Dentist is the name for a Necromancer who uses the Poison and Bone spell Teeth. According to the diabloii.net Necromancer FAQ Teeth is not a viable late game skill because it can only do 40 to 100 (ish) when maxed. That information however, is now over two years out of date.
Teeth, like many other spells when the 1.10 patch came out, gained the benefit of synergies. In fact, Teeth gets one of the largest synergy bonuses of any skill - a whopping 15%. On top of that, Teeth has four skills whose points can count towards it. A 'fully synergised' Teeth spell would have 80 x 15% = 1200 percent added to its damage (ie multiply base damage by 13). However like most of the bone skills if we do not put points into Bone Prison, but instead equip ourselves with the unique boots 'Marrowalk' we can get a maximum of 93 points of synergies. 93 x 15% = 1395% added damage, approximately 15 times the base damage.
Could it be that the lowly Teeth skill is worth a second look?
For the below data, when I say 'max synergies' I mean 20 skill points spent on Bone Spear, Bone Spirit and Bone Wall (but not Bone Prison). The numbers for damage were generated by a skill calculator.
FAQ Update for Teeth Damage
Level 37 Teeth
Mana Cost: 21
with Marrow + max synergies:
Magic Damage: 904-1151
with no Marrow, 20 in BP + max synergies (not using Marrowalks)
Magic Damage: 786-1001
with no Marrow, no BP + max synergies (82 Skill points)
Magic Damage: 605-770
Level 30 Teeth
Mana Cost: 17.5
with Marrow + max synergies:
Magic Damage: 642-837
with no Marrow, no BP + max synergies (82 Skill points)
Magic Damage: 430-560
Level 20 Teeth
Mana Cost: 12.5
with Level 20 Bonewall, no Marrow (42 Skill Points)
Magic Damage: 92-124
How does it hold up at lower levels? Fairly well, my level 33 Dentist was doing 74-100 points of damage in Nightmare. You do have to spam the spell, and that can be very mana intensive, but when you kill one thing, everything else on the screen drops dead at about the same time.
So what does it do, and what are the drawbacks?
Teeth works in a fashion very similar to the Amazon skill Multishot, or the Sorceress skill Charged Bolt. It fires off a fan shaped wave of small missiles, which fly just over the length of the screen. When a missile hits something it stops and does its damage, unless it is a monster or player that has already been damaged by that particular volley or wave of missiles.
More points in the skill increases the number of missiles, up to a maximum of 24 (at level 23 I think). The missiles weave from side to side a bit, so that at low levels of skill you may actually miss what you were aiming for. At medium or high levels of skill there will be sufficient missiles that you are practically guaranteed to hit, and with a little practice will hit everything on the screen in the direction you are firing.
Like Multishot and Charged bolt you can control the shape and direction of the fan based on where the mouse pointer is relative to you. The closer the mouse is to the center of the screen, the more spread out the fan will be (up to 120 degrees (a third of the whole screen)), and the width of the fan seems to be based on increments of roughly 30 degrees. If the mouse is right at the edge of the screen the fan is quite narrow, approximately a spread of 60 degrees. The 'edge' of the fan also seems to be based on increments of 30 degrees, so even a small movement of the mouse at the boundary between these different zones can give a large change in the shape of the fan.
As you spam your Teeth, you will typically move the mouse around a bit to find the best position to hit as many monsters as you can. You may also find yourself doing a small shuffle to get as many monsters in the optimum field of fire as you can.
Since each monster can only be hit once from each wave, obviously the more monsters there are on the screen the more potential damage you can do. Therefore even with the setup listed above which does an average of just over 1k per tooth, you will hardly ever do the full 24k per volley.
The damage done is of the type 'Magic'. According to the beastiary on the Arreat Summit in Hell there are very few creatures immune to this kind of damage. Out of the monsters which can appear in Act 1 only 2 out of more than 60 had immunity to magic. The 'most immune' type of monster is the Wraiths, where the different kinds of Wraith all have 50% resistance to Magic damage.
