Guide:PvP Sidewinder v1.10, by Lyquid Evil
A PvP Sidewinder Amazon uses Poison/Plague Javelin and Charged Strike, supplemented with Guided Arrow. The build works well for PvM, but this guide focuses on the PvP aspects. Original post, with comments.
Diablo II Strategy Guide Info:
- Patch: v1.10
- Gametype: PvE/PvM and PvP
- Class: Amazon
- Specialisation: Lightning Fury Javazon
- Author: Lyquid Evil
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Stat Placement
- 3 Skill Placement
- 4 About the Skills
- 5 Formulas
- 6 Gear Selection
- 7 Dueling Strategies
This Amazon variant is based around my experiences in PvP and although it also fairs well in PvM it is written from a 1.10 dueler’s standpoint. I’m a huge proponent of multiple forms of damage and in this guide we will look at all aspects of this build.
A duelist in the Blood Moor spies his prey, what looks to be a bowless Amazon... He rushes forward expecting to put this pitiful creature out of her misery in seconds. The startled Amazon moves quickly to fill the air with poison. His life drains away as he inhales the toxic vapors, he has seriously underestimated his quarry, but this realization has come too late as the Amazon now strikes with lightning fast precision. Countless bolts of energy are released directly into his body until he can take no more and finally collapses. Yet another ear has come to know its new home strung around the neck of this deadly creature. Enter the Sidewinder.
What is a Sidewinder and why does it work?
It’s a character subclass focusing primarily on the skills Poison/Plague Javelin and Charged Strike, supplemented slightly with Guided Arrow. This variant works because it combines three forms of damage in the forms of both ranged and melee. Opponents must, in order to withstand your attacks, change equipment from standard fighting gear to a more defensive-based setup (poison length reduction, damage reduction, and lightning resists/absorb). Depending on their class, this will probably significantly lower their damage, attack rating, defense, and/or life. The opponents who choose not to don appropriate gear will usually die. This variant is also effective because of its lack of a need for a good attack rating; this is because ALL of the skills employed are of the Auto-hit variety. Sidewinders can also use items to stack/absorb against specific opponents with very minimal sacrifices to their own damage output and life.
- side•wind•er n.
- A small rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes) of the southwest United States and Mexico that moves by a distinctive lateral looping motion of its body and has two hornlike scaly projections above its eyes.
- A powerful swinging punch delivered from the side.
- A devious hybrid Amazon duelist who has mastered the art of killing with Charged Strike, Poison/Plague Javelin, and a dash of Guided Arrow.
They are pretty standard PvP character stats.
- Strength- Just enough to equip all of your gear
- Dexterity- Enough for max block
- Vitality- Everything you can spare
- Energy- None
There are basically two subvariants to a Sidewinder: Lightning Based and Poison Based. There are pros and cons regarding each. The Lightning Based is usually regarded as more dangerous to melee characters and the Poison is a more all-purpose build. Unless you have a way of powering up Plague/Poison Javelin (4 Facet Armor, Bramble, etc), I would suggest the Poison-Based variant as its P Javelin skills don’t need powered as they have more raw points.
- 20 Charged Strike
- 20 Lightning Bolt
- 20 Lightning Fury
- 10-13 Poison Javelin
- 7-10 Plague Javelin
- 1-6 D/E/A
- 1 Valkyrie
- 1 Guided Arrow
- 1 Critical Strike
- Rest into Poison Javelin
- 20 Charged Strike
- 20 Lightning Bolt
- 20 Poison Javelin
- 20 Plague Javelin
- 1-6 D/E/A
- 1 Valkyrie
- 1 Guided Arrow
- 1 Critical Strike
- Rest into Lighting Fury
Your +skill items will boost those passive skills to a semi-respectable level. I chose not to add more than 1 point into Dodge, Evade, and Avoid because the returns are so terrible at higher levels. 1 point in each and boosted by +skills has worked fine for me. You will have no need for attack rating or piercing so points in Penetrate and Pierce are not advisable.
Some choose not to place a point here, but if you take that route then you’ve just limited your bow options to two: The Widowmaker or Magewrath. Both give benefits to Guided Arrow which should be the only arrow you ever fire.
About the Skills
Charged Strike is an auto-hit skill, meaning that no matter how poor your attack rating is, or how high your opponent’s defense is, you will always hit. By “hit” I mean that each attempted hit will release all of your Charged Bolts, the prod still goes through the AR check. Guided Arrow, Lightning Bolt, and Lightning Fury are all auto-hit skills as well. Your Poison and Plague Javelins have attack ratings listed on the character stat screen but they matter not. The green clouds they create will poison anyone who ventures through them. So basically, opponent defense and block mean nothing to us (with the exception of blocking GA). Each lightning bolt released from Charged Strike is counted as a separate missile, so each is rolled separately when determining damage. What this means is that the more bolts that hit the target, the better your chance of doing your average damage is. However, since each bolt from CS is rolled separately, overabsorbing opponents can get mountains of health back with each strike.
