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Category Archive: Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Guide
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As I’ve mentioned before, my main character is a Wizard but I am trying out a Witch Doctor as well to broaden my knowledge of the class and methods of play. Knowing the ins and outs of all the classes will help in PvE and PvP (Whenever that arrives…) and having access to all of the classes is really more of a hobby than anything else. Now, back to the Pet Build.
The Witch Doctor Pet Build focuses exactly on what it says, pets. Many players quickly disregard pets as they move further into Hell difficulty especially when they tend to die quicker than the Skill to summon them cools down. Now this will always be a problem but there is a solution to working around that. The biggest problem however is the gear and the gold required to actually achieve it.
To prevent your pets from dying prematurely, your goal will be to reduce the damage they receive. To do that, it requires you have gear which complements pets such as high Armor, resistances and Intelligence. Therefore, the better your gear, the longer your pets survive and be sustained.
I’m not here to tell you that great gear’s going to get your pets to live longer. What I’ve discovered from discussions with other Witch Doctors and forum lurking is that there is another method to increasing pet survivability other than just having amazing gear. This method of gearing up is more often called a “Witch Doctor Pet CC Build” which allows your pets to “Crowd Control” enemies to reduce the damage they receive! And although you still need a separate set of gear to achieve this, the price to pay (in gold) is much more affordable.
The stats I’m talking about from items are things like “Chance to Stun on Hit” which can be found easily on Gloves and “Chance to Freeze on Hit” from Belts. Now I know this may seem a little weird but bear with me for a little. The Burning Dogs Skill Rune and Big Stinker Skill Rune for the Zombie Dogs and Gargantuan are primarily what you’re looking at here. Each of the ticks of damage from these Skill Runes evidently have a chance to Freeze or Stun so long as the Witch Doctor has the Gloves and Belt equipped. And it doesn’t end there. There are MANY more stat affixes on items which can be added to cause the Witch Doctor’s Pets to be moving Crowd Controlling machines and you should definitely give it a go.
This doesn’t even include the Witch Doctor’s ability to perform those Crowd Controlling abilities themselves. As we’ve already picked up the gear which all have a chance of performing an additional effect, my Witch Doctor specifically picks up Skills which have a high rate of attack such as Plague of Toads (Rain of Toads) along with Firebomb (Fire pit) for added damage and CC. And it works!
That’s it for today, good hunting!
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Levels 1- 10
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 1 – Poison Dart is the first Skill the Witch Doctor starts with so there isn’t much to say except to spam it on enemies until you reach level 2.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 2 – The Witch Doctor will unlock the 2nd Active Skill slot as well as Grasp of the Dead which is an area of effect Skill which snares enemies and does weapon damage. Useful for making sure enemies don’t get too close and clearing close-knit packs of enemies.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 3 – Corpse Spiders is unlocked. I don’t recommend using this Skill over Poison Dart or Grasp of the Dead. The reason for this is, without a Skill Rune, the spiders usually die even before they arrive at an enemy. At best, they attack only once per spider which does nowhere near the same amount as a single Poison Dart but costs twice as much.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 4 – The Witch Doctor unlocks their 3rd Active Skill slot along with the Skill Summon Zombie Dogs. This Skill is an absolute must to activate as soon as you get it. They don’t deal a huge amount of damage at first but they do absorb a lot of damage from enemies. Zombie Dogs primary function is to pick up low health stragglers as well as to attract the attention of enemies while you pick them off.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 5 – Plague of Toads is unlocked. Another Skill which I wouldn’t bother with, the mechanics behind the toads are fairly weak. The toads you summon hop off in random directions which makes it very difficult to use unless in melee range. Damage per Mana consumed, this Skill is great, but unreliable. I would stick to Poison Dart unless your Witch Doctor is completely surrounded and each toad will definitely hit something.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 6 – The Splinters Skill Rune for the Poison Dart Skill unlocks at this level. Poison Dart now fires 3 darts instead of 1, and each dart deals 70% damage each which effectively increases the amount of damage it deals by nearly double. One thing to note is that when you fire 3 darts and the first dart kills the enemy, the 2nd and 3rd dart follow through to hit another target.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 7 – Groping Eels for the Grasp of the Dead Skill unlocks. I recommend this as Grasp of the Dead is the only decent Area of Effect Skill at this point and Groping Eels will further increase the amount of damage the Skill deals.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 8 – Leaping Spiders which affect the Corpse Spiders Skill is unlocked. This makes it so the spiders that you spawn are able to leap to targets from wherever you land them. In addition, they deal slightly more damage per spider than before. About 15% more damage per spider. This makes the Skill usable as you can ensure each spider at least gets a hit off before they die. However, if compared to the Poison Dart with Splinters activated, it still pales in comparison.
