Chewingnom has been playing games such as World of Warcraft, Diablo III or Path of Exile competitively for the longest time. As a theorycrafting and outside-the-box thinking enthusiast, Chewingnom is always looking deeply into game mechanics and gameplay optimization. Most known by the community for his zBarb gameplay shared on his Youtube channel, he is also the mastermind who introduced the idea of pixelpulling to Diablo III, a crucial aspect of the metagame nowadays. If you're looking for him, he's probably thinking about the next innovative build or playing with a highly coordinated team for new ranks!
Disclaimer: This guide is the Season 26 Guide for the Trag'Oul Corpse Explosion Build which is now completely outclassed. For up-to-date Trag'Oul guide, go to the Trag'Oul Death Nova Guide!
When Necromancers got released in Season 11, they instantly became the top dog on the leaderboards using Corpse Lance with the Trag'Oul's AvatarSet, overshadowing pretty much every other skill the class had at its disposal. However, Necromancers have many skills with a strong identity, including the iconic Corpse Explosion!
When Season 21 introduced the new Masquerade of the Burning CarnivalSet and buffed Grasps of Essence, players finally got a chance to play this skill at a competitive level. But it is only with Season 23 adding the Set leaderboards that the Trag'OulCorpse Explosion setup really got a chance to shine. These days, this is the go-to build to push on the Trag'Oul leaderboard.
Due to Diablo III corpse mechanics (16 corpses limitation), this build revolves around Land of the Dead rotations to unleash devastating chain reactions on its opponents!
This build is an Area Damage (AD) build, since Corpse Explosion can proc it. This is further enhanced by The Johnstone in conjunction with other cooldown and rotation based damage multipliers, allowing for a disgusting damage burst under specific circumstances (see Mechanics). If you like powerful all-around builds, massive explosions and seeing monsters' HP instantly drop from 100 to 0, you're in the right place. Let's go through how it works and show those demons who's boss!
❌ Very Squishy 🙁 ❌ Rotation Playstyle ❌ Low Single Target Damage ❌ Heavy Cooldown Dependency
Trag'Oul's Avatar grants us every rune on our Blood Rush as well as a 3,800% damage buff to our life-spending skills. We also get 100% healing from these skills and our healing can double our maximum life.
Grasps of Essence is our core item providing us with a 1,000% separate damage multiplier to Corpse Explosion.
The Johnstone makes our next 50 Corpse Explosions do 200% more damage after our Land of the Dead ends.
Jesseth Arms gives a 400% damage buff as long as our Skeletons are commanded to attack a target.
Krysbin's Sentence for the 300% damage increase against enemies under a Hard Crowd Control effect.
Convention of Elements for 200% damage during our Physical cycle.
Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang provides us with a 200% separate damage multiplier to Cursed enemies and procs our Dayntee's Binding.
Season 26 Echoing Nightmares
Echoing Nightmares are a new rewarding endgame activity set within the memories of fallen Nephalem. You must first acquire a Petrified Scream from a Greater Rift Guardian, and then cube it to enter. Once inside you'll be challenged with an endless wave of enemies until you are either overwhelmed or killed. Your goal here is to reach Wave 125 for the highest possible Whisper of Atonement with extra XP rewards added for going higher. Read our complete Season 26 Echoing Nightmare Guide for full information on how it works, and check out our brand new Echoing Nightmare Build Tier List and our META post for the best strategies!
This build is bad for this game mode. Typically we utilize a Greater Rift pushing build with a few tweaks.
Swap Bane of the Stricken for Gogok of Swiftness since we are fighting hordes of enemies.
Stack as much Cooldown Reduction as possible so you can use Land of the Dead more often.
Reach Wave 100 and click Speed Pylon to boost your mobility and dodge Green Meteors.
When you are more than 40% overwhelmed click Channeling Pylon and Power Pylon.
When you are more than 60% overwhelmed click Conduit Pylon.
After all Pylons expire, run away from monsters and dodge everything to squeeze out an extra 3-5 tiers.
Use Land of the Dead Frozen Lands as much as possible and nuke everything around you with Corpse Explosion. Activate Command Skeletons regularly to ensure you have the damage buff from Jesseth Arms. Try to make use of leftover corpses to clean up more before the cooldown comes back, rinse and repeat.
Global Stat Priorities
You want to stack damage stats wherever possible, especially Cooldown Reduction, Attack Speed, Critical Hit Chance and Damage, Physical Damage along with as much Area Damage and Corpse Explosion Damage as possible.
Our first priority is to aim for at least 53% Cooldown Reduction which allow us in conjunction with Blood is Power to reach the 48 second Breakpoint on Land of the Dead. This way we can detonate every fourth Convention of ElementsPhysical cycle.
