Typhon Hydra Wizard Guide

Frost Hydra Solo Push

Introduction

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


Core Setup

Core Item Build

Items

  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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 The Typhon's Veil 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 The Typhon's Veil set
  2. The Magistrate
  3. Create a level 1 Wizard and gamble for Winter Flurry
  4. Goldwrap, The Shame of Delsere and Krelm's Buff belt
  5. Tasker and Theo
  6. Nemesis Bracers and Ashnagarr's Blood Bracers
  7. Halo of Karini, Stone of Jordan and Convention of Elements

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

  1. Wands to get Serpent's Sparker, Fragment of Destiny and Aether Walker
  2. Amulets to get Squirt's Necklace
  3. 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 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-HandWizardspike
The Oculus
Mang Song's Lesson
Serpents Sparker
Fragment of Destiny
Aether Walker
1. Damage Range
2. Socket Ramaladnis Gift
3. Attack Speed
4. Damage %
5. Area Damage
6. Intelligence
Ideally, you want a Fire or Lightning Damage Range in order to get an additional stack of Elemental Exposure.
Off-HandWinter Flurry1. Cold Damage
2. Critical Hit Chance
3. Hydra Damage
4. Area Damage
5. Intelligence
HelmThe Magistrate
Typhon's Frons
1. Sockets Flawless Royal Amethyst
2. Critical Hit Chance
3. Intelligence
4. Vitality
GlovesTyphon's Claws
Tasker and Theo
1. Critical Hit Chance
2. Attack Speed
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Area Damage
5. Intelligence
ShouldersTyphon's Tibia1. Hydra Damage
2. Area Damage
3. Intelligence
4. Armor
5. Life %
Chest Typhon's Thorax1. Hydra Damage
2. Sockets Flawless Royal Topaz
3. Intelligence
4. Vitality
5. Elite Damage Reduction
6. Armor
PantsTyphon's Abdomen1. Intelligence
2. Sockets Flawless Royal Topaz
3. Vitality
4. Armor
BootsTyphon's Tarsus1. Intelligence
2. Vitality
3. Armor
4. All Resistance
Ring 1Halo of Karini1. Socket
2. Attack Speed
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Critical Hit Chance
5. Area Damage
6. Damage Range
Ring 2Convention of Elements
Avarice Band (Bounties A3)
Ring of Royal Grandeur (Cubed, Bounties A1)
Stone of Jordan
1. Socket
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Cold Damage (SoJ)
4. Elite Damage (SoJ)
5. Critical Hit Chance
6. Area Damage
7. Damage Range
BracersAshnagarr’s Blood Bracer
Nemesis Bracers
1. Cold Damage
2. Critical Hit Chance
3. Intelligence
4. Vitality
AmuletSquirt’s Necklace1. Socket
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Cold Damage
4. Critical Hit Chance
5. Intelligence
BeltThe Shame of Delsere1. Intelligence
2. Vitality
3. Life %
4. Armor
5. All Resistance
PotionBottomless Potion of the UnfetteredTo avoid Crowd Control effects
during your DPS phases

Gems

  • Enforcer is the best gem, providing up to 60% multiplicative damage bonus for your Hydras.
  • Bane of the Trapped is procced automatically from Hydra through their attacks and is equally strong.
  • Bane of the Stricken helps us in killing the boss and potentially yellow Elites due to our extremely fast attacks with Signature Spells. For farming lower Greater Rift Tiers or Nephalem Rifts, you can replace this gem with Bane of the Powerful, Boon of the Hoarder or even Esoteric Alteration if you need some extra toughness. Zei's Stone of Vengeance is another DPS option once you level it very high as Bane of the Powerful doesn't scale at all (the gem's bonus damage is calculated from the player's distance to the enemy).

