Patch 1.0.4 Preview: Wizard

As promised, the DiabloWikiWizard preview is now available for viewing.

Like the other classes, the wizard is also seeing a lot of tuning improvements to help promote build diversity. Rather than focus on those minor adjustments, though (which you’ll be able to learn more about in the 1.0.4 patch notes), I’m going focus the majority of this preview on Hydra.

Here are the major points I’ll cover:

  • Skill design philosophy for Diablo as a whole
  • What makes DiabloWikiVenom Hydra as strong as it is
  • Why, rather than nerfing Venom Hydra, we’re simply going to buff all the other Hydra variants

Wizard Runes

The Nature of the Beast

From a development standpoint, we love Hydra and put a lot of effort into its design. In fact, Hydra took many times more development time to create than an average skill. There are more art variants, more spell effects, and more lines of code associated with Hydra than almost any other wizard skill in the game (except potentially Archon). We did this because Hydra is an iconic skill in the wizard’s arsenal and we wanted it to stand out. When you’re in a multiplayer game and you see that Hydra spawn, it’s instantly recognizable. And for those who are familiar with the class, you can also immediately tell which rune variant a wizard is running with.
Our goal for Hydra is to not just have each rune variant be visually distinct, but also for it to be better at something than the others. Specifically:

New Tristram, We Have a Problem
Despite these goals, it doesn’t take long to figure out that Venom Hydra is simply the best Hydra to use, regardless of the situation. This is mostly to do with its very high damage output. Although (technically) against fast-moving targets the Lightning Hydra does slightly more damage, Venom Hydra does three times more damage if you get the target to stand still, and that difference is simply too big to pass up.
The other rune variants have similar issues. The range on the Frost Hydra is too short to be useful. The DPS loss Arcane Hydra takes for being good at AoE makes it too weak versus single targets (especially when you consider that most of the hard fights are against high health Elites). The niche for Mammoth Hydra is very narrow and, if you can get a target to stand still, Venom Hydra does more damage in hallways than Mammoth Hydra anyways.

Five Heads Are Better Than One
To address these issues, we’ve decided to boost the damage of Lightning, Frost, Arcane, and Mammoth Hydra. Venom Hydra will remain the best against stationary targets, but if the targets are moving in any way, Lightning should be a clear winner. The range of Frost Hydra has been more than doubled as well, which should allow it to fill the intended role of snaring. Arcane Hydra will do less damage than Venom Hydra versus a single target, but rather than doing approximately 60% less damage, choosing it should only cause about a 15-20% DPS hit against single targets — and you should be much better against groups. Mammoth Hydra will be getting a modest bump, but ultimately “good in hallways” just doesn’t seem like a very good specialty. We’re going to keep an eye on this one for now, but down the road we’d like to find something much cooler for the Mammoth Hydra — like giving it the ability to move around the battlefield without needing to be recast (just as an example).

Skill Diversity
One concern is how this change will affect skill diversity. If our goal is to promote a large variety of builds, why are we taking one of the most powerful wizard runes and then bumping all of the variants to match it rather than simply nerfing Venom Hydra?

From our point of view, it’s okay for Venom Hydra to be extremely powerful. One of the trickiest things throughout our design process has been creating lots of appealing skills. You only have six skill slots, so the more appealing skills we can make, the more significant your choice becomes of which skills earn a spot on your bar. If a Signature skill is on the strong side, it starts to trump the other Signature skills. If a Signature skill is way too strong then it starts to trump your Arcane Power spenders as well. This hurts build diversity. Similar situations exist for Arcane Power spenders, many defensive skills, and the trio of Armor skills (DiabloWikiIce Armor, DiabloWikiStorm Armor, and DiabloWikiEnergy Armor).

However, in the case of Hydra, the risk of trumping other skills is much lower. It’s totally okay for Hydra to be one of the most used skills because there’s still a lot of flexibility beyond making it your only source of DPS. If you can spare the skill slot, you’ll almost certainly want to combine it with a Signature skill to cast while the Hydra is out. If you can spare two skill slots, you can do even more damage by adding a secondary Arcane Power spender.

While patch 1.0.4 has very few nerfs, one of them does affect the wizard. Rather than waiting for players to discover this change in the patch notes or while playing, I wanted to call it out here because it affects a build that I find to be quite cool and enjoy a lot.

