I am making this guide as a place to collect and post all of the information about the best ways to utilize the Firebird's 6 piece. The Firebird's set is as close to a requirement for Wizards as anything gets in Diablo. Because it is so powerful any build for Wizards that is trying to reach high greater rift levels is going to incorporate the Firebird's set in some way. The build above is the current favorite, it is very versitile and has very few weaknesses.
Most of the decisions you make with how to deal with enemies is based on how much HP they have. It takes some practice and can vary based on difficulty. In Torment 6 if you have some decent gear you will find that a single Blizzard will take out most small enemies. If something has more HP, like an elite pack or bigger monsters, you can deal with them by dropping your Hydra, Black Hole on top of the Hydra, and Blizzard help finish them off. Black Hole stacks your Firebird's DoT very quickly and while in combat should almost always off cooldown. Hydra helps stack the DoT a little faster and adds to the sustained damage which is very helpful on Rift Guardians. Blizzard is your aggro tool, mainly use it to gather everything towards your Hydra and in to Black Hole. Blizzard damage isn't negligible, it's just lower priority than the other damage spells.
When in Greater Rifts and there are mobs with a lot of HP try and pay attention to how much damage you are putting on every enemy. Keep blizzard on as many enemies as possible while using well placed Hydra or Black Hole to quickly stack your DoT on harder to kill mobs. One thing that you will notice if you are moving quickly is that if you run too far away from an enemy the Firebird's DoT will actually go away despite the set saying "After reaching 3000% damage per second, the enemy will burn until they die." This becomes one of the more limiting factors to how fast you are able to clear a rift. It is a constant balance stringing along Elite packs and pulling more monsters ahead with out going too fast and out ranging DoT, or too slow for the fifteen minute timer.
Always be moving. The DoT does a crazy amount of DPS but that doesn't mean you should be standing around waiting for everything to melt. You need to go forward almost always unless you know that it will get you killed. The best rifts are ones where you never have down time. Keep pulling but know your limits.
GEARING AND STATS
Having the right set of gear is a requirement for this build. Anyone can copy the spells and try out some rifts but unless you have at least the Firebird's 6 piece there are better builds out there for you.
Belts: A lot of people are using String of Ears over The Witching Hour. I prefer The Witching Hour because once you get in the high 30s low 40s range of Greater Rifts you start needing a lot of damage to stay ahead of the timer. Getting meleed is usually not the worst thing in a high Greater rift either, ranged attacks and elite affixes are much more scary. If you do get a rift where there are a lot of unavoidable melee hits like Winged Assassins you probably weren't going to finish in time anyways. If you are already using a good Blackthorne's amulet, using a Blackthorne's Notched Belt gives you a nice bonus especially if you are also using a Ring of Royal Grandeur.
Bracers: By far the best option for bracers are Strongarm Bracers. They add the damage taken increase on to everything that gets sucked in to Black Hole. They are somewhat rare so if you need the Krelm's Buff Bracers aren't a bad option. They prevent the Vortext and Knock Back Elite affixes.
Amulets: There are a few good options for necks but getting all the stats that you want on a neck with a better passive is hard to come by. It wouldn't let me choose it but the Hellfire Amulet is also a nice choice if you get a decent passive. It is very easy to enchant as it does not cost gems or gold. Countess Julia's Cameo is very strong because it prevents the damage that the Jailer affix does. On high Greater Rifts, Jailer damage will nearly kill you in one hit and you can get Elite packs that cast it very often. Eye of Etlich is strong because mobs with ranged attacks blow you up very fast. It is very difficult or impossible to dodge all of the incoming projectiles as you make your way through the rift so taking less damage from them is a nice bonus. I side with Countess Julia's Cameo as the best neck because in order to finish a very hard Greater Rift you need to get a little luck on your side. Even if you get the best enemy types in the game they still might have Jailer. Unavoidable damage preventing you from finishing in time is very frustrating. If you have a good Blackthorne's amulet and belt then this can be a strong neck as well.
Attack speed is virtually useless for this build because it does not add to the damage that your Firebird's 6 piece DoT does, which is by far the majority of your damage. You want to try and have as close to a balance of Critical Hit Chance and Critical Hit Damage as you can. Cooldown Reduction isn't the best stat but it does help you Black Hole more often but try and stay away from it if you can.
