The Kiting Blizzard Wizard

The basic idea behind this build is to do good damage to an area while keeping distance. A combination of Blizzard, Teleport, and Mirror Image gives you the escape tools to keep distance. Meanwhile the Blizzard damage is supplemented with a single target and multi-target skill, depending on the monsters.

This build doesn’t do the best damage by far, but you stay alive while slowly dealing damage to monsters. When overgeared, it clears rooms extremely fast. On progression content, where you are still gearing up, it is going to be slower than other builds. It involves a lot of moving to stay out of range in between using damage skills.

Strengths

  • You can sacrifice some defensive affixes because of your long range skills, cheaper to gear up.
  • Great when overgeared to farm lower level or easier areas. (ex. farming Act 1 Inferno)
  • Three good crowd control skills allow you to escape bad situations with ease.

Weaknesses

  • Lower damage than some other builds.
  • Some very fast monsters are impossible to keep distance from, and others have really high range on their attacks.
  • Elite monsters with Mortar are dangerous to a long range Wizard.

Skills

Mouse Left-Click – Magic Missile (Penetrating Blast)

You don’t have enough Arcane Power to use the other skills constantly, so this skill is used in between the others. It doesn’t do much damage, but it adds up. Keeping with the theme, it’s a very long range skill, the same distance as Disintegrate and Arcane Torrent. The Penetrating Blast rune makes it like a weaker Disintegrate. There is a 100% chance it pierces through the main target to hit more targets behind them. So it basically has the same effect as Disintegrate, only it does less damage and hits less enemies.

Mouse Right-Click – Blizzard (Stark Winter)

The build’s namesake is your first skill used in all monster encounters. You start off with Blizzard to slow down and do area damage. Then use Arcane Torrent or Disintegrate for damage. Blizzard lasts for 6 seconds and is very much like a passive skill. Make sure to place it in a good spot that will hit the most enemies over the 6 seconds. You don’t really have the spare Arcane Power to keep recasting. Also take care to have 45 Arcane Power ready when Blizzard is about to expire; stop using Arcane Torrent or Disintegrate early.

Stark Winter simply makes the area of effect even bigger. The skill doesn’t say what the default size is, but it looks to be about 18 just eyeballing it. This rune increases that to 22, just enough to hit a ring of monsters outside the 18 yards. Instead of hitting 6 enemies, you might be able to hit 8 or 10 enemies. It also helps a lot with the kiting. You can place it in front of enemies to slow them down for a longer distance.

Keyboard 1 – Disintegrate (Volatility)

Disintegrate fires a beam of Arcane energy in a line, hitting all enemies on or near the line. The damage is less than Arcane Torrent, but it hits a lot more enemies. The best case is a choke point where monsters are in a long line. Even if monsters are more spread out, you can usually get a line of 3 or 4 monsters to hit. Since the damage is Arcane, it will stack with Arcane Torrent’s Disruption rune. You can use this after Blizzard once, but then need to save Arcane Power for the next Blizzard. However, you can only use one of these (Disintegrate or Arcane Torrent) between Blizzards.

Volatility greatly improves the area damage of this skill. Every third enemy killed explodes dealing massive damage to all other monsters in a small area. You can also use it with Elite monsters. Use Arcane Torrent until one Elite gets low health. Then finish it off with Disintegrate for massive damage to the other Elites. A quick tap of Disintegrate is enough for this and uses only 10 Arcane Power. The explosion damage is also Arcane and stacks with Arcane Torrent’s Disruption.

Keyboard 2 – Arcane Torrent (Disruption)

This is the main single target skill. The beauty of Arcane Torrent is that it shoots over enemies towards the target. This means you can use it to pick off Fallen Shaman in the back of a monster pack that are resurrecting others. It is also the primary skill against Elite monsters. It does more damage than Disintegrate but in a smaller area. We add to that even further with the Disruption rune. It simply adds 15% damage to all Arcane skill damage after the first hit, including Arcane Torrent itself. You have enough Arcane Power to cast this once (20 Arcane Power) in between Blizzard, but only if you didn’t use Disintegrate.

Keyboard 3 – Teleport (Fracture)

This is the best tool you have to stay at range. With Blizzard slowing enemies, you can teleport to max distance. Then you have a period of safety to wail on the monsters. The Fracture rune also helps with this. It functions like a weaker Mirror Image. Whenever you teleport, you also get 2 mirror images that may get in the way of monsters trying to attack you. It also may keep them in your Blizzard longer.

Keyboard 4 – Mirror Image (Mocking Demise)

Of course, you can’t always get away from monsters. Mirror Image is excellent for splitting monster attention. Instead of all of them attacking you, the monsters have 2 other decoys to attack. That’s basically 66% reduced damage to your Wizard for a short time. They don’t last long, but the Mocking Demise rune takes advantage of that. Each decoy destroyed explodes for a little damage and has a good chance to stun enemies for 2 seconds. That works really well to keep enemies in your Blizzard and allows you to get some more distance.

Passive 1 – Astral Presence

Blizzard costs a lot of Arcane Power, and you have to recast it every 6 seconds for maximum kiting potential. That’s a drain of 7.5 Arcane Power per second at all times, or in other words, you only have 15 Arcane Power to spend every Blizzard cycle on other skills. That’s not enough to use Arcane Torrent or Disintegrate. This passive increases that to 27 Arcane Power extra per 6 seconds, just enough to use another skill in between. The higher maximum Arcane Power helps to clear out rooms of weak enemies but is not very helpful against Elites that take forever to kill.

Passive 2 – Illusionist

This is a great passive skill that just happens to work with both escape tools we have. Any time you lose 15% or more health in a single hit, their cooldowns are instantly refreshed. Most of the passive skills like this have an internal cooldown (say 30 or 60 seconds), but this one does not. If you can keep teleporting as long as you take big damage after each one. Mirror Images last for 7 seconds, so you may not want to use this bonus for Mirror Image twice quickly. I think you can only have 2 decoys, even if you get a free Mirror Image before the previous ones expire. There are times when your Mirror Images die fast though, and you can take advantage of this.

Passive 3 – Temporal Flux

The Wizard has four passive skills that gives boosts to the four element types their skills have. This one is the Arcane version, which reduces enemy movement speed by 60% for 2 seconds when you do Arcane damage. Magic Missile, Arcane Torrent, and Disintegrate are all Arcane damage, so most enemies will be slowed all the time even if Blizzard has worn off. This slow will be more reliable than Blizzard’s slow, but Blizzard will supplement your damage.

Weapon Type

Because this build has a lot of channeled skills, a slow two-hander is going to be the best. Channeled skills actually consume Arcane Power based on the attack speed. The faster the weapon, the faster Arcane Power is used. When using lots of channeled skills, a slow two-hander will do the same damage but use less Arcane Power. This is the opposite of Primary Skills (Monk, Barbarian, Demon Hunter), where faster attack speed does the same damage but regenerates more resource. The slowest two-handers are maces (0.90 speed) followed by polearms (0.95). Those are the weapon types to be looking for. For more general gearing that applies to all characters, read The Stats You Want in Diablo 3, my quick guide to stats that all characters should look for.

Variations

Cold Blooded instead of Temporal Flux – The choice to be made here is damage vs utility. Temporal Flux gives all your Arcane skills a movement slow. Blizzard already has a slow, but sometimes enemies will get around it where Temporal Flux will help. You can trade this for more damage if you want in the form of Cold Blooded. It increases all damage to Chilled or Frozen enemies. Since Blizzard is the primary skill in this build, you will have many opportunities to do extra damage with Cold Blooded.

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