Helltooth Zombie Bears Witch Doctor Skills and Runes
On this page, we explain how to choose and use your skills when playing Helltooth Zombie Bears Witch Doctor in Diablo 3. Updated for Patch 2.7.5 and Season 28.
|Soul Harvest Languish Zombie Charger Zombie Bears 1 Piranhas Piranhado 2 Spirit Walk Jaunt 3 Wall of Death Communing with Spirits 4 Locust Swarm Pestilence|
This potent AoE build squeezes maximum advantage of the Helltooth set buffs of Zombie Charger and Wall of Death, weaving their alternating use into a landscape of AoE destruction. You should start the runs by attaining your safety buffs; you need to Soul Harvest (preferably several monsters to maximize the benefits of Lakumba's Ornament), and refresh the Helltooth 4-piece damage reduction bonus by hitting something with Wall of Death or Zombie Bears as soon as possible. Keep both protective buffs active at all times, preferably refreshing Soul Harvest within the safety of an active Spirit Walk.
Due to the powers of Shukrani's Triumph, you have near limitless mobility and safety in your Spirit Walk state, so you can pick and choose where and when to fight. Even better, you gain a damage multiplier while you are in Spirit Walk form. While you will exit the form when you attack or approach an elite (as per the offhand legendary power), you have an additional grace period that will be as long as your default cast of Spirit Walk, which we can lengthen via the Jaunt rune.
Once you have picked your engagement, proceed through a rotation of clumping the pull with Piranhado, Locust Swarming the pack, and (if necessary) refreshing Necrosis with a cast of Wall of Death and Soul Harvesting. Then, proceed to demolish the pull with a barrage of Zombie Bears. Always keep the surroundings in mind, as terrain objects can (and will) impede your Zombie Bears projectiles. Ideally, every engagement will be on open terrain, with clear line of sight to the pack that is pulled by Piranhado.
Skills and Runes
The main damage dealer and the namesake of the build, Zombie Charger Zombie Bears, is a hard-hitting poison skill that gets amplified by the Helltooth set, the Scrimshaw spear, Ursua's Trodden Effigy mojo and various skill percentage rolls on your gear (see this build's gear page for more information). Note that Zombie Bears heavily rewards positioning: if cast in the open, the skill splits into triple lanes with low range (although remedied somewhat by Ursua's Trodden Effigy); if cast with your back against a wall however, it travels in a focused, longer reaching line.
The key that unlocks the build's damage potential is found in the Helltooth set centerpiece, Wall of Death. You have some freedom of choice with your rune; you can either go for Wall of Zombies, whose monster-grouping powers can help your Area Damage procs, or the Communing with Spirits rune (our default recommendation) for the reduced damage taken from affected enemies.
While seeming out of place in a non-Jade Harvester setup, Locust Swarm is included strictly as a trigger to the damage multiplication of Ring of Emptiness — it is indeed that valuable. You should take the rune Pestilence for the extra spread, helping manage your Mana better and not overspend resources.
One of the strongest utility cooldowns of Witch Doctors, Soul Harvest is almost universally a great addition. Soul Harvest acts as a damage buff by default, increasing your Intelligence by up to 15% for the meager requirement of 5 harvested enemies. With the Languish rune and the worn Lakumba's Ornament bracers, it nets you additional crowd control and reduces damage by 70%, solidifying its place in this mid-range playstyle. The naturally overlapping duration simply sweetens the deal.
Piranhas is used as an opener in fights for the Piranhado crowd control and the innate damage increase against affected enemies. Note that Piranhado is one of the few pulls in the game that can stack enemies in a collision-overwriting manner, making the tightest possible clumps (the so-called "pixelpulling"). To make the most of its pull, aim at a spot free of enemies; casting on top of an occupied spot will deprive you of the pixelpull.
Spirit Walk is the final Witch Doctor staple included in the build, and its moderate cooldown is compensated by its versatility: it renders you invulnerable, allows you to walk through enemies, and speeds you up for a generous 3-second period with the Jaunt rune. If you value mobility over a lengthier invulnerability window, you can freely alternate into the Severance rune — especially preferred in speedruns. Spirit Walk gets an extra offense angle from Shukrani's Triumph, turning its use into a strategic cooldown that multiplies your damage; strive to start in Spirit form at the beginning of your Zombie Bears spam.
Swampland Attunement is a play on the selective resistance mechanic (also observed on the Tal Rasha set), and offers considerable defenses — but only against elements Witch Doctors can use. Protecting within a starting radius of 20 yards and extendable by Pickup Radius on gear, this passive is yet another reason to pay close attention to secondary stats. Note the absence of Lightning or Arcane Resistance, and strive to obtain it wherever you can.
Blood Ritual will be included in the build for its resource cost reduction benefits, assisting nicely with this resource-intensive build. It will additionally assist your survival as it synergizes with the Cpt. Crimson set bonus, which scales your overall damage reduction according to your resource cost reduction bonuses. The other acceptable option for the slot is, of course, Spirit Vessel — for the additional safety of a cheat death proc.
Grave Injustice is an elegant source of Cooldown Reduction, synergizing with the mid-range playstyle of the Zombie Bears build. For each enemy killed in a 20-yard radius of the Witch Doctor, it not only reduces your cooldowns by a second, but also replenishes your health and mana reserves by 1%. Take notice of the pickup radius synergy and try to obtain that stat in the secondaries of your gear.
A straightforward addition to the build, Confidence Ritual increases your damage by 25% against enemies within 20 yards. Relatively matching the fighting range of the build, especially with Zombie Bears in mind, this passive will be up most of the time.
- 22 Feb. 2023: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 28.
- 26 Aug. 2022: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 27.
- 14 Apr. 2022: Guide reviewed for Season 26.
- 06 Dec. 2021: Revised and enriched the guide.
- 22 Jul. 2021: No changes required for Season 24.
- 01 Apr. 2021: No changes required for Season 23.
- 19 Nov. 2020: Revision of skill, rune and passive recommendations.
- 01 Jul. 2020: No changes required for Season 21.
- 14 Mar. 2020: Skill recommendations adjusted to reflect the changes to Ring of Emptiness.
- 22 Nov. 2019: Reviewed for Season 19.
- 23 Aug. 2019: Reviewed and approved for Season 18.
- 17 May 2019: Guide was reviewed and approved for Season 17.
- 18 Jan. 2019: Information was reviewed and approved for Season 16 with no changes required.
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