Guide:Pure Lightning Amazon v1.10, by Ugla
Strategy guide info:
- Version: v1.10+
- Game type: PvM
- Character: Pure Lightning Amazon
- Author: Ugla
- 1 The Fury - Guide to a pure Lightning Javazon, D2 LoD 1.11
- 2 Description
- 3 Statpoints
- 4 About skills
- 5 Breakpoints
- 6 Progress
- 7 What next?
- 8 Gear
- 9 Remarks
- 10 Tactics
- 11 Merc
- 12 Build Customizations
- 13 Conclusion
The Fury - Guide to a pure Lightning Javazon, D2 LoD 1.11
To overcome any wrong assumptions, know that I am (not the Overmind but) two Bers and a certain mod away from 'Infinity'. Looking at the results of massive LK-running where many players showed unbelievable endurance, the Moron's stick of Imbalance suddenly seems to be more than a distant dream. With majority of players using RWM nowadays, many of them aiming past mid-nineties, it should not be overlooked. However, this guide is not concerned with one particular item and is about to present one of the most powerful builds available.
Based on various threads and questions concerning javazons I eventually decided to write a guide summarizing the most important aspects into a single and, hopefully, consistent whole. Javazon was my very first character after starting again in 1.10 and remains my favorite build ever since. There is the old Jek's guide on lightning javazons in the stickies which contains description of skills and gear, but lacks a more complex strategy section.
We will focus on a specific javazon build that will hereafter be referred to as the Fury. The whole text is divided in two major parts: the first one contains build description and progress (stats, skills, gear), while the second one deals with future tasks (after finishing the game).
First of all, why a pure lightning zon? While being generally accepted, they are not as popular as the hybrid variants, namely LF/FA and LF/PJ. The reason seems obvious - the lightning immunes (LIs). Is it really so? Are they a problem worth 40+ points in backup skills? Note that none of them matches well with her primary skills - they are either from different chart or require different tactics which sort of reduces their efficiency. A good number of LIs are breakable, while the rest can be dealt with using physical attacks with minimal skill-point investment, keeping the lightning skills at full power.
Fury is an amazon build with maxed Charged Strike (CS), Lightning Fury (LF), Lightning Strike (LS), Power Strike or Lightning Bolt, and with one point in Evade, Pierce, and all prerequisites. She is devoted to lightning damage and uses the Lower Resistance charges or physical attacks against the LIs. The core build is finished at clvl79 with 90 skill-points spent. The magic skills (left branch of Passive&Magic tree) are optional as well as any bow skills. The customizations depend on our goals and will be discussed later.
Fury should be considered a melee build, despite the fact she possesses one of the most devastating ranged attacks available. She is typically fighting on the front line, and her attributes must respect that. It is a notable difference compared to hybrids which rely a lot more on LF, attacking from safer distance.
The build combines a potent boss-killer (CS) with the ultimate weapon of mass destruction (LF). Both of them work instantly, don't have any cooldown, and the lightning component hits automatically. Their power is so vast that once the enemy immunity is broken, even a small fraction of the original damage is still a considerable amount. Using only a small number of skills, Fury is easy to play even for less experienced players.
To complement the offensive part, she possesses several defensive means as well. The range of 3, common for all javelins, gives her a small but important distance from most of the melee attackers during her first strike. High dexterity necessary to wield her innate weapons combined with fast block rate result in very nice block. In addition, she has the passive skills giving her a fair chance to dodge any type of attack. Finally, three points of life per one point in vita provide her with enough life to sustain some heavy blows that pass through.
Let's start with the infamous D/A/E bug (derived from the first letters of Dodge, Avoid, and Evade) which affects more or less every amazon attack-skill. Whenever one of the three life-savers gets triggered during her attack, the amazon misses as well. This extends to the whole cycles rendering Fend useless in combination with D/A/E. Jab is more feasible thanks to shorter cycle, but gets crippled on lightning enchanted (LE) bosses. Their 75% bonus to lightning resistance (LR) often helps them attain immunity in the first place.
A large number of attackers can actually prevent the amazon from doing ANY damage due to this bug, esp. if she is already slowed (e.g. decrepified). Skipping the D/A/E skills is a dangerous route - I remind you this is a melee build with not exactly much life. These skills significantly reduce the damage received, and there are ways to minimize their drawback. Increased attack speed (IAS) helps a lot, as do any tanks.
The well known misery of the amazon is her slow casting rate. You should better remember this when running for your life in Hardcore (HC) trying to cast a Town Portal. The casting animation is skipped when using TP scrolls from belt, but it's considered cheesy by many, and most of the HC tourneys forbid that. Slow casting also degrades the magic skills, esp. Slow Missiles (SM) and Inner Sight (IS). There is another moment where Faster Cast Rate (FCR) plays its role - when cursing the enemies with Lower Resistance.
Last but not least is the running speed. The amazon doesn't have any skill to speed up her movement. She can only use Teleport charges to a limited extent (poor casting, remember). Fortunately, several useful amazon items come with Faster Run/Walk (FRW) mod which also frequently appears on charms. Fury can never be fast enough as she spreads havoc at the speed of lightning.
Energy is better left at base as usual because of the severe imbalance in life/mana ratio. The rest gets more complicated.
Let's start with vitality. While there is hardly any sufficient amount of life in HC, we can consider 220+ points in vita acceptable depending on our play-style. Honestly, Fury is not optimized for HC. She is way too powerful on melee, and that power is just tempting. As long as there are bugs in the game capable of instant-killing a character with ~1k life (i.e. forever), she will be either careful (and thus no longer a Fury) or dead. With 250+ points in vita and adequate gear she's "reasonably safe".
There are many interesting items for twinked chars which require huge amounts of strength (156 or even more). Those are neither necessary to finish the game, nor likely to be found while questing. Still, all elite weapons have high str demands (87 for Matriarchal Bow, 107 for Matriarchal Javelin), and we'll probably need one if we don't want to park every other LI or waste too much time killing them.
