I broke down the other day and rebirthed one of my undergeared Witch Doctors as I got that urge to start from scratch again. It didn’t take long to get basic gear and I’m currently struggling to get some of the rarer necessary items. Even though I haven’t played this season that long, I wanted to share my day 1 experiences.
Obviously, the biggest thing that demotivated me from starting a seasonal character was the nerf to the Ring of Emptiness. For a lot of people, the prospect of changing the Witch Doctor Helltooth meta up a bit excited quite a few of us. Although logically speaking the Ring of Emptiness buff never made sense with the Helltooth set, the change in general would’ve been a great one just to avoid the passive play style of the current Gargantuan Helltooth meta.
The other aspect in avoiding starting a seasonal character was just time. I got in a little late and have been working on my novel. I didn’t want more distractions than what I already deal with so I tried staying away. But I’m hitting more frequent writers block situations where I’m having issues trying to figure out what I want to say. So rather than stare at my screen and hate myself for several hours, I decided to go brain dead and kill some virtual demons. Not to mention my sleep schedule has been awful and playing a game all day straight helps a bit.
Regardless, with just one day of game play, I managed to acquire the basic Helltooth set. Leveling can be either a real chore or fun depending on how much pressure you put on yourself. I suppose not playing on the day of release made leveling a lot more fun for me just because I didn’t have this abstract pressure of racing ahead of everyone and could level at my own pace. Of course, I didn’t really stop once I got going since I wanted to hit 70 pretty badly.
The last time I leveled a witch doctor I used some hand-me-down gear, which allowed to do kinda skip the first 45-50 levels. I died in that setting once because I got cocky and believed I was infallible. This time I had no help whatsoever and just tried to play smart. But I did have a few tricks.
First, I used the Halls of Agony level 3 leveling trick for the first 10-14 levels. I had no plan of action initially, but at one point, I had a Butcher bounty and felt that I was adequately powerful to handle him. From that point, I just finished the Act, which led to getting a ton of plans, including the plans for Born’s Command. I still was not high enough level to use them but I crafted them regardless. It made me realize how important bounty farming is early on because of that set and the craftable Cain’s Fate. Having both sets means you’ll level a lot faster with the experience bonus. Pretty much I used both sets exclusively until I hit 60 since they don’t scale beyond that point very well.
The other thing I realized is that with the redone Season Journey for getting your Haedrig’s Gift, you pretty much want to do all of the bounties early on. By the time you hit 70, you’ll already have completed one of the more obnoxious Seasonal Journey requirements. I know a lot of people tend to prefer just doing normal rifts, but both the plans and new requirement imply not avoiding this requirement until the end. In addition, you still get 3 craftable materials per act so by the time you have a Kanai’s Cube, you’ll be quite prepared for playing a few legendary powers into the Cube.
Lastly, there is a real small chance of getting a legendary from your bounties. I got lucky and found a Monarch’s Scepter early on. Believe it or not, that weapon isn’t such a bad leveling weapon if you’re starting from scratch. You pretty much nuke all your enemies around you periodically. In the previous season, I discovered a helpful Ring of Royal Grandeur before hitting 70, which meant I could cube it and use the helpful Cain’s Fate a little while longer. So the moral of the story here is don’t hesitate on doing your bounties for leveling. Add experience, gold and a few Blood Shards and you’ll quickly realize just how critical doing these things are early on.
For leveling, I mostly used Zombie Dogs and the Gargantuan in preparation for the Helltooth. Being a Pet Doctor means that you don’t have to put as much effort since your pets are handling a lot of mobs for you. Now, one incredibly lucky drop I managed to acquire was a Belt of Transcendence. Sadly, I’m still using this belt but that goes to show how much I really love this belt. I went Haunt to proc the belt and my minions would wreck everything in sight. Overall, leveling as a pet doctor isn’t as painful as other classes and quite possibly is one of the best leveling specs around.
Upon hitting 70, I still had to perform a few things before I acquired my first 2 set bonus. Doing the requirements weren’t that tough because I already had some reasonable gear. Also, I managed to gamble the Lakumba’s Ornament bracers. This was exceptionally fortuitous as I already had been using Soul Harvest so that has helped tremendously for my survivability. Once I got my first 2 set bonus, I tested it and as I suspected, my DPS shot up allowing me to do some T2’s.
