The Archon Wizard was the former max DPS build before players had good enough gear for the CM / WW build to work. This build also uses Critical Mass combined with Archon’s built-in cooldown reduction to make Archon have a near infinite duration. The only time it runs out is when you have run out of monsters to kill. It doesn’t do as much damage as the CM/WW build, but it is a little easier to gear for.
There are some downsides though. Because you are always fighting the Archon cooldown, you many times have to skip a few monsters here and there. You also can’t pick up all the loot if you’re the player that likes to pick up everything. You just won’t have time to do that and keep Archon up for the next pack of monsters. This build is a very fast build best for experience farming runs on Monster Power levels that you overgear. You can clear dungeons extremely fast with the caveat that you will usually only be able to pick up Legendary items and have to skip small rooms with few monsters.
- Infinite Archon!
- Archon provides great survivability.
- Can be boring using the same skill all the time
- Success depends on there being enough monsters to kill (not multiplayer friendly)
- Can’t pick up all the loot that drops or explore every nook and cranny of dungeons.
Mouse Left Click – Shock Pulse (Living Lightning)
Shock Pulse is just for killing stragglers. When there aren’t many monsters around, you won’t be able to keep Archon going. Just use Shock Pulse to clean them up. Once you find a big pack of monsters or round up a big pack yourself, it’s all Archon.
Why Shock Pulse instead of another Signature skill? Shock Pulse happens to have the highest proc rate of the Signature skills. In the cases where you are waiting for Archon’s cooldown to go down, your critical hits with Shock Pulse will be knocking seconds off that cooldown. Living Lightning improves the area damage a little bit here, but it’s not too important.
Mouse Right Click – Archon (Improved Archon)
Archon is the damage dealer in this build. Shock Pulse might be used here and there when it is not efficient to use Archon, but otherwise, it’s Archon all the time. If you want to maintain Archon form, you will need to avoid most small stragglers and not pick up most loot. In addition when exploring dungeons, skip small side rooms. Go on an efficient path that is most likely to hit the large groups of monsters.
Sometimes there is nothing you can do and your Archon form will wear off. If the cooldown is less than 30 seconds, you can kill monsters carefully with Shock Pulse to proc Critical Mass and lower Archon’s cooldown faster. If the cooldown is longer than 30 seconds, you should head back to down and filter through the items you have picked up (hopefully a few Legendaries).
In Archon form, you lose your normal Wizard skills but get 3 very powerful Archon skills. Disintegration Wave is the primary damage skill. It is basically a powered-up version of Disintegrate, with over twice the damage and a much wider beam. Arcane Blast is a short range area damage skill that does not interrupt Disintegration Wave channeling. You can use them at the same time, though Arcane Blast does have a short cooldown. The last skill, Arcane Strike, damages and knocks back a cone of monsters in front of the character. Disintegration Wave does more damage, so only use Arcane Strike for the knockback to get monsters out of the way.
Always make sure your skill buffs are refreshed before going into Archon form, since you can’t refresh them until Archon form ends. Archon form also gives huge bonuses to Armor and Resist All, so you should have no chance of dying while it is up.
Keyboard 1 – Magic Weapon (Blood Magic)
The first of the damage buffs in Magic Weapon. It add a percentage to weapon damage, which adds an equivalent amount to your overall damage. The Blood Magic rune adds some Lifesteal. Unlike Life on Hit, Lifesteal scales very well with the Archon skills, all of which are area damage skills. With the right gear and proper technique, the duration of Magic Weapon will be just enough to make it through one floor or level of a dungeon.
Keyboard 2 – Familiar (Sparkflint)
This is the second damage buff. The Familiar’s damage is both unreliable and weak, but the Sparkflint rune adds a percentage bonus to all your damage done. It lasts the same length as Magic Weapon, so you can refresh them at the same time (at the beginning of a dungeon floor or level).
Keyboard 3 – Energy Armor (Pinpoint Barrier)
Combined with the Archon Armor buff, Energy Armor will make you pretty immune to Physical attacks. You will only have to worry about Elemental attacks. The Pinpoint Barrier rune adds a critical hit chance bonus. That works really well with Critical Mass to knock off more seconds from Archon’s cooldown.
Keyboard 4 – Diamond Skin (Crystal Shell)
Diamond Skin is mainly for when you are out of Archon form. You will have Energy Armor, but overall your defenses will be pretty weak. Until you can use Archon again, you need to be able to survive and get critical hits on a few enemies to reduce Archon’s cooldown. The Crystal Shell rune simply doubles the effectiveness of Diamond Skin’s damage reduction. Diamond Skin’s cooldown will also be reduced with your critical hits.
Passive 1 – Glass Cannon
You will be in Archon form most of the time, so the reduced Armor and Resist All don’t hurt much. That makes this passive a free damage bonus most of the time.
Passive 2 – Galvanizing Ward
Energy Armor normally has a much shorter duration than Magic Weapon and Familiar. Galvanizing Ward makes its duration much closer to those damage buff skills. This means you can refresh all 3 skills at once, and they all should last until you get to the next dungeon level or floor. Galvanizing Ward also adds some much needed Life regeneration for those times when you are in between Archon castings.
Passive 3 – Critical Mass
This is the most critical passive skill because Archon just won’t last long enough on its own. You need the extra cooldown reduction that Critical Mass has. With enough critical hit chance, your Archon will be ready to refresh by the time you finish a large pack of monsters or an Elite pack, and it will last for entire Boss fights.
While a One Hand + Source will give you the most damage overall, it is much easier when starting to get one good Two Hand weapon. For example, the Skorn Legendary Axe is a good starter weapon.
You will need critical hit chance to proc Critical Mass and fast movement speed to get to new monster packs fast enough. You will also need high DPS relative to the monsters you are fighting. This means you might not use this for the cutting edge Monster Power level that you can just barely beat. It is best to use a lower Monster Power level. The speed of this build will make up for it.
Good minimum stats 25% critical chance and 22% movement speed. You may sometimes still lose Archon form with these stats, but it shouldn’t be too bad. A total of 40% critical hit chance and 25% movement speed will be enough that you should never lose Archon except the rarest occasions (really bad luck with monster groups). For general gearing that applies to all characters, check out The Stats You Want in Diablo 3, my quick guide to stats that all characters should have.
- Energy Armor (Prismatic Armor) instead of Energy Armor (Pinpoint Barrier) – If you are still gearing up, you might not have the defenses even with Archon to handle Elite monsters’ Elemental attacks. You can switch to Prismatic Armor to add a lot of Resist All to your character. You will have to face Archon’s cooldown more often, but that might be your only option to survive. In general though, I would suggest you use a lower Monster Power level and use Pinpoint Barrier rather than switching to Prismatic Armor.