Wizards and the Conjuration School: Why It Sucks And Rocks At The Same Time

  • #1
    I've posted on my blog about some suggestions for Magic Weapon, Familiar, and the various Armor spells. Feel free to follow the link for sources and images, but I'll post most of it up on this thread.

    archmagelezard.blogspot.com/2013/03/wizards-and-conjuration-school-why-it.html


    Wizards and the Conjuration School: Why It Sucks And Rocks At The Same Time


    If you've ever played a wizard to 60 and above in D3, there's probably 3 spells that have made a near-permanent home in your skill slots. To be exact, these would be Magic Weapon, Familiar (the Sparkflint one to be exact), and an Armor Spell (of any type). The benefits of these three spells are incredible - increased dps for two to five minutes, or some other kind of defensive advantage. All it takes is 25 AP at one pop, and you're good for the next 120 seconds or so. No wonder most people use it.

    How do I know that most people use it, you ask? A quick look at the skills used by the top 500 Heroscore players (according to DiabloProgress) shows you the breakdowns. While this obviously doesn't cover every single D3 player, seeing the skills chosen by the top 500 is at least indicative of what skills players trend to. Magic Weapon is at the top of the pack with a whopping 73% usage, with an Armor spell (Energy Armor) in fourth, closely followed by the Familiar spell. Breaking this down further, we see that Blood Magic and Force Weapon are the most used runes for MW, Sparkflint the ONLY rune of choice for Familiar, and Pinpoint Barrier the overwhelming winner in the Force Armor Energy Armor category.

    In a side note, Storm Armor makes a healthy showing at number 8 in the list. Ice Armor is number 20, however, showing that most people care about the dps gains provided by the other Armor spells. The prevailing Wizard dogma is "kill it before it kills you", and apparently even the incredible 12% melee damage reduction isn't enough to interest many players in it (As a personal disclaimer, this is one my personal favorite armor spells, as it's saved me more times than I can count and is a cheap way to trigger Cold-Blooded).

    With all these spells providing a good duration of free dps, it's clear why many people would use them, probably all at the same time. All three spells are near mandatory for Archon farming specs, while even CMWW and SNS builds carry at least 1 Armor spell each. One could, if I may, argue that they're almost too good.

    And that brings me to the next point - why they suck. One is that there's almost no reason not to pack them - common wisdom would say that, if you pack 1 signature spell, 1 AP spender, and 1 ohcrap button of your choice, that leaves 3 slots for MW, Familiar, and an Armor spell. In fact, before Monster Power, I had all three spells for nearly every one of my builds. In other words, they worsen diversity because apart from sacrificing a slot, there's no other downside to using them. They'll mostly be on, they only take a second and a nominal AP cost, they're basically 3 passive slots you swapped for active slots. Which leads me to the next reason they suck - they're BORING.

    The Conjuration school has rough equivalents with a couple of the other classes, that is the Barbarian Tactics and the Monk mantras. Every barb has a shout, usually Battle Rage, although a lot of people use War Cry as well (and Threatening Shout is at least represented on DiabloProgress as well at number 16). And every monk uses a Mantra of some kind. But what makes them different and more interesting than the Conjuration school?

    In the case of the Barb, using the shouts is a significant decision. War Cry and Threatening Shout restore Fury and have cooldowns, meaning it's better to save casting them when you need them rather than just refreshing them each time the cd is up (especially in the case of a party). While Battle Rage has no cooldown, it costs 20 Fury, usually a significant sum since it actually takes effort to gain Fury. In the case of monks, Mantras have a bonus effect each time it is cast, which is also a significant decision since Spirit is an equally precious resource (We all know there's really only one Mantra worth casting... maybe a second if you're a two-handed weapon monk... but that's a different discussion).

    If you've played a Wizard, then you know AP is a dime a dozen. We get ten points of it a SECOND just by standing around and scratching our heads. And we haven't even begun to talk about AP on crit items or Astral Presence. The Conjuration skills are such no brainers that I end up casting them by absent-minded mistake even when I'm playing different classes.

    Ok, then, so what can be done about this state of affairs? As a matter of fact, we have a couple of options.

