Stream Status - Online My Forum Status - Online Article Last Updated - 6/19/12 **This is the last date any major changes were made to the main post.
Introduction First of all I apologize if anyone feels I have made too many threads on this already. I had a main thread I've been using for the past week and a half or so but I felt I needed to scrap it. Lots of old information, opinions, etc and I wanted to provide a cleaner more informative post. Now this is going to be a fairly lengthy thread but I will be bolding out the different subject lines if you want to skip straight to them. I will be checking this thread often throughout the day whether at my day job or while playing the game so feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to respond in a timely manner.
1.0.3 Update This spec is even more viable after 1.0.3 and I would say arguably one of the best ways to build a Witch Doctor right now. There are obviously many ways to build a tanky WD and I in no way claim mine to be the best but hopefully this thread can help you learn how tank WD work and give a little bit of enjoyment back into playing the class. I know a lot of WD are having it rough right now but this spec has made me fall in love with this class and hopefully it will help some of you too. If you don't follow the build I encourage you to at least put a little bit of durability into your WD as it will go a long way.
Live Stream I livestream just about everytime I play. I can't promise it will always be riveting content but feel free to take a look if it is at all interesting to you. I do item giveaways and if you add me to friends I'll be more than happy to maybe do a farming run or help you out in an area you are stuck on. If you wanna hang out on vent, skype, or mumble with me and the rest of the guys just let me know.
Youtube Videos I'm going to be coming out with many more videos over the next couple weeks to give a visual aid and some commentary for this build. If you have any suggestions for what you wanna see in the videos feel free to let me know and I'll do my best to include it.
Ideally you would like to have an armor-resistance ratio of about 1000-150, enough Vitality to take a few hits, life on hit to restore hp, and enough int to boost your overall dps. It is a balancing act and if any of these are too low your overall build is going to suffer. Unfortunately a well rounded item with these stats does not come cheaply and this is quite an expensive build. It is very similar to how end game Barbarians build only you focus more on int than strength obviously. Lets break out in more detail about why each stat is important to the build. I'll also go over some other stats that are important to the build such as block %.
*Cost* - This build is EXTREMELY expensive for LATE game. You can get away with a relatively cheap build for Acts 1 and 2 but for the later acts it will require a huge investment as you need to increase your DPS/Sustain without losing ANY tanking stats. Those items are typically very expensive as you need almost perfectly rolled stats on multiple pieces of gear. It is a very rewarding, fun, and unique style of play but be prepared as it won't be an easy or cheap task. You don't need mega millions to start playing this spec...you can find low end resist gear with decent stats for very cheap nowadays. The market as changed and been flooded with these items and only the very very top end gear is really expensive. You just have to know what you are looking for and be patient getting what you want. Don't impulse buy, know what you want and if you don't see it for the price you are looking for just wait.
**BUYING A WEAPON** this is obviously going to be the single most expensive purchase you make in end game. Don't waste all of your gold on this slot, in fact I would recommend as a tank this be the last end game piece of gear you get. In order to get ideal stats you are looking for a great weapon can easily cost 20+ million. DPS isn't the main thing to focus on for a tank and you can get by with a 600-800 DPS weapon. I recommend finding a weapon with good base stats, a socket, and maybe another modifier you like at a cheap cost. The current weapon I am using I got for 700k and it has 700 some DPS, 225 vit, 110 int, and an open socket. The weapon DOES NOT have to have life on hit if you have a socket because you can just put a gem in there and get your LOH that way. Gems go up to 600 LOH and a 300 LOH one isn't all that expensive. ANY weapon right now with LOH on it is expensive, even if the stats are horrible so focus on good stats with a socket instead because your dollar will go a lot further. You only need 500 LOH until late Act 3 and you can get that easily through the gem and other pieces of gear such as neck and rings.
