The zNecromancer (usually called the zNecro because they do "zero" damage) is one of the strongest supports in the game. Flying through rifts while freezing entire screens of enemies is their specialty, all while providing incredible offensive buffs for your party members. It’s most commonly used in “Rat Run” groups, which one of the predominant ways to grind experience consisting of 2x LoD Rat Necromancers and one zBarb.
The main culprit of zNec is its significant investment into Cooldown Reduction due to its requirement to keep up Land of the Dead Frozen Lands at all times. While In-geom as well as Messerschmidt’s Reaver help out significantly on this end, it’s still not easy to gear from the get-go and it takes a decent amount of time and resource investment to build.
Additionally, while support classes generally speaking are tanky, zNec in its final iteration just isn’t. Shock Towers, the Fire Chains as well as Electrified Affix will hurt you throughout any stage; playing a more tanky setup might increase your Quality of Life playstyle, which, however, comes at the cost of overall group efficiency. That trade-off shouldn’t be taken lightly, since a lot of public players will disagree and call you out on your “comfort choices”.
Newer players tend to underestimate the value Ahavarion Spear of Lycander holds; while it can be omitted early on, it’s a must include at later stages. Its strength is mostly defined via the Enlightened Shrine, which grants 25% increased Experience gained from kills (roughly half of the total XP earned) for the Greater Rift it is procced in. We know from the Greater Rift Guide that each tier increases the XP gain by 5% while increasing the monster health by 17%. When you proc this effect early in a run, you can consider it roughly as if the group was running the same rift one tier higher without the penalty of higher monster HP.
In summary, zNec is not easy to execute. It’s not tanky. And it’s choices in gearing heavily influence the overall group efficiency. Making the appropriate choices for the tier you are aiming to play is a key aspect of mastering zNec. The guide at hand will provide you a general overview, but be prepared to make certain adjustments if a specific group asks for them.
Unique Playstyle ✔ Extremely Fast Paced ✔ Rewards Excellent Gameplay ✔ Many Variants Increasing in Difficulty ✔
❌ Requires Spamming ❌ Squishy on High End ❌ Positioning is Very Important ❌Works Best in Specific Groups
Pestilence Master's Shroud (2) Bonus fires a Corpse Lance Brittle Touch every time we consume a corpse, allowing us to increase the monsters chance to be critically hit by 5% for each lance.
Leoric's Crown, Messerschmidt's Reaver and Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac provide massive Cooldown Reduction necessary to achieve 100% Frozen Lands uptime.
Oculus Ring gives 85% damage to your party.
Brigg's Wrath pulls monsters together and applies Strongarm Bracers.
Nemesis Bracers spawn and extra elite pack from each pylon, which helps you get to 100% progression faster.
Rondal's Locket possesses a secondary affix of up to +6 Yards to Pickup Radius which increases the size of Frailty Aura of Frailty and helps a lot for picking up Health Globes.
Season 24 Ethereals
Ethereals are powerful rare weapons that can only be found during Season 24. They have incredible stats, a random Legendary power, and a free passive for your class. Read our Ethereal Mechanics Guide for full details on how they work and our Ethereal Farming Guide to learn how to acquire them. What you should prioritize on them is the following:
TheLegendary Power This build requires In-Geom and Messerschmidt's Reaver to be functional. We need our Ethereal to roll one of these powers so we can cube the other. We also want a good roll on our Legendary power if it has a range. Since this is a support build, we don't use Ethereals for the extra damage bonus but it can give some other small perks like slightly faster attack speed and another passive.
TheEtherealItself There are 3 different weapons available to us, each with its own benefits:
Soul Harvest - This is the best Ethereal due to the stacking Attack Speed bonus.
Blackhand Key - This weapon can be used in speedruns to allow you to crowd control enemies with just Frailty Aura of Frailty. Since you are supposed to have Land of the Dead Frozen Lands this won't do much though.
Blackbog's Sharp - Using this weapon doesn't make much sense due to the slow Attack Speed.
The EtherealStat Rolls Each Ethereal comes with its own fixed set of powerful affixes. While some have a static value, many have a wide stat range. This means the difference between good and bad rolls is significant and something you should look for.
A Useful Passive This is just icing on the cake because a fifth passive is not going to make or break your build. You're better off hunting for the things above. Check out the Passives section down below to see which ones you're looking for.
