The Wizard is an awesome class to play, easily one of the most enjoyable yet still moderately challenging classes available. You will use arcane, frost and fire to destroy your foes while also using kick ass magical abilities to save your own life. In this guide we’ll look at how to level your Wizard from 1 to 60, I’ll include every act over the first 3 difficulties and every single boss along with videos and a description of how I beat that boss. Bookmark this page and come back while you’re leveling your Wizard and I guarantee you’ll benefit in some way.
The Wizard’s biggest strengths are its build diversity. I can compare the Wizard to the Demon Hunter, and I’ll definitely say there are more viable options for leveling and more powerful options for dominating with the Wizard than there was the Demon Hunter. Some favorites of mine are the ability to create images that confuse the enemy while also having a backup ability to go invinsible. The Wizard also has extremely strong DPS spells like Ray of Frost and a huge list of passive and active buffs you can apply to it. We’ll take a look at exactly how and when to use these abilities below.
The Wizard can not take a lot of damage, it’s “squishy.” If you want to melee, stand close to the enemy, chances are you won’t enjoy the Wizard. You will also be kiting, which some consider a strength and others consider a weakness. You won’t have to kite as much as a Demon Hunter but you will have to keep some distance between you and your enemies to stay alive. Another weakness that comes to mind is the lack of diversity among AoE spells. Arcane Orb feels somewhat overpowered and umatched throughout the 50+ levels that it’s available to you so I felt drawn to use it almost all the time. I experimented with other abilities but never found anything that compared to it.
Wizard Abilities / Skill Progression
Wizard Passive Skills
The Wizard has several “types” of passive skills, I break them down as followers: survival (damage reduction, life regeneration, crowd control), arcane power regeneration (damage), pure damage and situational.
Anything that helps you live longer or get out of the way should be considered survival. The key is to know when to use these (usually when you’re dying) and knowing what they are so you don’t forget about them when you really need them.
Blur – Reduces melee damage by 20%. This is great.
Galvanizing Wounds (Level 40) – Gives you 310 Life per Second. How’s that for survival? It also extends your armor spells to 4 minutes which is purely convenience.
Temporal Flux (Level 45) – Gives all arcane damage a snaring effect. This includes Arcane Orb. Very helpful later in the game.
Illusionist (Level 27) – Resets the cooldown of mirror images and teleport when you take heavy damage (15% or more in a single hit). This can save your life.
Arcane Power Regeneration (Indirect Damage Buffs) Passives
There are a lot of these, While leveling I almost always use one or two of them:
Power Hungry – Turns health globes into Arcane Power globes too. This is very very helpful leveling and in most encounters.
Prodigy – Turns your signature spells (no-cost spells) into Arcane Power generators.
Astral Presence – 2 AP per second and +20 max Arcane Power.
Direct Damage Passives
These increase your damage directly, usually significantly.
Glass Cannon – Increases your damage by 15% at the cost of 10% armor. Who needs armor?
Cold Blooded – This is a situational 20% damage buff to chilled targets. Ray of Frost slows targets which is widely assumed to chill targets, meaning this passive increases the effective damage of Ray of Frost by 20%. I use this on almost every boss in Nightmare and Hell.
Conflagration and Paralysis – Buff fire and lightning damage respectively.
These include the “other” passive abilities that are useful in rare/unique situations:
Evocation – Decreases all cooldowns by 15%
Critical Mass - “Critical Hits have a chance to reduce the cool down of your spells by 1 second.”
Arcane Dynamo – Small damage increase every 5th Signature Spell. This might be a direct damage buff but it’s very difficult to calculate so it’s difficult to compare to other damage buffs.
Before I explain the builds I use make sure you know what Elective Mode is. Go to Options -> Gameplay and enable Elective mode. This will let you use two of the same “type” of ability. For example: by enable this option you will be able to use Familiar and Magic Weapon. A lot of players go through the game and never realize this. If you are still new to the game make sure you check out the leveling tips under Act I Normal below.
The Wizard has a lot of build diversity, meaning you can swap specific runes or abilities and runes out for alternatives and still be very successful. However I found 3 different builds, one for Normal/Nightmare leveling, one for Hell leveling and one for Nightmare and Hell bosses. I tested these build extensively and find them to be the most effective.
Keep in mind that play styles from person to person vary significantly, you might not like how slow Arcane Orbs travel through the air so you might opt for a different ability as your primary damage dealer. You might enjoy Archon instead of Blizzard or something entirely different. These builds below are guidelines. They worked for me so they should work for you, don’t be afraid to adjust them to your specific play style but keep in mind that each ability was picked for a specific reason.
Leveling Build (Normal – Nightmare)
The first thing I developed was an extremely efficient leveling build for ‘easy’ content. This is the stuff where you don’t really have to worry about dying. You just plow through packs of mobs at a high rate of speed. Going quick will reduce the time you spend in the 2 early difficulties. You can complete them as quickly as 8-12 hours if you move quick and know what you’re doing. The game doesn’t really get hard until sometime in Nightmare.
The build I used through Normal and Nightmare: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/wizard#acYdjS!ZYX!aaZZaZ
Primary Ability: Your primary ability doesn’t really matter, but make sure you use it on mobs that are by themselves or with little health. This will help you conserve Arcane Power for Arcane Orb.
