From Diablo Wiki
This Amazon report was written in December 1999, after Diabloii.net's visit to Blizzard North. It was the most comprehensive Amazon coverage ever, to that point. It's hopelessly outdated at this point, of course, but can still be read for archival value.
The Amazon is the Diablo II character with the widest variety of abilities: She has ranged attack, with her bow, crossbow or thrown javelin. She has melee attack with her javelin or spear. And she has magic through her various passive and magic spells. The Amazon starts out as a javelin user, and from there the path is wide open to choice. She seems to experience few troubles with the early monsters; in the build at Blizzard North, she seldom got close to death, and handily took out the baddies whether using ranged or melee attack.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Skill Trees
- 3 Throwing Potions
- 4 The Stash
- 5 Bow/Crossbow Introduction
- 6 Amazon Comparisons: Melee versus Bow
- 7 Amazon Comparisons: Bow versus Crossbow
- 8 Bows
- 9 Crossbows
- 10 Gem Spell Effects
- 11 Arrows and Bolts
- 12 Conclusion - Bow Amazon
- 13 Javelins
- 14 Spears
- 15 Javelin & Spear Conclusion
- 16 Passive & Magic Skills
- 17 Leveling
- 18 Last Words
When we arrived at Blizzard, we continued a discussion that had begun online many days earlier: Which character should we play? The decision wasn't easy, what with each of us feeling drawn by several. In the end, after much deliberation, one of us chose to head to Amazonia, to test the bow, javelin, and spear skills of this most intriguing character - The Amazon. (View the Amazon potion of our Character Section here.) The Bow Amazon achieved only Level 18, killed on Saturday night not by monsters, but by a computer save file error. But she was lovely while she lived!
The Amazon's skill trees have great depth. With Magical and Passive enhancements, including such lovelies as Critical Strike, Dopplezon, and the very-impressive Valkyrie; with the many fire and cold benefits, as well as the ability to duplicate ammunition on the Bow & Crossbow skill tree, and with the lightning, poison, and power enforcements that apply to the Javelin & Spear skill tree, at every level up you truly feel like a kid in a candy store, with many, many tasty choices before you.
Every character can throw, it's one of their innate skills. Poison and exploding potions are occasionally found after killing a monster, and they are purchasable from NPC's. They stack in inventory, so one inventory spot could hold plenty of them. If you place the bow/crossbow into inventory and equip the poison potion stack in either hand, target, and toss, the bottle explodes into a cloud of poison gas, which turns susceptible monsters a lovely green and weakens them considerably, making them much easier to kill, or kills them outright. Exploding potions explode. Think of them as "medieval hand grenades." Potions are thrown on an arc, rather than having a straight trajectory, so you can toss them over the heads of beasties and into just the perfect spot to affect the most damage. As long as you have the "throw" ability chosen, and you have the poison stack enabled, you can toss continuing bottles towards monsters.
Early on, it seemed a good idea to keep quivers of arrows in the stash storage box in the Rogue Encampment. Although it is less likely in Diablo II that one will need a complete set of "back up equipment" in which to battle to regain the items left on your corpse, it was still reassuring to have a backup weapon and maybe armour and a hat of some kind.
At first, several quivers of arrows or bolts were stored, but when it was noted how plentiful they were, that space was better utilized storing something like back up equipment, an item such as armour that was nearly-equal in value to what you were currently wearing and which you didn't want to yet give up, or special equipment for special needs. As far as these special needs go, consider this: You enter an area and see a lot of monsters with poison attack, like the Fetish with their nasty blow guns. You might want to take the waypoint back to town and pick up the helm from stash that boosts poison immunities rather than using the helm you would normally wear, which has better overall attributes but lacks poison immunities.
The Bow Amazon doesn't start out as a Bow Amazon. The Amazon comes equipped with a small packet of javelins by default, as her start-up offensive equipment, and so even for the Bow Amazon, it was with the javelin that we played her for a level or three, until sufficient gold was acquired to purchase a bow. With a second Amazon, a bow was one of the first items found upon killing monsters just outside the Rogue Encampment. In other words, it's usually not a long time before one can be bowing, but it's not an initial option. In the case of our games, the initial bow that the Amazon used - whether found, donated by a friend, or purchased - was a simple Short Bow, no special attributes, damage range of 1 to 4. But it sure felt nice to be in "ranged attack mode." (We will cover the Javelin/Spear Amazon in detail below.)
