Season 7 is ending soon and we won’t be seeing any new content for Season 8 beyond changing up the Haedrig’s Gift sets. The good news is that we can begin examining the choices for characters based partly on what the next group of Haedrig’s Gift sets has to offer. Although there hasn’t been any official postings about what those sets specifically are, we can speculate that we’ll be seeing the last sets in rotation for Season 8.
Let’s start off by looking at the sets that most likely will be offered:
- Immortal King’s Call (Barbarian)
- Seeker of the Light (Crusader)
- Natalya’s Vengeance (Demon Hunter)
- Uliana’s Strategem (Monk)
- Spirit of Arachyr (Witch Doctor)
- Vyr’s Amazing Arcana (Wizard)
With the exception of Vyr’s, I don’t really expect any of these sets to be top tier in terms of the meta for next season. That said, as starter sets, I think it’s important to examine each and where they stand overall (not to mention give a nice little review since they’ve changed a bit)
Immortal King’s Call
Set bonus summary:
- (2) Call of the Ancients last until they die.
- (4) Reduce the cooldown of Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients by 3 seconds for every 10 Fury you spend with an attack.
- (6) While both Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients is active, you deal 400% increased damage.
Immortal King’s Call (or IK) is a very interesting set because of how you can combine it with other sets due to the 7 piece structure. As it has a belt and two handed weapon (as opposed to just a shoulders piece), some people (using a Ring of Royal Grandeur) will often times use this in conjunction with a set like Raekor’s as the 2 and 4 set bonus from IK provide some cool side bonuses. Or another popular past build was seeing this used with the 2 set bonus of Wrath of the Wastes where Rend could inflict good damage.
At this stage, outside of the boost to the damage output of the 6 piece bonus, this set pretty much is either good as a hybrid set or a starter set. The permanent Call of the Ancients is a nice little starter ability for taking on higher torments early on (pets generally are fun play styles). And beyond Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients, there really isn’t a spammable ability that is tied to this set. Instead, you make this set work through finding a spender to maintain your Wrath of the Berserker up at 100% or close to it. In that sense, you have quite a bit of flexibility in choosing another damaging ability, which in many cases arises from the gear you stumble across.
Now, one nice thing about this set is that due to the Immortal Boulder Breaker weapon, you will have a reasonable chance of crafting that type of weapon early on. So even if you do not receive the weapon from your Haedrig’s Gift, you’ll still probably want one just to take advantage of additional damage for your Call of the Ancients ability and possibly gaining another bonus if you have a Ring of Royal Grandeur.
For myself, I tend to dislike leveling barbarians. They’re pretty slow and they’re best abilities tend to be derived from their gear. Also, they’re just too much of a middle-of-the-ground spot at the moment for my taste. I think if Haedrig’s Gift dropped as it did prior to Season 7, then it might be worth leveling a barbarian. However, with the new requirements added in, I feel it’s better (at least for a solo player) to go with a different class.
Seeker of the Light
- (2) Every use of Blessed Hammer that hits an enemy reduces the cooldown of Falling Sword and Provoke by 1 second.
- (4) You take 50% less damage for 8 seconds after landing with Falling Sword.
- (6) Increase the damage of Blessed Hammer by 1250% and Falling Sword by 500%.
I know a few adjustments were made to this set along with support items. However, this set just sucks for the most part until you get all 6 pieces. Add to the fact that Crusaders are probably one of the slowest classes around (except for Thorns Bombardment builds), you will be plodding around for quite a bit while you search for all the gear that can make this build work. Falling Sword just is another version of a Barbarian’s Leap, but it’s awkward to use and not fun on boss fights.
While LoN Bombardment builds will still be near the top, I would prefer just leveling another class then switching if I were going to try pushing a Crusader for this season.
- (2) Reduce the cooldown of Rain of Vengeance by 4 seconds when you hit with a Hatred-generating attack or Hatred-spending attack.
- (4) Rain of Vengeance deals 100% increased damage.
- (6) After casting Rain of Vengeance, deal 500% increased damage and take 60% reduced damage for 10 seconds.
This set is possibly the worst starter set of the bunch in its current form. First, you’ll probably end up taking Strafe to make this set work as something that triggers Rain of Vengeance. But Strafe mostly shines when you have plenty of Hatred. I can see taking the other Vengeance along with Blood Vengeance and Archery so you can maintain a reasonable uptime on Strafe and possible Rain of Vengeance. And you’ll require the Crashing Rain belt to see any burst damage for Rain of Vengeance. Now, you could get really lucky and find one of those belts early on, but as you can see, getting this set to work will take a bit of gear.
Probably, my issue with this set is that only two skills work reasonably well with this set which is Strafe and Rapid Fire because both are channeled Hatred spending abilities. Unfortunately, neither are all that fun once you get to higher levels and only Strafe is usable as a progression ability. Part of the problem is that Taeguk saw some drastic changes that capped the damage and more importantly the armor stacks you can gain in exchange for a quicker ramp up time. The result is that you lose too much defense to make a channeling build like this work, especially when the defensive abilities are poor.
