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    IncGamers Member
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    Existing Skill Review for RoS

    In general, I was pretty happy about the teaser information provided about the Reaper of Souls expansion but a recent post by Grimiku regarding adjustments to existing skills made me much more optimistic.


    We think the expansion is a great time for it, so we'll be giving all of the existing classes (Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor, and Wizard) skill updates in Reaper of Souls. We're looking to make adjustments that improve the experience for skills that are currently underused, or have balance issues. These changes will likely be part of the pre-expansion patch, but new skills will require players to purchase the expansion to access them.

    Source: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/top...9306?page=2#30


    Of all the classes the wizard is by far my favorite. I wanted to parse through her existing skills, runes and passives and make suggestions on how they could be tweaked (and in some cases, totally revamped) to encourage build diversity. By necessity this review will be from a hardcore perspective as that is all I have played in D3, having gotten hooked on hardcore in D2. But with a few exceptions I think most of the comments here translate well to softcore.


    While I don't have the data Blizzard has regarding which skills are used the least, it is pretty easy to guess. Other than two basic builds--permanent Archon and CM--no wizard builds are considered endgame viable. Blue posts have said (can't find the reference) that of all the classes wizards (and barbs) have the least skill diversity. Thus there is a lot of work to do here. At the same time there is are great opportunities for improvement.


    For all of the proposed changes I'm going to avoid giving exact percentages in terms of weapon damage. I assume that all those numbers will have to be tweaked in RoS and I don't have the data about changes to other combat systems to suggest values for these percentages. Where appropriate I will note when a skill should do more or less damage (relative to the other skills) than is currently the case now.


    And yes, this is long. Very, very long. But this is our opportunity to start a discussion that could influence how wizards play in the expansion. I hope people can add their thoughts here and some of the ideas will eventually be noticed by Blizzard.


    Primary Skills
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Of all the different active skill groups, primary/signature skills need the most severe changes. It is safe to say that the original design--that wizards alternate between regenerating arcane power while using signature skills and nuking things with stored arcane power--is a failure. The two viable builds both cicumvent the AP mechanic completely. Skills in archon form don't use AP and CM builds have enough APoC to never have to really worry about AP. Other than one rune of one skill (Living Lightning) neither build uses a signature skill at all.


    This is not the case with other classes. For example, Monks have no issues using Fists of Thunder/Thunderclap as part of many builds. Why is this? Because in addition to help with resource creation, the skills also have utility. The idea here is to make it so that players don't look exclsively for ways to not use signature skills but to give reasons that they would want to.


    Given that AP regeneration isn't enough of a reason to use a signature skill, the first suggested change to all of the signature skills is to bake in any AP generation runes into the base skill. The hope is that it makes them viable alternatives to stacking APoC and CHC in every build.


    ___Magic Missile___
    Of the four signature skills, magic missile suffers the most. In addition to the AP generation issues described previously, Magic Missile also has the dreaded single target problem. Single target skills in D3 are most often weaker than AOE skills because the task at hand is most often to destroy hordes of monsters, not individual ones. Therefore the propsed changes to Magic Missile are the most severe.


    The base magic missile spell should be changed to include the effect of the Seeker rune. This gives Magic Missile some utility the same way Hungering Arrow works for Demon Hunters. Additionally, as noted above, Magic Missile would automatically return some AP on hit so the Attunement rune can be replaced. The amount of AP returned can vary based on rune choice.


    Charged Blast
    Modified to increase the damage of Magic Missile and gives it a small chance to stun the target. Combined with Temporal Flux, this would give Charged Blast some much needed utility. Other changes (such as making it explode on impact) make it too much like Arcane Orb. I'm still skeptical that even with these changes (generating AP, seeking, small chance to stun) that anyone would use it but at least the potential is there.


    Split
    No change here other than the overall changes--seeking and AP generation. Each missile could seek a different target. The AP generation per hit would have to be reduced to account for the multiple hits.


    Penetrating Blast
    If this is to work like Hungering Arrow the penetration chance has to be reduced or the number of targets an indvidual missile can hit needs to be capped. AP generation per hit would of course have to be adjusted based on the maximum number of targetst that could be hit. But again, a single missile that seeks targets, penetrates, and bounces between them at least has some potential for use.


    Ice Shard
    The Attunement rune is unneeded since all casts of signature spells would generate AP. In its place would be Ice Shard. Ice Shard would change the missile into a sliver of ice that explodes on impact doing a small amount of damage to nearby targets. More importantly, the damage type is naturally changed to cold damage, giving wizards a much needed cold-based signature ability. The potential interactions with Cold Blooded would promote build diversity. Note that the shard would still seek and gerneate a little AP, as dicated by the changes to the base skill.


    Heat Seeker
    Seeker is also replaced as its effect is included in the base skill. Its replacement is Heat Seeker. Heat Seeker changes the missile into a small fire ball that tracks down the nearest target. Again, interactions with Conflagration could allow for more build diversity. I still am not sure it would be of use if it is still strictly single target but the proposed changes (seeking, AP generation, fire damage) is a decent start.


