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Best Early Necromancer Bone Spear & Corpse Explosion Build in Diablo 4

Nathan Garvin

The Necromancer, the scions of Rathma, have a novel approach to fighting demons: utilize magics so dark and vile that even the forces of hell will take pause. Animating the skeletal remains of their foes to fight for them, hexxing enemies with debilitating curses, masticating enemies with jagged shards of bone, and drawing upon the power of shadow and blood… they’re all tools the Necromancer is more than willing to employ. That said, the Necromancer has had a checkered history in Diablo, owing much of their initial success in Diablo 2 to a bug that rendered them almost invulnerable… unless an enemy used ranged attacks or magic. It took a while for this exploit to be nerfed, and while it was far from infallible, it was nevertheless unintended. The Necromancer would languish for a while until their skeletons were significantly buffed, ultimately becoming a very usable class. While initially absent from Diablo 3, fan demand eventually led to the Necromance being added to that game, being quite powerful from their inclusion. The Diablo 4 Necromancer follows in the same vein as its Diablo 3 counterpart, perhaps being the most powerful class in the Open Beta. This page will provide a sample build for the Bone Spear/Corpse Explosion Necromancer played by Haeravon during the Diablo 4 beta, including skill point allocation and ideal legendaries.

Diablo 4 Necromancer Build - Bone Spear + Corpse Explosion

The Necromancer is, frankly, a powerhouse in the Diablo 4 beta, although it’s hard to make endgame predictions based on how a class performs by the end of Act 1 in a Diablo game. The core idea is simple enough - gather as many Skeleton Warriors and Skeleton Mages as possible, buff them if you can, and use them to supplement your offense and defense. Start fights with Bone Spear until your Essence is depleted, then spam Corpse Explosion. It’ll take some specific gear for the build to work like this - as you level up you’ll be making use of Bone Splinters for quite a while before they wane in importance in the face of an increasingly powerful Bone Spear offensive. You can also supplement your active skills with Decrepify, Corpse Tendrils, and Blood Wave, especially if you run across some legendary gear that buffs them. Also, if you reach Lv25 you can partake in a Necromancer-exclusive side quest to create your own Golem, which will take up an active slot and add some significant bulk to your lineup of minions.

(1 of 3) Bone Spear is both an ideal way to create corpses, and to deal damage to bosses.

Diablo 4 Necromancer Bone Spear + Corpse Explosion Build - Best Skills

  • Bone Splinters (Enhanced Bone Splinters}: This should be the first skill you grab, which might seem like an odd choice, since this build REALLY loves corpses. Decompose just can’t compete with the raw damage output of bone Splinters, however, and generates Essence more slowly. You’re better off making corpses the old fashioned way with Bone Splinters. Even with a “Rotting” legendary power improving Decompose, we found it performed worse than a vanilla Bone Splinters.

  • Bone Spear (Enhanced Bone Spear, Supernatural Bone Spear): Bone Spear doesn’t start out a world destroyer. It’s kind of expensive for the damage, Essence-wise, and while it pierces enemies, it’s kind of situational when this is effective. It’s at best a mediocre damage-dealer against bosses. If you bolster it with Enhance Bone Spear and Supernatural Bone Spear, however, you’ll significantly increase its damage, enable it to hit more targets more easily, and cause it to inflict the first target struck with the Vulnerable debuff. Not going to lie, Bone Spear takes a lot of work. Sink some points into the base skill to increase its damage, get Grim Harvest so you generate Essence when you consume corpses (up to 9 Essence per corpse!), and make sure you get the Reaper Warriors with the ability to create corpses 15% of the time they hit and the Cold Skeletal Mages who generate Essence when they hit. You will also need a “Splintering” legendary power, which causes all enemies hit by Bone Spear to be afflicted with the Vulnerable debuff and increases Bone Spear damage to Vulnerable enemies by 50-100% for one-handed weapons, or 125-225% for two-handed weapons. Only with most of these in place will you be able to fire salvos of Bone Spears that are suddenly dealing 500+ base damage per Bone Spear… before any other damage boosts (like the hefty increase against Vulnerable foes) are considered. Even better, you’ll have many ways to recover Essence, making the downtime between Bone Spear Salvos much, much shorter.

