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Wizard Guide: Inferno and Leveling Builds (skills, runes, gear, playstyle, etc.)

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While this guide will present only a few talent builds, those that are proven to work and that we consider optimal, note that there is a large number of possible viable combinations. Feel free to try out different spells at your leisure.


For all of the builds here, you must enable Elective Mode in Options > Gameplay. This allows you to have multiple skills from the category active at the same time.


Lastly, keep in mind that, at level 60, each time you kill a group of elite mobs, you gain a stack of Nephalem Valor (up to 5 stacks), which increases your gold and magic find percentage. These stacks do not disappear when you die, but they do get reset each time you change one of your skills. The implication of this is that you should try to find a suitable build and stick with it as much as possible.


Inferno Solo Build

For soloing the trash in Inferno mode, you will need a mixture of survivability and DPS, in both your gear and your talents. You will spend the majority of your time kiting (so you need a way to slow enemies) and not getting hit. However, there are times when it is impossible not to get hit (teleporting mobs, vortex, jailer or even waller elites, etc.), for which you need some means of survival.


We will present you with what we deem to be the best talent build, and we will also provide several viable alternative talents and skills. Moreover, we include what we feel are the best gearing options you can make, for both DPS and survival.


Build

This [d3link=http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/wizard#blXRSO!Yaf!bbabZY]build[/d3link] is a viable means of farming mobs in Inferno. It provides you with:

  • DPS (aimed at multiple target/AoE DPS, but still performs decently in single target):
    • [d3askillicon=wizard_hydra][d3skill=wizard/active/hydra]Hydra[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=c]Venom Hydra[/d3runeicon])
    • [d3askillicon=wizard_magicweapon][d3skill=wizard/active/magic-weapon]Magic Weapon[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=c]Force Weapon[/d3runeicon])
    • [d3askillicon=wizard_shockpulse][d3skill=wizard/active/shock-pulse]Shock Pulse[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=c]Piercing Orb[/d3runeicon])
    • [d3askillicon=wizard_blizzard][d3skill=wizard/active/blizzard]Blizzard[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=d]Snowbound[/d3runeicon])
    • [d3pskillicon=wizard_passive_glasscannon][d3skill=wizard/passive/glass-cannon]Glass Cannon[/d3skill][/d3pskillicon]
  • Survivability/utility:
    • [d3askillicon=wizard_diamondskin][d3skill=wizard/active/diamond-skin]Diamond Skin[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=c]Crystal Shell[/d3runeicon]), helps surviving unavoidable melee hits/bad situations;
    • [d3askillicon=wizard_energyarmor][d3skill=wizard/active/energy-armor]Energy Armor[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=c]Force Armor[/d3runeicon]), increases your armor, provides you with health regen and provides you with the Force Armor effect, which we explain below;
    • [d3pskillicon=wizard_passive_blur][d3skill=wizard/passive/blur]Blur[/d3skill][/d3pskillicon], reduces melee damage taken
  • Kiting ability: [d3askillicon=wizard_blizzard][d3skill=wizard/active/blizzard]Blizzard[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=d]Snowbound[/d3runeicon])

There are several changes you can make to this build, depending on your personal preference:

  • Use [d3askillicon=wizard_arcaneorb][d3skill=wizard/active/arcane-orb]Arcane Orb[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=b]Arcane Nova[/d3runeicon]) in conjunction with [d3pskillicon=wizard_passive_temporalflux][d3skill=wizard/passive/temporal-flux]Temporal Flux[/d3skill][/d3pskillicon] to slow and kite enemies, instead of [d3askillicon=wizard_blizzard][d3skill=wizard/active/blizzard]Blizzard[/d3skill][/d3askillicon]. This produces slightly more AoE DPS but less control on the enemies. It also requires that you spend a talent point for kiting, which may be excessive.
  • [d3askillicon=wizard_mirrorimage][d3skill=wizard/active/mirror-image]Mirror Image[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=b]Duplicates[/d3runeicon]) or [d3askillicon=wizard_teleport][d3skill=wizard/active/teleport]Teleport[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=b]Fracture[/d3runeicon]) instead of [d3askillicon=wizard_magicweapon][d3skill=wizard/active/magic-weapon]Magic Weapon[/d3skill][/d3askillicon]. This provides more survivability/an extra tool to get you out of trouble, at the expense of added DPS.
  • Use [d3pskillicon=wizard_passive_astralpresence][d3skill=wizard/passive/astral-presence]Astral Presence[/d3skill][/d3pskillicon] instead of [d3pskillicon=wizard_passive_blur][d3skill=wizard/passive/blur]Blur[/d3skill][/d3pskillicon]. This will give you more DPS at the expense of survivability.

