[GUIDE] 2.3.0: The Carnpendium

Witch Doctor
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Introduction
Carved from the poisonous palms and exuding their pure liquid death. The spirits say to me that this is my tool to navigate the dangers ahead. Carnal and Evil. An Army, they give me. Small in stature, but powerful and zealous. I will cherish every tiny soldier and grant them new power. Make them faster. Keep them safe. Teach them to follow. Together, my Sycophants and I will (not) black out the sun of day and moon of night with (our six) darts blessed by the juice of this spiritual visage. The last my foes will ever see.

This guide is intended to be a living community resource, a place for players to learn about the Carnevil build, post questions for the community, and share their thoughts, experience and results. It will be updated as the discussion develops.
Contents
Basics
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#3
Essential gear, skills, and stat priority. Start here.

Build Summary
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#4
A TL;DR version of the gear and skill sections with links to complete, optimized builds. For the hasty.

Combat Mechanics
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#6
A detailed explanation of the behavior of fetishes, mobs and darts, and a few techniques to help maximize effective DPS.

Gear
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#7
An in-depth discussion of gear options organized by slot, including ideal stats. Look here if you’re not sure where to improve.

Skills
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#8
A menu of secondary skill options to supplement those listed in the basics and primary build sections, organized by function. Fill out your skill loadout here.

Legendary Gems
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#9
A key end-game feature since patch 2.1.0, these gems merit a separate discussion. The list has been ordered from strongest to weakest; irrelevant gems have been omitted.

Kanai's Cube
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#10
A short explanation of the optimal choices for Kanai's Cube with some fun alternate ideas. This information can also be found in the gear section.

Carnevil GRift Leaderboard (Discontinued)
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#11
The Carn leaderboard has been discontinued with patch 2.3. Previous records are preserved for posterity.

Patch Updates
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#13
A running list of changes to the build since patch 2.1.0.

Additional Resources
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#14
A small compilation of some of the most useful other resources available on these forums for further reading.
Basics
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/carnevil

Your fetishes shoot a poison dart every time you do. The mask is the only truly mandatory piece of gear to begin playing this spec, and Poison Dart is the only truly required skill, along with some source of fetishes to shoot the darts, ideally as many as possible. This leaves the essential Carnevil build being: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/witch-doctor#a.P!V

A couple of additional skills can also be assumed to be a part of all dart builds given their near-universal use. Namely, Pierce the Veil (damage) and Spirit Walk (defense). Which leaves us with: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/witch-doctor#aUP!VW . This is the starting point for your build.

Stat Priority
A word about stats. The stats below are sorted in order of priority, though you should bear in mind that tradeoffs between stats are much different in practice than in theory. Questions like, "should I roll CHC or IAS on this ring?" are dependent on your current gear configuration and can't be answered definitely in general. Feel free to post these queries on the thread - we'll help you sort it out!

Increased Attack Speed (IAS)
IAS is usually a top stat choice for Carndocs, since we "double-dip" on this stat. As with all pet builds, IAS increases your sheet damage and therefore your fetishes' base dart damage. However, your fetishes attack as fast as you do, so IAS also buffs their attacks per second (APS). You can think of this as squaring the benefit of an IAS roll, which makes it more attractive than most other stats. You'll still need to balance your IAS with CHC and CHD, though (see below).

Furthermore, all poison darts fired are subject to certain breakpoints. Essentially, darts are fired based on a 58 frames per second cycle, meaning that in each frame you either fire a dart or you don't. This requires the game to "round" your attack frequency, which means that not every percent of IAS is worth the same amount of DPS. For more information, see the post quoted below. Many kudos to AlCalzone for this! http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/17085020454?page=1#1

Here's a list of breakpoints for Poison Dart, minimum APS for that BP and needed IAS depending how much IAS is on the Dagger of Darts:

╔════╤══════════╤══════════════════════════╗
║    │          │ minimum IAS for a DoD w/ ║
║ BP │ min. APS │ 5% IAS │ 6% IAS │ 7% IAS ║
╟────┼──────────┼────────┼────────┼────────╢
║ 39 │ 1.487180 │   1.2% │   0.3% │   0.0% ║
║ 38 │ 1.526316 │   3.9% │   2.9% │   1.9% ║
║ 37 │ 1.567568 │   6.7% │   5.7% │   4.7% ║
║ 36 │ 1.611112 │   9.6% │   8.6% │   7.6% ║
║ 35 │ 1.657143 │  12.8% │  11.7% │  10.7% ║
║ 34 │ 1.705883 │  16.1% │  15.0% │  13.9% ║
║ 33 │ 1.757576 │  19.6% │  18.5% │  17.4% ║
║ 32 │ 1.812501 │  23.3% │  22.2% │  21.0% ║
║ 31 │ 1.870968 │  27.3% │  26.1% │  24.9% ║
║ 30 │ 1.933334 │  31.6% │  30.3% │  29.1% ║
║ 29 │ 2.000001 │  36.1% │  34.8% │  33.6% ║
║ 28 │ 2.071429 │  41.0% │  39.6% │  38.3% ║
║ 27 │ 2.148149 │  46.2% │  44.8% │  43.5% ║
║ 26 │ 2.230770 │  51.8% │  50.4% │  49.0% ║
║ 25 │ 2.320001 │  57.9% │  56.4% │  54.9% ║
║ 24 │ 2.416667 │  64.4% │  62.9% │  61.4% ║
║ 23 │ 2.521740 │  71.6% │  70.0% │  68.4% ║
║ 22 │ 2.636364 │  79.4% │  77.7% │  76.0% ║
║ 21 │ 2.761905 │  87.9% │  86.2% │  84.4% ║
║ 20 │ 2.900001 │  97.3% │  95.5% │  93.6% ║
║ 19 │ 3.052632 │ 107.7% │ 105.8% │ 103.8% ║
║ 18 │ 3.222223 │ 119.2% │ 117.2% │ 115.2% ║
║ 17 │ 3.411765 │ 132.1% │ 130.0% │ 127.8% ║
║ 16 │ 3.625001 │ 146.6% │ 144.3% │ 142.0% ║
╚════╧══════════╧════════╧════════╧════════╝


