Witch Doctor Spirit Barrage nerf feedback

‘Developer’s Note: Mundunugu’s Regalia is overperforming compared to other sets. This change to Gazing Demise should simplify the gameplay mechanic while reducing its damage output.’

Compared to other classes

Let’s disregard for a moment that the current era’s leaderboards haven’t been updated since patch 2.6.8 (when the Mundunugu’s Regalia set first went live), and that the Spirit Barrage build received a substantial nerf between then and now. These are the number of players who have completed a GR150 solo during era 13/2020-1 across all 4 regions:

Barb Crusader DH Monk Necro WD Wiz
2 29 133 0 31 30 2

June 23, 2020, patch 2.6.9 went live. Included in the patch notes was this change:

  • Witch Doctor
    • Spirit Barrage
      • The Spectres from the Phantasm rune no longer benefit from pet bonuses.

Since then, no WD who hadn’t already cleared a GR150 has cleared one. None. Nada. Zero. Zilch. In fact, the highest clear post-2.6.9 (taking time zones into account) I was able to find by manually combing through all 4 softcore, non-seasonal leaderboards was a GR145 clear in October 2020 in the China region. In Asia, the highest post-2.6.9 clear by a player who hadn’t previously cleared higher with the unnerfed build was a lone GR145 (paragon 10671) clear in November 2020. In Europe, a single GR145 (paragon 8173) clear in December 2020. In the Americas, a GR141 (paragon 6655) in December 2020.

Of course, completing a GR150 isn’t the entire picture, and there may well have been clears higher than GR145 by WDs who had previously recorded an even higher solo GR, or clears I missed, but I hope this is illustrative of my point that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the players to get an accurate read of how SB is performing and consequentially understand Blizzard’s rationale for this nerf, which has led to a lot of ill-feeling among those who love the WD class that we are not being heard—that Blizzard isn’t understanding our point of view.

Compared to other WD sets

While yes, it is absolutely correct that the Mundunugu set is performing better than other WD sets, this is only because the remaining WD sets are so lacklustre by comparison. A couple of examples from trusted members of the D3 community, in case the feedback shared thus far in the forum isn’t sufficiently convincing:

  • Our only build on Bluddshed’s season 22 tier list above his 3rd tier was Spirit Barrage. For comparison, Necro had 3, and every other class sans DH (who are in a similar boat to WDs) had 2.

  • Maxroll’s solo tier list has Spirit Barrage as it currently stands in their highest tier, S tier, with the next highest rated WD build two tiers below it (B tier), which according to them are ‘up to 10 GRs behind S tier’.

  • Raxxanterax had WD as the 2nd weakest overall class in his season 22 tier list. He even commented, ‘For season 23 they [Blizzard] really have to look at the other sets, again really the only playable build for WD is Spirit Barrage.’ For his season 23 tier list, WDs have fallen to last place in Raxx’s view: ‘There isn’t a single good thing I can say to all the Witch Doctor players out there … They don’t have any role in any XP meta, they don’t have any role in the high meta, they’re really not desired in groups or anything.’

Blizzard has previously stated that their goal is for parity across builds/classes targeted around doing GR130 at 5K paragon. By targeting a class with a single build that is performing above stated expectations while other, stronger builds remain untouched, and all other WD builds lag behind, you’re not assuring WDs of your commitment to balance—you’re effectively telling us that WD isn’t viable.

So, to sum up: my issue isn’t so much that SB is getting a nerf (although I’m not thrilled about it). My issue is that the nerfing feels lopsided. SB was our best solo, group, speed, casual, and hardcore build. The other WD builds don’t come close. You’re cutting WDs off at the knees and not providing us with a feasible alternative to remaining competitive that isn’t just ‘play another class.’

A final note: I want to be clear that I’m not advocating for, nor do I support, nerfs to any class. Not Crusaders, not DHs, not Necros, no one. I’m merely attempting to illustrate that far from overperforming, WDs need significant buffs—not nerfs.

38 Likes

Very nice detailed post there thank you.
I hope they will open their eyes and make some changes before the new season.
Numerical changes are easy and take little effort.
I would encourage everyone to help us to save our classes by an comment or like this post!

9 Likes

OP has hit the nail on the head with this detailed post. I agree wholeheartedly.

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Very good analysis and I whole-heartedly agree. The class has been nerfed for no good reason other than they wanted their new WD builds to compete (they still don’t) and for the first time of any season I’m considering not playing a WD. Breaks my heart.

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If they wanted their new WD builds to compete they would have given Bears a big buff. They want to make sure the WD has no chance of being meta trash killer next season.

