Basic Wizard Guide

Basic Wizard Guide by phreiie:

I thought I'd write this up in hopes that it spurred a good conversation in the comments about the Wizard and their general playstyle, pros, cons, and all around awesomeness.

A bit about my playthrough thus far:

-Spent the entire time with at least one barb in front of me

-Have gotten through the last boss of Act 3 (server disconnect owned us before the Act 4 cinematic)

-I've gotten to level 29

I was planning to play a Barbarian for a long time until I found out I'd be duoing with another Barbarian, so I decided to roll a Wizard to compliment him and be able to share loot around. I say this so you realize I went in mostly blind, as I had done most my preplay planning on Barb, not Wizard.

To me, the Wizard starts off pretty slow. For the first 10 levels or so, without the luxury of a fully buffed blacksmith and items, I felt like I was mostly adding fireworks and flashy lights to the butcher-show that was my barbarian friend. Things started to amp up when I got Arcane Orb, but you run out of mana real quick spamming that so it wasn't that great.

However, it really kicked into gear once I got Arcane Torrent.

Playing with the Barbarian afforded me some luxuries that other Wizards may not have on a single play through, as it allowed me to take a much more glass cannon type of build, as he was able to soak up damage and generally get in the way while I blew stuff up from behind.

That being said, the Wizard is VERY fragile if you get caught with no arcane energy. Because of this, I found that I had Frost Nova on my bar for the entirety of my play through. I took it off a few times to play around with some other skill choices, but none of the other Oh-Crap abilities (Teleport, Force Wave, Slow Time) were able to keep up with Frost Nova in regards to survivability.

Also, regarding survivability, I tried tinkering with a few of the different armors (Storm, Cold, Energy) a few times, but none of them added that much with a Barb around, so I swapped them out for more offensive abilities. I imagine this to be much more important in single play and later difficulties.

As we worked through act 2 and act 3, I played around with a myriad of offensive abilities, but ended up settling on one build, specifically one ability, that seemed to just have a much more consistent killing power than any other.

Disintegrate. Basically, as far as damage mixed with area of effect, nothing I played with came close to Disintegrate. Runed with Convergence (Two lasers instead of one, always better), and mixed with Blizzard, groups of mobs get completely trucked with Disintegrate.

Arcane Torrent, when runed, came close, but the delay on cast to when it hit was to noticeable and usually gave the mobs enough time to close the distance and smack me in the face, which meant I had a bad day. Other skills of note that I played around with include Energy Twister and Meteor. The problems with those are what you would expect.

The unpredictability of pathing of Energy Twister, even with the runed up damage, meant that it was to inconsistent. Meteor, although fun to watch go boom, cost way to much mana and was usually impossible to aim effectively, because mobs in the first part of Act 3 usually move pretty damn quick. At the end of the day, going into Act 4, I found there was actually a "best" build, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

Guide Continued after the page break.
On my bar:

Frost Nova (Shatter)
Blizzard (None)
Ray of Frost (Snow Blast)
Magic Weapon (Electrify)
Electrocute (Forked Lightning)
Disintegrate (Convergence)

Finally, a word on Frost Ray. I think this is by far the most lethal ability in the Wizard's arsenal. Frost Ray, runed with Snow Blast absolutely DESTROYS single targets. Several of the bosses in Act 3 (no spoilers) just melted under Frost Ray. On the Act 3 Final Boss, I was ticking Frost Ray for anywhere from 500-800 a second. If you aren't using this ability on big name bosses, you're wrong.

Witch Doctor Tips and Hints:

* As mentioned, I didn't get to play with any of the Armor abilities, I just couldn't find a place for them in my build with the Barb around. I can only imagine that playing alone and/or in later difficulties, these will become mandatory.

* Hydra is a fun ability, and looks really pretty, but we were killing so fast that it's full effectiveness wasn't noticeable. This might be much better alone and/or in later difficulties when fights just tend to last longer

* Just in general, I think the Wizard will have to sacrifice a good chunk of DPS for survivability the deeper you go, which will be a very interesting balancing act to perform.

* Skills like Explode, Mirror Image, and Spectral Blade, are very situational. I played around with Mirror Image a bit, but for the most part it didn't make much of a difference. Explode/Spectral Blade require you to be in melee range, which just seems like a death wish.

* Diamond Skin, this is an AMAZING situational spell for boss fights. I usually rotated it onto my bar before big fights, as a great oh-shit button if I was caught out of position.

* Seriously though, Ray of Frost.