Diablo II Strategy Guide Info:
- Patch: v1.10
- Gametype: PvE/PvM
- Class: Paladin
- Specialisation: Tesladin (Holy Shock Paladin)
- Author: Wurmer
This guide is generally aimed at making a viable Tesladin in the 1.10 patch iteration. For those of you not yet familiar with the term Tesladin, it simply refers to a paladin using holy shock as his main offensive aura.
You way wonder where Tesladin comes from. A regular on the paladin forum had judiciously suggested that name and I decided to stick with it. Tesla: Nikola 1856-1943, U.S. physicist, electrical engineer, and inventor, born in Croatia. Tesla is a unit of magnetic induction equal to one Weber per square meter.
This guide has no pretensions whatsoever has being the only way to build a Tesladin. I hope it will give some good pointers and hints to paladin players that would like to try that type of paladin.
A warning here, don’t try to fallow this guide to the letter, it’s never easy to do so. Instead use it as a starting point and make your own experimentations.
Stats and skills choices
Statistic point allocation depends on a lot of things and I can’t stress enough the importance of a good planning. Is this going to be a ladder, hardcore or soft-core character, single or realm? What gear is going to be available? Put some thinking before starting your new paladin, it’s certainly worth you time. My suggestions here are mainly aimed at soft-core players and can apply to ladder and none ladder as well as realm or single.
As it's true for pretty much any paladin built, you need enough to wear your weapon and gear. If you already have access to a certain wealth than 90 - 100 strength should suffice. At the other end of the spectrum, if you are playing off realm from scratch than I would suggest something more in the neighbourhood of 120-130.
That’s a bit of a tricky point. The amount of dexterity you will need is related mostly to the choice you will have to make about using or not holy shield. In my case, I have chosen not to use holy shield in order to have more skill points to put where I wanted. To achieve a blocking rate of 75 % I needed a good amount of dexterity so my base dexterity was around 130 -135. I would say that if you integrate holy shield in your built, you could go by with around 100 -110 base dexterity. In any case, the main objective of having enough dexterity is to achieve at all time the 75 % blocking rate. For dexterity adjustments related to blocking rate I would suggest reading the FAQ of the paladin forum. There you will find a formula to calculate the dexterity needed to achieve the desired blocking rate.
Spend all you can spare in here, more the life the better.
No energy is needed for that built.
The beauty of paladin in 1.10 is the incredible amount of sub variants you can make. Not only can you make different built but you can also customize some of these built to suit your own playing style. The Tesladin is prime example of it. Here I will suggest a certain number of skills distribution that I have personally tried and some that were tried by a number of Tesladin players.
1) Fully synergized Tesladin with vengeance as backup skill
- 4 zeal
- 20 holy shock
- 20 resist lightning
- 20 salvation
- 1 vengeance
- 3 conviction
- 10 resist cold
- 10 resist fire
2) Teslafroster, balanced between lighting and cold damage
- 4 zeal
- 20 holy shock
- 20 resist lightning
- 20 holy freeze
- 20 cold resist
- What’s left in salvation or holy shield
3) Tesladin + physical damage
- 20 holy shock
- 20 lighting resistance
- 20 zeal
- 20 sacrifice
- 10 or so in holy shield
4) Tesladin fully synergized no backup attack.
- 4 zeal
- 20 holy shock
- 20 lightning resistance
- 20 salvation
- 10 or so in holy shield
5) Tesladin Fully synergized with holy freeze as back up attack
- 4 zeal
- 20 holy shock
- 20 lighting resistance
- 20 salvation
- 20 holy freeze
6) Tesladin fully synergized with physical damage
- 20 zeal
- 20 sacrifice
- 20 holy shock
- 20 lightning resistance
- 20 salvation
That one is for those of you who are planning to get your Tesladin in the 90 or so. The nice thing here is that it requires very few prerequisites.
What’s interesting to note here is that most of these built are pretty much complete by level 85 or so which is reasonably attainable.
