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Witch Doctor Firebats / Angry Chicken with Arachyr or Helltooth sets (Patch 2.4.2 / Season 8)

Last updated on Nov 02, 2016 at 05:18 by Deadset 41 comments

Table of Contents

This guide brings three different playstyles to the table: a flashy, Firebats Firebats-centric progression spec for groups and solo GR pushes and an amusing, explosive Angry Chicken Angry Chicken speedfarming variation, explained in that order. Note that this playstyle alternates between the Arachyr and Helltooth sets almost one for one with very minor variations, explained in the skill and gearing sections. While the Arachyr version is recommended for multiplayer GRs and speedruns, the Helltooth variation is considered more reliable for solo GR play.

The build requires the following set pieces:

1. About the Author

This build is presented to you by Deadset, one of the very few professional Diablo 3 players. Deadset regularly publishes video guides on Youtube, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.

2. Builds

Multiplayer Progression Solo Progression Speedruns
Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Firebats Icon Firebats Cloud of Bats Cloud of Bats Right Mouse Button Haunt Icon Haunt Draining Spirit Draining Spirit 1 Hex Icon Hex Jinx Jinx 2 Spirit Walk Icon Spirit Walk Severance Severance 3 Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest Languish Languish 4 Locust Swarm Icon Locust Swarm Cloud of Insects Cloud of Insects
Passive Skills
(battle.net link)
Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Firebats Icon Firebats Cloud of Bats Cloud of Bats Right Mouse Button Haunt Icon Haunt Draining Spirit Draining Spirit 1 Wall of Death Icon Wall of Death Communing with Spirits Communing with Spirits 2 Spirit Walk Icon Spirit Walk Severance Severance 3 Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest Languish Languish 4 Locust Swarm Icon Locust Swarm Cloud of Insects Cloud of Insects
Passive Skills
(battle.net link)
Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Haunt Icon Haunt Poisoned Spirit Poisoned Spirit Right Mouse Button Locust Swarm Icon Locust Swarm Pestilence Pestilence 1 Hex Icon Hex Angry Chicken Angry Chicken 2 Spirit Walk Icon Spirit Walk Severance Severance 3 Summon Zombie Dogs Icon Summon Zombie Dogs Life Link Life Link 4 Soul Harvest Icon Soul Harvest Soul to Waste Soul to Waste
Passive Skills
(battle.net link)

3. Rotation

You will have two separate rotations depending on the build and content — a GR rotation and a farming rotation.

In multiplayer Hex Hex needs to be cast on cooldown, as it is a source of damage reduction from the Arachyr 4-piece bonus, as well as a damage buff through the rune Jinx Jinx. When soloing, the same purpose will be fulfilled by Wall of Death Wall of Death Communing with Spirits Communing with Spirits — reapplying the Damage Reduction from the Helltooth 4-piece set bonus as soon as the skill comes off cooldown. Prior to channeling major damage, you will need to apply Locust Swarm Locust Swarm and Haunt Haunt, in order to attain the immense damage benefits from Ring of Emptiness Ring of Emptiness. You will also need to weave in a cast of Soul Harvest Soul Harvest, in order to attain the massive defensive and offensive bonuses (but unlike a Jade setup, it does not need to follow up your DoTs — simply try to maximize the number of affected enemies). With that out of the way, you can begin the Firebats Firebats onslaught, stopping only to reposition with Spirit Walk Spirit Walk.

The speedrun rotation tries to apply, detonate and re-apply the Angry Chicken Angry Chicken as often as it possibly can, taking advantage of the huge damage multipliers of both the Arachyr 6-piece and the Manajuma 2-piece sets. During the minimal downtime of the avian form, you can refresh your Ring of Emptiness Ring of Emptiness buffs with a few quick Haunt Haunts. Before you enter your next Angry Chicken Angry Chicken form, you can Soul Harvest Soul Harvest for the additional movement speed from Soul to Waste Soul to Waste, as well as apply another huge movement speed buff from Spirit Walk Spirit Walk Severance Severance. Last but not least, Summon Zombie Dogs Summon Zombie Dogs to accompany you during your farming, as they will speed you up through the Fierce Loyalty Fierce Loyalty passive.

