I’m playing a caster Warlock focused on chaos/fire/vitality using primarily Aether Ray and Sigil of Consumption + Destruction. I’m in the mid 30’s and have these three maxed. I know I plan to eventually max out arcanist mastery, Disintegration, and Maiven’s Sphere of Protection.
Beyond those priorities, I’m not sure what else to go for. Doom Bolt would fit the damage type theme, but it doesn’t really seem necessary with the huge single target damage I get out of the laser. The way I see it I have two options for spending the rest of my points:
Passives. Maxing Second Rite and Fabric of Reality would give me +177% chaos damage. Inner Focus and Arcane Will are both great.
Pets. Max the first three things in the Hellhound line (I don’t think I would want to invest that many mastery points to get to Infernal Breath). Max Mend Flesh and maybe Storm Spirit? I would definitely go for the Bysmiel’s Bonds and Revenant pet-based constellations. I also have a Grimoire of Og’Napesh saved in my stash for just such an occasion.
Is it worth it at all to even bother with pets if I’m not a full Conjurer petmancer build? How much focus in terms of gear and buildpoints does it take to make the pets a worthwhile investment as a secondary consideration for my build? I have a few higher level characters, but have never touched a pet skill in this game.
I’m playing a Warlock with focus mostly in the Arcanist Tree. I went to 15 in Occultist just to get the Hellhound pet. I’m level 44 and even with Hellhound at level 10 it was just getting wrecked to the point where it wasn’t worth the mana to cast it. I did enjoy the distraction of it, but I’ve since specced out of it. Does it get better at max rank or do I need to gear for pet health to make it worthwhile?
For pets to be a significant DPS source you’ll want -at least- 400-500% static pet damage from gear/skills, 15% pet OA and 30% pet speed/attack speed. These are my breakpoints for my hybrids (though I should warn you that these values change every other week or so because of patches).
Getting those numbers may seem daunting, but not so much once you know your way around pet bonus affixes (with just 4x no suffix Subjugator’s accessories you could be sitting at 200-240% pet damage, for example) and combine that with a few devotions and two or so pet items. My end game setups usually involve 4x Subjugator’s, the Beastcaller’s Cowl, and either a pet bonus relic or pet bonus weapons/offhand. Vulnerability and BoD are usually maxed. All my builds have ways to further decrease enemy resists. I also always get Shepherd’s Call, and I always bring Wrath of the Beast tinctures for use against heroes/nemeses.
Skillpoint-wise, you just need to max the base pet skills. Maxing Hellfire/Storm Spirit depends on your setup or if you have skillpoints to spare.
Depending on the availability of ally buffs/enemy debuffs, you can tweak those numbers up/down.
Pet health is usually not a problem because all my hybrid characters attract as much aggro as my pets (and CC skills help a lot with that). I usually have no trouble with pet survivability with just random +skills (for Bonds of Bysmiel) or random pet health from items/devotions.
If you’re just looking to make your pets a sort of buffer between you and enemy mobs, though, then I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way. Even with pure summoners the best defense is a good offense.
Note that pet stats scale with caster level. My tests on such setups are limited, but from what I’ve seen AllisonForever’s suggestion is a good one. At caster level 85, Level 1 Raven has around 9k HP and the Hellhound has around 15k HP. They like to stay close to you and follow you around when set to defensive, and miss on most of their attacks so they usually don’t get aggro when they attack things anyway. That way you gain the full benefit of buffs like Hellfire/Storm Spirit without investing extra points in anything else.
When I first started developing the melee pyro I am currently playing, I wondered if you could one point hellhound and max the hellfire buff and have that actually work. I ended up not doing that, but being able to 1 pt raven on defensive to use mend flesh seems like a nice idea.
You can use your 1 point Hellhound as a self-buff if you set him on Passive. Otherwise he is going to die constantly.
The general answer here is no, Pets are not worth taking unless they are seriously buffed. Compare it to a Fire-based Arcanist/Demo build suddenly taking Sky Shards. You just wouldn’t, because it would do insignificant damage. Think of Pet damage along those same lines. It’s just another damage type, and if you haven’t got a decent multiplier there is no point using abilities of that type.