    HELL TO PAY: There needs to be a significant consequence to use the Conjuration spells. I'm not saying nerf them to the ground (unless we want another wave of wizards to ragequit en masse right behind the melee demon hunters), but rather that they incur a cost that would at least influence the user's choices. Let's look at Energy Armor - it lowers the maximum AP by 20 in all runes except one, and yet it's still the number 4 spell on the DiabloProgress list. This means that despite the drawback, people are still willing to use it. Why not do something similar to the other spells, then? If you consider that the Conjuration spells last a long time, wouldn't it make sense that they're a constant drain on a Wizard's resources?

    I'm proposing that each Conjuration spell cast, apart from its AP cost, reduces maximum Arcane Power by 5. Force Energy Armor would reduce it by 25 instead, considering how desired it is. What this means is that, if you used all three Conjuration spells at the same time, your total AP is reduced by 15 (or thereabouts, again assuming you're not using Energy Armor). Or maybe each Conjuration spell could, instead, reduce Arcane Power GENERATION by 1 point each, affecting both AP regen and AP on crit. This would make choosing such spells an actual choice, instead of a no-brainer.

    GIV 'UM SUM FLASH, BOYZ: But wait - doesn't the above idea just nerf the Conjuration spells to the ground? Whatever happened to making them more interesting? Well, we can do that too - for example, with the Armor spells, why not make them have an effect when they're cast?

    But wait - isn't that just a cheap knockoff of the monk Mantras? Sure it would be... if the effect was a buff. We all know from Blizzard's lore overview that Wizards are supposed to be rebellious, flamboyant, and lacking in finesee... in game terms, pure hoses of demon-crunching Dee Pee Ess. So make the Armor cast effect reflect that - when casting an Armor spell, it releases a large area effect wave of X% weapon damage of the corresponding element (ice, lightning, and arcane damage depending on the Armor spell). The damage should not be comparable to actual AP spenders, but rather, give you an incentive to refresh your Armor spell in the middle of combat instead of out of it. Furthermore, the cast effect would be able to proc the corresponding passives (Cold Blooded, Temporal Flux, and Paralysis, which badly needs another source of lightning damage).

    ME AND MY LITTLE FRIEND: Familiar these days is pretty much a single rune spell. Sparkflint is just that damn good - no one really cares about Vigoron's bonus hp regen (which is the red headed stepchild of life regain anyway) or Arcanot's AOE effect. That 12 percent bonus, no-questions-asked boost to dps just makes Sparkflint the only choice. But then what do we do? Nerfing Sparkflint is just asking for trouble and forum flames. So... here's a thought... why not BUFF the other runes?

    A simple fix would involve looking at WHY Sparkflint is so good - that 12% bonus dps. Why not give a small amount of that to the baseline Familiar effect, say, a 5% dps bonus? If Arcanot gave you bonus 2 AP regen a second AND a 5% damage increase, wouldn't you start looking at it some more? Sparkflint would still be the best choice for raw dps, but the other familiar runes would then offer flexibility with being a dps loss. One would imagine this makes them a LOT more attractive.

    I GOT THE MAGIC STICK: Magic Weapon suffers from the same problem as the Armor spells - once cast, it just sits there and adds to your dps. Even worse, its rune diversity suffers because there's only real 2 real choices for the rune; Blood Magic and Force Weapon. The reason behind this isn't even because the other runes are a loss of dps - it's because they can't proc anything. Electrify can't even proc Paralysis, which is downright silly, while Venom not only has zero proc coefficient, it uses an element that isn't supported by any Wizard passive and just feels downright out of place. Conduit, on the other hand, gives much too little AP to make it worth using.

    Apart from allowing it to proc and buffing some of the effects, there are other ways to make Magic Weapon more interesting. Does anyone remember the Sorceress' Enchant spell from Diablo 2? What if the secondary effects from the Magic Weapon spell (lifesteal, knockback, DoT, resource gain, aoe lightning) applied to your ENTIRE party? It might require some numbers tweaking (granting an entire party 1.5% lifesteal might turn out to be too good), but doing this would actually give the Wizard some co-op viability, instead of just being the dps glass cannon.

