Guide:Javazon v1.09, by Flux, Part III
This v1.09 guide describes how to build and play a Magic Find Javazon who uses Lightning Fury with Guided Arrow to kill bosses. Much of the information herein is obsolete in v1.10+, due to skill, item, and monster changes in the patch.
Diablo II Strategy Guide Info:
- Patch: v1.09
- Gametype: PvE/PvM
- Class: Amazon
- Specialisation: Lightning Fury Javazon
- Author: Flux
- Pages: One, two, three
- 1 Strategy
- 2 Leveling Up Guide
- 3 Specific Area Guide
- 4 The Secret Cow Level
- 5 Conclusion and Thanks
- 6 Navigation
Javazons are mostly constructed for the Cow Level. There are aspects of doing the cows that are easier and also more difficult than other areas, and you should prepare accordingly. For the cows you need very little resistance, but tons of blocking and hit points. You can of course get by with less in everything, but you are risking it. If you play HC like I do, then it's a bigger risk.
Here follows a level up guide, with extensive strategy info on the Cows and other areas you'll be playing long term. The level up guide assumes you are playing for real, killing things, working up levels, etc. If you are getting a turbo from friends, or self-turbo'ing with two computers, you can skip most of this, since you're just leeching exp until you reach LF time at Clvl 30 or 35, and can gain your own levels from there.
Using a Bow is the best way to deal with bosses. More explanation on why this is can be found elsewhere in this guide, in the Skills section and also Strategy section. Suffice to say, a few points in Guided Arrow and you can chew them up (from a safe distance) much faster than you could with Lightning Fury for the same target, or Jab/Fend with a spear or javelin, at melee range.
Positioning for them is basically the same as a Bowazon should use. Your Javazon is durable and able to tank with her high blocking % and shield, but in bow mode you're vulnerable. No blocking, and often much lower resistances, so you want to be careful.
Classic Boss-killing positioning
The screenie here shows the classic bow killing style, with a Valk tanking the boss (A Fire Enchanted, Aura Enchanted, Extra Fast Hell Bovine in this case) a Decoy between you and the Boss for safety's sake, and then the Javazon, firing away with Guided Arrow.
If the boss is against a wall, you want to shoot at an angle to him, so the shot will guide to the boss from the side, and be able to Pierce and hit multiple times. If you shoot right at a target against a wall you won't get any Piercing double hits.
This is a term used often in this guide and by Javazons, so you need to understand it. It's relatively self-explanatory, since the game meaning is almost the literal meaning. It's best used on the Cows, but you can do it in many other areas of the game, the principle is the same. Basically, "herding" is the process of running through and around the monsters, in order to attract a bunch of them to pursue you. You then lead them into a nice shape, cast a Valk or Decoy, and open up with the LF. Since LF kills huge mobs much faster than small groups, this is a very good tactic to employ.
Of course it's also quite dangerous. No other characters regularly try to attract huge mobs of monsters, since no other skills are more powerful the more targets they have. A Sorc might lead lots of monsters into her Firewall, but she'd be just as well off casting a new Firewall for every few monsters she encountered, the mana cost isn't a real issue.
For a Javazon, you can kill 25 monsters with fewer throws, and in less time, than you can 5 or fewer monsters. You can kill 100 monsters in a huge mob faster than you can kill 10 monsters. There is an upper limit, but the principle is the same. The more the merrier, due to how LF works. The more targets, the more monsters you pierce per throw, so the more bolts are sent out.
Herding in the Cow Level is the real art of playing a Javazon, and when you get good at it you'll be able to clear the level much faster, while using fewer javelins.
The best shape for a herd to be in is a line, several monsters wide. You want to be able to Pierce 4 or 5 or more targets with a single throw, and you want the monsters in the same direction, so the lightning bolts each LF sends out will travel through as many targets as possible. A huge ball of monsters works pretty well, but not as well as a long string.
If your throw hits one monster, and there are 10 others to his left, 10 lightning bolts will go off that way, one aimed at each monster, and if the 10 are all in a row, every single bolt will hit every single monster. If the 10 are spaced out, you'll still get 10 bolts, but each monster will be hit by just 2 or 3 of them, dealing far less damage.
More on herding techniques in the Cow Level, in the Specific Areas section.
Leveling Up Guide
This should get you through Act One, though you can go up to Act Two a bit earlier, or later if you are leveling well in a big game in the Catacombs. I've gotten characters from 1 to 18 in Act One in one game in not much more than an hour; with decent twinked gear they leveled very quickly as I worked through the Jail and Catacombs down to Andariel.
Stats: Early on you should be adding to Str for equipping better gear, some Dex for AR, and some vit to stay alive. I plan on having around 60 Str and 109 Dex (minimum for Titans) by Clvl 42, with the rest in Vitality. Eventually you have to add more Dex, since you need 2.5 there per level to keep your blocking % steady. How much Dex long term depends on your shield's blocking %. You might want to add more str eventually to get up to 110 for Thundergods and Buriza, but that's in the future. Never add any Energy to a Javazon.
Skills: You are mostly just filling out your pre-reqs at this point. These skills you should get now, the (#) is the recommended long term goal.
- Spear and Javs Tab: Jab (1), Poison Javelin (1), Lightning Bolt (1).
- Bow and Xbow Tab: Fire Arrow (1), Cold Arrow (1), Multishot (1). All optional, you can wait until Clvl 40+ to put anything in bow, since you don't really need Guided for boss killing until Nightmare/Hell.
- Passive and Magic Tab: Inner Sight (1), Slow Missiles (1), Dodge (10+), Avoid (5+), Critical Strike (8+). Getting Critical Strike up to Slvl 5 or so early on helps a lot in your leveling.
This is just 11 skills (or 8 if you skip the bow pre-reqs) when you'll have 18 points, assuming you do the Den of Evil and Radament, so put extras into Dodge or Critical Strike, or save them.
Equipment: What you wear isn't real important early on, as long as you survive. Though of course, better stuff = faster leveling. Khalim's Will is a great melee weapon to start off with, and use up through Act Three. Very fast attack and elemental damage. (You need to mule it before you enter the Durance of Hate or someone completes the Compelling Orb quest, or it will vanish.)
If you don't have any twinks, you can use javelins right from the start. They aren't real big damage, but then the monsters aren't real big hit points. Put a point into Jab right away and use that, it's faster than a normal attack, though you'll need mana leech to keep it up, and that's very hard to come by at this level. Throwing javelins does nice damage, but you'll run out quickly, and they get expensive if you didn't twink yourself a bunch of gold.
The Angelic Set is helpful, nice bonuses on everything, including MF% and Hps/Mana, and the weapon (with the full set on) isn't much behind Khalim's on speed or damage. Sigon's Boots and Gloves are nice for the IAS and 10% life leech, Death's gloves and one other item in the set gives 30% IAS also. Bloodfist has always been a great starter glove, but its even better in v1.09 with the added 10% IAS. Other items that add to your damage such as Duskdeep and Hotspurs are helpful early on, as are charms for AR, damage and elemental damage.
Strategy: Kill stuff. Quickly. In a big game. If you can get started in a big party game, and play the same areas with other new characters, it helps a lot on your leveling speed. You'll share in exp and have help if you get swarmed, as well as doing the quests in Act One on your way.
If you move up to Act Two early, there are usually Sewer Run games opening and filling up quickly. A few runs of the three sewer levels are quick, and you'll get to Clvl 18 or so.
This is the second stage of your character development, before you reach Lightning Fury at Clvl 30 and become a real Javazon.
Stats: You should still be adding mostly Strength and Dexterity, and probably reaching your max Strength, at least for the immediate future. You don't need any Strength (25) to equip Titans, so just get enough Str at this point to cover your other equipment. The most you ever want is 110, for Thundergods and Buriza, and you can't use those until the 40's, so since that Str would be wasted now, wait until the late 30's to get your Str higher than 60 or 70. You need Dexterity forever, 2.5 per Clvl for your blocking, but as of now you don't really need it that much, since you should have plenty of AR with a point in Penetrate at Clvl 24. You might catch up some on Vitality in here, if you added all Dex/Str early on for AR, damage, and equipment reqs. A rule of thumb is at least 10 hps per Clvl, so 200 at Clvl 20, etc. You'll want to be higher than that if you turbo and are into dangerous areas early, but the big hps small charms are around Clvl 30-39 reqs, so by then you can add 100 or 200 pretty easily from charms.
Skills: From 18-29 there aren't a lot of pre-reqs, and two skills come in you want a lot of points in. However you don't really need them now, and you are mostly saving up for Clvl 30, when you should have at least 8-10 skill points saved. These skills you should get now, the (#) is the recommended long term goal.
- Spear and Javs Tab: Plague Javelin (1, or possibly more if single player), Impale and Fend are also possible, but not recommended.
- Bow and Xbow Tab: Guided Arrow (15+). Optional, if you are waiting until Nightmare or later to get Guided going.
- Passive and Magic Tab: Penetrate (1), Decoy (1), Evade (10+).