The 4 piece bonus Seasonal Journey requirements weren’t that bad either. I still lacked decent gear but the pet doctor is pretty sturdy. Mostly, I focused on just hitting the requirements because I knew that the 4 piece bonus would boost my toughness for the last requirements stage. Now, the 6 piece Seasonal Journey requirements are pretty T4 focused. But the Helltooth set is built in such a way that you have good defense and damage built in at that point with very little gimmicks outside of keeping Necrosis up 100% of the time. Since you have gargantuans and zombie dogs running around, you’re guaranteed to have your damage reduced 60% of the time passively. So that stage wasn’t that tough.
Quite honestly, given this season’s sets, I think anything besides Tal Rasha’s and Helltooth would’ve been a lot tougher to handle for a solo player, especially someone with bad luck in drops. But that does show the weakness in the design philosophy in set bonuses. Without an essential defense and offense that aren’t gimmicky, you’ll struggle against a set that does provide a basic bonus. And truthfully, there aren’t that many sets that are built in this manner, which means that they’re pretty imbalanced. Like UE is great once you have all the pieces but it feels awful until you acquire all the gear. Helltooth and M6 don’t require as much gear because the defense already exist for both sets and the damage aren’t that gimmicky.
For my current setup, I’m still far from optimal. But one thing that I have been using that I want to note is the revamped Gazing Demise. Obviously, this item is not part of the Helltooth meta and doesn’t really synergize with the Helltooth gear. However, because I use the Belt of Transcendence and The Gidbinn for my weapon, I need ways to proc my fetish spawns. I found that Spirit Barrage works beautifully in this temporary setup since you gain a rune and have some boosted damage. I never run out of mana and my fetishes still can clobber my enemies.
Another thing I tried was Manajuma’s Way. Unfortunately, Manajuma’s Way synergizes horribly with this set. I constantly was changing in and out of chicken and blowing things up but lacking the damage from the explosions to really make a dent in T7. Also, I was lacking Spirit Walk so I found myself getting killed frequently since Angry Chicken and Manajuma’s Way makes you sprint around out of control. You might lose Soul Harvest along the way or your fetishes will slowly despawn in this build, implying that your overall DPS and defense suffers heavily. As a result, I pretty much discarded these items out of frustration and went back to The Gidbinn, even though it’s not a great weapon for this build.
Right now, I would say that my biggest issue is lacking The Short Man’s Finger. I’m able to survive with only 5 stacks of Soul Harvest, but The Short Man’s Finger is what makes the Gargantuan build great. Too often I’m fighting an enemy and my only gargantuan is off running around fighting the wrong enemy. Having two more with the boosted damage should propel me at least one more level. Also, I just lack defense. Pretty much that portion boils down to not having an Uhkapian Serpent and Sacred Harvester. I’ve got no weapon cubed at the moment just because nothing I do have synergizes at all with this set. I did find a strength version of Tasker and Theo but I lack a Ring of Royal Grandeur to wear it. I could cube it but I’d lose out on the Grin Reaper which I find far too useful at the moment compared to Tasker and Theo.
Ultimately, the build I’m looking for will incorporate the Scrimshaw and Mask of Jeram, which I’m also lacking. But I don’t know how far off I am in either category. I’m pretty Death Breath starved so crafting has been a major pain. I can handle GR30 fine yet I can feel that wall without the missing Endless Walk set as well. On the other hand, I did manage to find two Menagerist goblins and acquired two new pets. So that made me very happy.
I don’t know as of now if I’ll rebirth anymore toons for this season. There’s not a whole lot that interest me and I have better gear for almost all my toons on non-season. It just made sense to do this for my witch doctor because I never play her anymore and she was missing a ton of gear. I figured it would just be better to kill two birds with one stone. The seasonal journey was a little more painful in terms of getting the set items but at the same time when you think about it, you’re going to do most of those activities. I still dislike the tie in with set dungeons for completing the season journey. Those need a massive overhaul before I even attempt to try them. I might put in a few more hours later today but I’m mostly doing this because I enjoy the starting grind. I hope that there’s a different end game grind beyond paragon levels, gear and legendary gems. But I already wrote a few posts on my ideas for those.