3.9 The Blood Witch Tank - 7.5K life, 2k+ regen - Skeleton Army

Are you tired of squishy builds? Do you like to play minion builds, but also like to be in the middle of the action instead of running away?

Introducing The Blood Witch Tank.

No, we don't use Righteous fire in this build. This is only to showcase the power of it.  We have none of the normal RF items and only 76% Fire Resistance, but we achieve enough regen to sustain Righteous Fire.
It's easy, cheap, and should have no issues with the new content.

So just how much regen do we have?

Even without the increased life regen of Blood Offering we are sitting at over 2,200 life regenerated per second.

Blood Magic or Mana?

Originally I always ran BM with this build.  It's easier to gear as a league starter since you don't need to look for +mana and/or % increased mana regen on your gear.  Focus on life and resists.  That's it.

However, with the change to Femurs of the Saints in 3.8 giving us increased mana regen rate per spectre we are now able to run the build without issues on mana.  By forgoing BM we can instead put those points into the Purity of Flesh wheel.  This allows us to end up with the same total life as if we took the BM cluster, but with an additional 20% Chaos resistance.  Dropping BM allows us to add another aura to the build now so we'll take Flesh and Stone.  Thanks to Tadian for the idea to drop Blood Magic. I didn't think to try it since Femurs of the Saints didn't use to give us mana regen.  Build is better without it now.

What minions are used?
11 Skeletons
11 Zombies
4 Spectres (with Lvl 21 Raise Spectre. 3 otherwise)
2 Golems
42 Vaal Skeletons - Only used for bosses
1 Animated Guardian (I don't use it, but it is an option)

Run around with a zombie meat shield for protection while popping skeletons as needed.  The skeletons are our main source of damage while the two golems and our spectres are there to provide buffs to them and us.  Carnage and Host Chieftains for charges, stone golem for life regen, and a carrion golem for some more physical damage for the skeletons.

What's the damage?

NOTE: I always only use 20/20 gems in POB. No 21/20 or Awakened versions so DPS will be higher if you invest in the build.

482K Shaper DPS per skeleton puts us at a total of 5mil+ Shaper DPS just from the skeletons.  While Zombies are not our main source of DPS, we they do also give us another 1.5 milion Shaper DPS against anything that attacks us.  Our Nuke Button is Vaal Summon skeletons.  While mapping we only use the regular skeletons, but when a boss or metamorph fight starts one tap of the vaal button and your screen is filled with an additional 42 bad ass skeletons that will eat that boss up faster than a fat kid eating a snickers.  These add an additional burst DPS of 10mil+.  Four or five leagues I've been playing with these guys now and I'm still impressed with how quickly and easily they kill anything in front of them.

TOTAL DPS = 16.5 million Shaper DPS

I say "realistic total" because we all know minions can be fairly stupid at times. They are definitely better than they used to be, but there are still times where you'll be wondering why certain minions are just standing there instead of attacking. Cut the total DPS in half just to be overly safe in the estimate(only 1/2 of the minions consistently attacking while the other half stare at the sky and daydream).


NOTE: Ignore my gem links as this is league character I am still leveling and gearing.

Every league this is a cheap weapon, but in a mixed summoner build it is surprisingly good.
+2 to minion gems? check
Increased minion damage? check
On top of that we get an additional 6.6% life regen. You can't beat it in terms of combined damage and survivability

This chest give a decent amount of life, regen, and makes our minions tankier.  Our outrageous regen also allows us to make use of Blood Offering without the worries of draining our life pool. In a pure physical build this is the best of the offerings IMO as it gives our minions both survivability from the regen along with 50% increased damage.

We use The Baron like many zombie builds, but we aren't focused on reaching 1K strength for life leech since our zombies aren't our DPS source. We only need to reach 600 strength for +2 Zombies.

These gloves help us break the 600 strength mark to get 2 more zombies and also give us an additional 2% life regen.

