This v1.09 guide describes how to build and play a Magic Find Javazon who uses Lightning Fury with Guided Arrow to kill bosses. Much of the information herein is obsolete in v1.10+, due to skill, item, and monster changes in the patch.
Diablo II Strategy Guide Info:
- Patch: v1.09
- Gametype: PvE/PvM
- Class: Amazon
- Specialisation: Lightning Fury Javazon
- Author: Flux
- Pages: One, two, three
Javazons, Amazons who use javelins (often called "stix") to throw at targets (usually with Lightning Fury as their main/exclusive skill) are a newly-popular character, and a lot of fun to play. Vastly improved from their FPS-unplayable state in D2, many of the top ladder characters are now Javazons. Very versatile, Javazons are able to clear any area in the game, magic find very well, and best of all, play solo while racking up massive experience, far more than the party exp leeches stuck in Bloody Hills runs.
Javazons don't require much specialized equipment, the skills to add to are quite simple, and though techniques vary, any Javazon with decent gear and some playing skill can kill things very quickly in just about any area of the game, and dominate the level-up race once she reaches the Nightmare and Hell Secret Cow Levels.
Javazons aren't especially good for boss killing, especially in big games and especially Act Bosses, though they can be effective Hell Meph runners with good equipment (teleport amulet). Their best item run, other than the cows, is a Pindleskin run, or a full Act Five 3 SuperUnique run. Javazons are the fastest possible character for that run, and all these runs are described in detail in the Specific Area section.
Some common abbreviations used in this guide. See all of the game terms.
- I = Immune. Lightning, Fire, Cold, Physical. LI, FI, CI, PI.
- E = Enchanted. Boss Modifier. FE, CE, LE, etc.
- MS = Multi Shot, Boss modifier. MSLE is very bad.
- lvl = Level. Character, Monster, Item, Skill. Clvl, Mlvl, Ilvl, Slvl.
- LF = Lightning Fury, your main skill.
- MF = Magic Find. Item modifier you want. Read about it here.
- GF = Gold Find.
This guide has my recommendations on how to best play a Javazon at high levels. I've tested a lot of styles, half a dozen Spearazons back in D2c, a 40's Javazon there also, as well as 56, 91, and 97 Javazons in D2X, all with a variety of skills to compliment LF, and this guide recommends what I've found to be by far the most powerful build.
If you want to have an uber-powerful character, follow the steps in here. It's certainly possible to have some success with other styles of play, using a spear or jabbing with your javelin or slowly killing with Plague Javelin, but this isn't a guide that explains every possible variant, regardless of how effective (or not) they are.
My current Javazon is Clvl 97, Hardcore. She has around 450% MF, 500% GF, very low resistances, (15 F/-45 C/40 L/-45 P with Rhyme) no +skills other than Titans and Harlequin, 7% mana leech, 8% life leech (all from Titans), 1250 hps, 310 mana, 75% blocking, and 50% Dodge/Evade with about 15 Valk and 26/24 LF/Pierce. If I went to all the best +skills, resistance, +stats, leech etc equipment, I could probably add 800 hps (including charms) have max resistance to all, 20% dual leech, +10 to all skills, 500 mana, etc etc. But why, when I'm killing quickly now, and surviving?
My goal on all characters is to wear as much magic find and gold find as possible (as you'll see in the equipment recommendations) to make the character very profitable, while still surviving and killing quickly. This Javazon build is perfect for that goal.
The equipment recommendations in this guide cover a wide variety of play styles though, so whether you go all riches, or all power, or somewhere in between, you'll find what you want.
The "end game" refers to the eventual goal of a character, where they are going to wind up, if successful. For example if you were making a MF Barbarian or Sorceress, you might plan to level them to 80 or 82, and then do Hell Meph runs exclusively. So your strategy along the way would be skewed to getting them to the stats and skills you wanted at that point, when you'd switch their equipment around and specialize them for one purpose.
A Javazon has no real end game. Her end game is her middle game, and her level game; that is the Hell Cows. You can certainly level her up to specialize for Meph runs, or A5SU runs (both detailed later in this guide), but her specialty is doing the Cows, and doing them very quickly. Therefore you might as well profit while you do them, eh? Other characters have to delay their gratification, they have to toil away to get to a higher level, when they can perhaps be strong enough to put on more MF/GF gear and try to start finding good stuff.
