Diablo 3 Wizard Guide: Gameplay, Leveling, Skills & Builds

Published by admin on May 7th, 2012 - in Guides

Diablo 3 Wizard Guide

Instead of walking in to melee range, you probably prefer throwing destructive spells on your enemies from a safe distance. Wizard is a great class if you prefer slaying from a safe distance with your massively strong spells and area of effect abilities. This class is frequently compared to the Witch Doctor, but this post will tell you exactly why it’s completely unique and much different.

Wizard Gameplay

Diablo 3 Wizard Gameplay

Wizard class is great at area of effect (AoE) spells, kiting and defensive capabilities. The main difference between the Wizard and Witch Doctor classes is that the Wizard doesn’t rely on pets or mana, instead their main resource is Arcane Power, along with several powerful abilities which are free to cast. Wizards are very similar to Sorcerer class in Diablo 2 so if you liked playing that class, you will love Wizards as well.

This class is also great at kiting enemies with numerous slows, as well as excellent mobility. Your “Teleport” spell has only a 15 second cooldown. Teleporting too often can deplete your Arcane Power rather quickly though so you’ll want to slow and stun enemies as much as possible, and use your shields for defense when they get too close.

Wizard Resource System – Arcane Power

Diablo 3 Wizard Resource Arcane PowerArcane Power is Wizard’s resource for casting spells. It starts with a full bar and expends when you cast spells with a cost.

Arcane Power passively regenerates over time, and there are many skill runes you can use to increase its maximum amount (100) or regeneration rate. You can also regenerate Arcane Power by picking up health globes after slaying monsters. Arcane Power does regen fairly quickly, but casting your spells also depletes it rather quickly. Wizard frequently has to rely on kiting enemies and casting “Signature Spells” which have no cost in order to wait for AP to regen.

An important thing to note is that your spell’s damage is based on the weapon damage, and the delay between your attacks is equal to your attack speed even for spells. Equipping a slower two-handed weapon will make your spells deal more damage, but you will have a longer cooldown. However, since your arcane power regenerates at a flat rate or 10 per second, it’s more efficient to use spells with higher damage less frequently than the other way around.

If you do want to use a faster weapon, or if you picked up an incredibly powerful drop, I recommend you use Prodigy passive skill, which will give you an additional 4 AP each time you cast a signature spell (no cost skills). There’s also the Attunement skill rune available at level 42 which will give you another 4 AP each time you cast the Magic Missile spell. It will go a long way to making sure you don’t run burn through arcane power as fast as you normally would.

Wizard Strengths & Weaknesses

If you compare other Diablo 3 classes to the Wizard, the only thing this class doesn’t excel at is single target damage dealing. It’s much better at AoE spells, so try to take an advantage of that as frequently as possible.

Wizards can also frequently run out of Arcane Power when casting spells quickly, so you will have to learn to properly manage your resource system. I don’t actually see this as a disadvantage, as you have access to several great skills with no AP cost.

As I already mentioned Wizards in D3 are great at kiting with several mobility spells as well as various forms of crowd control: roots, snares and stuns. That makes it hard for enemies to reach you, and even if they do you have amazing shield abilities you can use to help you survive.

Wizard ´╗┐Gameplay Tips

  • Learn to manage your arcane power – don’t spend all your AP on weak enemies, try not to spend all of your AP at all if possible. You should always save enough for escape or defensive purposes if you find yourself in trouble. Using slow weapons is typically recommended.
  • Use your AoE effectively: try to gather as many enemies as possible when you use are of effect abilities. It helps you conserve Arcane Power and you’ll end up having less downtime when leveling or farming.
  • Always stay at range – if possible always stay as far away from your enemies as you can. Wizards are very fragile at melee, so pick up some crowd control skills and not just damage dealing ones.
  • Use proper equipment – usually you’ll want to balance out your offensive and defensive skills and items, but sometimes you’ll just want to go glass cannon build, which I don’t recommend. If you’re a master of kiting and find that enemies almost never reach you, perhaps you can itemize more for damage rather than defense, or pick up another damage dealing skill. If on the other hand you frequently find yourself in melee range, consider another crowd control ability or using a shield instead of an orb.

