Follower Skills and Gearing (Patch 2.6.1)

Last updated on Mar 16, 2016 at 16:36 by Deadset 102 comments

Table of Contents

Followers are an important part of the Diablo III meta, but their proper optimization is often undervalued. Following the guidelines below, you can take your follower performance to a new level, and you will definitely notice the improvement in your solo Greater Rifting attempts.

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 and streams on Twitch, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.

2. Follower Skills

2.1. Templar

A well rounded choice for any character, the Templar offers a good balance between healing and crowd control. The recommended abilities for him are:

  • Level 5: Heal Heal — The ability to save you from impending doom in clutch situations is what separates the Templar from the other followers. On a decent 30 second cooldown and affected by CDR on Templar gear, his base healing ability is solid.
  • Level 10: Intimidate Intimidate — slowing down enemies and triggering the requirements for Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped will make a difference over time, solidifying this important damage buff for specs that use the gem. Alternatively, Loyalty Loyalty can provide an additional source of minor Life Regeneration, attaining usefulness in builds that incorporate Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard.
  • Level 15: Charge Charge — the Templar is known to deliver utility, and this low cooldown AoE stun delivers consistently — especially in choke points, where a charging Templar can hold a door or corridor for an entire fight.
  • Level 20: Inspire Inspire — with the unique ability to restore your main resource, the Templar passively affects your capability to deliver damage. If you find your build not starving on resources, you can opt for Guardian, which adds a second substantial heal to his arsenal.

2.2. Scoundrel

A kiting-oriented follower choice is the Scoundrel, bringing minor crowd control and damage buffs. The recommended abilities for him are:

  • Level 5: Crippling Shot Crippling Shot — a potent slow on a reasonably short cooldown, this skill offers more utility than the straightforward damage choice, Poison Bolts Poison Bolts.
  • Level 10: Dirty Fighting Dirty Fighting — a crowd control choice that brings more to the table than the self-heal Vanish Vanish (often negated in value because of a Skeleton Key Skeleton Key).
  • Level 15: Powered Shot Powered Shot — a 10 yard AoE attack, whose negligible damage value is overshadowed by the guaranteed stun.
  • Level 20: Hysteria Hysteria — an easily procced damage increase for any character with reasonable Crit Chance values, this ability is preferred over the continuous, but less impactful Anatomy Anatomy buff.

2.3. Enchantress

A crowd control-heavy choice is the Enchantress, providing you with AoE crowd control and defense buffs. The recommended abilities for her are:

  • Level 15: Forceful Push Forceful Push — while the damage part of the skill will hardly make an impact, the knockback offers decent utility to kiting characters. If your build is reliant on precision when targeting, opt for Charm Charm instead; its longer cooldown makes it unattractive otherwise.
  • Level 20: Missile Ward Missile Ward — basically offering a free secondary item stat, this buff can make bigger difference than Powered Armor Powered Armor, as sources of melee protection are more abundant.
  • Level 25: Disorient Disorient — a decent source of AoE crowd control, this skill affects fights more consistently than Erosion Erosion.
  • Level 30: Mass Control Mass Control — the best control spell in the Enchantress arsenal, with a relatively long cooldown to match. Take into account however, that Focused Mind Focused Mind can bring value to builds that rely on Attack Speed breakpoints.

3. General Follower Gearing

When gearing your follower, you have to make a conscious choice between utility and damage oriented gear. While it can be tempting to focus on their damage potential (however limited), it is highly recommended that you focus on their crowd control and protective capabilities.

Stat-wise, followers are capped at 150 Critical Hit Damage and start out at 50 by default, making it easy for you to reach the limit with a single 100 Crit Damage roll on the follower item. This makes Crit Chance the more valuable of the crit-related stats, but keep in mind the natural limits of the follower DPS potential and focus on utility instead. Increased Attack Speed and Cooldown Reduction rolls affect followers accordingly, and are infinitely more useful in Greater Rifts.

The recommended follower-specific items for all followers are the immortality ones: Enchanting Favor Enchanting Favor, Skeleton Key Skeleton Key and Smoking Thurible Smoking Thurible. Immunity to damage is too powerful to be passed up in high Torments and Greater Rifts, where lackluster AI and few Toughness options mean certain death for followers within seconds. On top of that, the immortality items allow you to ignore Toughness rolls on follower gear, easing decisions when rerolling. Note that the combination of Unity Unity on yourself and the follower, along with an immortality item for him, will halve your incoming damage without hurting him — making for a powerful mitigation combo. If your ring slots are occupied by other rings, take two from the follower ring recommendations below, instead of just one.

The rings are best occupied by utility-oriented combinations; as previously mentioned, if you wear a Unity Unity ring, equip one on the follower too. Damage-oriented rings such as Bul-Kathos's Wedding Band Bul-Kathos's Wedding Band and Nagelring Nagelring are viable options to occupy the second ring slot, but the updated Oculus Ring Oculus Ring offers the most damage potential. Since the circles that trigger from the ring spawn from assistances as well (the follower does not have to inflict the killing blow), characters (mostly melee) can reposition and take decent advantage of the buff.

