UPDATE: The numbers reflected in this build are no longer accurate. The damage rates in Diablo III have increased tremendously since this was posted. Expect upwards of 10x damage out of this build easily.
A lot of people ask me in my Twitch Stream chat how I have managed to get so much damage out of my wizard in Diablo 3. It’s simple math and it is very easy math to boot. To explain the math, however, I need to first explain my build.
I’ve always been a dedicated wizard player. A Diablo 3 high damage wizard build should not require much. The class itself inherently has high damage bonuses on all skills when compared to other classes. High base damage, while helpful, is not required. A lot of players discredit the wizard as being a mid-range damage class when compared to demon hunters or witch doctors, but fail to realize the big picture.
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The “Slice the Pie” Wizard build
(Really just another Disintegrate build)
The entire basis for this build is maintaining Arcane Power. While that is the basis of most builds, this one suffers when it runs out… as in it can’t produce any damage at all. Oddly enough, it doesn’t have any active arcane generators built into it.
Here is a screen shot of my current skill selection for my build.
Disintegrate is the bread and butter attack of this build. It will be used for the majority of engagements and once a player gets experienced with applying it on the battlefield for maximum DPS, that player will be something to be feared by the minions of hell.
Cost: 18 Arcane Power
Channel a beam of pure energy forward, dealing 511% weapon damage as Arcane and disintegrating enemies it kills.
The beam fractures into a short-ranged cone that deals 649% weapon damage as Arcane.
Right off the bat, disintegrate does a lot of damage but the Entropy rune bumps up the damage another 138%. This damage is given to enemies caught within the beam every second.
Entropy changes the damage pattern from a beam to a 90° “fan” that extends 15 yards forward of the wizard, which I will refer to as such for the duration of this article. The fan damages all enemies caught within it equally. It should be noted that this will effectively turn any wizard into a short range ranged character.
Frost Nova is the crowd control ability for this build. It is useful in keeping enemies from moving so that damage from Disintegrate can be applied to the group. When used in conjunction with another party member using crowd control it can really turn the tide of battle. (Monk: Cyclone Strike or Wizard: Black Hole, for two examples)
Cooldown: 11 seconds
Blast nearby enemies with an explosion of ice and freeze them for 2 seconds.
Cold Snap (Rune)
Reduce the cooldown to 7.5 seconds and increase the Freeze duration to 3 seconds
The unconfirmed range of Frost Nova is roughly 15 yards and seems to coincide with the damage range of Disintegrate with the Entropy rune, so anything frozen by Frost Nova can be damaged by the wizard that cast it.
Cold Snap is my personal preference because it increases the usefulness of Frost Nova as a crowd control mechanism. Other users of this build prefer Bone Chill for the increased damage but I feel the freeze duration of Bone Chill is too short and I’d rather have the monsters frozen longer so I can apply more damage (and so they can’t damage me).
Archon is reserved for elites and emergencies. It provides the wizard greatly increased damage and toughness for dire situations. The 120 second cooldown makes it prohibitive from use for regular mobs.
Cooldown: 120 seconds
Transform into a being of pure arcane energy for 20 seconds. While in Archon form, your normal abilities are replaced by powerful Archon abilities and your damage, Armor and resistances are increased by 20%.
Each enemy killed while in Archon form increases your damage by 6% for the remaining duration of Archon.
Arcane Destruction (Rune)
An explosion erupts around you when you transform, dealing 3680% weapon damage as Arcane to all enemies within 15 yards.
Archon with Arcane Destruction can dish out some serious damage, both alpha and over time. Players shouldn’t let the precious 20 seconds being a demi-god go to waste and users of Archon should properly plan ahead before activating the skill. Knowing what Archon’s attacks are ahead of time is a huge advantage instead of figuring it out on the fly!
The Arcane Destruction part applies a massive amount of alpha to the vicinity of the wizard when cast that can easily liquidate any regular mobs in the area allowing the caster to focus solely on the true target, an elite monster.