- Lightning Fury: 10% lightning dmg/level
- Lightning Bolt: 10% lightning dmg/level
- Power Strike: 10% lightning dmg/level
- Lightning Strike: 10% lightning dmg/level
- Poison Javelin: 10% poison dmg/level
- Plague Javelin: 12% poison dmg/level
After +skill items, try to attain of these Charged Strike skill levels. An extra bolt hit at that level can have devastating consequences.
- Level 25 – 8 bolts
- Level 30 – 9 bolts
- Level 35 – 10 bolts
- Level 40 – 11 bolts
Depending on which skill you want to use will change where your skill points will go. Plague Javelin has comparable damage but over a much shorter time frame, making it look the better skill. However, I have found it much harder to effectively use because of its slow rate of travel and lengthy casting delay. I recommend the use of Poison Javelin over Plague Javelin in most, but not all, situations.
How should Poison Javelin be powered for *Lightning-Based* Sidewinders?
Poison-Based Sidewinders will have more powerful Poison/Plague Javelins because they simply have more raw skill points invested in them. However, Lightning-Based Sidewinders must increase their Poison attacks differently. They have three options for powering their Poison/Plague Javelins, either by maxing Poison Javelin itself, maxing Plague Javelin to synergize it, or a combination of the two. I did some tests with a 45% Bramble to help illustrate where points should be spent when trying to boost your Poison Javelin damage. The numbers in the parentheses are the skill levels after +skill items are applied while the numbers before them are the raw points spent.
- Poison Javelin -1(20)
- Plague Javelin -20(39)
- Total Poison Javelin Damage- 13,103 – 14,523 over 46 seconds = 300 average poison damage per second
In this first test we see that relying only on max synergies and +skill items to boost Poison Javelin isn’t a very good idea.
- Poison Javelin -20(39)
- Plague Javelin -1(20)
- Total Poison Javelin Damage- 27,866 – 28,341 over 84 seconds = 334 average poison damage per second
In this second test we see that maxing Poison Javelin and no synergies and relying on +skill items to boost raw Poison Javelin even further is slightly better than our first option was.
- Poison Javelin -11(30)
- Plague Javelin - 10(29)
- Total Poison Javelin Damage- 25,981 – 27,463 over 66 seconds = 404 average poison damage per second
In this test we see that an even mix of Poison Javelin and its synergy Plague Javelin is a significantly better choice than either of the above options.
- Poison Javelin – 14(33)
- Plague Javelin – 7(26)
- Total Poison Javelin Damage- 29,102 – 29,777 over 72 seconds = 408 average poison damage per second
In this final test we see that a mix of Poison Javelin and its synergy is the superior choice, not quite an even split with Poison Javelin slightly more weighted than its synergy.
I cannot give you definite, optimal skill placement regarding Poison Javelin and its synergy because gear is so varied between players. A general rule of thumb would be that Bramble users should probably split their points evenly between Poison and Plague and non-Bramble users should put more of an emphasis on getting Poison Javelin higher.
Faster Hit Recovery Breakpoints
- %FHR Needed/ Frames
- 6- 10
- 13- 9
- 20- 8
- 32- 7
- 52- 6
- 86- 5
- 174- 4
Aim for 52 or 86 faster hit recovery if you wear a Bramble, if you do not, try for 20, 32 or 52. An 8 frame FHR should be the absolute, bear minimum.
I’ve tried to list them in the order in which they are suited for this variant listed from top to bottom as best to worst (in my opinion).
- Griffon’s Eye- +1 skill, enhancing your Charged Strike bolts and lowering opponents lightning resists
- Crown of Ages- +1 skill, good damage reduction and 1-2 sockets just waiting for poison or lightning facets
- Harlequin Crest- +2 skills, nice chunk of life and mana with a little damage reduction to finish her off
- Thunderstrokes- Good skills and negative enemy lightning resists make for the perfect weapon, but always remember to repair them after every few duels so you don’t run out
- Titan’s Revenge- Good skills, faster run, huge stat bonuses…these would be a great secondary choice but the –enemy lightning resists mod isn’t found on many items and I find it too hard to pass up
- Windforce- Unless you have problems using a bow with knockback, this is the best bow in the game
- “Faith” or “Brand”- On Ladder, some very damaging bows
- Upgraded Goldstrike Arch- Very fast and a good damage output.