If untwinked, we should try to keep max or close to max block and thus will favor dexterity instead or put more points into the evasion skills. The Matriarchal Javelins have the dexterity requirement of 151 which ensures a very nice block.
CS - Fury enjoys the full power of this skill which allows her to rip through the toughest of foes. Nothing but the LIs is sufficiently resistant. A small drawback is that the enormous power is hard to control. Things used to be a lot worse back in 1.10 with lethal fire enchanted (FE) bosses. CS is also used against the breakable LIs.
Starting with slvl5, CS receives one more bolt every five levels in addition to "regular" damage increase. These levels (..20,25,30,..) are therefore interesting breakpoints to aim for when optimizing our gear. Word has it that the damage is rolled for each individual bolt which makes CS more reliable compared to other lightning skills (chances for the average damage are much higher than for the extreme values).
LF and Pierce - as far as speed and physical damage are concerned, LF works like a regular javelin throw. Upon hitting the target or a wall, slvl+1 bolts are released which automatically hit the nearest foes. When Pierce is available, the original javelin has a chance to pass through (monsters, not walls) and hit subsequent targets, causing multiple (up to five) bursts. That makes LF extremely devastating against large packs of monsters once a decent chance to pierce is achieved. High-level Pierce has diminishing returns, offering 75% chance at slvl12 and 85% chance at slvl20. Unique belt Razortail adds 33% to this chance, resulting in total 100% chance to pierce at slvl9+ or 98% chance at slvl8. In twinked play such values are achievable with just one hard-point in Pierce.
When playing untwinked and without further plans after finishing the game, we should add more points into Pierce since they cause a big increase in damage output. The chance to pierce at least N-times (N<5) is the base chance to the power of N. Subtracting the values for N and N+1, we get the chances for the exact number (1..5) of bursts. Now we can compute the average damage multiplier in the case of "sufficiently dense" pack. See the results in the table below - quite a difference compared to weak synergy bonuses!
Valkyrie - arguably the most powerful of the summons and the ultimate tank. She provides enormous help in untwinked play as well as a lot of comfort when Baal-running. Since the definition of Fury already includes the D/A/E skills, Valkyrie represents a 4pt investment on top of the core build by adding the remaining magic skills. She spawns with random gear and thus may be able to inflict other types of damage than physical. A single hard point in Valkyrie also prevents the CtC valkyrie from 'Peace' armor from desertion (yet another bug). When building high-level Valkyrie, players usually aim for slvl17 (including +skills) where she receives a War Pike. Since we mostly need her to tank, we can get along with smaller investment. If she dies too much, we simply add another point.
We can, of course, skip Valkyrie completely if we prefer to sacrifice comfort rather than damage. For dedicated Pindle/Cow runner a valkyrie is redundant, and those points are better spent in the last synergy. That can potentially be maxed at clvl98 if we are into maximizing lightning damage.
Magic skills - they are limited by slow casting. Moreover, Fury embodies a raw power which has little use for tricks and finesse. IS reduces enemy defense improving the chance to hit, but takes the time of approximately three jabs. SM requires precise timing to be more helpful than dangerous. It works better in combination with Decoy, it's just that the decoy usually lasts long enough for the valkyrie to move in and take care of the job. SM still helps against tough LE bosses by softening the D/A/E bug. Decoy is the king - a great scouting and crowd control skill castable at long distance.
See the breakpoints article for these tables and more, for all characters in the game.
Faster Hit Recovery
- %FHR Frames
- 0 11
- 6 10
- 13 9
- 20 8
- 32 7
- 52 6
- 86 5
- 174 4
- 600 3
Faster Block Rate
- %FBR Frames
- 0 5
- 13 4
- 32 3
- 86 2
- 600 1
According to the F&F archive, the amazon has awfully slow blocking when wielding swinging weapons - which includes the wands. That makes daggers/throwing daggers much better choice for the LR-switch!
Faster Casting Rate
- %FCR Frames
- 0 19
- 7 18
- 14 17
- 22 16
- 32 15
- 46 14
- 68 13
- 99 12
- 152 11
Lightning Fury (amazon javelins)
- %IAS Frames
- 0 14
- 6 13
- 16 12
- 30 11
- 52 10
- 89 9
Charged Strike (amazon javelins)
- %IAS Frames
- 0 11
- 10 10
- 26 9
- 50 8
- 95 7
Jab (amazon javelins)
- %IAS Frames
- 0 8
- 2 7.5
- 7 7
- 15 6.5
- 24 6
- 40 5.5
- 63 5
- 99 4.5
- 168 4
- 395 3.5
Pierce (damage multipliers)
- slvl damage*
- 0 100%
- 1 130%
- 2 151%
- 3 170%
- 4 191%
- 5 211%
- 6 226%
- 7 243%
- 8 253%
- 9 272%
- 10 283%
- 11 294%
- 12 305%
- 13 317%
- 14 330%
- 15 336%
- 16 350%
- 17 350%
- 18 357%
- 19 364%
- 20 371%
- 100%p. 500%
Javelins are decent weapons in the early stages of the game, even the cracked ones, and throwing saves any useless running (out of stamina namely). That's why we put all stat-points into vitality for now. We take Critical Strike first, then Jab and ev. IS. We collect the chippies to equip our rogue with a gemmed bow. At clvl6 we acquire Dodge, Poison Javelin and Power Strike, raise strength so we might use studded leather armors (str 27) and continue with dexterity to improve our attack rating (AR). There is no need to raise vitality atm., but we may put some more points into strength in case we found some useful set/unique.
Unless we plan to max Lightning Bolt (PvP), we put more points into Power Strike to make things easier before eventually getting CS. We also take the prerequisites for Strafe/Valk if we opt for those skills. Saving skill-points for smooth CS&LF progress in the early 30's is an overkill which would only slow us down now. From clvl18 on our job is pretty straightforward: boost CS, kill mobs, and pour stat-points into vitality. Act2 merc can be hired instead of a rogue to tank the Scarabs. We'll try to cube some sapphires for more mana and combine them with any Tirs and other mana/kill (m/k) stuff we happen to find. During the battles we stay away from LE bosses and use Poison/Plague Javelin or gemmed bow on switch. The act bosses are weak on melee, esp. Diablo with his otherwise deadly lightning hose.
