Wizards are arguably the most balanced class in Reaper of Souls. Masters of the elements and harbingers of destruction, Wizards have a vast array of potent offensive skills at their disposal. If that weren’t enough, their ability to take control over the battlefield is nearly unparalleled. Add in a swatch of useful survival skills, and the Wizard strikes fear into even the most formidable foe.
But having an arsenal and harnessing it effectively are two different things. In fact, because nearly every Wizard skill is at least somewhat useful, concocting an optimal build can prove a bit overwhelming, especially to newer players.
In this guide, we take an in-depth look at our orb wielding friend, not with the goal of spoon-feeding you the most popular Wizard builds (although we’ll get to builds later), but to give you an overall sense of how the Wizard functions in battle. In short, we’ll teach you how to achieve build synergy.
Wizard Primary Resource and Stat
Starting with the basics, Wizard use Arcane Power as their primary resource. Arcane Power is a fast regenerating resource that functions like Mana, except that its value is mostly fixed. Certain skills and gear may increase the amount of Arcane Power in a Wizard’s pool, but never so much that it makes an overwhelming difference.
Notably, unlike other classes, Wizards do not have access to Arcane Power generators, at least not without the help of a few select skill runes. However, their Signature Spells are free to cast. Conversely, the Wizard’s more damaging spells will cost an exorbitant amount of Arcane Power, rendering resource management an imperative facet of class mastery.
Moving on, a Wizard’s primary attribute is Intelligence. Each point of Intelligence increases the Wizard’s damage output by one percent. In addition, Wizards (and all other classes for that matter) gain 0.1 to all their resistances for each point of Intelligence.
That might not sound like much until you consider that an offensively minded Wizard at level 70 might feature 8,000 Intelligence or more. For reference, 800 all resistances equates to approximately 70 percent damage reduction at level 70. That’s substantial, and effectively mitigates the need to stack tons of +All Resist (AR) gear.
The Anatomy of a Build: Active Skills
There are very few “cookie cutter” Wizard builds. Instead, most builds are built around a common theme, with the best builds featuring powers that work together in perfect harmony. And while not all skills are created equal, by learning which skills work well together, you’ll be able to find a synergy that is suited to your playing style, fun and effective.
Just about every viable Wizard build makes use of one, and only, Primary skill. Think of Primary skills as your fallback option. When your Arcane Power (AP) reserves are depleted, your Primary allows you to continue dishing out the pain until it regenerates.
One important note: You should choose Primary skill and rune combinations based on their secondary effects, and not their damage. Whether its freezing enemies solid, or allowing you to regenerate AP more rapidly, the secondary effect of a Primary skill is almost universally more valuable than its middling damage.
Next, we need a Secondary skill, otherwise known as an AP spender. Three out of four AP spenders are channel based, meaning that they will consume AP at a rate equal to your attack speed. The fourth, Arcane Orb, is a fired projectile that costs a static amount of AP each cast. For now, the important thing to remember is that your chosen Secondary skill will become your primary source of dealing damage.
We need at least one source of supplemental damage, and preferably two. Complementary damage types come in two flavors. The first is via a Force skill. Skills like Meteor, Blizzard and Hydra fulfill the supplementary role nicely, and are an effective means of opening a battle. They also possess some of the best AP cost-to-damage ratios available. However, do keep in mind that some Force skills are quite expensive to cast. Don’t spam them!
On the other end of the spectrum are active skills that passively amplify your damage. All of these skills are found in the Conjuration tree. There, you will find Familiar, Magic Weapon and Storm Armor; all of which provide significant boosts to your damage output, and only require that you reactive them once every 10 minutes. Suffice to say, Conjuration skills do wonders for simplifying your combat rotation.
I generally advocate the use of at least one defensive skill. Unless you’re extremely over-geared for your preferred difficulty level, reserving a slot for a defensive skill will pay dividends.
Note: Defensive casts are found in the Defensive tree, but the two defensive Armors are found in Conjuration – confusing I know.
Finally we have CD-based (Mastery) skills. Mastery skills deal so much damage, that they sometimes prove more effective at saving your hide than defensive abilities. Remember kids, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
Whether or not you opt for a second defensive skill or a solitary Mastery skill will depend on your specific needs. However, should you go the two defensive skill route, I would recommend equipping exactly one Armor and one defensive cast, for the following reasons:
- Slotting two skills from the Defensive tree is redundant
- Only one Armor skill can be active at any given time, rendering any additional Armor’s useless.
To summarize, all but the most experimental Wizard builds usually abide by the following standards:
- One Signature spell from the Primary tree
- One AP spender from Secondary
- Two supplementary damage sources from Force (All) or Conjuration (Familiar, Magic Weapon and Storm Armor only)
- One to two defensive skills from Defensive (All) or Conjuration (Energy and Ice Armor only)
- Up to one cooldown based skill from Mastery
Popular Skill and Rune Combinations
As mentioned earlier, as long as you follow a few basic guidelines, there is no such thing as a wrong build. However, thanks to their enhanced utility, certain Wizard skills meld more seamlessly into builds than others. Listed below are a few skill and rune combinations that have proven popular among today’s top players:
Magic Weapon + Force Weapon
Magic Weapon increases the damage bonus of your weapon by 10 percent. Toss on Force Weapon and the bonus increases to 20 percent. To illustrate how powerful this skill + rune combination is, imagine finding a godly one-handed weapon with 2,760 DPS.
Impossible, you say.
Why not at all. Magic Weapon + Force Weapon effectively transcends the weapon DPS boundaries set by Blizzard. With it equipped, an already powerful 2,300 DPS 1-handed weapon becomes a ungodly 2,760 DPS one. No wonder why this combination is used in nearly every Wizard build.
