Bashiok on the Witch Doctor's "Zombie Dogs"

Bashiok recently responded to a user who had some questions about the Witch Doctor's "Zombie Dog" skill. Here's what he had to say:

Official Blizzard Quote:

"First thing's first, the mongrel is now (or again) known as the Zombie Dog. It was the name that was used when the idea was first proposed and all the way through development. Calling it a mongrel was kind of confusing because everyone was so used to calling it a zombie dog for so long, no one remembered to call it a mongrel (dune thresher and fallen imp suffer from it as well to a degree). The name zombie dog doesn't need to be lore-fied really. It describes the skill perfectly, so why not use it?

So anyway, right, the fire and poison/locust enhancements for the zombie dogs was removed. It was a cool idea but it just wasn't really panning out to be anything meaningful. It was sort of confusing as to why you would be switching between fire and poison, was it to keep an additional DoT active, or maybe there would be tactical reasons for it? But it just wasn't really jiving in a way that made sense for the rest of the game as it all came together more. It wasn't shaping up to be a meaningful or fun decision to make on-the-fly. And if you didn't happen to spec into the skills that would empower the mongrels in different ways, what then? You're just constantly refreshing a fire DoT on them? To what end? It seemed more and more that a decision that was made at the base skill, either through spending points in another skill (passive potentially), or using particular runes to alter the zombie dogs, made the most sense.

I haven't spoken to the designers about it, so I could be way out of line, but I think the potential for passives that affect all "summoned zombies" is definitely there as there are quite a bit more of them that exist now. The gargantuan, zombie charger, wall of zombies, grasp of the dead, and then the zombie dogs of course."
The Gargantuan, as you may recall from the BlizzCon panels is basically a much larger version of the zombie dogs. Bashiok also went on to elaborate on the subject of switching between having your zombie dogs on fire and poisoning them:

Official Blizzard Quote:

"It's not an issue of coming up with various ways the effects could work, it's the issue of why is it interesting or fun to switch between the two? Why/when/how would I choose to set my dogs on fire versus poisoning them, and most importantly! could it be done accurately enough so that it actually makes a difference?

"Ok I'm a firebomb WD.
Firebombing, firebombing... Oh sweet, my zombie dog lit on fire and is doing extra damage/trail of fire/etc etc
Firebombing, firebombing. Yup, he's still on fire and doing all that stuff.
Still on fire.
Always on fire since I use firebomb so much.
... still on fire.
This might as well be a passive."

Repeat the above for locust swarm.

"Ok I have firebomb AND locust swarm!
Firebombing, cool he's on f... wait nope I accidentally hit him with locust swa... nope now he's on fire agai... ok they need to stop getting in my way I want them to be on fire but they... ugh.
This should just be something I can choose/switch in a more meaningful way.""
Alright, you've heard what Bashiok has to say about it, now let's hear your opinions on the Zombie Dog skill.


  • #1 Glarung-Master_of_Fear
    I see his point, the skills that you use to alter the dog isn't such a good plan, I'm for the passive skill, possibly investing in either fire or poison you can pick one or the other and increase it as you go...
    Zombie Dog a nice skill, tribute to the Necromancer possibly, in memory of his golem's or skeletons? And as for impowering him with fire or disease, a very very good idea :) can't wait to take the WD for a test drive :)

    It is the brave man's part, to live with Glory or with Glory die.
  • #2 Enkeria
    Idea, maybe stupid but I give it a go.

    Having the Zombie Dogs just have claw and bite attack at first levels, making them stronger just adds on the poision/fire. Maybe Poison in mouth and Fire tounge or fire claws..

    Just a thought. Make them change after a surten number of upgrades..
  • #3 Kenzai
    This won't be too much of a meaningful post but i just agree with Bashiok. :P

    Actually ... how will they really make it?
    I mean, we want to be able to choose their element on creation and not by casting a skill on them as it would happen uncontrollably during combat; but that would technically require permanent changes in the skills, not? If it's a passive, yes. If you use runes, it'd be just weird to change them so much...

    OR, they create a system of skill options (sub-skill?) which are like runes changing the skill except it's not as drastic as runes and you can swap on will...
    That'd be interesting actually... Five points in Fire Bomb unlock Mongrel sub-skill: Fire Mongrel.
  • #4 SFJake
    "Lets dumb down an unique mechanic because we can't deal with it, instead of trying to improve it and fix its flaws."

