There are six categories of spells available to the Wizard in D3: Primary, Secondary, Defensive, Force, Conjury, and Mastery. The only important thing about the category names is that they serve to organize the skills. The actual category names themselves are arbitrary; to get the best builds you need to compare skills across categories.
The only significant difference between these categories is the difference between Primary skills and everything else: all primary skills cost no Arcane Power and have no cooldown whereas everything else costs Arcane Power or has a cooldown. Because of this, you will want to equip at least 1 Primary skill. What you pick out of the other categories is up to you.
Wizard Skills – Primary
Primary skills are also called your Signature Spells. This name is given to these particular abilities because they have no resource cost. You can use these even when you are out of Arcane Power, so you will be casting these Primary skills quite often. Here is the list:
- Magic Missile. Unlocked at level 1. Launches a magic missile, dealing 110% weapon damage as Arcane.
- Shock Pulse. Unlocked at level 3. Releases 3 electric pulses along the ground which travel move randomly across a medium range, dealing 105% weapon damage as lightning. The same target can only be hit once by Shock Pulse.
- Spectral Blade. Unlocked at level 11. Summon a Spectral Blade which deals 135% to enemies directly in front of you. Note that this skill must be cast from melee range.
- Electrocute. Unlocked at level 15. Shoot a lightning bolt that can jump to up to two nearby targets, dealing 80% weapon damage to each target hit.
Wizard Skills – Secondary
Your secondary skills are all fairly basic skills that deal damage and cost Arcane Power. These skills have no cooldowns and their only limitation is the amount of Arcane Power they cost. These skills are your “go to” skills to use when you have Arcane Power ready and want to deal damage.
- Ray of Frost. Unlocked at level 2. Cost: 20* Arcane Power. Channel a beam of frost that deals 215% weapon damage as Cold to the target it is hitting. This attack actually fires very quickly and deals its 215% weapon damage based on attack speed – you deal 215% weapon damage over the attack interval of the weapon – it is not upfront. *It also does not use up 20 Arcane Power right away but rather 20 Arcane Power per 215% weapon damage dealt. This skill is channeled.
- Arcane Orb. Unlocked at level 5. Cost: 35 Arcane Power. Fires an magic orb that explodes when hitting a target, dealing 175% weapon damage as Arcane to enemies within 10 yards of the explosion.
- Arcane Torrent. Unlocked at level 12. Cost: 20 Arcane Power. Fires a barrage of Arcane Projectiles that deal 175% weapon damage as Arcane to enemies near the impact location (small range). This spell is actually broken into two parts, sending out two volleys which deal 87.5% of weapon damage and cost 10 Arcane Power at twice your attack speed. It deals 175% weapon damage based on weapon speed. For example, if your weapon’s attack speed is 1 attack per second, then you will fire off two half-strength Arcane Torrents every .5 seconds at 10 Arcane Power.
- Disintegrate. Unlocked at level 21. Cost 20 Arcane Power. Channels a beam of pure energy that pierces through all enemies, dealing 155% weapon damage as Arcane. Like Ray of Frost, this skill is channeled and has its damage broken into many small attacks and deals 155% weapon damage over the course of 1 attack based on weapon speed.
Wizard Abilities – Defensive
Your defensive skills are abilities which help reduce the amount of damage you take. This could be by stunning enemies, absorbing damage, or even teleporting through the air. Many of these abilities have no Arcane Power cost but instead all have a cooldown.
- Frost Nova. Unlocked at level 4. Cooldown: 12 seconds. No Arcane Power cost. Blasts nearby enemies with frost, stunning them for 3 seconds.
- Diamond Skin. Unlocked at level 8. Cooldown: 15 seconds. No Arcane Power cost. Generates a shield that absorbs damage and lasts 6 seconds.
- Slow Time. Unlocked at level 16. Cooldown: 20 seconds. No Arcane Power cost. Places a bubble of warped time that lasts 8 seconds. The speed of incoming projectiles are slowed by 90% as they move through the bubble. Enemies inside the bubble have their movement speed reduced by 30% and their attack speed reduced by 20%.
