This is an analysis, guide and build compendium for Star Pact Wizard – a self-cast Meteor build that (ab)uses channeling multipliers such as
- Basic mechanics: Covers knowledge about necessary skill and item mechanics.
- Variants: Presents, evaluates and discusses four major contributions (including our new creation).
- Mechanics & play style: An in-depth analysis of the interactions at hand yielding suggestions for play style.
If you are a new to Star Pact Wizard, we recommend to thoroughly read the first section, while players already familiar with the concept of the build may skip to section two.
In summary, the work at hand starts of evaluating the well-known Firebirds variant, which was initially theorycrafted and originally executed by Asia in S12 (played till S15), and continues by explaining common adaptions made by the community with the most recent Legacy of Nightmares changes. Afterwards, we'll showcase and explain our cooldown heavy variant, which incorporates a CDR-hardcap setup similar to Lightning Wizard yielding a comparable high-paced group playstyle to Season 6's zET-meta. A lot of work went into said setup and we've been having a lot of fun and success with it; after polishing it, today we are ready to share it. Internally, we used the term LoN32 for the mentioned build (which is why the guide at hand refers to it under that name), however, we've seen that multiple people in the high-end community were gearing and playing this setup already and they are referring to it as Bazooka Wizard. We liked that name way more!
This section is done in a Q&A style, which should hopefully make this guide easier to follow and clear up basic knowledge.
In your foreword you mentioned that this is a self-cast build; what exactly does that mean?
Wizard Meteor variants have been viable since Patch 2.6.1 with the introduction of legendary effects on both Deathwish and Etched Sigil. A lot of those builds are pure-channeling variants; meaning that most of their damage comes from Meteors casted by Etched Sigil. Not all Meteor variants utilize the auto-casted Meteor by Etched Sigil though; ES is commonly being (ab)used for only its multiplier in Star pact variants on Meteors you casted yourself, hence self-cast.
But isn't it essentially a free Meteor cast and why wouldn't one make us of it?
Essentially the reason boils down to a core concept of the game: Procs can not proc procs. Meteor instances casted by Etched Sigil (an item proc) can not proc any other proc, which includes Area Damage. Star Pact is a trash clearer and it is inherent for those to perform with area damage in density, which is why in all variants we ignore ES casted instances of Star Pact.
So how do you get the Etched Sigil and Deathwish multipliers on self-cast Meteors?
Each Meteor travels for 75 frames (1.25 seconds) plus the initial cast time before it's send off (5-7 frames). You simply need to make sure that your character is in channeling state on Meteor impact.
How long do I need to channel for to ensure the multiplier is up?
That's difficult to answer without a deeper look into generic skill mechanics. Each skill consists of a base animation length (
b_anim) and speed coefficient (
s_coeff); those are parameters that define the breakpoint table of a specific skill. Each non-channeling skill needs a specific amount of frames to resolve, hence frames per animation (
FPA). The Diablo 3 engine renders at 60 frames per second; a frame depicts the smallest possible state unit. A
FPA value has to be an integer which is why attack speed is naturally cascaded meaning not every increase in attack speed decreases the
FPA for your skill. For non-channeling skills you can calculate a breakpoint table as following:
FPA = ceil( (b_anim - 1) / b_anim * 60 / (APS * s_coeff) )
As an example for Meteor (
b_anim = 21,
s_coeff = 1.0) this yields
FPA = ceil(20/21 * 60 / APS) as its breakpoint table. For channeling skills you can calculate a breakpoint table as following:
FPA = floor( 60 / (APS * s_coeff) )
For Electrocute without Shame of Delsere (
b_anim = 21,
s_coeff = 2.0) this yields
FPA = floor(60 / (APS * 2.0))as its breakpoint table. In summary: base animation length and speed coefficient are nothing but parameters that define the breakpoint table of a skill over variable attack speed. A more thorough explanation is given in apo#2677's compendium.
Do I need to know this or does d3planner this correctly for me?
d3planner calculates tickrate (channeling skills) and casting time (non-channeling skills) breakpoints correctly; you can safely trust in those values you see displayed there.
Alright. According to d3planner at 1.54 APS Arcane Torrent is at 12 FPA. Does that mean I simply channel for
12 * 1000ms / 60 = 200 ms while I expect the impact to happen?