Test results here: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/17085020454?page=2#27


For more on dart damage calculation, including IAS, see PaulNg's magnum opus: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/13349475072

Critical Hit Chance & Critical Hit Damage (CHC & CHD)
CHC and CHD are the most powerful stats in the game and necessary in any build within the current gearing meta. I list them below IAS simply because they aren't a unique focus of this build. I won't belabor such a broad topic here, but suffice it to say that you need plenty of CHC and CHD, and that you may have to balance these rolls with IAS on your gear, especially in jewelry slots. For example, a Ring of Royal Grandeur always rolls IAS, so given the choice you may want 10% CHC instead of 7% IAS on your amulet. Again, specific tradeoffs like these must be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Fetish Army Damage (FA)
Patch 2.3 gave all fetish sycophants the benefit of Fetish Army skill bonuses, making this the number one skill to target on gear. It's preferable to Poison Dart bonuses because it buffs all dart and melee fetishes, whereas PD only buffs the darts. Possible slots for FA damage include the Zuni mojo (up to 25%), chest and shoulders (15% each).

Area Damage (AD)
Area damage received substantial buffs in patch 2.3, now able to be triggered by pets and benefiting from the same damage multipliers your regular attacks do. To summarize, every attack you make has a flat 20% chance to proc your area damage as a percentage of your normal hit damage, e.g. 100% area damage hits for the same amount as the attack that procced it. When triggered, area damage hits all enemies within 10 yards, though not the mob that procced it. Bottom line: AD could be very valuable in dense clumps of enemies but is worthless against single targets. Probable slots for AD include shoulders and mojo; potential slots include the amulet; possible but unlikely slots include your weapon, rings and gloves. The optimal balance of AD% on gear will be determined as players regear and test; stay tuned for future updates.

For a thorough explanation of area damage, see the following guide from Quin69: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydMEhQaULu4

Poison Dart Damage (PD)
Previously a top stat, the 2.3 changes to Fetish Army damage make PD skill bonuses relatively less desirable, as the stat only buffs the damage of the five darts fired by your closest fetishes, plus your single dart. You can still get a total of 30% PD in the pants and belt slot, but some docs may prefer defensive stats (armor or %life) in these locations instead.

Poison Damage
Poison damage is our element of choice, since it increases the damage of all darts fired, your fetish sycophants and your FA if using Head Hunters. While it's possible to run 80% poison with the right legendary items, most docs will only run 20% on bracers given the number of outperforming stats in other gear slots.

Defensive Stats
Defensive stat prority is often underconsidered in the softcore community, though the general consensus is that you should maximize your toughness by first getting vitality (VIT) rolls on all of the slots you can. Remaining defensive stat slots should seek a balance of % life, all resists, and armor. One word of caution: while % life will give you the largest increase in sheet toughness, bear in mind that healing is less effective when your health pool is large, and that mitigating damage taken through armor and all resists may be a better investment. Hardcore players will prioritize toughness to a much higher degree and can speak to this issue better than I can. Please add your thoughts!

Finally, real-time stat optimization is never an abstract process of picking all the stats you want; rather, it’s a continuous series of gear drops, comparisons, rerolls and incremental upgrades. Maximum damage and toughness will be achieved by evaluating each tradeoff in the context of your current gear and balancing all offensive and defensive multipliers as much as possible. There aren’t very many flat generalizations to be made, so feel free to post your stat questions below and we’ll help you get the most bang for your gold.

Back to top: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#2
Build Summary
The links below can be used to view the skill and gear breakdowns for an "optimal" end-game build. For a more thorough discussion of alternate gear and skill possibilities, see those respective sections. This is especially true of the amulet and ring slots and the 1-2 skills used to proc the Zuni 6p bonus.

Build summary on D3Planner.com
http://www.d3planner.com/844808506

Note: the above build omits three active skills, since these are the flexible slots that can be used for DPS, crowd control, and/or to apply the Zunimassa's set six-piece bonus. See the skills section for some options.

See the gear section for a detailed discussion of each slot and the stats available:
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#7


See the skill section below for functional breakdown of skill options to fill out your build:
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#8


Back to top: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#2
Reserved for future use.
Combat Mechanics
Editorial note, 29 August 2015
In an attempt to reduce server-side lag, the Carnevil affix was changed in patch 2.3 to limit the number of darts fired to the five closest fetishes instead of the full 23 previously available. While the damage of these darts was increased to compensate, and the remaining melee fetishes provide some benefits, let me be clear about my evaluation of this change. This is a BAD CHANGE that destroys the basic fantasy of the build - blacking out the sun with a hail of darts - in exchange for a moderate postponement of the inevitable high-GR lag. New lag problems with Helltooth builds and other classes clearly show this "solution" to be stopgap, and we can only hope that future game-wide lag fixes will enable a rollback of the change.


One of the most satisfying aspects of playing a Carnevil build is the highly technical style; you get to direct your pets’ DPS, but you have to work to maximize your effectiveness. There’s a learning curve, and mastery of a few basic techniques will go a long way toward maximizing your effective DPS output. It takes time and practice to keep tabs on yourself, pets and mobs, but you’ll improve in time.

Useful Techniques
The techniques listed below rely on interactions of the above mechanics to accomplish the three goals stated at the beginning of this section: maximize FS, maximize dart hits, and don’t die.

