So you’ve chosen the Witch Doctor! Congrats you’ve already made a very good decision. As a level 60 Witch Doctor in Inferno, I can undoubtedly say that this is the best, most diverse, and kinky class in the game.
First let’s start with a few basic traits about the Witch Doctor Class:
- Great Crowd Control (AoE) – The Witch Doctor excels in situation.
- A variety of builds – Once you get to Inferno most classes are restricted to one or two builds (I’m looking at you Demon Hunters) that are the most effective. Not the case for the Witch Doctor.
- Healing/Summons – Tons of healing and summon spells. The summons don’t work very well late in the game, but the healing is great from start to finish.
- Great Group Play - While other classes prefer to solo it up once you get to Inferno the Witch Doctor is a great grouping class from start to finish.
- Mana - The Witch Doctor is the only consumer of mana in Diablo 3. It drains quickly (more quickly than the Wizard equivalent), so managing this is one of the challenges of selecting a Witch Doctor. You must become adept at selecting and using skills that balance mana consumption.
These are core concepts of the Wizard that are important to know and remember throughout your journey as a Wizard. Keep them in mind as you grind and slay your way to Inferno!
Act 1 in Normal difficulty is long, but relatively easy and gives you a fantastic opportunity to practice your skills without dying too frequently. The penalty for dying is very small, so do not worry about the occasional death (although it can largely be avoided).
NOTE: This section is identical to the one found in the Wizard guide.
We highly recommend that you primarily work your way through the game with a party. Partying is a way to synthesize the strengths of the different classes in order to level as quickly as possible. In addition, people in games can exchange/trade item drops that might not work for their class, but might be ideal for a different class. If you do not have friends at or around your same level, don’t fret, Blizzard’s public game feature is fantastic. Simply go into the Battle Net Interface and join a public game at or around your skill level.
Finding the right party is extremely important for efficiently leveling up as quickly as possible. First you must know, the basic classifications/attributes of heroes in Diablo 3:
- Witch Doctor
- Demon Hunter
In addition, heroes can also be divided into melee vs. ranged:
- Demon Hunter
- Witch Doctor
It is extremely important for your party to have a diversity of classes. When partying in a group of two, look for a melee hero (Barbarian/Monk) to tank, while you dish out the damage. In a group of three or four, try to have a diversity of melee/ranged and intelligence/dexterity/strength heroes. When additional people join the game, monsters also gain more hit points (75% more) so it’s important that your group does not have too much overlap or deadweight. If you join a public game with too many of one primary attribute or no melee hero to tank, do not hesitate in leaving and joining another game. This will be better in the long run for both you and your party.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get onto the game!
Skills & Runes
If you’re a veteran coming over from Diablo 2, one of the first things you’ll notice is that Blizzard has completely redone the skill (& rune) system in Diablo 3. We have individual pages covering alot of the individual mechanics of the skills and runes, but in this guide we’re going to be specifically focused on the most important skills & runes you will be unlocking. The most notable change is perhaps the ability to respec your hero’s skills & runes for free. On their website, Blizzard has also created a tool where you can see the natural progression of skill & rune unlocking so you can plan your build out all the way to level 60! But before you get too far into selecting skills & runes, make sure to turn on elective mode so you have full control over the skills & runes that you choose.
At the very beginning stages of the game you’re only just starting to unlock different skills and are allowed to have just 1-3 different active skills. But by the end of Act 1 Normal you’ll just be unlocking a 4th active skill slot and a passive. The game is at it’s easiest and most straightforward during this act, making it a great point to experiment with different skill & rune combinations! As a level 60 Witch Doctor grinding in Act 3/4 Inferno I’ve been there and here are the active skills that I’d like to highlight for use:
- Poison Dart (lvl 1) – Super straightforward and surprisingly effective all the way to the end of the game. One of the absolute first viable Witch Doctor builds was a Poison Dart/Splinterscombination. Nothing super sexy, but good solid damage and it doesn’t consume hardly any mana.
