In this guide i will provide some advise and information on Archon build and how to maximize your results.
General concept behind archon:
Archon is the most efficient wizard farming spec in solo play. It's by far the most efficient farming method on MP1 simply because it offers the highest killing speed. It can be used on MP2 and onwards as well, but that requires much higher DPS, i cannot give you exact DPS thresholds for each simply because it varies depending on your build version and survavibility, this is something that goes by 'feel' If you want to find out how it 'should' feel switch to MP1 with about 120k DPS and try doing act 3 keep level 2 with 24% movement speed - this is what it you are aiming for.
This is not about building arcane destruction archon, although there's a fair bit of valuable points for those players as well, this is primarily about maximizing the utility of the archon itself for purely maximizing farming efficiency on your end.
There are definitely a few variations on this build that might work for you. One thing i hope everyone realizes is that there is no one single build that would satisfy every single player and every single gear setup. There are various situations that might be better off with a slightly different setup, i will explain the choices in later sections.
The main purpose of this build is to maximize the speed thus increasing efficiency of your farming. There are 5 staple skills that are absolutely paramount to this build:
Archon a choice of 2 runes, either improved archon or pure power, i will discuss this choice in optimizing section
The other 2 passive slots and 2 active skills are very much up to you and depend on your gear, playstyle and whether you play solo or in a party.
2) Making the full use of Archon & Optimizing the playstyle:
As i briefly mentioned earlier, this build is focused purely on one and only thing - SPEED.
More speed = more gear = faster paragon leveling = more efficiency per amount of time you play the game.
In this build archon is used not only to kill champion packs, but normal white mobs as well. Every kill that you make adds 1 second duration to the archon buff, learning to manage that is the key to this build.
How do you keep feeding your achon? There are a few factors that are crucial:
Move speed, mobs rarely come in a single endless chain, there's a few here and a few 40 yards away, you want to minimize the time you spend running from one group to the next. Having 12% run speed on boots and one more slot is going to make huge difference in the uptime of your archon. The run speed cap is 25% (One little trick i've learned - Firewalkers, the fire that it spawns does small amounts of damage, but that fire opens the doors for you, you no longer have to pause to destroy the door with your beam, you simply run right thru it)
Monster Power. Archon is about having high archon buff uptime, say if you are spending only 30% of the time in archon - you are not optimizing this build at all. The simple success formula for this build is the ability to kill more than 1 white mob per second. If you are unable to do this because you have set your monster power too high you will be better off using another build.
Do not pick up blue items / tomes / small amounts of gold. You are optimizing your archon uptime, i personally end up filling my inventory with rares in about 20 minutes max, skipping those increases your rare onwards loot chances per hour and your paragon levels exp gain.
Where exactly do you farm is completely up to you with the current monster power feature in the game. A couple of things you have to keep in mind though:
General concept of efficient farming is about maximizing the aspects that you want - the amount of loot chances and the experience gained towards paragon levels. Please note that due to the way the magic find works (please do take the time to find out more in here) it may not be better to go on MP10 with full set of MF gear and super slow kill speed. It is in fact better to have a lot more kills with lower MF (on lower MP), the exact sweetspot will vary for different playstyles, different gear levels and different skill setups, neither me, not anyone else will be able to tell you exactly where the best spot will be for you - you gotta test, try and find it for yourself, the MP settings, the MF gear and the exact spots to farm.
Remember that archon thrives on sustaining the buff for extended durations - you want to kill more than 1 white mob per second, that is the key. As such choosing the farming route / area is of utmost importance aside from MP setting. I generally do not recommend doing act 1 or act 4 simply because the general mob density there is low. Mob density is the key - you want areas that have a lot of small, easy to kill mobs, think Keep level 2, think Vault of the Assasin, etc.
Alkaizer's route is certainly still very efficient, however with MP mechanic added to the game act 2 is a possible farming place now, which offers a number of other small to large crowded areas that are easy to clear or connect.
3) Understanding Archon Abilities
1 = arcane blast 115% weapon damage as arcane
This is a very strong ability, use it, it causes no interruption to your beam channeling, the radius is not very large, but when mobs get into your melee range - spam this on CD to get a very nice additional damage going, you can get into melee range of some mobs as well to spam this (archers for example), however don't bother chasing after the mobs that keep running away to use this, just spam the beam
LMB = arcane strike 250% weapon damage as arcane
This interrupts your beam, you can either use this or the beam, it has AoE, but frankly, i do not see using this ability at all, if i could remove it from the skill bar i would completely as it annoys me when i accidentally click on some running mob and end up chasing after it across the room for ages.
