The Melee Wizard

The classic melee Sorceress returns in Diablo 3, this time as The Melee Wizard. Whereas the melee Sorceress in Diablo 2 was only viable through Nightmare difficulty, the melee Wizard in Diablo 3 is viable all the way into Inferno. You won’t be able to high Monster Power levels, but with good gear you can get to the mid levels. It definitely won’t do comparative damage to the top DPS builds though.

When making this build, I was also curious about the Arcane Dynamo passive skill, so I integrated it into the build. You basically use Spectral Blades until Arcane Dynamo procs. Then use Meteor to take advantage of a huge damage bonus.

Strengths

  • A unique take on Wizards
  • Don’t have to dodge enemies like a normal Wizard

Weaknesses

  • Not the best DPS
  • Not viable at high Monster Power levels
  • Requires very good defensive stats
  • All the disadvantage of a melee class (need to be in melee range to do damage, ranged monsters are annoying, etc.)

Skills

Mouse Left Click – Spectral Blade (Healing Blades)

Spectral Blade is the only truly melee skill the Wizard has, but it’s a pretty good one. Out of all the Signature skills, it does the most damage. It also has the very nice Healing Blades rune that gives a large percentage of Lifesteal per Spectral Blade hit. When fighting normal monsters, you can pretty much just use Spectral Blade. It can hit more than one monster, and you will steal life from all of them that are hit.

Mouse Right Click – Meteor (Molten Impact)

Since you will basically be tanking monsters all the time, Meteor is a nice high damage skill to spend your Arcane Power on. You won’t have to worry about timing it to hit enemies that are coming towards you. They will all be stationary in melee range with you. When you are at 5 Flashes of Insight (see Arcane Dynamo below), it will get a huge damage bonus. Pool some Arcane Power when you are getting close to that magic number, so you can use up the damage bonus as soon as possible. You don’t want to get a Flash of Insight stack while you are already at the cap. Don’t waste Meteors on normal monsters, it is total overkill on them.

Keyboard 1 – Frost Nova (Bone Chill)

Frost Nova is a good survivability skill. In particular, it is very strong against Elite monsters. It is also the reason for the Cold Blooded rune (see below). You will gain some much needed Life from Spectral Blades’ Healing Blades rune while the enemies are frozen and not doing any damage. Even though it doesn’t show in the tooltip, Frost Nova actually does a tiny bit of damage. Be careful not to consume Arcane Dynamo with Frost Nova’s meager damage.

Keyboard 2 – Diamond Skin (Crystal Shell)

Diamond Skin will function much like Frost Nova in this build. For a few seconds you won’t be taking damage, giving you time to heal some Life back from Spectral Blade’s Healing Blades rune. It will also give you time to get out of Elite monsters’ special attacks that do massive damage.

Keyboard 3 – Energy Armor (Prismatic Armor)

Because this is a melee build, I like to take an additional defensive skill. Energy Armor is probably the best one because it adds to the most critical defensive stats: Armor and Resist All. The base skill gives Armor while the Prismatic Armor rune gives Resist All. It increases them by a lot too. Energy Armor will get you about halfway to the defensive stats you need.

Keyboard 4 – Magic Weapon (Blood Magic)

Magic Weapon is a pretty good damage bonus, but the important part here is the Blood Magic rune. The extra Lifesteal it adds will apply to your Spectral Blades as well as your Meteors. You will only need a little bit more from your gear to be set.

Passive 1 – Cold Blooded

This is purely here to go with Frost Nova. It is a great damage boost when fighting Elites and Bosses. Many times that 20% damage is just enough to finish them before you have any troubles with taking too much damage.

Passive 2 – Galvanizing Ward

Galvanizing Ward will increase Energy Armor’s duration to be closer to Magic Weapons. It’s a convenient change, so you can refresh them at the same time. Galvanizing Ward also gives a good amount of Life regeneration per second. This is a great supplement for the Lifesteal you have.

Passive 3 – Arcane Dynamo

Arcane Dynamo is a fun passive skill to use. Since this build uses the Spectral Blades skill most of the time being a melee Wizard and all, a passive skill that works with Signature skills was on order. Always use the damage bonus with Blizzard. Avoiding using Frost Nova until the Arcane Dynamo buff is consumed. Note that you do not get a Flash of Insight per use of Spectral Blades. It is closer to every 3 uses of Spectral Blades that you will get a Flash of Insight.

Weapon Type

Lifesteal scales really well with fast attack speed, but Meteor damage scales well with slower weapons though. You will want to use a One Hand weapon for sure, but try to find one of the slower ones like Maces or Spears. That also allows you to use a good Shield for defense.

Good Stats

In addition to Energy Armor’s bonuses, you should be look for items with lots of Armor, Resist All, and even some Life regeneration. On your weapon, look for Lifesteal, the higher the better. Also, you will need around 30,000 DPS or so for Lifesteal to heal you enough in Inferno. 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

  • Frost Nova (Deep Freeze) instead of Frost Nova (Bone Chill) – If your critical hit damage stat is higher than 100%, Deep Freeze will be a bigger damage bonus than Bone Chill. I put Bone Chill in the default build because it works better for a new character.
  • Energy Armor (Pinpoint Barrier) instead of Energy Armor (Prismatic Armor) – I think Prismatic Armor is essential, but you can add some more damage with the Pinpoint Barrier rune. It adds some nice critical hit chance.
  • Blur instead of Cold Blooded – If you’re defensive stats are weak, replace Cold Blooded with Blur. Cold Blooded is really only good as a burst DPS tool against Elites. It is not a huge damage bonus with this build. That said, Blur only reduces melee damage. It doesn’t address any type of ranged attack, both Physical (arrows, javelins) and Elemental (Arcane Beams, Poison pools, etc.).
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