Gold Guide affiliate

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Skill doodling

One of the ways in which fans are entertaining ourselves in the run up to the launch of Diablo 3 is playing around with Blizzard's skill calculator. It's a fun little webpage that lets you design the skill loadout for a level 60 character.

I think it's important though to remember you probably shouldn't see your character in terms of a build, in the style of WoW or Diablo 2. Respeccing is so easy, it just puts the skill you swap in on a 30 second cooldown and can be done in the field, that respeccing should be a major element of your playstyle.

When we come to Inferno bosses will have multiple modifiers. When you start playing in Inferno (possibly even earlier) you will certainly want to adapt your build to the bosses mods. For example if my summoner were facing a Fast Powerful Vortex Teleporting boss it would be important to reduce damage. So a passive like Jungle Fortitude would be useful.

As your playstyle will likely be so fluid it's better to think of the builds you create using the build calculator as "skill doodling". You're messing around, exploring what is possible, rather than committing yourself to a particular path.

Here's some of my skill doodles:

Barbarian Treasure Finder.!aZY!ccaZZb

The Barbarian has two skills that can be runed to encourage extra treasure to drop. This build takes those and might be my default build for a light relaxed game through an easy area. It certainly would be a good build for a magic find run, so long as you're not need to tank. Your aim is to get Threatening Shout on all the mobs and spam Hammer of the Ancients as much as you can. You need Hammer to crit to make the treasure and health globes drop so you'd play this with a dual wield fast weapons load out. Most of the build is about making lots of crits happen.

From cold, you run in and spam Frenzy (Relentless) until you have rage for Battle Rage (Into the Fray), then Frenzy to cast Threatening Shout (Grim Harvest). Then play your abillities in this order of priority:
Revenge (Best Served Cold) which gives you a heal and a crit buff
Overpower (Killing Spree) which gives you a crit buff
Hammer of the Ancients (a close range aoe which empties pockets)
Frenzy if low on Fury or if there's only a couple of mobs left.

Only use Revenge and Overpower to keep the crit buffs up, don't blast away all the mobs with them if they keep lighting up - remember your goal is to spam Hammer crits, not to kill everything as fast as possible.

Finish off the last one or two mobs from each pack with Frenzy and you should be able to run to the next pack and refresh Battle Rage on the way.

This is actually a very group friendly build as you cause lots of extra health globes to drop. It's worth letting people know there will be a health globe bonanza - every class except Monk has passives that work off health globes.

Partying Demon Hunter!UcY!YbaZYY

No, you rascal, not that sort of party!

This is a build to allow a Demon Hunter to help other people she's grouped with. The build has an array of tactical options:

Slow 1-3 enemies down with Entangling Shot or slow a whole group to a crawl with Caltrops.

Fear enemies. Fear can be a great way to take the heat off but it also can be quite annoying as monsters rush offscreen and then die, dropping their precious shinies out of sight. However if you slow them first it's a great way to nullify dangerous monsters.

Drop a turret that slowly heals allies over time in addition to shooting monsters.

Buff damage dealt by 15% in a 12 yard radius.

Monk Tank!ZWc!ZccZYb

Monk's main attribute is Dexterity - it gives you extra damage and dodge. So you'll probably be gearing for Dexterity anyway and perhaps even gemming for Dexterity. The damage will be useful in just about any build but is there some way we can harness all that dodge?

There is.

This build gives 30% extra dodge all the time plus 30% of your chance to critically hit. It also features several very short power-ups that give you extra dodge. 46% extra dodge if all 3 are active at once.

Now the lovely thing about dodge is that dodge gets better the more you have of it. +1% dodge doesn't do very much if you have low chance to dodge but it's very powerful when you have 99% chance to dodge!

This makes your chance to dodge when fully powered up:

Base (for any level 60 naked skill-less Monk)
+ Dodge bonus from Dex
+ Dodge bonus from items that improve dodge
+ 30% of your Crit chance
+ 30% from passive skills
+ 46% from power-ups.

It's very likely this will be well over 100%! (If the abilities work as described, if Dodge is additive, if the devs don't spot this and nerf the combo). Of course you won't have enough Spirit to keep it up all the time but you should be able to keep 2 of the powerups going almost all the time.

What's more whenever you dodge Backlash blows up all nearby enemies.

Note that you can generate spirit faster by twisting your spirit builders. Fists of Thunder has a higher attack speed than other spirit builders and generates spirit faster. So if you do this sequence.

1. Fist of Thunder
2. Fist of Thunder
3. Fist of Thunder procs a buff of 16% dodge for 2 seconds.
4. Fist of Thunder
5. Fist of Thunder
6. Exploding Palm (Strong Spirit)

you get the Exploding Palm special effect (causing enemies to bleed and sometimes explode gaining you spirit) but deliver your sequences faster.

Your Spirit spenders are Dashing Strike which you will be using to start fights and for cheap dodge re-buffing and Cyclone Strike which is your aggro ability.

The Mystic Ally is in the build to passively generate extra spirit.