Skills

  • Hydra Frost Hydra is our main damage dealer and activates the set bonuses for 80% damage reduction and 20,000% increased damage.
  • Blizzard is needed to gain the 150% increased damage bonus from Winter Flurry. The two best runes to use are either Apocalypse for increased AoE or Unrelenting Storm for increased duration.
  • Spectral Blade Barrier Blades is necessary for Fragment of Destiny synergy and providing shields to keep up Squirt's Necklace. This will also be used to stack Bane of the Stricken very quickly on Rift Guardians and sometimes yellow Elites.
  • Storm Armor activates Halo of Karini. Without this buff you will be squashed like a fly, so make sure to keep it up. Typically you want to use the Shocking Aspect rune for pushing and Scramble for farming.
  • Black Hole Absolute Zero adds the ability to group up enemies for Area Damage value as well as giving extra Cold damage for your following Frost Hydra casts for 10 seconds.
  • Teleport is the last skill in the arsenal, allowing you to move around quickly and get into the fray or out of danger when necessary. The two best runes to choose are Wormhole or Safe Passage, depending on preference.

Passives

  • Galvanizing Ward is absolutely indispensable as we need to stay shielded at all times to avoid losing our Hydra heads, which will die when you take damage (see The Typhon's Veil (4) Bonus). It periodically grants a massive shield that will also protect Squirt's Necklace.
  • Elemental Exposure is a separate multiplier debuffing each target once for each element (Fire, Cold, Arcane, Lightning) for up to 5 seconds when you hit them. The elemental type of the damage range on your equipped weapon will also be applied with each ability that you hit with, which is why you preferably have Lightning or Fire on it.
  • Audacity provides us with a separate 1.3 multiplier for targets within 15 yards of the player
  • Arcane Dynamo is a very strong passive in this build, as Hydra snapshots this effect on cast for the entire duration and thus can be boosted by a whopping 60% multiplicative damage. Due to the fast attack speed from Fragment of Destiny and The Shame of Delsere synergy, it will take barely more than a second to gain all 5 stacks required. Even in speedfarming when you don't always try very hard to activate the bonus, this remains a strong option.
  • The above passives are the optimal choice for most damage done. Other useful passives include Unstable Anomaly for Hardcore, Blur for extra defense, Illusionist for extra mobility when farming.

Paragon Points

CoreOffensiveDefensiveUtility
1. Movement Speed1. Attack Speed1. Armor1. Area Damage
2. Intelligence2. Critical Hit Damage2. Life %2. Resource Cost Reduction
3. Vitality13. Critical Hit Chance3. All Resistance3. Life per Hit
4. Maximum Arcane Power4. Cooldown Reduction4. Life Regeneration4. Pickup Radius

1 Add a bit of Vitality if you feel too squishy (a total of 900,000 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. With Enforcer equipped on the player it's much easier to keep followers alive even without an immortality relic. The 90% damage reduction counts for them, too.
  6. Cooldown Reduction does not work for any follower skill except the Templar’s Heal.
  7. 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

  • At the start of a run, buff yourself with Storm Armor to enable the 80% damage reduction from Halo of Karini. Make sure you keep this buff up at all times. In most situations it will not require much attention, but be careful when there are only very few or one enemy as you need to hit something that is at least 15 yards away from you. When fighting single target Rift Guardians especially, make sure to walk away a few steps regularly. The damage reduction can be tracked on your buff bar. Don’t forget to re-apply this skill after 10 minutes when pushing.
  • Whenever you start a new rift, die, or change zones, make sure to cast Hydra twice to make sure you get the defensive bonuses from The Typhon's Veil. Also make sure to refresh them regularly should your Hydra heads ever start dying when enemies get through your shields until you stabilize again. They disappear quickly and you will take a lot more damage even when missing just one or two.
  • Use Spectral Blade as much as possible while you don't have to move around too much, or try to stutter-step your way forward when you do. This will build shields and Fragment of Destiny as well as Arcane Dynamo stacks. Keep in mind you need to actually hit enemies for Fragment of Destiny (but not for the other effects).
  • Place Hydra in strategic positons after maxing out Arcane Dynamo, which will be snapshot during the entire duration. The best spots are either in corners or near a wall to allow their cone-shaped AoE to hit the highest number of targets without risking to have stray enemies distract your Hydra heads. They will always attack the closest target to them, so it's up to you to control enemies and position and your Hydras in a way that maximizes their damage done. Try to use this skill when you have reached maximum Arcane Dynamo stacks and cast the other spells before that when possible.
  • After setting everything up, cast Blizzard once in the center of the pull to activate Winter Flurry. In very large pulls, two casts could be useful
  • Use Black Hole Absolute Zero before setting up your Frost Hydra to maximize Area Damage value and boost your Cold damage done. This effect is also snapshot for the entire duration of your Hydra.
  • Move around the battlefield to position enemies close to your Hydras and try to stay close to them yourself, as their range is quite limited. This will ensure good uptime of Audacity and when possible, try to kill one small enemy before your big nuke during your Convention of Elements Cold cycle using Black Hole to spawn Oculus Ring. When it appears in the right spot, you can dramatically increase your damage by teleporting into one.