Attack Speed is very important in order to maximize The Johnstone stacks efficiency, by reaching an appropriate Corpse Explosion Breakpoint (see Mechanics). We focus on 2.08 Attack Speed to reach the 29 frames Breakpoint which allow us to cast up to 8 Corpse Explosions during our Convention of ElementsPhysical cycle. We get that Attack Speed from 7% Attack Speed on the Weapon, the guaranteed Krysbin's Sentence roll, Skeleton Archers and the Enchantress' Focused Mind.
Assembling the Build
1. Do the Challenge Rift for the materials to cubeLegendary Powers. You can complete this once a week for additional resources and we always update the guide for you!
2. Gather the full Trag'Oul's Avatar set. Each piece can be gambled from Kadala for Bloodshards. Do not salvage any duplicate pieces you find! Instead convert them to another part of the set with Recipe 4 in Kanai's Cube. If you have extra materials you can use Recipe 3 to craft the remaining pieces, but this is expensive and not recommended for new players.
1. Socket 2. Critical Hit Damage 3. Physical Damage 4. Critical Hit Chance
Dayntee's Binding Goldwrap
1. Intelligence 2. Vitality 3. Life % 4. Armor
Bottomless Potion of Amplification
To gain extra healing
Bane of the Trapped is a staple that grants us a 60% separate damage multiplier.
Bane of the Stricken helps us kill the Rift Guardian. As long as you don't need more than 2 minutes to kill it you can equip Gogok of Swiftness or Bane of the Powerful instead.
Zei's Stone of Vengeance provides a great separate damage multiplier to this build as it grants first stage benefit at 0 yards and not 10 yards.
Gogok of Swiftness can be used instead of Zei's Stone of Vengeance. It allows us to reach the 36 second Breakpoint on Land of the Dead and the 26 frames Breakpoint on Corpse Explosion while granting us a hefty 30% dodge chance.
Enforcer is used to buff the damage of our Blood Mages in the T16 setup.
For Nephalem Rifts, Boon of the Hoarder is always a default include specifically due to its amazing synergy with Avarice Band and Goldwrap.
Corpse Explosion Final Embrace is our primary damage dealing skill.
Blood Rush is at the core of Trag'Oul's Avatar playstyle. It provides us with incredible mobility and healing capacity as well as a 100% Armor buff and a way to produce corpses.
Land of the Dead Frozen Lands allows us to cast our Corpse Explosion at will while also freezing enemies on our screen to proc Krysbin's Sentence.
Grim Scythe Cursed Scythe applies curses for our Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang and Dayntee's Binding bonuses while helping us to stack Bane of the Stricken.
Command Skeletons Dark Mending is used during solo push to get the bonus from our Jesseth Arms set.
Simulacrum Reservoir is used for a better damage burst if you're playing with Reilena's Shadowhook.
Spreading Malediction gives us 1% additive damage for every cursed enemy.
Blood is Power helps reduce our Land of the Dead cooldown by 20% based off damage taken, allowing us to reach the 48 second Breakpoint on Land of the Dead.
Eternal Torment makes curses cost 50% less and last forever.
Final Service allows us to cheat death.
Overwhelming Essence is great for more damage if you're playing with Reilena's Shadowhook.
For speed content you can drop Eternal Torment for Fueled by Death.
1. Movement Speed
1. Cooldown Reduction
1. Area Damage
2. Attack Speed
2. Life %
2. Life per Hit
3. Critical Hit Chance
3. All Resistance
3. Resource Cost Reduction
4. Maximum Essence2
4. Critical Hit Damage
4. Life Regeneration
4. Pickup Radius
1 Aim for a decent HP pool (at least 800,000 in Solo Push) as Trag'oul's Avatar doubles that amount. 2 Only put points in Maximum Essence if you play with Reilena's Shadowhook.
Patch 2.7.0 revamped the follower system giving all 3 hirelings new powers and the emanate system. The first thing you should do is read our complete follower guide and remember the key takeaways:
The emanation system allows followers to share certain legendary and set powers with you. The most important ones are: The Flavor of Time, Nemesis Bracers, Avarice Band, Sage’s Journey and Cain’s Destiny. Click the guide above for the full list.
Follower’s powers are based on their main stat (maxed at 25,000, but they have a 2.5x multiplier so you only need 10,000). This means we stack Intelligence on the Enchantress, Dexterity on the Scoundrel and Strength on the Templar.
Followers share 20% of their Experience, Magic and Gold Find stats with you.
Legendary gems do not work on followers, except Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard.
Cooldown Reduction does not work for any follower skill except the Templar’s Heal.
Followers never deal significant damage; you’re on your own to clear the content.
GR Pushing Enchantress
For T16 we recommend this Enchantress setup because she is the only follower that gives Cooldown Reduction, allowing you to spam your abilities more. Since this is T16 content, she’ll stay alive with Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard and use Hand of the Prophet to gain all skills. This will give us Cooldown Reduction, Elemental Damage, Reduced Damage from Ranged Attacks, Armor, Attack Speed, and a Cheat Death. Ideally, you want a Cold Damage Range on her Weapon as it procs your Lost Time effect.
