Guide V1.09: Ladder Race: 39 hours

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Diablo II Strategy Guide Info:

  • Patch: v1.09
  • Gametype: PvE/PvM
  • Class: Not class-specific
  • Specialisation: Ladder
  • Author: Flux

Related Articles, focused on the October 1, 2001 ladder reset.

A Champion is Crowned[edit]

Europe Standard, after 43 hours.

Well, there it is, the Clvl 99 race is over already. After just about 39 hours, the Amazon Dip-Dancer reached 99, first character on any realm to do so. There are numerous other characters past 95, with the Clan-DOH you see here in second place, and soon to join Dip at 99.

A few hours later, as this article was published, there are already others past 99, at least one confirmed Sorc on USEast, and many other characters into the high 90's, so expect lots more 99's in the next day, though Dip-Dancer here was the first.

So how (the hell) did people get so high so quickly, you ask?

We've gotten numerous emails from ladder racers, and other players who saw them in action, so read on and see. There are things everyone has in common, whether they leveled as part of a big group or mostly solo.

  • Get to Act Five Hell ASAP.
  • Do the Ancients as close as possible to the minimum level requirements of 20, 40, and 60.
  • Do run after run in the Bloody Foothills or (not-so) Secret Cow Level, in as big a game as possible. (You can do the Cow Level repeatedly as long as you don't kill the Cow King.)
  • Party with higher level characters who can do the vast majority of the killing until your character gains enough levels to fend for themselves. (Or just leech forever, if you are a weaker/slower character. Bowazons, Javazons, and Sorcs are the fastest to kill large groups of enemies, but you can play a support character with an aura or curses or just stand around and share in the exp gain just as quickly.)

There are other tactics most players used, but you can read the actual quotes below and see for yourself.

Second Place Speaks[edit]

This very detailed report is from Clan-DOH, Danes of Honor. You can see their character at #2 on the ladder shot above. Their character is a Bowazon.


  • Buriza 200% with Shael rune
  • Tal Rasha's mask with +15%ias, +10res all juvel.
  • Twitchthroe with +15%ias, +2x% dmg juvel
  • Vampirefang belt
  • Rings Both: res all 15% Rare with more stuff
  • Amulet: Mara's unique +2 skill, 28% res all
  • Lava Gauntlets
  • Waterwalk boots


Starting out - Five helpers fill the game for max exp, 2 help the ladder-runner. (A lvl 93 Sorc with Static and Teleport, and a lvl 84 Pal with Conviction) The new character Clan-DOH (DOH) makes a game, 7 helpers join, the Sorc teleports to Den of Evil, makes portal. DOH takes tp and leaves party, the sorc statics everything all the way down and DOH makes 1-hit-killing blows, (Den of evil gave 4 lvls.) and took 2 minutes.

Same tactic all the time until lvl 47 just killed ancients on nm and baal on hell, we start Cow-runs.

Until lvl 66 : Here we take a lvl 95 Burizon she party with DOH and kills everything, the Sorc runs around and statics all the cows 1-2 screen ahead of the amazons while gathering them all up in huge groups for easier killing. As the sorc moves on after weakening the Cows, the Amazons run up with the Paladin adding his Conviction, and the cows are slaughtered.

After lvl 66: Two Sorcs party with DOH, they look for exp-shrines in act1 When they find one they clear the spot, cast a tp and say "Shrine", then DOH makes tp goes to exp-shrine activates it, steps back into tp, takes his own tp to cow-lvl and this continues. normal it takes 2 exp-shrines pr game, but if there are bosses with curses, it takes more. In cow-lvl the static Sorc just statics madly and gathers up the cows. This takes skill to get them in nice clumps and all weakened. DOH has enough killing power now with the Pal's Conviction to do the killing herself, rather than letting the bigger Amazon kill for her.

Very organized there, with the Static sorceress doing most of the work, and the helpers finding experience shrines, and the big paladin to give Fanaticism. This is about the biggest group report we've seen yet.

Our next contestant certainly has about the most extreme equipment possible on a Javazon. The killing would go faster than a blink here, just a challenge to find enough large games to join. Thanks to Ben Lliff.

