Today, I leveled up my 7th character of the season, a Barbarian. Initially, I started her off just as an LoD Seismic Slam -> Hammer of the Ancients build then swapped over to Immortal Kings to Horde of the Ninety Savages and finally to Wrath of the Wastes. It took me a good part of the afternoon to get a basic build going but with the Visions of Eternity feature, obtaining gear wasn’t as painful compared to previous seasons. But with this marking all 7 classes in use, I thought I would share my experience so far of the season and any differences that I noticed.
To start off, I wanted to return to the classic Whirlwind barbarian class. I don’t play a barbarian the way the upper echelon players do as I avoid Istvan’s Paired Blades in favor of Bul-Kathos’s Oath. For me I simply prefer having topped off Rage and go Blood Funnel for my rune to keep up with healing (you take a lot of damage) while using a Hellfire Amulet. Also, I wanted to get back into Whirlwind + Rend since I haven’t played this build for a long time. I know there are some variants such as one build using the Captain Crimson’s Trimmings but I ended up going with a full Wrath of the Wastelands set. What’s nice about this build is that it’s pretty brain dead except you need to manage your cooldowns and keep up your Band of Might defense buff (which will leave you vulnerable if you go with Ground Stomp). Nonetheless, it remains my favorite build, although I will say Horde of the Ninety Savages is also a fairly fun build to run.
One thing I think about while playing this build is the future with the Altar making a comeback for season 30 and onward. I remain hopeful that the Altar ends up being the key to future seasons by having rotating powers in key sections. So the idea of being able to potentially have a 4th Kanai’s Cube slot and a free Ring of Royal Grandeur really can help boost build potentials for little work by the dev team. Here, having that free RoRG slot would mean being able to use the Guardian’s Jeopardy by substituting the helmet and bracer slot. Then the 4th Kanai’s Cube slot could go to Messerschmidt’s Reaver to help further reduce the cooldown of Wrath of the Berserker.
Now, that we’re on the subject of builds, I want to talk about another build I did the day before: Inna’s Mantra. This season was a little different because I got to employ Inna’s Reach for a weapon while using the Guardian’s Jeopardy. What’s nice about this setup is the increased tankiness from the Guardian’s Jeopardy. I’m still working on the build because the Amulet and Ring slots are slightly out of place (I prefer the Endless Walk combination). However, if I were to have the free RoRG slot and 4th Kanai’s Cube slot, I would like to make use of an In-geom (which I normally would use) along with substituting the RoRG with a Unity. In that manner, I would make up for the loss of speed from lacking an In-geom.
And before that I had been working on a Necromancer. I wanted to give Trag’Oul’s Avatar a shot as I had not played it and it being the top Necromancer build at the moment. It’s still an awkward build that feels as though Siphon Blood should be a spender rather than a generator. Because you can’t really gain any benefit from a Taeguk nor Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac. And the odd part is that it’s Death Nova which causes the damage so using a Simplicity’s Strength is equally pointless here. While it’s smoother than other Necromancer builds, it’s still fairly ass backwards in the way it feels. Like the triggered Death Nova happens around you rather than being targeted at the enemy so you have to get in close range for it to be effective. And sometimes you’ll feel desperate and end up casting Death Nova yourself when the enemy gets too close since you’re still building up stacks via Blood Siphon. So someone needs to really look at this class and pull it apart a bit. I don’t think I’m going to talk more about this for now outside of the fact that I managed to give it a shot.
Another build I tried was an Angry Chicken witch doctor. For some reason, the PTR felt more fluid. This one felt like a mess. I can’t tell why. The chickens detonate but it feels weak compared to when I tried it on the PTR. The speed is great but this build just feels out of control. I like the idea of the build but it doesn’t fit well with the Spirit of Arachyr set. The spider theme of the Arachyr set should’ve just pumped up the damage of the spiders rather than this nutty combo. Obviously, the speed, damage and defense boosts make Angry Chicken top tier but I still prefer the overall play style of the spider part much better.
If a RoRG and 4th Kanai’s Cube slot were made available, I would modify the spider version of the Spirit of Arachyr by using a Wormwood in the cube along with a Vile Hive for auto applying Pestilence. Then a Ring of Emptiness and Convention of Elements would be used for my rings along with the Endless Walk for defense. I would have to put the Brood of Aranae in the cube for the armor slot but I could use the Guardian’s Jeopardy on the wrist and belt slots for more defense.
From there, I want to talk about the build of the season: Ponysader! Yes, Fist of the Heavens with Aegis of Valor is by far the best set/build this season. Whenever I used Aegis of Valor in the past, I always went Fist of the Heavens. Unfortunately, it was missing a big piece. The revised Vigilante Belt that autocast Fist of the Heavens makes this build complete. No longer do you have to manually cast and stack up Fist of the Heavens for defense buffs. Instead, you just mount up and run around.
