You want write-ups, I got 'em. As I've mentioned in various other threads, I'm playing all five classes simultaneously. I just managed to get the fifth one past NM Diablo, which seems as good a moment as any to tell you something about my characters.
I play SC, and my item situation is probably best described as "tainted". All the items I'm currently using are drops I've found myself, but I have used the AH. In particular, I've bought two level 15 socketed weapons and a few dozen gems pre-1.0.3. I'm also using the AH to sell some of the things I've outgrown, which has netted me ~150k so far.
Chester the monk
At first, I thought D3's monk would play similarly to a D2 MA 'sin. But after trying out several different builds throughout normal and early NM, I had to conclude that I wasn't really impressed by the offensive spirit-using skills in the monk's arsenal. After some thinking, I decided to switch to a healing/tanking build, with pretty good results. I wasn't too surprised to find out that it's fairly similar to most monk builds.
L: lashing tail kick + spinning flame kick
R: crippling wave + mangle
1: breath of heaven + blazing wrath
2: sweeping wind + bladestorm
3: mystic ally + fire ally
4: mantra of evasion + hard target
The guardian's path
Chant of resonance (dual wield)
Changes for NM Diablo:
Sweeping wind => serenity + peaceful repose
Chant of resonance => transcendence
Crippling wave is probably my favorite primary attack. I really like the fact that it's AoE is centered around you, instead of in front of you. Once you get going, it's like being in the proverbial eye of the storm: there's chaos all around, but it hardly affects you. Reducing enemy DPS to 60% is pretty amazing. Especially since part of it is -IAS, making it significantly easier to interrupt enemy attacks. And anything that hits you (often at 75% damage) still has to contend with the best dodge and healing in the game.
She's my most durable character, happily tanking almost everything except for extreme ranged or AoE damage. The kind that really only occurs when you get sloppy and pull multiple nasty elite packs along with over a dozen relatively tough ads. This builds near-complete inability to kite is a serious problem in such situations, but luckily they're entirely avoidable. Her listed DPS is relatively low, compared to my other characters. But due to her ability to attack consistently and continuously, her effective kill-speed is much higher than those of my glass-cannon kiting builds.
I mainly picked sweeping wind for the thrill of trying to find the next pack before it runs out. But I was pleasantly surprised by how fast it charges up when you get surrounded, as well as the resulting damage boost. Mystic ally was also a pleasant surprise. I expected it to be fairly weak, since it doesn't have a hefty cooldown like most summons. But it actually seemed to be on par with the WD's gargantuan. One the other side of things, chant of resonance is mostly just there so I don't have to focus on as much on mantra recasting and spirit. And I pretty much don't use my left mouse button at all.
Crucifer the witchdoctor
Crucifer was originally intended to be mostly summon-based, similar to a D2 skelliemancer. But I got disappointed with my minions' survivability fairly quickly, despite jungle fortitude and zombie handler. I also didn't really like the inferno-inspired builds based around vision quest and ridiculous cooldowns. So I attempted to recreate the feel of a D2 venomancer.
L: poison dart + splinter
R: grasp of the dead + groping eels
1: zombie dogs + burning dogs
2: soul harvest + siphon
3: locust swarm + pestilence
4: gargantuan + big stinker
Like a venomancer, this build is centered around keeping enemies at bay while applying liberal amounts of AoE DoT. The basic recipe is to cast grasp of the dead where my minions meet the monsters, pop in for a quick soul harvest, and hope that the combined minion/DoT damage decimates enemies before they start coming for me.
While I find it entertaining, this build doesn't seem to be particularly effective. Pestilence can rack up some amazing "killing blow" counts against swarms, but that's about it. And it's absolutely terrible against anything that can easily dispatch minions, including all those heavy but (for players) easily avoidable attacks that are so common in D3. In particular, I found this build pretty much unable to kill NM Diablo. After half a dozen tries, I caved and switched to a vision quest build.
L: firebats + hungry bats
R: haunt + consuming spirit
1: big bad voodoo + ghost trance
2: soul harvest + siphon
3: fetish army + devoted following
4: gargantuan + wrathful protector
Baba the barbarian
As with the WD, my barbarian is an attempt to recreate the feel of what I consider a typical D2 barb: sustainable attacks + warcries. No tactical mobility skills, no flashy attacks with ridiculous cooldowns, just good ol' high damage melee tanking.
