Guide to Top Builds & Skills in Patch 1.0.6

A review of the biggest Diablo III skills for each class, and changes from previous patches

Diablo III Skills and Builds
Here's an overview of the most popular skills being used right now, by each of the classes in Diablo III. There are interesting statistics about the skills and builds found by looking at the current Most Popular Builds and Skills charts, and comparing them to the older Patch 1.0.4 Archive.

The major Diablo III patches often bring class changes, and patch 1.0.5 kept up that tradition. Since the release of patch 1.0.5 on October 16, active Diablo III players have updated their builds and skill choices, to accommodate the many skill and rune changes. Patch 1.0.6 was essentially just a client hotfix so we've grouped the character data together from patches 1.0.5 and 1.0.6, and compared that against patch 1.0.4 data.

This also reflects a lot of newly available data: the Most Popular Builds and Skills display was revamped! We now chart two different groups of softcore characters: the level 60 characters who have Paragon Levels (PL) of 0-49, and the characters who have reached Paragon Level 50-100. (There are so few hardcore characters at Paragon Level 50 and above, that it isn't worthwhile to break the hardcore characters up into two groups.) We've compared the differences between the two groups of softcore players, and found some fascinating skill choices.

Jump past the break for a guide to the popular class skills!

Barbarian Skill Choices in Patches 1.0.5 & 1.0.6
  • Whirlwind Wonders: The biggest non-change for Barbarians is that Whirlwind is still incredibly popular, and is the basis for the majority of their builds. The skill is used by 65% of Paragon Level (PL) 0-49 softcore Barbarians, and 77% of those at Paragon Level 50-100. That's up a bit from the 61% of softcore Barbarians who used it at the end of patch 1.0.4. Whirlwind has even picked up popularity in the hardcore side, going from 16% to 26% usage.
  • Dropping Defense, Going Offense: With the monster damage reduction in patch 1.0.5, most defensive skills were also reduced in power. The War Cry Barbarian skill was nerfed in this way in patch 1.0.5, and it was dropped by many players in favor of more offensive skills. War Cry was easily the most used Barbarian skill in 1.0.4, chosen by nearly all level 60 Barbarians in both softcore and hardcore. In the current Barbarian skills tracking data during patches 1.0.5 and 1.0.6, the skill has dropped down to second place, used by 82% of softcore Paragon Level 0-49 Barbarians. The Paragon Level 50-100 Barbarians use it even less and it barely makes their top 5 chart, with fewer than 65% of them choosing it. The hardcore Barbarians still pick it the most with 93% choosing it, as they naturally favor survivability more than offensive abilities.
  • An Overpowering Killing Spree: Overpower has jumped in popularity, climbing from the 6% of Barbarians who used it back in 1.0.4. It's now utilized by 28% of the higher Paragon Level Barbarians, and 14% of the lower Paragon Level group. The Overpower runes are spread widely too, with Overpower - Killing Spree as the most popular but not the only rune being used regularly. (Click through to see the which runes are most popular, for any skill.)
  • Hammer Time: Hammer of the Ancients was overhauled in patch 1.0.5, and the new version has proven far more popular with Barbarians than back in 1.0.4, when it languished with less than 3% usage rate. It's up to ~10% usage for lower Paragon Level Barbarians, and 17% of the Paragon Level 50+ Barbarians put it to use.
  • Hardcore Barbarians: There is more diversity of builds on the hardcore side now than there was back in 1.0.4. This is primarily from more hardcore Barbarians taking the plunge into a Whirlwind build, which has also boosted the usage of skills like Battle Rage and Bash.
  • Popular Passives: Barbarian passive choices are fairly static on the softcore side, with Ruthless and Weapons Master still used by the overwhelming majority of all softcore Barbarians. The choice over which passive to use in the third slot has shifted somewhat from patch 1.0.4, when Nerves of Steel took that third spot. Bloodthirst has gained in popularity, from ~13% softcore usage before, to 26% of PL0-49 and 36% of PL50+ Barbarians now using it -- it is tied for third place with Nerves of Steel, at ~26% usage among PL0-49 Barbarians. The PL50+ Barbarians have little use for Nerves of Steel, with barely 5% using it; Bloodthirst is the clear third place choice for them. With the big buff it got in patch 1.0.5, Unforgiving has also been propelled up the charts: it was used by less than 5% before, and is now picked by 12% of PL0-49 and 17% of PL50+ Barbarians.
  • Want More? See the Most Popular Barbarian Builds & Skills for all the latest data. Check out the Most Popular Barbarian Legendaries for the best Barbarian gear.

