Building the best character in Diablo 3, whether you picked Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk or Witch Doctor, can be tough. There are a dizzying number of options, but here are a few of our personal favorites, with full skill builds, playstyle explanations and stat recommendations for each.
As we play each of the classes, we'll update their guides with new builds and improved versions of existing builds. Check back often, and let us know what builds you're using in the comments!
Demon Hunter Builds - page 2
Monk Builds - page 3
Witch Doctor Builds - page 4
Wizard Builds - page 5
6/22: Added Hardcore Monk Act I and Inferno Witch Doctor
6/6: Added Inferno Demon Hunter
6/5: Added Inferno Monk
6/4: Inferno Survival Week! Added Infernal Barbarian and Infernal Wizard I
5/30: Added two Z Fighter builds: a ranged version for the Wizard and a melee version for the Monk
5/29: Added two comic-themed builds: The Demon Hunter as Batman and the Barbarian as Thor
5/25: Added Witch Doctor's Spirit Warrior
5/24: Added Monk's Tonk, Demon Hunter's Arcane Archer and Barbarian's Speed Freak
5/23: Added Wizard's Storm Mage
5/22: Added Demon Hunter's Sniper
5/21: Added Barbarian's Inexhaustible Berserker
5/17: Updated Witch Doctor's Plaguebringer and Wizard's Glass Cannon
5/16: Updated Demon Hunter's Explosives Expert, Monk's Balanced Healer, Witch Doctor's Zombie King
See the build: Infernal Barbarian
As a melee class, the barbarian has a rough time of things in Inferno, and building him as a pure tank is surprisingly ineffective in terms of keeping you from dying horribly. The biggest dangers in D3's top difficulty are those deadly combinations of prefix mobs you'll come up against (such as Molten Waller Jailer). You need to be tough, but it's just as important to have great mobility and stun resistance. Start with your bread-and-butter Frenzy/Hammer of the Ancients combo runed for Triumph and Thunderstrike, giving you some decent lifesteal and a 100% proc stun. Stuns are probably the best tanking abilities in the game in Diablo 3, due to the sheer number of enemies. A stunned enemy is dealing no damage to you at all, making it more valuable than damage mitigation.
Furious Charge with Merciless Assault is something I can't seem to ever justify giving up, no matter what kind of build I'm going for. A spammable (if you aim it right) AoE attack that generates fury and can get you out of sticky situations is just too good in too many ways to not take. Ignore Pain should be used sparingly, only when you know there's a big damage spike coming (such as being stunned next to something that's about to explode and spew acid all over you.) Sprint and the Gangway rune give you one more way to get out of trouble fast, and make sure you control the where and how of each engagement. War Cry , and especially the Impunity rune, will boost your ability to soak all kinds of damage amazingly.
You'll notice the passives here aren't the straight armor buffing ones. The fact is, in Inferno, it doesn't really matter how much armor you have. If you get stunned and/or surrounded at the wrong time, you're going to die even if you're encased in metal and made entirely of granite. Superstition will save you from that nasty elemental damage that bypasses your armor, while Relentless and Juggernaut kick in when death is near to give you half a shot of wading out of the fray alive. You may be hearing words like "impossible" getting thrown around in regard to the barbarian on Inferno, but with this build, you'll at the very least make those elites work for their kills.
Preferred stats: Vitality, Strength, Armor, Movement Speed
See the build: The Barbarian as Thor
What better role model for your barbarian than the God of Thunder himself?
Bash and Hammer of the Ancients make you feel like a true Asgardian, sending out lightning bolts and shockwaves that stun and toss around your enemies. Leap is about as close as you'll get to modeling the son of Odin's flight ability. Obviously, Weapon Throw with the Throwing Hammer rune is essential. And when the fighting is the thickest, pop Call of the Ancients to summon Thor's loyal companions, the Warriors Three! Your passives make you even mightier when outnumbered and ensure that no foe can escape from Midgard's greatest protector.