Energy Twister is having its proc coefficient reduced from 0.25 to 0.125. For players who may not know what proc coefficients are: they affect how effectively a skill triggers procs (or effects that have a small chance to activate). Many skills (like Magic Missile) have a proc coefficient of 1. Skills that hit multiple targets or pulse multiple times have lower proc coefficients.

In the case of DiabloWikiEnergy Twister, specifically Wicked Wind, the 0.25 proc coefficient causes the skill to generate more procs in a given time period than any other skill. Currently, this is used in combination with Critical Mass to lower the cooldown on skills like Frost Nova and Diamond Skin. By reducing the proc coefficient from 0.25 to 0.125, the build still works and remains fairly strong, but it won’t be quite as good as it is now. (For those with extremely high Crit rates, you may not even notice much difference, but I wanted to call it out anyway. )

Originally, we weren’t going to make this change, but 1.0.4 also brings with it a number of new Legendary items, and many of them have phenomenal new proc effects. If we left high proc coefficients as they were, then a handful of skills with higher coefficients would become the de facto choice to use with these sexy new items. We were faced with a choice: we could either reduce the proc coefficient, or we could make it so these skills could not trigger the procs on Legendary items at all. We opted for the former because it seemed like getting a Legendary with a proc effect but never seeing it trigger would be very disappointing. Regardless, having well-balanced proc coefficients on all skills is not only better for Legendaries, but also for the game in the long term.

Buffs, Buffs, and More Buffs
The reduced proc coefficient is just a drop in the bucket, and overall wizards are seeing their fair share of buffing.

In addition to the Hydra buffs, we’re also increasing the damage of some lesser used Signature skill runes. A few skills are very popular right now such as Seeker (Magic Missile) and Piercing Orb (Shock Pulse), so we’ll be buffing the other runes to match. We’ll be revisiting all of the other Signature skill runes with much the same philosophy as Hydra.

Meteor and Arcane Torrent are both going to get buffs, as well, since neither of those feel strong enough to justify the Arcane Power expenditure. Meteor requires the player to correctly predict enemy movement in order to deal maximum damage, and Arcane Torrent requires you to stand still for extended periods of time to do damage. Since a player is putting in some extra effort to use these skills, some extra damage seems justified.

Meteor and Arcane Torrent are both going to get buffs, as well, since neither of those feel strong enough to justify the Arcane Power expenditure.


  • Base damage increased from 200% + 60% over 3 seconds to 260% + 60% over 3 seconds
  • Molten Impact damage increased from 260% +78% over 3 seconds to 390% + 90% over 3 seconds
  • Meteor Shower damage increased from 80% to 104% for each smaller Meteor
  • Comet damage (of initial hit) increased from 240% to 312%

Arcane Torrent:

  • Arcane Power cost reduced from 20 to 16
  • Base damage increased from 175% to 210%
  • Arcane Mines damage increased from 150% to 180%
  • Cascade damage increased from 175% to 210%
  • Death Blossom projectiles are now less random

Meteor requires the player to correctly predict enemy movement in order to deal maximum damage, and Arcane Torrent requires you to stand still for extended periods of time to do damage. Since a player is putting in some extra effort to use these skills, some extra damage seems justified.


Related to this article
  • Legendaries 1.0.4 vs 1.0.3 Comparison Charts
  • Vote: What do you think of the v1.0.4 patch?
  • 1.0.4 Undocumented Changes

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    55 thoughts on “Patch 1.0.4 Preview: Wizard

    1. I still don’t see many people using arcane torrent after the buff. They should have added a rune that shields you from a certain percentage of damage while channeling the torrent.

      • it’s impossible to say until you see the actual amount that was buffed. An extreme example would be if arcane torrent was changed to 5000% weapon damage per sec. Would it still be the case that not many people use it? Just an example showing that it’s impossible to know right now.

    2. Seems like not so rich changes as by barbs. Im a bit confused, if this is all to wiz or there will be more… 😮

      The wizard update result so far:
      – buffing one not-so-often-used spell
      – nerfing one spell, which is the part of a quite used build (even if only the procs are halved)

        • Did you read the first paragraph? “Rather than focus on those minor adjustments, though (which you’ll be able to learn more about in the 1.0.4 patch notes), I’m going focus the majority of this preview on Hydra.”