Demon Hunter Skill Choices in Patches 1.0.5 & 1.0.6
  • Skill Selection: Demon Hunters have a wide range of skills that are utilized regularly, across a variety of builds. While there are certainly major active skills that get used by a majority of Demon Hunters, there are enough differences in the builds that no single build truly dominates -- no build (including variants) from either the two groups of softcore Demon Hunters or the hardcore ones, is used by even 4%.
  • Backup to the Backup: The Preparation skill is consistently the most chosen among Demon Hunters of all types. It takes first or second place among all softcore and hardcore Demon Hunters, both back in patch 1.0.4 and continuing through today. The big difference is in the rune chosen: softcore Demon Hunters primarily choose Preparation - Backup Plan, while on the hardcore side the Preparation - Battle Scars rune dominates.
  • Gloomy Shadows: Shadow Power is an example of where the Paragon Level (PL) 0-49 Demon Hunters choose different skills than the ones who have reached Paragon Level 50-100. Around 61% of the lower Paragon Level ones use it, which the same amount as the softcore Demon Hunters who used it back in patch 1.0.4. For the Paragon Level 50+ Demon Hunters, nearly all of them use the skill; it's chosen by 93% of that group. Shadow Power - Gloom is the overwhelming rune favorite, regardless of who's using the skill.
  • Disappearing Acts: Smoke Screen is a skill that is reversed; it is used far more by the PL0-49 Demon Hunters than the higher ones. Just over 51% of PL0-49 Demon Hunters choose to use the skill, while only 26% of the PL50+ ones do. The hardcore Demon Hunters use it more than any of the softcore groups: over 71% of Demon Hunters on the hardcore side utilize it.
  • Hatred Up and Down: The Hatred generators and spenders are fairly consistent overall: Hungering Arrow remains the top generator, with Elemental Arrow as the primary Hatred spender, still used by about half of softcore Demon Hunters across the board. Other Hatred spenders include Spike Trap, which went up from around 10% usage of softcore Demon Hunters in 1.0.4, to 15% of PL0-49, and nearly 22% of the current PL50+ Demon Hunters.
  • Discipline to Hatred: With the shift from spending Discipline to costing Hatred and other changes, Sentry activity has increased across the board, in both softcore and hardcore. It was used by less than 5% of any and all Demon Hunters in 1.0.4. Now it's used by 16% of softcore PL0-49, 12% of softcore PL50+, and nearly 25% of hardcore Demon Hunters.
  • Friends for All: The Companion skill was overhauled in patch 1.0.5, making the pets more useful and giving a wider variety of interesting pets to summon. Demon Hunters responded and now use the skill, and a variety of runes, more than before. On the softcore side, Demon Hunters in 1.0.4 used the skill 32% of the time; that's now up to 42% for lower PL Demon Hunters, and 50% for the higher PL group. The most popular rune choice is still Companion - Bat Companion, but the Companion - Boar Companion and Companion - Ferret Companion also are used at by at least 10% of the softcore Demon Hunters. The hardcore Demon Hunters love those companions even more; the skill usage went from 27% in patch 1.0.4, up to 57%. The Companion - Boar Companion is a runaway favorite rune for hardcore Demon Hunters, which is not surprising given the big durability and life regeneration boost that it provides.
  • Taking the Shot: Sharpshooter is a passive that has slowly declined in usage over time, as Demon Hunters got more Critical Hit Chance gear, and found the skill less useful. If we dig way back to the patch 1.0.3 data, we see the passive was used by 63% of softcore and 47% of hardcore Demon Hunters. At the end of patch 1.0.4 it was being used by 51% of softcore Demon Hunters, and 39% on the hardcore side. It is now used by even fewer Demon Hunters: 38% of softcore PL0-49, 11% of softcore PL50-100, and 21% of the hardcore group.
  • A Perfect Choice: Patch 1.0.5 provided some big defensive buffs to the Perfectionist passive, and it's being used far more as a result. Back in 1.0.4 it was used by less than 5% in either the softcore or hardcore groups. On the softcore side, it's now used by nearly 24% of PL0-49, and 34% of the PL50+ Demon Hunters. On the hardcore side it's a huge hit: a whopping 62% of hardcore Demon Hunters now use it.
  • Not So Thrilling: The Thrill of the Hunt passive was also redesigned in patch 1.0.5, to no avail. It's still the least used Demon Hunter passive, with less than 1% using it.
  • Want More? See the Most Popular Demon Hunter Builds & Skills for all the latest data. Check out the Most Popular Demon Hunter Legendaries for the best Demon Hunter gear.