As we approach the end of normal, we raise dexterity to meet the requirements for ceremonial javelins (dext 109). There is a chance of finding a decent rare, and it would be a shame to waste such an opportunity. Because of the 12-lvl difference between our main skills, CS has already grown strong enough so we could focus on LF, using the Tyrael's reward to get the first points in Pierce and Valkyrie. With LF in our arsenal the world becomes a messy yet quiet place. Read the "LF and Pierce" section before investing additional points into Pierce.
I don't remember any trouble throughout the Nightmare after finding a nice javelin with replenishing property. Well, there is one thing. My latest javazon died the first time upon the FE Smith in the Barracks. Those blasts were not nerfed on NM, take care! After maxing LF we resume CS and then proceed with LS. In addition to enjoying our trip we should start looking for some gear that will take us through Hell.
The essential mod is Cannot be Frozen (CBF). 'Rhyme' shield is the most likely source when going untwinked though not even a Shael is guaranteed to drop for us. We should always be able to cube an Eth from lower runes if it doesn't drop directly. Next, we'll take some time and buy the dagger/wand of Lower Resistance and Life Tap. Our gloves should have 20%IAS, boots at least 20%FRW plus some resists. 'Lore' helm or imbued circlets make for a nice headgear, and gambling is a good source of jewelry if we are not content with our finds. Act5 rewards can be used to socket the armor with some of the resist runes. The last item we need is a weapon with high physical damage for the unbreakable LIs. If nothing decent drops, and Anya doesn't help us either, we will gamble, shop, twink, or suffer. As Hrus once said, a healthy amount of FRW solves the problem as well.
About the LIs
The majority of monsters on Hell difficulty spawn with one innate immunity, i.e. 100% or higher resistance to a given element, about one fourth of them being LIs. Their LR falls in 100-120% range (sorted by 5% steps). Lower Resistance curse works with 1/5 effectiveness against immunes which yields -37%/5=-7% at slvl2. While this suffices to break monsters with 105%LR, it's hardly worth it (2% damage dealt) until we find some gear with %penalty to enemy LR (-eLR). This mod alone cannot overcome the immunity, but greatly increases damage done to broken enemies. Monsters with 110+%LR are unbreakable by low-level charges.
Though the -eLR mod only comes on few items which are unlikely to be found while questing, the largest group of LIs are the 100%LR ones. That makes cursing (using the LR-switch) a valuable strategy in vanilla SP. Against the remaining foes we must rely on physical attacks. These, however, depend on AR and can be blocked or resisted (Stone Skin). Let's take a look at the available skills:
Attack - the cheapest choice for a bow. Nothing special but sometimes better than Jab, esp. if we have a crappy javelin or don't wish to risk a melee encounter.
Magic Arrow - a nice improvement for mere one point. MA is a great secondary skill for any amazon (except for the MA-zon where it's the primary skill).
Multiple Shot - on higher levels MS outperforms Strafe against large packs, provided there are any left after sorting out the non-LIs. We need some +skills and mana leech to make a good use of MS.
Guided Arrow - sort of waste unless we already go for Strafe. Why the hell it requires Cold Arrow has always been a mystery to me, same as the necessity of MS for Exploding Arrow. I guess Blizzard found the chart with three independent columns boring. With additional levels GA's damage grows up. Besides, it has auto-hit.
Strafe - a popular skill perfect against smaller groups and decent against single targets.
Jab - incredibly powerful skill for a mere prerequisite which is further boosted by +java-skills. Unfortunately, it suffers from the D/A/E bug (see above), and javelins have generally lower damage than bows or crossbows.
Crushing Blow (CB) is always a nice complement to physical attacks, namely to fast hitting Jab and Strafe. Crafted Blood gloves are easily affordable receipt.
More important thing is to overcome monsters' regeneration, esp. of any Stone Skin bosses. I am somehow skeptical about the wide-spread belief that added poison damage solves the problem. There are notable jumps in monsters' health the moment the poison wears off. As if those bastards knew how much health they should have regenerated in the meantime. I'm not saying poison doesn't work at all (except for poison immunes), but it certainly has its limits. We have two poison skills as prerequisites, out of which Plague Javelin surprisingly works better despite its shorter duration. I have no experience with Open Wounds or Prevents Monster Heal mods, just heard PMH doesn't work on a merc.
I have tried different means to combat the LIs while questing, and their efficiency depends on monsters' type, location, merc, available gear, etc. Why not to change strategy when appropriate?
Aside from weak Skeletons and slow Hungry Dead act1 hosts packs of nasty LI archers. Decoy and SM are useful here. In HC we should better restrain from using Strafe unless we really trust our tanks. Archers on Hell gain a strong elemental component added to their damage, and the missing shield typically carries (away in this case) a crucial portion of our resistances! Packs of Tainted are also not to be trifled with.
Maggot's Lair cries for a bow due to its topology and presence of Scarabs, namely their FE bosses hiding past the corners. Strafe is the king here as long as we can keep the moron ahead of us. Hollow Ones are the only LI version of Greater Mummies. I don't remember them ever commanding an army of LI skeletons, but who knows. The good old luring away is always an option, and some source of cold damage can help as well. If we insist on clearing the Cellars, we will likely face some Horror archers, while the Tombs can host hordes of skelLIes.
Act3 jungles are rather annoying than dangerous and one of the few places where MS shines. Zealots in Travincal are less sturdy than their namesakes from Starcraft, and once we take down their support (Hierophant healers), they won't last long. The Council has several LI members dealing some serious damage - they should not be underestimated. LF is a bane of Stygian Dolls, just make sure they are NOT swarming under your feet before "pulling the trigger". Some remaining LI Councils reside in Durance lvl3. We employ the LR-switch on Mephisto to cut through his 75%LR, and the first one of the Three bites the dust.