    ___Shock Pulse___
    Shock Pulse is in a slightly better place than Magic Missile as it does AOE damage. But other than the use of Living Lightning as a Critical Mass or APoC generator, Shock Pulse is not part of any viable wizard builds.


    Explosive Bolts
    Explosive Bolts is actually one of my favorite wizard skills but I'm forced to stop using it come endgame. The biggest problem is one shared by a number of skills--the interesting proc is basically negated in group play. With other classes nuking groups of monsters the chances of getting the actual killing blow is too low. Ideally this should be changed to say "Enemies damaged by Explosive Bolts explode when slain."


    Fire Bolts
    No thematic changes here but it is my understanding the Fire Bolts don't actually do fire damage and thus don't interact with Conflagration. Obviously this oversight should be corrected.


    Piercing Orb
    I'm not exactly sure how to change Piercing Orb to make it desirable in endgame builds. The path of the orb, while visually interesting, makes it hard to use. Simple changes could include making it easier to hit desired targets and increasing damage done but suggestions welcome.


    Lightning Nova
    The old Lightning Affinity is unneeded with the change that all signature skills generate some amount of AP. Replacing it would be Lightning Nova, which changes the skill to create a lightning pulse that radiates out from the wizard in a complete circle. This is a shout out to the D2 skill nova, which was one of my personal favorites. Lightning Nova would give "melee wizards" an interesting choice of a signature skill.


    Living Lightning
    Again no thematic changes. In general, the conjured beings should do more damage and proc effects less, to give other signature skills a chance to compete. The beings should also last longer as an increase in range would help distinquish this rune from the other Shock Pulse runes.


    ___Spectral Blade___
    Of all the wizard signature skills, Spectral Blade is probably in the best place. The fact that it transfers weapon damage to the blades has the potential for interesting interactions with other skills and passives. Clearly it isn't quite good enough, as except for novelty builds, spectral blades is rarely utilized.


    Deep Cuts
    The idea here is fine. Maybe an increase in overall damage (initial and bleed) would make this rune more attractive and a go to choice for melee wizards looking for good damage from a signature skill. That combined with the baked in AP generation might make it viable.


    Impactful Blades
    Again, good concept but not enough utility to make anyone actually use it. The slow effect should last longer than 1 second and affect attack/casting speed as well as movement.


    Siphoning Blade
    Same name, different effect. Siphoning Blade now draws in enemies struck in the same way Cyclone Strike works for a monk. This would give a melee wizard a skill choice that allows her to cluster enemies for a follow-up attack.


    Healing Blades
    No change (other than the default AP generation of all signature skills).


    Thown Blade
    No change (other than the default AP generation of all signature skills).


    ___Electrocute___
    Despite have good range and good AOE, Electrocute in inferno is a rare sight. I was tempted to suggest that all runes of Electrocute include the effects of Chain Lightning by default but the interactions with some of the existing runes didn't make sense. But clearly changes are needed.


    Chain Lightning
    No real change. The proc rate on Paralysis needs to be improved. The hope is that with increased proc chance and AP generation, Chain Lightning becomes attactive enough to be considered.


    Heat Lightning
    Forked Ligntning is removed to allow for a more interesting effect. Heat Lightning changes the damage type of Electrocute to both fire and lightning damage allowing it to take advantage of both Paralysis and Conflagration. It should also increase the damage done to allow it to compete with the other runes which hit more targets.


    Lightning Blast
    No change (other than the default AP generation of all signature skills).


    Ice Rift
    Surge of Power isn't needed because of the automatic AP generation. Ice Rift causes spikes of ice to snake along the ground (in a similar path to lightning) causing cold damage to all enemies impacted. This gives ranged wizards a cold primary to work with Cold Blooded.


    Arc Lightning
    No thematic change--I wouldn't want to mess with people's ability to role play the dark side. That said, it needs to do a bit more damage.


    Secondary Skills


    Other than Distegrate and a few runes choices, the Secondary Skills are grossly under used in endgame builds. A number of changes are necessary to make them attactive enough choices.


    ___Ray of Frost___
    Patch changes to Ray of Frost have made it more used in the case of the Black Ice rune. Additional rune changes would promote build diversity.


    Numb
    Given the single target nature of Ray of Frost, the mild increase in slow amount from 60% to 80% is way too insignificant to make this rune a viable choice. The effects need to either last longer, include attack/cast speed reductions, and/or give a chance to freeze the target in place. Some combination of those changes would make Ray of Frost have enough crowd control ability to be interesting. (Though using the term crowd control on a single target spell is tenuous, at best.)


    Snow Blast
    Decent thematic effect but needs to do more damage. Let Snow Blast be the single target nuke for bosses, elites and ubers but to be a real choice it needs absolutely wreck single targets.


    Cold Blooded
    In the original D3 beta / notes, Cold Blooded reduced the cost of Ray of Frost to zero, not ten. I suggest it should reduce the cost to somewhere in between, making it more cost neutral when balanced against AP regeneration. Furthermore, Cold Blooded should be considered a signature spell and allow interaction with Prodigy and Arcane Dynamo.


