Guide:Ice Maiden v1.10, by Freya
Guide originally presented in this forum thread. With extensive discussion and commentary.
Diablo II Strategy Guide Info:
- 1 Freezing Arrow
- 2 Item Freeze Durations
- 3 Equipment Guidelines
- 4 Possible skill point distributions
- 5 Equipment that I'd strongly suggest
- 6 Skills to compliment FA:
- 7 Tactics
- 8 Equipment(in no particular order):
This guide is designed to help out amazons using Freezing Arrow(FA) either as a main killing skill, or as a supplementary skill in a build. I would recommend at least one point in FA for any amazon build, simply for the ability to keep your enemies frozen while you kill them.
How FA works: FA, or Freezing Arrow, fires a single arrow which freezes and deals damage to everything within a 3.3 yard radius from where the arrow hits. The cold damage will always hit, regardless of attack rating, though the physical damage of the arrow is dependant upon your chance to hit. The physical damage is only dealt to things that are hit by the arrow itself, not spread through the blast radius. In addition, things like % chance to cast, crushing blow, open wounds, prevent monster heal, etc only are applied on things hit by the physical damage, not the splash damage. FA can trigger spell effects with % chance to cast when striking, but this is only checked when the arrow itself hits, not the splash damage.
The freezing length of FA is set at 2 seconds, and can be increased by either synergy(ice arrow) or cold damage from items. The synergy from ice arrow is pretty worthless in terms of helping FA, due to the fact that 20 points will only increase your freeze duration by 2 seconds in normal difficulty. Items with cold damage usually increase freeze duration once per cold damage modifier. The most typical way that people increase their freeze duration is by using small charms. Each cold damage small charm will increase your freeze duration by one second, though some, such as a "snowy small charm of the glacier" increasing freeze duration by two seconds since it has two cold damage modifiers.
Item Freeze Durations
Many uniques have longer bonuses to freeze duration that are hidden. Here are some of the freeze durations for commonly used items:
- Eye of Etlich: 2-10 seconds(randomly chosen when it drops)
- Ravenfrost: 4 seconds
- Vampiregaze: 4 seconds
- Buriza: 8 seconds
Freeze length is reduced to 1/2 in Nightmare difficulty, and 1/4 in Hell difficulty, so with a freeze length of 8 seconds, you'll freeze normal monsters for 8 seconds, nightmare monsters for 4 seconds, and hell monsters for 2 seconds. Monsters with a high cold resist also have reduced freeze duration, so you will not freeze everything for the same amount of time, and things don't always stay frozen as long as your freeze duration would indicate. In addition, some things cannot be frozen, such as cold immunes, some frenzytaurs in hell difficulty, and the defilers in the worldstone keep come to mind, though there may be others that I can't think of.
Cold damage from equipment and charms is spread with the blast damage of freezing arrow, though physical, fire, lightning, and poison damage are not.
There are two ways to sustain firing FA: either mana leech(vampiric), or mana regen(mageazon). Which of these you choose will affect both your skill and equipment selection, so I'll try and cover both here.
Vamp: High damage, fast bow. I would recommend getting at least an 8 frame attack, though a 9 frame will work fine as well. You'll want probably 15-20% mana leech at least to maintain your mana. Good bows here would be Lycanders, upgraded WWS, or anything with bigger damage(elites, etc). If you have less, a reasonable mana pool will let you get by just using potions, which you'll have to do with skeletons and physical immunes anyhow. The rest of your gear should include good resists, IAS, +skills, and +life.
Mage: lots of mana, and +mana regen stuff helps out as well. Your bow is less important: this might be a good route to go with a wizendraw for the -resists, or else any bow with lots of +skills. Good gear you'd probably want for this build would be soj's, frosties, silkweaves, glooms trap, and pretty much anything else with a lot of +mana. Get enough mana through these and points in energy until you can cast FA nonstop, or pretty close to it. The advantage here is that it's pretty easy to rack up +skills along with the mana, boosting your damage nicely. The downside is that you'll have poor physical damage, requiring you to depend on your minions to deal with cold immunes.
