Saturday, November 24, 2012

The best offense is a good defense

"You do not do any damage when you are dead"

I have said it multiple times regarding a library of games. A simple statement that seems obvious, but is nevertheless ignored by a large number of players in games. Players who would stack the easiest, most simplistic of stats - damage, and potentially become useless during the course of a game. They become useless because they die instantly. While an incredibly skilled or patient player can get away with it, in a game like League of Legends it was very much the defining rule of play, especially if you were melee. The same can be said of Diablo III, at least in higher Inferno monster power (MP) difficulties.

The most effective character builds in Diablo III are the ones that have a well thought out relationship between gear, abilities and individual player skill. This relationship does not necessarily need to be balanced, but they need to work in such a way that you are not dying and still managing to do damage. Gear can be broken down into defensive, offensive and sustain categories. Abilities can be both AoE and/or direct damage, crowd control, survivability or even utility related. Individual player skill ...well, I have already talked about that at length before.

I have always been primarily a melee focused gamer when it comes to RPGs. This has probably made me view defensive stats on par with offensive ones. This is because your damage dealing ability has an incredibly high chance of you taking damage as well. Sometimes you may not even get to deal damage until you close the distance between your enemy (ranged opponent), or even at all if they can kite you to death, like survival hunters in WoW were quite capable at doing. Unless you can sneak up to opponents, being a glass cannon in melee is illogical. In Diablo III, it could be considered suicide, though that again depends on your gear, abilities and individual player skill.

Since entering Inferno, I have always chosen abilities and geared incredibly defensively on my barbarian. With the introduction of MP levels and Infernal Machine, it has become a necessity. Armor, All Resist, Vitality, % Life, Lifesteal, Life on Hit, Dodge and % Damage Type Reduction. If you do not have high enough effective hit points to take a hit from 1-20 monsters, enough sustain to restore your health before they do it again and enough damage to make the whole process worthwhile then you will not get very far. Upon breaking MP level 5, I noticed that while I could stay alive fine, my DPS was starting to drop off, making progress inefficient. It was time to return to the drawing board ...

In a previous post I talked about Nuking - a barbarian build I devised for tackling MP levels 1-5. Essentially you run around with a 2-hander and explode things. Good times. However, it suffered from one problem - the need to generate fury. This fury generation process is time consuming and lowers maximum DPS. It also hinders the possible mobility of the build, using an ability with an awfully long animation time. Unlike a fighting game, it is also an animation you cannot cancel, unlike certain other abilities.

With higher MP levels comes gold. With gold comes gear. With certain gear comes certain set bonuses. With certain set bonuses comes the need to consider different builds. Without going into details, basically I have figured out a way to give myself infinite fury, even on a single target, to use Hammer of the Ancients and Rend at my leisure. This removes the need for a primary fury generator, which is huge! Nuking Mk 2 is a monster of a build, allowing almost full mobility (i.e. manually controlled defense), and consistent use of one of the hardest hitting abilities in the game. I have jumped from MP level 5 to MP level 8 overnight. However, none of this would be possible if I was not able to stay alive.