Helltooth Zombie Bears Witch Doctor Guide

Introduction

Solo Push

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 fan favorite has been enhanced in 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%! Dive in below and check out some of the build updates and how you can make the most of Zombie Bears this Season.

You'll spend your time running around using Locust Swarm to gather up enemies, while maintaining your Toughness buffs from Soul Harvest and the Helltooth Harness. Captain Crimson's Trimmings and Blood Ritual work together with high Resource Cost Reduction to make your Zombie Bears cost virtually no Mana, allowing you to spam them at will. This build is quite easy to play and showcases a variety of Witch Doctor Skills making it a great choice for anyone new to the Witch Doctor Class.

Despite the buffs this set has received it's still one of the weaker choices for the Witch Doctor, especially compared to the Mundunugu's Regalia Spirit Barrage build.

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


Core Item Build

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.
  • 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.
  • Ring of Emptiness provides a 300% Damage buff as long as the target is affected by Locust Swarm.
  • Finally Ring of Royal Grandeur allows you to utilize both Helltooth Harness and Captain Crimson's Trimmings.


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.

Assembling the Build

1. Do the Challenge Rift for the materials to cube Legendary Powers. You can complete this once a week for additional resources and we always update the guide for you!

2. Gather the full Helltooth Harness 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 your last missing set piece is a weapon, ring or amulet - don't gamble for them! Instead gamble for a cheap and easy item, like the Shoulders, and once again covert it with Recipe 4. 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.

3. Gamble from Kadala in this order:

  1. The full Helltooth Harness set
  2. Ursua's Trodden Effigy
  3. Lakumba's Ornament and Nemesis Bracers
  4. Ring of Emptiness, Rechel's Ring of Larceny and Convention of Elements
  5. Scrimshaw
  6. Sacred Harvester
  7. Echoing Fury

4. Craft using Recipe 3 in Kanai's Cube in this order:

  1. 1-Handed Spear to get Scrimshaw
  2. Ceremonial Knife to get Sacred Harvester
  3. 1-Handed Mace to get Echoing Fury
  4. Rings to get Ring of Emptiness, Rechel's Ring of Larceny and Convention of Elements
  5. Amulets for Traveler's Pledge and The Flavor of Time
  6. Anything from the Gamble list in Step 3 that you haven't already acquired

5. Do Bounties to acquire several important items for this build:

  • Act 1: Ring of Royal Grandeur
  • Act 2: Gloves of Worship (for your follower)
  • Act 3: Avarice Band
  • Act 4: For any bounty-specific item
  • Bounty Turn In: Recipes for Captain Crimson's Trimmings, Sage's Journey and Cain's Destiny

Item Stat Priorities

SLOTITEMSTAT PRIORITY
Main-HandScrimshaw
Sacred Harvester (Cubed)
In-geom (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
1. Socket
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Attack Speed
5. Area Damage
BracersLakumba's Ornament
Warzechian Armguards
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 often hit enemies from a distance with the long range of 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.
  • Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard can be used to gain a shield buff for Squirt's Necklace on top of insane healing in T16 runs.

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 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.
  • 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! 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 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 the 15-30% Speed bonus.
  • 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. Attack Speed1. Armor1. Area Damage
2. Maximum Mana2. Critical Hit Damage2. Life %2. Resource Cost Reduction
3. Vitality (up to 800k life)3. Critical Hit Chance3. All Resistance3. Pickup Radius
4. Intelligence4. Cooldown Reduction4. Life Regeneration4. Life Per Hit

Follower

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Follower’s powers are based on their mainstat (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.
  3. Followers share 20% of their Experience, Magic and Gold Find stats with you.
  4. Legendary gems do not work on followers, except Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard.
  5. Cooldown Reduction does not work for any follower skill except the Templar’s Heal.
  6. Followers never deal significant damage; you’re on your own to clear the content.

With these in mind, let’s get into our recommendations for this build.

T16 Enchantress

T16 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.