With a RoRG free slot and 4th Kanai’s Cube, I would probably use a Justice Lantern for more defense and Swiftmount to extend the duration of Steed Charge. These seem to be natural combinations if you could add a few extra item effects. The main thing here is that between Iron Skin and Akarat’s Prophet, you do have some downtime with defense as you charge through enemies. Also, the Endless Walk really isn’t a good option because you’re autocasting Fist of the Heavens and moving around too much.
Also, I had done Tal Rasha’s and the usual GoD demon hunter builds. Tal Rasha by itself right now as a push build is painfully slow. While casting Meteor does help reduce the slow teleport time, Tal Rasha’s by itself isn’t a cooldown type of build. In dry areas, it’s very hard to get through lengthy zones. So a RoRG and 4th Kanai’s Cube slot would greatly help this build. The main component to add to the build would be an Aether Walker. That alone would speed this build up to a competitive level. For the jewelry slot, I would probably go double Unity for more defense.
For the GoD demon hunter, I would probably use an Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac to keep my Vengeance up at 100% and rely less on normal cooldown for my gear. Then for the 4th slot, I would add a Mantle of Channeling for more damage reduction and output as it synergizes well with Strafe. Some people would probably go Valla’s Bequest rather than a Fortress Ballista. I just feel that for consistency, Mantle of Channeling makes for a better item.
With that in mind, I started looking at Legendary Gems again. Now, I have discussed how I believe that there still is room for more item improvements even though the game itself is said to be going on maintenance mode. But I feel for now, it might mean just no more new seasonal themes. But there’s too many things still left that could use significant improvements. For instance, after the change to the Natalya’s set, it ended up being awful even though it crosses over with what the GoD set does. Also, there’s too many legendaries that probably need more adjustments in the way Cluckeye and the Vigilante Belt have been.
To that effect, I wanted to discuss Legendary Gems for followers. Right now, the only two gems that work with followers are Mutilation Guard and Esoteric Alteration. I think to be honest, they accidentally work but not intentionally. And from my experience even when they’re equipped, they don’t provide that much damage reduction unless you get them significantly leveled up. For instance, my Enchantress uses a level 25 Estoteric Alteration with a low level Mutilation Guard and was perishing frequently. I made an argument in a previous blog that the Follower relic should have a special consumable that would create a gem socket for which you could use an emanating Legendary gem. For that, I would choose only a few defensive gems that can be used in that slot like the aforementioned Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard. I would include the Gizzard, Invigorating Gemstone, Boon of the Hoarder and Moratorium. Maybe even include Mirinae and Wreath of Lightning.
The idea for making that slot emanate for select gems is to add a little more diversity to builds and give attention to lesser used gems. For instance, with Wrath of the Wastes, I end up not using Squirt’s Necklace due to the squishiness of the Whirlwind set. Adding Gizzard without sacrificing my normal offensive gems would help a lot. Also, I can see my follower gaining a little more tankiness. Similarly, emanating Boon of the Hoarder from my follower in conjunction with an emanating Goldwrap would add tremendous quality of life between my GR runs.
One thing you may notice is that I added Mirinae and Wreath of Lightning to that list. While they are offensive gems, their real utility is in healing and movement speed. For instance, I can see a Tal Rasha wizard using a Wreath of Lightning to boost her speed, even though the lightning itself wouldn’t conduct a lot of damage (although it may help trigger lightning meteors). Or perhaps, Mirinae may help the Blood Siphon Trag’ouls build with the healing aspect.
With the other gems, I still think they would make for decent follower gems. Instead of having them be a hidden feature, I think they should be given a first class citizen status for followers to be able to use. I see those other defensive gems as just additional reasons for running GRs and having more ways to progress your total character portrait. Instead of the usual 3-4 gems one might do per season, you would now have 8 or more. I would love to use more than the undying follower tokens and having more options for follower gems would be great.
And the one feature that I had requested that ended up over at D4 was the legendary affix copying mechanism. While the way it was implemented over at D4 wasn’t how I had in mind, the principal of taking a typically useless legendary and copying its power over to another legendary is cool. It’s like Emanations that go beyond utility. The only other way of increasing the usefulness of less used legendaries is to make them Emanate. I already put up a list on which ones could make a difference. But again, I see new builds come into fruitition like a demon hunter bowling ball build with a Cindercoat + Vault + Firewalkers + the Danetta hand crossbows.
Overall, I think they should continue improving upon D3. We don’t need new seasonal themes but the desire for adjustments and continuing to provide some small increases in build diversity should be a thing.