Global Stat Priorities
Since we are a support class, we don't need any offensive stats like Critical Hit Chance, Critical Hit Damage, Area Damage, or Elemental Damage. We especially need to avoid Area Damage as it will lag the game for no benefit. Instead we will gather as much Cooldown Reduction, Attack Speed and Defensive Stats as possible. Cooldown is needed to keep Land of the Dead Frozen Lands up all the time, which will keep the monsters perpetually frozen and allow us to spam Devour Cannibalize which heals us.
Attack Speed lets you Blood Rush Metabolism and fire Corpse Lance faster, allowing you to your job better. For defense prioritize % Life > Vitality > All Resistance > Armor. Finally, try to get as much Pickup Radius on your gear as possible as it will increase the radius of your Frailty Aura of Frailty which will let you pull monsters further with Briggs' Wrath.
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 support build, meaning we deal zero damage and need to farm the pieces/materials with a different build/character. We'll use BloodShards and Crafting Materials to acquire the remaining pieces outlined in the steps below.
1.Pickup Radius (Secondary) 2. Life % 3. All Resistance 4. Vitality 5. Main Stat
Bottomless Potion of Kulle-Aid
For breaking walls to pull enemies and increase DPS
Iceblink makes the enemies 10% more likely to be critically hit. Only 1 Iceblink should be used in groups as they do not stack.
Gem of Efficacious Toxin poisons enemies hit for 10% additive damage. Other supports can also wear this gem because their damage bonus does stack(damage reduction doesn't stack, however).
Gogok of Swiftness gives 15% Attack Speed, 15% Cooldown Reduction, and up to 30% Dodge based on the amount of stacks you have. You gain a stack with each hit up to a maximum of 15, and all stacks are refreshed if you hit an enemy at least once every 4 seconds.
Land of the Dead Frozen Lands freezes all enemies for 10 seconds as long as they haven't been hit with a hard crowd control (like a stun or knockback) before hand. This will allow your damage dealers free reign when attacking. It will also allow you to cast Devour Cannibalize infinitely.
Devour Cannibalize can and should be spammed when Land of the Dead Frozen Lands is up, it heals us, and automatically fires our Corpse Lance Brittle Touch at enemies from our Pestilence Master's Shroud(2) Bonus.
Corpse Lance Brittle Touch increases a monsters chance to be critically hit by 5% for each lance you hit them with for 5 seconds. Besides the lances that are automatically fired from the Pestilence Master's Shroud (2) Bonus, you should also manually fire them on yellow elites and Rift Guardians to bring their chance to be critically hit as high as possible.
Command Skeletons Enforcer should be spammed and aimed at enemies to reset your Land of the Dead Frozen Lands via your Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac. We use this spender because it doesn't have any cast animation and we can move or cast Corpse Lance while resetting our cooldowns at the same time.
Blood Rush Metabolism is taken for mobility as you will be in front of the group. It also activates your Steuart's Greaves.
Frailty Aura of Frailty curses all enemies around you and its size is increased by your Pickup Radius on items. After being cursing, monsters will be pulled to you by Briggs' Wrath, which will also proc your Strongarm Bracers.
Blood Is Power gives us a flat reduction equals to 20% of the skill Cooldown after losing 100% of our life.
Eternal Torment makes our curses last forever, which is useful as we rely on Aura of Frailty to apply them.
Life from Death spawns health globes when you use Devour Cannibalize which will give your damage dealers resource since they're wearing Reaper's Wraps.
Final Service allows us to cheat death.
Rigor Mortis is used in high GRs to slow enemies movement and attack speed by 30% from our Poison skills.
Stand Alone gives 100% additional armor and can sometimes be used in builds that don't run Command Skeletons.
1. Movement Speed
1. Cooldown Reduction
1. All Resistance
1. Pickup Radius
2. Attack Speed
2. Life %
2. Life per Hit
3. Critical Hit Chance
3. Resource Cost Reduction
4. Maximum Essence
4. Critical Hit Damage
4. Life Regeneration
4. Area Damage2
1 Put all points into Vitality until you reach 3 million HP, then put the rest into Intelligence for All Resistance. 2 Do not take Area Damage in this build as we deal no damage and it could contribute to lag out the game in some situations.
The rotation for the zNecro is as follows:
Always activate Land of the Dead Frozen Lands when it's up.