    Sleet Storm
    No signficant changes needed as Sleet Storm does enough damage that a few experimental builds use it. The biggest problems with Sleet Storm is that getting hit often interrupts the channel. Suggested changes include making the wizard resistant to interrupt while channeling and increasing the radius of the storm. If that isn't enough to make it viable, allowing the wizard to move (at a reduced rate ala unruned whirlwind) could be considered.


    Black Ice
    No changes in single player are really needed. Black Ice builds are one of the few current choices that can compete with Archon / CM builds. However, in group play Black Ice suffers greatly as it is very hard to get a killing blow when group members are raining down death and destruction with AOE abilities. Therefore the description should be changed to read "Enemies damaged with Ray of Frost leave a patch of ice when they die that..."


    ___Arcane Orb___
    On paper Arcane Orb should be fine. In practice you never see Arcane Orb in inferno--I think I've seen one random wizard using Celestial Orb in hours and hours of inferno farming. The basic problem is damage per AP cost. If the concept is wizards build AP via signature skills and then nuke using other skills then Arcane Orb needs to really hurt when it hits. The base damage of Arcane Orb needs to increase and/or the cost needs to decrease.


    Obliteration
    With a name like Obliteration it needs to do signficant damage. A simple change here, increase the damage done relative to signature skills signficantly.


    Arcane Orbit
    A cool concept with poor execution. The orbs need to orbit with a larger radius to be useful. As it is now, monsters have to be right next to you in order to trigger the explosion. And of course the explosions need to do more damage.


    Arcane Nova
    If base damage has been increased and cost decreased then the larger area of effect granted by this rune should be enough to make it viable.


    Tap the Soruce
    Again a good idea but too limited in scope. Really reduce the AP cost here and encourage a gun slinging build where the wizard covers the screen in arcane orbs. If that isn't enough, sucessful strikes could trigger a mild resource generation boost in nearby party members.


    Celestial Orb
    Once again if base damage is increased and cost decreased then this rune should be more viable.


    ___Arcane Torrent___
    One of the runes of Arcane Torrent (Arcane Mines) is very close to being viable and another (Death Blossom) has been included in a novelty build. A few small tweaks should hopefully make Arcane Torrent a legitimate choice.


    Distruption
    A good concept that clearly doesn't go far enough to make people use it. Obvious potential changes include increasing the duration and the additional damage granted by the debuff. It should be made clear that additional hits from the same channel take adavantage of the debuff. With improvements to other arcane based skills hopefully Distruption becomes more viable.


    Death Blossom
    There's no arguing that Death Blossom doesn't do tons of damage but the targeting is so sporatic it is generally considered not worth the skill slot. Suggested changes include larger area of effect of each individual hit (giving a greater coverage area) and possibly allowing the wizard to move while she channels Death Blossom.


    Arcane Mines
    Arcane Mines is actually semi-viable in a few builds. I've used it enough in key farming runs to both like it and be very frustrated by it. Two changes are necesary. One, the arming period needs to be removed. In group play, the monsters are often dead before the arming period finishes. Two, the trigger radius needs to be slightly increased. As it stands, a monster needs to walk directly over the mine to trigger it--monsters seem to walk 1/4 yard away from the mine unharmed.


    Power Stone
    Good thematic concept but in practice the 2% proc rate (I think) just makes this rune go unchosen. Suggested changes include increasing the proc rate and giving power stones grant health in addition to arcane power.


    Cascade
    Again on paper this seems like it should work, especially if the new missile explodes with AOE damage like the original missile. I'm somewhat at a loss as to why it doesnt work. The description suggests that every enemy struck in the orignal blast should fire off a missile of their own. Is the area of effect just too small? Open to suggestions here.


    ___Distengrate___
    Distengrate comes the closest to actually competing with Archon/CM builds. Unfortunately only in combination with Blizzard and Cold Blooded but Disentegrate probably needs the fewest changes of any of the Secondary Skills. To the base skill a minor increase in damage and/or reduction in AP cost would be good.


    Divergence
    I just have to change the name of the Convergence rune since it actually widens the beam not narrows it. Overall the effect is fine.


    Chaos Nexus
    No real change needed outside of a possible increase in damage of the secondary beams.


    Volatility
    A small tweak to the radius of the explosion would make this rune compete well with Divergence. Additionally the explosion needs to triggered if the enemy is killed while being struck by the beam, even if the killing blow comes from another player.


    Entropy
    On paper this rune should be fine but the lack of use suggest otherwise. Suggested improvement include increasing the size of the arc, increasing the damage and/or decreasing the AP cost.


    Intensify
    Again I don't know of any builds that suggest Intensify over other Disentegrate runes. The only thought that spings to mind is moar damage but more creative solutions appreciated.


    Defensive Skills


    Along with the Conjuration Skills, the Defensive Skills are by far the most successfully designed skills. A few tweaks are needed to address lesser used runes but overall major changes are not required.


    ___Frost Nova___
    A staple of many builds, Frost Nova needs little in the way of changes. To save space, only the one rune needing attention will be listed.


    Frozen Mist
    Of all the runes, only Frozen Mist is rarely (never?) suggested. The obvious suggestion would be to increase the damage done but it is unclear if that is enough to make it viable. Another possibility is increasing the radius of the area of effect.


