Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Wizards: Advanced Firebird Guide - Solo and Group Build for GR 35+

This guide is aimed at people that are already confident in clearing T6 with ease, and know the basics behind the build. It is meant to be a guide at what worked best for me in clearing lvl 35+ Greater Rifts. *There are of course other ways to do this, but this is simply the way I have found to be the most effective.

In this guide, I will cover gearing, skill choice relative to gear, spell placement (please read the guide linked at the top for a more in depth look), and general GR 35+ rifting strategy (yes, there is strategy) for Wizards.

I am (barely) in the top 100 for seasonal solo Wizards, and most recently cleared a 39, which took me two tries (missed first by 10 seconds). I have not died once in a solo Greater Rift over 35. I have not tried 40, which would push me into the top 30 or so, but I am confident at being able to clear it given good enough density and not a rift of Executioners and Imps.

For 4 mans, our group most recently cleared a 42 with a makeup of 2 DH, Wiz, and ZDPS Monk.

Anyways, enough credentials, lets get started.

So before we get into specific builds - lets cover the basics.

Like I mentioned earlier in the guide - this guide is meant for Wizards which can already clear T6 in their sleep, and have kind of reached a soft cap at GR 35.

This means you already have near optimal...

The following is a list of the gear you need for this to work.

Ideally, none of your gear will have any wasted rolls. The following are considered wasted rolls.
  • Life Regen (unless your boots rolled a single resist)
  • Area dmg
  • Resource Cost Reduction
  • Increased Attack Speed
  • Life Per Hit (keep this for RoRG - it at least benefits you a little)

Secondary rolls are actually extremely important as well. Obviously, monster XP, reduced lvl req, and Dura loss negation are useless. Health Globe bonus, single resistances, and melee or ranged reduction all quickly add up to considerable bonuses.

Bolded Items are what I consider to be best in slot. Please read after the items for ideal rolls on them, and general notes.
  • Firebird Helm, Leorics with high %- Int, Vit, Socket with diamond, CC.
  • A good amulet - bonus points for Hellfire, Etlitch, or Absorb amulets - you can also use Blackthorn with Belt. - I find Cold balls hurt the most, ideal would be a Cold Absorb Amulet with Socket, CHD, CC, Fire %.
  • Firebird Chest or a good Cindercoat. Int, Life %, Armor, 3 OS. Secondary with 7% ranged reduction.
  • Magefist, or Firebird Gloves - Fire %, Int, Vit, CHD, CC. You will need to roll off the inherent IAS to get these rolls.
  • Strongarms - Fire %, Int, Vit, CC - secondary with 7% ranged reduction.
  • Either Witching Hour, String of Ears, Blackthorns Amulet+belt. Int, Life %, Vit, either CHD if WH, or Armor
  • Firebird Shoulders - Int, Vit, Life %, CDR
  • Firebird Pants - Int, Vit, Armor, 2 OS.
  • Firebird Boots - Int, Vit, Armor, All res.
  • RoRG - Int, CHD or CC, LoH, OS
  • Unity - CC, CHD, OS, Elite dmg
  • SoJ - Fire %, CC or CHD, Elite dmg, OS.
  • Furnace - Int, % Dmg, Vit, OS.
  • Sun Keeper - Int, Vit or CDR, % dmg, Elite Dmg, OS
  • Firebird Source - Fire %, Int, Vit or CDR depending on weapon
  • Zei's Stone of Vengeance
  • Bane of the Trapped
  • Gem of Efficacious Toxin/Bane of the Powerful

There is very little room for gear variance - bear in mind that there are relatively very few Wizards that can play this high solo. This particular build requires these particular items.

I've seen the Serpent Sparker used with success, but it requires different stat rolls on gear, and different skills. I wont go into detail, but it requires TnT, a Witching Hour, and Hydra % on Shoulders, Source, Chest. It differs from the regular firebird build as its damage is split roughly 50-50 between the DoT and Hydra dmg, while most Firebird builds focus on the DoT as the main damage source.