Playing Bow Amazon feels quite a bit like playing the Rogue from Diablo, in that you place a bow in her hand and she shoots it. The difference now, of course, is the lack of "limitless ammunition." Because you must stock the archer with arrows or bolts, it is important to be mindful of supply, both at hand (in her currently-equipped quiver) and in her inventory. On the plus for cost factors, bows do not currently have a durability factor, so there are no expenditures for repairing them. Most bows and crossbows fill a 2x3 sized area in your inventory, although some have been seen that take up a 2x4 space; arrows and bolts fill a 1x3 inventory space.
The firing rate for the Amazon felt very comfortable and fluid for someone who has played thousands more hours than she should of the Diablo Rogue. The crossbow is a little "clunkier," to be sure, but you do get that greater force, so it's worth the wait between shots. Trading off between firing attack and skills also felt similar to Diablo - the speed of transitioning was very nice. Using a standard attack mode, it might be shoot, shoot, shoot (checking the damage gauge), and then either another shot or two, or a quick casting of Fire or Exploding Arrow or the like. Very much like the Rogue. Very, very nice. :-)
One way to make sure you don't run out of arrows/bolts during a heated battle is to take the time, during calm moments, to replenish the equipped quiver. Simply left click on a spare quiver in inventory and hover it over the equipped quiver, which can be either right or left side of her weapon screen. (I just naturally put the bow on my left - her right - and then the quiver on her left weapon window. Nothing saying she must shoot with her right, however; either would work.) When you hover the spare quiver over the equipped one and click, any arrows/bolts needed to fill it are poured automatically from the spare quiver into the equipped one. This helps assure that, when entering a new area with a probable (if not guaranteed) big pack of monsters, you'll have a full complement of arrows or bolts to use. Once this replenishment strategy was begun, the Amazon never ran out of arrows in battle.
For efficiency, whenever you find a quiver of arrows/bolts on the ground or when you hop a Waypoint into town and buy them, don't just have it pop "as is" into inventory. Rather, open inventory and taking the new one, hover over all the other quivers - the equipped one and all those in inventory - and click, thus filling them up. This will often empty the new quiver and free up more inventory space.
Lastly, the quivers do not auto-equip once one is emptied. If you run out of arrows/bolts, you may have a full quiver in your inventory, but without your taking the time to stock it into the equipped window, your Amazon will revert to kicking her enemies, her default unarmed attack. Sure sign that you've forgotten to give the poor girl ammunition is when she starts furiously kicking, rather than shooting, as you expected her to do. Not that ever happened to us, of course. *ahem*
A second change is that bowing must now be targeted. I always did target, even with Diablo's system that allowed one to score strikes simply with sending volleys into a certain direction rather than towards a chosen target. But for those who are accustomed to just blasting at a particular angle and scoring deaths... well.. you'll learn the error of your ways when the monsters continue to approach with nary a shot having landed. :-)
We'll do a few comparisons, here, with a small caveat: It wasn't possible to build two Amazons of equal level and have them standing side-by-side for comparisons. But we did sequentials, and that should provide a lot of grist for contemplation.
Amazon Comparisons: Melee versus Bow
When starting out, we wanted to study how many melee hits it took for a Level One Spear/Javelin Amazon to kill the beasties, and to run a comparison with the Bow Amazon. And we learned that it could take as many as eight stabs with the javelin to kill a Zombie. Two or three stabs would do in a Fallen, where the Fallen Shaman would, naturally, would take more hits, sometimes as many as six. Admittedly javelins (like other multi-purpose weapons) aren't a great melee weapon; the spear is much better, since it is designed solely for melee. Too, the Amazon could thrown the Javelins for greater effect, but we were more focused on the melee aspect and at the cost of the javelins, didn't really want to give them up. As one of the Blizzard guys wrote recently, "With very small stack sizes and high cost, players will likely not do much throwing, except against large groups (combined with an area affect skill like poison javelin) or against bosses."
Earliest bowing experience for the Bow Amazon was similar to the stabbing of the Javelin Amazon, though coming with a couple of Clvls (and at least one skill point into Critical Hit), it was natural it would be a bit more effective. The Zombie didn't require up to eight arrows, but fell more likely with three or four; and the Fallen could be done in with two. Shaman, though, were still persistently good at avoiding death, and they did occasionally require what seemed a small flurry of arrows to expire. This is fair, in that the bow is not the default, and even with zero skill points for either usage, it seems right that a weapon that "costs" (with the price of arrows) as opposed to the free-to-use javelin should do a bit more damage.
