Death Nova is a unique Necromancer pushing build that has had its prime during Season 20 with the unlimited Kanai's Cube options allowing it to have all the weapons at the same time. These days it is outperformed by other Necro builds such as Bone Spear and Corpse Explosion, but it can still carry its weight in high Greater Rifts due to the ridiculous density scaling provided by Bloodtide Blade.
The basic setup revolves around Legacy of Dreams, meaning you can equip a variety of different items as long as they are well-rolled and start with it right away. However - while the peak damage potential is incredible - the build is not suited at all for farming as finishing off elites and Rift Guardians is extremely difficult. All the power comes from having large pulls that scale your AoE damage through the roof. As a result, pushing high in solo typically requires a Rift Guardian that spawns adds consistently (e.g. Saxtris, Eskandiel) or using one or multiple saved Pylons with Nemesis Bracers to spawn extra targets that can fuel Bloodtide Blade.
While not being very consistent at pushing, it can be really fun to decimate huge pulls in just a few casts with this build. Especially when playing on higher Tiers in a group where you won't have to worry about pulling or killing the boss, this build can be the most effective. There are a few different variations of this build: a regular self-cast version (which is described in the main part of the guide), one playing around Iron Rose with automatic procs and one that can be permanently invicible using Grace of Iranius but has lower potential. All of them work very similarly, details and changes for the other setups can be found in the variants below.
❌ Sensitive to Fishing ❌ No Farming Variants ❌ Difficult to Make Pulls ❌ Low Single Target Damage
Bloodtide Blade adds 400% increased damage to Death Novafor each nearby enemy.
Scythe of the Cycle provides another steady 400% damage multiplier while Bone Armor is up.
Krysbin's Sentence gives us 100% against slowed or 300% extra damage against stunned (etc.) enemies.
Convention of Elements fits in well with the rotation-based gameplay of the build to provide another 200% extra damage during our nukes.
Haunted Visions makes our Simulacrums last forever, which will cast Death Nova when we do.
Dayntee's Binding adds 50% damage reduction while any nearby enemy is cursed (from Grim Scythe Cursed Scythe).
Stone Gauntlets is another huge bonus to survivability by providing up to 250% extra armor, easily doubling toughness (or more, for details check out damage reduction mechanics). Its negative effects are typically negated by wearing Ice Climbers (in solo) or through Ignore Pain Mob Rule (in groups).
Aquila Cuirass gives us another 50% damage reduction while at full resource, which will generally be the case outside of nuke phases.
Nemesis Bracers are used to spawn extra enemies to scale Bloodtide Blade on the Rift Guardian, as single target damage is atrocious on this build.
Global Stat Priorities Our offensive priorities are: Death Nova Damage > Critical Hit Damage > PhysicalDamage > Critical Hit Chance > Attack Speed = Area Damage > Cooldown Reduction. Cooldown should be stacked on two items (preferably shoulders + one more) to allow casting Command Golem during every cycle of Convention of Elements. You need around 41% CDR for this (2 items, Paragons, Flawless Royal Diamond in Leoric's Crown).
Attack Speed vs. Area Damage is a matter of preference: Theoretically Area Damage performs a bit better in a dream rift but also raises the fishing requirements as your single target damage and Bane of the Stricken stacking speed go down, making bosses even more difficult to kill if you neglect Attack Speed. All remaining stats go towards defense in the following order: Vitality > Armor > Life % > Elite Damage Reduction > All Resistance.
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. This is a Legacy of Dreams build whose success is heavily dependent on this gem's rank. The first order of business is to equip a Legendary or Set item in every slot to take advantage of its power. Make sure to not have any Set Bonuses equipped or the gem will be nullified and you will deal no damage! Farm speed Greater Rifts (in under 5 minute clears) to find the items and get this gem as high as possible. Above Rank 25 ancient pieces of gear will give you even greater power.
1. Socket 2. Physical Damage 3. Critical Hit Damage 4. Critical Hit Chance
Dayntee's Binding The Witching Hour Captain Crimson's Silk Girdle (Crafted)
1. Intelligence 2. Armor 3. Vitality 4. Life %
Legacy of Dreams is the base of the build and should be leveled to 99 immediately to max out the 9,750% damage increase and 52% reduced damage taken with full ancient gear.
Bane of the Trapped provides up to 60% multiplicative damage increase.
Bane of the Stricken is required to kill the boss in solo Greater Rifts. This can be replaced with Pain Enhancer, Esoteric Alteration or Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard in groups for more offense or defense.
Death Nova is the core of the build and our main nuke. With the power of Bloodtide Blade's density scaling, we are able to decimate large hordes of enemies in a matter of seconds. We use the Physical rune Blood Nova for increased DPS.
Simulacrum Blood and Bone paired with Haunted Visions gives us two friends that mimic our casts for extra damage. These have to be positioned through smart movement so that they can hit most enemies.
Command Golem Bone Golem gives us the damage reduction from Golemskin Breeches and allows us to pull enemies together for better Area Damage value. This also serves as another activator for Krysbin's Sentence.
Grim Scythe Cursed Scythe applies our three curses Frailty, Decrepify and Leech with some swings.