Pros and cons
One of the first thing I’d like to discuss here is the use or not of holy shield. Almost all of my tesladins did not use holy shield. The main and probably only advantage of that strategy is that it gives you plenty of skill points to put somewhere else therefore enabling you to get more synergies or other useful skills. On the other hand, the use of holy shield provides you with plenty of interesting bonus. The increase chance of blocking will save you points in dexterity and by corollary should increase you vitality. Don’t forget, every point in vitality will give you 3 hit points and every HP counts. Also great with the 1.10 patch is the way holy shield works. Previous to 1.10 the defence bonus granted by holy shield was applying only to the shield defence. Now that bonus applies to your total gear defence. It’s a huge improvement. From experience I can tell you that having a defence of 6000-8000 (easily reachable with mid level holy shield or defiance) makes a huge difference over a base defence of 2500-3000. Another advantage of using holy shield is that it will give you more flexibility in your choice of mercenary. Without holy shield your pretty much forced to use a defiance mercenary.
I know that many Tesladin players prefer to have physical damage instead of back up attack. I was told many times that the physical damage gained is often enough to dispatch monsters with lighting immunity. I must admit that I have never built a tesladin using that set of skills. In my views, one of the big advantages of having physical damage as well is that it will help you with your leech, mainly life leech since mana leech is generally not a problem. Another nice advantage of putting many points in zeal is the increased attack it will give you. I can’t say if having a backup attack or having physical damage is more efficient in terms of killing power but I personally find that a backup attack gives more versatility to your paladin. There are a couple of issues here that should be considered. If you are planning on playing mostly within a party, then having a backup attack is certainly not mandatory. On the other hand, having a backup attack using holy freeze or conviction can prove quite useful when playing in a group. If your gaming is going to be done mostly solo or in single player than a backup attack is very much necessary. The debate here should not be articulate around what is better and such but more around your playing environment, playing style and preferences.
One of the major problems when playing a Tesladin is that eventually you will be facing monsters immune to your most potent attack. Generally the problem occurs when you enter hell difficulty where many monsters have an immunity of some sort. To circumvent that your arsenal should definitely contain something to deal with that situation. As I have stated before I like my Tesladin to have a back up attack and the route I took were the built number one and two. I know from personal experience that those 2 built work well, I have tested them extensively. I have also made a fully synergized Tesladin with no backup attack in single player, very bad idea and I mean very bad.
For this built they are a few basics that you should keep in mine. First and foremost, speed is of the essence. You need speed in order to have a high damage rate. Getting to 4 fps zeal is the ideal but if you can’t at least try to reach for 5 fps. Getting to 4 fps zeal without using fanaticism is certainly possible but not many weapons allow it without some serious ias input. Your only two viable choices here, in order to reach 4 fps, are - 30 and - 20 base speed weapon. They respectively require 75 % and 105 % ias to reach 4 fps zeal.
You want to have an item that provides the ‘cannot be frozen’ attribute. I’d say it’s a must.
I can’t stress enough the need for good resistances. Having all your resistances in the 40 % or 50 % won’t do. Also using items with absorption attribute can complement nicely high resistances.
As for any type of paladin using a melee attack, you should be on the look out for items that have the attribute crushing blow. That’s something I had overlook in my pervious guide and it was a big mistake. This attribute helps you in a big way by dramatically reducing the life of you opponent. For more details on the mechanics of this attribute I suggest reading the FAQ of the paladin forum.
Do I need gear that provides damage reduction? Well yes and no. The higher your defence the less you will need it. If your enemies have a rather low chance of hitting you and you have a 75 % blocking rate than it’s probably more expendable. If you decide to go with no holy shield and your defence is on the low side then maybe you should get some. Simply put, having DR gear is never a bad thing but it’s not always mandatory.
Low to mid level helmets are plenty. Lore rune helmet and peasant crown are interesting for their + 1 skill. Crown of thieves is worth considering not only for the leech it provides but also mostly for the huge dexterity bonus. It can help you reach temporarily the 75 % blocking rate till you have enough dexterity. Rockstopper and Stealskull are nice as well. A good old classic like Vampire gaze is always useful. One of the best mid level helmet is certainly Guillaum’s face. It has awesome attributes, like fastest hit recovery and most importantly a high level of cursing blow. Consider using this helmet as one of your end game gear.
As you progress in the game you will have access to helmets that can spawn with + 2 skills. Those are a good way to increase your damage. A + 2 skills will add around 500 lighting damage to your maximum damage. Andariel’s visages, Nightwing, Harlequin crest, Crown of the ages are all good choices in this regard. Another nice choice is the Delirium rune world helmet, with its + 2 skills and numerous % to cast spells. Finally I can’t speak of Tesladin without mentioning the unique diadem Griffon’s eye. With its - 15 % to -20 % to enemy lighting resistance and other nice attributes it’s a nice complement for that type of built.
