Today, I want to talk about various fun builds in Diablo 3 that got nerfed into nothingness. These builds aren’t necessarily great builds for pushing high Greater Rifts nor are they ones that may have been universally loved. They are builds that I played at some point that may have been Meta or at least interesting and worth checking out that got destroyed at some point.
Delrasha (aka Delsere’s/Tal Rasha hybrid)
The early iteration of Delsere’s Magnum Opus converted your Slow Time bubbles into damaging spheres. The 6th set bonus would boost damage on a few other abilities, but those abilities were not competitive at the time compared to other builds. So to make use of the Delsere’s set, you could combine it with the far stronger Tal Rasha to gain a pretty big damage buff via the elemental meteors.
A key feature of this set involved employing the Illusionist passive, which reset the cooldown Mirror Image, Slow Time and Teleport. Doing this allowed you to have tons of Slow Time bubbles up while hopping around.
What made it fun? – The sheer speed and timing necessary to get this build to work. It definitely was a high risk/high reward scenario. Obviously, to make Illusionist proc, you were required to take some damage, but with good timing, you’d find yourself jumping quite quickly through maps, making it a very fun speed run type of build.
How was it nerfed? – The Slow Time effect was reworked from an offensive mechanism to a buff/debuff for other abilities. Prior to this, most enemies caught inside the Slow Time bubble would melt away; that is, if your meteor didn’t kill them first.
Can it work now? – No, because Slow Time doesn’t boost the damage of your Meteors and there are other builds that are far stronger. Also, the gear requirements for the original build were pretty stringent and many of the newer items have damage multipliers that simply outperform anything Delseres can do.
The OG M6
The earlier version of the Demon Hunter Marauders set was one of the best sets for the first two seasons. The way it worked was that you would place your sentries down and whatever spenders you had on your action bar would auto-fire via the sentries. The standard action bar would have Multishot, Companion, Vault, Cluster Arrow, Sentry and Preparation. If you were lucky enough to have found the elusive Krider Shot bow, you could trade another ability for Elemental Arrow as well as being able to fire it.
What made it fun? – Your primary focus as a Demon Hunter was to keep your 5 sentries up at all times. So as long as you were able to place your sentries at the right spots, you could tumble away safely. In turn, you would focus more on defense and positioning. Also, if you had the gear at that point in time, you were in high demand and everyone loved you the moment they spotted you in a group.
How was it nerfed? – The following patch removed the auto-fire capabilities from sentry. However, M6 still was quite strong for another season as the compensation was to boost the damage fired by the demon hunter. Also, you could technically fire at a wall and hit your enemies while in a different room. So it wasn’t exactly a nerf although the defensive/safe game play was removed.
Can it work now? – M6 is still around and has been reworked. You’re still capable of doing a ton of damage but the mechanics aren’t as smooth compared to before. You’re very vulnerable between levels in a rift, especially with ninja spawns by entrances. Also, if you die during a Greater Rift, you lose all your sentries and may not finish depending on how much time you have left. The fantasy lost its luster for me at least and UE has managed to surpass it.
Wrath of the Wastes/Whirlwind Barbarian
Wrath of the Wastes is the whirlwind barbarian set everyone had been waiting for a while. Whirlwind was one of the top builds even before Reaper of Souls for farming high Monster Power games, especially if you had really good gear. Once Reaper of Souls came out, the meta changed as a few passives were changed to remove permanent whirlwind. So this set along with the Bul-Kathos mighty weapons were the answer to returning the whirlwind build to its glory in patch 2.2.
What made it fun? – Whirlwind was always a fun ability; you’re essentially a human lawn mower where monsters are the weeds in your garden. From a playability viewpoint, your main task was to keep your right click mouse button down and occasionally hit a cooldown, including a generator ability to proc your Focus/Restraint bonus. In addition, your Dust Devils run from the 6 piece bonus allowed you to effectively sit in a corner and spin off whirlwinds to nuke enemies, including a well position rift boss into the dirt.
How was it nerfed? – Dust Devil got a rework that supposedly fixed a major issue when it came to lag in the game. Prior to this, people complained that the game would get massive lag spikes as a result of the Dust Devil clouds shooting off on the screen. In turn, the Dust Devils became these tiny clouds that made you resemble Pig Pen from the Peanuts gang rather than this rage induced barbarian. More importantly, you could no longer shoot out your clouds as effectively so the radius of damage done was far smaller, making you less effective. Even goblins could now escape, especially those packs in rifts.
Can it work now? – There’s other ways to use the set like employing the Rend 2 set bonus or using the Immortal Kings set for Whirlwind. But the original Dust Devil build is dead in the water without clouds flying all over the place and nuking enemies from afar.
OG Frozen Orb
Prior to sets being a thing along with Greater Rifts, you would struggle to get legendaries in making builds viable. So when you started out, you had to make do with rares/yellow gear. In some cases, a build could be strong enough where you weren’t required to have all legendary gear to push up the Torment ladder. Early on in Reaper of Souls, wizards had a wonderful little build that used Arcane Orb: Frozen Orb, which had a funny scaling bug that got fixed in patch 2.0.4.
