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Wizard Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide (Season 8)

Last updated on Oct 21, 2016 at 07:54 by Deadset 11 comments

Table of Contents

The purpose of the beginner Wizard guide is to provide you with a build and item recommendations that will reliably carry you from leveling, through the pre-Torment difficulties and get you into low Torment farming, without requiring specific legendary or set bonuses. The guide also includes a section for Season 8 Wizards, explaining how best to take advantage of the free set from Haedrig's Gifts.

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. Video Guide

The following video guide was created to accompany the present written guide and demonstrate how to play the build in-game.

3. Why choose the Wizard?

Choose the Wizard if you want to bend the elements to your will, wielding the might of fire, ice, lightning and pure arcane power into the singular purpose of annihilating your enemies. While weaving Arcane Power into storms, twisters and explosions, the Wizard remains safe behind by mighty shields of ice and energy — whether fighting from afar, or into fierce melee. With an ascending Archon form that dominates any remaining opposition, the Wizard is the embodiment of elemental powers in Diablo 3.

4. Leveling and Fresh 70 Build

4.1. Beginner Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Disintegrate Icon Disintegrate Convergence Convergence Right Mouse Button Teleport Icon Teleport Wormhole Wormhole 1 Explosive Blast Icon Explosive Blast Flash Flash 2 Magic Weapon Icon Magic Weapon Force Weapon Force Weapon 3 Familiar Icon Familiar Sparkflint Sparkflint 4 Storm Armor Icon Storm Armor Power of the Storm Power of the Storm
Passive Skills

Note that while the skills and runes recommended in the build are specifically chosen to be available at an early level and remain a solid pick throughout the leveling and early character progression, you will have to temporarily work with other skills as the build gradually unlocks. To familiarize yourself with the class, experimentation is strongly encouraged. If you are unsure of how to slot more than one skill from the same skill tree, enable Elective Mode under Gameplay Options.

4.2. Rotation

Activate all your passive bonuses (Magic Weapon Magic Weapon, Familiar Familiar, Storm Armor Storm Armor), and be mindful of their duration — they all expire after 10 minutes, so make a point to refresh them in between runs. Use Teleport Teleport to reach, reposition in, or simply avoid fights. Channel you main damage ability (either Ray of Frost Ray of Frost, Disintegrate Disintegrate or Arcane Torrent Arcane Torrent — read below). Use your utility skill (Frost Nova Frost Nova or Explosive Blast Explosive Blast) when monsters get within reach.

4.3. Skills, Runes and Passives

The basis of every build lies in its chosen damage dealing skills. As they invariably require resource or cooldown management mechanics of some sort, and such are scarce for low level and less geared characters, you will focus on one damage dealing ability early on. The typical early game build will feature a dominant damage dealer, a mobility skill, buffs and/or shields, and resource generators (either active or passive). The recommended split is:

  • Slot 1 — Damage dealing ability: Without specific legendaries or sets to support his costly nukes, and armed with mostly sub-par primary abilities, the Wizard does best with channeled DPS skills. You acquire Ray of Frost Ray of Frost at level 2 and can further reduce its channeling cost with the Cold Blood Cold Blood rune at level 7. Once you hit level 21, immediately switch over to Disintegrate Disintegrate, as it pierces through enemies (an effect Ray of Frost Ray of Frost can only acquire from Light of Grace Light of Grace.) At level 26, you will unlock Convergence Convergence, whose wider beam will serve you better than any higher level rune (except for Entropy Entropy, which sadly puts you in melee range — dangerous for unequipped heroes). You can stay on Convergence Convergence for the remainder of your leveling, or deviate into Arcane Torrent Arcane Torrent at level 49, when you acquire the Static Discharge Static Discharge rune; an amazing tool for AoE destruction, whose missiles explode into additional bolts, covering a wide area.
  • Slot 2 — Mobility skill: Wizards' bread and butter mobility skill is Teleport Teleport; slot it immediately upon reaching level 22. For additional safety, you can add the Safe Passage Safe Passage rune to it at level 26, but it is advisable to switch to the Wormhole Wormhole rune at level 31 and stick to it for the remainder of your leveling due to its superior mobility.
  • Slots 3 and 4 — Buffs: As mentioned before, a significant portion of your build is meant to support your damage dealing ability. At first, you will do so with Magic Weapon Magic Weapon, whose 10% additive damage increase will be absorbed into the build at level 20 (you will bump it up to 20% at level 35 with the Force Weapon Force Weapon rune). At level 22, you will be able to summon a Familiar Familiar, bringing some negligible DPS of his own, but also boosting your DPS from the rune Sparkflint Sparkflint at level 30. Note that if you struggle with Arcane Power management (which you should not), you can consider swapping to the Arcanot Arcanot rune at level 50.
  • Slot 5 — Shield: While Ice Armor Ice Armor unlocks as early as level 14, it is deemed too defensive for leveling and low difficulties, and you should switch to Storm Armor Storm Armor at first opportunity, level 17. Not only will it bring a small damage proc of its own, but it will also reduce your Arcane Power costs through the Power of the Storm Power of the Storm rune, unlocked at level 33.
  • Slot 6 — Utility: Your sixth and final slot is less clearly defined than the rest, and you are free to experiment and find something to your liking. The general recommendation is to take something that does not interrupt Disintegrate Disintegrate channeling. Frost Nova Frost Nova is one of your options and offers defensive utility, with some great late runes like Bone Chill Bone Chill at level 51. Explosive Blast Explosive Blast is the offensive option, adding some some melee range DPS if anything gets close. As early game characters often lack elemental bonuses on gear, Flash Flash will offer the best damage per second. Finally, you can take Archon Archon for a taste of ultimate power — you are guaranteed to decimate everything while it is up, but be prepared to wait close to its full 2-minute downtime on an early game character.
  • Passives: Power Hungry Power Hungry is a multiplicative damage increase for long range builds, which an early Disintegrate Wizard should strive to be. Astral Presence Astral Presence will ease your Arcane Power management in this generator-less build. Illusionist Illusionist is a utility-packed passive that will speed you up and reset your Teleport Teleports. Late during leveling, you should add Unwavering Will Unwavering Will due to its synergy with channeling builds. At any point that you feel threatened, feel free to replace Illusionist Illusionist with the cheat death passive Unstable Anomaly Unstable Anomaly.

4.4. Gear and Stats Priorities

As the leveling process in Diablo 3 is relatively quick, specific legendary recommendations are impossible. During leveling finding upgrades is frequent, so your gear will be swapped in and out within the span of a few minutes. Following the in-game comparison system and the stat priorities outlined in the tables below will result in a solid character throughout the leveling journey.

Note that skill damage and elemental damage recommendations only apply if the majority of your damage is done through that skill or element. For alt characters however, sockets take priority above all other attributes, since you can slot high level gems and benefit massively from their stat increase. For the purposes of an alt character, leveling a Gem of Ease Gem of Ease to level 25 and socketing it in a level 70 weapon will be the single biggest boost you can provide to the leveling process.

5. Season 8 Starter Build

5.1. Haedrig's Gift

Completion of certain seasonal chapters (II, III and IV in Season 8) yields Haedrig's Gifts, a cache-like reward that drops two pieces of a fixed class-specific set. With the completion of these chapters, you will have a full 6- piece set bonus available to you, skyrocketing your character power well into the mid-to-high Torments. This makes the early portion of the Seasonal Journey your first priority upon reaching max level. The Season 8 Haedrig's Gift for Wizards is Vyr’s Amazing Arcana set.

5.2. Vyr’s Amazing Arcana Starter Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent Static Discharge Static Discharge Right Mouse Button Teleport Icon Teleport Wormhole Wormhole 1 Archon Icon Archon No rune chosen 2 Magic Weapon Icon Magic Weapon Force Weapon Force Weapon 3 Storm Armor Icon Storm Armor Scramble Scramble 4 Familiar Icon Familiar Sparkflint Sparkflint
Passive Skills

On the surface, the Vyr starter build shares many skills with the leveling and fresh 70 build, but keep in mind the alternate form and namesake of the build — Archon Archon. You will be striving to maximize its uptime and damage potential through various gear and skill choices. To summarize the Archon Archon form, alternate between Arcane Strike versus melee and Disintegration Wave versus ranged, but favor melee engagements due to the fact that three of your other Archon abilities — Combustion Combustion, Arcane Blast and Slow Time Slow Time — are centered on the character, and because you are heavily dependent on the Halo of Arlyse Halo of Arlyse and Ancient Parthan Defenders Ancient Parthan Defenders combination for survival. Abuse your free Teleport Teleport to reposition or find new engagements.