Unfortunately, no. D3planner omits that there is a uninterruptible minimum channeling time your character has to invest. If character-APS < 2.000, all channeling skills have a minimum channeling time of exactly 20 Frames (or 333ms). If character APS >= 2.000, all channeling skills have a minimum channeling time of exactly 10 Frames (or 166ms). This means even if you'd cast Arcane Torrent for 12 Frames (200ms), your character will be stuck channeling for 20 Frames (333ms) at the bare minimum. As an example, casting for 15 Frames (250ms) will make your character channel for 32 Frames (533ms); which is 20 Frames (min. channeling time) + 12 Frames (one FPA-tick). Each consecutive FPA-tick will make you channel for additional 12 Frames. Between two tick instances any channeling skill is uninterruptible.
So, I have to do the math each time I want to know how long I need to channel?
Yes; but don't worry, you can use this spreadsheet (create a copy, adapt the blue cells). It calculates the correct casting times in ms for the non-channeling skills Wave of Force, Blackhole, Meteor, Spectral Blade and the channeling skills Electrocute, Ray of Frost, Disintegrate/Arcane Torrent.
That's handy! Got it. So, what are the damage multipliers for a Star Pact damage instance?
These are the multipliers that define your Star Pact damage instance:
Star-Pact-Multiplier = * (7.4 + 0.2 * Arcane-Power-Consumed) * (1 + CHC * CHD) * (1 + Intelligence/100) * Legacy-of-Nightmares * Convention-of-Elements * Deathwish * Etched-Sigil * The-Grand-Vizier * Nilfur's-Boast * (1 + %Arcane-Elemental) * Bane-of-the-Trapped * Zeis's-Stone-of-Vengenace * (1 + Wave-of-Force-Stacks * 0.04) * Audacity * Arcane-Dynamo * Elemental-Exposure * Archon * (1 + Swami-Stacks * 0.06 + Current-Stacks * 0.06) * Oculus * (1 + %Meteor-Skill + k * %Strongarms + %Toxin + %Unity + %Unwavering-Will + %Blackhole + %Falter)
whereas k denotes how many Strongarm debuffs you have on a target. It's worthwhile noting that d3planner.com doesn't correctly display all multipliers, which is why in future sections we use d3planner for toughness evaluation but not for damage calculation.
This section will take a close look at four different group variants. Firstly, Firebirds Star Pact, which depicts the initial theorycraft that is not being actively played anymore. For the sake of relative comparability this specific variant will be used as a reference point to evaluate the other three, currently popular, builds since it was used for multiple seasons and has been figured out by a vast majority of the playerbase. Secondly, LoN Star Pact, as an implicit substitution of Firebirds. Thirdly, LoN48 Archon Star Pact, which utilizes Archon-Swami stacks as another multiplier, and lastly LoN32 Archon Star Pact, which depicts an archon-stacks-snowball-playstyle via overlapping Archon stacks. The following premises are defined for the relative comparison of said builds:
- We are only interested in a relative comparison, hence, for damage evaluation we'll only consider multipliers that deviate between mentioned builds; with those multipliers we'll define a Damage-per-Hit (
DPH) multiplier for each build which applies to each (meaningful) Meteor for said build
- All defensive group buffs are ignored with the exception of Barbarian's War Cry:Veteran's Warning to mitigate the effectiveness of Gogok's dodge
- Zeis's Stone of Vengenace is accounted for as a consistent separate 1.12 multiplier
- Convention of Elements is omitted in
DPHcalculation and will be separately accounted for during Damage-per-Second (
DPS) calculation due to its dependency of Archon cooldown & uptime
- Iceblink is accounted for within the crit-multiplier calculation and is considered to have full uptime on all targets hit
- Dynamic runtime multipliers (Wave of Force, Blackhole and Oculus) are omitted in damage evaluation due to their inherent guesstimate-nature; we'll evaluate those in the Advanced Mechanics & Playstyle section for a final verdict
- All variants are evaluated at P2000 with thirteen level 100 augments, equipped legendary gems are capped at level 100
- All variants have the exact same stat priority for defensive properties including paragon points; this ensures the comparability of relative toughness
Firebirds Star Pact