Buying Gear - Learn how to use the filter. I put in the stats I am looking for and then sort by armor. Often I search for Resist All, Vit, and Int and put the numbers slightly below what I am actually looking for. So for example if I want 50 res, 100 vit, and 100 int I search 40 res, 80 vit, and 80 int. The reason being is I am willing to sacrifice a little bit if I can get a good deal. I sort by armor as it essentially is allowing you to sort 4 properties instead of just 3 and I look through those items to find what I want. If I am looking for a property like block %, on hit effects, etc I sub out Int as Vit is the more important stat and look through the items that way. Learn how to use the filters to your advantage and this can make looking for gear MUCH easier.
Armor - Reduces all damage done. Obviously you want as much of this as you can and balance it with resistances. There is really no such thing as too much armor and if you can get to 4k that is a pretty good spot to be. I would like to get past that point but right now finding ideally rolled pieces that I need with extra armor is both a rarity and extremely expensive. It is a work in progress.[/li][li]
Resistances - Physical resistance is probably the most important but ideally you want to get all resistance items. Like armor you can't really have too much and I am aiming for 800-1000 of each. Currently I sit at about 550.
Vitality - This stat is useless without having a decent amount of the above stats first. Sure you could get a ton of armor/resist and go from not being able to survive a hit in inferno to being able to survive 2. You need to get a decent amount of health so your staying power is higher. A good starting point for Act 1 is about 25-30k and for higher acts you want to keep increasing that pool without negatively impacting your armor/resist and dps. Currently I run about 55k and ideally I want to get to about 90-100k for end game. Like I said though, one you get to 50k increasing it past that point requires you to do so WITHOUT sacrificing armor/resist and DPS.
LOH - I have waivered on this stat for a few times but after tons of testing and a recent change to my build I've decided it is CRITICAL for Acts 3 and 4. You can get away with different builds and no LOH tanking but once you hit the later acts you need to have staying power. Without sustain a witch doctor tanking build falls flat on its face so getting this as high as you can without sacrificing survivability is key. Currently I run with 740 but ideally I want to hit about the 1200-1500 range.
Int - DPS isn't that important for Acts 1 and 2, I did them with as low as 9k DPS but increasing your DPS is critical for later acts. Mobs end up getting far more HP and you need to kill them before they kill you. Increasing your DPS will increase your effective HP and like the LOH you need to increase your damage without losing survivability.
Block % - I think this stat is huge. The only reason I don't have it listed higher is because of how rare and expensive it is. However, if you can afford it I believe it to be one of the most powerful stats you can obtain. You can block just about anything in the game and the higher your mitigation the more powerful this stat becomes. With a Stormshield, Justice Lantern, and Helm of Command you can obtain over 50% block and be blocking over 4k. That is huge. Again though these items are all extremely expensive, especially if you want decent stats on them.
On Hit Effects - This is a stat a lot of the community has been talking about lately and I decided to go ahead and throw some of it in to my build. I've really been enjoying the results and I think it deserves to be a recognized stat priority. You don't want to give up a lot for it but if you can get 2.5% of a stun or freeze effect on an item without giving up a lot it is a worthwhile investment. Any mob in the game can get hit by these effects including bosses. With how fast rain of toads hits and stacks with a small percentage you can lock up a mob very often. I try to avoid knockback or fear as I don't want to affect mob's positioning but things like freeze and stun are amazing.
Damage Reduction % - This stat is both awesome and sucks at the same time. The thing to realize with this stat is there are 3 separate % reductions: Melee, Ranged, and Elites. A lot of my friends have obtained a string of ears and wonder why they are still getting destroyed and they fail to realize Elite's have their own category and their damage is not reduced by simply having a string of ears. It has no effect on them. I haven't decided yet on whether I want to continue to get this stat as it is useful, however most people's problems aren't with trash mobs, it is with elites. So you may be better off getting a high vit, high resist belt over a string of ears.
