I have put together many summoners and I have ended close to the top 10 the past few ladders. My last lvl 65 hardcore summoner died due to a lagspike.
For a Hardcore pure summoner the witch should have the following focuspoints @ the passive tree:
Increased aura range nodes
ES is the main focus of my hardcore witches, staying alive is key! The current build has 169% ES plus a large amount of intelligence.
A secret tip from Hellskin: 30 intelligence nodes are more effective than 6% ES nodes. since 30 intelligence gives you 6% es plus a mana boost
Its a no brainer that a pure summoner needs to focus on summoner nodes. The order of importance of the boosts are:
1) increased amount of summons
2) increased amount of life
3) increased amount of damage
In some builds, especially builds that are more hybrid the increased amount of damage passives can be skipped to get other passives instead.
Increased mana & aura range
Most of the damage summons do comes from aura’s and support gems. To boost the aura’s effectiveness increased range is key. This allows you to move more freely over the map and stay out of harms way when you need to. With the current aura range your summons will be in reach untill the end of your screen.
To be able to run with 5 or 6 active aura’s you’ll need a very large manapool (around the endgame it should hit somewhere between 800-1000 mana). Increased mana nodes are vital, this includes regen passives.
It isn’t totally correct to say that most of the damage minions do come from aura’s. There are two different ways minions do damage. First of all: they attack and aura’s greatly increase that damage. The second part is minion instability. When minions explode (especialy zombies) they can take down a hole bunch of enemies. They deal a lot of fire damage when they explode. Minion instability is an absolute must for summoner witches.
Skills & Support
My summoner witch has the following minion skill setups:
zombie / minion life / minion damage / faster attack / added light dmg
skeletons/ added chaos damage / minion damage / faster attack
specters / gmp / pierce / added chaos damage
In terms of damage I never really looked into whether minion damage would add more/less damage than added lightning or chaos damage. If somebody has done this please let me know.
You should have Anger, Hatred and Wrath on at all times. To increase minion damage.
There 2 aura’s that I always have on next to those 3 aura’s that help me survive: Discipline and Clarity. I do not level up clarity further than lvl 3-5 because the mana reserve scales pretty hard.
There are a few aura’s that should be considered as well:
Grace & tempest shield. Grace has a flat reserve and with high mana builds you can easily add flat reserves and grace is one of the few that will add an extra advantage Tempest shield has a relative reserve which will hurt you a bit more but due to the low % it could come in handy when you need some extra block. There are plenty of other aura’s that would help out a summoner very much but they usually have huge relative reserves (40%) and are therefor not useful.
Reduced mana cost support is needed for all your aura’s.
since the passive tree is based purely on summons you’re free to use any attack you want. As long as its usefully with a maximum of 2 support skills and within the amount of mana you’re using.
I’m using elemental weakness, but you can use any curse you want. Temporal chains and enfeeble will give you more survivability. Elemental weakness and vulnerability will help you kill faster.
For this setup you need: 5 link armor (zombies) 3x 4 linked (skells, specters, aura’s) and a 3 link (aura’s)
this means that you have one 3 link item left for your curses/active attack. Pick those skills wisely!
mana management is very important on a pure summoner build. You’ll have a huge manapool and most of the mana will be in use by aura’s (up to 80% of your pool). The key to success is leaving about ~1.5 to 2 times the amount of mana of your highest summoning cast unused by your aura’s. For a zombie cast that cost 150 mana you should have 225-300 mana left after all aura’s are active. You should regenerate mana quick enough to keep casting your summoner skills.
Get high ES items with the right amount of socked.
Get an 20 onyx amulet with extra + all attributes (for all your dex/str skills)
Focus on mana, mana regen, resistance for all other mods.