Note added on May 24: I've put this project on ice (pun intended!) for the moment while I wait for some balance and feat tweaks. A Renegade or Thaumaturge build does pretty much everything you could want from an Oppressor, and they do it better. I'll revisit this project in a few patches.
The Power of Chilling: The Oppressor Control Wizard
A Work-in-Progress: Not Quite a Guide Yet for the Cool Caster
Preface: What's this about?
A little while ago I posted a build for a Renegade Wizard. It sparked quite a bit of interest and discussion, and fantastic feedback!
One of the recurring themes, both in responses to the guide and in other threads, is the question about the Oppressor tree. The usual response is that "it sucks" and is inferior to Renegade and Thaumaturge. Part of the reason for this is that Chill does not work on bosses, which cuts deep into the damage potential where it matters. In addition, the Oppressor paragon feats are somewhat mediocre and not as exciting as what the other paths have to offer.
However, I was still curious what can be done with a chill/cold-based build in general and a Oppressor Control Wizard in particular. This post here outlines my experience with the build and I will update it as I level the character. For the time being, this is more of a blog than an actual guide. It will quite likely evolve into one, but before the character is at the level cap and has done T2 content, I don't feel I should be drawing any "more definite" conclusions. So, as with my Renegade guide, consider what you read here just my opinions and observations rather than anything that is set in stone. (If you follow this and I change my mind on feats and powers, it's not my fault!)
I also need to mention what my aim is with this build. Mostly, I just want to chill! And leveling another wizard allows me to do just this. But seriously, one of the "issues" of the Renegade wizard is the heavy focus on damage at the expense of control. With the current content, I feel that damage is really all that matters and that the Renegade wizard brings sufficient control to the table without focusing on it. Damage is king, at least for now. Future content may, however, change this, especially with additional classes being released such as the Warlock. So, I would like to see how well control and damage can be balanced, without gimping myself in one area or the other.
Additionally, I enjoy doing Foundry quests, which at level 60 can be quite challenging. The Renegade wizard does work for this, but it is, at times, rather twitchy and you have to be on your toes and be quick. With the cold-based build centered around control, I hope to be able to do this in a little more relaxed fashion, with fewer potions and less blinking like crazy. Also, I level the character without a cleric (as she gets really tedious after level 40) and instead switch between a Cat and the Dire Wolf. I only use level-appropriate items on the cat, no level 60 gear.
A note on PvP: Living in Europe, I rarely get better pings than 180-200ms, which I find rather problematic when facing other players with sub-50ms pings in PvP, especially with a squishy class like the Control Wizard. I will be doing PvP to see how it works, but it isn't a focus, especially not at level 60 where the PvP is extremely fast paced and delays have a major impact. So what I will write here mostly concerns PvE, both group and solo (including leveling). I wrote the Renegade guide when I was at max level already. This post here is written as I level, so it covers those aspects a bit more in-depth.
Birthday: Creating the Character:
The two top choices are the same as with the Renegade Control Wizard: Human or Tiefling. Both are good choices. I went with the Tiefling because I like the racials and I think +2 INT and +2 CHA are very good, especially to compensate a little for the low CHA starting roll. Since I want to balance control and damage, I went with the 16/16/12 (INT, WIS, CHA) array. With the Tiefling bonus, this translates to 18/16/14, which looks pretty good. Level up attribute points go into INT and WIS. I'm a little iffy about that because it is a definite dps loss with lower crits and Combat Advantage bonus damage, but the faster cooldowns may compensate at least a little for it.
Human is also a good choice and I would go with the same starting attributes, with the +2 into INT. I feel it is definitely "less happy" looking than the Tiefling's starting stats, but we are really only talking about 2% here and he human does get the three extra feat points. But yes, I do think the Tiefling is the better option.
Other races work, too. Perhaps not as well, but with diminishing returns and a major impact of gear later on, you really can choose any race you like. It's more important to enjoy your character than to have the best possible stats. If you don't want to do Tiefling and Human is too boring too, consider the Wood Elf. The Drow, because of its racial, is also an interesting choice. Those two would be next on my list of candidates. Perhaps a Half-Elf, too. Everything else is less optimal. But pick what you like!
Baby Steps: The first twenty levels
In the first twenty levels there really aren't many choices to make. You will have an easy time leveling. By level 20, I used Chill Strike (in the mastery slot), Conduit of Ice, Entangling Force, and Shield (for lack of anything else). I could have picked up Repel, but it affects one target unless it is tabbed and for now I'm going to ignore it. Magic Missile and Ray of Frost are the At-Wills (I will consider Chill Cloud soon, which will be hard because I am so in love with MM!), Orb Imposition and Chill Presence are the class features for now. I used Ice Storm before I got a second slot for the daily powers and then at 20 put Arcane Singularity in the second slot. I feel a bit bad for using Ice Storm in dungeons and avoid it, but for questing it is awesome and we will keep it at least until we get Ice Knife. Arcane Singularity will go into the second daily slot when it unlocks.
