Diablo 3 Strategy: Demon Hunter “Arctic Zoo” Build

Blizzard offered up an interesting build in this week’s “Play Your Way Thursday” with a build title that sounds like a Witch Doctor, but is for a Demon Hunter semi-awkwardly sandwiching two different types of builds into one package. I found it interesting as a DH build that’s not just the standard anti-pewpewpew “cast multiple sentries and run around until while they kill things” approach. Diablo 3 Strategy: Demon Hunter “Arctic Zoo” Build:

Jakarro’s “Arctic Zoo” Demon Hunter

About the Build:

jakarros-arctic-zoo1While pets are not the focus of his build, Jakarro calls upon a brutal portable zoo to support his cold-themed play style. The idea behind the “Arctic Zoo” Demon Hunter is to create defensive buffers in single-player games and supplemental damage in group play, allowing both you and your friends to just hang back and… chill.

This is a versatile build that’s great in any game mode, and you’ll find it offers great defensive support while still pulling its weight in damage. While you won’t see huge, individual numbers pouring across your screen with the Arctic Zoo, you’ll still make your enemies regret ever messing with you in the first place, kiting them around the battlefield like pawns on a chessboard.

Slowed and steady wins this race and, at the end of the day, if the demons are dead and the loot is yours, it makes little difference!

The Skills:

This build is all about bringing the pain of frostbite to your enemies and letting your item-based pets mop up the rest!

Active Skills:

Hungering Arrow (Devouring Arrow)

  • Resource generator
  • Deals cold damage, one of this build’s primary focuses
  • Elemental Arrow (Frost Arrow)

  • Main damage dealer
  • Huge source of damage, especially in large packs
  • Offers great crowd control as the effect splashes to additional targets
  • Caltrops (Hooked Spines)

  • Keeps your enemies at a distance to apply your slowing effects and letting your pets do the dirty work
  • Smoke Screen (Displacement)

  • Serves as this build’s escape method
  • Companion (Wolf Companion)

  • In conjunction with The Cloak of the Garwulf, offers a big group of puppies to help keep you safe
  • Serves as a DPS cooldown, significantly boosting your big boom in Rain of Vengeance
  • Offers always-welcomed group utility
  • Rain of Vengeance (Shade)

  • Cooldown based burst of damage for those low Hatred situations
  • Clears out any surviving stragglers slowed from your Caltrops or Elemental Arrow
  • Great way to clear out a large pack in short order
  • Passive Skills:

    Steady Aim

  • Between your pets and slowing powers, you should be able to capitalize on this DPS boost in almost every situation
  • Perfectionist

  • Primarily used for a Toughness boost
  • Allows more frequent use of Caltrops and Smoke Screen
  • Archery

  • Regardless of your weapon of choice, offers a great DPS boost
  • Night Stalker

  • Helps ensure Caltrops and Smoke Screen are always available for those tricky situations
  • The Items:

    There are two major focuses in this build: pets and Cold damage. Gearing is flexible for the most part, and the below recommended items should be viewed as goals for reaching higher Torment levels while complementary items change the build’s focus in one direction or another.

    Jakarro’s splitting his focus on his pets and Cold damage by using a Tasker and Theo with a Cold damage set of Reaper’s Wraps.

    Recommended Items:

    The Cloak of the Garwulf

  • Additional wolves at your beck and call help keep you out of danger
  • Marauder’s Set (4-piece bonus)

  • More animal companions provide additional meat shields and supplemental damage
  • Natalya’s Set (2-piece bonus)

  • Primarily serving as an extra stat boost
  • Squeeze out even more benefit with a Ring of Royal Grandeur
  • Complementary Items:

    Tasker and Theo

  • Should you choose to focus on your pets, a natural choice for upping their excellence
  • Frostburn

  • If you want to move to subzero levels, try these out for additional cold damage and crowd control
  • The Ess of Johan

  • Helps you better control the battlefield for your pets
  • Groups up enemies from a distance to best capitalize on Elemental Arrow’s splitting shots
  • Recommended Stats:

    The stats that you choose to focus on largely depend on where you wish to take the Arctic Zoo build. Want to cool down from the hot summer? Stack up additional Cold damage and keep an eye out for a Kridershot. If the menagerie leading your wake of destruction is the stronger calling, be sure to focus on Critical Hit Damage and consider using some +% Physical damage so they pack just a bit more punch!