Equipment: You should be working into your better gear here in most cases. Resistance is becoming somewhat important (you can ignore all but a little Fire and Lightning until Act Four). You have to stop using your Khalim's before you finish Act Three, and mule it, because it will disappear once you enter the Durance of Hate. That or an Angelic Sabre won't cut it in Act Four and Five anyway. If you are doing a spear, then you should be using a pike by now, with as much IAS equipment on as you can wear. Twitchthroe (Unique Studded Leather) is helpful while you still don't need much in resistance, and you can really use the 20 IAS and bonuses to stats.
You can equip some of the lower hps charms by now, and resistance charms as well, and should be using several Sharp or AR or Damage charms for your melee damage, if you have them to use.
If you went early points on Bow, and have several in Guided already, you can use a bow with that for very fast killing after Clvl 18. It's hard to find a decent bow with that low a Clvl req, and to get the mana leech you need to keep it going, but in the Clvl 25-30 range a decent rare bow, Exceptional perhaps, will be much faster than a pike, with reasonable Str/Dex requirements.
Strategy: Ideally you have a friend to help you through Act 2-4, and you can get to Act 5 and get the Ancients at Clvl 20 or soon after. That will take you right up to Clvl 26. You don't gain any useful skills at Clvl 24, Clvl 30 is your goal, so it won't help you kill faster really, but exceptional bows are mostly Clvl 25 requirement, and if you have one of those to use with Guided, that can be a very fast move. Mainly though, Clvl 25 is when the big exp penalties come off, for being a lower level character against higher level monsters, so if you can get to Act 5 here you'll gain experience very quickly in parties.
If you progress normally, playing in public games or solo, you'll probably want to get to 24 or so in Act Two. The Canyon and Arcane Sanctuary are very nice level up zones in this Act, faster than anywhere in Act Three for your character. I don't like the Tombs since there are so many skeletons (worth next to zero experience) in the way.
Try to find an Act Three game like "Kill Mephisto" and party up there. Usually someone has the Durance WP, or can get another character with it. No one likes to do Act Three, it's big, slow and dangerous for low hps chars in crappy equipment. I generally skip the Black Book quest here, saving it so I can cheese the book to Nightmare and Hell. That quest is quite safe on Nightmare also though, so do it here if you want and save the NM book to take up to Hell, where the Ruined Temple is often a stair-trapped death box. It's just that you generally want to get to Act Four and then Five as quickly as possible, and people come back to do the Act Three quests later.
Here you start to see what you've been working for. As soon as you hit Clvl 30 the game changes drastically, as you start building up Lightning Fury and Pierce, and using that as your main attack. Mobs vanish in seconds, you grin at the destruction, and can't believe how quickly you run out of mana and stix.
Stats: You should be to the requirements for your javelins at 30 ahead of time, so check to be sure you know how much Dex they require. Few javelins require much Strength, so it's mostly about Dex, which you'll need a lot of eventually anyway. Get your Strength up for whatever equipment you'll be using. Thundergods is 115 Str and Clvl 47, Buriza is Clvl 42 and 110 Str, but you don't need to use it at that point, when so many other bows are more than enough for Nightmare. Str gives you nothing other than a little bit more throwing weapon damage, and item requirements, so you never want to have any more than you must. Watch that your hps don't get too low, since you often take off +hps gear for +skills stuff around here. Since you can use most Hps charms now, if you have those load up on them as much as you can carry, and take off the +dmg/AR charms you had on for your melee days, which are now over.
Skills: You want to put a point into Lightning Fury every level, without fail. You also want at least 10 points in Pierce as soon as possible, and probably 4 or 5 in Valk, though one is enough if you are playing in MP games. It's good to have 10 skill points saved at Clvl 30, and more than that don't hurt. If you have help from a friend you can get up through Act 1 and 2 in Nightmare, getting the bonus points there. If you have a lot of help you'll be all the way to Hell, possibly even Act Five hell, and will have more quest reward points for killing Izzy, but if you are getting that sort of turbo, you really don't care about points, since you just need to sit still and leech exp.
- Spear and Javs Tab: Lightning Fury (20). Max it ASAP.
- Bow and Xbow Tab: None required. Freezing (1) possibly, if you are going to use it in rare emergency situations.
- Passive and Magic Tab: Valkyrie (10+), Pierce (15+). One in Valk is enough initially, but you want to pump Pierce almost as fast as LF.
Equipment: This is the key at this point. You want as much +spear skills and +passive gear as possible here. Check the Equipment section for specifics, but if you have +5 or 6 spear skills at Clvl 30, it will make things much easier. The best set up at Clvl 30 would be:
- Gloves: +2 spear tab, Rare.
- Armor: +1 to all, several Uniques.
- Helm: +1 to all, Tarnhelm or Lore, or +2 passive tab circlet, Rare.
- Amulet: +1 to all Eye of Etlich or Rare, or +2 spear tab, Rare.
- Rings: +1 to all, Stone of Jordan.
- Javelins: +2 to spear tab, Rare. (Rare amazon javelins can have +1-2 spear skills inherently, magical can have +3, so you could get magical with +5, possibly.)
- Shield: +1 to all (Sigons)
- Boots: There aren't any boots with +skills.
- Charms: +1 skill tab charms are Clvl 42 req.
This is good for a maximum total of +7 spear with +6 to all, for a total of +13 spear at Clvl 30. That would be awesome, you could do Nightmare Cows with that and have no problems, much less normal Cows or Act Five. Once you get to 30 and have things to kill in a big game, you'll level up very quickly, multiple times per game, so don't worry so much about your equip at 30 if it's not great, you'll be adding skill points very quickly anyway.
You'll want to carry at least two stacks of javelins here, since you'll usually throw every one you have very quickly. Having some mana charms at Clvl 30 can help a lot also, since you'll be low on mana most of the time. Try to get 300+, which isn't hard if you have an SoJ or 2. Frostburns are nice just for the mana in here. You need a lot more mana now than later since your javs do much less damage than Titan's will, and you'll be hitting fewer monsters per throw if you aren't in the cow level.
Strategy: You'll probably be in Act Five at this time, and you want to join big games and just tear stuff up. There aren't any LI monsters in Normal (or even Nightmare) so you shouldn't have any problem killing at a terrific clip. Bloody Runs are okay, but ideally you'll get in on big games and can do other areas of Act Five also, where the exp per kill is better. Baal runs are great, down through all of his minions, if not Baal himself, (you'll find him about impossible to kill with LF, so if you don't have some in Guided yet, good luck). The minions are worth a ton of experience, and you can slaughter them. Tight knots of multiple monsters are your bread and butter.
The problem you'll usually have is small packs. There aren't many areas in Act Five that have huge mobs of monsters, and that's what you want for your LF to be at maximum effect. You'll also need to try and hit multiple monsters with every javelin throw to leech enough mana back to keep using LF, but this is hard without big packs, your low % Pierce, and low damage javelins. More on actual tactics later in this section.
The best places to level are covered more later, but you can do well just about anywhere in Act Five/Normal until Clvl 40. Higher than that you'll want to do the Worldstone, or Ancients Way to keep gaining quickly. Clvl 45 or so is where exp in normal starts to really slow down, but you'll likely have gone on to Nightmare before then anyway.
There's not really any reason to do the NM/Ancients now, even assuming you got a turbo to Act Five/Nightmare. You'll probably be leveling very fast playing normally, and you can get the four or five level boost that 20million gives you at Clvl 40, and get immediately high enough to use Titans, but it's just a small time saver. If you are planning on going to a very high level, 20m (and 40m for the hell Ancients) can save you hours of playing time once you are Clvl 95+, while now you can get 20m in minutes, in a big game.
At 42 you get Titans (assuming you have one waiting for you) and you can almost hear the angels sing. This will probably double or triple your weapon damage, give you a larger stack with replenish, more bonus skills, etc. The difference in your damage and how much you leech per throw makes a huge and immediate difference, and by Clvl 45 or so you'll be feeling quite cocky, especially if you have other good equipment.
A Javazon with a good weapon, especially Titans, is a killing and leveling machine. You can clear out anything in Nightmare (other than act bosses) as fast or faster than any other character of your level, including Sorceresses. There are a few Lightning Resistant monsters, but even they will die very quickly to the amount of damage you can deal. Things are better balanced out in Hell, but in Nightmare you are Lord (or Lady) of all you survey.
Stats: You should be adding all Dex and Vit through here, with possibly some Str if you need to get into heavier equipment. If you are going to use Thundergod's you need 110 at Clvl 47. You need 110 for Buriza also, but you really don't need one yet. You should get your long term shield by now, and see how your Blocking % on it is. You want 75%, or near there, but you don't really need that until Hell cows, since they hit so hard. You might add more to Vit for now, getting your hps up there to survive elemental attacks which are more common in Act Five than the Cow Level. This all assumes you aren't turboed to the Hell Cows yet.
Skills: Get Lightning Fury maxed, get Pierce to 15+, add a few more to Valk, and don't forget the protective skills of Dodge and Evade. As you gain levels, you'll be removing much of the +skills stuff you had on at Clvl 30. Slvl 20 or 25 LF is plenty to kill with in Hell cows. Slvl 40 would be nice, but it wouldn't be all that much faster. You can kill massive hordes of cows with 8 or 10 throws at Slvl 20 LF, and the same horde with 6 or 8 throws at Slvl 35 LF. Faster, but not that much, which is why I recommend doing Magic Find equipment.