Firebirds Star Pact plays at 1.54 APS and has an average time between Meteors of 2.9 seconds. Each Meteor hits for a
DPH ~= 1.281 * 10^7 multiplier. Over the span of 16 seconds this variant manages to cast two Meteors in CoE-Arcane and three Meteors outside of CoE-Arcane, resulting in its Damage-per-Second as:
DPS = (3 * DPH * 2 + DPH * 3) / (16s) = 10 DPH / 16s = 0.5625 DPH/s ~= 7.203 * 10^6
DPS = (3 * DPH * 2 + DPH * 3) / (16s) = 10 DPH / 16s = 0.5625 DPH/s ~= 1.553 * 10^7
LoN48 Archon Star Pact
Each Meteor, while having Swami-stacks, hits for a
DPH ~= 6.237 * 10^7 multiplier. Each Meteor without Swam-stacks hits for
1 / (1 + 50 * 0.06) * DPH = 0.25 DPH. LoN48 Archon Star Pact plays at 1.54 APS and has an average time between Meteors of 3.75 seconds due to Shame of Delsere being dropped. This variant plays a 48s rotation, where it can deal damage for 28s outside of Archon. Five Meteors are thrown in Swami duration, two of those are in CoE-Arcane. Two Meteors are thrown after Swami duration, both are outside of CoE-Arcane. Overall this yields:
DPS = (3 * DPH * 2 + DPH * 3 + 0.25 * DPH * 2) / 48s = 9.5 DPH / 48s ~= 0.198 DPH/s ~= 1.234 * 10^7
LoN32 Archon Star Pact
LoN32 Archon Star Pact casts exactly two Meteors every 32s. The first Meteor is thrown with roughly 90 Swami-stacks during CoE-Fire and is purely being utilized as an catalyst for spawning two Oculi; one Oculus is being taken for the second Meteor, which is an archon-overlap-Meteor in CoE-Arcane with an expected average of 140 Archon stacks. As defined in the premises we omit the Oculus for the second Meteor as of now; therefore, the second Meteor hits for a
DPH = 1.505 * 10^8 multiplier. The first Meteor hits for the nearly neglectable multiplier of
1 / (((1 + 140 * 0.06)/(1 + 50 * 0.06)) * 1.3) * DPH ~= 0.327 DPH. Overall this yields:
DPS = (3 * DPH + 0.327 * DPH) / 32s = 3.327 DPH / 32s ~= 0.104 DPH/s ~= 1.565 * 10^7
For the evaluation of toughness we'll be using the toughness as depicted by d3planner for each variant; to our understanding d3planner's calculations are correct here. As a final step we calculated the relative Damage-per-Hit (
rDPH), Damage-per-Second (
rDPS), and Toughness (
rToughness) with the Firebirds variant as a reference point; those values are the main result and ease the interpretation of the calculations.
|FB||1.000||1.000||1.000||7.203 * 106||1.281 * 107||10.00%||16s|
|LoN||2.157||0.616||2.157||1.553 * 107||2.762 * 107||10.00%||16s|
|LoN48||1.714||0.374||4.870||1.234 * 107||6.237 * 107||55.85%||48s|
|LoN32||2.173||0.465||11.756||1.565 * 107||1.505 * 108||68.24%||32s|
Advanced Mechanics & Playstyle
This section is done in a Q&A style, which should hopefully make the interpretation of the results easier.
Hold on a second; I thought Archon's Disintegration Wave (its rightclick attack) is a channeling skill, but it's not activating channeling effects such as Deathwish, Taeguk and so on. Hence, channeling multipliers shouldn't work while in Archon, but you still account for them in the LoN32 variant?
Yes, Archon's Disintegration Wave is a channeling ability, which is not activating Taeguk, Mantle of Channeling, Deathwish or Etched Sigil. However, the multipliers still apply (
So the Archon click doesn't cancel my character's channeling state or what's happening here?
No, the Archon click correctly changes your character's animation state away from channeling. To elaborate a bit further on this: In Diablo there is a variety of different animation states your character can be in such as Teleporting, Running, Idle, Attacking, Channeling, Dead and so on. Within the Baisc Mechanics section we already established that, when you decide to channel, your character will switch into channeling state and it is forced to remain in this state until the next tick from your channeling skill resolves; if you still channel at this point in time, your character will remain in channeling state till the next tick after that occurs (
visualized example). This inherently means that channeling state is uninterruptible by any other animation state; your character always has to resolve the animation till the next tick. However, there is an exception to it, which is the animation state Transformation, which occurs on the frame you click Archon.
