Aug 01 2012

Diablo 3: Video Guide to the Wind-up Wizard build with Inferno Gameplay

So I decided to make a video explaining the Wind-Up Wizard build (a build based around the Critical Mass passive + Energy Twister -> Wicked Wind) as well as demonstrating some gameplay using the build in A2 Inferno to give you guys an idea of how the build plays and what its strengths and weaknesses are. I also managed to get myself killed like an idiot a couple of times because recording audio while playing is a bit distracting, but I think it adds to the entertainment value regardless.

Check out the video and let me know what you think and if you’d like to see more D3 videos from me.

Edited to add: There was a request on Reddit for me to go more in depth on the skill and rune choices for this build, so I’ll give you a detailed explanation for each skill and rune choice.

More after the jump…

Critical Mass: This is the passive this build depends on. Critical mass gives a chance to reduce spell cooldowns by 1 second per critical hit. You must have this passive for this build.

Cold Blooded: This passive, contrary to what the tooltip says, gives a 20% bonus to any type of damage done to chilled or frozen targets, not just cold damage done to those targets. This was tested extensively by the D3 community and confirmed. Since your enemies will virtually always be frozen with Frost Nova, this represents a larger damage boost than Glass Cannon without the defensive penalties that Glass Cannon has.

Evocation: the evocation passive reduces spell cooldowns by 15%. While not strictly speaking necessary in this build if you have a high enough critical hit rate (I’d say above 35%) at the time I made this video, I felt that having teleport available more frequently than would otherwise be possible was worth it. There is a significant amount of debate over the optimal third passive choice in this build and I have changed my mind since I made this video, but I’m saving an in depth comparison of third passives for another video.

Energy Twister -> Wicked Wind: As I said in the video, this spell is essential to this build as your primary mouse button. Energy twister is normally crap because you cannot control where the twisters go, but with this rune you can place the twisters and they stay where you place them. Because Energy Twisters do their damage over the course of 6 seconds as a DoT with many small hits, this spell proc’s Critical Mass much more often than any other spell in the game. It is precisely the feedback loop between this spell, AP on Crit gear, a high Crit rate, and Critical Mass that fuels this entire build. The twisters you place on enemies reduce your cooldowns and refill your AP thus allowing you to cast all of your abilities more and more often. That is the “Wind-Up” the build is named after.

Diamond Skin -> Crystal Shell: Diamond Skin gives you a shell that lasts for 8 seconds and absorbs about 10k of incoming damage. The Crystal Shell rune doubles this to about 20k. Now since your cooldowns will be resetting approximately once per second once you have the Wind-Up running on a mob of enemies, this means that this rune effectively gives you the ability to tank 20k of incoming damage per second before it breaks and you begin losing HP.

As I said in the video, because Diamond Skin absorbs a fixed amount of damage after mitigation of incoming damage by your Armor and Resists, you can massively multiply the effectiveness of DS in absorbing damage by maximizing your All Resist and Armor stats, which in this build are much more important than a large amount of HP. The choice of the Crystal Shell rune is made purely because it maximizes the amount of incoming damage absorbed.

Also important to note is that this ability does not actually have a casting animation, despite appearances. What that means is that casting DS does not interrupt or prevent the use of other skills simultaneously. It also doesn’t consume AP so the cooldown is the only limit on how frequently it can be cast, and of course, as this build focuses on reducing cooldowns, this means you cast it very frequently and can therefore tank quite well.

Frost Nova -> Bone Chill: The Frost Nova skill freezes all enemies around the Wizard for a short period. This skill is chosen for two reasons. Firstly, like DS, it doesn’t have a casting animation and doesn’t have an AP cost. This means casting is again only limited by c/d. Secondly, freezing enemies is the best way to be able to drop multiple Energy Twisters on them, which will in turn reduce your c/d’s the fastest allowing you to re-cast all your spells most frequently. In many cases this will allow you to virtually perma-freeze enemies for an even further incoming damage mitigation above DS.

As for the choice of rune with this spell, you have three viable options each with their own strengths and weaknesses. First is Cold Snap, which reduces the base cooldown of Frost Nova to 9 seconds from 12. If your characters Critical Hit Rate is on the low side (i.e. around 30% and not above 35%) this can be the best choice because it will allow you to cast Frost Nova more often. If your Crit rate is above 35% however, you’ll see virtually no benefit from this rune as your cooldowns will already be resetting as fast as possible.