Better to be fast and profitable than faster and gain nothing but experience.
Equipment: You should be into most of your long term gear, though if you have a +2 amulet, Elite armor, or some sets like Tal's, you'll have to wait for 66 or 67 to get it all on. You should be using a bow by now for boss killing, but you don't need to go to a Buriza yet. Nightmare bosses don't have that many hit points, and no physical resistance, so you'll do fine with Magewrath or Kuko or Lycanders Aim or some other exceptional bow, especially since they have +skills on them, and you probably don't have that many points in Guided Arrow yet.
Strategy: You can in theory do the Hell cows pretty successfully at this point, if you have gotten turbo'ed enough to be in Hell already. It would be dangerous since you probably have 500 hps or so, and would die in one or two cow hits. Any bit of lag or an error in herding and you might be dead. It's more reasonable to be in Nightmare, in Act Five or doing the NM Cows.
Nightmare Cow runs are difficult, mainly since you have trouble finding games to do them in. Most Nightmare games open and close quickly, as people level or clear an area and do a new game. You can't see NM games once you beat Baal, so you'll either need a friend to spot them for you, or get on with another character who is in Nightmare, spot the game name, then switch to your Javazon.
NM Bloody Runs go very fast, generally 5 or 6 minutes, so if you are trying to join those to do Cows, you need to get in as the game goes up, and just fly through the Cows. This is the best Exp you can get at this point, you can get about 50% more exp doing a full cow level solo than you would leeching in the Bloody in an 8 player game. (This ratio remains about the same in Hell, you always gain more doing an area solo in a big game than you would the same area in a big party.)
The one benefit is that you'll see very few others doing the NM cows, so if you do find a good game, they'll probably be all yours.
You will have no problem handling the Hell cows at this point, assuming you can get there. Hell Act 1-4 is dangerous in many places, and you'll have problems doing the Act Bosses solo, especially Diablo, so you should try to get into a party, or have a friend help you out. You need more resistance for this than you ever will for Cows, so use a Mosers instead of a Rhyme, Lionheart instead of Wealth, etc. This is all much more important HC than SC. If you don't care about dying, then just do whatever, take on Hell Diablo solo if you want, etc.
Once you reach Act Five you aren't free and clear to Bloody Run though, unlike the other leeches. You don't want to do Bloody Runs, and you need to Kill Baal to be able to do Hell Cows. Getting to Baal isn't hard, a Javazon is well-suited for clearing the WS out. The hard part is Baal himself. You'll probably be low resistances in Bow mode, and Baal is all about big elemental damage. It can be quite suicidal to take him on solo in a big game, especially if you don't have a very big damage bow. You can kill him with LF, but it would take a long time, and many trips to town for mana and javelin repairs. Try to find a party to clear Baal, or have a friend help you.
Stats: You need to keep your blocking as near 75% as possible, and add 2.5 Dex per Clvl to keep your % steady. The rest should go to Vitality, unless you are planning on using a Buriza in Hell, and still raising your Str towards 110. You want to have 1000+ hps for hell cows, and the more the better. 1500 isn't too hard to reach with good equipment, lots of vitality, and some hps charms.
Skills: You've had LF maxed for a long time, so you'll want to get Dodge and Evade to 12 or so each, perhaps add some more to Critical Strike and/or Valkyrie, top off Pierce, get Guided to 15+, etc. If you find your Valk is dying too quickly, put more points in it. If you don't have that much mana and need lower cost Guided to kill PI bosses, put more in Guided.
Equipment: You should get into your final equipment at Slvl 66 or 67, unless you have some Elite Uniques still waiting, like Arkaine's Valor. If you have reached the Hell cows, and are going to play there (almost) exclusively, then you should load up on GF/MF, since you won't need much resistance.
As you gain in levels and your hps go up, you can remove hps charms, and put in resistance, or MF charms instead. You'll also be finding lots of good stuff to save or use on your other characters, so at least the character starts to pay off. Enjoy muling your loot, your character is now a success.
Strategy: I skip the Hell Ancients now, especially Hardcore. They are difficult and dangerous, you ideally want to be in a party with a Druid and Barbarian for the maximum hit point bonus, and Javazons aren't of much use in killing single targets, especially ones with Lightning resistances. You go to Bow mode on the Hell Ancients, you are taking a big risk, losing your blocking ability. Even if you are sure you can kill them, it's a 40m bonus, which is nice, but you can get that in a couple of big cow games now. If you are planning long term, save them for Clvl 95+, when you'll be getting 4 or 5m for the same amount of kills that give you 30m now. At Clvl 98 +40m can save you hours of leveling. At Clvl 60 it saves you minutes.
You can gain a ton of exp per Cow run at this point. Ideally you find Bloody Runs or other games where everyone else is in some other area of the game. You must be careful partying in the Cows, if someone else kills the King you will usually lose the ability to open up your own cow levels, which basically ruins your character.
Specific Area Guide
Javazons can be successful anywhere in Hell. They are slower in places with LI monsters, but Guided takes care of those pretty well if need be. Most players spend almost all of their time leveling in Act Five, for the better drops and much bigger experience, or in the Secret Cow Level, where Javazons really are the masters.
The things you want in a level are lots of monsters in big clumps, and no Lightning Immune creatures. There are no areas better than the Cows, but some aren't bad at all. This section covers mostly Act Five areas, since that's what you'll do repeatedly for Experience, on all three difficulty levels. Generally Javazons level 99% of the time in the Cows on Hell, so the other areas are more for Nightmare, though a Javazon with good equip is so overpowered on Nightmare that there's hardly any worry about strategy or danger there. Kill kill kill.
These levels are listed in order, with the Cow Level last.
Mephisto Runs - Act Three
Yes, Javazons can do these, and quite well, though it's hard to match the MF on a Barb with his dual Ali Baba for the kill, or a Sorcy with her teleport speed and MF Oculus, when you are generally killing with a no-MF Titans and at best a 25% Rhyme. You are better than they are at having your merc get the kill though, which adds a nice 168% MF or more, and evens things up. You'll need a teleport amulet to pop over the blood moat on Durance 3, escaping monsters behind you and avoiding ones to the sides.
I recommend just running through and teleporting over by Meph. You might get something good from the High Council, but Meph has much better odds, and is a lot easier and faster to kill. A Javazon compares somewhat to a Barb for this, in that both have some blocking and run through, but a Barb will probably have around 1000 higher hit points, faster foot speed, and he can always leap over, he doesn't need a teleport amulet.
Once you land across the moat, you'll want to move up a bit, and cast a Valk up ahead to get Mephisto locked onto her. It's not safe to stand right by the moat, since Bremm and party are often just across it, and they can cast Hydras on you. And will do so, since if you have the Rogue Merc along for the MF, she'll start shooting at them. You could even get an MSLE Bremm and get killed by your Merc's attacks.
So cast your Valk up ahead, and run up a bit so your merc comes with you. Once Mephisto locks onto the Valk (be careful, he often steams right past her and down to where you are standing, and you need to run over to the left) you should have time to open your Inventory and switch to your leech or MF amulet, from your teleport one. You have to work fast, since Hell Meph can kill even a very high level Valk in seconds, and you don't want him to kill your merc. I usually put Valk right on him, Decoy a yard or two behind that, and then switch amulets. This takes 5 seconds once you get used to doing it, no time at all.
Once you've switched, go to Guided to whittle him down, and switch back to LF the last few, getting Meph to a sliver so the merc can get the kill. You'll get the hang of how much damage you do per shot and throw after a few runs, and will get him to just a sliver, without going too far and killing him. You can usually shoot about 8-10 times before you have to recast your Valk, depending on her level. This would be much harder with a low level Valk, since she'd die in one hit sometimes, (Act Bosses have a huge bonus to damage on minions) and if you are recasting her every 5 seconds you hardly get to shoot Guided. Beware Meph's Ice Fastball, it can do huge damage, 700+ if your cold resistance is low, and it probably will be, especially when you're in bow mode.
It's possible to do a slower run, clearing out Durance 2 on your way, and then Durance 3 as well. That's why I first started using the Kuko, since so often at least one of the High Council on Durance 3 are PILI. Bremm is PILIFE Conviction in this shot. If he's LE, be very careful, or just skip him, since he's always Conviction and CE, and those bolts are terribly painful with low resistance.
To do the full clear you must advance slowly, casting Decoy a lot, and being very careful to kill Undead Fetish Dolls at a distance from you. You need to switch to Guided for the High Council, and lock on/pick off Bremm's minions first, then kill him, so your Valk doesn't die every 5 seconds to their combined attacks. All three of the High Council can be MSLE on Hell (but none can on Nightmare), and if Bremm is and you get a bolt while Conviction is on you (and he's always got that aura) you are deader than dead, so Slow Missile a lot and be very cautious.
