This is a basic guide on defense with the Wizard. It applies to pure tank style Wizards as well as DPS heavy Wizards who just want a bit more survivability. Since Patch 1.0.3 I've seen a lot of Wizards move away from pure glass cannon builds, mashing together a handful of defensive skills, and having no real success because although most defensive skills have obvious uses, the less obvious utility is missed or the defensive skills are being used in the wrong situations. Going to assume most people can read advance tooltips, and I'll try to avoid reiterating that crap here. Starting with:
By far, bar none, the best and most useful skill of the Wizard. Most players understand that Force Armor and Prismatic Armor are the two best runes, but some are using them in the wrong situations. Quick and dirty on when to use what:
- When your armor/resists are crap, but your HP is moderate to high, use Force Armor.
- When your armor/resists are really high, use Prismatic Armor.
- If you're having more trouble with large, single shots of damage, use Force Armor.
- If you're having more trouble with damage dealt in fast ticks (e.g. Molten, Plague) or low damage high volume packs of monsters use Prismatic Armor.
- In general, unless you have obscenely ridiculous gear, extremely high dps Wizards are more likely to benefit from Force Armor, where as tank or hybrid Wizards are more likely to benefit from Prismatic Armor.
- If you're attempting to build a moderate to high dps Wizard with a budget, Force Armor is probably the superior choice because you -always- want int + vit, and you can get away with just that on Force Armor. To effectively use Prismatic, you'd need to invest in the same gear + all resist, which is naturally far pricier.
In general, the second best defensive ability for a Wizard. So valuable, I'd personally NEVER play Hardcore Wizard without this, as it is sometimes the ONLY real defense against certain types of Elites (e.g. certain heavy hitting Wallers, big Vortex users that can box you in with just their bodies, Arcane + Frozen packs in enclosed areas, etc.). It is sometimes, the be-all, end-all of "Oh ****!" buttons. Lesser known fact: Teleport also breaks some forms of CC, which is very useful. Jailed on Desecrator? No problem. It is also a very effective tool for reverse kiting (Kiting something in one direction, say a dead end, then having to double back without necessarily spending a lot of time getting your face smashed)
Popular runes for Teleport include:
- Fracture: Largely obvious uses as decoys. Keep in mind that if you have Mirror Images up, and Teleport with Fracture, your Mirror Images will despawn. Reverse is true as well.
- Wormhole: Again, uses are obvious. For those unaware, you can chain off multiple teleports if you're quick, not just a second teleport (easier if bound to mouse button than keyboard button).
- Safe Passage: My personal favorite, again, largely obvious.
When Teleport sucks:
AP spendy builds (e.g. Arcane Orbs) need to be careful as Teleport (unlike Diamond Skin or Mirror Images) requires AP to use. If you blow your AP casting offensive spells, you may not have enough AP to Teleport away before you get the crap kicked out of you. In this sense, Teleport is far more effective on builds that rely primarily on Sig Spells for damage. Wormhole is not generally a good choice for heavy AP spending builds.
Decoys, simple enough. Be wary that this ability carries an animation with it. If you're in a sticky situation, using Mirror Images will force your character into the ability animation which may not be the safest thing in the world to do at any given point. Also, Mirror Image will kick you in a random direction whenever used. This sometimes kicks you BACKWARDS and into a monster you're kiting. Nothing you can really do about it, but be aware of it.
Lesser known effect of Mirror Images is that it sheds almost all debuffs, and breaks almost all forms of CC. Which makes this ability far more valuable than most people give it credit for.
- You can break Jailer with this.
- You can be already Frozen and break that with this.
- You can break Nightmare.
- Diablo slap Conflagration on you? Mirror Images will dispel it.
Duplicates is the most popular choice. Very effective Rune. Mirror Mimics is interesting in the sense that you can use them to get off free CC abilities (they'll cast their own Frost Novas or Waves of Force if you have them spec'ed).
As above, Fracture from Teleport will immediately desummon any Images you have up, and vice versa.
Diamond Skin comes at the very end of damage calculations. Meaning it gets more and more effective, the higher your damage mitigation is. On high armor/resist Wizards this thing makes you largely unkillable in short bursts. On low armor/resist Wizards, this ability is largely useless. In the former case, you can stand in pools of Molten, Plague or Desecrater without serious concern. You can straight tank Azmodan's lava pools while eating his meteors with sufficiently high resists.
It has a moderate cooldown, a surprising high duration vs. cooldown (6 of 15 sec.), zero AP cost, and best of all NO ANIMATION associated with it. You can hold down your attack button and this buff will apply seamlessly without interrupting your attacks. You can be in the middle of the air getting Vortexed or knockbacked, and apply it without fail. You can be jailed, frozen or feared and apply it.
It basically serves as temporary HP. Pair it with high life regen, and it becomes an effective ghetto cure.
Crystal Shell is by far the most popular choice. Post 1.0.3, Prism is actually far more reasonable an alternative to AP sink builds, especially when paired with high crit and Critical Mass, and AP on crit.
Teleport vs. Mirror Images vs. Diamond Skin
Obviously not everyone (anyone?) wants to equip all three of these skills at the same time because there's only six available total. So what's better when?