I love this watcher's eye and not many people use it so it's on the cheaper side.  Usually only 1 or 2 exalts. Permanent phasing means we are never stuck behind our minions or enemies.  If things get too tough you will always have the ability to get out of the trouble.

Other Gear:
Rest of the gear slots are whatever rares you can get with resists, life, strength and some dex to fill missing requirements.  Strength is more important than Dex up until you can hit the 600 mark. Level your Haste gem as high as your dex will allow. Reaching 155 for max level Haste is just a luxury.

Gem Links

Weapon: Vaal Summon Skeletons - Brutality - Minion Damage - Melee Physical - Maim - Ruthless
This is your main damage source.  Links are in order of importance.

Helmet:   Raise Spectre - Blood Magic - [color=#0000ff]Summon Carrion Golem[/span] - Fortify
If you have the exalts to spend on Kingmaker you can replace Fortify with Animate Guardian

Chest:     Raise Zombie - Meat Shield - Fortify - Brutality - Melee Physical Damage - Minion Damage
Our zombies are our defense.  They provide us with life regen and also taunt and attack anything that targets us.That's why the defense links are first.  In lower tier maps you can get away with replacing Meat Shield with Feeding Frenzy, but if you notice they start dying then it's time to put Meat Shield back.  You can also replace Minion Damage with Minion Life if needed.

Gloves:   Flesh and Stone - Leap Slam - Fortify - Faster Attacks
Movement ability and one of our two aura's.

Boots:     Cast when Damage Taken (1) - Convocation (5) - Enfeeble (5) - Desecrate (7)
Make sure you don't over-level the gems or cwdt won't trigger them.  We leap slam into packs to give ourselves the fortify buff and the cwdt setup pull all of our minions along with us while also cursing the enemy.  My curse preference is defensive, but you can use Vulnerability instead for a 40k DPS boost per skeleton.

Unset Ring:  Summon Stone Golem
More regen. Self Explanatory

Unset Ring:  Vaal Haste
Our second and final aura. Provides us with more speed and our minions with more speed and DPS.  You need 155 dex for a level 20 Haste. Level this gem as high as your dex will allow. Use vaal haste at the boss for another 70K DPS boost per skeleton.


1. Mindless Aggression - Increases the movement speed of our minions.
2. Bone Barrier - Excellent defensive buffs, resistances, and the Bone Armor skill.
3. Unnatural Strength - +2 to all minion gems is a huge DPS boost.

Final two points are your choice:
a. Plaguebringer - Recommended. 10% more damage for our minions along with enemies dealing 10% reduced damage. Great balance between DPS and survivability.
b. Commander of Darkness - Not as much of a DPS increase as option a, but provides another 20% all resistances if you are having trouble finding gear with the required strength and resists.
c. Mistress of Sacrifice - No DPS boost, but your offering also affect you. Not a worthwhile choice for this build IMO since we already have such high life regen.
d. Essence Glutton - I have not tested this, but with the mana regen for allies our spectres may be able to generate enough frenzy charges without linking them to blood magic. Would allow you to move the Stone Golem and only search for 1 unset ring instead of 2. Again, if it works, I have not tested it.

POB link:

POB link includes realistic example gear with Tier 2 and lower rolls.  Comes out to 7,500 life and 2,200 life regen per second.  If you want to invest in better gear breaking the 8k life mark should be achievable.
8 leveling skill trees are included going from 46 points up the max 123 points for you overachievers that want to play until level 100.

My Progress:

I've had a slow time leveling this league as I've spent quite a bit of time playing with the kids at their lower levels so I am only at yellow tier maps and level 81. Still, even with all 4 links everything is very smooth. Only 2 deaths so far and both of them were in Mud Flats Act 6. I blew past Kitava and forgot about the resist penalty until those fire dudes wiped the floor with me.
Last edited by stoudtlr on Jan 8, 2020, 1:26:29 PM
Last bumped on Mar 10, 2020, 9:44:39 PM
Didn't get to level as much as I wanted to today. Only level 28 at the moment. Was 10 minutes away from finishing Act 2 when my son decided he wanted to play as well so I teamed up with him and redid everything I had already done on my own.

