Blizzard on Patch 2.3 Witch Doctor set changes

Color him unimpressed

Color him unimpressed

The new and redesigned Witch Doctor sets in Patch 2.3 received a lot of negative feedback in their initial iteration, as players found them cumbersome to use and not nearly damaging enough. Blizzard took that to heart and John Yang hit the PTR feedback forum to explain some major changes to the redesigned Helltooth Harness and the new Spirit of Arachyr set.

Blizzard on Patch 2.3 Witch Doctor set changes:

Hi all,

I wanted to share updates on two of the sets that since 2.3 PTR launched have had significant changes – Helltooth and Spirit of Arachyr – with the goal re-aligning the discussions and theorycrafting to what the sets/playstyles might look like next PTR patch.

The initial starting cost of 150 Mana has been removed and the channel cost has been increased from 75 to 125 Mana. Summed up, this means when you channel Firebats for less than 3 attack cycles (roughly 2-3 seconds depending on attack speed) Firebats will cost less total Mana than previously. Additionally, the time needed to fully charge up Plague Bats and Cloud of Bats has been reduced by 40%.

These changes are intended to make a channeled skill like Firebats more friendly to use in fast-paced gameplay environments where movement is important. Some of the runes will still reinforce standing still to channel the skill but will do so by granting increased damage rather than consuming all of your Mana if you have to move due to danger or other reasons.

Spirit of Arachyr
6pc bonus

  • Creature skills now include Locust Swarm.
  • Damage bonus has been increased from 500% to 800%.
  • These adjustments along with the Firebats changes above should sum to meaningful improvements to the build.

    Helltooth Harness

    2pc bonus

  • Grasp of the Dead now also applies Necrosis.
  • Necrosis now increases damage taken from all sources by 15% but the damage over time has been reduced to 1000% per second. This shifts some of the damage off relying on Wall of Death hitting as well as provides some group benefit.
  • 6pc bonus
    The damage bonus has been moved from requiring Necrosis on the enemy to be a self-buff on you.

    The bonus currently reads “After casting Wall of Death, you gain 300% increased damage to your primary skills, Acid Cloud, Firebats, Zombie Charger, Grasp of the Dead, Piranhas, and Wall of Death for 10 seconds. This effect stacks up to 3 times.” Casting Wall of Death refreshes the duration of all existing stacks of this buff on you.

    We want there to be some payoff for hitting with a challenging-to-use skill like Wall of Death but the difference between Necrosis being on the enemy or not was too large. Moving the 6pc bonus to a player buff also lets the set be more mobile.

    Additionally, we are adding two weapons that synergize with this set:

    1H Spear

  • Reduces the Mana cost of Zombie Charger by 30-40%.
  • Rolls with +25-30% Zombie Charger damage.
  • 2H Staff

  • Acid Cloud gains the effect of the Lob Blob Bomb rune.
  • Rolls with +30-40% Acid Cloud damage.
  • These are not the only changes coming to sets but are what we wanted to share today. Thanks for all the focused feedback so far – keep it up.

    I haven’t tried the new WD stuff, though it’s on my to-do list. There were several main complaints about the new WD stuff. 1) All the spells were mid-range attacks and there were not enough defensive buffs to support that proximity. 2) All the WD damage buffs required stacking/casting multiple spells in a row to power them up, which took much longer than comparable play options for other classes. 3) Too many of the WD’s skills were channeled requiring the WD to remain stationary to deal out big damage.

    These tweaks address some of those issues, but WD players aren’t greeting them with delight and wonder. They might be wrong of course, and play testing is required to really see what/how the new stuff works, but early feedback isn’t exactly overjoyed. Click through for some quotes:

    From the PTR feedback thread:

    Hi John, no idea if you or anyone else at blizz will read this but i must say as a WD main these changes are at best disappointing. Let me explain my concerns which i think many WD players might share:

    1) Firebats damage is still underperforming in comparisson with other classes. The risk/benefit scenario still is not rewarding enough to be worth it. Even factoring in the new bracers melee WD will take just too much damage and deal out too little

    2) Spirit of Arachyr 2P / 4P while interesting in theoretical design are still useless in anything over T7 or Grift Equivalent. 6P on the other hand relies in skills that do so little damage that increasing it from 500 to 800 will not prove usefull at all. If a damage increase is to be the solution it needs to be substantial

    3) The problem of the set and firebats still remains so… i think we differ with what “meaningful improvements” may be

    4) Helltooth 2P: What is the point of using Wall of Zombies now? since its attack area is totally unreliable at best. There is no reason at all to use this skill over Grasp of the Dead (that does minimal damage).

    5) Why is there a fixation of forcing DOT on WD??? Can’t we have a direct damage set that works like other classes? If the idea is for it to be unique then I’m sorry to inform the damage numbers need to way up.

    6) The 6P Wall of Death buff is cumbersome and the same mechanic that most people complained about in Z6 all other classes just get a buff we need to cast a spell before in order to get a buff, we need to cast an unreliable spell. If the idea was to make more like the Wall of Zombies on Heroes of the Storm why isn’t it like the Wall of Zombies on Heroes of the Storm? I would much rather see a WoZ that has a much smaller radius and surrounds a single enemy while at the same time Isolates that enemy not allowing it to move for a few seconds, like a player controlled version of Jailer.

