Helltooth Zombie Bears Witch Doctor Guide

Introduction

The stampede is on the way and you're the one commanding the charge! This build utilizes the immense power of the Helltooth Harness to deliver a devastating stream of Zombie Bears to destroy everything in your path. An old school Witch Doctor favorite has been enhanced for Season 22 with a new Mojo Ursua's Trodden Effigy, an improvement to the Scrimshaw as well as a giant boost to the 6 piece Helltooth Harness bonus from 9000% to 17,500%! Combining this with the power of a 4th slot in Kanai's Cube, The Lord of the Bears shall rise again! Dive in below and check out some of the build updates and how you can make the most of Zombie Bears this Season.

Bears! ✔
High Toughness
Never Resource Starved ✔
Great Against Large Packs ✔

Low Damage Overall
Weak on Single Target
❌ Struggles in High GR's
❌ Poor Performance in Groups


Solo Push

Core Setup

Items

  • Helltooth Harness (4) Bonus and (6) Bonus are the primary focus of this build as they give 60% Damage Reduction for 10 seconds when you use your Zombie Charger or Wall of Death and a 17,500% Damage buff for 15 seconds after casting Wall of Death.
  • Captain Crimson's Trimmings gives a massive Toughness boost since you are focused on Resource Cost Reduction with this build. The Cooldown benefits aren't utilized as much in solo but still provide a great Damage buff when picked up for speed content.
  • Endless Walk is a great addition to this build, providing a DPS buff while standing still and more Toughness while moving around.
  • Scrimshaw reduces the Mana cost of Zombie Charger by 75% and boosts its Damage by 6-7 times. This Main-Hand also has a Primary Stat option to get another 80% additive Damage buff to the skill.
  • Ursua's Trodden Effigy gives Zombie Charger up to a 150% Damage buff as well as spawning more Zombie Bears, launching 8 per cast instead of 3.
  • The Lakumba's Ornament and Sacred Harvester combination is used to gain a tremendous Toughness and Damage buff by increasing our Soul Harvest stack count to 10.
  • Aquila Cuirass gives a whopping 50% Damage Reduction on it's own and can be utilized quite well with this build when you have enough Resource Cost Reduction.
  • Ring of Emptiness is another core item you do not want to miss out on as it provides an insane 300% Damage buff as longs as the target is affected by Locust Swarm.
  • Ring of Royal Grandeur allows you to utilize both Helltooth Harness and Captain Crimson's Trimmings.
  • Convention of Elements is a great option for the 4th Cube slot as it gives 200% Damage during our Poison cycle.


Global Stat Priorities
Our offensive priorities are: Critical Hit Chance/Critical Hit Damage > Poison Damage > Zombie Charger Damage > Attack Speed/Area Damage > Resource Cost Reduction > Cooldown Reduction. A mix of Attack Speed and Area Damage is nice as they can both help in different areas of a Rift. Attack Speed will help greatly on the Rift Guardian where you'll struggle the most and having some Area Damage will help throughout the Rift a decent amount as we group enemies together. When doing T16 or speed Greater Rifts prioritize Cooldown more to give yourself as much Spirit Walk uptime as possible and to get a greater Damage buff from the Captain Crimson's Trimmings set. You unfortunately don't have any Crowd Control immunity on a Witch Doctor so try to roll at least 1-2 Crowd Control Reduction Secondary Stats on your Helm or Jewelry. There are many desirable stats for this build which means Vitality is sometimes left behind a bit but this can be made up for easily using Paragon points if needed.

