Pestilence Corpse Lance Necromancer Guide

Pestilence Corpse Lance Solo Push

Introduction

Welcome to the Pestilence Master's Shroud Necromancer, a build that unleashes barrages of Corpse Lance at your enemies while you are able to nearly infinitely spam them due to the powerful combination of Land of the Dead and Devour. This build primarily does well in speed content such as Nephalem Rifts and Speed Greater Rifts but with the right setup it can perform decently well in Solo pushing Greater Rifts as well as being an Rift Guardian Killer in group play.

Combining this class set with other powerful sets such as Captain Crimson's Trimmings and Jesseth Arms will pump up your damage and other than that you just need to chase after Cooldown Reduction and Attack Speed so you'll be sending out as many Corpse Lances as possible!

Despite not being the strongest build in any game modes the Pestilence Master's Shroud has always been well received due to it's fast and chaotic playstyle in speed content. If you're interested in becoming a high-flying, monster freezing, lance throwing machine - this is the guide for you. Let's dive in and see how to make the most of it.

Great for Speed Content ✔
Utilizes Three Unique Sets ✔
Beginner Friendly Playstyle ✔
Automatic Critical Hit Chance ✔

Falls Off in Higher Greater Rifts
Zero Damage During Down Time
❌ Weak Until Majority of Gear is Obtained
Very Dependent on Cooldown Reduction


Core Setup

Essential Items
This build uses three different sets to maximize your damage with Corpse Lance and reduce your Cooldown on Land of the Dead as much as possible. To do this we'll pick up both pieces of Jesseth Arms, five pieces of the Pestilence Master's Shroud and two pieces of Captain Crimson's Trimmings while using Ring of Royal Grandeur to obtain the full set bonuses of each.

Core Item Build
  • Pestilence Master's Shroud grants us 3300% damage, 50% damage reduction and the ability to fire a Corpse Lance every time we consume a corpse. Devour and Land of the Dead allow us to maximize this sets potential and really let the Lances fly.
  • Jesseth Arms gives a 400% damage buff when we have commanded our Command Skeletons on an enemy. This can also be swapped out for Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang and Lost Time while using a curse such as Frailty on the T16 build.
  • Captain Crimson's Trimmings is a great addition to this build since it provides a massive boost to damage, Cooldown Reduction and survivability.
  • Ring of Royal Grandeur is mandatory for this build as it allows us to wear Captain Crimson's Trimmings as well as Pestilence Master's Shroud without losing their full set bonuses.
  • Krysbin's Sentence for the 300% damage to enemies under a control impairing effect.
  • Reilena's Shadowhook 0.5% damage for every point of Maximum Essence we have, which synergizes with Simulacrum Reservoir.
  • Corpsewhisper Pauldrons lends a buff that increases our damage by 30% for each corpse we've consumed, stacking up to 20 times for a massive damage increase.



Global Stat Priorities
Our offensive priorities are: Cooldown Reduction > Attack Speed > Cold Skill Damage > Critical Hit Damage > Critical Hit Chance along with as much Corpse Lance damage as possible. Less Critical Hit Chance is needed for this build if you are using Corpse Lance Brittle Touch as this rune stacks CHC on hit. If you're using Corpse Lance Ricochet variant you'll need to prioritize Critical Hit Chance again. We are going to take enough Attack Speed to reach the 1.72 break point for Corpse Lance for a large damage increase. We're aiming for 62.5% Cooldown Reduction to reach the 36 second breakpoint of Land of the Dead.

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 Pestilence Master's Shroud 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.

3. Gamble from Kadala in this order:

  1. The full Pestilence Master's Shroud set
  2. Corpsewhisper Pauldrons
  3. Jesseth Skullshield
  4. Goldwrap and Dayntee's Binding
  5. Krysbin's Sentence, Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac and Convention of Elements
  6. Nemesis Bracers

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

  1. Scythes to get Jesseth Skullscythe
  2. 2-Handed Axes to get Messerschmidt's Reaver and Reilena's Shadowhook
  3. 2-Handed Scythes to get Reilena's Shadowhook
  4. Amulets to get Squirt's Necklace and The Johnstone
  5. 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
  • Act 3: Avarice Band
  • Act 4: Can drop any bounty item from any act
  • Bounty Turn In: Recipes for Captain Crimson's Trimmings, Sage's Journey and Cain's Destiny

6. At this point you can somewhat comfortably farm Nephalem or Speed Greater Rifts where you can find all the remaining items you need for different variants of the build. It's better to spend your materials improving your set pieces, getting ancient weapon etc.