    ___Diamond Skin___
    A useful skill, even without the consideration of infinite duration due to Critical Mass. Given that interaction should be nerfed (sorry guys, but you know it is happening), a very small tweak to the spell is in order. The damage absorbed should scale in some small way with the wizard's power (meaning damage done). This would of course include Crystal Shell. Other than that, all of the runes are viable and well designed.


    ___Slow Time___
    As with other Defensive Skills, Slow Time is well designed and needs only a few changes. Overall I would suggest the reduction of enemy attack speed be bumped up just a little. Only the runes requiring attention will be listed.


    Miasma
    Of all the runes, Miasma is one of two that I never see suggested even in less popular builds. The obvious change would be to increase the duration to something longer than 3 seconds but more creative solutions would be ideal. Suggestions?


    Time Shell
    The improvment in movement speed reduction isn't enough to make this rune attractive compared to the other runes. The change here is signficant but the name can remain the same. Time Shell now allows the warb bubble to move with the caster, ala the slow time effect under Archon.


    ___Teleport___
    Ahh Teleport. The only skill I can think of that was nerfed into the ground because of the overpowered nature of the legacy skill from D2. In general teleport is fine but overall the wizard feels sluggish compared to the other classes. Some improvements are definitely in order. The first would be lowering the cooldown from the rather ridiculous 16 seconds. It was clear that the original D3 developers didn't want a wizard skipping content at will like a D2 sorc could. Hopefully the new development team will be more reasonable. Only the runes requiring adjustment are listed.


    Wormhole
    If the overall cooldown on Teleport is lowered, the usefulness of Wormhole is diminshed. A quick fix would be to increase the delay to greater than 1 second but that might be problematic.


    Reveral
    In theory I love this rune. In practice the problem is I've usually teleported because the ground I was standing on was being covered by some nasty elite effect and the last thing I want to do is go back to that spot. Open to suggestions here, but I really do like the concept.


    Calamity
    Again on paper this seems to promote interesting builds where a wizard teleports into monsters instead of away from them. But even CM wizards (who often do just that) don't pick this rune. My initial thought would be to have the Wave of Force also stun, but suggestion welcome here, too.


    Force Skills


    Overall the Force Skills are a mixed bag. Some skill/rune choices are commonly used, others are never seen. Therefore a combination of buffs and nerfs is required to promote more interesting build choices.


    ___Wave of Force___
    I'll be honest--I love Wave of Force. The concept, the graphical effect, everything. Unfortunately even that isn't enough for me to pick it in any build come endgame, though I try to use it when leveling just because. Overall the effects of the Force Affinity rune should be incorporated in the base skill. As it stands, Wave of Force has too long of a cooldown and costs too much to cast.


    Impactful Wave
    No change needed other than the reduction to cost and cooldown of the base skill.


    Force Field
    With Force Affinity gone, this rune can take its place. Force Field cast a normal Wave of Force and than surrounds the wizard with a personal shield that absorbs some damage (ala Diamond Skin) for a few seconds. This make Force Field an ultimate "oh sh!t" button.


    Forceful Wave
    In addition to the reduction in cooldown and cost, this rune needs to do more damage. If it is less defensive (less knockback) it needs to do a lot more damage to compete with any actual damage abilities.


    Teleporting Wave
    A cool thematic idea but yikes--why would I want to put monsters in random locations? (And how is this better or even equal to increasing the knockback distance and stunning them like Impactful Wave?) One bizarre suggestion is that it has a chance to teleport non-elite/bosses hit by the wave into non-existance. You don't get XP from killing them but they can't kill you. Other than that, open to suggestions but as it stands this rune needs major work / replacement.


    Exploding Wave
    Again a good concept. My fear is the secondary waves could knock mobs back into me but that is a minor concern. Hopefully with the reduction in cooldown and cost this is viable. Or pehaps the chance of a secondary waves and/or the damage they do needs to be increased.


    ___Energy Twister___
    Energy Twister is a split personality skill in that one rune (Wicked Wind) is a staple in CM builds and all the other runes are hardly ever used, if at all. The fundamental problem is that targeting this skill (with the notable exception of Wicked Wind) is sufficently random and frustrating that no one uses it. In general then the path of the twisters needs to be more linear so that the player can at least try to target what monsters are hit.


    Mistral Breeze
    Not a bad rune but the cost reduction needs to be even lower to make it a candiate for consideration. Let Minstral Breeze builds cover the screen in twisters.


    Gale Force
    Hopefully with the more linear pathing this rune becomes more viable. Damage can always be tweaked upward if further modifications are necessary.


    Raging Storm
    For this rune to work, the pathing of the individual twisters would have to remain more random so that collisions are possible. But the merged tornado needs to last much longer and do more damage since it is basically impossible to target the spawn location. Even then I have my doubts anyone would pick this.


    Wicked Wind
    No change needed (and the pathing change to the base skill does not apply here) as Wicked Wind is already a go to skill for CM wizards. Depending on how CM is adjusted, a reduction in proc rate is warranted.