  • Corpse Explosion (Enhanced Corpse Explosion, Plagued Corpse Explosion): Corpse Explosion starts out strong from the very first point, and only gets better as your build progresses. Granted, it doesn’t see the same transformative growth as Bone Spear, but that’s mostly because there was less room for improvement. The only downside is that Corpse Explosion needs corpses - it has no Essence cost or cooldown. One corpse, one explosion. And when dealing with trash mobs, Corpse Explosion has a way of generating its own ammunition. Against bosses, however, this spell becomes much less useful. Reaper Skeleton Warriors will generate corpses 15% of the time they hit, which helps, and if you get the “Plagued Corpse Explosion” upgrade, enemies debuffed by Bone Spear and/or Decrepify will take 10% extra damage from Corpse Explosion. With three ranks of Grim Harvest, you’ll generate 9 Essence every time you use Corpse Explosion, which is around a third of the cost of Bone Spear. These two skills can have some good synergy, if you build them correctly.

  • Grim Harvest / Skeletal Warrior Mastery / Skeletal Mage Mastery: Skeletons are a vital aspect of both your offense and defense, so dropping some points in their mastery passive is a good idea. It’ll increase their damage output, and keep them from dying, and if they’re dying, you’ll need to use corpses to create more. You want your skeletons to be generating you corpses, not consuming them. Grim Harvest might seem dubious, but you’ll want to use Corpse Explosion regularly - just about any time Bone Splinters, Bone Spear or your minions create a corpse, in fact. This will cause your constant use of Corpse Explosion to refill your Essence, allowing you to conjure more Bone Spears, which creates more corpses you can use to cast Corpse Explosion, which gives you more Essence… it’s a virtuous cycle of destruction, you see.

  • Decrepify: Decrepify is one of the two returning curses from Diablo 2 (unless you count Amplify Damage, which is a passive now), and its effects are more or less the same - enemies are slowed by 40% and deal 20% less damage. With an Essence cost of 10, it’s pretty cheap, and the 10 second duration is fine for what it does. Mostly you’ll use this to give Corpse Explosion a 10% damage boost and hinder enemies offensively.

  • Corpse Tendril (Enhanced Corpse Tendril, Plagued Corpse Tendrils): This skill is interesting as it bunches enemies up, deals damage, runs solely off a cooldown (it needs a corpse, but doesn’t consume it) and can inflict Slow and Vulnerable, which will both increase the damage of Corpse Explosion, assuming you have “Plagued Corpse Explosion”. That said, Corpse Tendril has a delay between casting and its effects, and if enemies aren’t near a corpse, it won’t do anything to them. We ultimately found Decrepify to be less impressive, but more reliable.

  • Blood Wave: Blood Wave is pretty niche, and there’s no telling how this will work in the full game. But for the beta, this skill can be very potent for a single point investment… if you have a legendary item with the “Ultimate Shadow” legendary power. This will add a massive amount of damage to Blood Wave, making it so potent that it’s worth equipping over Corpse Tendril and Decrepify, best used as a sledgehammer against bosses.

Diablo 4 Necromancer Build - Book of the Dead

From the start of the game you’ll have access to minions in the form of Skeleton Warriors. As your level increases, you’ll gain access to different types of minions, which can be customized in various ways. This is discussed in greater detail in the Book of the Dead Feature Overview page. For this build, you’ll want the following minion types equipped:

  • Skeletal Warriors (Reaper): Reapers have a 15% chance to carve the flesh off enemies, forming a Corpse.
  • Skeletal Mages (Cold): Each time your Cold Mages damage enemies with their primary attack, you gain 2 Essence.
  • Golem (Bone): Each time your Bone Golem takes up to 20% of its Maximum Life as damage, it sheds a Corpse.

Your Skeletal Warriors and, to a lesser degree, your Bone Golem will generate corpses to fuel Corpse Explosion, and your Skeletal Mages will add supplementary Essence. They’ll still be plenty good at killing enemies and, more importantly, distracting them with these upgrades, too.

(1 of 2) The "Splintering" legendary power massively upgrades the damage, debuff spread and AoE of Bone Spear, and is vital for this build.

