Well-known as an iconic skill from Diablo II, Wizards have the ability to summon a stationary, untargetable pet Hydra that attacks nearby enemies just like in the previous game. They behave unlike most other pets that move and attack enemies independently and resemble more the Demon Hunter's Sentry in the way they are invincible and always attack the closest target.
Apart from a short time in the spotlight during the very early seasons, Hydra Wizards had not really been very useful until the introduction of the new The Typhon’s Veil set during Season 20. With it, Frost Hydra build has emerged as very solid farming and pushing option for Wizards.
In addition to the set version, it's also possible to play a similar build using Legacy of Dreams and the Mammoth Hydra rune, which revolves around Fire damage instead. The overall build is the same, however for high-end pushing that setup is slightly better due to the overall higher DPS coming from the stacking ground effect of that rune, as well as the possibility adopt a Reverse Archon playstyle and include Shi Mizu's Haori to boost the damage even higher. You can find the LoD Hydra guide here. For most players and purposes, the set revolving around Frost Hydra is definitely the better option.
With the changes to the Teleport animation time in Patch 2.7.0 (Season 23), this setup has emerged as one of the top Bounty farmers in the game, making the Wizard a well-liked choice for that activity.
Super Tanky ✔
Great for Farming ✔
Unique Pet Playstyle ✔
Can Damage while Moving ✔
❌ Frustrating Pet AI
❌ Many Buttons to Press
❌ Requires Good Positioning
❌ Rarely Gets an Oculus Proc
- The Typhon's Veil provides a 2,000% damage increase to Hydra for every Hydra head alive, maxing out at 20,000% with 10 heads.
- Serpent's Sparker is one of the core damage increasing items, providing a 300% damage increase and a second Hydra that can stay active at the same time for even more The Typhon's Veil (6) Bonus damage.
- Winter Flurry adds synergy between the set and Blizzard by giving you a another 150% damage increase.
- Fragment of Destiny adds synergy between the set and Signature spells for another 300% damage increase.
- The Magistrate gives another 300% damage increase to Hydra and makes them continuously freeze nearby enemies.
- Tasker and Theo adds a huge bonus to Hydra Attack Speed. Because it's quite difficult to reach the right Attack Speed breakpoints and the affix roll on this legendary plays a huge factor in that, it's best cubed while The Magistrate is worn.
- Because we need two different Armor items for this build, Ring of Royal Grandeur is necessary in the Jewelry slot of Kanai's Cube.
- Squirt’s Necklace is an almost indispensable item for every Wizard build due to the extraordinary shielding mechanics available to the class, effectively doubling your damage output as long as you don’t take damage yourself. This will generally be combined with Ashnagarr’s Blood Bracer, the Galvanizing Ward and Spectral Blade Barrier Blades to make sure that even during damage spikes you remain shielded.
- The Shame of Delsere helps by increasing your attack speed and resource generation of your Signature Spells, giving more shields and Bane of the Stricken stacks.
- Halo of Karini is the core Wizard defensive item and combined with Storm Armor to trigger the effect, giving you 80% damage reduction.
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:
- The Legendary Power
This build requires Serpent's Sparker and either Fragment of Destiny or Aether Walker 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. For speed content it is always helpful to have Ethereals with Echoing Fury, In-geom or Messerschmidt's Reaver powers, so keep those if you find them.
- The Ethereal Itself
There are 3 different weapons available to us, each with its own benefits:
- Wizardspike - This is by far the best Ethereal for us. The fast Attack Speed allows us to reach a higher breakpoint (24 FPA, 2.29 APS with 50% Tasker and Theo) and the Stacking Damage effect is amazing against Elites and Rift Guardians.
- The Oculus - This is the second best option and gives a bit more defense.
- Mang Song's Lesson - This Staff can be used if Winter Flurry is dropped. The setup is overall a bit weaker than with One-Handed Ethereals, but you gain a skill slot for free by dropping Blizzard.
- The Ethereal Stat 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
Offensively stack Critical Hit Chance, Critical Hit Damage and Cold Damage on every piece possible. Next you want to add Hydra damage rolls to your Chest, Shoulders and Offhand slots. In addition, the build relies on heavy Area Damage by stacking up monsters tightly through Black Hole Absolute Zero. We want to have it on as many pieces as possible, especially Shoulders, Gloves, Offhands and Rings.
Additionally, unlike most other skills in the game, Hydra adheres to very specific Attack Speed breakpoints. Since these breakpoints cover large ranges of different Attacks per Second values, reaching one can provide you a huge boost in DPS for only very little investment in some cases, and barely failing to reach one could mean you waste a few primary affix rolls for nothing. Keep this in mind when taking a look at the stat priorities below. Breakpoints are explained in more detail in the mechanics section further down in the guide.
- Keep up your Storm Armor and Halo of Karini buffs at all times.
- Use Spectral Blade to build shields and stacks for Fragment of Destiny as well as Arcane Dynamo.
- Set up Frost Hydra when you reach maximum stacks if possible. Stay near them and kite enemies around so that they will attack the highest number of targets.
- After the setup is complete, cast Blizzard to gain the damage bonus of Winter Flurry. Refresh this continuously on enemies that live longer than its duration.
- Use Black Hole to snapshot the Cold damage from Absolute Zero before setting up a Frost Hydra and try to proc Oculus Ring by catching an enemy during its death animation.
- Play around the Convention of Elements Cold cycle to maximize your damage.
- Avoid ever losing any hitpoints to keep up your Squirt’s Necklace and all Hydra heads at all times. Try to learn to feel the incoming damage as there is no UI indicator of how much shield you have.
I hope you enjoyed this guide! Hydra can be a fun and engaging change to the typical Wizard playstyle.
Guide by wudijo with special help from Rob. Updated by wudijo.