The Burning Souls in Plains of Despair are unbreakable and extremely annoying since the entire area is one large shooting-range. If anyone ever experienced the full-LI City of the Damned after finally getting rid of those Souls, I would not blame you for rushing towards the exit. Storm Casters in the Chaos Sanctuary are breakable, and big D has developed a paranoia towards the build capable of undoing him in less than a second.
Throughout the last act we may encounter various LI guest monsters as well as powerful Night Lords (LI Frenzytaurs). Luckily, many notorious adversaries are now breakable including the Souls, thus we should reach the Summit without much trouble.
The fastest way to beat the Ancients is to curse them with Life Tap and rush them head-on with CS, then break Madawc (LI thrower) and finish him off. Seriously, what else would you expect from our ferocious lady? Alternatively, we run in circles throwing LF to eliminate the non-LIs before charging the rest. Another pack of javelins is always handy. According to the Arreat Summit (the webpage), Madawc's LR is only 100% which means he's breakable unless he spawns with some additional resist-mod. Physical attacks are inefficient against his Shout-boosted defense. Multiple LIs can be either re-rolled or separated.
WSK1 can host a mixture of LIs with healing on top of that. We must employ LF to eliminate the priests before dealing with the rest. A detailed section on Baal-runs will follow, covering the last stage of the game.
Twinked Progress (by Hrus)
I am sure the players used to twinked play have already adopted their own style and have their favorite weapons and armors. I will just list a few items together with their level requirements which are in my opinion really good..
- lvl 1 - stamina potions - yeah, you don't want to walk especially without FRW
- lvl 1 - Khalim's Will - fast and strong weapon. Some people consider using this one cheesy and prefer special mauls or axes socketed with jewels for low levels
- lvl 3 - Hsaru's Boots - 20%FRW - it's the earliest FRW in the game you can use.
- lvl 6 - Death set - gloves + belt combo gives you CBF, 50%PR+ 75%Poison length reduction (handy against Andariel), 30%IAS and 15%resist all
- lvl 14 - Vidala's Fetlock - 30%FRW, +150 Stamina
- lvl 15 - 1.09 Ravenclaw - ultimate twinking weapon - shoots slvl30 explosive arrows on normal attack. If you don't want to use this weapon (some find it cheesy again), you will probably switch to javelin skills - Power Strike first, and CS a moment later. Equip +mana gear if you don't want to drink mana potions too often: socketed breast plate with sapphires, socketed helm with sapphires, snake charms
- lvl 16 - Twitchthroe - another +20%IAS and 20%block on top of it
- lvl 27 - 'Lore' helm - +1 skills and 30%LR
- lvl 29 - Skin of the Vipermagi - +1 skills and up to +35%resist all
- lvl 29 - The Stone of Jordan - ultimate ring with +1 skills and +25%mana
- lvl 31 - Moser's Blessed Circle - one of the best shields - probably end-game worthy
- lvl 32 - Razortail - piercing is ultimate with LF
- lvl 42 - Titan's Revenge - one of the end-game weapons
- lvl 42 - Javelin skillers - after you equip ~6 of these and Titan's Revenge, you will become the ultimate killing machine
- lvl 45 - Ravenfrost - ring with CBF, Dext, AR bonus, and cold absorb
- lvl 45 - Lancer's Gloves of Alacrity - the best gloves for this build
- lvl 47 - Thundergod's Vigor - +10% maximum LR, +3 LF and nice Str and Vita bonus
- lvl 62 - Harlequin's Crest - most likely your end-game helm, huge mana and life bonus, +2 skills, 10%DR and 50%MF. Esp. the mana/lvl is really nice mod.
- lvl 67 - Mara's Kaleidoscope - +2 skills and up to +30%resist all
- lvl 69 - Thunderstroke - your 2nd option, -15% eLR and +15%IAS are great, but this javelin lacks replenish
- lvl 76 - Griffon's Eye - -15-20% eLR, +10-15% lightning damage, +1 skills
Hint: You don't need to twink super-offensive gear, this build is very strong on its own from the beginning. It's better to twink +mana items and enjoy the lightning skills with higher comfort provided by larger mana pool.
Although not exactly comfortable to beat Hell (esp. untwinked), Fury is reasonably fast. She may have a hard time at certain places with bad spawns, esp. if we skip the Valkyrie, but it's nothing unbearable. However, her journey doesn't end with the destruction of the World Stone and reaching the Matriarch/Guardian title. The next move is to make an efficient magic-finder and lvl99 adept. We will examine those tasks in detail and find her some suitable gear.
If we seek a safe place to level up before starting with Baal, Edritch is a suitable target (past Frigid Highlands WP). With a bit of luck he can drop some useful items as well. Honestly, the only TC87 of any value for this build is the elusive Griffon's eye. Everything else can drop from Hell Mephisto or earlier. Use a sorceress to farm Meph for some basic stuff if you wish.
The World Stone Keep - Map and Monsters
The good news is that there is only one unbreakable LI kind amongst the WSK bestiary - the Horror Mages spawning on the third floor. They shoot small bolts of lightning which are almost harmless once we have maxed out our LR. On the same floor we may encounter Storm Casters (Chaos Sanctuary refugees). They apparently haven't drained enough of our mana back then and come back for another round. However, they are still breakable, and their damage has not improved either.
Unlike the previous foes, Steel Scarabs (LI) in WSK2 are extremely aggressive and overwhelm a single merc very quickly. Fortunately, their close formation makes cursing easy, and LF works wonders afterwards. Weaker yet tricky are the Fiends - LI bats with powerful shocking attack. They are hard to spot in dark corridors and can easily surprise an unaware player.
