Build of the Week: Witch Doctor, Not a Fetish

Blizzard posted their build of the week last night, and now that there’s some feedback and additional Blue replies, let’s take an evaluative look. Build of the Week: Witch Doctor, Not a Fetish:

Insomnia’s “Pyropower” Witch Doctor

While pets and Witch Doctors often come hand in hand, these masters of magic and mayhem are capable of offering so much more on the battlefield. Sometimes, there’s beauty in simplicity and the best way to debilitate your enemies is to just light them on fire.

For this week’s Play Your Way Thursday, Insomnia#1239 incinerates her enemies with the power of voodoo (you do?) and embraces some clever Legendary mechanics to get even more out of her devastating pyrotechnics!

About the Build:

insomnia-wd-01Fire builds are pretty common for each class, given that there’s a lot of great Legendary synergy available and Fire is an element every class has well represented amongst their skills. What makes Insomnia’s build different from the norm isn’t the elemental focus, but the way she’s chosen to boost her damage through specific skill and Legendary combinations.

Legendary items have been designed on a whole to change the way that you play. Often, you’re at the whim of what loot comes your way. Insomnia has definitely made the items she’s found work the best for her by experimenting with Legendary affixes first and building her skills around those items to make them sing. “I got these items with luck and patience and I tried a lot of builds that didn’t work. I wanted to try new things and find something that makes my character feel special!”

What’s resulted from this experimentation is a uniquely interesting Fire build that’s outside the norm and quite a lot of fun!

The Skills:

Some of the choices in Insomnia’s build might seem a little odd at first. Bear in mind that this particular feature requires looking as much at the recommended items as it does the suggested skills!

Active Skills:

Firebomb (Pyrogeist)

  • Secondary (and free) damage
  • Source of Mana regeneration when used with Vision Quest
  • Zombie Charger (Explosive Beast)

  • Primary damage source
  • Spirit Walk (Healing Journey)

  • Great source of healing when you find your potion on cooldown
  • An excellent escape for any tricky situation
  • Sacrifice (Provoke the Pack)

  • Using Homunculus, provides a 15% damage increase every 15 seconds
  • Offers supplemental damage
  • Big Bad Voodoo (Slam Dance)

  • A solid buff for both group and solo play
  • Significantly boosts the damage output of your Gargantuan
  • Gargantuan (Bruiser)

  • An additional source of Fire damage
  • Offer some group utility by regularly stunning enemies
  • Passive Skills:

    Jungle Fortitude

  • Your dogs should survive long enough to gain the most out of Sacrifice
  • Helps out your Gargantuan and any additional buddies you might summon
  • Passive Toughness increase is always welcome
  • Pierce the Veil

  • Baseline damage increase in exchange for increased Mana costs
  • Easily countered with appropriate gear and complementary Passive skills
  • Vision Quest

  • Zombie Charger is expensive!
  • Helps to counteract Pierce the Veil’s Mana increase
  • Doubles the usefulness of Firebomb, making it a substantial form of Mana regeneration
  • Spiritual Attunement

  • Zombie Charger is still expensive!
  • Helps to counteract Pierce the Veil’s Mana increase
  • Particularly helpful if you opt to use Piranhas over Gargantuan
  • Alternative Skills:

    Piranhas (Piranhado)

  • While it breaks the elemental synergy, the crowd control effect allows you group up enemies for your Zombie Charger and Sacrifice skills
  • Suggested to use in place of Gargantuan (Bruiser)
  • The Items:

    While the Pyropower Witch Doctor can function fairly well without the recommended or complementary items listed below, these pieces of gear are what make this build unique. You’ll want to track down a couple of them if you’re looking to emulate Insomnia’s playstyle.

    Crafted items fill in slots where Insomnia is awaiting particular items while making the best of what +% Fire Damage gear she's acquired.

    Crafted items fill in slots where Insomnia is awaiting particular items while making the best of what +% Fire Damage gear she’s acquired.

    Recommended Items:


  • Allows you to utilize the buff provided by Sacrifice (Provoke the Pack) without requiring Summon Zombie Dogs
  • Guaranteed Maximum Mana helps out considerably with high resource costs
  • Cindercoat

  • A strong standby for any Fire build
  • Additional Resource Cost Reduction helps alleviate the Mana increases from Pierce the Veil
  • Complementary Items:

    Manajuma’s Carving Knife

  • The ability to stack additional Maximum Mana makes any Ceremonial Knife a solid option
  • Guaranteed bonus Critical Hit Damage makes Manajuma’s a strong contender
  • Haunt of Vaxo

  • Your Gargantuan will proc the helpful shadow clones from this item
  • Reaper’s Wraps

  • With heavy and frequent resource cycling, a great crafted go-to to get started!
  • Recommended Stats:

    Fire is definitely the focus here, so items like Cindercoat and The Burning Axe of Sankis will serve you well. In addition, Insomnia utilizes a high amount of Area Damage, as many of her skills are concentrated on hitting clustered together packs of enemies. This takes Firebomb (Pyrogeist) and turns it from a strong single-target skill to a frequent and powerful source of area of effect damage. To better support the high Mana costs incurred by Pierce the Veil, you’ll also want to keep an eye out for Maximum Mana and Mana regeneration.

    Recommended Difficulty and Game Mode:

    This build is ravaging Insomnia’s foes in Torment IV on Normal mode, both with and without party members (though she traditionally adventures alongside a Crusader friend). This build isn’t focused on one particular type of play or another, and performs equally well whether you’re completing bounties or running back-to-back Nephalem Rifts. Because of its innately conservative nature, you should have little trouble translating this build onto a Hardcore character with, of course, appropriate shifts toward higher Toughness and survivability.insomnia-wd-03

    Why We Like This Build:

    Sometimes, it’s best to just keep things simple and let the pyromaniac within run rampant. The Pyropower build definitely scratches that itch, and leaves room for iteration if you pick up a piece of gear that really demands use. It’s a great starting base to work from, offering a sense of natural progression as you acquire more gear.

