Witch Doctor Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide
The purpose of the beginner Witch Doctor 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 section for Seasonal Witch Doctors, explaining how best to take advantage of the free set from Haedrig's Gifts.
Why choose the Witch Doctor?
Choose the Witch Doctor if you enjoy outsmarting the enemy, rendering them helpless and broken through hexes and transmutations. Once in control, you can either dive in for the kill with a devastating curse, or revel in the carnage your pets will deliver. Figures misshapen and undead bend to your will, as will reality itself — distorted, blurred and bloodied.
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 19 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 19, Witch Doctors will find the Helltooth Harness 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.
- This point does not apply in Season 16. 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 Helltooth 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.
- 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. Witch Doctors have decent support character potential, with several party-wide damage buffs and plenty of damage reduction to add to the group, making Illusory Boots reasonably attractive to the class.
- 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. Witch Doctors are among the classes that can benefit from Gloves of Worship, as the armor Cube slots of their most common farming specs (usually based around the Manajuma set) are flexible enough to fit the item in.
- 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 Witch Doctors can not dual wield and their weapon slots are frequently taken by more important legendaries, Envious Blade is not considered a cache priority.
- Reaper's Wraps are meant to assist classes and builds with resource management problems. These bracers restore up to 30% of your Mana 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. Relying on summons and usually spending less and less Mana the closer they get to endgame, Witch Doctors mostly skip the Reaper's Wraps crutch.
- Pride's Fall is a helm obtained through Act III cache bounties, whose legendary effect reduces resource costs by 30% after not taking damage for 5 seconds. Rarely fighting at a range that can abuse this power and never really struggling with Mana, Witch Doctors do not consider farming Pride's Fall a priority.
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 Witch Doctor sets are:
- Helltooth Harness: Helltooth Mask, Helltooth Mantle, Helltooth Gauntlets, Helltooth Tunic, Helltooth Leg Guards and Helltooth Greaves;
- Zunimassa's Haunt: Zunimassa's Vision, Zunimassa's Finger Wraps, Zunimassa's Marrow, Zunimassa's Cloth, Zunimassa's Trail, Zunimassa's String of Skulls and Zunimassa's Pox;
- Raiment of the Jade Harvester: Jade Harvester's Wisdom, Jade Harvester's Joy, Jade Harvester's Mercy, Jade Harvester's Peace, Jade Harvester's Courage and Jade Harvester's Swiftness;
- Spirit of Arachyr: Arachyr's Visage, Arachyr's Mantle, Arachyr's Claws, Arachyr's Carapace, Arachyr's Legs and Arachyr's Stride;
- Manajuma's Way: Manajuma's Carving Knife and Manajuma's Gory Fetch.
- 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. ceremonial knives), cutting out all other weapons from the RNG pool that you would have to deal with through regular gambling at Kadala. Ceremonial knives are the Witch Doctor-specific one handed weapon you can easily target through upgrading rares, with valuable and build-defining ceremonial knives such as Sacred Harvester, Starmetal Kukri, Manajuma's Carving Knife, The Dagger of Darts and Last Breath. Witch Doctors also have several important staves: Wormwood, Staff of Chiroptera and SuWong Diviner. Other weapons valuable to the Witch Doctor include In-geom, Scrimshaw, Solanium and The Furnace.
- Voodoo masks are Witch Doctor-specific headpieces that significantly alter or boost most builds of the class. Due to their cheap gambling price and significant impact, it is highly recommended to gamble on helmets early on. Crucial Witch Doctor Voodoo masks include: Mask of Jeram, The Grin Reaper, Quetzalcoatl and Carnevil. An important cross-class item from the same slot is Leoric's Crown.
- 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. Ring of Emptiness warrants a mention before anything else, as it is the highest damage multiplier available to Witch Doctors at the cost of using two skills (core part of many WD builds to begin with); get this ring as soon as possible. All three jewelry sets can be utilized by Witch Doctors, in order of importance: 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. Witch Doctors also have powerful summon-oriented jewelry that you have to look out for, especially if you are intending to use the Helltooth Harness set: The Short Man's Finger and The Tall Man's Finger, both of which multiply the efficiency of their dedicated skills. Other situational Witch Doctor jewelry includes Unity, Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, Oculus Ring, Rechel's Ring of Larceny and Convention of Elements.
- Mojos mostly add protective or utility effects, and can be safely gambled for early on due to their low bloodshard price. Offhands with important augmentative effects include Henri's Perquisition, Manajuma's Gory Fetch, Uhkapian Serpent, Thing of the Deep and Homunculus.
- Belts are a moderately important slot for Witch Doctors, adding considerable power to the majority of the popular builds. Since they are cheap to gamble, you can sink some amount of bloodshards into the slot if you need to boost your chosen playstyle. The important Witch Doctor-specific belts include: Belt of Transcendence, Haunting Girdle and Bakuli Jungle Wraps, and cross-class belts like The Witching Hour and Goldwrap also warrant mention here.
- Similarly to belts, bracers are an inexpensive gambling slot with several important specimens. You will be prioritizing the progression powerhouse Lakumba's Ornament and the speedfarming staple Nemesis Bracers first, but Coils of the First Spider and Jeram's Bracers are also important to their respective playstyles.
- Most remaining armor slots only have one or two desirable items for Witch Doctors, 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 and Cindercoat (chest pieces); Depth Diggers (pants); Tasker and Theo (gloves); Mantle of Channeling (shoulders); no legendary boots are especially attractive to Witch Doctors.
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 an Amethyst gem for a boost to Toughness. 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 Witch Doctors are, in order of importance:
- Bane of the Trapped — staple multiplicative damage increase. The gem triggers upon crowd control (and is self-sufficient in melee range), which the Witch Doctor class excels at with his numerous skill and item-based sources of slows, stuns and disables.
- 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.
- Enforcer is a signature Witch Doctor gem, as the class fulfills the summoner role in Diablo 3. It offers a multiplicative damage increase to your minions, as well as majorly boosting their Toughness (important in Greater Rifts).
- Bane of the Powerful — the speedfarm 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 — Simplicity's Strength is a primary skill empowering gem, strengthening your basic attacks with a multiplicative damage increase and a heal; highly recommended for Poison Dart setups. Esoteric Alteration is sometimes added to close range spellcasting builds (i.e. Jade Harvester setups) to counteract bursty elemental affixes. Gem of Efficacious Toxin and Iceblink are often part of support builds.
|Torso and Pants||
Kanai's Cube choices are highly build- and content-specific, making them hard to summarize. Generally speaking, Witch Doctors should store the powers of the following items in the Cube as soon as they have the materials available: Wormwood, The Furnace, Starmetal Kukri, In-geom, Vile Hive, Mask of Jeram, Quetzalcoatl, Carnevil, The Grin Reaper, Nemesis Bracers, Goldwrap, Ring of Emptiness, The Short Man's Finger, Ring of Royal Grandeur (outside of Season 16) and Unity.
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.
- 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: Updated for Season 14.
- 23 Feb. 2018: Updated for Season 13.
- 08 Nov. 2017: Updated for Season 12.
- 29 Jun. 2017: Updated for Season 11.
- 31 Mar. 2017: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 10 free set, Zunimassa's Haunt.
- 05 Jan. 2016: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 9 free set, Jade Harvester.
- 21 Oct. 2016: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 8 free set, Spirit of Arachyr.
- 31 Jul. 2016: Updated the guide to include leveling, a better fresh 70 setup and Haedrig's Gift use tips.
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