Preferred stats: Strength, Weapon Damage, Vitality
See the build: The Speed Freak
Preferred stats: Movement Speed, Strength, Attack Speed, Weapon Damage
See the build: Inexhaustible Berserker
RAAAAAGE! This build is all about maximizing your "enrage powers," making you a self-buffing death machine. Your key skills are Battle Rage and Wrath of the Berserker . The first is your everyday use enrage which, with this build, should be active more or less at all times with only one trigger at the beginning of combat. Wrath of the Berserker is your "hard enrage," which you'll have to use more sparingly. Since crits extend the duration of your Battle Rage, dual-wield works best, with either a mace/axe (crit chance from Weapons Master ) or spear (attack speed from Weapons Master) in the main hand. Frenzy , with its quick blows, leads to more crits and is a natural primary skill. Leap and Furious Charge keep you in the thick of things, where you need to be, while generating extra fury. Hammer of the Ancients with the Smash rune is a great Elite/Boss killer.
Note: At higher levels, you may want to swap out the Ferocity rune on Battle Rage for Into the Fray, essentially turning Battle Rage into a "piggyback" to extend the duration of Wrath of the Berserker.
Preferred stats: Attack Speed, Crit Chance, Strength, Weapon Damage
See the build: Barbarian Punter
Half the fun of playing a Barbarian is watching bodies fly in every direction as you smash your way through the herd. This build maximizes the simple joy of ragdoll physics by giving you every opportunity to proc knockback effects. Your primary skill Bash has a 20% chance to send people packing while generating Fury to unleash your three major corpse-tossers: Seismic Slam, Ground Stomp and Earthquake --all runed to boost the potency of their aoe knockbacks. Furious Charge and Threatening Shout ensure you stay alive to keep kicking the undead to the curb. The passives Brawler, Juggernaut and Unforgiving stops your compulsive need to punt people from hurting your damage output.
Preferred stats: Knockback Chance, Strength, Weapon Damage
See the build: Barbarian Immortal Tank
Some of us don't want to die. There's no shame in that--you're brave simply for stepping outside your home to battle the hoards of undead. I dare anyone to call you a sissy when you're on the front lines, entering a Frenzy and bloodletting everything in sight with Rend (both of which heal you, don't worry!). Revenge let's you turn incoming damage into an aoe attack with massive health regen. If things get hairy, a correctly runed Ignore Pain can turn most any bad situation around, coupled with a War Cry if your allies are in trouble as well. But a good tank always has a backup plan for his backup plan, so keep Wrath of the Berserker in your back pocket for those truly desperate situations. Protective passives like Pound of Flesh, Inspiring Presence and Superstition will help keep you hacking and slashing unfettered.
Preferred stats: Armor, Vitality, Elemental Resistance, Strength
See the build: Demon Hunter Inferno
A lot of your time as a Demon Hunter in Inferno will be spent running away from mobs--don't be afriad to be a coward. Using Evasive Fire as your primary attack is the big secret most DHs don't know about yet: it's not in the Primary category but it generates Hatred, deals damage in a cone, and can even shoot through walls. Even better, it tacks on another escape tool to your arsenal without taking up a skill slot. Elemental Arrow and Spike Trap are your main damage-dealers--dump your Hatred into them whenever you can afford to stand still. Vault and Smoke Screen give you spammable tools to slip away from trouble, with runed Preparation giving you the Discipline you need to fuel 'em. The passives, Archery , Steady Aim , and Tactical Advantage all help you kite your way to success.
Preferred stats: Dexterity, Attack Speed, Max Discipline, Crit chance, Vitality
See the build: The Demon Hunter as Batman
You are vengeance. You are the Knight. You. Are. BATMAN!
Okay, well, Batman never kills people. So you're not technically Batman. But this build should make you feel like him nonetheless. The Demon Hunter is perfect for modeling everyone's favorite brooding, caped crusader. Entangling Shot will trip up your foes while Bat-a-rangs... I mean Chakram ... shred anyone in your way. Evasive Fire , Smoke Screen and Spike Trap make you a true predator, always in control of the flow of battle. Cluster Arrow is your big knock-out punch. Your passives reward you for not getting hit, as Batman should not, and buff your Discipline-based skills.
