If you come across something in the guide that does not match up with the gameplay, it is important that you let me know in the comments, so I can fix it quickly!
Similarly, if you come across something that would be beneficial to the guide, please let me know so I can add it immediately!
Note that this guide is tuned for Normal -> Hell play. Inferno builds may be viable using this set-up, but it takes more than just a build to clear Inferno.
In Depth Guide ( http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/4927183159?page=1#2 )
Pets and CC ( http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/4927183159?page=1#5 )
I see a lot of threads asking for help on builds, especially on what the build is missing, so I figured I'd write a general character build strategy and checklist! The guide is very comprehensive and will be updated to reflect patches when necessary.
If you like the guide, and think it would help others, please consider requesting a sticky, and commenting to offer feedback, new content suggestions, and critique. Thank you, and enjoy the read!
Note: I'm not telling people what to do, or that builds that don't meet my version of a checklist aren't viable, it's simply a general strategy to help get a balanced build that may be more or less effective. Want a theme build? Go for it! This is a game and is about fun after all! This is just a checklist to offer some suggestions on what they might be missing to make them more effective/survivable, especially for NM/Hell play.
Disclaimer: Any rune suggestions are just suggestions! Use what you like! Additionally, if a skill, passive or rune is not mentioned, it does not mean it is bad, or undesired for a build. Also worth noting again, this is NOT an Inferno guide. Some of the principles transfer, but others do not.
Here's a useful distance image so you can see just how big an ability's size is:
Allows use of any skill in any slot. Found in Options -> Gameplay -> Elective Mode
AoE : Area of Effect
CC : Crowd Control (spell/effect)
CD : Cool Down
DoT : Damage over Time
DPS : Damage Per Second
X% Weapon Damage : Always refers to a percentile of the players currently equipped weapon.
Buff : Improve something, notably by an increase in stats due to a spell.
Regen : Regeneration
[Rune] : The syntax I will follow for all rune name mentions
Higher Weapon Damage = Higher Spell Damage
Higher Weapon Attack Speed = Higher Cast Speed (Will drain mana faster)
Higher Weapon Attack Speed = Higher DoT Damage per Tick (CONFIRMED Credit: Eshi)
(Does not affect Haunt or Locust Swarm, but does affect most if not all other AoE damage ticks such as GotD, Phantasm, Acid Cloud's DoT, and Painful Transformation! Firebats needs testing!)
(Note, also goes for Spider Queen, Big Stinker, etc., as well as pet auto-attacks)
Most/All on hit effects affect MOST/ALL our spells.
Armor/Resistance/Vitality and Effective Health info:
Int (gives resists) + Resists + (Str/Armor) + Dex(dodge) = Pets that Survive better
VIT DOES NOT HELP PETS!
Pets gain damage boosts ACTIVELY. They do not need to be resummoned to benefit from Soul Harvest, Gruesome Feast or gear changes!
Blood Ritual synergizes with Fierce Loyalty
Life /Hit testing:
Useful Stat Breakdown:
+Damage: Gives a nice DPS boost as it is multiplied by INT and Attack Speed
+Intelligence: Gives a DPS boost, gives Resistances
+Vitality: Gives 10-35 (level dependent) HP per point.
%Attack Speed: Usually gives an equal overall DPS boost.
%Damage Increase: Same as Attack Speed.
General priority: +Damage > +Int and +Vit > %Attack Speed and %Damage increase
(Note that Attack speed and Damage increase give large bonuses, but are found in smaller amounts than Int is, if you already have high int, the %AS and %Dmg may be better than more int)
(Additional Note: Strength, Resistances, Armor, Life Regen, Life on Hit and Dexterity are very useful for survival and pet survival, especially on higher difficulties.)
Average of Base Weapon Damage = D
Any +Damage from gear = XD
Enhanced Damage % = ED
Attacks per second = AS
Increased Attack Speed % = IAS
Base Intelligence = I
Int from gear = XI
Soul Harvest Int = SHI
Damage Per Second = (D + XD) * (1+ ED/100) * [ 1 + (I + XI + SHI) / 100 ] * AS * (1 + IAS/100)
(Correct this if I am wrong)
Below is my opinion on several spells, feel free to IGNORE THIS! Play what you like, not what you're told!
Current Opinion of Awesome Defensive Skills
Soul Harvest [Siphon] (This will easily double your damage output and give a good heal)
GotD [Unbreakable Grasp] (Less of a slow than a full out STOP, things will crawl to you)
Spirit Walk (Great escape, great to run into a pack and Soul Harvest and run out with, no suitable replacement)
Gargantuan (Amazing tanking ability, decent damage)
Horrify (Fears almost everything around you, will save your life many times)
Hex [Hedge Magic] (Semi-Reliable heal, mixed with a nice CC that can affect even Belial (phase 1) and Izual!)
Zombie Wall (Walls off most enemies, and does damage as they try to get around it - synergizes well with GotD)
Opinion on Primaries
Darts: Best for Single Target damage. Low mana cost lets it be spammed. Good for kiting.
Spiders: Only good if you can sit back and spam it. Has NO stopping power, so does not fit in well with Run'n'Gun builds. Does reasonably well in pet builds.
Toads: Best AoE damage. High mana cost can suck you dry at high attack speeds. If you get swarmed, this skill will save your life.
Firebomb: Okay damage, but really shines in utility. Can be used at long or short range, and if the AoE hits 3+ targets, it beats Darts. Since it has range and a lower mana cost as well as a small AoE, it can compete with toads. Good for mop-up duty as well.
My current preference: Firebomb/Darts -> Toads (for use with Soul Harvest) -> Corpse Spiders
Now on to the actual guide.
Basic (TL;DR) Checklist:
1. Do I have a short CD CC or escape that I can use often and in emergencies?
2. Do I have a spell to use up excess mana?
3. Do I have a spell to use if I run out of mana?
4. Do I have a spell to use when most of my abilities are on CD?
5. Do I have AoE damage? (Important especially for Solo play)
6. Do I have single target damage? (Important for Boss killing)
7. Do I have a way to regain HP/Mana?
8. Do my passives maximize my strategy? (Survival, CC, DPS, Pets, etc..)
9. Do I have an effective way to keep enemies from hurting me? (Pets or CC)
Note: Several of these categories can be covered by one ability in many cases!
Pets will be discussed in-depth near the end of the guide (in 9.), along with CC abilities.
Bug section added at end of guide.