Possible skill point distributions
Vamp build with strafe:
- 20 cold arrow
- 20 freezing arrow
- 1(or 20) strafe
- 17 valk(after +skills), more points can be put here if you want
- 10 or so penetrate, enough to get a good chance to hit
- enough d/a/e to get you good evasion skills
- ~10ish critical strike after +skills
One thing pointed out by Kirsty is that you can make up for a low attack rating using inner sight. This could ease up attack rating difficulties, though you'll need it up to level 20-30 to be effective in hell. This would relieve the need for points in penetrate, and might be a good alternative for builds with lower dex, such as a hardcore player who will often choose to pump vitality instead.
- 10 cold arrow
- 20 freezing arrow
- 10 fire/immo arrow
- 20 exploding arrow
- 17 valk(after +skills)
- d/a/e to where you are comfortable
Stats for both
- str: enough for equipment
- dex: extra points for a vamp go here, mage: just enough for equipment
- vit: as much as possible, I wouldn't recommend any less than 100
- vamp: enough to have a decent mana pool for non-leechable things
- mage: as much as you need to keep up with casting FA
FA provides its own fairly large attack rating bonus, so hitting with it shouldn't be too difficult. However, if you are using a physical attack skill as well, you'll want to use either penetrate or inner sight. At high levels, inner sight can give you a good chance to hit even with a low dex build, while a medium level of inner sight can stack with a decent attack rating to give you a nice boost in your chance to hit.
Some players may want to invest more into passives, which will take skill points that may be hard to spare. If you take points from the FA/CA combo, you'd want to sacrifice a few points in cold arrow to put here. In a FA strafe build, I'd actually recommend going with a lower level of strafe rather than weakening your freezing arrow, however. With a mageazon, cutting fire or cold synergies to slightly lower levels will free you up some skill points for the passive tree as well.
The three most important things for FA damage are: +skills, pierce, IAS. The freezing damage on FA goes up majorly as you get more +skills, though this benefit can be outshone by the other two. Pierce is essential. Hitting 5 things with an FA that doesn't pierce will kill things slowly with a good FA. Just piercing and hitting a second thing will hit those 5 monsters twice per FA, doubling your damage to all 5 things. As you get bigger groups with more hits and more things in the splash radius, pierce gets even better. IAS is also important, mainly by looking at how much you need to hit a certain breakpoint. I'd recommend 8 or 9 depending on the speed of your bow, and how much more IAS you need to bring it to the next breakpoint.
Equipment that I'd strongly suggest
razortail: 33% pierce can easily give you max pierce with just a few(8-9 after +skills gives you 98% and 100% respectively) points in pierce. If you use a bow that gives piercing attack(i.e. Kuko) then you won't need this. If you don't want to use this belt or can't get one, then I'd recommend maxing pierce, or at least investing as many points as possible.
eye of etlich: This amulet looks kinda mediocre compared to some of the alternatives, and can be outshone by some, but the great benefit of it for this build is hidden. A good eye of etlich will give you a very nice boost to your freeze length(2-10 seconds), and the leech and +skills are added gravy. A nice +skills amulet with resists and other good stats could be better, but an eye of etlich is hard to beat.
ravenfrost: Gives cannot be frozen, a lot of cold damage added to your FA, and 4 seconds increased freeze duration. The attack rating and dex will also really help out for a vamp build.
For your final outfit, you should make sure that you have the needed IAS for whatever breakpoint you decide on. Try and either use razortail or a bow with piercing attack to get your overall pierce to 100%. After this, try and get good resists, good +skills, and either lots of mana leech or lots of +mana/mana regen.
Skills to compliment FA:
Strafe/Multi: Both of these skills work pretty well in 1.10, though you need a good bow. If you're using a vamp mageazon build, either of these should work for killing cold immunes. I personally like strafe, since 1 point with +skills should take you up to a full max compliment of arrows, and you'll get guided as a prereq which should do fine on single targets. With your high mana leech for FA, the mana cost on a level 1 guided shouldn't cause many problems. Multi requires a few more skill points, though it should work fine around level 8-10 for what you'd need for this build. You'd still need to have a different option like guided for single targets.