Hex, a crowd control Skill for the Witch Doctor unlocks at level 8 as well. It randomly turns enemies into chickens which receive more damage and are unable to perform offensive abilities. This does not do much in terms of increasing the Witch Doctor’s DPS so I do not recommend activating it.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 9 – The 4th Active Skill slot is available. In addition, the Skill Horrify is unlocked. The Skill itself does no damage but it does provide you breathing room if you ever get surrounded. In lower difficulties, that will seldom be the case but the same cannot be said for Nightmare, Hell and Inferno difficulty.
Another Skill which unlocks at level 9 is the Haunt Skill. Haunt does damage over 15 seconds and will jump to another enemy should the initial enemy they were haunting dies. This is a great tool for dealing damage to enemies while still staying mobile. Also, Skill Runes later will even allow Haunt to replenish some Health when they haunt a target.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 10 – The Passive Skill slot unlocks at this level along with two Passive Skills to choose from. Very balanced choices, the Witch Doctor has access to either a defensive Passive Skill by activating Jungle Fortitude which reduces the damage the Witch Doctor and their pets receive, or an offensive Passive Skill which increases the amount of damage Plague of Toads, Corpse Spiders, Locust Swarm and Firebats deal using the Passive Skill Vermin.
If you don’t intend to use any of the Skills listed above for the Vermin Skill, go ahead and pick up Jungle Fortitude. I recommend doing so at least until the Witch Doctor unlocks Firebats at level 12.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 11-20
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 11 – Firebomb Skill unlocked. This Skill is best used to clear out groups of closely packed enemies as the radius of the explosion it causes is up to 8 yards. It works about the same as poison dart but with less single target damage so it is subjective whether you wish to replace Poison Dart with it. Their Skill Runes later do make it a lot more effective but that is only available at level 18.
The Skill Rune Lifelink which is for the Summon Zombie Dogs Skill is unlocked. This allows your Zombie Dogs to absorb 10% of all incoming damage to the Witch Doctor. Doesn’t do much except increase survivability slightly but as there are no other Skill Runes to use with Zombie Dogs, I suggest going for it anyway.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 12 – Firebats unlocked. This is a very potent Skill as the rate of fire for it is very high. If you did not pick up the Firebomb Skill and chose to stick with Poison Dart, I highly recommend Firebats as it does area of effect damage in a cone shape in front of the Witch Doctor. It does have a higher Mana cost but it does massive amounts of damage to enemies within range.
In addition to Firebats, a new Passive Skill called Circle of Life is also unlocked. Whenever an enemy dies within 12 yards of the Witch Doctor, there is a 5% probability a Zombie Dog will spawn. Personally, using the Firebats Skill, I would stick to Vermin as my only Passive Skill. There are synergistic combinations that require Zombie Dogs later which may make this Skill more useful but not at this level.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 13 – Numbing Dart for the Poison Dart Skill unlocks. This isn’t as useful as the Splinter Skill Rune and I do not recommend activating it. It slows enemies movement speed whenever they are hit by Poison Dart. This Skill leans more toward being a PvP Skill and not optimal for leveling at this point.
The Passive Skill Spiritual Attunement is unlocked at level 13. This increases your Mana total by 20% and regenerates a small amount of that maximum Mana per second. Only pick this up if you are having Mana issues with your Witch Doctor. If using Poison Dart and Firebats constantly, it’s more likely you will run out of enemies before your Mana resource dwindles.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 14 – The 5th Active Skill slot unlocks at this level. Along with the slot, the Witch Doctor learns a new Skill called Zombie Charger where the Witch Doctor is able to send forth a poisonous zombie, dealing damage to any enemies in it’s path. It costs quite a bit of Mana but it does a massive amount of damage. I would not recommend replacing Firebats with this Skill as an Area of Effect Skill but to use it in tandem with it. The reason for this is because the Firebats Skill requires the Witch Doctor to stand still and channel which could mean being surrounded by enemies from behind. The Zombie Charger can be summoned and the Witch Doctor is free to relocate immediately.
At level 14, the Witch Doctor also has access to the Explosive Toads Skill Rune which affects the Plague of Toads Skill. This causes the frogs to deal more damage as Fire instead of Poison. Still a questionable Skill to use as the Toads hop around in random directions.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 15 – Unbreakable Grasp for Grasp of the Dead unlocks. This increases the effectiveness of the movement speed slow. I don’t recommend it over Groping Eels if you have Grasp of the Dead activated.