The LMB attack is called “Arcane Strike and is akin to Wave of Force, although shorter radius, doesn’t knockback enemies and does a buttload more damage than Wave of Force.
The RMB attack is called “Disintegration Wave” and is akin to Disintegrate however it does a buttload more damage than the standard wizard’s Disintegrate. It can reach out and touch enemies. It is the only attack that Archon has that could be considered ranged.
The Action Bar Slot 1 is replaced with an ability called “Arcane Blast” that is much like Explosive Blast except it has a much shorter cooldown and does slightly less damage. The radius effected is roughly the same as Explosive Blast. When used in conjunction with Arcane Strike it can cause massive damage over a short period of time.
Used simply to increase base damage.
Cost: 25 Arcane Power
Imbue your weapon with magical energy, granting it 10% increased damage. Lasts 10 minutes.
Force Weapon (Rune)
Increase the damage bonus of Magic Weapon to 20% damage and grants a 2% chance to Knockback any enemies hit.
Used mainly for the effect of the rune I have selected for Arcane Cost reduction of Disintegrate from 18 Arcane Power per second to 15, which is a huge reduction.
Cost: 25 Arcane Power
Bathe yourself in electrical energy, periodically shocking a nearby enemy for 147% weapon damage as Lightning. Lasts 10 minutes.
Power of the Storm (Rune)
Reduce the Arcane Power cost of all skills by 3 while Storm Armor is active.
Used simply for the increased damage, both from the Familiar itself and the damage bonus provided by the Sparkflint rune.
Cost: 20 Arcane Power
Summon a Familiar that attacks your enemies for 179% weapon damage as Arcane. This companion cannot be targeted or damaged by enemies. Lasts 10 minutes.
Summon a fiery Familiar that grants you 10% increased damage.
If a wizard doesn’t have solid gear to support Arcane Power generation from critical hits (see gear section below), then instead of Sparkflint, Arcanot can be selected as the rune, which provides an additional 2 Arcane Power regenerated per second.
This really increases the survivability in dire situations. While some will say, “You shouldn’t have gotten yourself in that situation”, honestly this is Diablo 3, a game run by a quirky random number generator. Things happen that are outside the control of players playing the game, no matter how much they plan ahead. The game is pure chaos. If a player feels that they don’t need this, then it can be easily swapped to Blur for added defense or to Elemental Exposure for added damage (for the wizard and party members). I however will keep snuggling in my safety blanket, a safety blanket that has saved me numerous times!
When you receive fatal damage, you heal to 45% of your maximum Life and release a shockwave that knocks enemies back and slows them by 60% for 3 seconds.
This effect may occur once every 60 seconds.
Disintegrate cannot be cast on the run, so chances are the wizard will be standing still while dealing the majority of damage. With a solid party, the wizard won’t have to move and members of his party will bring monsters into his range so he doesn’t have to move, maximizing the effect of Unwavering Will.
Standing still for 1.5 seconds increases the following attributes:
- Armor: 20%
- All Resistances: 20%
- Damage: 10%
There’s that magic 15 number again. Disintegrate.. 15 yards, Frost Nova… 15 yards. Archon Arcane Destruction… also 15 yards, and Archon’s Arcane Blast (ABS 1) and Arcane Strike (LMB).. all damage within 15 yards. So Audacity is a no brainer.
You deal 15% additional damage to enemies within 15 yards.
Used primarily for the bonus to Arcane Power regeneration but the added Arcane Power pool is nice as a buffer.
Increase your maximum Arcane Power by 20 and Arcane Power regeneration by 2 per second.
Ideally gear for this build should have at least one of the following attributes:
- Critical Hit Grants Arcane Power
- Critical Hit Chance Increased
The bread and butter of this build. Both of those attributes synergize with each other. The more critical hits a wizard gets, the more arcane power he will earn if he has at least one item with the Critical Hit Grants Arcane Power attribute. The more Arcane Power generated by critical hits means more Arcane Power to burn casting Disintegrate.
