Witch Doctor Beta Skills: Mega-Report Part One


After playing the beta on and off for the past couple of weeks, I feel I’ve finally digested it enough to start writing some useful commentary. I’m going to start off by discussing all of the skills, with a fairly minute level of analytical detail. First up it’s the Witch Doctor, and in this report I go into exacting detail on all of the Witch Doctor skills.

How do they work, are they fun to use, what situations are they best at, what are their pros and cons, how do they compare to other WD skills and to the comparable skills for other classes, how do their runestone effect project, how have they changed since previous tests in Blizzcon demos, and more. There are new screenshots I took myself for most of the skills, plus some jokes and potentially-amusing non-game references at no extra charge. There’s even a video, courtesy of FludDaStud, that shows every WD skill in zoom visual, as well as game use, for added reader comprehension.

Here’s the first skill, Poison Dart, and yes, they all go into this much detail. Usually more, since most skills have more to talk about than the fairly plain Poison Dart.

Poison Dart

DiabloWiki Poison Dart
Physical Realm
(Level 1)
Cost: 176 Mana
Description: Fires a deadly poison dart that deals 100% weapon damage as Poison and an additional 80% weapon damage per second as Poison over 2 seconds.

Poison Dart is the Witch Doctor’s starting attack skill, and the unruned form is about as straight forward as a skill can be. Literally! The Witch Doctor whips out a blow pipe and spits one dart in a straight line, which deals poison damage on impact with some additional poison drain over time. Though the firing animation is kind of slow, the dart flies quickly, and I had no trouble hitting even moving targets. (There are very few monsters in the beta that do anything other than advance upon you in a straight line at a predictable speed.)

The damage of poison dart is not bad, and it’s got full screen range; much further than almost all the other Witch Doctor skills. It can not be aimed past anything, though. The first monster it meets, it hits. No shooting through the pack to hit the boss or summoner in the back.

The unruned version in the beta though, is fairly quickly surpassed by other attack skills. It’s steady and dependable, and the mana cost is negligible, but it’s kind of a boring skill. One shot, straight line, single target, etc. Other Witch Doctor skills do more damage, albeit with generally a lot less range, but as most monsters are eager to advance into close proximity, a long range skill isn’t a real necessity.

Rune Effects:
I greatly enjoyed the Indigo rune upgrade when using this one in the Blizzcon 2010 demo; the level 2 rune turned it into 4 shots in rapid succession. It wasn’t 4x the damage, but it was at least double, since you could have fired about 2 normal darts in the time it took for the 4 machine gun style. Higher level runes allow more shots, up to 8 with a level 7 rune. All of the darts are aimed at the same target, so that rune would make it a boss killer, or be best used when firing into a large crowd or down a crowded corridor.

The other rune effects look kind of plain, really. Snakes on a face sound fun, but the effect is actually pretty minor, and I can’t see many players using the runes that add fire damage, or mana leech, or slow the target. There are plenty of other Witch Doctor skills that do those things much better than runed Poison Dart.

I’m surprised there’s not something like a Poison Explosion runestone effect, that would burst on impact and send out clouds of gas to make it an DiabloWikiAoE skill. That, especially if there were some chance of piercing (from equipment?) would make this an DiabloWikiend game viable skill. As it is I don’t see anything but the Indigo machine gun maybe being long term useful as a boss killer.


Click through for all the rest, plus the video.


All of the Witch Doctor’s beta skills briefly demonstrated.


Plague of Toads

DiabloWikiPlague of Toads
Physical Realm
(Level 2)
Cost: 211 Mana
Description: Release a handful of toads that deal 155% weapon damage as Poison to enemies they come in contact with.

Plague of Toads looks like an amphibian form of Charged Bolt (which was recently renamed DiabloWikiShock Pulse, for no apparent reason), and that pretty well sums it up. Ribbit.

The toads are a little slower in their movement, but like the sparks from Shock Pulse they come out three at a time (unruned) and are widely-spread at the start, making it hard to hit a target with even two of them, much less all three. Each toad does separate damage, so hitting something with two of them indeed doubles it, but you need to be at point blank range, and ideally have a large target. Even the Skeleton King is hard to hit with more than one toad, though I found this skill quite effective against the wide DiabloWikiUnburied, and it would be broadside-of-a-barn useful against the much larger enemies found later in the game.

