Charged Bolt Tutorial
Everything you could ever want to know about using the Charged Bolt skill in Diablo I and Hellfire. Original guide by Moriah in 1997, archived in this wiki with some grammar and formatting fixes in February 2009.
...so how does CHARGED BOLT really work?
Glad you ask, my friend, because here is the answer.
This discussion will deal only with Diablo, is only tested in multi player and and is designed to give people a better understanding of the use of the spell during gameplay.
What exactly is Charged Bolt?
Charged Bolt belongs to the Lightning based spells, which also include Lightning itself, Chain Lightning and Nova. Charged Bolt is the ideal Lightning based spell for a Sorceror for all occasions. They start off with a staff of Charged Bolt. All dungeon levels up to and including level 15 have monster types which are susceptible to Charged Bolt and at all the difficulty settings. Jarulf's Guide v1.20 tells us it does damage between 1 and 1+(Magic/4), has 3+slvl number of bolts and always costs 6 mana points to cast from your spellbook.
Where can you find Charged Bolt, and in what form?
Charged Bolt can be found on a staff and as a spellbook. Abundant in the Church and the Catacombs, you can quickly raise your spell level if you have the magic requirement for reading the books.
The witch Adria will also sell you books of Charged Bolt for 1000 gold pieces.
Sacred shrines will raise your Charged Bolt spell level by 2, up to a maximum of 15, but at the cost of a permanent mana reduction. Avoid raising your Charged Bolt spell level this way.
Enchanted Shrines will lower the level of 1 known spell by one and raise all the other known spells by 1. This works most of the time for raising the spell level of Charged Bolt (up to the maximum of 15). In addition to the character's own spell level, other wearable items can raise the spell level even further, up to a maximum of 20.
Although not officially excluded from scrolls, Yours Truly has never encountered Charged Bolt as a scroll.
Who uses Charged Bolt?
Sorcerors mainly. Usually early on in the game, when the character is still at a low level, But, sadly, they "forget" about the usefulness of the Charged Bolt spell when the other more powerful Lightning based spells become available to them. This post hopes to show that high-level Sorcerors can make effective use of Charged Bolt as well.
Rogues have a limited use for Charged Bolt. Warriors almost none. If these character classes want to use a Lightning based spell, then a medium to high level Lightning or Chain Lightning is much more preferred than Charged Bolt.
What monsters do you use Charged Bolt on?
As stated before, Charged Bolt can be used on any level except level 16, but the Lightning spells really come into play at the end of the Catacombs, when the new Sorceror starts to encounter Magma Demon type monsters. These include Magma Demon, Blood Stone, Hell Stone and Lava Lord - all of which are fully susceptible to Lightning based spells.
Later on you may encounter Balrog type monsters, which are Slayer, Guardian, Vortex Lord and Balrog. These too are susceptible to Lightning based spells. The Slayer and Guardian being fully susceptible, while the Vortex Lord and the Balrog are resistant to Lightning, but never immune.
Other monster types to use Lightning spells on, rather than Fire spells, include the Hiddens (apart from Lightning as a spell by itself, Charged Bolt and Chain Lightning will hit any Hidden type monsters in range and stalking you) and Spitting Terrors.
To round things off here, Lightning spells are also used on specific monster types, like Steel Lords and Hellspawn in Hell difficulty, more on this later.
How does Charged Bolt deploy itself?
This is a widely misunderstood process. Let Yours Truly enlighten you.
A character will cast Charged Bolt. 3 Bolts flow forth from the caster. 1 Bolt will travel in the direction to where the mouse pointer was clicked for at least 2 game-squares. The other bolts come out either side of the main bolt. These side-bolts will also travel straight for at least 2 game-squares, though diagonally away from the middle bolt.
Notice that this will develop 2 blind spots 2 squares away from the caster. This corresponds to the moves a Knight in a game of chess can make. A very annoying feature as Balrogs seem very adept at occupying these unreachable squares.
