Diablo 3

An In-Depth Guide to Witch Doctor Spirit Barrage Solo and Group Meta (Patch 2.6.8)

diablo4 - An In-Depth Guide to Witch Doctor Spirit Barrage Solo and Group Meta (Patch 2.6.8)

Ever since Patch 2.6.8 came out with the new Witch Doctor set Mundunugu’s Regalia emerging as the new meta, there has been a lot of confusion, at least on the English forums, about the precise mechanics for Spirit Barrage, specifically the three-way interaction between the Barber, Gazing Demise, and the Phantasm rune.

Building on the invaluable research of sVr two years ago, numerous extremely in-depth guides on the Chinese forums by 秋仲琉璃子不语, and discussions with several of my in-game friends, I present here a relatively detailed explanation and build guide for the current Spirit Barrage Solo and Group Meta builds, including the Zombie Dog Sacrifice variant.


1. Explanation of Basic Mechanics

The phantasm rune for Spirit Barrage (SB) allows you to summon up to 3 phantasms/spectres which deal damage to all enemies within 10 yards for 5 seconds. This duration is doubled by Gazing Demise, which becomes 10 seconds.

The Barber is what makes this confusing. It says, “Instead of dealing direct damage, your Spirit Barrage now accumulates on the target. When you stop casting, it explodes dealing 400-500% of the accumulated damage to all enemies within 15 yards.”

The confusion mostly comes from the phrase “when you stop casting,” because in most people’s minds, “casting” means manually holding down a skill. But in this context, it means letting the phantasm accumulate damage by itself after you cast it.

A more accurate description would be: “When a phantasm despawns, it explodes dealing 400-500%…”

A phantasm despawns and explodes when (1) it reaches its maximum lifespan of 10 seconds, or (2) it is overwritten by another (manually cast) phantasm.

2. Continuous Explosion vs. Delayed Explosion

If you continuously cast SB by hand (either by holding down or rapid clicking the button, which makes no difference), you are not letting the phantasms accumulate much damage at all. The first three casts will summon the first three phantasms. The fourth cast will overwrite your first phantasm and make it explode. The fifth cast will overwrite your second phantasm, etc. This playstyle is called Continuous Explosion (CE) and is generally used for solo play and low- to mid-level group farming.

The other strategy is casting three phantasms and wait for them to accumulate damage and explode after a period of time, up to 10 seconds. This is called Delayed Explosion (DE) and is the more optimal way for solo pushing and high-end group play.

The difference between CE and DE is that the latter allows you to have a better chance at killing elites. If you continuously detonate SB, trash will die very fast, and on higher levels, elites are extremely difficult to kill. But if you delay your explosions, your phantasms will accumulate more damage from hitting the trash mobs and will end up dealing more damage to elites.

A few important points to note regarding DE:

  • The accumulated damage of your phantasms depends on how many mobs they hit within 10 yards of themselves. This means you want to always cast your phantasms in the greatest density.
  • When a phantasm expires, it deals the accumulated damage to all enemies within 15 yards, which is greater than the 10-yard radius for its accumulation. Therefore, when they explode, you want to make sure that the elites are within 15-yard of them.
  • The damage buffs from Oculus Circle and CoE are included in the accumulated damage. This means that you want to stand in Oculus Circle as much as you can and ideally make the 10-second accumulation period overlap with your 4-second cold CoE.
  • The phantasm explosions do not proc Area Damage, which is useless for this build and actually causes significant lag in group play. For group meta, make sure that absolutely no one has any AD from gears or paragon.
  • There are reports of a bug that if you cast Spirit Barrage during Spirit Walk, they will either accumulate less damage or deal no damage at all. So make sure you’re not in Spirit Walk when you cast SB.

Regarding attack speed breakpoints and their relationship to phantasm accumulation, see sVr’s analysis. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Although your attack speed affects Spirit Barrage casting, it does not affect the rate at which each phantasm accumulates damage, which is a static 30 frames.
  • If you opt for Continuous Explosion, increasing your attack speed does not necessarily increase your overall DpS.
  • If you opt for Delayed Explosion, the most ideal strategy is to explode them at precise times which depend on your attack speed and most likely requires extremely precise use of macros.

We need not go into the details, but practically speaking, for the current build, the standard is 7% attack speed on gloves, weapon, and one of your rings. For high-end group play, the standard practice is to just wait for them to explode after 10 seconds.

3. Solo Pushing

From my experience, the two biggest difficulties of solo pushing are killing elites and surviving against elite crowd-control affixes. The first difficulty can be countered by aggressive fishing and walking elites to multiple trash pulls. The second difficulty can be countered with strategic use of Spirit Walk. Getting frozen or jailed is an easy death if you don’t have Spirit Walk up to escape. There is no anti-CC mechanic in this build, and crowd-control reduction on gears can be very helpful.