A Javazon does that all along. Her end game begins around Clvl 60 (usually), and continues indefinitely. Once you play for some time with a lot of MF, compared to your normal equipment, you'll wonder how you ever played without the magic find.
The Cows aren't real profitable normally. You get a lot of gold, but they are mostly normal monsters, who have very low odds of dropping anything better than magical items. Lots of MF helps greatly on improving your loot there, and after all, it's your end game. You are going to be doing Hell cows from now on to infinity, so you might as well profit as much as possible while doing them, right?
The hardest part for a Javazon is getting started. Your main skill is Lightning Fury (LF), which is not available until Clvl 30. You also need a lot of points in Pierce, another Clvl 30 skill, and Valkyrie is very useful also at Clvl 30. So until then you'll be putting just a prerequisite point into most things, while adding a bit more to a few useful lower level skills, but mostly saving points for the Clvl 30 launch.
This section assumes you are progressing more or less at a normal pace, actually playing the game. If you have friends with higher level characters to "turbo" you through to Act Five, or will let you party to leech experience, then obviously less planning and strategy is needed to level up.
Long Term Goals
The Javazon is pretty flexible; you can vary your points somewhat, depending on how you like to play and what equipment you have. My Javazon playing experience is entirely Hardcore, so for standard characters you'll want to follow the skills and equipment goals, but you can get away with lower hit points, resistances, and blocking.
You can play a Javazon anywhere, she's very effective on everything but LI (Lightning Immune) monsters in hell games, and Act Bosses in multiplayer games. However her main area of expertise, and where she is the true master, is the Secret Cow Level. So you should build yours for what you want to do, but you'll likely spend most of your time among the Hell Bovines, so consider the following guidelines. The main difference between Cows and other parts of the game is that in the cows, you can get away with much lower resistance.
For successful Hell Cows runs, able to do them solo in an 8 player game, you'll want to have approximately the following. More in all of them is recommended, and you can go lower, but these are the minimum goals to shoot for.
- 800+ hps (enough to take several cow hits and live)
- 150+ mana (depends on leech, more makes things much easier)
- 8% mana leech (can get by with less, more makes things easier)
- 5% life leech (just from Titans is enough)
- 50% blocking (75% is ideal for cow survival)
- 20+ in Lightning Fury
- 15+ in Pierce (Max it out if possible)
- Valkyrie (I like Slvl 12+)
- 40% in Dodge and Evade (or more)
- 25% Lightning Resistance (more is better, and you can get away with negative to all, just be more careful. I'm currently playing with no cold or poison res, other than on my shield.)
Hotkeys and Controls
Javazons aren't real heavy on the hotkeys. You need Valk, Decoy, Slow Missiles, LF, and Town Portal hotkeyed, and also Guided Arrow and possibly Fire Arrow, depending on your bow/xbow. Jab and Attack are options early on, as well as plain Throw at low levels, but you'll likely just map Jab to your left click with Titan's and never change it after Clvl 30. Teleport is a needed hotkey when you have an amulet with that, and are using it for Meph runs, and you usually need to reset it each new game, if you took off the amulet in the previous game.
You need to know your weapon switch hotkey very well also, since you'll be doing it hundreds of times a game with a Javazon and a Bow on your switch. When you switch weapons, the game returns you to whatever skills you had active on the left and right click, so if you have Jab/LF with Javelins/Shield, and Fire Arrow/Guided Arrow on your bow, when you switch from one to the other both left and right skills will change to whatever you had on that weapon switch when you last had it active.
You should (and will) get in the habit of clicking Guided immediately when you go to bow, and LF immediately when you go to Javs. You'll be using the right click for a variety of skills, Decoy, Valkyrie, Town Portal, and you don't want to switch from javs to bow and right click, thinking it will be Guided, and it's Town Portal. Obviously this isn't the end of the world, but just get in the habit of hitting the weapon switch key and an instant later hitting the attack skill for that weapon type, and you won't waste time casting the wrong skills.