As for the rate of attack between the early level Amazon using a spear as opposed to a bow, it felt that the speed with which one could shoot an arrow, as opposed to doing a single strike with a spear, was about equal. Then, when you acquired the Jab Skill, you were doing three thrusts per mouse click, was doing slightly better damage. Then, Level 6, the Bow Amazon could have Multiple Shot Skill, with several arrows per click, which more than balanced the three thrusts of the Jab skill. So it would appear that, aside from the minuscule amount of time that it took the arrow to reach the target - the delay from the arrow leaving the shaft to striking the target being somewhat greater than a melee poke at close range - there wasn't a speed advantage between the Bow Amazon and the Spear/Javelin Amazon.
As for an analysis of the thrown javelin versus arrow, again, we never had two Amazons modeling direct comparison. But it seemed that the Javelin was slower to reach the target, but did deeper damage. If this is true, then it's another example of adept balancing of the characters, even within subclasses of the same character type.
Amazon Comparisons: Bow versus Crossbow
As Peter Hu, Blizzard programmer, told us, "Since there are many types of both bows and crossbows, all with different fire rates and damage potential, it doesn't make sense to compare them as a class." But here's a try, anyway. ;-p Speed of attack between bowing and crossbowing with the Amazon was fairly easy to tell, by feel, and imagery and sound confirm the crossbow shoots more slowly. The cost per units for bolts and arrows is the same. (This was a bit surprising, as for some reason we had thought bolts would be more spendy.) The smaller size of the quiver for bolts (150) as compared to arrows (250) might be accounted for by the slower shot rate, perhaps making the quivers last about the same amount of time.
A couple of queries that come to mind are: "With the crossbow quite noticeably slower to shoot, is it safe to assume that the bolt is 67% more efficient or effective, since that is the difference in quiver quantity?" Or, "If a monster approaches and you can get off 5 arrows or 3 bolts, will the monster be equally injured (or hopefully equally dead) by the damage inflicted?" Peter's wisdom was, "As a general rule, slower weapons do more base damage than faster ones, but there are multiple factors that prevent scaling their damage based solely on swing speed or fire rate." And we agree that it is highly possible, even desirable, that an Amazon might want to switch off between crossbow and bow, since skills gained on that tree benefit both weapons.
So, let us say at this point the crossbow was noticeably superior in damage, substantially slower in fire speed, and the accuracy seemed at least as good, if not superior, to the bow. As to the speed vs. quiver capacity vs. enhancements vs. supplemental skills vs. accuracy vs. ... anything else ... we'll leave it to the programmers.
Lastly, on accuracy, and as a result of a visitor query: We were hoping to be able to tell if the bows were any more or less accurate in Diablo II than in Diablo, but that comparison wasn't really possible. Accuracy is greatly a function of the weapon's attributes and the targeting skills of the player, rather than a change in the game mechanics. Aiming is different because, as stated earlier, where in Diablo the targeting was in one of only eight different angles, in Diablo II there are many dozens of possibilities. This makes targeting less like Monty Python's "I [shoot] in your general direction" and more about accurately getting a bead on the monster and taking it down.
Without weight penalties in Diablo II, we didn't have to make a choice early on about a lighter bow not slowing the Amazon down, as opposed to a heavier crossbow making her less agile, but inflicting more damage. This weight consideration has never been a consideration in Diablo, of course, but it is a case with many other RPG's, and we've been asked if that sort of thing would be factored into characters in Diablo II. The answer is no, there are no weight factors for Diablo II. There are, however, the traditional strength and dexterity, and perhaps other requirements, such as a minimum energy requirement for magical items, that must be met in order to use an item.
The bows go through the usual generations: Simple short bows, long bows, massive war bows, socketable bows, special unique bows, and eventually extraordinary rare bows.
Because of the technical difficulties and restarts we experienced, it wasn't possible to bring up two higher-level Amazons, one playing bow and one playing crossbow. We therefore had to make a choice, and that choice was to play Bowgirl for a few levels, and then become Crossbowgirl when one was offered or found that was worthy of the switch.