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That is correct. It simply isn’t anymore. They nerfed the whole class into dust. And to be perfectly honest if they did buff up Mundunugu’s set back I’d still not be happy. Out of all of the Amazing Witch doctor skills and sets, Mundunugu’s is the most boring crap to play anyway. It was only popular because it was quite literally the only option for the Witch Doctor competitively.

It’s really sad because if you look at the Witch Doctor’s skills, there are so many totally unique and potentially fun things they could do, only if blizzard cared enough to simply buff/create some support items (many of which already exist!).

As of now my favorite class that I almost never really get to play is totally dead.

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Só o deixou mais fraco, parabens por continuar MATANDO os personagens :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: chegou o momento de jogar outros games Diablo 3 já deu o que tinha pra dar, agora o que fazem é matar os personages…

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Right! For my money, WD has the most interesting, varied skills of all the classes. It’s so sad to see that some of them are totally unappreciated and underutilised, without supporting set bonuses or even enough supporting legendaries to make LoD builds viable, and for those skills that do have viable sets/LoD builds, they’re really languishing at the back of the pack. Acid Cloud, Firebats, Gargantuan, Sacrifice, Zombie Charger… So many awesome skills that really need some love. The small buff Helltooth, Manajuma’s and Zombie Bears received a little while ago was a good first step, but shouldn’t be where it ends. Here’s hoping Blizzard comes back around for another pass.

Oh, and bring back 0dog while you’re at it, Blizz! :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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Very fine detailed post there thank you. I hope they finally notice.

I agree with everything Lenny said except the bit about Mund’s. I really enjoy playing it. It’s probably my favorite WD build to date (followed by Jade), but that’s beside the point. I’d much rather see virtually any of the WD builds (or all) brought up to par with other classes and builds. The zombie bears seems relatively fun, but the mechanics of the bears is super buggy (they get stuck in place all the time and can’t make it up ramps/stairs) so the damage is inconsistent. Mantle of channeling doesn’t affect it even though I think it is technically a channeled skill. Also WD simply doesn’t have the toughness to stand there and channel (memories of arachyr/firebats crowd my mind). The toughness issue needs to be addressed for sure, that might allow us to slot more offensive items, but on a whole the class needs buffed.

They could do it pretty easily actually by buffing ring of emptiness and mask of Jeram slightly. I believe every build uses either or but never both.

Mundu build outdoes any Wizard build for groups and RGK. Wizards had all their builds destroyed over the past year. You never see wizards in the 4 player meta anymore.
Deal with it.

I’ve been messing with trying to make many off meta builds work, every season and PTR just to see what we can squeeze in with new changes, and the story is always the same. Any support gear that exists for most of the skills (out side of a few items) is simply not good enough.

Mask of Jeram and RoE can be used together, but just buffing those doesn’t really solve the problem. They would just have the same effect as the Wizard got with Deathwish and Etched Sigil. Which is two piece of gear that had to be on almost every build for any build to be viable. That’s not a real solution, it’s just a lazy fix.

As it is RoE IS on almost every build anyway, but it’s still not enough, and again it shouldn’t have to be. The other crutch for the build is Sacred Harvester and Lakumba’s Ornament. Again these are cheesy ways to pretend there is build diversity, but in fact are items that give big generic modifiers and make certain skills mandatory, like Soul Harvest, Haunt/Locust Swarm (pestilence rune), Creeping death etc.

When 1/2 of your skill bar is predetermined no mater what you play how is that diversity?

I realize that Diablo 3 is still being supported just to hold us over until D4 drops, but that’s still at least 2-3 years off. If they wanted to get this right, they would focus a team on each class one at a time. They need look at all of the skills and all of the items that could support them as well all of the items that COULD support them but don’t have any real benefit to them.

Class specific items such as “Spilt Tusk”, “Umbral Oath” which can only be used by Witch Doctors yet have no specific Witch Doctor abilities can be granted buffs to skills to help add more diversity. There are many items that simply need a rework or a slight boost as well, like Staff of Chiroptera which could make Firebats usable again if boosted from 145% damage to say 400-500% (more in line with working class specific items).

Another example is an item like SuWong Diviner, which is a staff that grants the Lob Blob rune for free to Acid Cloud as it’s cubed ability, but in order to get the minor damage buff you have to use the item in both hands, witch then kills off the build because you lose a Mojo slot. If they move the damage modifier to the secondary ability slot and then buffed it to say 300% then we are getting somewhere. Wormwood suffers the exact same fate. The paltry damage bonus is located where nobody can actually use it, because a WD using a two handed weapon not Cubed is suffering a major disadvantage.