    There should be a ton of ideas out there on how to make the Conjuration school more interesting. I'm not saying my suggestions are the best ones, but I hope they're a start. Maybe this'll get people thinking about concrete, positive proposals for these spells.
    Check out my blog at archmagelezard.blogspot.com :Thumbs Up:

  • #2
    Amazing ideas here. +1

    Maybe the Wizard armor spells granting a defensive bonus when cast would be more in line with their "theme". As in a weak "oh crap" version of the spell. But the offensive ideas are pretty cool indeed.

    - Energy Armor could grant a 1 second +30% armor bonus, Ice Armor could have a signifcant improvement (as it's the weaker of the 3) by having its chance to freeze be applied to ranged enemies and reduce % ranged dmg, and by having Storm Armor reduce crowd control duration by 50% (for 1-2 seconds as well).

    They also need to have a serious look at some Runes - specifically stuff that requires you to be attacked to work. Having an enemy take 70% weapon damage (Storm) or 130% weapon damage is literally a joke. They're inflicting 5-10k damage on you (sometimes more, at 10-20k on higher MPs), and you're barely scratching them (and scratching them every 2-3 seconds depending on the enemies A.I.).

    -> These are runes that only really deal considerable dps against single targets, and even then you must have solid sustain and you're giving up waaaay too much mitigation for mediocre subpar dps (considering that enemies don't attack you 2-3 times/second). I doubt a lot of people would use these even if they were 350% weapon damage (because in pratice, they'd be like 50% weapon dmg).

    Familiar generally needs a more decent incentive other than "shoots targets for 20% weapon damage", since the projectile is meh and has 0 AoE potential.

    Its Ancient Guardian could work similarly to Diamond Skin. 1 attack is a joke in the mess we're usually in. It's great if it can block a Molten explosion amongst a horde elite, but it's usually down. If it was something like "when below 50% life, refreshes a shield every 6 seconds that absorbs up to 10k damage" I'm sure a lot of people would consider dropping Diamond Skin if they had an alternative like that (plus, Wizards need skills that work well with things like Teleport, Mirror Image, Arcane Orb, Disintegrate and being a kiting glass cannon in general).

    D3 in general needs a lot of work on a ton of its skill/runes. And it's quite saddening the amount of time the development team takes to even tackle the more obviously bad runes.
  • #3
    Yeah... I'm totally fine with the way the conjuration spells work currently, with the exception that Energy Armor is a little 'too good' compared to the other options.

    My only suggestion would be, perhaps, remove the 12% damage buff from sparkflint runed Familiars, It could be changed to set enemies on fire when struck by the Familiar's projectile, perhaps.

    My reason for not wanting the OP's changes to be made is this - I don't *want* my Diablo gameplay to turn into some cooldown-juggling, resource micro-managing, spell-chaining, combo-building mathfest. Diablo has always been, and always should be, the button spamming 'FPS' of the action RPG market.

    The typical sorceress build in Diablo 2 was a perfect example of what a Diablo character should play like - cast a couple buffs (mana shield and ice armor) then spam teleport and frozen orb like they're going out of style.

    I don't see a problem with having some of your spells 'do nothing,' as you say. Buffs are pretty typical Wizard fare. Above all, they *certainly* don't need to be nerfed by having Max AP Reduced by X, or anything like that.

    EDIT: Please don't read this and get the idea that I don't think the runes need work... most of them are completely unusable. I just personally don't think the spells we're discussing need some major overhaul, they just need more tweaking.

    EDIT 2: Fixed the Energy Armor/Force Armor mix up @Bagstone's suggestion. :)
  • #4
    Extremely well-thought out and well-written post. Thanks OP, this was a great read.

    I don't feel too strong about the armor (I think it's cool that there are 3 different armors and every wizard is using one - I'd be fine if there was a fourth one and it would really be a choice among one of four armors). Also, the Magic Weapon thing seems to even out now that Force Weapon and Blood Magic become equally attractive. What I'm really annoyed about is Familiar: why is it not a buff (i.e., not showing up in the buff bar, making it clear when I have to re-cast?) Why are all other runes crap? And why just have this must-have rune? I'd say just nerf it. Don't care about the shitstorm. Right now it feels like we have 6 passive spells, but three of them need to be re-cast every once in a while. It just sucks.

