Witch Doctor Skills – Categories
There are six categories of Witch Doctor skills: Primary, Secondary, Defensive, Terror, Decay, and Voodoo skills.
In truth, there is really more like 3 types of Witch Doctor skills: damage dealers with low mana cost (Primary), Offensive skills with high mana cost (Secondary, Decay), and skills which have longer cooldowns but have varied effects (Defensive, Terror, Voodoo).
The reason these distinctions are important is because with most builds, you will want to grab at least one ability from each category. This gives you an ability to use when you are low on mana (your Primary skill), a few abilities to use in order to deal damage (your Secondary/Decay skills), and a few abilities with cooldowns (Defensive, Terror, and Voodoo).
Now that you understand most of the ability categories are arbitrary rather than meaningful, it is time to get on with this Diablo 3 Witch Doctor skills list (and be sure to turn on Elective Mode if you have not already)!
Witch Doctor Skills – Primary
Your primary skills consist of damage-dealing abilities which deal moderate amounts of damage but most importantly have a very low mana cost. These skills can be used indefinitely without any regards to mana.
Note: Witch Doctor skills have their mana cost based on level. As you level up, these skills cost more mana to use.
Poison Dart. Unlocked at level 1. Cost: 10 Mana. Shoots a deadly Poison Dart that deals 100% weapon damage as Poison followed by 40% weapon damage as Poison over 2 seconds.
Corpse Spiders. Unlocked at level 3. Cost: 5 Mana. Throw a jar that contains 4 Corpse Spiders that each attack enemies for a total of 16% weapon damage before dying.
Plague of Toads. Unlocked at level 11. Cost: 34 Mana. Releases 3 Plague Toads which explode on contact, dealing 130% weapon damage as Poison to nearby enemies.
Firebomb. Unlocked at level 21. Cost: 10 Mana. Lob an explosive skull that deals 85% weapon damage as fire to all enemies within 8 yards.
Witch Doctor Skills – Secondary
Secondary skills are the primary attacks you use when you want to deal damage and have excess Mana. You will run out of mana if you use these skills continuously but they will end up dishing out more damage than your Primary skills.
Grasp of the Dead. Unlocked at level 2. Cost: 122 Mana. Cooldown: 8 seconds. Places a large circle on the ground from which ghoulish hands spring forth, reducing the enemy’s movement speed by 60% and dealing 20% weapon damage over 8 seconds. Note that the 20% weapon damage dealt ticks based on weapon speed.
Firebats. Unlocked at level 5. Cost: 122 Mana. Deals 150% weapon damage as Fire in a wide, short cone in front of you.
Haunt. Unlocked at level 12. Cost: 98 Mana. Haunts an enemy, dealing 575% weapon damage as Arcane over 12 seconds. If Haunt kills an enemy before the duration is up, it will jump to a nearby enemy.
Locust Swarm. Unlocked at level 21. Cost: 195 Mana. Deals 360% weapon damage as Poison over 8 seconds. Locust Swarm will jump to nearby enemies.
Witch Doctor Skills – Defensive
Your Defensive skills consist of abilities which are not designed to deal damage but rather to prevent you from taking damage. These skills do not cost much Mana but instead have cooldowns of at least 15 seconds, forcing you to choose when to use them wisely.
Summon Zombie Dogs. Unlocked at level 4. Cost: 49 Mana. Cooldown: 60 seconds. Summons 3 Zombie Dogs to fight by your side that attack enemies, dealing 9% weapon damage as Physical with each attack. Zombie Dogs have health and can be attacked, allowing them to act as a shield.
Horrify. Unlocked at level 8. Cost: 37 Mana. Cooldown: 20 seconds. Fears all enemies within 12 yards for 4 seconds.
Spirit Walk. Unlocked at level 16. Cost: 49 Mana. Cooldown: 15 seconds. Enter the Spirit Realm, where you are immune to movement incapacitating effects for 2 seconds. If you take 50% of your Maximum Life while in the Spirit World, the effect is ended early.
Hex. Unlocked at level 22. Cost: 49 Mana. Cooldown: 15 seconds. Summons a Fetish Shaman for 12 seconds which hexes nearby enemies, turning them into chickens. Hexed enemies are unable to attack and take an extra 10% damage.
Witch Doctor Skills – Terror
Your Terror skills are powerful skills which really do not really have a common thread that makes them similar in any way. Soul Harvest provides a powerful buff, Sacrifice deals a lot of damage, and Mass Confusion is a defensive crowd-control ability.