Preferred stats: Dexterity, Weapon Damage, Dodge Chance, Max Discipline/Discipline Regen
See the build: Demon Hunter Arcane Archer
Preferred stats: Dexterity, Weapon Damage, Lifesteal, Max Hatred
See the build: Demon Hunter Sniper
You lurk in the shadows watching for your ideal prey. Once you have singled them out, they are merely the whistle of an arrow from death. This is a great Elite/Boss slayer build, focused on staying well out of the thick of things and picking off single targets with massive damage. Marked for Death and Impale are your 1-2 combo: mark them, then take them out with a quick burst of critical doom. Caltrops makes sure you're always six steps ahead of the enemy while also functioning as a Crit "totem" when you cast it at your feet. Vault gives you an out when they wind up a step ahead of you, while runed Preparation lets you burn Discipline to keep the Impales coming. Your passives ensure that taking time to fall back and line up a shot will always be to your advantage. Hand crossbows give you the best benefit (Crit chance) from Archery .
Preferred stats: Weapon Damage, Dexterity, Critical Chance, Max Hatred/Hatred Regeneration
See the build: Demon Hunter Explosives Expert - Updated 5/16
Bad guys go boom with this explosives-heavy build for the Demon Hunter. Cluster Grenades is your free skill, so chuck those little bouncing bombs like crazy and follow 'em up with endless rockets from Rapid Fire and Cluster Arrow . One rune swap adds homing rockets to your Sentry turret, which'll guard your back while raining down fire. Bola Shot and Spike Trap give you two more volatile chunks of metal to hurl around. (Bonus: the Sticky Trap rune on Spike Trap lets you slam the explosives right onto the enemy's chest and watch his death rain pain on everyone around him.) The passives are absolutely essential to this build: Ballistics, Grenadier and Custom Engineering add a massive damage boost to all those rockets.
Preferred stats: Dexterity, Weapon Damage, Vitality, Armor
See the build: Demon Hunter Untouchable
The Demon Hunter isn't really a touchy-feely kinda gal—in fact, she'd rather you just never get close to her at all. This build plays right into her nomad, loner image, letting you kite bad guys like a pro—if you've got the skill. Entangling Shot in your primary slot lets you tie up four enemies every second, Elemental Arrow with the Frost rune slows down larger packs, and Strafe lets you unleash hell while still running at full speed. Use the ridiculously low-cost Vault to keep your distance as the pack closes in on you, and if one of the devils catches you off guard, Evasive Fire lets you blast 'em up close and backflip away (+2 for style points). If you manage to screw all of that up—or are facing Sonic the hedgehog zombies— Smoke Screen lets your reset the battle by vanishing. Cull The Weak, Tactical Advantage and Steady Aim are perfect passives, helping you stay out of harm's reach while boosting damage on hindered foes.
Preferred stats: Movement Speed, Dexterity, Weapon Damage, CC reduction
See the build: The Hardcore Monk Act 1
Hardcore mode requires patience. Death is permanent here, so you'll need to take it slow and stock up on defense. Be content to use the slow-but-steady approach and you have a chance to make it to level 60. But anything can happen, so my Hardcore Monk build is all about hedging the bets so that you have the tools to survive as many bad-luck encounters as possible. As soon as you hit level 3, change your primary skill to Deadly Reach . It's a mid-range attack that'll let you kite slower enemies without taking a scratch. At level 5, add Tempest Rush --another mainstay in the Hardcore Monk's arsenal. It may not seem incredibly useful at first glance, but it can be used to escape almost any situation--and unlucky situations are what kill the vast majority of Hardcore characters. At level 8, you can add Breath of Heaven, a fantastic healing ability to your toolset. Spam it as often as you have health missing. You'll unlock the final skill Wave of Light at level 12 at exactly the same point as you need it: when you start encountering those huge packs of goat-men in the desert. Use Tempest Rush to corral them into a tight pack and then smash 'em with one well-placed bell. Of the three passives available to you at this point, Resolve is the only one worth considering--it's a flat defense boost.