Hardcore

By default, Wizards are not really great for Hardcore as they don't have a proper cheat death immunity mechanic like most other classes. Regardless, the build is overall relatively mobile and tanky, so you should not have much trouble once your setup is complete. You should use Unstable Anomaly at all times, but don’t rely on it as it does not make you invincible, it only protects you with a certain amount of shield based on your life pool! If you forget your buffs or your damage reduction from the The Typhon's Veil (4) Bonus starts dropping due to the lack of shields, or you lose your Halo of Karini buff for whatever reason, you are almost guaranteed dead. Make sure to pay special attention to your defensive buffs and you will be fine.


Variants

Nephalem Rifts
Typhon T16

Ethereals
If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Serpent's Sparker or Aether Walker.

Concept
In T16 we don’t need a lot of damage and also won’t care much about having the perfect setup all the time. Frost Hydra should be strong enough to just obliterate most things in split seconds anyway, so we take a lot more speed and mobility. Your follower will be decked out with Avarice Band, Nemesis Bracers, The Flavor of Time, Sage's Journey and Cain's Destiny.

Gameplay
Be fast, use your Teleport to move around quickly and set up Hydra everywhere to kill everything around you while running and collecting loot. The build should feel easy and fluid while you become completely immortal after picking up some gold. For the tougher enemies, make sure to activate Winter Flurry when you need to.

Setups
In groups, you should replace Ashnagarr's Blood Bracer with Nemesis Bracers and Stone of Jordan with Avarice Band. If you have way too much damage and toughness, you can drop Tasker and Theo and Goldwrap for Sage's Journey.

Bounties
Typhon Bounties

Ethereals
If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Serpent's Sparker or Aether Walker.

Concept
With the use of Aether Walker it's possible to make a lightning-fast setup that can hold up in most parties by just teleporting and spawning Hydras all around you.

Gameplay
Always move quickly, use your Teleport to move around and set up Hydra everywhere to kill everything around you while running and collecting loot. For the tougher enemies, make sure to activate Winter Flurry when you need to.

Setups
Archon Teleport can be added instead of Familiar if you want consistent Crowd Control immunity for Bounties with clickables or where you need to teleport to town frequently (you can right-click the buff on your buff bar to remove it after teleporting). Instead of Ashnagarr's Blood Bracer, Warzechian Armguards can be an option for extra mobility.

It's also possible to play the exact same build with lightning damage by simply swapping the rune to Lightning Hydra. This setup has around twice the single target damage and longer range but drops some of the AoE potential.

For the ultimate endgame version, you can drop Winter Flurry for the crafted Cosmic Strand and change your Teleport rune to Calamity. Through a bug you are able to do triple Teleport combos, but you will easily starve on Arcane Power. To prevent this, roll Resouce Cost Reduction wherever possible and use the Power of the Storm rune.

GR Solo Speeds
Typhon Speed Greater Rifts

Ethereals
If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Serpent's Sparker or Fragment of Destiny.

Concept
In Speed Greater Rifts we try to combine a mix of Damage, Toughness and utility. Ultimately, the build plays similarly as in solo pushing, but is much more fast-paced. Bane of the Stricken should not be necessary at all, so we can take Bane of the Powerful or Zei's Stone of Vengeance instead.