Wait, there is an Transformation state? Why?
We don't really know why exactly it exists, but we know that entering Transformation state triggers
Alright, when I click Archon, I am in Transformation for 1 Frame and it interrupts my channeling state even if I am in between two tick instances. But how does this explain that the multipliers are still up?
We can't tell for certain, but the theory that fits our observations the best is the following: Each time one of your channeling skills ticks, it buffs your character for the Deathwish (4.25) and Etched Sigil (2.5) multiplier untill your next tick instance occurs. As an example: Assume you are channeling Disintegrate at 13 FPA; this means that every 13 Frames, when the tick occurs, your character will be buffed for the duration of 13 Frames (216.667ms) with Deathwish and Etched Sigil (
visual example). This goes well as long as channeling state really wouldn't be interruptible under any circumstances.
Oh Lord, I see where this is going. So my Archon click needs to be extremely precise? Preferably right after a tick happened from my channeling skill?
Exactly. The Archon click ensures that your Archon (1.3 multiplier) and Fazula (50 stacks) are up and you want your Star Pact impact to occur before your next channeling tick would've happened, because that's when Etched Sigil and Deathwish would debuff. Visualized this means you are aiming for this
successful impact, where Star Pact will benefit from all multipliers, and you are trying to avoid
failed attempts. Kills from the Star Pact impact will reward Archon stacks to your character, which then again will be Swami stacks for your next rotation; hence, snowball-effect.
Looking at the last two pictures, does this mean that attack speed is a bad thing since I want a possibly wide-window between my channeling ticks, meaning I'd want to play a high-value channeling breakpoint?
It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you need enough attack speed to make sure your animations on your non-channeling skills (Blackhole, Wave of Force, Meteor and Generator) are fast enough to resolve within your 12 second Archon downtime while additionally reserving enough time to react to an Oculus and move into it. On the other hand however, more attack speed will narrow down your window of success to hit your Star Pact impact.
In your build you are playing a 1.4 APS weapon with 10% IAS from Paragon and 15% IAS from Gogok. Is that optimal?
We can't really state with certainty that it's optimal, but it suffices our needs. It's worthwhile noting that with the values at hand, you can under no circumstance click a Speed Pylon, since its buff grants 30% IAS, which puts your character above 2.000 APS and therefore halves your minimum channeling time from 20 frames to 10 frames. Even removing IAS from Paragon Points won't help here, since you'll still be above 2.000 APS. Speed is your worst nightmare, since it not only mitigates your Ancient Parthan Defender's uptime, but also significantly narrows down your window of success.
LoN32 seems very troublesome to pull off and reading the comparison table above LoN32 deals 2.173 times the damage of classic Firebirds while LoN deals 2.157 times the damage. Why would anyone bother go the extra mile for a close to neglectable relative DPS increase?
There are multiple effects working in conjunction with each other, which make LoN32, from our point of view, worthwhile the effort.
- Dynamic Multipliers: Each time you cast a Meteor, you deal damage, which potentially kills monsters. That's beneficial towards your main incentive of clearing the Greater Rift, but it also inherently means that the next Meteor you cast is likely to have less targets to hit, proccing less Area Damage, and furthermore it is buffed by fewer Wave of Force and Blackhole stacks. Therefore, "fewer Meteors result in higher dynamic runtime multipliers per Meteor". According to the table both variants yield roughly the same DPS in relation to Firebirds, however, LoN32 casts exactly two Meteors every 32s, while LoN averages five casts every 16s. Keep in mind that until now we've specifically omitted Wave of Force and Blackhole stacks in our DPS evaluations, but it should be clear by now that LoN32 utilizes those buffs better (on average).
- Oculus Utilization: Timing your DPS (or even stagnating it) to deterministically spawn an Oculus at a certain time for a massive burst has already been a
in prior seasons. This strategic element is incorporated in the playstyle of LoN32, whereas Oculi for LoN mostly happen at random and can't be timed too well. Additionally, time to "move into an Oculus" is specifically set aside in LoN32, whereas LoN has to sacrifice one Meteor in its rotation to gain the Oculus multiplier for the next two Meteor casts.