    Storm Chaser
    When the decription to a skill requires an abstract, you know there's an issue. Clearly the combination of the complicated mechanics coupled with the poor damage--the "giant Energy Twister" does less damage than a normal one--make this a rare build choice. If the effect is deemed interesting enough to keep then the damage per Wind Charge needs to be massively buffed.


    ___Hydra___
    It is my suspicion that Hydra was designed in anticipation of PvP. Given that the spirit of Diablo is PvP considerations shouldn't effect skill design, I'm going to suggest massive changes in Hydra to make it cool again. Hydra was by far my favorite spell in D2 and the neutered version we got in D3 isn't cutting it. Furthermore the each-rune-is-an-element design works much better when elemental damage meant something.


    The first major change is that a wizard can now have three active hydra instead of one. Damage of course would have to be adjusted downward to take this into account. The damage done (by all three hydra) should be enough to make it the major nuke of a wizard. I want the ability to design Hydra wizard builds, not have it relegated to being a support only skill. Having three "pets" out works for Zombie Dogs, it should work for Hydra especially with the requirement that wizards have to spend three casts to get three Hydra out and the Hydra are not permanent.


    The second major change involved Hydra damage scaling. The current scaling mechanics are confusing. Hydra cast speed is not affected by the wizard's attack speed, but damage per bolt is increased to scale with attack speed. Hydra cannot crit however and don't take advantage of CHC or CHD. Um, why? Hydra should cast faster (and last less time) with increased attack speeed. Right now a Hydra fires 15 bolts in 15 seconds. Keep the max bolts fired at 15 and when that's done, the Hydra disappears. They should also be able to crit and take advantage of CHC and CHD so that they scale properly. Currently improper scaling makes them unused in endgame builds.


    Arcane Hydra
    The interaction between Arcane Hydra with Distruption and Temporal Flux is interesting enough to keep the change in element type. No further changes required.


    Volatile Hydra
    This rune replaces Venom Hydra (and is granted earlier, where Lightning Hydra use to be). Volatile Hydra leave a pool on the ground like Venom Hydra use to but this pool is a fire pool. This allows easier interactions with Conflagration.


    Frost Hydra
    This rune is now granted earlier, too, in the same spot at the old Venom Hydra. Given the ability to cast 3 of them, this rune should be a viable choice to blanketing the field in frost for the slowing effect and/or interactions with Cold Blooded.


    Enduring Hydra
    This rune is granted when Frost Hydra use to be. Enduring Hydra do fire based damage. At the end of its duration an Enduring Hydra doesn't disappear--it splits into two smaller hydra that are randomly positioned nearby. These spawned Hydra continue to cast for an additional set period of time.


    Unbound Hydra
    Unbound Hydra are smaller versions of normal hydra. They do less damage than their runed counterparts. But there can be up to a dozen unbound hydra active at any one time. Basically Unbound Hydra lets someone design a real Hydra wizard. They must pay the penalty of having to spend most of their casting time summoning hydra but Hydra becomes their main damage dealing spell.


    ___Meteor___
    Even with tweaks to casting cost and impact delay you don't see many meteor wizard builds in inferno. A modiciation to the standard CM build replaces Explosive Blast with Meteor, generally Meteor Shower. But if we can assume CM wizards are getting, um, adjusted in RoS, then Meteor needs more attention to be viable.


    Overall Meteor doesn't do enough damage to justify the AP cost and impact delay. Thematically it should remaing the huge, heavy hitter in a wizard's arsenal. Therefore damage should increase but it can remain expensive. Additionaly proc chance should increase. Meteor is one of those skills that really needs to proc APoC to be viable. The rune choices are actually decent and only those requiring changes are listed.


    Star Pact
    A further reduction in AP cost is warranted. If this is the "cheap to cast" version of meteor, then make it actually cheap enough so people pick it to design a build around.


    Meteor Shower
    I feel the damage is too low in relation to the other Meteor runes.


    Liquefy
    The requirement that the initial impact crits seems an uncessary burden. If Molten Impact can flat out increase the damage, then Liquefy can simply increase the molten fire duration.


    ___Blizzard___
    The frustration that people have with Blizzard (the skill, not the company) is that it is designed as more of a support skill and not a skill you can design a build around. The main use of Blizzard is to trigger Cold Blooded so that Disentegrate does enough damage. While that was a creative combination of skills, it is rather disappointing that is the only real use.


    The first main change suggested for Blizzard it to let it stack. Stacking Blizzard would still have a built in penalty--you can't chill something twice. But damage stacking would allow people to make Blizzard their main nuke and cast it as often as possible. Other classes, notable the Witch Doctor, have large AOE nukes you can spam. Blizzard would be no different and thus the concept is not unbalanced. (If the damage boost Blizzard received in a previous patch needs to be revisited and adjusted because of this then so be it.)


    The second major change is to allow Blizzard to proc other effects. Currently its proc chance is bizarrely set at 0.01. Allowing it to have a non-negligible chance to proc APoC would support Blizzard spamming builds.


    The exisitng rune choices for Blizzard are decent and only the ones needing comments are listed.


    Grasping Chill
    This is the one rune for Blizzard no one seems to take. This is because Blizzard already slows and after 6 seconds of Blizzard most things are dead or people simply cast another one. This rune is crying out for complete replacement but suggestions welcome.


