[Guide] Massive Guide to Upgrading Wizard Gear

  • #1
    Introduction

    I am no longer updating this. This guide will provide a straightforward guideline to gearing other than AH prices (constantly in flux). For more updated details, please visit Bagstone's guide http://www.diablofans.com/topic/81157-wizard-helpful-hints-of-sanctuary-guide-contest/ where he essentially has carried on this project and added more.


    Warning: not for TL;DR-phobic people, but give it a shot!

    I've caught sight of quite a lot of questions (here on diablofans, on the main D3 forums, and in-game) regarding gear upgrades for wizards. These can be transitions from one build to another, or something as simple as getting started in Inferno. Instead of going from one person to the next and offering my two cents, I'm going to put everything out right here.

    There are a few prerequisites you should get out of the way first, though:

    1. Understand how a wizard works: http://us.battle.net...n/class/wizard/ . Be familiar with all of a wizard's spells as well as the more dominant builds (I'll get into that later).
    2. Read http://www.diablofan...rds-in-inferno/ . The guide expands the whole "understand how a wizard works" deal. Learn from it.
    3. Gear up only after doing research with a DPS/EHP calculator. A good one is here on diablofans, by a fellow wizard: http://www.diablofan...hp-spreadsheet/
    4. Works best in solo softcore.

    Of course, if you're confident in your abilities and just want some advice on how to move forward, you can skip on ahead. This guide will make liberal use of the AH. Not RMAH, gold AH. Well, no one's stopping you from using the RMAH. Except your credit card provider or your bank.

    Credentials: I went through all of this myself. I spent many, many, many hours figuring out what to upgrade and how. After getting through my rough patches, subsequent upgrades became easier to plan (though gathering the necessary gold is a different story). These things take a lot of patience. Diligence and hard work pays off at the end.
    I've also geared many wizards according to their budgets, anywhere from as little as one million gold to as high as 700 million. I then put them on a gearing path to follow so they can decide on their future upgrades themselves.

    Further notes: Because AH prices constantly fluctuate, the graphics I provided may or may not reflect 100% accurate numbers. They are merely estimates based on the parameters I put in. Many items will be significantly cheaper if you reduce the stat points (lower intelligence, vitality, etc.). I'll be doing my best to update the numbers, but for the most part, the price ranges, especially at lower levels, should be rather reliable.

    Contents

    G00A Itemization and Desired Stats
    • Universal Stats (G00B)
    • Situational Stats (G00C)
    G01A Completely Noob, Almost Broke, Utterly Stuck, Trapped, Confused (
    • Builds (G01B)
    • Inferno Gear Progression (G01C)
    • Next Steps (G01D)
    G02A Not So Noob, Dirt Poor, Somewhat Stuck, Sort of Understand but Not Really (
    • Builds (G02B)
    • Inferno Gear Progression (G02C)
    • Next Steps (G02D)
    G03A Not So Poor, At Crossroads, Super Dilemma (50-100 million gold)
    • Builds (G03B)
    • Inferno Gear Progression (G03C)
    • Next Steps (G03D)
    G04A Pretty Well Off, More Inner Battles, Now What? (100-200+ million gold)
    • Builds (G04B)
    • Inferno Gear Progression (G04C)
    • Next Steps (G04D)
    G00A
    Itemization and Desired Stats

    Generally speaking, most wizards will go for the same stats (which sort of shows how undiverse game items are) with slight alterations depending on builds and play styles. Of these stats, they're separated between DPS and survivability, with each side having equal importance. However— like mentioned, depending on the builds and play styles—you can always forgo stats on one piece and substitute something else on it. It's not recommended given that it'll lead to difficult upgrading/replacement situations in the future, but it's still doable.

    G00B Universal Stats:
    Helm
    The helm piece serves as a hybrid for wizards, which means they both serve as a survivability and DPS-enhancing source. Wizards look for high intelligence with respectable critical hit chance. These two must be present in a useful helm. However, in most cases, you will also want a combination of vitality, life % bonus, all resistance and/or bonus armor to go with the DPS-enhancing stats. A socket is highly recommended as well. For further mentions on vitality and/or life %, I will just say "life."

    Shoulder
    A wizard's shoulders is perhaps the easiest to gear. All you need is to grab some with as high intelligence, life, and all resistance as you can possibly get. Bonus armor is recommended along with HP regeneration. Basically, a shoulder is used specifically to gear for survivability.

    Chest Armor
    Chest pieces focus mainly on high intelligence, high life, resistance, and preferably three open sockets. Like shoulders, bonus armor and HP regeneration will go well on chest armors since your chest piece is usually focused on survivability.

    Gloves, Amulet, Rings
    For gloves and jewelry, they all behave in the same way. They're used specifically to pump up your DPS. Each one can roll intelligence, increased attack speed, critical hit chance, and critical hit damage. Jewelry pieces can also roll bonus damage, which is highly useful for quick damage upgrades. However, those with all of the desired stats will be the hardest to find, which is why many wizards settle for combinations of those stats and upgrade accordingly.

    Bracers
    Bracers are hybrid pieces much like the helm. Wizards also look for high intelligence with respectable critical hit chance on their bracers. Life, resistance and/or bonus armor are highly sought after stats for bracers, as well.

    Pants
    Your pants serve the same role as your chest armor. Like the chest armor, pants focus on high intelligence, high life, resistance and up to two open sockets.

    Belt
    Oftentimes, the belt is just as easy to upgrade as the shoulder piece. The higher the intelligence, life, and all resistance (and preferable armor), the better.

    Boots
    A wizard's boots has one specific stat attached to it that is usually not found anywhere else, and that's movement speed. Other than high intelligence, life, and all resistance (much like other survivability pieces), you will want bonus movement speed, up to 12%. However, boots with movement speed are drastically more expensive than those without.

    Weapon
    Since a weapon serves solely for increasing DPS, the stats are straightforward: the higher the better. The higher the weapon damage, the better. The higher intelligence, better. Higher critical hit damage, better. And so forth. A socket is also a must for the ability to grant even more critical hit damage with an emerald. However, you must consider between using a two-handed weapon and a one-handed one. Two-handed weapons are slower and cheaper, but they are easy to upgrade. For one-handed weapons, there's more versatility, but they're more expensive to upgrade because you will have to consider an off-hand to complement it.