In your normal Wizard form, you will be replacing the leveling Disintegrate Disintegrate for Arcane Torrent Arcane Torrent Static Discharge Static Discharge spamming, since the latter will reset your Archon Archon via its interaction with a cubed Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac — a vital legendary for the build. You will reposition with Teleport Teleport, using Wormhole Wormhole when you overpower the difficulty or Safe Passage Safe Passage when lacking Toughness. You can keep damage buffing skills like Magic Weapon Magic Weapon Force Weapon Force Weapon, Familiar Familiar Sparkflint Sparkflint and Storm Armor Storm Armor Scramble Scramble from the fresh 70 build, but remember to swap them out for Magic Weapon Magic Weapon Deflection Deflection, Frost Nova Frost Nova Deep Freeze Deep Freeze and Ice Armor Ice Armor Crystallize Crystallize respectively if you push into GRs. Passives will differ somewhat from the leveling build — you will keep the immense utility of Illusionist Illusionist and the ranged damage buff of Power Hungry Power Hungry, but you will also emphasize on your cooldown needs with Evocation Evocation and augment your close range damage with Audacity Audacity.

The build above is specifically created not to require any additional sets or legendary items. In order to transition to a late game-oriented spec using the same set, we have a rough list of high priority items to obtain, as well as a link to the build they pertain to.

6. Other Set Starter Builds

While you get a fixed free set at the start of every Season, it is not unreasonable to assume you will attain other sets in quick succession. If you are interested in switching around your playstyle, take a look at the beginner points for other sets below, and note to which endgame builds they point you after.

6.1. Tal Rasha Starter Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Spectral Blade Icon Spectral Blade Thrown Blade Thrown Blade Right Mouse Button Teleport Icon Teleport Calamity Calamity 1 Explosive Blast Icon Explosive Blast Chain Reaction Chain Reaction 2 Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova Frozen Mist Frozen Mist 3 Magic Weapon Icon Magic Weapon Force Weapon Force Weapon 4 Storm Armor Icon Storm Armor Scramble Scramble
Passive Skills

Activate your two background buffs: Storm Armor Storm Armor and Magic Weapon Magic Weapon. As any Tal Rasha based build, this build needs to rotate between spells of different elements, which in turn deliver a Meteor Meteor of the corresponding damage type. To proc the fire element, you will be spamming Explosive Blast Explosive Blast Chain Reaction Chain Reaction; for cold, use Frost Nova Frost Nova Frozen Mist Frozen Mist on cooldown; and lightning is taken care of by Spectral Blade Spectral Blade Thrown Blade Thrown Blade. The fourth and final arcane proc will come from Teleport Teleport, as the Calamity Calamity rune has the appropriate damage component.

To match the Tal Rasha rotation, you will dedicate four abilities to the four elemental damage sources available to Wizards. The remaining two abilities will be dedicated to utility. The recommended split is:

  • Slot 1 — Fire ability: While Wizard fire spells are plenty and varied, Explosive Blast Explosive Blast Chain Reaction Chain Reaction has emerged as a staple in Tal Rasha rotations for several reasons. First and foremost, it enables and easily maximizes the benefits of Orb of Infinite Depth Orb of Infinite Depth, which increases your damage (20% multiplicative) and defenses (60% reduction) as you hit enemies with Explosive Blast Explosive Blast. Second, it can be the basis of an Explosive Blast Explosive Blast-centric build with a Wand of Woh Wand of Woh, one of the best farming builds the class has. Finally, it can be cast on the move with no animation to conflict with other abilities, which is not to be underestimated for speedrun builds.
  • Slot 2 — Cold ability: While it will lose its standard crowd control, Frost Nova Frost Nova will be a staple in the build with its pure damage rune, Frozen Mist Frozen Mist. The recommendation for Frost Nova Frost Nova Frozen Mist Frozen Mist over any other Cold spell comes for the same reason Explosive Blast Explosive Blast is preferred for Fire — it releases an immediate, no-animation effect centered on the hero, allowing you to focus on movement rather than aim.
  • Slot 3 — Arcane ability: Packing tremendous utility, Teleport Teleport will remain in the build as a mobility tool, but it will double up as a proc for the Arcane part of Tal Rasha with Calamity Calamity, as the minor damage of this rune will trigger the set bonus. The 1 second stun is yet another helpful bonus on top, making Teleport Teleport Calamity Calamity a great opener in fights.
  • Slot 4 — Lightrning ability: You have considerable freedom when choosing the Lightning ability, but keep some of the following considerations in mind. First, in farming builds you will likely seek a proc for Focus Focus and Restraint Restraint, a ring set that skyrockets your damage as long as you alternate between primary and spender attacks. Following this guide, you will have a spender in the face of Explosive Blast Explosive Blast, and it is advisable to match it with one of the many excellent Lightning primaries. If you stumble upon an early Wand of Woh Wand of Woh, consider taking Electrocute Electrocute Surge of Power Surge of Power to counteract some of the AP spending of Explosive Blast Explosive Blast spam. If you come across the more common Fragment of Destiny Fragment of Destiny, it is strongly recommended to switch to Spectral Blade Spectral Blade Thrown Blade Thrown Blade and lean towards a Spectral Blade Spectral Blade Tal Rasha build.
  • Slots 5 and 6 — Buffs: Your fifth and sixth slots should be dedicated to skills that augment your four elements rotation. Magic Weapon Magic Weapon is a staple in that regard, a 10-minute self-buff that increases your damage by 10% by default, and can either be increased to 20% through Force Weapon Force Weapon, or be complemented with a shielding effect from the Deflection Deflection rune. Finally, you can pick a shield to match your needs — the suggested Storm Armor Storm Armor Scramble Scramble will reliably increase your movement speed as you invariably take hits in this melee spellcasting spec, and can compensate for some of the slower early gameplay. Note that Storm Armor Storm Armor will proc the Lightning Meteor Meteor of Tal Rasha, but will not count as a Lightning attack for the purposes of Tal Rasha's 4- and 6-piece bonuses (this necessitates a separate Lightning ability, described above). If you are not confident in your survivability, feel free to take Energy Armor Energy Armor Prismatic Armor Prismatic Armor to up your defenses instead.
  • Passives: Unlike the long range leveling spec, this Tal Rasha variant fights up close and swaps Power Hungry Power Hungry for its melee mirror, Audacity Audacity. Elemental Exposure Elemental Exposure is a natural match for the Tal Rasha playstyle, boosting your damage as you alternate between the elements. Illusionist Illusionist is a utility-oriented passive that improves your speed after Teleport Teleporting, and offers frequent resets of your mobility skill in fights. Unstable Anomaly Unstable Anomaly is the cheat death passive of Wizards, a necessary pick as you push against the limits of your early gear and explose yourself to danger.

The build above is specifically created not to require any additional sets or legendary items. In order to transition to a late game-oriented spec using the same set, we have a rough list of high priority items to obtain, as well as a link to the build they pertain to.

7. Gear To Look For

Certain items can be targeted through the completion of bounties or boss kills. The following is a list of such items, in order of importance for the class.

  • Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur is a legendary from Act I caches that reduces the number of set items required for set bonuses by one. While it might not be immediately useful, obtaining powerful bonuses (such as the 4- and 6-piece set bonuses of the Tal Rasha set) as early as possible for a huge spike in character power is an opportunity you should not pass up. Doing bounties will be inevitable for crafting materials anyway, so optimize your farming time and get this ring as soon as possible.
  • Avarice Band Avarice Band is an Act III cache legendary ring that extends your pickup radius by up to 30 yards as you pick up gold. This unassuming bonus has the potential to turn in the strongest source of defense during normal rifts due to its synergy with Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder and Goldwrap Goldwrap. Their powers combined, they can render your character practically invulnerable even in the highest of Torment difficulties.
  • Reaper's Wraps Reaper's Wraps are a good bracer option for beginner Wizards, as the spenders of this class tend to be Arcane Power-heavy, and primary skills are lackluster for AP regeneration. These bracers restore up to 30% of your Arcane Power reserves when you get healed by a health globe — an easy trigger if you keep an eye on the battlefield. Note that these bracers are craftable, and the plan for their creation drops when you kill the Act V boss Malthael on any difficulty.
  • Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship are an Act II cache legendary that extends the duration of Shrines to 10 minutes, a very decent farming effect that is usually stored in Kanai's Cube. The combined power of Empowered Shrines (doubled resource gain, halved cooldowns), Frenzied Shrines (25% Attack Speed) and Fleeting Shrines (25% increase to Movement Speed and 20 yard pickup radius), often refreshing before their 10-minute duration, is a huge buff during normal rifts. Wizards are among the classes that can benefit from Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship, as the armor Cube slots of their most common farming specs (Explosive Blast Explosive Blast and Spectral Blade Spectral Blade) are flexible enough to fit the item in.
  • Illusory Boots Illusory Boots are an Act II cache legendary item that removes enemy collision — a staple of support builds in Greater Rifts, as their precise positioning for party-wide buffs and enemy disables dictates the course of Greater Rift progress. Wizards are lacking in impactful support skills and are almost never taken for that role, lowering (but not negating, especially if you plan on alts) the importance of obtaining Illusory Boots Illusory Boots.
  • Envious Blade Envious Blade is an Act II cache dagger with one of the most powerful speedfarming bonuses in the game — a guaranteed Critical Hit against enemies at full health. A well equipped character using this dagger can oneshot entire screens of enemies in a suitable farming difficulty. Since Wizards can not dual wield and their weapon slots are frequently taken by more important legendaries, Envious Blade Envious Blade is not considered a cache priority.
  • As previously mentioned, Wizard spenders can be harsh on your Arcane Power reserves when no set bonuses are available to skyrocket your damage. Another cache item can easily be added to your setup to ease the strain on your resources: the Pride's Fall Pride's Fall helm. Obtained through Act III cache bounties, the helm reduces your resource costs by 30% after not taking damage for 5 seconds, which is easily achievable with proper positioning.

