Necromancer Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide (Patch 2.6.9 / Season 21)
The purpose of the beginner Necromancer 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 page for Seasonal Necromancers, explaining how best to take advantage of the free set from Haedrig's Gifts.
Why choose the Necromancer?
Choose the Necromancer if you relish in the practice of dark arts — crushing bone with your grim will and sharpening it against your enemies, spilling blood in calculated dosage to empower your spells, and all the while raising massive hordes of the dead from their very graves. With debilitating curses and ample ways to control the battlefield, you are the embodiment of the commander in Diablo 3.
Progression (Seasonal or Not Seasonal)
Your progression on a given character always start with leveling to 70. To help you with that, we have a beginner leveling build that you can access using the link below.
Haedrig Gifts' Season 21 Starter Build
After reaching Level 70, the easiest way to start gearing up and progressing towards the end-game is by using the set given by the Haedrig's Gifts. Haedrig's Gifts are cache-like rewards that drop 2 pieces of a fixed class-specific set after completing chapters II, III, and IV of the Seasonal Journey. Having a full 6-piece set bonus available to you will skyrocket your character's power well in the mid-to-high Torments. This makes the early portion of the Seasonal Journey your first priority upon reaching Level 70.
In Season 21, Necromancers will find the Grace of Inarius set in their Haedrig's Gifts. We have an early progression build for this set, which you can find by clicking the link below.
Other 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.
Gear To Look For
To learn how to gear up quickly and approach a character's progression in general, check out our Beginner Seasonal Guide. It includes advice and tactics related to gambling Blood Shards, doing Bounties, Regular, Greater and Challenge Rifts, and using Kanai's Cube for easy upgrades.
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 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 Bones of Rathma 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 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 and Goldwrap. Their powers combined, they can render your character practically invulnerable even in the highest of Torment difficulties.
- Reaper's Wraps are a good bracer option for beginner Necromancers, as the spenders of this class tend to be Essence-heavy, you have means to generate globes (i.e. Life from Death), and the class has no other access to passive resource regeneration. These bracers restore up to 30% of your Essence 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 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. Necromancers are among the classes that can benefit from Gloves of Worship, as the armor Cube slots of their most common farming specs are flexible enough to fit the item in.
- 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. Necromancers have no known viable support build, lowering (but not negating, especially if you plan on alts) the importance of obtaining Illusory Boots.
- 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 Necromancers can not dual wield and their weapon slots are frequently taken by more important legendaries, Envious Blade is not considered a cache priority.
- As previously mentioned, Necromancer spenders can be harsh on your Essence reserves when no set bonuses are available to skyrocket your damage. Another cache item can be added to your setup to ease the strain on your resources: the 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:
- Sets: While the seasonal journey will reward you with a complete set through
Haedrig's Gifts, gambling for armor set pieces still makes sense — to
improve lackluster pieces, or complete class sets other than the gifted one. The
Necromancer sets are:
- Masquerade of the Burning Carnival: Luxurious Bauta, Glamorous Gigot, Lavishing Gloves, Sophisticated Vest, Elegant Pants and Extravagant Shoes);
- Bones of Rathma: Rathma's Skull Helm, Rathma's Spikes, Rathma's Macabre Vambraces, Rathma's Ribcage Plate, Rathma's Skeletal Legplates and Rathma's Ossified Sabatons);
- Grace of Inarius: Inarius's Understanding, Inarius's Martyrdom, Inarius's Will, Inarius's Conviction, Inarius's Reticence, Inarius's Perseverance;
- Trag'Oul's Avatar: Trag'Oul's Guise, Trag'Oul's Heart, Trag'Oul's Claws, Trag'Oul's Scales, Trag'Oul's Hide, Trag'Oul's Stalwart Greaves;
- Pestilence Master's Shroud: Pestilence Mask, Pestilence Defense, Pestilence Gloves, Pestilence Robe, Pestilence Incantations, Pestilence Battle Boots;
- Jesseth Arms: Jesseth Skullscythe and Jesseth Skullshield.
- The weapon is by far the most impactful item on your damage output, putting a priority on the weapon slot as the first to obtain an ancient item for. Due to its higher bloodshard cost (75 for weapons vs. 25 for armor pieces and offhands), you should delay weapon gambling — avoiding it at the start of character progression and only considering it when you start perfecting your gear. If you simply need a specific weapon, you will get a much better deal with the Upgrade Rare recipe in Kanai's Cube. The Hope of Cain recipe (1 rare item, 25 Death's Breaths, 50 of white, blue and yellow crafting materials) will only produce the type of item you put in (i.e. scythes), cutting out all other weapons from the RNG pool that you would have to deal with through regular gambling at Kadala. Scythes (one- and two-handed) are the Necromancer-specific weapons you can easily target through upgrading rares, with valuable and build-defining scythes such as Jesseth Skullscythe, Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang, Scythe of the Cycle, Nayr's Black Death and Reilena's Shadowhook.