Item Stat Priorities

SLOTITEMSTAT PRIORITY
Main-HandScrimshaw
Sacred Harvester (Cubed)
In-geom (Cubed)
Echoing Fury (Cubed)
1. Damage Range
2. Socket Ramaladni's Gift
3. Damage %
4. Attack Speed
5. Intelligence
6. Area Damage
Off-HandUrsua's Trodden Effigy1. Damage Range
2. Zombie Charger Damage
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Area Damage
5. Intelligence
6. Elite Damage
7. Vitality
8. Cooldown Reduction
HelmHelltooth Mask1. Socket Flawless Royal Topaz
2. Critical Hit Chance
3. Zombie Charger Damage
4. Intelligence
5. Vitality
GlovesHelltooth Gauntlets1. Critical Hit Chance
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Attack Speed
4. Intelligence
5. Area Damage
6. Cooldown Reduction
7. Resource Cost Reduction
ShouldersHelltooth Mantle1. Area Damage
2. Resource Cost Reduction
3. Cooldown Reduction
4. Intelligence
5. Vitality
Chest Helltooth Tunic1. Sockets Flawless Royal Topaz
2. Intelligence
3. Vitality
4. Armor
5. Elite Damage Reduction
PantsHelltooth Leg Guards
Captain Crimson's Thrust (Crafted)
1. Intelligence
2. Vitality
3. Armor
4. Sockets Flawless Royal Topaz
BootsHelltooth Greaves
Captain Crimson's Waders (Crafted)
1. Zombie Charger Damage
2. Intelligence
3. Vitality
4. Armor
5. All Resistance
Left Ring
The Compass Rose
Ring of Royal Grandeur (A1 Bounties) (Cubed)
Rechel's Ring of Larceny
1. Socket
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Attack Speed
5. Area Damage
Right RingRing of Emptiness
Avarice Band (A3 Bounties) (Cubed)
Convention of Elements (Cubed)
1. Socket
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Attack Speed
5. Area Damage
BracersLakumba's Ornament
Nemesis Bracers
1. Poison Damage
2. Critical Hit Chance
3. Intelligence
4. Life per Hit
5. Armor
AmuletSquirt's Necklace
The Traveler's Pledge
The Flavor of Time
1. Socket
2. Poison Damage
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Critical Hit Chance
5. Intelligence
BeltCaptain Crimson's Silk Girdle (Crafted)
Goldwrap (Cubed)
1. Intelligence
2. Vitality
3. Armor
4. Life %
5. All Resistance

Gems

  • Bane of the Trapped is the most powerful DPS gem in the game and provides a 1.6x Damage multiplier.
  • Bane of the Stricken is needed to kill the Rift Guardian at the end of the Rift when solo pushing.
  • Gogok of Swiftness is a great option for speed Greater Rift runs as it provides Attack Speed, Cooldown Reduction as well as a Toughness buff.
  • Zei's Stone of Vengeance is a great option as we spend a lot of time trying to hit enemies from a distance with our new long range Zombie Bears
  • Bane of the Powerful is a good option for speed Greater Rift runs as it provides consistent long lasting Damage and Damage Reduction buff without requiring you to slow down or position yourself to get the buff.
  • Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard can be used to gain a shield buff in T16 runs in combination with Squirt's Necklace for double Damage, some additional Toughness & insane Healing.

Skills

  • Zombie Charger is what this entire build is based around and will be the primary source of Damage with this build. Using the rune Zombie Bears you'll channel a constant stream of Bears that destroy everything in front of you for 520% weapon Damage each.
  • Wall of Death is utilized with the Helltooth Harness to grant 17,500% increased Damage to Zombie Charger for 15 seconds. Wall of Zombies is great to use while pushing as it allows you to group up enemies quite well which assists our Area Damage. Communicating with Spirits is another great choice as it synergizes well with Piranhas as well as the additional 25% Damage Reduction it applies to enemies.
  • Soul Harvest gives 3% Intelligence per enemy affected up to 5 stacks normally and 10 if using the Sacred Harvester, it also boosts your Armor by 10% per stack when using Languish and Movement Speed by 5% per stack when using Soul to Waste.
  • Summon Zombie Dogs Leeching Beasts is used in T16 for the Movement Speed buff from Fierce Loyalty and in pushing for the insane healing we get by utilizing a single Life per Hit roll on our Bracers. This skill synergizes well with the Wall of Zombies rune and can be used as a pair in any type of run
  • Piranhas Piranhado gives you a way to "pixel" enemies together before the Poison cycle for maximum Area Damage, as well as causing enemies to take 15% more Damage during its duration. Cast it in an area with no enemies present to get the best pull possible. This skill synergizes well with the Communicating with Spirits rune and can be used effectively especially if you find yourself in group Greater Rifts where you may have support characters increasing your Toughness as well as pulling enemies together.
  • Spirit Walk Severance is mostly used for mobility as well as defensive purposes but also can be used offensively to help us get into an Oculus Ring. Jaunt is another notable Rune that can be used and it increases the duration by 1 second instead of the 100% Movement Speed bonus.
  • Locust Swarm Pestilence is what allows us to get the 300% Damage buff from the Ring of Emptiness.

