Explode poultry and summon zombies with our Diablo 3 Witch Doctor 101 guide
With Diablo 3‘s Season 19 set to begin soon, it’s time to pick your next toon. If you can’t decide whether you prefer setting people on fire, sending a swarm of locusts to eat them alive, or having a giant undead construct throttle the life from them, the Witch Doctor might be the class for you.
What is a Witch Doctor?
The Witch Doctor is a caster class that boasts a wide variety of playstyles. From pet-centric builds to damage-over-time spells to straight nukes, it finds a way to succeed no matter what the situation demands. With excellent crowd-control abilities, mob debuffs, and damage boosts, it is also effective at controlling the field of play. The Witch Doctor also has one of the game’s best (and funniest) speed-farming builds in the Angry Chicken, which to date I believe is the only build in the history of the Diablo franchise dependent on exploding poultry.
The Witch Doctor’s primary attribute is Intellect and it uses Mana as a resource. While Mana regenerates on its own, it generally doesn’t do so quickly enough for a player to continually spam all of the class’s high-damage spells. While some gear allows for faster regeneration (and there are many builds where Mana management doesn’t play a significant role), the typical Witch Doctor build weaves high-cost and low-cost abilities with crowd-control, buffs, and pet/creature damage.
The Witch Doctor’s strongest abilities
Your strongest spells depend on your gear and build, but these are the abilities you’ll see most frequently:
- Pets: While Greater Rift-centric builds have generally moved away from pets, there are still many viable builds that make use of Zombie Dogs, the Gargantuan, and the Fetish Army/Fetish Sycophants. Pets are also very useful while leveling, providing Mana-free damage, a bulwark between you and enemies, and (depending on talents) a speed boost.
- Soul Harvest: This features in nearly every Witch Doctor build at 70, simultaneously buffing your damage and (depending on the rune chosen) granting a defensive, speed, or Mana bonus.
- Spirit Walk: The ultimate Get Out of Jail Free card, Spirit Walk renders you invulnerable to damage and grants you total freedom of movement for its duration. As with Soul Harvest, it would be difficult to find a serious Witch Doctor build that does not incorporate it, and the two spells are often used in tandem.
- Crowd Control: Horrify, Hex, Piranhas (with the Piranhado rune), Grasp of the Dead, and Wall of Death lock down enemies for easy destruction. All deal damage and/or make enemies more vulnerable to it.
- Direct Damage: Poison Dart, Acid Cloud, Zombie Charger, and Firebats are the most frequently-used nukes in the endgame.
- Damage Over Time: The Witch Doctor’s DOT spells are very powerful, and the combination of Haunt and Locust Swarm with the Ring of Emptiness is a particularly effective means of ruining someone’s day.
Witch Doctor armor sets
The different armor sets all emphasize distinct approaches (e.g., pet builds, melee, ranged, nukes, DOTs), so you’ll want to tailor your gear to your preferred style of play:
- Jade Harvester: A spell-oriented set combining DOTs with a massive nuke in the form of Soul Harvest.
- Zunimassa: A pet-centric set that can be used with multiple builds. At 70 the two most common are the Carnevil build (used with the Dagger of Darts to buff Poison Dart and Fetish Sycophants for more direct, controllable damage) and the Gargantuan build (for whom you debuff the mobs with a Mana spender).
- Arachyr: The Arachyr set grants access to two fun but less commonly-used runes (Spider Queen and Toad of Hugeness) while heavily buffing spells making use of creatures. It plays like a hybrid of direct nukes, pet, and DOT damage with some interesting quirks.
- Helltooth: A versatile set that can be used for heavy direct damage (e.g., Acid Cloud, Zombie Charger, Wall of Death builds) or indirect damage with pets (e.g., Gargantuan/Zombie Dogs).
- Note: This will be the set granted by Haedrig’s Gift to seasonal players in Season 19.
- Manajuma’s Way: While Manajuma’s is technically a weapon set rather than an armor set, I would be remiss in not mentioning its place in the Angry Chicken build. It is used with either the Arachyr or Helltooth sets to leave absolute destruction in the wake of a chicken running at the speed of an Olympic sprinter.
Why you should play a Witch Doctor
The Witch Doctor is a great class if you like thinking on your feet, having access to a variety of play styles, and using a lot of different, visually-interesting abilities. With the array of DOTs and pets at their disposal, they’re also well-placed to benefit from the Season 19 buff, Pandemonium.
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