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Necromancer Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide (Patch 2.6 / Season 11)

Last updated on Jun 27, 2017 at 18:18 by Deadset 7 comments

Table of Contents

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.

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. 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.

3. Leveling and Fresh 70 Build

3.1. Beginner Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Bone Spikes Icon Bone Spikes Sudden Impact Sudden Impact Right Mouse Button Skeletal Mage Icon Skeletal Mage Singularity Singularity 1 Blood Rush Icon Blood Rush Potency Potency 2 Frailty Icon Frailty Scent of Blood Scent of Blood 3 Command Skeletons Icon Command Skeletons Frenzy Frenzy 4 Devour Icon Devour Devouring Aura Devouring Aura
Passive Skills

Note that while the skills and runes recommended in the build are specifically chosen to be available at an early level and remain a solid pick throughout the leveling and early character progression, you will have to temporarily work with other skills as the build gradually unlocks. To familiarize yourself with the class, experimentation is strongly encouraged.

3.2. Rotation

The primary dynamic of the leveling and fresh 70 build revolves around building up power through Corpses and releasing it through minion summons. Weaving Bone Spikes Bone Spikes into the constant Corpse consumption from Devour Devour Devouring Aura Devouring Aura will top your Essence off at regular intervals and allows you to dump your entire reserve into powerful Skeletal Mage Skeletal Mage Singularity Singularity summons. In the meantime, sic your Command Skeletons Command Skeletons on larger, more resilient targets and enfeeble as many targets as you can with the Frailty Frailty curse. Remember to reposition as needed with Blood Rush Blood Rush to stay safe from the minion frontline.

3.3. Skills, Runes and Passives

The basis of every build lies in its chosen damage dealing skills. As they invariably require resource or cooldown management mechanics of some sort, and such are scarce for low level and less geared characters, you will focus on fewer damage dealing abilities early on. The typical early game build will feature a dominant damage dealer, a mobility skill, buffs and/or shields, and resource generators (either active or passive). The recommended split is:

  • Slot 1 — Damage dealing ability: Playing into the class fantasy of a powerful summoner, the leveling Necromancer build leans on the power of the Skeletal Mage Skeletal Mage minions for the bulk of its damage. You acquire the base Skeletal Mage Skeletal Mage as early as level 5, and rapidly acquire the majority of its runes by the mid-leveling point. While you can experiment with them as you see fit, it is recommended that you swap to Singularity Singularity as soon as you acquire it at level 29. This rune enables the resource buildup and dump interplay and results in fewer, but mightier summons — a better strategy for the questionable pet AI in the game.
  • Slot 2 — Generator: Essence is not the easiest resource to come by, as it does not replenish on its own and has no passive sources of regeneration from skills or items. Thus, it is recommended that you keep an active genertor on your bar. While any of the three Necro generators will do, Bone Spikes Bone Spikes has a long reach, indomitable 24 Essence per cast, and some great utility runes to boot. You get Bone Spikes Bone Spikes at level 1 and acquire the stun rune Sudden Impact Sudden Impact at level 6, ensuring a solid start. You can swap this rune later into leveling for Path of Bones Path of Bones' superior damage (level 43), or experiment with Siphon Blood Siphon Blood Purity of Essence Purity of Essence at level 51.
  • Slot 3 — Mobility skill: The Necromancer's solitary movement skill is Blood Rush Blood Rush — a long range, blink ability most closely resembling the Wizard's Teleport Teleport. It will take some time unlocking, as the base skill comes all the way down at level 30; up until that point, you can bolster your summon army with Command Golem Command Golem Flesh Golem Flesh Golem. Once Blood Rush Blood Rush becomes available, you can look forward to unlocking its first rune, Potency Potency, at level 34. Using it strategically can provide you with a toughness spike that will invalidate most hard hitting attacks coming your way. Significantly later on (level 60), look into the Metabolism Metabolism rune to further speed up your leveling.
  • Slot 4 — Supplementary Damage: Cementing your mastery over the dead, Command Skeletons Command Skeletons will provide some very needed single target DPS and a grunt frontline to protect you. Acquired at level 9, the skeletons require no upkeep, except when called for — you can sic them on a target of your choosing, instilling the skeletons with Frenzy Frenzy at level 19 for even better damage output.
  • Slots 5 and 6 — Utility: Corpses are one of the core resource mechanics of the Necromancer class, and you can either focus on using them for damage or utility. This Necromancer leveling variant chooses the latter, slotting Devour Devour when it unlocks at level 16. This turns Corpses into a massive source of Essence sustain, one you can practically automate at level 38 with Devouring Aura Devouring Aura. If you don't mind a proactive approach at the cost of convenience, the rune Cannibalize Cannibalize (level 53) comes with the highest recommendation. Finally, the Necromancer's signature curses are a no-brainer inclusion; slot the offensive Frailty Frailty at level 22, and augment its utility with pets with Scent of Blood Scent of Blood at level 26.
  • Passives: Your earliest synergistic passive comes at level 10 in the face of Fueled by Death Fueled by Death — even though you will start Devour Devouring slightly later, this passive offers invaluable movement speed to speed up the leveling process. Depending on your confidence, you can even keep it over the safety of the Final Service Final Service cheat death, acquired at level 41. You then get a string of minion passives in the early 20s, and we recommend both Commander of the Risen Dead Commander of the Risen Dead (level 20) and especially Extended Servitude Extended Servitude (level 24) to get the most out of your summons. At level 30, swap out Commander of the Risen Dead Commander of the Risen Dead for Overwhelming Essence Overwhelming Essence to further empower your Singularity Singularity mages. You will all but finalize the leveling build's passive selection by level 38, when you get Spreading Malediction Spreading Malediction to add to the benefits of your Frailty Frailty curse.

