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Diablo 3 Necromancer guide: 10 tips for beginners

How to start off on the right, half-decayed foot

Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

At BlizzCon 2016, Diablo 3’s developers announced The Rise of the Necromancer, an expansion that would resurrect the Necromancer class. Now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC, The Rise of the Necromancer includes many new skills, runes and items. There’s a lot to take in. Here are 10 tips to help you master the Necromancer and dominate Diablo 3 season 11, which begins July 20.

Try out every skill during the campaign

Establishing your play style for a given class is crucial to reaching greater heights in Diablo 3. Whether you are trying out Diablo 3: The Rise of the Necromancer for the first time or just jumping back in to test the new class, play through the campaign. This will be a slower leveling experience than grinding out Nephalem Rifts, but it will give you a great chance to test out different builds.

As you level up, you will gain more skills. Every time you get a new ability or rune, pop them onto your bar and see how it feels. If you love it, keep it. If it isn’t your style, keep it in mind for later use, and go back to what you were using. This way, by the time you reach level 70, you will have a solid idea of what all of your skills can offer you.

Don’t leave the corpses to rot

Necromancers have a unique currency. When your enemies die, they leave behind corpses, and you can manipulate these vacated husks with your magic, transforming them into deadly weapons to destroy the still-living hordes. The more enemies you kill, the more corpses they leave behind. The process is cyclical.

You have an entire corpse skill tree at your disposal, filled with abilities that take your corpses and turn them into tools for your own use. But if you don’t use those skills, the corpses will fade into dust and become useless. Seize the moment and blow up some dead bodies.

Bone Spike’s Sudden Impact rune will save your life

Bone Spike is the first skill you’ll learn in The Rise of the Necromancer. After leveling up, Sudden Impact will become available for you to use. This rune that augments Bone Spike to stun enemies for one full second.

Guaranteed crowd control is very powerful in Diablo 3: The Rise of the Necromancer. Every moment that your enemies are stunned is a moment when they aren’t trying to kill you. Use this early and often.

Command your army

A giant army of skeltons, golems and one derpy yeti.
Blizzard Entertainment/Activision Blizzard

Being a Necromancer is all about summoning zombies and skeletons to do the work for you. The Witch Doctor, another Diablo 3 class, offers something similar with its Zombie Dogs and Gargantuan. The Necromancer class sets itself apart in its active requirements for maintaining your army.

Your Command Skeletons skill passively grants you a small skeleton army at all times. Activating this ability, however, will send your army to attack an enemy of your choosing. When augmented with runes, commanding your skeletons could increase their attack speed or even make them explode.

Similarly, Command Golem grants you a fleshy friend that will hit your enemies. But the real benefit comes when you activate the skill, causing your golem to explode into usable corpses.

Using all of the skill, rather than just the passive parts, will be crucial on your journey to defeat the lord of all demons.

Spend Essence before you generate it

Essence, a blue substance generated when you hit enemies with primary skills, is your main resource in The Rise of the Necromancer. There is precious little of it to go around, and you’ll spend it to use many of your powerful skills. To waste it would be a terrible thing, so make sure that your pool of Essence is low before casting a primary skill.

The Frailty Curse is your new best friend

The Frailty Curse will instantly kill any enemy below 15 percent health. The effect lasts for 30 seconds, can curse multiple enemies at once and only costs 10 Essence per use.

This ability is extremely powerful and cheap to use. Forcing any enemy to die at 15 percent health means that Frailty Curse has the potential to do some of the highest damage in the game. Essentially, you are able to reduce any enemies’ base health by 15 percent, which is nothing short of overpowered.

Stick to range

Will all of the cool bone armor and spikes in Diablo 3: The Rise of the Necromancer, it can be easy to forget that you are an Intelligence class. The Necromancer is squishy, easy to kill like the Witch Doctor and Wizard. As such, stay away from enemies whenever possible. This allows your minions to do most of the fighting. Otherwise, you will end up dead before you can toss a Bone Lance.

Don’t shy away from danger

This may seem like the antithesis to the above tip, but the Necromancer has some fantastic ways to survive — as long as your prepare for it. There are plenty of powerful defensive passives hidden away in the Necromancer’s kit.

  • Passives that increase your life on hit like Draw Life and Grisly Tribute will keep you around long enough to get some work done in battle. As long as you are doing damage, you will constantly be getting a steady stream of health redistributed back into your pool.
  • There are also passives that prevent you from death entirely like Final Service, which renders you immune after taking fatal damage, or Rathma’s Shield, which prevent all damage after a brief time when casting certain spells like Land of the Dead.
  • If you want to be a melee-focused Necromancer without any pets to fight your battles for you, you could even take Stand Alone, which doubles your armor as long as you have no minions.

These skills are all excellent for keeping you alive, but if you don’t equip them, you will fall against the endless waves of the undead.

Be wary of Blood Skills

Blizzard Entertainment/Activision Blizzard

The Necromancer is all about blood and bones, so many skills cost health to cast. In fact, several of your abilities will gain late-game runes that make them cost health in exchange for immense power. The upgrades may seem tempting, but you have to be prepared to pay with your own life.

Only use Blood Skills if you have high life on hit, great regen or are using a passive like Life from Death, which grants a 20 percent chance to generate a health globe after consuming a corpse. If you are too reckless, you will kill yourself with blood magic before the demons get the chance.

Cooldown skills are worth taking

In Diablo 3, skills with a 120-second cooldown are immediately concerning. The game is very fast, so a skill with a long cooldown seems wasteful. In many cases that can be true, but the Necromancer is different. Skills like Army of the Dead and Land of the Dead both have long cooldowns, but they offer tremendous power than can wipe out even the game’s most powerful enemies. Don’t be afraid to use them.

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