At Low level pretty much any armour will do. A good rare with nice resistances is always handy. Also, at level 17 I like to use the rune word Stealth. It’s more suited for caster character but it’s easy to make and its attributes can still be useful for anybody. Twichthroe is also very nice low-level armour. For mid game level, Shaftstop comes as a big help with its 30 % damage reduced and a big boost in life. Another armour that I like to use is Skin of the viper magi. + 1 skill and up to 35 % all resistances. If you have the resources and play on ladder realm those two armours are worth considering to be upgraded to their elite version. Shaftstop will require some strength but it’s still easily reachable. Don’t under estimate Viper magi. If you can get your hands on one with 35 % all resistances it’s certainly worth the runes to upgrade it as you will end up with an armour that can have up to 1000 or more defence with other nice attributes.
Similar to helmets, armours can spawn with + skill. That’s another way to improve you damage output. Many of the new rune word armour sports + 2 to all skill. Namely Chain of honour and Enigma. The problem with those 2 excellent armour is that the scarcity of the runes involved in the making might put them out of reach of many. If you are wealthy enough to make an Enigma armour, I would suggest making it in the lowest strength requiring armour. This could give you a huge life boost, as you would save a major amount of points that should have been spent in strength.
Recently some new rune words have been introduced to the realms. One of them is Duress and I think it would make excellent armour for any Tesladin variant. With resistances, cold damage, crushing blow and open wound it fits the bill perfectly. Furthermore, the required runes are decently easy to find.
Another nice armour that is worth considering is Rattlecage, beside its bright purple colour; it provides a nice 25 % crushing blow. It can be easily upgraded to its exceptional version on and off ladder for better defence. There is only one thing I am not sure about that armour is how annoying 40 % monster flee is.
It’s not possible to speak of armours for a paladin without mentioning the unique templar coat Guardian angel. Simply put, every attribute on it is useful. Running around with all you resistances at 90 % or more can’t be a bad thing and it also provides increase chance of blocking which is good for every paladin but even more so for someone who’s not using holy shield. Again, that armour can be upgraded if you play on ladder realm but in my opinion it’s not worth it because of the new strength requirement, I find that 196 strength to be a bit too much for my taste.
Socketed armours with rainbow jewels are certainly worth considering for those types of built. The best feature of those jewels is the reduction of elemental enemy resistance; it might means up to - 5 % to elemental resistance with each jewel you add to your set up. The increased % to skill does not work on the elemental damage added to your attack; it only works on the pulses of you aura. As another bonus, you get some added damage coming from the elemental damage on the jewel itself.
In early game, I like to use Sigon’s boots in conjunction with gloves. 30 % ias and 10 % life leech can’t be bad. Later in the game I like to use boots with attributes such as dexterity, strength, life etc. There are many choices available depending on your set up, War Traveler, Waterwalk and most of the new elite boots. Again for the crushing blow attribute, Gore rider are very nice. A good pair of blood boots can spawn with very useful attributes, leach and also life regeneration. I can’t mention it enough, don’t by pass rare items. There are some very nice rare items to be found with extremely nice attributes, take the time to identify them.
Again, in early game, I like to use Sigon’s boots and gloves. Another pair of very nice starting gloves is bloodfist and they are also easily upgradeable for later stage in the game. Rare or blood gloves with 20 % ias are certainly usable till you can find something better. Also, lavagout unique gloves proves interesting as they add some fire damage to your attack but also a % to cast enchant on striking. This is a good way to improve your attack rating as you can benefit from a 101 % bonus produced when the spell is cast. For end game gloves I strongly recommend the use of Dracul’s grasp unique gloves. The big minus of those gloves is that you will lose any ias that other gloves could provide but those gloves provide an attribute that can hardly be ignore. They have 5 % chance to cast a level 10 life tap. That alone, is enough to use that pair of gloves. This is a lifesaver for any melee character but particularly for a Tesladin that can’t rely on physical damage to leech back life. Life tap will allow you to leech back 50 % of the damage (not necessarily physical) you have dealt to you enemy so in that sense it’s not like standard leech. It’s also a good way to provide extra leech for your mercenary. Finally, they provide leech on none leechable monsters.
