So, I've pretty exclusively played Mana Sorceress over the past year or so. I hope this feedback is given some consideration, as I believe an opportunity to fix one of the build's largest failings was missed.
The biggest problem I believe Mana Sorcs face is the fact that the amount of stepping stone gear available was very limited. I'm not suggesting it does not exist, but there is very little choice as you are often very single-minded in what stats you want. For this reason, I've long wanted a Mana Sorc set to fill this gap, basically the point between TUs and SUs/expensive crafts. I truly believed that having a Mana Sorc set would have largely solved this problem. However, because of the way the set has been set up, I feel like this was completely missed...
When I saw that a Mana Sorc set was finally added, I was overjoyed because I've always felt the build is a solid one, except for the problem I mentioned above. However, when I read the set I didn't feel this problem was addressed.
To start with, the set is completely Rings and Amulets. Mana Sorcs already have a huge amount of choice in that slot, both from TUs and SUs. It wasn't necessary to add more Rings and Amulets for them. In fact, there are TU Rings and Amulets that work perfectly fine for basically the entire game, such as Empyrean Band and Witchmoon. I would have hugely preferred a set that included slots such as Gloves and Boots, because those are the slots where the amount of gear during your stepping-stone stage is lacking. You eventually swap to expensive crafts, but there's nothing really in between TUs and that.
I'd like to go through the set items one by one and explain what problems I have with them. Some may be valid, some may just be my personal bias, but I hope this is useful.
Probably the one that I was closest to being happy about. However, the stat chosen is really lame because due to how Diablo 2 mechanics work, it does not work with the stat that most, if not all, Mana Sorcs should be trying to get from their gear, which is x% Maximum Mana. In fact, even the set bonus of this set gives this stat, but it doesn't work with this Amulet. That makes this stat really underwhelming for one who understands mana calculations.
I don't even really care about the Twilight Havoc bonus much, to be honest. I'm not saying it's bad. I'm more saying Mana Sorcs don't need this at all, they already had a complete array of spells to use which I already felt was incredibly fun, between Immersion, Mana Sweep, Torrent and Antimass.
I don't have a problem with this item. In fact, it's probably the coolest one here, giving some needed movement speed to Sorcs as well as being an item that serves as an "enabler". The fact that it has a large variable movement speed roll is also very nice, giving value to well-rolled ones.
For the remaining 3 items, I'm only focusing on the special stat. The other stats mostly seem thematic to me, and are thematically appropriate, for what it's worth. I don't really have a major problem with them.
While this is not really a "bad" bonus really, it's quite a niche one. Mana Sorcs generally do not have the ability to invest that many points into deep Poison tree skills. While I am genuinely happy that this enables a Poison/Mana hybrid, I feel like the Mana Sorc set was not the place for this. Wouldn't this work better on a unique item or on a runeword?
As mentioned above, I don't have a problem with bonuses to Twilight Havoc. It's just Mana Sorcs already have a full kit available that's already incredibly fun. I feel the set should have augmented this already fun playstyle, not tried to enable alternate ways to play the spec. Once again, shouldn't bonuses tied to Twilight Havoc be on it's own unique or runeword? It's not exactly a core Mana Sorc skill.
The one item that actually directly benefits the spec without changing it. I'm mostly fine with this one, but as mentioned above, I am not hugely fond of it being a Ring.
My suggestion might seem heavy handed, but I feel like Mana Sorcs really would benefit from stepping-stone gear and this set was the perfect way to allow this.
- Change The Judgement to be more generically good with stats like x% Maximum Mana or what have you. It's fine to remain an Amulet if this is done. Give it a more direct Mana stat if the Catalyst condition is satisfied (basically something kinda every Mana Sorc might want when progressing, but not crazy). Maybe this bonus doesn't even need to be mana, but survival instead. Mana Sorcs do struggle with survival early on.
- Keep the Catalyst as is.
- Change the Presence/Darkness/Hunger to be Gloves/Boots/Helmet instead of Rings. They should not be too crazy in terms of stats, but some generic mana bonuses would be nice. Then, give them stats that benefit each Mana Sorc skill in some special way, but perhaps in a way that you aren't incentivized to use all at once.
Presence: Special stat that benefits Arcane Torrent directly (Arcane Torrent can leech mana perhaps? Torrent builds try to stay at full mana, but there might be a better idea for this.)
Darkness: Special stat that benefits Mana Sweep directly (Put the Valthek's Command stat here, I've long wanted this obtainable outside of the SSU, but at a much lower power level. Something like Mana Sweep cannot Leech, x% less Mana Sweep Damage?)
Hunger: Special stat that benefits Immersion directly (The existing Immersion stat works, it's cool, even if it's not immensely necessary with Antimass.)
I do like the benefits all being Leech Mana // Cannot Leech // Leech Life, now that I think about it. It looks quite elegant!
I'm real interested in hearing thoughts as to why the set was designed this way, as I feel like it works completely different to all the other "spec" sets. I feel this would have been the best way to solve stepping-stone gear that Mana Sorcs struggle with. Runewords is another way to do this, but I imagine that can be addressed when they get reworked.
Thanks for reading.