Tuesday, August 8, 2017

None Shall Pass!

Season 11 in Diablo 3 has been an interesting one, bringing back many friends far and wide to witness the debut season for the 'new' Necromancer class. Having briefly tried the Necromancer pre-season and getting to GR80, I realised that, while the class is certainly enjoyable, the lack of gearing options severely dampens my interest in the class at endgame. Hopefully it is something that is addressed in the future.

Besides this, I have been rocking a Crusader this season, jumping back on the horse to figure out a comfortable playstyle, something I never did in the past. While I originally intended to gear towards running a thorns (i.e. damage reflect) build, I found that gearing for Roland's was quite akin to the old Hammer of the Ancients playstyle I became fond of playing as a Barbarian. As Barbarians have truly been left by the wayside for the last 4-5 seasons in favour of classes that, quite literally, are 10x more effective, jumping ship to a slightly better class employing a similar play philosophy has been advantageous. A lot of the 'tech' and realizations I made playing a Barbarian still work relatively well for a Crusader.

While a Crusader is certainly more cooldown/active defense dependant, similar passives and skills exist that give you strong defensive and, more importantly, sustain options, much like the Barbarian. I have started dubbing this playstyle "fish-tanking", simply because it attempts to maintain an adequate balance between the dimensions of your damage x mitigation x sustain fish-tank. If the dimensions of said fish-tank are inversely proportioned to the scaling of the other dimensions, then the sensible route is to maintain a balance between them to optimize your fish tank's volume. This concept certainly exists in a game like Diablo 3: stacking one type of stat reduces the capacity to stack another.

If your fish-tank's dimensions are 10 x 1 x 1, you will do some extraordinary damage, but you will die as soon as a mob touches you and won't even have the chance to sustain yourself. Your volume (or effectiveness) for handling content is 10. However, if you dial that damage back somewhat, take some time to consider your options in contrast to mindlessly stacking "MOAR DOMAGE!!", you might end up with a more balanced fish-tank of dimensions 5 x 5 x 5. Your volume (effectiveness) jumps all the way to 125. As you can see, that is a huge difference from 10.

Of course, the game's mechanics are not as simple as maximizing a fish-tank's volume. There are things that still kill me in 2-3 hits and bosses that are an absolute nightmare to fight. Additionally, the classes have varying degrees of sustain options, some more than others. The recent Necromancer addition probably having the strongest and most interesting. This philosophy does not work for everyone. However, it has allowed me to climb up to the relative power level of my much better geared Barbarian on live, clearing a GR85 in about as much time as my Barb would. I imagine that by the end of the season I will have eclipsed my Barbarian's power level and may have a new class/build to enjoy as much as HotA, LeapQuake and Whirlwind.

Fun times.