Bone Armor Dislocation is the activator for the triple Krysbin's Sentence effect.
Blood Rush adds extra mobility and helps with positioning.
Spreading Malediction provides 1% additive damage bonus for every cursed enemy. In large pulls this can easily give you upwards of 50 stacks, which is very strong.
Eternal Torment helps to keep up curses for the previous passive and to gain their effects in longer fights.
Stand Alone is a very strong toughness choice that gives roughly 25-30% toughness with full Stone Gauntlets stacks and 65-75% without.
Swift Harvesting helps out with resources, curse application and most importantly Bane of the Stricken stacking on the Rift Guardian. This is the weakest passive and could be replaced with Final Service if you want to have additional safety.
1. Movement Speed
1. Cooldown Reduction
1. Area Damage
2. Vitality (up to 800.000 Life)
2. Critical Hit Damage
2. Life %
2. Life per Hit
3. Critical Hit Chance
3. All Resistance
3. Resource Cost Reduction
4. Maximum Essence
4. Attack Speed
4. Life per Second
4. Pickup Radius
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 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.
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.
With these in mind, let’s get into our recommendations for this build.
GR Pushing Enchantress
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.
Since we have the immortality relic, we do not need to stack survivability on our Enchantress.
Intelligence> Attack Speed.
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.
The overall idea is to make large pulls and blow them up with a few very strong Death Nova explosions through overlapping the effects of Area Damage, Krysbin's Sentence, Convention of Elements and all your other multipliers. The main mechanic to play around is Bloodtide Blade, which is responsible for the huge AoE potential and weak single target damage of the build.
Summon your Simulacrums at the start. Make sure you position them well before a nuke, their damage is important, too!
On entering the rift, cast Bone Armor once in a big pull to gain the damage reduction bonus (up to 30% from 10 stacks). Other than that, only use it during your nuke cycles (during Physical Convention of Elements (CoE)) to get your Krysbin's Sentence bonus while casting Death Nova.
Use Command Golem Bone Golem to make pulls during the Cold CoE cycle (either early to focus more on pulling or right before Physical to get the Krysbin's Sentence effect from the stun). This ability is quite powerful in grouping enemies if done correctly and your proficiency with it directly impacts the level you can clear. Keep track of your Golem's position and try to stack up monsters around it and in the targeted area.
While you have nothing else to do, either run/kite towards the next pull or keep attacking with Cursed Scythe to apply curses. You only have 15% chance to get a random curse, so in order to reliably stack all three curses on all enemies you will have to do a lot of swings. Frailty helps with DPS, Leech gives you insane healing and Decrepify applies damage reduction and slows for you. Keep an eye on your Simulacrums as their swings can also add curses!
Try to kill a very small enemy/low HP leftovers to spawn an Oculus Ring (worn by your follower).
During your Physical CoE cycle, cast Bone Armor to refresh the duration and apply a stun for Krysbin's Sentence, then nuke with Death Nova. Repeat if there are still enough enemies around, else kite them. It's fine to skip a cycle here and there to prepare a better pull.
Don't hesitate to skip large trash or elite enemies even when they have rather low hit points. Your ability to finish off enemies is extremely weak compared to any other build in the game. Trying to kill something without any trash around to fuel Area Damage and Bloodtide Blade you will generally deal no damage at all.
Towards the end of a run, try to save up 1-2 pylons (no Conduits) on the map where you will spawn the Rift Guardian. Adding additional enemies to the fight using Nemesis Bracers after you have spent some time stacking Bane of the Stricken can help to greatly reduce the time needed to kill it, especially on single target fights. Especially Horde or Illusionist packs are what you are looking for, as more enemies means more damage from your Bloodtide Blade.
This build is generally decently tanky if you have mostly ancient items with the right stats. On Hardcore, place more paragon points into Vitality and replace Swift Harvesting with Final Service and Bone Spear with Blood Rush.
Concept This is the main variation described in the other parts of the guide and the most basic version of the build. We play around Bloodtide Blade while getting all of our multipliers up for short, high DPS bursts.
Gameplay Make sure to create large pulls and don't waste your time on small pulls or leftover elites. Instead, try to kite them to another group of enemies. Keep up your buffs (Bone Armor & curses) and use all damage multipliers (Krysbin's Sentence, Convention of Elements) for your nukes. Rinse and repeat. Before the boss, try to save a pylon to spawn enemies during the Rift Guardian fight.
Setups Swift Harvesting can be replaced with Final Service if you need the cheat death. Bone Spear can be replaced with Blood Rush for more mobility.
GR Solo Push (Iron Rose)
Concept This version is a lot more laid back compared to the self-cast version, using Iron Rose with Siphon Blood to auto-cast Death Nova Blood Nova. While your Simulacrums won't cast Siphon Blood, they will still release Novas when you do. As your own casts (not those of your Sims, however) is counted as a proc which cannot produce Area Damage, the value of this stat is a bit reduced here. Instead, you want to stack some more Attack Speed to reach the right breakpoint for Siphon Blood, which you will get at 1.66 APS with the Swift Harvesting passive equipped (see more below in Mechanics). This setup is generally a bit better at finishing the Rift Guardian because you don't run into resource issues.