Soul Harvest. Unlocked at level 9. Cost: 59 Mana. Cooldown: 15 seconds. Casts a circle on the ground which drains up to 5 enemies within 16 yards. Each enemy drained provides you with a buff to your Intelligence based on level which lasts 30 seconds. At level 60, this is 130 Intelligence per enemy drained.
Sacrifice. Unlocked at level 13. No cost. Sacrifice your Zombie Dogs, causing each one to explode, dealing 275% weapon damage as Physical to all enemies within 12 yards. This skill has no cooldown but Zombie Dogs does have a 60-second cooldown.
Mass Confusion. Unlocked at level 22. Cost: 74 Mana. Cooldown: 60 seconds. Casts an AoE spell which has a chance to charm nearby enemies, causing them to fight for you for 12 seconds.
Witch Doctor Skills – Decay
Your Decay skills contain a variety of high damage, high Mana abilities. Skills in this tree are very similar to the skills you will find in the Secondary category.
Zombie Charger. Unlocked at level 14. Cost: 140 Mana. Calls forth a Zombie which charges in a straight line, dealing 205% weapon damage as Poison to all enemies in its path before it decomposes.
Spirit Barrage. Unlocked at level 17. Cost: 108 Mana. Blasts an enemy for 190% weapon damage as Physical.
Acid Cloud. Unlocked at level 22. Cost: 172 Mana. Places a cloud of acid on the ground which deals an initial 100% of weapon damage as Poison followed by 75% more weapon damage over 3 seconds to enemies who stay in the cloud.
Wall of Zombies. Unlocked at level 28. Cost: 103 Mana. Cooldown: 25 seconds. Creates a Wall of Zombies which attack enemies for 80% of weapon damage as Physical for 5 seconds.
Witch Doctor Skills – Voodoo
The Voodoo category contains the Witch Doctor’s most powerful abilities. Due to the strength of these abilities, each one has a very long cooldown. You can only use these every minute or two. With that said, these skills can help deal with a particularly powerful enemy pack or encounter.
Gargantuan. Unlocked at level 19. Cost: 147 Mana. Cooldown: 60 seconds. Summon a large zombie to fight for you as a pet, dealing 25% weapon damage as Physical per hit. It has a health pool and will tank for you like a pet.
Big Bad Voodoo. Unlocked at level 25. No mana cost. Cooldown: 120 seconds. Places a Fetish on the ground which increases the attack speed and movement speed of all allies within its area of effect by 20%.
Fetish Armor. Unlocked at level 30. No mana cost. Cooldown: 120 seconds. Summon an army (5) Fetishes that fight by your side and deal 20% of weapon damage as Physical per attack. Lasts 20 seconds.
The Witch Doctor has access to 14 different passive skills. These are skills which are active all the time and do not need to be used in order for you to get the effect.
These skills typically provide you with some sort of buff, give you extra summons, increase your damage, or reduce the damage you take from enemies.
The catch is you can only select 3 total passive skills at a time. You unlock your first slot at level 10, your second slot at level 20, and your final slot at level 30.
In this Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Passive skills guide, we are going to reveal all of the skills available to the Witch Doctor as well as discuss the value of each of these skills.
Witch Doctor Skills – Passive
Here are the passive skills available to the Witch Doctor:
- Circle of Life. Unlocked at level 10. Whenever an enemy dies within 12 yards, there is a 5% chance a Zombie Dog will automatically emerge. The radius is increased by items that increase your gold pick-up radius. This ability is actually pretty neat as it allows you to get Zombie Dogs without actually having the “Summon Zombie Dogs” skill on your bar. However, you have to be really close to your opponents for it to work; you need some +gold pickup radius items to make it truly work for you.
- Jungle Fortitude. Unlocked at level 10. This is one of those passives that is so good it is hard not to pick. By reducing the damage you and your pets take by 20%, this skill is a must-have.
- Spiritual Attunement. Unlocked at level 13. Maximum mana is increased by 20%. Regenerate 1% of your maximum mana per second. This skill provides a small DPS boost and allows you to dump out an extra skill or two against enemy packs since you regen mana when running from pack to pack. However, it offers a very small increase in DPS versus boss enemies.
- Gruesome Feast. Unlocked at level 16. Whenever you are healed by a health globes, you gain 10% of your maximum Mana and 10% Intelligence for 10 seconds. This can stack up to 5 times. This is a huge damage buff when you get health globes, the problem is that you rarely pick up health globes mid-fight except against bosses. Good ability to boost your damage against champion packs and bosses, but fairly useless against weak enemies since the buff only lasts 10 seconds.