Playstyle

This is a brief overview of how to play this build:

  • Always keep up [d3askillicon=wizard_energyarmor][d3skill=wizard/active/energy-armor]Energy Armor[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] and [d3askillicon=wizard_magicweapon][d3skill=wizard/active/magic-weapon]Magic Weapon[/d3skill][/d3askillicon].
  • Always place your [d3askillicon=wizard_hydra][d3skill=wizard/active/hydra]Hydra[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=c]Venom Hydra[/d3runeicon]) in range of the targets you are attacking. You may need to re-place it often.
  • Always keep your targets slowed, either through [d3askillicon=wizard_blizzard][d3skill=wizard/active/blizzard]Blizzard[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] or [d3askillicon=wizard_arcaneorb][d3skill=wizard/active/arcane-orb]Arcane Orb[/d3skill][/d3askillicon].
  • If you cannot avoid a damaging situation, use [d3askillicon=wizard_diamondskin][d3skill=wizard/active/diamond-skin]Diamond Skin[/d3skill][/d3askillicon].

Obviously, you should also DPS your enemies with [d3askillicon=wizard_shockpulse][d3skill=wizard/active/shock-pulse]Shock Pulse[/d3skill][/d3askillicon].


Notes on Mechanics

Whenever possible, attempt to keep the targets in one place so that they remain in the puddles left by your [d3askillicon=wizard_hydra][d3skill=wizard/active/hydra]Hydra[/d3skill][/d3askillicon]. The damage of several puddles stacks, so this is optimal for maximising DPS.


Neither the damage nor the slowing effect of [d3askillicon=wizard_blizzard][d3skill=wizard/active/blizzard]Blizzard[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] stack within the same area. Therefore, it is pointless to spam Blizzard in the same place.


Despite what the tooltip says, the damage absorption offered by [d3runeicon=c]Force Armor[/d3runeicon] to [d3askillicon=wizard_energyarmor][d3skill=wizard/active/energy-armor]Energy Armor[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] is capped at 100% of your maximum health. This means that Force Armor will provide absorption, reducing damage, when you take attacks that deal between 36% and 199% of your health. Anything that is below 36% will not trigger the effect, any attacks that deal 200% or more of your health will instantly kill you through Force Armor. This has some repercussions on your gearing, which we will discuss below.


Gearing

To increase your DPS, your most valuable statistics are:

  • Weapon Damage
  • Intelligence;
  • Attack Speed;
  • Critical Strike Chance.

Choosing items that improve your DPS is made very easy by the comparative in-game tooltips, which show exactly how much of an increase to your DPS a certain item is. The tooltips account for things other than raw damage, such as attack speed.


To increase your survivability, which is sorely needed in Inferno mode (but not very much prior to Act 2 of Hell), your most valuable statistics are:

  • Armor and/or All Resists;
  • Intellect (which also increases all resists) and/or Vitality;

In order to maximise the benefits of [d3runeicon=c]Force Armor[/d3runeicon] there are a few things to keep in mind regarding your gear. You must always have an EHP of X, where X is the average damage mobs deal with a single hit, divided by 1.35. Your EHP is a combination of your hit points and the various types of damage reduction you benefit from (armor, resistances). Keep in mind that your EHP will be different in relation to the different types of attacks you must encounter, such as melee attacks versus magic attacks. We have found this tool to be very useful in determining your EHP.


In practice, this will depend on the stage of the game you are playing. You will have to empirically determine the amount of damage the mobs you are facing deal, and adjust your EHP accordingly. To simplify things, for Acts 2, 3 and 4 of Inferno (the only ones challenging enough to warrant this degree of gear optimisation), you should aim to have about 125,000 EHP. If you are gearing for survival in the way we suggested above, this means you should have about 30,000-40,000 hit points and 170-220 in resistances. Again, you can use the tool mentioned above to calculate this more accurately.


The entire aim of this practice is to ensure that your EHP is not:

  • too low for the damage you are taking, making it possible to get 1-shot.
  • too high, effectively wasting the benefits of Force Armor, which only procs on attacks that are at least 35% of your health.

Gems

Gemming your gear is not exactly straightforward, as it depends on the type of content you are doing and the level of your gear. Here are your options:

  • Helm sockets: Amethyst for survival (+ % Life), otherwise Topaz (+ Magic Find).
  • Weapon sockets: Amethyst for survival (Life Steal), otherwise Emerald (+ % Critical Damage). Ruby is better than Emerald at low gear levels (under 15% chance to crit).
  • Other sockets: Topaz (Intelligence).