- Shields and phylacteries are almost equally important to their weapon companions, and it is recommended to gamble for them even early on due to their low bloodshard price. Powerful and build altering offhands include Jesseth Skullshield, Lidless Wall, Bone Ringer and Leger's Disdain.
- Belts are a cheap gamble slot that you can invest a few bloodshards stacks into early on. The Necromancer has a single (but important) class-specific belt, Dayntee's Binding, and a few generic belts he cares about — Goldwrap and The Witching Hour.
- Bracers can add significant toughness or utility to Necromancer builds, and share the cheap gamble price of other armor slots. Due to the lack of class-specific bracers, Necromancers should invest in the slot mid-progression, when trying to complete their initial speedfarming or average pushing build. The two staples for the class are Ancient Parthan Defenders and Nemesis Bracers, but due to the Necro's susceptibility to crowd control you can also experiment with Krelm's Buff Bracers.
- Jewelry has a huge influence on your DPS, but similarly to weapons it is expensive to gamble (50 shards for rings, 100 for amulets). When searching for specific jewelry rolls, you should consider upgrading rares instead. The three jewelry sets in Diablo 3, in order of importance for the Necromancer, are: the Endless Walk set, The Compass Rose and The Traveler's Pledge; the Bastions of Will set, Focus and Restraint; and the Legacy of Nightmares set, Litany of the Undaunted and The Wailing Host. Interestingly, the Necromancer has many important legendary class-specific jewelry pieces, including: Krysbin's Sentence, Circle of Nailuj's Evol, Wisdom of Kalan, The Johnstone, Haunted Visions and others.
- Most remaining armor slots only have one or two desirable items for Necromancers, and it is preferable to leave them to drop from normal farming instead of wasting shards and materials on the numerous possible duds for the slot. In the long run, you will want to find Aquila Cuirass (chest piece); Corpsewhisper Pauldrons (shoulders); Tasker and Theo, Grasps of Essence and Moribund Gauntlets (gloves); Depth Diggers (pants).
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 Necromancers are, in order of importance:
- Bane of the Trapped — staple multiplicative damage increase. Note that the gem is self sufficient, proccing itself when fighting in melee range, and is otherwise easily triggered by the Necromancer's myriad slows.
- Enforcer is a priority gem for Necromancers, a classic summoner archetype in the game. It offers a multiplicative damage increase to your minions, as well as majorly boosting their Toughness (important in Greater Rifts).
- 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 — synergizing with other farming mainstays like Avarice Band and Goldwrap, this gem will not only keep you rich, but also sped up and safe during normal rift farming.
- Bane of the Powerful — the speed farming counterpart to Bane of the Stricken, 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 — Gogok of Swiftness is a vital part of Cooldown-centric builds, which is the majority of Land of the Dead-centric setups. Moratorium and Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard are health-balancing gems that are important to Trag'Oul's set builds. Mirinae, Teardrop of the Starweaver and Pain Enhancer proc-based gems that are popular inclusions with the Inarius set.
|Torso and Pants||
Kanai's Cube choices are highly build- and content-specific, making them hard to summarize. Generally speaking, Necromancers should store the powers of the following items in the Cube as soon as they have the materials available: Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang, Scythe of the Cycle, Nayr's Black Death and Reilena's Shadowhook, In-geom, Corpsewhisper Pauldrons, Tasker and Theo, Grasps of Essence, Moribund Gauntlets, Nemesis Bracers, Aquila Cuirass, Goldwrap, Krysbin's Sentence, Circle of Nailuj's Evol, Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, Ring of Royal Grandeur (outside of Season 16), Avarice Band, Convention of Elements and Unity.
The Kanai's Cube can be used for much more than simply extracting Legendary powers from items. Please refer to our Kanai's Cube guide for more information.
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.
- 03 Jul. 2020: Reviewed for Season 21.
- 13 Mar. 2020: Reviewed for Season 20.
- 22 Nov. 2019: Overhauled the guide and updated it for Season 19.
- 23 Aug. 2019: Updated for Season 18.
- 16 May 2019: Updated for Season 17.
- 18 Jan. 2019: Updated for Season 16.
- 20 Sep. 2018: Updated for Season 15.
- 14 Jun. 2018: Added the Season 14 Pestilence starter build.
- 22 Feb. 2018: Added the Season 13 Inarius starter build.
- 08 Nov. 2017: Added the Season 12 Trag'Oul starter build.
- 27 Jun. 2017: Added the guide.
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