- Consistency: Archon Star Pact variants have nothing to do while in Archon; hence, there is no downside for moving during that time. LoN, however, tries to minimize overall movement to maximize the overall time spent standing still and actively dealing damage. Therefore, LoN is stationary and is inherently asking for an open map, while LoN32 plays dynamically and is asking for a trash 4-7% trash burst every 32 seconds. Overall, LoN32 is more consistent and asks for less keys per hours during pushing.
How important is Oculus?
Monsterhealth is increasing by 17% per Greater Rift Level; this means that Oculus as a multiplier is worth
log(1.85)/log(1.17) ~= 3.92 tiers; that's nothing to scoff at.
Are there any tricks to time and place it?
Regarding the timing aspect: Yes, don't click your buttons, when they have the off-chance to spawn a mistimed Oculus. If you witness a mistimed Oculus, it's in 99.995% of the case due to someone's mechanical missplay; in the other 0.005% it's just insanely unlucky. Regarding the positioning aspect: Unfortunately there are no tricks to it.
Does Oculus have a cooldown?"
Yes, Oculus has an 7 second internal cooldown and a 7 second uptime.
What about LoN48; according to the table it's underperforming in comparison to LoN? Any upsides to it?
The three mentioned effects Dynamic Multipliers, Oculus Utilization and Consistency apply to LoN48 as well, meaning it could be worthwhile the effort even considering both its lackluster
rToughness. If you are not content with fishing for two open maps in a row, which is what LoN wants to see, and you if you don't want to be bothered with LoN32's weird overlap mechanics, than LoN48 can be the correct choice for you and your group. All three archetype variants have cleared GR150 successfully; you are not locking yourself out by choosing to play either one.
Alright. In your premises you stated that you omitted the dynamic runtime multipliers (Wave of Force, Blackhole and Oculus) due to their guesstimate-nature. How does it look like when you include those guesstimates based on your empirical observations?
We determined the following avg. values for Oculus usage (how many Meteors are casted from within an Oculus), Wave of Force and Blackhole stacks playing on pushing tiers (GR145+):
|FB||1.000||1.000||4.385 * 107||7.796 * 107||10.00%||16s||0.15||65||40|
|LoN||2.128||2.128||9.332 * 107||1.659 * 108||10.00%||16s||0.15||65||40|
|LoN48||2.004||5.696||8.789 * 107||4.441 * 108||55.85%||48s||0.25||70||40|
|LoN32||3.800||20.560||1.668 * 108||1.603 * 109||68.24%||32s||0.85||75||40|
So far I've mostly heared upsides. What would you consider are the main downsides/complications of LoN32?
There are numerous:
- There are significant changes towards how you plan and play Conduit Pylons:
- Gogok significantly complicates your Conduit Pylon, since LoN32 could desync its rotation when dropping it. LoN can click and go at any point.
- You'll loose your snowball while Conduit is active; meaning a Conduit Pylon, which spawns the RG, saves more time than a Conduit Pylon in the middle of the Greater Rift.
- On non-circle-layout maps: Usually it's not worth it to forfeit any amount of archon stacks for the sake of dragging elites towards a potential Conduit. It's most of the time better to block-off unwanted Conduit spawns preemptively and simply embrace the snowball game.
- On non-circle-layout maps: Your zBarb has significantly less time to prepare and setup a Conduit after you've spawned it; it's several times more challenging to satisfy LoN32 than LoN with trash while building up towards a meaningful Conduit.
- Blackhole is notoriously known for causing server performance issues in high density pulls. Already mediocre lag spikes will lead to a failed Star Pact impact or even worse to you not being able to click Archon and desyncing with your Convention of Elements. With LoN a lagg at most costs you the current Meteor to fail, which is a failed 2.8 second investment (not 32 seconds).
- A death costs you over a minute, while a death on LoN costs you at most your current reset timer.
- You are expected to snowball, meaning that left over yellows that are "barely alive at the end of a floor" have to be ruthlessly skipped; committing to those elites will significantly weaken your next rotation/snowball. While LoN could take care of these stragglers with an reasonable time investment, LoN32 simply can't.