    Two other things that bug me is that the 120s buffs don't go well together with the playstyle. Archon wizards have to cancel their Archon which can have a solid 5 minutes left on timer, just to re-buff. It sucks. As CMWW I find myself often refreshing Energy Armor every second (btw, you three have Energy Armor as Force Armor in your text). Therefore I really like the idea of 30% armor buff for 1 second (though I'm still in favor of nerving CMWW to the ground, as I think it's a game-breaking content-bypassing spec right now that needs to be removed).

    The other thing is group play. Why do wizards not have any group buffs (except for the Slow Time bubble, which has oftentimes some drawbacks, e.g., at Maghda it can turn her flies into killing bees). As soon as a wizard joins a group everyone is like "yay, all mobs will be frozen, thanks for turning on your CMWW spec" before you can even say what you're gonna do. And god forbid you think about using Archon in group - u mad bro? Stunlock our damn enemies or go home.

    Nerf some skills, buff the runes, and change some spells to have an effect on group play. That's what I want.

    Edit: Guys, it's Energy Armor, Force Armor is just a rune. Please don't confuse everyone by going on calling it by one of its runes instead of the actual skill name. Would be nice if you could edit your text to avoid mix-ups.
  • #5
    Quote from Tkeleth
    My only suggestion would be, perhaps, remove the 12% damage buff from sparkflint runed Familiars, It could be changed to set enemies on fire when struck by the Familiar's projectile, perhaps.

    That would be a huge nerf :( if anything the other familiars need to be more useful at what they were proposed to be when designed.

    My reason for not wanting the OP's changes to be made is this - I don't *want* my Diablo gameplay to turn into some cooldown-juggling, resource micro-managing, spell-chaining, combo-building mathfest. Diablo has always been, and always should be, the button spamming 'FPS' of the action RPG market.

    There are builds just for that. Archon, Disintegrate, Black Ice, some would argue that CMWW is like that.

    And that's fine. But there's nothing wrong with having a little skill based on well timed casts - and that's what some of us want for these "passive actives". Nothing gamebreaking, just something to make us feel a bit smarter and in control of our character's strenght and weaknesses. I think we all agree that D3 needs a bit more complexity in it (be it in its combat, be it in its underlying systems).

    The typical sorceress build in Diablo 2 was a perfect example of what a Diablo character should play like - cast a couple buffs (mana shield and ice armor) then spam teleport and frozen orb like they're going out of style.

    I think the trend is moving away from things like that. They are awesome to "build" and watch, but insanely boring to actually play.

    Quote from Bagstone

    Two other things that bug me is that the 120s buffs don't go well together with the playstyle. Archon wizards have to cancel their Archon which can have a solid 5 minutes left on timer, just to re-buff. It sucks. As CMWW I find myself often refreshing Energy Armor every second (btw, you three have Energy Armor as Force Armor in your text). Therefore I really like the idea of 30% armor buff for 1 second (though I'm still in favor of nerving CMWW to the ground, as I think it's a game-breaking content-bypassing spec right now that needs to be removed).

    I honestly wouldn't mind if they added a limit timer to things like Archon and WotB. Not something that breaks the builds, but something that makes the skill builds matter a bit more, like 90 max Archon duration (then choosing between Evocation, Critical Mass and Pure Power becomes an actual choice). And then buff accordingly by make Archon gain 1 second for every enemy who dies withing "x" yards (which is what I think they'll do anyways for "on kill" mechanics).

    The other thing is group play. Why do wizards not have any group buffs (except for the Slow Time bubble, which has oftentimes some drawbacks, e.g., at Maghda it can turn her flies into killing bees). As soon as a wizard joins a group everyone is like "yay, all mobs will be frozen, thanks for turning on your CMWW spec" before you can even say what you're gonna do. And god forbid you think about using Archon in group - u mad bro? Stunlock our damn enemies or go home.

    I'm sure just by adjusting the skills and runes to be more useful at what their original intent was can improve that. Long range glass-cannoning has somewhat limited DPS. As soon as things like Mirror Image can actually be used as a "gtfo my team so we can regroup and reposition", Wave of Force becomes a more reliable spell and Signature spells are improved, then you see a lot more build diversity (and hence, different contributions to group-play).


    Edit: Guys, it's Energy Armor, Force Armor is just a rune. Please don't confuse everyone by going on calling it by one of its runes instead of the actual skill name. Would be nice if you could edit your text to avoid mix-ups.