There are a few fun builds with this set but only after you acquire some gear. None of them really are meant for much more than farming gold and dealing with bounties. At any rate, I just feel that you can do better with other sets offered in this season.
- (2) Every third hit of your Spirit Generators applies Exploding Palm.
- (4) Your Seven-Sided Strike deals double its total damage with each hit.
- (6) Increase the damage of your Exploding Palm by 250% and your Seven-Sided Strike detonates your Exploding Palm.
If this were earlier seasons, then this could’ve been a keeper. Unfortunately, this set got hit with a huge nerf from a few areas. As a starting set though, it has quite a bit of potential. Exploding Palm still is a pretty sweet ability since you can clear huge groups. Since you’re still using generic Spirit Generators for applying your Exploding Palm, you could choose a different spirit spender early on before making the switch to Seven-Sided Strike.
I think the main issue with this build early on is single target damage. AoE damage still is quite good, although the detonating ability with Seven-Sided Strike is what makes this build awesome. The other issue is just lacking defense. Unlike other sets, there is no defensive for the 4 piece bonus. So you’ll have to make it up somehow with a defensive cooldown. On the bright side, monks have quite a few excellent defensive cooldowns so at the end of the day, you shouldn’t have too many issues.
Of course, the thing to me that hurts monks just is the general slowness. They still aren’t as bad as crusaders nor barbarians for leveling but I do find monks to be in the mid level range when it comes to the pain of leveling solo. Unfortunately, the monk meta really hasn’t been up to par so it’s more of a personal preference when choosing to start out with a monk or shooting for a leaderboard some place.
Spirit of Arachyr
- (2) Summon a permanent Spider Queen who leaves behind webs that deal 4000% weapon damage over 5 seconds and Slows enemies. The Spider Queen is commanded to move to where you cast your Corpse Spiders.
- (4) Hex gains the effect of the Toad of Hugeness rune. After summoning a Toad of Hugeness, you gain 50% damage reduction and heal for 10% of your maximum Life per second for 15 seconds.
- (6) The damage of your creature skills is increased by 1500%. Creature skills are Corpse Spiders, Plague of Toads, Firebats, Locust Swarm, Hex, and Piranhas.
I might get some flack for saying this but this set is my choice for the starter set. It’s such a weird set and the only set I’ve found that synergized very well with the Manajuma’s Way set. First, I just love witch doctors. I think they’re probably one of the best and easiest leveling classes around. Their pets really make the leveling experience more fluid than other classes. They have great early AoE too.
Now, with this set the 2 piece bonus seems odd in that you have yet another pet that does damage AND slows your enemies. The only caveat is that you’re forced to use Corpse Spiders to direct the Spider Queen. Yet as I’ve mentioned before, pets in Diablo 3 are awesome. So having yet another pet that does a little more damage for you is a huge boon.
The four piece bonus is pretty cool too in that your Hex summons, guess what, another pet. And it’s one of those interesting bonuses where you get a free rune for your skill, which in this case provides damage reduction and healing. Most people will take Angry Chicken as the main rune once they’ve obtained Manajuma’s Way. But at any rate, you get two runes to work with which is sweet.
The sixth piece bonus is useful in that your creature damage is improved. My only complaint is that gargantuan and zombie dogs aren’t included here. Nevertheless, the list of skills applicable for the damage boost is pretty flexible. So even if you don’t have optimal gear, you can still do some increased damage as you farm for better stuff.
Now, is this set going to be top tier? Not really in its current incarnation. It’s a nice little set that has potential for running speed bounties once you obtain Manajuma’s Way and switch your Hex to Angry Chicken. But it’s still a very useful starter set that can probably see you up to T8 (I’d have to play with some gear to see if I could push this any further).
Vyr’s Amazing Arcana
- (2) Archon gains the effect of every rune.
- (4) Archon stacks also increase your Attack Speed, Armor, and Resistances by 1%.
- (6) You also gain Archon stacks when you hit with an Archon ability.
I know that in some fashion wizards will be on top for yet another season. Most of that is due to the combination of Archon, Chantodos and the support belt and wizard’s hat. Of course, those builds are all Firebirds builds, but Vyr’s can still hit some high levels.
In truth, this set isn’t a bad starter set on paper. You get all the runes for Archon with the 2 set bonus and good defense at the 4 piece bonus. Of course, my main issue with this set is aimed directly at Archon. I simply hate Archon. I hate the fact that it rearranges your keybindings to a small degree and I hate having to manage both stacks as well as the cooldown in swapping back and forth. It’s just a pain in the ass. I’m sure there’s ways to make this set and build less painful but for me it’s just a nightmare to run. Maybe if the 2 or 4 set bonus helped improve the uptime on Archon, I wouldn’t feel so resentful. But it’s just one of those things where the well has been poisoned too badly to ever drink from again.
At any rate, this upcoming season is pretty ho-hum for myself. I wouldn’t mind leveling up a rebirthed witch doctor just to mess around with the spider set. But without a supporting patch to introduce new items and content, I’m not feeling as motivated to play and might just stick with non-season and experiment with other builds.