    Recommended Difficulty and Game Mode:

    Jakarro is currently using his Arctic Zoo build on Torment V and VI on Normal mode. Pets can make up for a lack of Toughness if you prove wily enough in combat, but don’t let that allow you to neglect Toughness in general! This build can certainly lead to a false sense of security, and one unfortunate Jailer or Thunderstorm could end your run abruptly if you’ve neglected your defensive stats. For this reason, I’d recommend avoiding high Torment difficulty levels with a Hardcore character—at least until you find your comfort zone!

    Why We Like This Build:

    jakarros-arctic-zoo3While this build plays a lot with some standard items and skills seen commonly at Torment VI for Demon Hunters, it’s proud to do it in its own way. Cold-oriented skills are helpful to kiting builds, and I’m always a fan of playing in a way that doesn’t just help me, but also my friends.

    The Arctic Zoo Demon Hunter does a bit of everything—and, while there’s a bit of a split personality in terms of identity going on here (pets? cold? PETS? COLD?), that doesn’t hamper its effectiveness or detract from its charm. Overall, it’s a great representation of taking a common build and making it your own!

    So does it work? Or is this another assemblage of gear that could be rolling T6 in a DiabloWikicookie cutter build, but is instead using different skills and maybe having more fun, but settling for T4-T5 as a consequence? (Because as we know, if you’re just playing and having fun, rather than pushing to the highest possible Torment level for the best possible item return, you’re completely wasting your time.) Some of the wiser comments from the B.net post, plus some replies from Nevalistis.

    I don’t feel like this build really has the same synergy and uniqueness as other builds. It’s just kind of like two half builds put together into a not very effective hybrid. There’s no real damage to it. I would suggest Cull the Weak and also a Kridershot are almost essential to it, then replacing hunger arrow with the ele frost arrow as the generator leaving you a different damager or even sentries… or perhaps even using buriza and focusing a bit more on piercing.

    I think it would be more interesting to see a more pure cold-focused DH rather than messing it all up with the +pet gear. The +pet stuff is great and all, for other builds, I just feel like it takes away from this one. This is more of an entry-level build for lower torment levels if you like to just walk around and not kill things.

    Also, Blizz, where is the melee DH love? I wanna see a viable knife/traps build.
    Nevalistis: There were a few builds it came down to this week, but with the melee Wizard featured last week (and some other factors), I didn’t want the blogs to wind up being too similar back to back. I try to make sure there’s good variety week to week, and sometimes that makes selection a bit tricky.

    I also use a similar build, but with burizza and turrets, so it’s even more pet focused. With 2unity i can even clear solo t6 (although not very fast). Would be great if you could add elemental runes to companion, as for now they are all doing only physical damage. Would allow more build diversity.

    Just one thought about the DPS skill in this build, because i really don’t get it how can this work on higher torments.

    I’ve used Kridershot for a while with M6 build, even with this godly weapon which makes frost arrow free to cast, i’ve not even scratched bigger mobs or elite packs with it. It was just the crowd control ability for the build but not DPS. Even the pets bite bigger then one arrow’s hit. I miss the real nuke spell from here. Imho with this setup it would take forever to take down an elite pack on a T5 party with 4 players for example.


    How crazy.. this is almost the exact build I’m using. I have switched caltrops and smokescreen for Chain Turret and Vault.. it seems to work better for my style.. Maybe I could call it Arctic Zoo on a Leash.
    Nevalistis: I’ve been substituting a few things around as well (I have a Beckon Sail and 1/2 Danetta’s, so I’ve swapped out Smoke Screen for Tumble and a few other minor adjustments). Always interesting to hear how folks take something on their own spin!

