OK, I am new to the class and concept of WD so need a few answers and pieces of advice if possible. Let me just mention that I looked at a number of threads regarding most of my questions and had like everyone has a different opinon and strategy on stuff :)) ... not that I don't like variety but I need to be clear then try things out then select for myself .
1. I want to build a WD (currently lvl 30 act 3 normal) that is a powerful summoner and has a powerful rightclick spell like FB or bears. Problem is I keep seeing guys who have wonderful builds (and they are level 60 inferno, doing runs and what not) and this is so confusing - how do I choose and distribute summon dogs with fetish army and gargantuan with the necessary power to kill all in their way. I came to the conclusion that only two options of the summons should be used so it's either gargantuan + fetish soldiers or gargantuan + dogs that explode (this one proved really cool on Zulle runs) but then .... there's the so great skills like hex and voodoo and spirit walk and soul harvest and horrify. SO MANY OPTIONS that I can't decide what's effective combo and what's not. OK, horrify might be needed for hell and inferno since I see it largely as a escape/ survival skill but then again it's too many options.
2. I like firebats but I really like zombie bears .. unfortunately I am yet the level to have the bears and also more importantly bears don't seem to have the AoE effect of bats.. is that true? and what about bears radius of action the seem to go less yards than bats (they look much cooler when spammed endlessly though). So any advice/ info on that?
I have tons of questions but they will come later when I see what you guys write here. I really love the class so it will be my first lvl 60 and I will play it long especially since I don't play every day and/ or more than two hours a session.
1.) Unfortunately, summons aren't very effective in Inferno. They can work in Acts 1 and 2 with good gear, but they won't survive well past that. Fetishes work and are common in Vision Quest builds, but they function more as temporary distractions and as a cool down filler. A very common build is 4-5 cooldown abilities, Vision Quest passive, and Zombie Bears or Dire Bats. However, the Gargantuan does just fine all the way through Hell.
2.) Bears have AoE, but their range is much shorter than that of DB, and require you to be much closer to your target. Bears do more damage but tend to be riskier. Dire Bats have more range and are more of a kiting play style.
If you want powerful closeup spells like bears/bats, then you will need 1) some way of managing mana, and 2) some way of surviving.
Summons should help with both, since they are a mana efficient damage dealer and should protect you, but sadly they die very easily. They benefit a lot from +resist equipment, as well as +intelligence and +armour, but not from your vitality. The best way to keep them alive seems to be using zombie dogs: burning dogs and gargantuan: big stinker with lots of chance to stun/fear/freeze on hit gear.
Vision Quest gives you a lot of mana at high cost; other good ones to try are spirit walk: honoured guest, locust swarm: devouring swarm and big bad voodoo: rain dance. Damage over time spells are generally more mana efficient and can be combined with a hard-hitting spell like zombie bears.
Lots of witch doctor spells require close range, but you do not have the damage reduction of a monk/barbarian. If you want to be up close, then something like jungle fortitude is essential, as is some form of healing spell (soul harvest with the healing rune is probably the most useful).
1) Summons aren't good. They're only useful when stacking CC gear (like x% chance to stun). And that's a mechanic that's likely to be nerfed and is expensive to acquire. It isn't worth the price of the gear really.
2) Vision Quest is close to being mandatory if you want a good build. The way the game works, there's no sense in not getting VQ because in Inferno most of your abilities will be on cooldown anyway. The only way you'd drop VQ is if you stack a lot of IAS with a Primary. Most likely that would mean using Poison Dart as your main attack. But that build has gotten worse since the IAS nerf. Our other passives aren't good enough to justify dropping VQ in other scenarios.
3) Spirit Walk is nearly mandatory as well. It's our best escape ability and there's no reason not to get it.
4) In terms of damage dealing abilities other than poison dart, your best options are Dire Bats and Zombie Bears. Both of which you need mana regen to spam on top of VQ (assuming you're not using any mana abilities and use a 1H). I'm not sure one is clearly better than the other but Dire Bats can be used with very low defenses, which probably makes it the better choice.
5) Conclusion: A Dire Bat VQ build is probably the best overall build we have now after the IAS nerf. But if you don't have a lot of gold, don't have the mana regen and need more survivability, you could just go with Poison Dart and no VQ with 4-5 CC abilities.
Most of the WDs other damage abilities are not very good. Some will work with %CC gear which is currently overpowered, and some are effective if you have really high defense (which will cost you a lot of money). But in terms of the most effective builds... Dire Bats, Zombie Bears and I guess Poison Dart is the way to go stacked with multiple CC abilities to trigger Vision Quest.
WDs are not very well balanced at the moment in a lot of ways. But I think they'll buff pets in the near future and maybe also balance our passives a bit more.
Dire bats and bears benefit from crit chance and crit damage since they are both high damage skills.