One way this skill differs from Shock Pulse is that the toads do not spread out so widely. They start off widely-spaced, but after that they tend to go more or less straight forward from the Witch Doctor. It’s kind of a slow process getting a bunch of toads out, since they hop not so quickly, but if you have time to cast 4 or 5 flights of them while monsters are advancing or otherwise taking time to appear in front of you, you can get a decent carpet of them laid out, which will deal considerable damage to anything that enters the Frogger zone.

This skill might have more utility later in the game than in the beta, since the monsters are so weak early on that one or two toads is usually enough to finish them off. If the enemies took more damage, a Witch Doctor could stand back and cast up 10 or 12 rows of these guys, sending them hopping into the enemies in devastating waves of splattering goo. The biggest drawback to that approach is that the toads advance slowly and don’t go that far before they splat, whether they find a target or not.

Rune Effects:
The most logical runestone enhancement would be a way to create more toads per cast. This would up the total damage, and make it easier to hit a single target with multiple toads. None of the runestone effects do this, but possibly the skill will automatically add more toads as the Witch Doctor levels up? (It’s still just 3 at Clvl 13 in the beta.) There are older screenshots of a Witch Doctor casting 4 at a time, but that might have come from more skill points, which is no longer an option.

The current known runestone effects add confusion to enemies, or change the damage to fire, or reduce the mana cost. Meh. The Indigo rune Rain of Toads might be interesting, but we’ll have to see how the damage compares to other such attacks. Finally, I don’t know if Toad of Hugeness will be any good, other than perhaps in specific situations, but it certainly sounds cool. It’s a huge, stationary toad that eats enemies in a single gulp.

We don’t know how fast the eating rate might be, or how effective it would be against bosses and champions. The huge toad will eat them, or at least try to, but as of last year’s Blizzcon demo, this wasn’t a very useful attack. It ate the enemies, but only did some X amount of damage, and if that wasn’t sufficient to kill the enemy outright, the toad would just chew on them for a moment before spitting them out, less some health, to let the fight continue. Not a bad effect, but annoying in an MP game as the other players all stood around, waiting for the toad to stop chewing, so they could continue the battle.


Summon Zombie Dogs

DiabloWikiSummon Zombie Dogs
Support
Summon (Level 2)
Cost: 176 Mana
Cooldown: 60 seconds
Description: Summons 3 zombie dogs from the depths to fight by your side.

Better known as “Mongrels,” this is the default tank for the beta, and a very effective one. The dogs don’t have a lot of killing power — all three of them on the same normal enemy is considerably slower than any Witch Doctor attack spell — but they’re not meant for damage in their base form. They’re meat shields, and they do a pretty good job of that.

I hadn’t seen any die in the beta play through videos, but when experimenting with the Witch Doctor I started bypassing all of the health orbs, and soon noticed the dogs losing hit points and even dying off. They take a fair amount of damage in every big fight, and can even die to a boss or a big pack, if you do not heal them or get any health globes during the battle. Most players just don’t notice it since there are always more health orbs than you need to keep the doggies healthy. (This is basically all the Witch Doctor needs health orbs for in the beta; actually needing to heal for yourself is almost unheard of, unless you’re playing without mongrels or are making a speed run.)

This skill previously worked with “one cast per dog,” so it took three casts to get all three of them out. (And you got more dogs with more skill points.) No more; now a single cast summons all three dogs, or resummons fresh ones if your current batch are wearing out or one or more have died. It’s a full replacement cast, too; if you have two left you don’t just cast one new one to join the others; you get three new dogs. You never get more than three now; whether you’re Clvl 1 or Clvl 60.

Another previous Mongrel function was the ability to set them on fire or plague them… for their own good. Those effects did not harm the dogs, but increased their damage by adding fire or poison (or even DiabloWikiPlague of Locusts) to their attacks. This is no longer a game feature, though some of those effects can still be added with runestones.

The real dog damage comes not from anything to do with this skill, but from blowing them up with DiabloWikiSacrifice. Alas, that skill requires Clvl 16, and thus is not usable in the beta. It was usable in the DiabloWikiArena demo at Blizzcon 2010, where it served as (by far) the Witch Doctor’s most damaging spell attack. Once that one becomes available, Mongrel husbandry will change radically, as they’ll go from highly-durable tanks to quadrupedal Corpse Explosions.