RMB = the doomsday laser beam of horrible death 300% weapon damage as arcane
This is your primary nuke, spam this until everything is dead, (a little tip - if you have 1-2 mobs alive with very low HP in the path you need to run in, stop beaming, move and arcane blast when you are near them, every second counts)
Important things to know:
Beam damage CAN crit. The beam ticks 2 times per second (some claim 4 times), the damage you see on your screen is added up and shown per second, hence you do not see the big yellow numbers coming up.
Beam damage IS affected by attack speed. Beam tick speed is fixed and does not change under any circumstances, hence the attack speed directly increases damage per tick.
Wizard still gains the benefits of Critical Mass with the archon buff, you can easily observe this via timing the buff vs the cooldown as well as fast arcane blast cooldown when you crit a lot.
4) Optimizing for YOU:
As i mentioned earlier, there's a number of variations in the last few skill slots. Now that we have clearer understanding of the goal of this build and how it works, lets talk about some possibilities and why:
Archon rune: Pure power (100 second CD on archon) or Improved Archon (25% damage increase in archon) + Evocation passive (15% cooldown reduction)
To reiterate - in this build, you want to be in archon form as close to 100% of time as possible, if you find yourself running out of the buff and waiting for it too often - take pure power and evocation, the loss of the 25% damage boost in archon is better than not having archon at all. Keep in mind, this heavily depends on what you are farming. If you are farming an area which has very few mobs, such as the Barraks lvl 1 & 2 (i completely skip those, not worth the time) then you have to be prepared to be out of archon a fair bit. If you are doing a very crowded area with a lot of mobs then it's either you lack the move speed and / or DPS or you've set your MP too high.
Critical Mass & Wicked Wind (Stormchaser)
I have seen, many times, people stating that both are necessary for this build. Quite honestly - no they are not. Once again this comes down to you and your gear. If you have high crit, high APoC & are using a 1 hander then you might want to use this if you are running out of archon buff too often. If you are in a party that doesn't clear very fast or is just not as fast as you'd like to go - then this is a good setup. If you are soloing and clearing really fast - then you do not need either CM or WW. Please have a read thru Loroese' thread on attack speed for Wicked Wind, after testing he proves that AIS in fact affects the number of LoH ticks and CM procs for WW, at the same time, the number of damage ticks remains the same.
Teleport (over the other survival abilities)
This will save your life dozens of times, be it accidentally running out of archon being surrounded by fire chains fast hulking beasts or waiting a few seconds for your archon CD to come back and being jailed with desecration under your feet or being cornered with knockback frozen elite that froze all escape paths. The run back time is just not worth it. I simply use piercing orb and teleport to kill elites that i encounter while my archon is on CD (a little tip here - if you have 1min+ on arcon CD and you see a very ugly combo of affixes in front of you, go town, identify your yellows, repair, vendor, your CD will be back up, come down, melt them, move on).
Blur - if you are taking too much damage from melee attacks - you might want to use this
Cold blooded - this is a very effective skill and works for archon abilities. What you need is a source of cold damage on mobs, it could be another player in the group or a scoundrel with cold damage bow / x-bow
Arcane Dynamo - this works only for either the first skill you use in archon or the arcane destruction rune of archon
Galvanizing ward - this is useful if you find yourself spending so much time in archon that you run out of the armor buff, although cancelling archon buff, recasting armor and recasting archon is a better way of doing it as compared to permanently occupying a passive skill slot
5) Gear based variations of the build
Saying that there is only way one to play this build is wrong, if you wish - there are a few approaches to this build:
Maximize the uptime of archon via speed (you have little to do when archon is down, but it's rarely down)
requires 24% move speed (or close) and over high DPS
Massive archon cd reductions via CM and crits (your archon drops off frequently but you get it back fast)
requires high crit & some APoC if you are using WW / Storm Chaser / or AP costing skills to proc CM, alternatively you could stick to using signature spells with very high attack speed (simply generate a large amount of CM procs in a short period of time, that being the case you might want to go for Magic Missile, simple because it has 100% coefficient
Have things to do while archon is down, for example you take arcane orb, or something similar, sustain good DPS while archon is on CD
personally i do not really like this due to the fact that taking the mandatory 4 skills you have only 2 slots left, i can't see myself surviving as much as i do without teleport (fracture) which leaves only 1 skill slot...
It depends on your current gear setup and what you have the funds for. APoC gear is very expensive and is limiting to your total DPS - for example Storm Crow is no match to either Andariel's Visage or Mempo of Twilight (with crit), the same thing goes for Chantodo's Will - it has only 1 random magic property, which means either a socket or crit damage or life steal without a possibility of having all 3 which would be the ultimate combo on the weapon along with INT.