Dire bats has full screen range: Step, shoot, step back, shoot, step back, use spirit walk to find better spot so you can shoot, step back, shoot, step back. Reflects damage is about the worst enemy for this type of build.
Bears: One can also do above, but your range is not full screen and thus one has more risk. Bears do have a skill required to use them, such as being able to get to a wall before casting so as to maximize range. There are other terrain specific things to be aware of. Bears also do not return much life on hit over time when compared with other attacks, but they do a lot of damage.
Summons: In inferno, particular whites and many different types of elites one/two shot pets, even with good gear. The best way is with Chance to Impair gear. One of my biggest gripes is the transition from act 1 to act 2 inferno. Despite act 1 being a cake walk, with the exception of a very few particular elite affix combinations, act 2 becomes so much more difficult for making a pet survive. I'm wasting all my gear and time worrying about pets when they can still get 1 shot at the exact moment I need them most (difficult elite packs).
For myself, Horror is used for it's rune which doubles armor. Cast it as soon as the fight starts and the WD and its minions gain double armor bonus and a good boost to damage reduction.
For healing, life on hit works best in addition to maybe one skill. Life on hit works best with acid rain, rain of toads, and fire pit. Chance to impair also works really well with those skills. I run an acid cloud/zombie bears build with Vision Quest and a lot of mana regen (+34). In act 2 I dropped the stinky giant and ended up replacing some gear for more damage (Mojo replaces a shield is the main difference).
At first I tried splinters and dire bats, hated the play style.
Tried pets, they died too quickly/often in act 2 inferno despite spending 2+ weeks really trying to make them work by farming for gold and buying the 'right' gear on the AH.
Fortunately I kept it in mind that I might want to be a tank type doctor and I was able to make some minor adjustments so I could be a life on hit and chance to impair machine. This makes act 2 inferno play-able. Also is really funny when I pair with an acquaintance and we nearly perma-stun bosses and even many elites.
OK, lots of great info and advice - thank you guys.
I understand summons as they are aren't great in inferno but I still rely on my garagntuan. Love it because he goes into this enraged mode when there are bosses or packs. In normal the dogs that explode (sacrifice) is still fun for me so I will now and then switch to that till late normal I guess. Fetish army is somewhat disappointing though mainly for its 20 sec duration and lack of power although I am sure i read somewhere that with the proper combination of them with another skill and/or rune they are cool.
As for main attack AoE skill right now I am again stuck whether to go with zombie charger (now am at lvl 32) or fire bats. Fire bats seem to hit one target only (I might be wrong, please tell me if I am) so they have range but lack in proper AoE. I now go with poison darts if I want to shoot far.
MCPWTB I agree with you that it isn't too much fun to run shoot a bat run, throw a splinter style, can you post your setup/ build link.
Ok guys a little update on my WD these days. I have finally reached act1 inferno and right now I am enjoying the bears build. Actually bears is my only attack skill aside my summons. Here's the profile:
What I am thinking is that I wanna stick with bears and try to keep VQ with large cooldown skills like BBV, Garg and FA, the only question is Gargantuan because he starts to die faster but is OK for now, maybe you can suggest relacement and explain why it's better.
Another thing is my damage - way too low since some of you have suggested (and thank you again for the help) that the bears build is about killing first before getting killed so dmg is king. Any ideas? I should change weapon for higher dmg but whenever I try to get similar stats -lots of vit and int I get either high prices ( I start looking for equip once I have 100 k gold and then if I don't find anything satisfactory I blow it on silly things like crafting materials which later prove rubbish at the blacksmith) so maybe I should focus on crit dmg/ chance + int instead? Also do I need the attack speed if I am sticking with bears? And do I just choose a 2h weapon and ignore the very expensive mojo + 1h combo?
Please have a look at my other equip and try to suggest what I should make better by slot.
I'm just theorycrafting as I use a 1h+mojo, but a big slow 2h might be a good idea for a bears build. You'd burn mana less quickly because of the slow attack speed and still do a lot more damage than 14k. You might still want to get some increased mana regeneration on your hat though; it is really noticeable with VQ.
And... look. With weapons I notice a lot of people going way out of their way to obtain primary stat + vitality and maybe some other junk, but weapons are the most expensive place to obtain vitality, while being the most important place to obtain dps. IE, you can get vitality from 12 other slots, and 3 of those (chest, legs, amulet) can give you just about as much vitality as a weapon can! Get your vitality somewhere else and worry first about damage stats (or leech/LoH where applicable) on your weapon, especially in softcore. For example, your armor only has 98 vitality when up to 200 is fairly common and 300 is possible.
You could probably get a pretty nice 2h weapon with a little (or a lot of) intelligence for not too much and boost your dps over 20k.