A Personal Commentary on the Witch Doctor

(short version preface since this is my 4th post of this kind within the last month, just about the WD this time) I like witch doctors, this game is about sets, witch doctor sets are weak, thus witch doctors are weak, let’s discuss sets now:

Mundunugu: currently the favored set among WD, this set is mechanically sound (although it does have a questionable tie to mana regeneration, which ultimately doesn’t amount to much of a significant increase on the already substantial 6 set bonus) but Blizzard, in their wisdom, has decided that the witch doctor doesn’t get to have nice things, because it’s clearly a joke class, right? i mean, you’ve seen that we can turn into a death chicken, right?? because of this we don’t get a super form with 100% uptime for free CC immunity CoughWoB, Vengeance, epiphany, archon, akarats champion cough and our slam dance, which used to be useful, had to be nerfed because it was useful. really the only thing this set is missing is a multiplier on voo’s juicer and a better damage reduction alternative to lakumba’s (which is basically to a WD what dawn is to a demon hunter, it’s more or less forced into every build for lack of better options)

Helltooth: I’m going to say something similar about arachyr’s in a second, but Helltooth has a weird lack of focus in it’s design. currently it buffs: primary skills (why?), Acid Cloud (cool, but it has no support), Firebats (we will talk about you in a moment), Zombie Charger (i think this is usable now?), Zombie Dogs (big dog go BRRRR), Gargantuan (small big guys go BRRR), Grasp of the Dead (again, why?), Piranhas (because why not?), and Wall of Death (this one actually makes sense) realistically, this set could be trimmed down to just buff wall of death (as it is the vehicle by which your damage is increased) zombie dogs, gargantuans, and zombie charger. the rest of the skills either fit better elsewhere, or simply don’t have enough extra item support to matter. mechanically, the set is sound, although it’s 2 set and 4 set bonus seem to be an arbitrary excuse to have a formulaic sort of set design, and by that i mean “the devs were ticking boxes to make sure the set has X% damage reduction and a nuance to proc the damage so that it’s “interactive” enough and we don’t get a repeat of the original M6 from DH”. outside of that, the necrosis effect is arbitrary aside from it’s marginal cc, and as wall of death has no real support outside of the triple cast bracers (which are a joke and wholly unnecessary to the set) it’s only purpose is to activate the 6 set bonus. in terms of damage, it’s fallen behind the curve for power creep, but this could be addressed with simple number tuning on either the supporting leggos, or the set itself, either way, it just needs a bit of a trim IMO.

Arachyrs: So this is the spider set, but is it really the spider set? sure, the 2 set bonus summons a big permanent spider, which is cool and all, but like… does it really do anything? it’s damage is irrelevant above t4, the slow it provides is marginal at best, and it doesn’t play even slightly into anything else this set does. the 4 set makes big frog go BRRRR, which is funny and all, since as we established earlier, this is a joke class, right??? but as i said with helltooth, it’s just something that seems like blizz was ticking boxes and wanted an excuse to make a big frog appear periodically, since without this set’s interaction with hex as a skill, probably most people would never have used it…
now we get to the 6 set bonus, which is yet another seemingly random list of skills that are buffed… “just because”. unlike helltooth, there’s no catalyst for these things doing more damage, they just do by virtue that you are wearing the set. and don’t get me wrong, i’m fine with that, it’s just one less hoop to jump through before i actually get to start playing the game, but it does seem odd, philosophically. moving on to the specifics of that list, this set buffs: Corpse Spiders (i guess it makes sense, but as far as i can tell, it either doesn’t affect the 2 set bonus big spider, or it does and that spiders is just embarrassingly weak) Plague of toads (this has to be a joke, right?) Firebats (Deja Vu, i have been in this space before) Locust swarm (i might try to justify this one) Hex (i guess it makes sense… except that this isn’t a damage skill by default, so Yolo chicken?) and Piranhas (again, why?) so this list, at least, seems to have a theme, since the set does specify “creature skills” but i guess dogs, gargantuans, and fetishes aren’t creatures? or they just didn’t want to overlap witht he other sets that already buffed those? but then why is firebats here AND on helltooth? i know logic need not apply in a video game, and as we all know, the witch doctor IS a joke class… right??? either way, this set i’d say just needs a redesign. not that it’s bad or anything, it’s just 2 arbitrary set bonuses and a no investment 6 set bonus that buffs an arbitrary list of skills when everyone and their mother only uses it for firebats and chicken farming, and the set would be better served reflecting that, in my opinion.

originally my favorite set, i like pets, i like palying the summoner/ army commander. for a hot minute,t he witch doctor was sorta that in d3, then it wasn’t and the necromancer was sorta that for a minute, now it’s just a hot dumpster fire, and now for whatever reason, the monk is the new summoner/ pet class? whatever, i’ll take it. this set does have one benefit that helltooth and arachyrs lack: focus. this set is all about your fetish army, and how fat they darts be. i’d prefer that the arbitrary activator on the 6 set be removed (that being that you have to hit an enemy with a “mana spender” before they take more damage from you, which is odd as the set itself doesn’t buff mana spenders, and it wasn’t until i did the set dungeon some time ago that i even realized it wanted you to use grasp of the dead for some reason) either way, remove that and it’s just damage tuning.

