AoE dps witch build, for parties

I'm pretty new to PoE. I'm interested in making a witch that can do a good amount of AoE dps. Buffing (like auras) is a secondary consideration. I'll be partying with a couple-few other friends at all times on my witch (of which at least 2 of them will be frontliners), so I'm looking for a build that emphasizes offense a bit more and less on CC and defense than a typical solo build.

I've gone through the first 10 or so pages of the forum. From what I've managed to gleam, fire does the most damage (though that's DoT reliant, so in a party that's chewing through mobs quickly that's probably less useful), lightning seems to be a more middle ground, and ice is the best due to its CC and utility. Though I'm looking for an element and build that's more about AoE and burst damage. Is lighting what I should be looking at? Or is the utility of cold too good to pass up, even in a group?

I've never liked minions in games. If possible, I would like to pass up on summoning, managing, and maintaining any minions. Will this cripple me?

Could someone suggest some must-get skills I should aim for?
Any ideas?

Maybe even which side of the tree I ought to put my first point in :D?
I would recommend a hybrid build between AoE and single target.
Even if you play in a party, there are still some mobs that you will have to take on yourself, such as ones with flicker. On harder difficulties, when you die you lose xp, so relying on an ally to take hits for you while you channel a spell, is not something you want to do.

If you want to go complete AoE, you need to go into summoning, otherwise you can not defend yourself effectively.

Fire is quite usless atm, so I would say lightning or ice. I prefer ice.
The 3 spells I use are coldsnap (AoE), Ice Spear(Single target, better the farther they are away), and Freezing pulse(AoE and single target)

However, this game is about making unique characters. I am not hating against AoE witches, just have yet to see one that fairs well in higher difficulties.

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Aye, I understand that going completely AoE would be silly. I'd still need a single target spell to handle things on my own. It's not time efficient nor mana efficient to try to down a boss or clean up a couple stragglers with an AoE attack.

How much damage would I lose for hybridizing myself? I see that there are +X element damage nodes. I know as a melee DPS those nodes aren't all that useful. Is this the case with spell casters as well?

Also, in the case of ice vs lightning vs hybrids, what sort of pros and cons am I looking at?

Lastly, is there any "must get" skills I have to get? Just so I can start spending my points in a meaningful way while I feel out the class and its skills.
Last edited by Hailene on January 31, 2013 7:44 AM
A AoE/Single Hybrid would make you lose 1 of 2 things, AoE damage nodes, or some spell/elemental damage nodes. It depends on what you plan on using more. Although, overall if you choose to lose AoE dmg/radius nodes, you lose the least imo.

It is worth noting that most "single target" witches have one or two AoE spells, such as cold snap and freezing pulse for ice witches.

Elemental damage nodes are a get if they are near your path or if your doing multiple types of elements. If you decide to go one element, such as fire. Fire damage nodes benefit more in most cases.

Lightning vs hybrid vs ice
I have not messed around with lightning as much as I would like to, but it seems to be safe to say that they have a better damage output. Due to "shock", they take increased damage.

A hybrid build has only one advantage imo, it is the fact that they can rotate spells and ignore resistances with ease, that being said elemental equilibrium is a must if you hybrid elements.

Ice is extremely weak to start with, after 30 or so, you do a good bit of damage and freeze enemies. Due to ice being able to freeze eneimes and slow them, it tend to be a better survival tool then lightning/fire.

I would choose between lightning or ice, lightning if you need more damage, ice if you need to survive. I prefer ice, due to the ability to kite with ease if need be.

Skills that I feel are needed in EVERY build are:
Unnatural Calm (Especially if going CI)
Arcane Focus (too good to pass up, it is close to start point as well)
Element walkers (Fire, Ice, Lightning. W/e element you choose, would not recommend these if going hybrid)

CI skills if you want to take this route
CI (Obviously, do not take this skill till 2k+ ES)
ES nodes (cause its your only def)
DO NOT take health nodes, unless you are willing to refund them

Non CI skills
Life nodes (look for life nodes near other worthwhile skills, such as in the templar tree and shadow tree)

Ice skills rely on crit
Throat Seeker (since crit's are your main damage)
Doom cast (worth it)
Assassination (In the shadow tree, not a must, but it is really nice and its by a ton on helpful nodes)
Mental acuity (if going for assassination)
Ice skills/damage nodes

