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Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

Discussion in 'Witch Doctor' started by z00t, Apr 17, 2012. | Replies: 39 | Views: 6610

  1. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    This skill must be useful because it's been in its current state for some time now in development.

    However, on paper, its applications don't seem that great.

    For the sake of debate, let's talk about Spirit Barrage when runed to still be a single-target spell.

    It's fairly expensive and hits only a single target if we're talking about the rune effects which retain its 'primary' form - 'The Spirit is Willing', 'Phlebotomize', and 'Well of Souls' (this one hits more than one target, but its relatively minor damage - a situationally useful addition but not something you can rely on as a primary form of AoE damage).

    Regardless of which of those three rune choices you pick, you're still going to be using Spirit Barrage primarily to quickly kill high-priority single targets.


    Here, however, is my concern with Spirit Barrage. While there will often be high-priority targets that you'll want to eliminate and who may be too far away to kill with something like Firebats, would Haunt runed with Resentful Spirit be better in most situations?

    Haunt with the Resentful Spirit rune deals 288% Weapon damage over 2 seconds.

    So let's say you have three Tomb Guardians that need killing asap. Wouldn't it be more efficient (both in terms of time and mana) to cycle Resentful Spirit between the three of them, rather than cast Spirit Barrage repeatedly until all three die?

    Spirit Barrage requires you to be motionless in order to deal sustained damage with it. This can be a liability in many situations. Mobility is key when playing a relatively squishy class like the Witch Doctor, and every second that you spend stopping to cast spells has to be calculated against the risk of getting rushed down by certain monsters.

    It seems to me that the only times when Spirit Barrage will be better than Resentful Spirit is when:
    -You're fighting a tough, single monster like a Boss.
    -You need a specific monster dead RIGHT NOW (a few Spirit Barrages will kill a SINGLE target faster than Resentful Spirit).

    These are situations which will DEFINITELY come up, but my concern is that Resentful Spirit is more useful in more situations. And in the situations described above, even though Spirit Barrage is better than Resentful Spirit, I feel as though Resentful Spirit is good enough that it's still highly attractive.

    Even when you take into account the rune effects, like 'The Spirit is Willing', for example, the mana you save still doesn't seem to outweigh the advantages which Resentful Spirit offers.

    Overall, it just seems to me that Resentful Spirit is better in more situations than Spirit Barrage, and for the situations in which Spirit Barrage is better, it's not better by too much.

    Spirit Barrage is a skill I really want to like. It's always interested me, even if it didn't sound very exciting, I thought there was something I was missing. But once Blizzard put up the skill video showcasing it, I was just like: "eh?"

    What do you guys think?
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  2. Horcsog

    Horcsog IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    U think for manitou we will have to be really close to the enemies?
    Would be great if it damaged enemies that are far away as well :(
  3. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    Yes, I think they'd have to be fairly close, but Manitou changes Spirit Barrage very drastically. At that point, you can't compare it with Resentful Spirit at all :p.

    I'd like to talk about Spirit Barrage with rune effects where it retains its 'primary' form (so everything except Manitou and Phantasm :p).
  4. pcguy

    pcguy IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    Well of Souls can do more damage more quickly to more targets than Resentful Spirit can. If Resentful Spirit was stackable, it would be more in line with what Spirit Barrage can do.

    Well of Souls is actually doing 280% instant damage per cast to four enemies for only 10 additional mana: 190% to the main target + 30% to an additional target + 30% to an additional target + 30% to an additional target.

    We do not yet know if the additional Spirit Bolts will be wasted if there are less than 4 enemies present, or if the additional bolt will fly out and hit whatever enemies are left on the screen.

    If the additional bolts can all hit the same target, then we are looking at 280% weapon damage with a single cast - a number not wholly unbelievable, considering spells such as Zombie Bears can do 708% area damage for 32 additional mana.

    Resentful Spirit can do a little more than half the damage Well of Souls can, usually only to a single target. Half damage. Half. Damage.