Wizard Skills & Abilities

Diablo 3 Wizard Slow Time Ability

In Diablo 2 the Sorceress was specialized into just a few spells, but in Diablo 3 you’ll have many more abilities in your arsenal. You also don’t have to constantly worry about your mana pool, as the Arcane Power resource system is (in my opinion) much better. The tables below will give you an overview of all Wizard active and passive abilities along with their cooldowns and costs.

Active Skills

Magic Missile.png Magic Missile Requires Level 1 No cost.

Launch a missile of magic energy, causing 110% weapon damage as Arcane.

Skill Runes: Charged Blast, Split, Penetrating Blast, Attunement, Seeker

Frost Nova.png Frost Nova Requires Level 4 No cost. Cooldown: 12 seconds
Blast nearby enemies with an explosion of ice and freeze them for 3 seconds.
Skill Runes: Shatter, Cold Snap, Frozen Mist, Deep Freeze, Bone Chill
Ice Armor.png Ice Armor Requires Level 14 Costs 25
Surround yourself in a barrier of ice. Melee attackers are either Chilled or Frozen for 2 seconds. Lasts 120 seconds.
Skill Runes: Chilling Aura, Crystallize, Jagged Ice, Ice Reflect, Frozen Storm
Shock Pulse.png Shock Pulse Requires Level 3 No cost.

Release a medium range pulse of 3 unpredictable charges of electricity that deal 105% weapon damage as Lightning.

Skill Runes: Explosive Bolts, Fire Bolts, Piercing Orb, Lightning Affinity, Living Lightning

Wave of Force.png Wave of Force Requires Level 9 Costs 25 Cooldown: 15 seconds
Discharge a wave of pure energy that repels projectiles and knocks back nearby enemies. This also slows the movement of enemies by 60% and deals 200% weapon damage as Physical.
Skill Runes: Impactful Wave, Force Affinity, Forceful Wave, Teleporting Wave, Exploding Wave
Spectral Blade.png Spectral Blade Requires Level 11 No cost.

Summon a spectral blade that strikes all enemies in your path for 135% weapon damage.

Skill Runes: Deep Cuts, Impactful Blades, Siphoning Blade, Healing Blades, Thrown Blade

Electrocute.png Electrocute Requires Level 15 No cost.

Lightning arcs from your fingertips, dealing 80% weapon damage as Lightning. The lightning can jump, hitting up to 2 additional enemies.

Skill Runes: Chain Lightning, Forked Lightning, Lightning Blast, Surge of Power, Arc Lightning

Magic Weapon.png Magic Weapon Requires Level 20 Costs 25
Imbue your weapon with magical energy, granting it 10% increased damage. Lasts 5 minutes.
Skill Runes: Electrify, Force Weapon, Conduit, Venom, Blood Magic
Arcane Orb.png Arcane Orb Requires Level 5 Costs 35
Hurl an orb of pure energy that explodes when it hits, dealing 175% weapon damage as Arcane to all enemies within 10 yards.
Skill Runes: Obliteration, Arcane Orbit, Arcane Nova, Tap the Source, Celestial Orb
Diamond Skin.png Diamond Skin Requires Level 8 No cost. Cooldown: 15 seconds
Transform your skin to diamond for 6 seconds, absorbing up to 10853 damage from incoming attacks.
Skill Runes: Crystal Shell, Prism, Mirror Skin, Enduring Skin, Diamond Shards
Energy Twister.png Energy Twister Requires Level 13 Costs 35
Unleash a twister of pure energy that deals 360% weapon damage as Arcane over 6 seconds to everything in its path.
Skill Runes: Mistral Breeze, Gale Force, Raging Storm, Wicked Wind, Storm Chaser
Disintegrate.png Disintegrate Requires Level 21 Costs 20
Thrust a beam of pure energy forward, dealing 155% weapon damage as Arcane and disintegrating enemies it kills.
Skill Runes: Convergence, Chaos Nexus, Volatility, Entropy, Intensify
Storm Armor.png Storm Armor Requires Level 17 Costs 25
Bathe yourself in electrical energy, shocking ranged and melee attackers for 70% weapon damage as Lightning. Lasts 120 seconds.
Skill Runes: Reactive Armor, Power of the Storm, Strike Back, Scramble, Shocking Aspect
Explosive Blast.png Explosive Blast Requires Level 19 Costs 20 Cooldown: 6 seconds

Gather an infusion of energy around you that explodes after 1.5 seconds, causing 225% weapon damage as Physical to all enemies within 12 yards.