I've recently stopped carrying Town Portal books, and now use that extra 2 spaces for more charms. I now put portal scrolls in my 4th belt slot, and with usually all full rejuvenations in the the first three, in my 12 slot Goldwrap, there's never a need for more than 1 or 2 purples at a time, so I don't miss the never-drunk 4th slot of potions at all, and adding another 14% MF (or whatever you do) on 2 small charms is a nice bonus. If you are still carrying a Town Portal book and have an inventory over run with charms, you should think about trying this technique. You can just change your TP hotkey to point to the scrolls, or else just click 4 to open a TP instantly. You need to remember to refill them pretty often from the NPC, but you can put one in your cube for emergencies.
I do always carry an ID book, since doing cows you find so many dozens of jewels and runes and jewelry that it's impractical to carry them all back to town and ID them, especially since I generally have about 12 non-charm-filled spaces my Inventory. You'll want to always have 12 keys in the Cow Level also, since there are so many locked chests there. I don't think I've ever done a Cow Level where I didn't get at least 2 or 3 Charms/Jewels from the chests, and Unique/Set items are quite common also. I found a Buriza from one in a game recently.
Javazons are not real merc-dependent, so having one is optional. Most Javazons find that they die much too quickly in the Hell Cows, unless you play very cautiously there, and it's probably not worth slowing down to keep the merc alive when you don't really need him anyway.
The most useful Merc for Cows and other areas is probably the Defiance aura Act Two merc, hireable in Normal or Hell. I don't like Holy Freeze mercs for Javazons, since the slowed monsters are hard to herd properly, especially cows. This rules out Act 3 Cold Mercs also. The defiance mercs can do okay, and it's nice to have your defense tripled as you run around the cows; you'll probably go from 85% chance to be hit by a cow down to 65% or so, which certainly helps over the long run.
The problem is how quickly any merc dies if they tank Cows, and the Act Two (and Act Five) guys will always try to tank. I've had a Clvl 91 Defiance merc with ethereal Corpsemourn (1900+ def), ethereal godly Bone Visage (400 def), and a Spire of Honor (+25% defense), which gave him upwards of 13,000 defense. And he'd still die any time he got into a big pack. If you have the gear, putting one into Shaftstop and Vampire Gaze would probably be useful, for the up to 50% damage reduction, or 64% if you socketed them both with Ber Runes. This wouldn't be a good idea Hardcore, since it sucks to die, but it really sucks if you loose great stuff on your merc when you die, and there's no way to loot him.
You have to alter your playing style to keep the merc alive, herding less aggressively, so your merc isn't trailing after you through huge mobs of Beef, and this will make your killing speed slower (though you'll be safer doing it). While it's well worth modifying your play style somewhat to keep your merc alive for some char types, (Bowazons with Might mercs, for example) your Javazon isn't getting that big a bonus from her merc. If you don't really need him, and it's slowing you down to have him, you'll probably just leave him dead for cows, and perhaps raise him if you do other stuff, helping friends do Baal or with a Hell Turbo, rescue Anya, etc.
Merc Magic Find Aid
The other reason to have a Merc is for MF'ing. Any MF gear on your Merc adds to your MF gear, if the merc makes the kill. So if you have 300%, and your merc has a 3-topaz helm and 4-topaz armor for 168%, that's 468% MF on kills the Merc makes. It's not generally worth slowing down so the merc can kill things, but it is worth it letting them have the last hits/shots on bosses, especially SuperUniques and Act Bosses (Mephisto, mainly).
I've experimented, and found that the best merc for this with a Javazon is an Act 1 Rogue merc. They are smart enough to stay back from the targets, and with your Valk to tank, they can live through anything (though are helpless in the Cows) if you control the situation well. They also have a nice firing rate and do pretty good damage at higher levels, so you don't have to wait 5 minutes for them to finally land a killing hit. The Act Three mercs can be used for this as well, since they have the same AI as the rogues, and won't tank and die immediately. They can also get a lot more MF than a rogue, since you can put a Rhyme and Ali Baba on an Act Three guy and he'll kill just as fast, since he's all about his spells. Unfortunately their spells don't do that much damage, even at higher levels, and most of the monsters you'll want them to attack will have very high hit points, and resistances. Also the Act Three guys have just one element, with Fire being their biggest damage one, and the Four main targets, Meph, Eldritch, Shenk, and Pindleskin all have at least 50% fire resistance, and can often be immune to it, depending on their random mods.
So my recommendation is a rogue merc, with a normal bow, and MF stuff on. I've used 3T and 4T equipment, you can go with a skullders or wealth or shako or whatever you like, if you have the gear. Softcore can be a lot braver about equipping top stuff on a merc, for the whole death/looting reason Hardcore has to watch out for.