Single Target Build

For single target fights (such as the Butcher or Azmodan), you can afford to take more DPS talents and you should also take single target attacks rather than AoE ones.


This [d3link=http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/wizard#aZRSXj!YWX!cZbZaa]build[/d3link] is adequate for boss fights without adds.


[d3askillicon=wizard_magicmissile][d3skill=wizard/active/magic-missile]Magic Missile[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=e]Seeker[/d3runeicon]) will provide good single target DPS. Moreover, thanks to the Seeker rune, the missiles will follow the target on their own, so you can no longer miss with your attack. Finally, this allows you to stand at maximum range (where the boss is off your screen) and the missiles will still find their way to him.


[d3askillicon=wizard_rayoffrost][d3skill=wizard/active/ray-of-frost]Ray of Frost[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=a]Snow Blast[/d3runeicon]) provides very solid single target DPS and also slows the target, which can help you move around avoiding the boss's attacks.


Thanks to [d3runeicon=a]Sparkflint[/d3runeicon], your [d3askillicon=wizard_familiar][d3skill=wizard/active/familiar]Familiar[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] skill will further increase your DPS by a percentage.


[d3askillicon=wizard_diamondskin][d3skill=wizard/active/diamond-skin]Diamond Skin[/d3skill][/d3askillicon]'s absorption does not scale with your gear or the enemies' attacks, so at a certain point, it will become overwhelmed. At this stage, you should change Diamond Skin with [d3askillicon=wizard_energyarmor][d3skill=wizard/active/energy-armor]Energy Armor[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=c]Force Armor[/d3runeicon]), which scales well with your health.


Playstyle

This is a brief overview of how to play this build:

  • Always keep up [d3askillicon=wizard_energyarmor][d3skill=wizard/active/energy-armor]Energy Armor[/d3skill][/d3askillicon], [d3askillicon=wizard_magicweapon][d3skill=wizard/active/magic-weapon]Magic Weapon[/d3skill][/d3askillicon], and your [d3askillicon=wizard_familiar][d3skill=wizard/active/familiar]Familiar[/d3skill][/d3askillicon].
  • Always place your [d3askillicon=wizard_hydra][d3skill=wizard/active/hydra]Hydra[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=c]Venom Hydra[/d3runeicon]) in range of the targets you are attacking. You may need to re-place it often.
  • Spam [d3askillicon=wizard_magicmissile][d3skill=wizard/active/magic-missile]Magic Missile[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] and [d3askillicon=wizard_rayoffrost][d3skill=wizard/active/ray-of-frost]Ray of Frost[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] on the boss.
  • If you cannot avoid a damaging situation, use [d3askillicon=wizard_diamondskin][d3skill=wizard/active/diamond-skin]Diamond Skin[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] to survive it.

Gearing

Your gearing priorities while playing using this build are the same as the ones mentioned above.


Leveling Build

While leveling up, especially in the first 30 levels, your skill choice will not be very crucial. This is because the difficulty of Normal Mode is extremely low and you can complete it with any talents you desire. That said, here are the talent builds you should have at various levels:

After level 30, survivability becomes much more important, and you should pick up various end-game talents as they become available. Most importantly, you should change your level 30 build with the following talents, when they become available:

  • Choose the [d3runeicon=d]Absorption[/d3runeicon] rune for [d3askillicon=wizard_energyarmor][d3skill=wizard/active/energy-armor]Energy Armor[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] at level 32.
  • Choose the [d3runeicon=b]Arcane Nova[/d3runeicon] rune for [d3askillicon=wizard_arcaneorb][d3skill=wizard/active/arcane-orb]Arcane Orb[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] at level 32.
  • Choose the [d3runeicon=c]Piercing Orb[/d3runeicon] rune for [d3askillicon=wizard_shockpulse][d3skill=wizard/active/shock-pulse]Shock Pulse[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] at level 33.
  • Choose the [d3runeicon=c]Force Weapon[/d3runeicon] rune for [d3askillicon=wizard_magicweapon][d3skill=wizard/active/magic-weapon]Magic Weapon[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] at level 35.
  • Take [d3askillicon=wizard_hydra][d3skill=wizard/active/hydra]Hydra[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=c]Venom Hydra[/d3runeicon]) at level 38. You will remove Familiar in order to make room for Hydra.
  • Choose the [d3runeicon=e]Pinpoint Barrier[/d3runeicon] rune for [d3askillicon=wizard_energyarmor][d3skill=wizard/active/energy-armor]Energy Armor[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] at level 41.
  • Choose [d3askillicon=wizard_blizzard][d3skill=wizard/active/blizzard]Blizzard[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] ([d3runeicon=d]Snowbound[/d3runeicon]) at level 47. The skill you should be replacing is [d3askillicon=wizard_arcaneorb][d3skill=wizard/active/arcane-orb]Arcane Orb[/d3skill][/d3askillicon].
  • Choose the [d3runeicon=c]Force Armor[/d3runeicon] rune for [d3askillicon=wizard_energyarmor][d3skill=wizard/active/energy-armor]Energy Armor[/d3skill][/d3askillicon] at level 54.

