Group Meta Overview
This page contains an overview of the current meta outlook for group progression in Season 20 of Diablo 3, listing the different roles that exist in groups and which classes can fulfill them.
The Benefits of Grouping?
Many players choose to play Diablo solo, which is a perfectly valid choice. However, it is undeniable that grouping is a more efficient means of gaining power and resources. There are two main reasons for this: role specialization and split farming. For farming easier content, such as doing bounties, split farming is just much more efficient than solo farming can ever hope to achieve. Each class has multiple builds that have the potential to clear a Greater Rift Level 100 or higher while solo, which is many magnitudes harder than enemies in a 4-man Torment 16 group. Essentially, Torment 16 quickly becomes comparatively trivial with full builds, which is what enables players to split farm. The number of bounties that you need to clear does not change with group size to get the cache rewards, so four players are basically four times as fast as a single player when it comes to farming bounties. This applies to any content where the goal is speed; doing easy content with more players is almost always going to be faster and more efficient than doing the same content while solo.
The other major factor for grouping is the difference in experience gained. Not only can you do most content faster in a group, but you can also do much harder content. Once you get to 70, paragon levels kick in and give you a farmable way to gain constant power returns. Not only do you get more experience from clearing greater rifts in groups because of the group XP bonus, but groups are better equipped to do higher level GRs than solo players. This is primarily due to role specialization.
For harder content, groups are generally better suited to tackle the content due to the raw power of being able to specialize in specific roles. There are several distinct jobs in group play, which are expanded on in the Composition section below. The bottom line is that solo players are forced to do everything alone, meaning they are in charge of keeping themselves alive, grouping enemies, and doing the damage needed to clear the rift. In groups, different classes can choose to specialize in the roles that they are best suited for, meaning the classes that are best at doing damage can focus solely on doing damage, while other support classes can focus on grouping enemies and keeping everyone alive.
There are many different activities in Diablo, and most of them have different goals. For the maximum possible efficiency, your group composition will vary depending on what your goal is, namely speed or power.
Greater Rift Pushing
For high level Great Rift pushing, your main goal is power, not speed. You do not need to worry about completing the rift quickly, your goal is just to get it done within the 15-minute time window. While pushing, there are four very specific roles that you will generally want to fill, and there are specific builds that are best at each role.
When you step into a rift, the goal is to kill enough enemies to get the Rift Guardian to eventually spawn. Thus, you need to have someone capable of killing lots of enemies. The best stat in the game for this is Area Damage, which allows you to exponentially scale your damage in AoE situations. Builds that are good at killing large groups of enemies will generally stack this stat, and prioritize attacks that are largely AoE based.
Now that the Bazooka Wizard is finally gone, the best rift clearer in the game is now a much more competitive role. For Season 20, the best clearer will be the Poison Nova Necromancer with the season bonus, but on non-seasonal, Witch Doctors with their new set, Whirlwind Barbarians, and Aegis of Valor Crusaders all could be viable choices.
Rift Guardian Killer
While your rift clearer will focus on Area Damage and AoE attacks, this only works when you have large groups of enemies, but is going to be very ineffective against the Rift Guardian at the end. Most Rift Guardians will be alone for the entire fight, which makes classes that specialize in clearing out large groups of monsters useless against a single powerful monster. This is why most groups choose to have a designated Rift Guardian Killer. RGKs are DPS builds that focus entirely on single target damage, and specifically focus on stacking the legendary gem Bane of the Stricken. This gem exponentially increases your damage on a target the more times you attack it, so most RGKs use fast attacks to spend minutes building up Stricken stacks to increase their damage significantly.
The best RGK at the moment is the Aegis of Valor Heaven's Fury Crusader. This Crusader build is new as of patch 2.6.7, but has been performing exceptionally well across the board. This build is especially potent as an RGK due to its fast attack speed because it chooses to use Pig Sticker as a weapon. Thus, the build is able to stack Bane of the Stricken very quickly, while already dealing extremely high amounts of single target damage.