4. Skills, Runes and Passives

During group Greater Rifts, Hex Hex will be used on cooldown for its interaction with the Arachyr 4-piece bonus (damage reduction and a free Toad of Hugeness Toad of Hugeness rune), as well as a minor damage buff from the slotted Jinx Jinx rune. Hex Hex turns from a utility cooldown into the centerpiece of the build for the speedfarming spec, transforming the Witch Doctor into an Angry Chicken Angry Chicken. The standard 2-second duration of the Angry Chicken Angry Chicken form is extended to the generous 15 seconds through the Manajuma set, and receives two major damage multipliers from both Arachyr and Manajuma. In a dense fight, the player-controlled detonations will trigger additional detonations from slain enemies, effectively oneshotting trash and elites alike. Last but not least, when soloing with the Helltooth set variation, Hex Hex will be replaced entirely by Wall of Death Wall of Death Communing with Spirits Communing with Spirits, but the skill slot will pretty much fulfill the same purposes — triggering the set-based damage reduction and boosting the damage of your Mana spender with the Necrosis debuff.

The build dedicates two skill slots to trigger the crucial damage multiplication bonuses of Ring of Emptiness Ring of Emptiness. One of them is Locust Swarm Locust Swarm; during Greater Rift progression, you will ideally be wearing the Vile Hive Vile Hive mojo and getting the Pestilence Pestilence rune for free, allowing you to slot the protective Cloud of Insects Cloud of Insects instead. In speedruns you will be losing this mojo to Manajuma's Gory Fetch Manajuma's Gory Fetch, necessitating that you use Pestilence Pestilence on your bar. The other Ring of Emptiness Ring of Emptiness trigger skill — Haunt Haunt — is best taken with the Mana restoring Draining Spirit Draining Spirit rune.

Firebats Firebats is among the creature skills buffed by the Arachyr set 6-piece bonus, and complemented by synergistic items like Coils of the First Spider Coils of the First Spider, Bakuli Jungle Wraps Bakuli Jungle Wraps and Staff of Chiroptera Staff of Chiroptera it becomes a Greater Rifting pushing damage dealer. You will be taking the hardest hitting of the runes, the Fire-based Cloud of Bats Cloud of Bats. During speedfarming you can consider Firebats Firebats as a whole, since Angry Chicken Angry Chicken should do more than enough damage. In its stead, you can take Summon Zombie Dogs Summon Zombie Dogs Life Link Life Link for some upfront mitigation, as well as a proc for the Fierce Loyalty Fierce Loyalty movespeed increase.

Spirit Walk Spirit Walk is another Witch Doctor staple, and its moderate cooldown is compensated by its versatility: it renders you invulnerable, removes enemy collision and increases your movement speed by 50%. The recommended rune is Severance Severance, whose 100% additional movement speed will allow you to reposition in the blink of an eye. You can also viably alternate to the Honored Guest Honored Guest rune to add another source of emergency Mana regeneration to the build. When speedfarming, pop Spirit Walk Spirit Walk right before adding another 100% movement speed from Angry Chicken Angry Chicken (due to the Manajuma set) to send yourself flying through rifts and bounties — especially useful for bad RNG, empty maps.

Finally, you will be taking the Witch Doctor staple Soul Harvest Soul Harvest in all variations of the build, but for different reasons. In Greater Rifts, where this build wields a Sacred Harvester Sacred Harvester, you get an immense 30% Intelligence buff from a reasonable 10 enemy Harvest, as well as cut incoming damage in half and double your Armor via the Languish Languish rune and worn Lakumba's Ornament Lakumba's Ornament bracers. In speedruns, you will be using the Soul to Waste Soul to Waste rune for yet another movement speed boost.

This concludes the overview of the active skills, now let us look through the passives.

Conveniently matching the fighting radius of Firebats Firebats and Angry Chicken Angry Chicken alike, the Confidence Ritual Confidence Ritual passive will reliably increase damage by 25% for both build variations. During speedfarming, you can consider swapping this passive out for the movespeed increase of Fierce Loyalty Fierce Loyalty, but you will ideally include both passives via a well-rolled Hellfire Amulet Hellfire Amulet.

