The Blood Surge Necromancer begs the question, "How much Area of Effect (AoE) Damage is too much?". The answer is, "Never Enough!". You make use of both Resource types, Essence and Corpses, to keep the screen shaking with MASSIVE DPS output! All you need to do a drop the first few enemies and let your Corpse Explosions do the rest for you.
And did we mention the awesome army of glowing skeletons? No? Well, you also get to surround yourself with tireless skeletal minions for the majority of your leveling experience. You can eventually sacrifice them when you have enough Resource sustain and damage output to make better use of the Corpses they are raised from.
The satisfying part of this build's leveling experience is that it rarely depends on any Legendary Aspects! Making use of the Codex of Power is enough to get you to the end-game, but if you find some key Aspects during your journey, the potential for this build absolutely sky-rockets!
Combining Blood Surge and Corpse Explosion defines the core Necromancer leveling experience in Diablo 4. Starting on this build also allows you to pivot easily and seamlessly into the multitude of other Necromancer builds, depending on the Aspects you acquire.
This build guide takes you through the Campaign up to Level 50. Endgame guides will follow soon in our Necromancer Guides section. Stay tuned!
Massive AoE ✔
Great CC Options ✔
Dependable Undead Army ✔
Multiple Resources For Damage✔
❌ Needs Corpses
❌ No Mobility Skills
❌ Slow Single Target Damage
❌ Need to Position Enemies For DPS
Season 2 - Season of Blood
Diablo 4 Season 2 introduces a new questline to hunt down the Shadow Vampire forces of Lord Zir across Sanctuary. With Lilith's blood still residing within our bodies, the infliction put upon us is harnessed throughout our leveling, granting access to new Vampiric Powers. Completing the seasonal questline, partaking in the seasonal Blood Harvest event and collecting Potent Blood are the main ways of obtaining and empowering these abilities. Check out the full Season 2 Guide from Chewingnom to learn more!
- There are 22 Vampiric Powers, separated into 2 different types:
- 15 Minor Vampiric Powers - Require 1 to 3 Pacts to be activated.
- 7 Major Vampiric Powers - Require 6 Pacts to be activated.
- There are 3 different types of Pacts:
- Ferocity Pact have a Crown icon.
- Divinity Pacts have a Chalice icon.
- Eternity Pacts have a Skull icon.
- Pacts can roll only on Armor pieces (Helm, Chest Armor, Gloves, Pants, Boots).
- You can apply a total of 20 pacts across your gear pieces.
- You can use Cleansing Acid - All to remove all Pacts from a piece of Armor and place new Standalone Pacts to meet your Powers requirements to activate. Cleansing Acid can be altered at the Alchemists to target 1 of the 3 Pacts only.
- Once you have equipped the right Pact Armor pieces, you can activate Vampiric Powers in the Sanguine Circle through the character screen. Powers require varying amounts of different types of Pacts, pay attention.
- You can use Potent Blood acquired from Blood Seekers to upgrade your Vampiric Powers from Level 1 to Level 3.
With this in mind, let's look at the top 5 best Vampiric Powers and how they impact this build:
Best-in-Slot Vampiric Powers
- Feed the Coven (Minor) - Used on the Starter version of the build when still relying on Minions for Essence managment.
- Prey on the Weak (Minor) - Increases Vulnerable damage and applies that status when an enemy has a Vampiric Curse.
- Coven's Fangs (Minor) - Gives us the ability to apply Vampiric Curse. Increases our Minion's damage.
- Hemomancy (Minor) - Adds another source of damage to your kit.
- Metamorphosis (Major) - Adds big damage and Unstoppable to your Evade.
Hemorrhage is our starter Generator due to its fast animation and easy skill usage. It helps to keep us alive by generating Blood Orbs and can even become a small AoE skill after picking up an Orb. It eventually gets replaced by Reap as a faster Corpse generating skill. We also rely less on Essence generation at higher levels, so the Basic Skill slot swaps completely to utility.
First the Blood Surge Necromancer needs to unlock its primary Basic Skill and its enhancement. During the first few levels, your Skeletons help to absorb damage and put out some DPS of their own. We use Hemorrhage to apply single and multi-target damage while generating our Resource. Make sure to pick up Blood Orbs while you fight!
Point 1: Hemorrhage
Point 2: Enhanced Hemorrhage
Unlocking Blood Surge
Blood Surge seems benign to start. The initial pulse damage hits the entire screen and drains a bit of Life to keep you topped off. The second, smaller pulse, does much more damage to enemies in closer range. But once you fully unlock its potential, you are consistently dealing Overpower damage on every screen.