    Unrelenting Storm
    On paper this seems useful but again in practice very few builds suggest using it. Maybe a slight increase in damage per time (in addition to the increased duration) would be enough to make it viable.


    Conjuration Skills


    Conjuration Skills are one of the more successfully designed groups. A few of the runes are rarely used (and a few overused), however, and could use some adjustements.


    ___Ice Armor___
    In general Ice Armor has a decent design. The problem is more that Energy Armor is too good in comparison. That said, a few of the runes are weaker than the rest.


    Chilling Aura
    This can be used to proc Cold Blooded for melee opponents. But only slowing the movement speed by 30% to mobs that are already close enough to hit you is pretty pointless. Either attack speed should be affected or the radius of the effect needs to be increased.


    Crystallize
    This seems to be a signficant boost to armor but again Energy Armor is generally chosen here. A slight buff to the armor bonus might help matters.


    Frozen Storm
    I don't understand this rune. The damage is flat out horrible for the AP cost so spamming it makes little sense. It was used way back when to break destructibles with GF/MF before that was nerfed. If the concept is to make an offensive damage rune for an armor, the damage greatly needs to increase and/or the AP cost deceased.


    __Storm Armor___
    Storm Armor is pretty good as it is. It serves its purpose well--being a choice for an offensive based armor. Dangerous to run in hardcore but that is as it should be. Only a couple of the runes require comments.


    Thunder Storm
    The minor increase in damage from 100% to 130% isn't near enough to encourage people to take this over other runes. I would suggest instead a signficant increase in the firing rate.


    Scramble
    A cool idea but I believe the movement speed cap still affects this, so if you have MS on items--which almost everyone does--this becomes a niche rune.


    ___Magic Weapon___
    Boring name, great skill. Two of the runes are very common in many builds...the rest, not so much. The "magic" of course is that affects base weapon damage and is mulitplied by other skills.


    Quicken
    In comparison to the 10% base weapon damage boost, the 30% additional weapon damage (not base) granted by Electrify isn't very signficant. I don't know of any builds that suggested it over Force Weapon or Blood Magic. Therefore it is replaced by Quicken, which increases attack speed by a small amount, but enough to be interesting.


    Conduit
    You hear this mentioned occasionally but only have a chance to restore 1 AP per attack seems rather weak, especially considering one meteor costs 50AP and is considered 1 attack.


    Empower
    The old Venom rune was also weak and never used. In its place I suggest Empower. Empower treats a small percentage of Strength on items to be treated as Intelligence for the purposes of boosting wizard damage. The percentage would have to be small but would let items with a little Strength be useful to melee wizards.


    ___Familiar___
    In practice one of the familiars is common (Sparkflint) and the rest are used only in gimick builds to not at all.


    Vigoron
    The fixed amount of life regen is the problem here. Once you boost life to high levels, 620 life per second just isn't enough to justify picking Vigoron over Sparkflint. If this regen amount could scale with health(and level), then it would be more interesting.


    Ancient Guardian
    This rune has even been buffed but I don't know of many builds that suggest using it. Adjustments to it that would make it help surviving elite attacks would help but I'm not exactly sure how to do that without making it OP. Suggestions?


    Arcanot
    Cool concept but again not sure this is widely used. Maybe a slight boost to the AP regen rate would be enough.


    Cannoneer
    I don't think the damage here is enough to justify the skill slot--especially compared to Sparkflint. It would have to be changed significantly to compete and scale properly.


    ___Energy Armor___
    By far the most common armor used in hardcore. The problem is that the two primary wizard builds don't care about AP so running with 80 instead of 100 makes little difference to them. But try running a Disentegrate / Blizzard build with 80 AP... The trick would be making people want to consider other armors but at the same time making Energy Armor viable for builds not named Archon or CM. I'm not exactly sure how to accomplish this so hopefully people smarter than I can tell me how.


    Absorption
    This rune effect fits well with the Energy Armor theme but I think most people pick other runes. Maybe the chance is too low?


    Force Armor
    This rune went from the only choice in inferno to never used after it was nerfed. The problem is with good armor and resistances most attacks don't hit me for > 35% of my health so this rune never fires.


    Prismatic Armor
    Even after the resistance boost has been nerfed, this is this the go to armor for hardcore. I hate to suggest another nerf but I don't know how to change that. Saddling every hardcore build with 80 AP (and the effective loss of a skill slot) because they have no choice but to take Prismatic Armor is very very bad for build diversity.


    Mastery Skills


    ___Explosive Blast___
    A heavily used spell but only because of the CM wizard build. That said it doesn't really require any tweaks. Chain Reaction is obviously the most popular but the other choices are decent. (And adjustments to proc rates could help balance that out further.)


    ___Mirror Image___
    Mirror Image is fantastic in concept but only so-so in execution. While usedful, especially soloing, it just isn't useful enough to replace teleport, diamond skin, frost nova as a defensive skill...at least most of the time.


    The main problem I have found is that the images don't attack and certainly don't distract monsters as well as they should. When I summon five duplicates and they mill around behind me while I am getting pounded by an elite, well, I soon change my spec back to something cookie cutter. The fact that it is the only spell to break out of frozen is not enough to save it. On top of that, some of the runes are poorly designed.