Cindercoat vs Magefist
This is bolded because I see many Wizards uses a Cindercoat because of the RCR.

Magefists are better, they roll 5 primaries, and you dont need RCR. Done.

Templar Gear
Yes, seriously.
  • Thunderfury, Ruby - Proc counts as CC
  • Freeze of Deflection - More CC.
  • Ess of Johan OR Overwhelming Desire. Either pulls, or charmed with extra dmg.
  • Wyrdward- Proc Stuns with TF
  • Unity

Bear in mind CDR does affect your Templar. You dont really have to go for damage (but its always nice), but you want to maximize all the CC and heals he does.

Prioritze IAS so he attacks more to proc TF CC and Ess pulls, and CDR so you get more heals/intervenes. Having Block % on the relic is a easy change too - more freezes from his shield.

Skills should be
  • Heal
  • Either, you won't need the slow, but its always helpful, as is life regen.
  • Charge+stun
  • Guardian - charge, knockback and heal.


Zeis and Trapped are both separate damage multipliers, and increase your damage much more than powerful, which is additive.

Toxin will also always be up, while Powerful will not help you as much vs the RG, when you need it most. Its really up to you which you choose though.


This is the build.

A couple of notes about the skill choices.

Teleport Runes

I prefer Safe Passage, as sometimes you just have to run through DoTs - it also scales nicely with high toughness/mitigation.

Calamity is another solid choice. Sometimes you make a bad teleport, and this gives you a second to plan your next move.

Wormhole I dont like - its only really useful if you die. Bear in mind that if you get hit just once, you will be able to teleport again with any other rune, effectively rendering Wormhole almost useless in combat.

Fracture - your clones' spells do NOT do damage, and do NOT proc any CC effects including Black Hole and Slow time.Useless.

Reversal - interesting Rune, but requires plenty of foresight, and doesnt help when there is just too much crap everywhere.

Energy Armor - Prismatic Vs Force

Both have their upsides and downsides

  • Better against DoTs. Crucial vs frozen in late 30s, or 40s, when 2 frozen blobs spawning on you means death.
  • Works well with String and Etlich.
  • Doesnt prevent you getting 1 shot.

Force Armor
  • Is better when weenies start taking away more than 1/3 your HP in 1 hit.
  • Still doesnt guarantee immunity to, but offers much more protection against getting 1 shot.
  • Jailers wont kill you as often.
  • Terrible against DoTs. 2 Frozen Blobs = respawn.

It really boils down to two factors.
  • Are you Single Player or Multiplayer? (IE are you using Unity cheese?) Unity doubles your toughness, and effectively magnifies the effect of Prismatic armor, allowing you to continue to use it to a higher level.
  • Whats your toughness? If you have a good amount of toughness, you can use Prismatic until later.

Anecdotally, my wiz has 18M toughness with Prismatic.

I have run nothing but Prismatic in Single player with Unity, and my toughness still is keeping up; I have yet to die up to 40.

EDIT - I tried 40 4 times today, and died for the first time(s) in a solo GR. The closest I got was off by about 10 seconds (STONESINGER... but a shitty floor), the furthest was about 7 minutes (lolwingedassassinsfastfirechainsvortex). It really is RNG based.

In groups, I swap on Force armor starting at 37-8 because Jailers start to 1 shot me.

The toughness threshold honestly is mostly defined as - At what point am I 1-shot by Jailer/Thunderstorm?

Slow Time - Point of no Return Vs. Time and Space

Both are viable.

Point of no Return allows you to lock down a chokepoint, and gives you at least 3 seconds for your Teleport cooldown to reset. I prefer this one.

Time and Space makes all those ranged guys a joke, but will not save your life in a big fight.

Blur vs Glass Cannon

Once again, this depends on what your toughness is at.

Are you at a point where you are running force armor and the toughness loss still has you taking only 35% per hit? May be worth it to run Glass Cannon and just accept Frozen killing you.

Are you at a point where Prismatic is still viable, or Blur is the difference between taking >1/3 your HP per hit? Blur, undoubtedly.