Preferred stats: Dexterity, Vitality, Experience
See the build: The Inferno Monk
Inferno isn't easy as a melee class, but the Monk's got a lot of awesome tools to keep himself safe. Your two attacks are both spirit generators— Deadly Reach and Crippling Wave —runed to debuff your attacker's damage and boost your armor. Swap back and forth between both of these attacks habitually as you fight so that you always maintain both buffs at all times. Serentity is your go-to defensive ability for it's low Spirit cost and runed healing. With a different build, large packs of enemies charging at you is a guaranteed death in Inferno. Here, Breath of Heaven and Blinding Flash are runed to give you the CC, healing, and burst firepower you need to burn down packs before they can mob you. Having high resistances is absolutely vital in Inferno, and Mantra of Healing (runed for 20% all resistances) and your One with Everything passive ensures you can take a hit--I'd still recommend equipping a shield though. Sieze the Initiative is a passive armor bonus and the Transcendence passive will give your most regular healing.
Preferred stats: Attack Speed, Life per Spirit spent, Vitality, Resistances
See the build: The Tonk
She's a Tank Monk! She's a Tonk! Get it?
Yeah, well, to hell with you too. The Tonk is nearly impossible to hit, unleashing Crippling Waves and Blinding Flashes that make the attacks that do hit her deal a mere pittance in damage. Dashing Strike and Cyclone Strike let you control the flow of battle, chasing down and rebuking enemies who go for your squishier team mates. Serenity is a great "Oh gods, I'm about to die!" button, as all experienced tanks know that sometimes the damage is just too much, even for you. You should dual-wield to make the most of your Guardian's Path passive, though a 2-hander is not a bad choice since this build sucks spirit down like a dehydrated fish.
Preferred stats: Dodge chance, Dexterity, Armor, Vitality, Max Spirit
See the build: Monk Z Fighter
The week of theme builds continues with inspiration from Akira Toriyama's Dragonball universe! Note that you will be required to yell the names of your attacks loudly into your monitor for this build to function. Use Fists of Thunder and Seven-Sided Strike to dish out rapid-fire blows while teleporting all over the place as only a Toriyama character can, before blinding your enemies with Blinding Flash (SOLAR FLARE!) and knocking them back (preferably through a mountainside) with Lashing Tail Kick . Mantra of Conviction is guaranteed to raise your power level when it counts, and Sweeping Wind will let you become a bona-fide Super Monk for a limited time.
Preferred stats: Weapon Damage, Dexterity, Vitality, Max Spirit
See the build: Monk Tornado of Death
Turn your Monk into an unstoppable wave of pain who jumps into the middle of groups to kick-punch everything around him. Every skill in this build hits multiple targets. Soften them up with broad Crippling Wave kicks, and follow it up with a fierce Lashing Tail Kick to cut 'em down and knockback any left standing. Mantra of Conviction rewards you for fighting in the middle of the enemy pack, and Seven-Sided Strike let's you show them that superior numbers won't help them. If you bit off more than you can chew, Serenity 'll absorb damage and reflect attacks back at the hellspawn. Best of all, Sweeping Wind turns your metaphorical tornado of pain into a very literal one, creating lightning tornadoes when you score critical hits—very likely with so many aoe attacks. The passives, Chant of Resonance, The Guardian's Path and Combination Strike , give equal boosts to your defense and attack.
Preferred stats: Critical Chance, Dodge, Armor, Vitality, Dexterity
See the build: Monk Balanced Healer - Updated 5/16
This is as close as Diablo III gets to a full support character, but you still have to punch people to build up the Spirit needed to fuel those refreshing glowy lights. This isn't a viable solo build, but because it's so easy to hop into friends' games, you could easily progress as a healer. Fists of Thunder is the perfect primary skill because it regenerates Spirit faster than the others. Inner Sanctuary and Serenity are solid preventative measures to keep your friends out of harm's way, and Breath of Heaven and Cyclone Strike will help you refill those health bars when preventative measures aren't enough. Mantra of Healing 's heal-over-time is brought to set-it-and-forget-it status thanks to the Chant of Resonance passive that triples its duration to 10 minutes. The best part is that every one of those support skills will hit all allies within range—so everyone's safe. Lastly, Exalted Soul and Transcendence passives boost your Spirit efficiency to let you hang in there on those long boss fights.