Item Stat Priorities

SLOTITEMSTAT PRIORITY
Main-HandJesseth Skullscythe
Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang
Reilena's Shadowhook (Cubed)
Messerschmidt's Reaver (Cubed)
1. Damage Range
2. Socket Ramaladni's Gift
3. Attack Speed
4. Cooldown Reduction
5. Damage %
6. Maximum Essence (Secondary)
Off-HandJesseth Skullshield
Lost Time
1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Maximum Essence (Secondary)
3. Intelligence
4. Critical Hit Chance
5. Armor
6. Vitality
HelmPestilence Mask1. Socket Flawless Royal Diamond
2. Intelligence
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Vitality
Gloves
Pestilence Gloves
1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Attack Speed
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Intelligence
ShouldersPestilence Defense
Corpsewhisper Pauldrons (Cubed)
1. Corpse Lance Damage
2. Cooldown Reduction
3. Intelligence
4. Armor
Chest Pestilence Robe1. Corpse Lance Damage
2. Intelligence
3. Sockets Flawless Royal Ruby
4. Armor
PantsCaptain Crimson's Thrust (Crafted)1. Intelligence
2. Vitality
3. Armor
4. Sockets Flawless Royal Ruby
BootsPestilence Battle Boots
Steuart's Greaves
1. Intelligence
2. Vitality
3. Armor
4. All Resistance
Ring 1Krysbin's Sentence
Ring of Royal Grandeur (A1 Bounties, Cubed)
1. Socket
2. Cooldown Reduction
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Attack Speed
Ring 2Convention of Elements1. Socket
2. Cooldown Reduction
3. Attack Speed
4. Critical Hit Damage
BracersNemesis Bracers
Lacuni Prowlers
Warzechian Armguards (Cubed)
1. Cold Damage
2. Intelligence
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Armor
AmuletThe Johnstone1. Socket
2. Cold Damage
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Cooldown Reduction
Belt
Goldwrap
Captain Crimson's Silk Girdle (Crafted)
1. Intelligence
2. Armor
3. Vitality
4. Life %

Gems

  • Bane of the Trapped provides 60% increased damage and is used in most damage-dealing builds in Diablo 3.
  • Zei's Stone of Vengeance provides up to 80% increased damage for every 10 yards we are away from the monsters, up to a 50 yard maximum (about half a screen away).
  • Gogok of Swiftness gives us as 15% Cooldown Reduction and Attack Speed to reach the 2.0 breakpoint for Corpse Lance.
  • Bane of the Stricken provides up to 2.3% increased damage on successive attacks to the same monster. This is needed to kill Rift Guardians in the RGK setup.
  • Boon of the Hoarder can be taken in place of Zei's Stone of Vengeance for increased movement speed in T16 content.
  • Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard gives us a shield to protect our Squirt's Necklace buff.

Skills

  • Corpse Lance Brittle Touch is our main source of damage in this build and gains massive buffs from Pestilence (6) piece, Simulacrum, Corpsewhisper Pauldrons, The Johnstone and Reilena's Shadowhook.
  • Devour Satiated is a fundamental skill used in the Pestilence build as it allows us to shoot our Corpse Lance every time a corpse is consumed. This synergizes with Corpsewhisper Pauldrons for the 20 stack damage boost and Land of the Dead Frozen Lands.
  • Simulacrum Reservoir is used in conjunction with Reilena's Shadowhook to double our maximum essence, giving a significant damage buff.
  • Command Skeletons Dark Mending is another essential skill for this build as it taps into the 400% damage buff provided by Jesseth Arms. Make sure your skeletons are commanded onto an enemy to get the buff!
  • Land of the Dead Frozen Lands gives us the ability to use our Corpse Skills infinitely for 10 seconds after casting it. It also freezes all the enemies around you making them unable to attack during that time. This skill is the backbone of our build which is why Cooldown Reduction is so vital to this build.
  • Blood Rush Potency is used for mobility as well as providing a nice armor boost. Molting and Metabolism can also be used depending on the content you're doing.
  • For Trag'oul's Corroded Fang variants we can take several different curses like Frailty Aura of Frailty, Frailty Early Grave and Decrepify Borrowed Time.

