Welcome to the Wizard Build Compendium! Are you new to the class and not sure what kind of wizard you want to play? Are you a grizzled veteran, bored of your tried-and-true spec and looking for some new inspiration? Or are you an inveterate forum lurker trying to find that guide to that build you read that one time that had that video that'll help you win an argument with a barb over in the general forum? Whatever brings you to this thread, if you're looking for wizard builds, you've come to the right place!
This post has 4 main sections:
- Intro, a brief summary of the main categories of wizard builds and how they work.
- Build Compendium, what you're probably here for, a listing of wizard builds, organized by category, with links to guides or specs where I can find them.
- Useful Info, a list of links to posts with useful info about how the wizard class works that aren't really guides in and of themselves.
- HALP, the part where I ask you to help me keep this post current and accurate, because it turns out I don't actually know anything about the wizard class.
(If you already know about wizard builds in general and just want links to specific guides, feel free to tl;dr this wall o' text and skip to the next section.)
So far, the combined wisdom of collective wizardry has developed builds that primarily fall into five broad categories:
Kiting Wizards depend on long-range skills and mobility to kill their enemies before they're in any danger, and when that doesn't work, run away. This is probably the easiest type of build to gear into, because all you really need is a little move speed and as much damage as you can muster. Kiting tends to become very inefficient at high MP levels, however, because as monsters get more and more health, the amount of time you have to spend running from them increases, and time spent running is time spent not doing damage. All in all, this means kiting wizards are generally not efficient above MP 4, and not really viable at all above MP 6 (though YMMV).
Archon Wizards focus on the Archon skill ( http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/wizard/active/archon ), and keeping it active as much of the time as possible. Typically, this means combining the ability to kill a whole lot of enemies very quickly with some form of cooldown reduction, usually the Critical Mass passive. The skills used to back up Archon vary from build to build, but usually focus on doing a whole lot of damage and moving around very quickly, to maximize the amount of time you spend killing stuff. Archon builds are generally more expensive to gear for than kiting wizards, because they only work with relatively high DPS, but because they don't care about arcane power or attack speed, they can still be fairly affordable. Archon wizards are extremely efficient at low MP levels in solo games, but fall off quickly as enemy health increases, because if you can't kill fast enough, you'll have trouble maintaining an erection...I mean, maintaining archon mode.
CM-Based Wizards combine Critical Mass ( http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/wizard/passive/critical-mass ) with spammable attack spells to reset the cooldowns on skills like Diamond Skin, Frost Nova, and Explosive Blast in order to cast them way, way more often than the good lord Blizzard ever intended them to be cast. The various flavors of CM wizards can achieve totally badass feats like perma-freezing enemies, dealing over 8x sheet DPS, and being constantly covered in diamonds. If you want to play wizard efficiently at high MP levels, CM is almost certainly the way to go. Unfortunately, because Blizzard insists on nerfing it further into the ground every single patch, CM is also the most expensive build category to gear for, with most builds requiring large amounts of attack speed, APoC, and critical chance to be effective, all of which are expensive as balls. Also hard on the fingers if you don't use keyboard macros. Hope you stole daddy's credit card and a wrist brace.
Melee wizards focus on front-line tanking, usually in conjunction with the Spectral Blades signature spell ( http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/wizard/active/spectral-blade ). They are often very similar to CM-based wizards (using the Critical Mass passive to reset DS and other cooldown skills), but differ in that they don't require a "wind-up" period of casting before they get up to speed the way traditional CM builds do, typically play more aggressively, and depend on straight tankiness rather than the ability to permafreeze enemies for survival. Melee builds often make excellent low-MP rushers, which means they can be a good choice for Paragon farming. However, their lower DPS multiplier and lack of permafreezing generally makes them fall off in comparison to straight CM-based builds when it comes to high MP's and co-op play (though some melee builds can provide other benefits to parties besides CM's signature permafreezing).
Other Wizards don't fall comfortably into any of the categories above. They usually suck, which is why they're sitting here in this lamesauce "other" category at the end of the section. You should play them if you like to feel edgy and different, if being put into a category makes you feel claustrophobic, or if you're trying to convince Blizzard to stop nerfing CM (protip: it's not going to work).
I'm also including a section on specialized wizard builds, that aren't designed to be your main farming spec but to achieve some specific purpose.
- Blizz/Hydra: Outdated unless you're poor or playing hardcore. The bog-standard of kiting wizard builds, this is what everybody used back when we were first clearing inferno in 1.0.2 and earlier. It's fallen out of favor now that we have more than 30k DPS.
Guide ("Forked Lightning Build"): http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/6246864939
- Glass Cannon Ray of Frost: Outdated. A build focused on kiting with the extremely high single-target damage spell Ray of Frost.
Alternative Build: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/wizard#ZQSPXT!XgW!bYZaaZ
- Ranged Frost Mage: A ranged DPS build focused on wearing Frosties and blasting with various cold spells.
- All-Arcane Kiting Build: A build that uses arcane damage spells and the Temporal Flux passive to kite. *GUIDE NEEDED*
- The Kiting Wizard Build Thread: A thread which includes a bunch of 1-post mini-guides by people like me who may or may not know what they're talking about.
- Sustained Archon: Tips and tricks for keeping archon mode up. Includes suggested builds, plus a lot of advice that applies to any archon build.
