Monday, July 2, 2012

Diablo 3's Witch Doctor - Decay Skills Guide

Zombie Charger - Level 14
No Coldown
140 Mana

Zombie Chargers has the highest mana-to-instant-damage ratio in the Witch Doctor's Arsenal; meaning it can do more damage for less mana then any other skill, and it deals that damage directly instead of over a few seconds (205% weapon damage base)

The downside to this skill is that it has rather limited range of ~10 yards, and the progress of the chargers is halted by walls - which you'll frequently see rare boss packs throwing up once you get to the higher difficulties.  This skill is also a mana-hog, which means that it's unrealistic to rely on it as your primary source of damage unless you're also using the Vision Quest Passive to keep your mana reserves full (or at least replenishing quickly).

Leperous Zombie (Level 21) - Makes the zombie charger leave a cloud of poison behind it, which deals 25% weapon damage to any enemies that walk through it (or get stuck in it).  It lingers for about 1.5 seconds after the zombie lays it down.  Honestly, 25% weapon damage is near-irrelevant, and for such a mana-intensive skill, you can't consider really using this ability until you receive Vision Quest at level 40.  It's just not a good mana use/damage applied tradeoff.

Undeath (Level 27) - This is a nice chain skill that lets your zombie resurrect itself and continue charging if it makes contact with an enemy.  This happens up to 2 times per cast, and is decent damage with minimal effort required to aim.  It's not a bad supplemental damage skill at lower levels.

Wave of Zombies (Level 33) - Turns your one zombie into 3, and makes each of those do 72% weapon damage.  So more zombies, less damage, no real way to aim the skill.  Worthless - Plague of Toads does the same thing for WAY less mana and 130% weapon damage. 

Explosive Beast (Level 42) - Probably the only useful skill that utilizes the Zombie Dog animation; Explosive Beast sends a rushing dog out on a suicide mission, exploding when it makes contact or gets ~15 yards away from you.  It does great damage at 236%, and is a fantastic addition to an early Vision Quest build for any Witch Doctor. 

Zombie Bears (Level 54) - A solid upgrade to Explosive Beast (Still 236% weapon damage, but with a large point-blank area of effect).  If you're watching a Witch Doctor playing inferno, they're probably using Poison Dart, or Zombie Bears as their primary attack.  There's a reason; this skill creates a stampede of Bears all around the Witch Doctor that utterly destroy everything near him.  They can hit multiple times each, and can also crit.  In terms of AOE burst damage, the ability to instantly apply a superior amount of pain to everything around you - Zombie Bears stands alone.

Spirit Barrage - Level 17
No Cooldown
108 Mana

Spirit Barrage is a powerful single-target direct-damaging ability that has a few near, albeit ultimately useless, runes.  The basic spell is a straight 190% weapon damage single-target nuke.  While it's true that it's certainly on the high-end of targeted damage skills, and that it automatically hits it's target regardless of what is between you, it's also true that the Poison Dart skill with the Splinters rune does 180% weapon damage, for 10 mana.  And while Poison Dart doesn't go through walls and over other enemies, can you really justify nearly 110% of the mana cost for 10% more damage?  I think not.

The Spirit Is Willing (Level 23) - Returns 44 mana every time the spell hits.  So it returns some mana.  This isn't a really spammable ability, and its only single target.  This rune really leaves me scratching my head, as its an almost useless augmentation to an ability that struggles to define its purpose. 

Well Of Souls (Level 32) - When you cast Spirit Barrage, the initial damage still goes to your target, but 3 additional streaks come out and do near-worthless damage (30%) to enemies nearby (nearby the caster, not the target).  While it gives some AOE damage to Spirit Barrage as a whole, 30% weapon damage is very insignificant.

Phantasm (Level 37) - Summons a fishlike spirit that swirls around in a small area for 5 seconds.  It does 45% weapon damage in quick succession to enemies that stick around inside it's area of effect.  While it's a cool and somewhat spammable skill with a Vision Quest build, it really needs to do another 100% weapon damage in order to become useful or efficient. 

Phlebotomize (Level 44) - Heals you for 3% of the damage dealt.  The only moderately-useful rune available for this skill. 

Manitou (Level 59) - A skill that makes a dancing demon appear over your head that attacks random enemies (one at a time, ~every .5 seconds), for 28% weapon damage.  Too little damage, too much mana.

Acid Cloud - Level 22
No Cooldown
172 Mana

While certainly one of the higher mana cost skills in the Witch Doctor's repertoire, it's also one of the higher damaging ones as well.  Doing 100% weapon damage as poison initially and then 75% additional damage each second for 3 seconds to enemies that linger in the pool left behind.  It's important to know that while this spell has no cooldown and can be effectively spammed, pools don't overlap - so you can't drop Acid Cloud on an area 3x and have enemies take 225% weapon damage per second for standing in three pools.

Acid Rain (Level 26) - Extends the area of the pool left behind from the initial strike to 24 yards.  This is a fine rune for giving a little more damage to a big group, but you don't really know.  For all we know - the range of the initial spell could be 23 yards - making this rune useless.  I guess we'll never know.  Check the screen shot below - no initial range given- that being said, there's a sizable gain from using this rune over the plain spell, if I had to put a number on it, I'd say this rune extends the area by 40%.

Lob Blob Bomb (Level 30) - Creates a little blob that lingers for a few seconds after you cast the spell.  You can have multiples of these, and they do 25% weapon damage to enemies they attack - they use your attack speed.  Flooding the battlefield with these would be awesome, but for some reason, it's not.  My guess is because they have ~1 hit point and die instantly.

Slow Burn (Level 39) - Makes the pools last for 6 seconds instead of 3.  Enemies never sit still that long, nor do they live that long if you know what you're doing. 

Kiss of Death (Level 46) - Makes this spell a ~40 degree cone of damage in front of you, instead of castable anywhere on the battlefield.  Doesn't do nearly enough damage for it to matter (110% immediately, 82% if they linger in the pool after.)  Way too short range and not enough damage to consider using.

Corpse Bomb (Level 55) - 200% weapon damage anywhere on the battlefield, exploding in about a 5 yard radius.  Useful, if there weren't other skills that did more damage for less mana.

Wall of Zombies - Level 28
25 Second Coldown
103 Mana

A fantastic hard crowd control spell that should be a part of nearly every Witch Doctor's arsenal.  Fantastic for impeding the progress of advancing enemies, or closing off choke points, and supplementing that line of zombies with damage.  The only thing you could ask for with this spell is a shorter cooldown.

Barricade (Level 32) - Extends the wall of zombies to about 2/3rds of the screen. 

Unrelenting Grasp (Level 35) - Slows enemies that pass by the wall for 60%.  Makes them very hard to get around.

Creepers (level 41) - Sends out 3 corpse minions with the wall, they do excellent damage and attack anything that comes close.  They also linger for about 2-3 seconds after the wall dissipates. 

Pile On (Level 49) - At 765% damage, its the highest instant damage ability.  Unfortunately, it takes far too long to manifest and rarely hits the intended targets as they move too quickly on higher difficulties.  Nice for chapter-bosses, which are easy anyway, and rarely move.

Dead Rush (Level 60) - Zombies come out of the wall and rush in all directions, doing 445% weapon damage, which is a lot of damage.  But not considered the 25 second cooldown.  Zombie Bears does that much damage in 2 seconds.

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