Another important job in a group is to keep everyone alive. No class is better suited at this than a Monk, specifically, the Inna Monk Support. This setup allows you to use numerous buffs on party members constantly, giving them tons of healing, shields, and numerous buffs. In general, a support and DPS combined is more effective than two DPS, which is why the support role is extremely important in group play. For instance, Crusaders normally cannot use Squirt's Necklace since they are always taking damage while clearing rifts, and would be in danger of dying. Due to the constant shielding that Monks provide, Crusaders grouped with a Monk can use Squirt's Neckalce while DPSing, which doubles their damage. With that one item, you have effectively added a second Crusader to the group already. Items and damage multipliers in Diablo are extremely powerful, which is why you usually end up doing more damage by supporting a single DPS, as opposed to letting multiple DPS work together.
As we talked about above, Area Damage is an incredibly powerful stat that is the main reason why DPS can exponentially scale their damage on large groups of enemies. Similar to what was discussed in the Tank Support section, two DPS trying to kill smaller groups of enemies is significantly worse than a single DPS killing a large group of enemies while another support pulls more enemies into the pile, "grouping" up the enemies for the DPS.
The best at grouping is the Support Barbarian, as it makes use of Ancient Spear to pull enemies from far away. Additionally, support classes in general can make use of items like The Executioner or Strongarm Bracers, which still allows you to help kill enemies and buff your allies.
Other Group Sizes
While the above is optimal for 4-man groups, you can apply it to 2 and 3-man groups as well. When you start to lower the group size, you need to choose which role to give up, which can vary depending on what you have to work with. Generally speaking, 2-man groups choose to use 1 DPS and 1 Support, thus using 1 DPS as both the clearer and RGK while the support focuses on grouping a buffing. 3-man groups will just bring 1 support, but will add in a designated RGK, allowing their rift clearer to focus solely on AoE damage.
While high GR pushing needs power, groups that are farming Paragon levels will sacrifice some of that power to go for speed instead, thus clearing lower level GRs significantly faster in order to get the most efficient means of experience. For instance, if your group is topping out at a GR 120, doing GR 110s in 5 minutes will be significantly more XP/hour than doing GR 120s in 15 minutes. For these types of groups, they tend to follow similar group composition as stated above, with one difference. In speed groups, the line between RGK and rift clearer is much more blurred, with most groups choosing to go with DPS who can help with both. For instance, Bazooka Wizards are great at killing trash, but are not fast about it. They are entirely reliant on specific cooldowns, which means they can only do bursts of damage every so often. This makes them not optimal for speed clearing. Instead, groups might choose to take a Wrath of the Wastes Rend Barbarian, since they are able to move extremely fast while dealing consistently high AoE damage.
There are two main group compositions that will dominate the XP meta. The first is known as "Rat Runs", which refers to the Necromancer "Rathma" set that buffs their Skeletal Mage ability. This group is special, as it falls outside of the previously stated meta roles. Instead, it uses two LoD Singularity Mage Necromancers for DPS with a supporting Necromancer and Barbarian. The DPS Necromancers use Skeletal Mage with the Singularity rune as their primary means of dealing damage, while the supports help create health globes that spawn on the ground. The DPS pick up these health globes, which, because of Reaper's Wraps gives them lots of essence to summon even more Mages. It is a potent combo that takes very little gear to get going, allowing the group to clear high level rifts extremely quickly from the start of a season when played correctly.
The other major group composition revolves around a new build as of this season, the Wrath of the Wastes Rend Barbarian. This Barbarian build is looking to be exceptionally strong, dealing massive AoE damage, strong single target damage, and most importantly, is naturally fast. With minor changes to the pushing build, it is able to move very fast, clearing lower level rifts in no time. While a full meta group has not been flushed out yet, groups using multiple Rend Barbarians with 1-2 supports are sure to be popular, and could potentially dethrone Rat Runs as the premier meta XP group.
While the absolute meta group composition is great for those classes and builds, it does not really help the other classes. Just because your class is not part of the perfect meta group comp, that does not mean you are nonviable. Every class has roles they can fill, even if they are not the 100% optimal choice.