Preferred stats: Attack Speed, Spirit Regeneration, Max Spirit
See the build: Inferno Witch Doctor
Like any caster, the Witch Doctor needs to control the flow of battle as much as possible to survive Inferno. You need to stay in control of where you can and can't stand, and restrict your enemies' ability to do so as much as possible. Summon Zombie Dogs and Gargantuan remain staples, because anything that gives monster a reason to attack something that isn't you is a good thing. Spirit Walk lets you get out of sticky situations in a hurry, although you should make a point of not having to use it very often. Jailer and Waller elites got you down? Show them that you can play that game, too! Grasp of the Dead and Wall of Zombies will make you just as annoying to them as they are to you.
Your passives and runes are focused on spawning and grabbing up health globes, so gearing to increase your pick-up radius will be very beneficial. As will anything that further increases the chance of health globes to drop. Think of yourself as a spooky, Carribbean Pac-Man.
Preferred stats: Gold/Health Pickup Radius, Intelligence, Vitality, Maximum Mana
See the build: Witch Doctor Spirit Warrior
Maybe you think zombies are to be promptly shot in the head, not used as allies. Maybe you don't like pet classes. Maybe both. This build focuses on the Witch Doctor as more of a tribal shaman, giving you excellent damage and crowd control with your spirit spells, plus a nearly endless well of mana. Supercharge your Intelligence with Soul Harvest, then unleash Firebombs and Spirit Barrages for huge direct damage while Haunt ticks away at the harder targets. Horrify and Mass Confusion will give you excellent battlefield control. Your passives increase damage at the cost of more mana, but they also shore up your mana (in addition to almost all of your abilities giving you some back.)
Preferred stats: Intelligence, Weapon Damage, Max Mana/Mana Regen
See the build: Witch Doctor Plaguebringer - Updated 5/17
The ten plagues of Egypt got nothin' on this build. Sure, you've got the standard plague stuff with Plague of Toads , and flesh-eating Locust Swarm s, but the real key is poison stacking with the right runes. Your frogs and locusts are both poisonous, and Acid Cloud lets you rain less animated liquid death on the enemy. Zombie Charger brings old-school leprosy back with the right rune, and Fetish Army summons the final plague of death. And while that's enough to drive most civilizations to madness, Mass Confusion will completely shatter any particularly stalwart minds, forcing them to kill each other for you. The Bad Medicine passive is paramount, as it causes your plentiful poison damage to cripple enemy attacks, while Fetish Sycophants and Spiritual Attunement are just small perks to keep things moving quickly.
Preferred stats: Intelligence, Weapon Damage, Maximum Mana
See the build: Witch Doctor Zombie King - Updated 5/16
There's something especially satisfying about watching minions do your dirty work while you sit back and cackle maniacally—especially when your minions are zombies. There are so many things you can do with zombies in Diablo 3: you can drop them from the sky (runed Grasp of the Dead ), stack them on top of each other and push the undead tower over ( Wall of Zombies ), bursting from the ground ( Zombie Charger runed to make them BEAR ZOMBIES), or stomping all over the place ( Gargantuan ). Most of them only stop by for brief encounters, but you can always count on your trusty Zombie Dogs to chomp through bad guys. A few passives play into this style perfectly: Fierce Loyalty, Jungle Fortitude and Zombie Handler increase the number of zombies you can control, add your Thorn and Health Regen stats to them and reduce the damage they take. When you run low on corpses, just toss out jars of creepy Corpse Spiders to regen mana.