Attack Speed - I wasn't really a fan of this stat because I used to run Zombie Bears, however with a recent change to my build this could be an amazing stat to get. The faster you attack the more toads you can stack and gain hp back faster. Again though, like any good stat, it is going to come at a price. I'll likely aim to have a bit of it in my end game build but each piece is going to come at an extreme cost. Everyone already loves attack speed and getting this stat combined with anything else even relatively decent is probably going to be one of your most expensive purchases. It is great and I want some for my end game build but it will likely be the last important stat I prioritize.
Gear Requirements by Act Below are my recommendations gear wise for each act. You can do those acts with less but it will require a lot of effort, lots of deaths, and generally isn't a very enjoyable experience. These minimums should make that act enjoyable and give you a goal to have before you progress to the next one.
These numbers are subject to change and the Act 4 figures are estimates based on my experiences with each difficulty and how gear affects my build. I'm currently progressing through Act 3 and it is challenging even with those listed figures. It is also important to note that block is not necessarily a requirement and if you don't have it to up the other requirements accordingly. The biggest jumps are from Act 1-2 and Act 2-3 and 4. Acts 3 and 4 are not that far apart in difficulty, however, I did include quite a bit of gear gap because I believe that should be your end game goal. That doesn't mean those numbers are the highest you can attain with a full build. Gear gets ridiculously good and you could have much higher stats but those final numbers are a "reasonable" figure to obtain. It is going to cost quite a bit but not 100s of millions.
Abilities Below are the abilities you can use for this spec. I want to give you guys as many options as possible as I know not everyone likes doing the same thing. If you have any suggestions or have done testing and found an ability to be viable, please let me know and I may add it to this section. The top ability in each section is the one I use in my main build. I may change them up from time to time but those will be what I use most often.
Primary Ability - 1
Rain of Toads - The reason you get this ability is because of how well it works with life on hit. You can stack the toads on top of each other getting multiple hits that will give you life back at an awesome rate. This ability is how we stack up against Barbarians and are able to sustain during a fight. This ability combined with your stats is how you become a true tank and are actually able to stand in fights without kiting. It also does poison damage allowing you to apply bad medicine. The cons to using this as your primary is it pretty much requires VQ as a passive and mobs with high amounts of movement tend to be a pain. However this ability gives the highest LOH returns for single target. **Requires VQ as a passive.
Firebomb - Using the fire pit rune. This ability also works extremely well with life on hit, especially in very large groups. Fire pits also last for three seconds instead of just two. The ability costs next to nothing so you can drop VQ in favor of another passive. In groups the LOH returns is actually better than Rain of Toads due to its splash range but is weaker on single targets. The cons to this ability are that it does fire damage so it doesn't apply bad medicine and it casts slightly slower so the LOH returns on single targets is weaker. If you really don't like managing mana with VQ I would highly recommend trying this ability as your primary. **Requires Corpse Spiders with Spider Queen rune OR some sort of ability that does poison damage.
Secondary - 2
Hex - I use this ability with Jinx for the extra damage. In all honesty if you go the Rain of Toads route this ability slot is the least important. Hex isn't that great and is next to useless on bosses but it does really well against champ packs. Since I run ROT with VQ I like to run a 5 cooldown set up so I can keep VQ active without having to use Spirit Walk. I do not want to waste that ability so having hex as an extra cooldown is a nice way to keep it active and also manage the amount of incoming damage I take.
Corpse Spiders - I use this ability with Spider Queen in order to apply the bad medicine debuff. I would choose this ability if you decide to go the Fire Pit route as it is an extremely easy and cheap way to keep the debuff up on a group of enemies for 15 seconds. The on the Spider Queen is fairly intelligent and although the damage output is next to nothing it won't hurt your mana as hard as some other abilities out there. If you hate managing mana and don't want to use VQ I would run Fire Pit with Spider Queen.
Grasp of the Dead - Different runes work for different situations and you will have to decide what the best option is for you. Whether it is the bonus damage, 80% slow, or the corpses raining down from the heavens to give you extra LOH. I think the rune on this ability is really dependent on the playstyle. I like rain of corpses but sometimes it pulls mobs I don't want it to and it leads to a lack of control for me. More often than not I end up just going to the bonus damage. I've gotten away from the ability more and more in the later acts but it still works great depending on how you use it.
