One life to live #15: Cheating Death

In hardcore we get one life to live( clever huh?), and while some have argued for a lighter restrictions( Hardcore to softcore conversion), we are seeing perhaps our assumption of our life span is wrong in some of Diablo 3’s skills. Should we be able to cheat death in the mode that is meant to enforce it? Or should we flock to these skills to stave off frustration?

In the simplest terms Hardcore is one life and one death. Every action can lead to your death, so you plan accordingly and avoid it at all costs. What then of skills that can assuage these fears and change our understanding of Hardcore as we know it? The skills in question are the Monk’s lethal Decoy( runed with alabaster of course)  and the Witch Doctors Spirit Vessel. What effect will they have on our community and play style?

Spirit Vessel

This was pointed out last week by LoneDQ and one I didn’t consider writing about at first.  Spirit Vessel is the Witch Doctor’s passive skill that upon receiving fatal Damage you shift to the spirit realm and gain 10% of your max life back. The catch is of course a 90 second cool down, and you only have 10% of your life. Yes, you can run away but 10% isn’t quite 70%.In spirit walk you become unseen and invulnerable to enemies which may allow for time to escape. Does this lead to an un-killable Witch doctor? I don’t see the cheating death element here as much as with Lethal Decoy, However it does make  death no longer a one and done situation. So what of the other skill?

Lethal Decoy

When runed with an alabaster rune Lethal decoy now changes to: If you die while the decoy is alive, you are resurrected at the decoy’s location with 70% Life. The decoy no longer attracts enemies and the duration is increased to 9 seconds.

Now death is not a barrier to you playing in hardcore. You can pop up at your Decoy ‘s location and leave a precarious situation, or finish off what ever remained. What is the downside? 75 Spirit to cast? On my playthroughs with the monk I started out with 200 spirit, that means after dropping a decoy I still had 125 spirit left to heal myself , stun enemies and anything else I needed to do. Monk attacks also generate spirit, so after my decoy dropped I was on my way to building it back up. Having played with the decoy skills I tried dropping it as often as I could during the beta, At no point could I not have it up and run out of spirit.

The decoy while runed also has a 9 second cool down and won’t attract monsters to kill it. There is no cool down to worry about, and really no need to drop it unless you think your time is running out. So what will this do to Hardcore?

1. Ruin it by everyone only playing a Monk.

Will everyone flock to a Monk in hardcore because it’s easier? No, all the classes have strengths and weaknesses, to think people will only play something that has a slight situational advantage is preposterous. Will some be swayed to play a monk because of it? I’m sure there are those who will, but will you stick with something you don’t really care for because you might not lose it? If we allow our fear of losing our character to effect everything then we are not playing the game but getting played.

2. Ruin it by everyone getting a resurrection skill.

Could we see an uproar for this in all classes? In looking at the skills a few months ago, I looked at the monk’s first and assumed all classes would have something like this. I am glad I was wrong. What the monk has is special and sets the class apart. If each class had a skill like this I would be much more pessimistic about the hardcore game.

3. Ruin it with questions over whether the decoy absorbs the monks soul and comes to life or if  the monk never had a soul and the decoy is simply waiting to steal the monk’s possessions and identity.

Probably not going to happen, but with considering.

4. Nothing.

To be honest I don’t think Hardcore will break with this situation. Monks won’t run rampant. Barbarians, Wizards and Demon Hunters will still exist and be played in Hardcore. It does create an interesting quandary. I can’t imagine many hardcore monks not taking this skill, but what will everyone think of those hardcore monks? As someone who enjoys the monk’s play style I’d hate to be labeled as an easy-moder because of my choice. Having had no experience with runes, and not seeing this skill in full effect yet I doubt it could be as powerful as we fathom. Monks will still die, they just might have to die a few times for it to stick.

When Diablo 3 came out I was excited for Hardcore( duh) but I would have never thought of skills that would bring us back to life. With the banner system, checkpoints and very minimal death penalty why do we need these skills in normal mode in the first place? I’m not quite sure why they would be useful outside of hardcore. However they are a reality and we have to deal with it. Diablo 3 is continually changing the definition of hardcore, the essence is still there, but it is a new beast.

So what do you guys think of these skills? I wonder what those who thought corpse looting was cheating would have to say about this. Let me know in the comments or drop me a line.

Next week: Hardcore vs Softcore: can we get along?

One Live to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.

Tagged As: | Categories: Diabloii.Net Columns, Hardcore


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  1. These skills are cool to me because generally they aren’t particularly strong offensive skills so it’s worth debating to swap some support skills for a character with less offensive options.

    They’re not cheap, they are adding more depth to your character’s repertoire.

  2. It’s not that bad. It’s like a teleport with a  heal combined, except instead of just teleporting, you have to die.

  3. With the new patch 6, decoy only lasts 1 second which nerfs alabaster decoy pretty significant. Looks good to me though.

    • Not really as alabaster rune increased the time decoy lasts. Though TBH we need to get the updated info on it anyway, the blizzard calc still got the old skill version on it.

  4. I don’t like those skills that let you cheat death. Same goes for Templars guardian skill and Enchantress mass hex skill, they have no place in HC imo. When things get dangerous your merc jumps in and saves the day, oh and those skills are on a 30 sec cd, sounds to me like dying in HC solo play is going to be a challenge for any class.

    • I’m fine with Blizzard adding cheat death spells on cooldown.
      In Diablo 2 it was much easier, we had the greatest death saver of all time and everyone abused it without remorse; Save and Exit.

      It’s no longer here though! There’s going to be plenty of death now.

  5. Didn’t they just completely change Lethal Decoy in the new patch? I think it said it only lasts for one second now, and it spawns right on top of you. Damn developers keep changing the game on you 😉

  6. Alabaster rune changes the duration of decoy to 9 secs so I don’t think that has changed.

  7. I’m assuming the duration increase of Alabaster has stayed, but that it is based on the base skill’s duration, meaning it has decreased from 9 seconds to 6 seconds w/ level 5 runestone.

    Now, my opinion on this:

    It feels more like a risky version of a healing skill to me. The difference is, a healing skill can be used while you are in safe HP territory, while this skill requires you to get down low enough to take a lethal hit before usage. With the new change that the decoy is created at your feet, if you are too ambitious on getting enough hits before the timer runs out to take advantage of the skill, you’ll respawn surrounded by enemies. Casting away from enemies and then running forward takes away from the few seconds you have to get a lethal hit – miss them and you’re likely to still take that hit and die.

    And if you’re considering never using the skill, only having it for just in case, consider that instead choosing a skill you will use regularly, whether offensive or defensive, will enhance your survivability. Also consider that if you’ve never used the skill before, you’re more likely to make a dumb mistake casting too early or too late, even with a 6-second window.

    Considering most hardcore players I know would use a potion at 90% health just to be safe,  the risk is not worth it in my eyes. But overpowered? If you’re willing to take the risk, enjoy the reward.

    • Amen. If you have another, better skill in your arsenal, you might never need to use a “get out of jail free” card. We’ll see how it plays out, but I wouldn’t worry too much.

  8. Im not too sure bout harcore, but wouldnt the arena being swarmed by monks as well? kinda hard to kill a monk that keeps resurrecting.

  9. Two things.
    1. The Witch Doctor also has Spirit Walk, which if he pops it right after Spirit Vessel pops, that is an added three to SEVEN seconds to being untouchable.(plus added heal per second?)
    2. The pets. If they do not die when Spirit Vessel pops, then the Witch Doctor will have meat shields to take the heat off of himself. And if they do die, he could just summon more.

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