LoD Spirit Barrage Witch Doctor Skills and Runes
On this page, we explain how to choose and use your skills when playing LoD Spirit Barrage Witch Doctor in Diablo 3. Updated for Patch 2.7.7 and Season 30.
|Spirit Barrage Manitou Locust Swarm Pestilence 1 Piranhas Piranhado 2 Spirit Walk Severance 3 Big Bad Voodoo Slam Dance 4 Soul Harvest Languish
Spirit Barrage is quite complex in its inner workings, and its intuitive channeling playstyle should in fact be actively avoided in most circumstances. To put it in as simple terms as possible, you can have up to 3 Phantasms active; any further channeling of Spirit Barrage will detonate the first one cast and spawn a fresh Phantasm. However, and this is the crucial part, Phantasm damage accumulation ticks occur every 30 frames irrespective of your Attack Speed. This leads to a threefold problem.
- A channeling playstyle contributes nothing to the Manitou rune outside of renewing the 20-second duration.
- A channeling playstyle will very often overwrite Phantasm spawns prior to the tick, greatly reducing your damage.
- A channeling playstyle will remove the detonation out of your control, and can often lead to scenarios where the first Phantasm in the chain wipes half a pull, starving the remaining two of targets to accumulate on.
What fixes this initially unintuitive playstyle is to go for a delayed detonation pattern. You will begin runs by applying Big Bad Voodoo, and recasting it when it is available — in most circumstances, due to Grave Injustice cooldown resets, it will be up for every significant fight. Pull enemies with Locust Swarm, triggering the effects of Ring of Emptiness, and crowd control them in a clump with Piranhado. Then stack a triple cast of Phantasm on top of the pull, and try to attract the attention of additional enemies and nearby stragglers onto the fight in the 10 seconds prior to the natural detonation (you can, of course, cut it short with another manual triple cast of Phantasm). Ideally, your accumulated damage will include:
- The full 10-second duration of Phantasms worth of accumulated damage on the pull;
- The full Endless Walk damage buff, as you stand still after making a satisfactory pull and wait for the jewelry set to buff up your damage;
- An Oculus Ring proc from your follower;
- A Convention of Elements buff, if you choose to run this ring.
Note that all the jewelry-related buffs mentioned above apply their bonuses during the accumulation phase and does not need to be present at the time of detonation. Also note that, since Manitou turns into the main damage dealer during pure single target fights (like Rift Guardians), you can freely channel with no appreciable loss of damage in these situations.
Use Spirit Walk sparingly, as it will be harmful to your damage; Phantasms spawned while in Spirit Walk will not accumulate damage throughout its duration, so try to only pop it when you are threatened or need to skip a pack.
Skills and Runes
Your primary damage dealer comes in the form of Spirit Barrage, a mid-range projectile whose power is augmented by the dedicated legendary ceremonial knife The Barber. You will be using the extra DPS from the Manitou rune, which will be critical in single target situations (i.e., the Rift Guardian fight), even though the majority of your damage will come from the Phantasm rune, provided for free by the Gazing Demise. The skill is very nuanced in all its present aspects in this build, and is worth discussing at more length:
- As per the rune description, you can only have 3 Phantasms active at a time, and their 5-second duration will be doubled by Gazing Demise for a 10-second delayed effect, ticking damage accumulation via The Barber every half a second. While it will not affect the tick rate, Attack Speed factors into the tick's damage calculation, making it a very valuable stat to be considered on gear, as well as tertiary factors (such as Pain Enhancer in group play). On the flip side, Area Damage cannot be procced by The Barber explosions, rendering the stat useless for the build.
- Some buffs, like Oculus Ring and Convention of Elements, are calculated towards Phantasm damage dynamically as it accumulates. Others, like Intelligence buffs from Soul Harvest and Gruesome Feast, or additive damage buffs like Sacrifice Provoke the Pack and Big Bad Voodoo Slam Dance, are snapshotted when Phantasm is cast. In practice, this means you will ideally wait out the full duration of the dynamically calculated ones, and time the snapshotted ones for optimal performance.
