Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Builds Guide

By   /   May 12, 2012


Oh boy, it’s the Witch Doctor. Inspired by the much-loved Necromancer from Diablo II, the Witch Doctor has the power of life and death in his hands, and can summon a great many allies to fight alongside him.

Pros:

  • Very powerful throughout the entire game
  • Ridiculous number of powerful allies can be summoned to fight with you
  • Can create chaos with his allies and collateral damage abilities
  • Has a wide range of on-effect equipment like Wanga Dolls, Voodoo Masks and Ceremonial Daggers
  • Fantastic self-healer
  • Best AoE damage in the game
  • Can turn enemies into chickens

Cons:

  • Most abilities are very mana hungry
  • Squishy when surrounded by multiple foes
  • Defenseless when out of mana
  • Armor development is slow, making him/her look quite unappealing for the starting part of the game
  • Irritatingly lengthy cool-downs for some essential abilities

Note:
I highly recommend that you refer to our essential Character Development Basics guide before reading this guide for familiarization with various terminologies and concepts.

For more help on Diablo 3 builds, read our Demon Hunter, Barbarian, Monk and Wizard guides.

Build #1 – Sacrificial Ceremony

Tier 1 (Level 1-10)
Though the Witch Doctor is essentially a caster, you’ll be forced to play as a DPS in the early stages of the game due to lack of available skills.

There’s no real room for adjustments and variety initially. You might be interested in using Grasp of the Dead (with the first Rune) instead of any of the other, but that’s something entirely up to you.

Tier 2 (Level 11-20)
This is the time where you leave your DPS practices and instead focus on conjuration and sacrifice – the two core aspects of the build. Your primary skill throughout this build is Sacrifice, which will make your zombie dogs explode.

The key is not to conjure the dogs and immediately explode them, but to allow them and your Gargantuan to initiate, do sufficient damage while you use aggressive abilities like Spirit Barrage and Firebats, and then explode the zombies to do some massive AoE damage.

Tier 3 (Level 21-30)
Now we’re talking. This is the core setup of the entire build. The brilliance of this build is that it is almost complete even at level 30.

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Yes, it is an entirely caster-based build, which means you will cast and expect things to happen spontaneously as you just press a few buttons here and there. Many people find it difficult to play like this, but the actual prowess of the Witch Doctor is visible with this build. Once again your key skill is Sacrifice, which can not 3.5 out of 10 times re-conjure a zombie dog after explosion.

You also have Mass Confusion. Because a 60 second cool-down is too much, you’ll stick to the brilliant Unstable Realm rune, which massively decreases the CD all the way to 45 seconds, making it more usable. With your dogs, a gargantuan zombie, buffs from Big Bad Voodoo and a horde of rapidly decaying zombies at your side, you shouldn’t have much trouble at all with most enemy crowds.

Final Build:
The final build greatly resembles the tier 3 build but with a few changes. Firstly, you’re getting rid of Wall of Zombies and using Fetish Army instead.

I only recommend switching when you have both the Devoted Following Rune and the Tribal Rites passive at hand – otherwise the ability has a ridiculous cool-down of 120 seconds which makes it almost worthless. But once Tribal Rites and Devoted Following add up, the cool-down is greatly reduced, allowing you to re-conjure Fetishes regularly. A very powerful build, but the only issue is the cool-down management.

Build #2 – The Haunting Healer

Tier 1 (Level 1-10)
Once again you’ll start out as a DPS. But try to get used to using Haunt and Horrify, as this will be the core of the entire build.

Tier 2 (Level 11-20)
With this build you will be a lone man, as you lay your focus on two things: haunting enemies and leeching health with your abilities. This build rejects the conjuration capabilities of the Witch Doctor to attain some crowd control effects, DoT and lots of life-steal.

Your two main active abilities are Spirit Barrage and Firebats, though the former is just at its initial stages. The next most important ability is Haunt, which with Consuming Spirit will give you back massive amounts of health.

Soul Harvest is useful for getting some mana back, but that’s just a temporary function. Nevertheless the buff gained from the ability is quite useful.

Tier 3 (Level 21-30)
There is very little difference between this and Tier 2, as most of the core abilities of this build are unlocked in the first tier. However, what makes this build essential is not the abilities but the Runes used.

You’ll have to be patient with that, as the Runes to complete this build are available at higher-end levels (around level 40-50).

Final Build:
This is the final build, and everything except Horrify will grant you health, even your passives. This build is made to have lots of sustainability, which is a huge requirement at higher levels considering the difficulty of the game.

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Your abilities should do sufficient damage to take out many enemies, but the more important factor is that you won’t die too easily.

Vampirie Bats, Spirit Barrage and Haunt will allow you to do tons of damage while constantly regenerating your life and a bit of mana. If things do very grave you could use Spirit Walk and heal quickly. A great build for high sustenance.