In the beta the 60 second cooldown is meaningless, since you virtually never need to recast the Mongrels. That will change radically once Sacrifice becomes available, and higher level monsters capable of dealing much greater damage will make for a big change as well, making dog healing an essential part of gameplay. On the whole, Mongrel use will change radically past Clvl 16, likely in ways we can’t yet envision.

Runestone Effects:
The protective nature of the Mongrels is emphasized by the rune effects, three of which are defensive bonuses. Alabaster’s DiabloWikiLeeching Beasts grants 65% of damage dealt as life, half of which heals the WD, Indigo’s DiabloWikiLife Link turns the dogs into mana shields, redirecting 70% of the damage the Witch Doctor takes to the dogs, and Golden’s DiabloWikiFinal Gift grants an 85% chance of a dog leaving behind a health globe when it dies. That would be useless in the beta, since the dogs don’t die. It’ll be much more interesting once Sacrifice is enabled, assuming “blown up with Sacrifice” is considered “death.”

The other two runes are pure damage boosters. Crimson’s DiabloWikiBurning Dogs (which I’m sure everyone will just call “Fire Dogs” even though they lack spots.) grants a fire effect that causes nearby enemies to burst into flame. And Obsidian’s DiabloWikiRabid Dogs gives the dogs an infectious bite that deals 35% of your weapon damage per second as Poison for 3 seconds. I assume that “bite” is metaphorical here, since the dog attacks are leaping slashing front paw attacks, as seen in the beta at least.


Grasp of the Dead

DiabloWikiGrasp of the Dead
Support
(Level 3)
Cost: 53 Mana
Cooldown: 8 seconds
Description: Hands reach out from the ground slowing enemy movement by 50% and dealing 50% weapon damage per second as Physical for 8 seconds.

Grasp of the Dead is surprisingly fun to use. It’s never actually necessary in the beta, but that’s true for pretty much every non-attack skill. The radius of effect is fairly large, it lasts for 8 seconds, and every monster in the area is slowed and damaged that whole time. The damage isn’t huge, but 50% weapon damage per second for 8 seconds is a more than respectable 400% weapon damage over the whole skill, and with the slowing effect most of the monsters remain in the kill zone for the whole duration. Especially if you cast it on top of where your Mongrels are already tanking.

The cooldown is quite short as well; you’re not often going to use two of them in the same battle, but the 8 seconds almost always elapses before the next battle begins. While testing this one in the beta, I hardly ever tried to cast it a second time when it wasn’t available. Much more often I was surprised to see that it was already cooled-down and ready to use again. Only the fact that you just don’t *need* to use it keeps it from being on nearly every hotkey list. That and the limited hotkeys in the early game; I think this one will be quite popular in the late game, since it provides a very handy defensive aid and deals good damage as well.

Runestone Effects:
The GotD rune effects are fairly unimpressive, at a glance. That seems to be a common theme in the runestone effects; the skills that are already good don’t get that much of an improvement, while the skills that are useless seem to get much better bonuses. Thus making the final runed versions more balanced than the base skills?

At any rate, the Obsidian DiabloWikiUnbreakable Grasp is my early nomination for worst runestone bonus in the game. It does nothing but increase the monster slow from 50% to 64% at Clvl 60/Rlvl 7. Which I’m sure is almost noticeable, when used on the very fastest monsters in the game. (All of which will be stationary as they grind on your tanks anyway.)

The others are better, though I think Golden, with a reduction in the cooldown from 8 to 4.5 seconds, is either the best or the worst. Cutting the cooldown to 4.5s means you could use it almost constantly, with GotD’s 8s duration it would be active almost 2/3 of the time. On the other hand, since you usually use it once per battle and the cooldown runs out between fights… why do you need to spend a rune to cut 3.5s off the cooldown?

Alabaster’s DiabloWikiDeath is Life gives “killed targets” (killed by the GotD, presumably) a 65% chance to drop a Health Globe. Which is nice, but Witch Doctors seem to have the least use for health globes of any character in the game.