Exploding/Immo arrow: You probably won't have enough skill points to do much in synergizing the fire skills as well as the cold ones, but if you are building a mageazon, these can work okay with your leftover skill points so you can help out your valk/merc kill cold immune things. With +skills, and especially if you have a kuko as your main weapon or on switch, you should be able to deal pretty decent fire damage to cold immune things. These skills can still be effective with a 10/10/20 or 10/20/10 skill distribution between fire/exploding/immo arrow skills, depending on if you want to use immo or exploding arrow as your main attack. I haven't played around too much with these skills, so you may find better recommendations elsewhere for skill allocations here.
Valkyrie:' A high level valkyrie is very useful, both as a target for monsters to swarm, as well as an aid for boss killing and cold immune monsters. Two skill levels to aim for in a valk are level 8 where she gains a lance, and level 17 where she gets a war pike. FA should be able to keep your valkyrie alive nicely except against swarms of cold-immunes or nasty boss packs. However, these are the situations where you really need a good tank, so I would recommend putting as many points here as you can afford. However, at around level 17, she should be able to live through most anything, and even in really nasty situations, give you some time to attack before having to recast her
Make use of your decoy. Use her to scout, break up nasty crowds, or even block doorways. Your decoy should help keep your merc and valk alive, and when you use her to scout, you can see what's coming up, and everything tends to clump up around your decoy, crowding them together so that you hit lots of things with your FA splashes.
Try and get things in small to medium sized crowds, or lined up in a tight space. FA won't hit everything if you have too large of crowds, leaving things free to swarm around in front of who you have frozen, and free to attack you or your minions. On the other hand, without lots of monsters, FA loses its biggest advantages. FA works best when you have lots of things really close together, so you pierce and hit more things, and the splash damage hits a lot of enemies every time you pierce. It can actually be worthwhile to let things unfreeze for a minute to let them group up if you have a group that's loosely packed or with lots of stragglers.
Probable problem spots for playing solo(hell difficulty):
Early act1: LOTS of cold immunes, the worst are probably the rogues with their speed. The archers are extremely dangerous, and some can be immune to cold(depending on which area they are in).
Act3 Jungles: most people probably won't be affected here, since everybody skips it, and it really depends on what spawns. However, the melee flayers are cold immune, and the bramble hulks are cold immune, and boss packs can usually tear apart your merc and valk quickly once they get frenzied up.
Act5: mostly indoor areas- depends on what spawns. Gloams are always dangerous, especially with bowazons who can have problems getting max resists without a shield. Frenzytaurs are also a big danger, having cannot be frozen, and huge damage to take out your minions. The ice caves tend to have a lot of cold immunes in them, so you might not want to linger too much there.
Many amazons are looking for builds for pit-running, which this build will work for. FA is useful in the pit, though there are several monsters that will spawn cold immune there, so you'll need a second type of damage as well. The most effective skill I've found there to combine with FA is strafe, which is very effective on it's own there. Often, FA will be used as a skill in fighting outside the pit and leveling, while people use strafe inside the pit. However, the biggest danger in the pit is the rogue archers, who are not cold immune, and freezing them in place can be quite helpful when doing pit runs.
Here's some equipment recommendations, though I'm probably missing a lot of useful stuff....
Equipment(in no particular order):
- Wizendraw- good for a mageazon using cold skills due to the -enemy resistances
- Kuko Shakaku- +skills, fast firing rate, piercing
- Magewrath- huge mana leech, pretty good damage
- Lycanders- good +skills, decent damage, mana leech
- Buriza- high damage for leech, increased freeze duration, and 100% piercing
- Pus Spitter- not so great, but could be okay when lower resist triggers
- Blood Ravens Charge- fast, and has a very healthy bonus to attack rating
High damage, fast attack speed magics/rares
Any other high-damage or fast bow would work, Eaglehorn/Widowmaker might be nice due to the ITD, but even for a vampiric build, the bow damage is only needed for leeching- it would be better to use a fast bow and attack at 7-8 frames, rather than use a windforce and attack at 9-10. The only problem with Buriza is that the fastest attack speed it can attain is 11 frames, as the mods on it seem to be nearly ideal for an FA build.