Stat Priorities:Since we do not have the immortality focus, we need to stack survivability on our Enchantress.
Intelligence > Vitality > Life % > Armor > All Resistance > Life Per Hit > Attack Speed.
The Flavor of Time: For double duration on Pylons.
Nemesis Bracers: For extra Elites, Death’s Breaths and In-geom procs.
Avarice Band: For the insane pickup radius.
Ring of Royal Grandeur: To complete our sets.
Gloves of Worship: For 10 Minute Shrine Buffs.
Sage’s Journey: For double Death’s Breaths.
Cain’s Destiny: For 25% more Greater Rift Keystones.
For Greater Rift Pushing we recommend this Enchantress setup for the Slow from Temporal Pulse, Cooldown Reduction from Prophetic Harmony, Damage Reduction and Armor from Powered Shield, and the Attack Speed from Focused Mind. Ideally, you want a Cold Damage Range on her Weapon as it procs your Lost Time effect.
Stat Priorities:Since we have the immortality relic, we do not need to stack survivability on our Enchantress.
Intelligence> Attack Speed. Key Items:
The Flavor of Time: For double duration on Pylons.
Nemesis Bracers: For more progression from Elites.
Oculus Ring: For 85% increased damage.
Unity: For 50% damage reduction if you're also wearing one.
Ice Climbers: To make your follower immune to Freeze and Immobilize effects.
Mempo of Twilight and Cain's Destiny: For more Attack Speed.
While the rotation is fairly easy to perform with practice, it requires you to manage timings properly. You need to use the time between your Land of the Dead rotations (synchronized with Convention of ElementsPhysical cycle) to scout, pull and gather as many monsters as you can together. Make sure to always Grim Scythe to curse enemies.
When you are ready to perform your rotation:
Use Land of the Dead Frozen Lands right before (about half a second) your Physical cycle.
Cast 1 Corpse Explosion in order to stack your Grasps of Essence, to proc an Oculus Ring and to jump into it.
At the start of Physical cycle, immediately unleash with Corpse Explosion Final Embrace to blow everything up.
Make sure to stop spamming Corpse Explosion 1 second before Land of the Dead ends to avoid consuming The Johnstone stacks for your next rotation.
Drag the Elites forward and pull as many monsters as you can.
When your Land of the Dead is back up, repeat the rotation.
This build is not Hardcore friendly considering it literally uses its own life to do damage and does not have any damage mitigation. The stop and go, high-risk high-reward playstyle is not appealing either. One of the best ways to increase defenses for Hardcore is to put more paragon points into Vitality and never forget the Final Service passive. Take a look at the Legacy of Dreams variant (see Guide) which is way tankier!
Concept In T16 Nephalem Rifts, as Corpse Explosion is overall not the most friendly skill for speedfarming, we use Skeletal Mage Life Support with Razeth's Volition and Steuart's Greaves for damage and crazy movement speed.
Gameplay Upon entering a Rift, cast Simulacrum and summon Skeletal Mages before you start to run. Use Land of the Dead as a backup plan whenever you have no Mages and are short on corpses to regenerate Essence with Devour and Life from Death + Reaper's Wraps.
Setups In groups, swap Reaper's Wraps with Nemesis Bracers and rotate out Squirt's Necklace for Avarice Band. Change Life from Death to Dark Reaping as we won't gain Essence anymore picking up Health Globes.
If you want to play with Corpse Explosion regardless, there's also a setup included in the Planner which you can open by clicking on the embed.
Select Build Version
Full DPS Crimson
Concept This is the standard setup we covered in the sections above.
Gameplay Solo is the most challenging version of this build as we have to pull everything, stay alive, and kill everything all on our own. Use the 48 second downtime on Land of the Dead to gather up gigantic groups of monsters to burn down and make sure you always have your Jesseth Arms bonus. Save your Land of the Dead for when you have a big pack together to get the most from your Area Damage.
Setups For more survivability, swap Zei's Stone of Vengeance for Gogok of Swiftness. This way you can get 30% Dodge Chance while reaching the 36 seconds Cooldown Breakpoint on Land of the Dead.
Concept Aside from the melee variation covered in the main section of the guide, there is also a full glass cannon version playing at range that replaces Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang with Reilena's Shadowhook and runs Simulacrum Reservoir and Decrepify Borrowed Time for Captain Crimon's Trimmings synergy. This version is much harder to play because you essentially have to dodge all incoming attacks, but it's the only reasonable way to push high without large amounts of paragons as even the Grim Scythe version is not very tanky.
