Witch Doctor Leveling Build Guide (Patch 2.7.2 / Season 25)
Welcome to our Witch Doctor leveling guide, where we give you an efficient build for easily leveling to Level 70, with plenty of explanations.
This guide is part of our Barbarian Seasonal Progress Guide, which also includes early builds for fresh 70 characters.
|Haunt Resentful Spirits Acid Cloud Acid Rain 1 Soul Harvest Vengeful Spirit 2 Spirit Walk Severance 3 Summon Zombie Dogs Burning Dogs 4 Gargantuan Humongoid|
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.
The build begins farming runs with an activation of Summon Zombie Dogs and Gargantuan, who are to be kept at your side at all times and re-summoned when killed — which, in the lower difficulties, is almost impossible. You assume an aggressive playstyle, rushing ahead of the pack of minions while dropping Acid Clouds and Haunting as much as your Mana allows, as well as Soul Harvesting big enemy packs to buff yourself up and deal some additional damage. Whenever you feel endangered or have no enemies in sight, you should have a Spirit Walk available to reposition.
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 dominant damage dealing skill/s (in the Witch Doctor's case, summoning skills are extremely effective), a mobility skill, buffs and/or shields, and resource generators (either active or passive). The recommended split is:
- Slots 1 and 2 — Summoning skills: The Witch Doctor is one of the strongest early game characters due to his summons, one-time cast abilities that put minions at your side — acting autonomously and dealing considerable damage of their own. You acquire Summon Zombie Dogs at level 4, and you will augment them with a stronger damage rune — Rabid Dogs as soon as it unlocks at level 12. Further down the leveling line (level 40), you will swap it out to the strongest damage dealing rune, Burning Dogs. You will complement the dogs' DoTs with the bigger burst of Gargantuan, available at level 19. The most consistent Gargantuan rune, Humongoid, unlocks right after at level 22, and you will stick to it throughout the Witch Doctor journey.
- Slots 3 and 4 — Supplementary DPS: While the minions are responsible for a chunk of your damage and protection, you will be far from idle: the build assumes a proactive, leader of the pack attitude, with the Witch Doctor spreading deadly DoTs and minions cleaning up. Haunt will be your bread and butter — a cheap and powerful self-spreading DoT, acquired at level 12. For the entirety of your leveling process, you should take advantage of the doubling effect of Resentful Spirits (level 23), making the skill even easier on your Mana. It will allow you to run a second hard-hitting spender in the face of Acid Cloud, unlocking at level 22. Enlarge its effect with the rune Acid Rain at level 26, and stick to it for the remainder of your leveling.
- Slot 5 — Mobility: Spirit Walk is the solitary mobility skill for Witch Doctors, and you will add it to the build at level 16. You get the safer, longer-lasting Jaunt rune early on (level 23), but it is advisable to switch to the speedfarm-oriented Severance rune as soon as it becomes available at level 47.
- Slot 6 — Utility: Soul Harvest is a signature Witch Doctor self-buff, with a base damage increasing effect and additional utility gained through runes. Note its near-melee range and try to time your Spirit Walk to dive in and out of an enemy pack, maximizing your benefits and minimizing your losses. Soul Harvest unlocks early on at level 9, and you can freely experiment with its runes throughout the leveling process. Since early game farming is mostly about quick kill speed and movement efficiency, the best runes are Soul to Waste (level 39) and Vengeful Spirit (level 49).
- Passives: You can freely experiment with damage buffing ( Gruesome Feast, Pierce the Veil) and damage reducing ( Jungle Fortitude, Bad Medicine) passives early on, until better passives kick in mid-leveling. At level 30, you gain the Witch Doctor cheat death, Spirit Vessel, and Fetish Sycophants — another summoning skill, hidden among your passives. Easily maxed out with Haunt spam, this passive will amass a Fetish army at your side and lay waste to your enemies with an efficiency comparable to your other summons. One of the best movement speed passives in the game, Fierce Loyalty, becomes available to you at level 45 — a solid addition to an early farming setup. Finally, you will add Grave Injustice at level 50 to gain access to kill-based cooldown reduction and resource regeneration, an amazing bonus you will likely keep all the way into the endgame.
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 table below will result in a solid character throughout the leveling journey.
The table below is meant to point you in a general correct direction and is by no means indicative of the exact rolls you want to go for. They can vary greatly from build to build and it is always preferable to refer to our exact guide page. If you simply use the rolls below however, and roll for skill damage on the applicable pieces:
- Zombie Charger, Sacrifice, Firebats, Acid Cloud, Spirit Barrage on helms and boots;
- Locust Swarm, Grasp of the Dead, Summon Zombie Dogs, Wall of Death, Gargantuan, Haunt, Piranhas, Fetish Army on shoulders and chest;
- Plague of Toads, Firebomb, Poison Dart, Corpse Spiders on belt and pants.
Wherever it says 'Elemental damage', match it to the rune of your damaging skill of choice. You will come out with a functional spec, and probably not too far off from what we would recommend in a dedicated build!
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 to level 25 and socketing it in a level 70 weapon will be the single biggest boost you can provide to the leveling process.
- 10 Dec. 2021: Reviewed for Season 25.
- 23 Jul. 2021: Reviewed for Season 24.
- 02 Apr. 2021: Reviewed for Season 23.
- 13 Mar. 2020: Reviewed for Season 20.
- 22 Nov. 2019: Page added.
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