    Off-hand
    While you can only use off-hand sources if you run with a one-handed weapon, sources are quite easy to gear. Wizards seek sources with high intelligence, high bonus damage, and respectable critical hit chance. Any other stat it comes with is a bonus.

    G00C Situational Stats:
    Depending on builds and play styles—and also your financial standing—there are other stats that one can or should go for (also see G04D to skip to Inferno gear progression for end-game stats)

    Stats that cater to specific builds include:

    Arcane Power on critical hits.
    This stat usually shows up on wizard hats, off-hand sources, and wands. Wizards that gear around the Critical Mass passive skill (see G02B) will want to add a good amount of AP on crit to their gear.

    Life on hit:
    At higher difficulties where survival becomes a serious dogfight, you will want some way to replenish HP during battle. Life on hit is a very straightforward way to go, often found on weapons and jewelry pieces. Certain unique items can also roll life on hit, such as Blackthorne's Jousting Mail.

    Life after kill:
    Like life on hit, life after kill serves the same role of replenishing HP during battle. Instead, you will have to constantly kill enemies in order to make use of the stat. It may be harder to use, but it's very rewarding given that most life after kill stats roll into the thousands while life on hit roll in the hundreds range.

    Life steal:
    Wizards with exceptionally high DPS will want to make use of life steal over stacking life on hit. Life steal is straightforward: the more damage you do, the more you heal yourself.

    Attack speed, critical hit chance, critical hit damage:
    The three stats make up the "trifecta," the luxury stats that basically give wizards a ticket to high DPS numbers. These stats on their own will not be hard to gear up on, but in combination will demand insane amounts of gold.

    G01A
    Completely Noob, Almost Broke, Utterly Stuck, Trapped, Confused

    We've all been here before, that one period of time when you find yourself staring at your little tombstone and lifeless body on the screen with a horde of enemies—or just one or two enemies—grunting and laughing at your misery. Repair bills are out of control. You go to the AH and you can't seem to afford the good stuff. You don't know what you're doing wrong. You're confused.

    These can happen at any point during your D3 adventure. It could be at the beginning of Inferno, Act 1. It could be Act 2. You could have lucked out over time, but you're clearly winging it. Now you're stuck. It could be Hell mode and you're under-leveled. Or even Nightmare. Geez, maybe these types of games just aren't your thing and you're stuck in Normal mode.

    G01B Builds:
    Again, go back to this guide: http://www.diablofan...rds-in-inferno/ if you haven't done so already.

    When you're lacking strong gear, whatever mode you're in, the best way to deal with it initially is to change your play style and your skill build. But since you're completely noob, I'll walk you through it.

    Normal Mode (Levels 10-25)
    If, for some otherworldly reason—and I'm not trying to make fun of you here—just if you're constantly dying, you either need to gain more levels or grind some more. You know, the whole RPG deal.

    - Have access to Leoric's Manor in Act 1 and repeat it as often as you possibly can.
    - Have access to Vault of the Assassin in Act 2 and repeat it as often as you possibly can.
    - Have access to the Keeps, Arreat Crater 1 or 2 in Act 3 and repeat it as often as you possibly can.

    Throughout this time, have a ruby socketed in your helm and reap the EXP awards. Try to get at least a Flawless Square Ruby in the AH for 19% bonus EXP. Even if your gear and skill build is horrendous, you can get by on just being over-leveled. No one said you can't be level 40 in Normal mode. If not, make liberal use of Obliteration Arcane Orb. This skill alone took me all the way through Nightmare.

    Nightmare Mode (Levels 25-50)
    I have heard of some people getting stuck in Nightmare, or simply dying more than they feel they should be. IIRC, I believe my very first death occurred when I was in Nightmare.

    For the majority of the time, you can upgrade most pieces of your gear via drops alone. However, if the challenge isn't your thing and you just want to hit 60 as fast as possible, I advise you go in the AH for gear at or above your current level. Set the level requirement for your desired type of gear with the appropriate number (if you're level 36, set the minimum item level to 36+). And based on your current gold amount, set a buyout considerably lower than your overall budget (just so you don't overspend, you're welcome). Take as high weapon damage as possible with sockets and that should get you through most problems. Socketing a weapon with Flawless Square Amethysts (65 life on hit) and above will keep you alive as long as you can hit enemies. For armor, take as much vitality as possible.

    Like in Normal mode, with access to Leoric's Manor, Vault of the Assassin, and the Keeps or Arreat Crater for Acts 1-3, you can grind to your heart's satisfaction. The very reliable "Blizzard+VenoHydra" build starts to shine and overkill the majority of the mobs as soon as you have access to these skills.

    Hell Mode (Levels 50-60)
    As your play style advances, you'll get a taste of what you like to do. Arcane Orb? Venom Hydra and kite with Blizzard and Teleport? Arcane Hydra and Arcane Torrent? These are all viable as long as you can survive, right?

    So you start dying again sometime around level 50 against some elite packs. The best way to remedy this is get a heavy duty, high DPS weapon with reduced level requirement in the AH. You can get these items at level 42 since level requirement reduction goes as far as 18 (60-18=42). If you can manage to pick up a 700-800+ DPS weapon for a good price, you should be set. This is assuming you've been selling cheap gear in the AH this entire time. Many people would pay 10K to even 100K just to twink their alternate characters. You can get a great reduced level requirement weapon for that 100K.


    Once you hit 60, starting pumping yourself up whichever way you can and we'll head on to Inferno.

    G01C Inferno Gear Progression:
    Depending on which abilities you want to use, at this point, you may realize that some abilities aren't quite as useful as you once thought they were.

    Early low-tier gear can make simple builds like "Blizzard-VenoHydra" shine quite easily. For the sake of simplicity, if you're stuck and out of money, I advise you stick with the Blizzard-VenoHydra build.