Gruesome Feast, a Passive Skill is unlocked at level 15. This may seem like a great Passive Skill to have as it can potentially provide the Witch Doctor with an increased Intelligence of 50% as long as enemies are being killed and there are health globes to pick up. However, at lower levels, the base amount of Intelligence on a Witch Doctor is extremely low (About 50 or so Int at level 15). Therefore that leaves the 10% of your total mana replenishment whenever you pick up a Health Globe which is subjective based on how much Mana the Witch Doctor is spending to kill enemies and whether they run out of enemies or their resource first.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 16 – As mentioned above, the Haunt Skill will now have access to the Consuming Spirit Skill Rune which replenishes health for every second Haunt is dealing damage to enemies. This is a defensive ability which you may or may not need. I do not recommend using this unless you are taking damage often which should not be occurring at lower levels on Normal difficulty. The same cannot be said for harder difficulties though.
Hedge Magic which affects the Hex Skill is also available at level 16. This causes the Fetish Shaman you summon to heal the Witch Doctor and all allies through intervals. Decent survival Skill Rune but not required during the early levels.
The Spirit Walk Skill is unlocked. This is a great escape mechanism as it effectively allows you to walk away from battles that aren’t in your favour. On a 15 second cool down, for 30 Mana, the Witch Doctor will be able to get away from being surrounded. The link cancels if the Witch Doctor’s physical body receives too much damage or if the Witch Doctor begins casting spells.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 17 – Spider Queen for the Corpse Spiders Skill unlocks. This Skill Rune changes the Skill to summon a Spider Queen which will spawn spiderlings that deal poison damage to enemies within the area. Only 1 can be spawned at a time. As the Passive Skill Vermin affects Corpse Spiders as well it would be a good idea to use both Firebats and Corpse Spiders when this Skill Rune unlocks as the damage dealt to hordes of enemies at the same time truly rakes in the experience bonuses.
A new Skill Spirit Barrage is also unlocked. This deals Physical damage and deals about the same amount of damage as Poison Dart with Splinter Skill Rune. The real bonuses pop up later when the Witch Doctor has access to their Skill Runes. One of them will even replenish Mana on each usage at level 26 so keep it in mind for later.
A Passive Skill named Blood Ritual will be unlocked at this level as well. This causes 15% of all Mana costs to be paid using Health instead. Also, it passively regenerates a small percentage of your total health pool per second. This is perfect for spamming Mana intensive Skills and possibly using Haunt with the Consuming Spirit Skill Rune as well as Hex equipped with Hedge Magic to top off your Health.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 18 – The Passive Skill Bad Medicine is available at this level. It isn’t great in the early levels but you should take note that this Passive Skill affects all poison damage which would be Poison Dart, Plague of Toads and Zombie Charger. You can consider using this in PvP or in PvE with other players. In Solo however, I do not recommend it.
The Fire Pit Skill Rune for Firebomb is unlocked at this level as well which makes it a very powerful area of effect Skill. It leaves a pool of fire which does a percentage of your weapon damage per second. This works well with ‘Run and Gun’ playstyles where the Witch Doctor prefers to stay at a distance and continuously kite away from enemies. Using Grasp of the Dead side by side with it also ensures they stay within the affected damage area longer.
The Phobia Skill Rune which affects the Horrify Skill unlocks. This simply increases the fear duration of Horrify. If your Witch Doctor is already dishing out enough damage that they don’t need an “Oh Shit” button, then don’t bother about this Skill. Even then, as an escape mechanism, Spirit Walk works a lot better. This Skill should be reviewed later on for PvP instead.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 19 – Gargantuan Skill unlocks. Another permanent summoned companion, the Gargantuan works like Zombie Dogs except that there is only 1 of them on the field at any one time. Gargantuan deals about the same damage as all 3 dogs put together. Later on, at level 28 they can be Skill Runed to perform additional damage as well as a cleave ability.
Passive Skill Zombie Handler unlocked. This effectively increases the amount of Zombie Dogs you can have available to 4 Dogs. It also increases the Health of the Zombie Dogs as well as the Gargantuan which you unlock at level 19.
The Skill Rune Dire Bats is unlocked for the Firebats Skill. This changes the mechanics of the Skill to have harder hitting bats with a slower rate of fire. However, the bats travel up to 40 yards which effectively increases the potential damage they can deal.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Build Level 20 – The 2nd Passive Skill slot unlocks at this level. Pierce the Veil, a Passive Skill unlocks as well which increases the Witch Doctor’s damage by 20% but the Mana costs by 30%. A decent Skill if Mana isn’t a problem. This goes well with Gruesome Feast as a Passive Skill as you kill enemies quicker and can replenish Mana by picking up Health Globes.