Gameplay
Similar to pushing, try to make big pulls and destroy them either with your Convention of Elements Cold cycle active (on elites) or without (most trash monsters). Don’t waste too much time on stray enemies, Waller elites, burrowers, wasps or similar and just move on towards the next pull.

Setups
Depending on how high Tiers you want to farm, you can go either for a high DPS version with Fragment of Destiny or a quick and mobile version using Aether Walker instead (keep in mind the loss in damage will be between 7-8 Tiers). For more consistency in your damage output, Stone of Jordan could be a replacement for Convention of Elements and with enough Toughness Nemesis Bracers can help you speed up your clears.

GR Solo Push
Typhon Solo Push

Ethereals
If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Serpent's Sparker or Fragment of Destiny.

Concept
We stack up as much damage as possible while getting just enough toughness to keep up our shields at all times. Squirt’s Necklace is a considerable damage boost you don’t want to lose when pushing.

Gameplay
The basic gameplay revolves around making large pulls of monsters, getting your full setup ready and then obliterating everything during your Convention of Elements Cold cycle. Make sure to snapshot Arcane Dynamo and keep up both Fragment of Destiny and Winter Flurry. With your very high Attack Speed, it's possible to stack Bane of the Stricken on yellow Elites using Spectral Blade when there are not many other enemies around. Otherwise just try to go for the big pulls and leave stray enemies aside, especially when they happen to be out of range of your Hydra.

Setups
If you feel like you are too squishy and want to go for some extra Toughness, Unity is a good replacement for Convention of Elements, especially on lower Paragon levels. For the ultra tanky version, Orb of Infinite Depth with Explosive Blast Chain Reaction (instead of Blizzard/Winter Flurry) is an option.

There is an additional endgame push version using Ranslor's Folly and Energy Twister Wicked Wind to pixelpull enemies (instead of Black Hole). This version is very squishy and a ranged playstyle using Electrocute without Teleport, which is dropped for Magic Weapon Deflection. To improve the damage even further, Audacity is replaced with Power Hungry and Bane of the Stricken with Zei's Stone of Vengeance. With the right amount of fishing and very good execution this setup can clear a few levels higher than the standard version.

Group GR RGK
Typhon RGK

Ethereals
If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Serpent's Sparker or Fragment of Destiny.

Concept
The potential of this Lightning Hydra setup compared to other top Rift Guardian Killers is quite bad, so this is not a recommended version to play if you are aiming high. On top of that it's very difficult to actually play successfully. Core issue here is the "unplayability" of the whole setup by taking many greedy choices in order to come close to the damage output a Heaven's Fury Crusader has to offer.


Slow Time Stretch Time should be included in order to reach the 24 FPA breakpoint for Frost Hydra, which can only be done without significant opportunity cost by dropping Teleport in typical high GR 4man setups using zMonk and zBarb as supports.


This means you are very squishy and have no mobility and you will very likely be dead most of the time until you reach the Rift Guardian. It is however possible to drop some damage and still play your role as a solid Rift Guardian Killer all the way up to Greater Rift Tier 150 even without this greediness by adjusting the setup a bit. Keep in mind that this setup uses Lightning damage instead of Cold. Luckily, compared to the Frost Hydra version, the Attack Speed breakpoints here are a little bit more relaxed and you can get away with slightly imperfect rolls.

Gameplay
Your main task here is to let your group to their job properly without you messing it up for them until your reach the Rift Guardian. This especially applies to the Frost Nova cast by The Magistrate when you setup up your Hydra, so make sure you put them far away in a corner to keep up your set's damage reduction bonus without needlessly crowd-controlling enemies, as your damage is completely irrelevant until you reach the RG.


When it's finally your time to shine, play it normally just like you would in solo: keep up all your buffs, set up Lightning Hydra when you have 5 stacks of Arcane Dynamo and otherwise try to stack Bane of the Stricken as much as possible using your Spectral Blade's high Attack Speed. This is best done by replacing one Hydra every Convention of Elements Lightning cycle, as they last 30 seconds (due to The Typhon's Veil (2) Bonus) and each cycle is 16 seconds. Just make sure to not place them during the first second of the Arcane cycle.