It's not real hard to get 400% MF on a Javazon, and very easy to put a 3T helm and 4T armor on your merc, which would give you 568% for kills by the merc. I've tried this with Act 2 Mercs, and they just die too quickly when they tank Meph with low resistances (which they have with all the MF stuff on). Act Three mercs can get more MF, but they don't do enough damage, and Meph has 50% Lightning/Fire and 25% Cold Resistance on Hell. There is the same problem with a Rogue merc using +3 total equip, so she shoots the Lightning Hose. I've found that she's faster with just a decent bow (Goldstrike, Cruel Ward, etc) than with Cliffkiller + Tarnhelm, since Meph has the 50% lightning res on hell. [Top]
The Chaos Sanctuary - Act Four
This is not a place to clear in Hell, at least not unless you have to, but Diablo's home court is pretty fun in Nightmare. You can herd well here, if you have enough resistance to not drop dead from the Oblivion Knight projectiles. The final area is a large plus sign shape, with Diablo's fiery pentagram in the center, and you can run a couple of laps around in each of the open ends of the "+" sign, and get 50+ monsters in a bunch. Cast a Valk in the middle on one pack, then keep running and draw more back towards yourself, and loop around behind the pack on your Valk. You can do this several times if you have a Valk durable enough to survive it, and once there are tons on her, and more coming, start throwing. Monsters here are not LI, though some have lightning resistance, but they'll all drop dead from just a few throws, with a rather impressive light show.
The Seal bosses are much the same, you can just nuke them as they appear. De Seis is more annoying, but guided arrow is great for picking off straggling Oblivion Knights. You aren't real good at killing Diablo with a Javazon, even in Nightmare, but Guided Arrow will get the job done reasonably quickly.
This isn't such a good Exp run, you'd probably get more in Act Five in the same game, but it's fun to do, and Diablo can drop nice items, even on Nightmare. Don't even consider this on Hell, it would take you a year to kill Diablo, assuming you lived that long, and there are LI monsters all over the CS, as well as Oblivion Knights doing far more damage with their projectiles that could well kill you as you were trying to herd. [Top]
The Bloody Foothills - Act Five
Not a very good place for a Javazon, since there are tons of monsters, but half of them are PI in Hell, and they don't clump up well. Herding is next to impossible here, Maulers are too slow and stop to do their ranged attack, and Minions are stupid. Also there are too many little walls and ledges and narrow stairways as bottlenecks. If you do try to level here in Hell, it's slow for you, and you'll have to use Guided for mana leech and to finish off strays all the time. The only way to really kill quickly is to just run past any solo monsters or small packs, and hit the big clumps, and especially the three long depressions that each have 30 or more Minions in them. Those are like mini-cow levels.
Of course if you are just in it for the leeching, you can level fine here, same as Paladins and Druids and Assassins and other slow characters. But the whole point in playing a Javazon is to do the Cows super fast, ideally in a solo game, so why the hell are you leeching bloody when this is a perfect game to be gaining 3x the exp doing Cows solo? If caught leeching Bloody Runs with a Javazon, you can expect to be asked to turn in your Titans. [Top]
Act Five Ice Caves
There are very good experience to be had in these, and usually enough monster density to make LF effective. Some of the Succubi are LI on Hell, which slows things down. Be sure you throw through monsters towards a wall to get the lightning splash back at them, and you can herd some here, but most of the monsters are too slow and scattered to clump up well.
The Halls of Anguish
The second easiest area in Act Five Hell, and a popular leveling spot for Bowazons, but not good for a Javazon, since the Death Maulers are all LI. You can do it, LF works well on the zombies, and if they are in the midst of Maulers you'll get extra bolts heading for the LIs and hurting the zombies. Guided kills the wimpy Maulers quickly, but it's not recommended. [Top]
Worldstone Keep Level One
Not as good for Experience as Level 2, but there are quite a lot of the Succubi and Reanimated Horde, so you can get some nice packs to destroy with LF. Herding is impossible here, Succubi don't move at all or move erratically, and Reanimated Horde move too slowly to bother with rounding up a bunch.
Worldstone Level Two
This is probably the second best Javazon leveling area in the game, but it's a very distant second. All you get here are Minions, and they are all FI, but none have any Lightning Resistance. They are wimpy melee, and not very fast, but there are quite a lot of them, and they are worth a ton of experience, so you can do quite well with LF for the slaughter. You need to herd them somewhat, but they are hard to herd, since they move slowly and there are walls and corners everywhere. The Walls are somewhat helpful, since your throws will Pierce monsters and hit wall, sending back numerous bolts at the ones near enough to the wall to attract them.
The danger is that some small percent of the Minions are Frenzied, and will run at you and explode upon contact. They deal large Cold and Fire damage when they blow up, and if you are low on your resistances, especially on cold, which few characters bother to raise very high, their damage will really hurt. It can do over 1000 damage at a time, so needless to day, two of them in a row will kill you. You can however block their explosions, as well as Dodge them, and run around them.
You'll want to master "the bump" to herd here. The Suicide Minions don't blow up the instant they reach a valid target. They instead trigger a countdown once they touch a target, and after about a second, blow up. If you run and see one, and run away, it will chase you indefinitely, and won't blow up even if it gets caught up on other monsters, or lost behind a corner. To blow them up, you need to get in melee range, then move away before the explosion.
I call this the bump, since that's what you do, run and bump into them, and keep going. Once they get bumped they'll always stop, so if you just keep moving in any direction, you can be several steps away when they do blow up. When you see them as you are advancing, run right at them, aiming to just brush them as you go by, ideally diagonally from the side. Don't aim right at them or click them, since you might stop to hit them, or run right into them and stop. Just pass by close enough to trigger their self destruct, and keep on going.
Lag of course complicates this, and if they are in a mob of other minions, you might see a clear path through, while on the server there is no way to make it. You'll see yourself run through, and then a couple of seconds later the monster will blow up and you'll warp back to where you really are on the server, instead of where you see yourself on your end. For this reason, aggressive herding on this level shouldn't be attempted if you are lagging.
Suicide minions can also be dispatched easily by your minions. Like almost all monsters, they will target your merc, Valk, or Decoy instead of you, if they see it first. They do zero damage to your minions though, and it's funny to see a half a dozen detonate on your Decoy without having any effect. Cast Decoys ahead of you as you move around this level, right on the edge of the screen.
You can also kill them before they blow. They have about 1/3 their normal hit points when in exploding mode, so it doesn't take much. You seem to get exp for kills when they are in suicide mode, but not when they self destruct. The exploding ones never drop any items though, and Barbarians can't even get items or potions from them with the Find Item skill.
You will get several million experience for a WS2 clear in a big game, and it takes about 3-5 minutes usually. [Top]
The Throne of Destruction and Baal
Javazons aren't particularly good at the Throne level, the last area in the game before Baal's final chamber. The Blood Lords don't come in large enough groups for LF to be effective on them, and they are terrible to herd. The Succubi are all PI in Hell, so you run out of mana quickly killing them with LF, and need to switch to bow mode often, both to kill Succubi cheaply, and to refill your mana leeching off of the Minotaurs. I call them "mana wells", non-PI monsters in areas of lots of them, and you can use your bow with Guided to fill your mana up shooting them.
However once you clear through the Succubi and Minotaurs, Baal's Minions are very good kills. They appear in a nice tight cluster, which is just what a Javazon likes. None of them are LI other than possibly some of the bosses (Bartuc is always LI on Hell), and they are worth a lot of experience, as well as having a good chance to drop high level items. All of the bosses, as well as their minions, can drop any item type in the entire game. I've seen Doombringer drop in this area, as well as numerous Unique and Set Exceptional items.
The key to doing it safely (remember, I play HC) is to always Slow Missile them the instant they appear. The first four packs can all spawn MSLE, Bartuc has very good odds to do with being LE already, but you should always expect them to be MSLE, that way if they are you aren't surprised. If you are doing this area with other players, be sure they understand that you are going to Slow Missile the monsters first, so they don't cast Hydras all over, or start shooting the second the minions spawn. Most players, even HC players, don't have a clue about playing safely, or doing this area (they just leech in the Bloody or Cows all the time, difficult areas are unfamiliar to them) and will die the first time they get an MSLE, and happily take you with them, if you let them.
Slow them the instant they appear, (start casting the skill as Baal is laughing and keep casting it, you can't really time it as they appear with lag) with your Decoy between you and them. This is sort of an emergency measure, just in case of lag, but also if your Valk or Merc gets in a hit on the boss, and Sod's Law makes him be MSLE that one time, the bolts he spits out from that should strike your Decoy, rather than you, giving your Slow Missile time to take effect, and you to retreat.
Once you cast your slow, run back about half a screen, then turn and attack, throwing LF into the mob. Click around as you do it, trying to find the boss so you can see what his stats are, and lock on. If he is MSLE you should notice it immediately when you start hitting with the LFs, since the bolts that emerge will be those huge crawling white terrors, rather than distinct small sparks. Generally you want to "park" MSLE's so lead him back through the archway into the Throne level, and lead him down one of the side paths, or back towards the stairway. Be careful not to hit him again, and be sure you don't let the Slow Missile lapse, just in case. He shouldn't be hard to park, just stick a Decoy or let the Valk attack him, and run straight away as fast as you can. Once you are a screen or so away your Valk will probably warp back by you, or you can cast another one just so the MSLE boss won't possibly follow her to you, if she walks.
The first two bosses can't be parked, since they won't follow you out. So if you get the Fallen Shaman or Greater Mummy MSLE, you need to either kill them there, or give up. Giving up is always an option, especially if you don't have a big damage bow.