The majority of the gear will be found by random chance as you farm normally, by killing monsters, opening chests, gambling at Kadala and upgrading rare items at the Cube. While the list below is not exhaustive, these are some of the pieces to seek, spend blood shards on, or upgrade yellows for — in order of priority:

Slot Stat Priority
  1. Intelligence
  2. Socket
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Vitality
  1. Intelligence
  2. Vitality
  3. Life %
  4. Cooldown Reduction
  1. Intelligence
  2. 3 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. Elite Damage Reduction
  5. Life %
  1. Intelligence
  2. Elemental Damage
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Vitality
  1. Intelligence
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Vitality
  1. Intelligence
  2. Vitality
  3. Life %
  4. Armor
  1. Intelligence
  2. 2 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. Armor
  1. Intelligence
  2. Vitality
  3. Armor
  4. Skill Damage
  5. Movement Speed
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Elemental Damage
  5. Intelligence
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Intelligence
  1. High Damage Range
  2. Intelligence
  3. Socket (preferably from Ramaladni's Gift Ramaladni's Gift)
  4. % Damage
  1. High Damage Range
  2. Intelligence
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Skill Damage
  5. Vitality

8. Paragon Points

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

9. Gems

Your armor sockets should be taken up by the highest tier Topaz gems you can afford at the time, while the helm is usually best filled by a Diamond gem for a boost to Cooldown Reduction. The weapon is best fitted with an Emerald. When you stumble upon jewelry with good primary stats and a socket, you should start dabbling into Legendary Gems. The Legendary Gems to consider for Wizards are, in order of importance:

  • Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped — staple multiplicative damage increase. Note that the gem is self sufficient, proccing itself when fighting in melee range (where a surprising number of Wizard builds fight at).
  • Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken — almost mandatory gem for Greater Rift progression, as it is designed to whittle down the scaling health numbers of monsters with a percentage-based increase on successive attacks.
  • Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder — synergizing with other farming mainstays like Avarice Band Avarice Band and Goldwrap Goldwrap, this gem will not only keep you rich, but also sped up and safe during normal rift farming.
  • Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful — the speedfarm counterpart to Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken, Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful offers a solid overall damage and survivability increase as long as your killing speed does not fall behind the timer of the gem.
  • Situational gems — Simplicity's Strength Simplicity's Strength is a primary skill empowering gem, strengthening your basic attacks with a multiplicative damage increase and a heal; highly recommended for Spectral Blade Spectral Blade setups. Gogok of Swiftness Gogok of Swiftness is a vital part of Cooldown-centric builds, which means all Archon setups for Wizards. Zei's Stone of Vengeance Zei's Stone of Vengeance is a multiplicative damage increase to long range builds.
Slot Gems
Torso and Pants

10. Kanai's Cube

Kanai's Cube choices are highly build- and content-specific, making them hard to summarize. Generally speaking, Wizards should store the powers of the following items in the Cube as soon as they have the materials available: Aether Walker Aether Walker, The Furnace The Furnace, In-geom In-geom, Orb of Infinite Depth Orb of Infinite Depth, Nemesis Bracers Nemesis Bracers, Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass, The Swami The Swami, Goldwrap Goldwrap, Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur, Avarice Band Avarice Band, Convention of Elements Convention of Elements and Unity Unity.

11. 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.

12. ChangeLog

  • 21 Oct. 2016: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 8 free set, Vyr’s Amazing Arcana.
  • 30 Jul. 2016: Updated the guide to include leveling, a better fresh 70 setup and Haedrig's Gift use tips.
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