Gearing

While leveling up, your gearing should be done as follows, depending on the difficulty you are playing in:

  • Normal difficulty: look for any damage upgrades you can find (Weapon Damage and Intelligence, mostly). Survival is not an issue.
  • Nightmare difficulty: gear mostly for damage, but try to pick up pieces of gear that offer Vitality and/or resistances.
  • Hell difficulty: gear more aggressively for survival, prioritising Vitality and resistances over Weapon Damage or other damage increases. Judge this yourself, meaning that if you are surviving without any problms, you should boost your damage.

Followers - All Builds

Before Act 2 of Hell, having a Follower is not required. Even well into Inferno, you can manage without a Follower, albeit with more difficulty. You do not need to level up your Follower as you play along. If you first talk to your Follower at level 60, it will instantly be level 59, and it will have access to all its talent points and item slots.


We recommend using a Templar as your Follower, with this [d3link=http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/follower#0100]build[/d3link].


You should provide your Templar with tanking gear, that is to say Vitality in particular. Additionally, you can choose to put Magic Find items on him. You should equip the Templar with a shield.


He will provide the role of tanking for you, although it is more soaking a few hits and dying horribly rather than tanking.

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A nice tip while leveling is getting a head item with a socket. You should put a red gem in this socket which gives you a huge increase to experience gain. Currently I have a [d3normal=radiant-square-ruby]Radiant Square Ruby[/d3normal] in my head item and leveling is super fast.

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Thanks for the post Posted Image

I am a first time player of Diablo III and picked a Wizard as my first char role. I found the tips of talents, runes, etc very helpful and the mobs seem to be dropping even faster now Posted Image