The other two both add damage, and might display the most obvious “cool vs. function” tradeoff in the game. Crimson’s DiabloWikiGroping Eels ups the physical damage to 120% weapon damage per second. On the other hand, Indigo’s DiabloWikiRain of Corpses only ups the damage to 70% weapon damage (but not per second?)… but it deals it with corpses that fall from the sky. From the sky! Is the coolness of being able to rain corpses on your enemies worth 50% less damage?


Haunt

DiabloWikiHaunt
Spirit Realm
(Level 4)
Cost: 106 Mana
Description: Haunt an enemy with a spirit dealing 500% weapon damage as Arcane over 15 seconds. If the target dies, the spirit will automatically haunt another nearby enemy. You may have up to 3 Haunt effects active at once.

When using Haunt, the Witch Doctor fires out a ghostly spirit that latches onto one monster, dealing considerable DoT for 15 seconds. Better yet, if the target dies the spell can “rehaunt,” duplicating itself out to another nearby monster. Cast two or three of these into a big pack of regular monsters and you’ve set a weasel loose in the henhouse, except that hens have enough sense to run from a weasel. Monsters don’t see or know or react to Haunt, and it simply mows them down like a contagion, hopping from one corpse to the next.

Haunt is the disease. Death is the cure.

Haunt is extremely effective in the beta; probably too strong for such a low level skill. The only thing it’s not great for is quickly killing bosses, or quickly finishing off a huge mob. The DoT works nicely on bosses, but it takes a while, and while Haunt wreaks havoc on packs of monsters, this too takes a while. You can only have three Haunts out at once, each of which will rehaunt other nearby enemies when the first target dies.

Hypothetical situation: There’s a pack of ten monsters, you fire three Haunts, and each Haunt takes three seconds to kill a target = it’ll take nine seconds to kill all but one of the monsters. This ignores the slight transfer time for rehaunts, and assumes that the enemies remain in close proximity. You could probably do better using Firebomb or Firebats, or even Plague of Toads, but for Firebats or Plague of Toads you’ll need the monsters to be fairly nearby, while Haunt can be fired at enemies all the way across the screen. Plus you can target Haunt at any monster you want; the spirit will pass over an unlimited number of enemies on the way to the target.

So no, Haunt isn’t that great as your only attack skill, though it can serve for that if you don’t mind dodging around a bit and waiting for things to die. (As they surely will.) It’s excellent as a support skill, though, especially when teamed with some other direct attack that you’ll use for close range combat, or boss killing.

It’s also the best skill in the beta to rack up super large massacre bonuses, due to the way the rehaunt effect lets it keep dealing damage for a considerable time.

Runestone Effects:
The base skill almost seems like a rune effect already; one that ups the damage considerably, or maybe that grants the rehaunt capability. Nope, there’s more!

You can make the spirit deal more damage over a much shorter time, make it do life leech or mana leech, make it slow targets, or make it linger for up to 15 seconds, waiting for another victim to come into range.

Of those effects, the Obsidian DiabloWikiGrasping Spirit (slow target 50%) is the sneaky effective one. That would make Haunt enough to neuter almost any enemy, including bosses. Steady damage over time, plus it slows them down too much to catch you. The biggest style changer though, is the Alabaster DiabloWikiResentful Spirit, which changes the damage to 320% weapon damage per second for 1.9 seconds (At Clvl 60/Rlvl 7.) That’s compared to 500% weapon damage over 15 seconds for the base skill. So the base works out to 100% weapon damage every 3 seconds, vs. 320% in 1.9 seconds. This would change the skill to a huge damage, single-target attack, one quite suitable for taking out bosses (with multiple recasts) or devastating normal monsters as the rehaunt would just tear through them.


Zombie Charger

DiabloWikiZombie Charger
Physical Realm
(Level 5)
Cost: 229 Mana
Description: Call forth a reckless, suicidal zombie that deals 150% weapon damage as Poison to all enemies in its way.

Zombie Charger is mildly useful in the beta, but only when aimed carefully and in certain situations. The skill creates a zombie that runs walks forward in a straight line, disintegrating into a cloud of green, poisonous smoke as it moves. The damage isn’t huge, but it can pass through multiple enemies if they’re very tightly bunched, and will deal the full damage to all of them.