Secondary Ability: This build takes advantage of Obliteration under Arcane Orb for maximum AoE damage. You won’t need to use Arcane Orb a lot because the mobs don’t do a lot of damage. Arcane Power regeneration is assisted with Power Hungry and Astral Presence passives.
Defensive: Frost Nova, with Cold Snap to reduce its cool down, is used more as a crowd control ability than a defensive ability. You don’t really need to defend yourself for the first 30-40 levels anyways. Use this ability to freeze mobs in place while more organize around them so that your Arcane Orbs are more effective.
Force: Wave of Force with Force Affinity (reduced cool down and AP cost) is also used for a little bit of crowd control and also to “finish off” enemies with low health. Frost Nova and Wave of Force work in synergy with each other to help you move quickly and kill fast.
Conjuration: I used both Familiar (with Sparkflint) and Magic Weapon (with whatever is available) to increase my damage. These buffs increase my damage another 22%. Add Glass Cannon and that’s 42% total damage buffs.
Passives: You can change these however you want but I used Astral Presence and Power Hungry for more Arcane Power and Glass Cannon for more damage. There’s no need for defensive passives at this point.
Play Style: Here is an example of how I used these abilities while leveling in Normal and Nightmare:
Leveling Build (Hell)
As things heat up you’re going to need more defensive abilities and to pay attention more. The first thing I did was swap in Diamond Skin with Crystal Shell in place of Frost Nova. It serves as a better life saving skill in all sorts of situations. Next I switched in Mirror Images with Duplicates which basically gives you a 1/6 chance to stop being attacked and also distracts the enemies so you can move back and keep throwing orbs. Next (not seen in the video below) I swapped in Teleport with Fractures which adds a third defensive ability, it lets you teleport and then leaves 2 images to distract chasing enemies. Also note that Arcane Orb with Tap the Source is awesome, use it as soon as Tap the Source becomes available.
These three abilities combined make up a very defensive play style that lets you stand back in safety and deal damage to your enemies:
In the remaining spot I used either Blizzard (later in Hell), Frost Hydra, or Familiar with Sparkflint for more damage. You could also bring in Archon for champions and rare packs. I kept the same passives, Glass Cannon, Astral Presence and Power Hungry that I used earlier. You can swap in Blur if you’re taking a lot of damage.
The important part of this build is that it scales, if things are getting tough you can swap out a DPS ability for a defensive ability. Once you have the three main abilities: Teleport, Mirror Images and Diamond Skin you can literally rotate between the three to stay alive since their cool downs are so low. Blizzard is used as a fourth “defensive ability” since it snares large packs of enemies. Use it on chock points when things are chasing you and stand back and lob Arcane Orbs.
Boss Killing Build (Single Target Focus)
The third build is dedicated to killing bosses. It is a combination of the two builds above. The key to the build is to drop Arcane Orb for Ray of Frost with Snow Blast and use the Cold Blooded passive instead of either Astral Presence or Power Hungry. Keep Familiar with Sparkflint and Magic Weapon with Force Weapon if possible. This will give you a 15% buff from Glass Cannon, 10% from Sparkflint, 15% from Magic Weapon / Force Weapon and 20% from Cold Blooded (since Ray of Frost chills the target).
Utilize as many defensive abilities from the Hell build as you need. This might include Blizzard for fights like Izual, Mirror Images, Teleport, Diamond Skin (I almost always used this after level 35), etc. The point is to utilize Ray of Frost to its fullest while staying alive and being able to hold still to do damage.
This build looks like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/wizard#aZXQjS!ZYW!YZaYaZ
You will see videos of this build on several bosses throughout the leveling section of this guide.
The stats your Wizard have will contribute more to your damage than any skill build that you use. The primary Wizard and Witch Doctor stat is Intellect. It directly increases your damage by 1% every 1 point. Initially Intellect is the only stat you will need to worry about, but it’s effectiveness increases based on your base DPS so you will definitely want to make sure you have a high base DPS weapon.
Once you start fooling around in Nightmare and Hell you might feel like you are dying too easily. This will happen when you equip gear with just Intellect instead of Intellect and Vitality. Each point of Vitality increases your health by 35 points. This can make a huge difference in the harder difficulties. When you’re considering dropping damage for vitality, equip the vitality item and watch your health bar. If you go from 20,000 to 25,000hp it will show your health bar 20% empty immediately after you equip the new piece of gear. Ask yourself how often you see your health at less than 20%… if it happens often then maybe you do want that extra health!
Crit, Attack Speed and Extra Damage
Critical Hit Damage, Critical Hit Chance, Attack Speed and even Extra Damage (+ 11-24 Damage) are also good stats. These will all increase your damage per second but your existing gear will determine which one is the most valuable to you at any given time. For instance if your crit chance is really low adding crit damage won’t help as much and vice versa. If your attack speed is high but your damage is really low then it might be smarter to get more damage instead of attack speed. I looked for rings that added to damage and intellect, since they are both complimentary stats. Make sure you have intellect and vitality on the majority of pieces when you head into Hell.