For gearing (assuming at least 2k paragon),

  • Trifecta weapon (either Sacred Harvester or the Barber) is 7% IAS > 10% dmg > 10% CDR.
  • Off-hand always comes with crit chance and mana regen. High legendary power > ancient base dmg > 15% SB > CDR.
  • Mana regen on voodoo mask is not important.
  • Stack armor obviously.
  • Life per Hit on bracers is nice to have, but not required.
  • 7% attack speed on weapon, gloves, and one ring.
  • The other ring should have ancient base damage.
  • For 4k+ paragon, go full mitigation on chest plate (armor, elite reduction, double-7 secondary). Don’t have to be ancient. Compensate for vitality with paragon.

As mentioned above, it is possible to use delayed explosion for solo pushing. Instead of waiting for 10 seconds (which makes it impossible to survive), you can let it accumulate for the duration of Spirit Walk and detonate when you come out of it. This way, if you are able to kill some mobs, your Spirit Walk will be back up immediately. See

for a nice demonstration.

4. Group Meta (No-Dog)

  • Big Bag Voodoo rune is changed to Slam Dance.
  • Piranhado is changed to Haunt – Poisoned Spirit for more damage against elites.
  • Spirit Walk rune is changed to Severance for faster movement.
  • Weapon is changed to Voo’s Juicer for 60% SB damage
  • Since you no longer need the Manitou rune to kill the RG, SB rune is changed to Phlebotomize (even though you already get that rune from Voo’s Juicer).
  • Grave Injustice is changed to Gruesome Feast. zBarb spawns health globes and picks up.
  • Ideal off-hand now has elite damage instead of CDR (ancient and 15% SB still take priority).
  • Witching Hour and CoE for more damage.

CE gives you the most damage in a short period of time. After casting Pestilence and haunting elites, just hold down SB on the elites until they die. Besides being the standard playstyle for most solo and low- to mid-level group play, in high-end team push, CE is also the best strategy for one-stop maps (4-corners festering, for example). In this scenario, you have hundreds and hundreds of trash from the entire map coming to one spot, so CE is the better way to get progress.

For DE, the Barb stomps twice for each round – first upon setup, and second right before explosion. Upon setup, after casting Pestilence a few times for it to spread, cast phantasms 3 times at the pixel pull location and start haunting. Make sure elites are haunted. You should ideally time your SB cast such that the 10-second window overlaps with cold CoE. For example, casting 2 seconds into physical will make them explode after cold. Again, make sure you’re not in Spirit Walk when you cast SB.

5. Group Meta (Zombie Dog Sacrifice)

For 10k paragons, the no-dog version (CE/DE according to circumstances) is enough for speeding 150s. But for lower paragon players (5-8k), in order to achieve the same level of damage output (one-shotting elites on 150), the Zombie Dog mechanic is used to get up to 100% extra damage, which significantly complicates the playstyle.

This variant uses either Big Bad Voodoo – Boogie Man or Grasp of the Dead – Death is Life to spawn up to 3 Zombie Dogs at a time. The former has a bigger radius but only has a 50% chance. The latter has a smaller radius but has a 70% chance. Then, Sacrifice – Provoke the Pack is used to sacrifice the dogs. Each dog sacrificed gives 20% increased damage for 5 seconds. This stacks up to 5 times.

The Zombie Dog variant can also be played with either CE or DE.

Zombie Dog CE is quite simple – hold down SB on elite until oculus is spawned. Then go into oculus, spam sacrifice (to continuously sacrifice dogs and maintain stacks) and continuously cast SB. Sacrifice stacks up to 5 times and hence can give you up to 100% damage.

Zombie Dog DE is the most complicated and requires extremely precise timing.

First of all, the Sacrifice stack is snapshotted at the start of your SB cast and is not continuously calculated into your damage accumulation. This means that for each phantasm, at the moment of its casting, how many Sacrifice stacks you have will determine the damage buff to its entire accumulated damage. This means that you want to cast the 10-second phantasms within 5 seconds after sacrificing your dogs.

First, let’s look at the standard rotation when you have 3 dogs summoned:

  • Upon setup, apply Haunt.
  • 1 second into physical, Barb stomps for the first time.
  • 2 seconds into physical, you sacrifice your dogs and start continuously casting SB.
  • Within the next 5 seconds (when the Sacrifice stacks are active), continue to cast SB until oculus circles are spawned. Then stop immediately and go to oculus. The last 3 phantasms will start accumulating. If no oculus spawned in mid-poison, you must also stop, otherwise the Sacrifice stacks will run out and your last 3 phantasms will no longer get the buff.
  • While standing in oculus, cast BBB or Grasp of the Dead (on top of your phantasms) and continue to apply Haunt throughout cold.
  • Towards the end of cold, Barb stomps for the second time on top of the phantasms. They explode. You get fresh dogs.

When you don’t have dogs, the rotation is the same minus the sacrifice part.

The key is (1) lining up oculus circle with cold CoE; and (2) stop casting SB by mid-poison (before the 5-second sacrifice buff runs out) even if you don’t get an occulus. Once you stop, the last 3 phantasms will get the 60% damage from Sacrifice due to snapshotting.

This is how you one-shot elites on 150s if you’re low paragon. Have fun.

Source: Original link

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