If you are doing Meph runs, you want the biggest damage bow you can find. Lycander's Aim would be great, but rogue mercs can't equip Amazon Class bows. So you need to find something like a Cruel Ward Bow, or more commonly use one of the Exceptional Uniques, such as Goldstrike, Magewrath, Cliffkiller, etc.
For Act 5 SuperUnique runs, I like a Kuko Shakaru best, shrot of a Buriza. It's much lower damage than the bigger bows, but it's got very big fire damage, and enough physical damage to get the job done in a solo game. Pindleskin, Eldritch, and Shenk are often PI (Physical Immune), so you must have elemental damage on your merc's weapon if you want her to get the kill. Socket her Kuko with a good damage lightning jewel if you want her to be really well-rounded to deal with PIs.
Rogue Mercs can't use crossbows, or a Buriza would be the best option in all cases, for the huge physical and cold damage. You can also socket a bigger damage (than Kuko) bow, such as Goldstrike, with an elemental damage jewel, and that would work well for Meph as well as the Act Five SuperUniques. Even a perfect lighting damage jewel (1-100) would be 59 less average damage than the 40-180 fire on a Kuko, but that would probably mean waiting the last 6 or 8 shots from the merc, rather than 3 or 4, which isn't a big deal.
You've probably seen the "Lighting Hose" technique, which rogue mercs get when they have +3 to all skills (or +all Amazon skills, but not +bow tree skills though) in gear. This is pretty easily obtained with a Cliffkiller and +1 helm, such as Tarnhelm (for the MF). This causes the Merc to shoot out a slow-moving lightning bolt, which does quite a bit of damage, but has less range than an arrow attack. This is fun to watch, but the damage it does is all Lightning, so you run into the same resistance problems that Act 3 mercs have, and it's useless if you get an LI monster. Meph has 50% lightning resistance, and I found that waiting for the merc to kill him with this attack was painfully slow in a solo hell game. You can try it, but I've had better success with just a Kuko or other bow.
The technique for getting the merc kill is pretty simple, you just whittle the monster down to a sliver, and then stop attacking, letting the merc get the last few hits. You should have a Valkyrie tanking, and try to not have other monsters nearby, since the merc will fire at whatever she's closest to.
You want to be sure you are in your maximum MF gear when the kill is made, since that's when it checks. So if you have titans/Rhyme in one switch, and a bow in the other, use the bow to whittle the monster down to a sliver, then switch so you'll have the 25% MF on Rhyme active. You can usually do a little more whittling with a few LF throws also, just to speed things along. But don't get greedy, the Merc has to get the final hit in for the bonus to work.
Pindleskin is a pain since the merc will generally stay in the doorway, and just as she's about to kill Pindleskin she'll turn around and start shooting at the advancing zombies in the garden. You have to run in past Pindleskin so she'll be closest to him, and if he's LE (Lightning Enchanted) she'll probably die there. Shenk has the same problem with the Death Maulers that keep wandering up, but they die quickly to her Kuko shots, or you can kill them with your elemental damage bow/xbow.
Much more on technique in the specific areas section of this guide.
There is only one mandatory max skill for a Javazon, and that's Lightning Fury. You don't have to max it, but it's 99% of your damage, so it would be foolish not to do so. Add to it with bonus equipment if you want to kill faster. Pierce is almost as important, you want to get it to 15 points or higher as quickly as possible.
How LF Works
Lightning Fury (LF) is an awesome skill, and you need to know just how it works to use it best. When you throw a javelin with Lightning Fury, the javelin does physical damage to everything it hits (this is how you leech enough to keep throwing them) and sends out a lightning bolt at every target in range (about 5-8 yards, or 1/3 of the visible screen). The range is the radius away from what the javelin just hit, not from where you are standing. The bolts don't come from your Amazon, they come out from where the Lighting Fury javelin struck, so if there is a monster on top of you, and a pack across the screen, hitting the one by you with LF won't send out bolts at the others.
