I’ve found Poison Dart with the Splinters skill rune (attained at level 6) to be ideal as you grind towards level 30. Splinters enables you to shoot 3 Darts instead of 1. There is little to no need for Numbing Dart from levels 1-30 as Grasp of the Dead with the Groping Eels skill rune is more than enough to slow large packs of mobs.
You’ll pick up Summon Zombie Dogs at level 4 but they feel like they suffer until you’re able to grab Sacrifice (level 13) a little later. The Rabid Dogs skill rune is nice but I’ve changed to Final Gift for the additional health orbs from level 19 onwards.
At level 9, you gain access to Soul Harvest which is the very first spell I use in an encounter with a pack of mobs. Due to little mana issues, you’re much better off using the Siphon skill rune (takes life from mobs to heal you) which becomes available at level 21 as you will experience some situations where running into a pack to get off your Soul Harvest can be dicey and lead to death.
You’ll want to assign a key or extra mouse button to free movement so you can move in and out quickly and without trouble. If you’re not using a move key, you best start now as you’ll rely on it in later difficulty modes.
Zombie Dogs really begin to come into their own once you gain Sacrifice at level 13 and become chain castable when skill runed with Next of Kin (level 24). Through levels 13-18, Sacrifice will often leave you with no Zombie Dogs at all which results in you retreating while it’s on cool down. Getting the Gargantuan at level 19 fixes that issue as he is a strong tank for large packs of mobs while you wait for your Zombie Dogs to refresh. The Humongoid skill rune improves his ability to gain agro of a large bunch of mobs, keeping you safe. This really only becomes an issues towards the late 20′s but it’s still nice to have.
Once you gain the basic spells and skill runes for this build, you can begin to attack much larger packs of mobs by running in, casting Soul Harvest and gaining 5 stacks. You then cast Grasp of the Dead to maintain them in a small clump. As you run out, your Zombie Dogs move in and you can begin chain cast Sacrifice to decimate them. You’ll often get lucky and be able to chain cast 4 or 5 times in a row. If timed correctly, you can recast Zombie Dogs and continue the explosions if required.
Witch Doctor Passives 1-30
As passives are somewhat more restrictive while leveling, you have little room for choice until you hit level 20. Jungle Fortitude is of little use at the later stages as we’ll be Sacrifing our dogs anyway. Spiritual Attunement also has little use as I have not experienced any mana issues. Circle of Life and Gruesome Feast make a good combination due it’s ability to stack with Final Gift. Pierce the Veil is a no brainer once you hit 27 and it’ll carry you along nicely to the mid 30′s.