This happened at Clvl 7, when a lovely Crossbow was offered by Charsi, the Act One blacksmith.
Crossbows did about exactly what we expected even before we ever played the game: They were slower to strike, but did more damage when they scored a hit. Like bows, they are a two-handed weapon, making it impossible to sling off a bow and then duck behind a shield, but that was the reality of the day, so it only makes sense. They, too, take up 2 x 3 in the inventory.
Charsi's offering, a socketable crossbow that accepted up to three gems, was well worth the price, which was around 1,000 gold. Damage inflicted was 9 to 14. Having kept one Chipped Ruby tucked in the inventory - saving it through several levels, with not wanting to waste it on a weapon that would soon be cast aside - we immediately socketed it and acquired a modest amount of fire damage, 1 - 3 points.
Over time, we bought a Chipped Sapphire, which gave us 1-3 points of cold damage. And, ultimately, we added a third chipped gem, a Diamond, which gave us a like amount of lightening damage. Upon socketing the second stone, we asked the Blizzard guys about the graphics, and their response was "Yes, the Amazon is getting both fire and ice damage, but only one graphic will show up in the actual shooting effect. You can see that she's getting ice/cold damage, though, because the non-immune monsters are turning blue from the effects of the cold spell." In the case of my bow, it was a fiery effect that showed up on the actual arrow itself, although when a monster was immune to fire effects, then the arrows showed up as plain, without any fire effects.
Gem Spell Effects
Before we played Diablo II, I had thought that when you had more than a single gem socketed in a weapon, you would see two or three effects - Lightning, Fire, Cold - all at once. But when we were playing, it was clear that there was no "multi-gem effect" and that only one spell showed. In the case of the Amazon's three-stone-enhanced crossbow, it was the Fire spell that showed, even though the monsters were clearly catching the effect of the Cold spell from the Sapphire, as you could see them turning blue and being slowed by that effect.
So then came a theory: Was it possible that, when using more than one gem, the first gem socketed was always the one that presented the visible spell effects that you see? Well, as it turns out, no, that is not the case, according to a correspondent at Blizzard. There is… or at least was… a standard scissors/paper/rock formula, where, for example, the Ruby enhancement would always override that of the Diamond, so Fire would always be the visible spell over Lightning, when both are in place.
However, after we queried about this visual effect, and perhaps sort of mildly challenged the logic of it, Blizzard did some rethinking and agreed with us. They have reportedly redesigned the "visual gem effect" formula. In the future, if you have more than one stone socketed into your items, it will be a random spell effect that shows up, not a formulaic one, so that if you have, say, red, blue and green gems, you may see Fire, Cold, or Poison as the default visual effect for that weapon.
In addition, there was another perplexing thing. If the targeted monster is immune to the attack that you are using, the spell effect currently doesn't show on the arrow. But, if you shoot a Fire Arrow, even if the monster is immune, the arrow would still be burning, right? Last we heard, Blizzard is rethinking this one, too. We're not sure how that discussion will go, though, it might be they continue having the visual effect disabled by immunities, just so you learn to recognize immune monsters by noting "Oh, my arrows are not burning, meaning these creatures are immune to fire, therefore I should switch to my other bow that does more poison damage, or I should use a non-fire skill." However, that might give a clear advantage to the Amazon, so maybe not. it will be interesting to see how this all sorts out. (Personally I'm hoping for alternating spell effects - Lightning, and Poison, and Fire, oh my! - but that might be just a tad too complicated.)
Arrows and Bolts
Arrows and bolts seemed plentiful on the ground, though that might change at the substantially higher levels. It could well be that a high level Amazon doesn't come across so many feebies in Act Three or the Finale, but with all the gold she would have acquired by then, she will be able to buy them without it making a serious dent in the pocketbook.
Arrows are found in quivers of 250, and purchased in varying amounts ranging from about 60-something to maybe 170 or so. We never saw a full quiver for sale, for some arbitrary reason probably having to do with the whims of the designers. :-) Bolts come 150 to a found quiver, and are offered for sale in quantities ranging from around 48 to, say, slightly over 100. The cost of quivers varies depending upon how many arrows or bolts are in the quiver. The price per unit - arrow or bolt - is the same, however. For found quivers, it seemed that the game was almost intelligent, and dropped more arrows earlier, and then more bolts later (when we had switched to using a crossbow, as people might likely do). But it might have been merely chance or mistaken perception (or wishful thinking) that made the arrow/bolt generation seem to shift.