- Head: Int > Crit Chance > Vit (Firebird's comes with socket)
- Shoulders: Int > % Life >= Vit > Armor > Resist All > Blizzard Damage*
- Amulet: Crit dmg > Crit Chance > socket > % Fire > Int
- Torso: Three Sockets > Int > Vit > Armor >= % Life > Resist All > Blizzard Damage*
- Wrists: % Fire > Crit Chance > Int > Vit
- Hands: Crit Chance > Crit dmg > Int > Vit > Attack Speed
- Waist: Int > Vit > % Life >= Armor > Resist All
- Legs: Int > Vit > Armor > Resist All
- Feet: Int > Vit > Armor > Resist All > % Movement Speed
- Rings: Socket > % Fire** > Crit Chance > Crit Damage > Int
*Debatable if blizzard damage is better than more toughness
**Fire damage is only found on Stone of Jordan
The gear listed above is ordered with the best item on top. The reason there is only one item listed in some slots just means that there are better slots for you to use an off piece. If you cannot find Firebird's shoulders then you can use the Ring of Royal Grandeur or a Main Hand with the Firebird's offhand until you find them.
Off Pieces: If you have all of the Firebird's set to use there are a handful of sets that work best. The Furnace is the best weapon for this build but it is very rare and means that you cannot use the Firebird's off-hand to help make the 6 piece set. Using the Ring of Royal Grandeur is sub optimal but it is very easy to acquire to help you if you are missing a few Firebird's items.
- 2 Hand
Chest = Firebird's
Gloves = Firebird's
- 1 Hand
Chest = Cindercoat*
Gloves = Firebird's
- 1 Hand with Ring of Royal Grandeur
Chest = Cindercoat
Gloves = Magefists
- 2 Hand with Ring of Royal Grandeur
Chest = Cindercoat*
Gloves = Firebird's
*If you aren't having Arcane Power problems then Mage fists is a better option than Cindercoat. I love the comfort of Cindercoat so I prefer it. I also don't have good Magefists. Hexing Pants of Mr. Yan are also a good alternative. Gives some nice Arcane Power regen and damage.
Even taking in to account that you lose up to 40% fire damage and up to 10% crit, using a Furnace maths out to be more damage than a Sunkeeper and Firebird's off-hand. That doesn't mean doing well with a Sunkeeper is impossible. Not having the reduced fire resource cost that Cindercoat gives is really noticeable and their playstyles are very different. Choose what you do the best with but if you have an amazing Furnace that you don't want to use because of Arcane Power restrictions I would try and adjust to the change. Rift Guardians take up a substantial amount of time and having the massive DoT from The Furnace can make of break a good run.
SPELLS AND PASSIVES
Not everyone agrees on each spell and passive that I have listed above. Most builds are very similar but are tweaked to fit someones playstyle or habits.
- Blizzard: This is the spell that every top Wizard is using right now. It is just too good at what it does to drop. Only downside is the Arcane Power cost
- Hydra: There are two runes that you have to choose from as a Fire Wizard; Mammoth or Blazing. Most people are sticking with Mammoth Hydra because it is a lot of damage in a decent sized area that helps stack your DoT quickly. It is a perfectly acceptable choice but I at least want to make the case for Blazing. In my experience Blazing Hydra does more damage if you are using a 1 Handed Weapon. It is particularly noticeable on Rift Guardians but that is because some Rift Guardians wont stick around in the same place for Mammoth. Blazing does a small AoE around where it impacts an enemy so I've found that dropping a Black Hole on top of a Blazing Hydra to be just as effective Mammoth.
- Black Hole: Every Wizard should know by now that Black Hole is AMAZING. It is my favorite spell by far! I have always been a Blazar believer, it is the best looking and sounding Black Hole rune out there. So naturally I gravitated towards Blazar when Firebird's was buffed in 2.1. I've seen some Event Horizon or Spellsteal floating around out there and they can have their places in builds, especially if you in a group or are able to run Elemental Exposure. To me, the rate at which Blazar helps stack your Firebird's DoT is just too much to give up.
- Teleport: Once you have played a build with Teleport long enough there is no going back. It helps you stay out of trouble and alive and is also a great tool to keep moving forward. With the Illusionist passive, Teleport is almost never on cooldown when you need it to survive. The Safe Passage rune is mandatory for higher level Greater Rifts and you can keep the damage reduction buff up most of the time. The Momentum rune is nice for farming easier rifts and bounties.
- Energy Armor: We are past the fun spells and in to the buff spells. I would love if this slot could go to familiar for the extra damage and Arcane Power but you will notice that you desperately need the extra armor and resistance. I have seen some arguments for using the Force Armor rune to survive huge hits in Greater Rifts but I feel the extra resistances from Prismatic Armor is overall more useful. Prismatic helps survive the ground effects like frozen or molten if you are forced to run through them. The only plus side to Force Armor is helping with Jailer but that can be countered with Countess Julia's Cameo.