A Javazon's Report[edit]

Hi, I played Andariel-XII, which got to a peak of #2 on the ladder, and dropped to #8 in your screenshot. She is a Javazon, not a Burizon like many of the ladder Amazons. First off, I got to hell with a group of friends with ladder characters of their own. By the time Baal was dead in hell, I was level 8. I then took one of my clones of the ladder Javazon, Andariel-XI, which was level 48 (the lowest level I can use the vital equipment), and partied my friend on Andariel-XII while playing solo cow levels. I did this for about 4 games until Andariel-XII was level 48. I then got on Andariel-XII and played unpartied with the same friend on a conviction Paladin in cow levels. We played until he had to leave, around level 70, and I soloed Cow Levels for the rest. I went to sleep at 2 AM and dropped to #8 by the time you took your screenshot. When I woke up at 9 AM, I was around #50, and since I don't have the time to play 24/7, having school and other arrangements, Andariel-XII is retired at level 81.

Current Stats as of level 81:

Her Gear:

  • 1.09 Valkyrie Wing (+skills, mana per kill)
  • 2 1.09 Lidless Walls (+skills, mana, mana per kill)
  • 2 Titan's Revenge Stacks, 212 7% and 210 8% (+skills, damage, life leech)
  • 2 SoJs (+skills, mana)
  • 1.09 Gorefoot (Mana leech)
  • 1.08 Silks of the Victor (Mana leech, +1)
  • 1.09 Thundergod's Vigor (+skills)
  • Rare Vampirebone gloves (+2 javelin skills, 3% mana leech, +10 dex)
  • Rare Amulet (+2 amazon skills, Prismatic, Magic find, 14 dex)
  • 9 +1 javelin skills charms

Her Stats:

  • 90 Str (boosted to 110 for Thundergod by Titan's, boosted again to 130 by Thundergod)
  • 99 Dex (boosted to 109 for Titan's by gloves, boosted to 147 by Titan's, charms, and ammy)
  • 201 Vitality (boosted to 221 by Thundergod)
  • 90 Energy (Boosted to 100 by Lidless)

Her Skills:

  • Lightning Fury (46)
  • LF Pre-reqs (24)
  • Dodge (20)
  • Avoid (20)
  • Evade (21)
  • Pierce (30)
  • All Passives (11)
  • No skill quests are completed. If I had kept going, I would have maxed
  • Dodge/Avoid/Evade.

A Rare Druid Sighting[edit]

A rare report of a fast level Druid, who was like a lot of characters, mostly doing it with experience sharing.

I was wnd softcore Druid, got to lvl 66 sunday evening. How we did it was we got a group of 8ppl and had setup guys so at lvl 30 we got our lvl30 mule and it had everything on it no messing around. We had higher lvl charaters get us to act5 fast. We also had 1 of each char. so we got all the benefits. My Druid's Oak Sage, a Barb with BO, a Sorc and Amazon for fast killing a Necro to tank. -- CronosLord(AL)

Dual Boxing Report[edit]

Ok, heres how I got a character to level 80+ in 7 hours. It involved using two characters, one the newly created ladder character and the second, a level 99 character. The first thing I did was basically turbo the level 1 character to act 5 hell in about and hour and a half. I have two computers sharing a cable line so it was easy for me to do this by myself but other people without two computers could just have a friend play hte high level character instead.

Act 1 - I basically just went straight to Andy opened a portal and let the level 1 character hit her once. Then killed Andy with the level 99 character. This was easy on all dificulties and took very little time.

Act 2 - This act would have been tedious, but I had 3 characters prepared with horadric staved prepared who knew which tomb was the correct one. So it was just a matter of brining them in for a few minutes and then blasting straight to duriel. Took only slightly longer than the rush to Andy.

Act 3 - This was always the fastest becuase hte entrance to durance level 3 is always clockwise from the waypoint and there is a place where you can stand that lets you hit mephisto, while no on can hit you back.

Act 4 - This one took quite a bit longer. On normal and nightmare I just sran past all monsters and broke the seals to kill the special 3 (grand vizier, de seis, invictor) and diablo would be out. However on hell I had to actually stop to kill the monsters in the sancuary. Always letting the lvl 1 character get one hit in on the boss before killing him with the level 99 character.

Act 5 - Straight on to the throne, the level 1 character would sit in town until I the level 99 character was in the worldstone chamber. Then just finish off Baal to get to the next difficulty. This wasn't necessary on hell difficulty so I never bothered with it as it would waste time.

After I got the level 1 character to hell act 5, I began leveling the character up, so far about 1 hour and 45 minutes has passed.