We've heard concerns that the Amazon would be at a disadvantage in Diablo II, because she'd be spending her gold on staples like arrows and bolts, rather than having that money to purchase upgraded equipment, or gems with which she could enhance her items. But concerns that restocking arrows or bolts would be punitive are allayed - 'tis not a problem as far as we could see. We were actually tossing quivers of 250 arrows out of our inventory quite regularly in order to keep a higher-value item for resale to an NPC's. Javelins, however, were much less plentiful, and expensive, so finding any on the ground was a treat.
Recall, too, that bows do not sustain damage, so the tiny cost of the arrows or bolts is minimal compared to what repair costs might be on a different type of weapon.
With the bow and crossbow, the arrows and bolts fly in a fairly straight trajectory. You can "lead" a target as it moves. Targeting is, as we said earlier, a bit different than in Diablo, more precision is required, and there are the inevitable misses. But when arrows and bolts strike, they are effective indeed.
Conclusion - Bow Amazon
It is possible to play a game using a Bow Amazon exclusively, and enjoy every facet of Diablo II. And with the magical weaponry, gem enhancements, the Amazon's elaborate skill tree, thrown potions such as poison and exploding, the option of including melee attack if desired, and with her remarkable ranged attack, the Amazon will probably hold up well to anything that comes her way, even the Lord of Darkness himself.
ears and javelins are not at all the same thing, and to be highly effective with both, some switching about will probably be required. Full information on the skills related to this weapon type can be found on our Amazon's Javelin and Spear Skill Tree page. In a nutshell, spears are an exclusively melee weapon, there are numerous different types of spears, and they do much higher damage than javelins. Javelins are a melee or throwing item, there are only a few types of javelins, and none of them are magical or socketable.
Javelins are a stackable item, 1x3 in the inventory. They have a listed damage when thrown, and when used for stabbing. It is about 1-5 as a melee item, a bit higher when thrown. However you have a finite number of them in a stack, with a max of 60 per stack, and each one you throw is gone, whether thrown with your throwing skill (any character can throw javelins in this fashion) or with one of the Amazon's special lightning or poison-enhanced javelin-throwing skills. You cannot retrieve missed javelins, nor pick them out of dead bodies and reuse them. They are relatively expensive, found rarely, and only available in limited quantities from the NPC merchants, so they must be thrown with some care. And of course throwing Poison Javelin or Lightning Javelin requires mana as well.
Javelins can be used for a stabbing, melee weapon as well as for a projectile, but as previously mentioned, the damage is very low that way, perhaps 1 to 5. A plain spear, by comparison, would probably have damage of about 4 to 12. Also, the spear might be socketed, in which case you'd have possible fire or cold or lightning enchantments on it, or magical enhancements to further boost the damage or to/hit. So basically stabbing with a javelin, even if you are boosting your attack with Jab or even Lightning Strike, is a pretty bad idea. Sort of like using a dagger instead of a bastard sword, in Diablo.
Playing at Blizzard North, we tested using a javelin for stabbing, as well as throwing, and it was okay for a while, but getting down deeper into Act One, it began to lack the damage that was needed. Because we ended up having to throw to stay alive, we were having to buy more javelins back in town, and they are not cheap, roughly 10 gold per javelin. Charsi always had a few on her "Weapons" page, usually one or two normal stacks of around 40, and one stack of "Superior" javelins. "Superior" is a prefix for all types of items, and it means they have a bit more of whatever that sort of item has - more AC, more damage, more to/hit, etc. In the case of javelins it's a few points more damage and to/hit. Superiors cost more, of course, and you can't stack Superior Javelins with regular ones.
Javelins, like bows, sustain no damage. There is no listed durability on them. The trajectory of javelins, like arrows, is a straight line, therefore you'll always hit the first monster in line.