- Magic Weapon: The only rune choice here is Force Weapon. It is the best DPS increase and 20% is a lot of damage! I hope they do a pass on the other runes to make them more effective someday.
There are more than four passives that are good choices for this build. There is the option of having a good Hellfire Amulet with a passive on it. I will list them in order of most important to least important. I am having a hard time choosing on using Conflagration or Evocation. They both serve the same purpose of stacking your DoT quicker. Conflagration makes everything stack slightly faster and Evocation just gives you more Black Holes to stack the DoT quicker.
- Blur: This passive is by far the best. Just a straight toughness boost.
- Illusionist: Teleport would be half as useful with out this passive. Everything in Greater Rifts does enough damage to reset the cooldown of your Teleport so that you can keep Safe Passage up. It makes it really easy to kite enemies where you want them and maneuver through the chaos.
- Unstable Anomaly: This has saved me more times than I can count. It can give you some confidence moving through the rifts knowing that you can step a bit out of your comfort zone and pull more than you would have normally.
- Conflagration: You will find that when you are pushing for new levels of rifts you notice how little damage you start doing relative to everything's HP. This passive does not increase the Firebird's DoT damage but it does help you stack it a faster.
- Evocation: I mentioned above how great Black Hole is for stacking the Firebird's dot quickly as well as giving everything the Strongarms debuff if you have the bracers. This passive helps get more Black Holes out there for more damage.
- Dominance: You are going to have trouble staying alive during Greater Rifts and this can help soften the blows. If the rift is dense this can help smooth out the damage you take. Cool thing about Illusionist is that it will proc based on absorbs too!
- Astral Presence: Use this if you are having problems with Arcane Power. Try and learn to play with out this passive as it is not necessary.
- Elemental Exposure: While I don't think this is the worst option as a passive, it is by default. It can be very strong but takes some perfect gear to pull it off. If you have a good weapon that you didn't need to roll 10% damage on and you had to reroll the elemental damage this is the talent for you! If you are able to get Frost, Arcane, or Lightning damage it will make Elemental Exposure a flat 10% damage taken increase on every mob you touch. Great for groups but very hard to get the gear for it. I would have this above Conflagration if you have the weapon for it
The Templar is the best Follower for Wizards. The healing and Arcane Power regen he brings are very helpful. I spec him in to every skill on the left side.
Having a Unity on both your character and your Templar is mandatory for doing greater rifts in the 35+ range. Make sure your Templar has the relic that prevents him from dying equipped. Equipping The Ess of Johan in his Amulet slot is surprisingly helpful. Your Templar's weapon can also make a noticeable impact during your Rifts. I have mine using a Azurewrath which has a 20 - 25% chance to freeze on hit. I then stack as much attack speed as I can on his items and he freezes enemies very often. Some people like to use a Thunderfury as his weapon and a Wryward as his second ring for a chance to stun. A great shield is Freeze of Deflection, it has a chance to freeze the target when the Templar blocks. If you have a nice set for your Templar most Rift Guardians become a lot easier to deal with. The one downside of him having so much crowd control is he sometimes causes you to have to wait for his stun to wear off of what you are kiting so that you don't out range that Firebird's DoT.
There are a couple formulas out there for calcualting the damage that your Firebird's DoT does. The easiest one and, from what I've found, the most accurate is:
sheet DMG/ APS * 1.xx(fire) * 1.xx(Elite) *30 *.8
There are of course other factors that go in to how much damage your DoT does like legendary gems, passives, strongarms, etc.
If you don't want to do the math I have a spreadsheet where I can just plug in stats to compare different items. I will make an open one for people to copy or use but for now you can message me your sheet damage, attacks per second, % fire damage, and % elite damage and I will let you know how it looks!
There's a great post on the Diablo forums about how buffs interact with the dot. It is pretty long so I will just post the link.
If you wanted to watch the build I stream when ever I get the time to and I want to make some more Youtube videos but forget to record stuff! www.twitch.tv/kamswow Come by and say hello if you would like :)
Armory Link: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/profile/Kams-1962/hero/51896582
This is a video of a level 40 Greater Rift
I recorded a rift showing how fast and easy this build makes a Torment 6 rift
If you like this build hit that + at the top We can't let Monks, Demon Hunters, Witch Doctors, and Crusaders overshadow Wizards!
If you have any suggestions or tips you want me to add let me know in the comments or by sending a private message.