- Spirit Barrage Phantasm share some traits with the Pet classification of skills in Diablo 3. While it no longer benefits from Enforcer and Mask of Jeram as it used to, it treats Attack Speed and Skill Damage affixes as separate damage multipliers, which is supremely important for your gearing. On the other hand, it benefits from Ring of Emptiness and double dips on Frostburn's elemental damage increase.
- Spirit Barrage Manitou will last for 20 seconds and attack at a rate of 2 projectiles per second, quintupled by the effects of Gazing Demise. The rune is unaffected by Attack Speed. Manitou will explode once it accumulates enough damage to kill its target, and will never overkill.
While not directly relating to Spirit Barrage, Locust Swarm will be included as a trigger for Ring of Emptiness and its massive damage increase. Despite its unassuming visuals, it will actually spread very consistently across massive groups of enemies and affect nearly, if not all, nearby targets — especially when taken with the Mana-efficient rune Pestilence.
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 reasonable requirement of 5 harvested enemies. With the Languish rune and the worn Lakumba's Ornament bracers, it nets you additional crowd control and reduces incoming damage, solidifying its place in this mid-range playstyle. The option to include a Sacred Harvester to multiply its benefits and the naturally overlapping duration simply sweetens the deal.
Piranhas is taken for the solitary grouping tool of Witch Doctors — the vortex effect of the Piranhado rune. It is hard to argue with the addition of a pull in a build that benefits so much from clumped up enemies, and is a major reason to include Grave Injustice for faster Piranhado cooldown resets.
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, removes enemy collision and increases your movement speed by 50%. The recommended rune is Severance, whose 100% additional movement speed will allow you to reposition in the blink of an eye. Early on in the gearing process, you can also consider the Honored Guest rune to add another source of emergency Mana regeneration to the build (see this build's gear page for more information).
You have some room for personal preference in your last skill slot. The default recommendation is Big Bad Voodoo, which provides a tremendous combat advantage whenever it is active; unlike Mundunugu variants of this build however, you will have to account for its long cooldown and time its use more carefully with big, important fights. Two runes are very comparable contenders; you can use Ghost Trance early on when you are getting used to the build for more survivability, and transition to Slam Dance when you grow confident and seek to push your damage to its upper limits. Another option that is easier to play with (considering the massive downtime of BBV) is to use Horrify Frightening Aspect, which will bring considerable survivability to the build on demand, with duration that overlaps the downtime on a properly built character CDR-wise.
Rush of Essence provides tremendous resource management value and easily allows you to skip RCR and Mana Regeneration on gear, despite the Mana intensive nature of the build.
Spirit Barrage Doctors take Blood Ritual for its massive resource cost reduction bonuses — shaving 20% off your resource consumption is nothing to scoff at, and the Life draining downside can be easily offset with the strong regenerative effect of Ghost Trance.
Confidence Ritual is another straightforward addition, increasing your damage by 25% against enemies within 20 yards — arguably a dangerous bonus to keep up, but its risk is somewhat mitigated by the Fetish meat shield surrounding you from the worn Belt of Transcendence.
Grave Injustice is an elegant source of Cooldown Reduction, synergizing with the mid-range playstyle of the Spirit Barrage 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.
- 10 Jan. 2024: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 30.
- 13 Sep. 2023: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 29.
- 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: Enriched and revised skill recommendations.
- 22 Jul. 2021: No changes required for Season 24.
- 01 Apr. 2021: No changes required for Season 23.
- 19 Nov. 2020: No changes required for Season 22.
- 01 Jul. 2020: Guide revised to reflect the changes in passive preference for SB builds.
- 14 Mar. 2020: Skills adjusted to reflect the changes to Ring of Emptiness.
- 22 Nov. 2019: Reviewed for Season 19.
- 23 Aug. 2019: Skill recommendations are revised for Season 18.
- 17 May 2019: Guide was revised with additional recommendations for Season 17.
- 18 Jan. 2019: Guide was reviewed and approved for Season 16.
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