Jade harvester:
this set i’ve probably spent the most time thinking about, and basically it’s issue is the same as the ancient LoN-FoK build once made popular by memelords back when GR100 was impressive, that issue being that: the moment you have to cast soul harvest twice to kill an enemy instead of once, the amount of time it takes this set to clear a rift just doubled. big, one hit kill abilities with cooldowns (even when they’re small) always have this stuttering issue where they experience horrendous drops in efficiency the moment they aren’t one shotting things anymore, compared to sets which spam out 12 attacks per second, it makes little difference to them if it takes 40 shots to kill something vs 42 shots, but for a set like this, that difference of one extra attack makes it chug along at an unbearable pace. a short form fix is just to reduce the time consumed by the 6 set (which would thus reduce the damage) and refund the damage lost with a basic multiplier to haunt and locust swarm. at the very least this would mean that, while you are sitting there, waiting to cast soul harvest again, the dots are actually DOING damage, since right now the set doesn’t actually increase the damage of those spells, and thus has to do literally 3 hours worth of damage at once to be relevant, it would be the same difference if the set just increased the damage of haunt and locust swarm by 25,600%, and soul harvest only did 20 seconds worth of damage instead of slightly over 3 hours worth (this is the actual math by the way), and in the meantime, those dots actually hurt, and farming becomes way easier (the 2 set would also need tweaks, otherwise people would just sit there spamming haunts for quadrillions of damage instead of actually casting soul harvest, perhaps something like “haunt and locust swarm can now stack twice on an enemy” or something like that, basically a 100% increase in damage that gives you a reason to keep casting those skills) also, you know that random ring that is like “you haunt a nearby enemy every second” but it’s like, not meant for WD to use, even though it’s practically the same (albeit un-runed) haunt? what if that was like, an actual WD ring that behaved like wormwood, but for haunt? that would be pretty neat i think.

Anywho, this concludes my commentary on the current state of the WD sets, TL;DR they’re mechanically mostly fine, but cluttered, slow, and power creeped out of relevance.


WD is the class I’ve played the least other than necro so take my opinions with a grain of salt.

I didn’t realize how little focus most of the WD sets have until you pointed it out. Every build I’ve played on witch doc that wasn’t darts/barrage/jade is essentially 1 step removed from a meme build. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it is pretty funny.

WD to me will always be defined by two playstyles.

  1. Pet builds in all their variations.
  2. Jade harvesters. I still remember way back when watching the insane POP moment of jade WD in it’s prime. I never played it at the time, but I always thought it was such a cool build even if it wasn’t a playstyle that I particularly enjoyed.

I’m not mentioning barrage because I’ve only played it for a handful of hours and don’t have enough of an opinion on it to say much. Anyways, cheers.

Regarding the Arachyr set: as you have noted, the idea of the set is to highlight the ability of the WD to conjure enchanted creatures, such as spiders, frogs, locusts, etc. That is, there is an “idea” behind the choice of skills that are buffed, it is not a random set of skills that are affected.

Zombie dogs, gargantuans, and fetishes aren’t creatures, they are pets. Pet buffs (for example, the Enforcer gem) do not apply to creature skills. Creatures don’t have an AI, they don’t have life, and they persist for many seconds (almost forever with the Enforcer gem), making them quite different from pets. Creatures are basically zoomorphic spell casts, pets are summoned objects.

I think that universally, the 2-piece bonus for this set is considered close to useless. A problem with changing this is, the Spider Queen is used in the Arachyr set dungeon challenge. If you change the 2-piece bonus, that might mean having to re-engineer the dungeon… and that ain’t happening.

IMO, the Arachyr set is the weakest and least fun of the WD sets. Many people, including myself, have suggested improvements. The set did get a much needed damage buff in the past 2 years, but more work is needed.

With S26 looks like frogs are getting skipped again in favor of spiders. And blizz is futher blurring the line between the zoomorphic casts and the summoned objects as you put it.