Billou's "Arcane Melee" Wizard

Billou's "Arcane Melee" Wizard

Wizards are masters of magic and weavers of wonder, able to conjure something from nothing and unleash terrifying amounts of power from their perceived frail forms. Typically, Wizards will take up the rear flank, relying on their companions to protect them in combat so they may then obliterate their foes from afar.

Today, Billou#1123 wants to challenge that archetype and bring you a warrior Wizard build that will have you up close, personal, and shredding your enemies to pieces.

About the Build:

Standing toe to toe with enemies is no small feat for the Wizard. Melee classes come equipped with a built in 30% damage reduction, making the option to stay at ranged much more appealing for the Wizard. It can be intimidating to consider jumping into the fray on a class that doesn't carry that expectation, but Billou was up to the challenge.

"What makes the Arcane Melee Wizard build really stand out is the simple fact that what you're doing is what your class is supposed to be bad at: rushing directly into giant groups of monsters and tanking them with your face," he writes, stressing that one of the most rewarding things about playing his build is the stream of comments and recognition he receives for making what seems to be the impossible just plain work. 

Teleporting into a pack of enemies is no longer a mistake (except maybe for the unfortunate victims).

Throwing together some uncommonly used skills, Billou has discovered a unique and quirky synergy that produces extremely satisfying results. After investing in useful crafted items and finding a few wonderfully complementary items, this Hardcore player has climbed his way up to mid Torment levels by tanking them with his face. Commendable indeed!

The Skills:

The build below focuses on some specific synergies, especially between Spectral Blade, Arcane Orb, and Arcane Dynamo. Otherwise, you'll find many of the other recommendations necessary out of need for additional damage supplementation or extra survivability.

Active Skills:

  • Spectral Blade (Thrown Blade)
    • Classic for any melee Wizard build
    • Thrown Blade offers extended range and damage, with a greater potential to hit additional targets
  • Teleport (Wormhole)
    • Offers superior ability to reposition, critical with directional melee builds
    • A great escape for avoiding heavy incoming damage or obstacles
    • Combo your Teleport with Arcane Orbit into a huge pack of enemies to send them flying
  • Magic Weapon (Force Weapon)
    • Strong additional damage that’s a complement to any build
  • Familiar (Cannoneer)
    • Synergizes with the +% Arcane Damage you’ll want to be stacking
    • Provides great fire-and-forget supplemental damage
  • Arcane Orb (Arcane Orbit)
    • Key skill for this build
    • Doesn't interrupt your cast animation, allowing you to refresh it while casting Spectral Blade
    • Powerfully ramps up with the use of Arcane Dynamo
  • Energy Armor (Prismatic Armor)
    • Offers the extra protection you’ll need to face adversity head on

Passive Skills:

  • Blur
    • Provides lots of damage reduction
  • Dominance
    • Offers a huge boost to survivability, especially when fighting large packs
    • Great for melee builds, since you’ll get quite a lot of use out of the shields
  • Arcane Dynamo
  • Audacity
    • A natural choice, as you'll rarely be 15 yards away from your prey

It's worth noting there are some changes in patch 2.1.0 that affect this build as it's presented above. Spectral Blade (Thrown Blade) is changing from Arcane damage to Lightning and Arcane Orb (Arcane Orbit) is seeing a damage increase. If you've hopped on to the PTR with your Wizard, give this build a try and let us know how it goes! 

The Items:

The beauteous thing about this particular build is that it stands on its own without needing a specific Legendary item affix or set bonus. While Moonlight Ward will neatly tie together already existing synergy and is considered optimal, it's by no means necessary. The recommendations you'll find below fall into similar categories, and there's a good variety of weapons at your disposal to make the most of all your close encounters.

Complementing his Blackthorne’s Set with Aughild’s and Cain’s makes Billou’s Wizard a tanky beast!

Recommended Items:

Complementary Items:

Recommended Stats:

Generally speaking, what you're looking for in terms of your gear with the Arcane Melee Wizard is loads of survivability. High Resistances and Armor are always recommended for those braving Hardcore, but you're going to want to be exceptionally beefy so you can stand before multiple elites and wade through their treacherous affixes.

Of course, you'll also want to keep your eye out for common sources of +% Arcane Damage, such as on your neck and bracers or on specialized items like the Gesture of Orpheus or Stone of Jordan. There's room for flexibility here, so don't be afraid to experiment!

Recommended Difficulty and Game Mode:

Billou is currently running his Arcane Melee Wizard build in Torment III and IV on Hardcore. This might seem like a risky build for a Hardcore character, but that's why you'll find a substantial number of recommended skills and items that boost your Toughness through the roof. Of course, you'll always want to be careful about tackling a difficulty you might not be ready for, so remember to undershoot and work your way up to a comfortable place! 

Why We Like This Build:

Billou put it pretty succinctly above. The most charming thing about this build is that it makes you feel like you're breaking all the rules of Wizardry. Don't stand in bad stuff! Don't jump into the middle of packs! Don't get hit! The Arcane Melee Wizard cares not for your concerns (though it's sweet of you to be worried <3).

It also doesn't rely on a lot of the "old faithful" items or expectations, such as set bonuses or the ever-popular Wand of Woh. In fact, it requires very little necessary gear, and it's easy to make it work at lower difficulties by just stacking the right stats.

This looks way more terrifying from the outside than it is in practice!

There's a huge amount of synergy between skills, and the results they bring are explosively delightful, scattering your foes around the battlefield and proving way more successful than you might have anticipated. This is a great example of something that sounds dubious on paper, but is astounding and enjoyable in practice. Breaking those barriers of expectation is extremely satisfying, and I'm excited to try this build out and see if I can take it to greater heights! 

Tell Us What You Think!

Are you ready to jump into the fray and slaughter your enemies face to face on your Wizard? Have you been experimenting with your own Melee Wizard? Is there anything about the Arcane Melee build you would change? Let us know in the comments—we’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback and learn more about how you’re playing your Wizard!

That's all for this week’s Play Your Way Thursday! Are you ready to share your build with the world? Then send it on in to with all the info in our submission guidelines, and don't forget those juicy gameplay screenshots! Until next week, nephalem—may all your loot be Legendary!