The Ess of Johan The Ess of Johan is the recommended amulet for followers, as it offers a long-range pulling effect on a decent, 20 second internal cooldown. Piling the enemies on top of the targeted area and applying up to 80% slowdown on all of them offers great utility, offering momentary safety to ranged characters and maximizing your AoE spells. The only other amulet that offers decent utility on followers is the Overwhelming Desire Overwhelming Desire, whose impressive 35% damage buff is unfortunately set back by the low proc rate and its inability to affect Rift Guardians. Nevertheless, it remains a viable second option, somewhat sweetened by the fact that it is easily farmable from Act III bounty caches.

4. Stat Priorities per Gear Slot

The main stats for the followers are as follows: Strength for Templar, Dexterity for Scoundrel, Intelligence for Enchantress. To match that mainstat, whenever a socket occurs in a follower item, you should use a Flawless Royal Ruby Flawless Royal Ruby (or the highest available) for Templar, a Flawless Royal Emerald Flawless Royal Emerald (or the highest available) for Scoundrel, or a Flawless Royal Topaz Flawless Royal Topaz (or the highest available) for Enchantress. The weapon socket should be filled with a Flawless Royal Ruby Flawless Royal Ruby (or the highest available) for the flat damage increase.

Slot Stat Priority
  1. Cooldown Reduction
  2. Increased Attack Speed
  3. High Damage Range
  1. Primary Stat
  2. Socket
Shield (if Templar)
  1. Primary Stat
  2. Block Chance
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  1. Socket (gemmed with Primary Stat)
  2. Vitality
Follower Item
  1. Primary Stat
  2. Block Chance (if Templar)
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  1. Vitality
  2. All Resistance
  1. Cooldown Reduction
  2. Increased Attack Speed
  3. Primary Stat
  1. Critical Hit Chance
  2. Socket (gemmed with Primary Stat)
Ring (Any Ring)
  1. Cooldown Reduction
  2. Increased Attack Speed
  3. Block Chance (if Justice Lantern Justice Lantern)
  1. Primary Stat
  2. Critical Hit Chance

5. Specific Follower Gearing

5.1. Templar

The Templar makes good use of Weapons such as Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker and Eun-jang-do Eun-jang-do. Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker offers a lot of crowd control through the weapon proc, which the Templar triggers consistently in fights, and synergizes with the unique property of the Wyrdward Wyrdward ring. In general, this weapon offers the most utility during a Rift clear, while you are still fighting trash and elite packs; it also fits well into long range builds, since they strive to outrange Rift Guardians and their affixes as a whole.

Few shields can be called truly synergistic with the Templar; damage-oriented ones like the elemental boosting Lidless Wall Lidless Wall or the proc-based Defender of Westmarch Defender of Westmarch are viable, but Freeze of Deflection Freeze of Deflection has stun utility that far outweighs the other two. Pairing that shield with a Justice Lantern Justice Lantern and some additional block % (on the relic, for example) will offer a lot of additional stuns.

It is worth noting that some of the above recommendations (Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker and Freeze of Deflection Freeze of Deflection) benefit from specific rings — Wyrdward Wyrdward and Justice Lantern Justice Lantern respectively — that differentiate from the general recommendations. These rings will add to your crowd control at the expense of the Unity Unity toughness combo and the damage boosting Oculus Ring Oculus Ring, so use them at your discretion.

Slot Pieces
Ring #1
Ring #2
Relic Enchanting Favor Enchanting Favor (Best in Slot)

5.2. Scoundrel

The Scoundrel is best equipped with weapons that facilitate kiting. In order of priority, take the freezing, piercing Buriza-Do Kyanon Buriza-Do Kyanon, the knockback machine Windforce Windforce, or the rooting Hellrack Hellrack. While an argument can be made that the knockback property of Windforce Windforce helps fragile characters maintain a healthy distance, its single target nature is incomparable to the AoE utility of a Buriza-Do Kyanon Buriza-Do Kyanon, making this crossbow the favored Scoundrel weapon.

Slot Pieces
Ring #1
Ring #2
Token Skeleton Key Skeleton Key (Best in Slot)

5.3. Enchantress

Crowd-control weapons suit the Enchantress the most, emphasizing her role as the strongest CC follower. The Sultan of Blinding Sand The Sultan of Blinding Sand comes with a highest recommendation, as its high Blind chance is capable of incapacitating elites and Rift Guardians for extended periods of time. Should you opt to maximize her damage instead, you can go for powerful two-handed choices like Maximus Maximus and The Furnace The Furnace.

Slot Pieces
Ring #1
Ring #2
Focus Smoking Thurible Smoking Thurible (Best in Slot)