Drawbacks. The skill is more ambler than charger, and moves slowly. It’s got a very short range; you practically have to be at melee range to hit anything with it. The poison cloud looks nice, but it’s much narrower in effect than visual, and while this skill can hit multiple enemies, they have to be really close together for that to happen. This is well demonstrated when you cast it at barrels or crates or other destructibles, and watch the smoke pass over half a dozen barrels, while only one breaks.

More drawbacks! The poison cloud dissipates quite quickly, so monsters aren’t likely to move through it and get poisoned. Also, the charger gets stuck on any little corner or obstacles it runs into. It’s very easy to cast this one right at a monster, and see it stop immediately in front of you thanks to a corner, or a chest, or an urn, etc, blocking about 1/50th of the leftmost corner of the zombie. On the whole, the unruned version of this is probably the least effective of the Witch Doctor’s direct damage skills available in the beta.

Runestone Effects
The runestone effects seem very useful for this one, directly addressing most of the skill’s numerous shortcomings. When they don’t change the skill’s function entirely.

The Crimson rune creates the iconic DiabloWikiZombie Bears. Instead of the single humanoid zombie, several skinned bears rush forward, moving much more quickly and dealing greater damage. The Golden rune creates DiabloWikiUndeath, which adds a chaining effect if it kills the target, allowing the Zombie Charger to respawn and head for a new enemy, up to 8 times. That would be devastating against large groups of weak enemies, but then again, so are most skills. Indigo creates DiabloWikiWave of Zombies, sending out up to 8 at once though we don’t know how widely they’re spread. And Obsidian’s DiabloWikiLeperous Zombie causes the poisonous cloud to linger, dealing poison damage to anything that passes through it.

The one that’s most different is Alabaster’s DiabloWikiExplosive Beast, which summons an explosive mongrel that deals fire damage over a large radius. Why they didn’t just make it a fiery exploding zombie, I dunno. Maybe this is kind of an homage to Sacrifice, which is another way to blow up the mongrels? At any rate, this is the most damaging by far, and AoE, albeit over a fairly small radius. If you could summon the mongrel anywhere you wanted (rather than right under your feet) that could be a very useful attack.


Part Two has been posted.

Comments

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  1. Firebats > ALL, at least in that small, early portion of the game. ^^

    • Skills Clvl 6-12 coming in part two, and that includes Firebats. I was going to put it all into one post, but this one was so hugely long already…

      • Flux what do you think about Grasp of the dead + Haunt. I think those two as a combo would be sick. not only can you slow them down but you can then throw a few haunts, then as the grasp wears off cast it again. This would also be good I think w/ a Wizard doing the slow down effect with incenerate. GOD I can’t wait for this FRICKEN HELL ON WHEELS TO FINALLY COME OUT!! I know I know…. I love TL2 but my heart still yerns for D3.

        • Also flux Kudo’s on the commentary, very awesome. I can’t wait to see what you got for Wizard and Demon Hunter…. I know DH seems neutered but I hope they fix that class, I really was hoping for a great ranged class 🙁

          • It’s hard to say about haunt + GotD, like other skill combos, since we’re just projecting to the future. You can do that as well as any beta tester, in a lot of ways. Like i said several times in this report, you don’t really *need* to do any strategic skill combining type stuff in the beta levels, certainly not once you’re past Clvl 10 and replaying lower level content.

            Generally speaking, Haunt works awesome no matter how the monsters are moving. It would be just as effective on fast enemies as slow ones, so I don’t think it + GotD would be super effective. GotD would probably do more to boost the effect of some death from above skills, or other AoE stuff that works best on monsters who stay in the kill zone.  Though that’s not too hard to manage for the WD, with his tanks.

          • Oh wow, GotD + Acid Cloud 1, 2 combo! lol.

      • Sure, just thought I mention the WD’s “pure ownage” flame thrower skill of the beta. ^^

  2. the WD’s sound effect (verbal? while using a skill) are a joke

  3. Awesome – insightful commentary!  Thanks.

  4. Great stuff – loved reading it.  Hope to read about all characters and all skills over the coming months.
     
    Hopefully Blizzard is reading your report and others like it.  Sounds like some balancing is needed, and some rune effects are either poorly done or just placeholders because they aren’t finished working on them.

  5. “The biggest style changer though, is the Alabaster Resentful Spirit, which changes the damage to 320% weapon damage over 1.9 seconds (At Clvl 60/Rlvl 7.) That’s compared to 500% weapon damage over 15 seconds for the base skill. So the base works out to 100% weapon damage every 3 seconds, vs. 320% in 1.9 seconds.”