- Teleport. Unlocked at level 22. Cost: 15 Arcane Power. Cooldown: 16 seconds. Teleport instantly to another location up to 35 yards away. Note that in Diablo 2, you could teleport anywhere on the screen that you could see. In Diablo 3, 35 yards is only about 1/3-1/2 a screen away, depending on orientation.
Wizard Skills – Force
Force Skills tend to be quite powerful but as a result either have some sort of limitation placed on them like a cooldown or have a very high Arcane Power cost which prevents them from being used repeatedly.
- Wave of Force. Unlocked at level 9. Cost: 25 Arcane Power. Cooldown: 15 seconds. Creates a shockwave that deals 200% weapon damage and knocks back and briefly reduces the movement speed of all enemies by 60%. While the radius is not reported by the tooltip, it is quite large, seeming to hit all enemies within about 15 yards.
- Energy Twister. Unlocked at level 13. Cost: 35 Arcane Power. Releases a tornado that moves randomly and deals 360% weapon damage over 6 seconds to enemies within its path (60% weapon damage per second).
- Hydra. Unlocked at level 21. Cost: 15 Arcane Power. Summon a multi-headed Hydra that lasts for 15 seconds and that attacks nearby enemies, dealing 28% weapon damage as Fire per hit. You can only have 1 Hydra active at a time.
- Meteor. Unlocked at level 25. Cost: 60 Arcane Power. Call down a massive meteor, dealing 200% of weapon damage as Fire to enemies on the ground it crashes into. The ground it hits then becomes scorched with molten fire, dealing 60% weapon damage as Fire over 3 seconds.
- Blizzard. Unlocked at level 27. Calls down shards of ice to pelt an area, dealing 210% weapon damage as Cold over 6 seconds. Multiple casts of Blizzard in the same area do not stack.
Wizard Spells – Conjuration
The Conjuration category of Wizard skills includes various buffs and summons. The “Armor” spell type is found in this category. You can only have 1 armor spell active at once. Armors are a powerful self-buff so you will want to put one armor on your skill bar.
- Ice Armor. Unlocked at level 14. Cost: 25 Arcane Power. Surrounds you in Ice Armor that lasts 120 seconds. Melee attacks are chilled or Frozen for 2 seconds after hitting you with Ice Armor active.
- Storm Armor. Unlocked at level 17. Cost: 25 Arcane Power. Lasts 120 seconds. Surrounds you in Storm Armor that shocks ranged and melee attacks for 70% of weapon damage as Lightning.
- Magic Weapon. Unlocked at level 20. Cost: 25 Arcane Power. Lasts 5 minutes. Imbues your weapon with magical energy, increasing your weapon damage by 10%.
- Familiar. Unlocked at level 22. Cost: 20 Arcane Power. Lasts 5 minutes. seconds. Summons a mystical companion to fight alongside of you. This companion cannot be targeted or damaged by enemies and deals 20% of weapon damage as Arcane per attack.
- Energy Armor. Unlocked at level 28. Cost: 25 Arcane Power. Lasts 120 seconds. Surrounds you in Energy Armor that increases your armor by 65% but also reduces your Arcane Power by 20 while active.
Wizard Skills – Mastery
The final category of Diablo 3 Wizard skills is the Mastery category. Spells in this category cost Arcane Power and have a cooldown. That is where the similarities end though as these three abilities are very different:
- Explosive Blast. Unlocked at level 19. Cost: 20 Arcane Power. Cooldown: 6 seconds. Draws in energy over 1.5 seconds and then explodes, dealing 225% weapon damage as physical to all enemies within 12 yards.
- Mirror Image. Unlocked at level 25. Cooldown: 15 seconds. No Arcane Power cost. Summon two mirror images of you that have 25% of your life and last for 7 seconds. These mirror images will cast spells but are unable to do any damage.
- Archon. Unlocked at level 30. Cost: 25 Arcane Power. Cooldown: 120 seconds. Transform into a powerful Arcane for 15 seconds. While in Archon form, your Armor and resistances increases by 40%. Your abilities are also replaced by Archon abilities. Each enemy killed while Archon is active adds 1 second to its duration.
Wizard – Passive Skills
In Diablo 3, passive skills are traits that you can equip separate from your active skills that provide some sort of buff or bonus to your character.