    7) New items: look good on paper but Zombie Bears still require us to remain static to deal any semblance of damage. In current diablo meta if you are stading still = you are dead. Meaning not enough rewards. And the Acid Cloud Staff …. doesn’t sound interesting enough yet.

    For a While now we have been waiting on you John, you said you were testing the class, you said you were familiarizing yourself with the class and its problems. If these are all the changes for WD i fear we will remain pigeonholed to Zuni Carnevil because as of now these changes do not promise any change to the meta.

    I hope there are other changes planned indeed.


    If GR62+ is the current goal, then helltooth and arachyr fall short by at least 5x the damage. Given other class results along with Carnevil, you must balance around this.

    If these sets can clear GR50 without the new items, were looking at 17^13 hp growth and thus at least 5x less damage than the sets need.

    The new weapons provide 1.85/1.45 damage boost which is 27.5% more damage. 1.27 <<< 5.Mr Yang, I think you need to spend more time contacting top players in the WD community, because we could have reported many flaws earlier in the development process. We work for free. Seriously, look at Paul's posts.--MCP

    here is the problem i have with the helltooth set. in order to do dmg you have to:

    -> cast wod 3 times
    -> cast a primary
    -> cast Grasp of the Dead
    -> maybie cast BBV

    -> now you can start doing dmg

    you maybie see the problem already…


    –Spirit of Arachyr
    Still far from enough damage to be competitive. There are about 15 GR levels in between Carnevil (and any other class baring monks) as it stands – you could’ve tackled on a 0 at the end of those 500% to make things work out. Small Caveat: Unless you changed Grim Reaper to work with out set bonuses, then it requires a smaller multiplier.

    –Helltooth Harness
    The increase to 900 at three stacks doesn’t even cover the loss on the two piece bonus with this change, unless necrosis now stacks per application. That is to say, the set still will remain stuck at ~GR 45.

    Also, the stacking mechanics doesn’t change anything over the status quo. At 10s, the buff is likely to drop off in between packs, requiring us to still use a 3 GCD setup to be able to deal (non competitive) damage. It’s just instead of using three casts to cover mobs in debuffs, it’s now three casts to cover ourselves in buffs (a target change – that’s all there is) – all that to still deal significantly less damage in a more restricted area than any other class does with but one skill.


    You get the gist of it. The natives are truly restless.


    You're not logged in. Register or login to post a comment.
    1. A change in the spider set would be good and I agree with where the quotes above are coming from. I would like to see more skill combinations together rather than having to rely on my pet army build and variant’s of all the time.

    2. finally they did something with WD

    3. I have been playing the Helltooth set all PTR and it is awesome! You have great flexibility in damage type. You can easily change between fire, poison, physical or cold. Just base it on the best weapon you have. I really like the cold damage play. It just syncs well with BoT & Iceblink + frostburn and the dogs give +15% dmg.I believe the changes are a downgrade. With Jeram's Bracers you can easily spam the entire area with Walls of Death and they amplify themselves by 800%.I haven't really pushed the grifts yet, because of gem leveling, but I do GR40 in 7 minutes. So that would be 4 minutes in Season 3. That makes it as good as the spin2win barb.

      • With all due respect GR 40 is nothing come patch 2.3.  That would be like using T1 as a means of measuring the discrepancy between builds now in 2.2.  Most of the people posting in the set feedback thread are estimating that Helltooth will top out between 45-50.  This may at first not sound all that bad, but what you have to realize is that Carnevil builds are going to be clearing GR 70.  Blizzard has stated that they want to introduce new sets which will be competitive with old ones, giving us more options for all levels of play.  Currently Helltooth and Arachyr are NOT meeting up to that expectation.  I tried running Helltooth for a bit on T8 and it was painfully slow compared to my Carnevil build.  Even with 6 piece Helltooth and Jeram's bracers I was still getting the majority of my damage from fetish army.  When I tried running with zero pets (which should be a viable play style for that set in my opinion) everything fell to pieces.  I think the real problem with Helltooth at least is that the base spells it supports are simply outdated. Their damage/resource ratio is atrocious when compared with spenders of others classes.  I fear that if the developers do not listen to all the witch doctors pleading for a buff to base spell damage that Helltooth will just end up like Delsere's did in the end….a sad reminder of what could have been.

    4. Dear all, from my point of view, even the suggested changes still do not meet the requirements of wd community. I do not understand why, at the moment from my point of view, the wd is the worst class in diablo 3. There has been so many feedback by professional players on youtube and in the forums. A good class is invited into higher grift teams – like barbarians, crusaders, monks or demonhunters. The stundoc is invited, but this will not happen anymore in patch 2.3.
      I dont know who John is, but I think, he does not like the wd – because if he would, the changes would look otherwise. I also do not think, that he tried to get into al grift 60+ party with a wd. Not enough damage, nice feeling to be kicked because of not enough damage. Painful. This is a big disappointment even after the \changes\ – they are nothing, that helps.
      We need powerful, strong wd sets, that allows us to compete with the best dhs. If this can not be achieved, new wd sets are absolutely senseless.

    Comments are closed.