          Minor. Minor minor minor. Minor adjustments. If the “buff” to hydra is one of their major buffs for wizards, it is a really, really disappointing preview.

          Wizard spells still do woefully horrible damage per second.

      • Its a basic example of the changes they are making, the only reason ET even mentioned is that they want us to know now, other wise it just been all Hydra stuff.

    3. IMO, Wizard is one of the classes that has the fewest build options available, because there are several skills that are simply far superior to the rest that you end up taking them (energy armor, magic weapon, hydra), and many skills that really have no point because their mechanics suck (explosive blast, ray of frost, arcane torrent).

      • I started using Arcane Torrent on a second Wiz and I’m loving it. It’s slow to get started but it has decent DPS and can track fast-moving targets. And it looks pretty cool too. I’m glad about the buff, though, not that I think it’s needed. But every little helps 🙂

        I don’t know why people are worried about having to stand still whilst casting it, since almost every Wiz I see uses Disintegrate.

    4. Very curious what they’ll do about Energy Armor, the only way I could see myself using the other armors is if they also added an armor bonus, because as it is right now, I use those, and I die about 100% faster.

    5. I was curious to see what they’d do about the critical proc stuff that’s enabling the most fun wiz builds. Thought they were going to poop on it at the start but it sounds like those builds will still be viable, you’ll just need really high critical hit chance, and perhaps some of the new uniques that grant that will become more or less mandatory.

      Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; plenty of cool builds in D2 pretty much required a certain unique or runeword. It can be fun to specialize your equipment with one key item that grants 25% critical hit chance, rather than the current d3 system were you need like 5% crit on 8 different items. (Same thing goes for MF.)

      • Well said flux, well said. The thing that kept me coming back to Diablo 2 for years was equipment specialization. Having certain item sets that work extremely well for only a few select builds. It added a lot to the replayability. The majority of gear my light sorc used was vastly different than my blizzard sorc. Not to mention my charms, which also were wildly different based on class and spec*.

        This made you feel attached and proud of your characters. Right now, my barb can play any build I want, pretty well with the same gear on. It makes the player feel that there is no customization in builds. I’m glad to see some of the legendary items in 1.04 are working to address this. I have been a D3 hater for a while now…. but I hope they can change that, I really do. 😉

      • This is something that D1 did really well, by virtue of it’s stat system.

        For example a Sorcerer capped at 45 strength, and you needed 90 strength to wear a full plate. So if you wanted to go with a battle mage, you had to make up +45 str from your equipment. Generally this meant getting +40 from Zodiac items and another +5 from something else.

        So you often found yourself in a situation where if you could find X item for your ring slot, it would suddenly let you wear Y item in your helm, which in turn would let you wear your full plate while still having Z HP/mana and doing more damage.

        D2 moved away from that approach by not limiting class stats, in particular, and also by increasing item slots. However D2 made it for it with many very interesting uniques, sets and runewords etc.

        Probably D3’s biggest problem is the increase in item slots and the almost complete hom.ogeneity across item slots. Bracers really aren’t very different from gloves. Belts aren’t that different from boots, except boots can have run speed. Pants aren’t different from chest armor, etc.

      • You know Flux, i think you’re one of the very few that really get’s it. Props to you.

        I do see a problem with crit in general, and that is that it increases damage comparable to not having crit waaaaaaay too much, meaning that every Wizard will want to have high crit chance/damage and thus the difference between a critical mass build and any other build is very minimal, gear wise.

      • I was not thrilled about the proc nerf, given that in order for the procs to happen you needed a high level of gear to begin with. I do not even play a WW build, but I see a number of Wizards that do and wonder why Blizzard would assume these characters would even have a legendary to use?

        Again, I am not the one to complain, but they are fixing a problem that will not occur for most people. The build is extremely gear dependent and requires a number of hours to perfect even if you have the crit rate for it.

        I agree with the part about hydra and I am very interested to see the changes with some of the other arcane spenders. Channeling spells are not easy in single player, but in pub games its very possible to do. So this is where I see the buff of the Wizard to provide more of a stand still DPS.

        I really wish that they would given more particulars like they did in the Barb post. I felt like this post was full of nothing that could be something.

