Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Lessons to be learned from the designs of effective item sets and why the monk sets should be viewed as outliers

Prior to 2.0.6, I think it was fair to say that every class other than monks had at least one class-specific set that served as the basis for effective T6-capable builds. Barbarians had the Might of the Earth set, crusaders had the Armor of Akkhan set, demon hunters had the Embodiment of the Marauder set, witch doctor's had the Raiment of the Jade Harvester set, and wizards had the Vyr's Amazing Arcana set.

If look at all of these sets together, it is not readily apparent that there exists any kind of pattern among them, or any overarching design philosophy that led to them providing the set bonuses that they provide -- bonuses which I would consider to be successful. But if you look to the two unsuccessful monk sets (Monkey King's Garb and Raiment of a Thousand Storms) and then look back at these other successful class sets, you realize that there is something that the successful sets do not have, and that is a set bonus that directly provides a damaging effect. I did not truly appreciate this at first, but the Monkey King and Thousand Storm sets are the only class sets that actually add damaging effects of their own rather than alter the behavior of other skills to achieve increased damage output.

Why does this matter?

Because the damage effects on the Monkey King and Thousand Storm sets do not scale with +% elemental damage!

The fundamental principle that currently underlies every single effective build in the game right now is elemental synergy. None of the successful class sets disrupt or otherwise impede this synergy because they all alter the behavior of skills in such a way that those skills still benefit from the appropriate +% elemental damage modifiers in the same manner that they did before the set bonuses were in effect. This is not the case for the monk sets.

Even now, in their enhanced 2.0.6 forms, the Monkey King and Thousand Storm sets do not interact with their respective elemental synergies in any way, and it is this lack of interaction that will continue to cripple their effectiveness.