    Simularcum
    I've never had an issue with my images dying so boosting the health is not very attactive.


    Mocking Demise
    Mirror Image isn't cast to do damage and the damage done here is to small to be change that.


    Extension of Will
    The duration boost is nice but the increase in life from 25% to 29% is laughable.


    Mirror Mimics
    The minor damage couple with the fact that the images often stand around not casting makes this rune choice unappealing.


    Overall Mirror Image needs a lot of work to be useful. I've skipped making suggestions in the hopes people can do so below.


    ___Archon___
    Obviously one of the most used skills as the Archon wizards are one of the only two viable builds and are cheaper to equip than CM wizards. That said, you all know the nerf is coming. Blizzard has said they never wanted infinite Archon wizards (or infinite Wrath barbs). The idea is to make the Archon a fun "save me" button that makes you feel epic for a brief period of time, not kinda-sorta epic all the time.


    So the big change I am suggesting is to have Archon also boost damage (in addition to armor and resistances) by 40% (or more, if necessary) but to remove the increase in duration for every enemy killed. Yeah, I know, that won't be a popular decision but inifinite Archon needs to stop if other builds are to be considered. And I say this as a PL 72 archon wizard. The damage boost needs to be significant so you feel absolutely epic for 15 seconds but then you have to rely on your normal build for a while before you can Archon again.


    This massive change would suggest a few rune changes are necessary.


    Teleport
    Since you will only be in Archon form for 15 seconds, having a 10 second cooldown on teleport makes little sense. Change the cooldown to 1 second and this becomes the defensive Archon rune choice.


    Slow time
    Again with the capped 15 second duration, just have this rune permanently surround the Archon with the moving slow time bubble.


    Passives


    Some of the passives are very useful, others not so much. They require less tweaking than the active skills but a few suggestions are made here. And of course there the looming problem with Critical Mass that has to be addressed.


    Power Hungry
    I actually think the usefulness of this passive is underappreciated. A simple boost would be an increase in pick-up radius, since a wizard taking this obviously wants to grab health globes, but with Paragon 2.0 letting you boost that anyway, I'm not sure that would be a good change. Additionally in group play it is hard to keep others from grabbing your health globes so maybe this should fire even if other people grab a globe.


    Illusionist
    On paper this is an excellent defensive passive. In practice I've died in HC before and had this not proc. Maybe if it triggerd on damage taken before armor / resistances (with a higher activation percentage) would make it more consistent and reliable.


    Paralysis
    The desciption says up to 8% but when I've experimented with it is seems like 0.08%--I rarely see Paralysis fire. Given all the lightning based signature spells, it would be nice to see this actually fire once and a while.


    Galvanizing Ward
    As with Vigoron, the life per second would be more attractive if it scaled with max health.


    Critical Mass
    I'm not going to be popular but the fix here is relatively straight forward. Instead of reducing cooldowns by 1 second, Critical Mass could reduce the remaining cooldowns on all spells by a fixed percent. That way it has the desired thematic effect--CM makes spells with a cooldown usable more often--but it is self limiting and doesn't let you infinitely casts spells that were never designed to be spammed.


    This may seem harsh but as long as a CM wizard has infinite life (because of spammed Diamond Skin) and infinite crowd control (because of spammed Frost Nova) it is going to be very hard for any other build to compete.


    Unstable Anomaly
    This is more of a hardcore concern but I personally feel that all the life saving passives need to go. Their existance essentially makes it so hardcore characters only have two passive slots because you are forced to take Unstable Anomaly as your third passive. Sure it only fires once in a blue moon but when it does it can save you hundreds of hours of playtime so it is basically required. That's the opposite of promoting build diversity.


    -------------------------------------------------------


    Blizzard is definitely taking a second look at existing skills and build diverstiy. And they've shown in the past to be open to player ideas. This is our chance to get ideas out there that might spark some internal discussion at Blizzard.


    Well if you made it to the end I'm really hopeful we can get a good discussion going. I'm sure not all of the above suggestion will be popular and people will have better ideas. So let's hear them.

  2. #2
    IncGamers Member
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    Re: Existing Skill Review for RoS

    I think you have a lot of good ideas, but I disagree with some of them. First and foremost is your idea that Signature Skills should have AP on hit built into them. I don't really think that Signature Skills need that, because the only reason people play with so much AP on Crit now is because it's easy to go infinite with it. I think that if CM Wizard is nerfed, and people stop being able to go infinite with AP, then people will stop using most of their APoC items and start using 'moar dmg' items.

    That said, you clearly have the right idea about evaluating each skill and figuring out how to manage its strengths and reduce its weaknesses. However, I think that a lot of the skills that you pronounced to be 'basically OK' are nowhere near there, and also that you stick too closely to the existing rune set (though this is personal feelings).

