Stillman’s Slab #3: Wonders of the Witch Doctor


Stillman has returned with another of Diablo’s heroes ready for dissection on the slab. This time the Witch Doctor takes the place of honor, and by the time Stillman’s through with him, he’ll never be the same. Why did the D3 Team make a character who looks more suited for an old age home than the field of battle? According to Stilman, it’s all part of their nefarious plan. He’s even included a top five image list of figures from popular culture that the WD most resembles. It’s a fairly grim tally.

Here’s the start of the column; click through to read the rest.

Wonders of the Witch Doctor


Have you ever wondered what this Witch Doctor dude is all about? Have you ever pondered on why Blizzard would put this guy at the helm of the Diablo 3 demon meat grinder when there are endless other classes who would look and feel more godly? Have you ever licked a poison arrow frog and contemplated all this, knowing that your death throes would help you see things through the Witch Doctor’s eyes? Well the answers are below, so put the frog down, unstop an antidote potion, and unbuckle your pants so your distended stomach is free to lead you to glory. It’s time to strap the lanky man down and get inside his head. Who is the man-insect thing behind the mask? Let’s find out.

Actually, we must strap ourselves down to the slab if we are to really understand Blizzard’s motivations behind the Witch Doctor. They put him in the game for us to enjoy. But why the Witch Doctor? Clearly, many people despise the concept as evident in a particularly unsinkable thread? Maybe, or maybe not. Yet, we can learn from the similarities. The Necromancer was the weakest character back in the earliest days of Diablo 2. He was by far the weirdest character with his curses and strange ways of killing monsters and manipulating them. Many of us love him for that. 

Similarly, the Witch Doctor is a true oddball. Compared to the towering musclebound Barbarian of seriousness the Witchdoctor looks comical and puny. Skills like Plague of Toads, Firebats, Wall of Zombies, and Summon Zombie Dogs were unheard of in previous Diablo games, making the Witch Doctor an absolute outcast. In fact, the Witch Doctor goes to extremes with his puny appearance, which includes poor posture, trembling extremities, and leafy armor. He probably smokes his armor, which is why he is naked all the time.

When you look at all this effort put in to make the Witch Doctor stand out as being gimped, the answer finally becomes obvious: Blizzard made him because players love gimping themselves. You heard correctly; players want the challenge of playing weaker characters who look silly. Although the Witch Doctor will almost certainly be better balanced than the Diablo 2 Necromancer was, he will always have that underpowered feel to him. He will always look dwarfed next to his fellow Diablo 3 heroes. Blizzard promises the Witch Doctor will be powerful, even in melee combat, but he sure looks like a tender flake to me. And that is the whole idea. He is there to look weak. It is all about the feel, folks.

People want to play the ?little guy?. They like the thought of odds stacked against them. With a giant unstoppable Barbarian  and nuker Wizard, how can the player lose? Where is the notion of challenge? The barbarian even defeated Diablo in Diablo 2, so what is to stop him this time around? Well, if you are missing the feel of challenge and conflict then the Witch Doctor is for you. He is clearly too whacked out on skunk weed to even locate Tristram. He looks like he is about to topple over from his own inner demons that he’s been nourishing since Diablo was still in a soulstone diaper.

The evidence that players love their gimped characters is everywhere. Just look at the nerfed builds in Diablo 2 and the fans’ longing for the freedom to handicap their future Diablo 3 characters. But you will not have to wait nine years to get bored of godly builds before trying out one that looks ridiculous. No, you can start right away with the Witch Doctor! Diablo 3 will have the additional fun of making a character that looks terribly weak but is able to match the killing prowess of everyone else. Players appreciate the challenged look and feel so much that Blizzard finally devoted an entire class to it.

In this sense, the Witch Doctor is actually an improvement over the Necromancer who tried to look powerful but ended up being weak and silly looking in his children’s Halloween costume that passes for his armor.

His skeletal army fell apart too quickly, and required patches to crazy glue the bones back together. He still can’t do 15k of damage like any other class despite the overconfident attitude he sports around all the time. The Witch Doctor, however, does not lie to us; he is silly, his armor and skills are silly, and he wants us all to know it. Now you are enlightened to his true purpose in the game. Should we players really expect all five of the classes to be almighty statues of gods? Maybe we’re just not licking the frogs hard enough.

I was inspired by all the Monk lookalikes or resemblances people were posting in the Monk forum, so I thought I would give it a go with the Witch Doctor. He almost reminds me of EC comics The Old Witch. Or shall we say Old Witch Doctor?

And if you thought that joke was lame, wait until you see this: It’s the top five Witch Doctor lookalikes.

In the number five spot we have: The vegetable gremlin from Gremlins 2: The New Batch. I was considering Jim Carrey from The Mask in this spot, but all gremlins are hunched over by nature. Plus they are green all over.

For the forth spot: Zorak from Space Ghost Coast to Coast. The posture is almost dead on.

For number three, one of the Fiery creatures from the movie Labyrinth (1986). David Bowie from the same movie did not have as much pointedness in the ears to resemble mask horns for this spot, but it was a close call.

The number two spot goes to: Rafiki from Disney’s The Lion King. Could the Witch Doctor be a comic relief character? He has got to be (not that he can do any ?stand-up? comedy). The Monk, Wizard, and especially Barbarian look so serious!

You may be wondering how anyone can top this impersonator, so let us move on to the number one lookalike?  The Fly (1986). The resemblance is uncanny. But he really wins for craving to be so naked that he took his own flesh off. Sometimes I think Blizzard watches too many movies.

Honorable mention goes to King Tutankhamun.


Opinions expressed in columns and guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.

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  1. That is cool. I haven’t even had time to read every interview from BlizzCon yet, and I’m sure there’s been other new stuff revealed that we’ve not had any chance to focus on yet.

    Perhaps next week, with the pace of news returning to normal and the big articles done, we can start to go more carefully over everything from Blizzcon and get all the misc wiki pages updated.

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