Gameplay Solo is the most challenging version of this build as we have to pull everything, stay alive, and kill everything all on our own. Use the 36 second downtime on Land of the Dead to gather up gigantic groups of monsters to burn down and make sure you always have your Jesseth Arms bonus. Save your Land of the Dead for when you have a big pack together to get the most from your Area Damage.
Setups For more survivability, swap Zei's Stone of Vengeance for Esoteric Alteration or Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard.
In-Depth Corpse Explosion Explanation
Corpse Explosion is complicated when trying to maximize your damage output, due to The Johnstone mechanics. First of all, here are a few simple key points to be aware of:
Corpse Explosion costs no essence and does not have any sort of internal cooldown. As long as you have corpses at your disposal, you can keep firing it.
Each cast of Corpse Explosion triggers 5 corpses in a quick chain reaction over 45 frames, one corpse every 9 frames. This means a single cast of Corpse Explosion is enough to fully stack Grasps of Essence after 45 frames.
Final Embrace creates spiders running to nearby monsters and exploding. We need to use this rune due to Trag'Oul's Avatar as it is the only rune that consumes life.
As it is not possible to produce enough corpses to sustain Corpse Explosion, Land of the Dead has to be used and creates a rotation-based playstyle. It is easy to understand why Cooldown Reduction becomes an active damage stat for Corpse Explosion: the less you wait your Land of the Dead cooldown, the more rotations you can do. As usual, those rotations are synchronized with Convention of Elements for a maximum damage output.
The Johnstone is where things become interesting. This item grants you 50 stacks of Macabre Knowledge after your Land of the Dead expires that you'll use on your next rotation. Macabre Knowledge buffs the damage of Corpse Explosion by 200%. Each corpse consumed by the skill will consume one stack, and each cast consumes 5 corpses, which means 10 casts of Corpse Explosion are going to consume all our Macabre Knowledge stacks.
Understanding this last point is the key to maximizing your damage, we have a rotation burst playstyle based on Convention of Elements meaning all our damage is concentrated into a 4 second window, or 240 frames. It now becomes obvious that being able to cast all 10 Corpse Explosions buffed by Macabre Knowledge during the Convention of Elements window is going to be a tremendous damage boost.
The answer to that is Attack Speed and Breakpoints. Corpse Explosion has FPA Breakpoints and does not have any Attack Speed Coefficient so that you can get your Breakpoint by rounding up the result of the formula FPA = 60 ÷ APS.
For instance with 2.33 Attack Speed, you have a 60 ÷ 2.33 = 26 frames Breakpoint on Corpse Explosion, meaning you can cast 240 ÷ 26 = 9.23Corpse Explosion during the 4 second window of your Convention of Elements cycle. This means you should not cast Land of the Dead more than 1 second before your CoE cycle and not cast Corpse Explosion more than twice. Remember that corpses explode in a quick chain reaction, starting after 9 frames and then every 9 frames over 45 frames, so the higher Breakpoint you reach, the more casts will overlap. In that case the last two corpses of your second cast before Convention of Elements will happen during CoE.
Reaching 2.61 Attack Speed allows you to get the 60 ÷ 2.61 = 23 frames Breakpoint which enables you to perform 10 Corpse Explosion casts within 230 frames or 3.8334 seconds. In that case, you should cast Land of the Dead right when your CoE cycle starts to get 100% efficiency from The Johnstone.
Unfortunately, some corpses from your last casts are always going to be out of the Convention of Elements cycle. In order to get full efficiency on both The Johnstone and Convention of Elements you would need to get 3.16 Attack Speed to reach the 19 frames Breakpoint on Corpse Explosion, allowing you to cast your 10 Corpse Explosions in less than 195 frames (3.25 seconds) so that the very last corpse explodes within the 240 frames window. Unfortunately it is unrealistic and not worth it to get that much Attack Speed.
Blood Is Power
As you spend life with your skills or take damage from enemies, you stack up a hidden counter towards 100% life spent.
Each skill has a separate counter. Blood Is Power counter is reset when the skill has fully cooled down or when you die.
After you reach the threshold, a skill's cooldown will be cut by 20% flat of its base cooldown (after Cooldown Reduction has been applied).
Reilena's Shadowhook provides this build with a very significant damage increase based on our Maximum Essence. Make sure your Weapon and Off-Hand both have Maximum Essence as secondary rolls and that you're using Simulacrum Reservoir and Overwhelming Essence to get it even higher.
Focus on obtaining the Trag'Oul's Avatar set as well as the Jesseth Arms pieces first, then dive into some bounties so you can obtain your Ring of Royal Grandeur as well as getting the necessary materials to craft your Aughild's Authority set.
Pull and gather large groups of enemies when Land of the Dead is on cooldown.
When ready, use Land of the Dead to spam Corpse Explosion to flatten enemies!
Enjoy killing enemies with the corpses of their fallen comrades!
Written by Chewingnom. Reviewed & Updated by wudijo.