- Many people who run two of these three favor Mirror Images + Teleport because you get, in a sense, two for the price of one in Illusionist.
- Teleport and Mirror Image is better suited for styles that attempt to -avoid- damage, Diamond Skin for styles that -tank- damage. Obviously.
- In the hierarchy of dealing with CCs, Mirror Images and Teleport are both superior to Diamond Skin. Mirror Images breaks almost all forms of CC, Teleport breaks some, and can be used to avoid most others outright. Diamond Skin allows you to more effectively survive CC -after- you're already afflicted by it, which is in general a nice thing, but inferior to the other two.
- Again Mirror Images breaks almost all forms of CC. Both it and Teleport break Jailer. Mirror Images will break Frozen, Teleport will NOT (though you can use Teleport to dodge Frozen). Mirror Images breaks Nightmare. I don't believe Teleport does, though it's been awhile since I last tried. I've never had success using Teleport or Mirror Images in the middle of a Knockback or Vortex. Diamond Skin does work there however.
- Keep in mind, much to my chagrin, Fracture Teleport cannot dispel debuffs like Mirror Image does. At least not the few I've tested.
- Diamond Skin is superior to Mirror Images in situations where you are trapped. For example, Walled in with Arcane lasers closing in, or get Vortexed into a pack of Hulking Phasebeasts that are too fat for you to run around, Diamond Skin is much more likely to save you than Mirror Images. Teleport obviously is superior than both in this case.
Not much to be said that isn't entirely obvious. Coldsnap is the most popular choice. Crit Mass users can get use out of Bone Chill for a more offensive edge. Short range, so more useful to those who aren't afraid of monsters within spitting distance of you. Critical Mass spam has been covered plenty elsewhere.
Wave of Force
An ability I personally find inferior to Frost Nova. Your mileage may vary. Does a bigger range, and doubles as a ghetto source of damage. Weakness in that it has both a cooldown -and- AP cost, which is irritating to me. The larger radius may be more appealing to glass cannon Wizards.
Snowbound is about the only rune I'd ever recommend for this. Every other rune is trash in my opinion, because it leaves Blizzard at 45 AP cost, which defeats the real main purpose of this spell. It's not a main source of damage, it's (with Snowbound) the most spammable and easy to target Snare in the game. That's really all that needs to be said about Blizzard. Snare. Use it if you need one. And even though the damage is terribly small, you certainly won't mind it chipping away slowly if you're kiting a pack of Fast Shielded Soul Rippers.
Not my favorite spell. I find Blizzard, all around, the more efficient Snare. The only time I use Slow Time is with Stretch Time on a crit mass tank in parties, and only then really for the Att Speed boost for the party then for the defensive properties of this spell. Not a bad spell by any means, but I don't find it as efficient as others, your milage may vary.
A few things:
- Evocation is an awesome ability. It's far less awesome, however, if you have Teleport, Mirror Images and Illusionist all spec'ed already. Illusionist will render Evocation relatively moot in most dangerous situations.
- Blur vs. Galvanizing Wind. Originally, I used to argue in favor of Blur on the premise that it's FAR easier and cheaper to get 300ish life regen on gear than it is to get 20% physical damage reduction. As a result, Blur would be the more "efficient" passive choice to spec. On further thought, I suppose it depends much more on your playstyle and what it is exactly you're doing. If you're bliz/v.hydra kiting all day long, and avoiding the vast majority of hits to begin with, the life regen on Galvanizing Ward just might be outright better than Blur. If you're face tanking things, Blur will likely prove more useful.
- Temporal Flux. I don't like it at all. I run Disintegrate as my primary attack, and have no Snare at all in my arsenal, and I still don't like it. Your mileage may vary, it's not a -bad- passive, nice in the sense that your main attack can double as your snare instead of casting Blizzard at 20 AP a cast then having to cast your damage spell after. Temporal Flux is seamlessly efficient in that regard. Alternatively, if you have a free action slot to give up, you can spec Blizzard, with Cold Blooded instead of Temporal Flux, still get your snare, and deal more damage.
- Glass Cannon. I don't much care for this. I find Cold Blooded setup from above the better choice than eating +10% damage. Alternatively, if you don't want to spec Blizzard for Cold Blooded, you can use the Scoundrel trick (see below for more details). If you're gonna use Glass Cannon, it's far less painful to use it on Force Armor builds than Prismatic builds.
Effective Defensive Combinations - Or what should be used together
Low Armor/Resist, High Vit, Force Armor, Teleport, Illusionist
One of the best ways to play an offensive oriented Wizard. Force Armor is powerful enough to allow you to completely skimp on most damage mitigation and still survive in many farmable areas of Inferno with this moderate amount of support. At about 40k HP, even with CRAP armor/resist, you can eat most hits in the short term and live long enough to proc Illusionist and Teleport away if your reflexes are fast enough. The lack of need of stacked armor/resists means it's far easier (cheaper) to build this kind of Wizard than one centered on Prismatic Armor. Frees up your armor slots and money to focus on int, crit rate, crit damage, and attack speed.
