Iron Maiden on Cows.

    High end D2 strategy in play…

    A Thorns/Reflects Damage build has never been viable (at the high end) in Diablo III, and while the developers have occasionally talked about it or tried to create it (via the Thorns of the Invoker set and a few associated legendary items), it’s currently a non-starter. There is, however, some new info into the Devs’ thinking via Wyatt Cheng’s recent spot on the Westmarch Workshop.

    Thorns in Diablo III?

    The Thorns of the Invoker set actually came up during Westmarch Workshop’s interview with one of our designers, Wyatt Cheng. Here’s what he said (with the occasional linguistic quirks carefully omitted):

    WYATT: We’ve basically been trying to err away from totally passive playstyles, and … I guess the question we’ve been asking ourselves is “What is the fantasy of being a Thorns player?” I think back to D2 and you have your Golem and you’ve probably been casting Amplify Damage and playing Necro and you have Thorns… That’s one common way to go… And I think that the Amplify Damage kept things to be somewhat active, but at the same time, I think a big part of the fantasy is that I can stand there and not doing everything and the monsters just kill themselves attacking me. So it’s kind of like a power fantasy at that point, where you’re just like, “I am so amazing that monsters die in my presence.”

    Click through for the rest of Wyatt’s lengthy thoughts on the issue, and a huge player-developed list of the reasons Thorns doesn’t work in D3, and what would be needed to fix it.

    NEINBALL: “I have everything, you have nothing. Go, my minions!”

    WYATT: Right. And so one of the things that we’ve been talking about as we reexamine Invoker’s is: is that the fantasy that we want? If that’s the fantasy we’re trying to fulfill, realistically this set is not allowed to be a top tier set, because there’s no way that we would have a top tier, highly competitive at the highest Greater Rift set that involved a completely passive gameplay style. So we’re like, okay, if this is the fantasy that we’re meeting, is that the right way to go? Should we design it so that it’s viable for like, say, Torment 6 farming, but not viable for the [most challenging content]. And that’s counter to a lot of our other philosophies lately where, when we revisit a set, we try to make sure it is something that can reach the highest levels, you know what I mean? So that’s kind of Step 1 is, what is the player fantasy, and is it me doing nothing?

    And then another option is to say, “Well, no, that’s not really the fantasy, the fantasy is just me being durable, me doing something active, and the monsters killing themselves against me.” … Well Invoker’s can be used by everybody, so if it’s going to be me doing something active, it can’t be something that’s class-specific. … What active, non-class specific action can we do? And of course, we start looking at … well obviously it will be spenders and generators and stuff like that. … [If] we’re doing stuff like that on other [class sets] – is that appropriate here? And so we were looking at stuff like that.

    And the final [idea] as we were looking at Invoker’s is… I don’t know if you guys have seen this or tried to make a Thorns set work, but there’s a lot of monsters who actually don’t attack you that aggressively… and there is nothing more annoying, especially at the current power level, like… Let’s say … like 98% of your damage is coming from Thorns. And if a monster just refuses to attack you, and you’re hitting it with … Poison Dart … or Shield Bash or whatever, and you’re doing almost none of your potential damage waiting for that monster to attack you, that’s actually really annoying. So … it looks like we’re going to have to integrate a Taunt effect or something into it. Ideally, it would be like D2 where you’re getting a pet to be Taunted. But again, this is a non-class specific set, so… Anyway, those are kind of the general thoughts we have on Invoker’s.

    And do check out this thread… “A Game of Thorns“… There is a bunch of us who have been playing thorns for some time…
    Tyvalir: Already got your back. 🙂 That thread is definitely a bastion of feedback and we’ve been keeping an eye on it for some time.

    The “Game of Thorns” guy had some polished points about why Thorns doesn’t work in the game and what could fix it, so read on if you’re like me and vaguely interested in Thorns as an underutilized mechanic in D3, but have never given the “why” any serious thought.