The key to massive killing with LF is to hit targets that are near many other targets. Every thing near where the LF hits will have a lightning bolt fired at it, which is why this skill is so awesome for the Cow level, since there are such massive crowds. These lightning bolts pierce anything other than walls or solid objects, so if there are four monsters in line, and you hit the first one, three lightning bolts will be sent out, one for each monster that was close enough to the impact point of the LF. If the monsters are in a row, all three will pass through the first monster, then the second, then the third. The lightning bolts travel about a full screen in distance.
Pierce makes this work even better, since everything the thrown LF javelin hits will trigger another burst of bolts at all valid targets in the radius. So if you throw into a pack of 20, the first monster hit will count for physical damage of your javelin, lightning damage of the LF, and send 19 bolts towards the other monsters. If the throw pierces and hits a second monster, you'll get more physical damage, and 19 more bolts, one at every other monster in the radius. The same goes if Pierce lets you hit a 3rd, and a 4th, etc. So every time you Pierce a target and hit a second one, it doubles your initial damage. If you pierce 5 things, getting six hits, you'll do much more than 6x the damage of a single hit, since every hit sends out the full amount of bolts, and most of the bolts will hit multiple targets.
You can see this demonstrated in this picture. Note how there are three distinct rings of lightning to the right, going to the right (past the chilled Valk). The thrown javelin (from the chilled Javazon to the lower left) hit one monster to the left of the pack, and sent out the bolts that are now furthest to the right. The same LF hit another cow, and sent out another burst of bolts, that are now 2nd farthest ring to the right. The third target it hit send out the last ring of bursts.
Really big packs and throws that Pierce 5 or 6 times create a lovely series of these sorts of lightning burst rings, that generally move too fast to see, or see well with the computer lag most systems get from them.
You want to always try to throw so you'll hit at least two monsters in a row, and more if possible. This should keep your mana up from leeching, in addition to dealing out massive lightning damage.
Hitting a wall will also send out a burst of lightning bolts at every target in range, so if you have a bunch of monsters with a wall beside them, move around so that you are throwing through several monsters, and into the wall. You'll get a full burst of bolts from where the javelin hits the wall, if the monsters are near enough the wall.
This is the best technique to kill bosses with LF also. Try to get them near a wall, rock, tree, anything you can't throw through, and throw at them so the Pierce will take the LF into the solid object, which will then shoot a bolt back at the boss. In the shot here the Javazon is top left, throwing through Eldritch. LF pierces, hits the rock lower right, and sends a bolt back, which hits Eldritch and keeps going off the top left. With the bolts sent out doing 239-278 at Slvl 20, it's a substantial time saver, though it's still faster to switch to bow for dealing with single targets.
The targets don't need to be on the screen to die, or send out bolts. Thrown javelins (including LF throws) will travel a bit off the visible screen. No matter where they are when they hit a target, they send out their full array of bolts at any nearby targets, whether you can see them or not. You can easily kill things that are completely off the screen with LF, by hitting a target just at the edge of the screen, and that impact sending bolts from it into others that are further out of your sight. The bolts that are sent out travel quite a distance too, more than a visible screen, so it's not uncommon to throw a Jav, then run up after it and find dozens of dead monsters as much as two screens from where you were standing. Sometimes they are so far away you almost wonder if there's some other player in the area, even if you are the only one in the game.
Consider your long term skill needs, and factor in your equipment, so you don't waste skill points by over loading them. For example, if you want 10 points in Dodge, and know your long term equipment will include Titans (+2), SoJ (+1), and Harlequin's (+2), then plan on putting 5 points into Dodge, and the +5 from your equipment will get you to your 10 point goal. You can always add more to a skill later, but there's no way to get a skill point back, so allow for more +equipment if you think it's likely you'll add it.
Long term a Javazon will have at least +2 spears, and +2 to all (from Titans), giving +4 spears. Most Javazons will have +2 or 3 to all from other gear, (Amulet, Armor, Helm) and you can easily add much more +spears with charms, gloves, Thundergod's Vigor belt, etc. Maxed LF with Titans only would be Slvl 24 LF, and that's plenty to kill hell cows very quickly. You'll be a bit faster with say Slvl 35 LF, if you load up on skill stuff, but I much prefer to load up on Magic Find/Gold Find gear, and profit while I play, rather than just gain exp slightly faster.
Here are the skills I recommend, grouped by tree. More on when to add to what in the character development section.
Spear and Javelin Skills Tab
- Poison Javelin: 1 point, pre-req.
- Lightning Bolt: 1 point, pre-req.