- Silks of the Victor- +skills, mana leech
- Skin of the Vipermagi- +skills, resistances
- Duriels Shell- cannot be frozen, resists, +life -- I'd recommend this mainly if you don't have another source of cannot be frozen
- Skulders Ire- +skills, MF
- Rockstopper- nice for resists and damage reduced
- Stealskull- dual leech, MF, IAS
- Vampiregaze- dual leech, damage reduced, cold damage and duration
- Valkyrie Wing- +skills
- Harlequin Crest- +skills, life and mana, MF
- Nightwings Veil- +skills, +8-15% cold skill damage, some cold absorb
- Tal's Mask- 10% dual leech, resistances
- Frostburns- +mana, cold duration
- Laying of Hands-- can be nice for resists, IAS, and damage versus demons
- --In all actuality, I'd recommend trying for some rare/crafted gloves with some of the following: +bow skills, IAS, mana leech, resists
- Goldwrap- good for the 10% ias if it's needed
- razortail- if you don't have piercing from a bow, then this belt will really help
- Orphans belt- Dual leech
- Nosferatu's Coil- ias, life leech
Again, nothing really stands out here- Aldurs Advance would be good for run/walk and life, natalya's set boots are also good, and add more resistances. War travellers could be nice, rares with run/walk and resistances are also good.
- ravenfrost: adds a nice amount of cold damage and duration, cannot be frozen, attack rating and dex to help deal physical damage.
- Stone of Jordan: +skills, +mana- good for a mageazon especially
- Manald Heal: mana leech
- Eye of Etlich- cold duration, +skills
- Cat's Eye- attack speed
- Crescent Moon- leech and +mana
- Highlords- +skills, IAS
- Mara's- +skills, resists
I tend to prefer using rare jewelry, since you can usually find/gamble rares that have great mods. +skills, leech, and resists are very nice, and are not too difficult to get on rare rings/amulets(+skills on amulets only).
Another nice option for a FA build is to use the M'avina's set, which has some nice mods for this type of amazon. The gloves give +20% FA damage, a lot of cold damage, and a 10 second freeze bonus when you have the complete set on. The set comes with a good amount of +skills, resistances, and some other nice bonuses, but doesn't have too much IAS(can get to 9 frames with a cats eye, though). It also doesn't have anything to increase your piercing percentage, so you can't get your pierce to 100%. You can probably get better with the right collection of uniques/sets, but overall, I'd say this set would work good for FA.
Even if you can't put the whole set together, Mavina's gloves come with a partial set bonus (4 items)that gives 131-252 cold damage with a 4 second cold duration, and the gloves themselves come with a 6 second cold duration, so if you get enough of the set together, you can easily have a couple hundred cold damage added to your FA splash, and get an additional 10 second cold duration, freezing things for an extra 2.5 seconds in hell.
Other Equipment Comments
I haven't had the opportunity to play with a lot of the rare items, so I've tried to keep the items here within a reasonable persons range. When you choose your gear, aim for enough IAS to reach a breakpoint of your choosing with whatever weapon you choose. You can find the breakpoints in the amazon FAQ, or the stickied thread if they ever get it back.
Also, try and get 100% pierce, either through using a bow, or with razortail. With razortail and most of the piercing bows, you will have to put some points into pierce, Buriza has 100% piercing on it, Kuko has 50%, and razortail has 33%. Razortail takes 8 points in pierce after +skills to reach 98% piercing, and 9 to reach 100%. Kuko should reach 100% with just one point and a couple +skills, and if you intend to use Buriza, you don't need to spend any points.
Getting equipment to add +skills will also greatly help your damage, as the cold damage from FA goes up greatly after level 20.
I'd recommend aiming for decent resists, at least positive lighting/cold/fire in hell difficulty, and higher if possible. However, this is all dependant upon personal preference/play style, and whether or not you play hardcore.
For a vamp build, you'll probably need to include 10-20 mana leech minimum to keep up with a level 20 FA, mostly depending on the damage of your bow.
Hopefully this is somewhat helpful in choosing your equipment. As I mentioned, I haven't played around much with lots of the rare items, so I haven't included too many in here. It is easy to make a very successful FA build using the equipment in this guide. I'm sure that some of the new runewords would be quite helpful as well, but I'm not rich, and haven't made any of the new runewords (though I'm looking for a nice weapon to put a crescent moon in). Thus, I can't really evaluate how good these are, though if you can put one together, I'm sure that you could easily incorporate them into the build.