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Thoughts on class combinations

Discussion in 'Diablo 3 General Discussion' started by Aahzmadius, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. Aahzmadius

    Aahzmadius IncGamers Member

    May 24, 2012
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    I’ve been thinking about class combinations recently, and I figured I’d post something about it. I assume this topic has been covered elsewhere, but I didn’t research it all that much since I wanted little outside influence on my hypotheses. Feel free to set me straight in the comments. The genesis of this post is the question, “What would be the best group of characters and the most synergizing skill setup amongst those?†I decided to limit this thought exercise to one group member per character class, so that rules out answers such as “4 l33t barbs spinning in infinity!†The focus of this post is going to be farming runs where the kills come relatively quickly, and assuming a good level of gear for each character. That is, NOT someone who is hitting inferno with his first, self-found character. Let’s say roughly 75K DPS and at least a 30% critical chance from gear. Obviously a higher-powered group can turn up the MP for optimal farming speed/bonuses. I also didn’t want to just take the most popular builds verbatim; I’m going to gimp each character a little bit, so that the group as a whole can benefit. But I don’t want to nerf the builds significantly-that would sacrifice too much farming speed.

    So what would such a group look like, in my mind? I would start with the best character in the game which is, of course, the witch doctor. The monk is obviously designed for group buffs, so I chose him. The barbarian seems to be a popular fellow, so I’ll throw him into the mix. And, finally, I couldn’t pass up the crowd control abilities of the wizard. That leaves out the demon hunter. I am not saying the DH is an inferior character; I’ve played in plenty of groups where she is the strongest member. I am not saying there are no DH builds that will help a party. There are only 4 spots for 5 classes, so somebody had to be left out. I’m sure the DH fans will list options in the comments.

    You’ll see why shortly, but I guess the name of this type of group would be “Health Globe Farming.†Ideally, if this works out in actual game play, you would be able to turn up the MP a notch or 2 from where you typically farm, taking advantage of skill synergies without slowing down your farming speed. None of this is written with hardcore mode in mind.

    Witch Doctor

    Battle.Net build:!YcT!cbZZbc

    What’s in there: I’m going to use Grasp of the Dead / Death is Life to generate additional health globes-along with some fungible minions. Gruesome Feast takes maximum advantage of those extra globes. The 1.08 patch improved Firebats significantly, and I’m going to put the damage output of Cloud of Bats to maximum use. Big Bad Voodoo / Slam Dance is included to boost group damage against elite packs.

    What’s missing: I prefer Hex / Jinx for its additional damage and defense, but Gargantuan / Bruiser would work out just as well. I did not include a low-mana skill, but you could swap out Soul Harvest if your gear does not support a build with only 2 Secondary attacks. Zombie Bears are great, but hopefully you’ll see later why I chose Firebats.

    Gear considerations: Pickup radius is highly-recommended; the witch doctor is going to act as the group’s cleric by sucking up those extra health globes. An Echoing Fury is discouraged due to its high Fear proc rate (more on this later).

    Recommended synergizing skills: The skills I see as most necessary for the benefit of the group are Grasp of the Dead / Death Is Life, Gruesome Feast, and Big Bad Voodoo / Slam Dance. Hex / Jinx is borderline due to the additional damage bonus. All of the other skills can be swapped out for personal preference. In particular, if you’re getting enough mana from GF, Pierce the Veil would be better than Blood Ritual. For extra fun, try Fetish Sycophants-MOAR minions!

    Monk build:!fUc!aaYbZa

    What’s in there: Cyclone Strike / Implosion is going to be used to gather trash mobs to be easily dispatched. Exploding Palm / The Flesh Is Weak will increase damage against elites, and get some chain reaction damage to trash mobs. The whole group will benefit from Mantra of Conviction’s damage boost. Breath of Heaven couples with Guiding Light for a 20% damage boost.