Fetish Army - These guys work well as meat shields in Acts 1 and 2 but fall off heavily in Act 3. Another decent way to keep VQ active but less and less viable in the later acts.
Gargantuan - This guy is AMAZING with the big stinker rune in acts 1 and 2. If you are tanky then he becomes tanky and can survive relatively well until act 3. The nice thing about Big Stinker is it gives your enemies another target to focus on and the damage from his AoE poison gives wonderful LOH returns to you. Unfortunately though he can have survival issues towards the end of act 2 and just isn't viable in acts 3 and 4.
Defensive Slot - 3
Horrify - I use Horrify with the armor buff and use it as an offensive cooldown over a defensive one. I use this ability before running into a fight in order to have 100% armor for the next 8 seconds giving me a good buff to my defensive capabilities. There is no other option for this slot as this ability is so good it is mandatory for my tanking spec. I use it PRIOR to running into a group of mobs so that way I don't fear them. I rarely use it for the fear itself as fear leads to a lack of control. I use it for the armor buff and therefor will often run out of a group to pop it and run right back in.
Defensive Slot 2 - 4
Mass Confusion - This ability is one of the most powerful moves we have, especially in Acts 3 and 4. We all know mobs hit extremely hard in Inferno and the numbers are almost ridiculous in the later acts. You can use this to your advantage by MCing those mobs and getting them to destroy each other. Ever since I started using this ability again I get through champion packs much quicker and it is really enjoyable to watch mobs one shot each other. For earlier acts like 1 and 2 you could get away with subbing this out for another ability but I would say it is required for 3 and 4.
Defensive Slot 3 - 5
Spirit Walk - I used Jaunt until I got higher levels of gear in which I switched to Healing Journey. Both are good but at higher levels of gear you don't really need an escape as much as you need a way to minimize damage and heal while you are doing it. I primarily use this ability when I get low on HP and I am usually back up to full by the time it ends due to the 15% heal and rain of toads. The ability is so good there really isn't any other option.
Utility Slot - 6
Big Bad Voodoo - I am currently using the % Life regen each second and absolutely loving it. Since it is a % based heal the higher your health pool the more effective it will be. As I get more and more gear and increase my survivability I may switch to the damage buff but for now the best choice is the health regen. This ability isn't really required...I could see people maybe subbing it out for something else if they don't like big bad voodoo but in my eyes it is the best ability for the slot. A great utility/defensive cooldown that also keeps VQ active.
Jungle Fortitude - 20% DR. Enough said. Required.
Spirit Vessel - I used to use Bad Medicine but switched to Spirit Vessel for a bit and got addicted to it. I like how it reduces the cooldown of Spirit Walk and allows me to make an extra mistake. I don't know if it is necesarrily better than bad medicine but I know with my playstyle I enjoy it and use it a lot more.
Bad Medicine - Another 20% DR when you do poison damage to an enemy. This is a GREAT passive and probably better than Spirit Vessel but I have enough DR and survivability I can get away with not using it. I think it comes down to playstyle and BM works for some while SV may work for others.
Vision Quest - this allows you to spam Rain of Toads. This can be subbed out if you use Firebomb. If you drop VQ you can use both SV and BM.
Playstyle - My previous build utilized zombie bears and it was effective but just didn't offer any sustain for Acts 3 and 4. Those acts were doable for me but it involved more kiting and I felt didn't live up to the tanking build I set out to create. Why spend all that money on gear if I end up kiting and turn into a more tanky and less effective kiting witch doctor? I saw a video on rain of toads in act 1 and wanted to apply it to my build and see how it held up in the later acts. I was surprised at the results and came to the conclusion it is the ability you need to have in order to be a true tank. You still need tons of gear to be able to just sit there and tank things while you rain down toads but with enough gear you will be able to tank just like a Barbarian. You're both extremely gear dependent but both classes will bring something unique and equally effective for tanking.
