Since we’re conveniently touching on the topic of Storm Totems…
Gave another go to a build I posted in the last patch discussion, namely Vit Totem Archon. To briefly summarise the build, the original idea was to make a build around the Dark One set and Wendigo Totem in particular, taking advantage of the heals and boosting them with % increased healing for survivability. Since the damage was insufficient despite the use of the set + Mark of the Forbidden, the logical choice, given the low skill point requirement and suitability for the Wendigo Totem playstyle, was the addition of Vit Storm Totem.
I’ve tried to improve and optimise the build a number of times now (obviously could GDStash better greens but this is the best I got the honest way) and, while the bump to damage on Decree of Malmouth last patch was welcome, we’re still not there. Gave it a spin just today. Took over 10 attempts to make it from SR75 to 80 within timer (then got inexplicably one-shot by a normal Hero before the SR80 boss room and ran out of time).
1- General lack of survivability
Phys res is very low. Build has to take Primal Bond just for the damage absorb even though Path of the Three would be so much more desirable in so many ways. Resistances on the set and relevant gear are low, forcing a hunt for quite specific res affixes just so that you don’t dip into sub 80 % against any amount of RR.
The general lack of comforable survivability is then only underlined by the build’s playstyle. Even if you opted for something other than Storm Totem, the core skill for the Dark One set, Wendigo Totem, necessitates that you remain stationary or, at least, within a very confined area. You can’t comfortably do that if you’re so susceptible to going pop. Even if you are able to just stay in place and tank, the need to resummon totems and apply RR to new targets results in constant interruption in casting, and thus constant interruption of lifestealing. This creates windows where you can get quickly bursted down. More on this in the following points.
Edit: To be clear, the build can generally handle 1v1 situations relatively well. Even can do Fabius on SR80 without too much panic. The main problems arise in chunks, where piles of heroes converge on you and you’re neither resilient enough to reliably tank them (sometimes you just die in a quick burst of damage) nor fast enough to DPS them down quickly to reduce the incoming damage (due to ramp up I’ll go into in point 2 and slow cast speed for Acid Purge I go into in point 3).
2- Totem usability and item options
The Dark One set does a good enough job of making Wendigo Totem a somewhat viable option for sustain and defense (12 % DR), but with only 2 totems active the damage output is simply not sufficient to carry a build, despite the various sources of flat damage modifiers available for the skill. In addition, the miserable cast and attack range on Wendigo Totems makes it so that even if the skill had major damage bonuses, it would not be a comfortable playstyle at all.
So even after equipping an entire set plus medal for Wendigo Totem, you’ll still want to gear up for another source of damage. Due to the above-mentioned lacking resists, the Dark One set sadly doesn’t create the best environment to comfortably build up a second skill, as you also have to be making up for the built-in defensive shorcomings. And the options available for the complementary Storm Totem sadly aren’t all that stellar to bring up the skill’s usability. Even with the only source of flat CDR for the skill equipped, you can’t keep all Storm Totems up full time. The length of the cooldown (2.4 s on my build) not only makes your DPS unstable as Totems pop in and out of existence, it also gives you a lengthy DPS ramp up at the start of every fight. In addition, if you are forced on the defensive and have to relocate, you not only compromise your already lacking defense (sudden absence of Wendigo heals and % DR), but also nix your offense, as you need another 8-10 seconds to start setting up your Storm Totems all over again. Outside of the offhand, which seems mandatory to make Storm Totems operate at all, several of the other item options offer some further extra summon limit, which is useless when even keeping 5 totems up is impossible (honestly not sure how Valguur totem can even be playable when it blocks the offhand). And that’s kinda it. Summon limit, some flat lightning, some crit damage, mostly on pieces that conflict with Dark One or with the off-hand. The only genuinely appealing option for Storm Totems if one were to abandon the Dark One idea is ditching Vitality entirely and equipping a full Ludrigan to get +12 s uptime. Despite its problems, Dark One still feels like a more appealing option for Vit Totems than Valguur. Vit Totem just doesn’t really have much to work with at all.
The build is slow. Everywhere. Requires a movement speed component on boots to not be under 135 % MS (and then any slow mutator instantly brings it back to a crawl). Even after sacrificing a component on gloves for cast speed a 20 % CS slow mutator makes totem planting an absolute ordeal (takes like a second to plant a single totem), only further aggravating the build’s inability to keep totems up full time, and creating bigger vulnerability windows where you’re not lifestealing off of Acid Purge. God forbid you have to relocate frequently (cough* Kubacabra cough*). Can’t afford a Seal of Annihilation on amulet due to aforementioned poor resists. The issue could be partially addressed by going for Dying God instead of Abomination as the main T3 damage devo, as it provides 10 % total speed. But the Terrify retal on Hungering Void actively pushes enemies outside of your Totem range and tends to aggro remote enemies when you’re trying to pull discreetly (again, your sustain can only handle so much) making it a trap option.
If Wendigo Totem alone isn’t meant to carry a build, that’s fine. The playstyle really wouldn’t be particularly enjoyable anyway. But Vit Storm Totem really needs to be in a better place. Valguur (which I haven’t played) will have even bigger issues keeping Storm Totems up and running than Dark One due to the conflicting off-hand, which makes the +1 summon limit on the set virtually useless. With the offhand, the issue that has to be outright catastrophic for Valguur merely becomes bad. Meanwhile, Mortar Trap, which has a much greater attack range and therefore isn’t nearly as impacted by relocating, can be brought down to a 0.5 s cooldown with the right gear. And it feels absolutely wonderful. Storm Totem needs something like that. Much longer uptime, or much shorter cooldown. More damage still wouldn’t hurt. The options to ramp that damage up through flat additons are limited, most focus on adding more totems which cannot be used with the way the skill function.
As for Dark One in particular, improvement on any of the above fronts would be great. Phys res (or just a bunch more health if % phys res is not the way you want to go), additional resistances to open up component/augment options to fix some of the other issues, extra speed in all forms. It’s a chain reaction sort of thing. Having more damage outright would allow the build to not have to tank for so long, reducing the need for survivability improvements somewhat (though not completely, the risk of one-shots still needs to be avoided). Fixes on the survivability front could open up options for getting more damage on the build e.g. by going Path of the Three instead of % damage absorb, which would also alleviate CDR issues a bit (though not nearly enough with only 10-ish % CDR). Currently Dark One, or Vit Totem (with or without Dark One) has just too many problems and not enough space on a character to fix them all.