Friday, 5 July 2013

Random Ability Wizard - Things that should be fixed

When I wrote to explain the Random Ability Challenge, I said that the class I completed it with initially was the wizard.  This is because I always play wizards or whatever they are called in whatever game I can.  Well, I should say I always playing heavy magic users, which may be priests or druids or something like that.  The main thing is that I like using magic more than attacking with axes.

Because wizard is my favourite class in Diablo 3 I have more opinions about it than I do about other classes and my opinions are both more informed and less reliably good.  Because I have so many opinions, I'm going to make more than one post.  This post is about things that seems to be clearly wrong with the wizard.  This isn't about wizards being too powerful or not powerful enough, this is about situations that simply shouldn't persist.

But before I get started, I want to say a word about why any of this matters.  I say that some abilities should be moved from one group to another.  If you play the game with elective mode on then it doesn't matter how abilities are grouped.  But not everyone who plays is going to check that box.  People who don't spend all their time reading forums and blogs may not even know it exists.  Or they might rely on the groupings to get some kind of information about the abilities.  They may think that an ability in the Defensive category is a reasonable defensive option.

I'm going to say that very weak abilities need to be upped a notch.  These abilities aren't used by top players anyway and if you made the changes I'm recommending they still would not be used.  But it matters.  Apparently Diablo 3 has an average of about 2.1 million players a day.  Among those players, there will be those who don't even have a level 60 character yet, those who have never beaten nightmare, and those who have yet to play a wizard.  There are also people who are just now buying the game and playing it for the first time.  There will be even more such people when an eventual expansion is released.  It matters whether an ability is bad for leveling or unusable in the end game.  It matters whether any ability is basically designed for suckers.  Also, the graphics of these abilities have already been coded into the game.  It is a shame that they are going to waste.

So, on to my observations and recommendations for wizards.

Teleport and Mirror Image should be switched.  Mirror image is very clearly a defensive ability, teleport can be used on defense but it is not all defense and it does not take the place of the other defensive abilities when you are leveling.  Levels where you have teleport and don't have mirror image are painful levels because you basically don't have a defensive ability.  Moreover, the last slot for wizards is called the "Mastery" slot.  Teleporting is a very master wizard thing.

Shock Pulse compares very unfavourably with Spectral Blades.  With the widening and lengthening of spectral blades that happened in patch 1.0.7, it covers nearly the same area that shock pulse bolts path through.  Except instead of hitting between 0 and 3 targets at random, Spectral Blades hits everything.  Blades also does more damage than pulse.  For spells to be so similar and for one to be so inferior is poor.  It is hard to think of a simple remedy, and I don't want to suggest that Spectral Blades have its damage lowered because that would require a level of analysis that I haven't done.  Still, something has to happen to Shock Pule, or to Blades.

Electrocute has low damage compared to absolutely everything.  90% is just not enough damage for electrocute, and its runes really reveal how little damage it does.  Lightning Blast is basically the same as the Penetrating Blast rune of Magic Missile except that it does 86% instead of 125%.  Arc Lightning has a much less usable area than Spectral Blades and does 115% instead of 165%.  Basically this skill seems to be designed to do two-thirds of the damage of the other skills.  Obviously there are situations where you would rather do 90% to three targets than 125% to one, if that's what it came down to.  But it doesn't really come down to that, and unless you have no other area attack abilities, doing 125% to one target is actually far superior since it helps when you are fighting elite enemies.  This is also one of two skills I can identify that compares unfavourably to basic attack against a single monster.  I think the base damage for Electrocute should be 105% or 110%, Lightning Blast should be 125%, Surge of Power should give 2 arcane power per enemy hit, and Arc Lightning should be changed to hit every enemy within a 15-ish-yard radius for 165% damage.

Energy Twister is not a thing.  Obviously the Wicked Wind rune is very powerful.  Other than that rune, it might be worth examining whether anyone ever casts Energy Twister at all.  I mean ever.  This spell is absolutely unusable.  Electrocute is almost always going to do more damage.  If twister cost no arcane power it would never be in anyone's six abilities.  I don't know how else to say it is bad.  Energy Twister boasts an impressive 360% damage, but it is very difficult to get an enemy to stay in contact with the randomly moving twister for even one second, let alone six.  Disintegrate currently does 220% to a line for 16 arcane power.  Energy twister costs over twice as much arcane power and, in order to equal the damage of Disintegrate, would require that each enemy spend an average of two and a half seconds.

First, Energy Twister should be Secondary right-click, not a Force ability.  It is far more comparable to Disintegrate, Torrent and Orb than it is to Blizzard, Hydra and Wave of Force.  Second, the area of effect of each Twister has to be hugely increased while the speed they move at is reduced.  A wizard should be able to reasonably expect that an enemy in melee spend well over two seconds in a twister, and that an enemy 15 or 20 yards away will likely be hit.

An alternate solution would be to leave Energy Twister as a force ability but make it much more comparable to blizzard.  Increase the size of the twister by a huge amount but only allow enemies to be affected by one twister at a time.  Again, I would leave Wicked Wind totally unchanged - the idea is not to stop people from playing the way they want, but to give people other ways to play.

Ice Armor doesn't reduce enough damage.  Ice Armor affects only melee damage, but it does much less to reduce damage than Energy Armor does.  The break even point against a level 63 enemy is 1650 armor.  If you have 1650 armor then Energy Armor reduces melee damage by the same amount as Ice Armor while reducing damage from all other sources as well.  1650 is an awfully low number for a level 60 character.  Because Ice Armor's protection is so limited, it's damage reduction should be increased, even though it has another advantages over Energy Armor.  Also, the Frozen Storm rune has absurdly low damage.  If it were permanent instead of 3 seconds no one would use it.

That concludes my list of active abilities that very plainly need a tune-up.  These are the abilities that, during Random Ability play, you cringe at.  As I mentioned above, my plan is to do another post about wizards and how I would like to see some of their abilities changed.  Friendly the Demon Hunter is level 43 now, so I'll have some more comments on that again soon.  But other than noting that the Beastly Bombs rune of Rain of Vengeance was pretty handy I don't have a lot to add right now.

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