    What’s missing: Arguably the best monk skill is Wave of Light. The reason I did not include it is due to its knockback effect. We want as much of the trash mobs in one place; Wave of Light works at cross-purposes vs. Cyclone Strike. Mantra of Healing / Circular Breathing only benefits the resource generation of the monk-not the entire group. Fleet Footed, Tempest Rush, and Way of the Hundred Fists / Blazing Fists are not recommended due to the movement speed boosts above the gear cap; farming will work best if most members are moving at a similar speed (probably 24% these days). You could even make an argument against the Thunderclap rune on Fists of Thunder due to its movement boost, but that may risk gimping the build too much (monk players-opinions?). Crippling Wave / Breaking Wave might benefit the group more than FoT.

    Gear considerations: Echoing Fury is discouraged due to its high Fear proc rate (yes, this will be mentioned for all four classes).

    Recommended synergizing skills: Exploding Palm, Cyclone Strike, Breath of Heaven, Mantra of Conviction, and Guiding Light. Other than that, pick your favorite Spirit generator as well as your preferred Passive Spirit booster.


    Barb Battle.Net build:!ZaY!YZcZYc

    What’s in there: BORING! I know, I know…but it’s the most popular build in the game for a reason. My one tweak is to throw in Pound of Flesh for extra health globe generation. Everyone in the group will benefit from War Cry / Impunity. I realize I’m contradicting myself with the inclusion of Sprint and Wrath of the Berserker; I’ll cover that later in discussing how the group will operate as a team.

    What’s not in there: Battle Rage / Swords to Ploughshares and Threatening Shout / Grim Harvest were considered, but ultimately I decided it would be too much of a nerf. But, hey, if you’ve got a lopsided group where you need the barb to do less damage, throw them in!

    Gear considerations: Don’t even THINK of using an Echoing Fury.

    Recommended synergizing skills: War Cry and Pound of Flesh is all I’ve got. Inspiring Presence would also work.

    Wizard build:!Wag!ZYacZc

    What’s in there: Basic Critical Mass / Frost Nova build with some tweaks. The Bone Chill rune will yield a damage boost to the group. Same goes for Slow Time / Time Warp, along with the Cold Blooded passive. Power Hungry will allow us to take advantage of the extra health globe generation. Meteor serves an important function as the only ranged damage-dealer in this group; that’s certainly a weakness of this combination. A bunch of arcane sentries spinning in a tight space could wreak havoc-although that’s true of most groups, I suppose.

    What’s missing: I didn’t include a Signature spell, so I’m counting on globes plus Arcane Power on Critical Hits to fuel both Meteor and Energy Twister. If your gear won’t support that, Shock Pulse / Piercing Orb would work well; I would recommend against Spectral Blades due to its limited range. Teleport might make more sense than Diamond Skin if the other group members are constantly finding themselves ahead of the wizard (old habits die hard). Note that Archon is NOT recommended as we want the wizard to be locking down enemies with Frost Nova as much as possible.

    Gear considerations: Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

    Recommended synergizing skills: Frost Nova, Slow Time, Cold Blooded, Power Hungry, and Critical Mass. If you’re overflowing with AP you could swap out Power Hungry for Glass Cannon, or your other favorite passive. If you’re getting enough critical hits with Meteor you could drop Energy Twister for something else. Due to group tactics, Wave of Force is discouraged.

    Tactics – trash mobs

    So here’s how I see this group working together in the best way. The barb is the point character. His job is to whirl through a trash mob, find another trash mob, and lure it back to the other three members of the group. The witch doctor and monk should run as close to one another as possible. The monk will be hitting Cyclone Strike to pull together enemies and popping at least one with Exploding Palm. At this point, a cast of Breath of Heaven will probably yield maximum utility to the group. Our witch doctor will be anticipating where the monk will pull in the monsters, and then casting Grasp of the Dead in the center of that area. Once the monk creates the Implosion, WD starts channeling Firebats. The wizard will stick close to the monk and witch doctor, casting frost nova for enemy lockdown. Since the mobs will be packed closely together, Energy Twister and Meteor will hit multiple enemies per cast, while Slow Time will encapsulate many monsters. Finally, note that this is why an Echoing Fury would be sub-optimal; we want trash mobs grouped as tightly as possible before Cloud of Bats starts swirling and meteors rain down from the sky.