    This calculation is incorrect. The description reads 320% damage per second, not 320% over 1.9 seconds.  This means that the skill actually deals 608% damage over 1.9 seconds, not 320% damage over 1.9 seconds.

    • Yep. Changes it from a standard DoT spell to a go to direct damage nuke. Interesting stuff.

    • I think that only strengthens my point!

      • Flux i know you got connections w/ Blizzard, have you tried talking to them about these weak Rune effects???? If this is what is supposed to get us through Inferno i’m SCARED!!!!! I really hope they make the skill effects better, i mean there should be a progression, certain Runes I bet will be harder to find so there sould be 5 levels of skill effects based on the rarity of the rune…. I really hope there is better effects because like you mentioned i’m NOT impressed on 70% of the effects. Some base skills I may actually like more…. I’m somewhat bummed, in the fact that WD has 2 skills (Poison Dart, and Frogs) that seems utterly useless unless the #’s grow…. I think Frogs will work better mid game in MP but I worry in SP…..

        • Bliz has said many times that they’ll be doing a lot of balancing after release, as they see what really works with millions of us banging away on the game. I’m sure the skill runes will be high amongst those changes. At this point a lot of them look useless to us, but we’re just estimating on things we haven’t tried yet.

          • Yeah I’m liking that. I think it is more in Blizz’s best interest this time to balance it than it was in past games, given that more interest in the game results in more players, which results in more RMAH activity.

            So hopefully, if they see some runes being not used, they’ll make them more interesting over time to increase demand for them.

  6. Good stuff, but I think a lot of runestone effects you marginalize are “go to” PvP runes. Snakes on a Face is one of the only true stuns the Doctor has (he has a big fear and a lot of slows, but not nearly as many stuns as the Barb, etc). Ditto for Toad of Hugeness. She eats a bad guy for 5 seconds; what if you get lucky and that bad guy is a summoner/buffer/rezzer? (Unknown how they’d work that in PvP). That’s one important monster out of the fight so you can concentrate on the other monsters. Extra slow on Grasp could be really, really powerful in PvP.

    • Yeah I agree the real strength of Toad of Hugeness is the fact that it takes a target out of the equation for 5 sec. This would be huge (pun not intended) when fighting rare mobs and in PvP.

  7. i really dont like fire bomb at all, the annimation is not long enough at all. you barely could even see what it was,. I dont like the Zombie dogs at all, i think they should bring back the Mongrels they had when they first created the witch doctor back in ’08! i have not tried the beta but i just liked the mongrels alot better and i think they looked much cooler as well.just my 2 cents.

    Also i am going to have to agree with Lcypher,

  8. Great work! Your efforts are appreciated.  I like your cliff notes on the damage dealing implications of the skills which is especially helpful for an idiot like myself.  I tried engaging in discussion in the forums and it appears a degree in calculus is required and I would be a special needs player if catch my drift.  I’m wondering if you’ve given thought to a weapon choice for the WD.  I know the blizz items are “subject to change” but using them as a rough guide, do you see yourself going the way of just getting the biggest damage inflicting weapon to juice your skills damage or will you go class specific for the immersion?  The former appears to be the early consensus as far as “builds” go. I’m not sure I like the idea of little soceresses running around with a two handed polearm.  It just takes away a little to me.  anyway, thanks again.  Wait, can anyone confirm pcguys^ claim because thats a big deal.

    • I didn’t even get into the items issue since this was long and complicated enough already, and since the weapons issue is changing. The skill descriptions now on the Blizzard site (and in our wiki) reflect the planned changes to WD and Wiz skills to switch all of their damage to weapon based, but I don’t think that’s how the beta works yet.

      Your post reminds me that I meant to test that; to simply compare my spell damage with a little dagger vs. the largest dmg 2H weapon I could find.

      As of now in the beta, all the spells are quite effective, for WD and Wiz, so I don’t think many testers are worrying much about how weapon damage correlates to total damage output. (Melee chars are worrying about weapon damage, since they see it directly reflected in their combat numbers.)