    Fixed :P
  • #6
    Thanks for the discussion, guys - now to specific points!

    Quote from Bagstone


    Edit: Guys, it's Energy Armor, Force Armor is just a rune. Please don't confuse everyone by going on calling it by one of its runes instead of the actual skill name. Would be nice if you could edit your text to avoid mix-ups.


    Thanks for the heads up - I'd been typing it over and over so much I ended up just saying Force Armor when I meant Energy. =P

    Quote from Tkeleth

    My reason for not wanting the OP's changes to be made is this - I don't *want* my Diablo gameplay to turn into some cooldown-juggling, resource micro-managing, spell-chaining, combo-building mathfest. Diablo has always been, and always should be, the button spamming 'FPS' of the action RPG market.

    The typical sorceress build in Diablo 2 was a perfect example of what a Diablo character should play like - cast a couple buffs (mana shield and ice armor) then spam teleport and frozen orb like they're going out of style.

    I don't see a problem with having some of your spells 'do nothing,' as you say. Buffs are pretty typical Wizard fare. Above all, they *certainly* don't need to be nerfed by having Max AP Reduced by X, or anything like that.


    First off... I agree with a lot of what you're saying. Diablo is the high speed smashfest of the action RPG market. Hell, it practically invented the action rpg market.
    But there's just a couple of things... first off, I never mentioned adding cooldowns in any of my ideas. Granted, at first I did think some of the spells could use cooldowns, but you'll notice that for the most part that the cooldown heavy spells are in the defensive category. One could argue that armor is defensive, but let's face it, most wizards now cast armor spells for any incidental dps advantage they can get.
    Anyway, I don't see how adding an effect to Armor spell casts removes from that. You're not really juggling resources and you're not juggling cooldowns at all. All I was talking about was some incentive to make you think about using it a little. Instead of casting the buff before a fight, there's a reason to cast it DURING the fight. And I did say to make its damage non-competitive with true AP spenders. It's not supposed to be part of a combo, it's just supposed to make recasting it a little more interesting than, well... pressing 4, in my case.

    It's true, back then in Diablo 2, all Sorceresses had in the way of buffs was to cast Chilling Armor, and then Energy Shield, and then go ape. Except for one thing; couldn't you hotkey like, up to 12 spells to your right click back then, not to mention hotkeying spells to your left click? (I don't remember if you could hotkey to your leftclick, I'd have to play LoD again).
    In D3 we have 6 spell slots. SIX. Three buffs means you're stuck with the sig, the spender, and the ohcrap. No room for variability or diversity. I'm just saying, if we only have so many slots, shouldn't the spells we use be used more often than every five minutes? I'm not calling for combos or any of that new school garbage; I'm just saying, add in a little something to break the monotony of pausing to press 2, 3, 4 after the last Fallen has died. Just saying. =)
    Check out my blog at archmagelezard.blogspot.com :Thumbs Up:

  • #7
    Quote from Lezard_Valeth

    Thanks for the discussion, guys - now to specific points!


    First off... I agree with a lot of what you're saying. Diablo is the high speed smashfest of the action RPG market. Hell, it practically invented the action rpg market.
    But there's just a couple of things... first off, I never mentioned adding cooldowns in any of my ideas. Granted, at first I did think some of the spells could use cooldowns, but you'll notice that for the most part that the cooldown heavy spells are in the defensive category. One could argue that armor is defensive, but let's face it, most wizards now cast armor spells for any incidental dps advantage they can get.
    Anyway, I don't see how adding an effect to Armor spell casts removes from that. You're not really juggling resources and you're not juggling cooldowns at all. All I was talking about was some incentive to make you think about using it a little. Instead of casting the buff before a fight, there's a reason to cast it DURING the fight. And I did say to make its damage non-competitive with true AP spenders. It's not supposed to be part of a combo, it's just supposed to make recasting it a little more interesting than, well... pressing 4, in my case.



    Yeah, the additional things I listed were just some other features I've seen around (for example, cooldowns being added late in the Diablo 2 production cycle). The other things like detailed resource management and spell rotations are mostly from my experience with World of Warcraft. Given Blizzard's increasing love of cross-contamination in their game development process, I am worried we'll eventually see Diablo 3 turning into 4-player WoW... which would be horrible. They're already (potentially) taking lessons from the WoW loot system with this talk about having certain bosses having a chance to drop specific legendaries... Soon, I'm afraid, we'll be logging on D3 just to farm the same boss for weeks at a time to get that ONE special drop... and then they're likely to add daily limits on the number of times a boss can be killed, or some similar restriction like WoW's weekly raid resets.