Arachyr Doctors take Creeping Death Creeping Death during Greater Rift progression (both solo and group) to extend the benefits of the their two DoTs and, more importantly, keep the valuable Cloud of Insects Cloud of Insects Damage Reduction and Draining Spirit Draining Spirit Mana regeneration going. In normal rift speedruns, you should slot Tribal Rites Tribal Rites instead, as it will cut the cooldown of Hex by 25%, ensuring you get back into Angry Chicken Angry Chicken form as soon as possible.

During group Greater Rifting, your safety is guaranteed by support teammates and no investment in cooldown reduction passives will be needed; this opens up the passive slot for the additive damage increase of Pierce the Veil Pierce the Veil, whose additional Mana costs should be a non-issue with a properly spread Draining Spirit Draining Spirit. When soloing with the Helltooth variation, you will gain more advantage by using Grave Injustice Grave Injustice to reset your vital defensive cooldowns. You will also be using Grave Injustice Grave Injustice during speedruns, as it acts as a more universal In-geom In-geom; reducing your cooldowns without distinguishing between trash and elites. While the passive effect has a limited 20-yard radius, it can be extended to a comfortable 50 by a cubed Avarice Band Avarice Band.

Spirit Vessel Spirit Vessel should be carefully considered for the final slot when pushing Greater Rifts as a soloing Witch Doctor, similarly to other cheat death passives for other classes. On top of the second life proc, it heals you to 50% of your maximum health and triggers a Spirit Walk Spirit Walk-like effect, allowing you to escape danger. When grouped up or during speedfarming, toughness should not be your concern, and this slot is best left to Gruesome Feast Gruesome Feast — the strongest damage passive for Witch Doctors due to its true multiplier, it grants you a 10% increase of Mana and Intelligence when you pick up a health globe, stacking up to five times.

5. Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives

The build incorporates either the complete Spirit of Arachyr set for groups or normal rift speedruns, or the complete Helltooth set for solo GR pushes. By taking all six available pieces of the respective set you open up the jewelry for the Endless Walk set and its damage multiplication bonuses. Rolls-wise, the build takes good advantage of Skill and Area Damage affixes, as well as Cooldown Reduction during speedfarming. The BiS roll for gloves includes high Intelligence, double Crit stats and either Area Damage for Greater Rifts, or Cooldown Reduction for speeds. Area Damage is also helpful on shoulders. It is recommended that you focus on toughness stats on the chest, as well as the pants. The helm and boots can roll Firebats Firebats % bonus, and is advisable to obtain it on both items.

Wearing a complete set allows you to split between offense and defense in the jewelry slots. One of the 2.4 reworks, the Endless Walk set — The Compass Rose The Compass Rose ring and The Traveler's Pledge The Traveler's Pledge amulet — adds a unique mechanic that slowly increases your damage by up to a 100% if you remain stationary, and drains it away and increases your damage reduction while moving. This mirrors the Firebats Arachyr playstyle, which goes from extended periods of Haunt Haunt and Locust Swarm Locust Swarm spam into static Firebats Firebats channeling. The Ring of Emptiness Ring of Emptiness will occupy your second ring slot; this legendary jewelry piece dramatically increases your damage against enemies affected by both Haunt Haunt and Locust Swarm Locust Swarm, necessitating their inclusion in the build. Note that this slot is interchangeable with Convention of Elements Convention of Elements (for groups) or Unity Unity (for solo) depending on your better rolled item, with the weaker one going into the jewelry Cube slot.

As a final note on jewelry, the buildup mechanics of the Endless Walk set are unfit for speedruns; you should use Stone of Jordan Stone of Jordan and a Hellfire Amulet Hellfire Amulet instead. A poison-rolled Stone of Jordan Stone of Jordan is a straightforward damage addition to the build, preferable to the rotation-based Convention of Elements Convention of Elements due to its consistency and on-demand damage during farming. Optimally, you will pair this ring with a crafted Hellfire Amulet Hellfire Amulet with good rolls and a solid fifth passive like Gruesome Feast Gruesome Feast or Fierce Loyalty Fierce Loyalty.

