For my money on this, it can't just be netted out to: "Skill A does this much damage and Skill B does that much damage, therefore Skill A is better. A little gets lost in translation. The main thing for me on Sac or Bears versus Acid Cloud is positional flexibility. I can put Acid Cloud damage where I want it when I want it with very little restriction. If it's in my screen of view, unless there is a wall, I can pretty much put Acid Cloud damage down. The same cannot be said for Bears/Sac.
Bears definitely do more damage when optimally positioned. The question becomes, can I move around fast enough and/or get good enough at positioning to mitigate that Acid Cloud advantage to where I still come out ahead with a Bears or Sac build -- that's up for argument but it should at least be discussed. The second item would be, when I position myself for optimal damage on Bears/Sac, have I positioned myself less optimally for survival? Again, with cloud, I can be anywhere I want to be while I do damage anywhere else I want.
On a per cast basis, no question Bears is better, and with practice, you can often control positioning such that survivability is still high (or high enough) and damage is maximized. But, for me, it all ends up that I feel Acid Cloud gives me the best overall benefit of survivability and flexibility to put damage where I want it.
I agree with Emberos. I've been running Bears for a couple of days and I'm starting to get used to it enough to stop dying so much. With Acid Rain, I only died on dumbness, lag spikes or phasebeasts teleporting on my face when SW/pot were on cooldown.
I think there comes a point where you are doing so much damage that you can just use whatever you want and still be effective. I saw a little of Debo's stream today, he has something like ~95k unbuffed dps (with very little CC/CD) and just runs around Ghost Bombing shit to death. Every run he tests something different to compliment this, but he mostly just drops bombs. It works very well with his high attack speed.
To each his own, I guess. Personally, I'm using Bears because it sped up my farming, considering my dps isn't high enough to make quick work of elites using just Acid Rain and Ghost Bomb. When I can, I'll change back.
acid rain has an awesome coefficient. therefor when using Life On Hit, or using something like skorn with 90% have to apply 11k dps makes it much better. example your character sheet says 50k dps with skorn equipt, but what ur actually getting is much closer too 100k dps from the skorn bleed effect. not to mention if u have LOH on rings and ammy's ur constantly max hp's.
i can see acid rain being much better at mp10 as well, just because when u have enough all resistance, and a coefficint so high, u can literally face tank mobs similar to barbarians.
One problem I see with the sacrifice build is the items, I am not sure if its even possible to get as good items in slots with the reduced cooldown as you could get with other builds, aka you nerf those slots, so your overall dps is lower. So allthough you deal 1100% dmg it might be lower because your items keep your total dps low.
I might try acid rain, do it work well with the life steal on my skorn?
Another problem with sacrifice build is relatively small range of their aoe. From my experience it worked much worse against ranged ai, where you couldnt just melee them exploding dogs all the time. Bears with their range give you more options, ranged elites don't run away as much if you hit them from distance (also if they run they often run within bears aoe range). If you attempt to melee ranged ai, they always run away. And if you just summon dogs, and let them approach elites that run away, then your casting speed (and dps) drops down greatly.
I tested both builds quite a bit with very good gear (had perfect 30% elites soj with max cooldown reduction to dogs ect). Both in 1.04 co op to maximize hp of enemies, and ptr, and overall build was significantly worse than bears, for many reasons mentioned above.
One thing that worked for this build - massive healing, and no need for life steal. It had no issues with reflect damage, as long as your pickup range covered globes left by sacrificed dogs.
So for ubers you need LOH or Life leech? damm ill have to change all my gear LOL xD
If you can do it in groups then life on hit/steal is much less needed, especially if you got a tanky character soaking the majority of the damage. I rarely play d3 solo anymore and the builds are completely diffrent. Ex: Big bad voodoo is insane with full group and bad medicine is better since it benefits the whole group.