Non-VQ Non-SH Solo Inferno Build

Witch Doctor
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Having used VQ-based builds and hybrid Dire Bat + Poison Dart/Spiders etc builds from Nightmare to Inferno, I can honestly say that not only is VQ not fun but it doesn't hold up from Act 2 Inferno onwards. Being forced to take 4 spells with cooldowns (most people seem to use Gargantuan and SH + 2 more) and, as I'm sure you'd agree, Spirit Walk means that we only have either Dire Bats or Charging Bears as primary damage spells. Even more problematic, we are given incentive to use cooldown spells simply to put them on cooldown rather than saving them for their utility when the situation requires. So after much testing I've gravitated towards a very different kind of build (though not dissimilar to some other builds that have been posted) and itemization to focus on survivability and sheer single target damage output.

Justification behind this build:

VQ is extremely limiting and reflects poor game design

Any build with a cheap spammable move (Darts, Spiders etc) + Dire Bats is not optimal because either you have VQ and some mana regen which means you should be using Bats exclusively because its sustainable or you don't have VQ and your Bats are only being used for 3-4 casts at the beginning of the fight to clear trash and occasionally after that when mana permits.

Spirit Walk as your only escape is not enough to survive mistakes or unforeseen events while kiting elite packs with over 2mil HP on each mob. 2 slows/quasi-stun + 2 true escapes and Hex is too good.

A Poison Dart only build (such as this) allows you to use Pierce the Veil and maximize dps on bosses to beat enrage timers. Poison Dart's range surpasses all other WD spells allowing you to offscreen attack better.

Pet spells are useless in Inferno - Gargantuan dies instantly. Also, no VQ means no need for Gargantuan for the cd activation.

Charging Bears due to its small range and requiring VQ has no place in Solo Inferno, particularly past Act 1.

The build:

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/witch-doctor#aZUkRX!XbW!aacZab

What items you will need to make this build work best, in my opinion:

2 rings with 15% attack speed
Gloves with 15% attack speed
+8-10 mana regen per sec on either Helm or Off hand
Attack speed on weapon (but don't sacrifice weapon damage or good stats such as high Int/high Vit)
+12% movespeed on boots or better

More generally, to do Inferno, you should also have +All resists on as many slots as you can without sacrificing too much Int/Vit.

My stats (important stats highlighted):

http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/8092/spellfulstats.jpg

Focus on Int and Vit. Get a helm with a socket and put +12% life (or better gem). Get the highest dps 1h weapon and OH you can find. I don't recommend using a 2her, because the way in which this build beats VQ-based aoe spam builds is through attack speed. VQ builds don't work well with attack speed unless you get +mana regen on both helm and mojo offhand; they go oom. Not only this, but they are limited by the nature of VQ as I've mentioned. Attack speed is core with this build - not only does it mean your single target dps surpasses VQ builds, but you can get many more shots off while stutter stepping (pardon the sc2) while kiting if you have a fast 1h (1.3 or higher base speed) while stacking Attack Speed. You will be stutter stepping relentlessly; versus affix combinations such as Mortar + Jail, you need to keep as far away as possible for as long as possible.

I feel like saying this again - attack speed is incredibly strong. 15% additional attack speed raises my spreadsheet dps the same amount as equipping a weapon with 100-150 extra damage. It's that good.

The strength of this build lies in its raw single target dps through Splinters + Pierce the Veil backed with short-cd cc spells. I prefer Poison Dart over Dire Bats for single target dps. With Pierce the Veil, each Poison Dart is doing 200-210% weapon damage. This is only slightly less than Dire Bats (and Charging Bears with its small range is useless post-Act 1 Inferno). Even with VQ, you can't use PtV with Dire Bats or Charging Bears, period. Also, Dire Bats has smaller range than Poison Dart which means you can't offscreen attack as well, and the slower travel time on Dire Bats means that you're more likely to miss moving targets (such as elite packs with Speed affix).

Can I take Spirit Vessel over Blood Ritual or Spiritual Attunement? Yes, but I only recommend doing so if you are dying even when using Grasp + Wall combo, Hex/SW/Horrify properly. I take Blood Ritual because the 1% health regen is amazing with 40k hp and you need sustain to deal with reflect damage affix. I would keep Blood Ritual over Spiritual Attunement, simply because mana isn't a problem with this build if you have +8-10 regen on helm or OH, or both. If you don't have either, I wouldn't replace it with Spirit Vessel.