    If you happen to have a good amount of all resistance (300-400+) and decent HP (25K+), you can opt to go with Prismatic Armor instead of Force Armor. If you really find yourself dealing too little damage, you can take out Blur and sub in Cold-Blooded instead. Snowbound Blizzard allows you to spam and hold enemies in place while your Venom Hydra takes everything out. Kite by running and using Fracture Teleport. Rinse and repeat.

    Instead of Venom Hydra, you can also try Arcane Hydra for faster "instant" damage, rather than waiting for the venom pools to tick away at the enemies' life.

    Other than the lucky in-game drop, you'll probably head to the AH for quick upgrades. What's your budget?


    With less than 5M gold, you have room to balance out your gear with low to mid-level tier items (ilvl 60+). You will need a respectable amount of intelligence, vitality, and a dash of all resistance and armor to go with some critical hit chance, damage or attack speed. You can opt to split the 5M into various small upgrades to increase your item grind speed, you can upgrade one piece to a decent level, or you can save your gold for bigger upgrades later.

    Depending on your current gear, your primary objective is to improve various key stats without losing too many points on other stats. The stats you need to watch out for here are DPS, life, and mitigation. Add to one category without losing on the other side. All are important in order for you to progress.

    Helm
    120+ intelligence
    4%+ critical hit chance
    open socket
    one or more of the following combinations of: all resistance, bonus armor and/or vitality

    Shoulder
    100+ intelligence
    100+ vitality
    30+ all resistance

    Chest Armor
    100+ intelligence
    50+ vitality
    30+ all resistance
    3 open sockets

    Gloves
    High intelligence
    4%+ critical hit chance
    25%+ critical hit damage
    5%+ increased attack speed
    bonus all resistance, armor and/or vitality is preferable

    Bracers
    100+ intelligence
    50+ vitality
    4%+ critical hit chance
    bonus all resistance is preferable

    Pants
    100+ intelligence
    50+ vitality
    30+ all resistance
    2 open sockets

    Belt
    100+ intelligence
    100+ vitality
    30+ all resistance

    Boots
    100+ intelligence
    50+ vitality
    30+ all resistance
    bonus move speed is preferable

    Jewelry (Rings & Amulet)
    A combination of the following stats:
    intelligence
    average damage
    critical hit chance
    critical hit damage
    increased attack speed

    Source
    100+ intelligence
    100-250 damage (175 average damage)
    8%+ critical hit chance

    A range of 2.5 to 4 million gold is a rough estimate based on the current AH prices and also does not include the main weapon. It's also an estimate for jewelry if it rolls two of the three trifecta stats (critical chance, damage, and attack speed), not all three. The weapon itself will cost within the range of 500K gold if you're looking for 900 DPS with critical damage along with an empty socket.

    If you can manage these stats (or better) on each of the listed gear pieces, you'll be in good shape to progress. Assuming you find gear with the hypothetical minimum stats that I included above, with a 900 DPS sword that has 40% critical hit damage to go with a Flawless Square Emerald (45% bonus critical damage), your Blizzard-VenoHydra wizard will be running with about 40K DPS buffed and 20K HP. That should be enough for you to farm Inferno Act 1.

    Of course, you can always set your own budget and upgrade accordingly. If, however, you have so little gold to work with, you can always farm the easiest locations in Act 1, such as Cemetery of the Forsaken and Festering Woods and sell your drops that way. Salvaging your ilvl 60+ drops at the Blacksmith for Exquisite Essences are also a way to make quick gold in the AH.

    You can always get things for less than these estimates. Remember that. Just like online shopping or physically shopping in real life, it's up to you to find good deals.

    5,000,000+ Gold
    Sort of self-explanatory, but with a bigger budget, obviously you can look into higher stats. However, you also want to consider upgrading just one piece of your gear instead of every single one. The mentality of this is keeping an upgrade for a longer period of time. The more "little" upgrades you make while using all your gold, the more often you'll run out of gold because of the constant upgrades. Get one pair of mid to high-level bracers (5-6% critical hit chance and high intelligence) and you'll be using that for a while, allowing you to upgrade other pieces in the future without thinking about bracers for a while.

    G01D Next Steps:
    Since now you should be farming comfortably in Act 1 without too much trouble, you should stay there until you gain the confidence to tackle later Acts. If Act 2 is too difficult, go back to Act 1, it's as simple as that. Keep tacking on upgrades when you feel like you've accumulated enough gold to do so. But remember, you don't have to keep making small upgrades when you're already farming steadily. Hoard more gold and make that one big upgrade to pump yourself up, then proceed.

    A good estimate for a time to proceed to Act 2 would be 40-45K DPS, 25-30K HP, and about 500+ all resistances if you use Prismatic Armor. At the end, try to head into Act 2 only after you have more than 100K EHP. Then again, you can always try going against higher difficulties whenever you feel ready for it. Remember to use a DPS/EHP calculator before making purchases in the AH.



    G02A
    Not So Noob, Dirt Poor, Somewhat Stuck, Sort of Understand but Not Really

    At some point, whether or not you're in Act 1, 2 or even 3, you'll be comfortable enough to challenge any enemy. You click and mash your keyboard on instinct. However, you're still strapped for gold and can't make that big upgrade to buff yourself up. Some elite or champion packs are giving you a lot of trouble. You'll be fine if you skip them, but you would rather not. You could backtrack to an easier difficulty, but you would rather not. You're not sure what your next move should be.

    G02B Builds:
    Blizzard-VenoHydra can get your pretty far. However, it is quite annoying and frustrating when you can't rely on kiting skills to defeat your enemies. Fast-Mortar-Reflect Damage elite packs? Those are a nightmare for kiting wizards.

    Another build that works very well is the Critical Mass-Storm Chaser (CM-SC) build. It's completely opposite of Blizzard-VenoHydra because this is the standard melee wizard build. You'll be up in the enemies' faces all the time. Only consider switching to this build if you have a little bit of gold in your inventory.

    But let's say you're not going to switch builds. Ah, I can relate. I used to run Blizzard-VenoHydra for the longest time, refusing to switch to the CM build. What to do?