- Splinters (lvl 6) – The first rune unlocked! It’s a good one too. You now shoot three darts in rapid succession. Great little bursts of damage.
- Grasp of the Dead (lvl 2) – Wow! You’re unlocking alot of great skills quickly. This is a fantastic snare (slow/stun). It’s one of the best for all classes. Having played both Wizard and Witch Doctor at high levels I can say with absolute certainty that I miss this skill whenever I’m playing my Wizard! It lasts for 8 seconds (with a cooldown of 8 seconds), meaning you can always have one GotD.
- Unbreakable Grasp (lvl 7) – Another great rune. Instead of being slowed, enemies are now slowed to 80% within GotD making one of the best snares in the game even better! You’ll be using this skill/rune combo all the way into the depths of Inferno.
- Corpse Spiders (lvl 3) – This might seem weak, but it’s actually a great skill and offers significantly stronger crowd control with Poison Darts, albeit without the targeting capabilities. You should be constantly throwing Corpse Spiderson the ground by holding down the shift button and using the left click of your mouse. No need to have exact aim as these Spiders will do most of the work for you. It gets even more interesting when you unlock…
- Leaping Spiders (lvl 9) – Now your Corpse Spiders leap at opponents. You hardly have to aim at all.
- Summon Zombie Dogs(lvl 4) – I don’t personally recommend using summons, but at this stage of the game they are still viable. I realize that summons are a big draw for alot of people to play Witch Doctor, so have at it!
- Rabid Dogs (lvl 12) – First rune unlocked for the zombie dogs. Makes them do a fair amount more damage.
- Firebats (lvl 5) – Well all of these skills are great, but how do I do insanely sick and disgusting amounts of damage with the Witch Doctor!? Funny you should ask, Firebats is exactly the skill for you. If you just look at the numbers on the tooltip, it does 150% weapon damage. Super sick… In my favorite, Witch Doctor Inferno build, I’m still using this sicko spell.
- Dire Bats (lvl 11) – Now your bats go right through opponents and hit for 220% damage, making Firebats one of the most powerfully effective skills for the Doctor. When you use this skill, you’re going to have to watch your mana consumption as it definitely drains your mana very quickly.
- Horrify (lvl 8) – Another good snare. This one causes nearby mobs to run away for four seconds. It also has some great runes. We’ll report back later!
- Soul Harvest (lvl 9) – This one gets really fun when you unlock Spirit Walk. This significantly increases your DPS and is a big reason why the Witch Doctor has some of the best crowd control in the game. Practice darting forwards into crowds and casting Soul Harvest and then spamming Firebats and Splinters and just watch and enjoy the carnage.
Wow! That’s alot of skills to play with. As a Witch Doctor you will have a huge amount of diverse, viable builds throughout the game so have fun! You’ll also unlock a passive skill slot at level 10, here’s what we recommend:
- Jungle Fortitude (lvl 10) – Reduces the damage that you take. Not insanely complicated, but still very effective.
- Spiritual Attunement (lvl 13) – Put this on immediately (replacing Jungle Fortitude), unless you’re doing a build centered around Corpse Spiders. If you are using Firebats then this is practically a requirement. Helps mana regen and max mana.
I’d recommend choosing skills that balance mana consumption as well as balancing snare/stun capabilities. Combining things like Unbreakable Grasp and Horrify is frankly unnecessary as they duplicate alot of the same functionality. If you want to move quickly through the act, synergize your skill selection and select one snare, a nice damage dealing, high mana consumption spell (hello Firebats) and a good primary skill (Splinters, Corpse Spiders). Act 1 is still a great time to experiment and any sort of skill combination works at this point in the game, so don’t get too stressed about finding the best combination and have some fun with it!