What gems should you use on your Wizard? I’m a huge fan of using + Experience Gain % from level 15 (when you can first buy a socket’able helmet) to level 60. I’m also a big fan of using an Amethyst in your weapon for the first 30 levels since it’s over powered and not balanced (+65 life per hit!). Once you reach level 35 or so you can swap your Amethyst out for a Ruby in your weapon.
Otherwise you can use this to decide what type of gems to use:
- Helmet Slot: Are you leveling? If so, then use a Ruby (+ experience). Do you die often? If so, then use an Amethyst (+Life %) Otherwise use a Emerald or Topaz for Gold Find or Magic Find.
- Weapon Slot: Are you less than level 35 or do you die often? If so, then use an Amethyst for Life Steal. Otherwise use a Ruby (+ Damage).
- All Other Slots: Are you dying a lot? Then use an Amethyst (+ Vitality). Otherwise use a Topaz (+Intellect and therefore more damage).
What Quality Gem? Check the prices of Flawless Square, Perfect Square and Radiant Square and decide from there. The Flawless Square is usually the “budget” gem since it’s found all over Hell difficulty, but it’s possible that by the time you read this the price of Perfects and Radiants have dropped as more players find them in Inferno.
Which follower should a Wizard bring with? Each follower has it’s own pros and cons. The Enchantress is great for stuns and other crowd control while the Scoundrel offers some added damage buffs. My favorite though, and the one I used most often, is the Templar because it does a good job of tanking, gives me life regeneration, heals me and rescues me when I’m in trouble. Even though I don’t recommend that you “depend” on your Templar to save your life or heal you, it will save your life enough times for it to be worth it.
Here is the Templar build I use:
* If you want to respec/rebuild your Templar, hire him, right click his portrait and select “Retrain.” His abilities will be cleared and you will be able to reselect them.
Normal Difficulty (Level 1-32)
Normal will last you from levels 1 to 30 or perhaps level 32 depending on whether you use a Ruby in your helmet. Here are some general leveling tips to help you get started leveling fast:
- Check vendors for upgrades as soon as possible. You can jump right up to 15-20 dps. Otherwise you will be waiting for random drops which can suck.
- Tap ALT to see items that have dropped.
- Tap V to see enemy health bars (this only shows enemies that you have hit at least once)
- Tap ESC when quest dialogues come up to pass by them (this works for cinematics too, but you might enjoy them if it’s your first time through)
- At level 15 you can get a Socketed Arming Cap off the auction house for a few hundred gold. Throw the nicest Ruby you can afford into it (Flawless Square Ruby) and this will give you 10-20% more experience per kill.
- As you level, look for items on the auction house with a max buyout of 2,000-3,000 gold. Revisit the auction house every few levels to keep your character decked out in the fanciest stuff. This will help immensely and get you to level 30 faster than you thought possible.
- When casting a lot of ranged spells, hold the SHIFT key to ensure you don’t miss click and end up sending your character closer to them. When you hold shift, it guarantees your character will shoot whatever it is you told it to in that direction. It will probably still hit the enemy.
Skeleton King Normal (Level 8)
You’ll be right about level 8 when you reach the Skeleton King for the first time. There aren’t a lot of skill choices and this is a relatively easy fight. If you’re having trouble make sure you go back to Tristam and buy some gear off the vendor. There is always the chance a good weapon didn’t drop for you, in which case you can buy a weapon of just about any type from the vendor to equip.
You get to choose between Diamond Skin and Frost Nova. Frost Nova is going to be more effect against the adds that the Skeleton King spawns. You’ll also get to choose between Arcane Orb and Ray of Frost. RoF is a better single target attack but since the Skeleton King spawns so many skeletons you might appreciate having Arcane Orb.
In the video below I used Ray of Frost and it was really ineffective at keeping the skeletons at bay. I started to kite them at the end but even then they would get in the way of the ray and act as a shield to the King. Frost Nova + Arcane Orb would be a great combination against the adds here.
This video is probably a good example of how not to fight the Skeleton King:
Butcher Normal (Level 13)
The Butcher is the first real fight you’ll encounter and it’s a good idea to pay attention so that you will have less problems when you reach the Butcher on Nightmare, Hell and Inferno. He has a few tricky abilities that are either tough or impossible to avoid.
- Grappling Hook – He points before he throws it. Get out of the way or you lose 1/3 to 1/2 of your health (you’ll die in later difficulties).
- Fire breath – He holds still for a split second before he spits. It doesn’t do enough damage to stop moving for but he will charge immediately afterwards.
- Multiple Chains – Impossible to avoid.
That’s really it. Get out of the way of those and stay off the firing grates and you’ll survive.
I used Diamond Skin in case I got cornered (which I did), I used Energy Twister for more damage, but it didn’t really help, I used Ray of Frost for DPS and Magic Missile when I was out of Arcane Power. If you have problems with this boss keep trying. Get better gear from the vendor or AH (my dps was 41 and HP548). You should be level 13 or so when you reach him. I used the Scoundrel just because he was the latest to join me. The Templar would probably keep him more still and make him a little easier to kill.