No aoe damage ie dire bats/charging bears? The reason for this is that these spells require VQ. VQ requires 4 spells be on cooldown, which leaves Dire Bats/Charging Bears + Spirit Walk. Any build that keeps Spirit Walk on cooldown for VQ is not viable in inferno - Spirit Walk is an escape cooldown for getting vortex'd, jailed or walled. This means you only have 1 escape card in SW and for 15 secs if anything goes wrong you're dead. Another reason is that real challenge in inferno is elite mobs and bosses somewhat. You don't need AOE for these, except when facing invuln minion elite packs where you can't hit the boss elite with poison darts because the minions block. With this build, it's generally worthwhile to just skip elite packs with invuln minions.

Hex is amazing for dealing with teleporters and for kiting in general. When that elite teleports onto you, he's instantly sheeped before he can swing. This saves you from many needless deaths where you were in the middle of a casting animation while kiting and an elite teleports and 1 shots you. I prefer Hedge Magic over Jinx because Hex generally doesn't last more than 2-3 seconds on any mob in Inferno.

Grasp of the Dead with 80% slow is used as a kiting tool. The slow is extremely powerful and with a short CD you will be spamming this when available to funnel mobs slowly through narrow chokes. In conjunction with Wall of the Dead, you have enough tools for kiting permanently.

Wall of the Dead has 3 uses: aoe damage for trash clearing (minor use), blocking off a path for 5 seconds so you get free dps from the other side (standard use), and 'locking' mobs down essentially stunning them (though they can still cast). To 'lock' a mob down, you have to cast Wall directly underneath them so that they are literally standing on the Wall - this traps the mob. This is really useful when you've just used Grasp to slow some elites down in a choke and then trap the frontrunning mobs just as they're about to move off the Grasp. I prefer the slowing rune but increased wall length is also very good.

Horrify is your 2nd escape card, and I'm surprised more builds aren't using it. With 20sec cd it's almost as good as Spirit Walk. Use it when you get vortexed into a group of mobs or just generally when you get surrounded. Now you won't die when anything goes wrong and Spirit Walk is on cd. It also buys you 4 seconds of free dps when it comes to fighting elites and 4 seconds for your other spells to come off cd.

Why no SH? With Pierce the Veil, I'm at ~20k dps. The more DPS you have, the less valuable SH becomes. To me, 3-4k extra dps doesn't justify the lost utility from having 2 kiting spells (Grasp and Wall) and 3 defensive/escape spells (SW, Hex, Horrify). Yes, you only trade one of these spells for SH, but Grasp and Wall have amazing synergy together, SW and Horrify are mandatory (imo) and Hex complements kiting and is another tool to hedge yourself against death. Keep in mind, SH requires you to be close, and many players seem to initiate with Spirit Walk and SH. Using SW in this way is asking to fail in Inferno. Further, SH offers little to no benefit on the harder boss fights (post-Act 1 Inferno) because you can't get more than 1 stack.

No Jungle Fortitude? Why not use a shield? Believe me, I've tried purely defensive builds reaching 500 all resists and 45k hp, with Jungle Fort and using a shield. Act 2 mobs still killed me if they were hitting me for more than 2 seconds. Mortar still 3 shot me. Avoidance is far more important than mitigation in Inferno. DPS output is also extremely important in Inferno. Mobility is, probably above all, the most important factor.


What about sustain? What about the healing from SH Siphon rune?
Granted, being backed into a corner and having SW and SH come off cd, allowing you to safely run through the enemies while healing 10k from SH is good, but it's not that important. You could replace SH heal with a pot. Or, you could use Horrify to get out of that sticky situation. Or you could Wall them and lead them to one side and escape by going the other side. Hex with Hedge Magic is used for sustaining against reflect damage mobs. We also take Blood Ritual because it offsets Pierce the Veil mana cost increase and the 1% regen with 40k life is 400/sec which is nothing to scoff at.