3.4. Gear and Stats Priorities

As the leveling process in Diablo 3 is relatively quick, specific legendary recommendations are impossible. During leveling finding upgrades is frequent, so your gear will be swapped in and out within the span of a few minutes. Following the in-game comparison system and the stat priorities outlined in the tables below will result in a solid character throughout the leveling journey.

Note that skill damage and elemental damage recommendations only apply if the majority of your damage is done through that skill or element. For alt characters however, sockets take priority above all other attributes, since you can slot high level gems and benefit massively from their stat increase. For the purposes of an alt character, leveling a Gem of Ease Gem of Ease to level 25 and socketing it in a level 70 weapon will be the single biggest boost you can provide to the leveling process.

3.5. Stat Priorities

Slot Stat Priority
Head
  1. Intelligence
  2. Socket
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Vitality
Shoulders
  1. Intelligence
  2. Vitality
  3. Life %
  4. Cooldown Reduction
Torso
  1. Intelligence
  2. 3 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. Elite Damage Reduction
  5. Life %
Wrists
  1. Intelligence
  2. Elemental Damage
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Vitality
Hands
  1. Intelligence
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Vitality
Waist
  1. Intelligence
  2. Vitality
  3. Life %
  4. Armor
Legs
  1. Intelligence
  2. 2 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. Armor
Feet
  1. Intelligence
  2. Vitality
  3. Armor
  4. Skill Damage
  5. Movement Speed
Amulet
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Elemental Damage
  5. Intelligence
Rings
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Intelligence
Weapon
  1. High Damage Range
  2. Intelligence
  3. Socket (preferably from Ramaladni's Gift Ramaladni's Gift)
  4. % Damage
Off-hand
  1. High Damage Range
  2. Intelligence
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Skill Damage
  5. Vitality

3.6. 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 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 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 Boon of the Hoarder and Goldwrap Goldwrap. Their powers combined, they can render your character practically invulnerable even in the highest of Torment difficulties.
  • Reaper's Wraps 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 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 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 Gloves of Worship, as the armor Cube slots of their most common farming specs are flexible enough to fit the item in.
  • Illusory Boots 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 Illusory Boots.
  • Envious Blade 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 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 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:

3.7. Paragon Points

Slot Paragon Points
Core
  1. Movement Speed up to 25% cap
  2. Maximum Essence (depends on build)
  3. Intelligence
  4. Vitality
Offense
  1. Critical Hit Damage
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Cooldown Reduction
  4. Attack Speed
Defense
  1. Armor
  2. Life %
  3. All Resistance
  4. Life Regeneration
Utility
  1. Area Damage
  2. Resource Cost Reduction
  3. Life on Hit
  4. Gold Find