Familiar + Sparkflint
This combination is more powerful than it appears on paper. On its own, Sparkflint amplifies your DPS by exactly 10 percent, only 1/2 of the Magic Weapon + Force Weapon combination. But remember, with Familiar activated you gain an ally that cannot be targeted, does not need direction, and pumps out 179 percent weapon damage.
All told, the Familiar/Sparkflint combination is still not quite as effective as Magic Weapon + Force Weapon, but it’s close.
Energy Armor + Prismatic Armor or Pinpoint Barrier
Energy Armor is by far the most widely used defensive armor by Wizards, largely because it boosts your armor by a whopping 35 percent. Let’s say your fragile Wizard has 4,700 base armor, 400,000 life and 1,000 physical resistance at level 70 – a true glass cannon.
Should you get hit by a physical attack for 1,000,000 without Energy Armor activated you will take about 111,000, or more than a quarter of your life. With Energy Armor, that number is reduced to less than 86,000. It’s significant.
Factor in Prismatic Armor, which increases all resistances by 25 percent, and now the amount of damage you receive drops to about 76,000. Of course, if your base resistances aren’t lacking and your critical damage bonus is high, you are probably better off opting for Pinpoint Barrier and the 5 percent critical hit chance that comes with it.
There is one downside to Energy Armor – it lowers your Arcane Power pool by 20. It’s for this reason that it’s often paired with the passive skill Astral Presence.
Arcane Orb + Frozen Orb
Despite a recent nerf, Frozen Orb is still one of the most powerful AP spenders at a Wizard’s disposal, especially if your Arcane Power regeneration rate is high. Although not the single most powerful rune, Frozen Orb covers a much wider area than other runes, and has the added effect of slowing your foes. It’s perfect for either AoE farming and kiting mobs, and possesses a natural synergy with one of the Wizard’s most lethal elemental passives in Cold Snap.
Electrocute + Surge of Power
Electrocute + Surge of Power does decent enough damage on its own, more so if your gear features +Attack Speed. But its true utility is its ability to help you regenerate Arcane Power at an accelerated rate. Remember, Signature spells are only to be used when your Arcane Power resource is depleted. Surge of Power ensures shorter downtime, and because Electrocute is capable of striking multiple enemies at once, your valued resource will regen that much faster.
Archon + Improved Archon
Archon is the mother of all skills. Both defensive and offensive in nature, Archon grants the Wizard access to three exceedingly powerful abilities, augmented armor/resists and damage that increases with every kill. It’s godly, and Improved Archon only makes it 22 percent stronger.
It’s also on an extremely long cooldown and is best saved for use against only the most formidable enemies.
Note: While in Archon form, you will not have access to your chosen Wizard skills.
Black Hole + (insert here)
Black Hole is a viable alternative to Archon. More versatile than its powerful counterpart, Black Hole’s skill runes were designed to possess a natural synergy with most builds. For instance, Frozen Orb Wizards would choose Absolute Zero to enhance their Cold damage, while Fire Wizards can harness the power of Blazar. And anyone can benefit from the dual benefits of Spellsteal, which simultaneously increases your own damage while crippling that of your foes.
On its own, Black Hole doesn’t do all that much damage, but the short cooldown, favorable damage-per-AP cost ratio and diversified runes more than make up for its offensive shortcomings.
Popular Passive Skills
- Glass Cannon: More offense at the expense of Armor/resistances
- Blur: Increased defense
- Unwavering Will: Tailoring towards the tanking Wizard – increases offense/defense while standing still.
- Audacity: Another tanking/offensive survival skill – increase damage to enemies within close proximity
- Prodigy: Signature spells regenerate Arcane Power
- Astral Presence: Increases max AP and AP regeneration
- Cold Blooded: Increases cold damage
A Note on Build Synergy
Now that you’re familiar with the constituents of a viable Wizard build and some of the Wizard’s more effective skill/rune combinations, it’s high-time you put the pieces together.
Builds are greater than the sum of their individual parts. Toss the ten most popular Wizard skills into a build and it won’t necessarily be effective. No, in order to truly master the class you must learn which Wizard skills work in harmony with one another.
The best way to illustrate how Wizard build synergy functions is through an example:
Let’s say you’re dead set on AoE farming (a wise choice) and want to use Frozen Orb as your AP spender. Because Frozen Orb slows large groups of enemies, you don’t necessary need to overload on defensive skills. Instead you’re better off augmenting the damage of your orb via Magic Weapon + Force Weapon and Familiar + Sparkflint. Now your orbs are wreaking havoc. We can further increase their damage via the passive skill Cold Blooded and the Black Hole/Absolute Zero rune pairing.
Energy Armor will grant us increased Armor, which we’ll need when facing foes that don’t go down in 1-2 hits. Prodigy will increase our AP regeneration rate, allowing us to spam more orbs. And since most enemies will die before they get to us anyway, we can safety pick up Unwavering Will for its increased damage/armor/resistance capabilities.
Now we have an interesting dilemma. Should we opt for more damage or increased mitigation? The answer to that question will dictate whether we go with the passive Glass Cannon or Blur. Either way, both skills harmonize well with our other choices.
Finally, we need a Signature spell. If AP regeneration is still an issue we can substitute Unwavering Will out for Astral Presence. Electrocute + Surge of Power also works, but is slightly out of whack with the theme of our build. Magic Missile/Glacial Spike works better, due to the enhanced cold damage.
And walla, we’ve achieved synergy.
Admittedly, learning how to put together an awesome Wizard build takes a bit of practice, but by following the guidelines dictated in this guide you’ve already taken the first step.
In our next guide, we’ll be looking at a few different builds, and explaining why they work. Before long, you’ll find that achieving build synergy is not nearly as daunting a task as it initially sounds.