One life to live #32: Hardcore Wizards

Squishy but comfortable. No I’m not describing crocs ( horrible things) but the Wizard In Hardcore.  It is fitting that you find a passive called DiabloWikiGlass cannon but while it may be fragile it packs a lot of power.

To shake things up I did something I normally wouldn’t do and made a female character. One could argue that with the wizard it didn’t matter but I’m not going to go there. It was actually kind of nice to play the class the way it was presented originally. Diablo 2 was nice in that it forced you to accept the gender they decided and by association forced you out of you comfort zone. Prior to D2 I don’t think I Had used a character outside of a Male one and Diablo 2 forced me to do that.

My female wizard began like all my other characters kill zombies, gain levels and boom dead on my way to save Cain. I was a little over zealous in rounding up packs in Cathedral One and found my self surrounded with a wall on one side and monsters on all others. Try as I may I didn’t have the firepower to make a hole through the wall of monsters and escape, and certainly couldn’t kill them in time.

Situational awareness is going to be huge in D3. I can’t think of too many times in D2 where the environment itself  could lead to your death. Sure the maggot lair had tight corners, and Durance of hate could pose some problems with fetishes but for the most part the environment was open. D2 was also light by comparison in the number of monsters you will see both on screen and swarming you. Combine those two and you have a nice recipe for death.

Okay tangent aside, I recreated my Wizard and set about avoiding the large packs and walls. As a ranged character I found again some safety in the distance I was able to keep, however when they did get close I was very aware of my squishiness. I needed to be on the move and utilizing the skills I had to to keep them at bay. After my first death It was smooth sailing on calm seas and I grew to enjoy a class I once only feigned interest in.I enjoyed being able to freeze large packs of monsters and hurl magic at them, and something as simple as DiabloWikiray of frost could give me a lot of enjoyment. DiabloWikiDiamond skin as well as DiabloWikiwave of force were cool to see in action and I expect Diamond skin’s usefulness to rise in the later difficulties. The wizard will be a glass cannon, which has me still hesitant in Hardcore, however this play through has me mulling it over as a possibility for my first character.

What are your thoughts? Wizard first of has something else caught your attention for release night?

Next week: The Monk

One Life 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.


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  1. At beta levels, I find the Wizard the most boring out of the five classes, so no Wizard for me as first class. The WD and the Barb is the most enjoyable for me, I’ll choose one of them. Probably Barb for SC and WD for HC, I’m a wuss like that. 🙂

  2. I guess if you wrote these articles and they all ended in “I didn’t die once”, it wouldn’t sound very interesting. You must be trying really hard to kill yourself in the beta. It takes an epic level of terribad playing.

  3. It sounds like you found the demon hunter to be a less squishy character than the wizard for hardcore?  I havent played the beta, but Im just curious why that is?  It sounds like they both attack from range, but the wizard has in addition a lot more defensive spells, like diamond skin, energy armor, etc..

    • It’s likely a psychological difference.  The Wizard fires persistent beams, which gives more of a physical sense of contact and ease of switching targets.  The overall dps is the same though, so while the DH has a powerful focused pulse, the Wizard needs time to get damage up across all the enemies you’re hitting.
      Due to the difference in feeling of the spells, the wizard falsely makes you feel more comfortable in getting close and then spinning and blasting with cold.  Clearly, it’s easy to get in over your head this way.  Once teleport and the runed mirror abilities come into play, it will likely be more of a similar ranged perception to the DH.  (Not to say a similar experience, but a similar regard for the nature of the survivable playstyle).

  4. I’m surprised when I read your articles that you die so often, Xanth! As a “seasoned” hardcore player, I can only assume you are playing the beta recklessly in order simulate a harder difficulty…?

    • my approach while playing is a bit hectic. As it is beta i’m not as concerned with losing a character here and there as I am with discovering what could be my undoing later on. I would rather learn what I can now about pitfalls then have to have those lessons be learned with a character with more time invested in them. So i spend a lot of time trying to find the breaking point of characters, what they can handle and by association what they can’t.

      • I think I just got my ass Yoda’d with all that valuable knowledge.  That sounds sarcastic, but I intend it sincerely. That is a good approach to the beta, especially on a hardcore mindset.

  5. Played a HC Wizard in beta and I think it lacks excitement compared to the other classes. It is missing something..

  6. It sounds like someone is coming out of the closet.

  7. To shake things up I did something I normally wouldn’t do and made a female character. One could argue that with the wizard it didn’t matter but I’m not going to go there.
    I LOLed.  Will definitely make a female wizard despite being male myself.  I liked playing characters of both genders in D2 also.  And that phony little poser male wizard is not happening.


  8. I’ve been using a Wizard for hardcore naked runs (level 7 so far, stopped for some grinding in the Weeping Hallow) and it’s quite enjoyable. Diamond Skin is extremely useful at this level, effectively doubling my hit points for a few seconds. Arcane Power is tricky…it’s been necessary to keep a signature skill on my bar even though I’d rather use all secondary skills.

  9. I feel like your posts on the Barb and DH were longer/more in depth.  Can you elaborate more on your overall impressions of the Wizard and what you liked/didin’t like?  I found your commentary on disliking the DH to be very interesting for example.  Is the Wizard going to feel easier than the Barb because it is ranged (like the DH seemed easier)?  Is it more glass cannon than the DH, and thus riskier and more fun?  Do tell!  Thanks.

    • Jean,
      I think the wizard will do fine in Hardcore since range is a great advantage. The Wizard is not as easy in my opinion as the DH due to the skills being somewhat lackluster in the beta. The awesome ones drain your arcane power quickly and the less then stellar ones you don’t use. Once the full character is opened up there should be a nice balance between those. Being able to freeze and push back my enemies was a nice skill to have. What I wished for was an escape skill earlier on. The wizard has no chance if it is swarmed by a pack is low on AP and needs to get out. Teleport won’t make an appearance until 22 so you will need to tread lightly until then

  10. Wizard is my least favorite class in the beta. I don’t think they’re a bad class, I just think they chose all the worst abilities to give you in the beta. Shock pulse is annoying to use, magic missile is okay, arcane orb is okay…they just don’t have the power of the other classes. Frost nova and diamond armor are great, but nova’s cooldown makes it far less useful than, for example, demon hunter’s entangling shot. The wizard just feels very weak, and I didn’t find it very fun. Hopefully I will enjoy the class when I play it past level 13, I’m sure I will especially with the rune options, but I certainly won’t be playing on as my primary, secondary or even tertiary character.

    • Perhaps this could be intentional?  Wizards in most fantasy settings are weak when young but later with more training become true powerhouses….or Blizz just f’d it up on early skill layout.

  11. Ugh, those damn fetishes in D2. I remember having to Esc/save+quit just to save my character at one point after getting surrounded and pinned against a wall.

  12. The maggot lair was a ****ing disaster. 

  13. rush softcore and 
    Hardcore for LIFE!

  14. I doubt I’ll play hardcore much if at all, but I have decided on the wizard as a first character, even though the level grind may be boring. I don’t know if xanth was able to get evocation at level 13 but that should help make the wizard’s frost nova and diamond skin more fun by reducing the cooldown.

    Even though the level grind may be boring, I can suffer it since I think the level 60 potential for the class is good. I also like the other ranged classes, and the barbarian, but I’m determined on the wizard partly due to nostalgia and flavour reasons, not just the gameplay.  

  15. I’m thinking I want to start with a Monk. Which is why I can’t wait to see the results of next week’s run.

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