3.8. Gems

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 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 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 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 Boon of the Hoarder — synergizing with other farming mainstays like Avarice Band Avarice Band and Goldwrap Goldwrap, this gem will not only keep you rich, but also sped up and safe during normal rift farming.
  • Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful — the speed farming counterpart to Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken, Bane of the Powerful 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 Gogok of Swiftness is a vital part of Cooldown-centric builds, which is the majority of Land of the Dead Land of the Dead-centric setups. Moratorium Moratorium and Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard are health-balancing gems that are important to Trag'Oul's set builds. Mirinae, Teardrop of the Starweaver Mirinae, Teardrop of the Starweaver and Pain Enhancer Pain Enhancer proc-based gems that are popular inclusions with the Inarius set.
Slot Gems
Helm
Torso and Pants
Weapon

3.9. Kanai's Cube

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 Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang, Scythe of the Cycle Scythe of the Cycle, Nayr's Black Death Nayr's Black Death and Reilena's Shadowhook Reilena's Shadowhook, In-geom In-geom, Corpsewhisper Pauldrons Corpsewhisper Pauldrons, Tasker and Theo Tasker and Theo, Grasps of Essence Grasps of Essence, Moribund Gauntlets Moribund Gauntlets, Nemesis Bracers Nemesis Bracers, Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass, Goldwrap Goldwrap, Krysbin's Sentence Krysbin's Sentence, Circle of Nailuj's Evol Circle of Nailuj's Evol, Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur, Avarice Band Avarice Band, Convention of Elements Convention of Elements and Unity Unity.

4. Season 11 Starter Build

4.1. Haedrig's Gift

Completion of chapters II, III and IV of the Seasonal Journey yields Haedrig's Gifts, a cache-like reward that drops two pieces of a fixed class-specific set. With the completion of these chapters, you will have a full 6-piece set bonus available to you, skyrocketing your character power well into the mid-to-high Torments. This makes the early portion of the Seasonal Journey your first priority upon reaching max level. The Season 11 Haedrig's Gift for Necromancers is the Bones of Rathma set.

4.2. Rathma Starter Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Bone Spikes Icon Bone Spikes Sudden Impact Sudden Impact Right Mouse Button Skeletal Mage Icon Skeletal Mage Singularity Singularity 1 Blood Rush Icon Blood Rush Metabolism Metabolism 2 Frailty Icon Frailty Scent of Blood Scent of Blood 3 Command Skeletons Icon Command Skeletons Dark Mending Dark Mending 4 Devour Icon Devour Cannibalize Cannibalize
Passive Skills

The starter Rathma set build is a natural continuation of the leveling and fresh 70 Necromancer build, as the set's pet theme falls perfectly in line with the summon-heavy beginner build.

You will maintain Command Skeletons Command Skeletons and Skeletal Mage Skeletal Mage, as the summons will be responsible for the bulk of your damage reduction from the Rathma set 4-piece bonus. Skeletal Mage Skeletal Mage will also empower itself and your skeletons through the 6-piece bonus. Coming full circle, Command Skeletons Command Skeletons are also able to empower the mages in return if you obtain the Jesseth Arms (Jesseth Skullscythe Jesseth Skullscythe and Jesseth Skullshield Jesseth Skullshield) — a high priority set to farm and gamble. Since Command Skeletons Command Skeletons's role as a damage skill will diminish the further you progress the build, you can increase their utility greatly by swapping to the Dark Mending Dark Mending rune.

In earlier farming difficulties, you can make a judgment call of the enemies' threat level and either stay with the Potency Potency rune of Blood Rush Blood Rush, or change to the superior mobility of the Metabolism Metabolism rune.

You will need to make a second judgment call in the curses section; whether to stay with the all-out offense of the Frailty Frailty Scent of Blood Scent of Blood, or dramatically increase your toughness with Decrepify Decrepify Wither Wither. The latter is easily empowered to new defensive heights with the common Necro-specific belt Dayntee's Binding Dayntee's Binding.

While it is not necessary to do it from the get-go, we highly recommend that you get used to a manually cast Devour Devour. With respect to endgame, rune choices like Cannibalize Cannibalize offer significant benefits over the lazier, but stripped down Devouring Aura Devouring Aura.

Passives can remain the same as your leveling build. If you opt for an early Reaper's Wraps Reaper's Wraps craft (recommended), you can experiment with Life from Death Life from Death instead of Fueled by Death Fueled by Death to enjoy a great boost to your resource management.

The build above is specifically created not to require any additional sets or legendary items. In order to transition to a late game-oriented spec using the same set, we have a rough list of high priority items to obtain, as well as a link to the build they pertain to.

5. Follower

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.

6. ChangeLog

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  • 27 Jun. 2017: Added the guide.
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