Skill Runes: Unleashed, Time Bomb, Short Fuse, Obliterate, Chain Reaction

Mirror Image.png Mirror Image Requires Level 25 No cost. Cooldown: 15 seconds
Summon 2 illusionary duplicates of yourself that last for 7 seconds and have 25% of your Life. The images may cast some of the same spells as you, but those spells deal no damage.
Skill Runes: Simulacrum, Duplicates, Mocking Demise, Extension of Will, Mirror Mimics
Slow Time.png Slow Time Requires Level 16 No cost. Cooldown: 20 seconds
Invoke a bubble of warped time and space for 8 seconds, reducing enemy attack speed by 20% and movement speed by 30%. This bubble also slows the movement of enemy projectiles by 90%.
Skill Runes: Miasma, Time Warp, Time Shell, Perpetuity, Stretch Time
Teleport.png Teleport Requires Level 22 Costs 15 Cooldown: 16 seconds
Teleport through the ether to the selected location up to 35 yards away.
Skill Runes: Safe Passage, Wormhole, Reversal, Fracture, Calamity
Hydra.png Hydra Requires Level 21 Costs 15
Summon a multi-headed Hydra for 15 seconds that attacks enemies with bolts of fire dealing 28% weapon damage as Fire. You may only have one Hydra active at a time.
Skill Runes: Arcane Hydra, Lightning Hydra, Venom Hydra, Frost Hydra, Mammoth Hydra
Ray of Frost.png Ray of Frost Requires Level 2 Costs 20
Project a beam of frozen ice that blasts 215% weapon damage as Cold to the first enemy it hits, slowing the target’s movement by 30% for 3 seconds.
Skill Runes: Numb, Snow Blast, Cold Blood, Sleet Storm, Black Ice
Energy Armor.png Energy Armor Requires Level 28 Costs 25
Focus your energies, increasing your Armor by 65% but decreasing your maximum Arcane Power by 20. Lasts 120 seconds.
Skill Runes: Absorption, Pinpoint Barrier, Energy Tap, Force Armor, Prismatic Armor
Arcane Torrent.png Arcane Torrent Requires Level 12 Costs 20
Hurl a barrage of arcane projectiles that deal 175% weapon damage as Arcane to all enemies near the impact location.
Skill Runes: Disruption, Death Blossom, Arcane Mines, Power Stone, Cascade
Meteor.png Meteor Requires Level 25 Costs 60
Summon an immense Meteor that plummets from the sky, causing 200% weapon damage as Fire to all enemies it crashes into. The ground it hits is scorched with molten fire that deals 60% weapon damage as Fire over 3 seconds.
Skill Runes: Molten Impact, Star Pact, Meteor Shower, Comet, Liquefy
Blizzard.png Blizzard Requires Level 27 Costs 45
Call down shards of ice to pelt an area, dealing 210% weapon damage as Cold to all enemies in the area over 6 seconds. Multiple casts in the same area do not stack.
Skill Runes: Grasping Chill, Frozen Solid, Snowbound, Stark Winter, Unrelenting Storm
Familiar.png Familiar Requires Level 22 Costs 20
Summon a companion that will attack your targets for 20% weapon damage as Arcane. This companion cannot be targeted or damaged by enemies and lasts for 5 minutes.
Skill Runes: Sparkflint, Dartling, Ancient Guardian, Arcanot, Cannoneer
Archon.png Archon Requires Level 30 Costs 25 Cooldown: 120 seconds seconds
Transform into a being of pure Arcane energy for 15 seconds. While in Archon form, your normal abilities are replaced by powerful Archon abilities, and your Armor and resistances are increased by 40%. Every enemy killed while in Archon form adds 1 second to the duration of Archon.
Skill Runes: Arcane Destruction, Teleport, Pure Power, Slow Time, Improved Archon