If you're going for single target dps, why not use 'ultimate' spells like Big Bad Voodoo or Fetish Army? I prefer having 6 short-cd spells which I am able to use constantly. It just feels more 'secure' and less risky when I'm kiting an elite pack for 3-5 minutes. Secondly, being constantly on the move and kiting means that Big Bad Voodoo is not very useful (when solo) and Fetish Army requires you to be rather close as well. Thirdly, dps isn't an issue for bosses (as bosses in Inferno are rather easy compared to some affix combinations on elite packs) so these ultimate spells aren't required when going solo.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my guide. Though Poison Dart-based builds are common, hopefully I've provided some insight into my particular playstyle which has been successful so far.

edit: Quite a few people have asked about taking Spiritual Attunement when mana doesn't appear to be an issue. With ~35 mana regen + Blood Ritual + Spiritual Attunement and the attack speed items mentioned (+45%) I have found it possible to see a net loss in mana over time if you're under heavy pressure and using cooldowns when they're ready, and spamming Poison Dart at all other times. Under low pressure situations it's normal to be sitting at max mana because you'll probably be casting Grasp and just spamming Darts and things will die. Spiritual Attunement is the least important of the 3 passives so you could take Spirit Vessel or Jungle Fort/Bad Medicine, or as some have mentioned, Sycophants.

edit: Dealing with fast mobs that are difficult to kite with 80% Grasp and all the other tools. In most situations of this kind, the solution is more DPS. Clear and secure a narrow corridor where your Wall can block entirely in more than 1 place. Pull the elites, Wall trap, spam Darts for 5 seconds. Then Grasp when Wall is about to finish, spam more Darts, hit Horrify when they get close and spam Darts for 4 seconds, then SW and run through them to the other side. Continue running - Grasp should be up soon then Horrify/SW at around the same time. Horrify again and Dart spam for 4 sec, then SW through (they should go to your ghost) then Wall trap and Dart Spam. I'm sure you get the gist. If this isn't working, you probably need more DPS. With the Wall/Horrify CC combo and Grasp in between you can get a decent amount of free DPS at a time. Hex also buys some free dps when 1 elite outruns the others.

One caveat though; Jail/Wall makes this a lot more difficult. Mortar + Jail/Wall makes it nearly impossible, so I recommend skipping these. Be prepared to pull elites very far away from where you found them to a pre-chosen location where you can do this properly.
How much success do you have on inferno act 2? I have difficulty seeing that as being viable given the insane speed/swarming potential the mobs have.
Any chance you can post a gameplay vid of build?
Great post. I wish this could be stickied.

Most important points here for the TL:DR people here:

05/21/2012 09:11 PMPosted by Spellful
VQ is extremely limiting and reflects poor game design


05/21/2012 09:11 PMPosted by Spellful
I can honestly say that not only is VQ not fun but it doesn't hold up from Act 2 Inferno onwards


05/21/2012 09:11 PMPosted by Spellful
Even more problematic, we are given incentive to use cooldown spells simply to put them on cooldown rather than saving them for their utility when the situation requires.


05/21/2012 09:11 PMPosted by Spellful
Dire Bats is not optimal because either you have VQ and some mana regen which means you should be using Bats exclusively because its sustainable or you don't have VQ and your Bats are only being used for 3-4 casts at the beginning of the fight to clear trash and occasionally after that when mana permits.


Charging Bears due to its small range and requiring VQ has no place in Solo Inferno, particularly past Act 1.


05/21/2012 09:11 PMPosted by Spellful
Any build that keeps Spirit Walk on cooldown for VQ is not viable in inferno - Spirit Walk is an escape cooldown for getting vortex'd, jailed or walled. This means you only have 1 escape card in SW and for 15 secs if anything goes wrong you're dead.
I really like your build.

I'm in A2 Hell right now and I've been using an awkward combination of VQ/Dire bats and the CC package in your build, relying entirely on Dire bats for damage. It's been working, but it didn't feel right. Your build, though, looks like what I've been starting to migrate to, away from the VQ/Bats mess. I'll definitely be trying this out later, if I can get my hands on a good 1h/OH combo.
How much success do you have on inferno act 2? I have difficulty seeing that as being viable given the insane speed/swarming potential the mobs have.
Any chance you can post a gameplay vid of build?


