Guide:Magic Find Amazon v1.10, by Nightfish
This guide describes how to create an excellent magic finding amazon, designed primarily for Worldstone Keep and Baal runs. Originally posted in the Amazon strategy forum, with extensive comments and clarifications.
Diablo II Strategy Guide Info:
- 1 Introduction
- 2 The Goal
- 3 Why the WS K?
- 4 The Build
- 5 The Gear
- 6 The Runs
- 7 Progress through the game
- 8 Random thoughts
- 9 Closing Statement
Welcome to another fishy guide, short though it may be. In the following I’ll briefly outline the amazon build I use to run the worldstone keep and baal. I believe this to be one of the best places to shop for items, yet it seems to scare people and even the people that do MF there sometimes just skip through the keep right to the throne of destruction. It is my hope that this guide can clarify some things and perhaps provide a new MFing build for some of you. I’ve been really impressed with performance of my latest guardian on this run, not just because she’s very lucky but also because the run is fun and fast with her.
So, as I said this is about MF. When I MF, my goal is to maximise Sets & Uniques found over time. I do not care about anything else. Just the sets and the uniques. Anything else that drops is icing on the cake. This build focuses on area runs, the worldstone keep in particular. So the items we are after will be TC78 and up.
As far as the build is concerned, the plan is to be able to kill everything at good speed. Any possible combination of monsters the keep can spawn. No matter if it’s gloams, stygian dolls and oblivion knights, this lady is taking them down. We do not want to lose any time by aborting runs if bad things spawn. A secondary objective (primary for me as I’m HC) is to not die.
Why the WS K?
First of all, this is why I run this place. This may or may not apply to you and I don’t want to prove that this is better than running, say, pindleskin. If you want to run him with this build it’s very well capable of doing so but I’m focusing on the WS K because:
- Anything can drop here
- Randomised monsters spawns make it less boring
- Good boss density (#of boss packs vs size of map) compared to say, the pit
Okay, now that is all good and well, now why do I run this over other alvl 85 areas? Baal. That’s why. Now, I know a lot of people think he drops bad but that’s usually due to having wrong expectations or doing not enough runs. Baal’s chance to drop a TC87 set / unique are pretty poor. But he does drop items of very high quality. I can go for several runs before seeing a blue item that isn’t a failed set. Treat Baal more like the sparkly chest in the pit. It’s a bonus to your run, not the main dish.
Now, let me say once more that the best way to run this place is *not* to teleport right to Baal’s minions. Most of the TC87 items will come from regular boss packs in the keep itself and neither from the minions nor from Baal. They’re just something to kill because you’re already there and Baal is an act boss after all and his drops will be worthwhile for what they can be just as will Mephs. Just think of him as a Mephisto who drops up to TC84 with a reasonable chance just as meph himself goes up to TC72/75 with reasonable odds. The times you see TC78 from meph are the times you see TC87 from baal. It’s rare but the chance is there.
I’ve tried a lot of different things here. Pretty much every melee and ranged skill amazons have to offer and this is what I believe works best. Skills mentioned by name are relevant for the build, anything else is summed up as “prerequisites”.
- 20 Lightning Fury
- 20 Charged Strike
- 6 Prerequisites
- 20 Cold Arrow
- 20 Freezing Arrow
- 1 Prerequisite
Passive & Magic Skills
- 1 Pierce
- 2 Prerequisites
That’s a total of 90 Skillpoints which leaves a few points to customise the build. More on that later. Here’s why we use the main skills I mentioned:
Well, this is no surprise. This is our main attack vs bigger crowds of things that aren’t immune to lightning. It does not require to be synergised (obviously, as each point in synergies gives only 1% more damage).
Application: Mobs. 5-6 enemies minimum.
This is what will kill Baal himself as well as any big (non-LI) enemies we meet along the way. Minotaurs, Balrogs, Lister’s gang, they all go down to this. This skill is sufficiently powerful with the synergy bonus it gets from Lightning Fury.
Application: Bosses. Less than 6-7 enemies.
This is what we’ll use to kill the things that are immune to lightning. It won’t kill quite as fast as lightning fury but it will get the job done reliably. Downside is we’ll be drinking a potion every now and then with this skill. The reason whe use this as backup and not strafe or multishot is because, just as lightning fury and charged strike, all this needs is +skills. Skills relying on physical damage require completely different things from your gear so making the split between these and spell-like skills is much harder.
Application: Lightning immunes, both in small and large numbers.
Issue: Attack Rating & Leech
One problem that we’ll be having is hitting with the physical component of our skills. Bowskill AR doesn’t work for all I know and LF and CS don’t give any AR at all. Even with extra points in penetrate we wouldn’t hit much. Therefore I prefer to not rely on mana leech to keep my character going. Instead, I try for mana per kill items, a decently sized mana pool and the blue potions that drop in pretty much every fight. Just saying this here because it doesn’t really fit anywhere else.