Passives

  • Confidence Ritual gives a 25% multiplicative Damage increase to enemies within 20 yards which is a common occurrence since you are regularly casting Soul Harvest which has a 16 yard range.
  • Swampland Attunement gives a massive Resistance boost for every enemy within 20 yards, up to a maximum of 25 targets increasing our toughness to those elements by roughly 50%! This synergizes well with Confidence Ritual and our close combat playstyle. It's important to note that this bonus is also impacted by your Pickup Radius, increasing the range of the effect.
  • Grave Injustice is an amazing Passive that restores 1% of our Life and Mana as well as reducing our skills Cooldowns by 1 second everytime an enemy dies within 20 yards, like Swampland Attunement this bonus is also impacted by your Pickup Radius, increasing the range of the effect.
  • Blood Ritual provides further Resource Cost Reduction by allowing 20% of Mana costs to come from Life, this passive also gives 1% Life per Second.. yay! This passive synergizes with Captain Crimson's Trimmings for a further 25% Toughness boost and is necessary to use if you're wanting to have Aquila Cuirass in play as it's very hard to stay above 90% without it.
  • In T16 and speed Greater Rifts Gruesome Feast can be utilized for a consistent Damage boost as you'll get a lot of Health Globes naturally when killing enemies so rapidly. Fierce Loyalty is also great for speeds for the 15-30% increase to Movement Speed based on if you're in combat or not.
  • Spirit Vessel is the Witch Doctor's Cheat Death and can be used to provide an extra layer of protection if needed!

Paragon Points

CoreOffensiveDefensiveUtility
1. Movement Speed1. Critical Hit Damage1. Armor1. Area Damage
2. Maximum Mana2. Critical Hit Chance2. Life %2. Resource Cost Reduction
3. Intelligence3. Attack Speed3. All Resistance3. PIckup Radius
4. Vitality4. Cooldown Reduction4. Life Per Second4. Life Per Hit

Follower

The Templar is recommended for this build due to his melee range and aggressive AI. When there's a monster in range he will always stand still and fight it, making him very predictable and easy to play around.

For the Skills pick Heal, Loyalty, Onslaught and Inspire. All the alternatives, except Intimidate, include AoE hard-CC, which makes mobs harder to manipulate.

Follower's Damage is completely irrelevant, so you stack Attack Speed for more on-hit procs and Cooldown Reduction for more Heals. The Items are:

  • Enchanting Favor to make follower immortal
  • Oculus Ring for 85% multiplicative Damage boost
  • Hellfire Ring for 0.9% XP boost
  • The Ess of Johan to pull mobs together
  • Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker for the Attack Speed slow
  • Any Shield with Cooldown Reduction

Gameplay

  • Right away you want to focus on getting Soul Harvest stacks as well as making sure to hit an enemy with Wall of Death or Zombie Bears right away to get your Damage Reduction from the Helltooth Harness (4) Bonus before getting into too much trouble. Soul Harvest has a range of 16 yards so it's wise to get the Damage Reduction buff from Wall of Death before going in closer to get the stacks, then use your Spirit walk to further protect yourself as you go in to get the Soul Harvest buff.
  • The defensive buff from Helltooth Harness lasts for 10 seconds and the offensive buff lasts for 15, keep this in mind and make sure you are keeping both buffs throughout the entirety of the rift. When fighting a Rift Guardian in high Greater Rifts it's very important to keep these Soul Harvest stacks at 5+. If you die it will take almost 2 minutes to get these stacks back and you'll have to do it slowly and carefully unless you want to die again and start the process over. ALWAYS keep your Soul Harvest stacks up, especially on the Rift Guardian!
  • Once your Damage Reduction is in place, focus on gathering enemies together by kiting them through the rift and spreading Locust Swarm around. Keep an eye on your Convention of Elements cycle, waiting for the Poison cycle before unleashing a stampede of Zombie Bears.
  • When the Poison cycle is approaching go through your buffs Wall of Death, Piranhas and Soul Harvest once more for good measure before channeling Zombie Bears throughout the Poison Cycle.
  • You'll find that with big groups of enemies this build can eliminate a pack very quickly, however once your pack is dwindling down your Damage will fall off significantly. It's also very important to note that the Zombie Bears will collide with objects and terrain on the map and this results in some extremely clunky play at times. Try to keep your packs of enemies in open areas and use Wall of Zombies or Piranhado to pixel them into the open as much as possible as the Bears will let you down when terrain or objects get in the way. Your Bears want to eat these monsters, don't set them up for failure!