I'm currently at Belial after having cleared my way up solo. You're right in that swarming speed is a problem, and that's one reason why the build focuses so much on cc spells, something that VQ-builds don't have the luxury of doing. If your concern is being able to handle 20-30 mobs at once with a poison dart build, I would recommend taking trash slowly, clearing the area around elites so that you have at least 3-4 screens of kiting space in 1 direction with preferably a narrow choke so that you can wall block. Dire Bats all through Nightmare-Inferno promotes pulling a ridiculous amount of mobs and aoeing them down, but in my opinion it doesn't transfer to Inferno. So I take a slow, measured and safe approach. My reasoning for dealing with elites themselves with single target damage is that in a given pack of elites, say 3 mobs, by the time you've killed 1 mob you're pretty much in the clear - the remaining 2 are easy to deal with. So the advantage of being able to hit all 3 with Dire Bats is overstated, I think.

I don't have the software to make a video and honestly too preoccupied with D3 to do more than alt-tab and respond to your questions so hah. Please keep asking any questions or concerns.
What companion are you using?
05/21/2012 10:28 PMPosted by Ruinator
What companion are you using?


Templar, focusing on Vit, block% and reflect damage. He doesn't do much though. In an extended fight he gets rezzed a few times which is nice but other than absorbing a few hits he's only there for the conversation.
Possible to have a short video of you dealing with elite/champion packs with your suggested build? That'll be awesome.
I've been trying to bring down Izual for a few hours now with a VQ build and it's just not working. Gonna try it your way.
I've tried builds like this and they are pretty safe.

The only thing that I dislike about them is when you're in a really enclosed area and can't kite immediately.
"Any build that keeps Spirit Walk on cooldown for VQ is not viable in inferno - Spirit Walk is an escape cooldown for getting vortex'd, jailed or walled. This means you only have 1 escape card in SW and for 15 secs if anything goes wrong you're dead."

You are right. That is why I have VQ and spirit walk is not on CD. Also, I have spirit vessel. So even if something goes wrong, I'm not dead. If I get caught again, and SW is on Cd again for some reasons, then I'm dead, and I probably deserve to be.
"Any build that keeps Spirit Walk on cooldown for VQ is not viable in inferno - Spirit Walk is an escape cooldown for getting vortex'd, jailed or walled. This means you only have 1 escape card in SW and for 15 secs if anything goes wrong you're dead."

You are right. That is why I have VQ and spirit walk is not on CD. Also, I have spirit vessel. So even if something goes wrong, I'm not dead. If I get caught again, and SW is on Cd again for some reasons, then I'm dead, and I probably deserve to be.


Sure, which would mean you're using Dire Bats + Spirit Walk + 4 cooldown spells. I used the same kind of build for a while - my 4 cooldown spells were Gargantuan, Grasp, Wall, SH. However, I found that Garg was contributing almost nothing, and I was using my Grasp and Wall (after their first use when initiating a pull) on cooldown even when I was in no danger just so I could keep VQ running. I also found that after the initial use of SH, I was using SH even though it was hitting nothing, because I didn't want to 'undo' all my kiting efforts by then moving towards the enemies to hit them with SH.

If you're cautious enough and consistent enough to survive with only Spirit Walk as your escape when facing Vortex or Jail elites then there isn't much of a reason to use my build. However, I've been finding it much more enjoyable and reliable being able to use a whole range of skills (Grasp, Wall, Hex, Horrify, SW) when and only when I'm in danger, unlike VQ.

The great thing about Spirit Vessel is that it's even more useful with my build - you reduce both SW and Horrify cds, and you get the second chance proc.
This is my exact build currently, couldn't imagine using anything else to be honest. I use barricade over URG personally.
thoughts on mass confusion with 3 sec stun rune over hex or horrify? I'm assuming the answer will be the same as why you didnt take fetish army or other big cds but thought it was worth asking as the cd is only 60 instead of 2 minutes

also thoughts on sycophants passive? with an assload of atkspd fueling nothing but poison darts, thats a whole lotta oppurtunity for fetish procs, im guessing inferno doesnt have the luxury though, seems a little too cheesy

