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    It's tough up to live up to fan art.

    It’s tough to live up to fan art.

    We hosted some discussion/debate about the changes to the Wizard’s Tal Rasha’s set on both episodes of the podcast this week, and opinions, as they say, vary. Unlike some of the other set changes the debate about the updated version of Tal Rasha’s set isn’t about the item slots required, or the other gear it excludes… it’s all about the power of the set and the style of play required to unleash it.

    Most Wizard players seem to like the changes, or at least the huge damage potential of the set as it’s currently showing on the PTR, but opinions are far more mixed about the usability. Here’s Timesink offering a much more critical view of the set than did our podcast guests, with most of his disapproval focused on the extreme button-mashing control system.

    Diablo 3 Forum Watch: Tal Rasha’s Set Changes

    There are many issues but the main problem is simple to explain. The new Tal Rasha 6-piece bonus is to add a stack of a buff on the wizard for each elemental attack. The problem is the current implementation defines an attack as a button press. This means you gain a stack, for example, when you press your key to lay down a hydra and don’t gain anything when the hydra actually attacks.

    The effect of this on game play is severe and extremely negative. With a 4-stack you can do tremendous damage — meteors can hit for 5 billion. So the goal is to get to a 4-stack as quickly as possible. This means you want to cast 3 skills of different elements and you really don’t care if they do any damage or not. If you are truly trying to optimize you will pick skills like DiabloWikiExplosive Blast that don’t have a cast animation so you can mash keys and get the stack maxed as quickly as possible. You then have 3 seconds to spam a main attack skill before the stacks fall off and you have to start over again.

    It is hard to describe just how awkward this playstyle is but it’s immediately evident as soon as you try it. Remember how they changed the Monk set to not require spamming a mantra every three seconds? Well Tal forces you top spam four skills as fast as possible every 5 seconds or so. If the Monk set was changed do to complaints of finger fatigue than this version of Tal’s cannot go live. (If you read the PTR forums the few people who aren’t complaining about Tal’s suggest a macro keyboard is the only way to play it.)

    That’s an excerpt from his full-sized article of a forum post. Click through to read the whole thing, or check it out in our Wizard strategy forum.

    The full post:

    With the 2.2.0 patch on the PTR, Blizzard release an expanded and revamped version of the Tal Rasha set for wizards. I was excited to get a chance to play with the new mechanics. However, my excitement turned to frustration as soon as I found the new addition to the set (pants) and got to actually experience the new set bonuses in action. It left me with a lot of questions about the design decisions. With no one to answer these questions for me, I thought who better to answer these questions than myself?

    Q. Why are you so disappointed? What’s the major problems with the set?

    There are many issues but the main problem is simple to explain. The new Tal Rasha 6-piece bonus is to add a stack of a buff on the wizard for each elemental attack. The problem is the current implementation defines an attack as a button press. This means you gain a stack, for example, when you press your key to lay down a hydra and don’t gain anything when the hydra actually attacks.

    The effect of this on game play is severe and extremely negative. With a 4-stack you can do tremendous damage–meteors can hit for 5 billion. So the goal it to get to a 4-stack as quickly as possible. This means you want to cast 3 skills of different elements and you really don’t care if they do any damage or not. If you are truly trying to optimize you will pick skills like explosive blast that don’t have a cast animation so you can mash keys and get the stack maxed as quickly as possible. You then have 3 seconds to spam a main attack skill before the stacks falls off and you have to start over again.

    It is hard to describe just how awkward this playstyle but is immediately evident as soon as you try it. Remember how they changed the monk set to not require spamming a mantra every three seconds? Well Tal forces you top spam four skills as fast as possible every 5 seconds or so. If the monk set was changed do to complaints of finger fatigue than this version of Tal’s cannot go live. (If you read the PTR forums the few people who aren’t complaining about Tal’s suggest a macro keyboard is the only way to play it.)

    It also just feels wrong. Imagine if the new IK set for barbs increased the time spent in Wrath each time Ancients was cast instead of each time the ancients did damage. How dumb would you feel spamming new ancients every 5 seconds just to keep yourself in Wrath form? That’s essentially what Tal’s requires you to do. Hydra lasts 15 seconds but you spam it every 3 seconds or so every 4-stack cycle.