Importance of CDR

Many wizards I see dont have Evocation slotted, or use an Amethyst in their helms. These are bad mistakes - CDR is absolutely vital for Firebird - your main damage is your DoT, and your main method of getting your DoT is your Black Hole, which is also invaluable Crowd Control. CDR also affects Teleport and Slow Time.

Illusionist and Unstable are irreplacable.

Notes about Slow Time

This skill is the core of this build. Firebird only has 1 skill slot that is swappable, the one taken by Hydra in the cookiecutter build.

Reasoning for taking Blizz over Hydra is that you are mainly using it to refresh your DoT, and draw aggro, which it is by far better at. Hydra, while more damage, is not as good at either.

Now some technical aspects of the skill Slow Time - Point of no Return.
  • Beware that Slow Time actually... Slows Time. Projectiles that are already slow to begin with become much harder to make out - the human eye is attracted to movement. You WILL run into bees moving at .0001 MPH if you are not paying attention.
  • Enemies are stunned when they first touch the perimeter of the sphere. This means if enemies are already within the sphere when it is created, they will be slowed, but not stunned until they exit the bubble. However,
  • You can pull enemies which are inside of the bubble to the perimeter to proc the stun with your Black Hole.
  • This also means that once you get used to the radius, you can put down the bubble so the perimeter stuns an enemy immediately on spawn.
  • An enemy can only be stunned once by one bubble. This means if an enemy is stunned upon entering, then traverses the bubble to get to you, he is not be stunned again upon exit.
  • However, you can layer your bubbles. By putting a new Slow Time several yards off center of the first one, you can effectively create Roadblocks at Chokepoints.
  • Enemies which enter a bubble through means other than walking - Jumpers, Chargers, disappearing Snakes, etc, will not be stunned when traversing the plane.
  • The only elite affix that is affected by Slow time is Electrified.

Elite Affixes

Elites should be the #1 cause of your very scarce number of deaths.

The main factor which determines which affixes are the most dangerous to you is your choice of Prismatic vs Force, which in turn mostly depends on whether you are running solo or in a group.

Prismatic Bad affixes
  • Jailer
  • Thunderstorm

Force Bad Affixes
  • Everything that is not Jailer and Thunderstorm.
  • Frozen and Molten at 40+ are extremely painful.

Some notes regarding Jailer

This is your main reason for using Force Armor.

Jailer requires line of sight. If you cannot see the monster, you cannot be jailed. Mostly.

Jailer is usually on a timer - You are usually safe after a round of jailing for 6-7 seconds. I say usually because sometimes for no reason you will be jailed 3 times in less than a second.

Jailer seems to have less range than Frozen.

Some notes regarding Frozen

This will be your main cause of death in a group over 40. Even one ball spawning on you will most likely drain 50%-80% of your HP, even if you reaction time is good enough to immediately teleport away.

Frozen does not requires line of sight, and will come get you even if you are in the next room over.

Depending on which affixes you are facing, your choice of place to fight is very important.
  • Vs Frozen, Arcane, Plagued, Poison enchanted, Thunderstorm, you want to be out in the open. The ground effects will not stack with each other as much, and gives you a lot more room to dodge.
  • Vs Jailer, Vortex, Firechains, Electrified you want to be at a chokepoint. You can completely dominate chokepoints with your Slow time - so long as you are not forced out by nasty ground affixes.

Some notes about annoying affixes for any Firebird build
  • Shielding is a real pain in the ass - just like disappearing enemies. If your DoT is not maxed when the shield goes on, it will protect the monster long enough for it to drop off.
  • Extra Health just takes forever to kill, especially on a Yellow that already is a monster type with super high HP (Demonic Tremor, Abbadon, etc)
  • Fast+Molten/Firechains+ Vortex is an extremely deadly combo - especially on a mob type like Bees that spread everywhere.

Solo Wizardry

As with any other build, do your best to kite forward, and try to be fighting no more or less than 2 elites at once. Any more and you are prone to be overwhelmed, any less and you will not be able to beat the timer.