    This is mostly what I worry about.

    And to Zero(ps), I personally enjoyed playing Meteorb sorcs and Bone necros (both are basically just 1 button spam classes) more than anything else - Javazon, Summoner necros, various pally builds, Frenzy/WW barb... Just my preference. :)
  • #8
    I've been running with Ice Armor - Crystallize recently. At 3 stacks and in Archon form, I can reach up to 94% total damage reduction, which is only a tiny fraction of a percent less than what Prismatic Armor can give me—but the clincher is that I also nab 12% bonus melee reduction and can also chill or freeze melee attackers with Ice Armor.

    I'm certain as more time goes on, people will experiment a little more with "unconventional" or "less-often used" skills. I've been playing with Magic Weapon - Electrify as well when I run CM/WW to up the eDPS.

    Don't think the spells should be nerfed in any way. The others need to be buffed in order to get more people to think, "Do I really need to use Magic Weapon? Can I use this instead and do this instead?"

    Or we can dream that we can get that one bonus skill slot to make everything so much more interesting.

    And another thing... other than the conjuration spells, we also have a horde of wizards running Diamond Skin and/or Frost Nova as one of the final skills. Strong skills are strong skills and people just want to use strong skills.
    Blizzard Entertainment - Diablo III Community MVP
  • #9
    Quote from Jaetch

    I've been running with Ice Armor - Crystallize recently. At 3 stacks and in Archon form, I can reach up to 94% total damage reduction, which is only a tiny fraction of a percent less than what Prismatic Armor can give me—but the clincher is that I also nab 12% bonus melee reduction and can also chill or freeze melee attackers with Ice Armor.

    I'm certain as more time goes on, people will experiment a little more with "unconventional" or "less-often used" skills. I've been playing with Magic Weapon - Electrify as well when I run CM/WW to up the eDPS.



    Not arguing with you there, sir - actually, I've been running Crystallize myself for a month or so before I started experimenting with Storm Armor: Scramble for better xp run speeds. As I've noted in my post, I'm a frost mage at heart. :)

    I think though, that you may be giving too much credit to the average D3 player. Like it or not, there's a lot of people out there who are slaves to the flashiest Youtube playthroughs or the build with the most threads dedicated to it. Hell, I know a lot of those people. I personally know of 1 barbarian who stopped playing the game because it was too expensive to properly gear WW/RLTW. When I told him to just try a different build and different skills instead, he just looked at me like I was an idiot and said, 'but EVERY barb uses this spec!' :doh: And I haven't even begun telling you about the other 2 barbs, or my cook friend who ragequit when they removed proc coeff from the DH's Jagged Spikes, or my other friend who firmly believed cookie cutter Sweeping Wind/Thunderclap was the ONLY monk spec. Some of us might know better and actually try using off-the-beaten-path skills, and make good use of them, but we're firmly in the minority. The fact of the matter is some skills just look more attractive than others, and until enough of us get the word out, skills like MW: Electrify will always be considered 'noob', fairly or not, just because it has too much of a bad rap on forums (And also because it doesn't proc Paralysis, which is dumb, dumb, dumb).

    Don't think the spells should be nerfed in any way. The others need to be buffed in order to get more people to think, "Do I really need to use Magic Weapon? Can I use this instead and do this instead?"


    I guess I really am the only one who thinks those spells need some minor nerf just to make it unattractive to run them all together at the same time. :fret:

    And another thing... other than the conjuration spells, we also have a horde of wizards running Diamond Skin and/or Frost Nova as one of the final skills. Strong skills are strong skills and people just want to use strong skills.


    And again, no argument there, but I just wanted to single out the conjuration school because they require a zero-branch decision tree. I know how much they add to my dps and ehp, but they feel like deadweight in my skill bar in terms of fun factor. In defense of Frost Nova and Diamond Skin, at least they make you press their buttons in combat. =P
    Check out my blog at archmagelezard.blogspot.com :Thumbs Up:

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