    Problems that should be addressed first

    Anyway I just thought i should highlight some concerns with the current thorns effect which in my opinion should be fixed first and only then any improvements to thorns of invoker set would be worth our time:

    1. Lack of Damage scaling – It mainly only scales with main stat, elite% and damage amplifying spells on minons (enemies receive X% more damage)… To be truly competitive thorns should somehow scale with weapon damage like everything else… The only exception has always been the crusader active skill iron skin: reflect skin which has allowed me to hit in the 60-80mil damage range…

    2. Lack of synergy – For some reason legendary items and certain skills meant for thorns gameplay just do not scale with each other like Demon’s set fire thorns damage, invokers, hack, sanguinary bracers and Vo’toyias… they just don’t synergize with each other at all… in fact some of us have theorized that there is a priority order between skills like iron skin:reflect skin and the other damages… It should boost damage not take turns to do different kinds of thorns damage…

    3. Clunky mechanics – Ever since the nerf on the thorns effect for the Ghom fight exploit, thorns damage does not trigger on certain damage or element types, not sure if it was intended like arcane orbs, lightning orb, poison pool, fire chains, desecrator, tornadoes, etc… Basically not every skill effect from bosses will trigger thorns, its just not consistent… i think this goes with the game mechanics so it is a much bigger issue to tackle but it does affect how thorns damages monsters or bosses…

    4. Provoke – Personally i feel provoke as a crusader skill doesn’t quite work as intended, as it causes minions who are already hitting to reposition thus reducing the damage of thorns damage… Plus the radius is kinda small…

    Fantasy for Thorns of Invoker

    1. Craftable set – No really i mean it… Considering it is not a playstyle for everyone, it should instead be removed from the drop pool to make everyone else happy but i would appreciate if it was still kept in the game as a craftable set… win win situation… i don’t expect it to compete at the higher Grifts but maybe 40 ish would be nice…

    2. Invoking – The set should cause enemies to hit the player who has the set and perhaps increase the attack speed passively…

    3. Block chance – It should definitely be a block chance influenced set, either an increase in block chance or for every successful block, the thorns damage is reflected to all enemies in a 15-20 yard radius

    4. Damage reduction – To me this is not necessary but it is definitely a nice thing to have as there are so many items that reduce damage already, but if the 5th or 6th piece was a shield it should either have increased block chance or reduce damage for monster under the influence of invoke or thorns…

    5. 6 Piece set – Would be nice to have a shield as a new set item piece… the last piece can be anything… maybe an amulet, would be nice to have a starter build type craftable amulet other than hellfire… i dunno… just trying my luck…

    Ideal Invoker Set Fantasy Set Bonuses

    Ok essentially my fantasy for the invoker set bonuses should be this:

    (2) Piece bonus:
    Every successful block deals your thorns damage in a 15 yard radius to all enemies

    (4) Piece bonus:
    Casting a skill generator causes enemies within a 15 yard radius to receive X% increased thorns damage (based on weapon damage) for 3-5 seconds

    (6) Piece bonus:
    Invokes all enemies within 15yard radius to go berserk and attack the wearer increasing the affected monster’s attack speed by X% but reducing their damage by X% against the wearer (passive or skill spender activated)

    Any of you guys part of the “bring back thorns” contingent? It’s odd to think about in D3 where everything is about direct damage, but Thorns was a viable play style in Diablo 2 for Paladins (via Auras and blocking) and Necromancers (via Curses and pets), so there are ways to make it work in a fast-paced ARPG.

    That’s the theory, anyway. I have trouble imagining a form of reflects damage that could equal the of “kill everything in one AoE blast” power we see with so many skills in RoS, but maybe a Thorns build would be sort of an end game thing, and work a bit like Exploding Palm where it’s more effective on higher difficulties, since the monsters live long enough to swarm you and some kind of chain-reaction Thorns, or “reflects damage over a 15y radius” effect could be awesome.

    Thorns isn’t exactly on top of my personal wish list, but more variety in builds and play styles is always a good thing.

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