Witch Doctor Zombie Bears Build with Helltooth (Patch 2.5 / Season 10)
Table of Contents
- 1. About the Author
- 2. Builds
- 3. Rotation
- 4. Skills, Runes and Passives
- 5. Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives
- 6. Paragon Points
- 7. Gems
- 8. Kanai's Cube
- 9. Follower
- 10. ChangeLog
Reworked into a top tier Witch Doctor set in Patch 2.3, Helltooth puts a strong emphasis on spellcasting playstyles — and along with a few helpful legendaries, brings back the vanilla darling Zombie Bears build. This bursty, AoE playstyle is available in both solo progression and speedfarming variations, explained in that order.
The build requires the following set pieces:
- Helm: Helltooth Mask;
- Chest: Helltooth Tunic;
- Shoulders: Helltooth Mantle;
- Gloves: Helltooth Gauntlets;
- Pants: Helltooth Leg Guards;
- Boots: Helltooth Greaves.
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, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.
|Haunt Poisoned Spirit Zombie Charger Zombie Bears 1 Soul Harvest Languish 2 Spirit Walk Jaunt 3 Piranhas Piranhado 4 Wall of Death Fire Wall|
|Haunt Poisoned Spirit Zombie Charger Zombie Bears 1 Soul Harvest Soul to Waste 2 Spirit Walk Severance 3 Piranhas Piranhado 4 Wall of Death Fire Wall|
This potent AoE build squeezes maximum advantage of the Helltooth set buffs of Zombie Charger and Wall of Death, weaving their alternating use into a landscape of AoE destruction. Your primary goal is to lure as many monsters as you can into your line-shaped DPS output, optimising the potential of Zombie Bears and Fire Wall whilst gaining massive Toughness benefits from Swampland Attunement. Positioning both the player and the AoE is also key, as Fire Wall damage stacks even if triple casted on the same location, and Zombie Bears will travel in a straight line if you put your back against a wall. Haunt will be used to make enemies more susceptible to damage, as well as to proc the cubed Ring of Emptiness. The Witch Doctor staple Piranhas Piranhado shows up yet again, grouping and debuffing the monsters for your AoE convenience. Another mainstay, Spirit Walk Jaunt, is necessarily adopted for mobility and escapes. It can also be used to reap a better Soul Harvest, diving into the enemy to maximise the Languish benefits.
4. Skills, Runes and Passives
Half of your damage output and the namesake of the build, Zombie Charger Zombie Bears is a hard-hitting poison skill that gets amplified by the Helltooth set, the Scrimshaw spear and various skill percentage rolls on your gear. Note that Zombie Bears heavily rewards positioning: if cast in the open, the skill splits into triple lanes with low range; if cast with your back against a wall however, it travels in a focused, longer reaching line.
The other and more consistent half is found in the Helltooth set centerpiece, Wall of Death. We will be taking the arsonist favorite Fire Wall rune, its considerable DoT amped by Helltooth and Jeram's Bracers combined. It is important to remember that you can spread the AoE or create zones of focused DPS, as individual walls stack their damage even if cast in the same area.
While seeming out of place in a non-Jade Harvester setup, Haunt is included in the build mostly as a trigger to the damage multiplication of the cubed Ring of Emptiness, along with a cubed Wormwood. Even so, you gain a minor active benefit in the form of the Poisoned Spirit debuff, adding to your overall damage.
A utility packed cooldown right to its core, Soul Harvest makes an excellent fit in the build. It acts as a damage buff by default, increasing your Intelligence by up to 15% for the modest requirement of 5 harvested enemies. With the Languish rune, it attains additional crowd control and Toughness buff properties, putting it right at home in this close range playstyle. Add its naturally overlapping duration on top, and you can see how it earns a skill slot — but do not hesitate to reapply it on cooldown, as the shorter lasting Armor buff is by far the biggest benefit. In speedruns, the additional protection of Languish will not be needed; you should bolster your movement speed instead with the rune Soul to Waste.
The only Witch Doctor ability to offer mobility, invulnerability and free passage through enemies, Spirit Walk is a staple in most builds. While its cooldown is not the lowest among its peers for other classes, it makes up with the solid 3-second duration of the Jaunt rune. If you value mobility over a lengthier invulnerability window, you can freely alternate into the Severance rune — especially preferred in speedruns.