Don't stop for white packs that give you no progress, or small packs. Keep moving past that pack of 3 spearmen - Teleport and dodge. Do your best to keep them following you by aggroing with Blizzard until you meet another pack and can kill them all at once.

When you run into a really dangerous elite pack - IE Jailer, Frozen, Thunderstorm, Fast, you need to make a choice. Either you kite forward and try to outrange them to skip, or you kite in circles until they are almost dead, then go forward to kill. Keep in mind that if you skip a pack in the middle of a level you will most likely have to pass it again if you die.

Grabbing Health Globes with Teleports procced by Illusionist is key to survival - another reason why health globe healing bonus secondaries are great.

Don't grab health globes immediately if you don't need them!

Keep in mind you can abuse Teleport to go through walls - learn the Teleport mechanics.

Beware doing this when an elite that spawns nasty affixes (especially orbiter) has started pooping things out in the next room. Affixes in the next room will not render until after you have teleported.

Vs harmless whites kite forward. You need to kill the dangerous ones, or you will fail when they come to gank you from behind.

Abuse chokepoints, and Illusionist. Upon entering a room, cast Blizzard on all the spread out mobs, aggroing everything, Teleport back to the doorway, Cast Slow Time, then Black hole on the huge stack of stunned baddies. Teleport past them, and keep moving forward. Cast Slow Time again if you get hit, and keep moving forward.

If you get into trouble, your Slow Time plus Black Hole can often buy you enough time for your Teleport to come off of Cooldown.

Slow Time will save your life when you get cornered.

Manage your Cooldowns - don't go racing ahead in a rift full of Winged Assassins when all 3 spells are on cooldown.

Know that you need at least 2 minutes, probably 3 for the rift guardian unless you get Stonesinger.

Group Wizardry

This is where Slow Time really shines.

Your job as a Wiz is to pull anything and everything you can into the turrets, while creating a safe bubble for the DH to nuke from behind.

You should be ahead of everyone (takes 4 hits for you to die, remember). Keep moving forward until you find either an elite or a large group of whites. Draw all their aggro with blizz, kite back to the choke that your DH buddies should just be entering and set up your ST. Blizz, BH, teleport past them, rinse and repeat.

When fighting an elite, or a white mob in an open area, you should be looking around for more packs to aggro back into the guns. Run around avoiding stuff, and just aggro everything.

Vs Elite packs, bring them back to a choke, and start layering your Slow Times. Once they are almost dead, you should already be moving forward.

Spell Placement

I covered most of this in the Guide linked at the top, but when using Slow Time, this changes a little.

You want to cast your Slow Time to create a barrier between yourself and the enemy.

You dont want any baddies to already be inside, for they will be able to traverse the bubble before they are stunned.

This means that it is important to cast the spell before anything can get close to you, especially at chokes.

Sometimes, when a monster is faster than you, it is more prudent to cast Black Hole first to create space, then cast Slow Time.

Chokepoints can be held for at least 10-20 seconds with good Slow Time and Black Hole Placement. Layer your bubbles as closely as safety allows, and Black Hole things back away from you.

Kite things into your Slow Time bubble as closely as possible. Having 10 enemies spread across 180 degrees is impossible to black hole, but if all 10 are clumped into a 90 degree arc, you can get all with your Black Hole.

Keep in mind if you enter a room and are getting rushed by enemies from all angles, so long as nothing is in the bubble when you cast it, you gain a few seconds to determine your next move.


I hope this helped those who have been smashing their faces against mid 30 GRs without any progression. I've kind of reached that point with my group, barring super awesome RNG, I dont think we will be able to clear 43, despite being able to clear 90% of the 40s we do.

The Monster and HP scaling past 40 is just so ridiculous. Guardians have 70B+ HP solo (150B+ in a group), and affixes (Frozen especially) becomes so deadly that the slightest touch kills you. This is not a bad thing, just in general, advancement at this level becomes more and more RNG based - did we get glorious skeletons, friendly elite affixes and a Conduit/Stonesinger?

Dont get frustrated at RNG, and keep at it!