There are also a lot of class specific weapons that are literally worthless, as mentioned in my previous post. Out of 16 legendary ceremonial daggers only 5 of them are even sort of useful. 2 of them on the same build, one of them a set gimmick, one still needs a slight buff, the last one is being used as the only real option on almost every build attempted by the witch doctor that isn’t Spirit Barrage. The others just don’t do anything.

  • Deadly Rebirth adds a rain of corpses rune to grasp the dead but does no additional damage.
  • Rhen’Ho Flayer turns Plague of Toads into monster seeking bombs but does no additional damage.
  • Last Breath reduces the cooldown of Mass Confusion. It needs to be retooled entirely as Mass Confusion is not even a viable skill for the way that the game is played anymore. It’s totally out dated. In fact fixing the skill might be a good thing as well.

There are many more, and the 13 Mojos tell the same story; one of the 3 good ones just got nerfed.

I could keep going for days on items that are class specific that are useless, but could easily be given a buff to give some skills who never even had a viable build a chance.

The Wizard, Crusader, and Monk suffer the same fate as far as useless items are concerned, it’s just that they also have many somewhat competitive builds, so it’s easier to over look these discrepancies.

This isn’t an “class versus that class” issue. Many people like playing all classes in the game. This kind of comment isn’t helping anyone.

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RIP WD.

Report Bliz for murder.

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Lenny you clearly know the class well. You’re right about most everything. My suggestion for mask of Jeram/RoE was intended to be a “lazy fix” as you call it, because the devs probably aren’t all that interested in a class overhaul at this point. One of those sad but true moments. And as far as I know, RoE doesn’t work on any build that uses pets, and vice versa for Mask of Jeram, but they are staples in every build respectively. That’s why I thought they’d be the two easiest to change while affecting the most number of builds (RoE for Jade’s, Arachyr Firebats, Zombie Bears, Mund’s and Jeram for helltooth pets, zuni darts.) At any rate, I love the feedback and suggestions. They’re all very well iterated.

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You know what, you are right on that. I guess I overlooked it. After looking more into it they do not work well together. That just makes things worse TBH.

I wasn’t trying to refute what you were saying just clarifying some things and then it turned into something else :wink:

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Incredibly well said, and precisely why any attempt by Blizzard to buff up our other sets isn’t really going to do too much in terms of addressing this shortcoming. The dependency on Lakumba’s, RoE, and Sacred Harvester must be broken before a semblance of balance can be achieved.

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Haha no I didn’t think so, I just wanted to clarify because it was a big deal when they made sure that RoE didn’t affect pet builds. But I digress from your better point, which is to say that nearly every build expensively requires a weapon slot and a bracer slot for basic damage reduction (Sacred Harvester/Lakumba). Not only that, you have to build the stacks and good luck doing it on a RG with no adds. Sigh

What I don’t get is that the developer’s note is stating that the gameplay will be simplified…
If that is a goal, shouldn’t they have changed the Barber instead? That item makes the gameplay “complex”…

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Good post. The recent S23 tier list video by raxxanterax also cleanly lays out the problems this nerf to SB brings, regardless of whether it brings WD more in line w/ the dev’s 5k paragon : 130 GR design mantra.

Unfortunately WD excels at nothing. The WD doesn’t have a high QoL to begin with, and the nerf has dragged it down to the ranks of A/B tier group trash clearers. Barb/DH/Monk are strong solo-farmers, Nec/Sader/Wiz are strong GR pushers, & Barb/DH/Nec/Sader/Wiz will all be very strong groupers. Regardless of the motivation, because so many other builds are not being scaled back (and honestly probably never will be in the game’s lifespan), this is just relegating WD to the trashbin. I realize the new leaderboards are meant to make people feel that clearing a 120 GR is the same as another class/build doing 145, but the way the game’s culture is, I don’t see this happening, and most people will simply not play the class/build because it’ll never feel “competitive” again compared to people tackling content 10-20 tiers higher then them.

I don’t mind bringing all the classes in line w/ the 130 GR : 5k Paragon benchmark, but not even touching builds like BS or AoV which have large populations of 150 GR clears, and then introducing a way overtuned Firebirds (that will likely still be OP and dominating season play even after next round of nerfs) that does literally everything at the A/S-tier, is just going to make low-tier ‘scaled back’ classes like WD completely unappealing and feel weak AF.

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Yeah they didn’t “simplify” anything, it’s just a straight nerf of damage. And honestly, I like the way it works as it is. It’s much different than other builds because you time your explosions for maximum potency. Also, stacking SB on an RG until it pops and insta-kills the RG is so much fun.

:100:
Not to mention, we’ll be doing basically every aspect of the game slower than every other class.