The "Splintering" legendary power massively upgrades the damage, debuff spread and AoE of Bone Spear, and is vital for this build. (left), Various legendary powers will boost the potency of your minions - a welcome boon for the Necromancer. (right)

Diablo 4 Necromancer Bone Spear + Corpse Explosion Build - Best Legendaries

While we didn’t find every legendary in the game, we saw enough to get a good grasp on some legendaries to look out for. Legendaries in Diablo 4 are basically just “super rares”, possessing higher stats and a legendary mod - it’s largely the latter that you’re after, but some of the other stats will be mentioned under the next header, below. For now, here are the legendary mods you should seek out:

  • Blood Getter’s: Your maximum number of Skeletal Warriors is increased by 2.
  • of Frenzied Dead: Each time one of your Summoning Minions damages an enemy, they gain 10-14% Attack Speed for 3 seconds, up to 42%.
  • of Reanimation: Your Skeletons gain increased damage while alive, up to 20-30% after 10 seconds.
  • Splintering: Bone Spear’s primary attack makes enemies hit beyond the first Vulnerable for 1.5 - 2.5 seconds. Bone Shards from Bone Spear deal 50-100% bonus damage to Vulnerable enemies and pierce them.
  • of Ultimate Shadow: Bone Storm and Blood wave are also Darkness Skills, deal Shadow damage, and gain additional effects: Enemies damage by Bone Storm take 106-145 Shadow damage over 2 seconds. Blood wave desecrates the ground it travels over, dealing 1,690-2,323 Shadow damage over 4 seconds.
  • Viscous: Your maximum number of Skeletal Mages is increased by 2.

The more minions you have, the more damage you’ll deal, the more likely enemies will aggro them instead of you, and the more corpses and Essence they’ll generate for you. Likewise, attack speed boosts means more damage, more corpses and more Essence. Pretty simple stuff, regarding “Blood Getter’s”, “of Frenzied Dead”, “of Reanimation” and “Viscous”.

As for the other skill-boosters, “of Ultimate Shadow” takes Blood Wave from a passable skill to an absolutely powerhouse that’s well worth a one-point investment. In our build, it was the difference between Blood Wave dealing under 400 damage, to dealing 400 damage + 2,000 extra damage over time. Silly stuff. “Splintering” may be the most important legendary power for this build, as it allows Bone Spear to spread the Vulnerable debuff to more enemies each cast and causes Bone Spear’s shards to pierce and deal significantly more damage to Vulnerable enemies. Just a huge boost to damage, debuff potential and AoE.

Diablo 4 Necromancer Bone Spear + Corpse Explosion Build - Stat Priority

Gear increases your stats, but the exact stats (and amount boosted) varies - the rarer the item, the more stat modifiers they’ll have. This will cover which stats are the ones you should keep an eye out for and favor.

  • Essence Cost Reduction: Not quite as necessary as Mana Cost Reduction is for the Sorceress, but Essence still powers your Bone Spear, and lots of good things flow from that. Reducing the cost will help.
  • Bone Spear/Corpse Explosion Ranks: Getting a +1 Skill bonus to Bone Spear or Corpse Explosion will increase their damage directly. Since those are your two primary damage-dealers, it’s a significant boost to your overall offense. While rarer, +1 to all Core Skills and +1 to all Corpse & Macabre Skills also suffices.
  • Core Skill Damage: Increases the damage of your Core Skill (read: Bone Spear) by a hefty amount. Preferable to most other forms of damage boost just due to the sheer amount of damage you’ll gain from it.
  • Corpse & Macabre Skill Damage: Same as above, but this empowers your Corpse and Macabre skills (Corpse Explosion).
  • Vulnerable Damage: Bone Spear inflicts the Vulnerable Debuff, and with the “Splintering” legendary power and the “Plagued Corpse Explosion” upgrade, any enemies inflicted by the Vulnerable will take a good bit more damage followup Bone Spears and Corpse Explosions. Since taking advantage of the Vulnerable debuff to deal more damage is already a key part of this build, you might as well double down.

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Guide Information

  • Publisher
    Blizzard Entertainment
  • Platforms,
    PC, PS4, PS5, XB One, XB X|S
  • Genre
    Action RPG
  • Guide Release
    15 March 2023
  • Last Updated
    5 June 2023
    Version History
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Diablo IV is the ultimate action RPG experience with endless evil to slaughter, countless abilities to master, nightmarish dungeons, and legendary loot. This guide for Diablo 4 currently contains the following:

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