The Witch Dotter

This is a area damage, DoT-based build. DoT stands for Damage over Time. These are skills that don’t do the damage all at once. The game splits up the damage based on the duration. Damage ticks occur every half-second. Grasp of the Dead keeps the monsters stuck in place. It is an area damage DoT skill itself, but then it’s combined with even more DoT skills: Acid Cloud and Firebomb-Fire Pit.

Enemies won’t die much from the upfront damage of your skills. Most times it will be from the DoTs ticking constantly. In addition to Grasp of the Dead, Zombie Dogs hold enemies in the area damage, and they also have DoT melee attacks of their own.

Strengths

  • Relaxing, laid back gameplay
  • Superb area damage
  • Good defenses

Weaknesses

  • Lower single target damage than other builds
  • Mana regeneration can be a problem

Skills

Mouse Left-Click – Firebomb (Fire Pit)

This a “free” skill. The mana cost is low enough that you will regenerate mana even while using it. It does lower damage than other skills, but sometimes you won’t have the mana for the other skills. The damage is an okay 110% to enemies within 8 yards, but the Fire Pit rune adds a DoT on the ground. Cast Firebomb in the middle of the Grasp of the Dead area for maximum damage. The monsters in the area are already taking around 40% damage per second from Grasp of the Dead. Then Firebomb adds another 12% damage per second.

Mouse Right-Click – Grasp of the Dead (Unbreakable Grasp)

Grasp of the Dead is a defensive skill but is really a setup for the the other area damage skills. You need monsters to stay put to take the full damage from area Damage over Time skills. Grasp of the Dead is the perfect skill for this. Not only does it do some damage, it also slow monsters down. Unbreakable Grasp simply improves the defensive aspect as monsters move even slower. Make sure you always have the mana for this skill. It’s the most important one for this build.

Keyboard 1 – Acid Cloud (Slow Burn)

Acid Cloud is the highest damage skill in the build. The downside is that it has a high mana cost, but you won’t need to cast it constantly. The skill does half its damage up front followed by another damage portion over 3 seconds. The Slow Burn ups this to 6 seconds, also increasing the damage of that portion appropriately. To get the most damage per mana point out of it, you should only cast it once every 6 seconds. While waiting to use this, you can use Firebomb.

Keyboard 2 – Wall of Zombies (Creepers)

You won’t have much mana outside of Acid Cloud, so a cooldown-based skill is a good fit. Your Zombie Dogs will many times stop monsters in a line. Wall of Zombies can then be used for a massive 800% weapon damage over 5 seconds in a line. Because of the cooldown it is best used against elite monsters. Slow them down with Grasp of the Dead and soften them up with Acid Cloud. Then summon a Wall of Zombies for the killing blow. Their health will just melt away.

Keyboard 3 – Spirit Walk (Honored Guest)

Spirit Walk is a great escape tool. You can’t directly control your Zombie Dogs. Sometimes they will be attacking monsters while you are getting slaughtered by other enemies that got through their line. For those situations, you can use Spirit Walk. It allows you to leave your physical body behind and walk through enemies. However, the effect ends if your physical body takes 50% of your maximum life in damage, so it’s not completely reliable. If you were surrounded by enemies, it might only last 1 second.

None of the rune effects are that great for this build. Umbral Shock does area damage, but I don’t think the radius is big enough to hit many enemies. I’d rather have a little bit of mana regeneration. Since Spirit Walk may not last the full 2 seconds, this rune might not give the full mana, but this build doesn’t need a lot of mana in the first place.

Keyboard 4 – Summon Zombie Dogs (Rabid Dogs)

Unlike the Necromancer’s Skeletons in Diablo 2, the Witch Doctor’s Zombie Dogs are considered a defensive skill. They don’t do a whole lot of damage and they also have a long cooldown. Their attacks will do a bit of damage, but most of your damage will come from your more direct skills. However, we can get a DoT effect from them with the Rabid Dogs rune. It’s not great damage. DoTs from the same dog don’t stack either. The DoT is only applied if the previous one has worn off.

Passive 1 – Jungle Fortitude

This is just a good all around defensive skill, giving 15% reduced damage taken to you and your Zombie Dogs. Zombie Dogs have such a long cooldown, you really need them to stay alive for a bit after each cast. Even if they die though, your character also gets the same buff and can hopefully survive until you can summon your pets again.

Passive 2 – Bad Medicine

A lot of the Witch Doctor skills do poison damage, so you can have an additional 20% reduced damage taken at all times for the most part. Zombie Dogs with the Rabid Dogs rune, Acid Cloud, and Zombie Charger will all cause this debuff on the monsters. Combined with Jungle Fortitude, you have 35% reduced damage taken. That’s a huge deal in Inferno, especially with keeping your pets alive.

Passive 3 – Pierce the Veil

This is one of the funnest Witch Doctor runes. I always love runes that also have a debuff. It challenges you to find a way to take advantage of the buff without being crippled by the debuff. In this case, we have fairly low mana cost build, so the 30% higher mana cost debuff is not a big deal. In exchange for that, we get a cool 20% damage bonus.

Weapon Types

With this build you don’t really need to use a shield; you have enough defensive skills. I think Two Hand and One-Hand + Mojo will both work fine. DoTs will do more damage with Two Hand, but Mojos give you enough extra damage to make up for that. It’s pretty much your preference. For more on general gearing that applies to all characters, read The Stats You Want in Diablo 3, my quick reference on the good affixes in the game.

Variations

Pyrogeist (Firebomb) instead of Fire Pit – Fire Pit functions much like Grasp of the Dead. Enemies take damage over time in a small area, but Pyrogeist is also a damage over time rune. It only affects one enemy, but it is also a DoT and does much more damage.
Burning Dogs (Summon Zombie Dogs) instead of Rabid Dogs – While Rabid Dogs adds a DoT to their attacks, you can take Burning Dogs instead for a passive DoT. All enemies nearby burn for damage over time. Burning Dogs will affect more enemies, but the damage per enemy is less.

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