    For example, you said that Ice Armor has a decent design, but that Energy Armor was too good and displaced it. I won't disagree that Ice Armor's design is fine, but I think that the reason that people don't use it is that Ice Armor (as it is) is too weak, rather than Energy Armor being too strong. Ice Armor provides a very small boost to survivability (8% again melee attacks I think), which on its own is far, far weaker than Energy Armor's 30% boost to Armor. On one hand, Energy Armor is meant to be the go-to skill for boosting Armor on the Wizard, but on the other hand, Ice Armor's effect is so weak that it barely even feels like armoring up your Wizard to begin with. Because of this, I would probably rather have the base Ice Armor provide a damage shield when you cast it (a small one, so that you can't go infinite with it the way CM Wizard does with Diamond Skin). This would give the feeling of armoring up: you form a barrier of ice around you that tanks a small amount of damage (good enough to tank one or two hits, but less than coating your skin with diamonds, or putting up a shield of pure magical energy). This, I think, would give the skill some reason to be used; you could put a small cooldown on the skill (say 4-5 seconds) to make sure that people can't spam it like CM Diamond Skin; the skill is an armor skill anyway, so it lasts for 120 seconds without Passive, so a CD of 4-5 seconds wouldn't really make the skill any worse.

    Also, I think that many of the Skill Runes that we have do not modify the base skill enough. As you mentioned, most of the base skills feel like they are missing utility that they should have on them; I, in turn, feel that the majority of Skill Runes simply add utility to skills that should already have them in the first place. I really want Skill Runes that really change and modify the base skill, completely changing the way that you play with it. Some of your ideas, such as the Magic Missile rune that changes it to an exploding ice blast, to take advantage of the Cold Blood passive, are really good ideas, but I would go even one step further. I've designed a few new Skill rune ideas so far for the Wizard and the Barbarian, so I'll post a few beneath to show you what I mean by 'really modifying the base skill':

    Wizard Skills
    Disintegrate-Finger of Death: Changes Disintegrate from a beam into a single-target, targeted attack dealing an extreme amount of damage per second (for practical purposes let's say 500-600%)

    Energy Armor-Blood Mage's Blessing: Instead of decreasing your max AP, Energy Armor reduces your Max Health by 20%. While Energy Armor is active, you gain 5 addition AP per second, and your damage is increased by 20%.

    Magic Weapon-Bladestorm (adapted from Brother Laz' D2 mod "Median XL"): Summon a host of blades that increase your weapon damage by 10%. In addition, In addition, the bladestorm seeks out nearby enemies, dealing X% weapon damage per hit.

    Barbarian Skills
    Call of the Ancients-Heroic Presence: While the ancients fight alongside you, damage that would reduce you to 0 health reduces you to 1 health instead.

    Battle Rage-Drown in Rage: Enter an unstoppable rage, during which you lose control of your character, but gain 100% increased damage, 25% increased crit chance, 50% increased crit damage, and infinite Fury for 5 seconds. The Fury cost is removed and Battle Rage gains a 15 second cooldown.

    Frenzy-Berserker Rage: At 5 stacks of frenzy, your damage increases by 30% and your attack speed increases additionally by 50%. You cannot use other skills while your frenzy is at 5 stacks.

    I hope that you can see what I mean about really modifying the base skill. All of these skills are (I feel, anyway) powerful and flavorful interactions that work on a gameplay level and on a lore level. For example, the Energy Armor rune sacrifices your life to power your magic; the Magic Weapon skill lives up to its name and actually summons a host of magical sword to fight with you and boost your power (adapted from a Median XL Sorceress skill) the Barbarian Frenzy skill gives your attack incredible power, but prevents you from using other skills when you have 5 stacks (thus meaning that you can't protect yourself, but must attack like a berserker or run away and intentionally lose the buff and debuff); and finally the Call of the Ancients skill shows the unbreakable will of the Barbarian and his ancestors, making him unable to die when his legendary ancestors fight alongside him (however, since the Ancients have health and can die before the 15 second duration is over, you need to still be cautious when fighting; if they die and you're at 1 life, then you're basically dead). To me, these are what Skill Runes should be: they provide a large, noticeable upgrade in terms of power, but you have to really change how you use the skill to make it effective. Call of the Ancients becomes an 'OH ****!' button; Energy Armor goes from being a protective skill with a bit of offense to being an offensive buff with a bit of protection; Disintegrate becomes worthless against mobs but becomes your go-to boss-killer; finally, Battle Rage gives you insane power (more than even Wrath of the Berserker) but you lose control of your character, meaning that he'll go attack enemies like a berserker and you can't use protective abilities of health potions. All of these skills seem powerful and viable, and they really change up how you use the skill. I think that Skill runes like this would make more builds viable: for the Barbarian, I created a bunch of runes that make regular skills ranged, creating a possible Throwing Barbarian; for the Wizard, you could make a proper Melee Wizard (CM Wizard doesn't count) with powerful melee AoE potential (Magic Weapon-Bladestorm and new rune for Spectral Blade) that is cheap AP-wise (Bladestorm is an ongoing effect, and Spectral Blade is a Signature Skill), with Disintegrate-Finger of Death as a long-range, boss-killer when the boss' affixes make melee combat too risky.

    Tell me what you think of ideas like this. Also, if you have any idea how to reach Blizzard's Blues, and possibly give some of these ideas to Blizzard workers, please tell me.

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