    Q. OK, that doesn’t sound great. Are there any other issues?

    There are many other issues but most of them are minor compared to the main proc-on-cast problem. However the tools that have been given to multi-element wizards are confusing to say the least.

    What procs the Tal 2-piece bonus (free meteors on elemental damage) is completely different from what procs the 6-piece bonus (stacks of a damage buff on cast) which is also different from what procs the Elemental Exposure passive. The 6-piece bonus lives on a 3-second cycle and the new elemental damage ring has a 5-second cycle. Nothing lines up and designing a good build is next to impossible.

    Q. I see. Anything else?

    One more issue worth mentioning. Since they went with a stack on cast approach, they excluded a huge number of skills from proc’ing a stack. So frost nova won’t get you a cold stack. Teleport (Calamity) will not get you an arcane stack. Lightning armor will not get you a lightning stack. Legendary item and gem effects that are elemental in nature will not gain you a stack. Familiars do not gain a stack–and if they did you would be recasting your familiar every 5 seconds or so.

    The Tal Rasha redesign has the potential to make people choose a huge number of rune and item choices that are normally never picked. But most are specifically excluded in the current implementation.

    Q. Why aren’t multi-element builds popular or viable right now?

    Typical competitive wizard builds focus on a single element. Let’s say you have an idea for a wizard build that uses meteor as its main attack with supporting damage from hydra. You plan is to stay away from dangerous things and nuke from a distance. On live, the only set to choose is Firebirds so you go with Meteor Shower and Mammoth Hydra. You also stack as much fire damage on gear as possible. However you quickly discover that nothing stays at distance. So you learn to kite and this is how the current FB style of play was born.

    What you really want to do is swap Frost Hydra for Mammoth. The idea is that the frost hydra would keep mobs at a distance while you nuke them with meteor. You even want to add some combination of Frostburn/Winter Flurry/Azurewrath/Magistrate so add more control to your frost hydra. The problem is that swapping Magefist to Frostburn, for example, is a huge drop in DPS on your meteors and you can’t afford to do that and stay viable in high level GRs.

    Q. What do you mean when you say you want to play a multi-element wizard?

    To me a multi-element wizard is one that uses skills and items effects from different elements and combines them in interesting ways to gain an advantage. It does not (necessarily) mean spamming 4 separate skills via keyboard mashing.

    Q. Can you give an example of some multi-element builds that you think should be viable?

    There are so many builds that should be viable but aren’t with the current implementation of Tals.

    Electrocute / Mammoth Hydra / Comet / Event Horizon is a good example of a ranged multi-element build. For melee-ranged builds there could be Explosive Blast (Flash) / Arcane Orbit / Frost Nova / Molten Impact–that would work well with a Wand of Woh. One of my favorite builds is based on Ray of Frost but is multi element: RoF (cold), Mammoth Hydra (fire), Arcanot (arcane), Lightning Armor (lightning). The source of lightning damage could also be the leg gem or a thunderfury.

    The real point is that none of these are currently supported. Either they use an armor or familiar or a leg gem effect or they use a channeling spell and the 3-second life of the Tal 6-piece bonus precludes the use of any channeling spells.

    Q. Do you have any suggestions on how things could be fixed?

    The main thing to fix is changing the 6-piece bonus to proc on damage instead of on cast. The value of the bonus might have to be adjusted of course and should be done so to make the set comparable to other wizard sets and other classes.

    I would actually prefer a modification to this. The Tal 6-piece bonus should apply a debuff on the target (not for party, exclusive to the casting wizard) instead of a buff on the wizard. This would be identical to how Elemental Exposure works. That way it is still proc on damage done and it makes sources of damage like a familiar a middle ground. An arcane familiar would put an arcane stack on the target but you have less control on what gets targeted. If you really want control, pick an active arcane skill and cast it yourself.

    This implementation would also make it very easy to unify what procs Tal’s meteors, Tal’s damage bonus, and Elemental Exposure.

    Q. Anything I can do to help?

    I’ve already portions of these problems and solutions to many threads in the official PTR forums including the consolidated new set feedback thread. If you play as wizard and have a chance to get on the PTR and test things for yourself, please leave your own feedback on the forums.

    –Timesink

    I haven’t tried this one out yet, but other players don’t seem to mind the controls so much… or are just blinded by the big damage numbers. Any of you Wizards agree or disagree with Timesink’s take?

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