Diablo 3 Best Witch Doctor Builds For Inferno, Nightmare and Hell

What are the best Witch Doctor builds for each difficulty in Diablo 3?

When I first got my hands on the Diablo 3 beta, I immediately went for the Witch Doctor. Yeah, the pot-bellied old-fart wasn’t your regular savior, but he had that Necromancer thing to him, and after spending countless hours in developing a level 89 Barbarian that could Whirlwind its way through Baal’s guts in Hell in Diablo 2, I thought it was time for a change.

Diablo 3 Best Witch Doctor Builds

Witch Doctor isn’t exactly like the Necromancer.

Yes, the concept remains somewhat same, but there’s a vast difference between the two. While the Necromancer got its supremacy from a huge set of army and terrifying curses that could make even a Barbarian tremble, the Witch Doctor is somewhat toned downed in-terms of indirect damage, and instead has skills that give him more direct methods of hardcore damage.

Things have changed ever since the retail release of Diablo 3, and ever since it got patched a few times. The Witch Doctor now is widely regarded as a powerful nuker. It’s hard to call the WD a pure DPS. Yes, he/she does have some skills that give the class a DPS kind of feel, but for me, and most of the other people, the WD plays as a powerful nuking mage.

The class gets this trait from its set of heavy-damage and large DoT skills, along with the limited and slow-recovering Mana pool. The Mana pool greatly limits you to doing large bursts of damage with chained skills, then recuperating, and repeating the same thing again.

So, after hours of shamanic shouting and observation of each and every tremble of our Caribbean-accented hero, I’ve finally managed to come up with an Inferno build that works brilliantly. Note though that you’ll need some pretty badass items to go along with this build. We’ll discuss them, but will keep it general – I don’t want to be nick-picking specific gear for you.


Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Inferno Build

Spirit of the Forest Summoner
Excuse the long name, it’s just that I like to come up with descriptive appellations for builds. Inferno is no place for a skinny old person to walk around, unless he’s wearing a Voodoo Mask and carrying around a dead chicken in his left hand.

As a WD, you need to be careful about two things: health and mana. This means not getting lost inside crowds of enemies, but letting your summons do the work and take up all the aggro, while you cast deadly spells to maximize the damage. Once you’re out of Mana, consider taking a walk, and the resume your voodoo stuff.

Active Skills
The moment I unlocked Fire Bomb, it became my primary skill. Stuff like Corpse Spiders and Plague of Toads is completely worthless if you ask me, and Poison Dart is only good for Normal, after which it becomes relatively weak, despite the pretty good runes. So, Fire Bomb it is, and in order to get some AoE damage, it should be combined with its most powerful rune, Ghost Bomb.

A lot of people actually prefer Pyrogeist as well, but its randomness makes me paranoid, and I can’t rely on it for too long, which is why I would always recommend an AoE attack like Ghost Bomb. Plus, it goes very well with the next skill.

Yes, the next skill is Acid Cloud. What’s so great about this skill is it lacks a casting time, has an amazing AoE coverage, and does an insane amount of equal damage to all enemies.

If you have lots of crit, then you’ll really truly enjoy using Acid Cloud on packs of enemies, especially when they’re all busy trying to mow down your summons. This combines brilliantly with Fire Bomb, and I like to consider it as a nuking ability.

A great alternative to Acid Cloud is the Zombie Bears rune that comes with Zombie Charger. This ability is OP, and will get rid of crowds within a second.

The only problem is that it leeches mana like a bitch, and you will be very vulnerable to attacks while channeling it. This is especially problematic when you are facing elites with crazy lava and arcane beam skills. So, that’s why I prefer Acid Cloud.

Now, I don’t really like the summons that come with the rest of the classes, but the Witch Doctor is somewhat a spiritual successor of the Necromancer, so it’s obvious he/she will be packing some serious undead dope. For me, if you ain’t summoning as a WD, you ain’t doing it right. Of course, this isn’t stone-graved, since the class does have some pretty sweet non-summoning skills.

So, that’s why I like to use Gargantuan and Zombie Dogs.

No Sacrificial Zombie you ask? Nope, we don’t want to blow up our puppies, because they’re giving us sweet, sweet life. Yes, Zombie Dogs will leech enemies thanks to the Leeching Beast rune, and will equally divide that leech as health amongst themselves and you.

Now 9% weapon damage doesn’t sound like much, but there are 4 Zombie dogs (4 thanks to the passive).