1-20: Not much choice so early on. The 21st point went into Shield.
For feats, I put 3/3 into Weapon Mastery, 2/5 into Controlling Action, 5/5 into Fight on, and 1/5 in Blighting Power. I skipped Toughness this time around because not only will I use controlling powers more often with this build, I also won't have to stay within 20ft of a mob, and I'll be going ligher on Steal Time and may skip it entirely. As a result, I should get hit less often and so I take the extra AP generation instead.
The only dungeon in this level range is Cloak Tower. You'll just sail through it, even without a Cleric or a Guardian Fighter. Level and gear equal, you should do as much damage as a good rogue and clearly out-dps everyone else. Tabbed Chill Strike rocks even at this level and it will probably never leave your tab slot.
Below is a meaningless score table from CT at level 18 (everyone else was 18, too). The rogue and I had quite the battle going on there. The others were two CWs and a GF. There was another CT run where a GWF (!) beat me with around 10k. I hid in a corner and cried a little. Anyway, you should level super fast and without any problems.
Level 18: Don't get used to beating rogues with this build!
I also did a few arena matches and probably annoyed my opponents with all the CC and mad blinking. Rogues are super manageable at this level and pretty much no class can do much to you. But this is the same with any Control Wizard build at this level.
Growing Up: Twenty to Thirty!
From 20-25: I had intended for this section to cover only 20-25, but this was unspectacular and all there is to get rank 5 for the spells you use: Magic Missile, Chill Strike, Entangling Force, Arcane Singularity, Ice Storm -- in roughly this order. I had tried Chill Cloud again, but just like when I leveled my Renegade wizard, but this spell just doesn't work for me. Damage is low, casting animations are slow, and it doesn't have any good "feedback" to it. I'm not entirely sure what to think of it. The chill stack is nice, but Magic Missile is just so substantially better than I don't think the chill makes up for the downsides.
Feat wise, filling in the rest of Blighting Power is an easy choice, after that it's harder. Still contemplating Wizard's Wrath vs. Arcane Enhancement (for MM chiefly), but Wizard's Wrath is probably the better choice. Hanging onto those points for a couple more levels while I dwell on it.
On, and also: The first thing you want to do when you get to 20 is hitting the vendors in the Sevens Sun market and buying a complete set of gear. Some of the green pieces are better than the blue ones (you mostly want Recovery at this point). This will carry you through the next five levels before you'll start to replace pieces with greens that you find. This only costs a few silver and you can definitely afford it. Don't wait until 21 as you won't be able to see the items anymore and may need a lower level alt to purchase them for you. Not all of the pieces are great (not enough recovery, too much defense), but probably better than what you have. The orb is certainly worthwhile. While leveling, I focus on recovery first, critical chance and power second. Recovery was a stat whose value I had not discovered until later with my first wizard, and I hadn't realized how relatively weak power is.
Anyway, off to do some foundries or PvP since I finished Blackdagger Ruins at 24 and would like to get a couple level under the belt before tackling Neverdeath!
Update from May 18th:
In spite of the latency and connection issues surrounding the Dragon shard, I made it to 30 with the character. I did some more PvP because I'm a little burning out on doing the same quests for the sixth time! (Been leveling a couple other alts, too.) The CW is still by far the class I enjoy the most when leveling. It's just never tedious. I've been using the Dire Wolf for solo questing and the pushback attack of it is quite useful.
So, in PvP, the increased control potential and the focus on Recovery are definitely noticeable and I had little trouble handling other CWs since I usually got Entangling Force off first, and then it's pretty much over, if no one interferes. Rogues (one of them at a time) pose no trouble either. I ran with the same spells as in PvE: EF, tabbed Chill Strike, CoI and Shield (those were my only Encounter powers I had points in). AS and Ice Storm, and Orb of Imposition and Chilling Presence (not convinced of the latter). PvE, there are no issues, still out-dpsing other classes in dungeons (skirmishes not always due to end bosses having so many HP points that the rogue's single target damage shines).
At 30, I picked up Icy Terrain (swapped out Shield for it, though I miss it), which is being discussed heavily in the comments to this post. With this build, it actually works well for me. The way I use it is similar to how I use Steal Time on my Renegade Wizard: I teleport in, drop the spell, teleport out, and follow up with a tabbed Chill Strike. Icy Terrain also works well as a follow up to Arcane Singularity with mobs falling right on it. For now I feel that Chill Strike is the better choice for the mastery slot since I actually find placing Icy Terrain easier if I don't have to target it. Blinking to where I want it, or dropping it right before I blink out, interferes less with the flow of combat.
