Patch 2.0 and the now live Reaper of Souls has brought a rapid influx of players rolling out or dusting off their wizard’s. If you listen carefully enough, you can hear the cries of “Nerf!” and “Buff!” and “Overpowered!” emanating from the Official Battle.net forums. Part of it was due to the fan service Blizzard gave us by recreating some old D2 favorite Sorceress skills (Frozen Orb, Glacial Spike). But we are past the honeymooning period here. So why are we the new white bread? Let’s discuss.
We saw a little of this, though not to the level of the Barbarian, throughout most of vanilla Diablo 3. Critical Mass wizard’s were incredibly popular and came in two flavors, Perma-Archon and Wicked Wind.
It feels bigger than that now. I see us everywhere. In public games, sure, but every single person I run with has made it a point to get their wizard to 70 in the first month of release. So why are we so popular? What gives? I think diversity is key. Especially in a game of repetition.
We have a lot of great spenders, and lots of rune variations that are viable and helpful. Not to mention gearing choices. You see a lot of fire wizards these days (1, 2), but I believe that is due to the accessibility of fire gear. There is more of it and it is more common (if we are to give any precedence to the “Drop rates”). But arcane is as powerful, if not better, at mid-high torment levels. And cold and lightning have some really powerful builds, mid-torment farming comfortably. Most other classes are lucky to have a second element type that can pull its weight.
So are Wizards Overpowered?
What exactly constitutes overpowered? There are several classes that are quicker at clearing Torment VI. And I would argue that wizards require far more specific legendaries to be able to be efficient at that difficulty. We need more than high dps and EHP, we need at least a few of those wonderful orange-text affixes. We do get a great benefit from the passive bonus to All Resistance from Intelligence. But by the same token so do Witch Doctors. Barbarians and Crusaders even get passive damage reduction on top of benefiting from the armor bonus from their strength stat. I view “overpowered” as game-breaking, and I don’t see our class as that. Wizard’s just have options. Depending on your gear set-up, you can really have some fun with swapping out skills. If you want to run cold, Frozen Orb and Ray of Frost are great options. Ice armor is relevant again, and Frost Nova is a must for most builds on Torment VI.
If lightning is your thing, you have Wave of Force, Lightning Bind Meteors, and quite the selection on builders. And fire and arcane overshadow both of those elements significantly in playstyle types. Fire is missing better options for a ranged spender other than Meteor, but the power of Magic Missile/Conflagrate keeps most of my whining to a hush. Whether you want to play ranged, or melee, or somewhere in between with your caster, there are plenty of options for you.
Are they Balanced?
Again, how do you decide? Balanced against what? If it’s the game then I would say yes. But with the new Torment slider the game is as balanced as you want it to be. Unless of course we are choosing some middle-ground for argument’s sake, so let’s say Torment III.
At that difficulty we have a ton of efficient and fun options. Just pick an element and go, using your drops as a guide. At that level I believe we are above the competition, but I feel like that is what is intended for all classes, and not necessarily broken. If the other classes had the build variety of the wizard, I feel like the game would be in a near perfect place.
Compared to other classes, we do great at mid-torment levels, at or close to the front of the pack. But once you get to the higher torments we drop off a bit. We still have a couple of options, but even our best options don’t have the clearing speed of some of the upper echelon Barbarian and Witch Doctor builds going around right now. As soon as I get a big head and feel good about where my gear is, I get into a game with a Demon Hunter and spend the session chasing them down. It puts my ego in check really quickly.
Patch 2.0.5 (patch notes) went live this week and may shift things around a bit. Archon can now be runed to be any element, which is great for anyone running anything but arcane that wanted to put Archon on their bar. But arcane wizard’s that were using the Pure Power rune and don’t have Vyr’s 6-piece bonus yet will suffer. Teleport saw some tweaks as well, most notably to the popular Wormhole rune. We’ll see in the coming weeks if there is a waning in our population because of it, but I would doubt it. If anything, there are now more viable builds at higher difficulties now that your cold, fire, and lightning damage can affect archon.
I think we wizards are in a great place right now. There are still some things I would like to see tweaked but where we are this close to launch is pretty ideal, even factoring in how many people are playing a wizard these days. Being the popular kid can be lame, but there is an upside to being the white bread. Lots of enthusiasm. The more people playing the class, the more we can flesh out what is wrong and right with the wizard these days. We have always had a very active community with a good amount of veteran players and streamers actively theorycrafting what works and what doesn’t. I don’t see more people getting involved as a bad thing.
What do you think? Have you leveled a wizard this expansion? Do we deserve that nerf-bat? Or do wizards just have more fun?