    G02C Inferno Gear Progression:
    The most straightforward way is to maintain your DPS and improve on your defense. This means adding all resistance and armor to every piece that can roll those stats. At the same time, however, you want to make sure your vitality either remains the same or is upgraded as well. You want all of those stats. You don't want all vitality and very little resistances and armor. You don't want a ton of resistances, but no armor. Same vice versa. Remember to use a DPS/EHP calculator.

    That helm you bought for 200K with 120 intelligence, 50 vitality, 4% critical hit chance, and a socket can be upgraded to 150 intelligence, 75 vitality, 5.5% critical hit chance, and a socket for a small portion of the gold you've been saving up. Perhaps you want to ignore vitality on the helm and substitute all resistance on it instead. To make up for it, you can relocate that 50-75 vitality to your chest piece instead.

    But let's say you're done with Blizzard-VenoHydra. You want to try something new that is generally more efficient, though slightly more pricey to build. Whatever, you're not a noob anymore and you just want to progress. Now you look to CM-WW, a melee wizard.



    This build focuses on high critical hit chance and Arcane Power on critical hits to be optimal. Without those two components, this build will not work. WW Energy Twister will be your main AP generator because of how often it randomly generates critical hits (proc rate). This allows spells like Frost Nova, Explosive Blast, and Diamond Skin to continuously come off of cooldown, allowing you to endlessly chain your combos as long as there are enough enemies to hit with WW.

    You can also run Stormchaser instead of WW, though it isn't as effective as it was pre-1.05 patch. It can work, just not as well. Instead of WW or SC, the Mistral Breeze also works because of its reduced AP cost. In addition, the Crystal Shell rune for Diamond Skin can also be replaced with Diamond Shards for additional DPS.

    While Blizzard-VenoHydra gear is straightforward, CM-WW requires similar stats and more. DPS is important here, obviously, but all resistance, vitality, armor, basically the ability to "tank" enemy mobs is much more important. Since you'll always be in the thick of the fights, you will inevitably take hits, even with Diamond Skin. You want to be able to take hits when Diamond Skin can't absorb damage for you.


    That's a huge jump over the 5M benchmark from noobie Act 1, huh? That might seem daunting, but the good news is that you probably have most of the necessary gear from Blizzard-VenoHydra. This is what progression is about. You won't have to scrap all your previous gear in order to transition into another build. The only items you need to replace are your helm, main-hand weapon, and off-hand source.

    Helm
    100+ intelligence
    4%+ critical hit chance
    open socket
    6+ AP on crit
    one or more of the following combinations of: all resistance, bonus armor and/or vitality

    Shoulder
    100+ intelligence
    100+ vitality
    50+ all resistance

    Chest Armor
    100+ intelligence
    50+ vitality
    50+ all resistance
    3 open sockets

    Gloves
    High intelligence
    6%+ critical hit chance
    30%+ critical hit damage
    5%+ increased attack speed
    bonus all resistance, armor and/or vitality is preferable

    Bracers
    100+ intelligence
    50+ vitality
    4%+ critical hit chance
    bonus all resistance is preferable

    Pants
    100+ intelligence
    100+ vitality
    50+ all resistance
    2 open sockets

    Belt
    120+ intelligence
    120+ vitality
    50+ all resistance

    Boots
    120+ intelligence
    100+ vitality
    50+ all resistance
    bonus move speed is preferable

    Jewelry (Rings & Amulet)
    A combination of the following stats:
    intelligence
    average damage
    critical hit chance
    critical hit damage
    increased attack speed

    Main-hand
    high weapon damage
    50%+ critical hit damage
    8+ AP on crit
    open socket
    bonus life on hit or attack speed is preferable

    Off-hand
    100+ intelligence
    100-300 damage (200 average damage)
    8%+ critical hit chance
    8+ AP on crit

    Jewelry prices are based on two out of three trifecta stats. Rolling all three will require some more gold. 25M is a rough estimate that can nab you most of the important pieces for a while, though you can always go for lower stats and save more gold. After you replace some pieces of gear, you can sell your old pieces by your original purchase price or marked down. Either way, you'll get a portion of it back to spend on other pieces of gear. On the same note, if you flip it for more than what you paid for it, kudos to you!

    While adding intelligence points is nice, you want to add more EHP-improving stats like vitality, armor, and all resistance for CM-WW. Time to bust out the DPS/EHP calculator again.

    If you managed to don most of these pieces according to the stats I provided, you should be running within range of 40-50K DPS and 25-30K HP, with about 150K EHP. With these stats, you should be able to slam through Acts 1 and 2, but not quite Act 3. You can, however, opt to sacrifice 25-50% of your DPS and double your EHP. You can allocate your budget, putting more gold into items with more vitality, armor and resistances with less intelligence or critical hit damage. Attempt Act 3 at your discretion.

    One stat you cannot ignore under any circumstances is critical hit chance. The higher your rate is, the better CM will work. Again, remember, most likely you will be unable to upgrade everything at once—unless you have a 50M budget—so take your time and incorporate pieces one by one. In the meantime, you can still run Blizzard-VenoHydra until your critical hit rate becomes high enough to make use of CM.

    Alternate Cases
    By lowering stats like intelligence, you can save a hefty amount of gold. You can run with 20K or less DPS and still be fine in Inferno Act 3. This especially holds true with the ability to reduce or turn off Monster Power levels. And remember, prices aren't concrete. 100 int/100 vit/ 50 all resistance pants may be in the line of 1-2 million gold with sockets, but by taking out the sockets, you can reduce it to the 100K range. Other pieces of armor fit in as well. A belt with 120+ int/120+ vit/50+ all resistance can go into the million range. But reduce the intelligence and vitality to 100 and the prices can drop below 500K.

    Of course, the more stats you put on, the easier it'll be for you to clear content. Buy accordingly to your overall budget and hunt for those deals.

    30,000,000+ Gold
    At this point, you're no longer dirt poor. You can easily take 30M gold and pour that into one relatively high-end item. You can go for a trifecta ring (attack speed, critical hit chance, critical hit damage). You can grab a phenomenal wand with high AP on crit. You can grab a top notch wizard hat with maxed out critical hit chance and AP on crit. Or... you can save that 30M and wait to get a potentially "best-in-slot" wizard gear.