Point 3: Blood Surge
Point 4: Enhanced Blood Surge
Point 5: Paranormal Blood Surge
Point 6: Blood Surge
TIME FOR CORPSE EXPLOSION
Stop wasting those precious Demon bodies on summoning spindly little skeletons, those bodies are fodder for the great Corpse Explosion domino machine! Your rotation becomes quite simple. Blood Surge to pepper on some damage and drop some Corpses, Hemorrhage if you need to form another Corpse and then hold down the Corpse Explosion button until the entire screen is covered in the blood of your enemies!
Point 7: Corpse Explosion
Point 8: Enhanced Corpse Explosion
Point 9-11: Blood Surge
Point 12-15: Corpse Explosion
Point 16: Hewed Flesh
Crowd Control and Respec
Now let's grab the last tools we need, Corpse Tendrils and Reap. The first pulls monsters into a single space so all of our Skills can be used to their maximum efficiency! It's great for survivability, DPS output and a massive tool in group play for others as well. The second lets us start every fight with the Corpse Tendrils opener by generating a Corpse every time we Reap, once every 5 seconds.
Point 17: Corpse Tendrils
Point 18: Enhanced Corpse Tendrils
Point 19: Blighted Corpse Tendrils
Point 20: Blighted Corpse Explosion
Point 21: Reap
Respec 1: Enhanced Hemorrhage -> Enhanced Reap
Respec 2: Hemorrhage -> Acolyte's Reap
Blood Mist and Passives
You can feel free to switch up this build order if you want Blood Mist earlier, but you shouldn't need it. You should prioritize scaling your damage and Corpse generation, but if you're struggling with survivability or playing on Hardcore, start with Blood Mist at Level 22 instead. Sacrifice your Bone Golem whenever you skill into Blood Mist to make room on your skill bar. Our priority here is to keep our Blood Surge damage relevant, while creating as many Corpses as possible and scaling our damage whenever we consume a Corpse.
Point 22: Grim Harvest
Point 23: Fueled by Death
Point 24-25: Hewed Flesh
Point 26: Unliving Energy
Point 27-29: Imperfectly Balanced
Point 30: Blood Mist
Point 31: Enhanced Blood Mist
Point 32: Ghastly Blood Mist
Point 33: Grim Harvest
The Key Passive gives a powerful boost to our survivability and damage output. Blood Surge already Overpowers every 6 casts, so increases our Maximum Life helps increase that damage output, while giving us a free Overpower every 15 seconds.
Point 34: Rathma's Vigor
We're picking up a LOT of passives here to help keep us alive, while also empowering our Minions, which are probably becoming a bit of a hassle to keep alive at this point.
Point 35: Gruesome Mending
Point 36-38: Coalesced Blood
Point 39-41: Tides of Blood
Point 42-44: Death's Reach
Point 45-47: Drain Vitality
Point 48: Grim Harvest
After gathering all Renown in Diablo 4 you have 10 extra Skill Points to spend on every character. Your first priority is to spend them toward the leveling progression we've shown above. Once you've reached the end of leveling on Blood Surge Necromancer, put them into these nodes to build toward the Blood Surge Necromancer Build Guide:
Point 49-51: Inspiring Leader
Point 52-54: Death's Defense
Point 55-56: Fueled by Death
Point 57-58: Death's Embrace
Check out our Renown Guide to unlock all your additional rewards efficiently.
Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead gives us access to Raise Skeleton and Golem skills, which let us summon our hordes of undead Minions to fight by our side. We can also elect to sacrifice these Minions, gaining a unique passive bonus for each type we choose to sacrifice. You're able to mix and match which ones to summon vs sacrifice, with any combination being viable for different builds.
Unlocking the Book of the Dead
You're able to summon Skeletons as early as level one, with the ability to customize your Skeletal Skirmishers starting at level 5, when the Book Menu unlocks. From there, you unlock more types of Skeletal Warriors, Skeletal Mages and eventually Golems as you gain levels. The Golem requires you to complete a Quest, which is detailed in this resource post. You must put the Raise Skeleton and Golem skills on your skill bar to summon them.
How the Book of the Dead Impacts Leveling
The Blood Surge Necromancer starts off pretty weak and reliant on its Skeletons for single target damage. Eventually swapping them to more utility options and ultimately sacrificing them for their bonuses. The same goes for our Golem. Which Skeletons and Golem to choose and ultimately when to sacrifice them is detailed below:
Level 1: Use Raise Skeleton
Level 5: Skeletal Warriors - Skirmishers Upgrade 1
Level 12: Skeletal Warriors - Reapers Upgrade 2
Level 15: Skeletal Mages - Cold Upgrade 1
Level 25: Select Golems - Bone Upgrade 1
Level 31: Sacrifice Golems - Bone
Learn more details in our full Book of the Dead Guide.