Hardcore

This build already holds up very well defensively but lacks the ability to impede Crowd Control from enemies which can be a bit more troublesome in Hardcore. Picking up Unity in the 4th Cube slot is a great way to get a tremendous Toughness boost if desired. Flawless Royal Topaz can be used in Softcore or at high Paragon but changing these out to Flawless Royal Ruby or Flawless Royal Emerald will provide a noticeable armor boost. Another great way to get more defensive without changing the core build is to put even more Paragon points into Vitality. Make sure to grab Spirit Vessel as well so you get one extra chance at life if things get too spicy!


Variants

Nephalem Rifts
Zombie Bears T16

Concept
For Nephalem Rifts moving as fast as possible is the primary objective and to do so you'll be taking advantage of our good friend Gold as well as grabbing as much Cooldown as possible for improved Spirit Walk uptime. Skill wise you'll be changing from Languish to Soul to Waste as well as picking up Horrify Stalker, for Passives we grab Fierce Loyalty, Grave Injustice and Gruesome Feast to replace all of our Passives other than Spirit Vessel

Put on Nemesis Bracers to spawn extra Elites and throw an In-geom into the Cube. In Season 22 there is a 4th slot in the Cube and you can fill that with Echoing Fury. We pick up Horrify Stalker and put on Rechel's Ring of Larceny to get a tremendous Movement Speed buff. Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard can be used to gain a shield buff in combination with Squirt's Necklace for double Damage, providing some additional Toughness & insane Healing.The final touch is the combination of Goldwrap, Avarice Band and Boon of the Hoarder which make you immortal once gold starts dropping.


Gameplay
This build is a little clunky compared to some others but still quite fun and speedy in Nephalem Rifts. The big difference here is we need to make sure to keep our Horrify buff up at all times but the rest is mostly business as usual but with extra speed! Once you arrive to some enemies use Wall of Death, Soul Harvest and Piranhas to get your buffs then channel Zombie Bears until the enemies perish. We don't have to worry about using Locust Swarm anymore as we aren't using Ring of Emptiness.

Setups
If you're not doing enough damage you'll want to get Ring of Emptiness back on as a starting place, with this make sure we get Locust Swarm Pestilence back as well and drop the Leeching Beasts. Here it's up to you if you want to manually cast it or also grab Wormwood in place of Echoing Fury. This last step will cost us quite a bit of Damage and Movement Speed, but will also make the runs smoother by allowing you to never cast Locust Swarm.
If Death's Breath are what you're after go ahead and drop Captain Crimson's Trimmings and grab Sage's Journey for double Death's Breath! A last thing to consider here is your Squirt's Necklace buff, if you notice that you're never keeping this buff up and are always taking Damage remove it as well as Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard for The Flavor of Time and Bane of the Powerful for more consistent benefits.

GR Solo Push
Zombie Bears Solo Push

Concept
The Solo Push build is the one discussed in the Core section of this guide as well as the focus of the Gameplay section above. You are going to maximize Damage output with Zombie Bears during the Poison cycle, keep your Mana full and maintain buffs at all times as you progress through the Rift. Go for Area Damage as a higher stat priority on this build instead of focusing on Cooldown Reduction like the other Variants. On top of that you'll need extra Toughness while pushing, use Aquila Cuirass to help survive.

Gameplay
In solo you'll be spending more time gathering enemies together and making use of Convention of Elements to do massive Damage during the Poison cycle. In light of this make sure you're saving Mana so you can unleash for the full cycle when the time is right. This synergizes well with Aquila Cuirass and Resource Cost Reduction as you are able to maintain this buff for the vast majority of a Greater Rift. Make sure not to spam your Locust Swarm as this will cost a lot of Mana and will take away the Aquila buff. Things will feel pretty good until you get to the Rift Guardian, try to give yourself a lot of time as we are at our weakest during the boss fight by a considerable margin. Keep those Stricken stacks building up and never let your Soul Harvest fall off. If it does be VERY careful as you get your stacks up to 5+ before trying anything heroic.