The trademark of WSK and nightmare of HC players are the Souls: Black in WSK2 and Burning in the Throne. Their powerful lightning damage further scaling with player settings (ps) poses a threat even for characters with 75%LR and tears apart those fooling around with crappy resists. While a properly equipped Fury should handle them easily, she may fall prey to their vile support. Curses (Lower Resistance, Decrepify) and auras (Conviction, Holy Freeze) leave her more vulnerable by either immobilizing her or piercing her resistances.
Aside from casting curses, the Oblivion Knight (OK) bosses often spawn LI (unbreakable). Due to the Iron Maiden (IM) threat, it's recommended to kill everything else before jabbing them to death (they cast Decrepify when in melee range). Sadly, it is not that uncommon to meet two of them at the same place, leaving ranged attacks the only safe way to fight them.
The biggest immediate threat are the Undead Soul Killers - exploding dolls spawning in the Throne. They are often accompanied by Hell Witches or OKs whose Amplify Damage boosts their death-blasts even more. A single untimely LF, several failed rolls (block, dodge), and it's good bye!
Extra strong Death Lords are capable of beating the merc in one-on-one duel, thus we need to tank for him. Otherwise lazy Assailants become dangerous once the speed ratio has been reversed (e.g. they are fanatic, and we are decrepified). We will ignore any LI/PI witches (Hell Temptress LE bosses) on the third floor and just run past them unless we have a lot of time.
Statistically worst floor is WSK2 (Souls, Scarabs, Fiends) where the "one-corner" topology wins. We can try to roll one with an attached MF-circle and run it when no LIs spawn. WSK3 should host multiple bosspacks along the way (if we are into MF) and preferably not spawn Horror Mages too frequently.
Sorted by importance, these are: CBF, LR, -eLR, IAS, +skills, mana regain, FRW, other resists, other mods. The first two are essential for survival, the next four ensure decent killing speed, and we just want to be as fast as possible.
There are only few sources of CBF in the game. Our ultimate choice will probably be Ravenfrost. The all-around 'Rhyme' was already mentioned in the progress section, and Duriel's Shell is another decent pick in the economy class.
We have multiple strong choices for headgear. Griffon's Eye (+1skills, -15-20%eLR, +10-15%lightning damage, 25%FCR) wins in terms of damage, but also rarity. Valkyrie Wing (+1-2ama, 20%FHR, 20%FRW, 2-4m/k) is much easier to find. Rare Circlets/Tiaras have the potential to be the best all-around choice (+2ama, resists, FRW, +str/dext, 2os), but only few of them beat Harlequin's Crest (+2skills, +1.5mana&life/lvl, 50%MF, 10%DR), aka Shako. Andariel's Visage (+2skills, 20%IAS, +25-30str, +70%PoR, -30%FR, LL) is more than a renowned merc helm if we deal with its FR penalty.
Since 'Peace' fails to provide us with a stable valkyrie unless we already have one ourselves, its +2ama is the only major benefit. That's not the case of heavy Arkaine's Valor (+2skills, 0.5vita/lvl, 10-15PDR) and both top RWs: 'Chains of Honor' (+2skills, 65%resists, +20str, 25%MF, 8%DR) and the fabled 'Enigma' (+2skills, 45%FRW, 0.75str/lvl, 1%MF/lvl, +5%life, 8%DR, Teleport). Skullder's Ire (1.25MF/lvl, +1skills, 10MDR, autorepair) and Tal Rasha's Guardianship (88%MF, 40%FR&CR&LR, 15MDR) are more affordable MF armors. Until 1.10, the low-end Twitchthroe (20%IAS, +25%block, 20%FHR, +10str&dext) was arguably the best offensive armor available. It was eventually beaten by 'Treachery' (45%IAS, CtC Fade&Venom) when 1.11 came out.
===Shield=== The shield either constitutes the core of our defense (resists, block) or further boosts our damage (+skills, socketed Rainbow Facets). 'Sanctuary' (50-70%resists, 20%FHR, +20dext, 7MDR) and Moser's Blessed Circle (25%resists, 2os) are the foremost defensive pieces with adequate block. The RW is potentially superior, but with such a wide range that I'm still gaining courage to make one. RWM 'Spirit' is the only shield with +2skills, while Head Hunter's Glory (3os, 20-30%FR, 30-40%PR) is one of the faceting adepts, along with artisan's (3os) or jeweler's (4os) blues. Spirit Ward (30-40%resists, CtC Fade, 6-11cold absorb) and Medusa Gaze (CtC Lower Resist, 20%slow) have very special mods, but also insane str demands. Stormshield (35%DR, +30str, 60%CR, 25%LR) is more viable thanks to its own str bonus.
Magic and rare rings have only few decent properties beyond resists (i.e. MF, ML) to threaten the ruling pair: Ravenfrost (CBF, 20%cold absorb, +15-20dext, +40mana, 15-45cold damage) and Stone of Jordan (+1skills, +25%mana, +20mana). On the other hand, both Highlord's Wrath (+1skills, 20%IAS, 35%LR) and Mara's Kaleidoscope (+2skills, 20-30%resists, +5attributes) are owned by top rare amulets (+2skills, resists, LR, +str/dext, MF, teleport charges). Blood crafts come with 5-10%FRW, while Safety amulets receive +1-10%block.
There are two main candidates for this slot: Razortail (+33%pierce, +15dext, +10max.damage) and Thundergod's Vigor (+10%max.LR, +20lightning absorb, +20str&vita, +3LF&LS). I prefer Thundergod's when running WSK on higher ps where Souls really hurt, and stick with Razortail at /p1. A reasonable compromise between safety and performance is to carry Razortail in cube and swap it prior to waves.
Magic Lancer's gloves of Alacrity (+3jav, 20%IAS) are only beaten by dream rares or blood-crafts (+2jav, 20%IAS, MF, +str/dext, resists). I've spent about 5-6 hours shopping Anya and Gheed (via red portals) for the former, and never succeeded to find or craft the latter.