    That instant damage can mean the difference between enemies swarming you and attacking you versus enemies dropping dead before they reach you.

    Meanwhile, however, each of those Spirit Barrage casts is costing 10 more mana than Resentful Spirit would. Resentful Spirit easily outshines Spirit Barrage when it comes to efficiency.

    Spirit Barrage is way better than Resentful Spirit in terms of raw damage output, but if your gear doesn't allow you to spam Spirit Barrage, Resentful Spirit is a really great way to do tons of sustained damage to multiple high priority targets.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  5. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    The thing about Well of Souls is that I'm picturing its use in a vs Tomb Guardians sort of scenario, and your extra bolts just ineffectually hitting random skeletons instead of damaging what needs damaging.

    I suppose if there are only something like 4 super-tough baddies on the screen, Well of Souls would be better than Resentful Spirit. But if there is only a single enemy, then I don't think the additional bolts will seek it, since the tooltip specifically states 'other' targets. So basically, it'd just be like using an unruned version of the skill.

    Also, even though Well of Souls does significant TOTAL damage, that bonus damage is just diluted among up to three other targets, making it less useful unless you really spam it. And again, the nature of Spirit Barrage requires you to stand still to get sustained damage out of it, which I find a little worrying.

    I just have a hard time finding a place for it in a build. If I want AoE damage, I'll take a dedicated AoE skill and then Resentful Spirit seems like the best way to round out my offensive options, giving me a way to pick off single high-priority targets (multiple ones at a time), but still stay mobile.

    This is why I bring up the comparison between Spirit Barrage and Resentful Spirit - I'm not talking about which one is better if you could only use one of these skills as your entire build, but rather, which skill would I use to plug the gap of 'single target DPS'. For such a role, the extra targets hit by Well of Souls is irrelevant unless you're up against the situation described above where you only have a handful of enemies onscreen (in which case Well of Souls would be really good).
  6. pcguy

    pcguy IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    You keep bringing up mobility. Resentful Spirit only lasts for two seconds. It doesn't seem offer up too much in the way of mobility. Running around and taking pot-shots with Resentful Spirit is a more more defensive tactic than standing around and grinding out sustained damage with Spirit Barrage.

    Each spell has it's own strengths and weaknesses. I gave some good reasons to use Well of Souls and you found some instances where it would not be as effective. This is the choice you are getting. Resentful Spirit certainly is not more versatile than Well of Souls.

    A build which chooses Resentful Spirit is probably going to need more offensive skills and equipment, whereas a build which chooses Well of Souls is going to need more defensive skills and equipment. This is balance.

    --

    Let's now take a look at The Spirit is Willing:

    This spell costs 109 mana, but you make 44 back when it hits a target. You are effectively only spending 65 mana per cast. You can cast The Spirit is Willing 1.5 more times than you would be able to cast Resentful Spirit. You use less mana to do more damage more quickly.


  7. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    True, I value mobility a lot - I didn't want to overload my initial wall of text, which was already looked a little daunting, but I'm thinking specifically of a petless WD. Sometimes my posts are a little skewed towards that mindset.

    I can see Spirit Barrage working better when playing with pets, but I figured that mobility would be important regardless, so I chose to omit that. I should have mentioned that Spirit Barrage IS much better when you're playing with pets.

    As for Resentful Spirit being less versatile than Well of Souls, I still disagree - I feel that Well of Souls is more wasted on a single target than Resentful Spirit is when trying to deal with multiple enemies simply because you're still getting a lot of bang for your buck applying Resentful Spirit on 4 separate targets, whereas the value you get when using Well of Souls on a lone enemy isn't as great. Note that I'm comparing these two skills based on what each of them does BEST, as opposed to a situation where you wouldn't use either of them (like against a swarm of enemies where you need a proper AoE spell).