Maximum Pierce
The key to maximizing your fetish count is to hit as many mobs as possible to proc your Fetish Sycophants, which is the primary reason that the Dagger of Darts is the best-in-slot weapon for Carnevil builds (see discussion below). Accordingly, make sure you position for maximum mob density; this can involve kiting enemies into a long line, then firing back through them all, or using skills like Piranhado to clump the enemies as tightly as possible. This should be your first concern.

Reposition Your Fetish Army
When using Kanai's Cube with a Starmetal Kukri, the near-zero effective cooldown of fetish army can be used to ensure that the five fetishes firing darts are immediately at your side. Simply position appropriately and recast FA as necessary.

Stutter Step
Especially in linear or open maps, one of the best ways to manage your fetishes' leash distance takes advantage of a technicality: there is a slight, fractional-second lag between when you stop firing and when the fetishes attempt to teleport back to you when beyond the leash range. This makes it possible to hold down your fire button and stutter-step forward using the "force stand still" key bound to something like your space bar. This will gradually force all of your fetishes out of range, which means you can choose to recall them all by stopping darting for a second or so. This push and pull mechanism requires focus and patience and is most relevant in higher greater rifts. It also puts you out in front of your fetishes, which you will have to recall if you need tanking.

Bottleneck
While doorways and narrow corridors can be cumbersome, they can be highly effective at compressing mobs into a small space and improve your fetish production. Allowing your pets, follower or crowd-controlling abilities to block a small space will help demolish pursuing packs quickly. Certain mobs will also actively avoid crowd-controlling abilities like Wall of Zombies, which can be used to “force” them to walk around the wall and into your dart stream.

Hold Your Fire (Button Down)
In combat, if you hold your trigger button down you and your fetishes will continuously fire at your APS, the darts following the movement of your mouse cursor across the screen. One exception to this behavior (quite handy against teleporting elites, rift guardians and bosses) occurs when you target a monster, causing its name and health bar to appear at the top of the screen, then hold down your trigger button. As long as the button remains depressed you and your fetishes will continue to target the mob regardless of location. If it teleports, your darts will immediately target the new location.

Back to top: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#2
Gear
The list below is sorted by slot. The stats listed below each slot title are the ideal rolls, excluding specific legendary affixes, which are discussed in the paragraph that follows each heading. The recommended or best-in-slot item is generally linked first, followed by alternate options. Note that with Diablo III's heavy dependence on build-defining six-piece class sets, many synergistic but ultimately suboptimal non-set gear choices are omitted from the relevant slots below; they simply can't keep up.

Zunimassa's Haunt
The Zuni set dominates our gear selection, since its two-, four- and six-piece bonuses are extremely strong. If you're a new doc gearing up, gamble for these pieces first. The typical configuration is to run the Zuni mojo, chest, pants, boots and gloves (five pieces) plus a RoRG for the six-piece bonus. Alternatively, you can run the Zuni ring with RoRG and free up one of the other slots (usually mojo) for another item. Major endgame skill selection criteria include the proper application of the Z6 and Bastions of Will set bonuses; see the skill section for more information.

Ancient Items
Patch 2.1.2 added ancient items, which are the same legendary and set pieces you've come to love, but with a 10% chance to get a gold border and up to 30% higher stats. DPS stats (IAS, CHC, CHD) are unaffected by ancient status; INT, VIT and armor are the major bonuses. Two slots add major DPS, though: weapon (up to 30% better) and mojo (~8% more DPS).

Helm (INT, VIT, CHC, socket)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/carnevil
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/mask-of-jeram (Kanai's Cube)

Carnevil is the one mandatory piece of equipment in this build, while the Mask of Jeram provides up to 100% extra damage to pet attacks. You'll generally Cube a MoJ (since its legendary affix has a range, while Carnevil's does not) and wear your Carn.

Chest (INT, VIT, 3 sockets, FA damage)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/zunimassas-marrow

The Zuni chest is typically included for the set's 6p bonus.

Boots (INT, VIT, armor and/or AR, movespeed)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/zunimassas-trail

Again, the boot slot will generally be taken by the Zuni set. You can choose movespeed on these to free up more paragon points for INT, or take both armor and AR for the extra toughness.

Mojo (INT, VIT, CHC, FA, AD or elite damage)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/zunimassas-string-of-skulls (mandatory)

Patch 2.2.0 changed the Zuni mojo, adding 20-25% FA damage as a fifth primary affix. Fetish Army damage is always preferable to Poison Dart on this slot. The mojo is also one of two slots that are fairly easy to get area damage on (the other being shoulders), but you might choose elite damage instead.

Weapon (INT, socket, IAS, % damage)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/the-dagger-of-darts
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/starmetal-kukri
(Kanai's Cube for whichever of the above is lower in DPS)

DoD was tailor-made for Carnevil builds, which makes it mandatory. Furthermore, the perma-BBV and near-instant FA recasting enabled by an SMK provides around 50% more DPS and makes this weapon the obvious second choice. Use whichever of the two provides you more DPS and place the other in Kanai's Cube.

Isn't 10% damage better than 7% IAS on a weapon?
Nope! You should always reroll your CK to IAS if you have to choose between the two. PaulNg and VanHelsing have contributed a thorough explanation of the reason you should always roll a DoD (or any Carn weapon) to 7% IAS instead of 10% damage if you have to choose. See here for the Maths: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=31#601

Rings (CHC, CHD, IAS, INT)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/ring-of-royal-grandeur-3qRFop (Kanai's Cube)
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/focus (mandatory)
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/restraint (mandatory)
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/zunimassas-pox (alternate)
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/convention-of-elements
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/unity

Rings are quite possibly the most build-changing items in Diablo III, and there are currently a powerful few favored by all DPS-oriented Witch Doctor builds. The Ring of Royal Grandeur is generally mandatory for Zuni builds, as it allows you to acquire the set’s six-piece bonus without running all the pieces. For maximum DPS you'll want to place this in the jewelry slot of Kanai's cube, freeing both wearable ring slots for the Bastions of Will set.