- Widowmaker- +3-5 Guided Arrow and unresistable magic damage.
- Cruel Elite bows- A good combination of speed and damage.
- Eaglehorn- Slower than the above bows, but packs a punch. The ITD and AR mods on it are next to useless however.
- Bramble -- This runeword armor can double or even triple your poison damage, making it leagues ahead of any other. It has great poison resists and FHR to boot.
- Chains of Honor - Great resists and +2 skills
- Jeweler’s Armor of the Whale s/4 Poison or Lightning Facets- A great “Bramble” alternative offering more life and –enemy resists.
- Enigma - Nice +2 skills and strength bonus but the Amazon's casting rate makes for a slow, clumsy Teleport
- Duriel’s Shell- A tasty exceptional armor that has great resists, some life, and CBF for freeing up a ring slot.
- Ormus Robes- A cheap armor for those who want more damage in the lightning department, not much else to offer.
- Verdungo’s Hearty Cord- This sexy little number offers 10-15% Physical damage reduction, replenish life, some FHR, and a good chunk to life. Couple this with a Stormshield and you’ve got max or next to max PDR.
String of Ears- A belt that offers 10-15% Physical damage reduction…not much else special about it but if you can’t get a Verdungo’s and need the PDR then this is your best bet.
- Trang-Oul’s Girth- If you can find 50% PDR from other gear choices, this is a good belt offering life and CBF
- Thundergod’s Vigor- A belt offering +stats, +max lightning resists and more lightning skills
- Godly Rare or Crafted- Look for 20% IAS and +2 Javelin/Spear skills among other good mods. The IAS can help your Guided Arrow as well as your Charged Strike.
- Lancer’s Gloves- +3 Javelin/Spear skills
- Trang-Oul’s Claws- 25% Increased Poison Damage seems like a lot but you’ll find yourself dealing more damage with a pair of Lancer’s.
No pair really stands out in particular, look for resistances, FRW, +life, and +stats.
- Stormshield- This is a must-have for about any PvP character, great blocking, some resists and a whopping 35% PDR. Couple this with a Verdungos or String of Ears to get a max PDR. This is the best shield and should be used about every duel. Only a 4-Perfect Topaz and a 4-Perfect Sapphire shield could be used to replace it against specific opponents.
- Bul-Kathos Wedding Band- Some minor +life and +1 all skills
- Stone of Jordan- Some mana and +1 all skills
- Ravenfrost- A great all around ring. It has CBF, 20% Cold Absorb, and dexterity to help achieve max block. The attack rating isn’t necessary, so just try and get one with +20 dexterity.
A Dwarf Star (15% Fire Absorb) and a Wisp Projector (10-20% Lightning Absorb) should be kept in the stash for specific opponents.
- Godly Rare or Crafted Amulet- +2 Amazon skills, potential for lots of life, good resists, strength, dexterity
- Mara’s Kaleidoscope- +2 skills, minor stats, and great resists
- Lancer’s Amulet- +3 Javelin and Spear skills and depending on the suffix, can have other good mods
A Nokozan Relic (Fire Resists) and an Iratha’s Collar (Poison Length Duration) should be kept in the stash for specific opponents.
- Harpoonists- +1 Javelin/Spear Skills
Also, don’t neglect FRW smalls and Annihilus
Never use your Guided Arrow as anything more than a finishing move or scare tactic, as its damage is somewhat pitiful, usually only ranging from 30-90 damage (depending on bow selection) after penalties and full opponent damage reduction.
Slow Missiles is a great skill if you can get close enough to a character to cast it, use it as necessary against ranged opponents.
In games where Life Tap is being abused via Dracul’s Grasp or Exile, neglect casting your Valkyrie and Decoy as they can be used to cast it.
After being poisoned, most opponents realize that they must end the duel quickly while they still have a decent amount of hit points. Most also realize that they cannot be poisoned again while already suffering from a poisoning. This means that after you land a Poison/Plague Javelin; expect to be rushed from most melee characters.
Are your opponents using minions? A Lightning Fury volley usually kills the pets and targets the player. It can be a great finishing move if they continually hide behind their casted creations.
Specific Character Strategies
Difficulty marked from least to greatest by stars, 1 being the easiest and 5 being the hardest. All of the characters discussed below are assumed to be of average build, skill, and items.