Build #3 – Let There Be Fire

Tier 1 (Level 1-10), Tier 2 (Level 11-20)
The main focus of this build is to deal area damage, mainly through poison and fire. Because of its steep demands, most of the core abilities and Runes are available at later stages. However, the patience is completely worth it.

To start off, Firebats and Explosive Toads should allow you to do good unidirectional area damage. Your dogs are still there, and though they aren’t on fire, they can be blasted with Sacrifice for some serious damage.

Good old Gargantuan is also available to lend a hand, and just to make sure you get as many enemies in an area as possible you’ll use Grasp of the Dead.

Tier 3 (Level 21-30)
You’re going to get rid of Firebats and the toads and replace them with Fire Bomb and Acid Cloud. This is because Fire Bomb is much more spammable, and Acid Cloud with Acid Rain has an absolutely massive area of effect. That, combined with your volatile dogs and a big zombie, is your key to glory.

Final Build:
This is the final build, and it has a brilliant potential to take down numerous enemies at once.

Initiating with Grasp of the Dead, you can release and Acid Cloud on the snared enemies, spam your Firebombs will your dogs and Gargantuan are about their business, and then finally explode the dogs (of which there should be four thanks to the Zombie Handler passive) for some insane AoE damage.

This will be your main rotation, and it will work wonders as long as you can manage the mana cost. An amazing all-out aggression build.

Build #4 – Rise of the Dead

Tier 1 (Level 1-10), Tier 2 (Level 11-20)
This is basically a summoner build. This means you are to conjure allies off all kinds and sit back and enjoy the show, as they gradually slay the foes around you. That’s why we’re taking those spiders and Grasp of the Dead as our initial skills.

Your dogs and Gargantuan are extremely essential, as these are the only indefinite conjurations in your arsenal – the rest come with a time span and massive cool-downs.

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Tier 3 (Level 21-30)
The only issues you’ll face in this build are the extremely high cool-downs of Fetish Army and Big Bad Voodoo – two skills you will be using a hell lot and are cores of summoning-type Witch Doctors.

That’s why many people would opt for something that can be spammed or channeled, such as Zombie Charger, frogs or spiders. However, it’s best to practice with these abilities because the main trick to this build is smart cool-down management. The rest is your choice

Final Build:
This is the final build, and boy is it effective. As stated before, many would prefer to swap Wall of Zombies for something more offensive and channeled. I tend to like the ability because of its defensive-offense type nature, but others might be intimidated by its CD.

Your main sources of damage are your dogs, the Gargantuan, and the sneaky Fetishes. Though the Fetishes gain a massive CD reduction from Devoted Following and Tribal Rites, the CD management is still a very important factor in casting.

Sacrifice is mainly present for AoE damage when situations get dire. The good part is that Sacrifice and Big Bad Voodoo have chances to conjure additional allies thanks to their Runes.

In a crowded fight these probabilities are extremely effective and will guarantee that you almost never run out of adequate number of allies.

Build #5 – Hybrid Death Dealer

Tier 1 (Level 1-10), Tier 2 (Level 11-20)
This progression will get you to a build that utilizes bits of all types of skill categories i.e. conjuration, poisoning, channeling and AoE.

This is perhaps the quickest build as you have a variety at hand from tier 2 onwards, but is the most difficult build to handle because it requires a mix of smart CD management and mana awareness.

Spamming and rotations aren’t the way of life in this case, as you have to smartly and selectively cast every ability.

Firstly, your two main conjuration skills are your Zombie Dogs and the Gargantuan. Your DPS skill for the most should remain Poison Darts as it is economical, spammable, and has great range.

Haunting is an ability you should be using on the enemy(ies) with the most health, as it will regularly grant you life. Soul Harvest with its Rune will be your mana regeneration skill while you regularly explode your dogs.

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Tier 3 (Level 21-30)
This may look like a strange build, but in a smart caster’s hands it has potential to dish out insane collateral damage while keeping the Witch Doctor healthy.

You’ll now switch to Firebombs as your primary spamming ability, while you unleash a swarm of poisonous locusts, zombie dogs, a gargantuan and pour some Acid onto a large group of enemies.

The major issue here is that when you have to summon the dogs and gargantuan you must be extremely careful not to spam the entire abilities; doing so will result in total loss of mana which will make you highly expendable in large enemy crowd.

The defenses are still there as Soul Harvest now grants you massive health, and the Bad Medicine passive will considerably debuff enemy attacks.

Final Build:
Very similar to tier 3, except that now with Firebombs, Searing Locusts and Burning Dogs you have a massive amount of additional AoE damage.

Siphon for Soul Harvest will still grant you plenty of health, and Bad Medicine will always keep enemy attacks slightly lessened as long as you are smartly casting your abilities. Once again Firebombs will be your spamming ability as you continuously deal out massive AoE damage.

Don’t forget to share your builds, character development tips and skill rotations of choice with us in the comments below. Your feedback will not only improve this guide but also help other readers.