A new Skill called Locust Swarm unlocks at this level as well which does poison damage over 3 seconds. It also periodically jumps to nearby targets. A decent damage over time Skill which frees the Witch Doctor to move about while dealing damage.
Diablo 3 Naked Witch Doctor VS Leoric
The Witch Doctor class provided a very interesting fight and really gave me an extended look at how a “Pet” class would perform in Diablo 3. Without a companion I used “Zombie Dogs” which provided a heck of a lot of tank even while naked. As it is we have no idea how well they will scale as the in-game tool-tip only mentions that they deal a percentage of weapon damage based on what you have equipped. As this was after the Patch 13 in the Beta, I had access to Skill Runes and I used “Lifelink” with the Zombie Dogs to absorb some of the damage I received.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Solo PvE Skill Build.
A fairly unique experience to me, the Witch Doctor had quite a few “Pets” available to them and even more, they had Skills which could utilize them in different ways. I picked up the “Zombie Dogs” Skill and “Sacrifice” which provided perfect synergy with each other as I could use them as a defensive AND offensive tool. From what I have seen so far, the pets provided an effective shield in solo play which prevented me from getting surrounded which gave me free rein to deal as much damage as I could. This Skill Build I intend to experiment with capitalizes on the pet system which I am fairly impressed with.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Group PvE Skill Build.
Much of what happens in a group PvE setting is determined by how well you know your team mates. Therefore, what role you are should already be communicated to your party and their roles to you. Personally, I lean toward group synergy when it comes to grouping up as I find that works best in the most difficult of situations. If you are of the mind that a group of the highest damage possible will clear content quicker, that’s fine. Just know that when the situation calls for specific tweaks to the build you have available, don’t be reluctant to swap some Skills out to benefit the group as a whole.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor PvP Skill Build.
I do not doubt that all classes are able to perform all roles whether in PvE or PvP. That being said, I went ahead and tried a hybrid of Crowd Control and Spike Damage using the Witch Doctor PvP Skills available. Of course, we may have to amend the build based on which level we are currently at as we unlock Skill Runes as we level more but the general idea still stands.
In Diablo 3, The Witch Doctor is the only official “Pet” class if you don’t take companions into account. This makes them flexible in both using their minions as persistent damage while avoiding attacks themselves or cast spells from a safe distance while their pets take the brunt of incoming damage.
There are several different spells the Witch Doctor has available that provide either long term or short term pets. Short terms pets are summoned, activate their special effect and then immediately disappear while long term pets are persistent until death.
Among some of their short term pets would be the Zombie Charger which when summoned immediately charges into a group of enemies, dealing poison damage to anything in its way. The Witch Doctor has mass confusion techniques, which when cast into large groups will confuse the enemy and make them attack each other. This allows the Witch Doctor a certain degree of control over fights which other characters may not be able to achieve.
These sort of spells are used in the same way that you may use a range weapon on element spell with other characters. With this technique however instead of casting a spell, you are summoning a short term pet which will create damage on whoever you set it into. The temporary pets are used more like a wizard would use a projectile, so for example he may cast a swarm of locusts that will attack and continue to attack the closest enemy, but will eventually buzz away and lose interest. The longer term pets would be like the gargantuan, a creature that is large, and tough and can dole out damage, but the idea is that it is so tough that it can distract enemies for ages as they hack away at it.
As a character, the witch doctor can deal out a lot of damage with things like fire bats, which is like a flame thrower, but with bats! Possibly the greatest weakness the Witch Doctor has is the simple fact that they are spell casters at their core and cannot take much punishment. Like the traditional spellcaster, the witch doctor is fueled by mana, which regenerates slowly. Don’t fret though as the Witch Doctor also has modifiers that allow him to generate mana through passive abilities.
This is the sort of character you will want to play if you like the idea of walking into a battle and flipping the tables. The reason for this is because of the flurry of abilities they have available to crowd control as well as increase the number of allies. Even while ambushed you are able to just sit back and let your pets do the work as you focus on staying alive. It is a character who will have to do a lot of running. However, if you are playing him right, then the enemies should be attacking your pets whilst you fling fire bats at them from behind. If things get a little scary then you can cast a fear spell or a confuse spell and it will buy you some time. As a class which fulfills multiple roles as a melee, range or magic fighter you are decent but master of none.