We got to play around with most of the throwing skills for the Amazon, and they are all fun, and quite effective. During actual playing time, Poison Javelin was the only skill that we were able to use, due to Clvl requirements. It is quite nice, in that monsters that pass through its green trail, or those who are struck, suffer poison damage. This skill can be used almost like a firewall, where you pick a target as far from you as possible, throw at it, and then run around the poison contrail, trying to lead some monsters into it. (You are immune to the poison effects, naturally.) Most that pass through the green clouds will become poisoned (turn green) and suffer a hit point drain. We were able to kill numerous monsters with one throw this way, even with just Slvl 1 Poison Javelin. Higher levels of Poison Javelin would add more damage to the attack and the cloud, and also make the clouds last longer. Clouds dispelled rather quickly at Slvl 1, probably within five seconds, so some skill was required to line up the monsters before and after you threw, to get a number of them with the smoke. And with Plague Javelin (shown above), which you can get at Clvl 18, you can do very major damage. (Keep in mind that Poison and Plague Javelin are not useable for the Spear; they are a throwing skill only.)
So later in Act One, as we began to have trouble killing monsters using javelins only, even when they were superior javelins, and we were spending nearly all of our gold on new javelins, even though we were only throwing them when absolutely necessary, we thought it was time to try out a spear. There are many types of spears, just like all other weapons, with higher-quality ones requiring more attributes to equip, but doing more damage in exchange, just like items did in Diablo.
When Charsi or Gheed offered a magical spear that we had high enough dexterity and strength to use, and it was under 1000 gold, the time to compare seemed right. And it was a great improvement. Listed damage went from 1-6 to 5-23 (or so), and the to/hit was improved as well. The Amazon had Slvl 4 in Critical Strike, which yielded her around a 50% chance of doing double damage with any attack, and we were using Jab a great deal, which gave us 3 quick strikes, all of them with the same to/hit, and chance of doing a Critical Strike. (Jab can also increase or decrease your to/hit and damage, depending on how high your Slvl in it is, but we're ignoring that for now.) Spears are two-handed weapons.
So from Jab doing 3 hits of an average of 3 damage, we now had Jab with a better to/hit, and average damage of around 14. Since each Jab attack dealt three hits, of which two were usually hitting, our damage went from around 6 to around 28 per Jab attack - an enormous difference. The damage was around the same for a normal stabbing attack, which we had to use some of the time, since Jab required mana.
Charged Strike is useful also, adding lightning damage and a to/hit bonus to our melee attack. Much more info on her other melee spear attacks can be found here.
With a spear we could deal much higher damage, but the penalty was that we couldn't run back and hurl javelins whenever we wanted to, a quick change being somewhat complicated by the different inventory requirements. The spear we were using was a 2x4 item, while the javelins were 1x3. So obviously going from equipped javelins to a spear was no problem, since you could actually fit two stacks of javelins with space left over in the inventory space of a spear. However, trying to stash your spear and equip javelins in a hurry could be interesting, if you had picked up potions or whatever and they were in your way. A couple of times it was necessary to dump the spear on the ground and run back a screen or two to get room to use the javelins, and then return to pick up the spear once you had dealt with the monsters.
Another complication is that a spear is a two-handed weapon, for the Amazon, while the javelin is a one-handed weapon, and can be used or even thrown while holding a shield, just like other throwable items. (This has changed since E3, since there you needed both hands free to throw anything.) So you can benefit from holding a shield as well as the javelin, but you will need more free space in inventory when you go to switch.
Magical properties also need to be weighed in. Javelins, like other ammunition items, are never found socketable, or magical. Blizzard North was considering magical arrows at one time, but they are not going to be in the final game, for various balance reasons. So you can get lower quality javelins, or higher quality (superior) javelins, but never any really nice magical javelins, and they never benefit from gem sockets either, which is a big drawback.
Javelin & Spear Conclusion
Overall, it is probably impossible to be a highly-effective Amazon just using javelins. Possibly if your character had a lot of gold, and had others in the game buying them javelins every chance they got, you could do all right, especially if you had other characters you were playing with, and you could provide them ranged support while they took the monsters on head to head.
It appears it would be possible to be a rather deadly Amazon using just spears. You would have no ranged attacks, rather limiting your effectiveness, but you could get high enough damage to do all right, and there are a number of useful skills that add lightning to her melee javelin attacks, though you need throwing skills to use poison. There are no fire or cold spear skills, which is a pain, since cold skills are currently by far the most effective in the game, since they slow or stop the monsters, as well as inflict damage.
However the best Amazon (who specialized in this skill tree) would use both. Even if you didn't have any throwing skills, just carrying fifty or so javelins around to provide the option of tearing up some monsters from long range would be a great help. Especially with a boss and his minions, or running from some monsters with ranged attacks.