Two Firebats Firebats-synergistic legendaries will be worn during Greater Rift progression. Lakumba's Ornament Lakumba's Ornament works alongside the bonuses of the equipped Sacred Harvester Sacred Harvester (discussed below) and adds 46% Damage Reduction to the build (6% per stack, multiplicative), significantly improving the survival chances of this melee spellcaster build. Bakuli Jungle Wraps Bakuli Jungle Wraps were added later, in Patch 2.4.1, as a way to further boost Firebats Firebats damage on the condition that the enemy is affected by Locust Swarm Locust Swarm or Piranhas Piranhas (further cementing the inclusion of the former in the build).

As you will not rely on Firebats Firebats at all during speedrunning, two farming staples fill out the aforementioned gear slots. The recommended legendary in the wrists slot are the Nemesis Bracers Nemesis Bracers, which will spawn an additional elite for every Shrine or Pylon that you pick up, cutting down time spent looking for elites in Rifts. For Torment farming, a strongly suggested belt swap is the Goldwrap Goldwrap. Synergizing with Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder and Avarice Band Avarice Band, Goldwrap Goldwrap will render you practically invulnerable and allow you to focus on killing and looting without regards for your safety.

Sacred Harvester Sacred Harvester is the best-in-slot weapon for a Firebats Witch Doctor in GRs, as its unique bonus extends the number of Soul Harvest Soul Harvest stacks from 5 to 10. With the opportunity to buff up for 30% Intelligence (true damage multiplier) and reduce incoming damage in half from a simple Soul Harvest Soul Harvest, this Ceremonial Knife is hard to pass up. To complement it, the best Greater Rifting offhand you can pick for the build is the Vile Hive Vile Hive mojo, adding the Pestilence Pestilence rune for free to the build and thus easing the Locust Swarm Locust Swarm spread onto enemies.

The mandatory weapon and offhand swap for speedrunning are the Manajuma's Way set, Manajuma's Carving Knife Manajuma's Carving Knife and Manajuma's Gory Fetch Manajuma's Gory Fetch. They are essential to the farming playstyle by providing Hex Hex damage multiplication, AoE potential and movement speed bonuses. Rolls-wise, aim for high Damage and Cooldown Reduction on Manajuma's Carving Knife Manajuma's Carving Knife and high Damage range, Intelligence, Crit Chance and CDR on Manajuma's Gory Fetch Manajuma's Gory Fetch.

Slot Pieces Stat Priority
Head
  1. Intellect
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Socket
  4. Firebats %
Shoulders
  1. Intellect
  2. Vitality
  3. Area Damage
  4. Life %
Torso
  1. Intellect
  2. 3 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. Elite Damage Reduction
Wrists
  1. Fire (GRs) or Poison (Speeds) %
  2. Intellect
  3. Vitality
  4. Critical Hit Chance
Hands
  1. Intellect
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Area Damage (GRs) or CDR (Speeds)
Waist
  1. Intellect
  2. Vitality
  3. Life %
  4. Armor
Legs
  1. Intellect
  2. Vitality
  3. Armor
Feet
  1. Intellect
  2. Vitality
  3. Armor
  4. Firebats %
Ring #1
  1. Critical Hit Chance
  2. Critical Hit Damage
  3. Socket
  4. Area Damage
Ring #2
  1. Critical Hit Chance
  2. Critical Hit Damage
  3. Socket
  4. Area Damage
Amulet
  1. Fire (GRs) or Poison (Speeds) %
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Socket
Weapon
  1. Damage range
  2. Intellect
  3. Socket (preferably from Ramaladni's Gift Ramaladni's Gift)
  4. Area Damage (GRs) or CDR (Speeds)
Off-hand
  1. Damage range
  2. Intellect
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Area Damage (GRs) or CDR (Speeds)
  5. Firebats %
  6. Vitality

6. Paragon Points

Slot Paragon Points
Core
  1. Movement Speed up to 25% cap
  2. Intelligence
  3. Vitality
  4. Maximum Mana
Offense
  1. Critical Hit Damage
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Cooldown Reduction
  4. Attack Speed
Defense
  1. Armor
  2. Life %
  3. All Resistance
  4. Life Regeneration
Utility
  1. Area Damage
  2. Life on Hit
  3. Resource Cost Reduction
  4. Gold Find

7. Gems

The fixture in your gem slots is Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped. Your remaining jewelry sockets will depend on the content, with Taeguk Taeguk and Pain Enhancer Pain Enhancer being preferable for group GR progression, Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken and Pain Enhancer Pain Enhancer — for solo GR progression, and Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder and Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful — for speedfarming.

  • Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped is a potent source of additional damage, as it is its own multiplier in your total damage calculation. The gem procs itself with its level 25 property, and is otherwise triggered by Hex Hex and Haunt Haunt.
  • During group GR pushes, you will mostly be responsible for AoE and have a single target damage DPS teammate for the Guardian. As such, Taeguk Taeguk is your best bet as a hybrid of defense and offense among the legendary gem options, with continued Firebats Firebats channeling keeping your stacks capped. During solo play, single target damage duties will fall back to you on top of AoE, and in order to clear obstacles like the Rift Guardian you will need to include a dedicated gem for the purpose, Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken. In Torment runs, this slot is best taken by Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder, whose interaction with the cubed Avarice Band Avarice Band and worn Goldwrap Goldwrap will keep you rich, safe and sped up throughout the run.
  • Pain Enhancer Pain Enhancer occupies the third and final jewelry socket during Greater Rift progression. Note that this gem is taken and leveled only to level 25, to attain its secondary property (3% Attack Speed increase per bleeding enemy within a 20 yard radius). This potent effect ramps up the Firebats Firebats damage with great efficiency and completely overshadows the bleeding effect, which is best left at a low level to avoid lag issues. In lower Greater Rifts or during farming, you can easily swap this gem out for the well-rounded damage and toughness increase of Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful.
Slot Gems
Jewelry
Helm
Torso and Pants
Weapon

8. Kanai's Cube

The Kanai's Cube recommendations are as follows: Staff of Chiroptera Staff of Chiroptera (GRs) or Wormwood Wormwood (normal rifts) for the weapon slot, Mantle of Channeling Mantle of Channeling (group GRs), Coils of the First Spider Coils of the First Spider (solo GRs) or Leoric's Crown Leoric's Crown (normal rifts) for the armor slot, and Convention of Elements Convention of Elements (GRs) or Avarice Band Avarice Band (normal rifts) for the jewelry slot.

  • Tailored after Firebats Firebats builds, Staff of Chiroptera Staff of Chiroptera will be your weapon during GR progression, sporting a unique affix that doubles the skill's attack speed and reduces its Mana cost by up to 75%. During speedruns with Angry Chicken Angry Chicken, swap this slot out for Wormwood Wormwood and its convenient auto-spread of Locust Swarm Locust Swarm.
  • In group Greater Rift progression, you will be using Mantle of Channeling Mantle of Channeling in the armor Cube slot, as it increases your damage during Firebats Firebats channeling by 25%, while simultaneously reducing damage taken by the same amount. If you are soloing with the build, you will have to swap this slot out for Coils of the First Spider Coils of the First Spider, since you will be lacking the health sustain otherwise provided by support team members. Finally, since you drop Firebats Firebats entirely during normal rifts and rely mostly on Hex Hex burst damage, you will be swapping this slot out for Leoric's Crown Leoric's Crown in order to return to Angry Chicken Angry Chicken form faster.
  • In group GRs, the jewelry slot will be best taken by the pure damage boost of Convention of Elements Convention of Elements, whose rotation of elemental bonuses you will have to keep under close scrutiny to take advantage of the short-lived Fire proc. When soloing GRs this slot should be dedicated to Unity Unity for its 50% damage reduction when paired with another on the follower, plus an immortality item for him (i.e. Enchanting Favor Enchanting Favor). Note that in both cases (groups and soloing), the ring Cube slot is interchangeable with Ring of Emptiness Ring of Emptiness depending on your better rolled item. In speedfarming, you will swap to Avarice Band Avarice Band: an Act III cache legendary ring, whose unique property extends your pickup radius up to 30 yards for a generous 10-second period. Triggered, maximized and constantly refreshed from the endless stream of Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder gold, the ring and the gem will keep you sped up throughout the rift.

9. Follower

For more information regarding followers, we advise you to read our Follower Guide, which contains detailed advice for choosing the skills and the gear of your follower.

10. ChangeLog

  • 02 Nov. 2016: Slight revision to gem recommendations.
  • 21 Oct. 2016: Significantly revised the guide and included its group variation.
  • 31 Jul. 2016: The guide has been revised to include an endgame build, as well as speedrunning.
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