Focus and Restraint are a two-piece ring set that provides a 50% DPS increase for five seconds after using a primary skill (poison dart) and another, separate 50% DPS increase for five seconds after spending mana. The combination of these two buffs guarantees you 125% more damage (1.5x1.5 = 2.25) and the upkeep of both and the Z6 bonus are major aspects of the playstyle. Fortunately, the spender you choose for Z6 application will also trigger the second half of the BoW bonus. Refer to the skills section for further information.

Update, 25 May 2015: AlCalzone has contributed an excellent discussion of the optimal damage stats on rings with regard to IAS breakpoints. Please note that his discussion assumes perfect rolls in all slots and will not directly translate to your specific build until late endgame. Refer to this post for more: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/17085020454?page=2#35

If you choose not to run Focus and Restraint for some reason there are two other rings you might use instead. Convention of Elements provides a rotating (up to) 200% increase to your damage, averaging (up to) a 50% increase. Second, using a Unity in conjunction with one on your follower provides a flat 50% damage reduction, which players may choose to try at high GR levels. Both of these rings can be run together. Alternatively, you can run CoE and RoRG to free up a jewelry slot in Kanai's cube, possibly for an immunity amulet, like Mara's.

Amulet (socket, CHC, CHD, INT or IAS)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/artisan/jeweler/recipe/hellfire-amulet-of-intelligence (recommended)
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/maras-kaleidoscope (alternate)
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/the-ess-of-johan (alternate)

Three amulets merit special attention here. First, the Hellfire amulet rolls with a guaranteed socket and provides a free fifth passive skill, making it a very strong option. Reflect damage elites now reflect damage of the type that was dealt, meaning that running a Mara's poison immunity amulet and poison skills (our primary element) can make you immune to RD and able to heal from RD packs. Finally, the Ess of Johan provides excellent clumping of mobs for crowd control, improved piercing behavior, and to maximize the effectiveness of your area damage.

Shoulders (INT, VIT, FA damage, armor or AD)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/artisan/blacksmith/recipe/aughilds-power
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/profane-pauldrons
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/pauldrons-of-the-skeleton-king-2AGH0r

There aren’t very many options in the shoulder slot, Aughild’s Power being the current best-in-slot item for its set bonuses when run with a RoRG and Aughild’s Search (bracer). Alternates include Profane Pauldrons, which give extra pickup radius, and the Pauldron's of the Skeleton King, which could literally save your life in a tough GR. The fourth stat on a shoulder slot is a good place to get area damage if you want it; otherwise armor is a good choice, followed by CDR.

Bracers (poison, INT, VIT, CHC)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/artisan/blacksmith/recipe/aughilds-search
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/lacuni-prowlers
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/steady-strikers

Most end-game Carndocs run the Aughild’s bracers with the shoulders and RoRG for the set bonuses. Lacuni Prowlers are extremely rare and notable for providing IAS, but post-2.1 they have no mandatory rolls and can roll five primary stats, which could make them very desirable if a good pair is found. Steady Strikers are a poor doc's Lacunis, since they also roll IAS and are more common. They don't have five primaries, though, so you'll have to lose a VIT roll to keep your DPS up. Note that the bracer slot is typically the only place to get poison damage without sacrificing a more-important stat, so you'll definitely want it here.

Pants (INT, VIT, 2 sockets, PD or armor/life)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/zunimassas-cloth

In patch 2.2.0 there's only one end-game choice for Carnevil players: Zunimassa's Cloth, for the 6p set bonus. Along with the belt slot, this is one place you can opt for Poison Dart damage. Some players might choose a toughness stat - I prefer armor - instead, though.

Finally, throw some vanishing dye on those bad boys, because pants are for chumps.

Gloves (INT, IAS, CHC, CHD)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/zunimassas-finger-wraps

As with many slots, the Zuni set takes the cake in the glove slot as well. It's worth noting that the glove slot is one of the lowest-priority slots for ancient gear, since only the INT benefits from ancient status. Getting a trifecta (IAS, CHC, CHD) pair is much more important.

Belt (IAS, CHD, PD, INT)

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/the-witching-hour
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/artisan/blacksmith/recipe/fleeting-strap (craftable)

The best DPS belt in Diablo III is The Witching Hour, since it rolls both IAS and CHD. A decent substitute if you don't have a good one is the Fleeting Strap, which always rolls IAS and can be crafted until you get an ancient one. This is the second slot (along with pants) in which you can roll PD damage.

Back to top: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14527433038?page=1#2
Skills
This section includes a range of skills that may be used to fill out the basic build discussed at the beginning of this guide. For convenience, these have been sorted by function (DPS, crowd control, etc.) since this is the context in which most players evaluate their builds. For example, “I feel like I need to run tankier” or “I can’t decide if I should focus on killing faster or adding some CC”.

Applying the Zunimassa's and Bastions of Will Set Bonuses
Post-patch 2.3, it's important to choose at least one spender skill that applies the Zuni 6p bonus and the second half of the BoW bonus; many Carndocs run two. Note that Poison Dart will take care of the first half of the BoW bonus. To do so, you'll need to choose mana-spending skills that you can apply consistently. Many of these skills (like Piranhado) offer some degree of crowd control. Others, (like Haunt: Poisoned Spirit) offer a DPS increase against affected mobs. Still others (like Zombie Piranhas or Acid Rain) offer a huge area of effect, allowing you to tag many mobs at once. Some have cooldowns and some don't. Your choice of skills will depend on a combination of the above factors and playstyle preference, and many different combinations have cleared the highest GR levels. Note that the inclusion of the BoW spender proc makes AoE spenders (like GotD) generally preferable to single-target skills (like Haunt). Below is a brief list of the most popular skills sorted by utility:

Crowd Control
Piranhado, Frozen Piranhas, Grasp of the Dead

DPS Buff / Monster Debuff
Haunt:Poisoned Spirit, Piranhas, Grasp of the Dead:Death is Life (with GF)

Large AoE
Acid Rain, Zombie Piranhas, Spirit Barrage:Phantasm (multiple casts)

Low/No Cooldown
Spirit Barrage:Phantasm, Grasp of the Dead:Desperate Grasp, Zombie Piranhas, Frozen Piranhas, Acid Rain

Also Procs BoT
Grasp of the Dead, Frozen Piranhas, SB:Phantasm, Haunt

Basic Skills

Poison Dart
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/poison-dart
There are two top rune choices for PD: Snake to the Face and Numbing Dart, which comes down to a choice between hard and soft crowd control. CC changes in 2.3 make Numbing Dart's slow generally preferable for continuous CC, to diversify if also running Zei's, and to apply BoT, while players running a Mara's amulet will want to opt for SttF for its poison element damage.

Fetish Army
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/fetish-army
The choice between the Head Hunters rune and the Legion of Daggers runes for FA is a choice between fetishes that do poison damage in melee mode (HH) and an extra fetish (LoD). You may choose either. Given that the five closest fetishes to you in critical situations are likely to be FA, which always output poison when darting anyway, and that you'll likely only run 20% poison damage on bracers, I'd opt for Legion of Daggers for the extra blade.

Spirit Walk
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/spirit-walk
Spirit Walk is nearly universally used by all kinds of WD builds for its incredibly utility in avoiding damage, allowing movement through obstacles and increasing movement speed. You can count on having this skill in your rotation. Jaunt and Healing Journey are the two most worthwhile rune choices.

Pierce the Veil
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/passive/pierce-the-veil
This is a mandatory passive skill for most petdocs, since it grants 20% more damage across the board. We don’t really spend mana, so that cost increase is a non-issue here.

Fetish Sycophants
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/passive/fetish-sycophants
Again, a mandatory passive. You can’t shoot darts if you ain’t got fetishes. 'Nuff said.

DPS Buffs

Big Bad Voodoo
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/big-bad-voodoo
BBV is the end-all, be-all, uber-DPS buff for Witch Doctors. If you’re running a Starmetal Kukri in your Kanai's Cube (and you should) this needs to be on your skill bar.

Gruesome Feast
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/passive/gruesome-feast
Gruesome Feast is a passive skill that increases your intelligence for a short time for each health globe you pick up, stacking up to five times. This has a huge impact on your sheet DPS, as well as a smaller effect on toughness due to the AR you derive from INT. This is a strong passive choice if you need more DPS and don’t have toughness problems.

Soul Harvest: Languish or Soul to Waste
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/soul-harvest
Soul Harvest increases your intelligence, which increases both your DPS and defense via resistances, and two of the runes expand this utility. Languish increases armor by 30% and reduces enemy movespeed by 80%, while Soul to Waste buffs your movespeed. Both can be strong choices.

Hex: Jinx
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/hex
This Hex rune increases the damage taken by affected mobs by 30%; it also applies a strong form of crowd control and can be highly effective against elite groups. Furthermore, the skill's cooldown is relatively short, so you won't often be without your little shaman companion.

Crowd Control

As mentioned throughout this guide, crowd control is the second most important skill function in a Carnevil build (after DPS), and it enhances your damage output, fetish production and survivability simultaneously. Some of the highest-performing Carn builds employ multiple skills from the list below.

Piranhas
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/piranhas
Other than Wave of Mutilation, Piranhas is primarily a crowd-controlling skill. The strongest rune choice here is Piranhado, which is the single best way to increase your Fetish Sycophant production with piercing darts. Much as it does with Rain of Toad in a MoJ build, it packs enemies into a highly dense area, dramatically increasing the number of hits per cast. It also procs Strongarm Bracers well. Frozen Piranhas has a shorter cooldown that can be used effectively to proc the Zuni 6p and BoW bonuses. Note that Zombie Piranhas is useful for Z6 but doesn't apply any crowd-controlling effect, a major consideration if you're also running BoT.

Grasp of the Dead
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/grasp-of-the-dead
Grasp of the Dead is an excellent skill for providing CC while proccing the Z6 and BoW bonuses. There are two major rune choices here: Death is Life provides extra health globes and synergizes with Gruesome Feast, while Desperate Grasp has a shorter cooldown. Unbreakable Grasp deserves an honorable mention for applying stronger CC.

Wall of Death
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/wall-of-death
While typically intended to be used with the Helltooth set, WoD nonetheless provides strong CC and moderate damage. You might choose to run this in conjunction with two pieces of the Helltooth set, but otherwise it's likely to be outcompeted by skills that spend mana.

Cooldown Reduction

Grave Injustice
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/passive/grave-injustice
Grave Injustice is a passive skill with the highly useful effects of reducing your cooldowns by one second for each enemy killed with 20 yards and granting you 1% life and mana in the same fashion. While this is one of the WD’s most powerful passives it’s often ineffective in a Carnevil build given the distance we must preserve to our targets. If you can use it properly it increases both your DPS (BBV) and mitigation (Spirit Walk, etc.) by giving you more frequent access to those skills. This is a strong candidate for a fifth passive should you be lucky enough to acquire a nice Hellfire Amulet.

Mitigation

Jungle Fortitude
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/passive/jungle-fortitude
Jungle Fortitude reduces the damage taken by you and your pets by a flat 15%, an impact you can immediately see on your sheet toughness. This is an easy choice if you’d rather spend a passive on defense.

Bad Medicine
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/passive/bad-medicine
Bad Medicine reduces enemy damage by 20% for three seconds after you deal poison damage to them.