    The Spirit is Willing IS a very good rune for single-target damage. If needing to kite is a non-factor, it's definitely better than Resentful Spirit. Actually, now that I think about it, The Spirit is Willing might even be better in a 1v1 kiting situation because DoTs aren't affected by weapon speed, so you could still potentially cast The Spirit is Willing rapidly while kiting, depending on how quick the cast animation is (compare the responsiveness of casting Plague of Toads with Corpse Spiders). Of course, the problem then is that The Spirit is Willing isnt as good as Resentful Spirit for dealing with 4 super-tough badguys. And Well of Souls isn't as mana-efficient when kiting a single enemy as Resentful Spirit (although Well of Souls would win out if you need a specific target dead RIGHT NOW at the cost of mana..but like I said, that's a tradeoff I feel still makes Resentful Spirit more appealing).
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  8. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    EDIT: Whoops apparently I double-posted.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  9. Jaago

    Jaago IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    I find the base-form Spirit Barrage very weak. Compared to a single-target primary attack, such as Flaming Dart, SB offers less than a fifth in increased damage, at ten times the mana cost. A combination of single-target primary attack and Resentful Spirit is almost always better in terms of pure damage than a combination of single-target primary and Spirit Barrage, as well as more efficient in mana consumption. I'm basing this on calculating 1 RS + 3 FD against 4 SB (Spirit is Willing) on a single target with 2 APS, and 4 RS versus 4 Well of Souls against 4 separate targets. SB does gain some advantage at higher attack speeds, but it becomes a lot costlier to use as well.

    With Firebomb (Ghost Bomb) as primary, SB deals more damage against single targets than RS + Firebomb, but already loses in damage against two targets. 1 RS + 3 Ghost Bomb is slightly better than 2 Spirit is Willing + 2 Ghost Bomb in both damage and mana efficiency when comparing more sustainable attack patterns against single targets.

    Most AoE attacks wipe both Spirit Barrage and Resentful Spirit from the table as long as they can hit at least 2 monsters.

    Attacks that are similar to Spirit Barrage on other classes deal significantly more damage than Spirit Barrage does, such as Impale on DH dealing 250% weapon damage at base level.

    While many of these are rather anecdotal facts, I personally find them sufficient to say that the base damage of Spirit Barrage needs a considerable buff, to about 230% or 240% weapon damage, to be considered a strong attack.
  10. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    That's a good point you raise that I totally forgot about - the use of Spirit Barrage when you've already got a single-target primary attack.

    Poison Dart (especially with Splinters) is a very good skill, and I find myself taking it with many builds. But if take it, I can't use Spirit Barrage at the same time, whereas I can use Poison Dart in tandem with Resentful Spirit.

    Actually, you can't use Spirit Barrage AND any of the primary attacks at the same time...unless they're a very specifically-runed one, like Rain of Toads, or Pyrogeist. I suppose you could use Spirit Barrage in conjunction with Corpse Spiders, but there's a long setup time at the start when you're spamming spiders before using Spirit Barrage (and Corpse Spiders is just so meh at the moment :().

    That said, I do still see Spirit Barrage having its uses - the ability to kill targets blocked by other monsters is very valuable. This is the reason why I take Resentful Spirit in my builds instead of relying solely on Poison Dart to snipe faraway and protected targets.

    Of late, I've been wanting to find a petless build where I'd want to take Spirit Barrage over Resentful Spirit for the role of 'single-target sniper', but am having a hard time fitting it in.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  11. Jaago

    Jaago IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    Splinters is very difficult to compare with anything because it will surely have an increased casting time. Overall, I really hate it how they have different abilities have varying attack/cast speeds without showing it anywhere. It makes it very difficult to compare skills with each other, and I'm often taking it for granted that similar skills have the same cast speed.
  12. sacridoc

    sacridoc IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    Yeah, makes it very difficult. A few things I would say about Spirit Barrage are that it's probably a homing skill in that it tracks the target down when you cast it, at least to some degree. But of course it can only hit one enemy at a time. From what I've seen it appears that Spirit Barrage is an ability that has a pretty fast animation. So it could cast quite fast with IAS gear. Still though, it doesn't do anywhere near the damage of any of the WDs other nukes, which is kind of strange. And only 3/5 runes actually function as single-target abilities anyways. I don't feel like RS is exactly the same kind of ability as SB since RS is best against like 4 enemies while SB is better against just 1. So the advantage of getting SB is that you could go without a Primary ability and still do just as well against individual targets.