Here’s a video showing you how I took him out on my first attempt:
The first thing you should do when you enter a new act is check the near by vendors for new upgrades for both you and your follower. As you begin Act II you’ll notice that the difficulty is stepped up a little bit so you’ll want to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the gear that is available to you. If you have extra gold you can usually find level 10-13 gear on the auction house with +Intellect or +Damage (rings of wounding) and +experience. You don’t really need Vitality yet so you can ignore that stat.
Make sure you have rings equipped on you and your follower. You can get decent rings off the auction house for a few hundred gold each:
Belial Normal (Level 23)
At level 22-23 you will face Belial. The battle takes place over 3 phases. In the first phase you will just fight adds. These are extremely easy but it’s nice to have Arcane Orb. In the second phase you’ll fight Belial in human form along with the same adds. Arcane Orb, Wave of Force and Frost Nova would help a lot here. On the third phase you fight Belial fin demon form. He has a few attacks, all of which are avoidable by getting out of the way of the green zones on the ground or by sticking to the top right of the area to avoid his breath.
Basically just avoid the green areas, I grabbed Diamond Skin just in case they raining part was a problem. I also grabbed Hydra instead of Wave of Force, which was dumb. The Hydra doesn’t do enough damage to counter Wave of Force during the adds phase. This won’t be important until the more difficult difficulties though. If you’re having problems with Belial, make sure you have some decent gear. My DPS was 144 base and 171 with Magic Weapon. I also had right around 1150 health.
I used the following abilities: Magic Missile, Arcane Orb (I could have used Ray of Frost for sure), Diamond Skin, Hydra (worthless here), Ice Armor and Magic Weapon. None of these were critical, you could probably beat him with any random set of abilities. I used Power Hungry and Glass Gannon for additional damage and Arcane Power.
Notice my ranged strategy in the following video. The only time you’ll take damage on the demon phase is when you stand in the meteor shadows.
Azmodan Normal (Level 30)
You should be level 28-30 by the time you reach Azmodan. He might be intimidating looking but he’s probably the easiest boss that you will have fought since you created your Wizard. He has a single phase, although he ramps up is void zones after the first 40-50% damage he takes. There are four things to watch out for:
- Balls of Fire. These will probably one shot you. I don’t know because I didn’t let them hit me. By the time you reach Nightmare they will almost certainly one shot you so you might as well practice avoiding them now.
- Void Zones. These are the black areas on the ground that expand. They don’t do a lot of damage so you could probably stand in them but I avoided them anyways.
- Fire Laser. Near the end he’ll shoot a laser at you. It’s really just a red beam and doesn’t do a lot of damage on Normal.
- Adds. He’ll summon adds. Don’t let him live long enough to let these accumulate and you’ll be fine.
To defeat him a level 30 Wizard I recommend using Ray of Frost with either Snow Blast or Cold Blood, Meteor with Molten Impact, Familiar with Sparkflint and Magic Weapon with Electrify. For passives use: Glass Cannon, Astral Presence and Cold Blooded.
The combination of these abilities will increase your Ray of Frost Damage by: +20% from Cold Blooded, +15% Glass Cannon, +10% Magic Weapon and +12% from Familiar+Sparkflint. If you use Snow Blast the base damage of Ray of Frost is increased even more. You’ll see in the below video how much damage this does with good gear.
Just like with the other Normal level bosses, if you’re having problems with this boss take a look at your gear. If you’re not level 30 yet maybe you can rerun Act III with some friends or a coop group to get the level. Make sure you have a + experience in your gem from here on out.
Izual Normal (Level 31)
Izual, unlike Azmodan,is a little tricky. For some reason Blizzard thought it would be funny to throw an unexpectedly difficult boss in the mix.There are a few aspects ot the fight that make it tricky:
- He slows you when he hits you as well as drops Frozen orbs that expand and freeze you. He also has a teleport ability that jumps him to you no matter how good of a job you do of avoiding him. He also freezes you whenever he wants.
- He spawns adds that won’t be able to one-shot.
- He does a lot of damage when he hits you compared to other bosses of this level.
To counter these abilities I had to adjust my build a bit. I kept Arcane Orb because I expected to move around a lot and have extra Arcane Power. I swapped in Diamond Skin with Crystal Shell for when I was being attacked but unable to get out. I grabbed Mirror Image to distract Izual and his adds. I kept Familiar for the damage buff but I could have dropped it for something else. I used Hydra for extra damage since I would be moving a lot.
I kept Astral Presence for Arcane Power regen but picked up Blur to reduce my melee damage taken. I figured Izual was doing melee damage. I also kept Glass Cannon, which would have been the next to go if I wiped. Here is the build I used: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/wizard#acXRjP!YXa!aaaaaa
Don’t be surprised if you wipe on this boss. He does a lot of damage, freezes you without your permission, slows you when he hits you and spawns annoying adds. Add to that the layout of the area you fight him in isn’t friendly to ranged.
Diablo Normal (Level 31)
Diablo is the end boss of the game but this is the first of four times you will face him before you have “beat” the game completely. This boss is a kite fight as ranged both for the Demon Hunter and the Wizard. You will spend a lot of time running around waiting for cool downs and dodging attacks. Diablo has a few key abilities that will annoying you and they are spread across 3 different phases.