Quests & Bosses
The quests in Act 1 are self-explanatory and easy. We recommend simply playing them, and don’t anticipate too much trouble if you follow our basic skill & item principles. One of the more difficult early quests is the Reign of the Black King where you will fight one of the first bosses, the Skeleton King. While this is more difficulty than the majority of Act 1, simply keeping a good distance between yourself and the skeleton king, run when the Skeleton King teleports close to you, use potions (hit Q!) when you are in low health and kill additional minions when he summons them and your party should be able to take down the Skeleton King. Stun him with Grasp of the Dead and spam damage on him and you’ll be able to slowly dent and reduce his large bar of health. Mobs will gradually get more and more difficult throughout Act 1, but don’t fret as dying hardly comes with hardly any penalties. Stick with your party and use our basic Witch Doctor principles and Act 1 will be a breeze.
The hardest part of Act 1, comes at the end when you fight the Butcher (Act 1 Boss). Pay close attention to the Butcher’s movements. Against bosses like this, it’s important to practice the principles of moving while shooting. In other words, you should unleash an attack, and while your spell is on a cooldown, move your Witch Doctor. Use this when you’re using Splinters, Corpse Spiders, or Firebats. Against someone like the Butcher, this prevents your enemy from locking in and killing you with his charge or other array of attacks. Keep your distance, and avoid locations that the Butcher sets on fire. If you die and you have a party member still alive, DO NOT RESPAWN at the nearest waypoint as an ally can resurrect you and allow you to rejoin the fight. When an enemy dies, try to resurrect them if the Butcher is far away from the corpse.
At the beginning stages of the game, the best way to acquire new items is to take them off critters or through the in-game vendors. You should pick-up any magical (blue) or rare (yellow) items that fall from monsters. Don’t worry about any other types of weapons as they will almost always be inferior to their magical & rare counterparts. When you pick up the items, you should be able to quickly evaluate and determine the strength of the item. If it’s better the current item you’re using, equip it. If not, keep it in your inventory and sell it to a vendor for gold.
For the Witch Doctor early on, your DPS is the most important thing. Not dying is much easier at the early stages of the game, so sacrificing some hit points & armor for extra damage is recommended to speed up the process. With the Witch Doctor there’s a number of ways to increase your damage. The easiest and most important is increasing the overall DPS of your weapon. This is easy to do with Blizzard’s item comparison feature (simply hover over an item). You can also see your overall damage, by hitting I to look at your inventory and looking at the damage metric. If a weapon increases your DPS, equip it. For the Witch Doctor there are other ways to increase your damage through other items. Items that increases intelligence or attack speed or even raw damage will all help to improve the damage you do. Use the Blizzard item comparison feature, to optimize your character and do terrible, terrible, damage.
If you find that you are dying, try to boost your vitality (increases hp) or armor (reduces % damage taken). From my experience, this is not something that you really need to watch out for at this point of the game and I prefer to boost my character through pure damage. In this act especially, having items that increase the experience gained from monsters are also important to increase the speed of your leveling process. They will have a relatively large effect early on when it doesn’t take as much experience to level up.
At D3SG we don’t recommend leveling up crafting or using the auction house at this point. Your gold is best used on vendors or saved up for later parts of the game. We find that during Normal Act 1, these abilities do not give you the best bang for your buck.
If an image of your character in yellow shows up at the top right portion of your screen your character has damaged items. To repair them, simply go to a vendor, click the repairing tab and click the Repair Allbutton. You should only rarely have to do this, but as the game gets increasingly difficult it will become a more frequent occurrence.
While this guide largely assumes you are playing in a party, if you find yourself going solo you will want to hire a follower. This costs no money, so there is no reason not to as it helps to provide additional support. For the Witch Doctor, I like the Templar as a supporting follower at this point. He acts like a summon and can help clog and tank enemies as well as heal you. It is generally not a good idea to rely on followers for damage, as they’re damage is minute compared to your powerful blasts. The Templarwill be unlocked midway through Act 1, and to hire him simply talk to him at Tristram and tell him to follow you. I recommend you choose the following skills (hit the F key) for your templar:
- Heal (lvl 5) – This heals you or your templar for 4651 life. At this point that will be your entire health bar.
- Loyalty (lvl 10) – This regenerates life for you and the templar. Nice to keep you alive and well throughout the battle.