    SB seems to work well with Hex and Pierce the Veil, but overall I can't really find a great build where I use SB as my only real attack. I feel like the best way to use it is with Haunt in a build with IAS. In every build it's like you use Haunt as your main attack and only use SB when you're fighting against only a few targets and Haunt is already on everything.

    Again, one of the clear advantages of spirit spells is that you can get Haunt and SB without getting a Primary. But using SB by itself... I don't know how well it would work. The 2 AoE runes you can definitely fit into builds though. But the runes they give you suggest that SB is not an ability you're supposed to base your entire build around I feel like.


  13. Scorch Hellfire

    Scorch Hellfire IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    I don't know... To me it seems like Spirit Barrage is just supposed to be a primary skill alternative like Zombie Charger kind of is. If you can handle the mana cost, it can be nice to have. However, it definitely needs a buff if it is supposed to hold up against the runed primary skills or the ridiculousness of Zombie Bears.
  14. sacridoc

    sacridoc IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    Yeah, I think the reason that SB is so bad is because you would use it as a Primary. And since the spirit spells work well with mana passives, you would get to the point where you could cast it for not very much mana. But Zombie Charger probably requires more survivability because it's like a melee skill, especially if you want to get the max range of it. Which means you can't really get the mana passives as easily. So it probably makes sense to use an actual Primary with Zombie Charger unless you go with Explosive Beast. Honestly it's hard to tell exactly what Explosive Beast will look like on release because the tooltip seems to contradict what you see on YouTube.

    Actually... Zombie Charger becomes a really good ability when you decide to use it very close to the enemy and combine it with Zombie Wall. Zombie Bears is good because you can stand back, but at melee range, the original spell mechanics are going to be better I think. You should be able to turn sideways with Zombie Wall and perhaps funnel enemies in a straight line to some extent.

    Both Dire Bats and Explosive Beast seem a lot better than Spirit Barrage (and are pretty similar to one another...maybe). You could definitely use them as your main attack, like in a sacrifice build, as long as you have the mana to do so. But using SB as your main attack shouldn't be nearly as good. That is, until you get the passives that it benefits from and combine it with other damage skills.
  15. Zaventem

    Zaventem IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    Haunt/Resentful Spirit also does Arcane damage that's a big difference between that and Spirit Barrage.Also if Haunt Scales with APS which a lot of people are claiming that's another good thing.
  16. Jaago

    Jaago IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    Haunt does not scale with APS, this was recently confimed by HardRock here.
  17. z00t

    z00t IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    Zombie Bears SOUNDS very good - I've been wondering how the other rune effects for Zombie Charger are supposed to compare. 140 mana for 708% Weapon Damage? What's the catch? The only downside is that it is a fairly close-ranged skill. Perhaps the bears have a harder time hitting things than videos may indicate...which would explain how it can do so much damage for so low a cost, like Plague of Toads.

    Normally, if you're playing petless, you will want a Primary Attack skill (Poison Dart, Firebomb, etc). Although mana isn't much of an issue in the beta, it doesn't take much to see how important having a cheap skill to help pace your mana usage will be important later in the game.

    If you have something like the Flaming Dart rune for Poison Dart, Spirit Barrage becomes less attractive since for situations where you have a clear shot at the target you want, Spirit Barrage's mana cost may not be worth the extra 30% damage compared to just firing a Flaming Dart.

    However, I was thinking - what if your build is full mana? Something like Spiritual Attunement, Blood Ritual, AND Rush of Essence? With all these, maybe we can straight-up use Spirit Barrage as a primary attack :p.