If you don't quite have the gear or life on hit yet to sustain tank with Rain of Toads you can switch to a minimal kite spec with Zombie Bears. This is the spec I used for quite a long time and had some moderate success with even in the later acts, it simply just no longer fit my playstyle when I couldn't use it to be a true tank. Mobs were simply melting my health and I realized I needed a good form of sustain if I were to ever truly tank.
Everyone has their unique playstyle and you have to find one that best fits you. I personally think the most effective spec for getting as far as possible with the least amount of gear and effort is Darts/Kiting. I didn't roll a witch doctor for that type of play and wanted to fill a supporting role that was viable for groups and possibly PvP in the future. I think built correctly the Witch Doctor can be just as effective as a Barbarian tank and offer quite a bit of utility with it. It won't be for everyone and I definitely don't claim it to be the best know all, end all Witch Doctor spec. However if kiting isn't your style and you want to try something else out I encourage you to give the Witch Doctor tank a try. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort getting the gear as this isn't an instant gratification build. In every act you will get to a point where that act becomes easy and you think you are more than ready to roll on to the next one. Pretty soon you're getting owned there and realize you need even more gear. It requires a lot and I can't overstate how much work you will have to put into it. I think in the end it will be very rewarding and depending on how PvP pans out it could be extremely potent in a group PvP setting.
Farming as a Tank We all know farming is about efficiency. The common misconception about this build is that there is no way it could be viable because farming on it would be miserable. While it is true the most efficient way to farm is to build glass cannon, tanks have their own tricks they can use to make gold.
Champion Packs - As a tank you can kill just about any pack out there but that doesn't mean you should. Certain affixes or mob types I skip because it may take too long to make it worthwhile. Affixes such as Extra Health, Plagued, and Shielding can take a very long time to do. Also I tend to skip Succubi, Armadillos (The shielding mobs in Act 3), and ranged mobs with a lot of movement. Again you CAN kill these affixes and mob types but it usually isn't worth your time. Getting 5 stacks is relatively easy and doesn't take too long to do with the right packs. After getting 5 stacks I'll usually finish off that run with a boss, find any remaining easy packs and move on to the next game.
Resplendent Chests - I have a video up about this topic but on the battlefields in Act 3 there are many dungeons within a small area with the potential for a Resplendent chest. Any level 2 dungeons always have a chest while the other dungeons such as the forward barracks have about a 50% or higher chance. There are also a couple spawn points on the map such as the roofs of the different structures that have a small ~33% chance to have a chest as well. Being a tank you can simply run to all of these locations quickly ignoring all mobs, throwing on MF gear, opening the chest and getting loot. I've done as many as 4 chests within 5 minutes and this almost as good as Pony runs. This is our most efficient way of farming and probably the only resplendent chest farming method left in the game. Our little niche.
Boss Kills - As a sturdy tank it can be extremely easy for you to carry players through boss encounters for money. So far I've been able to kill just about every boss in the game up to Rakanoth with multiple useless party members. No offense to them as they were brought along just to get quest credit but I was able to solo those bosses even with all the extra players. There are many players out there who will pay you to do this and you can make a few hundred thousand gold per run. The boss fights are obviously long and tedious due to your low DPS but this can be a easy steady stream of income.
Whimsyshire - You COULD do this play as a tank solo but it would be very tedious, very long, and in the end you are better off doing chest runs. However if you can find a good glass cannon partner these runs can be extremely effective for both of you. Many glass cannon players can farm Whimsyshire solo and may not need you, however, I've found many players who prefer to run it with me as a tank. It makes their job much easier, they die less often, and they don't have to abuse game mechanics/exploit to do the runs efficiently. I'm not saying every solo glass cannon player out there does that but it is a farmly common method. We've had full clears as fast as 10-20 minutes and this is the most profitable method of farming in the game. Some runs are hit and miss as RNG is still very much a factor but there drops in here and the sheer amount you get are unmatched by any other method.