Spirit Vessel
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/passive/spirit-vessel
Spirit Vessel reduces your Spirit Walk cooldown by two seconds in addition to providing you an on-killed second life once every 60 seconds. While this seems like a no-brainer when you’re pushing difficult content, as when getting OftRepeatedly murdered in Greater Rifts.

Followers
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/follower/enchantress/skill/
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/follower/templar/skill/
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/follower/scoundrel/skill/

When playing solo, you'll need to choose a follower that supports your ranged playstyle; followers generally do not provide much additional DPS, so its best to approach them from the standpoint of utility. Both the Enchantress and Templar are strong choices in a Carn-support role, she with more crowd-controlling abilities and he with stronger tanking behavior and some useful heals. Lyndon, unfortunately, is not such a good fit given that he tends to play the same way you do. Furthermore, you can pretty much ignore any follower skills that are primarily damage dealers. For the Eirena, Charmed, Disorient and Mass Control are strong choices, while Kormac's Taunt, Intimidate, Charge and Guardian are pretty useful.

As for gear, legendary items with some utility, like The Ess of Johan or Thunderfury, are worth considering for your followers. Furthermore, Wyrdward (stun) and Oculus Ring (high IAS) are strong ring options. Sultan of Blinding Sand is a weapon with a high chance to blind on hit, while Eun Jang Do (especially with the Templar) can perma-freeze low-health rift guardians, mitigating their enraged state. Again, these are selected mostly for their legendary affix rather than the damage they provide. In higher Greater Rifts you might want a pair of Unities and the follower legendary items that grant immortality; this combo is effectively a 50% damage reduction to your character.

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Legendary Gems
While all of the gems listed below are strong, I’ve ordered them from most mandatory to least. This is an area of continuing discussion, and the specific gems you choose will depend on a number of factors.

What should I reroll to get sockets on my jewelry?

This is a challenging question for any player looking to add legendary gems and a primary consideration in looting rings and amulets. Generally, stat priority on jewelry should be: socket, IAS, CHC/CHD, INT. While intelligence is generally the weakest-performing stat of those listed, it takes very good drops to be able to roll the INT off a piece of jewelry. Specific rerolls will have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Simplicity's Strength
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/simplicitys-strength
Patch 2.1.2 elevated Simplicity's Strength from a useless piece of trash to on of the best gems Carndocs can run, since its buff applies to all damage from your 6 darts. With 30% PD damage on gear, it's now possible to buff your darts by 80% or more. Note that the poison dart bonuses - SS and PD on gear - also appear to be a separate multiplier from all other buffs, skills and debuffs in the dart damage formula, so it doesn't get watered down by PtV, BBV, or any other stat you apply. Also, the secondary property - a 2% heal per cast of Poison dart - isn't bad either. Note that it does not apply per enemy hit, rather each time you fire.

Gogok of Swiftness
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/gogok-of-swiftness
IAS is the most important stat for a Carndoc, and this gem adds up to 15% IAS with very little spin-up time, especially with piercing darts. The secondary effect is notable for providing some CDR; note that the CDR "snapshots," which means that you'll only get the benefit of the full 15% if you cast your skill while your Gogok is at full stacks.

Bane of the Trapped
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/bane-of-the-trapped
Bane of the Trapped increases damage done against enemies under crowd controlling effects. Sources of these effects in a Carnevil build include Snake to the Face, Numbing Dart, Piranhas, and the secondary effects of Zei’s Stone of Vengeance and BoT itself. You want to be controlling enemies as much as possible to maximize your dart hits and keep mobs at range, and this gem rewards you for doing it. Finally, like Zei’s, BoT is a standalone multiplier, which is a highly desirable property if you can proc its effect. Since patch 2.3, "soft" CC's like slow and chill are preferable to hard CC's like stun for applying this gem's effect; if your build lacks them BoT may not be a strong choice.

Enforcer
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/enforcer
Enforcer is a good choice because it benefits all 23 of your fetishes, dart and melee. The only downside to this arrangement is that gem's pet damage increase is grouped with your poison damage bonuses and and the 100% from your cubed Mask of Jeram, which has the effect of watering the gem's bonus down. Nonetheless, it may prove to be worthwhile especially if you find the secondary effect useful.

Zei’s Stone of Vengeance
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/zeis-stone-of-vengeance
Zei's makes a comeback in patch 2.3, with the nearest five fetishes to you firing darts and the ability (via SMK in Cube) to recast your FA at location as often as needed. Thus, staying at range becomes paramount, and you'll find that leaping mobs can frustrate this effort. Zei’s is also a standalone multiplier in calculating your DPS, meaning that its effect is not combined with other buffs/debuffs prior to being multiplied into your damage formula. So if the gem tooltip gives a 20% damage increase you get a 20% damage increase. It’s very powerful if you can make the most of it.

Esoteric Alteration
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/esoteric-alteration
Esoteric Alteration is generally considered the most useful defensive gem if you're interested in running one. This will only generally effect players when pushing the highest-level GRs. The other defensive gems - Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard, Mutilation Guard, Moratorium, and Invigorating Gemstone - have questionable utility but may be explored by players looking for extra toughness.

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Kanai's Cube
The addition of Kanai's Cube in patch 2.3 provided Carnevil players with substantial buffs, allowing us to choose one legendary affix each from weapon, armor and jewelry to use in addition to those on our gear. While this does substantially increase the number of possible builds, the "optimal" configuration is clearly:

Armor: Mask of Jeram
100% more fetish damage. Easy.

Weapon: Starmetal Kukri
20% IAS and 30% damage amounts to an average DPS increase of around 50%, and it makes your FA almost instantly recastable to boot. This is another obvious choice.

Jewelry: Ring of Royal Grandeur
Placing a RoRG in your Cube frees up both ring slots for the powerful Bastions of Will set, making this the go-to choice. For alternate ring configurations, see the gear section.