    For passives: I would slot Cull the Weak INSTEAD of Archery because the +5% CHC you get from archery will only increase your DPS by approximately %6 overall. With CtW all enemies caught within his caltrops take 20% extra damage from all sources. When patch 2.1 goes live the CtW effect will definitely be applied to enemies that are chilled; making it an excellent passive for any cold DHs like Jakarro.
    Nevalistis: That’s a great point! Good callout, I’ll have to give that a go on PTR.

    Cold build with EA is always associated to Kridershot. Bad elemental damage multiplier and paper dps is not really impressive. Illusory boots is not necessary. Should have use Marauder boots and free up helm for Nat set and drop Nat ring for a SOJ. Otherwise, free up TnT glove for Frostburn glove since he stated priority for pets are not for dealing damage.

    For me, cloak should come with at least 10 Discipline. I will salvage any cloak without discipline even though if it roll top stats. Same go to quiver. I am surprise someone with paragon 446 do not understand the basic on theory crafting. Quiver without discipline is thrash even if it is a Rucksack. Sorry to be mean.

    Since he only play DH, I assume his witching hour come with low dex and he rerolled to higher dex. It was a mistake to do so. He should have rerolled CHD to higher numbers and leave the dex because dex can easily obtained when reaching higher paragon since there is no max. CHD, you can’t get it easily.

    This set is low on mitigation as evidence by gem in helm and the passive perfectionist. So, since pets are not meant for dmg, the shoulder should reroll the companion to 15% life or All Resist instead of higher dex.

    Now onto skills. The main focus of cold build is provide crowd control and take advantage of Cull the Weak passive. Instead, Archery and perfectionist are used. What is the point of slowing enemies with caltrop and EA and don’t take advantage with CTW. Puzzled!

    Rain of Vengeance is a weak skill on high torments. I do not understand why use this when his gears have only 7% cool down reduction. Puzzle again.

    I think I should not continue anymore…

    It’s weird they published the cold demon hunter before the 2.1 patch. There will be so many more cold skills, and ones that actually do damage (e.g. Maelstrom)
    Nevalistis: There will definitely be more Cold options for Demon Hunters in 2.1. I’ve been avoiding PTR specific builds because the changes on the PTR aren’t yet final, and I want to avoid featuring a build that’s obsolete by the time I post it (these blogs take about a week to produce, from sifting through builds to writing and then publishing).

    I think it’ll be really interesting to see what kind of Cold builds come out of the works in 2.1 for Demon Hunters, but featuring one prior to that gives us an opportunity to compare and contrast between patches. That can make for some great discussion!

    This build looks fun to me, since you’ve got a wall of tanking pets and I really enjoy using Rain of Vengeance, and making everything cold and Caltropped seems to add to the CCing insult. Hungering Arrow is a woeful half-main attack though, Frost Arrow isn’t much better, and as several commenters pointed out, this build seems to cry out for a Kridershot, which would turn Elemental Arrow into the Hatred Generator and open up another skill slot for a damage option.

    So on the whole, this build is probably not the one to aim for as your long term plan, if you don’t have the gear yet. It might be fun to try out if you already had most of the equipment and wanted something new/different, but you might also be better off waiting for Patch 2.1 to go live when there will be many more DH build options with better support for non-Fire elements.


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    1. I posted the last comment.

      I looked up the user who put the build and he had a ton of trifecta gear on his gloves, rings, and amulet. So I guess he can probably run the higher torments with ease due to his present high dps output, with this build.

    2. This game does not have builds, because you can not customize your character and items are generic. Calling random skill combination a “build” looks really bad.

    3. You can easily customize your character.

      Good that his skill combination is actually put together for a reason.

      He can probably do t5-t6 but slow and extremely careful. With his toughness he gets 1 shot from Jailer on T6.

      Only 20 ele dmg. No elite dmg. Using a 1h xbow. Thats why he got high sheet dps.

      “Please enter: Cookie Cutter” heh

    4. I just wanted to point out the item desciption is a bit off, because Natalya's ring +weapon +ring of royal grandeur actually gives the 3-piece bonus.

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