Preferred stats: Intelligence, Weapon Damage, Thorns
See the build: Wizard Inferno Mage I
This week is all about builds that will get you through Hell and Inferno difficulty alive. Theme builds are fun, but once you get to a certain point, inefficiency will get you burned to a crisp. This build focuses on Arcane damage and good, sustained Arcane Power along with great crowd control to combat the deadly enemies you'll face. Electrocute and Arcane Torrent ensure that you can keep at range while making efficient use of your Arcane Power. Hydra will give your enemies something to hit that isn't you, which is invaluable, while Blizzard and Diamond Skin can assist you in your all-too-frequent retreats before you get pounded into wizard pâté. Energy Armor is a great survivability increase, and saves you from one-shot kills, which are disturbingly common among Inferno's cast of baddies. Since this build forsakes Teleport, make sure to stack movement speed to make up for your lack of a "GTFO" button.
Preferred stats: Weapon Damage, Intelligence, Vitality, Movement Speed
See the build: Wizard Z Fighter
The week of theme builds continues with inspiration from Akira Toriyama's Dragonball universe! Note that you will be required to yell the names of your attacks loudly into your monitor for this build to function. Unleash volley after volley of devastating energy attacks in true Dragonball fashion with Magic Missile , Arcane Orb (SPIRT BOMB!) and Disintegrate (Kaaaaaaa meeeeeeeee...) Teleport lets you zip around the battlefield like a boss. When it comes time to power up, Storm Armor will take you to the next level. And against the greatest of foes, unlock the transformation power of Archon -- it's just a shame there isn't a rune that makes it turn your hair gold and spiky.
Preferred stats: Weapon Damage, Intelligence, Vitality, Max Arcane Power
See the build: Wizard Storm Mage
Bring the chaos and destruction of the raging storm to bear, unleashing lightning and ice an an unpredictable maelstrom of destruction around you. This build does best at mid to close range, with Shock Pulse flooding the field before you with volatile bolts while your runed Ray of Frost and Frost Nova send cold annihilation in all directions. Diamond Skin and Storm Armor will let you survive to get in close enough for your AoEs to have maximum effect, while also discounting all of your damaging spells significantly, so the storm never really stops raging. Blizzard gives you a longer-range option for dealing mass murder.
Preferred stats: Weapon Damage, Intelligence, Attack Speed, Max Arcane Power
See the build: Wizard Glass Cannon - Updated 5/17
A primal urge within all of us wants to see big numbers flash on the screen when we attack, and this build lets you get the biggest digits of any class in Diablo 3. Core skills get a bonus effect on crit: your primary, Electrocute , and Storm Armor lash out lightning attacks, and Meteor 's molten fire boils over when it crits. The Critical Mass passive reduces the cooldown on your spells by 1 second every time you crit, and Arcane Dynamo lets you boost your next attack by 75% to achieve truly absurd single-hit numbers to brag about to your buddies. The other abilities center on making sure you crit as often as possible, with Disintegrate, Frost Nova and Explosive Blast all hitting multiple targets with some absurdly high weapon percentages--each with its own chance to be crit. With all these perks tossed in, an explosion from Volatile blast is doing 800% weapon damage before crit and with no gear stats calculated in (that's 1,200% or higher on a crit)!
Preferred stats: Critical Chance, Critical Hit Damage, Weapon Damage, Intelligence
See the build: Wizard Battle Mage
Not every Wizard is squishy, but the battle mage is one of the most coveted archetypes that rarely makes it way into games because, frankly, it's usually way overpowered. The first step is to give your Wizard a melee weapon: Spectral Blade takes it one step further by making your primary attack a massive, magical sword that heals you when it crits. Next, you've got to bolster your defenses so you can stand on the front lines without crumbling like wet tissue paper. Diamond Skin, Ice Armor, Archon and the passive skills Galvanizing Ward and Blur turn you into a veritable tank with insane armor and a ton of sweet spells. The last thing you need to complete your battle mage toolkit is a couple devastating aoes to unleash when things get hairy. Arcane Torrent and Energy Twister can both be runed into the perfect tools, and the Unstable Anomaly passive gives you a boost right when you need it most.
Preferred stats: Armor, Intelligence, Vitality, Elemental Resistance