SixOfNineBrake In A Ladylike Manner.Premium
I skipped some preliminary stuff. This guy likes to yap.
The previous threads have reached the post limit; I'm creating a new one in order to keep the discussion on melee Wizards open. The previous threads still have a lot of useful information in them, so here's the links for the people that want to catch up with everything that's been said and how we've arrived here:
A discussion of whether or not Explosive Blast and Wicked Wind along with AP on Crit is or not the most effective possible (on the current patch/gear levels) Melee Build was ongoing before we reached the post limit, let's get it continued on the new one.
EDIT: Apparently Wicked Winds really is the real deal. With AP on Crit it's been theorycrafted a drop on Signature Moves completely. Keep it in mind and keep reading to be up to date with everything! It is actually so good that you should probably expect a nerf on its LoH/CM coefficients in a nearby patch (which shouldn't be too bad, unless they also nerf Meteor, which I hardly doubt). If your resists are high enough then maybe dropping the shield for a Source can be a great way to increase efficiency.
DISCLAIMER: No, I don't think the 1.0.3 nerf on Attack Speed will hurt this spec. I am somewhat sure that 1.0.3 will be a buff for us, actually (thanks to the other changes, specially the nerf on co-op damage (already LIVE) and the nerfs to Act 2-4);
EDIT: Nerf on IAS is live and it definitely didn't hurt the viability of the spec and the patch is definitely good for us, farming Act 2 is now Viable and the jump to Act 3 should be smoother than before, enjoy!
When I wrote this thread I was still progressing through Act 3 (patch 1.0.2), so keep that in mind. There is plenty of useful information written on the thread itself, if you're willing to build a Melee Wizard and are willing to spend a lot of gold on gear then you might as well do some reading! Some questions you might have may already be answered.
Viability: I have long cleared Inferno using this very same build. I now currently farm Ponyland (solo and co-op); this build is amazing for Whimsy and I hardly ever have trouble (no suicide bombing, ever). It has plenty of utility for co-op and is not slow at all for Soloing. Gear might be expensive, but this should be true for every single spec in the game. In fact, as long as this build is not the mainstream build, perfectly rolled stats for it will still be cheaper than perfectly rolled stats for the mainstream (DPS with no Resists) Wizard build.
Why am I not a Barbarian or Monk?: Why would I have to be? The spells were there, it's viable, it looks badass... It's definitely intended, don't get caught by prejudices, in a game where all you do is farm, just play what you think is funner. Besides, I think tanking as Wizard is cheaper than tanking as a Barbarian.
Before I just shoot a skill list I'll try to do a quick explanation about why and how this build works, here it is:
This is a Critical Mass build (passive that reduces our cooldowns when we land Critical Hits) that relies high armor/resists and on Nova/Diamond Skin up-time in order trivialize incoming damage. It uses Life on Hit in order to heal any damage that you might have taken while nova/diamond skin are up.
MOUSE 1 - Spectral Blade (Deep Cuts):
It has an 88% coefficient on life per hit per cast (so almost 30% per blade). It is amazing for cleave and heals a lot when there are multiple targets in front of you; Since Life on Hit and Critical Mass both use the same coefficients, this procs CM quite a lot.
Q: Why Deep Cuts over Healing Blades?
A: The percentage life leech numbers are just too small. Not only are they small they are further divided by five in the Inferno difficulty. Therefore, at least on current gear levels, life leech is just pretty bad (same thing goes for the life leech Enchant Weapon).
Q: But it still heals for a little, why not just take it over a silly bleed anyways?
A: Well, in fact Healing Blades (ironically) heals for less than Deep Cuts in this current patch. Deep Cuts benefits more from your Life on Hit than Healing Blades (88% vs 66%). So even without the bleed "Deep Cuts" would still be ahead anyways. This very same coefficient is used for Critical Mass procs, so Deep Cuts is superior then the others by far (Thrown Blades has really low coefficients due to bigger AoE).
For more information on Life on Hit coefficients for your theorycrafting needs, check this thread out:
IMPORTANT: Spectral Blades does elemental damage based on your weapon. If your weapon has Cold Damage, Spectral Blades WILL apply the on-hit slow and will get benefits from Cold-Blooded, same thing for a Fire Weapon and Conflagration.