Multiply that with 9 and you get 36%. At this stage of the game 36% of damage, especially from critical hits, will grant you a tremendous amount of life, which is more than just a good bargain. Plus, let’s not forget that these doggies develop aggro, allowing you to toss out Fire Bombs from a distance.

Same goes for the Gargantuan – he’ll be developing lots of aggro, and his Bruiser ability works so well to destroy enemies. Spray some Acid Cloud and the regular Fire Bomb bombardment and you’re watching the horrors of undead take over a specific area of the battlefield. How much more awesome can it get?

It can actually get a bit more awesome, thanks to Soul Harvest and the oh-so-loved Spirit Walk. Soul Harvest is your go-to skill for adding stacks of Intelligence, which will make every other ability do tons of additional damage. Keep ‘em coming boys!

Spirit Walk is your main escape skill, and also your main healing skill. Thanks to the Healing Journey rune, you can rely on using Spirit walk to escape and heal yourself, so you can quickly go back into battle.

Now, all that sugar is further sweetened by some pretty awesome Passives. Let’s have a look:

Passive Skills
So you have your active skills all good to go. Why not overclock them a bit?

To directly aid your active skills, the best combination I found for Inferno was Spirit Vessel, Zombie Handler, and Grave Injustice. Spirit Vessel and Grave Injustice will ensure that you can spam your Soul Harvest and Spirit Walk skills more often than normal, while Zombie Handler gives Zombie Dogs an additional undead pup, which stacks well with the Leeching Beast rune.

Weapons and Armor
Now here is where things get a little demanding. Ideally, you want to buff your Intelligence and Mana with all the class-specific equipment you can find. This means Voodoo Masks, Ceremonial Knives, and Mojos.

If you can find a collection that will boost your Mana, Intelligence, and maybe Resistance, you should utilize it without a second thought.

I would never recommend anything other than Ceremonial Knives under normal circumstances, but at times you need more weapon damage than the rest of the buffs. If you can’t find a Ceremonial Knife with a DPS ranging from 850-1000+, then you should consider some alternative.

I would recommend a small axe or some other melee weapon with insanely fast attack speed. However, always make sure you are carrying a one-handed weapon, because you want to equip a Mojo on the other at all costs. Equipping anything else is completely stupid.

As far as Armor goes, you want to be embedding lots and lots of Topaz in your Chest Armor and Pants for as much Intelligence as possible. Consider high movement speed boots; the Witch Doctor generally is quick on the heels, but you can always take benefit from additional boost.

When it comes to Shoulders, bracers, and gloves, look for stuff that gives you high crit chance/damage. Even though you aren’t exactly a DPS character, you need lots of crit to make the Acid Cloud and Fire Bomb combo work, similar to the case of Barbarian’s Whirlwind.

Now, in case you haven’t made it to Inferno yet, here are some additional builds with brief descriptions you would want to consider for Nightmare and Hell.

Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Nightmare Builds

Build #1, Build #2
These two builds give you different variety with the Witch Doctor. Build #1 is a well-known Sacrificial Zombie build that lets you deal large damage with the combined work of Fire Bomb, Zombie Charger, and Sacrifice.

Spirit Walk still remains a must-have, and should remain so throughout your Witch Doctor play-through from the moment you unlock it. I like the idea of a Gargantuan building aggro to give me some space to breathe, which is why I take it.

Build #2 is more DoT focused because of the Locust Swarm. I like to think of this as a kiting build, because skills like Firebats and Locust Swarm allow you to attack from a distance, while the doggies still develop aggro. We’re using Soul Harvest once aggro does develop to give us some stacks of Intelligence, which we can further utilize with additional Swarms and Firebats.

Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Hell Builds

Build #1, Build #2
These two builds are very similar indeed. Build #1 focuses more on the infamous Zombie Bear rune, which allows you to do an insane amount of damage. If you have decent enough armor and good health, you can spam Zombie Bear to do lots of damage throughout Hell without worrying about taking too much damage.

In case you do take damage, there’s always the trusty Spirit Walk. Don’t forget to Soul Harvest and pour some Acid on those elites, k?

Build #2 is very similar to the Inferno build in this article. The only difference is that you’re using Sacrifice to deal the damage, which as its downside of not being able to summon the dogs for 45 seconds, but you won’t run into multiple elites and difficult enemies within 45 seconds, so hopefully you can always use this and get a away with it.

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Ali is a passionate RPG gamer. He believes that western RPGs still have a lot to learn from JRPGs. He is editor-in-chief at SegmentNext.com but that doesn't stop him from writing about his favorite video ...