Passives tend to give you some sort of bonus, such as extra damage, armor, movement speed, or cooldown reductions.
The Wizard has access to 15 different passive skills to choose from, but you can only equip 3 total passive skills. You unlock your first passive skill slot at level 10, your second slot at level 20, and your third slot at level 30.
Here are the 15 Passive Skills available to the Wizard:
- Blur. Unlocked at level 10. Reduces melee damage taken by 20%. This is a huge amount of damage reduction for the Wizard as this is a flat 20% damage reduction against melee attacks. Most of your damage will be from melee enemies since it is easy to dodge ranged spells. You will still be vulnerable against ranged Bow-using attackers though.
- Power Hungry. Unlocked at level 10. Gain 30 Arcane Power whenever you are healed by a Health Globe. This actually adds to your damage more than you would think, particularly in areas where enemies are densely packed like dungeons. A little less useful against bosses where health globes are harder to come by.
- Evocation. Unlocked at level 13. Reduces all cooldowns by 15%. This is a little weak for normal usage but is useful in PvP, where you use a lot of short cooldown abilities like Frost Nova, Diamond Skin, and Wave of Force.
- Glass Cannon. Unlocked at level 16. Increases all damage done by 15%, but decreases Armor and resistances by 10%. For me, this is worth it in most scenarios and a skill I will pick up. It might not be as viable in Inferno mode or PvP where you need survivability over raw damage.
- Prodigy. Unlocked at level 20. When you deal damage with a Signature spell, you gain 4 Arcane Power. This is actually a really good skill and in my opinion a nice upgrade over Power Hungry. The extra arcane power you get from this is particularly useful when using a fast weapon.
- Astral Presence. Unlocked at level 24. Increases your maximum Arcane Power by 20 and your Arcane Power regeneration by 2 per second. This is better than Prodigy for Arcane Power regeneration when you are using a slow weapon. As an example, if you are using a slow 2-handed staff, you will only be earning 4 Arcane Power per second when using Signature spells. A fast wand that attacks twice per second however will be earning you 8 Arcane Power per second. As a result, slow weapons should stick to Astral Presence and fast ones to Prodigy for bonus Arcane Power generation. Then again, the extra Arcane Power provided by Astral Presence is nice for kiting, as it lets you build up a big Arcane Power pool before turning around and unloading it and then going back to kiting.
- Illusionist. Unlocked at level 27. When you suffer more than 15% of your Life in a single hit, the cooldowns on Mirror Image and Teleport are automatically reset. Good PvP and Inferno skill. In other game modes you will be hard pressed to take more than 15% of life in a single hit and likely will not be using Mirror Image.
- Cold Blooded. Unlocked at level 30. Cold damage dealt to chilled and frozen targets is increased by 20%. Better than it looks since most of your Cold abilities chill or freeze targets and hit the opponent multiple times. This means when you channel Ray of Frost, since it chills the target for 3 seconds on the first hit, you will get the bonus 20% damage as long as you channel it. Blizzard chills the target as well and ticks over 5 seconds, allowing you to get bonus damage from that skill too.
- Conflagration. Unlocked at level 34. Fire damage dealt to enemies applies a debuff which causes them to take 10% extra damage for all sources for 3 seconds. I really wish this buff was a little stronger, but it is not too bad for group play. The problem is you really do not get many fire skills as most of your damage is Arcane. It is good however for group play, particularly when combined with an unruned Hydra or Mammoth Hydra. The regular Hydra can keep up the 10% damage buff for 15 seconds on a singlet target whereas the Mammoth Hydra can apply the debuff to large groups of enemies. This does require a group though so multiple players benefit from the 10% damage buff. For solo play, you are likely to get just as much damage (if not more) with more versatility from other traits such as Astral Presence.
- Paralysis. Unlocked at level 37. Lightning damage dealt to targets has a 5% chance to Stun the target for 5 seconds. Too unreliable to be useful in my opinion unless you are using Storm Armor. Another problem with this skill is the Wizard’s best single-target attacks do not deal Lightning damage.