Barbarians are the single most useful class for groups without question. Wrath of the Wastes Rend Barbarian is going to be one of the meta speed clearing DPS, while the Support Barbarian is the best at grouping in both pushing and speed clears. Almost every group comp benefits from having a Barbarian, making it one of the most desirable classes in group play. This is especially true now with the addition of the new Barbarian set, Horde of the Ninety Savages, specifically with the 2-piece bonus that doubles the effectiveness of all shouts. This makes what already was a meta support that much better, making Barbarian a clear favorite for any group composition.
Crusaders are not good supports, but do have the best overall DPS build in the game with the Aegis of Valor Heaven's Fury Crusader. This build is almost certainly going to dominate the DPS meta in group pushing for every group size. Crusaders one major downside is speeds however, as they do not have any top builds for speed clearing. As a class, Crusaders are relatively immobile compared to other classes, making them not the best choice in speed groups. However, for high level GR pushing and farming, Crusaders are perhaps the best choice for DPS, both for clearing and as a RGK.
Demon Hunters are not part of the meta XP farming or push groups sadly, but actually can fulfil the role of RGK quite nicely with the Impale Demon Hunter build. As an Impale Demon Hunter, you can take the physical rune for Impale, along with the passive Single Out, to significantly increase your single target damage. In the past couple of seasons, Demon Hunters were actually the early RGKs in both speed and push groups, as the Necro build that used to be in the meta group did not work until very high GR levels, generally 135+.
Additionally, Demon Hunters have one of the fastest speed farming builds in the game with the Unhallowed Essence Multishot Demon Hunter build. This build is possibly the single greatest build for split farming bounties and for speed clearing T16, making it extremely powerful early in the season. This is especially true in Season 19, since Unhallowed Essence is the starting set.
Monks are always in the group meta, as the Inna Monk Support has been extremely powerful for a long time, with no other real contenders for the role. Monks are just very good at keeping people alive, making them essential in groups at high GR levels when damage starts to really ramp up.
Additionally, Monks have one of the best speed farming builds in the game with the Sunwuko Wave of Light Monk build, which is perfect for split farming bounties or low level GR speed clears.
As we mentioned above, "Rat Runs" are still one of the best possible ways to start a season and to farm experience in general. The group for Rat Runs is strict, consisting of 3 Necromancers, 2 of which are running the LoD Singularity Mage Necromancers build. Necromancers work extremely well in this setup, and many high level players choose to always start seasons on a Necromancer before making their main class later on, just because this group comp is so powerful and so efficient.
Up until 2.6.7, Necromancers were actually the meta RGK in pushing groups. The LoD Thorns Necromancer build was extremely strong for killing Rift Guardians in high level GRs, but has since been nerfed. While it is still viable, it is no longer the best RGK around. The LoD Corpse Lance build is another very solid choice for a RGK, and actually might be better than Crusader in lower level GRs when you can still kill Rift Guardians in one cooldown cycle.
In Season 20, Necromancers have yet another top build however, with the rise of the new Poison Nova Necromancer build that has performed extremely well on the PTR. This build is only possible due to the seasonal buff, but will surely dominate the leader boards as the go-to trash clearing build during Season 20, due to its insane scaling for AoE damage.
With Patch 2.6.8, Witch Doctors went from being the worst class in group play to being among the best. With the addition of the new tier set, Mundunugu's Regalia, Witch Doctors now have a competitive build that performs extremely well in speed clears, greater rift pushing, and in XP farming. No matter what you are doing, Witch Doctors are going to be viable with the addition of this new set and the Spirit Barrage build. Witch Doctors will be especially competitive on non-seasonal, where they are in contention for being the best trash clearing build in group play.
Now that the Bazooka Wizard has been nerfed, Wizards are now on the lower end of the tier list in terms of classes you would want to bring for any sort of group play. While the Vyr Archon Wizard is a reasonably fast build, it is still not in the S or even A-tier of speed builds when compared to other classes. The Vyr and new Hydra builds are going to be viable, but not optimal in groups for higher keys, making Wizard one of the weaker classes at the moment due to poor scaling and a frustrating damage patterns hydras require a bit of setup to deal optimal damage in groups.
- 10 Mar. 2020: Guide updated for Season 20.
- 23 Nov. 2019: Page added.
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