The Spare Points
Well, what to do with the skill points we get after the core build is finished? Basically you could take them to the dark wood in act 1 and plant a skill tree as you don’t really need them. I advise against getting a valkyrie as dodge / avoid / evade will cause your attacks to miss occasionally and they are not needed to be safe. Imo the best option is to dump the remaining points into decoy. It isn’t the world hottest tank but it’ll be keep lister occupied for the 2 seconds it takes to fry him. Anyway, do with them as you see fit. Keep in mind that I warned you if you cannot hit the little flayers on lvl 3 because 100 blowdarts interrupt your every attack due to evade.
There are a million things that will work here. I’ll try to highlight a few items I consider relatively easy to come by and useful for this build and you can take it from there.
Essentially we’re a caster, so more skils = more damage = faster killing = more items per time. As we use 2 trees, + X to all skills is better than + javelin or + bow skills alone. Try to resist the temptation to go overboard on + javelin skills just because LF feels stronger. LF is already plenty strong around slvl 20-26 and does not need to be taken to slvl 40 at the cost of leaving FA at slvl 20. Help your weaker skill for a more balanced character.
Ah, the eternal question… How can I increase my MF from 573% to 602%? This is a good place to screw up. I used to do that a lot, myself. Resist the temptation to go overboard on MF. Check the diminishing returns formula and weep. A baseline of MF is easy to get and definitely helpful, but it takes a lot more effort to go from 200 to 400 than it takes from 0 to 200 and the returns will be much worse. Personally I aim for 200-250% tops. No more than that. That doesn’t mean you should avoid MF if your gear offers it by default, but don’t cram your inventory full of 7%MF charms. While that is cool for bragging it is also largely pointless for efficient Mfing.
This is the WS K after all. Personally I run with 75% on everything except poison but that is mainly due to the fact that I am lucky in finding res all charms. What I think necessary is 75% Lightning Resistance. This is enough, though. No absorb, no 90% LR, just plain 75% does the trick nicely. I also try to get good fire resis, still some FE paranoia… Cold and poison can be 0% methinks. A problem that we’ll be having is that we cannot use a shield for resis. We will be shooting at gloams with a bow in hand so if we drop our resis with our shield… You get the idea.
+ life / mana
Aim for about 900 - 1000 life. You don’t really need more and can probably make do with 600 or so, but no need to take unnecessary risks. A half decent mana pools will also be nice to have so we can actually cast our skills a couple times.
Yes, that’s right, keep some space free. There are so many things that could be useful, white, grey, blue and yellow items all have their place if you but know what to look for. I keep at least a 2x4 space free, 4x4 is better, so I can pick up stuff without having to go the stash after the first flawless gem. You can pick up a lot of good stuff as a byproduct of Mfing and isn’t that better than doing dozens of p7 cow runs when you realise you need an eth cryptic axe or an archon plate?
Just a few suggestions, this is basically what I use on my amazon. As I said, there are a lot of other things you could use and especially if we’re talking rare items the possibilities are endless.
Titan’s Revenge is easy to get and is definitely top notch for cleaning the Keep and the minions. Any rare amazon javelin or a plain +3 skills white one can serve if you have no titan’s yet. Thunderstroke:Against Baal himself I recommend keeping a Thunderstroke in the cube and swapping that in when we start poking him with CS.
Melody is an awesome runeword if made in the right bow. A +3 bow skills matriarchal bow would be perfect but any other +3 bow skills bow will do as well. Physical damage is irrelevant as we won’t be hitting with that part of our attack anyway. The +6 to bow skills is what we are after.
Skullder’s Ire is perfect but a lot of other things can work as well. Tal Rasha’s armour or even a plain 4os armour with topazes will do. When socketing the skullder’s, for example, take into account that you might not need another 24% MF from a Topaz. Consider other options. My armour has a 12% Res all jewel in it. An Ort Rune is also a good option.
Harlequin Crest leaps to mind and will be hard to beat unless you’re already rich. Griffon’s Eye would be perfect but is not needed and is definetly the rich man’s choice. Kira’s Guardian can help if you have major resistance problems.
As I said we can’t use it for resis, so just focus on high blocking. Whitstan’s Guard or Stormshield are what I used. Just make sure you have the resis you need on your bow switch.
Mara’s Kaleidoscope is perfect for this build. If you don’t have that anything with skills and / or resis will do. + life / mana is a welcome addition as well.
The elusive stone of jordan is the perfect item for our fledgling amazon but that might not be available to you. Rare rings with resis, life and mana are nice, too. Dwarf Star is also an interesting alternative, it gives 40 life and 100% gold find which is a welcome addition on our runner. Nature’s Peace can be interesting for the rest in peace mod.
War Traveller, Waterwalk, Natalya’s Soul or Aldur’s Advance all work for different reasons. Gore Rider is also an option as the crushing blow helps vs baal, but I wouldn’t use them due to our horrible AR which means we’re not going to hit baal very often and the fact that CS takes baal down quite fast even without CB.