Passive Skills

Power Hungry.png Power Hungry Requires Level 10 Gain 30 Arcane Power whenever you are healed by a health globe.
Temporal Flux.png Temporal Flux Requires Level 45 Whenever you deal Arcane damage, enemies are slowed by 30% for 2 seconds.
Glass Cannon.png Glass Cannon Requires Level 16 Increases all damage done by 15%, but decreases Armor and resistances by 10%.
Prodigy.png Prodigy Requires Level 20 When you deal damage with a Signature spell, you gain 4 Arcane Power.
Astral Presence.png Astral Presence Requires Level 24 Increases your maximum Arcane Power by 20 and Arcane Power regeneration by 2 per second.
Illusionist.png Illusionist Requires Level 27 Whenever you suffer more than 15% of your Life in a single hit, the cooldowns on Mirror Image and Teleport are automatically reset.
Galvanizing Ward.png Galvanizing Ward Requires Level 40 Increases the duration of your Armor spells by 120 seconds. As long as an Armor spell is active, you gain 310 Life per second.
Blur.png Blur Requires Level 10 Decreases melee damage taken by 20%.
Evocation.png Evocation Requires Level 13 Reduces all cooldowns by 15%.
Arcane Dynamo.png Arcane Dynamo Requires Level 55 When you deal damage with a Signature spell you may gain a Flash of Insight. After 5 Flashes of Insight, your next non-Signature spell deals 75% additional damage.
Unstable Anomaly.png Unstable Anomaly Requires Level 60 When reduced below 20% Life, release a shockwave that knocks all enemies back. This effect cannot occur more than once every 60 seconds.


Diablo 3 Wizard Build

Having the right builds can definitely make a huge impact on your gameplay experience. Some spells and skill runes are a lot powerful than others, and certain spells make it easier to level up or PvP other players. Every player should however make builds according to their own play style, but below you’ll be able to find out which spells are generally considered better for particular situations.

If you have any of your own builds you want to share you’re welcome to post them in the comments section at the end of this guide.

Leveling Builds

Diablo 3 Wizard Leveling Guide

For leveling you should focus on maximizing your AoE damage. As mentioned Wizards are great at damaging multiple targets, so anything that helps you with it is helpful. Also, you’ll want to invest into crowd control abilities that enable you to keep enemies at range while your AP regenerates.

Recommended abilities:

Level 1-10:

  • Magic Missile is your bread and butter for the first few levels. It’s a signature skill (no cost) and you’ll be using it whenever possible or necessary.
  • Frost Nova is available at level 4 and it’s an amazing spell, enabling you to deal AoE damage and snare enemies. You’ll have to wait until level 12 though to get the first skill rune, Shatter.
  • Diamond Skin is your first armor skill and I recommend you pick it up, as it will help you absorb a ton of damage when you find yourself in trouble. If enemies never get to you, use a DPS ability instead, but in my experience sooner or later you’ll make a mistake.
  • At level 9, Wave of Force will help you tremendously. This skill knocks back nearby enemies and repels projectiles, as well as deal damage and slow the enemies. You’ll be using it quite often.
  • Once you reach level 10, you need to decide whether you want Power Hungry or Blur passive skill. Power Hungry will enable you to gain AP whenever you pick up a health globe, while Blur will decrease the melee damage you take by 20%. Personally I prefer Power Hungry and rely on kiting and other defensive abilities, rather than damage mitigation this early.

Level 10-20:

  • At level 15 you’ll want to replace Magic Missile with Electrocute. It deals a bit more damage, and by using proper skill runes (Chain Lightning at first) you can deal decent AoE damage with it.
  • Slow Time is available at level 16 and it’s highly useful. You’ll be able to slow down enemies movement and attack speeds, but more importantly you’ll be able to dodge enemy spells easily since the bubble slows projectile movement by 90%.
  • Explosive Blast is an excellent AoE ability available to you at level 19, so you might want to pick it up as well.

Level 20-30:

  • If you feel safe enough, especially if you picked up some good resistance gear, take Glass Cannon passive skill. It’ll increase your damage by 20% which is significant.
  • At level 22 you should pick up Teleport. Kiting becomes so much easier, and you’ll get out of many bad situations with this.
  • Meteor becomes available at level 25, and it deals a ton of area of effect damage.
  • At level 27, Blizzard becomes available, but you might want to wait until level 35 to use it when you have access to Grasping Chill skill rune.

