Considering that Monks and Demon Hunters are far more physical in nature and that Witch Doctors rely more on sly manipulation than on the sheer power of magic, the Wizard remains the only pure mage class in Diablo III’s starting five. Wizards are given mastery of the gamut of elemental magic, as well as a few other surprises of sorcery waiting to be unlocked in the later stages of the game.
Like in previous Diablo games, having control of a high level Wizard armed with magic equipment with crazy stat boosts can seriously add a new dimension of enjoyability – an alternative, if you will, to the mouse-clicking monotony of many short-range characters. After all, it’s hard to get bored with the multitude of spells that your Wizard will be able to cast towards the endgame.
Of course, the only trick to getting a maxed out Wizard is paying your dues in the early stages of the game. If you’re patient enough, your investment will pay dividends in the future, but of course, that might involve seeing your character die over and over and over again.
Magic Missile Command
Like Witch Doctors, Wizards do not possess a direct physical attack worth speaking of. They are certainly capable of equipping basic physical weapons like swords, axes, and daggers, but they don’t actually use them unless they somehow overuse their secondary attacks and run out of juice.
Instead, a Wizard’s arsenal of primary attacks consists of what are known as “Signature Spells”. These skills include bolts of arcane magic, lightning-based elemental attacks, and a magical blade that mimics physical weapon damage. These skills are resource neutral in that they neither contribute to nor take away from the Wizard’s resource meter, so a player may feel free to use them excessively without negative consequence.
Like the Sorceress class of Diablo II, the Wizard’s skills are mostly tied to offense. Especially in the early stages in the game, very few of the wizard’s acquired skills are defensive or supportive, and if I’ve read the progression chart correctly, none of the Wizard’s active skills actually assist in directly healing either self or party. This means that Wizards must rely on either potions or the spells of others to get them through danger before they reach a high enough level for true self-sufficiency.
Insane with the Arcane
Of course, as a Wizard enthusiast, your goals of living vicariously as a digital master of magic won’t be satisfied by mere “Signature Spells”, will they? No, you’re looking for the hardcore, unadulterated, nastiness. Well, if you stick with being a Wizard, all of the really good stuff falls in your lap once you commit past level 20.
Feel like dropping the crazy hellfire on your enemies? All of that can be accomplished with the “Force” attacks (hotkey “2” on your keyboard). This category starts you off with the somewhat tame “Wave of Force” and “Energy Twister” skills at levels 9 and 13 respectively, but the real heaviness starts falling when you can summon a fire-breathing “Hydra”, a colossal “Meteor”, and a destructive “Blizzard” at levels 21, 25, and 27.
But the real craziness is unlocked with the “Mastery” category, which is tied to hotkey “4”. With these skills, you can summon shadow images of yourself to fight alongside you, just like the villains used to do in the old beat-‘em-up arcade games of the 90’s. Of course, the premiere skill in the Wizard’s arsenal is the ability to transform into an Archon. Yes, THE Starcraft Archon.
All of these spells and more can only be cast with the Wizard’s unique resource: Arcane Power. Like the Witch Doctor’s Mana, the Arcane Power meter fills up naturally over time, but at a faster rate than the resources of other classes. Still, no amount of primary attacks will bring this quantity up, so a Wizard must exercise patience and restraint in the management and usage of this resource. After all, there’s precious little else that a Wizard is capable of doing on the battlefield other than throw down magical destruction.
The Big Payoff
In the Diablo universe, choosing a magic-based character has always been the equivalent of a long term investment. You will undoubtedly experience immense frustration at first due to your glaring physical weaknesses and your comparatively weak entry-level spells. You might have to undergo countless resurrections and revivals. You will most certainly be run through a gauntlet inside a crucible, all in order to endure a baptism by fire.
But, should you persevere and survive the ordeal, you will be all the more stronger for it, for your investment in wizardry is also high-risk/high-reward. Just like that wimpy kid in those old Charles Atlas comic book ads (yes, the one who gets sand kicked in his face), you will finally emerge mightier, faster, wiser. With your training, endurance, and effort, you will be granted the awesome ability to pummel all those pesky beach bullies.
Do YOU want to pummel those pesky beach bullies? I thought so.
For more class-specific strategy, be sure to check out our other Diablo 3 class mini guides!