In Phase 1 he will run at you and swing doing considerable damage. He will teleport at you and swing. He will create jails, he will stomp fire bolts in every direction and he will throw a single bolt of fire at you that will explode into a circle. The easiest way to avoid these is to keep moving. You can dodge the fire blasts pretty easily but if you have problems grab teleport.
In Phase 2 it’s almost exactly the same except you’ll have to fight your mirror once every few minutes. The clone is really easy to kill on Normal difficulty. Diablo’s abilities are pretty much the same and almost all avoidable. In Phase 3 you’ll return to Heaven where the process continues.
The trick to beating Diablo as a Wizard is to use Diamond Skin, Hydras and Ray of Frost. Just like against Azmodan buff Ray of Frost with Cold Blooded (passive), Glass Cannon, Magic Weapon and Familiar. Use Diamond Skin to protect you while you hold still and blast him down. After Diamond Skin wears off run around and dodge his attacks to repeat the process later. This seems to be the easiest and fastest way to kill Diablo.
This is the spec I used to kill him in the video below: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/wizard#aZXRjS!YWX!aZaaaa
Nightmare Difficulty (Level 32-50)
Once you reach Nightmare it’s a good time to make sure you still have decent gear on. If you have any gear without Vitality it’s a good time to do a basic search for items with Vitality and Intellect (at least). I also look for +experience, +arcane power on crit or max arcane power and +life on kill. Combined with my patented ruby int he helmet and amethyst in my weapon I’m an unstoppable power leveling machine.
Skeleton King Nightmare (Level 32)
The Skeleton was a little weird for me on Nightmare so I’m not sure what to say about it. I used my Wizard Leveling Build, which is essentially Wave of Force, Frost Nova and Arcane Orb. This is a terrible boss build so I should have had some problems with the King. I did not. As a matter of fact, it took me less than 2 minutes to kill him compared to over 3 minutes on Normal difficulty (above).
I would recommend a build similar to the Diablo build used above (http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/wizard#aZXRjS!YWX!aZaaaa) where you effectively overpower Ray of Frost and just stand there with Diamond Skin killing the King. I bet he would die in about a minute if you did that.
Here is a video of me taking down the Skeleton King in about 2 minutes:
The Butcher Nightmare (Level 37)
By the time I arrived at the Butcher I was level 37. The Warden, right before the Butcher, was a piece of cake as were the quests before it. I was able to continue using my Wizard Leveling Build and experiment with new abilities on the way.
The Butcher himself is no different than on Normal difficulty except that his attacks seem to do more damage. I got caught in a few grappling hooks in the beginning but I was able to Diamond Skin or potion my way out of dying. Here are all of the Butcher’s abilities:
- Grappling Hook – He points before he throws it. Get out of the way or you lose 1/3 to 1/2 of your health (you’ll die in later difficulties).
- Fire breath – He holds still for a split second before he spits. It doesn’t do enough damage to stop moving for but he will charge immediately afterwards.
- Multiple Chains – Impossible to avoid.
I recommend the boss killing build devised during Normal. This consists of Ray of Frost with Snow Blast (extra damage), Diamond Skin with Crystal Shell (extra defense), Lightning Hydra, Sparkflint Familiar (+12% damage) and Force Magic Weapon (+15% damage). Add to that Cold Blooded passive and Glass Cannon and you’ve got 12%+15%+20%+15% damage on your Ray of Frost.
For extra defense you could add the Blur passive instead of Astral Presence to reduce the incoming damage from unavoided Grapples. Otherwise if you’re having problems with the Butcher it’s probably a gear issue since his hits still don’t do a ton of damage.
Entering Act II I recommend you visit the auction house and grab a new weapon. The base DPS on weapons between the beginning of Act I (level 30-31) and where you’re at now (level 35-37) is extremely large, almost double. At level 37 you can get a 60-70dps weapon with nice stats for 5,000-10,000 gold. Check your Vitality again because in the desert of Caldeum you might need it. At this point you should have about 5,500 hp and 950 unbuffed DPS (1250 buffed) ~ or at least that’s what I had going into Act II.
This is the point where you might not benefit as much from an Amethyst in your weapon as you would a Ruby, which is equivalent to about 15-20% more damage based on my numbers above.
Belial Nightmare (Level 43)
By the time you’re level 43 you might be looking at 9-11k HP and 1,200 base DPS or 1,500 dps buffed. I swapped a lot of new damage gear in but I also swapped a lot of +Vitality gear in and lost a little bit of damage in exchange. If I saw a tooltip that said I could get 800+ hp for <30 dps I took it.
Belial is a little tricky, possibly the first tricky boss since Izual and Diablo; but still a little more difficult than both. You will want to drop your Wizard Leveling Build and use a build dedicated to doing damage and surviving. To survive the meteors and stomps I utilized Diamond Skin, to handle the AoE in phase 1 I used Arcane Orb and to do damage to Belial I used Ray of Frost with my four typical buffs (Magic Weapon, Familiar, Cold Blooded and Glass Cannon). That’s pretty much my build. right there.