Start of Act 3 now and everything is running smoothly. Leveling with the minions is easy, but you do need to watch the zombies and resummon from time to time.

Zombies, minion damage and melee splash - Mainly for protection but they do clear some trash with their slam.
Skeletons, minion damage and melee physical - Provide most of the damage
SRS, melee physical, added fire - Only used on bosses and will drop them once i get 4link Skeletons.
I'm leveling with this build right now, and as expected it's very, very smooth leveling with a summoner build.

I'm hoping you'll get to updating this guide with more indepth info, leveling sections and everything, because it looks great!

Enjoying it so far.
Wallwalker22 wrote:
I'm leveling with this build right now, and as expected it's very, very smooth leveling with a summoner build.

I'm hoping you'll get to updating this guide with more indepth info, leveling sections and everything, because it looks great!

Enjoying it so far.

I'm glad you're liking it so far. I plan to have the guide updated tomorrow. One big change is the weapon. We are still using Femur of the Saints, but since I skipped last league I didn't realize that the mods changed in patch 3.8. The changes mean we will have slightly less damage than I had with the old version, but we are going to be even tankier.

Life Regen per zombie?! :-o
Build change is going to add The Baron and Meginord's vice gloves to put us at 600 strength. Another 2% life Regen from Meginord's and breaking 600 strength gives us two more zombies for a total of 11. 11 x .6% (femur bonus) plus the 2% from Meginord's gives us an additional 8.6% Regen on top of what the build already had.

To put that into perspective we would have enough Regen to sustain Righteous Fire without even being a RF build. No Rise of the Phoenix shield and no Purity of Fire but we can still out-regen the degen of RF. That kind of Regen on a build that doesn't use RF I would call a win. If they don't one shot us they won't kill us.
First post updated with some changes. This is turning out extremely tanky. I'm really loving the changes to Femurs of the Saints and the changes I made to my build to maximize those changes. Gear and gem links in POB, but I'll be updating the first post again later to add everything there as well.
Hey, just making my second char this league with this build now and it's really fun, especially with all the items already available and affordable.

The only thing that bothers me a bit is Blood Magic. Do you really think it's needed? So far I didn't spec into it and I don't have any problems with mana even while Haste Aura is active.

Even if its getting a bit low sometime later maybe I would rather use a Mana Flask with "Not removed at full" mod and something useful on it than 2 Life Flasks.
Last edited by Tadian on Dec 17, 2019, 9:28:04 PM
Tadian wrote:

The only thing that bothers me a bit is Blood Magic. Do you really think it's needed? So far I didn't spec into it and I don't have any problems with mana even while Haste Aura is active.

Glad you're trying it out! Blood Magic definitely isn't needed. It just gives us a larger life pool. If you unspec the one strength node and the 4 nodes at BM I would put those 5 points into Sovereignty. You could still come close to 7K life and with the reduced mana reserverd nodes now also be able to run Pride. That would add ~100k DPS per skeleton breaking the 6mil Shaper DPS mark.

The only issue with that is you might not have enough mana to be able to resummon your zombies if any die unless you turn off Pride and then it's only one at a time while you wait for your mana to refill. The regen provided from Femur and the zombies is a large part of our survivability so you want to be sure you can quickly resummon them if needed.

I made the POB without any lab enchants taken into consideration since they can be hard to get, but if you managed to get reduced mana reservation enchant for either Pride or Haste that should solve all mana issues you might have.
First post has been updated. Tried out Tadian's suggestion and dropped Blood Magic. With the mana regen Femurs gives us from our spectres there are zero issues now. Gem links are now in the post as well as an updated POB.
Having a lot of fun with the build. I have been thinking about anointing [utmost might] +40 strength, 8% inc strength seems like a great deal, or is there a better node for this build?
which spectres are we supposed to use? loving the build so far
EDIT: Nvm found it
Last edited by DerechteDodo on Dec 21, 2019, 2:30:18 PM

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