Rare boots spawn with only few junk mods, which means that dream items (30%FRW, 2-3resists <~40%, MF) actually drop. No uniques or sets can match that, though it's likely to find decent Natalya's Soul (40%FRW, 15-25%LR&CR) first. War Traveler (25%FRW, 30-50%MF, +10vita&str, +15-25damage) have the highest MF, but at the cost of precious resists.
We need at least some -eLR to be effective against breakable LIs which means that Thunderstroke (-15%eLR, +2-4jav, 15%IAS) will likely be our weapon of choice for quite some time. If we manage to get -eLR from other sources (facets, Griffon's), two more options open for us: Titan's Revenge (+2ama, +2jav, 30%FRW, +20str&dext, replenish, increased stack, LL) and dream rares (+2ama, +3jav, 40%IAS, replenish, increased stack).
We will break the LIs using dagger/throwing dagger of Lower Resistance. The ones with slvl3 charges drop from Baal - check the rares/blues! They can also be shopped by high level characters. Another option is ethereal Demon's Arch (232-323 fire damage, LL, replenish) - that's what jjscud used on his ShieldMaiden (the only javazon at SPF to reach clvl99).
Let's check the above list of important mods. Is LR maxed out? IAS is not available, but skillers are great, esp. those with FRW. Some mana, resists, and more FRW never hurt. The rest can be stuffed with MF, +life, FHR, whatever.
I've used the general term mana regain as one of the desired mods. Out of all possible means to regain mana: leech, per kill, regeneration, damage taken goes to mana, shrines, visiting a healer, leveling-up.. (ok, seriously) the best one is simply to have a lot of mana (SoJ, Shako, charms, etc.) and drink a potion if necessary. Note that in addition to mediocre AR our worst enemies are unleechable undead. If our rare javelin has the m/k mod, or we opt for VW, it's just fine, but don't expect this alone will do. Just for comparison - I found myself drinking more mana potions with +4m/k VW than with Shako.
I strongly suggest at least 55%IAS when going valkless to hit 10-frame LF and 8-frame CS. Merc is a mindless tank and if we don't want the block/hit recovery and D/A/E to cripple our offense, we need to strike fast. The last breakpoints are hard to achieve without 'Treachery'. 'Treachery' has one more benefit regarding speed - when the lvl15 Fade triggers, the curses duration (including Decrepify) is reduced by impressive 79%! This is extremely useful when fighting the OKs, esp. with the 60% bonus to resists and 15%DR countering the temporary effects of Lower Resist and Amp/Decrep.
The choice between 75% and higher LR is a question of play-style (see belt section). Fire can be left at ~45% and cold at ~15% if we use Ravenfrost. Poison is often underestimated, but in fact more important than fire or cold! The second floor of WSK is infested with poison sources, and the rest doesn't get much better due to the OKs presence. A column of antidotes is certainly worth its space. To prevent any misinterpretation - it is natural to reach (or at least near) the all-75% state with optimal gear. Such gear, however, takes some time to collect (esp. charms). For start, maxed resists are the luxury which goes at the expense of killing speed. Check the priorities again! E.g. until we find a 11%CR/3%FRW charm, we will use the plain 3%FRW unless our CR really sucks. The goal is not to quit drinking healing potions, but to storm the place in an instant!
Why is breaking more efficient than the other options to combat the LIs? Because we're using the very same skills our gear has been optimized for. Slvl35 CS releases 10 bolts with ~1-6k damage each (depending on synergies), i.e. ~30k average damage. Consider a 100%LR monster, slvl3 Lower Resistance, and -15%eLR. Such monster takes (41/5+15)%=23%=~6.9k damage regardless of our AR. This is more than the maximum amount (=6.8k) of /p1 hitpoints the toughest WSK LIs have! No physical attack can match that. Hell, not even FA or PJ can. Yes, there are unbreakables (Horror Mages, bosses), Storm Casters are spread making mass-cursing impossible. But all those can easily be left alone, which is actually the best we can do until we find some -eLR gear. What matters are the Souls with their poison immunity, 33%CR and 90%DR. Getting Reaper's or Demon's Arch is not easy either, nor is maxing LR without a shield!
The difference between MF and leveling gear is not big. Basically it's about sacrificing some IAS (1-2 frames) and FRW for more MF. The candidate slots are helm, armor, gloves, boots and charms. The amount of +skills (not counting skillers) remains essentially the same. I'm not a fan of filling up the entire inventory, because there's always something to pick up and identify, but if you are into pure-leveling, you can consider that.
After playing a long time using the default configuration, I eventually moved the weapon switch to Space bar which I can hit regardless of the remaining keys, amount of alcohol, etc. Do as you see fit, but this actually works.
There are only few things to learn with a Fury. The first one is not getting hit on the switch. Cursing is slow and easily interrupted, esp. in the presence of Horadrim Ancients respawning Souls left and right. Also you may be wearing weaker (resist-wise) secondary shield. Make the best use of merc's poor yet predictable AI and don't stand right behind him to avoid Souls' piercing attacks. Valkyrie helps, and you may even cast Decoy to draw away some fire (lightning, whatever).
The next thing is the right proportion between CS and LF usage. It's given by chosen weapon (replenish?), as well as other aspects (mana, IAS, block, FHR). It's better to adopt the gear to fit our play-style than vice versa. The common way is to throw LF or two at the incoming pack, then eliminate tougher/high priority targets with CS and leave the rest to die upon the LF aimed at the next group. The unbreakable bosses are dealt with using Jab after sorting out the mobs. HF and Decrep combined turn our zon into a helpless bluish statue which is not the right condition in places where the Souls lay their barrage amongst exploding dolls. It's certainly good to know when to back off and spend a while throwing from distance before running into something ugly.
Not much to add, precise positioning is half of the success, and proper skill/target selection the other one. When going valkless, speed (both attack and movement) grows in importance and each inaccuracy costs a lot more time. The offensive builds always require high level of control to show their full potential.
