zDPS Witch Doctor Support Build with Helltooth set (Patch 2.4.2 / Season 7)
Formerly known for his ubiquitous crowd control over the enemy, the support Witch Doctor has been converted to a role that enfeebles enemies and increases party damage. Note that this buff-heavy build is strictly multiplayer oriented, a zero DPS spec that plays part of a composition with other damage dealing party members.
The build requires the following set pieces:
This build is no longer competitive. We are leaving it on the website for documentation purposes and in case it becomes relevant again.
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.
Multiplayer Progression Build
|Wall of Death Communing with Spirits Piranhas Piranhado 1 Big Bad Voodoo Slam Dance 2 Locust Swarm Cloud of Insects 3 Hex Jinx 4 Mass Confusion Paranoia|
As a support Witch Doctor, your primary goal is to lead the group into the fray and to provide a safe environment for your DPS backline. Once the fighting grounds have been established (usually by the support Barbarian), charm monsters with Mass Confusion, and then weaken them with Hex and Wall of Death; these temporary disables will allow you enough time to drop your strongest damage buff, Big Bad Voodoo, as well as to group enemies with Piranhado. You are then free to spread Locust Swarm liberally around the fight, debuffing enemies further with Cloud of Insects and resetting your important cooldowns with the power of Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac.
Strategy, Skills, and Runes
Two debuffs — Wall of Death and Locust Swarm — will form half of your rotation. Wall of Death is the basic tool in the Helltooth arsenal, turned into a slow and damage decrease of affected monsters with the Communing with Spirits rune — also helpfully proccing Iceblink due to its Cold element. You will also be spreading Locust Swarm, and your party will reap the damage reduction benefits of Cloud of Insects. Spending Mana on the skill will also trigger Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac cooldown resets, a fairly important part of the build.
One of the most versatile skills in the Witch Doctor arsenal, Piranhas can be taken for many puproses: knockback, vortexing, crowd control. You will be taking the Piranhado rune for its pulling capability, adding nicely to the party-wide damage increase against enemies affected by Piranhas.
Your two bread-and-butter debuffs will be Hex and Mass Confusion. While different in visuals, range (12 yards for Hex, 24 for Mass Confusion) and exact mechanics (over time effect for Hex vs. instantaneous for Mass Confusion), the end result of both abilities is similar. First, they temporarily disable enemies, of course subject to the diminishing returns of crowd control over time. More importantly, they increase damage against, and decrease damage from affected enemies when runed with Jinx and Paranoia respectively.
Rounding out the skill choices, Big Bad Voodoo takes a firm spot in the rotation once you pick a place to fight. Undoubtedly the most impactful DPS buff at the disposal of Witch Doctors, and with a humongous cooldown to boot, this skill and the Slam Dance rune are worth taking for numbers alone.
This concludes the overview of the Active Skills, now let us look through the Passives.
Bad Medicine is one of the strongest Toughness passives available to Witch Doctors, provided you match the elemental damage requirement. With Piranhado easily filling the role of a consistent poison skill spam, this passive source of damage reduction will be active throughout the rift.
Grave Injustice is an elegant source of Cooldown Reduction, reducing skill downtime by a second for each enemy killed in a 20-yard radius of the Witch Doctor, as well as replenishing your Health and Mana reserves by 1%. Note that the passive does not require you to deal the killing blow, opening it up to zero DPS supports. Take notice of the pickup radius synergy and try to obtain that stat in the secondaries of your gear.
Two strong passives compete for the last slot in the build: the Mana managing Rush of Essence and the Spirit Vessel cheat death. With its strong focus on Toughness stacking presumably preventing huge damage spikes, the general recommendation for the build is to take Rush of Essence: this enables you to maintain Aquila Cuirass bonuses despite the Locust Swarm spam for cooldown resets. Ideally, you will have both passives at your disposal through a well-rolled Hellfire Amulet of Intelligence.
Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives
Unsurprising to its role, the support Witch Doctor uses a mixture of sets and utility legendaries to maximize Toughness, cooldown and resource management. You will be incorporating three pieces of Helltooth's Harness set — Helltooth Mantle, Helltooth Gauntlets and Helltooth Leg Guards — along with a Ring of Royal Grandeur in the cube to attain the valuable 2- and 4- piece bonuses, slowing enemies down and reducing your own damage taken by 60%. Rolls-wise, this cooldown reliant build requires CDR on Helltooth Gauntlets and Helltooth Mantle, alongside Toughness stats. The Helltooth Leg Guards should be a pure Toughness piece.
Tasked with modifying battle conditions rather than participating in them, the support Witch Doctor can focus on pure utility in the jewelry. Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac is a powerful tool for this cooldown-heavy build: benefiting greatly from the constant Locust Swarm spam, it allows for permanent uptime of crucial abilities like Hex, Mass Confusion and Big Bad Voodoo. In your remaining slot, you should take the revamped Oculus Ring — it now provides up to the impressive 85% multiplicative damage buff in a circular area for your DPS party members to stand in. While its wording is vague, it does trigger off assists, and will thus work on support characters.