thirdly i love you for writing a smart, concise post against vq and sh, getting so !@#$ing tired seeing every other thread in wd forums "sh vq bears is the only viable build"
So I have to ask , why poison darts over rain of toads, it has a faster cast animation and better dps, and with your current build not only more single target dps (whoever your clicking on) but the 6-8 yard area effect it has gives you more total dps as well.
thoughts on mass confusion with 3 sec stun rune over hex or horrify? I'm assuming the answer will be the same as why you didnt take fetish army or other big cds but thought it was worth asking as the cd is only 60 instead of 2 minutes

also thoughts on sycophants passive? with an assload of atkspd fueling nothing but poison darts, thats a whole lotta oppurtunity for fetish procs, im guessing inferno doesnt have the luxury though, seems a little too cheesy

thirdly i love you for writing a smart, concise post against vq and sh, getting so !@#$ing tired seeing every other thread in wd forums "sh vq bears is the only viable build"


The sycophants don't really do a lot of damage but they might be a decent distraction I can't comment because I stopped using them in NM because of how little damage they did for a passive slot.
05/22/2012 02:17 AMPosted by MojoJojo
So I have to ask , why poison darts over rain of toads, it has a faster cast animation and better dps, and with your current build not only more single target dps (whoever your clicking on) but the 6-8 yard area effect it has gives you more total dps as well.


Rain of toads costs 34 mana per cast while Darts is only 10. That's probably the main reason. I don't think rain of toads comes close to Darts in single target dps - rain of toads ticks for 130% over 2 seconds, while Darts do 180% and I can cast approx 2 darts in 1 second. Rain of toads also doesn't benefit linearly from attack speed like Darts do - if you spam it more quickly, you're still limited to 130% per 2 sec because it doesn't stack on the same spot.

You also can't offscreen attack with rain of toads which is a big plus of Darts.
05/22/2012 02:17 AMPosted by MojoJojo
So I have to ask , why poison darts over rain of toads, it has a faster cast animation and better dps, and with your current build not only more single target dps (whoever your clicking on) but the 6-8 yard area effect it has gives you more total dps as well.

i believe he took darts because of the off screen range
you cant cast rain of toads off screen because the targeting is click where you want it to BE rather than the darts click which direction you want them to GO, and im assuming that makes a giant difference in kiting inferno mobs. also im a little confused as to how rain of toads scale with atk spd, and this build is VERY atk spd reliant, darts safely scale with atk spd as opposed to the questionable toad's scaling (if it does at all)
^speculation until op responds

edit he beat me to it but hey i was right about the range :p
thoughts on mass confusion with 3 sec stun rune over hex or horrify? I'm assuming the answer will be the same as why you didnt take fetish army or other big cds but thought it was worth asking as the cd is only 60 instead of 2 minutes

also thoughts on sycophants passive? with an assload of atkspd fueling nothing but poison darts, thats a whole lotta oppurtunity for fetish procs, im guessing inferno doesnt have the luxury though, seems a little too cheesy

thirdly i love you for writing a smart, concise post against vq and sh, getting so !@#$ing tired seeing every other thread in wd forums "sh vq bears is the only viable build"


Confusion may be a working replacement for Horrify. I just really like Horrify because I'm frequently kiting for 3-5 minutes and a 20 sec cd feels a lot safer. They both serve similar purposes. One strength of Horrify is that it can actually fear enemies far away (I've had a pack of enemies run in different directions off the screen).

My view on Sycophants is that it's probably not going to make a difference when it counts - if you win a fight it's not going to be because of the damage of all those little minions. Whereas Blood Ritual is very useful - 15% regen over 15 seconds - compare with SH heal which is 10k every 15 seconds (if you hit 5). Granted, it's not burst healing, but when you're kiting for minutes at a time and occasionally get hit by single mortars etc the regen is worth it.

Cheers for your comments.
I have a build that is very similar to this, though I still have my garg for keeping enemies away for a while.

One thing that may help, replace one of your mana passives for something more useful. With Darts being your main attack, you have no worries on mana. I chose bad medicine for the damage reduction to everyone (pets and followers). Keep blood ritual for more defense (15% of the cost is nothing so you are basically getting 1% of your health for free), or spiritual attunement for the mana regen.

If you feel you don't need the extra defense from bad medicine, I would suggest going with fetish sycophants. You would be surprised how much it procs with darts as your main spam.

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