Setups
If you are willing to take many deaths and deal with the inconsistency and farm many Paragons, the theoretical highest damage setup includes a variety of greedy changes to get the maximum out of the build. This is the only way to get close to the damage output of a Crusader, who is the best Rift Guardian Killer in the game right now. The changes are: Teleport to Slow Time Stretch Time while replacing Attack Speed with Critical Hit Chance on Amulet, Halo of Karini to Stone of Jordan and Storm Armor Scramble to Energy Armor Pinpoint Barrier.


Video Guide


Mechanics

Attack Speed Breakpoints

  • Unlike most other skills in the game, Hydra uses Attack Speed breakpoints with very large ranges.
  • Reaching another breakpoint usually means a huge boost in DPS, while not reaching it could mean a huge waste of attack speed rolls on your items.
  • Tasker and Theo adds a flat multiplier to your attack speed that is relevant for these breakpoints. A better roll on the affix means fewer Attack Speed primary rolls needed on your items. E.g. in case of a 40% affix, you have to multiply your Attacks per Second (APS) in your character details by 1.4, in case of a 50% affix by 1.5. The difference between a good and a bad Tasker can mean up to two full primary rolls, which makes the affix extremely important.
  • The most relevant and best-value breakpoint is 1.86 sheet APS (or 2.78 APS if you include a perfect 50% Tasker and Theo multiplier), which puts your Frost Hydra at 30 FPA (Frames per Attack). You can reach this with 50% Tasker, 10% Paragon, 7% Weapon and two more 7% rolls on other items. Should you have any imperfect rolls, you will have to add another primary affix somewhere to make up for the difference.
  • In case this is completely unreachable for you, try to replace all but one Attack Speed rolls with other useful stats (e.g. Area Damage or Vitality) and go for the 36 FPA breakpoint. The lower threshold to reach this is 2.33 APS including the Tasker and Theo multiplier. This can generally be achieved with a single Attack Speed roll anywhere on your gear (1x 5% Attack Speed with 45% Tasker or 1x 6% Attack Speed with 44% Tasker or 1x 7% Attack Speed with 42% Tasker).
  • Keep in mind that Attack Speed on your weapon is more effective than on other slots as it multiplies your weapon's base Attack Speed and thus your Attack Speed bonuses from other sources.
  • In case your available options differ from the optimal distribution, make sure to import your personal character into D3planner and check the breakpoint table there yourself!
  • Learn more about Attack Speed breakpoints in general in this in-depth post by sVr!

The Typhon's Veil + Serpent's Sparker

  • The Typhon's Veil works with all Hydra runes besides Mammoth Hydra, as it is not a multi-headed Hydra. The intended playstyle of this set is to never take any damage whatsoever by using the numerous shield mechanics available to the class.
  • The number of active Hydra heads is displayed on the skill bar. Keep an eye on it when you start taking damage. Make sure to set up Hydras immediately when you start a run, die or change zones in order to gain the Toughness buff. Refresh Hydras a lot when your shields are broken and you need time to recover.
  • Serpent's Sparker allows you to cast a second Hydra, effectively doubling all bonuses gained from the The Typhon's Veil set in addition to its 300% separate damage multiplier. The maximum number of heads using this item is (2 + 3) * 2 = 10 for a total of 20,000% damage increase from the (6) Bonus and 80% damage reduction from the (4) Bonus.