    If you choose to get that 30M+ piece of gear, remember this. Think carefully if this item will be worth a similar amount in the next few weeks or months. If you attempt to upgrade this item in the future, you want to be able to sell it off for a good portion of its original cost. More on this later.

    G02D Next Steps:
    Like any other build, you want to tack on upgrades only when you can comfortably spend on one piece. If you have obtained the necessary components to start a CM-SC wizard, you should stick with the lower Acts until you find yourself capable of completing Act 3 without skipping elite and champion packs. You will need about 200K EHP to be comfortable with a respectable DPS. Grab a few pieces of armor with 60-70 all resistance and a few pieces of armor with +150 or more bonus armor to get that EHP up. You can even get by with 20K DPS if you want to. Ever since the Enrage Timer was removed on Inferno elites, no one should tell you how fast you should kill a pack. Take all the time in the world, as long as you limit your deaths.


    G03A
    Not So Poor, At Crossroads, Super Dilemma
    50-100+ million gold (requires update)

    Looking back to when you were a lowly, snarky magical young man on the outskirts of New Tristram—or a half stripped-down snide young woman—you've certainly come a long, long way. You now stomp through Inferno Acts 1 and 2 without breaking a sweat. Nothing can stop you. You leap into Act 3 without a care in the world. The skeletons can break themselves since you'll nuke them into oblivion anyway. Those Phasebeasts are quite intimidating, but nothing a little maneuvering and tactics can't solve. Some combinations of elite affixes may occasionally irk you plenty, but you manage.

    You have millions of gold in your inventory after many hours or days of grinding away, looting Fallen bodies and periodically selling off the goods. Those five helms you sold for 2-5M each, that pair of boots you sold for 1M, the bundle of 1-hand weapons you sold between 1-5M, that rare, rare end-game monk shoulders that you can't use but know is godly... you sold that for 40M. It all added up, and you've been making adequate upgrades.

    Until now.

    G03B Builds:
    A common problem people start having at this point is "not quite having enough gold." You have a ton. 40M. 50M. 100M. But all the potential upgrades cost more than what you can afford. You know you can improve, but you just can't seem to do it. You have two choices, really. One is to continue saving up gold. The other is to alter your build or change it altogether.

    Now, I'm not downplaying CM-SC builds at all. It's an incredibly strong, efficient build that is easy to use and easy to upgrade. However, it does get tiring after mashing the same keys throughout an entire farming session. Also, situations get a little sticky when you're caught in a web of Arcane Sentries, Frozen, and Walls, or an endless pool of Desolate or Molten.

    While I did play as a CM-WW and CM-SC for a good while, I eventually moved on when I realized I had enough gold to do so.

    Archon wizard.

    Before I continue, those who are interested should read this Archon guide first: http://www.diablofan...-archon-wizard/

    For those that are not interested and wish to continue strengthening the CM-SC build, can skip ahead.



    Archon is easy to use if you have the gear for it. It's that simple. It's a very straightforward build, even more than ol' Blizzard-VenoHydra. Basically throw in a ton of damage buffers to maximize Archon's disgusting 300% Disintegrate damage and you're set. After that, it's all about working to keep Archon running for as long as possible (at least until the two-minute cooldown expires).

    There are a few perks to choosing an Archon build other than just killing things faster by holding down your right mouse button. The only elite affix you really have to deal with is Reflect Damage. Other than that, the others are easily dealt with.

    G03C Inferno Gear Progression:
    Heed the warning: Archon builds are very, very expensive. Why? Because people just love ridiculously high DPS. And because people love ridiculously high DPS, people price "ridiculously-high-DPS-inducing" gear ridiculously high in the AH. That, unfortunately, is the price you pay if you want ridiculously high DPS. Ridiculous, I know.

    Behold:



    Approximately 140M is needed based on the current AH. And that's without move speed bonuses or life steal, life on hit, or life after kill stats on any piece of gear. With those included, you will look at double or triple the total amount of gold needed. Don't be intimidated though! These numbers are total numbers for when you should be fully geared and stomping everything in your path. Each piece can go for significantly lower prices than what I listed if you opt for lower overall stats.

    As daunting as it may be, remember, gearing up has to start somewhere. One piece at a time. Like transitioning from a beginner cookie-cutter build like Blizzard-VenoHydra into a far better one in the likes of CM-SC, transitioning from any of those two builds to Archon requires the same process.

    Good news? You should be pushing 100K DPS buffed or higher—ridiculously high!—and far beyond 200K EHP buffed. What does that mean? It means Acts 1 and 2 are nowhere to be seen in the rearview mirror. Now Act 3 should be a relative breeze. Aside from things like Reflect Damage or some occasional weird combination of affixes.

    That's where life on hit, life steal, or life after kill stats come in. You will need at least one of them to cope with most dangerous situations. Take your pick and make sure it's high enough. Recommended life on hit exceeds the range of 500-800 to be anywhere useful, while something as low as 2.5% is good enough for life steal. Life after kill will have to be in the range of 800+. We're talking big money at this point. The same applies for all those other item affixes like HP regeneration and movement speed.
    However, with all the investment you put into a build like CM-SC, you may not want to switch out. Switching out means selling off your AP on critical hits items that you worked so hard to find in-game or buy from the AH. If that's the case, then you proceed to upgrade like how you would for the Archon build. Find higher DPS-inducing gear, tack on more intelligence points while buffing up armor and resistance stats. And let's not forget vitality for your base HP.

    Or...

    G03D Next Steps:
    Since you're so well-geared now—or in the process of becoming so well-geared—it's time to optimize your playing style, your build, or your gear checklist. Or, even better, it's time for you to really start having fun ROFLstomping everything in your path.


    G04A
    Pretty Well Off, More Inner Battles, Now What?
    100-200+ million gold (requires update)

    So you're geared up. There's room for improvement, but you really can't complain. You have 50M, 100M sitting in your inventory and you're basically just hoarding more and more gold while waiting for the next upgrade. You spend 250M on your new chest armor. You sell your old one for 75M. That's still a ton of gold. You make a few more sales here and there in the next few days. Bam. You're back at 100M again.