    6. “Originally, we weren’t going to make this change, but 1.0.4 also brings with it a number of new Legendary items, and many of them have phenomenal new proc effects. If we left high proc coefficients as they were, then a handful of skills with higher coefficients would become the de facto choice to use with these sexy new items.”

      So are you implying we can easily obtain these “phenomenal new proc effects” legendary items? What if we don’t want to use the same legendary item every other Wizard is using, now what? If not, please don’t nerf the current proc coefficients on Energy Twister. Why are you so worry about players having fun with CM/WW build, simply because it is popular? Spend your effort on boosting other unpopular skills and leave popular ones alone. Its not like its over-powered right now. If you are so worry, you can wait and nerf it after the fact like you did with IAS.

      • The post addressed your question. They’re adding numerous new sets/uniques with much higher +CHC than anything has now, so leaving the proc chance on Energy Twister as it is now would have been unworkable.

        Now the build starts to work at like 30% CHC and once you’re up to 40% it’s crazy, but you’ve really got to scratch and claw equipment to make it to there. Once there are uniques with 15% CHC (or whatever) it’ll be easy to get to 80% or 100%, so they had to adjust the stats accordingly.

        There’s also the issue of one build being too good and thus basically forcing everyone to play that build if they don’t want to suck. So lots of other skills are getting a boost, and one OP proc mechanism is getting nerfed a bit.

        • Everything you’ve noted, on both the impact of CHC and the proc rate is exactly the same (essentially) for Double WW barbs.

          The logic to nerf Wizards proc rate and not Barbs RLTW proc rate makes absolutely no sense

          • I’d agree with that in theory, especially since the Barb build is weird. I can’t believe Bliz designed the whirlwinds on Sprint to be the main attack skill for the char, while Wizards doing this build make perfect sense, in terms of class design.

            That said, the key issue is what the new CHC granting legendaries will be. If they’re mostly Orbs and Wands, or armor items with stats that a wiz will want and a barb won’t, then Bliz is correct and they had to nerf the Wiz version while not touching the Barb version.

    7. Not sure that I like them “promoting” build diversity by requiring crazy gear to make the build viable. Just add internal CDs like other abilities if they don’t want the legendary items to proc to much.

      • that’s an interesting point. I guess we haven’t seen all the Legenary procs, but in case of the pets (demon/angel) would it not be moot point anyway? I mean the way it probably works is that once you trigger the guy, he stays there for some time, it’s not like you can summon 50 of them. I guess they were talking more about stuff like Confusion or whatever that’s called or just effects that deal instant damage when triggered.

        • Yeah I expect the summon X ones will just refresh the duration of the existing unit, though they might allow more, unlikely though IMO.

    8. So, instead of Energy Twisters, everyone will be spamming Star Pact meteor (which does hell of a lot more DPS and synergizes much better with AP on Crit). Not that I mind, I love meteor and people are pretty much whining far, far too much about it “sucking.”

      Absolutely zero commentary about the biggest fucking joke in the game – Unstable Anomaly. That passive needs far, far more than a “minor buff.” It belongs to a class of passives that is probably more likely to kill you than help you.

      My only other problem with this preview is complete lack of discussion about how Critical Mass dumps on all other passives in terms of quality of design, power, and feel. This passive should be THE model of what all the passive are like – character defining and fun, not crappy +% bonuses (which are going to be even more obsolete now that legendaries seem to be infested with extremely large +% damage boosts).

      • Did u guys ever played HC? Crit mass is only useful with great equipment that gives u a lot of crit chance, but while leveling you can and you should use quite a bunch of other useful passives.

    9. Wow… i was looking to ditch Wicked Wind anyways,
      So this nerf somehow decided it! XD

      Since I want to changed it to Spectral blade as may proc and a more reasonable damager, but still having Explosive Blast>Chain Reaction.

      • Speaking from experience playing both builds, Spectral Blades simply does not have enough versatility / proc rate to make the build work in inferno A3 without having the most ridiculous gear.

        It is just too hard to get enemies grouped up, and when you’re on 1 target the proc rate is just too low to keep them stunned long enough. In A3 unless your gear is way way better than mine (5500 armor ~900-1000 all resist) you end up getting gibbed by the stronger elites, particularly ones with shielding.