On a side not, be careful when your set up contains a couple of items that can cast on striking. Why is that ? Well when you are counting on life tap to leech back you life you don’t want another curse to be cast and void the first one. Simply put, if you need a certain curse or spell to be cast don’t use another items that can cast a spell of the same nature.
In my opinion, the best Tesladin weapon is a Crescent moon phase blade. For that built it’s next to none. It is fast, provides - 35 % to enemy lighting resistance, ITD, and has a % to cast static field on striking. This built relies on speed so fast weapons are what you will be looking for. Personally, I find that rune word to be one of the best rune/attributes ratios in the game. If you want to include the use of holy freeze in your built, I highly recommend the use of a Doom rune word weapon. Since it’s an expensive rune word to make another nice alternative would be a Heaven’s light unique sceptre. My Teslafroster was using a Doom war spike. Doom weapons are to holy freeze what Crescent moon is to holy shock because it provides a huge - % to enemy cold resistance. It’s not mandatory but one of the most important attribute you will be looking for on weapons, for a paladin using an elemental aura as his main one, is ITD or if you prefer ignore target’s defence. Since most of those built can’t rely on offensive auras or combat skills to get a decent attack rating it helps a great deal when you can by pass you opponent’s defence. If you can’t find a proper switch weapon when you switch to holy freeze, your crescent is still very usable.
Similar to the armour I have made with the rainbow jewels, I have made a weapon using the same jewels. It’s a 6 sockets phase blade with 5 Rainbow jewels and one eth rune in it. It does well enough, not the equal of Crescent moon but very usable. Also usable before you can find better, a fast weapon using multiple eth runes can help you hit you opponent well enough
At lower level, I used a Steel rune word long sword. A Holy thunder war sceptre would do just as well even if it’s a bit slower it provides very nice attribute. Better still; if you can find a divine sceptre to make that rune word you’ll be able to use it later on in the game. Funny as it might seem, I don’t suggest using a sceptre loaded with + to individual skill to make that rune word, it will raise the repair cost to an indecent level. At level 25 you don’t want to spend 300k to repair your weapon.
Again rare can find a place in your set up, it’s even truer now that you can upgrade them as you progress in the game. A 300 + ed long sword, crystal sword etc, can turn into godly weapon with the right attribute.
Another weapon that can be use while waiting for something better. Is a necromancer’s wand. You can buy one with the ITD attribute rather easily. I used a very nice rare wand for a sometimes and it was doing ok. Some of those wand can get huge elemental damage and they are fast. The only down side here is that their durability is an issue because it’s generally pretty low since they usually not use in melee. You might get lucky and find one that is indestructible.
Another very nice rune word for a Tesladin/Teslafroster is Beast. Having a level 9 fanaticism aura coming from a weapon opens up a lot of possibilities. I have not tried it myself by I have discussed it with someone who did and he was very satisfied with the result.
For a mid level weapon Aldur’s mace is a good choice, it now comes with sockets and it has ias. Get one with 3 sockets and put 3 ias jewels/ runes in it you end up with quite a speedy weapon with half decent damage. Another very nice mid level weapon is the unique sceptre Zakarum’s hand. It’s fast and has ITD.
Angelic set is almost always forgotten in any built most of us do. It’s a great mistake in this case. At low level this set up provides very nice attributes. As you progress in the game you can drop some parts of it for better items, namely the armour. The sword, ring and amulet can be use well into nightmare till you can get you hand on a crescent moon weapon. The amulet and ring can even find a place in you final set up as they give you a huge attack rating bonus. It can be extremely useful if you have attack rating problems.
It’s not mandatory but you will probably need a switch weapon with this built for when you are facing lightning immune monsters. In this case I favour pure physical damage over speed. For this I was using the unique sceptre Heaven’s light with 2 x ed jewels in it. It has good damage, sockets, ias and + skills and crushing blow. I have tried Baranar’s star on switch but I liked the sceptre better when I was using conviction. Finding a proper switch weapon shouldn’t pose too much of a problem really, many of the new unique weapon will do well. Many of the new rune word can fit the bill to. Also weapons displaying high elemental damage other than lighting should be considered as they work well with vengeance and conviction.