I've done countless Hell Baal runs, generally with a Bowazon, who uses the exact same technique (then Freezing and MS to check for MSLE) and never died doing this. You always get the MSLE slowed before bolts come out, and if they are slow you can safely deal with them, either kill them there, or park them, depending on their other mods, your weapon damage (big Buriza and Might merc you can kill them pretty easily) and the number of players in the game.
Lister can't be MSLE, and he's not usually too hard to kill, appearing in that nice big pack, and none of them having any lightning resistance. On Nightmare you should be able to nuke his pack in a few seconds, then switch to Guided to kill him off. If you have good bow damage you can go ahead and kill Baal, but if not, and especially if your resistances are low, you will need to have a friend help, or do something else, your exp mission finished. On Nightmare you can probably manage with mediocre resistances, but on Hell it's suicidal to try it, unless you have big bow damage and lots of life leech. Even then you'll need to be careful, try to stay back and shoot him from around corners with your Guided, and beware his teleport, he might land right on top of you. Go to Shield mode and run if he does.
This is a pretty dangerous run in Hell, especially for a Javazon who isn't good at killing Baal anyway, so you'll more often do it in Nightmare or Normal, when working on experience. In Nightmare only Bartuc can be MSLE, and he's got about a 1% chance for it, but it only takes one time to kill you, so be sure you slow him then, just in case.
Act Five Super Uniques
Abbreviated to "A5 SU' generally. This the Javazon's best item run, or at least she's the best character at this run. Bowazons and Sorceresses can do it decently, but not nearly as fast as the Javazon. It's a fun run, and good for a lot of experience too. It takes about 2.5-3 minutes, and is worth upwards of 1m exp per game until Clvl 80 or so. My Javazon still gets around 650k for it at Clvl 96, but dropped to 410k or so at Clvl 97. While the experience dries up (everywhere) at very high levels, the items are still quite profitable.
This run is the three Super Uniques you can find very quickly from Harrogath, (Pindleskin, Eldritch, and Shenk) and their minions. The Javazon is good for it since all three are found with big packs of monsters around them, and she can go through those faster than any other Character. None of these three are LI by default, and none of their minions are either, so LF works well for the whole thing, though you'll want to use the bow to speed up the actual boss kills on Shenk always, and usually the other two as well.
Pindleskin: The best technique is to start off with Pindleskin. Create a new game, and run to Pindleskin (stop off quickly at Larzuk to sell stuff from last game, and/or scan his merchandise in case he pops up a Cruel Col Sword or something like that.
Run to the Red Portal by Anya (you don't want to finish the Nihlathak quest, since if you do the portal won't be there anymore, if you've also found the Halls of Anguish waypoint) and go in. Cast a Decoy right in the middle of the level, on the way in to the building. As you enter cast a Valk between you and Pindleskin's mob, then open up with LF. Pindleskin is often LE, and he's always FE, and those LEFE bolts really hurt, so stay behind the Valk. If he's got Conviction also you should probably bail out, or you'll die from 1 or 2 of his sparks barring high resistances (which you probably don't have), and your Valk will last just seconds taking Conviction LEFE Pindleskin.
Assuming Pindleskin isn't the very rare LEFE Conviction (less than 1% chance of it in Hell) or LEFE Might or something else nearly as dangerous, you can mow him down with LF. His minions will all drop dead while he's still got around half his hit points usually, but I like to keep throwing at him. You get the hit, and almost always a lightning bounce back from the far or side wall, and he'll die quickly enough, and when his minions stand up they'll get a fatal lightning bolt as well. If you have the Rogue Merc in MF mode, try to let her get the last hit. She generally gets distracted by zombies coming in the doorway, so if Pindle isn't LE, you can run up past him and wait while she shoots him down. It doesn't take long.
Pindleskin is the most- run- monster for top quality items. He can drop anything in the game, one of the very few monsters who can drop from the 90 Armor and Weapons Treasure Classes, and he's where most people who have the really top Elites like Windforce, Grandfather, IK Armor, etc found them. I've gotten Tal's Armor, Naj's Armor, Trang's Armor, and lots of Excep Uniques and Sets from him.
After you kill Pindleskin, you can leave the game if you are doing just Pindleskin runs, but a Javazon who does is foolish, for this part is beautiful. Run into the Zombie Garden, and as you see in the pictures, your Decoy will be totally surrounded by Zombies, and with one or two LFs you can kill 30+ monsters. The sequence pictured here is about a medium sized one, since Pindleskin went down quickly here, and the zombies haven't all wandered up to surround the Decoy yet.
It's a nice exp lump even in a solo game, and they'll often drop several stacks of gold, charms, jewels, etc. I've found numerous rares and Uniques here, and there seems to be good odds for them to drop jewelry, since I've gotten lots of Rare and Unique rings/amulets here, as well as Lem, Ko, Lum, and other quality Runes. Any time you can kill 30 or 40 monsters in a few seconds you should take it, since you never know what they'll drop, and it's so easy.
Run out the red portal from there, and straight to the waypoint if you didn't pick up anything worth selling, or go to Anya or Larzuk if you did. I generally pick up a few 35k items from Pindleskin and the Garden, and take the chance at Larzuk to scan the merchandise for anything Cruel. With around 90 Str on a Javazon, all of the Exceptional items appear with the red background, so it's easy to quickly check all of the potentially useful Cruel stuff.
Eldritch: Take the portal next, to the Frigid Highlands, and now it's time for Eldritch. Run up until you are nearly to him, and cast a Decoy at the edge of the screen. His minions will see it and some will come to attack, and you can just open up on them. Half a dozen throws will usually kill them all, leaving Eldritch with half or less of his hit points. A few Guided Arrows and he'll be to a sliver, and you can switch to Titans/Rhyme and let the Merc get the last shot or 3 for the kill. I've found 2 Harlequins, a Shaftstop, and Vampire Gaze, several Tal's Helms, and tons of other good items from Eldritch, more from him in fact than I've gotten from Pindleskin, though Pindleskin can drop every item type in the game. See my Magic Find Guide for more info on who can drop what.
The one danger on Eldritch is that there could be a random Imp pack nearby, with an MSLE boss. You could hit this by accident, from off the screen, with your LF or the bolts from it, and you'd probably not see or react to the incoming MSLE sparks before it was too late. I've never had this happen yet, but there is an Imp boss pack in range maybe 5% or the time, so it's possible.
Shenk: With Eldritch dead and your new Unique Shako picked up, it's time for Shenk. He is the only potentially MSLE one, though he only gets it around 1% of the time in Hell. Be careful though, I nearly died with a Bowazon to MSLE Shenk (Alt+F4'ed out with about 150 hps left) and I know friends who lost a Javazon and a Bowazon to him before they could exit the game, so he's extremely dangerous with MSLE. Especially with a Javazon, since you can't see the bolts coming very well with your own lightning everywhere.
Always check his mods before you start throwing! It's easy to check, and takes about two seconds longer. Just cast a Decoy at the edge of the screen, about where his minions are, and run up behind the Decoy. Shenk will be visible on the edge of your screen, and as the minions move towards you point at Shenk, and move the cursor around some so you'll get the hover on him, and not a monster next to him. All you care about is MSLE. Anything else is not to be worried about, so just get enough of a glimpse at his hover info to be sure, cast a Slow Missile at the same time if he's in range, just in case he's LE. Then back up a few steps and let the minions have it. Several LFs should clear them all out.
Often Shenk will have an Aura that shares, and in that case you know he's not MSLE before you even get close, since you'll see the Aura under his minion's feet. He (like all SuperUniques in Hell) only gets two random mods, to go with his default Extra Strong. If one is "Aura Enchanted", evidenced by the Fanaticism or Blessed Aim or Might or whatever that's under his feet and sometimes shared to his minions, then you know he just has one other, and there's no chance of MSLE.
Shenk takes the longest of the three to kill, since he has the most hit points, and also tends to be behind the pack and doesn't take much of the LF crossfire that destroys his Suicide minions. You should cast your Valk right on Shenk so he'll attack her, then switch to bow mode, feeding Shenk Guided Arrows. He's often PI, so it'll take a bit longer to kill him. While you fire, half a dozen of the PI Death Maulers will walk up from behind him, and often from the sides as well. I like to switch to LF for a few throws on the ones by Shenk, you'll hurt him and kill them at the same time. If you have a rogue merc she'll shoot at the ones on the sides, and kill them if she has elemental damage. If she doesn't you'll have to kill them so she'll go back to shooting Shenk.
When Shenk goes down, his death animation kicks in, and the catapult shots rain down. Depending on your computer's power, this will either be pretty, or a full FPS zero stop, where you want to leave the area, or leave the game before it gets going. If your Merc is doing the kill, you can scan for any good items just before Shenk dies, and grab any gold or items worth grabbing. He'll die a second later, and run to get what he drops if it's worth keeping or selling, then leave the game before the load lag gets bad from the death animation.
My best drops from Shenk are an SoJ, Thundergods, Shaftstop, Naj's Staff, numerous jewels and rare amulets/rings, and recently a Stormshield, one of the first times I let my rogue merc pop him with the added 168% MF (having only recently thought to try it).