MOUSE 2 - Meteor (Star Pact):
With a 50% coefficient on life per hit per target on initial cast and another 25% per tick on the dot, this is too good to pass on. Another reason this is so important is that the dot crits have a 100% chance to proc Critical Mass, which leads to Diamond Skin/Nova Spam with enough crit;
EDIT (Patch 1.0.3): A lot of readers are pointing out that Wicked Winds Procs Critical Mass faster than Meteors (which I'll assume also means more Life on Hit, due to the coefficients being tied together). I currently am missing some gear on my Wizard so I can't try it out myself, but keep it in mind as a replacement. Try both and use whichever feels the best (I can imagine Wicked Winds + Explosive Blast being an amazing combination with some AP on Crit).
Force Armor (Prismatic, Force or Pinpoint):
The bonus armor is too good, so are all of the rune bonuses this skill can provide. More crit helps on Diamond Skin/Nova uptime as well as increases DPS, I would choose pinpoint if my crit rate was too low. Force is amazing for a build that focuses on resists and not so much on vitality, it scales amazingly well with life per hit and Diamond Armor. Prismatic is the one I use the most, still, the increased resists (specially physical and fire, since molten/fire chains are one of the hardest packs for me) are simply amazing.
Diamond Skin (Crystal Shell):
This one is easy, with the cooldown reduction thanks to Critical Mass this thing is spammable, along with a lot of armor/resists it gets impossible to even measure how much effective health (healing) this is. Also, 50% life -> Diamond Skin and you're full after a few Meteor Ticks/Spectral Blade hits.
Frost Nova (Cold Snap):
Well, another easy one, build is based around keeping things CC'd for a long time. This makes you virtually immune to infinite normal adds (since you can perma-freeze them, pretty much) and helps kiting/healing on champion packs.
Some other runes are also viable, specially the Crit and Increased Damage one (specially good for Co-op, along with Slow Time (Time Warp)).
Depends on the situation, really. There are several options for different purposes, here's some of them:
Venom Hydra: amazing dps increase as well as good range ability for Zoltun Kulle runs. Unfortunately it doesn't crit nor does it heal with life per hit, but it's still my favorite pick for soloing;
Magic Weapon (Force): well, another flat DPS increase, it's good but I don't think this beats Venom Hydra for the sheer fact that Hydra can DPS while you run.
Archon: gets you ton of resistances while it's up, the coefficient on the melee attack isn't too bad (50% per target), the cooldown runs fast thanks to Critical Mass. and the spike DPS is good for a lot of packs.
Slow Time: Good for a more tank'ish/co-op build. Increases the damage you and your party deal as well as decreases incoming damage. Can use either the bonus attack speed one or the increased damage one. This slow all animations, not just attacks, so it decreases the damage done by bosses by a lot, too.
Explosive Blast (Short Fuse): No cast animation makes this simply amazing. Make sure to pick up Arcane Power on Crit if you intend to use this.
Teleport and Mirror Image have also been cited several times throughout the thread and are definitely viable options.
Blur - Critical Mass - X
The third passive really depends on your gear/playstyle, I am currently using Prodigy over Evocation because I believe the extra meteor casts end up decreasing my CDs a lot more than just 15%.
- Conflagration (for even more co-op damage increase goodies);
- Astral Presence;
- Arcane Dynamo (stacks extremely fast due to Deep Cuts bleeds proccing it);
And some people even theory-crafted Paralysis/Cold-Blooded with Lightning/Cold damage weapons, but I can't say I've tried those.
Enchantress, no contest. 15% armor is amazing, 3% attack speed is great and she hurts. Give her a lot of intelligence gear along with a decent DPS weapon and she'll be almost as strong as a venom hydra .
Weapon: find one with a lot of life per hit and make it a fast one. DPS is good but there is no use to 40k+ dps if you still die, hitting fast with good LPH is the key for this to work.
Armor and Resistances: look for these whenever possible, these are the key for higher Inferno tiers (Act 3 and 4, specially). Stacking these makes Diamond Skin a lot stronger as well as your healing. Ideally you should look for Resist All wherever you can find.
(Normally 10 armor would equal 1 resist all. That's not entirely true since we get 65% more armor and only 40% more resists, but this should be a good guideline for when you are choosing between different pieces of gear)
Attack Speed: Your best DPS stat will be attack speed, since it increases not only your DPS but also your Healing per second (thanks to life per hit).
Critical Hit: Get something close to 15 at least, shouldn't be too hard, just look for an intellect shield with crit (which shouldn't be too expensive since not a lot of Int users wear shields). Critical Mass + Meteor Ticks = Win.
Try to find Life per hit on rings and amulets, if you get LPH + IAS you're set.
Intellect is still amazing, ideally you'd still want it in every single piece of gear you own. DPS is good and so are the resists it gives you.
