I’m sure it’s as much a “all the other classes have new toys” while the Primalist has been stagnant outside of Tempest Strike changes and Crows, but Beastmaster as a whole feels clunkier and far more limiting in terms of builds than Necromancer. It’s nice that the 1-companion builds are capable of clearing content (I play a solo Raptor Godzilla build myself), but I’m referring to balancing full-army companion Beastmasters against full-army minion Necromancers:
- Beastmaster has a default max of 4 wolves, +1 if you take the Wolf node. Skeletons, on the other hand, can get up to 11, with the choice between melee and ranged.
- You need a Unique with a bad base to get another companion, while Acolytes get by with a +1 Skeleton as a prefix on a chest armor with any implicit that you want. Even if you’re comparing Uniques, Necro has a Unique that grants up to +12 Wraiths which can be specced to be semi-permanent (constant 6% drain is at least more manageable than increasing decay). I’d like to see something similar so that a Unique grants +2 Crows, but with a downside so that Crow builds without the Unique aren’t instantly obsolete (though they likely already are at this point without the Helm Unique and the Wolf skill, see below).
- Crow builds often take up the Wolf skill just to get another companion. I can understand that if you’re specializing in Crowstorm that benefits from more crows, but for basic attacks, the fact that you’re wasting another skill just to get +1 crow is bad design. You don’t want skills that you’re not even using to feel mandatory just to get more DPS.
- As for Ice Bite vs. Ice Arrows, I’m actually siding with the Wolves, as a 40% chance means that higher attack speed rewards it over a strict cooldown. Still, it sucks that you’re dealing Physical damage 60% of the time when you’re specifically building for Cold Damage.
- Necro’s minions have far more QoL as if they die, you can just re-summon them quickly. The companions, on the other hand, require you to stand in a circle, for multiple seconds, while the enemy that just killed your pets is still right there, and 80% of your DPS is neutered.
I recognize that the Beastmaster design is more of the “get in the fight with your minions,” but that doesn’t help if you’re fighting groups of monsters at once and your defenses aren’t up to par. In nearly all cases, the Beastmaster has weaker defenses than the pets themselves, especially as the pets often have great leeching abilities and huge attack speed that allow them to restore their health, and their innate damage reduction is better against enemy nukes like the Rayleigh boss or multiple Embermage meteors.
What can be done? At least using Ladder records, Beastmaster’s used far less often than Necromancer, or even Druid. BM and Necro are built the same way: aim for 100% Crit Chance and then grab lots of leech and flat damage to go alongside it. It doesn’t help that the Uniques and Set items are far more tailored to Necro than it is for BM (Logi’s Hunger gives +2 to fire minion skills, but BM doesn’t even have a Fire Minion to use). You have Sadhina’s set that gives huge resistances + skills to curses and minion skills; BM get’s Boardman’s set that gives… 21 Ward to a class that doesn’t use Intelligence, all at the cost of your Head and Chest slots where the best affixes go…
I don’t know, I feel that BM companions are way behind Necro minions in terms of versatility and use. Whether it’s damage conversions, pet abilities, it all seems tied to getting 100% Crit damage and spamming Aspect of the Lynx (or Shark if you’re spending time fighting as well). In terms of DPS, I’m trying 4 Cold Wolves + Ice Sabertooth, but the damage numbers pale to what 11 Archers and 5 Mages bring to the battle. You’d need a lot of flat damage and a +1 Companion that isn’t locked behind a Unique if BM is going to compete with Necro any time soon.