The most damage Belial will do to you is during two different attacks:
- The first one is when he attacks left, right and then center. These are premeditated by green areas on the ground but the third one is the one that does the damage and seems to come in between the first two. Bam, bam then BAM. If you get hit by the third one it seems to do 6,000-8,000 damage or so, enough to put you in a bad situation if you don’t have a health potion (which I completely forgot to bring in the video below). Get the hell away from him when he does this and you’ll save yourself the hassle. You will see me get hit with these in the video, I didn’t notice the pattern until I watched it.
- The second one is avoiding the the explosions from the ground. This might seem simple but it’s entirely possible that you get “cornered” and aren’t able to get out of the way of one of them. This is why I brought Diamond Skin along (with Crystal Shell).
I’ve seen this encounter done with just about every build you can imagine. You can heal your way out of trouble, but it’s still good practice for Hell where you will probably get beat down at least a few times. Make sure you take full advange of the health globes that are placed next to Belial throughout the fight. If you use Power Hungry you can get some free Arcane Power for picking them up.
Throughout ActI III you’re going to start having more problems on rare packs and champions. I adjusted my leveling build slightly by removing Wave of Force and using Diamond Skin instead. This small adjustment gives me another ‘oh-shit’ button and allowed me to survive when I may not have been so lucky without it. Pushing people back and doing a little bit of damage just isn’t enough. Also, once you reach level 45 you will unlock Tap the Source skill run under Arcane Orb; it reduces Arcane Power cost. This will give you significantly more offensive longevity and I think it beats out all the other options for this skill.
Here is how my new leveling build works out:
Cydaea Nightmare (Level 47)
Honestly Cydaea wasn’t a very challenging boss, she was probably easier than some of the rare packs that preceded her. I did not adjust my build or do anything in particular to defeat her. Tap the Source, Diamond Skin and Forst Nova were effective components of this build, while Familiar and Magic/Force Weapon played their role in increasing my overall damage.
Azmodan Nightmare (Level 48)
By the time you are level 48 you should be right around 2,000 raw DPS and 2,900 buffed. At this time I was also sporting 16,000 hp and all this combined made Azmodan a joke. I used my fully buffed Ray of Frost build (Cold Blooded passive + Glass Cannon passive + Magic/Force Weapnon + Familiar with Sparkflint) to do damage. I used teleport to get out of the way and I used Diamond Skin when I got in trouble. With this strategy Azmodan is a walk in the park; just avoid his fireballs, move out of his void zones, avoid his raining corpses and blast him down when he lets you hold still.
Act IV is all about bosses, Iskatu, Rakanoth, Izual and finally Diablo. Here is how I beat each one of them.
Iskatu Nightmare (Level 48)
The challenge with Iskatu are the mobs that are spawned and rush you. They can easily overwhelm and trap you so you need to keep moving. To counter them I used Blizzard. Any of the other AoE area abilities would work (like Meteor). Diamond Skin is also an important ability here for when you get caught somewhere you don’t want to be. Arcane Orb with Tap the Source served its purpose at dispatching Iskatu and I used Blur to help me stay alive instead of Glass Cannon. There are a lot of ways you can beat him, but the key is to have a way to handle the adds.
Rakanoth Nightmare (Level 49)
Rakanoth is honestly a pretty challenging boss. He has the ability to teleport on top of you and smash your face in just about any time he wants. The best way to counter that is to keep your health high and have Diamond Skin handy. His adds can also get annoying, a Hydra or Mirror Image will help you with those. I dropped Familiar for Arcane Orb and bound it to CTRL+Right Click. This gave me a small advantage on the adds that reached me over Ray of Frost.
I buffed Ray of Frost with Cold Blooded passive, Glass Cannon and Magic Weapon (Force Weapon) to burn down Rakanoth. Diamond Skin and Mirror Image also saved my life against him a few times. He’s definitely one of the most challenging bosses so far. Here is how I took him out:
Izual Nightmare (Level 49)
Izual is another challenging boss, due to his adds and his ability to port on top of you and snare you. This ability is countered with Diamond Skin and his adds can be distracted with Mirror Image. A Frost Hydra adds a little bit more defensive as it snares and does damage to the adds. I picked Arcane Orb with Obliterate since I didn’t think Arcane Power would be a big deal and I used Blur to help with the melee damage I was guaranteed to take. Here’s how to kill Izual on Nightmare:
Diablo Nightmare (Level 50)
By the time you reach Diablo you probably have around 18,000 hp and 2,500 DPS unbuffed. This will make Diablo rather trivial if you combine it with the right skills. All of her skills can be countered with either Diamond Skin or Mirror Image, so I grabbed both of those. You can rotate between the two and barely ever have a period of time when one isn’t available to save you. A Frost Hydra also adds extra damage and Ray of Frost is the weapon of choice to focus fire Diablo back to hell.
With these abilities, there isn’t much to Diablo except getting out of the way of her attacks, using the health wells and popping your defensive abilities at the right time. For example, your clone is easily dispatched in phase 2 by using either Mirror Image to distract or Diamond Skin to absorb damage. Here is how to kill Diablo on Nightmare:
Hell Difficulty (Level 50-60)
Congratulations on beating Nightmare difficulty. Brace yourself because Hell is where things get interesting and you will probably get stuck at least once. You will spend more time on Hell than you did in Nightmare and Normal combined.