- Plague Javelin: 1 point, pre-req. This one can be effective to kill with once you have 10+ points in it, but not in a big game, and not past normal difficulty, so it's not recommended.
- Lightning Fury: 20 points. This is your killer, max it as soon as possible. More points from bonus gear will increase your killing rate.
- Jab: 1 point. You can go fine without any points here, but it can be useful early on, and it can help with leech later, though switching to your bow is almost always better and faster.
- Impale: Pre-req for Fend.
- Fend: Your best melee spear skill, but not at all recommended for a Javazon. Some Javazons go with a big spear for their boss killing weapon, but this is slower than a good bow, and much more dangerous, going toe to toe.
- Power Strike: Not for a Javazon.
- Charged Strike: Not for a Javazon.
- Lightning Strike: Not for a Javazon.
Bow and Crossbow Skills Tab
Nothing is really mandatory here, but Guided Arrow is by far your best option for a weapon switch skill to kill bosses. LF is viable for killing bosses, but it's very mana and javelin expensive, and slow. And it becomes almost impossible if the boss is LE, with the big lightning resistance that comes with that, or PI, so you can't leech and only hurt it with lightning. LEPI bosses aren't uncommon in hell, and those would be almost impossible to kill with LF, while LIPI bosses are totally invulnerable to your LF attack.
If you have a bow/xbow with good elemental and physical damage, you can kill such bosses much faster than you can with LF, won't use up all of your javelins and mana doing it, and are safer than you would be compared to using a spear. Especially since you are so often using this on LE bosses, which hurt to melee. Higher levels in Guided Arrow (15+) lower the mana cost to the point that you can use Guided to kill PIs in big games and hardly need to drink any potions at all to keep up the mana cost.
It's highly recommended that you have a bow with elemental as well as physical damage, so you can use it on PI bosses, which are quite common in hell. Kuko or Buriza are good for this, or you can socket another Unique bow, if you aren't lucky enough to find a rare one with decent damage and elemental as well.
Recommended Bow Skills
- Magic Arrow: 1 point, pre-req.
- Cold Arrow: 1 point, pre-req.
- Multishot Arrow: 1 point, pre-req. A hybrid 'zon might want multiple points here, but that's only faster against LI monsters anyway.
- Fire Arrow: 1 point, optional. Use this if you need the elemental damage to kill PIs, but only if you have a big damage bow, such as a Buriza. Fire Arrow is much improved in D2X, and your best way to kill PIs with most bows. In an undocumented change this skill now converts your full bow damage to fire. So if you have a 350 damage Buriza, you'll be doing around 350 per shot fire damage + the cold damage on the bow and any charms you have. This beats the double cold damage you get with piercing Buriza (almost always hits two times in v1.09), and gives you a way to kill CIPIs with Buriza.
- Guided Arrow: 15+ points. Your best weapon switch/boss-killing skill, max it if you like, but 10-15 is enough for the damage. More points are nice for the lower mana cost, so you can use this to kill PI monsters with an elemental damage bow and not drink up all of your purple potions in the process.
Guided Arrow does require some technique to use effectively. In short, you want to take advantage of the Piercing (100% with many Unique bows/xbows) by making sure anything you shoot as has room behind it for your Arrow to pierce and hit again. So never shoot right at something that's against a wall. Instead shoot to the side of it, so the arrow will go to there, make a right turn and hit the monster from the side, so it's got room to pierce and hit again. By the same token, when shooting at several monsters in a group you generally want to aim to the side so your arrow will turn and hit one of them directly, Piercing it and returning, rather than hitting one of the others and vanishing.
Not Recommended Bow Skills
- Ice Arrow: Not for a Javazon.
- Freezing Arrow: Not for a Javazon. (Can be useful to keep a merc alive, or in emergencies, but it's more of a Hybridazon skill.) At high levels (when you tend to have more points than you know what to do with) you might want to put a point here (costs several for the pre-reqs also) to have it for special situations.
- Explosive Arrow: Not for a Javazon.
- Immolation Arrow: Not for a Javazon.
- Strafe: Not for a Javazon.
Passive and Magic Skill Tab
These are your support skills, and where the majority of your points will go long term. Bonus skill points (gloves, amulet, charms) to this tree are very useful. It's a good idea to plan how many points you want in a given skill, and look at how much of a bonus you get from your equipment. More points in these never hurts, but the benefits for almost all drop way off with diminishing returns at higher levels.