Wizard Shields

  • In order to keep up your shields to survive but also maintaining Squirt's Necklace damage multiplier, you need to learn to judge the incoming damage and how fast you can build those shields yourself, which can require some practice.
  • Shields have no direct UI indicator unless you mouse-over your health globe.
  • You can see that you have any shield up when you see a transparent blue bubble around your character (not the size of the shield, however).
  • Because Wizard Shields value scales with your total life, Vitality and Life % stats become substantially better for toughness scaling when using this mechanic in comparison to other builds.
  • Galvanizing Ward is the main shielding mechanic used for most Wizard builds, which combined with Ashnagarr's Blood Bracer adds up to 120% of your total life as a shield. This shield will reset to its maximum value every 5 seconds if this shield in particular doesn't take any hit in the meantime.
  • Spectral Blade Barrier Blades and Magic Weapon Deflection represent the secondary shielding mechanic of the Wizard and can be stacked as much as you like, but their shield value is set at 4% (up to 8% with Ashnagarr's Blood Bracer) of your total life and they only lasts for 3 seconds. The duration is counted for each stack individually.
  • While Barrier Blades or Deflection (or any other shield in that matter) protect the Galvanizing Ward shield, it is possible to reset the shield gained from the passive to full even while taking hits.
  • All of these mechanics make it so that when your shields start breaking or your Galvanizing Ward doesn't find enough time to reset sometimes, the whole setup will fall apart really quickly. Make sure you understand your limits and survivability in different situations.

The Shame of Delsere & Fragment of Destiny

  • The Attack Speed bonus of The Shame of Delsere and Fragment of Destiny are multiplicative with each other and with other bonuses. This means using both will grant you a 1.5 * 1.5 = 2.25 Attack Speed multiplier. With the solo setup presented in this guide, using both these items will effectively drop your Spectral Blade breakpoint from 31FPA to 14FPA.
  • This can be used to stack Bane of the Stricken faster on longer boss fights or even on Rare Elites because you can avoid hitting too many different enemies at a time using Spectral Blade. Try to use it a lot especially at the start of a long boss fight and when you are waiting for your Convention of Elements Cold cycle!
  • The damage bonus stacks from Fragment of Destiny are additive with each other, combining into a 300% separate damage multiplier at 10 stacks. To gain and keep the stacks, you need to actually hit enemies. Each enemy hit adds another stack, so you won't have to attack 10 times in AoE situations.

Halo of Karini

  • This item provides you a 5 second buff (seen on your buff bar) when you electrocute an enemy at least 15 yards away (around 1/4 to 1/3 of a screen).
  • Keep in mind the range requirement! If you keep standing in melee range without other enemies further away, you will be in trouble.
  • The Shocking Aspect is generally used for high Greater Rifts to guarantee consistent uptime of this buff. When staying too close to enemies - even with a large pull around you - it can happen that a streak of consecutive hits will not activate Halo of Karini and choosing the rune prevents this from happening.

Black Hole Absolute Zero

  • The damage bonus from Black Hole Absolute Zero is additive with your Cold Elemental damage. As a consequence, "Cold skills deal X% more damage" affixes (Mainly found on Bracers and Amulet slots but also on Winter Flurry), grants a lower relative damage increase to builds using Absolute Zero.

Elemental Exposure

  • This passive can gain an additional stack from your weapon’s element. This is one of the two main exceptions in the game to the rule of “element on weapon doesn’t matter for your damage”.
  • Since the build already deals Cold damage from Frost Hydra and Arcane damage from Spectral Blade Barrier Blades by default and sometimes applies Lightning damage with Storm Armor, you want to have either Fire or Lightning on your weapon if possible. In case you use Blizzard Apocalypse, you can apply Fire with that and Lightning becomes the preferred option as Storm Armor has very bad uptime on multiple targets.
  • The Magistrate has a special interaction: Hydra applies the stack of the Hydra element itself. The Frost Nova cast by your Hydras will, however, apply the Cold stack as well as the stack for the elemental range of your weapon.
  • The damage bonus of this passive is multiplicative (5% per different element, added together as one bonus).

Arcane Dynamo

  • This is one of the strongest DPS passives in the game, giving up to 60% multiplicative damage bonus for your Hydra.
  • Maximum stack count is 5, which stacks once per attack of your Signature Spells (Spectral Blade).
  • Stacks will be consumed by any damaging Arcane Power Spender, including non-Hydra spells.
  • The effect will only activate and consume stacks after reaching the maximum.

Summary

  • 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.
Good luck!