Passives

  • Blood Is Power is helpful for it's Cooldown Reduction since we can spend our life using Blood Rush and Simulacrum Reservoir.
  • Final Service allows us to cheat death which is very important on a build where timing is everything. Dying right when you activate Land of the Dead can be very hard to recover from so having a safety net is recommended for this build.
  • Overwhelming Essence feeds us 40 more essence for our Reilena's Shadowhook giving us a significant damage increase.
  • Stand Alone doubles our armor which we are in need of as an intelligence class.
  • Swift Harvesting increases the Attack Speed of Grim Scythe so we can stack Bane of the Stricken faster.
  • Eternal Torment makes our curses last forever.
  • Spreading Malediction gives us 1% extra damage for every enemy cursed.
  • Fueled By Death makes us run faster after we've consumed a corpse.

Paragon Points

CoreOffensiveDefensiveUtility
1. Movement Speed1. Cooldown Reduction1. Armor1. Resource Cost Reduction
2. Maximum Essence2. Attack Speed2. Life %2. Area Damage
3. Intelligence3. Critical Hit Damage3. All Resistance3. Life per Hit
4. Vitality14. Critical Hit Chance4. Life Regeneration4. Pickup Radius

1 Add a bit of Vitality if you feel too squishy (a total of 750,000 Life is recommended).

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 Enchantress

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.

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.

Gameplay

We can only do damage when we have our Land of the Dead active, and it only lasts for 10 seconds at a time. It's important to use Land of the Dead wisely in conjunction with your Cold cycle of Convention of Elements before you let it rain!

Make sure your Simulacrum is up and that you have your Command Skeletons commanded onto any target to maintain the 400% buff. If you die, getting these skills going again is very important! Stay mobile and group up as many enemies as possible before your Cold cycle of Convention of Elements is ready. Cast Land of the Dead and begin to spam Devour as fast as possible while targeting elites with your Corpse Lance to blow them up. After you cast Land of the Dead you'll have 50 Macabre stacks from The Johnstone which buff your next 50 Corpse Lance by 200%. Make sure to stop firing 1 second before Land of the Dead ends so you don't waste any of your The Johnstone stacks on the wrong element.

This build really shines in T16 and has a very simple rotation. With so much more emphasis on Cooldown using items like Messerschmidt's Reaver, Land of the Dead should be up all the time to consistently fire Corpse Lance from spamming Devour.

Hardcore

This build is not the most friendly Hardcore build because being caught with Land of the Dead down can get you into trouble fast. It can still be a great speed farming build as long as you have the proper Cooldown and position yourself well. A good way to get more defense without changing the core build is to put more Paragon points into Vitality and use Esoteric Alteration in place of Zei's Stone of Vengeance.


Variants

Nephalem Rifts
T16 Bounties and Rifts

Concept
For speed content we want to maximize our Cooldown so that we have our Land of the Dead always up. This build can hold it's own in speed content and give other specs a run for their money. As usual in a speed variant we're going to be giving up damage in a lot of places in hopes of finding more Cooldown and Movement Speed to really fly.

Gameplay
The gameplay is easiest in T16 because our Land of the Dead should always be up from our massive Cooldown. Spam Devour and Blood Rush as you fly forward and everything should die easily! Remember to hover your mouse over elites to target them with the Lances as you're flying through!


Setups
If you have Cooldown Reduction on everything you can drop Gogok of Swiftness for Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard for more shields to protect Squirt's Necklace. Clicking on the d3planner will lead to another tab with slight variations you can make to use this in speed Greater Rifts as well.

Solo Push
Solo Push

Concept
When solo pushing we hunt and eliminate elites with a Land of the Dead Cold cycle. When Land of The Dead is down we will maneuver around the map with Blood Rush until we find another elite to kill. Since Land of the Dead only lasts for 10 seconds, it can be quite difficult to kill 5 packs of blues or yellow Juggernauts who are immune to crowd control and severely nerf our damage. Choosing the right targets is as important as executing the build properly.