While it can be considered part of the spenders affected by Helltooth or a trigger to Bastions of Will, the reason to take Piranhas lies in the grouping and debuffing capabilities of Piranhado. As the build relies heavily on enemy positioning within the Zombie Bears and Fire Wall AoE, the benefits from a pulling ability are undeniable — and Piranhado is a standout in the field.
This concludes the overview of the active skills, now let us look through the passives.
Swampland Attunement is a play on the selective resistance mechanic (also observed on the Tal Rasha set), and offers considerable defenses — but only against elements Witch Doctors can use. Protecting within a starting radius of 20 yards and extendable by Pickup Radius on gear, this passive is yet another reason to pay close attention to secondary stats. Note the absence of Lightning or Arcane Resistance, and strive to obtain it wherever you can.
Among the most dynamic and interesting passives in the game, Grave Injustice is a Cooldown Reduction engine that feeds into the damage output (faster Fire Walls) and survivability (more Soul Harvests) of the build. It delivers a neat package of CDR, health and mana regeneration upon killing an enemy within a starting radius of 20 yards, extendable by Pickup Radius on gear.
Spirit Vessel is a mainstay for Greater Rift pushing, being the Witch Doctor cheat death passive. It saves you from the death screen once every minute, healing you back to 50% of your maximum Life and puts you in a Spirit Walk-like state, allowing you to quickly reposition. If this fail safe feels like overkill — very likely during speedruns — you can swap this passive out for the considerable damage increase of Gruesome Feast.
A straightforward addition to the build, Confidence Ritual increases your damage by 25% against enemies within 20 yards. Relatively matching the fighting range of the build, especially with Zombie Bears in mind, this passive will be up most of the time.
5. Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives
This build incorporates the complete Helltooth set, taking all six available pieces and opening the jewelry for the damage multiplication of the Endless Walk set. Rolls-wise, this spender-heavy playstyle makes good use of skill bonuses across gear. Wall of Death % bonus is sought after on the Helltooth Tunic, alongside Toughness stats; on the Helltooth Mantle, it is ideally paired with Area Damage. Zombie Charger % is the perfect fourth primary on the Helltooth Greaves, and can be considered on the Helltooth Mask — but it is unlikely that you can spare the Vitality loss. The Helltooth Leg Guards are strictly a source of protection, and the Helltooth Gauntlets are best taken with a hefty Vitality roll alongside the usual Intelligence and double Crit stats. With the current class design, secondary stats have become quite important for Witch Doctors, and Helltooth builds are no exception: try to offset your Swampland Attunement weaknesses with Lightning or Arcane Resists in your secondaries. Another thing to note if you opt for Henri's Perquisition (discussed below) is that pickup radius becomes an important secondary stat — and it is recommended you get a total of at least 10, spread across several pieces.
Not skipping on any of the six available set pieces to obtain the full Helltooth set bonus allows you to split between offense and defense in the jewelry slots. One of the 2.4 reworks, the Endless Walk set — The Compass Rose ring and The Traveler's Pledge amulet — adds a unique mechanic that slowly increases your damage by up to a 100% if you remain stationary, and drains it away and increases your damage reduction while moving. This mirrors the Zombie Bears playstyle, which goes from extended periods of drawing agro with Corpse Spiders spam into static Zombie Charger Zombie Bears channeling.
The Ring of Emptiness will occupy your second ring slot; while seemingly an odd addition to the set, this ring dramatically increases your damage against enemies affected by both Haunt and Locust Swarm. You will be applying the former manually, while the latter will be spread by the cubed Wormwood.
This is by no means a pet build, but the Belt of Transcendence is still adopted to give you a better Fetish Sycophants passive at the cost of a gear slot. With its guaranteed trigger, this belt will quickly take you to the cap of 15 summons that act as a solid meat shield and distraction for your enemies. When doing Torments, you can swap this slot out for Goldwrap, which paired with Avarice Band and Boon of the Hoarder will render you practically invulnerable.
