Before the whole big DA thread blew up to the extent that it did, this was going to be posted soon after the Pet Sets thread to provide a clearer look on why Pet builds are sorely lacking in the performance they need to take on Crucible and even a good part of the AoM content (Nemeses to be more precise). Pet builds that could have previously relied on Primal Instinct to get through the content now crumple completely at the sight of Grava’Thul or the piles of AoE after AoE Crucible enemies lay on the player. The only reason why Witching Hour and Lightning Pets work the way they do is because they provide so much more damage compared to other pet builds (49 flat Chaos and 800% Chaos damage for Witching Hour and Voidmancer Cord’s 1,800% Lightning damage as well as the other Lightning pet equipment) that there’s no way other pet builds can look to remotely compete with them.
The sets are not nearly good enough for the endgame (in fact, Witching Hour makes the Lost Souls set completely obsolete) and the game is far too reliant on low-uptime high-cooldown skills that if you’re not using Dying God + Time Dilation, your pet build may as well not exist. With Zantai’s changes to buff enemy Armor, this will nerf pet build’s Physical Damage disproportionately as increasing Armor is much more effective in cancelling out many smaller hits than it is at stopping one larger hit, and coordinating many small hits is the very definition of a pet build. I will go into a much larger thread explaining each pet build concept in particular, but I wanted to explain pet build skills in particular and what they can do to be more viable.
First and foremost: Summon Chillmane’s and Blightshard pets’ cooldowns are far, far too high. Chillmane in particular dies really easily to any remotely difficult combat (that Slith boss at the Ancient Grove is a good example of how easily monster AoE kills all pets at once), and you can easily be forced to wait for the cooldown to refresh while your build’s DPS plummets. I would reduce the cooldown on any equipment that provides permanent pets significantly (the temporary pets, like Salazar’s Blade are okay, no need to touch those.)
Speaking of temporary pets, the cooldown nature of Will of Bysmiel’s Chaos pets makes the amulet unviable for builds that don’t have the luxury of having 10+ pets to make the Sovereign Ruby the right pick. I have extensively tested Chaos pets in particular as not only as there’s Salazar’s Blade, there are the Black Scourge pets as well, and I really wanted a full Chaos non-Necro pet build to be useful. As it is, the awful uptime on these temporary pets is too much of a DPS nerf for this type of build to be viable. I would love to see this use the Primal Instinct template and be summoned on attack (or even on Crit) to get up to 5 Voidfiends. Voidfiends don’t benefit from flat damage Auras, so these pets would be much less dangerous than Primal Instinct swarmlings would be.
In a similar vein, Bysmiel’s Command’s pet is completely underwhelming. A single pet with bad uptime and middling damage is simply not viable in AoM. I would recommend that the Eldritch Hound perform a debuff of some type that matches its Poison and Acid nature. Perhaps a %Reduced Enemy Physical damage that can stack with the Blightshard pets debuffs, or an AoE buff of some type. As it is, the pet doesn’t make any noticeable difference.
As for the Mastery skills:
This thread explains why there’s no point in investing in Briarthorn, Hellhound, or Raven skills. To recap, placing points in Briarthorn and Hellhound provide far too little reward compared to investing in auras and the Raven’s AI is too stupid to take advantage of its abilities. This thread is a good example of that, with the Hysteria Crab in place of the Raven.
Ember Claw and Ground Slam are equally useless. Their animations are so slow that they end up being a DPS loss compared to just using regular attacks. For Ground Slam, replacing the Stun with a Knockdown would make this skill much, much better as it would help with the issue of trash enemies swarming the player too easily and preventing the player from having any path to escape. As for Ember Claw, the Infernal Breath attack already does a better job of the high-damage hound skill, so I would remove the extra Crit damage with Ember Claw and replace it with a Type A Reduce Offensive Ability debuff as neither Occultists, Shamans, or Necros have access to any Type A OA debuffs.
Unstable Anomaly (Summon Blight Fiend): A 16/16 Blight Fiend costs 225 Energy without UA, and 157.5 Energy with it. It requires a good amount of flat CDR (Great Serpent Helmet) and additional CDR (Either Caster Off-hand, Time Dilation or both), just to get the cooldown low enough to be able to cast 3 Blight Fiends. Even just having it at 16/16 costs 52 Energy per second (again using nothing but spamming Blight Fiends), so you’ll have a difficult time keeping this casting up, and forget about having the Blight Fiends overcapped past 16. There may be a way to use a caster off-hand to combat both of that, but I have a very, very hard time believing there’s a weapon + off-hand combo that’s even remotely comparable to the venom launcher gun + Aegis shield in terms of skill bonuses and resistances.
This thread, back in December, and this thread, from early March, also do a great job in explaining the shortcomings of this skill.