    The process repeats and repeats as you upgrade and sell pieces of gear one at a time. But now what do you do besides Paragon leveling and mindlessly farming for more loot?

    G04B Builds:
    Whether you're running CM-SC or Archon, or heck, even Venom Hydra if your heart desires, you're probably wrecking everything in the blink of an eye already. Now it's time to play around with some alternate builds to, dare I say it, have fun.

    Some wizards vouch to go this route:



    The key here is constantly using Arcane Destruction to inflict massive damage on an entire area of mobs, most popularly elite packs. However, do not use this on mobs with Reflect Damage. At high DPS levels, you will one-shot yourself. This will happen with or without life steal. This is still very useful with life steal, however, since you can recover a hefty amount of HP whenever you cast this on multiple targets.

    You can quickly cancel out of Archon whenever you see a huge trash mob ready to die at your hands (or laser beam). This way, you can start casting SC to quickly bring Archon back out of cooldown so you can make use of Arcane Destruction on the next elite pack you see. It's fun stuff.

    Because without life steal, this route's an option:



    It works similarly, except without the big explosions. Run in Archon pretty much 90% of the time during farming sessions. On the rare occasions that the Archon duration wears off before its cooldown—or God forbid you actually die—there's SC to bring the remaining seconds out, allowing you to cast Archon again. Simple simple.

    You can try the Teleport rune for Archon if you kill fast enough. This way, you can cover more ground in order to maximize Archon's up time. But as you can see, the previous builds blend both CM-SC and Archon builds together. Isn't that awesome? Why just use one build when you can use both?

    Of course, there are a ton of builds to work with at this stage:

    Quote from DisposableHeero

    I feel the evolution of Critical Mass builds as you attain certain EHP thresholds should be listed as an Archon alternative at the third gear level. Changing Energy Armor (Prismatic Armor) for Storm Armor (Shocking Aspect), and to a lesser extent changing the Diamond Skin rune to Diamond Shards or Blur to Glass Cannon as you gear gets up to huge EHP levels makes that build clear much faster (though not as fast as Archon).


    Especially once patch 1.0.5 hits, playing with armors such as Ice or Storm Armor would probably make a huge run over Energy Armor. Wizards that have met or surpassed this comfortable EHP threshold can make these transitions.

    G04C Inferno Gear Progression:
    And what's the best part of using both builds together? If you're a CM-SC wizard that opted to go the Archon route, you can move ahead of the pack by saving your old AP on crit source. This way, you have a quick way to make use of CM-SC for those few seconds during your run to get Archon active again.

    Once geared, if you're strictly focused on CM and permanently disabling mobs with Frost Nova, you can even make use of spells like Comet Meteor or Slow Time to add a different dimension to combat.
    But let's say you're a superbly geared wizard that does not want to use CM-SC or Archon. Honestly, I can't help you any further because I'm not sure what other builds are as optimal right now. But in terms of end-game gear, you should go for these:

    Main hand weapon
    Echoing Fury, with high crit damage or life steal, with socket
    Chantodo's Will, with socket
    Rare 1-hand, with high crit damage and life steal or life on hit
    Skorn, if skipping off-hand source, with intelligence, high crit damage, and life steal

    Off-hand
    Triumvirate
    Chantodo's Force
    Tal Rasha's Unwavering Glare
    The Oculus

    Helm
    Mempo of Twilight, with high intelligence and critical hit chance
    Tal Rasha's Guise of Wisdom, with all resistance
    Andariel's Visage, with high intelligence, critical hit chance, vitality, resistance or socket
    Rare helm, with high intelligence, max critical hit chance, vitality, resistance and/or socket

    Shoulders
    Vile Ward, with high intelligence and vitality
    Rare shoulders, with high intelligence, high vitality, resistance and armor

    Chest Armor
    Tal Rasha's Relentless Pursuit, with all resistance
    Zunimassa's Marrow, with high vitality
    Tyrael's Might, with high intelligence and vitality

    Gloves
    Rare gloves with trifecta stats and intelligence

    Bracers
    Lacuni Prowlers, with intelligence and critical hit chance
    Rare bracers, with high intelligence, max critical hit chance, resistance and/or vitality

    Belt
    The Witching Hour, with intelligence and vitality or resistance

    Pants
    Depth Diggers, with high intelligence, vitality and two sockets
    Inna's Temperance, with intelligence
    Rare pants, with high intelligence, vitality, resistance and two sockets

    Boots
    Zunimassa's Trail, with high vitality and/or resistance
    Ice Climbers, with intelligence, high vitality, and movement speed

    Rings
    Zunimassa's Pox, with two to three parts of trifecta stats
    Litany of the Undaunted, with intelligence and two to three parts of trifecta stats
    The Wailing Host, with intelligence and two to three parts of trifecta stats
    Rare rings, with trifecta stats, with intelligence and/or bonus damage

    Amulet
    Tal Rasha's Allegiance, with two to three parts of trifecta stats
    Ouroboros, with intelligence and two to three parts of trifecta stats
    Rare amulet, with trifecta stats, with intelligence and/or bonus damage


    Final Words

    - Collect gold and set a budget
    - Browse through the AH by setting the search parameters
    - Get a good feel of the prices by setting a buy out number, or none and go by bids if you wish
    - Reduce the search parameters and see if you can save some gold for similar stat items
    - Use a DPS/EHP calculator to make sure each purchase will boost your DPS and/or EHP
    - Sell your old gear at or under the market price
    - Rinse and repeat

    Obviously, it's much more complicated than that and you know it. At the end, the decisions will come down to your own gut feelings. Hey, it's your character and your time, so you have every right to do whatever the hell you want to do. By all means, try something new, be a little unorthodox. Maybe you want to try a build making use of The Tormentor staff. Maybe you want to use a dual-socket intelligence Manticore!