This build, and Monks in general, will require agile fingers to play well.

Who let the dogs out! - a witch doctor build!Scb!ZcbZYc

This build does three things. It generates a lot of health globes which is a very party friendly thing to do. It generates a lot of dogs. And it (hopefully) makes people laugh.

Let's start with health globes. Every class but the Monk has a passive that feeds on health globes so causing lots to spawn can be very helpful over and above causing a lot of friendly healing to happen.

The Witch Doctor has three abilities that relate to health globes. Grasp of the Dead has a rune that causes globes to drop more often when mobs are killed inside it, zombie dogs can sometimes leave a health globe when they die and Gruesome Feast allows us to gain mana and Intelligence (which boosts damage and resists) when someone in the team consumes a health globes.

So here's the strategy - we drop Grasp of the Dead on the pack being killed and, err, kill our own minions.

Killing puppies, you ask, how can that be a good thing?

Well we have a handy spell called Sacrifice which blows up our dogs. This is a zero mana nuke that does 200% weapon damage per dog - if we took the passive that let us have 4 dogs out at once that would be 800% weapon damage to something caught in all the blasts!

We also have lots of dog generating spells. Even Sacrifice can be runed to generate replacement dogs.

Here's the tactics. You run up to a pack casting Grasp of the Dead while your dogs engage. Sacrifice the dogs and cast a dog generator. We have three long cooldown dog generators: Mass Confusion (Devolution), Summon Zombie Dogs (Final Gift) and Big Bad Voodoo (Boogie Man). Whenever you have 3 dogs Sacrifice them and cast another dog generator asap. When you don't have dogs to blow up nuke with Explosive Beasts (which since they are zombie dogs may benefit from our rune that causes zombie dogs to sometimes drop health globes when they die).

Whenever an enemy dies (whether killed by you or by someone nearby)  you get mana, life, -1 sec off the cooldowns of our dog generators and Grasp and there's a chance you get a zombie dog just happening to spawn. You kill vast swathes of puppies and as a consequence generate tons of health globes (which give you healing, mana and an Intelligence buff). This is potentially absurdly powerful.

The build has another synergy. You can improve two of your passives - (Grave Injustice and Circle of Life) by wearing gold pickup radius gear. However that gear also helps you pick up health globes which is one of the main themes of the build. The affix does both things - picks up gold and picks up health globes.

Best of all you get to hound your group with bad puns. Let's just hope they're dogged enough to endure them. Otherwise you'll drive them barking mad!

Death from above - a Wizard build!YTe!YaZZab

This build is conceptually very very simple. We just want to drop the biggest damn Meteors we can on things.

Meteor is our main spell, runed for Molten Impact. We buff its damage with
Familiar (Sparkflint) +15% damage
Glass cannon +15% damage
Conflagration +15% damage after the first Meteor
Arcane Dynamo +75% damage buff to one Meteor after we've worked our Magic Missile spell for a while.

Energy Armour (Energy Tap) brings our Arcane Power total to 120 which means that with a full tank we've enough fuel for 2 Meteors. We can save some power if we use Diamond Skin (Prism). And we can recharge quickly with Shock Pulse (Lightning Affinity).

I've put Teleport in because I think it's enormously useful to be able to do it and Teleport (Wormhole) allows us to spam it. There's a combo in fact - we Teleport until we run out of power, hit Diamond Skin (Prism) which lets us Teleport for free, Teleport for free until Diamond Skin runs out, then Teleport more with the Arcane Power we regenerated while we were teleporting for free.

This makes this a very useful team member for a group farming champion and random bosses in Inferno difficulty as despite being built for damage you make a reasonable scout.


  1. Good stuff. I need to play around with the skill calculator more. I have been reluctant to do so because the game still seems to be in development and subject to change. Once they post a release date is probably when I will start to look into and seriously create some builds.

    From your post I did learn quite a few things. I didn't realize you could sacrifice your dogs for instance. The number of skills multiplied by all their variations is quite possibly the thing that has me most excited about this game. This opens the door to an endless number of strategies to take advantage of.

    Its just really hard to make builds right now without any final or concrete numbers and not being able to play test them. It also seems like certain builds will be very gear dependent. For example, any build that relies on crits will be much more effective in the hands of a player with good gear, and consequently, a good crit rating.

  2. Oh absolutely. Any or all of my builds might be worthless.

    What is not worthless however is the practice in constructing synergies. I've seen a lot of people post their builds and many times it just seems to be six skills they like the look of.

    To my mind a lot of the fun is leveraging your abilities to feed each other. Simple stuff like if your build does something good when you crit look for abilities that make you do more crits and other abilities that also feed off crits.

  3. Let me add, I really don't think you should worry about gear dependency. You can use the Gold AH, the RMAH, you can craft stuff you can find stuff. You can ask in chat channels for stuff.

    I'm starting with a Witch Doctor and I'm anticipating picking up a lot of stuff very cheaply because most other people will consider them useless. Gold find radius, health regen and thorns are all mods most people would consider junk that are very strong for certain Witch Doctor builds.