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Guide:Fire Claws Bear v1.10, by CBZ

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Diablo II Strategy Guide Info:

Mandatory Literary Introduction

As when a Beare hath seiz'd her cruell clawes
Vppon the carkasse of some beast too weake,
Proudly stands ouer, and a while doth pause,
To heare the piteous beast pleading her plaintiffe cause.

Things you'll need for this build:

  • A reasonably fast weapon.
  • Some kind of Life Leech.
  • Some kind of Mana Leech or an Insight Merc.

Things you'll want for this build:

  • A source of Crushing Blow
  • 54% Faster Hit Recovery
  • PDR, MDR and %PDR (Physical Damage Reduction)
  • 110% Increased Attack Speed Phase Blade (4 Shaels and 2 15% IAS jewels)

Skill Distribution:

  • 20 Fire Claws
  • 20 Volcano*
  • 20 Firestorm*
  • 20 Oak Sage**
  • 10+ Lycanthrophy
  • 1-5 Shock Wave
  • 4 Pts in Pre-Reqs (Maul, Werewolf, Werebear, Molten Boulder)
    • (95 Skill points means you're done at level 84)
  • * Fire Claws has 4 possible Synergies. Volcano is great for rushing other people through easier difficulties. Firestorm is more effective than Molten Boulder, though MB would appeal more to Indiana Jones fans.
  • ** Oak Sage can wait until you're ready to spend the skill points, though one point earlier on can be a life saver. By Hell difficulty, the Sage is immune to Physical, so just keep an eye out for archers and mages.


  • Strength: Enough for gear (70-150)
  • Dexterity: Enough for gear (136 is req'd for a Phase Blade, 238 (± 10) for max block at level 85 with a Rhyme Shield)
  • Vitality: Everything else. (Get this to 75-100 before you put points elsewhere!)
  • Energy: Nada y pues nada.


Faster Hit Recovery

  • 13 Frames - 0%
  • 12 Frames - 5%
  • 11 Frames - 10%
  • 10 Frames - 16%
  • 9 Frames - 24%
  • 8 Frames - 37%
  • 7 Frames - 54%
  • 6 Frames - 86%
  • 5 Frames - 152%

Faster Block

  • 12 Frames - 0%
  • 11 Frames - 5%
  • 10 Frames - 10%
  • 9 Frames - 16%
  • 8 Frames - 27%
  • 7 Frames - 40%
  • 6 Frames - 65%

Fire Claws Break Point Examples

  • Barnar's Star - 11 FPA (2.2 attacks per second)
  • Barnar's w/ Shael - 9 FPA (2.7 attacks per second)
  • Aldur's with 3 Shaels - 8 FPA (3.1 attacks per second)
  • Lightsabre - 9 FPA (2.7 attacks per second)
  • Lightsabre w/ Shael - 8 FPA (3.1 attacks per second)
  • 6 Shael Phase Blade - 4 FPA (6.1 attacks per second)

Gear Guidelines

Hibernation Options (I'm starving!)

If you're starting Untwinked, it won't matter much for this build. You're a bear and, like any good scavenger, you can get by on almost anything. Use rubies to up your life pool, and look for fast one handed weapons. Remember that actual weapon damage is irrelevant once you've got Fire Claws; your Fire damage will quickly dwarf any physical damage you might have on your weapon. Remember, speed is key.

  • Socketable armors and helms with rubies or sapphires
  • Gloves with Increased Attack Speed or Mana/Life Leech.
  • Rings with Leech
  • Amulets with Resistance, Life, etc.
  • A Rhyme shield works great when/if you find a Shael, as it will provide the Cannot be Frozen mod and some Res and MF to boot.
  • Boots with FRW can save your life!

Pick-a-Nick Basket Options (Smarter than the average bear!)

For the player who has amassed a few uniques and sets, this bear can really shine. Aldur's is a great option, with Shaels or IAS jewels in the mace, though you'll always be looking for that 6 socket Phase Blade.

  • Smoke or Duress make great armors, requiring a Lum and Um, respectively.
  • Jalal's is your best option for a helm, socket with your choice of jewel.
  • A 6 socket Phase Blade with Shaels will hit 4 frames per attack.
  • Moser's with Pdiamonds is a great option, as is a good, high-D Rhyme Shield.
  • Some + Skills on switch for pre-buffing your bear form as well as your Oak Sage.
  • As mentioned, Aldur's is a very good set for this build, but it won't hit that 6 attack per second goal. Great for leveling, but not end-game material.

Ravenous (Tonight we dine on man-flesh!)

This is a little out of my league, but if you're going all out, you should shoot for 4fpa with 50% CB and 50% DR with about 25-40 PDR and another 20-30 MDR.

  • Verdungos / Tgods / String / etc.
  • Duress / Other, better armors
  • Dracul's
  • Jalal's or a 3FC / 3Oak / 3Lyc, +2 Dru skills with other mods...
  • Ravenfrost
  • Dwarf Star / Res LL/ML Ring
  • 2 Skill / 20 All Res / 20 Str / 20 Dex / LL/ML / PDR ammy.
  • Stormshield
  • Gore Riders / War Travs
  • Spirit pre-buffs on switch

Mercenary Options

A2 Prayer or Blessed Aim Mercenary with an Insight Polearm.

Prayer Merc synergizes with Meddy. Expect to get back 30, or so, life per second when he's holding an Insight Polearm. Alternatively, Blessed Aim helps keep the AR up (if you've got difficulties) so that you aren't shooting blanks. A2 mercs make great tanks for times when you're staring down a FE foe, or you're just plain too lazy to make all the kills.

A3 Cold or Lightning Mercenary to deal with Immunes.

Haven't really ever tried this Merc with this build, but it's theoretically sound. Just make sure he's not spitting out the same type of damage you are. The major drawback is his inability to tank when you want to avoid the nasty stuff.

To Block or Not to Block.

The age old question. I've been on both sides of this debate, and I currently run with 50% Block. When you're blocking you're not attacking. Block can be great for power walking through projectiles, and works great earlier on (before you get big, strong and fast). But, ultimately, it slows you down, reducing how quickly you tear through opponents during runs. Enough for the Phase Blade should be enough for a block that won't get in the way too often.

Things to watch out for.

NM Council and everything else FE

Geleb's FE will kill you dead in NM, no matter how much life you have. Remember that you revert to human from Bear form before you die... with 1 measley Life. Act accordingly.

Staying in Bear Form

Earlier on, your Bear form can be your biggest enemy. An untimely switch back to human form can leave you in a real pickle. Whenever you get a chance, recast Were Bear.

How to approach Fire Immunes

Speed and CB are your best friends in situations like these; so is your merc. With a 4 Frame attack, they'll take about 10 times longer to kill... with a 7 Frame, this can mean hours. Let your merc do the job or just keep walking! You're a huge bear! You've got plenty of better things to be doing!

Know when to run!

Keep an eye on those curses. Being Amped isn't a bother, but Being Amped when your foes have Blessed Aim can really hurt. If you're looking at a whole pack of Fire Immunes, and you've got a sizeable life pool, just keep moving... they'll stop following you eventually.

What this build is good for:

Completing the game solo untwinked? Yes. Running Pindle/Shenk/Thresh/Eldritch/WSK/Countess/Baal? Yes. Party Play? Yes (but watch those FELEs). Being a rescue tank? Yes. Helping lower level characters get through tough spots? Yes. Looking really badass while slapping more often than Bobby Brown? Yes.

What this build is bad for:

Running Council/Nihlathak/Summoner/Meph/Diablo. Killing large groups in seconds. Soloing the game quickly. Not being a kick-*** bear.