Gameplay This setup plays a bit differently than the regular. In high density, you still want to use manual Death Nova at least one or two times to benefit from all Area Damage procs. When density thins out or at the Rift Guardian, you mainly want to keep channeling Siphon Blood to produce automatic Blood Novas without any cost.
Setups Swift Harvesting can be replaced with Final Service if you need the cheat death. Keep in mind that this will change your channeling breakpoint, too.
GR Group Trash Killer
Concept Group play is where Death Nova naturally shines the most as you don't have to worry about killing the Rift Guardian here and you will typically have a support Barbarian making large pulls for you, greatly increasing the effect of Bloodtide Blade. While this build is not the top dog anymore, it can still be quite effective all the way up to GR150.
Gameplay You typically don't have to do very much here besides trying nuking every few Convention of Elements cycles and moving on. The most important factors to increase your performance are 1) keeping up Squirt's Necklace (when running with a support Monk) and 2) finding the right time to DPS. In a large pull of 50-100 enemies, your Bloodtide Blade along with all the other multipliers will scale extremely high and produce a lot of Area Damage when enemies are tightly stacked (especially with Ground Stomp Wrenching Smash). Most of the time, a single cast will already decimate all the small trash and another few casts will also take care of the medium sized trash, leaving you only with the big enemies and elites. Due to this, you need to make sure that you don't waste Area Damage potential by continuously nuking all the small enemies and have all big multipliers active especially on your first cast. It's much better to wait a few cycles until the pull is properly prepared instead of nuking aimlessly. Use the downtime to apply curses to everything with Grim Scythe Cursed Scythe and bring your Simulacrums into position.
Setups If you are struggling with survivability, you can remove Swift Harvesting in favor of Final Service. In addition, Pain Enhancer can be swapped to Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard while swapping Swift Harvesting to Draw Life and the rune of Bone Armor to Thy Flesh Sustained. You can get huge shields (to protect Squirt's Necklace when playing with a zMonk) and/or tons of recovery like this.
In groups with a zMonk (e.g. not running with a support Demon Hunter), we can keep up Squirt's Necklace consistently, so it can be replaced for The Flavor of Time or Lornelle's Sunstone (if you are feeling too squishy).
While channeling Siphon Blood, you will automatically cast Death Nova regularly.
These Death Novas will also consume Bone Armor duration (through Scythe of the Cycle) and only then get the damage benefit the same way.
As these free casts are considered procs, they do not benefit from Area Damage at all. This doesn't matter on single target and very small pulls, but in high density manual casts could provide a lot more value. Simulacrums will proc Area Damage, however!
Siphon Blood ticks every 21 / (Attacks per Second * Swift Harvesting) frames.
Iron Rose has an internal cooldown of 18 frames.
Typical one-handed setups will range between 10-11 frames tick rate, meaning you can get a Blood Nova on every other tick (20 or 22 frames // 3.0 or 2.72 times per second).
Haunted Visions will make this skill drain 1% of your maximum life every second. If you are unable to pay this cost (i.e. you are below 1% HP when the cost is applied), the Simulacrums will despawn. In case you are running Final Service, this means you will very rarely have the event where your cheat death did not proc but you lost your Simulacrum and it will be on cooldown.
Simulacrums will cast your Secondary Skills (Death Nova) and Grim Scythe when you do.
Extra curses can be applied from their Cursed Scythe, helping you to get all three of them on all targets.
They will not cast Siphon Blood themselves but will still proc Blood Nova from Iron Rose when you do (with your chosen rune in case it's different).
When hitting enemies affected by Leech, your Simulacrums will also heal you. This provides insane recovery with some density.
Your Simulacrums scale with your character's toughness and can die from monster damage when it's too low. Especially large bursts of damage (e.g. Grotesque explosions) can rip them apart easily even when you could survive that damage yourself, so be mindful about such situations as the cooldown to resummon them is very long.
Blood is Power
As you spend life from your skills (e.g. Death Nova Blood Nova casts) or take damage from enemies, you will stack up a hidden counter towards 100% life spent.
After you reach the threshold, a skill's cooldown will be cut by 20% flat of the total (after Cooldown Reduction).
This counter is reset when the skill has fully cooled down or when you die.
Each skill is counted separately.
Spending life on skills doesn't scale with damage reduction, so you will still lose life in the invincible variation of the build.
Which offhand you use doesn't matter much on the build and typically you can just choose whichever you found the best version of. Lost Time has the advantage that it can give you up to +50% Movement Speed, which is extremely helpful in solo pushing.
To use it, you can give a weapon with a Cold damage roll to your follower, which will then proc if for your on their attacks.
Try to fish for a good open map with lots of density.
Make large pulls to benefit from Bloodtide Blade the most.
Pull enemies together with Command Golem and get your Simulacrums into position.
Curse enemies with Grim Scythe Cursed Scythe.
Skip or kite small packs and leftover enemies.
Save pylons to kill the boss more easily with extra enemies.
Good luck! Guide by wudijo with contributions from Northwar, Chewingnom and Raxxanterax.