Razortail is what I currently use. This takes pierce to almost 100% for me and is definitely neat. The +15 dex is as good as 45 life if you plan for it and draw 15 hard points from dex to vit. Arachnid Mesh works as well but I would not prefer it to razor tail. Thundergod’s Vigor is popular but I wouldn’t use it as I have no issues with gloams and lightning fury is strong enough as it is. Nosferatu’s Coil or Goldwrap are interesting if you made Melody in a Matriarchal Bow. With 20% ias from gloves and 20% from the bow you are 2% short of increasing your attack speed by one frame. The belt pushes you over the edge.
Rare or Magic is where it’s at here. Look for + bow or javelin skills and 20% IAS. Shopping anya works really well here. Frostburn is an alternative if you have mana issues. It works very well in concert with +mana charms if you do not have any SoJs.
Try to fill any gaps you have here. Gheeds is an okay choice as it provides a good chunk of MF and gold find which is always a nice addition. Other than that I prefer to cover resistances here. Large charms with 25-30% LR are easy to get and can go a long way towards 75%.
Well, I assume we can all agree that we want an act 2 merc and that there is really only the choice between might, defiance and holy freeze. For this build, I chose defiance. Reason being that he is the most universal tank. The heaviest hitters in the WS K are unaffected by holy freeze as is baal. Might is out because our amazon does not deal any physical damage worth mentioning. But to be honest with you, you can probably pick any merc you want and do well. I like act 2 ones because there is a large selection of good polearms and spears and a kelpie snare rests in the horadric cube next to my thunderstroke to screw baal over.
If you have are using the RWM definetly make insight for your merc. This build really likes the meditation. It is not mandatory but it helps. Other than that make sure he has some leech to help him tank. Crushing blow isn’t really necessary.
Well, actually this is pretty straight forward. First of all, make sure you have a good map. Good does *not* mean that the stairs down is next to the waypoint. No! Bad MFer! Down boy! Anyways… Good in this context means that going from the WP to the stairs down lets you pass everything once, and ideally only once. In other words, an “O” shaped map is pretty good while a “T” shape is horrible as you need to pass 2 arms of the map twice. The idea is to do as little useless running around – useless meaning running through areas where you already killed everything –as possible.
Once you got that down all you need to know is which attack to use when and how to dodge ranged attacks and you’re set. If you have mixed groups of LIs and non-LIs use lightning fury first, then Freezing Arrow. Reason being that LF releases bolts for immunes as well as for non-immunes so the damage potential is higher. If you meet the hierophant type monsters that revive undead take those out first if undead (gloams, dolls, OKs) are present.
For Sets and Uniques, stay on players 1. Over 80% of these will come from bosses and champions and their drops are the same on P1 as they are on P7. Increasing the rest of the drops by upping the players is not going to help you get more sets and uniques as you will never be able to run fast enough to actually get more items over time. To break even you can afford to spend 120% of your P1 runtime doing runs on P7. So, if it takes 10 minutes on p1 it’s okay if it takes 12 minutes on P7. This is really, really hard to do and then you just broke even. It’s different if you’re hunting specifically for runes but due to the low odds runes have I find it unrewarding to specifically hunt for them anyway. If I want runes that badly, I’ll play 3 hours sorcs to the hellforge.
Progress through the game
Just a few words on this as this is mainly supposed to be on MF and it’s too long already. Anyway, I recommend starting with the lightning skills in normal. They become powerful faster than FA. I think I took both of them to 12-15 and then started pushing FA and it’s synergy. It doesn’t matter too much how you do it, just try to have 20 FA / 10 synergy ready by the time you enter hell. Personally I was impatient to see how the melody bow would do and thus pushed FA earlier.
You shouldn’t really have any problems anywhere. Lightning Fury kils mobs real fast, charged strikes kills all big single enemies and the ancients. Beware FE things in nightmare and stygian dolls in general. Lightning fury when surrounded with those is a death sentence. Iron Maiden would kill my zon in 3 hits so this is a lot less dangerous than it would be for other builds. (I use CS a lot vs oblivion knights)
Generally when MFing, try to be patient. There are dry spells and sometimes you will go for hours without a good item. That is normal when running for things mephisto can’t drop but might be annoying if you just did 1k meph runs. Don’t run for a single item. Try to appreciate your finds. Even if you really want a stormlash or windforce, try to enjoy the skill charms, flawless gems, runes and other things that you find. If you get pissed at every drop that isn’t *your* item you’re in for a frustrating time.
Well, that’s pretty much it for the first version of this thing. Not sure if it’s long enough in the right places, I’ve played so much that I’m losing track of what I need to put in guides and what’s clear for everybody. Anyways, enjoy, maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t but at least it gibs me +1 post count. If need be I will probably update it once to elaborate where necessary so comments are welcome, but this isn't going to turn into another fishymancer guide.
Now run along and hunt some gloams. With a bit of luck you’ll see things like these soon: Image: nightfish-amazon1.jpg