    Here's what I'm thinking of tentatively:

    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/witch-doctor#gSZXUj!bXV!aaabZY

    The idea is this:
    With The Spirit is Willing rune (44 mana gained on-hit by Spirit Barrage) and Blood Ritual, I should only be paying 48 mana per Spirit Barrage hit. This seems like a low-enough cost to spam a decent amount.

    Locust Swarm is the perfect accompaniment to Spirit Barrage. Because Locust Swarm is an AoE damage-over-time, I can quickly throw it out at a horde, and then get on with the business of sniping important targets with The Spirit is Willing. Grasp of the Dead is an amazing spell all-around. It AoE slows AND deals damage, it's just a petless WD's best friend. With both Grasp of the Dead AND Locust Swarm, I do not imagine hordes of weaker monsters will be too much of a problem.

    I take the Honored Guest rune for Spirit Walk because more mana never hurts. I could have taken the Rush of Essence passive, but I figure that Spirit Vessel is more valuable - it keeps both my panic buttons up more reliably and gives me a 'get out of jail' card for some situations. I'm also worried that Rush of Essence would be overkill since Spirit Barrage is the only spirit spell I'm spamming, and therefore making use of the Rush of Essence passive, whereas Spirit Vessel can pull double, even triple duty.

    Spirit Barrage has really good potential as a primary attack with the right setup, I think. It's blessed with an incredible cast animation, if the skill video is anything to go by. The cast animation looks as instantaneous as Plague of Toads.

    For those of you with the Beta, try casting Plague of Toads and then moving the INSTANT you can. As in, move as soon as you can after casting the spell. Now try it with Poison Dart - its noticeably more sluggish. Then try it with Corpse Spider- its much worse. :p. As you guys know, I do highly value mobility and responsiveness of skills. In the beta, I dont like getting hit even once if I can help it :p. It's a mindset that everyone will have to have in higher difficulties :p.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
  18. pcguy

    pcguy IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    I believe this thread has degenerated into a very simple fact about Spirit Barrage, and indeed, most other skills: You can make it work with the correct skill combination and equipment.

    This is something that I firmly believe in, and the reason why I chose to aggressively pursue my point that Spirit Barrage was no better or worse than Resentful Spirit.

    If there is an imbalance somewhere, the solution would be to petition Blizzard to fix it.

    Judging by their response to the users in World of Warcraft, they are more than willing to modify the skill mechanics in order to make the game more fun and balanced.

    That being said ... thank you for bringing this to our attention, and please continue to keep an eye out for any imbalances.

    In this way, we can be sure to have meaningful discussion, and, if necessary, bring it to the attention of those who are making the game.
  19. sacridoc

    sacridoc IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    Zombie Bears should really explode on hit, it doesn't make sense how they can run through targets and do so much more damage. I thought that's how it worked. But looking at that video again, they're running straight through enemies. Of course you can also see that the basic Zombie Charger hits enemies multiple times, which isn't right. So I would guess the video may not be very accurate at this point.

    As for that build, you probably don't need that much mana regen just for SB. I would go with something like this:
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/witch-doctor#geZdUj!bWf!aYaYZa

    You can see how Horrify is basically interchangeable with Mass Confusion, they're very similar. And I think Spirit Vessel is an ability better suited for more of a melee build where you would possibly use RS along with Phantasm, and possibly drop Grasp of the Dead. Also, Blood Ritual is probably better when you have an ability that gives you life regen.

    I think that Vision Quest and Spiritual Attunement are basically interchangeable as well. It just depends on whether you're stacking mana regen or max mana. And with Honored Guest I feel like it makes more sense to get Spiritual Attunement. Especially considering you won't always have 4 skills on cooldown.
  20. Karpalo

    Karpalo IncGamers Member

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    Re: Let's theorycraft Spirit Barrage

    I see absolutely no ups when it comes to spirit barrage. There are so many superior choices that over class SB in every way. Say why wouldn't you use fire bats with hungry bats rune? 280% homing missile for nearly the same mana.

    Either there is more than meets the eye in spirit barrage or it's just a bad skill.

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