The original bolts are supercharged. Since multiple bolts are cast in lots of 3, they have the ability to split up after traveling a little distance. Yours Truly has so far been unable to establish a pattern to this breaking up. Even with the splitting of the bolts, blind spots remain some distance out from the caster.
The directions of travel of the bolts seem to be within a 90 degree arc, and will be if the outer bolts decide to travel in a straight line. However, once the outer bolts have come inwards on the 90 degree arc, they never turn against their original bounds, effectively curbing the 90 degree arc to somewhat less.
Bolts will continue to travel until they hit a solid object like a wall, a pillar or a cauldron. They will keep on traveling through a spiked body, a sarcophagus and barrels. They will not harm you if you walk through your own bolts, but will harm your golem and other players.
What tactics do you use with Charged Bolt?
These are varied, and the reader is urged to try out a few things for him or herself.
Charged Bolt is a good attacking spell from a distance, in that it can cover wide open spaces very effectively and it can also inflict a good deal of damage up close. Lets look at covering open spaces first.
The caster is asked to try for taking up a doorway or a corner of a large room. Taking a corner, cast a couple of Charged Bolts towards the diagonally opposite corner of the room. As the bolts dissipate, they will hit the monsters present and either kill them or inflict some damage. Those that survive the first wave are "woken up" and will come to the caster.
Since the caster can see the bolts dissipate, s/he can see the monsters who have come past the first wave. Quickly cast another 2-4 lots of Charged Bolt. The advancing monsters will be almost completely exterminated, at the least literally decimated. (Note: this may not be the case if this method is used in Hell/Hell on Steel Lords and Hellspawn, but at least you will know about the monsters' presence and switch to different spells and/or tactics. It certainly works in Normal/Hell.)
If using this tactic from a doorway, be sure to stand in the door and cast straight out, else the side-bolts will go to waste if the caster stands behind the door. Follow this up with 1 step forward and casting straight out to the sides of the room.
In any case, do not cast like a mad(wo)man until all your mana is gone, rather cast the spell in small bursts for maximum effectiveness.
If there are ranged attackers on the level, then be prepared to step back through the doorway and off to the side. Charged Bolt travels slowly, so don't give the monsters a chance to get to you first.
It may seem at times that many monsters escape the bolts, however, this is not so. They are merely weakened by every hit as the split bolts deliver less damage per monster-hit at a distance than they do up close, so let's look at the up-close tactics.
As noted before, make sure that the monsters are not standing in a blind spot, so either they move or you move. The latter is recommended when there are ranged attackers present on the level as well. It must also be noted that sorcerors are very fast at casting Charged Bolt, so as soon as a monster gets next to you, select the monster with the mouse and right-click. The monster will now have to bear the full payload of a third of the total bolts the sorceror has just cast. Say the spell level is 15, that makes (3+slvl)/3 = (3+15)/3 = 6 bolts. For a sorceror with 120 magic, that is a range of damage of 6*(1) - 6*(1 + 120/4) = 6 - 186 damage for the one hit. And you still have the side-bolts which continue to spread themselves around.
There are other tactics for Charged Bolt, especially in conjunction with other spells and weapons, but they are left for the reader to find.
This post may now seem to end abruptly. That is intended. The author will probably be trying out your patience from this point onwards, and there is no better way to learn the effective use of the Charged Bolt spell than to actually use it yourself.
The only thing to remember when using Charged Bolt is not to right-click away like a lunatic, a tactic which may work for Fireball and Lightning on occasion, but rather use some thought about its deployment. Charged Bolt travels much too slow for immediate high-impact, so be prepared to duck around a corner at times while the bolts do the dirty work.
Yours Truly has successfully used the Charged Bolt spell at level 15 in Normal difficulty and cleared Hell/Church completely with a level 31 Sorcerer without using a Mana Shield, albeit with the help of Stone Curse for various bosses and unique monsters.
Enjoy !~!~! Moriah.
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