Continuously spam Devour Cannibalize and Command Skeletons Enforcer to fire corpse lances and reset your Cooldowns as explained above.
Cast Blood Rush at least once every 10 seconds to keep your 100% movement speed buff from Steuart's Greaves.
Stop to manually fire Corpse Lance Brittle Touch on elites and Rift Guardians to give them a higher chance to be critically hit.
Click the pylons to spawns elites with your Nemesis Bracers.
Remember that you want to be pulling and cursing every monster with Frailty Aura of Frailty, so spend a good amount of time weaving around hitting every monster. Unlike other supports, the zNecro is not immortal and can die to things like Molten explosions, Shock Towers, and Grotesques. Make sure when you stop on an elite to fire Corpse Lance Brittle Touch you're dodging major attacks to stay alive. Finally, pacing is important for the zNecro, so it's something you'll have to practice to master. As a general rule, try to stay about 1 screen ahead of your damage dealers, and leave when an elite is about 1 second away from dying.
One important map you need to pay extra attention on is Pandemonium Fortress. There you can find Shock Towers that will fire a chaining lightning at any approaching enemies, which is capable of oneshotting your DPS necros. When you see one of these, you should stop outside its range (25 yards) and wait for the Skeletal Mages to kill the tower. Also make sure to keep you skeletons away from it!
Finally note that any knockback attempt with Brigg's Wrath will trigger the damage buff from Strongarm Bracers, even if the target is not displaced, including on Rift Guardians and Juggernaut Rares. But you cannot refresh the debuff as long as the target is cursed. If several players use Strongarm Bracers, their effect will stack additively. Check out our Crowd Control post by Chewingnom for more details!
Consider the following changes to become tankier when playing in hardcore:
Drop Gem of Efficacious Toxin for Esoteric Alteration for 60% non-physical damage reduction
Change the rune on Blood Rush to Potency for 100% more armor.
Ethereals If you don't have any Ethereal Item use In-Geom.
Concept This is the support build for the infamous "Rat Runs", which also involve 2x LoD Skeletal Mage Necros and a Support zBarb. It's designed to be fast, tanky, and have insane cooldown so you can lead the way for your team. This is setup has a lot of extra toughness necessary to survive at low paragon, which is later phased out to pickup more utility items. It also includes In-Geom, which makes it much easier to have 100% uptime on Land of the Dead.
Gameplay The gameplay is exactly the same as we discussed above. When playing this tanky setup, you shouldn't die to anything but a massive attack. Remember that if you die it leaves your teammates vulnerable as the monsters won't be frozen from Land of the Dead Frozen Lands.
Setups If you don't like having to constantly hover mobs and spam Command Skeletons button, you can use another spender (Death Nova Blight or Bone Spear Crystallization) in its place. While you have to stop to cast these two skills, it's still possible to reset your cooldowns and be fast enough. The advantage here is the ability to quickly break doors and less headache with the Shock Towers.
Rats High Paragon
Ethereals If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Messerschmidt's Reaver.
Concept This is the support build for the infamous "Rat Runs", which also involve 2x LoD Skeletal Mage Necros and a Support zBarb. It's designed to be fast, tanky, and have insane cooldown so you can lead the way for your team. This is the maximum efficiency setup that ditches all the toughness for maximum Cooldown Reduction and Movement Speed. High Paragon and/or augments become necessary to survive.
Gameplay The gameplay is exactly the same as we discussed above. At high enough Paragon, you still shouldn't die to anything but a massive attack. Remember that if you die it leaves your teammates vulnerable as the monsters won't be frozen from Land of the Dead Frozen Lands.
Setups If your runs are going very smoothly and you never have downtime on your Land of the Dead, you can switch Blood is Power for Fueled by Death to get that extra bit of Movement Speed.
You can freely choose between Steuart's Greaves and Illusory Boots in your feet slot. The latter make it easier to click pylons but you need to be on point with your Blood Rushes as you no longer have the Movement Speed.
If you don't like having to constantly hover mobs and spam Command Skeletons button, you can use another spender (Death Nova Blight or Bone Spear Crystallization) in its place. While you have to stop to cast these two skills, it's still possible to reset your cooldowns and be fast enough. The advantage here is the ability to quickly break doors and less headache with the Shock Towers.
Ethereals If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Pig Sticker.