Monk Skill Choices in Patches 1.0.5 & 1.0.6
  • Skill Selection: Monks have solidified as the Diablo III class with the least diversity of skills used. This is especially true for the Paragon Level (PL) 50-100 players; even the Barbarians, with the Whirlwind build dominance, aren't in lockstep as much as the top Monks. There aren't many big changes in the Monk skill choices used in patches 1.0.5 and 1.0.6, compared to patch 1.0.4.
  • Thunder & Cyclones: The active skill Serenity has been the most popular Monk active skill across the board for months, through multiple patches and on both the hardcore and softcore sides. It's still that way for almost all Monk segments, but for softcore Paragon Level (PL) 50-100 Monks, that's not the case anymore. Sweeping Wind is the top skill, used by nearly every PL50+ Monk; Sweeping Wind - Cyclone is by far the most popular rune choice. Fists of Thunder is also used more consistently by those advanced Monks, with Fists of Thunder - Thunderclap as the standard rune. Serenity comes in at third, with 88% of the PL50+ Monks using it.
  • Rushing About: Tempest Rush is one Monk active skill that has seen an uptick in popularity. It was only used by 7% of softcore Monks in patch 1.0.4; it's now chosen by 13% of PL0-49 Monks, and around 21% of PL50+ Monks. It has always been more popular on the hardcore side, with around 25% of hardcore Monks using it both in the old patch and currently.
  • Popular Passives: The damage nerf to monsters, and reduction in many defensive skills, has brought a little more choice to the Monk passives. One With Everything and Seize the Initiative are still incredibly popular, but not quite as strongly as before. They're down to around 75% usage each for all the softcore Monks, instead the ~90% usage that they both had in patch 1.0.4. For the third most common passive among softcore Monks, there's a split between the higher and lower Paragon Level Monks. Resolve and The Guardian's Path are essentially tied at ~25% usage among the PL0-49 Monks; the PL50+ Monks are more likely to opt for speed with Fleet Footed, which is at ~42% usage rate there.
  • Want More? See the Most Popular Monk Builds & Skills for all the latest data. Check out the Most Popular Monk Legendaries for the best Monk gear.

Witch Doctor Skill Choices in Patches 1.0.5 & 1.0.6
  • Skill Selection: Witch Doctors are tied with Wizards as the classes with the most diversity in active skills used. Witch Doctors are a bit more diverse in the actual builds; there are no single builds that are overwhelmingly popular for them. Wizards have a slightly wider pool of active skills that they choose between than Witch Doctors, but with more specific builds that are popular. Both classes have dramatically more skill diversity than the two melee classes.
  • Taking a Walkabout: Spirit Walk remains the most popular Witch Doctor active skill, across all softcore and hardcore segments. While Spirit Walk - Jaunt is always the most popular rune, on the softcore side both Spirit Walk - Honored Guest and Spirit Walk - Healing Journey are each used by around 25%.
  • Gargantuan, I Choose You! The Gargantuan zombie is the most used Witch Doctor pet, beating out the Summon Zombie Dogs across all softcore and hardcore segments. There is some variance in usage on the softcore side, though: the lower Paragon Level (PL) group uses the lumbering zombie ~76%, while only ~55% of the PL50+ group use it. The hardcore Witch Doctors feel safety in numbers, with over 80% choosing to both Summon Zombie Dogs and bring a Gargantuan.
  • Bringing in the Souls: Soul Harvest is a skill that the higher PL group utilizes more than the lower PL set: nearly 80% of PL50+ Witch Doctors use it, while a respectable but not overwhelming 60% of the PL0-49 ones use it.
  • Grasping Hands: The Grasp of the Dead skill is the opposite: it is used by 24% of the PL0-49 group, but only 6% of the PL50-100 Witch Doctors care to use it.
  • Thanks, But No Thanks: The Witch Doctor active skills buffed in patch 1.0.5 were Firebats, Wall of Zombies, and Haunt. It didn't seem to help, as they are all three still quite unpopular. They have the dubious honor of being at the bottom of the list of Witch Doctor active skills. The three skills are used by 6% or fewer of softcore PL0-49 Witch Doctors, and are chosen even less by the softcore PL50+ and the hardcore Witch Doctors.
  • Popular Passives: Along with their variety in active skills, Witch Doctors have the greatest diversity of passive skills used of any of the classes. The passives chosen are widely different among the various Witch Doctor groups. The softcore PL0-49 group chooses the widest variety of passives, with no single passive being used by more than 45% of the group. It becomes a bit more focused in the softcore PL50-100 group, with the top passives being Gruesome Feast at 65% usage, and Grave Injustice at ~57% usage. The hardcore Witch Doctors are the most focused, with Spirit Vessel topping the charts at 93% usage, and Jungle Fortitude next at 74%.
  • Want More? See the Most Popular Witch Doctor Builds & Skills for all the latest data. Check out the Most Popular Witch Doctor Legendaries for the best Witch Doctor gear.