What made it fun? – For an early build, Frozen Orb was quite strong due to the bug and allowed you to spam cast Frozen Orb. It allowed you to do Torment 1 with rares, which was a big deal back then (just because it was MUCH harder to farm good gear). Not really a fancy build, but I tend to like straight forward, non-gimmicky builds best.
How was it nerfed? – Here are the exact patch notes:
- Bug Fix: Fixed an issue where Frozen Orb was chilling for longer than intended
- Bug Fix: Fixed an issue where the Frozen Orb bonus damage radius was hitting a larger area than intended
In short, after this bug, you pretty much are doing far less damage to less mobs.
Can it work now? – I think the later iterations of Delsere’s Magnum Opus intended to bring back the sentiment of what people enjoyed in the original build (i.e. slowing groups of mobs and hurling Frozen Orbs at the slowed mobs). However, due to all the nerfs to crowd control and the general low damage and area output of Frozen Orb, the implementation isn’t nearly as effective, especially when there are clearly better builds.
M4/S4 Chakram PTR Build
After the Shadow set was reworked so that it would incorporate a melee weapon for increasing your damage, a new meta appeared on the PTR that would align the Marauders set 4 piece with the Shadow Mantle’s set. The Shadow Mantle 2 piece bonus at the time would boost all damage when your demon hunter used a melee weapon. The wording was such that clever people discovered that your sentry damage would also be boosted by this multiplier.
What made it fun? – The Shadow set 4 piece bonus gave you all runes for Shadow Power, boosting your speed and giving you some nice defense. You could equip the Sword of Ill Will and fire some sick hitting Chakrams which is an awesome ability because your sentries will spam fire it as well. Also, the Marauder’s 2 piece would give you all companions which with Zoey’s Secret belt would boost your toughness even more.
How was it nerfed? – The 2 piece bonus was reworded and reworked to only allow you to benefit from the damage bonus, making your Chakrams no longer hitting as hard.
Can it work now? – I’ve seen some attempts at making similar builds but removing the 4 piece from the Shadow set but nothing really is meta. Sadly, rather than having a strong hybrid build, we ended up with two weak pure sets that aren’t meta, nor all that fun.
Uliana’s Exploding Palm
Uliana’s at one point was one of the most satisfying sets when using Exploding Palm. The build was pretty simple although the gearing part could be a nightmare due to the rarity of some items. But the essence was to apply the Exploding Palm debuff on a huge group of monsters then detonate them with Seven Sided Strike. Gungdo Gear bracers would further multiple this effect in spreading the explosions all around.
What made it fun? – Although this build was horribly slow compared to other builds, the thing that made this build satisfying was gathering up huge groups of mobs and watching them vaporize with a click of the button. As long as you had good mob density and enough spirit, you could quickly clear good sections of a map and gain a lot of progress.
How was it nerfed? – Patch 2.4.2 killed off a few things, including lowering the damage on one of the runes from mystic damage, putting a cap on Fist of Fury for stacks as well as making Mystic Rhythm not receive the benefits from items in providing a damage bonus. Most people would just hit monsters until the debuff was applied from the set/items and Mystic Rhythm helped pushing that damage buff up.
Can it work now? – The gear still exist for this build but when the skills are killed off there’s really not much you can do outside of finding a new meta.
Helltooth Gargantuan 2.0
Probably what will go down as one of the most infamous nerfs in recent history is the Helltooth Gargantuan Season 7 nerf. Before talking about the actual nerf, let me talk about the build. When The Short Man’s Finger got a buff along with Gargantuans, they became part of the witch doctor meta. Helltooth already had a damage buff for Gargantuans so this set became the go2 set. With patch 2.4.2, the Ring of Emptiness would receive a massive damage buff, up to 300% using Haunt and Locust Swarm. Now, the way the ring worked pretty much made the effect apply as a debuff so your pets could gain this bonus as well, making it mandatory but spicing up the meta a bit.
What made it fun? – The previous meta drew comparisons to the earlier versions of M6 with people complaining how boring the play style was since your gargantuans and zombie dogs would handle most of the damage while you ran around debuffing everything. Adding Locust Swarm via Wormwood and especially Haunt to your action bar made this build more active, especially against pesky doors and objects that would require a precious Wall of Death to be strategically placed.
How was it nerfed? – The Ring of Emptiness debuff now only would be applied to your damage. Since Haunt nor Locust Swarm really synergize with Helltooth, the nerf pretty much rendered this build useless as your damage output is mostly from gargantuans.
Can it work now? – The original meta still exist and still sucks. I wrote up a blog detailing my own custom build that I prefer far better than the stinker of a meta that currently exist for Helltooth.
Now, I’m probably missing other builds. Some people might ask, “Hey, why isn’t Critical Mass wizard in that list?” Well, I never had fun with Critical Mass, just RSI. At any rate, I wrote this blog to make those reprehensible for these changes to feel extremely guilty, ashamed and hopefully permanently wear a bag over their head in avoiding the public as if they were the Elephant Man as a result of killing fun.