- Galvanizing Ward. Unlocked at level 40. Increase the duration of Armor effects by 2 minutes and gives you life regeneration per second while an armor buff is active. Not a bad skill for long kiting encounters as this is the only way a Wizard can heal himself without damage converted to life gear or picking up health orbs.
- Temporal Flux. Unlocked at level 45. Whenever you deal Arcane damage, enemies are slowed by 30% for 2 seconds. This is an alright skill if you use a lot of Arcane Orbs or use the Arcane Hydra, particularly when enemies are able to survive through multiple orbs. This way, you get permanent snare on enemies and it makes Arcane Orb act a lot more like Frozen Orb from Diablo 2, minus the piercing effect.
- Critical Mass. Unlocked at level 50. Critical Hits have a chance to reduce the cooldown of your spells by 1 second. Users have reported this skill’s proc rate is very low (~10%), which makes it not very useful compared to Evocation unless you have a very high critical hit rate. Additionally, in PvP, there will be less targets to hit which means less critical hits to have. Stick to Evocation for PvP cooldown reduction. For PvE, Critical Mass could outperform Evocation but requires a high critical hit rate due to low proc rates.
- Arcane Dynamo.Unlocked at level 55. When you deal damage with a Signature spell, you may gain a Flash of Insight. After 5 Flashes of Insight, your next non-Signature spell deals 75% additional damage. Early reports suggest this trait adds 75% damage to an attack rather than multiplies it (i.e. a 300% weapon damage skill deals 375% with this buff, rather than 300 * 1.75, or 525%). Because of this low amount of extra damage, this skill is largely worthless.
- Unstable Anomaly. Unlocked at level 60. When below 20% life, release a shockwave that knocks all enemies back. This cannot occur more than once every 60 seconds. Not bad for Inferno mode or Hardcore mode. The only thing I dislike about this skill is that you already have knockbacks like Wave of Force and this skill does not heal you or trigger earlier.
Wizard Passive Skills – Viable Options
There are a few ways you can work with the Wizard’s passive skills. You could choose to maximum your damage output, at which point I would recommend Glass Cannon, Astral Presence, and Cold Blooded. This would give you 15% damage bonus to all spells, 35% bonus damage for cold spells, 20 extra Arcane Power and 2 extra Arcane Power per second. If you had a very fast weapon you might consider Prodigy over Astral Presence.
For survivability, nothing beats Blur. You could add on Evocation (reduces cooldown, particularly useful for Frost Nova, Diamond Skin, Wave of Force, and Archon). Finally, I would consider Galvanizing Ward. Healing over time is very appealing for the Wizard class since this class kites. You can kite your opponents while regenerating Arcane Power and health at the same time. This is particularly useful against ranged enemies which will can still hit you even when kiting. For melee enemies, consider using Temporal Flux instead, as most of your attacks are Arcane and can keep enemies snared.
Finally, I know many players want to maximize their uptime in Archon Form. You could stack Evocation and Critical Mass for this purpose. Your third passive skill could be one that supports Archon Form, such as Blur, which will reduce the amount of damage you take from melee attacks. Archons are more melee-oriented than Wizards in normal form.
Wizard Stats – Primary Attributes
There are four primary attributes in Diablo 3: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Vitality. Out of these four, the only important stats for the Wizard are Intelligence and Vitality.
Each point of Intelligence increases your damage by 1%. This is a flat relationship. For example, if your weapon damage is 100-200 and you use Arcane Orb (which deals 175% weapon damage), your Arcane Orb’s damage is then 175-350. This is then multiplied by (Intelligence * .01 + 1).
So, if your intelligence is 900, it would be 900*.01+1, or 10. When multiplied by your Arcane Orb’s damage, this would make Arcane Orb deal 10 times more damage, or 1750-3500 damage. This of course would be reduced by whatever your enemy’s armor and resistance, but at least you get a general idea of how Intelligence works in Diablo 3 for the Wizard.
Furthermore, Intelligence also increases your resistances to elements by a certain amount. It seems that each point of Intelligence yields .1% resistance points to all schools of magic. In other words, with 100 Intelligence, your resistances to all spells increase by 10 points.
Resistance points reduce the amount of damage you take from spells based on level. The higher your level, the more resistance points required to gain percentage points of damage mitigation from magic. Since the Wizard uses Intelligence for damage, it naturally gains good defense against magic through this mechanic.