Reap Spirit: 23/16 (the minimum to get 3 Reap Spirits) cast costs 366 Energy. With the 6 second cooldown, that comes to 61 Energy per second, which is extremely difficult to get if you’re not using a caster off-hand (and that’s using nothing else other than spamming Reap Spirit, which no one will be doing). Secondly, the 10 second Reap Spirit life is far too short to get 3 Reap Spirits going, in fact you’d be lucky to get even 2 Spirits fighting with you. In fact, the only way to even get extended life for Reap Spirits is to use the Diviner’s Set, and that set is so bad for pets that the best Diviner’s Spellbinder doesn’t even bother using pets. Considering how much you have to invest just to get to 23/16 Reap Spirit (hint, it’s very difficult to get both 23/16 Reap Spirit while also investing 28-40 points in Raise Skeletons), I’d much rather see the regular life of the Reap Spirit pet to be 20 seconds and have the full Diviner’s Set give the skill something a little more oomph, like adding a harsh debuff to the Reap Spirit cast.
Primal Bond: Primal Bond needs to be at 22/12 in order to make any real difference, but luckily there are several ways to obtain it. 60% Crit Damage at 22/12 is a roughly 25% total DPS increase for pet builds, and I’d consider that a nice ability to have.
The comparison to have here is Primal Bond (provides Crit damage)+ Mogdrogen (provides OA and a lot of Speed) against Master of Death (provides OA) + Dying God (provides large Vitality damage, Crit and some Speed). As Necros rely extensively on CDR skills, having Dying God + Aeon’s Hourglass is much more useful than anything Shamans can provide to pet builds.
Following the Exclusive skill discussion elsewhere in this section, I would recommend adding flat Bleeding damage to both the player and the pets in this skill as pets have no real source of flat Bleeding damage the way Mythical Viperfang Grips provides flat Poison damage. Considering how easy it is to get 22/12 Blood Pact with Shaman-related equipment, buffing both player Bleeding and pet Bleeding would go a long way toward making a Vitality / Bleeding pet build (using Ravager’s Bite as the weapon) viable.
Wendigo Totem: I made this point in an earlier thread, but Wendigo Totem’s radius is far too small for pet builds to take advantage of its healing. If you don’t want to make the totem too crazy for non-pet builds, I’d recommend putting a skill modifier that adds to the radius of Wendigo Totem in a new piece of equipment. As Blood Pact buffs both Vitality damage and Bleeding damage, having the equipment buff these sources of damage would make the modifier worth taking.
Conjure Primal Spirit: This pet used to be amazing for vanilla content, but considering how much AoM piles onto pet builds, its flaws become more and more apparent. The low up-time of this ability becomes very annoying when you are surrounded by more enemies than the Primal Spirit is capable of taking on, and it artificially forces the player to go the CDR route when players may want to use other options (Shields in particular).
The physical damage of this pet is great, but the DoT’s leave much to be desired. The pet’s Bleeding damage is awful compared to Nightblade’s Blade Spirit (a pet that is not only player scaled, but has much better uptime and thus is far better in terms of applying Bleed), and the Spirit’s Poison damage is far too low to consider making a Ritualist Poison build, despite the fact that the Great Serpent helm grants all skills to Shaman bonuses.
Master of Death: Pet builds in general have an issue with low conversion values that force the player to take on multiple damage types. Unless it’s a 100% conversion ability, pet builds commonly see items that grant roughly 50% conversion at best and there’s usually very little equipment that supports both damage types. Also taken from the Exclusive skill discussion, I’d like to see Master of Death’s pet Vitality conversion be a little more powerful. For starters, I’d like to see 30% conversion at 12/12 (compared to the current 25%), and then for the conversion to increase as you overcap the skill. 40% at 22/12 should be good for people who want to take Vitality pets seriously, especially combined with Guardian of Death Gates’ 35% conversion, assuming a good roll.
Call of the Grave: Another example of a low uptime skill that artificially forces CDR reduction. Most of the time, this skill is not worth putting any more than 1-2 points in, especially as Sovereign Ruby does this skill’s job, but much better. Death Watcher Pendant increases the length of this skill by 5 seconds, but it’s a very poor choice of an amulet as it provides no skill bonuses. I know Necro itself is meant to be a CDR caster with Raise Skeletons, temporary Blight Fiends, and Mark of Torment, but it’d be nice for this skill to have a little extra oompf, maybe a small pet heal or something.
Manifestation: 45% Physical to Elemental conversion is a bit too low that even using other Physical to Elemental conversions (Spark of Ultos, Winter King Sword) won’t bring a full 100% conversion. Raising it to 20-40-60 would remove any annoying residual Physical damage so Elemental builds can focus on 100% Elemental damage + Skills.