Undeniably best-in-slot for the build, Jeram's Bracers increase the damage of Wall of Death by up to a 100%. As if that was not enough, they also enable the use of Wall of Death thrice within one cooldown period, allowing you to cover an entire room in incinerating flames. Stat-wise, seek Intelligence, Crit Chance and Fire damage.
The reworked Scrimshaw legendary spear has been tailored for Zombie Charger builds, eclipsing any potential competition with a natural skill bonus roll of up to 80%, along with a unique resource cost reduction property of up to 50%. Notice the large roll ranges of both stats and aim to obtain as close to the maximum values as you can, along with high damage range, damage %, Intelligence and Area Damage.
The offhand slot remains open for a mojo of your choice; your best option is Henri's Perquisition, offering a significant source of upfront damage reduction and crowd control. Alternatively, you can wield a Thing of the Deep, whose uniquely large pickup radius property will maximise the benefits of Swampland Attunement and Grave Injustice. If not for GR progression, Thing of the Deep should be favored at least in speedruns, where it will synergize with the similar effect from Avarice Band to the ultimate benefit of speed and efficiency. Regardless of your choice, aim for high damage range, Intelligence, Vitality, Crit Chance and Wall of Death skill roll.
6. Paragon Points
The fixture in your legendary gem choices will be Bane of the Trapped. Your remaining gem slots will vary according to content — Esoteric Alteration and Bane of the Stricken for GR progression, and Bane of the Powerful plus Boon of the Hoarder for Torment speedruns.
- Bane of the Trapped is a potent source of additional damage, as it is its own multiplier in your total damage calculation. The gem procs itself with its level 25 property when in range, and is otherwise triggered by Languish and the Wall of Death necrosis effect from the Helltooth set.
- Esoteric Alteration is the strongest mitigation gem available, and its impact is noticeable in this close range caster build. Improving your elemental resistances with every gem level and adding an emergency toughness spike through the level 25 property, Esoteric Alteration ensures that enemies will have a hard time bursting you down in higher Greater Rifts. When doing Torment runs, the toughness provided by this gem can be easily replaced and overshadowed by the interaction of Boon of the Hoarder with Goldwrap.
- Introduced in Season 4, Bane of the Stricken occupies the third and final jewelry socket. Building up your damage multiplicatively in prolonged fights and with a level 25 bonus specifically targeting Rift Guardians, this gem is designed to assist AoE heavy builds in their struggle against single target, high HP enemies. While Zombie Bears WDs do well in 1v1 combat, it is a testament to the quality of the gem that it still comes out as the biggest damage increase for the setup. During speedfarming, the damage buildup mechanic of this gem will be too slow, and is best replaced by the well-rounded damage and toughness increase of Bane of the Powerful.
|Torso and Pants||
8. Kanai's Cube
- While greatly efficient at it, automatically spreading a generic Locust Swarm with a cubed Wormwood might seem an odd choice. However the combination of Haunt on your skill bar and Locust Swarm in the Cube unlocks the potential of Ring of Emptiness multiplication, which is far too high to ignore.
- The Grin Reaper has been consistently buffed throughout the 2.3 testing phase, casting almost the entirety of your skill selection at an improved rate and range. The mimics will also benefit from the Helltooth 6 piece bonuses, turning into a significant, independent source of damage for the build.
- Functioning exactly as if you wore it, the cubed Unity ring offers 50% damage reduction when paired with another on the follower, plus an immortality item for him (i.e. Enchanting Favor). In Torment runs, the protection of Unity will be excessive, and the slot is best left to Avarice Band. Its effect will greatly synergize with almost all of your passives, as well as the worn Goldwrap and the gemmed Boon of the Hoarder.
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.
10. ChangeLog+ show all entries - show only 10 entries
- 28 Mar. 2017: No changes needed for Season 10.
- 05 Jan. 2017: No changes needed for Season 9.
- 21 Oct. 2016: No changes needed for Season 8.
- 29 Jul. 2016: The build has been updated with skill, item and gemming recommendations, as well as speedrun options.
- 05 May 2016: The guide has been revised to include improved gearing and gemming recommendations.
- 13 Jan. 2016: The build remains unchanged with Patch 2.4, but it is still competitive.
- 21 Oct. 2015: Updated the guide following community recommendations.
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