Keep in mind that Disintegrate can hit multiple targets at once, each target hit rolling a chance for a critical hit, so more targets hit at once means a higher chance for critical hits overall, granting more Arcane Power. Users of this build find that they run out of Arcane Power faster on smaller groups of mobs because of this effect.
- Reduce Resource Cost by 7% or higher
7% or higher is the minimum that is useful. This the breaking point for the way that Diablo 3 rounds numbers when it comes to resource cost. Storm Armor (Power of the Storm rune) reducing the casting cost of disintegrate from 18 to 15, and 7% is 1.05 points of Arcane Power. 6% would be only 0.9 points of Arcane and Diablo 3 would simply round back up to 15. Resource Cost Reduction is stacked from all items and then calculated! So two items that reduce resource cost by 4% each would result in 8% resource cost reduction total and it would only cost 14 Arcane Power to cast Disintegrate.
- Arcane Skills Damage Bonus
- Increases Disintegrate Damage
Both of those attributes simply increase damage output. The former is preferred over the latter because it increases the damage output of Disintegrate, and all of the Archon abilities. If the wizard is using Arconat, then Arcane Skills Damage Bonus increases damage of the Familiar, too.
The Math Behind It
(Or the answer to “How you do so much damage” and “4.4 million damage per second… how?!”)
It’s actually very simple. So simple, that I’m surprised that Diablo 3 doesn’t do this calculation for the players.
I’m going to use my character’s current numbers to calculate roughly how much damage my wizard will do. I say roughly because the elusive and quirky random number generator has some say in these numbers, especially critical hit damage. The numbers provided here can be assumed to be average values and actual numbers in-game should dance around the numbers provided here.
These numbers are buffed by skills, solo. The buffs used are Magic Weapon (Force Weapon rune, 20% damage buff) and Familiar (Sparkflint rune, 10% damage buff) and Unwavering Will (10% damage buff)… altogether that is a 40% buff to damage, as those three skills stack the bonuses.
My base damage is 578,678. This number is also referred to as “weapon damage”.
Disintegrate with the entropy run does 649% weapon damage.
578,678 x 649% (6.49) = 3,738,259.88
Let’s not forget the bonuses that I have from my gear to both Arcane Damage and Disintegrate’s damage. Here are the pieces of gear that I have that do that, click to enlarge.
Here are the bonuses that are applied to Disintegrate:
- Arcane Skills deal 20% more damage (Andariel’s Visage, head)
- Increases Disintegrate Damage by 9% (March Audacity, feet)
- Arcane Skills deal 5% more damage (Tal Rasha’s Elements, set effect (2))
- Arcane Skills deal 9% more damage (Triumvirate, off-hand)
The Arcane skills bonuses stack together and are multiplied by the base damage of Disintegrate (not base weapon damage), as is the bonuse to Disintegrate’s damage. The equation looks like this.
3,738,259.88 x 1.34 = 5,009,268.2392 DPS
5009268.2392 x 1.09 = 5,460,102.380728
So my base damage per second when casting Disintegrate is 5,460,102.
There is more damage applied to that outside of Disintegrate. Familiar applies damage to a single target once every second. Archon is a similar story.
When casting Archon with the Arcane Destruction Rune, a blast dealing 3680% of base damage is sent out. With my current base damage and my bonuses to Arcane damage applied, my Arcane Destruction explosion sets the enemy back 28,535,769 hitpoints!
The Slice the Pie wizard build is definitely fun. It doesn’t require high paragon levels, special party considerations or any ridiculously hard-to-find gear. It deals a buttload of damage. It has very few weaknesses (besides generally not having the greatest of toughness values). And it is pretty fun to play. It is a build that any dedicated player of wizards in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls should give a shot sometime.