    As a tip, I don't recommend running in full Magic Find gear. First of all, you invest far too much gold in maximizing MF along with keeping an eye on DPS and survivability. Keep the MF on your follower and focus on DPS and EHP for yourself. Second, while you're farming, you'll gain Paragon experience anyway for the MF. If you really want to run MF, that's up to you.

    Some people can gear up completely with less than a million gold then go about each piece whenever they can. Some people splurge on one piece of gear at a time. The numbers I put into the price estimates are not concrete. However, I find them to be at a reasonable level to begin upgrading. A lot of people have trouble upgrading gear because of constantly spending gold on small upgrades. There should be a time when you can start saving gold to get those luxury high-end items. Always try to bid before buying out an item. It can save you plenty of gold.

    Since I wrote this in the span of a couple of hours, there may be mistakes here or there, so please let me know. Also, if you have any input, your own strategies, tips, methods, etc. please do not hesitate to share your thoughts. Everything is in good fun and in good will with good intentions. We are meant to have fun when playing games, right?
    Blizzard Entertainment - Diablo III Community MVP
  • #2
    Nice guide dude. A question: Do Archon works in team play? I currently play perma frozen CM and it works like a charm in teams. I'm looking to gear up, but transitioning to archon means solo play and I kinda got bored of that.
  • #3
    really nice guide, I read quite a lot of it, but decided there weren't any points to read specific parts yet.
    When I give up Purist HP and continue on my Wizard, I will make sure to keep this in mind ;)
    Bookmarked and +1

    And as a side note: The almost broke (2nd stage) part includes a CM spec, but CM isn't really viable for HC because it kinda need you to stand in middle of the pack and spam frost nova, so you take a really great risk.
    Are there any alternatives you would recommend?
  • #4
    Quote from InfinityX

    Nice guide dude. A question: Do Archon works in team play? I currently play perma frozen CM and it works like a charm in teams. I'm looking to gear up, but transitioning to archon means solo play and I kinda got bored of that.


    Sure it does. It works especially well with Cyclone monks, full-tank barbs, and Caltrops DH. Basically, you let your teammates do the tanking, disabling, and aggro, while you're the main source of heavy DPS.


    Quote from Shanto94

    really nice guide, I read quite a lot of it, but decided there weren't any points to read specific parts yet.
    When I give up Purist HP and continue on my Wizard, I will make sure to keep this in mind ;)
    Bookmarked and +1

    And as a side note: The almost broke (2nd stage) part includes a CM spec, but CM isn't really viable for HC because it kinda need you to stand in middle of the pack and spam frost nova, so you take a really great risk.
    Are there any alternatives you would recommend?


    Thanks! Oh, I haven't dove too deep into HC yet, so I can't say I know too much about that right now. But yeah, melee wizard would be a little on the daring side in HC.
    Blizzard Entertainment - Diablo III Community MVP
  • #5
    Quote from Jaetch
    Thanks! Oh, I haven't dove too deep into HC yet, so I can't say I know too much about that right now. But yeah, melee wizard would be a little on the daring side in HC.


    Im not really asking for a HC guide either, but builds you can choose in a situation where you don't wanna be at any real risk of death ^^

    And another thing! :P
    Currently, you have your table of contents like this (with whats in each of them under, but its irrelevant to my point so I cut it out).

    G01A Completely Noob, Almost Broke, Utterly Stuck, Trapped, Confused
    G02A Not So Noob, Dirt Poor, Somewhat Stuck, Sort of Understand but Not Really
    G03A Not So Poor, At Crossroads, Super Dilemma
    G04A Pretty Well Off, More Inner Battles, Now What?

    Could you maybe change these to more like this? (Not 100% sure if I use correct values).

    G01A Completely Noob, Almost Broke, Utterly Stuck, Trapped, Confused (0-10mill)
    G02A Not So Noob, Dirt Poor, Somewhat Stuck, Sort of Understand but Not Really (10-100mill)
    G03A Not So Poor, At Crossroads, Super Dilemma (around 140mill)
    G04A Pretty Well Off, More Inner Battles, Now What? (200mill+++)

    I think this post in general would be easier to navigate like that ^^
  • #6
    Any1 know how to delete posts? :o
  • #7
    Made some tweaks.
    Blizzard Entertainment - Diablo III Community MVP
  • #8
    wonderful work dude and your wizard is quite impressive
  • #9
    Quick question about G02A.

    You have energy twister listed with the storm chaser rune. But there is no signature spell in the build ?
    Am i missing something or is that really a waste of a rune?
    IAS-starvec cm-wizard.
    Still looking for friends to play (eu)
  • #10
    Quote from Qoffee

    Quick question about G02A.

    You have energy twister listed with the storm chaser rune. But there is no signature spell in the build ?
    Am i missing something or is that really a waste of a rune?
    Currently the storm chaser rune has a much higher proc coefficient than the rest of energy twister (which is either a bug or the inability in the code to specify different coefficient for different parts of the spell). Either way, in spite of the lack of signature spell to unleash the wind charge tornado storm chaser is the most efficient rune for generating critical mass procs which is what that build is trying to do.

    I love the guide, but I feel the evolution of critical mass builds as you attain certain EHP thresholds should be listed as an archon alternative at the third gear level. Changing Energy Armor (Prismatic Armor) for Storm Armor (Shocking Aspect), and to a lesser extent changing the Diamond Skin rune to Diamond Shards or Blur to Glass Cannon as you gear gets up to huge EHP levels makes that build clear much faster (though not as fast as archon).
  • #11
    Incredibly useful guide. Exactly what I needed, thank you!
  • #12
    One vote for your very useful post. And two thumbs up!

    PS. Nice new gloves ;-)
    My little Pet: Wizard and his ranking
  • #13
    Quote from DisposableHeero

    Quote from Qoffee

    Quick question about G02A.

    You have energy twister listed with the storm chaser rune. But there is no signature spell in the build ?
    Am i missing something or is that really a waste of a rune?
    Currently the storm chaser rune has a much higher proc coefficient than the rest of energy twister (which is either a bug or the inability in the code to specify different coefficient for different parts of the spell). Either way, in spite of the lack of signature spell to unleash the wind charge tornado storm chaser is the most efficient rune for generating critical mass procs which is what that build is trying to do.