My Teslafroster was using a CM phase blade paired with holy shock and a Doom war spike paired with holy freeze when facing lighting immune monsters. This is an extremely efficient set up; the only problem here is finding the runes and weapon for the Doom rune word.
A weapon you might want to have on your switch or in you stash is Demon limb unique tyrant club. They main interest of this weapon is that is has charges of level 23 enchant. The charges are somewhat expensive to repair but you will gain an awesome 219 % bonus to your attack rating as well as good fire damage and at this level the duration of the spell is quite long, around 11 minutes.
The shield is certainly one of the key elemental of your set-up. The paladin is, without a doubt, the character who benefits the most from it and he should take full advantage of it. As I see it, the shield is the best item of your set up to provide you with resistances. Again, depending on your set up and the use or not of holy shield you have plenty of choices.
My own choice was a Sanctuary rune word shield. It has many of the attributes I was looking for such as, increased chance of blocking, faster blocking rate and faster hit recovery. On top of that, it provides an awesome 108 % to all resistances (base shield had 45 % all resistances). The increased chance of blocking is particularly important if you don’t use holy shield, it helps you achieve the 75 % blocking rate. One attribute on that shield that might seem inconspicuous is the charges of slow missile. Those charges are extremely useful when you enter and area infested with range attackers. I also think, that this rune word is reasonably hard to make. To make this rune word I would suggest that you wait for the proper shield, any elite paladin shield with good inherent resistances will do. Frankly, if you have any resistances problem that can be your ticket to fix it at once.
Another top pick is obviously the Herald of Zakarum. It does not need any presentation I am sure. Again, I would go for resistances and socket it with a perfect diamond or an um rune. Simply put, it’s probably the best all around shield for a paladin. If your lucky or filthy rich, a 15 ias/15 resistance all jewel could be a very nice socket for that shield.
Another shield that does not need much introduction is the Storm shield. Though, it lacks in the resistance department, its 35 % damage reduced, + 35 strength and 25 % increased chance of blocking makes it another prime choice.
Exile rune word shield has great attributes; there is no question about it. The scarcity of the runes involved in the making will probably put it out of reach of many. Also, it lacks any increase chance of blocking which would make it more suitable for someone planning on using holy shield. If you have the resources to make that rune word, I would suggest waiting for an ethereal shield. Since it has auto repair, getting an ethereal one will grant extra defence. Again here, a shield with inherent high resistances is certainly recommended.
Tiamat’s rebuke can be use as a switch shield as it does add an incredible amount of elemental damages which is totally adapted to the use of vengeance + conviction.
Before you can use all those shields mentioned above, you will need one till then. Ancient pledge rune word or Rhymes are good options. Again, try to find a paladin shield with good inherent resistances. A Rhymes shield in any elite paladin shield with good base resistances is probably usable till you beat the game.
It may take a while before you find the right shield and the right runes to complete your set up, till then, a good elite paladin shield with 4 perfect diamonds and good inherent resistances can serve you well.
Early in the game, what I often do is I load any shield I can find with sockets with Eld runes. It’s a good way to improve your blocking rate, which is often very deficient when your character is in his low levels. If you are lucky, you might even find a rondach or targe with resistances and multiple sockets this would serve that strategy well.
A few good choices here again, String of ears, Nosferatu’s coil, Thundergod, Immortal king, Verdungo,Trang-oul’s, even Goldwarp in the earlier stage of the game. Goldwarp is easily upgradeable to its exceptional version and with Nosferatu’s coil there are the only two belts that provide a 10 % ias. It can be pretty handy when you are short on ias. The unique arachnid mesh belt cant be useful too with + 1 skill and slow target.
My two top picks here are Cat’s eye and Highlord’s wrath. Both have 20 IAS that’s why I favour them. + Skill amulet like Mara’s or Seraph’s are good choices, nice rare can do as well. Blood amulets are likely to have interesting attributes. I like Cat’s eye because it has a huge dexterity bonus and in my book it’s more points for me to put in vitality. Highlord is nice for its + 1 skill but the deadly strike is mostly useful if you have a decent amount of physical damage.