    Thats all I saw there.
  • #5 Calyx
    Maybe its just me but I prefer mongrel to zombie dog. Zombie dog is just too bland.
  • #6 hackity
    Why not have both fire and poison simultaneously effect your dog?

    I dont know about you but having a dog that can blow up aswell as spread poison and fire at the same time is pretty bad ass. maybe if its on fire then the explosion radius takes extra fire damage and the poison locusts would spread in a small locust nova

    now we just have zombie dogs.....
  • #7 Kenzai
    Quote from "Calyx" »
    Maybe its just me but I prefer mongrel to zombie dog. Zombie dog is just too bland.

    I'm with you, actually.

    I had forgotten their names but you'll see me using them...

    Anyway, that's not too important to me.

    SFJake, don't be so pessimistic. :P
    Strictly speaking, Bashiok is totally right on what he says: With the current system, it's useless.
    If you have an alternate idea of making it work, please share.
    And note that they don't dump it totally anyway. They seem to be planning to make it passive or something (but look at my previous post, how will they do that?).

    hackity, yeah would be nice but then there's the problem that they described first: Why not make it just a passive as you'll use it all the time anyway.
    They could make two passive skills like that and the Mongrels would have poisen and fire at the same time if you train both skills...
    But i like my idea better. :P
  • #8 JuicyFruitSweeT
    too much to read and its not important LOL
    (i did not finish reading them above)
  • #9 Credge
    Quote from "SFJake" »
    "Lets dumb down an unique mechanic because we can't deal with it, instead of trying to improve it and fix its flaws."

    Thats all I saw there.

    That's all I saw as well.

    There are several ways to make the mechanic unique and interesting. For example, a flaming zombie dog could lose health over time (have a dot for the duration of the buff) while doing increased damage. This would make the witch doctor have to be a bit careful with where he casts his fire spell, increasing the strategy involved.

    Because the game is still about strategy, right? Wasn't that something they drilled in to us at last years Blizzcon? Remember the skeletons with the shields?

    Really, all this says is that "We don't want things to get all that interesting with this class. We don't want another Necromancer on our hands." Which, ironically, they already said =\.
  • #10 DesmondTiny
    Can you still make your mongrels or fire dogs explode to do AoE damage?
  • #11 darkmatter77
    Quote from "SFJake" »
    "Lets dumb down an unique mechanic because we can't deal with it, instead of trying to improve it and fix its flaws."

    Thats all I saw there.

    usually not a complainer but im agreeing with this guy it was unique for a witch doctor to do this something that was differenet

  • #12 Magistrate
    Quote from SFJake »
    "Lets dumb down an unique mechanic because we can't deal with it, instead of trying to improve it and fix its flaws."

    Thats all I saw there.

    Yeah, that's basically what I got out of it. I mean, from my perspective- I haven't played it yet with them so I wouldn't know how it all feels- it doesn't make much more sense than them just not wanting to bother with it anymore.
  • #13 ranen
    Hey guys, I wasn't able to attend Blizzcon to play the demo so I might not be completely up-to-date on the Zombie Dog/Mongrel mechanics, but my idea has to do with their sacrifice effect (if it's still there).

    Keeping Zombie Dogs Useful:
    I thought that instead of simply buffing them with a small amount of extra damage or something along those lines, why not make them a living conduit to amplify the power of the Witch Doctor's spells?
    Basically if you enchant them with Firebomb and sacrifice them, they'll explode in an amplified version of the Firebomb and/or leave burning ground beneath them. Alternately you could enchant them with Locust Swarm and sacrifice them, releasing a larger swarm (perhaps the equivalent of 2-3 normal ones).
    That being said, I'd rather not see these become simply on-death effects - we don't want to turn enchanted Zombie Dogs into another Plague of Toads.

    That way you could keep using the Zombie Dog/Mongrel for much longer and deal with dangerous monster types from a safe distance, adding a bit of extra flavour to the play style.

    'Accidentally Enchanting' Zombie Dogs
    As for empowering your Zombie Dogs, it seems the problem lies somewhere within not being able to control when they are enchanted.
    What if instead of changing any time they're hit by either spell, the Zombie Dogs require the full power of the Witch Doctor's spell to be enhanced.
    In gameplay terms, this could translate to something along the lines of having to be the primary target of the spell.