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.

Key Items:

  • 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.

Speed GR Enchantress

Speed GR Enchantress

For speed Greater Rifts 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 speed 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.

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.

Key Items:

  • The Flavor of Time: For double duration on Pylons.
  • Nemesis Bracers: For more progression from Elites.
  • Oculus Ring: For 85% increased damage.
  • Ice Climbers: To make your follower immune to Freeze and Immobilize effects.
  • Hellfire Ring, Leoric's Crown and Cain's Destiny: For more Experience and Attack Speed.

GR Pushing Scoundrel

GR Pushing Scoundrel

For Greater Rift Pushing we recommend this Scoundrel setup for the Critical Hit Chance from Anatomy, 10% increased damage from Piercing Shot, and the insane Critical Hit Chance cloud from Night’s Veil. Don't choose either of the first skill options as they apply crowd controls that we want to avoid. If you accidentally select one, you'll either have to live with it or make a new character to fix it as there is no way to de-select a follower skill :(.

Stat Priorities:

Since we have the immortality token, we do not need to stack survivability on our Scoundrel.

Dexterity > 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.
  • Leoric's Crown and Cain's Destiny: For more Experience and Attack Speed.

Gameplay

  1. 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 Spirit Walk to move in for the Soul Harvest buff.
  2. 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!
  3. Focus on gathering enemies together by kiting them through the rift and spreading Locust Swarm around. Once you have a large pack of enemies cycle through your buffs Wall of Death, Piranhas and Soul Harvest once more for good measure before channeling Zombie Bears to take them down.
  4. 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.

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. 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 is to put even more Paragon points into Vitality. Also make sure to grab Spirit Vessel!


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.

Throw an In-geom into the Cube. 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 for Squirt's Necklace. 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 In-geom. This last step will cost you quite a bit of Damage and Movement Speed, but will also make the runs smoother by allowing you to never cast Locust Swarm.
If playing in a group drop Captain Crimson's Trimmings and pick up Sage's Journey for double Death's Breath also make sure someone in the group has Nemesis Bracers since the Followers won't be here with them on!

GR Solo Push
Zombie Bears Solo Push

Concept
The Solo Push build is the one described in the Core section of this guide as well as the focus of the Gameplay section above. You are going to DPS with Zombie Bears, 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
Slowly make your way through the rift dragging all enemies along with you while casting Zombie Bears. Keep your Mana high so you don't lose your Aquila Cuirass buff and once you have a large pack in the center of an area unleash a stampede of Zombie Bears. 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
If you can't seem to keep your Mana above 90% to keep the Aquila Cuirass buff up or are high Paragon and want more Damage consider changing to Strongarm Bracers. Another variation of this is to go with Wall of Zombies to push enemies around. Alternatively, Piranhas Piranhado is a great offensive choice instead of Summon Zombie Dogs Leeching Beasts.

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.

Gameplay
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! Watch your Squirt's Necklace and play around Convention of Elements as much as possible.

Setups
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.

If you feel like you can never keep up your Squirt's Necklace buffdrop Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard for Bane of the Powerful for more consistent benefits. In groups, grab Nemesis Bracers instead of Strongarm Bracers for the extra Elites from Pylons!


Video Guide

Guide Video

Mechanics

Zombie Charger Zombie Bears

  • Zombie Bears will spawn 20 yards behind your character when you cast them. If you put your back up against terrain it will force them to spawn in front of you thus increasing their range by the amount that's been compensated.
  • The interaction between Zombie Bears and terrain in general is very clunky and they will be stopped by nearly any terrain or object in your path. They don't seem to function well when stacking against a wall either so always try to get your back up against something and channel them into an open space.
  • Zombie Bears are considered a projectile but will not be slowed by Missile Dampening Rare Elites.

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.
  • Don't deplete your 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 check out the strongest build they have, Mundunugu's Regalia Spirit Barrage!

Guide by Facefoot with insights from wudijo. Updated by wudijo.