    I love the guide, but I feel the evolution of critical mass builds as you attain certain EHP thresholds should be listed as an archon alternative at the third gear level. Changing Energy Armor (Prismatic Armor) for Storm Armor (Shocking Aspect), and to a lesser extent changing the Diamond Skin rune to Diamond Shards or Blur to Glass Cannon as you gear gets up to huge EHP levels makes that build clear much faster (though not as fast as archon).


    Switching out armors will definitely be something to look for at high EHP levels, especially after patch 1.0.5 hits. How will it work? Only time will tell right now.
    Blizzard Entertainment - Diablo III Community MVP
  • #14
    Quote from Jaetch
    Switching out armors will definitely be something to look for at high EHP levels, especially after patch 1.0.5 hits. How will it work? Only time will tell right now.
    The entire discussion on critical mass builds may be moot if they nerf the storm chaser coefficient in 1.0.5 as many have suggested they are likely to. On the other hand I can attest to Shocking Aspect being viable in current mechanics at only a little higher than my current EHP level to be comfortable (I currently run it but find myself a little too fragile, but can't bring myself to go back to energy armor) which according to the spreadsheet is around 225K EHP.

    It is a massive increase in damage output though, especially when facing elites where you have 3 or less targets for the majority of the fight.
  • #15
    Very nice guide there, and boy do I wish I played in a diablo where trifecta ring/ammys go for 2-3mil
  • #16
    The really crappy ones do (go for 2-3 mil). Chances are though, getting jewelry pieces strong in 2 of the trifecta stats with bonus damage is probably at least five times cheaper than trifecta jewelry with the same damage increase.

    ---

    I think you're massively overestimating archon pricing, Jaetch. 140 mil seems overkill ... I started at around 110k dps with 20 mil of gear.
  • #17
    Great guide and lots of good information.

    I have a couple comments. The first is regarding build transition from blizz kiting and beyond. When ignoring any CM melee spec, I think the best transition is to go from blizz/venhydra to Arcane Orb/arcane hydra with Temporal flux to kite around the 30-40k dps mark until you can get Archon dps levels. The gearing for Arcane orb spec is the same as blizz/hydra and Archon, though with Force Armor resists can mostly be ignored.

    My second comment is regarding gearing up from begging to Archon, and in particular gearing for Force Armor. The gist of my thoughts are that gearing for Force Armor and not Prismatic Armor will make gearing lots cheaper (5-10x cheaper for pieces that would otherwise have resists in a lot of cases, roughtly speaking). Again, this is for people ignoring CM melee based specs since those tend to gear more towards survivability than dps.

    I notice you had Force Armor in your blizz hydra spec and prismatic armor in every spec after. The transition spec I mention above would work fine with prismatic armor but would be much cheaper to gear for if Force Armor is used. When jumping to Archon, you're already expecting to spend a lot of gold on upgrades that have high resists, but until you make the jump, you really don't need resists if you use Force Armor, so you can still get high dps (50k+) while spending 10 mil or less. You can even use Force Armor with Archon if your resists are lacking, though you end up being squishier than someone with prismatic armor and lots of resists. You might have to make 2-4 purchases with resists before Archon works well though, even with Force Armor, so it might go against the idea of making big purchases 1 at a time, but once those purchases are made you're good to go with the rest of the gearing strategy of raising dps while maintaining or raising EHP to make things even easier.

    Finally, if using Force Armor in Act 2, you probably won't need 100k EHP since that's the Act 3 min threshhold. I think 50-60k is sufficient to make optimal use of Force Armor. If I remember correctly Act 3 mobs hit about twice as hard as Act 2. You want around 165k EHP in Prismatic Armor for it to be as effective as Force Armor against Act 2 elites. I can give a better explanation of force armor vs prismatic armor and the math behind it if needed. Of course all these EHP threhholds will be changed considerably in the next patch because of the upcoming nerfs and monster power level feature.
    My EHP and DPS Spreadsheet, mostly useful for wizards.
    My wizard, mostly useful for killing demons and collecting loot.
    Wizard CM DPS Simulator, written in Matlab, release version 1.01
    Comprehensive CMWW Guide, including gear and build suggestions, plus Uber strats
    Arcane Mines Guide, detailed guide for the highest dps wizard build, including vids
  • #18
    Thanks for the feedback, guys. I'm going to try to incorporate as many of your opinions as I can.

    Quote from BDF2000

    Very nice guide there, and boy do I wish I played in a diablo where trifecta ring/ammys go for 2-3mil


    I'm going to go back and clarify on this. Most of the prices for jewelry are based on 2 of the 3 trifecta stats, not all three.

    Quote from kaiadam

    I think you're massively overestimating archon pricing, Jaetch. 140 mil seems overkill ... I started at around 110k dps with 20 mil of gear.


    20M from scratch? Or from pre-existing pieces of gear? If you can do it with with 20M, then that's great. I used the 100M+ estimate based on current AH prices for gear that have both survivability and DPS-related affixes... if you start with a completely naked wizard that needs gear; it's a cumulative amount.

    @Loroese: Ah, right, I completely forgot about the current Arcane Orb/Arcane Hydra with Temporal Flux build. Ever since they buffed up Arcane Hydra, I never really got to play with it much (since I was already running Archon). However, I'm going to have to put these additional builds on hold given the incoming armor nerfs. But at the same time, I would love to include the Arcane Orb/Hydra build somewhere during the transition out of Blizzard-VenoHydra.
    Blizzard Entertainment - Diablo III Community MVP
  • #19
    I meant that the total worth of all my gear combined was under 20 mil.


    It's pretty amazing what you can get for 1 mil these days:

    1000 dps 1h weapon with socket and lifesteal
    50-150 damage triumvirate
    150 int/150 vit/60 resist all chest armor


    Also, you can make critical mass build work just fine with ~1 mil gold (you really like overshooting on price estimates, lol):


    Screenshot of gear purchases is on the youtube description.
  • #20
    I want to say thank you for this guide. Awesome work.
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