L: frenzy + sidearm
R: cleave + rupture
1: threatening shout + falter
2: revenge + vengeance is mine
3: battle rage + marauder's rage
4: war cry + veteran's warning
Changes for NM Diablo:
Cleave => bash + clobber
His basic MO is to run in with battle rage and war cry up, shout, and start frenzying or cleaving depending on the number of monsters. And, of course, hoping that revenge triggers before he dies. The reliance on revenge provides some extra tension that I really enjoy, but it's also the build's weak point. Slow but hurty attackers, like golgors or mallets, can be a bit tricky.
With battle rage and full fury, he has the highest listed DPS of all my characters. His kill-speed seems on par with my monk's, trading higher damage for less AoE. He's generally less tanky than the monk, but he's better at dealing with ranged and AoE attacks. The latter is mainly because he doesn't have to keep attacking. But it also helps that he's more mobile when I'm auto-attacking, due to his more concentrated damage.
I have a bit of a crush on rupture, especially due to the art. Row upon row of beautifully synchronised explosions, accompanied by a very satisfying thud. In the right circumstances, it's as if the legions of hell are performing a deadly ballet to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Ouverture. .
Apsalar the demon hunter
I'm generally a bit disappointed with the demon hunter. It's like she tried to become an amazon/trapsin hybrid, but ended up learning more about evasion because she failed at both. Most of her discipline skills, while pretty good, don't excite me like other characters' skills do. I don't feel that way about the hatred skills. But unfortunately, you really only need one generator and one consumer.
L: evasive fire + covering fire
R: elemental arrow + ball lightning
1: caltrops + torturous ground
2: preparation + battle scars
3: marked for death + vally of death
4: rain of vengeance + stampede
Hot pursuit (but going to try sharpshooter)
Changes for NM Diablo:
evasive fire => bola shot + thunderball
vally of death => mortal enemy
stampede => dark cloud (didn't seem to work well, though)
Ball lightning was a no-brainer, because I wanted my hatred-consumer to be AoE, and the rest of 'em stink (IMNSHO). They either don't hit everything reliably enough (e.g. chakram, other elemental arrows) or consume ridiculous amounts of hatred for only a bit of extra damage (e.g. multishot, cluster arrow). I did like most hatred-generators. After trying them all, I settled on evasive fire. Mainly because it's the most dependable, but the built-in kiting is also a big plus.
The rest of the build is quite a bit of trial and error, as you might've noticed from the comments beside hot pursuit and dark cloud. Steady aim and battle scars seem fairly ubiqutous, and for good reason. I found that caltrops and vally of death synergize nicely to create small but deadly killzones. They're especially effective on maps that offer choke points. But as with all roots and snares, they're less useful against ranged attackers. Luckily, I found stampede quite effective at disrupting nasty ranged packs, as well as things that are too still too fast after caltrops.
One of my biggest dislikes with this build is that it I find it quite frustrating under anything but minimal lag. Evasive fire ends up missing its small window between enemies entering backflip range and enemies entering melee range. And it becomes a lot trickier to get the placement and timing of a caltrops/vally of death killzone right.
Cassie the wizard
Cassie changed constantly during early normal, before settling on a melee build in late normal and early NM. While I found that very enjoyable, the chain-dying got too frustrating in the open areas of A3 NM. After a few failed experiments, I settled on a build that attempts to combine blizzard/hydra kiting with disintegrate burst damage.
L: disintegrate + chaos nexus
R: hydra + venom hydra
1: diamond skin + prism
2: blizzard + frozen solid
3: energy armor + pinpoint barrier
4: magic weapon + force weapon
Changes for NM Diablo:
Disintegrate => ray of frost + snow blast
Prism => crystal shell
Blur => galvanizing wand
Glass cannon => cold blooded
I'm a bit ambivalent about this build. I'd really like to spend more time casting instead of running. D2's unrestricted teleport might have been a bit overpowered, but it did make kiting a heck of a lot more enjoyable. But on the plus side, blizzard/hydra is highly effective. And prism, astral presence and disintegrate allow me to at least pretend I'm tough once in a while.
She had more trouble with NM Diablo than any other character, reaching him second but beating him last. Looking back, that was mostly because I thought galvanizing wand was blizzard's idea of a joke skill. And it is pretty pathetic, compared to the healing that other classes can achieve. But it makes a big difference in a battle of attrition. Of course, it also helps if the clone doesn't spawn with nasty skills
That's all, folks. I hope you enjoyed this, but let me know either way
So long, and thanks for all the reading!