    This way, accidental switches on Firebomb splash damage or Locust Swarm secondary infection become less of a concern.

    Effects of Enchanting Zombie Dogs
    Now what the passive effects of empowering your Zombie Dogs should be is somewhat debatable.
    I believe that forcing the player to have their pets enchanted at all times for some damage buff or passive effect is the wrong way to go about it.
    Sure it's interesting in a way, but what you end up doing is having a buff to refresh and saying the normal pet isn't good enough on its own.
    What it SHOULD do is modify the way the pet fights or behaves in a meaningful way.

    Zombie Dogs - For example, a normal Zombie Dog may deal average physical damage and tank a solid amount of damage (perhaps regenerating health slowly). A good all-rounder when you don't know what to expect.

    Fire Dogs - Once enchanted with Firebomb, they gain some bonus fire damage on attacks but have reduced health (they are on fire after all). This makes the 'Fire Dog' excellent against weaker or fire vulnerable enemies, and an excellent damage dealer when he is not the focus of attacks.

    Swarm Dogs - Enchanting a Zombie Dog with Locust Swarm irritates nearby enemies, reducing the attack speed/impairing accuracy as they swat desperately at the starving Locusts. However, this makes the Dog more susceptible to magical damage. The 'Swarm Dog' is ideal for engaging brutes and is useful to 'hold the line' against large groups.

    These are just some that I've come up with, just imagine where Blizzard could take it.

    Ultimately, this could change the feel of Zombie Dogs from "they aren't as strong when they're not enchanted" to "will enchanting them with a spell make this situation easier?"

    Just my two cents... I hope Blizzard keep the mechanic in some form because it feels so unique.
    If you liked or didn't like my ideas, please leave a comment.
  • #14 jwest88
    To control accidental switches why not make it so when you want to enchant them you have to press a key and use the attack at the same time?

    May be a little cumbersome, but would get rid of the accidental enchant issue.
  • #15 AcidReign
    Are there any in-game shots of the gargantuan? Just wondering... Sounds intriguing...
  • #16 Morden79
    I personally think it will be much better as an actual passive. Maybe you could pick both or choose which you summon if you invest in both skills. I definately think that it should not only add damage but add that effect and extra damage when you blow them up.

    I think a good idea would be like fire mongrels get extra fire damage on melee and apply a dot (show monsters burning when its applied) when they attack. When you sacrifice them, they explode with a fiery blast, damaging enemies and also inflicting a fire dot. These guys would help a lot in big battles with strong monsters and bosses. Powerful in single target, but has aoe backup.

    Locust mongrels would be aoe based. When they strike it inflicts with locust plague, hitting the target and then passing to nearby enemies. Very good for big groups and bosses with a lot of cronies. On explosion it would emit a big blast of locusts that infect and spread. It would eventually be like a locust swarm nova.

    That's just a few ideas though. I'm insterested to see these bigger versions, do we have any pics of those or have we not seen that yet? It sounds like it would be sweet.
  • #17 jwest88
    Out of what I've seen of the game we only have seen mongrels(don't really like zombie dog). We haven't been shown any of the other ones yet.

    Some cool ideas on this thread. If they haven't been posted on maybe they should be posted.
  • #18 ansl
    Agreeing with the dumbing down of the idea(Sfjake,Credge,Seth etc.).

    Aswell as Bashioks explanation about "when to use what enchant on the dog" <- fire resistance mob, use locust. Poison resistance mob, use fire. A way to fix the accidental enchanting of a zombie dog is simply to make the first one irreversable. Geez, how hard can it be.
  • #19 jwest88
    Quote from "ansl" »
    Agreeing with the dumbing down of the idea(Sfjake,Credge,Seth etc.).

    Aswell as Bashioks explanation about "when to use what enchant on the dog" <- fire resistance mob, use locust. Poison resistance mob, use fire. A way to fix the accidental enchanting of a zombie dog is simply to make the first one irreversable. Geez, how hard can it be.

    True that would work too. Just have the first enchantment stick for the duration of the summons life. If you really wanted to change poison to fire or fire to poison, sacrifice it to kill some guys, then summon a new one.
  • #20 AcidReign
    I think there should just be passives to upgrade your Zombie Dogs, as Bashiok stated.
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