To complete the jewelry, you have a number of options for the amulet slot. Arguably your best pick would be a well-rolled Hellfire Amulet of Intelligence, with a helpful fifth passive like Spirit Vessel or Grave Injustice. Alternatively, you can obtain an immunity amulet for a highly lethal source of elemental damage. Xephirian Amulet, which renders you immune to lightning, or The Star of Azkaranth against fire, are the most desirable options.
You can choose between two crucial legendary helms for the build — The Grin Reaper and Leoric's Crown — wearing your stronger roll, and cubing the other. The guide assumes you will wear The Grin Reaper, as the voodoo mask is easier to maximize due to its static unique affix ( Leoric's Crown on the other hand ranges anywhere between 75-100% on the effectiveness increase of the slotted gem, and is a random drop). Regardless of your choice on what to cube and wear, both legendaries are considered best in slot: The Grin Reaper summons Mimics that replicate your debuffs, while Leoric's Crown doubles the Flawless Royal Diamond CDR effect.
As previously mentioned, Rush of Essence is taken for a good reason; maintenance of the Aquila Cuirass legendary bonus is only possible above the 90-95% resource mark. As long as you keep up resource stability in these restrictively high values, this chest armor will reward you with 50% damage reduction.
With no necessary legendaries to occupy your waist slot, you have some freedom when choosing your belt. Recommendations include Vigilante Belt to augment the CDR focus of the build, or String of Ears to reduce some of the melee damage supports inevitably expose themselves to.
The feet slot will be taken by none other than the Illusory Boots; a staple support piece that provides valuable freedom of movement, allowing you to ignore enemy collision and Waller affixes. Further in its favor, it is an Act II specific cache legendary item, making farming and maximizing this piece relatively easy compared to other pieces.
For the bracers, you can take either Strongarm Bracers or Nemesis Bracers, depending on the other supports of the group. At least one support character needs to wear Nemesis Bracers in order to spawn additional elites, thus shortening the time to the Rift Guardian fight. If those duties do not fall to you, you should take Strongarm Bracers for the 30% additive damage increase against knockbacked enemies, with the Piranhado effect counting towards the legendary requirement.
The best in slot weapon for the build is Last Breath — a ceremonial knife tailored for support builds, with a unique property that reduces the cooldown of Mass Confusion by up to 20 seconds. Coupled with your CDR across gear and Zodiac ring resets, this brings the default 60-second cooldown to a spammable, permanent uptime state. Last Breath is ideally accompanied by a Stormshield and its high melee damage reduction, resulting in a tough, utility-packed combo.
To help you with farming the gear you need for your builds, we have two very useful guides that you can access by clicking the links below: a Salvage Guide to help you quickly check whether or not you can safely salvage a piece of gear and a Legendary Farming Guide to help you efficiently farm legendaries and set items.
- Gogok of Swiftness synergizes well with the build, indirectly providing the entire party with more damage by increasing your essential Cooldown Reduction.
- Iceblink serves a twofold purpose: first, it adds another scaling slow effect to the already sizable slow of Communing with Spirits; and second, it offers a reliable source of 10% additional party-wide Crit Chance through its level 25 property. If another party member is already carrying an Iceblink or you feel like you are lacking too much Toughness, you can take Esoteric Alteration instead for its scaling elemental resistance.
- The recommended gem for your third and final jewelry slot is Gem of Efficacious Toxin, for the party-wide damage increase against — and reduced damage from — enemies affected by its poisonous DoT.
|Torso and Pants||
- The recommended item for the weapon slot is Solanium, whose Health Globe on Crit bonuses will feed nicely into Globe-reliant bonuses for your DPS teammates, such as the Gruesome Feast passive for Witch Doctors.
- As previously mentioned, you can choose between Leoric's Crown and The Grin Reaper in the armor slot, wearing your better rolled item and cubing the other.
- Tucked away in the jewelry cube slot, Ring of Royal Grandeur will unlock the 4-piece bonus of Helltooth. The ability to run with the desired set bonuses and other synergistic rings for your purposes, dodging the undesirable guaranteed stats on the Grandeur altogether by cubing its power, is a tremendous boost to the build.
- 21 Oct. 2016: Added note to mention that the build is no longer competitive on the leaderboard.
- 30 Jul. 2016: Slight revision to the guide to reflect 2.4.2 changes.
- 27 Apr. 2016: Updated the build to its 2.4.1 skill and item changes.
- 16 Feb. 2016: Revised the build to reflect the shift towards less pets.
- 22 Jan. 2016: Updated the build to reflect its 2.4 role as a group damage amplifier.
- 25 Aug. 2014: Added a note to mention that the guide is currently outdated for 2.3.
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