Setups
Blood Ritual is an interesting Passive that makes Aquila Cuirass usable with this build, there will be times when you lose this buff at the end of a Poison cycle but you should be able to manage your Mana well enough with a few Resource Cost Reduction rolls as well as a Flawless Royal Topaz in your Helm. If you can't seem to keep your Mana above 90% to keep this buff up or are high Paragon and want more Damage consider changing to Strongarm Bracers. Another variation of this is to drop Wall of Zombies and Leeching Beasts to pick up Communicating with Spirits and Piranhado, this won't have nearly as much sustain as you're losing the healing from the Leeching Beasts but it's another great way to push with this build. If changing this make sure to pick up Vitality instead of the Life per Hit roll on your Bracers.

GR Solo Speeds
Zombie Bears Speed GR

Concept
In speed Greater Rifts you are essentially doing the same thing as in solo but at a much faster pace, in content that we can decimate in a few minutes at most. You will be giving up a decent amount of Toughness to pick up Movement Speed while maintaining enough Damage to make sure they go quick. Being able to adjust a build to farm lower tier Greater Rifts at a much faster rate is very beneficial for gaining Paragon and finding item upgrades.


Gameplay
Playing in speed Greater Rifts is really like a hybrid between Solo Pushing and T16 content. Here you are going to be moving a lot faster as well as having your Spirit Walk much more often compared to the pushing variant. Use this to your advantage and jump from Elite to Elite while your Locust Swarm is following you, cast Wall of Death and Piranhas when you see an Elite or large pack of enemies then hit them with Soul Harvest and channel the Zombie Bears! Pick up The Flavor of Time and wear the Convention of Elements now since Endless Walk isn't as useful when we're moving around so much.

Setups
Differences from the Core Build are minimal with this setup but there is definitely some room for experimentation with this build. Changes you'll utilize are putting Nemesis Bracers and Echoing Fury into the Cube as well as replacing Blood Ritual and Swampland Attunement with Gruesome Feast and Grave Injustice. Like the T16 build you can always change Soul Harvest Languish for Soul to Waste if you wish to move faster and don't need the Toughness boost. Another variation of this is to drop Communicating with Spirits and Piranhado to pick up Wall of Zombies and Leeching Beasts, this variation has much higher Toughness and Recovery but will yield a bit less Damage, make sure to pick up a Life per Hit roll on your Bracers if going with Leeching Beasts in any Variant. If in a group and Nemesis Bracers are not needed consider Strongarm Bracers for more Damage or Warzechian Armguards for a Movement Speed boost.


Video Guide

Guide Video

Mechanics

Ursua's Trodden Effigy

Gruesome Feast

  • The intelligence bonus stacks additively with the Soul Harvest bonus.
  • Picking up a single Health Globe will not reset the entire 5 stack, 15 second timer. Every Health Globe counts as its own timer and the stacks will deplete individually as each stack completes its 15 seconds. If you find yourself fighting in an area for a long time and there are a lot of Health Globes around, leave some around to utilize later or before you move on to keep your stacks fresh.

Summary

  • You are the Lord of the Bears and no one can tell you differently.
  • Keep your Wall of Death and Soul Harvest buffs active and never let them fall off, especially on the Rift Guardian as they provide a large portion or your Damage and Toughness respectively.
  • Use your Wall of Zombies to push all the enemies into a tight line to maximize the effectiveness of your Area Damage.
  • Don't forget to get a Life per Hit roll on your Bracers or Weapon so the Leeching Beasts can heal you immensely.
  • Last but certainly not least time your buffs with your Convention of Elements Poison cycle and try not to deplete resources so you keep your Aquila Cuirass buff!

The buffed Zombie Bears come back as a blast from the past and add an exciting - although at times a bit clunky - build to the Witch Doctor's arsenal. It's not the strongest, but can be used for solo pushing into the higher tiers regardless. But be careful, PETA is watching you!

If you like playing Witch Doctor checkout the strongest build they have, Mundunugu's Regalia Spirit Barrage!

Guide by Facefoot with insights from Wudijo