- Bargain Archon Guide: A helpful treatise on how to build a good farming Archon wizard without breaking the bank.
- Hybrid CM/Archon: An archon build that keeps itself relevant when out of archon mode by aping some of CM builds' best features.
- CM/WW: The Original™. Proc Critical Mass with Wicked Wind, then spam Frost Nova, Diamond Skin, and Explosive Blast to your heart's content.
- Shocknadoshards: The gold standard of doing a metric crapload of damage with a CM build. Very expensive, since in addition to CM's normal offensive requirements, it needs a ton of mitigation to make up for the lost defensive skills.
- Raining Meteor: A build that uses Meteor as its main attack spell, using it to refresh Diamond Skin and Slow Time and kite a little, rather than perma-freezing in melee.
- CM/Meteor Shower: Another CM build centered on Meteor spam, this one more melee focused.
- CM/LL Shower: A CM build that takes advantage of the excellent proc rate of Living Lightning to both reset cooldowns and feed AP into Meteor spam.
- Shaggalicious: No-freeze, no-windup meteor spam fueled by LL+Prodigy. Defense based on CM+DS.
- Shockquefy/Rockanadoes: You know what's better than choosing between CM/WW and meteor spam? Doing both! Multiple, very similar builds:
- Mocking Demise/CM: Outdated guide. A build focused on spamming Mirror Image and doing damage/stunning with its Mocking Demise rune.
More up-to-date build: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/wizard#VQXhkf!gbW!YZccbc
- Sleet Storm CM: A CM build that uses Ray of Frost's AoE rune as its proc generator.
- Melee Buff Wiz: A tank build based on Spectral Blades that specializes in providing buffs and utility to party members.
- Spectral Blade Build: A low-MP rushing build focused on Spectral Blade and Ice Armor's Frozen Storm rune to do lots of AoE damage up close.
- No-Spinup Healing Blade Build: Another low-MP rush build, this time taking advantage of both Spectral Blade and Storm Chaser (remember that rune?) to proc CM and toss out SC's super-tornadoes.
- Counter Attack Wizard: Doesn't suck. An unusual build which focuses on Death Blossom channeling, along with a bunch of other skills that keep you alive while doing damage and locking down nearby enemies. Seems to be surprisingly viable for how weird it is.
- Wave of Force: Non-viable. lol u guyz i need moar waves of force
- Melee wiz no freeze: Non-viable. A melee build that tried to tank it up without permafreeze.
- UberDeath: A build specifically for taking out the uber bosses efficiently.
- Blizzard XP Farming Build: A build designed to rush through low MP as quickly as possible, killing with the fire-and-forget spell Blizzard with as little delay as possible.
- Best Archon Zones: Some excellent research on which zones have the best mob density for maintaining archon mode.
- Archon Speed Levelling: Some work discussing the most efficient route to run as an archon if all you care about is paragon XP.
- Wicked Wind Tick Rate and Breakpoints: Ground-breaking research that shows that, due to oddities in the way Energy Twister ticks, there are certain "breakpoint" values of attacks/second where you suddenly get a whole lot more CM procs out of Wicked Wind. Must-read for anybody who wants to be CM/WW or any of its variants.
- CM/WW DPS Tests: Research on how different variants of CM/WW stack up in terms of DPS based on which skills they pick.
- Proc Ratio research: Some great research and discussion over on the EU forum on proc coefficients for wizard skills.
- Skill Proc Coefficients: A nice, up-to-date compilation of the proc coefficients for all skills. Bonus: It has the info for other classes, too! Need-to-know information for anybody who wants to use skills that proc, items that proc, or life-on-hit. So, you know, everybody.
- % Elemental Damage Explanation: Look, I'm tired of explaining how Triumvirate works, okay?
- Effective Health Pool info: How life, armor, and resistances interact to determine how many hits you can take, and what you should do about it.
- Wizard DPS/EHP calculator: A spreadsheet that'll figure out your EHP and true DPS for you.
- Wizard Community Acronyms: Mommy, what does SNS mean?
So, you've read through the compendium, but you're a Good Guy Greg, right, and you want to know what you can do to help? Awesome! Here are a few things that might make this post better:
- Is there a build listed that's missing a guide? If you can find me one, or even better, write a good one yourself, lemme know and I'll update accordingly.
- Did you just come up with a totally badass build that's going to blow all these out of the water? Awesome! Write a guide for it, let me know, and I'll stick it on the list.
- Did I miss a build that should really be on here? Of course I did! So tell me about it and I'll make sure it gets added.
- Did I say something stupid, out-of-date, or just plain wrong in this post? Tell me about it, and if you explain to me convincingly why my post makes me look like a dumbass, I'll change it.
- There's something pretty obvious missing from this thread, which I'm sure you noticed if you came here looking for it: anything about how to play Wizard in Hardcore. Unfortunately, I'm not qualified to say anything about that, because I've literally never played a Wizard in Hardcore. But if one of you fine folk who has wants to write up a guide on how to do so, complete with build suggestions, I'd be very happy to link it here.
If you need to let me know about any of these things, just post in this here thread, and I'll see what I can do.
Alright, folks, that's all for the Wizard Build Compendium. Thanks for reading, and enjoy wizard-ing it up!