Gear Progression & Global Stat Priorities
Leveling up in Diablo 4 is similar to most other ARPGs and MMOs - we're at the mercy of what drops. For the most part this means replacing Rares with better Rares all the way up to 50. If you're lucky enough to find some Legendaries or Uniques they can provide a significant power boost (discussed in the next sections). Assuming you don't find any of those, let's look at some key stats to look for along the way:
The Blood Surge Necromancer has many options for weapons and off-hands. The best weapon choice for the leveling section is the Two-Handed Sword. Prioritize the affixes below when selecting upgrades for your gear.
- +xx% Core Skill Damage
- +xx% Overpower Damage
- +xx% Damage to Close Enemies
- +xx Intelligence
- +xx All Stats
Socket your Weapon with Rubies and Upgrade at the Blacksmith at least 1-2 times whenever you find an upgrade.
Armor typically grants us Defense and Utility stats, except the Gloves, which offer a multitude of Offensive options. Here are the important stats to look for:
- Helm: Maximum Life, Total Armor, Cooldown Reduction, Basic Skill Attack Speed
- Armor: Maximum Life, Total Armor, Damage Reduction, Damage Reduction from Close Enemies
- Gloves: Blood Surge Ranks, Attack Speed, Critical Strike Chance, Overpower Damage
- Pants: Corpse Explosion Ranks, Maximum Life, Intelligence, Damage Reduction
- Boots: Movement Speed, Corpse Tendrils Ranks, Essence Cost Reduction, All Stats
Jewelry provides powerful Offensive stats that help us on our leveling journey. Pay close attention to the rolls as higher leveled pieces aren't always better:
- Amulet: Movement Speed, Ranks to Tides of Blood, Essence Cost Reduction, Cooldown Reduction
- Rings: Critical Strike Chance, Overpower Damage, Damage to Close Enemies, Maximum Life
Do not upgrade most Armor pieces or Jewelry while leveling. You SHOULD upgrade your Boots if you find Movement Speed, to increase its bonus. Socket Armor with Rubies and Jewelry with Diamonds.
Codex of Power
The Codex of Power is a collection of Legendary Aspects you can imprint onto Rare or Legendary items at the Occultist. They unlock after completing specific Dungeons located around Sanctuary. For leveling, there are a few Aspects that can significantly help us if we have the funds to imprint them:
Top 3 Codex Leveling Aspects in Order
|1. Blood-bathed Offensive Aspect||Hoarfrost Demise - Fractured Peaks|
|2. Resource Aspect of the Umbral||Champion's Demise - Dry Steppes|
|3. Offensive Aspect of Grasping Veins||Corrupted Grotto - Kehjistan|
Warning: DO NOT imprint your Weapons as they will be constantly replaced as you level. Put Offensive Aspects on your Amulet and Gloves instead.
Leveling Tips and Tricks
Let's look at some general tips and tricks to remember for all classes and specs!
Complete the Campaign or follow our Leveling Guides. Follow the Campaign if you haven't completed it yet. If you have, use our Alt Leveling Guide and Renown Speedrun Guide to progress your character quickly!
Level Up Your Potion. Many players don't know that you need to farm materials to upgrade your character's potion. Make sure you collect all materials as you explore Sanctuary, especially Gallowvine which is used in many recipes!
Compare your Items... Literally. Press Shift over an item in your inventory to compare it to what you're wearing. This makes it easy to determine what is and isn't an upgrade.
Renown is your Friend. While exploring the different zones, take time to gather Renown along the way. It has long-term benefits for your entire account, including more Skill/Paragon points and Potion charges. Renown is gained by activating Waypoints, finding Altars of Lilith, completing Side Quests/Dungeons and liberating Strongholds.
Be Careful with Gold. A lot of endgame processes, like extracting and imprinting Legendary Aspects, are extremely expensive for a brand-new character. Don't spend all of your Gold along the way!
Don't Imprint Your Weapon. The most critical piece of gear while leveling up is your weapon, which gets replaced constantly. This makes imprinting a Legendary Aspect on it a waste of resources. Instead, put your best offensive Aspect on your Amulet, which can be used for a long time.
Video Coming Soon!
- The Blood Surge Necromancer is the foundational leveling experience that the rest of the Necromancer is based off of.
- Generate Essence with Hemorrhage to start and then from Grim Harvest by consuming Corpses with Corpse Explosion.
- Blood Surge helps to create the first few Corpses while healing us and adding on big damage to Elite monsters. Corpse Explosion clears out the screen and stacks even further damage to help bring down Bosses.
- Look out for helpful Legendary Aspects in the Codex of Power, especially those that increase your damage and survivability!
- We swap Hemorrhage for Reap later on to help generate Corpses and begin our Corpse Tendrils -> Blood Surge -> Corpse Explosion. Start off with a strong Skeletal army, but don't be afraid to sacrifice them around level 35 for higher solo damage output!
- Read the Next Steps above to continue your journey.
- Just remember, there's NEVER enough AoE damage when the Necromancer is involved!
Written by Macrobioboi.
Reviewed by Echohack.