Level 25 - The first 25 levels was really easy. I just parked the level 1 character at the bottom of the stairs in the bloody foothills in a 4 player game, and while allied with my level 99 character, killed everything in the foosthills in about 10 minutes. Once that was finished the level 1 character was now level 20 and I killed the ancients on normal to reach level 25. Half an hour at most.

Level 47 - I just continues to do bloody hills runs with the ladder character parked. Sometimes it would be easier to get into hills runs in 8 player games, sometimes I had to settle with smaller games. It only took a few large games to reach level 40, after which killing the ancients brought me up to level 47.

Level 65 - Pretty much well more of the same, finishing off the ancients on hell bring me up to level 65 with plenty of time to spare. All this time sofar the ladder hcaracter has spent no skill or stat points and is wearing no equipment.

Level 65+ - I distribute the points and drop off some equipment, although I found some nice items from boss kills and the anya quest are readily available for class specific items, a little twinking will make the night much easier :) It just a matter of doing bloody foothills and ancients way over and over and over again. I could have done cow level if I defeated baal on hell but I didnt bother with that.

Well there you have it, the quickest way to level up a character, that only requires you and a friend, or you and yourself. It can be done to any class easily cause you don't actually play the new character until they reach level 65, which is why there would be necromancers and such on the ladder 80+ afer 7 hours. Also twinking isn't even necessary either! -- ArchFox

A Paladin Report[edit]

A Paladin report, he got to 79 on East in under 7 hours, #11 overall in our first set of pictures.

Hey Im RiDE-ThESnAkE on the ladder. I saw that I was the only high ranked pally there for a while so ill share what I did. First I made a mistake, I went vengeance-conviction with cow runs, because I'm stupid. I used Baranars Star, Griswolds Armor, Tal Rasha's Mask, Magnus Skin gloves, String of Ears, Rare +2 pally shield, Immortal King's Set boots, 6% Eye of Etlich, and rare leech rings. We just got to act 5 hell at lvl 16 and "Cow'ed" to the current level. I will also add that I'm dropping out of the race because of school and lack of sleep.

Other Reports[edit]

We got lots of other short reports, but they were similar to these. Basically get to Hell ASAP and then either do Bloody runs or Cow Level runs. Very few characters did the killing themselves before Clvl 30 or 40 or 60, it's much faster early on to just party up and have a friend kill things super fast, or join big games and get in on the Bloody party. Once your character gets to a sufficient level (this varies depending on the type of character you are building) you can start killing yourself, just continuing in the same areas, Cows and Bloody. A few people do other areas, there were some reports of Baal runs, but no one levels anywhere outside of Act Five or the Cow Level.

The question we're left with is what do do about this. The are two schools of thought.

  1. Do nothing, don't worry about the ladder if you aren't going to spend the time to get on it, just play the game how you want to and enjoy yourself.
  2. Fix it. Blizzard needs to do _________ to stop this sort of super leveling.

School #2 is much more represented by the emails we've gotten. The mails on this subject are about 20% "How I did it." and 60% "This shouldn't be possible.". The other 20% are SirCam mails. ;)

Even a few of the people who did this sort of run expressed their disapproval of it. People seem to think it's absurd and wish it was harder to level up, or cheese your way to a level up at least, just by being in a party with others who are killing. The whole "stand on a waypoint/town exit and gain 10 levels" tactic is inarguably cheesy, after all.

However, for the people who disapprove of it, there is no consensus of how Bliz should fix it, if they should fix it at all. We've gotten lots of mails with suggestions for changes, and there are tons in the forums.

It's also quite debatable if Blizzard is concerned about this, or wants to fix it. They make the game, they don't dictate how players should play it. If people want to abuse the hell out of one or two easy areas, with characters designed just to cheese those areas, should Blizzard work on throwing changes in just to stop that?

Everyone zooms up in the Cow Level or Bloody Hills because they are the easiest areas. However there are lots of other places that aren't much harder. The Halls lvl 2, Worldstone Level 2, and the Glacial Trails are all very easy and full of good exp as well, they are just generally smaller than the Cow Level and Bloody Hills, and take longer to clear out, not being so wide open in layout.

If you have thoughts on how the game should be modified to make ladder runs harder/take longer, or if you don't think there should be changes made, you can post about them here in this new comments thread (the first one had to be locked as it was loading over 1meg in size from so many replies) or mail them in. We'll likely post a last part to this article with the most popular thoughts on this issue in a few days.

In the mean time, happy leveling.