- Critical Strike: 1+ points. I like to put 10 or more here, and it's much faster Clvl 1-30 with 4 or 5 here, and once you get your other more important skills filled you can add to this at higher levels. More damage on your thrown LF helps with leech, and more damage on Guided helps to kill bosses. If you have plenty of leech and/or big damage weapons you can do less and save points for other skills.
- Inner Sight: 1 point, pre-req.
- Slow Missile: 1 point, pre-req. I use Slow a lot, on every LE cow and especially when MSLE is a possibility, such as when clearing Baal's Minions (Slow them as they first spawn then run back to attack). You want multiple points here for the duration increase, 3-5 or more is great, but you should get enough from your +skill equipment to just spend one skill point.
- Dodge: 5+ points, pre-req. I like to get to 50%, which is Slvl 12. Often you'll have a huge mob of cows around your Valk, and one or two coming from the side, towards you. If you can just keep throwing and ignore the ones from the side when they reach you, it speeds things up a lot. Dodging their attacks doesn't slow your throwing at all, while blocking slows it a bit. Having low % in both would mean you'd have to run, slowing down your killing.
- Avoid: 1+, pre-req. The least important of these three skills, you don't take a lot of missile fire with a Javazon, and that's what Valk and Decoy are for anyway. I like to get to 6 or more just in case, which is easy with +skill equipment.
- Evade: 5+ points, pre-req. Very helpful to run through and around cows as you herd. 50% here is great, which is Slvl 12, a long term goal.
- Penetrate: 1 point, pre-req. LF and Guided both always hit, so AR isn't important. A Hybridazon who wanted to use MS at times would need many more, since they need AR.
- Pierce: 15+. Maxing Pierce isn't a bad idea, but you want to at least get 75%, which is Slvl 12. See the table below, which suggests you should max Pierce out. I've played Hell Cows with 15 Pierce and with 25 Pierce, and didn't notice much difference, honestly, so perhaps the numbers lie, a bit.
- Decoy: 1 point, pre-req. Decoy you should use a lot on the cows. It's very useful in herding them, to get them to move somewhere to be more in the line of your LF fire. You can also use Decoy as your tank on smaller mobs, or in hit and run tactics. Some player use this almost exclusively, rather than Valk, but I find that slower, since a Decoy can't last long with a big mob around.
- Valkyrie: 15+. I use Valk for my main tank for Cows, as well as boss runs, so I like her to be very strong. Going with just one point is viable in big games, but gives little margin for error, and will require a lot of recasting if you are going to do Act Five SuperUnique, or Meph, runs.
A note on Pierce. Since each one calculates several times, the diminishing returns aren't as steep as they would appear. You might only be adding 1 or 2% to your odds to Pierce the first monster, but you have the same chance on each additional target, and Piercing 3 or 4x per LF is how you really cut down the big mobs.
|Target||Slvl 10||Slvl 12||Slvl 14||Slvl 16||Slvl 18||Slvl 20||Slvl 25|
For example, at Slvl 10 you have a 71% chance to pierce the first target, and then a 71% to pierce the second one, if the first is successful. This works out to 71% of 71%, which is 50%, then 36% for the next one, etc. This cumulative effect is what makes Slvl 20 so much better than Slvl 10. The first target is only 14% more likely to be Pierced, but the 4th target is more than double the odds.
Pierce is also the key to doing big damage with Guided Arrow, so you want as much as possible in it if you don't have a bow that has 100% Piercing as a property. (Kuko and Buriza both have that.)
This section added after the guide was initially posted, in response to some reader comments.
There were a number of emails and forum posts asking what's a Hybridazon, and what's the difference between my recommended Javazon build and one, since I recommend using both Javelin and bow.
A true Hybrid uses bow and javelin almost equally, and just using Guided Arrow since it's the best way to kill most bosses doesn't make you a hybrid. Hybrids generally have 8 or 10 points in Multishot, to go with their maxed LF and Pierce. The benefit of this is being able to use MS to kill LI mobs quickly, or more quickly than you could with just Guided Arrow. This enables you to play/level in more areas than a Javazon with LF, and it's a more effective PvP character.