I've done this run hundreds of times over the months. It's fun if you are bored of Cows, just have a few minutes to play, are waiting for a big game to open up that you can do Cows in, or just want some nice items. Eventually most players get sick of doing Meph runs exclusively, with the hunger for all of the top items he can't drop driving them to try A5 SU or Baal runs. You can even level from these, at 1m per trip up to Clvl 85, and often 150k or more in item sales in under 3 minutes, this run is quite profitable in every way.
To recap, this is the best/fastest order to do it in, as determined by extensive "testing".
1) Create game. 2) Check Larzuk, repair, sell, scan merchandise. (optional) 3) Red portal, Decoy in the Garden, Valk on Pindle, (merc kill). 4) Back out to Garden, Decoy surrounded, kill with LF, grab drops. 5) Red portal, sell at Anya or Larzuk (optional). 6) Waypoint to Frigid. 7) Run up, Decoy, LF minions, Kill Eldritch (merc kill). 8) Run down into Bloody, Decoy at edge of Shenk's minions. 9) Stop behind Decoy, check Shenk for MSLE (1% chance in hell). 10) If MSLE leave game. If not LF to kill all minions, Guided to whittle Shenk with LF to kill PI Maulers. Kill Shenk (merc kill). 11) Grab stuff quickly, exit game during animation. 12) Repeat until your eyes bleed.
The Secret Cow Level
This is the heart of a Javazon, and where you will spend most of your time. See our Secret Cow Level page for more details and screenshots.
The Cow Level is full of cows. Nothing but cows, with some random bosses and champions, and of course the Cow King. He (she?) is quite a fearsome beast, always Lightning Enchanted, and packing a lot of punch. You don't want to get hit by him, my last Javazon died at 91 to a hit from him while in bow mode that took off upwards of 800 damage.
Cow Level Entrance Requirements
To enter the Cow Level you must have a tome of town portal and Wirt's Leg in your Cube, and transmute them while standing in the Rogue Encampment. A red portal will appear where you are standing, and you can enter that into the Cows. To open the red portal:
- You must have beaten Baal on that difficulty level.
- There must not be another red portal already open in the Rogue Encampment in that game.
- You must not have gotten credit for killing the Cow King on that difficulty level.
If you can't open the portal for any reason, your character will say, "I can't do that yet."
The Cow King is very important, and v1.09 changed how he works. Credit for killing him is just like a quest, but you can't check anywhere to see your status on this quest. As of v1.09, if anyone who has not previously killed the king kills him in a game while you are in the cow level, partied or not, you will get credit for killing him, and will be unable to open the red portal ever again on that difficulty level.
This is contrary to conventional wisdom, which holds that you have to be in a party with a person who kills him to get credit (which you don't want). Additionally, a person who has already killed the king can do so again as often as they want, and no one in the game will get credit for the kill.
Read that carefully, it's little-known. And yes, I've tested this out extensively. You can have a friend in the game with you, and they can kill the king every time, with you partied in the level with them, and you won't get credit for killing him, and will still be able to open the level, as long as they've killed the king previously, on that difficulty level. Unfortunately the king's drops are very good, at least not very high level stuff (he's about the same as Nightmare Baal), so he's not at all like one of the Act Five Hell SuperUniques.
Most people don't know this, so if you are going to kill the King in a public game, you might want to do it on the sly, when no one is looking, and they'll have no harm to them. If you let them know people will panic, or will tell you not to, or will not believe when you explain it (point them to this guide), but people should start to learn the truth with it being listed here, and we'll post it on the main page as well.
The dangerous part of how the Cow King kill works is that you could be in a cow level, thinking you are alone there, killing cows nowhere near the king, and if someone else entered the level and killed the king for their first time, you'd be screwed, unable to open it up again, even though you didn't know the other person was there, and you weren't in a party with them. Prior to testing this out before posting this guide (Jan 2002) I'd assumed that you had to have someone in your party kill the King to get credit, so that if I didn't party in a public game I was safe. That is not true, unfortunately.
- All that matters is who kills the king, and where you are when the king dies.
1) If the killer has killed the king before (on that difficulty level), then all is well, whether you are in the Cow Level or not, partied or not, etc. A character who has already killed the king can not in any way give you credit for it.
2) If the character who kills the King has never killed him before (on that difficulty level), it's bad. Any other characters in the Cow Level at that time (elsewhere in the game, or in the Rogue Encampment, is safe) will get credit for killing him, whether they are in a party with him or not.
If you do lose the ability to open up the Portal yourself, your character isn't ruined, you can level in public cow runs, or play with friends, having one of them open it up, but the real fun for expert players is doing a big multiplayer game cow run on their own, getting all the kills, all the exp, and the pick of all the items, so you really want to keep that option, if possible. [Top]
Picking a Game to Join
The best cow runs are when you manage to join a big game where you are alone in the cows. Bloody Runs are good, games where people are starting out in Hell, or doing some quest (Anya, Diablo, Meph, etc). Once you get good at herding and killing, you can do an 8 player Hell Cows clear in around 8-10 minutes, as fast or faster than the other seven people in the game can clear out the Bloody Hills, providing they aren't all Sorcs (who can do the full Bloody in 3-4 minutes). More on the strategy that makes this possible later.
If you can't see any good bloody runs to join, or the series of such games are filling up too fast, you can jump ahead, creating the next number in the series, (hope they aren't going every other number) and waiting 5 or 10 minutes for people to join in. Don't start on the cows yet, you'll get low exp and few drops solo, and if no one joins you've wasted a leg. Just shop or gamble or run Pindleskin and Eldritch or something, to kill time.
It's always a good idea to set a minimum level requirement for Hell games you create. Characters under Clvl 50 or 60 aren't going to help much, if at all, and they take up the slot that a competent higher level character would otherwise be in, sharing the kill load.
Public Cow Runs are worth a ton of exp, but be very careful and make sure no one is killing the King. You really have no way to tell if they are or not though, short of keeping him in sight the whole time, and Cow Run games are worth far less exp than you get solo, and you'll hardly profit on gold or items doing them, so they aren't really recommended. Non-Javazons love them of course, the same way non-Sorcs love big Bloody Runs, (to leech exp) but I don't like to do them unless there are just zero other games open.
Hardcore there are usually non-cow run games open, as people get to hell and need to work through, or don't want to risk the Cow Level with a lesser character (one lacking blocking is dead any time they get a second of lag, unless they just hide in a corner). But Softcore (I'm told) there are hardly any non-cow big hell games anymore, since the exp from Cows is just so good.
Cows are actually worth less exp per kill than most of the monsters in Act Five. The Bloody Run monsters are Death Maulers: 32371, and Minions: 36262. In an area such as the Ancient's Way, you'll get Blood Lords: 49462 and Frozen Horrors: 44707. Hell Bovines are worth 33116 each, so less than the Bloody Run monsters, but not too much less. You get far more per kill doing Baal runs or Ancients Way, but of course those are much slower for a Javazon. [Top]
Cow Level Layout
The Cow Level varies in size and shape quite a bit, from game to game. It's not like the Bloody Foothills (thank god) with the exact same shape and virtually the same monster locations every single time. The cows are distributed randomly, and the entrance to the level is placed randomly every time.
Sometimes you'll be able to see the entire level easily on your mini map, and will be wondering if you missed a wing somewhere, since you can't be done already? And other times you'll think you are about done, and then find another huge section before you. The cow density in the level varies a lot also, so don't expect them all to be the same. Some levels have easily 50% more cows than others.
The entrance is somewhat dangerous. The red portal spawns in different locations every time, and there is always a bit of empty space around it, but sometimes very little. As you see in the shot here, it can appear right in the King's Fort (the sparks are from him) and as you enter it there will be cows right on top of you at times. I've never seen it trapped to begin with, but often times you'll enter and see fat cow packs coming from multiple directions, and will have to run immediately to a clearer area to begin fighting. It's not like a waypoint or other level entrances, where there is always some clear space, usually a full screen of it.
It's not safe to go in after someone else, unless you go in immediately after they do. Cows don't start moving until there is a target, it's not like they're going to camp the red portal and wait for players to spawn, but picture the shot here, as the Javazon runs to the left (her javelin is just poking out from behind the log wall) the cows will follow her, and if you came in 3 seconds later, you'd be right on top of the Cow King and his pack.
This is about as bad a trap as you'll ever see, but quite often there are hordes of cows coming in from multiple angles when you first enter the level, and if the first person in runs, cows could follow them and be directly on top of the red portal when you came in a moment later.
You should enter the level ready to go, with your javelins/shield equipped, and a Valk already cast.
Cow Level Manners
The one who opens the Cow Level has ownership of it. This goes out the window in Cow Run games, where everyone is there to do the Cow Level, but if you join a game where people are all over the place, or doing Bloody, and open up the cows when no one else is in Act One, its your level. If someone else comes and asks if they can come in, and wants to party with you, it's up to you, what you want to do. There isn't any way to keep them from entering the Red Portal, but there's nothing to say you can't lead 50 cows to it and cast a Decoy, then run away.
You should be very careful entering a Red Portal that you don't know is clear, since it could have been trapped intentionally or accidentally, and if there are solid cows on it, you'll probably die before you can move or exit the game.