More detailed recommended Wizard Leveling Builds

PvE Builds

If you’re looking to farm monsters and want to slay bosses, you’ll need to focus on maximizing single target damage and survivability/mobility. You’ll want to be using a bit less AoE attacks but more single-target spells.

At inferno difficulty you’ll want to consider picking spells according to their damage types: Arcane, Cold, Fire, Lightning, or Poison. Monsters often have lots of resistances to a particular type, so don’t pick two spells with the same damage type.

PvP Builds

If you’re a fan of fighting other players, your builds should focus on single target damage, and especially snares, stuns and mobility. You’ll want to keep everyone away from you as far as possible, as you are weakest in melee range. The two skills I can recommend are Teleport and Slow Time. Example builds will be posted soon.

Wizard Weapons & Armor

Diablo 3 Wizard Weapons and Armor

In Diablo 3 Wizards are able to use a wide variety of weapons. Of course they can use staves, wands, off-hand orbs and magical daggers, but also one-handed swords, two-handed axes, bows and spears. For armor you’ll start with cloth, but eventually move on to better leather pieces. Also at higher levels you’ll get access to ornamental and protective equipment like crowned headpieces or metal plating armor.

Wizard specific weapons and armor include:

  • Orbs – these off hand item pieces increase your damage and add random attributes
  • Wands – wands are typical weapons you’ll want to use on Wizards. Most of them just give you damage with an average of 1.4 attacks per second, but better ones will also give you additional random properties.
  • Wizard Hats – these headpieces not only look awesome, but add decent amounts of armor and sometimes random properties

Wizard Stats & Attributes

Diablo 3 Wizard Stats and Attributes Window

Out of the four primary stats, Wizard only benefit from two: Intelligence and Vitality. Each point of intelligence increases your damage by 1% flat, and also your resistances by 0.1%. Vitality is useful to all classes, but Wizard perhaps needs it most considering it’s the most fragile one. Despite having plenty of escape tools sometimes you simply have to get hit, and having a higher health pool is very beneficial, especially if you’re not using Diamond Skin or Energy Armor spells.

You will almost always want to avoid getting Dexterity and Strength attributes on equipment as they are highly inefficient.

From secondary stats, here are the more useful ones:

  • Damage – increases your base and spell damage of course
  • Critical Chance – some of your spells (or their effects) rely on critical strikes so this stat can increase your damage. Bonus Damage to Critical Hit stat is also helpful here.
  • Attack Speed – as mentioned above, using a slower attack speed weapon can be beneficial in most cases considering how arcane power works. Be careful with this stat!
  • Resistances – obviously having higher resistances is always a good thing, so don’t skip this necessarily. You should have fairly high resistances though if you stack enough intellect.
  • Lifesteal – considering Wizards have no healing abilities, having damage dealt convert to life can decrease your downtime when leveling or farming.


Wizards are the masters of ranged spellcasting, mobility and area of effect damage. Wizard is one of the two casters in Diablo 3, so if you prefer this type of gameplay you might want to pick up this class as your main. Witch Doctors usually sit back and let their pets tank for them which can make for a boring experience. Wizards on the other hand always have to be vigilant and mobile, making sure to kite enemies as much as possible. Their abilities are well balanced, fun to use and require constant attention and proper arcane power management. If you want a challenge, play a Wizard.

I do hope this guide helped you gain some insight into this class. If you have your own tips, be sure to share them with everyone in the comments below. For those of you looking for more detailed Wizard class guide click this link to see my recommendation.

2 Responses

  1. mr. petrous says:

    I wouldn’t recommend Wizard for beginners or casual players. This class is more difficult to play than witch doctor who can just tank mobs with pets all day long. If you just want to go through singleplayer pick WD it will be easier.

  2. Ice King says:

    I disagree, A wizard can solo the game very simply with the Frost Nova ability. It’s the only thing that I’ve found that also stops Treasure Goblins/pygmy’s/seekers/etc. Other than A barbarian’s ground stomp, which in my experience does not deliver AS SIGNIFICANT AS stopping for the treasure beast, or anything else as frost nova.

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