Lightning skills are essentially the same as ice, but with cast speed rather then crit dmg.
Doom cast (worth it)
Assassination (Same as ice)
Mental acuity (if you go for assassination)
cast speed whenever they present themselves without going to far away
Lightning skills/damage nodes

Curses if you choose to use them that is
Hex Master
Whispers of doom (if you do not have items that allow you to have two curses already)

Extra skills that are nice to get
Inner force (helps auras)
Mana regen nodes (the two best to aim for are at the start of the witch tree, and the other at the start of the templar tree)

I think that is everything

EDIT: Forgot to mention Arcane potency near the templar tree. its not needed but very nice for lightning and cold builds.

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Last edited by shibloble on January 31, 2013 8:23 AM
Thank you for that incredible post. If there was a rep system in the forum I'd give you all I could.

I want to go lightning, but I just remembered that my nephew already has a lightning witch. I guess I'll go ice for variety's sake.

Though is there some sort of synergy between having 2 lightning witches? Or are we putting too many eggs in too few baskets when we run into a lightning resistant mob? We'll probably have a third member if we're on our witches (not that I even know if we'll play our witches together, we all have several alts floating across multiple levels to play with different friends), but I know how tough it can be to DPS down a pesky group of mobs more or less by myself in a three player game.

Lastly...what is CI?
My bad my bad, CI is chaos inoculation, your life becomes 1, but you do not take chaos damage (damage that hits through your ES)

Having 2 lightning witches can work out well, if one of you aims to get curses while the other aims for maximum damage. The only thing is when you guys run into a lightning resistance mob, who is immune to curses, you guys will be in a rough spot.
The thought process behind any lightning witch is "If I kill them before they touch me, I won't die!"

This is easy to avoid however, have one of you run a fire spell and the other a ice spell. If the time comes when you need to, simply switch to those skills. Also there are penetration support gems that remove a fair chunk of resistance from that enemy, like a curse, but only affects the spell it is attached to.

On my ice witch, I have fire ball hiding in my hot keys just incase, and my single target ice spell has ice penetration.

With lightning build variety there are two/maybe three main builds that come to mind

1a)A build called a Spork Totem build (but these are the most easy on templars as they are right near all the needed passives)

1b) A normal Spork Witch build (Spork is a spark with the fork support gem attached to it) It is a castspeed heavy build, does not need that much crit (i do not like this build as it is a weaker version of the spork totem, the spork totem casts the same spell faster then you, and you have two totems at once.)

2)an arc build (uses the arc spell with fork as well, this is a better version of the normal spork build, but does not cast as fast as crit is needed)

Like I said, I haven't really played with lightning builds, so I am not sure if there are more. If lightning is like ice, there are will be 2/3 builds, which can vary a ton, but tends to have the same core.

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And if something goes wrong, you can always respec with orbs of regret. Most witch builds have the same core, so it shouldn't be too costly.

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Thank you again. I'll go hunt for some lightning witch guides.

A final (at least for now) question. What sort of itemization should I be gunning for? What sort of gear? (I imagine the ES gear, correct?) Furthermore, what stats should I aim to stack (and to what degree) and what stats to largely ignore?

Cast speed and crit are probably important. Are there any soft caps I should be aware of? Hard caps? If so, what are they?
While leveling and playing through the game, the stats (atleast for me) that are the most valuble on items are
-ES (percentage is better at higher levels such as 30+, flat is better before hand, take what ever gives more ES)
-Mana regen percentage
-Flat Mana

-Resistances to everything (Since your going lightning, lightning resis is the least needed due to your walker passive)

Things that are nice to have are
-Spell damage
-Movement Speed
-Critical chance
-Critical damage (ice build)
-Cast speed (lightning build)
-Extra life (this may be more useful then ES at low levels)
-Int, Str, Dex

Worthless stats
-physical damage
-Armor/Evasion (not horrible early on)

Concerning Stats, depending on your build you will most likely want to stack int and dex. taking that +30 dex node should give you enough until you get items that give you it. Some of the best support gems rely on dex.
If you choose to use totems, you need strength, the +30 strength node will help again
(nodes are near CI, just below it)

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