Gameplay
Move through the Rift with Blood Rush until you encounter an elite you want to kill. Once acquired and land is up, do the following:

  1. Cast Command Skeletons on the elite.
  2. Activate Land of the Dead 0.5 to 1 seconds before your Cold Convention of Elements cycle and Cast Simulacrum.
  3. Spam Cast Devour to fire Cast Corpse Lance from Pestilence (2) Set Bonus and also manually cast Cast Corpse Lance on the elite.
  4. Rinse and repeat eliminating every elite and Rift Guardian.
  5. If you are comfortable with the build you can fire your initial Corpse Lance at a small monster to proc an Oculus Ring for 85% increased damage.
  6. Do not use Devour off of your rotation as it will eat your The Johnstone stacks and cost you damage. Only use it when your Pestilence (4) Set Bonus is about to fall off!
  7. You have a 36 second rotation. After killing an elite you have 26 seconds to find the next one and start your cycle again.


Setups
You can drop Jesseth Arms and pick up Trag'oul's Corroded Fang and Lost Time, while swapping Command Skeletons for Frailty Early Grave and Stand Alone for Spreading Malediction. You'd gain about 40% more damage this way, but you'd lose toughness to do so. You could also take Decrepify Borrowed Time as your curse for more toughness and cooldown.

If you're feeling really frisky you can drop Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard for Bane of the Powerful, but you will lose a lot of survivability in doing so.

Group RGK
Rift Guardian Killer

Concept
In groups our job is be the Rift Guardian Killer (RGK). In our previous setups we were aiming for the 2.0 breakpoint for Corpse Lance, but by taking attack speed everywhere, picking up Lacuni Prowlers and Skeletal Mage Skeleton Archer, we'll be able to reach the elusive 2.4 breakpoint for even higher damage. Note that this build is currently completely outclassed by the Bone Spear Necromancer.

Gameplay
During the rift our job is simple. Most of the time we'll just be swinging Grim Scythe Cursed Scythe to apply all 3 of our curses to the monsters. When our trash clearer is ready to burn everything down we'll activate Land of the Dead and fire as many Corpse Lance Brittle Touch on the elites as possible to increase their chance to be critically hit. In some situations our damage may be high enough to finish an elite the trash clearer couldn't kill. Make sure you communicate with your supports when and when not to use land as it will freeze the entire screen and making grouping impossible. Avoid using Devour or Corpse Lance until you're ready to deal damage otherwise will it consume your The Johnstone stacks from the corpses that the trash clearer made. Make sure you activate Land of the Dead about 30 seconds before the Rift Guardian spawns so you have full stacks for it.

On the Rift Guardian we'll need to summon Skeletal Mage Skeleton Archer to get the attack speed stacks before we're ready to fire. Activate Land of the Dead and Simulacrum right before the Cold Convention of Elements cycle, run away for maximum Zei's Stone of Vengeance damage and spam Devour and Corpse Lance to burn the boss down. To properly proc your Blood is Power passive you'll need to take damage from the boss in between cycles. Make sure to take this damage right after your rotation so you have Squirt's Necklace up for your next cycle.

Setups
You can drop Skeletal Mage for Blood Rush if you're having trouble keeping up with your team, but it will cost you your 2.4 Attack Speed breakpoint.


Mechanics

Reilena's Shadowhook

  • Reilena's Shadowhook provides a very significant damage increase based off 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.

Jesseth Arms

  • Buffs ALL damage by 400% and not just the damage of your minions, hence why we're using it at all.

Corpse Lance

  • Attack Speed only affects your manual manual lances, at 6 frames you cast 100, at 5 frames - 120 (+20%) and at 4 frames - 150 (+25%) during Land of the Dead. But you have 200 lances from Devour and 100 virtual lances from The Johnstone so your total damage is only increased by 5% on 2.0 APS and by 7% on 2.4 APS.

Devour

  • Consumes 20 corpses a second, giving us 200 lances during Land of the Dead.

Corpsewhisper Pauldrons

  • The bonus is dynamic and Corpse Lance has a lengthy travel time, meaning by the time the first lance hits you'll already have 13+ stacks from Devour + Corpse Lance spam.

Summary

  • Focus on obtaining the Pestilence Master's Shroud 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 Captain Crimson's Trimmings set.
  • Gather the core items shown in the beginning: Reilena's Shadowhook, Corpsewhisper Pauldrons, Convention of Elements, Krysbin's Sentence and The Johnstone.
  • Maximize Cooldown Reduction on your gear and get to the 2.0 Attack Speed break point for maximum Lancing.
  • Pick your elite targets well and learn to fight around your Cold cycle of Convention of Elements .
  • Stay mobile, gather large packs of enemies and utilize your Land of the Dead to do maximum damage when the time is right!

Town Is Lava!

Guide by Raxxanterax. Updated by wudijo and Facefoot.