6) Gearing up
What you are really looking for is to gain as much DPS as possible while retaining a certain amount of EHP to be able to take a few hits without dying. While many other builds, especially the ones using AP based skills focus on harder hits rather than attack speed, for archon it makes no difference, get your DPS up by any means.
Life steal vs LoH: Both work for archon. The thing is scaling, LoH doesn't scale with your DPS and it limits you to having to find rings / amulet / etc with LoH on it, which isn't always cheaper and better in terms of DPS. Life steal scales with your DPS, surely if you have 20k DPS life-steal will be overshadowed by even 1k LoH, but once you go above 100k DPS, life steal is by far more viable. (Little tip: use arcane explosion as a massive healing CD when tanking phase beast elites for example, with life steal and a few of them in melee range it can heal you back to full in one click)
Life after kill: This is a feasible alternative for an archon build - remember you thrive on killing a lot of mobs really fast - this stat has a nice synergy this way, however this is inferior to life steal when it comes to encountering reflect damage elites or fighting bosses
2 hander vs 1 hander: To be able to play archon - it makes no difference, archon DPS is normalized for attack speed, the difference is the life steal amount. 1 hander + OH provides for higher crit % and APoC, which is good if you are using CM based archon reduction, 2 hander provides for extra 100% crit damage, 3% extra life steal, both of which are superb for archon.
Survival stats: There is no exact resistance or armor values that anyone can give you - there are simply too many variables in that question. The MP that you are doing, higher MP requires more EHP, you might have very high armor and low resistances or the other way around, or you could have both values balanced (approximate balancing point is 10 armor = 1 resist all based on the diminishing returns for both).
Please remember that archon itself gives you 40% buff to armor and all resistances, staying in archon for most of the game means you do not need as much survival stats
also keep in mind that INT gives you all resist at 10 INT = 1 All Resist, do not discount this fact - a well geared wizard will have approximately 3'000 INT which translates into a very solid 300 All Resist
One more note i would like make on this topic, EHP can be buffed via damage reduction or via raw HP, please do not go in the direction of having 100k HP with low resists, while it works on paper, it doesn't work ingame as much because your life steal will be far less effective.
Templar - the efficiency of his heals is beyond pathetic, the AP regen he offers is same, the main purpose of this follower is stacking MF. He is the best MF follower because he can use a 1 handed weapon and a shield, maxing out every slot on him with MF (you only get 1/4th of his MF) could give you as much as near 30% boost
Scoundrel - this is the best support follower you can get, firstly his buff to your critical chance synergizes with Critial Mass, secondly if you equip him with a cold damage bow / x-bow he will perma slow everything in the vicinity, and that slow works for Cold Blooded as well, which pretty much gives you a free 20% damage boost without having to use any cold skills yourself
Enchantress is very mediocre for wizards - her knockback is only partially usefull and the cooldown of it is too long, the 3% attack speed boost far worse than crit chance boost from scoundrel and the armor buff is, once again, extremely mediocre.
P.S. If anyone else wants to link their vids or has thoughts / comments let me know, i'll fix / add as needed
P.P.S Dear curse - please fix the editor the bullet points specifically, it is absolute horrible, creating a post and then editing it breaks the bullets completely. Doing the whole post in HTML is a major hussle...
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
Very nice guide, what do you think about taking galvanizing ward instead of critical mass or evocation?
I do find my archon sometimes lasting longer than my energy armor, and it can be annoying to cancel an archon with a chunk of itme left just to recast energy armor.
I tried that as well, personally - the armor is not that crucial - when you run out of it in archon and you have sufficient DPS to melt stuff fast enough in solo - it makes very little difference, stuff dies way too fast to hit you often. Certainly if you do not have life steal or sufficient EHP it would be significant, for me with around 300k EHP, when armor is out during archon i just keep going, even for elites.
For certain areas where you get a lot of mobs, canceling and recasting archon is not a problem anyway, for areas where there's not enough mobs - piercing orb will clear away stuff.
I have recently been trying with electrocute - forked lightning, this is very strong for clearing out packs, but the single target DPS of forked lightning is atrocious. In an event where you run into a pack of elites with a long CD on archon and you don't feel like waiting - killing them with piercing orb is far faster / easier than it is with forked lighting.
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
I like using Arcane destruction. I have a high crit damage (195%) two hander, so when the AD crits, it very nearly one shots an elite pack. The downside is that I need to make sure the mob does not have reflect damage (in this case there is mutually assured destruction).
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I used to shoot people in the knee with arrows, then I took an arrow to the knee.
TheDemokin, would you consider Leg. 2-hand sword warmonger - with 1k damage, +40% Damage, 1.2 base Attack speed, 215 INT, 123% Crit Hit Damage, +8% Attack speed, 5.7% Life Steal (the forum doesn't allow to post links yet :/), as a viable option for your Archon build?