I've been having a blast messing around with the Necromancer class and trying new things. Given the state of Revive and the impending changes to the skill, I've been trying to find fun alternative builds that still work around summoning, which has always been one of my favorite paths in Necromancer-like classes from D2 and other games as well. What I've found is a fun build with some potential is one revolving around Skeleton Mage, focusing on the Singularity rune. I figured I'd share my build and see what you all think would be good ideas for potential growth (I'm a seasoned but by no means hardcore D3 player, just a grad student doing his best to procrastinate writing a thesis):
Build Goal: To generate as much resource (essence) as fast as possible to dump into skeleton mage - singularity. More of these guys doing insane damage is the name of the game, so most of this build is focused in three major areas: 1. Larger essence pool (kind of like boulder toss or DH with the UE set) 2. Minion attack speed bonus 3. Fast resource generation (arguably the most important part)
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Let's break it down.
Primary Skill: Bone Spikes - Path of Bones I really like this skill because it allows me to stay out of the fray and be rewarded for doing so, and it also gives pretty strong targeting advantages (can target behind cover, etc). It creates decent amounts of essence but largely it's just a way to do some damage from the safety of distance.
Secondary Skill: Skeleton Mage - Singularity This is the centerpiece of the build, and it's because of the huge damage boost from dumping a large, full essence pool into a beastly necro-cannon. They attack quickly, but it's still single target damage which is something that I want to talk about later. Still, I haven't run the actual numbers, but the feel is good and most of my preliminary building has been based on feel in T1-T2 with barely any itemization (also more on that later).
Skill Bar 1: Command Skeletons - Enforcer (also playing with Frenzy) These guys are awesome and I love the mechanic at work that summons them. One of my worries with summoner builds is the constant need to check back in on the summoning skill to resummon dead minions, and in a game like D3 with such a crazy high visual load to process, that can be overwhelming. Luckily, auto-summoning solves this problem, and the skeletons are actually worth a damn as a source of damage and as meat shields. They can also be moved fairly easily by activating them (a glaring weakness of skeles in D2), so what isn't there to love? I like to reduce the essence cost of repositioning them so I don't lose potency with the mages, but frenzy really gives them a nice damage buff which helps with things like Rift Guardians. Love it.
Skill Bar 2: Frailty - Aura of Frailty This skill is amazing, and I'm even playing the less click happy version of it just so I don't get overloaded with button clicks. There is a nice synergy that happens with some itemization later here regarding radius, but honestly, you could get even more utility out of it by making it targeted and using something like Scent of Blood. You run the risk of losing too much essence this way through repeated casting, which the aura prevents, but the damage output might be worth it.
Skill Bar 3: Devour - Devouring Aura This starts really hammering in on goal 3. As you move around you are bound to stumble across your sea of corpses, and this helps to spike you up to full essence ASAP. It synergizes well with mobility skills that get you close to fresh corpses, and it has some nice itemization tie-ins (like Aura of Frailty). More on that later, but I love this skill.
Skill Bar 4: Blood Rush - Metabolism I'm a sucker for good mobility skills, and I have to say this one is really doing it for me. Strong utility, and the life cost is really not that bad with a little bit of life on hit or other recovery. Love this skill and it never really feels like I don't have it when I need it, which makes me a safe and happy demon murderer. Also keeps your skin healthy and blemish-free.
Passives: This is where I tend to suck at character building, but just sticking to my goals listed above puts me in some obvious choices. Here is what I'm going with so far:
Life from Death - You are constantly using corpses with devour (I mean it. All the damn time), and popping health globes makes that a high recovery endeavor. On top of that, using Reaper's Wraps turns this into a resource generating machine. More resource = more mages = more damage.
Eternal Torment - I love perma-curses and it makes managing frailty a lot easier. This is more of a convenience than a need though, so this could really be replaced with something else if you're not as lazy as I am.
Extended Servitude- Longer lasting mages means more damage. Need I say more?
Overwhelming Essence - This pumps up your essence pool by 40, which translates into 120% more damage. Nice. This one is pretty obvious for this build and I don't think there is a reason to ignore it.
That more or less sums up the build in terms of skills. I find I can frequently run around with 3 or so full power singularity mages no problem, and I'm sure that can be pushed by someone more willing than I. Itemization really helps here with the resource generation and utility of the build. As I said earlier, the Reaper's Wraps takes huge strides toward getting more big mages out, and Burst of Wrath in the cube is another great option to get fast essence. I've found that avarice band in the cube works wonders with the auras because that makes them reach almost across the whole screen as the gold pickup radius expands, and combining with Boon of the Hoarder and Goldwrap makes you tanky as all hell in non-GR rifting. This is one of my big worries for the build though... when there is no gold, the range on the auras is not so great. More tinkering here would surely produce better results. Other obvious items are Tasker and Theo to get minion AS as high as possible, and Convection of Elements (maybe? I haven't really tested effects on summons) to boost damage. The rest is more or less me just messing around and playing with what I have, what I've found. I can clear T1 very easily no sweat with minimal itemization, and I'm sure I could get this up to T6 without much hassle.
Build Issues: One thing I've noticed is, as I said earlier, this build actually relies a lot on gold capture to pump up the aura radius. This is actually the main reason that I might abandon the aura runes for the skills in favor of more powerful but more demanding versions of these skills. Another issue is that mages are single target damagers, and rather non-targeted at that. More mages helps, but CC could be a bit of an issue down the road. I think that this would be even more viable if the mages did a very small radius of splash damage just to up the viability a little bit for moderate crowds. It already decimates champion and boss packs, but huge volumes of trash take a little time to chew through. Maybe that's just asking for the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky, but I like the feeling of clearing trash a la DH Multishot builds so I guess I just want it all.
I would love ideas, feedback, or even discussion about possible skill changes from a dev point of view to facilitate a build like this. Just wanted to share my excitement for the beta and the class and see what all of y'all are up to!
Good luck and happy hunting!