One of your rings should be a Raven frost. Not only does it provide the much needed ‘cannot be frozen’ attribute but it gives a huge increase in attack rating and dexterity. Even though you won’t be leaching a lot, since your damage is mostly elemental, you will want some leech nevertheless. I was lucky and gambled a very nice dual leech rare ring. Bul-kathos’ and Carrion wind have leech and other useful attribute. Wisp projector might be a good ring to keep in your stash if you don’t like to use all the time. This ring sports lightning absorption which can be very handy for certain part of the game.
I have not tried it but using life regeneration items might solve partially your leach problem as well as damage goes to mana items.
One of the problem your likely to encounter with this built concern your attack rating. To increase it to a decent level you can rely only on items and charms. What I did is that I loaded my inventory with as much attack rating charms as I could. I also used resistance charms with life. Using weapons and items with ITD and - % to monsters defence is another way to improve your hitting rate.
Without hesitation, my top pick is defiance mercenary. As far as I can tell, high defence is of big help in 1.10. I tried a holy freeze one but it did not work so well. Getting hit less seems better than slowing your opponent when you are getting in close quarter with monsters. Don’t underestimate what your mercenary can do for you. Mine is an integral part of my set up. Provide him with the best gear you can get. Shaft and Gaze and a high damage weapon with good leech if possible. If you can get your hands on one, I suggest the Reaper’s troll pole arm, it has a 33 % to cast a level 1 decrepify on striking. Slowing and reducing the damage of your enemies can’t be bad. If you are wealthy enough, a doom weapon for you mercenary is a very good option, as it will provide him with the holy freeze aura. Tomb reaver is another nice mercenary’s weapon.
Hints and Strategies
Something is very counter intuitive in playing a melee paladin in this patch. You would think that you could just jump in the fray and decimate all that stands in your way like you are used to. Usually that’s what a melee paladin does. You will find it’s not so true when you are progressing in the game and you will lose all your illusions when you hit hell. You can go through normal and nightmare without too much problems if you have half decent gear but when you enter hell it’s another ball game. You will have to adapt your strategies. Before entering hell take the time to level up your character, both of my Tesladin were well into their late 60 when they entered hell.
Don’t go in hell and charge head on in every pack of monsters you see, that’s a good way to end up dead. Take a few seconds to study the pack of monsters and it’s surrounding. More often than not, there are other monsters not too far waiting for you. Champions and boss are a plenty and mob mixing range and melee attackers are not uncommon at all.
Retreating is nothing to be ashamed of. I call that strategic retreat. I use that to either split the monsters forces or to avoid being overwhelmed. Forget about standing your ground with all the monsters pack you will be battling, it’s just not possible. Cursing and extra strong boss are very frequent in hell. Common sense will tell you not to engage in a battle you know lost from the start. A situation that is extremely perilous is when monsters using elemental damage such as venom lord, black soul, golam etc are ganging you upon. It's not too hard to withstand their attack if you are facing one or two of them but when there is more than a couple of them, watch out! Even if you have maximum resistance you will take some serious beating. In those situations you will probably appreciate and armour like Guardian angel.
Even though, you do not need a lot of mana to use zeal be careful of mana draining monsters. When you get hit your mana goes from full to 0 that can be annoying in certain circumstances.
Playing a Tesladin is fairly easy, most of the time you will be using zeal + holy shock. Pretty much all monsters that are not lighting immune should get dispatched fairly easily. When you encounter a mob of lighting immune monsters switch to vengeance and conviction or holy freeze. At all time make sure you are in your mercenary’s aura range, wait for him if need be. It will make the difference between life and death.
One of the hardest spot for a Tesladin is act 4. There, you will encounter monsters that are immune to lighting and will hit you constantly with mana drain. I have no miracle solution to this. Make sure you have a good supply of mana potions and use you secondary attack as much as you can. A Teslafroster will have an easier time here to dispatch monsters but he will get is mana drained just the same.
I think this patch iteration is providing us with the chance to try new built or improve old ones. Tesladin are not new but what was of a very discreet built in 1.09 has become a full-fledged built in this patch. This built as gain much because of the synergies and it makes it fun to play rather than tedious. I am sure this built will be improved, as people will find new strategies and tactics.
For those of you who may wonder about that PVP potential of this built I must say I have not tried it but I very much doubt it would be very efficient. The lack of defence, attack rating and leach would make it a poor PVP built just to name a few.