Yesterday I reached level 10, the minimum requirement to start a hardcore character. This might be the most controversial feature of Diablo, and probably the most asked for. Once you die in hardcore mode, your character is dead. Dead dead. As in never playable ever again.
That is probably why it is called hardcore.
I started a Witch Doctor and have played it to level 9. At first the Witch doctor seemed very unbalanced as I had trouble with even small groups of enemies. But after a few skill upgrades there's really no trouble at all.
Your primary weapon as a low level witch doctor is the poison dart. It doesn't make a lot of damage, but combined with other tools it does its job.
You also get three minions called 'dogs' (but more look like some foul demons) that also doesn't make a lot of damage but makes a great job distracting mobs away from you.
Fire bats, is a skill much like any cone of fire and it makes huge amount of damage, but its range is very limited and it burns your mana quickly.
The witch doctor can also throw spiders at mobs and call fourth arms from the ground that slow down enemy progress. All this tools together makes a toolbox enough for most encounters.
Compared to the monk, the witch doctor is much harder to play, but I appreciate the challange.