The Throne of Destruction is one of the few places where LS can prove useful. It is effective against low-life creatures, esp. Hell Witches, hiding behind the pillars where LF cannot hit them.
Without a valkyrie or decoy, the merc remains the only dummy to shield us, thus we want a melee one. Swords offer only few interesting choices, that's why we stick with a Desert Warrior (what a surprise). The choice is between Defiance, HF, Prayer and Might.
The last one is sort of kamikaze solution, at least for those who never learnt to abandon using CS in the OKs presence, but it saves some time with the unbreakables (namely Bartuc and Lister). The question is whether we manage to kill the minions before the moron dies (not an issue with a valk). Might merc with Reaper's Toll (CtC Decrepify, 33%DS, 11-15%LL) is an option for those not using the LR-switch. Otherwise, Hone Sundan (45%CB, 3os) or RWM 'Obedience' (40%CB, massive damage) prevail.
Prayer aura from a merc doesn't heal fast enough to make a big difference during combat, but it's a pleasant bonus for the RWM players with mana issues. Double-healing via Meditation from 'Insight' looks nice.
Defiance mostly helps the merc himself, since our primary means of protection are blocking and evasion skills. With high-def armors (e.g. 'Stone'), he could make a solid tank. At this point, I feel obliged to explain so called armor e-bug: When a cube socketing receipt is used on an ethereal armor, its eth-bonus is applied again. This means its total defense is then multiplied by 2.25 rather than 1.5. Defiance is a good choice for any javazons skipping the D/A/E skills.
HF is the most universal option making the way through WSK much easier, and doesn't require any specific gear to be effective. The aura gives us enough time to slaughter Ventar's and Lister's ilk before they cut the moron into shreds. Guardian Angel (15%max resists) is a good choice for him, and arguably the strongest merc armor in vanilla.
There are many different items a merc can use, but only few combinations create a functional whole. He should attain 75+% of both LR and FR, some LL, and decent IAS. The rest (CBF, %DR, CB) is optional. The goal is to balance his protection from physical and elemental attacks to minimize causalities.
Suitable helms are the aforementioned Andy's, Kira's Guardian (CBF, 50-70%resists, 20%FHR), Vampire Gaze (15-20%DR, 10-15MDR, 6-8%LL, 4s cold), and Guillaume's Face (30%FHR, 15%DS, 35%CB, +15str). The available armors other than GA include RWM 'Fortitude' (+300%damage, 20-30%resists, +5%max.LR, CtC Chilling Armor), The Gladiator's Bane (CBF, 15-20PDR&MDR), Shaftstop (30%DR, +60life), and of course 'Treachery'. Out of weapons not yet listed we can choose from Tomb Reaver (1-3os, 30-50%resists, 150-230%damage to undead, 10%reanimate), Kelpie Snare (75%slow, 50%FR, 1.25life/lvl) popular for its slowing effect, and any of the elite unique spears. However, all these weapons are baby toys compared to RWM 'Infinity' (slvl12 Conviction aura, 35%FRW, ..) which takes this build into another plane.
The Waves and Baal
High level LF (35+) with 100% pierce is capable of slaughtering the waves at /p8 very quickly. CS is only used to kill the last 2-3 monsters of each wave, just before Baal's Decrep kicks in. The optimal starting position is in the center of the room, just outside Baal's range. If available, valkyrie and decoy are much better to prevent the waves from splitting than a solitary merc. They also absorb a good portion of damage, keeping the moron safer.
Wave1: The goal is to throw the first javelin so that Colenzo and his ilk are hit exactly the moment they appear. That will keep them in place.
Wave2: If there are no slain undead in the vicinity of the throne, cast LR, otherwise start spamming LF right off. Restrain from using CS when Achmel spawns with an aura. Dodging the aura pulses under Decrep severely reduces our offense.
Wave3: The most annoying one for a valkless build. Try to place the merc left (or right) from the spawning spot, so that the first hydras land at that side. Precise timing of the first throw is crucial to keep them in place (same as for wave1). Bartuc sometimes spawns LI. On higher ps it's faster to lure him out of the Decrep range before attacking him.
Wave4: On higher ps this wave starts to be dangerous. Lead the merc away, curse them first, then shoot. Fortunately, they take more damage from both LF and CS due to their size.
Wave5: Similar as the previous one with more danger involved. It's often necessary to feed the merc a rejuv or tank the last remaining foes. LI Lister takes very long time to kill with Jab - he's LI because of being LE -> D/A/E bug, etc. Bow hard-switch is one option, CB merc another. Parking also works - shame on you, though. Sometimes, Lister beats the merc badly, but he simply attacks the one who's closer. Tank him!
Baal: Swapping the amulet for one measly teleport looks crazy, but there is a plenty of time for stuff like that before Baal retreats into the World Stone chamber. I swap Moser's for 'Rhyme' between both switches for more MF, some people hand their merc Kelpie out of cube, etc. We should also type in /players 3, since both Baal's drops and received experience get minimal bonuses beyond this value.
When going "on foot", cast Lower Resistance before reaching the last pillar. Then run past Baal, so he doesn't knock the merc back from the bridge, and finish him off with CS. May the luck smile on you!
Running Cows and Pindle
I never particularly enjoyed either of these tasks, but since they have much in common, I will deal with them in one short section.
We will not use a valkyrie for cows or Pindle, and we will not use a merc for cows either. Mod priorities shift compared to Baal-running; we have less need for IAS and resists, and more need for FRW, mana and javs replenish. Gear-wise this implies:
- Weapon&Belt: Razortail and Titan's all the way (100%pierce, fast replenish)
- Head: Shako for Pindle, any of the above listed headgear except Andy's for cows
- Gloves: Chance Guards for Pindle, Lancer's gloves of Fortune or MF rares for cows
- Boots: War Traveler or MF rare boots
- Body: 'Enigma', Skullder's, Tal's, or 'Wealth' armor
- Rings: SoJ/Nagel or blue MF rings
- Amulet: rare (+ama, MF) or Cat's Eye - at least to get the leg
- Charms: Gheed's Fortune, skillers, MF and FRW charms
- Shield: 'Rhyme' for Pindle, 'Rhyme', 'Splendor', 'Spirit', faceted shield or none at all for cows
- Switch: 'Harmony' (RWM) switch for Pindle/leg, LR-switch for cows
- mana or thawing potions instead of antidotes for cows
Proper herding is the key to success - more running and less shooting. CS or LS are quite adept at killing the remaining few pieces, or just herd them together with a new group. All LE bosses are unbreakable LIs, so don't ignore LR completely. The CEs also hurt without Ravenfrost.