  9. Blizzard realistically has 6-9 months to finish this game.  When you think about the number of skills x runes, items x affixes, and four difficulty levels, the amount of ‘polishing’ and ‘balancing’ required to make this game good is staggering.  I wonder if they are just starting that process now.  The good news is that I would assume this is mostly ‘spreadsheet’ work, which is quicker and causes less re-testing that changing the underlying game code.
     
    I sincerely hope they make this their top priority since this balancing will affect 100% of the people who buy the game.
     
    Rather than, say, spending that time on the RMAH, guilds, arenas, fancy battle.net status indicators, and other stuff that only super hard-core gamers care about (maybe 10-20%).

  10. When used right and in the right situation, Zombie Charger is hands down the fastest WD mob-killer I’ve seen in the game.

  11. This video shows the Zombie Charger’s Indigo rune effect graphic. Might be old though…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8QF6C8LYaY @0:25

  12. Great write up as expected! looking forward to part 2.

  13. Good report. I noticed two minor mistakes in it though.

    As Pcguy said, Alabaster Haunt deals 320% weapon damage per second and not over its full duration.

    Also with Leeching Beasts the player gets healed for only half of the 65% and it’s unclear if the dogs get the other half or the full 65% themselves.

  14. One thing that wasn’t addressed and I hope it will is the passive skill choices as well.  There are a few ways that these tie in with the balance of the skills.  The extra health globes don’t seem like much but in addition to them being good healing boosts for when the game gets tough, they also interact with two passives.  Each health globe can provide a 10% mana restore or 10% to attack stacking up to five times with gruesome feast.  These two passives combined with extra health globe runes translates to a lot of health, mana, and damage which is everything you need to keep storming through content.

    A similar point can be made with haunt as it is a spirit realm skill affected by the rush of essence passive.  If you take the crimson rune with it you have a single skill that provides life and mana return with a fire and forget usage.  It’s a good opener to a fight to sustain your life and mana until the next battle.

    Another minor point is that I think with Rain of Corpses  the 70% damage applies to each corpse.  That means that the spell could be more or less powerful depending on how many corpses fall and how likely it is for a monster to get hit by a few in quick succession.

    I think they’ve done a great job making each rune different and useful in many different situations.  Though the life or mana steal effects are’t impressive I think the intention might be to make us consider taking at least one skill to supplement our resources in between using the heavy hitting spells.

  15. Impressively thorough, can’t wait for the next installment. And this even though the WD is the class I’m least excited about!

  16. “Which is nice, but Witch Doctors seem to have the least use for health globes of any character in the game.”

    That’s ironic since they have the most passive skills and rune effects that deal with health globes… hopefully they will be more useful in the later game…

    • I think that’s one in the same. They don’t need health globes for healing themselves (though they do for pets), hence so many passives and such that add other bonuses from health globes. Giving WDs a reason to want/need them on top of healing.

    • I finally switched from Circle of Life to Spiritual Attunement for mana regen because a.) health globes drop in random numbers at random places and b.) I often couldn’t reach them fast enough (i.e. urn event in the crypts). Attunement is more reliable, and in later game difficulties – especially in HC – you may want to stay away from the mobs as far  as possible.

  17. I’m actually debating now between monk and wd as my first playthrough. I guess one will be for solo and the other for group play with my buds or something =)

  18. My choices are as such:

    1) Witch Doctor
    2) Wizard
    3) Demon Hunter
    4) Barbarian
    5) Monk

    I really hope the other classes rune effects will be cool I want in beta so bad 🙁

  19. Can we haunt the same target multiple time? a.k.a haunt the boss 3 times for EXTREMELY high amount of dots, while i think this is unlikely, but this is never tested before right? (and even the tool tips did not say anything about anything being not stackable)

  20. Regarding Grasp of the Dead, and specifically the golden runestone:  From the gameplay videos I’ve seen, the cooldown on GotD starts when it’s cast, so with both cooldown and duration being 8 seconds, you should be able to have the basic un-runed version up all the time.  With the cooldown reduction from the runestone, you may be able to have 2 up at once.

  21. Nice report! Thanks Flux!
    One Question though:
    If Haut jumps to another target, is the duration reset to 15 Seconds? If it already takes say 12 seconds to kill the first target, there is not much damage left for the second, and it will never jump to a third target.

  22. I’m very interested in what’s going to be written up for corpse spiders.

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