Often times, rude people will join a game and come in to poach your cows without any word to you about it. If the same person does this repeatedly, you have every right, in fact it's almost an obligation, to trap the red portal. It will either kill them, or at least give them a scare, (Hardcore at least.) perhaps teaching them some manners. Of course if it doesn't and they have any balls, (which is rare) they'll probably go hostile and try to get you, so if you aren't prepared for that, you shouldn't trap it in the first place, and should just resign yourself to being poached upon.
The really annoying part is that poachers are usually horrible players. They have no idea of proper herding, and they wear gutter equipment, so you'll go over an area they just did and there are stray cows everywhere, pathetic little 150g piles, etc. They only look for items and experience, (and not very well, generally being too lazy to pick up gold to see if there are things that don't show in the loot stacks) usually while wearing equipment that gives no MF, so their odds of finding anything other than Jewels and Charms are very low. They are really just public game leeches, players who are new or just sloppy and think of nothing more than experience, though why they want to be a higher level when they'll only use that to poach or do public games .1% faster is unknown. [Top]
One nice detail is that if you are in the Cows, you are safe from attack. It's impossible to use a portal, red or blue, when you are hostile to others, so if someone goes hostile on you, they can't get into the Cow Level to attack you in any event. Of course this goes both ways, if you want to get someone out of your cow level, you can go to town and hostile and hope that scares them off, but if it doesn't you can't go in to fight anyway.
If you do want to fight, you aren't really built for it. Javazons can survive physical attacks, you've got a lot of blocking and Dodge, but killing the other person is very hard. LF doesn't do much damage per throw, compared to other PvP attacks, and you don't attack very quickly with it. If they are dumb enough to run in amidst some huge mob of monsters, you can fry them with the LF cross fire, but that's not real likely to happen.
If you want to fight, go to your bow mode, for the offensive. Currently in v1.09 Bowazons own PVP, using a Buriza and some sort of "hit slows target" item, like a Cleglaw's Claws or Blackhorn's mask. Once you hit your opponent once with a bow and one of those items they are doomed, too slow to catch you. Teleporting characters are still viable, but no one running after you can hope to win at that point.
You of course don't want to wear those items the rest of the time, they aren't very helpful for a Javazon, but you could keep one in your stash or Cube if you thought you'd need it for a fight.
You are better with MS than Guided in PvP, since you want to get that first hit to slow them, and it's almost impossible for another char to stay out of a spray of Multishot, while they can get away from Guided with a lot of foot speed. But you likely won't have MS unless you are going more Hybridazon style, so use what you have, or hide. Hardcore the stakes are obviously much higher, but that goes for them as well as you. There are seldom actual fights in HC, it's mostly someone going hostile and everyone else running or leaving the game. [Top]
Cow Level Teamwork
If you are playing with a friend, you should be the first into the portal, and prepared to hit the ground running. As soon as you get in, say "clear" or "safe" or something like that, if it is. If it's not, run until you find a corner somewhere, (you might have to cross the entire level, if you aren't cheating with map hack and don't know which way to go) clear it out, and put up a town portal. You don't want to kill a bunch of stuff while your friend(s) are in town, since they'll not get any exp and you'll get less without the party bonus.
The red portal usually opens up in the middle somewhere, and moving in any direction can bring in tons of cows. Which is fine for you, but not if you are playing with a friend, and they have a Druid or Assassin or something. If they are going to help (Conviction Paladins or Lower Resistance Necromancers are great) them have them come in as soon as possible, and they should be ready to move the instant they arrive. If they are just going to leech and pick up gold, then you want to get a clear corner for them to stand in/start from.
The best way they can help is to just run with you, or stay where they are as you herd, and lead them back towards them for the killing zone. Lower Resistance Necros can curse huge mobs and make them die much faster, and Conviction Paladins should run around and try to get as many Cows as possible Convicted. But the main thing about others in the cow level is that they try to stay out of your way. You'll be herding huge packs, and you don't want the cows distracted by other players, slowed by their cold spells or auras (another player with a Holy Freeze Merc can be a huge pain) or just targeting them and not you. Hopefully the other player has a Javazon of their own, and knows how to behave, and if they get targeted by cows they can at least lead them to you.
Other players herding can be helpful, if you get a big mob and they lead another one over while you are just finishing the first one. But generally it's easier to herd your own cows. They don't travel well, tending to get strung out, and it's annoying to be running where someone else has been and finding heifers just here and there, and not in the big clumps that you want.
Ask friends to stay back, or if there are multiple Javazons in the game, you should all go separate ways, so you don't interfere with each other's herding.
Another very helpful team up in the Cow Level is with a Barbarian. You can benefit from his Battle Orders (though you don't really need it) but he's mostly useful for the party exp bonus, and for the profits, as he'll be back behind you, picking up gold and Horking (using Find Item) on the corpses. A barb with wealth, dual Ali Baba, and some other good MF equipment can easily have 500 MF and quite a bit of GF as well, and if he's got points in Find Item, he'll find a lot of good stuff for himself, and you'll get half of the gold he picks up. He'll get about half of the level Horked in the time it takes you to clear it all out (unless you pick up gold with him and slow the pace) and you both get great exp. This is more benefit to the Barbarian, so if you are a Barb, try to find a friend with a Javazon. [Top]
This is the key to Cow Level killing at a high rate of speed. Equipment helps, but a Javazon with great gear, say Slvl 40/30 LF/Pierce is not going to be faster than one with 20/20 LF/Pierce if the no +skills char has a lot better herding skill.
It's best if you get your first taste of the Cows on Nightmare or even Normal, where there is more margin for error. It's hard to compare lower difficulty Cows to Hell ones though, since on Nightmare, if you have good equipment you'll kill any pack in just 2 or 3 throws. On Hell you often need 20 throws for huge packs (in an 8 player game), or more if there are Champions or a Boss pack, or they aren't herded real tightly.
Cows spawn in clumps. They are not at all evenly distributed around the Level; you'll usually get them in little islands of 10-15 cows, and sometimes there won't be any others for a full screen, and other times there will be 6 or 8 more clumps right nearby, which will all form into one uber mob, 80 or 100 strong.
Cows are slow, and they aren't smart. You can (and will) run rings around them, and you want to "knit" the smaller clumps together, so you can get as many as possible in one spot. This requires you to run around them, often literally, all the way around a clump, as you keep them more or less in the same spot, while other clumps close in. Cows will pursue you, but they lose you if you get more than a couple of screens away, and if there are a ton of the they'll all try to walk in a line, and block each other. To get a clump to follow you, you must move in the direction you want them to come, but move while doing continual back and forth swings, so the cows are all moving towards you in varying directions, rather than trying to all go straight line, and blocking each other.
It's hard to describe herding, you want to experiment, always being bolder and faster. You can watch other players do it, ask a friend with a good Javazon to let you follow them around one game, or try it with someone in a public game. Expert herders take what seem like insane risks, as they knit dozens and dozens of cows together, often getting entire screens that are just about solid cows. They'll then run out, pop a Valk right at the lead point, and open up. You can kill unbelievable amounts of targets in just a few seconds with LF. Really big mobs are sometimes called, "Instant Ancients" referring to the huge exp bonus you get for that quest, and how much you get in a second from a full screen of dying Cows.
Another way to do big mobs in the same spot is with a strong Valk, and cows in every direction. You can run in and have cows all off to the top and right, off the screen. Pop a Valk and start LF'ing, and kill 50 or so, with maybe half a dozen left on your Valk (not enough to maximize your killing speed on. Run down to the left a bit (not to far or the Valk will warp after you) and lead a couple more packs up. With them coming, run around the valk and her cow suitors, and throw throw those, at the incoming pack. As you do this the cows to the top and right will see you and start coming, and just as they are about to reach you you run back around the Valk and her friends, and throw through them at the others coming in.
This is a simplified description, but I've killed literally hundreds of cows on the same Valk, while she was totally surrounded the entire time, by moving around her and leading more and more in, then running around and throwing at them through the others that were already on the Valk. The whole key to killing cows is to get them into nice clumps and move them where you want them.
It's not wise to herd big, or do cows at all, if your connection is laggy. With 75% blocking and 50% Dodge you can survive quite a few hits, often until you lag out in ten seconds, but you never want to test that out, especially not Hardcore. And you never want to herd or even take a step in bow mode, you'll die in seconds if you lag out then, without any blocking. [Top]
Speed, Speed, Speed
The key to the level is speed. You want to kill as fast as possible, especially in public games, such as Bloody Runs. You only get big exp as long as other people are in the game when the cows spawn, and a typical Bloody Run goes 6-10 minutes on Hell. If you join one and see there are a lot of Sorcs, it'll be even faster, more like 3-5 minutes. All fighter character Bloody Runs are far slower, they can go 20 minutes or more with all Paladins, Druids, Assassins, etc. If you join one of those as it's just gone up, you are in Paradise, since you hardly even have to hurry that much.
Run, herd a huge mob, open up with LF and kill off the pack. There will probably be a couple of strays left over, often Champions or a Boss, but ignore them. Run and herd more, get as many as possible, then kill then quickly. Repeat this as you go, not even stopping to look for loot, other than a quick glance for Sets or Uniques or jewels/charms. You want to spawn and kill as many cows as possible while players are in the game. Spawn for the Exp, kill for the items.