Concept In the highest greater rifts we can drop permafreeze and Shrine buffs to maximize our contribution to the group in terms of DPS and toughness
Gameplay In general you should always spam Death Nova to reset the cooldown on Land of the Dead, and Devour to apply crit debuff to everything via Pestilence Master's Shroud(2) Bonus. When the DPS rotation of your Trash Killer is coming up, you need to make a pixel pull for them with your Frailty. Keep in mind that Briggs Wrath will only pull monsters if there's space for them to be pulled into. If you just use it in the middle of everything, the monsters will jump in place and there will be no pixel! Alternatively you can let the zBarb make the pixel with Ground Stomp and then use the curse to apply the Strongarm Bracers debuff.
Setups The above build is intended for end season time attack or speedfarming, where extra mobility from Blood Rush and Steuart's Greaves is paramount. If you are going for more slow-paced runs, replace Blood Rush with Simulacrum Cursed Form to get extra healing and damage reduction from Leech and Decrepify. With this change you want to curse the mobs as soon as possible, so you need to drop Briggs Wrath and Strongarm Bracers. Equip Nemesis Bracers and cube Haunted Visions.
Pestilence Master's Shroud + Devour
Corpse Lances fired by the (2) Bonus have the same proc coefficent as the base skill and can apply all kinds of on-hit effects, including Iceblink, Knockback on Hit, Gogok of Swiftness.
Devour can consume up to 10 corpses per cast up to 2 times per second, firing 20 Corpse Lances at nearby enemies every second.
Using Devour more often than 2 times a second has absolutely no effect.
Land of the Dead Frozen Lands
Pulses twice a second, applying a 10 second freeze to all enemies in line of sight within 60 yards range. This means that when you teleport forward, monsters can have up to 0.5 seconds to attack or use an ability which is why you should always stay ahead of the group!
Because Frozen Lands applies a 10 seconds freeze, frozen enemies instantly cap out at 95% crowd control resistance and become completely immune to all other form of Crowd Control, making it impossible to pull them after they have already been frozen.
Life from Death
Consuming a corpse has a 20% chance to spawn a Health Globe.
The Health Globe can only spawn if the consumed corpse was on the pathable surface.
After spawning 10 Health Globes, Life from Death goes on a 5 second internal cooldown (ICD).
Activating Land of the Dead will reset this cooldown, even if Land of the Dead is already running. This means that you should always recast it whenever it is available instead of waiting for it to run out.
Ahavarion, Spear of Lycander
Gives a 1% chance on slaying a demon to grant a random shrine buff which are listed below. This works only for killing blows which you do with Frailty.
The buff lasts 2 minutes for the entire group, but 10 minutes if we're wearing Gloves of Worship. Typical Rat Runs are fast enough to make the gloves obsolete.
Buffs are given to everyone in the same zone.
When entering a new Greater Rift the buff is removed.
These are the shrine buffs you can get:
Enlightened: +25% Experience from monster kills
Frenzied: +25% Attack Speed
Blessed: -25% incoming damage
Empowered: +100% resource generation and 50% Cooldown Reduction
Fleeting: +25% Movement Speed and +20 Pickup Radius
Out of these shrines the most important for Rat runs is the Enlightened Shrine for the 25% extra experience that stacks additively with Strength in Numbers buff, providing a relative 19.2% increase in experience from killing monsters in a 4-player group. Since the above buff only affects the XP from monsters and about half of the total XP comes from the Greater Rift quest reward, the actual benefit you get equals roughly +9.6% (if you get it right at the start of a run).
The uptime on this buff depends on mobsets you are getting and on how fast your runs are. The overall effect is quite small and in cases where you have trouble playing the setup properly to the point where your runs are suffering it might be better to just drop it entirely to go with In-Geom instead.
Put together the low paragon build first and focus on Cooldown, Attack Speed, and Defense rolls on your gear.
Keep your Land of the Dead up at all times while spamming Devour and Command Skeletons.
Practice staying 1 screen ahead of your party at all times, unless you are stopping to kill an elite.
Manually fire Corpse Lance Brittle Touch on yellows and Rift Guardians.
Dodge major attacks and stay alive so your teammates survive as well.
Credits to Kikaha for pointing out several issues with an earlier version of this guide.
Guide by Northwar with contributions from Raxxanterax, sVr and Rob. Updated by wudijo.