Other interesting "suboptimal" possibilities may be worth exploring. For example, you can choose to Cube any item that competes with a Zuni set piece, allowing you to preserve the set bonus while still using that item. You could also incorporate other sets into the build, like a two-piece Helltooth + six-piece Zuni configuration, or a Manajuma's Way version for speed runs. You might find a way to use the Born's set for XP sharing/leeching. Alternatives abound, so feel free to experience, especially after you've maxed your GR performance and are looking for something fun and different to do.

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Carnevil GRift Leaderboard (Discontinued)
The Carnevil GR leaderboard has been discontinued with the advent of patch 2.3. This is intended to reduce the burden of guide maintenance and is less necessary now that the game's built-in leaderboards snapshot gear, skill and cube configurations associated with each record, making it easy to find top Carndocs on the leaderboard. Past records have been preserved here for posterity. It's amazing how far we've come.

Please, feel continue to share your GR achievements and strategies with the Carnmunity by posting them on this thread.

Patch 2.2.0

GR58 - 14:47 Baskenater Season 3
GR56 - 14:08 (OraK)
GR56 - 14:29 (Al Calzone)

Patch 2.1.2

GR45 - 13:03 (duchU)
GR45 - 14:39 (Baskenater)
GR45 - 14:45 (filus)
GR44 - 14:45 (carpe99diem) Hardcore / Season 2
GR43 - 13:32 (Dissension) Non-ancient DoD

Patch 2.1.1

GR38 - 13:50 (Surijak)
GR38 - 14:24 (Telamon)
GR37 - 13:13 (Morkhaleb)

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Patch Updates
Patch changes that impact Carnevil builds will be discussed below. This section will be updated and expanded as future patches are implemented.

Patch 2.3.0
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/19859662/patch-230-now-live-8-25-2015

Patch 2.3 represents the largest content patch yet released for Diablo 3, including a new area, substantial changes to adventure mode, and a host of other features. Only those relevant to Carnevil players will be discussed here.

Most notably, and to my serious disappointment, the Carnevil affix was changed so that only the five fetishes nearest your player fire darts. This was intended to help alleviate the lage The damage of these darts was multiplied to compensate for the reduction in number and the remaining fetishes' melee damage can be considered a bonus buff to the build. Nonetheless, the reduction from 23 darts to six destroys the "black out the sun" fantasy of the build for many players. For more whining, refer to the editorial note at the beginning of the Basics section. This change has numerous impacts and has been noted in the Mechanics section and throughout the guide as needed.

The addition of Kanai's cube provided serious power creep, with Carn builds now gaining the benefit of MoJ (100% pet damage), RoRG (125% damage via BoW set), and SMK (50% more damage via BBV). A section addressing this has been added to the guide and the gear section modified where appropriate. The switch to Focus and Restraint in the gear slots merits special consideration and has been addressed in the gear and skill sections.

Area damage was buffed substantially; refer to the stat priority discussion for more. Crowd control was nerfed to some degree, especially hard CC's, which necessitated reconsideration of some skill runes and legendary gem choices. The legendary gems section also received an overhaul, notably in anticipation of Zei's making a comeback in 2.3.

Notably, leaderboards now snapshot gear, skill and Cube configurations, leading me to retire the Carnevil leaderboard in an effort to reduce guide maintenance. Thanks to all who contributed over the last three patches.

Patch 2.2.0
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/18642492/patch-220-now-live-4-7-2015

Carnevil builds made another DPS leap in patch 2.2.0, with a number of substantial buffs. First, and most importantly, the revision of the Zuni set and addition of a six-piece bonus now provides up to 46% damage reduction and 275% more damage, changes that will likely push the build into mid-50s Greater Rifts. The fact that the added pieces were pants and gloves no longer makes Cain's set BiS in those slots. Furthermore, the Zuni mojo now rolls with 20-25% FA damage as a fifth primary, muddying the reroll waters when searching for a BiS mojo. Refer to the gear section for further discussion of the above.

Also, while the relocation of the permanent Fetish Army bonus from the 4p to the 2p might allow partial-Zuni builds, the 6p damage buff is simply so strong that these configurations will no longer be remotely viable in endgame. Accordingly, I'll be restructuring the guide, replacing the non-Zuni build section with a build summary that links to complete builds on d3planner.com and diablofans.com, providing a more concise version of the gear section.

Another positive change was an across-the-board increase to the Fetish Sycophants proc rate, from 10% to 15%. This is helpful in situations where you need to respawn fetishes quickly. It also makes it unlikely that we'll use the fetish-spawning Belt of Transcendence.

Finally, the patch also introduced several new and revamped rings, providing some additional endgame gearing options in that slot. While RoRG isn't going anywhere, Convention of the Elements, Broken Promises, and possibly even Oculus Ring will now compete with Unity for the second ring slot in the highest GRs. Other WD changes are unlikely to significantly impact our builds.

Patch 2.1.2
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/17561388/patch-212-now-live-1-13-2015

Patch 2.1.2 is unequivocally a huge buff to Carnevil builds. The only item in the patch notes specifically dedicated to the mask is a "bug fix" that darts fired by fetishes now properly benefit from your Poison Dart skill bonuses. While not flashy, this gives Carndocs a single skill buff that increases the damage of all 23 fetish darts and your own - something that no other fetish builds have. This makes Poison Dart a BiS, mandatory roll on all three gear slots that can have it: pants, belt and mojo. Note that you can still run %FA on shoulders and chest, though it will still only buff the eight FA, and that PD is preferable to FA on mojo.

Furthermore, this makes the legendary gem Simplicity's Strength the hands-down, number-one, best-choice gem, since it buffs all primary skills (including Poison Dart) by at least 40% at a moderate level. The secondary property - 2% heal per dart fired - doesn't hurt either.

