Perpendicular Pyromania - How to use Firewall effectively
One of my current sorceresses is using Nova and Firewall(FW) as her two main spells. Some people seem to have to hard time understanding and learning how to use FW. So, I've tried to take some helpful screenshots of the spell in action. I hope I can help some folks with the screenies and my experiences using the spell.
Damage FW is a very high damage spell. It doesn't have any synergies, and it doesn't really need them. For this reason, it's a good "backup" skill. You can spend 20 points in FW and 1 in Fire Mastery(FM) to get decent damage to deal with immunes to your primary element, especially given some +skills.
I'm still maxing my FM, so FW hasn't even reached its full damage potential yet. It still does around 3000 damage per second with minimal +skills, which is quite suffucient for late Nightmare where my character currently sits. I've seen people state figures of 7000 FW damage, which doesn't surprise me at all. I have a +3 FW Leaf staff that I'm not using anymore. The damage and range of FW go up dramatically when I pop that thing on. You can shop these from Drognan in Act 2. A +3 Leaf Firewall staff is an excellent twink staff if you are waiting on level 30 skills.
Timer FW also has a long timer (1.4 seconds - Meteor is 1.2, Blizzard is 1.8 for some comparisons). So, you need to have good FW placement in order to make the spell effective. If you miss all the monsters with your first casting, you have to wait 1.4 seconds to start damaging them. That's a long time to let monsters go unharmed.
Range Contrary to what some people may think, you could call FW a ranged spell. It is 30 yards long (so 15 yards on each side from the point where you click) at level 20. Add +skills and this figure keeps on going. There are ways to hit monsters well off the screen using this spell as you'll see in the screenies (they're coming I promise I'll stop talking soon smile.gif).
Merc selection I picked a Holy Freeze merc. It's the logical choice for my particular build (FW/Nova). Barb mercs have knockback, so they can knock monsters out of your carefully placed FW. Thus, I recommend the Holy Freeze merc or an A3 Cold merc. The A3 merc can freeze them in place while you fry them. However, most sorcs prefer (or need) a tank. So, Holy Freeze is the best choice in my mind.
Cons It can be a little difficult to master/control. You may be really good at using FW in solo games, but party play can move quickly, so you may struggle to use it well in big parties.
There are also some monsters that you won't be able to hit with Firewall. The Lurkers that surface from pools are one example. Any monster that can fly/hover over water will be unreachable, also. (Succubi in Frozen River, Suckers in Act 3).
Also, watch out for LEs and MSLEs. FW makes the bolts fly out continously.
How FW Works
First of all, you must remember that your character always stays in the middle of the screen. Also note that you need an uninterrupted line-of-sight to the casting point of the FW.
Ok, there are two relevant lines that we are going to discuss. The first is the "character line." The second is the "FW line."
The character line extends from your character (the middle of the screen) to the point wherever you click to cast FW. The FW line then extends perpendicularly from the click-point.
The character line and the FW line will always be perpendicular to each other.
So, with this knowledge, you can aim your Firewalls. In these two shots, I want a vertical FW.
The first shot shows a red line. I must click somewhere on this horizontal line to make a vertical FW.
Now, I click to the right of my character on the horizontal line, which produces a vertical FW that is perpendicular to my character/horizontal line. You can use this method to cast FW ahead of you and make it "ranged." So, doing a vertical line like this lets you attack monsters that are coming from the top of the screen. You can cast it ahead of you to clear out hallways since you know there will be monsters in that direction.
As you can see, my mouse pointer doesn't line up exactly with the intersection of the character and FW lines. That's mostly bad Painting™ on my part, but it is hard to tell where the game considers the center of your character to be. It seems to vary based on which direction you are facing. Below is a montage. The leftmost shot has better Painting™. It appears that the center of my character is at my feet for the left and middle shots. However, in the right shot, my center seems higher. Anyway, the real point of the montage is to show how a slight movement of my mouse up or down can create a slanted Firewall instead of the desired vertical Firewall. It takes some practice to consistently place FW in your intended direction.