The second option is Deep Freeze, which gives you a 15% bonus to your critical hit chance for 12 seconds if you freeze 5 or more targets at once. While this sounds like it fits this build quite well by increasing your Critical Hit Rate, the major downside is the 5 target requirement. Basically unless you can kite regular enemies into an rare/elite pack, or kite a rare/elite pack into regular enemies, you can have a hard time getting 5 enemies at once while fighting rares/elites. Basically this often means you’ll get the benefit most frequently when fighting trash (where you don’t need it) and less often against elites (where it would be useful).

Finally, I chose Bone Chill as my rune because it gives you (and anyone else in your party) a flat 15% damage bonus against enemies frozen with Frost Nova. To me this is the clear winner for FN runes because it will consistently add the most damage to the targets you care about.

Explosive Blast -> Chain Reaction: Explosive Blast is your primary damage dealing ability in this build. It deals significant damage in a similar area of effect to Frost Nova and therefore compliments it very well as a damage dealing ability. It also lacks a casting animation and has a low AP cost so also effectively becomes C/D limited.

As for runes, there are pretty much only two worthwhile choices and both have their proponents. The first is Short Fuse. This rune eliminates the 1.5 second delay between casting EB and it going off. At high Crit Rates supported by high amounts of AP on Crit (20+) you will be regenerating AP so quickly that you can afford the AP consumption of casting EB -> Short Fuse constantly, and a lot of people like the bigger individual damage numbers you see while using this rune.

The other choice is Chain Reaction. This rune replaces the single blast with three successive blasts that deal 97% weapon damage instead of the single 225% blast. This rune has a couple of major advantages IMHO over short fuse. The first is that the three blasts generate more hits than a single blast, adding some level of Critical generation support over Short Fuse. The second is that in use it becomes clear that multiple sets of 3 EB -> CR blasts can be going off at the same time (you can actually hear this if you play the build with this rune as you will hear the explosions get faster and faster as you wind-up, meaning that the intervals between explosions from one CR are being filled by explosions from subsequent CRs). Ultimately I believe that the constant stream of CRs ultimately out-damages SFs in any sustained fight (i.e. against elites/rares and bosses) and that is why I have chosen this rune.

Teleport -> Wormhole: Having already covered what are the required set of abilities for this build (Critical Mass, Energy Twister, Diamond Skin, Frost Nova and Explosive Blast) we come to the active skill slot with the most flexibility for different choices. Some people prefer to use Mirror Image -> Mirror Mimics in this slot because the spell breaks the frozen state and because the mimics can cast Frost Novas that will actually freeze enemies (making it easier to keep them perma-frozen in theory).

Personally I’m not a big fan of Mirror Image in this slot because I much prefer the tactical options that Teleport gives you. With teleport you gain the ability to instantly re-postion yourself while fighting enemies. You can teleport past trash mobs to facilitate kiting them forward into elite packs, you can use teleport to get away from elite packs with shielding while their shields are up, you can use teleport offensively to teleport into the center of a mob of enemies, and you can use it tactically to re-position yourself in the middle of a fight against an elite pack with some nasty affixes (i.e. if you are within the fire-chains of an elite pack and they put desecrator pools under you, you can teleport just outside of the fire-chains and desecrator pools while only interrupting your casting cycle for a fraction of a second).

As for runes with teleport, I prefer wormhole for the flexibility to multi-teleport when I need to GTFO or for covering ground quickly in areas (as I don’t have any movement speed on my gear at all because its not really worth spending gold on that in this build). You could consider the Fracture rune, but honestly I find the duplicates counter-productive to keeping enemies tightly packed together for keeping them perma-frozen and in Explosive Blast’s radius. The only other rune I would even consider on Teleport is Safe Passage for the 30% damage mitigation, particularly if your Crit Rate is high enough that teleport’s C/D resets often enough, as it can end up being a virtually permanent 30% damage reduction. I haven’t tried this rune yet, but I want to give it a whirl to see how it compares to Wormhole.

I hope that covers the skill and rune choices in this build sufficiently for you. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave me a comment.

That’s Yo “Whoops, didn’t notice that desecrator pool there” Garbage!

About the author


Lorenzo tends to utterly emphatic opinions on the things that interest him: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Video Games, Anime, Tabletop Games, Technology and Internet Spaceships.


  1. Roder

    Do you think I could get away with using a pure DPS weapon rather than a critical hit damage weapon?

  2. Lorenzo

    I would recommend you download a DPS calculator like this one I made and enter all of your characters stats and then use the weapon comparison tool to compare different weapons.

    I say that because this builds necessitates a high critical hit rate, which in turn makes critical hit damage very powerful, so using an analyzer spreadsheet should help you get a good idea of how much raw DPS a weapon would need to compete with a weapon with Critical Hit Damage and Primary Damage Stat.

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