- Bad Medicine. Unlocked at level 20. Whenever you deal Poison damage to an enemy, their damage is reduced by 20% for 3 seconds. This is a great skill when you consider most Witch Doctor skills are Poison-based and your pets can also be specced to deal Poison damage.
- Blood Ritual. Unlocked at level 20. 15% of Mana costs are paid with Life. In addition, you regenerate 1% of your maximum Life per second. This barely uses any life once you reach higher levels since you get a lot more max health than you do Mana. It is worthy of consideration if you use a high-mana build.
- Zombie Handler. Unlocked at level 24. You can have 4 Zombie Dogs summoned at one time. The health of your Zombie Dogs and Gargantuan is increased by 20%. The health increase of this skill alone is not worth it since Bad Medicine and Jungle Fortitude are just as good for keeping your pets alive. You would only use this skill if you used Circle of Life, as otherwise your Zombie Dogs just are not that important.
- Pierce the Veil. Unlocked at level 27. All of your damage is increased by 20%, but your Mana costs are increased by 30%. I really like this skill with pet-based builds that use Soul Harvest and Poison Dart. This way, most of your equipped skills do not depend on mana anyway.
- Fetish Sycophants. Unlocked at level 30. When you cast a physical realm spell, you have a 3% chance to summon a dagger-wielding Fetish to fight by your side for 60 seconds. This skill works best with fast weapons as you will have a much better chance at summoning a Fetish.
- Spirit Vessel. Unlocked at level 30. Reduces the cooldown of your Horrify, Spirit Walk, and Soul Harvest spells by 2 seconds. Additionally, the next time you receive fatal damage, you automatically enter the spirit realm for 3 seconds and heal to 10% of your maximum life. This effect cannot occur more than once every 90 seconds. Obviously this is a great hardcore or PvP skill. Players in regular modes will not benefit as much.
- Rush of Essence. Unlocked at level 36. Spirit spells return 30% of their Mana cost over 10 seconds. This is not nearly enough mana to be even relevant. Stick to Spiritual Attunement if you want more mana.
- Vision Quest. Unlocked at level 40. Any time you have 4 or more skills on cooldown, your Mana regeneration is increased by 300%. This works well if you have long cool-down skills. For example, Summon Zombie Dogs, Gargantuan, Soul Harvest, and Grasp of the Dead are 4 skills which all have cooldowns and work together. If you added in Firebats as your 5th skill, you could use Vision Quest to chain-cast Firebats when your other abilities were on cooldown. It is even easier to use if you use some of the Voodoo skills which have a very long cooldown.
- Fierce Loyalty. Unlocked at level 45. All your pets get 100% of the benefit of your Thorns and Life regeneration items. This could have merit for pet-oriented builds, though I think I would rather have Circle of Life is it was pets I was interested in. You would have to sacrifice a large portion of your item budget on health regen and thorns items to make this skill worth it. Your pets are also healed via health globes.
- Grave Injustice. Unlocked at level 50. Whenever an enemy dies within 8 yards, you regain 1% of your max Life and Mana and reduce the cooldown on all skills by 1 second. This range is increased by items that increase your gold pickup radius. This could be a great skill, especially if you have a lot of powerful abilities with cooldowns. However, you need to have a lot of extra gold pickup radius or this skill will never proc since the Witch Doctor is a ranged class.
- Tribal Rites. Unlocked at level 55. Reduces the cooldowns of your Fetish Army, Big Bad Voodoo, and Hex abilities by 25%. Perhaps a useful skill in PvP or in group play; most players in PvE will not be able to equip most of these abilities to their hotbar in a single build, which limits the usefulness of Tribal Rites.
Witch Doctor Stats – Primary Attributes
There are 4 primary attributes available in Diablo 3: Strength, Dexterity, Vitality, and Intelligence. Here is how these stats affect the Witch Doctor:
- Strength: Each point of Strength increases your armor by 1.
- Dexterity: Each point of Dexterity slightly increases your chance to dodge attacks.
- Vitality: Each point of Vitality increases your maximum health.
- Intelligence: Each point of Intelligence increases your damage by 1% and gives you 1 resistance point to all schools of magic. Below, I will elaborate on how Intelligence works.
Intelligence is the primary stat of the Witch Doctor (as well as Wizard) and as a result it increases the Witch Doctor’s damage. Each point of Intelligence increases the Witch Doctor’s damage by a flat 1% (not exponential).
