I experimented with the Defiler today, and wanted to share my experience about trying an elemental-based melee fighter.
The idea is not new. I've been sitting on it for quite a while now, tried it on Knife-Throwers, and similar things had been done by others, most notably CookieMonster.
The basic concept exists since Diablo, too - rack up a lot of elemental bonus damage per hit, then hit them as often as possible. Only that TQ requires you to focus in intelligence in order to do decent damage with *elements* alone, rather than being a hybrid.
But it was not until today, when trying what I believe to be the most feasible Build for this (Storm+Warfare), that I realized
- How well it can really work
- How gorgeous it looks!
I don't have the intention or time to write a guide here, just share a few things.
First: You get to fight as a dual blade-wielding kung-fu sorceress, flipping and spinning in a dress. A dress! With clouds, sparks and blue traces all around. It's of no further use of course, but I'm into style, and this is the most awesome-looking char I played so far. (This also influenced my choice of hat, as you can see. An impenetrable crest that raises pierce res by 80% or a Hunter's Headdress might have been a better option, but I couldn't pass on those glyphs and "Lightning level 100".)
Picture 2 - Picture 3 - Picture 4 - Picture 5 - Picture 6
Second: The lightning damage from the swords (Very fast, very light Scythians, both affixes lightning or cold, socketed with Zeus), Nimbus, items, artefact and Storm Surge really adds up to quite a bit when the Wisp is around. One Squall + Warhorn is usually enough to dispatch a group of enemies up to act 3 Legendary.
The concept is to place a squall cloud, lure a few of them into it (zap with lvl 1 lightning bolt, just for laughs), then stun and start shredding. 2.5k dps doesn't sound too much, but is nice at max attack speed with -recharged whirlwinds.
Third: It is safer than I thought. I was expecting to get my butt kicked going melee in cloth, at least by Tiger Warchiefs or the like. But most of the time it was the other way around. The secret is to have -66% attack speed as completion bonus on one of the Zeus relics, which should have touched every enemy before they come out of stun. So all melee enemies are slow, while archers and mages are blind from squalls. And if all else fails you can still deep-freeze the lot and run.
A Paladin may be even safer, but probably not by much considering he doesn't get the Horn and takes longer to kill stuff.
Stats & Gear (Buffs on, Ardor off) - Secondary - Skills
The only thing that really posed a problem were the Machae in Hades' Palace. The archers seemed to care little about my squall, while an unlucky crit from a charging Captain would one-hit my lvl 55 toon regularly, since her DA was only about 400.
However even this is nothing that can't be dealt with when she gets decent gear (Demon boots come to mind) and more health. And if you wish you could always switch to a staff or spells - it is an Int build after all.
Almost forgot. This is of course the unique advantage of this char, as opposed to a strength or caster Thane: Besides more than doubled damage from Squall and Surge, you can later add *strong* Spells on top of your melee capabilities. E.g. use lightning bolt not just for the short stun, but to do real damage, thus creating a true Hybrid gameplay-wise.
I also looked through some equipment, and there are quite a few items that can raise her DA without cutting the damage by much. She won't look quite as cool, but things like the Ixion Stone, Pluton's armor and greaves and a Coronal of the Abyss (results in ~1200 DA) would certainly help her survivability.
All in all, a nice fun build which I for one am planning to do properly now.