Sceadeau found a couple of unique items that slightly buff zombies but are pretty terrible for anything else. An amulet with no personal defensive benefit at all and a two handed weapon that would keep me from using a shield. I have a passive that makes my zombies wear my shield instead of me, so it seemed a lot better than the small boosts from the weapon. He told me to check out minion snapshotting since it may well let me have the best of both worlds. Ok, some homework for today!
I was also trying to figure out how to make use of all the skill gems I want to use. They added some new abilities that buff minions and I was trying to figure out how to put those on my bar and in my gear considering my old character that didn't have access to those abilities was full up. So far I'd been playing without curses and with the crazy vaal arc instead of a real spell but that was going to have to change real soon. It turned out that the snapshotting homework was going to provide the answers to this problem too...
The basic idea is that when you summon a minion the stats for that particular instance of the minion are locked in. So if I summon a zombie while wearing the Sidhebreath amulet that particular zombie will have extra movement speed, extra life, and extra damage. I can take the amulet off and it doesn't change. That zombie's stats are locked in. If the zombie dies and I need to summon a new one the new one will be worse if I'm wearing my real amulet instead.
It turns out there is one and only one exception to this that I could find. Necromantic Aegis, the skill point that lets my zombies wear my shield instead of me, applies on the fly. So switching in a shield changes their stats from the shield. They still keep everything else that was locked in, but the shield boost carries over.
It gets even crazier... If you remove the zombie gem from your item all your zombies die. But if you remove the support gems they don't die. They stick around, and they keep the supports. So if you have a 6 link chest you can summon up some 6 linked zombies and then take out 5 gems. Put in 5 other gems and you now have the ability to run with a 5 linked skill while still having a bunch of 6 link zombies running around. Maybe you use those 5 links to summon up your specters. Then take those support gems out and run around with 6 link zombies, 5 link specters, and still have a 4 link skill. And since you're never casting zombie or specter again until you manipulate all your gear you don't need those spells on your bar anymore. Which makes room for all these new spells!
But that's not quite crazy enough... Here's the real kicker. You know how all the zombies die when you take the gem out of your item? Well, if you're back in town when you do it the zombies don't die right away. As long as you put it back in before you leave town in the same spot they'll stay alive. And same spot is defined here as same physical location in the same item slot, and in the same 'group' of linked sockets. Note I didn't say the same item.
So if you have the Tabula Rasa item, which has 6 linked white sockets and no stats, you can summon up some 6 linked zombies and some 5 linked specters. Then you can go back to town, put on your stupid 4 link chest, and as long as you put the gems back in the same physical spots you get to keep all your zombies and specters! WHAT? I can have an awesome team without actually getting a real 5 or 6 link item?
Of course you need to actually have summons that survive because if they ever die you're not going to be able to get them back. So these people run a bunch of defensive auras and use the new defensive offering spell. And then are awesome. I want to be awesome!
It turns out they also summon up their minions by using remote mines and traps. Because remote mines and traps have a MORE damage multiplier on them instead of an additive damage modifier. It's tricky to use these to make minions on the fly, but since they go through a big ordeal anyway it's not much of a stretch to go the extra step to get bonus damage. Insane bonus damage. So much bonus damage that one guide recommended not taking any of the minion damage nodes in the tree because those are additive and simply don't do much compared to these MORE multipliers. They can use the extra skill points to get more aura points so they can run more defensive auras and keep all their minions alive.
So now I've got more things to think about. Do I want to respec out of damage nodes? Do I want to go buy a Tabula Rasa? Are they even very expensive? (Looks like yes, they're worth 3 exalteds.) Can I make my zombies tough enough that it's worth trying to minion snapshot them?
This game has so many odd interactions... It's awesome!