Ledging - This is probably considered by most to be an exploit, but for those who may be a bit undergeared this is a very effective 2 man farming method. You go to the towers in act 3 and the DPS stands at the top level while the tank goes to find champion packs. Once found you drag them to the lower level below the dps and die with them in the corner. TP back to your DPS and wait for him to destroy all the mobs with no effort as they won't aggro or move. Once done the tank can run down there, the dps TPs to the tank, and you guys get really easy loot. I'll post a video of this method later this week. It CAN be done solo but the benefit to doing it in a 2 man tank/dps group is it usually only involves 1 death. Doing it solo can be profitable but it takes more time and can take a lot of deaths to get the mobs in position.
Champion Packs - The difference doing it with a partner is you don't really need to skip anything. You can do just about any pack type and get them done relatively fast. When I do this we combine it with my Resplendent chest runs and make it a similar experience to Ponies. It isn't as profitable but we don't like to always do the same thing and switch it up from time to time.
References I like to give credit where credit is due so below is where I learned a few things from others that I didn't discover myself. I also included a few links to other sources that although may not have contributed to my build, they are very useful pieces of information that I couldn't have put better myself. I encourage you to check them out.
Rain of Toads - Wish I could say I discovered how powerful this ability is with life on hit but I didn't. This guy gave me renewed hope on my build and pushed it to a new level. http://us.battle.net...pic/5573699942? page=1
Kripparian' Stat Guide - This guy is awesome. He breaks down each base stat and how they affect a character. An extremely good video if you aren't quite sure how the stats work in this game. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=K9uVdmdzfb0&list=UUeBMccz-PDZf6OB4aV6a3eA&index=10&feature=plcp
Effective Health - Another great read that breaks down tanking stats and how the compliment each other. It will help you build your tank in an effective way. http://us.battle.net...opic/5573706010
Ongoing Discussion I will check and update this thread often. If you have any questions, comments, or contributions please post here. I plan to make a few videos and will be uploading them to youtube over the next few days. If you have any content requests or looking forward to something specific please let me know.
I got an amulet with 406 life on hit a while back and noticed how fast i could keep up with regen. Since then i've been wanting to experiment with this sort of spec for WD. Glad you shared this cause now I save some time.
Hi, i have a question. How much DPS should I have to kill all bosses in inferno (bellial, etc.). In this patch bosses get "enrage" and tank have a little problem witch encounters.
P.S.This bulid is pretty good.
Thanks. I have cleared every boss on Inferno with 10.5k DPS. Actually just finished uploading a video showcasing the boss kills and strategy used for each one. Another update in regards to Izzy and Diablo is coming but each of those fights are excessively long so I didn't include them in this video.
Real sorry for the lack of posts and inactivity lately. I have a lot of content I am working on and want to finish but been tied up with work and other personal stuff the past week. I finished moving and actually just found out my wife and I are expecting our second child so been a crazy busy week. Appreciate all of your support and I hope to be back up with some consistent play within the next couple days. Thanks guys and I hope to see ya soon!
Grats with the upcoming child :).
I just love this tanking build. Atm. i'm using bombs with Gargantuan/Spider Queen as I don't like the idea with Vision Quest. This works great for me right now, as i'm farming act 2 elites.
Spec: Firebombs, Gargantuan/Spider Queen, Haunt, Soul Harvest, Spirit Walk, BBW - Vessel, Jungle Fort, Pierce the Viel (can't post links, but the runes are all as you suggested)
HP - 53498
Int - 1100
Vit - 1177
Resis - 550-700
Armor - 3946
Dodge - 13.7%
Block - 25%
DPS - 11495.09
LOH - 357
HP Regen - 402
I want to move on to act 3, but I need a few upgrades, to get some more armor, resist and LoH imo.
Any suggestions or tips are welcome and thanks for sharing build and experience, it just made me wanna play WD even more
Going to stream tonight around 10pm CST if anyone is interested. Let me know if you want to see me do anything in particular and feel free to be active in the twitch chat. I will be interactive with you guys throughout the night. See ya then.