One life to live #35: Ting tang walla walla bing bang!

I recall vividly staring at the character selection screen in D2 agonizing over what to choose. In a few weeks we’ll all have that same feeling again. Ultimately, I chose a Necro after begin swayed my the vast minions he controlled. D3 won’t have a Necro but it has something close the DiabloWikiWitch Doctor. I was not blown away by the class reveal back in 2008 but over time it grew on me and after playing it, I find I may be steered down the same path I found myself on in D2.


From the Beta perspective the Witch Doctor is a beast. Unlike the Necro the minions (aside from zombie dogs) aren’t permanent so each pet you choose to cast requires thought and active participation on your part. You fling spiders, shoot bats and call forth zombie hands to do your bidding. What really caught me was how fun the juggling of it all was. I would come up to a pack and have to think about how I would dispose of them using what I had. There were times I could just spam DiabloWikiPoison Dart but I found it to be much more fun to hurl things across the screen to do my dirty work.

Where the WD ramps up the most is with DiabloWikiSoul Harvest. At no point was it difficult to keep up a full charge on this buff and as a result the damage I was doing was ridiculous. I probably spent the better part of an hour just using Soul Harvest and DiabloWiki Firebats runed to Direbats. It was cool to see the large bat rush through and kill almost everything in it’s wake. Even without Soul Harvest I was able to kill things quickly but once I got the skill I couldn’t find a reason not to use it.

The one downside I noticed was the Zombie dogs. They don’t do too much damage anymore and in a boss fight aren’t much use since they are killed right away.   With skill slots at a premium I feel like Zombie dogs might not make the cut except they are good at one thing. For the large part they are able to run in and distract those large packs. That gives you time and space to unload on them.  As of right not I’m not sold on the long term use of Zombie dogs but the meat shield factor will make me keep them.

Most of the Beta with the WD was played with ease. Each WD I’ve brought up to level cap has never died but also never failed to make me have fun. Whether it was the the sight of the giant bat leveling hordes of zombies, or the sound of the blowgun shooting multiple projectiles, I was enjoying myself. One of the things that bored me with the Necro in D2 was the waiting factor. I was always waiting for my minions to show up, or to kill something. With the WD I am in charge and things flow at the pace I want.

As for the Hardcore factor, I can’t really see a downside for this class in Hardcore. I never really had a point where I was close to dying or being overwhelmed and the skills helped keep things interesting. Being able to summon three companions to take the attention off you helps immensely  and if things are really looking grim you can always DiabloWikisacrifice them.  Soul Harvest gives an awesome boost and helps cut down the monsters you might normally struggle with. The Witch Doctor also benefits from being a ranged character. Range is the greatest advantage right now that i’ve found. I’m expecting some server lag in the first few day( or weeks) of D3 and would hate to lose my shiny new barb in the middle of the pack while the ranged characters on the outside make it out alive.

So that’s it the last class to talk about before release. Each has some pro’s and cons for Hardcore, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a preference.At the moment I’m down to Monk, WD and Barb with no idea which to pick. What class will you be taking with your  one life and why? Feel free to post your thoughts and opinions as to what I should choose as well!

Next week: What comes next.

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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17 thoughts on “One life to live #35: Ting tang walla walla bing bang!

  1. You mentioned Soul Harvest some times, which make me think if this skill is going to be a must have. Leading WD to a cookie cutter. I think that skill should be removed, or nerfed. I’m going to play WD, but I don’t want to be forced to use a skill in order to keep up my damage with the other people in the party. Soul Harvest should decrease your armor for a couple of seconds as a drawback. That would make people to consider if it is worth using or not.

    • Although I agree with Xandor about skills being musthave , I don’t want that , but also we still don’t know how all the other skills will function and how the runes will affect them , all these conclusions are from Beta and things in Retail are different.
      So for now , It is fine , I am sure blizzard will nerf things along the way and buff some abilities , specially if Zombie dogs remain useless even with Runes , they will get some kind of health buff or something.

    • I’d rather Blizz focus on making every skill viable than nerfing that skill. You already have to use it in the middle of a pack to get the max bonus, and that is not where you want to ever be as a WD. It’s also an annoying buff skill IMO, I don’t use it because I hate having to remember to run into the center of a pack every 30 seconds to keep it up. I imagine when damage scales up for harder difficulties it will be impossible to use without also popping fear or spirit walk right after… and I hate being forced to use two slot combos.

      The dogs are pathetic. Even with 20% less damage coming from passive buff all three die in one whirl of the SK. Besides that, their damage is pitiful, sacrifice does too little damage considering the cool downs involved (it’s only good burst damage, which would be nice for pvp… that doesn’t exist yet) and taking up two skill slots for the benefit. I find their radius of aggro annoying during beta, it seems to be greater than the mob’s own aggro radius, so they often pull in packs I may not want to mess with (especially when we start hitting later difficulties). 