All up the average resistance to Magic for Act 1 Hell is 10.11%. Most of the creatures have 0% resistance, and about half all of the subtypes of that monster all have 0% resistance, and for most of the rest only one of the subtypes has any resistance to Magic damage, but that resistance will typically be quite high (50% and up).
Example: out of the five different tpyes of Zombie, only one of them has Immunity to magic, the others all have 0% resistance.
None of the Necromancer curses increase the damage of the Magic damage type. Apparently Lower Resist used to, but it does not work that way in 1.10.
At higher levels Teeth can hit multiple monsters even if they are lined up in a formation which would have been ideal for Bone Spear, so long as the line is a bit crooked you should be able to get all of the monsters. Simply fire off a narrow spread and the missiles will pass through monsters which have already been hit, and hit the ones standing behind them.
At medium to low levels I found it helpful if the monsters were spread out a bit rather than bunched up - the ideal would be to have them in a line at right angles to where I am. If you are having difficulty picturing this, simply imagine the way that in the Arcane Sanctuary the goatmen will all line up on the edge of the platform next to the platform you are on. Not coincidentally, the Arcane Sanctuary is quite a good place to level up as a Dentist. Other wide open spaces with barriers to the monsters movement which work quite well are places like the Bloody Foothills (just outside Harrogath in Act 5). And also the jungles of Act 3, where the flayers all crowd along the edges of the rivers.
Bas Ascii Art of Ideal Tactical Situation (monsters = m, you = y)
Even when the monsters are lined up in the ideal Bone Spear formation, you can just sidestep a couple of times to hit them allCode:m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m some barrier you can shoot across but they can't move over (eg a river) y
... and even that fairly shallow angle should be enough to hit them all.Code:m m m m m m m m m m barrier becomes barrier y y
Here is the basic outline of the build that I am doing:
- Teeth - 20
- Bone Wall - 20
- Bone Armour - 1
- Corpse Explosion - 1
- Bone Spirit - 20
- Bone Spear - 20
- Bone Prison - 0 (leaving open possibility of using Marrowalks)
- Curses - 0
- Summons - 0
- Poison - 0
Points placement: basically dump the points into Teeth till Bone Wall becomes available at level 12. Then alternate between Bone Wall and Teeth, until Teeth is mased at about level 30, then alternate between Bone Spirit and Bone Wall till Bone Wall is maxed, then finish Bone Spirit, and lastly work on Bone Spear.
In the next part I'll look at the skills and explain why I chose to put points into the ones I did, and the reason for the order I put them in. Just because I avoid certain skills does not mean they are 'bad'.
Necromancer strength requirments in general are quite low, and I spent little or no time performing fisticuffs past Act 1, so let your end gear determine how much to put in here. I put in a fair bit early on, because I wanted to have at least 60 points by the time I hit level 27.
Due to lack of fisticuffs, and lack of interest in all things blocking, I left this quite low (40ish), just enough for my gear.
I did not put everything else in here, I kept a reserve of 30 to 40 points in case I found a particularly attractive gear option.
Even though this is an extremely mana reliant build, I did not deliberately put any points into Energy (my finger slipped once when I was tired - it was an accident, I swear). My intention was always to solve the mana problems with my gear.
- 'Insight' Polearm (Ral + Tir + Tal + Sol) for the Meditation Aura. Note: for bonus style points, make it in a scythe.
This was my one 'must have' item. Everything else was just whatever I found (eg Nokozoan Relic) or whatever was lying around on mules (eg Stealth runeword).
Unfortunately, it does restrict my particular implementation of the Dentist to ladder only. If playing non ladder, I would tend to focus not on items to give faster mana regen, but on items to increase the size of the mana pool. (Eg saphired armour and helms, charms with bonus mana, rings of braininess etc) And I'd have dumped some points into Energy as well.
Bone Wall is not cheap, and because I haven't used it in the past, I tend to not get it positioned correctly, so it requires several casts. Once maxed, the mana cost of Teeth at least 12.5 per cast, so killing even a single monster could take half my mana orb (of course, to kill that monster and a bunch of his buddies at the same time would still take only half the mana orb).
My mana orb refills in 12 seconds.