As a side note, Witch Doctor also uses Intelligence as its primary stat. Witch Doctor gear with “Wizard stats” is valuable on the Auction House.
In addition to Intelligence, the other important primary Diablo 3 Wizard stat is Vitality. Vitality; increases the maximum health of your class. As a Wizard, you have less defense than other classes but have a lot of ways to avoid getting hit in combat. However, sometimes getting hit is unavoidable, such as when an enemy draws you in or teleports to you.
In these situations, you need a big health pool to survive, particularly if you are not using the Diamond Skin skill. With this in mind, your best primary stats to stack as a Wizard are Intelligence and Vitality.
Dexterity slightly increases your chance to dodge attacks whereas each point of Strengthgrants an additional 1 armor. These stats are horrible inefficient for the Wizard though so do not consider the bonus armor and dodge from these stats worth it. The best way to gain armor as a Wizard is to equip a shield and the best way to get Dodge is to use equipment which has +chance to dodge on it rather than through Strength or Dexterity respectively.
Wizard Stats – Secondary Attributes
In addition to your secondary stats, there is a variety of secondary stats which are useful for the Wizard. Below, we will talk about these stats in detail:
- +Damage. +Damage is a stat that is found on Rings and Amulets. It adds an incredible amount to your overall DPS, particularly when used on a fast weapon like a Wand. For example, if your Wand attacks 2 times per second, then +10-20 damage will actually be +20-40 DPS for your Wand. If you have a slow 2-handed weapon that only attacks once per second, that +10-20 damage will be +10-20 DPS for your 2-handed weapon.
- Increased Chance to Critically Hit. Many Wizard abilities and passive skills rely on critical hit. Increasing your critical hit not only increases your DPS but increases the chance for these skills to proc.
- Bonus Damage to Critical Hits. Gear which increases the damage bonus of your critical attacks becomes incredibly useful, particularly as your gear becomes stronger.
- Increased Attack Speed. Attack Speed increases your attack rate and hence your damage, but you should know that this is not always the case with Wizard. Sometimes a slow weapon with a lot of Arcane Power regeneration or reduction abilities can allow you to play the Wizard in such a way that you rarely if ever have to use Signature Spells. However, this same increase in attack speed can be used to generate extra Arcane Power if you are using skills like Attunement and Prodigy which cause your Signature spells to restore Arcane Power on hit. For the most part, this is still a good stat to get but as you add on a lot of it you will have to be careful when managing your Arcane Power, particularly if you are using a fast weapon like a Wand.
- Resistances. Gear that adds resistances can make you take a lot less damage from magic as a Wizard, particularly when combined with the resistance bonus that you get from equipment.
- Damage Dealt is Converted to Life. This is a needed stat for the Wizard since the Wizard has no native healing abilities. Naturally, you only want as much as you need to stay topped off at health, but this stat is really good at adding to your survivability.
- +Arcane Power Regeneration or Refund From Crits. Anything that increases the rate of your Arcane Power generation or gives you Arcane Power when you critically hit will indirectly add to your damage as extra Arcane Power means extra attacks. It is as simple as that.
- +Monster Experience or +%Experience. These stats are particularly good, but you have to replace your +Experience stats more frequently then increases in %Experience. For example, getting +20 total extra Experience Points per monster kill at level 6 will be a huge deal and let you level about 20-30% faster, but +20 Experience Points per monster kill at level 30 will mean very little to your leveling speed.
- +Gold Find / Magic Find. Both of these stats will help you earn more items. +Gold is useful for paying for your crafter to level up as well as for earning more gold to buy a particularly good item or recipe off the Auction House. +Magic Find is useful for finding magic items to use as crafting materials or for finding particularly rare and useful items. Both stats are good, especially when you start building a farming set. Be sure not to sacrifice too much damage (Intelligence) or Health (Vitality) to build this set though or your slower kill speed and lowered survivability may hurt your capacity to gather items.
There are other secondary stats that are useful for the Wizard as well, but these are the ones you want to focus on for leveling up and farming.Tags: D3, Diablo 3, EGP, Eviscerated Gaming Podcast