More info about how all of the skills in this skill tree work can be found here. Amazon using Eye of Zeus
Passive & Magic Skills
Any Amazon worth her salt will want a few points in the effective Critical Strike skill from her terrific Passive & Magic Skill Tree. Toggle a few points in that, and you've a 50/50 chance your attack will double. Nice odds, those. Eye of Zeus does double service, for visibility and as an assist to soften up the baddies; a point here is worthwhile, if only for the beautiful rainbow casting animation. The whole Dodge/Avoid/Evade might be essential at high levels, but we didn't pursue it. The most impressive are the highest levels of Passive & Magic, as one would expect; Dopplezon is helpful, with its self-sacrificing decoy, Pierce boosts every weapon at your disposal, and the Valkyrie is wonderful to see - a golden-armoured maiden to assist you in battle!
The sequence of leveling the Amazon, even just through Level 18, is rich with choices. Even specializing in either bow/crossbow or javelin/spear use (which we feel will be required, an either/or choice seems best to assure a powerful character), one still has so much to consider for each skill point application. Do you select one that applies only to your chosen skill? Choose one that is passive, but weaker, or one that requires application (and mana) but does more, overall? Those and a dozen other questions face you as you gaze at your options.
For both the Bow and Spear/Javelin Amazon, one particularly attractive skill was Critical Strike. This is a passive skill that raises the chance that your attacks will do double damage. It starts at a increase of around 20%, and rises with each point application, attaining an approximately 50% chance of doing double damage at Level 7.
For the Spear/Javelin Amazon, the abilities selected for her from the Javelin & Spear Skill Tree (as well as the Passive and Magic Skill Tree) were as follows:
Levels 1 through 5:
- Jab (2)
- Eye of Zeus (1)
- Critical Strike (2)
Levels 6 through 11:
- Dodge (1)
- Poison Javelin (1)
- Power Strike (1)
- Critical Strike (2)
- Impale (1)
For the highest-level Bow Amazon we achieved, the skills selected from her Bow & Crossbow Skill Tree, in addition to those from the Passive and Magic Skill Tree, were as follows:
Levels 1 through 5:
- Critical Strike (2)
- Eye of Zeus (1)
- Fire Arrow (1)
- Magic Arrow (1)
[One might wonder why not use more of the Magic Arrow skill, since it provides "free" arrows. But with arrows being so plentiful, we decided to go with greater Fire enhancements, rather than getting the free ones.]
Levels 6 through 11:
- Multiple Shot (2)
- Cold Arrow (1)
- Critical Strike (1)
- Fire Arrow (1)
[Multiple Shot was one we had been wanting to see/try for some time. Nice! Were rather indifferent to Cold Arrow (in part because our crossbow added cold spells already). But chose one Cold Arrow because it was the requirement for Ice Arrow, and slowing monsters is helpful.]
Levels 12 through 17:
- Multiple Shot (1)
- Exploding Arrow (2)
- Critical Strike (2)
[Still like the extra arrows of Multi-shot and the increasing chances of landing double damage of Critical Strike. Exploding Arrow was a natural choice, as effective as Fire Arrow had proven.]
- Ice Arrow
Might have been better to not get ice arrow, and focus on upping the fires, except that knowing some monsters will have immunities to certain things, it seemed a good thing (even with the socketed cold gem), and the freezing factor is definitely desirable, rather like Stone Curse, which is nearly indispensable in Diablo.
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In Diablo II, it feels as if level ups come few and far between, and with but one precious skill point to assign each time, and so many terrific choices, the player will most likely wish to choose to specialize in either the Bow & Crossbow Skill Tree, or the Javelin & Spear Skill Tree. And for both, more than a few points in the Passive & Magic Skill Tree will be a must.
In the end, the Amazon is a wonderful character. Her multi-disciplined attacks - both ranged and direct, with spearing, throwing potions, throwing javelins, bowing, cross-bowing - make her one of the deepest and most satisfying of characters. Having said that, though, even the one of us who had dreamed most of playing Amazon for the last two years was inclined to admit that, with a bit of a nod to the Bow Amazon, she loved all of the Diablo II characters she had played nearly equally, but for different reasons. That is the sign of incredible balance. That is the sign of an amazing game.
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