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      Beginner's Guide to Crusaders - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Akkhan  - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 14 Crusader with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Akkhan - Condemn Endgame Build - This build is the embodiment of the melee spellcaster fantasy, exerting powerful crowd control over monsters and decimating them in waves of holy destruction. Akkhan - Blessed Shield Endgame Build  -  This build plays on the archetype of using the shield as a weapon, charging it with holy might and reaping an entire field of demons with a single, mighty toss. Akkhan - Holy Shotgun Endgame Build  - The Holy Shotgun Crusader is a tanky, impenetrable bulwark of steel that absorbs blows and retaliates in blasts of pure, radiant vengeance.  Blessed Hammer Seeker of the Light - The reigning champion of many Seasons, the Hammerdin build is still a beast in terms of AoE damage and solo GR pushing potential. Thorns Invoker  - Likely the tankiest build in the game that is able to push into GR110+. Tough, focused and dead simple, this build almost Thorns itself to the absolute endgame. Sweep Attack Rolands  - This Crusader build revels in high-density rifts, shredding demons to pieces with the highest attack speed possible to the class. Bombardment Legacy of Nightmares  - The Bombardment Crusader spec takes assorted legendary items into a highly mobile, auto aiming and visually spectacular Thorns combination. Demon Hunters
      Beginner's Guide to Demon Hunters - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Marauder  - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 14 Demon Hunter with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Natalya/Marauder Sentry Endgame Build - This build focuses solely on the Sentries, providing Demon Hunters with a cold, calculating playstyle cloaked behind a wall of turrets and animal companions. Marauder - Cluster Arrow Endgame Build  - Requiring a deep understanding of DHs - the need for positioning and strategic companion placement - this build rewards you with great GR potential. Unhallowed Essence - Multishot Endgame Build  - This build embodies the lone, brooding archer that reaps entire screens worth of demons in massive, fiery bursts of arrows. Natalya - Rain of Vengeance Endgame Build  - This build transforms the elegance of Strafe into a potent tool that resets the cooldown of Rain of Vengeance, resulting in a potent, bursty playstyle. Shadow - Impale Endgame Build  - The Impale build emphasizes on singling out and bursting down priority targets, resulting in a ninja-like, elite hunting playstyle. Grenades Unhallowed Essence  - A deceptively simple build, whose sustained grenade damage and tanking potential outdoes many of its flashier counterparts. Fan of Knives Legacy of Nightmares  - One of the more exotic specs in the game, the LoN FoK build thrives at low health values and turns them to its own advantage - playing with permanent crits. Monks
      Beginner's Guide to Monks - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Inna - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 14 Monk with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Sunwuko - Wave of Light Endgame Build  - This unique ranged Monk playstyle blows demons up in screen-wide, incinerating beams of searing light. Support Monk  - Group-oriented build that the entire team depends upon for healing, short-range monster pulls and damage reduction from regular attacks. Uliana - Seven-Sided Strike Endgame Build  - Widely regarded as the most satisfying build of the class, Uliana enriches the Seven-Sided Strike visual with Exploding Palm detonations. Raiment Shenlong - Generator Endgame Build  - The Monk's bread and butter, this build pummels enemies into the ground with the sheer might of the primary fist attacks. Sunwuko - Lashing Tail Kick Endgame Build  - Building on the classic Monk image, this spec jump in, whirlwind kicks the demons' teeth in, and jump to the next pack of monsters. Exploding Palm/Mystic Allies Inna  - In this Monk take on a summoner build, you rally spiritual fighters at your side that burst entire groups of enemies with Exploding Palms. Necromancers
      Beginner's Guide to Necromancers - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Pestilence - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 14 Necromancer with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Pestilence or Trag'Oul - Corpse Lance  - This build alternates long scouting sessions while waiting on cooldowns with the utter devastation once Devour meets Land of the Dead. Rathma - Skeletal Mage - If you like to keep a tight rein on your minions with precise commands, leading the menagerie of undead at your side in a resource-fueled frenzy, this build is the one for you. Command Skeletons Inarius  - Turning the skeleton warriors into a vicious, unrelenting superior to Bane of the Stricken, this build is a Necromancer's one-way ticket to the absolute endgame heights. Skeletal Mages Trag'Oul  - This is the alternate take on the Mages build, specializing in extreme speed farming, while still offering capable GR pushes. Bone Storm Inarius  - While it took an undeniable nerf, this build is still one of the most relaxing, farming-appropriate melee builds of Necromancers. Corpse Explosion Inarius  - An underappreciated offshoot to the close range Inarius variants, this build is among the most visually appealing and satisfying Necromancer builds out there. Witch Doctors
      Beginner's Guide to Witch Doctors - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Zunimassa  - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 14 Witch Doctor with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Arachyr - Firebats Endgame Build  - Requiring minimal upkeep, this build spins a circular, no-aiming-required wave of Firebats obliteration around you. Simple, neat, and utterly effective. Helltooth - Gargantuan Endgame Build  - This staple summoner build offers laid-back playstyle with automated minions, excellent sustain and protective options, and even some space for crowd control. Jade Harvester Endgame Build  - One of the oldest examples of interesting set execution, this melee spellcaster trades the safety of range and hexes for aggressive dives and DoT consumption. Zunimassa Gargantuan Endgame Build - This build thrives behind a thick wall of Fetish summons and is accompanied by lumbering, destructive Gargantuan brutes in a pure minion playstyle. Legacy of Nightmares Spirit Barrage Endgame Build  - Emerging from a convergence of obscure mechanics, this build offers a unique, spell-heavy, bursty playstyle that produces some of the most spectacular visuals of the class. Wizards
      Beginner's Guide to Wizards - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Delsere's Magnum Opus  - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 14 Wizard with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Firebird (or Tal Rasha) - Meteor - Reaching for the heartstrings of Meteor lovers, this build channels torrents of arcane energy to conjure destructive, burning meteorites into a pure visual feast. DMO - Frozen Orb - Combining the Frozen Orb nostalgia of sorceresses past with the forgotten power of Slow Time wizardry, this build leaves enemies helpless, watching their frozen death creep ever closer. Vyr Archon - The oldest devotees to the Archon playstyle: Vyr and its complementary Chantodo sets got an awesome boost of power in Patch 2.6.1. Tal Rasha - Explosive Blast - Aside from its distinct cannonade of arcane blasts, this build is very attractive to Wizards due to its ability to include Sage's set for materials farming. Arcane Torrent Tal Rasha - Spawning off the addition of Manald Heal this guide offers not one, but three very fun, tanky, non-Archon lightning variants to build around. Conclusion
      In short, Patch 2.6.1 is one of the best times Diablo 3 has experienced in terms of build diversity and sheer endgame potential. A living proof that pure numbers patches can sometimes work wonders. Have fun and good luck in Season 14 - I leave you with my hour-long overview of some of my favorite builds in the latest patch!