Act I (Level 51-53)
The Skeleton King- Hell (Level 51)
The Skeleton King is still pretty trivial. The big advantage I had over him was the use of Frost Hydra against the skeletons he spawns. A Frost Hydra can practically solo all 8 skeletons while you focus on the Skeleton King. Once again Mirror Image and Diamond Skin are invaluable defensive abilities and may even save your life. I used Arcane Orb, but Ray of Frost would probably be more effective since my Frost Hydra does most of the work against the adds. Here is how to kill the Skeleton King on Hell:
The Warden (Level 53)
I ran right through the Warden and barely noticed he was a boss. Honestly he was easier than some of the packs on my way to him. At the time I was using Ice Armor, Diamond Skin and Mirror Images. I kited him a little bit but otherwise it was a trivial encounter. I know he jailed, but I’m not sure what else he did:
The Butcher – Hell (Level 53)
The Butcher is a challenging encounter, but definitely do’able if you use a proven build and pay attention. His most dangerous attacks are his grappling hook, which can be avoided by moving after he points, his charge, which comes immediately after his fire breath, and his melee attacks which can be avoided by staying away from him. The pace of the fight and the unavoidable damage from his chain attack are sped up and increased compared to Nightmare.
I was still able to beat him with an offensive build that included Familiar, Magic Weapon, Glass Cannon and Cold Blooded. I kept Mirror Images, although it served no purpose here, and Diamond Skin, which was very helpful. My DPS unbuffed was around 3,000 and 4,200 buffed. I had almost 21,000 hp.
Act II (Level 53-56)
As you start to progress through Act II, especially after the first 30-45 minutes you’re going to want to adjust your build from an offensive build to a more defensive / survival minded build. To do this I have adopted a different build, still based on Arcane Orb (you can easily swap this in and out though). The build utilizes Diamond Skin, Teleport and Mirror Images.
For Diamond Skin I used Crystal Shell because I use it mostly to take melee damage while dealing more damage. For Teleport I like Fractured because it puts two decoys between you and the enemies you’re avoiding. Mirror Images with Duplicates since it decreases the chance I’ll be the focus of the target’s attacks after I duplicate myself. Extension of Will also looks interesting, though.
Combining these abilities gives you three ways away from the enemy. If you don’t use them all at the same time, but rotate them instead, you’ll almost always have some way to get out of harm’s way. There are a lot of other options but this was pretty effective in Act II.
Zoltun Kulle – Hell (Level 56)
Zoltun Kull uses a Slow Time ability and so does the Wizard. The Wizard’s Slow Time is really effective against Zoltun’s fire ball which usually travels really fast and explodes doing considerable damage. I swapped my build mid fight and still managed to defeat Mr. Kulle. Mirror Images and Fractures don’t appear to trick Zoltun in any way though.
Belilal – Hell (Level 56)
Belial on Hell will probably be the most difficult encounter you face so far with your Wizard. You will face him at level 56 and if you haven’t visited the auction house in search of a new weapon I highly advise doing so since the DPS increase every level if very significant. Going into this encounter my buffed DPS was 8,800, and that’s with Magic Weapon but no Familiar. My HP was about 21,000.
The trick to killing Belial is understanding his attack patterns. He makes one medium thrust into the ground and then another spaced about 10 yards away. Immediately after the second strike he strikes in between the two of them with a much larger radius attack. This pattern goes like this: bam, bam BAM. If you get hit by the third one you’re probably dead but it is easy to avoid with or without teleport.
The second type of ground strike he makes has little warning but only does 15,000-18,000 damage so if you get hit by it with full health you’re fine. I got stuck in this one a few times because I didn’t have teleport up and wasn’t paying attention.
You may also struggle with the meteor phase, use Diamond Skin to counter any mistakes you make during this phase and you’ll survive. Keep in mind most classes don’t have a Diamond Skin ability so if they get hit even once during this phase they have to start over.
I kept Arcane Orb for the first phase and put Ray of Frost on CTRL+RIGHT CLICK for Belial. I used Magic Weapon, Glass Cannon and Cold Blooded to increase the damage of Ray of Frost. I also used Power Hungry to get me more Arcane Power throughout the encounter. Here is how it went down:
Act III (Level 56-58)
You can continue using the same build from Act II through Act III and Act IV, that is: Mirror Images, Teleport with Fracture, Diamond Skin and Arcane Orb. For the last ability I swapped in things like Blizzard, Frost Nova and a damage buff depending on my mood. If you keep picking up new gear every few levels, maybe level 56, 58 and 60 you will have very few problems. The biggest problems you will encounter are rare packs with waller, vortex, frozen, invulnerable minions, etc. Often times these can be pulled into an area of the map you don’t have to travel through, killed by and then ran by after respawning. I know that’s not the most honorable thing to do but if you’re not playing hardcore why spend 10-20 minutes trying to kill an extremely difficult rare pack or elite?
Ghom – Hell (Level 57)
I ran into Ghom somewhat unprepared, I adjusted my spec for extra damage with Familiar and Magic Weapon and used Ray of Frost. The encounter is kind of a joke you can kite him really easily, jump over or run through the poison clouds (they don’t do that much damage) and ignore or focus fire the adds. I like to run around while I rebuild Arcane Power and then use as much of it at once while using Diamond Skin to avoid taking damage.