The drawbacks are much higher skill requirements. You'll need to find about 7 more points to put into MS (depending on your +skill equipment), which will probably make your Guided lower and you slower to kill bosses. You also need much higher AR. A LF/Guided Javazon doesn't actually need any AR, so just put one point in Penetrate. If you are going to use MS, especially for PvP, you'll want a lot in Penetrate, probably maxing it out. That's 19 more skill points, which you'll have to siphon off of other skills, likely your other passives. Take a lot out of Valkyrie, and a few off of Dodge/Avoid/Evade to put there.
Is this worth doing? Not really, in terms of level up speed and finding items, but if you want some variety, or to PvP better, go for it. The only real PvM benefit is using MS on mobs, and the only time that's faster than LF is if the mob is LI, and the only area worth leveling in that has that is the Halls of Pain. Meanwhile you'll be slower on bosses, have much lower defensive skills and a weaker Valk, and probably play a lot more in low-exp areas, compared to the Hell Cows.
Other readers have asked for more info about playing other types of Javazons. Ones that don't use a bow at all, who use spears or javs for damage. These are of course possible, I mention them in this guide, but as they are far slower and more dangerous than using a Bow, and I play HC, they aren't really viable options.
If you are suicidal and want to try them HC, or are SC and want variety, then they are possible. Jabbing with javelins, Titans for example, does decent damage, and it's a relatively fast attack. However as I discuss in the skills section, the main things you want to use something other than LF on are Bosses, or LI monsters. LF isn't a bad way to kill bosses, it's not that slow on a single target if you get them near enough a wall for bouncing lightning damage, it's just not recommended since it's got a high mana cost, and really goes through the javelins in a hurry. Jabbing with your Javelin does much lower damage than throwing them, and LF does the full throw physical damage + the big lightning damage, so there's really no comparison in terms of damage dealt or speed of dealing it. LF is far faster and better than jabbing melee, other than if the target is LI.
So you can jab, but it's slow and you'll probably get banged around some doing it, though not too badly, with big blocking % and Dodge. I don't have the patience to intentionally do techniques that are much slower than other techniques I know of. I can't sit there and hit something slowly, when I could kill it 10x faster with Guided Arrow, but some players are more patient than I. If you are interested in jabbing stuff, you'll want IAS gear, good damage javelins, and ideally come Crushing Blow equipment. This was the only way to do bosses at all quickly in D2C, and Goblin Toes boots were mandatory. In D2X you can still wear those, and there are various other items which give some % of Crushing Blow you might want to try. Unfortunately it'll still be a long haul, since Blizzard really nerfed the effectiveness of Crushing Blow, so it's far far from the quick boss killer it could be in D2C.
Spearazons are another option, but this is really suicidal HC. You have no shield, and not enough hps to melee stuff, and any bit of lag you'll be killed very easily. Most of the time you are doing Bosses on hell that have horrible mods for melee. Fanaticism, Might, Extra Strong, Extra Fast, Cold Enchanted, Holy Shock, Holy Freeze, etc. They hit you and they really hurt, or slow you so your attack is at a crawl.
If you are going to go Spearazon, you want to use Jab or Fend, and have as much IAS as possible, and a lot of hps and life leech. I did numerous Jabazons back in D2C, before Jab's speed was nerfed, and they were fun, but so prone to death. I did get one to 57 before a close encounter with an MSLE AK, but after that discovered the fun of Bowazons, which were much more likely to survive, and haven't had any desire to try them again in D2X, with Jab nerfed and so many other Amazon variants much more powerful.
My Variant Conclusion
What it boils down to on any Javazon variant is that LF is by far the fastest killing skill an Amazon posses. A Javazon in the Cows is the fastest killing/exp-gaining character anywhere in the game, faster than a Sorc even. So if you are looking to kill quickly (which is sort of the point of the game) you want to use LF as much as possible, and as well as possible. That's what this guide is about.
The other skills are basically just there to supplement your LF, and should cover the deficiencies of LF, which are lacking damage and expensive mana on single targets, and inability to deal with LI monsters. A bow/xbow with Guided Arrow and elemental damage does that better than any other option in the game. You can get by with Spears or jabbing javelins, or throwing explosion potions probably, and if you have fun doing that go for it. Good luck, I'll just be over here, running cows with 450% MF. ;)p
This very long guide is spread over 3 pages.