Feats-wise I'm somewhat uncertain. At 30, my Oppressor (she can be called this now!) has points in these feats:
I wanted one of the two AoE damage increasing feats, so I went with the better of the two, Focused Wizardry. Perhaps surprisingly, I also picked up Arcane Enhancement for the extra arcane damage. The reason for this is that I really can't get the hang on Chilling Cloud (I have it on the RMB at the moment), so a good portion of damage comes from Magic Missile. Prestidigiation is something I would like and perhaps it is better than Focused Wizardry, especially since it would further highlight the more support-focused nature of the character (especially in light of not all AoE spells being affected by Focused Wizardry). So, this is subject to potential change.
Also, check the vendor in the Seven Suns market for level 30 upgrades. The green gear is well itemized with Recovery.
There, this is where I'm at now. I'll post the next update when she is 40. So far, the build feels different from the Renegade Wizard. Curious about the actual damage difference at 60, but we'll find out!
More coming soon!
Please post your thoughts, observations, criticism and anything else you always wanted to share with the Wizard Community!
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05-14-2013, 11:59 PM #1
The Power of Chilling: The Oppressor Control Wizard
Last edited by imivo; 05-24-2013 at 08:20 AM.
05-14-2013, 11:59 PM #2
Reserving this post for future use!
05-15-2013, 12:00 AM #3
Snatching up this post as well. I didn't spray it, though! Honest!
05-15-2013, 12:45 AM #4
Super Interested in this, I'm hoping to level an Oppressor CW as well soon so I look forward to your input and thoughts. Good Luck!
05-15-2013, 04:27 AM #5
Back to leveling!
05-15-2013, 04:58 AM #6
So what you're trying to say is that the power of the Oppressor is equivalent to a kitten wearing a scarf. That's pretty appropriate =p
05-15-2013, 05:07 AM #7
It's a chilling kitten!
Oppressor does less damage, no doubt about it (there is a reason my other wizard is a renegade one!), but I think the Oppressor tree is workable as a good compromise between control and damage. I could have tested this by respeccing, buying different gear, etc, but I'm curious how it levels and want to get a general feel for the playstyle. Once she is 60, it'll allow me for a more direct, realistic comparison.
05-15-2013, 05:19 AM #8
Can you really say that in good faith? You seem to be stretching it with good intentions and I don't blame you.
For example, if we're talking about control, by your own admission it's about damage so.. uh... Thaumaturgy or Renegade! But also, if we look at how the chill mechanic works it's less favorable than simply using Steal Time or Endless Shard for the knock down or even throwing out Shield to repulse mobs off of the cleric. Chill takes too long to develop so icy terrain is somewhat of a poor choice even if it does proc off enchantments etc. (and in which case ... anyone can use it to great effect) .
What about the other chill oriented spells like Icy Ray? It's not that great in terms of damage and its immobilization is matched by Entangling (though Entangling does benefit from an Oppressor feat...).
So I am not sure if it really is a compromise at all as you aren't getting anything that the other two trees or base line can do. However, it is certainly a different play style.
Also, my gut feeling tells me that if you wanted a truly radical shift and to take advantage of the Oppressor tree you would have gone human , stacked defense, pushed HP to 30k, go for recovery and power. Your emphasis would be on the lower tier PvP and at 60 you would attempt to make some kind of tank mage while in dungeons you would attempt to not even try to kill the adds but control them as a person .. doing this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8
05-15-2013, 05:33 AM #9
It is true that I don't think that the current content requires more control than the renegade or the thaumaturge wizard has access to, but that is just the current content. There is also level 60 foundry questing. It is fairly overtuned (the combat heavy quests anyway) and I find it a bit annoying to do them with my renegade wizard. It's not that they are not do-able, but you do have everything on you. I think Oppressor may be a good way to go for this, too.
How it really works in T2s, I don't know. I have never played with an Oppressor wizard, especially not one who geared for it. It is unlikely, at the current time, to be as good as the renegade build, for end game group PvP. But how much worse it is, that is something I want to find out. I write this "blog" while I level mostly to keep myself motivated and to give newer players a bit of an idea how leveling works with this build. (Most guides are written at 60, for 60.)
Since you mentioned a tank build, actually, that is on my mind too, but also chiefly for solo content. There's my 180ms+ ping, there is rubberbanding, there is playing without caffeine. I sort of doubt it is do-able, though, but yes, it's something I may give a whirl. I can afford a few respec tokens! The human's 3% def don't seem to make a difference. In Unspecifiederror's build 2.0 cleric video (in the master list), he talked a bit about it and how little the actual value is. The Tiefling's Infernal Wrath racial may be more efficient, for tanking. (I know you were only semi-serious, but hey, I did ponder the viability of a battle/tank wizard, too!)
05-15-2013, 05:36 AM #10
If chill stacks didn't suck so much (not being able to stick them on bosses/immune targets, no reliable way to stack them beyond ray of frost, etc) then oppressor feats would be a lot more useful. The 21st point feat is really terrible as well. I would have rather them do something like all arcane encounters to apply 2 chill stacks than the current 6 on just ice storm (which is hardly used outside of solo questing/sometimes pvp).
Last edited by zellista; 05-15-2013 at 05:39 AM.
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