After a few weeks of abstinence, we jumped back into the Beta yesterday. A fair amount of stuff has been changed since the start and so it was time to reevaluate some of the curves and mechanics. When we discussed group composition we started thinking about possible spell synergies – and realized we didn’t have a clue. So I went over to Blizzard’s Official Website and looked at the spells and their Runestone variations, to find those especially beneficial to group play.
What qualifies as synergetic
There’re a lot of different effects you can use to aid you in bringing pain to your foes. But I didn’t look for AoE, Direct Damage, Crowd Control, or DoTs while scanning through the spell database. I focused on the group wide buffs or debuffs. Why do I consider them synergetic? Well that’s easy.
Let’s have a look at something simple like the Demon Hunter’s “Marked for Death”. If you are soloing your way through D3, there’re just a few occasions you wanna use this skill. Mainly bossfights. It gives a 20% damage increase to one person. Thanks to the 300% Buff to Enemy Health in full groups, even blue or yellow enemies put up quite a fight. Here, the Mark not just helps focusing enemies by visually marking it. The 20% damage buff to the whole group, instead of just one character, ends up being a huge amount of extra damage. That’s what I call Synergy.
So without further ado I present to you the Top Five Classes – from worst to best – when it comes to Synergy / Group Play:
Number 5 – The Demon Hunter
With just two active and one passive Synergy Skills that are all earned after level 20, the Demon Hunter earns the last spot in our Ranking. We start with “Sentry” at 21. Both “Guardian Turret” and “Aid Station” provide some decent bonuses, shielding or healing the party. At 23, we get the aforementioned “Marked for Death“, adding a decent 20% of damage dealt to the target. So far “Contagion” (Indigo) sounds like the best upgrade for party play, as it’ll speed up the farming of named groups a lot by spreading the Mark to another five targets after death. As Passive, we get a decent “Custom Engineering“, buffing the duration of the previous abilities.
Number 4 – The Witch Doctor
The WD’s “Hex” not only disables your enemies, but also adds 20% to their received damage – 50% if you use an Alabaster Rune to convert it to “Jinx”. Pretty awesome – but the shaman’s target is chosen at random and it has to be recast pretty often. A “Mass Confusion” lets your enemies attack each other, while “Paranoia” (Crimson) adds another 30% of damage. With “Big Bad Voodoo” you’ll get a local movement- and attack speed buff. If you add some Runestone mojo, you’ll either get 30% damage with “Slam Dance” (Crimson), or an area heal with “Ghost Trance” (Obsidian). Here, it’s the passive “Tribal Rites” that decreases the cooldowns of “Hex” and the “Voodoo”.
Number 3 – The Wizard
The Wizard needs Runestones to get any Synergy at all. “Frostnova“, which you get at Level 2, becomes “Bonechill” with the help of a Crimson Runestone, putting a 35% damage bonus on its victims. “Slow Time” on its own creates a zone, that debuffs your enemies. As “Stretch Time” (Alabaster), or “Time Warp” (Crimson), it additionally offers an attack speed buff, or a 30% damage enhancement. Our third active spell is the level 24 “Familiar“, becoming a 30% general damage buff as “Sparkflint” thanks to a Crimson Rune. The Wizard’s the first class to have a direct synergetic passive Skill with “Conflagration“, granting 15% damage increase on affected targets.
Number 2 – The Barbarian
The Barbarian’s party abilities are mostly about damage reduction and utility. While “Threatening Shout” lowers the damage of attackers by 50% for 15 seconds, the “Mob Rule” (Obsidian) version of “Ignore Pain” lowers incoming damage by 65% for 5 seconds. With “War Cry” buffing the party’s armor, there’ll be a lot of damage mitigation. The “Force March” (Golden version of “Sprint“) ability then gives us a movement speed buff for a few seconds. “Inspiring Presence” passively buffs both our “Threatening Shout” and “War Cry”.
Number 1 – The Monk
While the first four places are pretty much my subjective opinion based on levels the spells are gained and effects, no one will be able to argue against our winner. With a clear margin, the Monk is the Gosu of Groupplay, our Saint of Synergy, the Master of Marvellousness. If you want to play with others, you’ll want to play – or play with – a Monk.
Although you can only have one of them active at any given time, Mantras are kick-ass. Starting with “Mantra of Evasion“, over to “Mantra of Retribution“, “Mantra of Healing” and “Mantra of Conviction” they are your premium shiny gotta-love-em damage/healing/utility auras for every situation. While solo and duo play won’t need much healing, in bigger groups every bit of extra health will be appreciated. Here, our Monk can pitch in with “Breath of Heaven“, “Cyclone Strike“‘s “Soothing Breeze” (Obsidian), “Inner Sanctuary“‘s “Safe Haven” (Golden) and the “Tranquility” (Golden) provided by “Serenity“. As if that wouldn’t be enough, “Breaking Wave” (the Alabaster version of “Crippling Wave“), “Exploding Palm“‘s “The flesh is weak” (Obsidian) and “Circle of Protection” (Inner Sanctuary with Obsidian flavor) offer two outgoing damage buffs and an incoming damage debuff. And just because you’re the Monk and people love you, you get two Passives that support group play. While “Chant of Resonance” buffs the duration of your Mantras, “Guiding Light” applies a damage buff every time you directly heal someone.
I gotta be honest. I wasn’t a massive fan of the Monk before. I always thought it was lacking something. But when I look at its party synergy, I don’t think I’d leave the house without one. What do you think? Did I misjudge some of the capabilities? Did I miss a spell? Leave me a comment.