We'll take a HF merc geared for MF to assist us with Pindle. My usual setup is Tomb Reaver, Steal Skull and Tal's armor.
Running other Areas
Fury is capable of clearing Chaos Sanctuary safely using act1 merc and breaking the Storm Casters. She can theoretically run any area that spawns breakable LIs in small numbers. Her running speed is a hindrance in places with lower "population density". Besides, there's no point in wasting her power on "inferior" targets when she performs so well in WSK.
This is a short summary of where to place the "remaining" skill-points:
- bow skills: backup for the unbreakables, including LE bosses (Colenzo, Lister, etc.)
- Valkyrie/Decoy: additional tanks, suitable for WSK including the Waves
- Pierce: for untwinked players and Thundergod's users, Pierce greatly increases LF damage output
- Critical Strike: general way to increase physical damage
- the last synergy: for Cow/Pindle runners, fastest optimal Baal-runs, yet worse average times
- D/A/E skills: more safety for untwinked players
As for the possible alterations, the only thing to consider is skipping the evasion skills. I warned you before that this would result in much higher damage income which might be hard to get past.
Our defense is mediocre at best, blocking won't take us over 75%, and %DR is negated by Amp triggering every now and then throughout Hell. We can't rely on leech either. Playing carefully not to get hit means we have no problem with D/A/E in the first place.
Nevertheless, I tried a compromise and matted my special zon only yesterday. She has Dodge, but skipped Avoid (and Evade) opting for Decoy instead. That should protect her from powerful melee attacks while improving her offensive capabilities when under enemy fire (at the expense of health).
The cost is one more skill-point compared to the original Fury which still leaves the possibility to max the last synergy at clvl99. I made some Baal-runs and brought her to clvl87 trying to compare both builds. This one really takes a lot more damage, and I had to put more points in Vita to keep her safe. The only positive difference so far is her better performance against Bartuc when surrounded by hydras, and of course the crowd control provided by Decoy. It is still too early to make any conclusions, though.
Viraya - clvl97 (Hrus)
- Head: Harlequin's Crest (30%CR/15%IAS jewel)
- Weapon: upgraded Titan's Revenge (non-ethereal)
- Shield: Moser's Blessed Circle upgraded to Luna, 2x Perfect Diamond
- Switch weapon: rare Dagger with slvl3 Lower Resistance charges
- Switch shield: Moser's Blessed Circle, 2x Perfect Diamond
- Body: ethereal Skullder's Ire
- Gloves: Lancer's Gauntlets of Alacrity
- Belt: Thundergod's Vigor
- Boots: rare (+38%LR, +16%CR, 24%MF ,30%FRW)
- Amulet: Mara's Kaleidoscope (all resistances +28)
- Ring1: Ravenfrost
- Ring2: rare (PDR 2, +19%LR, 6%ML, replenish life +8, 8%MF)
- Inventory - 6 java skillers, Gheed's Fortune, 7 Small Charms with resists, FRW, MF, +life, +str
- Backpack - Thunderstroke
- Str: 141
- Dext: 198 (66% block with Luna Moser's)
- Vita: 351
- Energy: 22
- Life 1504
- Mana 356
- resistances: FR 54, CR 75, LR 85, PR 30, DR 10
- damage: CS(38) 1-5580, LF(41) 1-2592
- other skills - LS 20, LB 20, Valkyrie 13(20), Pierce 3(10), prerequisites 1
- HF using upg. Kelpie Snare (Amn), Vampire Gaze (Ort), Guardian Angel (no socket)
Yavanna - clvl95 (Ugla)
- Head - Griffon's Eye (-20/+11, socketed with -4/+5 facet)
- Weapon - Titan's Revenge (non-ethereal)
- Shield - Moser's Blessed Circle, 2x Perfect Diamond
- Switch weapon - rare Blade with slvl3 Lower Resistance charges
- Switch shield - 'Rhyme' Heater
- Body - 'Treachery' Wire Fleece
- Gloves - Lancer's Gauntlets of Alacrity
- Belt - Razortail
- Boots - rare War Boots (no comment): LR +37%, FR +35%, +6dext, 30%FRW
- Amulet - Mara's Kaleidoscope (+22%)
- Ring1 - Ravenfrost
- Ring2 - Stone of Jordan
- Inventory - 4 java skillers, Gheed's Fortune, Shimmering Grand Charm (14%), 6 Small Charms with resists, FRW, FHR, * +mana, MF
- Str: 135 (=115 without Titan's, got it?)
- Dext: 264 (75% block with Moser's)
- Vita: 245
- Energy: 20
- Life 1033
- Mana 277
- resistances: FR 71, CR 59, LR 75, PR 41, DR 0
- damage: CS(35) 1-7084, LF(35) 1-2689
- other skills - LS 20, LB 20, PS 17, Pierce 1(7), Evade 1(7) prerequisites 1
- HF using Kelpie Snare (no socket), Andariel's Visage (Ral), Guardian Angel (Um)
That's it. Thanks to Hrus for adding the twinked progress part, his character's readout, and mainly for reading the whole thing through. I'm afraid, there are still many facts missing and many errors present, anyway
I promised this guide a way back, thus my apologies to everyone for having to wait for so long. You are all welcome to add any comments and remarks. Hopefully, I manage to make a revision some day.