The way it works is that your ability damage is calculated based on your weapon damage and the skill you are using. This is then multiplied by your Intelligence in order to calculate your extra damage. Let us use Flaming Dart as an example:
- Flaming Dart deals 160% Weapon damage.
- If your weapon damage is 100-200, then Flaming Dart’s base ability damage is 160-320 damage.
- This base damage is then multiplied by the bonus offered by your Intelligence attribute. If you have 100 intelligence, this is increased by 100%, bringing the damage of Flaming Dart up to 320-640.
- If your increase your Intelligence to 200, your bonus is 200%, bringing the damage of Flaming Dart from 160-320 to 480-960.
- If you increase your Intelligence to 300, the bonus is 300%, bringing the damage of Flaming Dart to 640-1280.
Note that as you increase your Intelligence more and more, the relationship is flat and based on your weapon damage rather than your previous Intelligence. This mean that Intelligence has relative diminishing returns. For example, imagine you had 10000 Intelligence. This would increase your damage in the flaming Dart example to 16160-32320 damage. Your next extra point of Intelligence will not increase your overall damage by 1%, but rather increases the bonus multiplier of the ability’s damage by an extra 1%.
The point of this discussion is that while Intelligence is very important, the more Intelligence you get, the more valuable your other stats which increase your damage become. For example, if you have low weapon damage and low intelligence, 5% increased attack speed does very little for your total damage. An extra 20 Intelligence at level 5 increases your damage far more than 5% increased attack speed or even 5% critical hit rate.
However, in end-game gear with massive amounts of Intelligence, that 5% extra increase in attack speed or critical hit rate would represent a much larger buff than 20 Intelligence. In order to deal a lot of damage as a Witch Doctor, you need not only a lot of Intelligence but also weapon damage and other secondary stats, which we will discuss next!
Witch Doctor – Secondary Attributes
In addition to your primary stats, players have access to literally hundreds of secondary stats that you will find on your equipment throughout the game.
Since the Witch Doctor has a few abilities which buff its innate Intelligence, these secondary stats are more important for the Witch Doctor’s damage pool than perhaps for any other class. Here are the most important secondary stats for the Witch Doctor:
- +Damage. Since the Witch Doctor has such a high amount of native Intelligence due to its buffs, +Damage from rings and amulets amounts to huge DPS increases for the Witch Doctor, particularly if you are using a fast weapon.
- Chance to Critically Hit. Having a better chance to critically hit is always nice and does add extra damage, but out of all the classes, critical hit is the least beneficial for the Witch Doctor. A lot of the Witch Doctor’s damage occurs over time or through pets. You do not see big critical hits with the Witch Doctor unless you are using something like Sacrifice, which has a long cooldown. The Witch Doctor should instead focus on extra Weapon Damage and Intelligence.
- Increased Attack Speed. This benefits some Witch Doctor abilities more than others. For example, Grasp of the Dead deals “20% weapon damage for 8 seconds” whereas Locust Swarm deals “360% damage over 8 seconds”. Grasp of the Dead ticks for 20% weapon damage based on attack speed, whereas Locust Swarm is unaffected by attack speed and will not increase in damage if your attack speed increases. As a result, if you use a lot of +Attack Speed gear, you have to be careful about what skills you use.
- +Armor. Armor reduces the amount of damage you take from all attacks, both physical and spells. Armor is not something you really go out of your way as a Witch Doctor to get though; if you want extra armor, put on a shield.
- +Resistances. The Witch Doctor already gets a lot of resistance from magic due to its high intelligence rating. Getting a bit of extra resistance from gear can make you practically immune to magic.
- +Gold/Magic Find. These stats will not help you level faster, but will help you get extra gold and equipment. You should get these when you can as they will help you get more items and gold. Both stats are useful, though many players seem to seek Magic Find over Gold Find.
- Monster Kills Grant Bonus Experience. This stat actually helps you level significantly faster if you get it at an appropriate item budget. It will not do much for you if you have significantly out-leveled the piece of equipment you found it on.
- Damage Dealt is Converted to Life. You will want to grab at least a few percentage points of this by higher levels if you can; the Witch Doctor has a lot of damage output but very little escapes aside from its pets. Having a way to regenerate health over time is very useful for the Witch Doctor.
Witch Doctor Ability Recap Conclusion
By maxing out the stats and attributes, you will be able to do more damage and have better survivability as a Witch Doctor. This in turn will lead to faster enemy kills and hence faster leveling and more loot for your character.