Patch 2.1.2 also introduced Ancient Items, which are the same legendary and set items you've always had, but with a 10% chance to roll up to 30% higher base stats like INT, VIT +damage on mojos, and a couple others. DPS stats - CHC, CHD, etc. - aren't affected. Crafted items can also roll ancient, so we can improve our Cain's and Aughild's pieces. This also makes an ancient Fleeting Strap a great alternative if you don't have a Witching Hour, and virtually always better than a Hellcat Waistguard, unless you happen to drop an ancient one of those. Ultimately, ancient items are an end-game long tail pursuit, so don't worry about them if you're still working your way up through the Torment levels.

In addition to the buffs above, the patch also improved the mob density in greater rifts substantially, which increases the damage multiplication Carndocs get from piercing darts. This (and the buffs above) has pushed the GR ceiling for dart builds from 37-38 into the low-mid 40's. GR45 and beyond may eventually be possible as the top Carndocs acquire more ancient items.

Patch 2.1.1
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/16043922/patch-211-now-live-9-23-2014

Unfortunately, Patch 2.1.1 is a mixed bag for Carndocs. Most notably, the "leash distance for pets including fetishes was substantially increased, meaning that you have to kite much further from battle to recall them to your side. They also move faster than before. These two changes, while QoL improvements for melee docs, combine to make it impractical to attempt to keep your fetishes out of melee range once they've run in. We'll continue to request a shorter leash when using Carn and hope this is something that can be tweaked in the future.

On the upside, the fetishes are now noticeably more durable, so the above problem shouldn't much effect your DPS if you're not running a Zei's Stone of Vengeance. This is perhaps the greatest loss in this patch - the ranged damage gem is no longer an attractive option to Carnevil docs, which hurts an obvious synergy and removes a standalone multiplier gem from consideration.

Electrified elites now have an internal cooldown, making this affix among the more manageable. Good news to those who have killed themselves on electrified+vortex elites. Furthermore, Spirit Walk no longer has a damage limit that knocks you out, which helps all WDs avoid damage. Finally, Bane of the Trapped has been fixed to work properly with freeze effects, including those applied by Frostburn. Still no word about the taunt applied by WoZ:WC.

Patch 2.1.0
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/game/patch-notes/2-1-0

Patch 2.1 brought a number of improvements to the Carnevil build, which I’ll summarize here. See the official patch notes for further information. The addition of the Dagger of Darts gave Carnevil players a new end-game best-in-slot weapon and dramatically increased our potential damage output by allowing the darts to pierce. This had the secondary effect of substantially increasing the production of Fetish Sycophants due to the higher number of targets hit. It also made the build more accessible, since it became much more viable to run a non-SMK Carnevil build and the DoD is much less rare.

The patch also fixed two bugs with fetishes: fetish sycophants no longer replace your fetish army as they spawn, and fetish army no longer kills all of your fetish sycophants when summoned. The caps for both skills were also separated, making 23-fetish builds practical and increasing the total potential damage output of fetish builds of all kinds.

Unfortunately, patch 2.1 also made pets much less tough, a mechanic that will be addressed in a future patch but has not yet been fixed at the time of writing. For end-game players this becomes a serious limitation, limiting the ability of pet builds to progress past Greater Rift 30.

The patch also included a heavy nerf for Horrify:Frightening aspect, dropping its 100% armor increase to a mere 35%. What was once perhaps our best mitigation skill has been reduced to an occasional niche application at best. Docs who had this skill on their bar and are looking for a replacement are advised to try Leeching Beasts or WoZ:Wrecking Crew instead.

Finally, the Gidbinn was also “fixed” so that the three fetishes it summons will work properly with Carnevil. Unfortunately, these fetishes are still smaller and much weaker than other fetishes, leaving the knife largely unused by the playerbase.

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Additional Resources
{Builds / Info} RoS Witch Doctors (stickied) by REAPER666
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/11882388427
The ultimate source for all of your witch doctor questions, this thread is a compilation of all of the high-quality content produced by the WD forum community since the RoS expansion, along with some helpful external links.

[GUIDE] 2.0.5 Carnevil Build Discussion by Sal4m4nd3r
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/12927202605
This is the original 2.0.5 Carnevil build guide and has hundreds of posts worth of great discussion about the build. The initial guide is also configured in a stage-by-stage format for gearing from T1 up.

[VUDU] Pet Damage by PaulNg
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/13349475072?page=1#2
Paul’s magnum opus, this thread contains a detailed explanation of pet damage mechanics and is one of the most frequently cited resources on this forum. He regularly answers posted questions and is extremely helpful. The above link connects directly to the section on fetish damage; scroll down a bit for Carnevil-specific mechanics. You’ll even find some dialogue between Paul and Oft about some of the nuances of the build if you read far enough down. Thanks, Paul!

OftRepeated’s Theorycraft Thursday Feature and Livestream VOD
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/14406241
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/14766599
While somewhat out of date since 2.1, the above features illustrate the state of the Carnevil build in patch 2.0.6. I do feel that some of the livestream discussion, especially with Wyatt, was very productive and brought a higher level of attention to the build from the development team. I suspect that the creation of the Dagger of Darts was partly due to this interaction, along with the “fix” for the Gidbinn.

Sal4m4nd3r’s “Fresh Meat ‘n Greet” Feature
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/14058716457
Sal is a long-time Carn player and author of the original 2.0.5 Carnevil guide listed above. He discusses his love for Carnevil builds in this interview, among other general topics. Look for a similar interview to come from OftRepeated in the future.

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Guide is live! Magnum opus complete.
What a terrific resource , enjoyed reading it. Would read again!

P.
Added to Sticky!

Nice work here Oft
Awesome. I have severe Diablo ADHD (always trying new builds), so now I have something new to shoot for...
wow nice job on the guide. Thanks for the hard work.

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