    Tactics – elites

    The barb does what he does best: spin around in circles. If he isn’t already there, he should pop Wrath of the Berserker. The monk should try to hit as many of the elites with Exploding Palm and look for the best opportunities to refresh Breath of Heaven. Our witch doctor needs to quickly survey the immediate battlefield and cast Big Bad Voodoo in a good spot. The earlier in the fight, the better, but it doesn’t hurt to wait a few seconds in order to get the damage boost in the best area. And the wizard locks down as many elites as frequently as possible. In theory, the group could be benefitting from all of the following skills at one time: Hex / Jinx (20% increase in damage to a monster), Big Bad Voodoo / Slam Dance (30% damage boost to the group), Mantra of Conviction (24% additional damage-and 48% in bursts), Exploding Palm / The Flesh is Weak (12% additional damage), Guiding Light (20% more damage), Frost Nova / Bone Chill (15% more damage), Slow Time / Time Warp (20% more damage), and Cold Blooded (20% more damage). Pretty frickin’ sweet.

    If you’ve read this far, thanks for indulging me. If you haven’t, that means I can insult you with impunity: you’re a compleat loser. And now I look forward to the demon hunter fans unleashing a withering barrage of fletching in my direction. Or perhaps they will find no quarrel with my analysis.
  2. tougeznut

    tougeznut IncGamers Member

    Oct 11, 2012
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    Wow long post :). I recently switched over to HC for lack of a good challenge in SC. The group that I played with:

    Wiz using cmww (me)
    Monk with overawe, cyclone strike, and guiding light
    Barb with war cry impunity using HotA
    DH using echoing blast mines

    The monk would run ahead and draw together huge crowds with cyclone strike. I would tele into the fray and keep everything immobilized
    The barb and DH would smash and blast the elites into pieces

    With overawe our combined sheet dps came close 1.5m so MP10 was pretty much a joke (excluding Act 2 since some of the elite affix combinations are downright impossible to deal with)

    It would be nice to have that huge dps boost temporarily provided by a WD, but with everything standing still the DH's mines did just fine.

    I obviously agree with your choices of class synergy since we already used most of them in our play group already. I'll only criticize the wizard since that's what I play most: you could argue that it's a preference, but never choose meteor over explosive blast. Casting meteor Interrupts any other attack animation and spamming a ton of meteors will really hurt everyone's frame rate. Explosive blast has a lower cost to cast and just does so much more damage. Power hungry passive does help with AP, but it requires the wizard to move to get the globes... bad idea. A better choice would be evocation to reduce cool downs. To further help cool downs use the 9 second rune instead of the 15% damage boost on frost nova. The damage boost could be useful, but keeping monsters immobilized is the primary role of a cmww wiz. Anything that takes away from that... just takes away from that. Lastly, considering the barb already using war cry impunity, using prismatic armor on top of that will just be overkill. If the wiz is doing a good job freezing things, then a more useful skill would be storm armor shocking aspect. It'll provide a huge dps boost against elites (for the wizard at least) and keep a larger available AP pool.

    sent from my GalaxySIII
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
  3. Aahzmadius

    Aahzmadius IncGamers Member

    May 24, 2012
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    Thanks for the reply. I've played the wizard the least amount, so I have no doubt that your suggestions are spot on. My thinking was (in theory) that Meteor would be the one ranged damage spell the group has, which is the main reason I chose it over EB. Power Hungry grants AP whenever the wizard is healed by a health globe; ideally the witch doctor will be sucking those up as soon as they appear with +pickup radius equipment-not that there's anything wrong with Evocation, of course. I got nothin' on armor choices-I'll defer to your suggestion of Storm Armor.

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