Depends on your gear, if you outgear content you completely trivialize it. The stronger the mobs are the more perfectly you'll have to execute your rotation, if they are too strong you might have to kite a little.
Use meteor whenever able, the passive healing/cd reduction thanks to the dot is amazing, the initial damage is great and so is the healing. Try to get mobs to stack in front of you, the more mobs you hit, the faster you heal and the faster your cds refresh. Diamond Skin is off of the "Global Cooldown", use this whenever yours goes down (it refreshes FAST, sometimes you'll even overlap it). Keep normal minions nova'd 100% of the time.
On Champion Packs that are too strong to straight up tank do the following:
Get them to chase you, throw a couple meteors at your feet -> Diamond Skin -> hit them with Spectral blade until Diamond Skin wears off -> Frost Nova -> Run -> Repeat;
What makes us unkillable:
Control over the enemies. Aside from just taking little damage (thanks to Prismatic, Blur, Gear, etc.), we can avoid damage completely if our rotation is executed perfectly.
Assumptions we should have: mobs in Inferno hurt.
I know, I know, Act 1 mobs don't hurt you anymore with your good gear, but Act 2 hurts you. The same happens in the later Acts.
So, since we know Inferno hurts and I still don't have enough gear to simply sit in the middle of mobs and destroy them while sipping tea, what can we do?
Some people play as if they had gear in content they don't outgear, this leads to people poorly playing this spec to its limits. I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is possibly the melee spec in the game that requires less gear! We need less vitality, dodge, block and life on hit than any other melee spec in this game. Some of our best defensive stats increase our damage output (such as IAS and Crit). People that are complaining they aren't doing well would be doing worse as a Barbarian with equivalent money spent on gear.
Getting back on topic; How should you play in content where a single slip means a death? Keep trying until you get used to this (not so) simple rotation:
When executed perfectly, as long as your Diamond Skin survives 3-4 hits, you'll still be able to kill any champion pack that stacks on top of each other (as in, not a runner/teleporter) and does not crowd control you (nightmarish, jailer, knockback, vortex...).
The rotation should go as follows:
Step 1: Aggro the mobs. Unless they are fast they'll take a while to get to you.
Step 2: Venom Hydra at your feet (if you have it).
Step 3: Meteors at your feet (ideally two). Even if you miss the initial land you won't be missing much, most of the CM procs come from the DoT.
Step 4: Diamond Skin (preferably before Meteors land, so there is a chance that this will instantly refresh).
Step 5: Spectral Blades away (using meteor as Arcane Power permits) until your Diamond
Skin breaks AND is not refreshed. So, only jump to step 6 if your Diamond Skin breaks AND is on Cooldown. If it refreshes just use it again and keep dropping meteors/spectral blades.
(Mobs usually follow some sort of line, so only one mob will get to you first, so you won't be taking a lot of damage and Diamond Skin shouldn't break. Shortly after the rest of the pack will be swinging away at you, here is when Diamond Skin should break (and you probably take a few hits to your "real HP bar", even if you drop to 30-40%, as long as your Life on Hit is good, you won't even have to pot, just jump to Step 6).
Step 6: Frost Nova. If Diamond Skin refreshes during Nova's duration, go back to Step 5 (pound away mobs). If Diamond Skin is broken and there are still a few seconds of waiting on its cooldown go to step 7.
Step 7: RUN! This is where your life would be in danger. Any damage you take here can escalate to death. Don't worry, this is one of the shortest steps, just wait for Arcane Power/Diamond Skin to recover and go back to step 3 (drop meteors at your feet followed by Diamond Skin).
So, basically whenever your Diamond Skin is up your health should quickly go back to full (and this is exactly why you don't need a lot of Vit for this build). In content you overgear you can afford to sit in middle of mobs and Diamond Skin won't even break, but when playing against stronger mobs Diamond Skin is your real health and you should care for it as much as you care for your health bar!
So, basically, by executing this perfectly, even in content that you don't outgear, you should still trivialize more than 60% of the champion packs.
Always farm places with few running mobs, few ranged mobs, few mobs with inherent crowd control, etc. This further increases the chance that your fights will all be manageable.
I am not saying this is the best spec of all, what I'm saying is: this build is fun, it's steady, you can take a lot of hits, you don't need potions in order to heal, you use Spectral Blades (it looks awesome), you use Star Pact meteors (also looks awesome, I love it) and you get to wear a Shield + Sword (come on, wizards with shields are badass, remember those D2 Sorcs?).
Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.