    In addition, the creative use of Homunculus is a pretty cool aspect to this build. This was a perfect example of a light bulb going off over my head when I didn’t expect it—it seems so obvious in retrospect that Sacrifice opens up as an option without needing Summon Zombie Dogs when using this mojo. Sometimes it takes looking at a slightly off-kilter build to get your head out of the box, and I hope to both see and experience more of those revelations in future Play Your Way features!

    This one caught my eye since I’ve been meaning to do a WD again, but the main cookie cutter fetish stuff bores me. I enjoyed Zombie Bears in D3v since it was about dashing into the middle of everything, hitting a Soul Harvest, and then spamming bears as enemies swarmed to me. Wearing a bunch of +pet damage stuff and watching Fetishes kill things doesn’t appeal to me. And this build looks much more active, even if it does give into RoS’ main “why does every item boost fire skill damage?” design flaw.

    What looks like the early feedback and Nevalistis’ replies?

    I did the same thing back when RoS first came out just to be different and also because of the gear I was finding. I used to have around 115% fire damage buff but needed to switch out a couple pieces and I am at 86% fire now. I can say that T4 is quite doable with a Fire Doctor.

    Also, I have found that Rain Dance is quite a bit more effective since you can endlessly spam charger for the entire duration! –RHVfan

    Is the Pyrogeist rune still being nerfed on PTR? I’m not home so I can’t check the latest PTR. Last time I checked the damage was pretty weak (500ish over 6 seconds) which is pretty trivial to use when Corpse spiders with Blazing rune does 700%, is spammable AND is instant. –Zaurok
    Nevalistis: I don’t believe there have been any balance changes to Firebomb (Pyrogeist) on the PTR. I’ve tried to mention major PTR changes in these blogs if they’re relevant (and had intended to cover some of the Sacrifice changes, but forgot/ran out of time).

    Fully updated PTR Patch Notes are available here.

    “Only summoned Zombie Dogs may be sacrificed.” ~ Direct quote from the BNET game guide for the description of Sacrifice.

    The ONLY reason anyone would use a sacrifice build with only Homuculus would have been complete dumb luck, by figuring out that non-summoned zombie dogs WOULD work with Sacrifice. Because, let’s face it, the wording in the description is entirely misleading. It leads you to believe that only Zombie Dogs that YOU summon are usable in Sacrifice.

    Now with that out of the way, Kudos to anyone that has made a build that uses Sacrifice, with ONLY Homuculus dogs. And this build is pretty entertaining. With the gear on your WD though, I would have used a lot more +% fire gear and dropped the Demons and Augs. Just MHO though. Keep up the good work. –Drognan70
    Nevalistis: I’m happy to pass that feedback on to our web team. Thanks, I appreciate the call out! It’s quite possible it’s a line that’s out of date and was just missed at some point.

    My suspicion is that the Demons and Augs are fillers while seeking out additional pieces of gear. Insomnia would be able to let you know for sure. 😉

    Are we sure that bruiser gargantuan procs the Haunt of Vaxo clones? I didn’t think it did. –Jaybonaut
    Nevalistis: : Hmm, I’ll double check on this one. I might be under the wrong impression here, and if so, I’ll correct the blog. 🙂

    I need to ask this or I think I’m going to go crazy. I don’t wanna sound like some sort of conspiracy theorist or anything, but I swear these builds are affecting the PTR. The past “winning” builds seem to be getting massive buffs in the PTR in terms of at least legendaries. The Zoosader is getting a legendary that doubles the amount of avatars from Phalanx and another that doubles the duration. The Carnevil build is getting a knife that causes Poison Dart to pierce. Those legendaries are massive buffs to those builds which happened to be featured during their respective rotations. So are these builds affecting the PTR in any way? I need to know to put my mind to rest. –ChaosPhantom
    Nevalistis: Not specifically. This is a project that’s completely community oriented. Any developmental changes are either coincidences or might be a result of feedback that arose because folks are talking about these builds (which is good! That’s part of the point of these blogs is to encourage discussion).

    But I don’t take these builds directly to developers and ask them to buff them, if that’s what you’re insinuating.

    Anyone curious to put your fetishes back into the closet and try out a fire Witch Doctor? As with every other non-cookie cutter build this one seems to max out around T4, even with really good gear, but… variety?

    Tagged As: | Categories: Blue Posts, Diablo 3, Fan Stuff, Witch Doctor


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    1. 'Haunt of Vaxo: Your Gargantuan will proc the helpful shadow clones from this item'


      This bug has been posted numerous times in the bug forum. They should cross reference with QA before posting builds of the week.

    2. Does Pyrogeist trigger Vision Quest every time it shoots at an enemy or only when you cast it?

      • It is a hard question, because in my experience, vision quest triggers when the spell casted spell HITS something.

    3. I have tried it and as you said its a no go. I tried the likes before while I just tried out builds to see if they can work.The truth is it is a struggle when you get in higher difficulties. The other side, on lower difficulties it really does not make a difference what skills you use. Anything, skills just thrown together with no cohesive vision for skill interaction and benefit almost work just as well. There is the proverbial wall for all of them. The only thing that performs well is a low mana using pet build. Much less damage taken and no need to spam skills (cause you would run out of mana anyway).

    4. Addendum However they have made some strides on the PTR with set bonuses (drastically changing them) and some drastic changes to skills to open the door some on build diversity and PLAY diversity. Firebird mages can now really PLAY a style that is different because of the burn affect! (just an example)

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