- You are more sensitive towards mobtypes that don't pack to well. Transformers is still amazing for LoN, yet it feels significantly worse on LoN32 in comparison. On the flip side, you are bound to double your timer on Swarms, Conjurer/Helions and Ghost People and you'll witness the occasional yellow one-shot (without power) even past GR148+.
- Your CoE-Fire Meteor is purely intended to be a catalyst for an Oculus; ideally you want to kill exactly one Monster with it. All other monsters on the screen are considered to be future archon stacks. The only time you can use your CoE-Fire trying to actively DPS past the point of killing only one monster, is when you know you have more than enough trash on the screen for multiple rotations anyways.
- Don't use your CoE-Fire Meteor below GR135; you don't need an Oculus for that tier.
- The build presented and evaluated in this guide really starts performing in GR140+ and not earlier. You can play variations with similar mechanics for lowers.
It feels like we haven't addressed the Toughness issues yet?
Yes, your toughness significantly lower in comparison to Firebirds Star Pact. The main focus of the Variants Section was to compare raw DPS output. If you want to commit to LoN48 or LoN32 you'll have to heavily invest into toughness. We recommend a life pool of 1,000,000 and armor gems equipped; the rest is dynamic toughness in the Greater Rift due to Ancient Parthan Defenders, which asks for excellent team-gameplay.
What about Hardcore?
We are not hardcore players. We recommend to check out the North American streamers of <nCg> (
Dys). If anyone comes up with a HC viable variant, it's them!
A video will explain more than several thousand more words:
I have cleared GR X in solo/group. I am doing fine without all this math. Why would anybody need that?
Chances are this guide is not meant for you in this case. If you prefer a "Quality-of-Life"-Playstyle over your personal highest group/solo achievement than this guide and its quintessence are definitely none of your concern. Merely the awareness of these mechanics might be enough for you. Using this knowledge to gain an edge over other players is entirely up to you.
Is this actually humanly playable?
According to our own testing at best you can pull this off 80% of the time.
Credits and Shoutouts
- asia for succeeding with an off-meta build in S12 and redefining the meta with the initial Star Pact variants (if anyone can reliably pinpoint at names of the asian theorycrafters behind those I am more than happy to add their names here)
- stefan_zhuchen and 冥道小月 for their work on various LoN Archon Star Pact variants: #1, #2
- /u/rob2628: for the concept of LoN32 with overlap and the theorycrafting work behind it
- /u/sVr90: for theorycrafting, feedback, playtesting and the final write-up
- apo#2677 for his theorycrafting primer on basic mechanics: #1
- /u/wudijo: for elaborating on the idea of LoN Spar Pact in early PTR days
- Nemesis#2740: for play testing the build and further optimising playstyle and rotation
- /u/LoOLo0: for pointing out that Spectral Blade (or other generators) can be strictly better than Electrocute; unfortunately, we didn't have the time to incorporate, test and verify these changes yet. Technically speaking it is possible to execute the build with 0 ApoC considering this suggestion.
- /u/d07RiV: for d3planner.com and everything it comes with; it makes our theorycrafting work and sharing our work several thousand times easier! Thank you!
- Tobs#2866, Lobo#2833, ColdMamba#2600: for play-testing all builds throughout numerous iterations, for a good morale during devastating testing sessions full of failure (and laughter), for shaping the playstyle to what it has become, for an awesome Season 15 <3
- /u/Northwar: for general purpose math, for telling us that an good Hellfire (9.5chc, 95chd, 19arcane, 1 out of 5 passives, ancient or primal) is roughly a 1 in 21.300
/u/Bagstone: for reviewing
- S0RRY#2610, ShAkTy#2514, Nevetser#21182, Kemo#2360, Toasti#21688, Arkis#21514: for testing and further optimising the supporters playstyle
- Gear Bazooka Wiz
- Throw first Meteor into CoE-Fire
- Move into Oculus
- Throw second Meteor into CoE-Arcane, click Archon while channeling on impact
- Pickup globes
- Spawn boss
- Kill boss
We are sure there are more questions. Feel free to ask them either here or jump over to our streams under twitch.tv/svr_90 & twitch.tv/rob2628. We'll answer those as long as you keep'em coming. Enjoy Bazooka Wizard!
— sVr & Rob
Source: Original link
© Post "An in-depth analysis and guide on Star Pact Variants, an introduction to Bazooka Wizard" for game Diablo 3.
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