    10. I dont have the gear to do a CM/WW wiz build, but I would be kinda pissed about that part of the preview. They should not be nerfing anything at this point. It just seems to me that if they made some of the other skills better, that would be enough to get some people to try other builds. CM/WW builds more or less came to be because there had to be something else that worked besides Blizz/Hydra kiting. I would like to be able to do a Meteorb type build with Arcane Orb and Meteor, but I just dont think it would be the same without the chilling effect from Frozen Orb in D2. Then again, Arcane Dynamo has a slow effect, so it would be possible I guess. I am just glad they didnt nerf Venom Hydra, that would have resulted in me laying the game down for awhile.

      • Anything fast enough that you need to slow it in Inferno pretty much ignores the 30% snare you get from arcane dynamo. You might have better luck with the new and improved frost hydra or blizzard.

    11. I have the sinking feeling that they’re rushing a lot of the fixes(incomplete changes, ie. much needed buffs) to please the community who will invariably complain that not enough was done. Paradox. I’d much rather them take enough time as they need, if the changes are good, after GW2 and Torchlight 2 I’ll still be coming back.

    12. I would of liked to see what other skills could be used in place of energy twister wicked winds and the procs they produce… I use spec blades, ww, e armor, frost nova, diamond skin, and teleport. I haven’t used chain reaction but I still find using ww/cm build has saved me from using any potions at all. So all I’m saying is a balanced aoe effect similar to ww is needed rather than skills that spike damage and life on hit…

    13. Ppl on the official forums are so pissed they nerfed WW. Some ppl say they will quit the game over this.

      Is it so impossible to see that a skill that allows you to almost perma-stun elit-packs would be nerfed? CM builds are still extremely good without WW. I use one with spectral blades, Arcane orbit and no frost nova and its still a very good build. Better nerf this one a little bit to make other soon to be viable builds seem like an option in comparison.

      This is a perfect example of how impossible it is for Blizzard to please the masses.

      Whats probably going to happen is that the over all dmg on Energy Twister is going to be increased a little bit to boost the skill in general. So for WW, the dmg will be grater but the proc chance will be lower. Over all, it will be a minor loss in power. That’s what I believe at least.

      • “The masses” that Blizzard catered to in the first place, which are mostly whiney underage bitches that drank the Blizzard koolaid.

    14. I love how they try to explain what proc coefficients are. I’m not sure I would’ve understood the explanation if I didn’t know already.

    15. A good start would be making hydra works properly with life steal.

      My buffed mf wizz have 1k resist, 33k hp, 7k armor, 37k dps and 1200 life regen. The regen is not enough for act3 and an hydra build can’t leech anything. Would sure be nice to see hydra leech something. How do you leech life with a wizard beside wicked wind with loh or maybe spectral blades ? I guess insane arcane orb dps with life steal would work….

    16. the rest of the uniques etc better be so amazing that i forget all about them nerfing CM builds
      hoping and praying

    17. Now I’m really waiting for the WD-changes. I hope they’ve realized that some skills there are in need of a way to speed up their animation to gain viability, instead of simply boosting the damageoutput.

      • I hope the WD preview just has one line in it, “we buffed everything, and then we doubled it”, it’s gonna be so trollalicious.

        • It’ll be one more line:

          Increased the volume of the plague of toads sound effect.


          • Hehe… But Plague of Toads is actually one of the skills I was talking about. (Apart from Giant Toad and Rain of Toads, where an upped animation speed wouldn’t be quite as effective.) Because of the combination of too low a range, irky movements and the speed of bosspacks in Inferno, you would need to spread the floor with froge to be effective, thus an upped animation speed, adding additional hops and added range (edit:) over the same span of time (/edit), would be the way to make the skill more effective. (Think of the Druids Tornado-skill, which isn’t quite viable without reaching the 99%fc-breakpoint, although against big and slow enemies a slower fc-speed may provide an additional hit per single Tornado – but the Frogs don’t even have this option ;))

    18. I have seen videos of the WW build, but have not played it. It appears OP in its ability to perma freeze elites and have perma diamond skin. It also does not look fun to play with the amount of button spam.

      Tho it sux to see something like this nerfed, keep in mind they are heavily nerfing elite damage and the nightmarish affix. As a result, the ww build should become less required to farm inferno. The buffs to legendaries will also nerf game difficulty and the wand in particular with 30% confuse alone will be a huge game changer. You won’t need this build at all with that item.

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