The Zombie Bears Witch Doctor

The Zombie Bears Witch Doctor was the original max DPS build when Diablo 3 first launched. It lasted until patch 1.0.4 when Blizzard updated many Legendary items, making the Zero Dogs build possible. This build has more of a traditional spellcaster feel to it. Zombie Dogs and the Gargantuan are the main line of defense with the Zombie Bears skill being the main source of damage. The damage is only about half as much as the Zero Dogs build and even less than that compared to the Firebats build. It will still work while leveling and in lower Monster Power levels.

Strengths

  • Easy to stay alive with so many summons
  • Works with any gear setup (good for leveling)

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t have a unique feel (just a regular spellcaster playstyle)
  • Not the best damage
  • Summons don’t have perfect AI and may not always defend you very well

Skills

Mouse Left Click – Firebomb (Ghost Bomb)

This is what you use when you don’t have Mana to use your Zombie Bears. Even with good Mana regeneration, you will still have to use Firebomb sometimes. It’s just not efficient to use Zombie Bears to kill one monster unless it is an Elite or Boss. The Ghost Bomb rune simply increases the damage by adding a second explosion effect.

Mouse Right Click – Zombie Charger (Zombie Bears)

The base Zombie Charger skill is too unpredictable to use as a main skill, but the Zombie Bears rune makes it predictable. The bears go in a straight line from your Witch Doctor through the monsters, hitting every monster they come in contact with. It’s basically the traditional “fireball” spell except it can also pierce through targets. The damage is fairly good.

Keyboard 1 – Soul Harvest (Vengeful Spirit)

Soul Harvest is a very nice damage buff, providing a huge Intelligence boost no matter what level you are at. The only hard part is getting within range of the 5 monsters. The radius of the skill is pretty small, but you should be able to manage with your summons tanking for you. The Intelligence buff lasts longer than the cooldown, so you can always have this buff going.

The Vengeful Spirit rune adds some much needed damage to the build. Soul Harvest, of course, has a cooldown, but the Grave Injustice rune can reduce that down. The power of Grave Injustice depends on your gear. With the right gear, Vengeful Spirit can become part of your damage rotation, but you probably won’t have the Mana to use both Zombie Bears and Vengeful Spirit.

Keyboard 2 – Spirit Walk (Jaunt)

Spirit Walk is the best utility Witch Doctor skill. Use to get out of the way of monsters or even reposition your summons to defend you. Your summons will “leash” if you move far enough away. That’s sometimes enough to get them attacking the right monsters. The Jaunt rune adds more seconds to the time you are in the spirit world, adding quite a bit to the distance you can move with Spirit walk. This makes it a good travelling skill to speed up leveling and experience farming.

Keyboard 3 – Summon Zombie Dogs (Life Link)

Your Zombie Dogs will be your main tanking summons. They can take a beating and still survive. They can do some damage, but it’s very minimal compared to Zombie Bears. The Life Link rune furthers the skill’s defensive purpose by basically reducing the damage you take by 10%.

Keyboard 4 – Gargantuan (Humongoid)

Gargantuan functions as both a tank and a damaging summon. He will make up 10-30% of your damage depending on how many monsters you are facing. The Humongoid rune gives him a Cleave ability but it’s far less area damage than your Zombie Bears. Still, it’s a nice supplement to your main damage.

Passive 1 – Gruesome Feast

Gruesome Feast is a great way to keep your Mana up. Zombie Bears uses quite a lot of Mana, much more than the listed amount if you have high attack speed. You need some way to offset that. The passive also boosts your Intelligence, but that buff only lasts 5 seconds and is hard to maintain.

Passive 2 – Spirit Vessel

Spirit Vessel can save your character’s life, reducing the amount of time you have to waste running back from death. It also reduces the cooldowns on Spirit Walk and Soul Harvest, two of the skills in this build.

Passive 3 – Grave Injustice

Here’s another passive skill that helps with Mana. At the start, you should stand just behind the line of your summons. That will put you in range for Grave Injustice to give you Life and Mana for every enemy killed. When you get gear with pickup radius, you will be able to stand further away.

Weapon Type

Any weapon will work with this build, but a Two Hand weapon will be easier to sustain. This is because Zombie Bears is dependent on attack speed. The faster you attack, the faster you have to pay the Mana cost. However, the Zunimassa’s Whispers Witch Doctor set has a really good Mojo for this build. You might start with a Two Hand weapon with the end goal being a One Hand + Mojo. The extra Mana regeneration you get will outweight the faster attack speed.

Good Stats

Mana regen is very good for this build, but you can only find it on Witch Doctor-only items like Ceremonial Knives, Mojos, and Voodoo Masks. Try to aim for 40 or 50 Mana regeneration per second. The special Witch Doctor Legendary set called Zunimassa’s Whispers will help immensely. Since Zombie Bears is an area damage skill, Lifesteal will be a huge help as well for keeping you alive. Only around 2-3% Lifesteal is needed when you get enough DPS, but some Life on Hit on Rings and Amulet might be useful until you get high DPS. 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.

Alternatives

  • Spiritual Attunement instead of Spirit Vessel – Spiritual Attunement can give some Mana regeneration if you need it. Once you get better gear, you can replace it with Spirit Vessel to save time during farming.
  • Big Bad Voodoo (Rain Dance) instead of Gargantuan (Humongoid) – Big Bad Voodoo with the Rain Dance rune will boost your Mana regeneration by 100% as long as you stand inside the radius. It lasts more than enough to kill an Elite pack. The skill also gives you an attack speed bonus, which translates into a straight damage bonus. Gargantuan will generally give you more damage over time though, considering it does not have a short duration like Big Bad Voodoo does.
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