Wizard Skill Choices in Patches 1.0.5 & 1.0.6
  • Skill Selection: Wizards are tied with Witch Doctors as the classes with the most diversity in active skills used. While it may often seem that a few big builds dominate the landscape for Wizards, there are a surprising number of variations within the themes. Whether in the softcore high Paragon Level (PL) group, the softcore low PL set, or even in the hardcore group, there are a large number of different active skills that are picked.
  • To Archon or Not to Archon: One of the major choices for Wizards is whether or not to go with an Archon build. With the reduction in damage and health of Inferno monsters, along with Monster Power 0 for the lowest difficulty, it is now easier for fast moving Wizards to keep the form active. The skill was used by 42% of softcore Wizards back in patch 1.0.4, and it's at 38% usage now in the softcore PL0-49 group. It's substantially more popular in the PL50-100 set, with 63% of them utilizing it. There are just under one-quarter of the hardcore Wizards who put Archon to use, where it holds steady at 24% usage.
  • Freeze! The common Critical Mass (CM) builds with Frost Nova have become even more popular than ever. Frost Nova increased on the softcore side from 36% usage in patch 1.0.4, up to 44% across the board, for both the PL0-49 and PL50+ groups. It's also become more popular on the hardcorde side, going up from 14% to 24% usage. Despite the nerfs that make it harder to keep monsters consistently frozen, more Wizards are investing in the gear that lets them maintain that powerful form of crowd control, which is quite useful when dealing with high Monster Power uber bosses.
  • Armor Choices: The exclusive Armor skills that Wizards choose between has been dominated by Energy Armor, but that changed somewhat since patch 1.0.5. Back in 1.0.4 both softcore and hardcore Wizards used Energy Armor almost exclusively, with it taking the top spot in the most used active skills list. That is still true for hardcore Wizards, although even there it slipped from 96% usage down to 84%. For softcore Wizards it's down from 90% usage, to 71% for the PL0-49 group. The PL50+ softcore Wizards are least likely to use it, with it down to 56%. Softcore players are instead choosing Storm Armor: that skill was only used 5% of the time in patch 1.0.4, but 15% of PL0-49 and 39% of PL50-100 Wizards now put it to use. On the hardcore side, Storm Armor was practically never used in patch 1.0.4, but has inched up to 7% usage now.
  • How the Hydra Have Fallen: The multi-headed Hydra was initially a very popular Wizard skill, but it's being eclipsed a little more each patch. It was used by ~49% of softcore Wizards way back in patch 1.0.3. It went down to 36% of softcore Wizards in patch 1.0.4, is now used by 29% of PL0-49 softcore Wizards, and only a paltry 5% of PL50+ ones. Hardcore Wizards still use it extensively, although even there it's dropped a bit, from 66% usage in 1.0.4 to 56% currently.
  • Popular Passives: Wizard passives have stayed fairly static. Softcore Wizards invariably go for Critical Mass and Glass Cannon the most, while hardcore Wizards choose Blur and Galvanizing Ward as their top picks. Galvanizing Ward is the third place pick for PL50+ Wizards as well; it is popular in the Archon builds to keep the Armor spell running, since Wizards are staying in Archon form longer than ever. One passive that varies based on Wizard group is Astral Presence: while it's used by right around 32% of both hardcore Wizards and softcore PL0-49 Wizards, only 13% of PL50+ Wizards find it worth using.
  • Want More? See the Most Popular Wizard Builds & Skills for all the latest data. Check out the Most Popular Wizard Legendaries for the best Wizard gear.

There's a look at each of the classes, and a bit of a guide to the popular skills being used right now. The Popular Builds and Skills charts are updated daily, so check back regularly to see new info! We'll have all the data as new patches arrive, with more skill and rune changes.
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