Once the cows are spawned they'll be worth the same exp no matter how many players are in the game when they die, so you can go back over the level once everyone clears the Bloody (and leaves), and kill strays, bosses, champs, pick up the loot, etc. There's no hurry then, unless you are an experience-fiend and want to get into another game to level more.
One very annoying type of cow is a Holy Freeze boss. These aren't hard to kill, but they slow you down tremendously. Your throwing speed when Holy Frozen is very poor, and so is your bow firing speed, if you are going to kill on. A useful way to do it is shown in the screenshot here; lead them to a corner of a stone fence, get them stopped with a Valk, and run back to where you are out of the Line of Sight, and will un-freeze. If you can't shoot at him directly then you are in a good spot, and kill him off with Guided. If you get a Holy Freeze cow in a big herd, you'll have to just throw slowly to kill off the others around him, then leave him there, or lead him to a corner and park him with a Decoy and run off. Come back and kill him later if you want, but you need to get him out of the way, or your whole run will be slowed greatly if he keeps following you around and chilling you.
One useful trick to get the big Exp, though it doesn't work well for item drops, is to run through the entire level as soon as you enter, while there are still 6+ other players in the game. This will spawn every cow then, and they'll be worth the normal bonus players experience when they die, but how many items they drop are set by the number of players in the game when they die. If you are alone then, they'll drop the same as if they'd spawned in a single game, but they'll be worth the full multiplayer experience. This is difficulty to clear, since your Valkyrie has the same bonus to hps for multiplayers, and if you are doing 8 player cows in a solo game, your Valk will have less than 1/5 the exp she'd have in an 8 player game. This is another reason you want multiple points in Valkyrie, so she can stand up to MP cows in a solo game.
I do this run-through technique if I join a big Bloody game that's been up for several minutes already, and I know I don't have time to kill much before everyone leaves. [Top]
Step Three: Profit!
You can get rich, so very rich, off of the cows. Visit the Wealth vs. Skullders debate in the Equipment section for more details. I've run Cows with both, and I prefer Wealth, especially when I've got Goldwrap, Chance Guards and some other GF% stuff on. Wealth is more instant gratification, you get tons of gold always, and it's always more with GF stuff on. MF stuff doesn't make any obvious difference at all, 99% of the time. It's just that every now and then you'll get something gold, or green, or yellow, when it would have been blue or white otherwise. As you get up into higher MF this happens more often, but at the same time you get less benefit for more MF stuff.
All GF stuff helps you, and wealth instead of skullders is probably worth 200k on a big cow run, with every stack being 700-1000 larger. If you do 10 cow runs, that's 2m gold (very roughly estimated) which is a LOT of gambles. Gambling you are guaranteed to get good items, eventually. More MF you will probably get better items, eventually, but you have no way to know if that Rare Shako would have been a Harlequin if you'd just had 50% less MF.
Fortunately most GF items are MF also (the opposite is not as often true), so you get both when you add GF.
Cows on Hell drop very nice stuff. They can drop almost everything in the game, and are high enough Mlvl to drop the Set and Unique versions of everything they drop. (Not all monsters can do that, some can drop an item type but not the Set or Unique of it.)
Hell Hell Bovines drop up to Treasure Class 87 Armor/Weapons, which is virtually everything in the game. Monsters are very unlikely to drop items from their highest TC, (the odds improve the further down from their max you go) but it is possible. Armor 87 is made up of all Elite items, Bloodlord Skull, Diadem (M'avina's True Sight), Guardian Crown, Myrmidon Greaves, Ogre Gauntlets, Shadow Plate (Aldur's Deception. Weapon 87 has the Berserker Axe, Colossus Blade (Bul Kathos Sacred Charge and Grandfather), Hydra Bow (Windforce), Scissors Suwayyah (Natalya's Mark), Thunder Maul (Cranium Basher), Unearthed Wand, and Winged Harpoon.
I've never found any of those Sets or Uniques from the cows, nor do I know anyone who has, though you see people posting in forums about finding Windforces and such from Cows, so maybe you'll get lucky if you try it. If you've done Hell Cow runs, look at that list and think how often you see anything from it dropped, of any quality, much less Unique or Set.
Magic Find has no effect on the type of item that's dropped, it just makes a given item more likely to be Uniques or Set or Rare or Magical. So you could have 5000 MF and might not see a Hydra bow in a month of Cow games, but when you did finally have one drop, it would have better odds of being a Windforce.
So what can't the cows drop? Just the stuff in Armor/Weapons 90:
- Armor 90: Colossus Girdle, Corona (Griswold's Honor), Dream Spirit, Sacred Armor (Immortal King's Soul Cage), Vortex Shield (Griswold's Honor).
- Weapon 90: Giant Thresher (Stormspire), Glorious Axe, Legend Spike, Mythical Sword (Bul Kathos Tribal Guardian), War Pike, Archon Staff, Caduceus (Griswold's Redemption), Dimensional Shard.
Some cool stuff there, but nothing you really are dying to find and use; it's more of the novelty collectors stuff. In other words, everything you really want to find: Windforce, Grandfather, Cranium Basher, Arkaine's Valor, Tal's Armor, every Unique Ring and Amulet, and every Exceptional item in the game, can be found from the cows. The odds of getting Set and Unique items from normal monsters are never good, but that's what MF is for. This is why you should go back and bag those stray cow bosses, once you clear out the rest of the stuff.
The Cow King drops at max Armor/Weapon 66 Treasure Class, much lower than the rest of the cows or any random Cow boss. This is odd, and possibly something Bliz forgot to update from D2C to D2X. In any event, you don't want to kill him since you won't be able to open the red portal, but even if you do (in which case you can then kill him every game afterwards) he can't drop much higher than the lowest quality Elite items. Nightmare Baal drops up to the next lower TC, 63, for a comparison, and he drops more items, and has much better odds of dropping higher quality items.
As mentioned at length in the Equipment section, Gold Find is awesome for the Cows also. It's quite easy to clear 400k in a solo cow game, not even including what you sell. I've dumped over 600k gold into the stash mid-clean up on a cow level, and then had another 500k or more when I was done picking up and selling, in really big games. If you enjoy gambling, a Javazon with GF% gear is a great character. I recommend gambling jewelry, once you get to the high 80's you can start getting +2 amulets, and if you get a good +2 with MF and some resistance, or mana leech, it's awesome to wear or trade.
Even if you aren't greedy for gold (or don't have the equipment to make it happen yet) you should pick up the gold piles on big packs, since often you have far more corpses and hover tags than you can read. With the obscene mobs of cows you kill, there will be 30 or more piles of gold in one spot, 20+ potions, and then a dozen or more items also. You'll see probably 40 or 50 hover tags using your "show items" key, so you often have to pick up gold just to see what all the items are. It's not at all uncommon to pick up 20 piles of gold and find a Unique Amulet or other great item suddenly come into view.
This is demonstrated here with a before and after shot of the same hamburger. On the left shot, you can't see to pick up any of the items, but you can at least see some of the gold. On the hover text, you can see that most of the items don't even have a tag. There are 10+ gold piles not showing up, and many of the items are doing the same thing. You often have to pick up gold to see what all of the items lying in an area are, and sometimes you even have to pick up and drink potions, especially if a Barbarian is busy Horking up more loot on top of the already massive drops.
You get an idea of the gold profits you can make in the Cows with good GF on here. There are about 60 piles of gold in the un-cropped version of this shot, and they average 2000+ in size. Two amulet gambles there, for about 30 seconds of clicking, and probably 70k in item sales, if you want to take the time for that.
If there's no one else in the Cow Level who might take your loot, (which is usually the case, most people there have junk equipment on and don't even seem to consider the profits they are leaving behind) you can leave the corpses where they lie and return later, once you've killed everything, and the bovines will have rotted away and vanished. It's quicker to pick up the gold stacks by sight rather than clicking the hover tag, especially with the big (in-game graphic) 2000+ piles you'll be getting, which are easy to point at amid the other stuff lying around.
It should tell you something about Javazons and the Cow Level to see that one of the biggest problems you'll have there is finding a way to quickly pick up all the loot. ;) [Top]
Conclusion and Thanks
What else is there to say? Javazons are fun, fast killers, who can play solo or in parties and clear just about anywhere in the game effectively. Their only weakness is on big bosses, and they can overcome that with a good weapon switch bow/xbow, especially with their uber tank Valkyrie.
I'd like to thank the D2X team at Blizzard North for putting together such a great game, and improving Javazons so much for the Expansion.
Credit also goes to Snowy for playing the first really high level Javazon of anyone I knew. Doing Cow runs with him, leeching levels and Horking with my barb and seeing the destruction Javazons wrought and the good items he found was what mostly encouraged me to try my own Javazon, and I've had the most fun with them of any character type in D2X (though I do love my Bowazons also).
Thanks also to Snowy for suggesting a few more items to mention in the Equipment section, and stressing the importance of more points in Pierce. Thanks also to Andrew and Linear_Dark for various comments via email that prompted additions to the guide.
This very long guide is spread over 3 pages.