The Witch Doctor is the only pet-oriented class in Diablo 3 and the natural successor to the Necromancer from Diablo 2.
While the Witch Doctor does not have nearly as many summons as the Necromancer did, the Witch Doctor does have by far the most powerful pets in game. It is also the class with the most damage over time effects.
The Witch Doctor also excels at crowd control, having a variety of effects such as charm (enemies attack each other), fear (enemies run away in fear), and hex (enemies are unable to act).
In this Diablo 3 Witch Doctor guide, you are going to get an overview of Witch Doctor gameplay, learn its strengths and weaknesses, see its skills and abilities, and discover the best stats, builds, and leveling path available for the class. Here are the sections for the guide:
The rest of this particular page of the D3 Witch Doctor guide will focus in on gameplay and the strengths and weak of the class so you can know whether or nit this class is right for you.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Guide â€“ Gameplay
As mentioned in the introduction, the Witch Doctor is a pet class. While you do not have to use pets, it certainly helps this class out.
The reason pets are so essential for this class is that until higher levels, the Witch Doctor does not have a good method for handling swarming enemies â€“ that is fast melee enemies that attack you from all sides.
Instead, the Witch Doctor is able to deal a lot of damage to enemies in a line or cone. Pets along with spells like Grasp of the Dead help keep enemies on one side in particular so you do not get surrounded.
At higher levels, you get better skills for handling swarmers, but even then the Witch Doctor does not have many true escapes (i.e. knockbacks, teleports, movement speed buffs) but rather relies on pets and control effects for defense. As a result, you can count on pets being an extensive part of your Witch Doctor experience.
This is not to say that the Witch Doctor is helpless. In fact, it can dish out as much damage as any class in the game, particularly with its Soul Harvest buff. It also gets a variety of damage reductions through passive skills and it can use a shield without a major damage loss. Combining these can make this class quite beefy.
At the end of the day, you should expect to spend most of your time dealing damage from range and using your pets as tanks. At level 60 with high level equipment and skills, you may be able to ditch the pets and take a more aggressive role.
D3 Witch Doctor Guide â€“ Strengths
The primary strength of the Witch Doctor class is its raw damage output. The Soul Harvest ability allows you to literally double your damage and it can be kept up nearly 100% of the time. As a result, the Witch Doctorâ€™s damage is off the charts by default.
In particular, the Witch Doctor deals excellent single-target damage. This is due to its Poison Dart ability. With the Splinters rune, this skill dishes out 180% weapon damage and has a mana cost so low you can cast it indefinitely. When you combine a practically free to use, high-damage skill with a huge self buff to damage, it is not surprising the Witch Doctorâ€™s strength is single target damage output.
Another strength of the Witch Doctor is its pets and snares. Between these two things, it is not very often that the Witch Doctor actually gets hit by enemies. When you consider the large amount of Intelligence the Witch Doctor has increases its magic resistance significantly, it turns out the Witch Doctor takes very little damage in general.
Finally, the Witch Doctor gets access to a lot of control abilities which will come in handy in PvP. It has an AoE fear, an AoE charm, and the Hex ability which causes nearby targets to be unable to act and take extra damage.
However, all classes have their weaknesses, including the Witch Doctor. In the next part of this Diablo 3 Witch Doctor guide, we are going to reveal the Witch Doctorâ€™s weaknesses so you know exactly what pitfalls to avoid as a WD in D3.
Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Guide â€“ Weaknesses
There are a few weaknesses to the Witch Doctor class. As mentioned in the previous part of the article, the Witch Doctor lacks escapes and as a result can get in trouble if it gets surrounded by enemies. The Horrify skill can help you escape these situations, but that leads me to the second Witch Doctor weakness.
The next weakness of the Witch Doctor class is that it feels the most constrained by only being able to equip 6 abilities to its hotbar. If you decide to use the Zombie Dogs and Gargantuan pet, you will only have 4 skills left to choose from. If you use Soul Harvest (which you should) that leaves you with three skills left. This means that you have only 3 skills to pick out your primary damaging abilities as well as your defensive skills of choice!
Due to the low number of skills the Witch Doctor has, you tend to suffer in either AoE damage or survivability. Most players will have to choose between an AoE skill or a defensive skill for their final slot, which either slows you down when it comes to AoE or makes you a bit vulnerable if you get caught in a bad position.
One solution to this would be to just play in groups or only choose one pet to play with. I would not recommend tossing out Soul Harvest as this skill provides too much of a DPS buff to justify giving up for any skill.