Friday, June 01, 2012

Diablo III: Combo Breaker

I got home from work yesterday really eager to try out my broken combo from yesterday. There was a small patch which mentioned how one of my skills had been previously hot-fixed with a tooltip update in yesterday's patch. The tooltip wasn't actually updated (of course) but a little searching revealed (and was later confirmed by Sky in the comment thread) that the amount of damage absorbed per swing is capped at your max health. This means you absolutely can't ignore health or mitigation stats since any hit for double your max health is going to kill you. Even if you were running a full diamond shield a swing for 28k into someone with 4k health would kill them instantly instead of chipping off 7% of their shield. Considering I'd been hit with a 58k swing with pretty high mitigation stats that's really pretty likely.

But is the combo killed off entirely or merely nerfed? I built the spec and headed out to see. I was still running 24534 health, 3270 armor, and 183 resist all. Not a ton, but not completely worthless either. I'd been able to make progress in A2 with that gearset (thought admittedly without glass cannon). I headed on out and my first elite pack was a group of ranged champions with vortex and molten. I'd get vortexed in and die practically immediately to the molten. I couldn't walk out fast enough to survive if diamond skin wasn't up when I got vortexed. I didn't have time to cast diamond skin to save myself, even! Stupid familiar dude wasn't much help either (and doesn't give 12% damage since that's a different rune entirely and not part of his base package). I did eventually beat the pack but it was with a massive amount of cheeziness. (Graveyard zerg one down, let my rez timer and the rest of them reset, repeat.)

Slogging on, my next pack was with jailer/plagued dudes. I'd get jailed and then die to the pool of goo thrown down after the jailing. No chance at all to escape. I again burned them out with the super graveyard zerg plan, but it wasn't fun.

The question I now have is how do these pools of goo work? Molten, plagued, desecration, arcane enchanted, and fire chains... Do they do a ton of damage in one shot? Do they do miniscule damage constantly? Old force armor would have been awesome against the first and useless against the second. New force armor is pretty bad against either one but could be ok if it ticks in very precise intervals for your current stats. From my experience it doesn't tick in a useful interval for me. Frankly, I just explode.

Even when up against dudes that aren't using a brutal combo to own me I was having trouble. Probably they were cracking for more than 33k in a swing and therefore were breaking the absorb cap on my shield. The spec was clearly not all I was hoping it would be, at any rate. I was still fine with diamond skin up and pretty much dead when it wasn't up just like with my old spec. Worse, this spec didn't have teleport so it was harder to kite while waiting for diamond skin to refresh. Teleport also helps with a lot of the goo on the ground (you can teleport out of jailer or vortex to escape goo) and the clones I get out of it still sometimes accidentally take a hit or two. (Why the clones insist on hiding behind me is a special frustration...)

So I altered my spec a little. Familiar didn't seem to be doing enough. With the force armor nerf I was no longer guaranteed to even have familiar proc before I would die. So I swapped it out for teleport. I also removed glass cannon which put me back up to 3634 armor and 204 resist all. I tried out making disintegrate a 20% slow but it didn't seem great so I'm falling back to taking 20% less melee damage. Assuming the monsters in act 2 are level 63 my mitigation would change from 69% with glass cannon to 72% without. 77% on melee attacks.

Is force armor even worth it at this point? I could use a resist buffing glyph instead. With the extra 40% from the glyph I'd get up to 76% against specials and 81% against melee attacks. Either way it's a 14% reduction in damage taken. All damage taken. What does force armor do? Nothing to hits below 35% of my maximum health. Damage between 35% and 40% of my max health gets reduced more by prismatic armor. Bigger hits get reduced by larger and larger amounts. That is, until I start taking swings for more than 8 times my max health, when prismatic armor takes over again. Of course, I'm guaranteed dead at that point so it doesn't much matter!

So if I'm taking large numbers of smaller hits I want prismatic armor. If I'm taking large but not immediately fatal hits then I want force armor. The trouble is I'm not actually sure what it is I'm taking! The lack of a combat log in this game is _really_ frustrating. How often does molten or desecration tick? Does it ever actually 'hit'? Can force armor even impact it at all? What happens if I start buying more resist all gear? I can raise the bar higher. What happens if I stack on more health? I again raise the bar higher. Maybe monsters will keep swinging for such ludicrous numbers that force armor will stay reasonable. But I actually question my desire to play a game where all the incoming damage is more than half my health no matter what my gear is...


Sky said...

To give you some context a little further down the road in a3:

The flying critters that spit fireballs hit me for 60% to 110% of my health with each fireball. I have 550 resists, 35k health and 2700 armor as well as 20% flat reduction. I could avoid any one shots from normal mobs by adding only a little more health / mitigation. However, I can live against melee swings from lots of enemies, ticks of desecrate / plagued / arcane / fire chains. I die a lot still but there are lots and lots of times that I take damage and tough it out.

If I had your level of health and mitigation I would get one shotted by nearly everything. You can certainly get gear to survive a lot of hits but it does require some farming and work to do so. I do get vortexed into bad stuff and I almost always live presuming I have a cooldown up - Spirit Walk or Horrify will both do the trick.

Sthenno said...

I assume you are quoting your pre-energy armor armor value, right? 3634 seems absurdly low.

I use prismatic armor and I have 73% reduction from armor alone, plus another 53% from resist all (I think it's almost 60% against physical).

I share your frustration at the game, though. In Diablo 2 if you played well you could mostly dodge enemy attacks - being an action game your play skill was actually really important. In Diablo 3 you can certainly play better or worse but you can't largely avoid attacks. There are too many combinations of abilities that I can't avoid dying to do really let me play in act 2 right now. So I'm faced with the prospect farming act 3 hell for cash (better returns than butcher runs) to buy better gear.

I'm just playing a witch doctor right now instead with no intention of playing inferno at all. Actually, leveling new characters is approximately a third as good at getting gear for my wizard as playing my wizard is.

Nick Page said...

3634 is my post-energy armor value. Most of my items have +armor on them so I'm not really sure how much more I could realistically have. I guess I could switch to using a 1-hander and a shield but a significant chunk of my wealth is invested in my 2-hander.

Sthenno said...

I guess my items are just a lot better or something? I have 7400 armor with energy armor up, my shield is 866 so that's 1429 of the final value, but that's still a huge gap.

My gearing strategy has been to buy an item from the auction house every day or two for around 100k-150k. I've noticed these items are getting steadily better and better over time.

Anyway, my overall mitigation is just shy of 90% and I still can't really live in Act 2 unless nothing goes wrong. I have hit a brick wall with the first event in the palace. If I die and respawn I die before the screen loads when I enter the palace again even with armor already up.

Nick Page said...

That could be. I haven't really trolled the AH for new gear in a while since my interest in playing has waned a fair bit.

I did beat the palace event. Are you using a templar follower? I think his AE stun was enough to let me zerg it down with only 2 deaths. It's also possible my computer is faster and gives me more time to pop diamond skin? I likely also just do more damage while waiting to die since I have a 2-hander and you have a shield?