Friday, 2 November 2012

D3 - Legacy Nats vs New Nats - The Evolution of Demon Hunter Playstyles.

So, in the past, I had convinced myself that the Legacy Natalya's set items were not worth the gold, compared to the updated versions.  Now that 1.05 has been released, and the increase in shadow power duration, I must say that I was wrong about this.  But I'd like to write out the thought process as to why in the past, it was not as appealing.

When I was first looking at these two Natalya's set items, I was relatively low paragon level, and I was not geared as well.  So my mindset at the time was, "I need more stats to be better", which at the time made sense.  I need to deal more damage, and the only way to do it is to have more stats in general, more dexterity, more crit chance, more crit damage and better weapons.

At that time, when I looked at getting into the sets, I when comparing the two sets, you will notice a large gap in the amount of stats that roll on these items.  The helm for example, on the new set is a guaranteed socket, where as on the legacy helm, the socket is a random roll, and thus uses up one of the random properties that could have rolled more dexterity or critical hit chance.  For the boots, the legacy set actually was not guaranteed to roll with dexterity, and the all resist range was a little lower.  The new boots are not only guaranteed to have dexterity, it will then have the chance to double roll dexterity.  The Bloody Footprints that I own, have 274 dexterity on them, and the Soul has 157 dexterity, and a difference of approximately 20 all resist.  When you look at the pieces individually, its very easy to see why the newer items are appealing on a basic stats level.  What didn't get to me till recently, is that the legacy set really changes the game completely for the average demon hunter.

I made these comparisons during 1.03, I had limited gold, so I was trying to maximize the value of my purchase.  I couldn't afford a complete set of either, so I decided that I needed to maximize my stats first, so I ended up getting the newer pieces, and also decided to keep focusing on getting a larger discipline pool to work with.  I had the max. discipline stat on my Embrace (the new set), and on the quiver.  Eventually, I added a Stone of Jordan ring for even larger discipline pool.  it was great having almost double the standard amount of discipline to play with.  Before monster power levels, it was more than enough to keep shadow power going to fight reflect damage elites, and I would still have some left over to vault around. 

I eventually got to try out a legacy set, and at the time, shadow power still only lasted 3 seconds, and I was not used to having to stand and attack to make use of this skill.  So although it was nice being able to vault around more often, but I felt the loss of the larger discipline pool and the drop in stats more.  This was mostly because I didn't rebuild the rest of my gear to compensate for the loss in stats.  So that is why, I foolishly said "meh" to the set and was happy with my newer items. Looking back, I actually feel kind of stupid about it, but I started to think more about it, and it still made sense from a player who's not at the top end of gear. 

The two sets actually play differently, and require changes to the way you play the Demon Hunter character.  For most players who play the Demon Hunter, you spam a lot of DPS and hope to kill things, and if things get too close, you vault away and repeat.  I played a lot without shadow power, because with limited discipline, I valued smoke screen over shadow power since at the time, smoke screen was the only way to break out of being jailed by elites, and I liked that Tactical Advantage was tied to it, so I could escape the trap, and run slightly faster to get a safe distance to continue attacking. 

During 1.04, this slightly changed, since the Trail of Cinders was mistakenly buffed, I found myself vaulting offensively more, so I had to make sure I double vaulted through the large group, or smoke screen to at least negate any damage when I landed in the middle of a group.  It was fun, but because I was double vaulting, using the legacy set to get the discipline regeneration bonus still felt like it wasn't enough to keep up with constant vaulting, and I would end up in situations where I needed to use smoke screen, but couldn't because I was over confident with the discipline regeneration. 

I eventually got the rest of the gear to a  high enough level, that in 1.04, I was able to speed through Act 3.  So I started using shadow power again, as a quick way to regenerate health, and a good way to counter reflect damage.  I actually had to transition a bit and kept smoke screen on my skill bar, just from habit.  But I eventually converted over.  To compensate for the slow discipline regeneration, I changed my passives around.  I was geared enough that I was easily killing things, so I got rid of the buffing passives of Archery and Steady Aim, and started using Vengeance and Night Stalker.  At this time, I had over 60% critical hit chance, so I was able to activate the night stalker ability quite often, and would get a decent amount of discipline back while attacking.

So, some time goes by and 1.05 is released, and now shadow power lasts for 5 seconds, and after watching a paragon 100 demon hunter (Tangos) constantly in shadow power, it then made me reconsider (and effectively eat my words).  The old play style I had been playing for the past few months is still playable, but its not sustainable for higher monster power levels.  The monsters hit harder, and have a significant amount of hit points, so it would no longer be efficient to run away to wait for the hatred and discipline to regenerate.  So I had to re evaluate my gear and my play style to adapt to the new changes.  With shadow power extended to 5 seconds, the discipline can now regenerate completely back so you could continuously be in shadow power.  Now by having enough discipline regeneration without a passive skill, I am able to add a DPS buff back into the build, and thus be more effective at higher monster power levels.  I rarely run away now from any mobs, the only time I reposition is to get out of damage effects on the ground, or to escape from frozen orbs.  Its quite a drastic change compared to the run first mentality when a demon hunter is not geared up enough. 

So what should Blizzard do now that the legacy set is "OP"?  Honestly, nothing.  At least nothing to the legacy set, and nothing to shadow power.  What they can do, is maybe increase the proc rate of Night Stalker passive, and or look at increasing the chance that Backup plan will proc on Preparation.  Because right now the problem with Demon Hunters without the legacy set is long term sustainability at high MP levels, so we need to give some way to keep up.

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