Siegebreaker Assault Beast – Hell (Level 57)
The Siegebreaker is fierce, stay the hell away from him. It looks like I used Meteor and Blizzard just to be funny since Mirror Images wasn’t going to help in a fight where I’m going to be able to completely avoid the enemy. Teleport is all you need to avoid him, you’ll see I screwed up but the difficulty still isn’t there to the point where you’ll need to avoid every charge. The images that pop out when you Teleport (with Fractures) will help lure him to the side as well.
Cydaea – Hell (Level 58)
By the time you reach Cydaea you will have survived the toughest and longest part, in my opinion, of Act III: the spiraling towers. It’s all down hill from here! You will also be level 58. I used Blizzard to take care of the adds and Arcane Orb as my primary offensive spell. Mirror Images, Teleport and Diamond Skin are unstoppable defensive abilities, trivializing yet another fight.
Azmodan – Hell (Level 58)
I was really expecting a better show from Azmodan. He can be killed the same way in Hell as he was in Nightmare and Normal. His fireballs still one-shot you (I screwed up on an initial attempt), his adds are still barely annoying, his rain of corpses is easy to avoid and his void zones move really slowly. You’ll notice his red laser thing comes sooner int he battle jbut you can just teleport out of the way. I swapped in Safe Passage for Teleport in case I teleported into a void zone or something and I use Famliar (Sparkflint) and Magic Weapon (Force Weapon) for additional damage. I also used Cold Blooded with Ray of Frost to burn him down. This honestly feels like an overpowered build for this boss, enjoy.
Act IV (Level 58-60)
The final two levels of Hell difficulty and your level experience take place in Hell. You should reach level 60 right before Diablo if you used an experience gem and possibly even if you didn’t. You will encounter more annoying rare packs and champions but I had less problems in Act IV than Act III (probably luck). This place is loaded with bosses.
Iksatu – Hell (Level 58)
Immediately when you take the portal into Act IV you will face a horde of Shadow Vermins. They will swarm you, trap you and try to kill you. I was caught off guard with Ray of Frost in my build so I kited them and respecced while kiting. Once I got Arcane Orb I just circled the outer part of the platform shooting backwards. Eventually Iksatu died so I guess he’s an easy boss? I also swapped in Blizzard to slow the Shadow Vermins but at that point Iksatu was already at 15% health so it didn’t really matter.
Remember to respec between Azmodan and Iksatu or you might get unexpectedly ganked.
Rakanoth – Hell (Level 58)
Rakanoth is the trickiest boss in Normal, Nightmare and Hell, especially for the Wizard. He has an awesome ability that teleports him on top of you and then one-shots you dead. As a Wizard the best ways to avoid this are either to use Diamond Skin (preferably with Crystal Shell) when he revs up (shown below in slow motion) or to stay close to him so he doesn’t teleport. If you stay close to him and he revs up to teleport he will teleport far away from you and then there is a good chance he revs up again and you’ll be screwed; teleport with him as quickly as possible. You can also use Energy Armor with Force Armor as a Wizard to reduce his attack.
Another annoying aspect of this fight is his adds. They will kill you as well as distract you from watching Rakanoth. I used a combination of Arcane Orb and Frost Nova to keep them at bay. I still used Ray of Frost as my primary dps ability against Rakanoth and bound it to #3 so that I can have my finger close to #1 for Diamond Skin. The only time I got pounced was when the adds were distracting me but Energy Armor saved me.
Izual- Hell (Level 59)
Izual can be defeated with a combination of Mirror Images, Teleport with Fractures and Diamond Skin. Use these three on rotation to reduce the chance that Izual jumps to you, freezes you and kills you. The images from Teleport and Mirror Images will distract the adds and you can take everything out with Arcane Orb (Tap the Source). Add Blizzard for when everything is chasing your around in a circle and watch out for frozen orbs that will freeze you in place.
Diablo – Hell (Level 60)
You should be level 60 by now, if you’re not you can certainly go back and kill Azmodan or something with friends or help someone else kill Rakanoth (lol). Once you kill Diablo there is nothing else to do except go onto Inferno which requires level 60 anyways.
There is nothing new about Diablo in Hell difficulty. I use the same strategy against Diablo as I have against all the other bosses and it works great. Ray of Frost with Storm Blast and with Cold Blooded passive for primary DPS. Mirror Images with Duplicates, Teleport with Fractures and Diamond Skin with Crystal Shell. Finally I used a Frost Hydra but honestly Familiar with Sparkflint or Magic Weapon with Force Weapon would probably do more damage in total.
In the second phase make sure you always save one of your three defensive abilities for the clone phase. If you don’t have Diamond Skin up I recommend you avoid your clone until you do. It will hit you extremely hard and kill you dead. Once DS is up burn down the clone with Ray of Frost, it won’t run away.
Congratulations on beating Diablo 3 on Hell difficulty with your Wizard! Hopefully the above videos, wizard builds, explanations another information helped you. If it did the best thing you can do is share this article with your friends or visit the community linked below.
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