hunter at lvl 8 can do everything a kiting lvl 60 WD can do but only better. 

  14. My take on making summons more useful. But I wrote that thinking of at least some stats scaling onto pets, with vitality for life, strength for armor and intelligence for resistances beeing obvious choices: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5638004302?page=1#0
     
    (Just posting the link here, as it’s quite a read. In the end just a few ideas posted on the forums already, just pulled together and worked out a bit. If you like ’em, please give it a little push for better chances of official comments… – And yeah. I know that’s more expansion material than patch material I’ve delievered here…)
     
    Alexis of Silverfang

  15. Time to beat imba with imba. Give an invicible minions rune to the dogs to make up for invincible minions affix on bosses :P.

  16. LoL awesome. Buffing the WD even moar. What about Monks and Barbs, Blizzard?

    • Zombie dogs are broken they cant do any of there jobs they are ment to do at all. Look defensive power forget it the mobs only have to sneeze on them to kill them, offensive forgot it they do no damage.

  17. Like others, I am surprised they do not scale with vitality.

  18. How about a “pet interface” for WD, kinda like the Follower UI, where you can give them 2 rings and an amulet (all your pets would use the same 3 items), then they wouldnt have to scale with your stats, you would simply be able to give them their own stats – and you would have the choice of making them do more dps or have better survivability; depending on your preferences.
    And no, it wouldnt make any logical sense why you could give them rings and amulets, but does that really matter? (Much better than having specific pet items as drops that would annoy all other classes)

    • I don’t like that for one, and one reason only: It would be too much a nod to the Torchlight-/Fate-games. This (and beeing able to fish) is one of the unique features that sets these series of arpg apart from the rest.

  19. If blizzard removes cooldown from pets and buff their hp, the problem could be fixed.

  20. I continue to use the gargantuan in Hell act IV, he does die somewhat often but coupled with Templar it works, now for public games its another matter, but there is more meat to pound on that then my hide. I honestly too thought pets scaled from Vit or at least in some fashion took advantage of it.
    I’d have to see how scaling from Vit works first but their is room at least on the Gargant’s runes to perhaps adjust or redo one to be more…Meaty… perhaps allow full scaling for his health from player Vit for one, at cost of damage perhaps? I’d rather he sit their and take it or better yet a freaking taunt to go with that. What I would give for a meat shield that will last at least 15 seconds and can keep shit on him and off me xD
     
    Zombie dogs….well setting up a Sacrifice build is loads of fun, get the right passives and ZD runes you can literally have a string of 5-10 dogs continuously blow up. I never pegged them as later difficulty meat shields, they worked great in Normal but I was certain Gargant was for that and the dogs were more dps oriented so it doesn’t bother me they die often I kinda felt that’s how it was going to be on them.

  21. Wll of zombies is better than dogs ever were. The gargantuan never dies in any reasonable situation. Drop dogs, get wall. And your WD life will be a 100x better.

  22. The point is that good WD in Inferno act 2 and further doesnt focus on vitality… so pets will suck.

  23. Intelligence, Strength and Dexterity all already boost pet survival. Adding vitality scaling just gives some parity to the attributes.

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