      To sum things up, because of the damage increases I anticipate in inferno and the annoying habit of doggies wandering into packs I haven’t aggroed yet, I see both skills as risky end game (especially for hardcore). I’m hoping for better use out of wall of zombies and grasp of the dead, but I’ve been unimpressed by the slowing effect of the later (it just doesn’t seem like mobs are slowed by what is stated, runed or not). 

    • @ Xandor
      There is a down side to Soul Harvest.  You have to be right on top of a group of 5 enemies to get the full buff effect.  Something that wasn’t that safe when I was doing naked runs.  It will be risky in later difficulties one would think.

      @ Bacchael
      You can make Sacrifice more of a factor if you have the passive “Circle of Life” and have some gear that increases your gold pickup radius. I found myself getting zombie dogs at a good clip. Later take the passive “Zombie Handler” that gives you 4 dogs and a 20% increase in their life. Then take “Next of Kin” rune effect and have a 35% chance to get another dog back after the Sacrifice.

      All that would mean you have a 35% chance to get one from blowing them up and a 5% chance for each monster that dies from the explosion. As long as you sacrifice the dogs on groups you will have a good chance of getting a few come back.

  2. I am leaning strongly towards Barb, but I really want to play all of them! If only I didn’t need to sleep….HMMM…

  3. I had convinced myself, after much knashing around, to start with Witch Doctor. I’m now in the Monk camp atm. The reason for the switch? Soul Harvest is just too good. I enjoyed using the skill at first, I mean who wouldn’t? It’s just amazing what Soul Harvest and a big bat can do! Also, I like to be up close and personal no matter which hero I play. Soul Harvests animation and buff icon looks nifty. The odds of it being nerfed are quite great, but it makes me think they needed to add that damage for the WD to keep it on par with other classes? It doesn’t look like any more patches will be forthcoming so I can’t see myself starting with a class with a built in must have skill. The “cheater” in me thinks maybe I should still go with the fun class BEFORE they nerf it to get me up to level the first few days of play. Once you’ve got that buff, nothing in Beta can come close the dps that it offers. But my pride keeps me from actually doing it.

    But as others have said, I just can’t get on board with a class that has a mandatory skill no matter how awesome it is. It does feel a bit like cheating.

    I lament they seem to keep nerfing monk when I think he needs a buff, but that’s another issue. So, I’m not a nerf hammer friend, just want them all to be balanced and fun. I agree with this playthrough though, the thinking required with WD, sans Soul Harvest anyway, is the most fun.

  4. I mean no disrespect to Xanth, as I enjoy these entries by him, but shouldn’t the surprise open beta announcement be on the top of the main page? I mean come on. Come ON.

      • I’ll not argue that… because you’re right. All I’m saying is, a surprise open beta announcement taking place in a short period of time should be top priority. It hasn’t even started yet so I wouldn’t consider it ‘old news’ myself, and I promise that more people care about it, rather than just another piece of reading material.
        Some people have been waiting for ages to get their hands on this game, even just a tiny beta sample for a limited amount of time. If this site truly wants to proliferate the D3 fanbase, sticky the open beta announcement…

    • Not disagreeing with you. I set this column to publish last night before the announcement. Had I know I probabally would Have pushed it out later today or last night

  5. re: Kslo42’s comment: I was thinking something similar – maybe a website design change should be in order? Put something up top like what IGN and ESPN do that shows the top story (or stories), and let you scroll down to see everything else. Still love the site, just tossin out an idea 🙂  

  6. I never understood the complaints about zombie dogs.  Mine had absolutely no problem surviving. Perhaps it’s because I ran with a shield and jungle fortitude? 
    Even on the SK fight, they died, but it took them a while.  I recall specifically resing them mid fight, and then ending the fight with 1 dog left and the skill on CD.  They didn’t seem that squishy… It’s not like they can be super tanks like skels were in d2.  That was just imbalancing. 

    • I was level ten, patch 18. I don’t know if they are affected by any gear I’m carrying besides weapon damage, because it wasn’t great, but they all went from full health to zero during the first SK whirl in a single player game with jungle fortitude. So, I’m not sure why I would be having different results than you unless you are referring to an old patch or were a higher level. 

  7. You know what, I take it all back. After thinking about this from reading this. I think I will run a WD first after all. My own comment fixed it for me. It is the class I’ve had the most fun with. I can elect to simply not use Soul Harvest, or if it gets nerfed, I won’t care anyway. If it doesn’t get nerfed then there must be something about it (scalability) or something that Blizzard thinks its ok.

    I decided it was silly to put myself in a pretzel about Soul Harvest when I don’t even have access to the full game.

    Soo….boing bang walla walla bing bang for me!

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