These types of builds are best done with signature spells (such as Shock Pulse Piercing Orb) as a primary source of damage, so that you can ensure you'll always have enough AP to Teleport. AP sink builds can still make this work, but it takes more caution.
High Armor/Resist, Prismatic Armor, Diamond Skin - Crystal Shell, High Life Regen, AoE Spell
High Armor/Resist, Prismatic Armor, Diamond Skin - Prism, High Crit rate, AP on Crit, Critical Mass, High Life on Hit, Disintegrate
I've received quite a few mocking comments from people after they look at my Wizard along the lines of "omg your Wizard dps sucks lolz". Usually from people who run high dps Wizards and Demon Hunters. And that's fine. Here's the thing, I've seen people with those kinds of builds play. They clear trash monsters when hunting elites, because they don't want a monster to sneak up and one shot them while fighting an elite, or kite elites backwards into packs of trash monsters and leave themselves surrounded. One death equals a likely elite pack HP reset + time spent getting back to the encounter + repair costs.
Characters sufficiently tanked out can run -through- trash monsters and ignore them on their way to elite packs. Fight time is often zero for those encounters. Many of the trash monsters you run through will likely lose aggro anyway. And of those that don't by the time you reach an elite pack, with the right gear, it's really not that hard to fight an elite pack with tons trash monsters on you at the same time. Wizards are particularly adept at this because of access to a multitude of AoE spells, and Critical Mass for defensive recast lowering. Offensive wizards may be able to put out big numbers, but tank Wizards can safely put out damage to FAR more monsters at the same time without breaking a sweat.
Now, I'm not saying tank wizard > offensive wizard, blah blah blah. The point isn't a **** measuring competition, it's about effective play to match your style. You can play effectively on many kinds of characters, you just might have to do it in a different manner that might not be so obvious to everyone else.
The first setup above is suited to kite builds. Lots of fire and forget spells (Hydra, Blizzard) are ineffective for LoH, so passive Life Regen is the way to go. The latter setup is a more aggressive variation of the first (and the meteor/twister/frost nova builds for that matter). Funnel large groups of monsters into narrow areas, and hold down your Disintegrate button. High crit + many targets allows you to repeatedly spam Diamond Skin, which lowers your cast cost and keeps you alive.
Generic Tips and Tricks
This has been floating around for awhile, but I don't recall having seen it mentioned on these forums. Equip the Scoundrel with a bow with cold damage, and spec him with Multi Shot. He'll spam arrows triple arrows with decent coverage on anything you fight and slow stuff down for you. Gives you a free Snare without you having to equip anything on your own character. The two problems with this is that he obviously dies a lot so there will be portions of fights where you don't have the snare, and he tends to fixate on targets as opposed to blanketing all monsters and there's no way to do anything about that. Still, it's alternative when you just don't feel like spec'ing something and really want a snare.
This doubles for Cold Blooded as well, anything he chills will take the extra damage from you with Cold Blooded equipped. Again, it's irritating that he doesn't always hit what you want him to, but whatever.
Gear Budget Info
This is a game of resources. How much value can you get for what gold you have per piece of gear. How much stats can you get per slot. Etc.
Your off hand is the single biggest defensive slot you can possibly have in a shield. A shield can have nearly double the defense as a body or head or leg piece. It can carry all-resist like any piece of armor, and grants the unique block stat that you obviously cannot get without a shield. UNFORTUNATELY, the off hand is also the second largest source of damage outside of your weapon. Generally, you'll find most Wizards prefer not to give up the damage, but don't underestimate the value of a shield.
Outside of legendaries and sets, certain pieces of gear cannot spawn certain attributes. All armor can have +armor, +int, +vit and +allresist. But only Gloves, Amulet, Rings can spawn all of Attack Speed, Crit Rate, and Crit Damage. Bracers and Head can spawn crit rate. Body, Legs, Waist, Shoulders, Feet cannot spawn Attack Speed, Crit rate or Crit Damage. Feet however, have movement speed. Only Head, Weapon, and source offhand can spawn AP on Crit.
This means that the least unique pieces of in terms of range of attributes are body, legs shoulders and waist. The most unique offensively are gloves and jewelry. The most unique in utility are head and feet (ap on crit and movement speed). All other things being equal in terms of cash upgrade values, the body, legs shoulders and waist are the areas you should concentrate the most on defensively because you stand less to lose offensively in those slots.
Extra Mouse button
Not everyone's inclined to buy special hardware to play a video game, but most people have a two button mouse with a scroll wheel these days. You can bind to that scroll wheel for a ghetto third mouse button. Additionally, D3 allows secondary bindings. Meaning, the default settings of the game are LMB, RMB, 1, 2, 3, and 4. Say you have Frost Nova set to "1". You can also make a secondary binding to your scroll wheel. So if you hit either 1 or your scroll wheel, it'll fire it off. Keep in mind, depending on your mouse, it might not be able to fire two actions at once. That is, if I'm holding down RMB to spam an attack, and hit 1, Frost Nova generally will interrupt your attack and fire off before returning to your RMB action. If you try and hit the scroll wheel while holding down RMB, depending on your mouse, it may not fire at all.