Bowazons- **** These were the .09 queens of PvP but now have taken a back seat to some of the more popular builds; however they can still pack quite a punch. This is a horrible match up for you as they will have much, much more Guided Arrow damage, faster shooting speeds, and will probably have more points in the Passive Evade skills so will be harder to hit. Your Charged Strike and Poison Javelin will be ineffective for most of these duels as Bowazons tend to play pretty defensively and keep the arrows coming. They also seldom get close enough for you to cast Slow Missiles, but definitely try if the opportunity presents itself. You’ll want 50% DR and patience. Dance around the houses and terrain to keep away from her. Most Bowazons’ resists are terrible so a single Poison Javelin cloud can usually drain their life to 1 which should be followed by an arrow volley of your own to finish the job. Don’t try and match them arrow for arrow, just take it easy and wait until they get close for that lucky Javelin or Slow Missiles. Hard, but not impossible.
Jabbers- * They hit hard and are hard to hit, but can be taken down without too much trouble. Their resists are usually sub par so both your poison and lightning should damage them heavily. Most Jabbers will want you to come to them because they want the first hit to avoid Dodge-lock. Start the match off right with some Poison Javelin throws. When you see they are poisoned switch to Lightning Bolt and huck away keeping an eye on your mana supply. When you see them coming towards you switch to walk mode and CS. The key is to force them into attacking you first. Jabbers just can’t negate two major forms of elemental damage and still be effective against non-pure melee opponents.
Trappers- ***** These characters are terrible on Sidewinders. They have a distinct range and stun advantage and they usually travel with a Shadow Master which is usually also very capable of dealing serious damage. To win you must play very defensive. Sporadic poison clouds, GA pot shots, and a hefty dose of luck is what is required to beat these characters.
Whirlwinders- ** With the most recent patch addition, a completely new class of Assassin has come to know its home in PvP thanks to ‘Chaos’. These girls can Dragon Flight in and chop away with whirls for surprising amounts of damage. However, most of their damage comes from Open Wounds and Venom meaning that you’ll need at least max poison resists. They should have comparable health so many times they are easy to tank. Keeping the ‘Walk’ button on, try and hit them with a Poison or Plague Javelin before shift clicking with CS as they whirl you. Some of the tricky WW’ers will realize you are a tough matchup and will try and rely Open Wounds to bring you down. Simply Dragon Flight and run, rinse and repeat tactics can really tear up your life so to prevent this always make sure you are standing in a cloud of your own poison.
BvC Whirlwinders- **** BvB Whirlwinders- *** Arguably the best melee skill in existence proves a tough matchup against good players. This is a mixed subclass as they usually fall into two distinct categories: those who can short whirl well…and those who can’t. Barbarians that are proficient short-whirlers can keep you locked up in their triangles of death, not allowing you to do anything but block, dodge, and take damage. To combat this, walk whenever possible and cast a Valk and a Decoy right next to your self to help absorb hits that are meant for you. Sit in a cloud of your poisons and make sure they must run through it to get to you. Use Charged Strike when they get close. If you consistently lose while trying to tank them using the above steps, then whittle away at their health with Poison/Plague Javelins from a distance while running around. Don’t try and tank them until their hit points have been thoroughly drained. There are BvC Barbs who dual wield weapons and standard BvB Barbs who only use one weapon and a shield and since shields are an almost moot point against Sidewinders, BvC Barbs are much more difficult and can teleport. Another thing to watch out for is if they foolishly or accidentally namelock you with their Whirlwind. When this happens just run/walk away, leading them around the Blood Moor until their mana supply is completely drained. A WW barb that is unable to whirl is a much easier opponent. Don’t expect that to happen too often however.
Wolfbarbs- ** Even with their enormous chunk of health, without proper resistance and absorb, your CS strikes can/should kick them into hit recovery animation. I’ve seen 9,000 hit points wiped away in a matter of seconds. Unless your opponent has very high resists and an absorb, his damage should be a drop in the bucket compared to yours. Although not very damaging, their attack speed is very good, meaning that Dodge lock and constant blocking can be very problematic for you. If you find yourself in this situation, then fall back on your poison damage. Don’t cast a Valk or Decoy in this matchup as that allows Feral Rage charging and insane amounts of speed.
Rabies- ** This class is usually never just pure Rabies and backs it up with either Fire Claws or Fury. You must try your best to avoid a Rabies bite as that can mean almost certain death. Wereform Druids have no catchup attacks like Charge or ranged spells like Fireball meaning they must rely on their own running power to catch you. I’ll stress appropriate amounts of FRW for this duel and if you can run them through a couple poison clouds their life should be lowered considerably. A strategy for characters like this I like to use is simply this: After dumping some poison into them, I continue running around with them chasing me. I usually pick a pattern, like around a box or a zigzag pattern in the middle of the Moor and have them chase me through the whole ordeal a few times. Then, instead of following suit with the pattern, you turn sharply right back towards them and unload a CS into them and (if they didn’t die) continue running the opposite direction, but in the same pattern as before. Half of the time this catches them off guard and gives you a free hit. It works very well against most Melee characters that have lowered life. Also remember that, unlike most poison-based skills, Rabies can actually kill opponents.
Wind- **** A Wind Druid has Cyclone Armor which can absorb mountains of elemental damage so our lightning attacks do little against them. Do not try and tank them either as the Tornados wreak havoc on your D/E/A skills and FHR. Anticipating where they will teleport and leaving poison trails for them is about the only way to bring them down. Use Lightning Fury if they minion stack. The poison goes right through their armor and a lone GA is usually all that is needed to finish them off.
Bone- ***** Ah, a very hard matchup. Treat them about like Bowazons. Well placed poison clouds are what it takes to win this. Just one or two and you can expect most Bone Necromancers to have 1 life. Their Bone Armors are usually more than a match for your meager Guided Arrow, so ignore that as a finishing move and use Lightning Strike or Lightning Fury if they are using minions. Be weary of Bone Walls and Prisons created to keep you pinned in. Try and keep him on your minimap at all times because if you cannot see him, he cannot see you and IBS is much more of a factor. Wise use of terrain can help you immensely in this fight.
Poison- * This class commonly subtracts well over 100 of its enemy’s poison resists. You may want to consider wearing Sandstorm Trek boots or a Carrion Wind ring for additional stacked resists (as well as Antidotes). Iratha’s collar and Death’s gloves can also give you much needed PLR. When fighting a Nova Necro, always remember that you have the range advantage unless he teleports. Well-placed Poison Javelins, Lightning Bolts, and Guided Arrow potshots should wear away at their life and patience. If you have stacked resists, I don’t see many losses to this class.
Hammerdin- **** Hammers are a very defensive skill but good teleporting can make them extremely effective. They must teleport close to cast hammers right on top of you so knowing this you can sit in your own Plague Javelins. If you can get him poisoned he will probably go down with a Guided Arrow or Lightning Bolt. Just try and keep away from him after he’s been poisoned.
Zealot- *** Plague Javelin the area and stand behind a Decoy in case he opens with a charge, then as you see him coming cast a Valkeryie behind him. This will force him to Zeal behind him, giving you more time to place CS attacks of your own. All his precious defense won’t mean a thing against a Sidewinder. You can’t usually run Paladins through poison cloud after poison cloud to wear down their life globe as their Charge and/or Vigor is usually much faster than your own FRW. Again, you must use terrain to your advantage in this duel. Stay in and around “puddled” areas to help counter his Charge.
V/T- **** This is a very item dependent duel. You will need a 4-socketed shield with multiple perfect topazes as well as one form of absorb, usually achieved from a Thundergod’s Vigor or a Wisp Projector. Also make sure you have an acceptable amount of FHR and PDR to combat Smite. These duels can vary so much depending on the play style of your opponents. In some, they will open with Charge, in others they will try to get a Conviction lock for FoH right away, and in others still they’ll simply walk at you with Smite. Just keep pumping the air with poison and adapt to the different situations. Keep him guessing between poisonings with GA pot shots, but always make sure to switch to your 4 PTopaz shield when your opponent is going for the Conviction lock.
Blizzard- *** This is another very item dependent duel. For this one, you’ll want to put on your 4 Perfect Sapphire shield (and Thawing potions). That is 160% stacked cold resist on one item. Dart around in a sporadic manner and don’t let them force you to the edge of the map. Use Guided Arrow potshots to plink away at life and keep them on edge. Your poison can be useful against sloppy teleporters but otherwise it’s almost as useless as your CS. Even with enormous resistances, Blizzard still hurts very badly so you must do your best to avoid their attacks. Treat them like a V/T in that you don’t want to be caught with your bow out when they drop one of their attacks on you. The occasional arrow volley or Lightning keeps them weary and again you’ll probably have to rely on poison clouds to lower their life. Unless you can get them with one of your Poison/Plague Javelins this duel can be a tough match. Just play it safe and smart and you can usually come out fine.
- Note on Energy Shield Sorceress variants, poison and open wounds bypass it, making Poison Javelin your best friend in these match ups.
- Icebird’s “Halo” and Solaris’ “venom_lance” for the inspiration needed to make this variant
- The collective SPTN, you guys are great
- sam manzanza, Kabal, TDK, and all the others who helped me test