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Warrior 101

From Diablo 2 Wiki

This colorfully-written guide to low-mid level Warrior play was written by Armin.

Getting Started

Good morning , Ladies...

Sit down, and cut the chatter.

My name is Wolfslayer, First Lieutenant, service number K302, second regiment of the Lady Katrina's guards, Knights of Justice. Warrior of the 29th circle. I'm here to talk about Bushido - the way of the warrior.

There is an excellent lecture by General Bolty going on next door, that covers all the finer points of strategy and tactics for the experienced Warrior. But I advise that all of you who have just come in fresh from boot camp, listen to some tips for the common grunt first. After all, you'll want to survive the time and endless battles it takes, to BECOME a Warrior of the 35th or higher circle in the first place...

You can quit that "Sir, yes, Sir!" routine, ladies... You're not in boot camp anymore and I'm not your drill instructor. You should nevertheless listen to what you're gonna hear here, because it may keep your butt out of trouble...

Now, you learned the basics. You should be in good physical shape, and know how to handle the standard issue Tristram Defense Forces short sword, buckler and club without embarrassing yourselves. Most of you may have neglected the more theoretical and mental aspects of their training, but I'll address that later.

The first question in most cases is usually, what to do with the money you received when leaving basic training. Many tend to buy the best protective equipment they can get for 100 gold from that overcharging local blacksmith... I would advise otherwise. The cloak and simple cap you may be able to afford won't last for long. You'll find - and NEED - better in no time. But your money will be gone. There are two philosophies that both have their merits:

  • Save your cash until after your first venture against the evil hordes, and try to buy a decent set of leather armor asap.
  • Buy two small healing potions from the local healer. Both have their pros and cons - in the end it's up to everyone's


Into Combat

Ok, now you enter the dungeons, searching for your first clash with the evil hordes... Heed a few simple things and you will prevail.

First of all: Don't charge blindly into the fray. Hollow machismo like that will certainly kill you. A wise Warrior will seek to be in control of the battle at any time. Don't let the enemy dictate your actions. By advancing slowly you should control how many enemies you will face.

[Technical side note: Don't left click at every enemy you see, especially not if they are at the other end of the screen! Your char will walk towards it and activate more, as he closes... Unless you are well over-equipped this will kill you in the long run.]


Advance. Watch. Listen. Analyze the situation. Let the enemies close on you and engage them at your terms. Look for a good position. Don't hesitate to RETREAT to one. Retreating to a better position has nothing to do with cowardice. But getting surrounded and killed has very much to do with stupidity.

Good positions are: Next to a wall. That eliminates 3 positions from which something could attack you. Next to a corner. Especially if you just retreated around it. This will channel the enemies into attacking you single file and keep them from surrounding you for the few seconds you need to finish some off. IN FRONT of a door. Don't stand IN the door at first. This will allow 3 enemies to attack you at once. Standing one step in front of it, you can finish of ARMIES of monsters one by one... Natural choke points. Like between pillars, barrels, anything that keeps you from being surrounded.

Healing Potions

A note on healing potions: I use the small ones Pepin offers until very late in my career. Unless money is of no more concern, the small ones offer the better value for your gold. As you should never let your life drop too far, you'd waste a lot from the expensive big pots by drinking them early... I like to gulp a healing pot when my life is down below 50%, just to be on the safe side... With small pots, you're using your money to better effect.. And: learn to access your belt well! If you have to think about where in it your next potion is, in a tight spot you will die. None of the advanced strategies ever has the slightest chance to work, if you don't manage to keep yourself alive by drinking potions at the proper moment.

Weapon Selection

Now, which weapons should you use in the beginning? The basic problem is: the old church and it's catacombs are infested by the undead... You'll find many skeletons, and as they have no flesh left to cut, your sword will only be half effective. A blunt weapon, OTOH, will even do some extra damage against them. BUT: There are also animals that will attack you. The scavengers and their stronger brethren take only half damage from clubs, but extra damage from swords, so it can often be a tough choice... Same goes for all the winged fiends - they are animals, too... Well, I for my part take a sword, or any edged weapon as my default weapon. The reasoning is: The scavengers and winged fiends are usually more dangerous than the skeletons. If I meet a mix of creatures, I'd rather kill the dangerous ones quick and take some more swings at the skeletons. With some practice (and I advise to practice all aspects of your skills anyway) you can switch weapons quickly, especially if you heed my advice to advance with care, if you see a large pack of skeletons advancing. On level three of the church you will NEED a good blunt weapon, as this is the realm of King Leoric and his skeletal hordes... (I'll come to that later)

[Side note: forget blunt weapons or switching weapons once you enter nightmare or hell difficulty... The skeletons there drop just as well from your sword as they lack 100, respectively 200 hit points due to an unfixed bug]

As a Warrior, you'll need to constantly improve your weapons and armor. Always look for the best armor you can find. Enchantments that add to your abilities are nice, but you should focus on the best possible protection. Select enchantments that increase the armor class above all else. Same goes for the shield - and you should use one at all times - a good AC is paramount, everything else is a nice added bonus, if you can get it. And remember Colonel Da O'Toth's important addition: Only a shield will let you block attacks, that would otherwise hit you. Arrows, too, and even spells, if your resistance is low.

[Important note for Hellfire owners: In Hellfire you might wish to reconsider this. Blocking works slightly different than in classic Diablo there. A Warrior with shield or a monk with staff will try to block BEFORE hits or resistance are calculated. That way they can literally "block themselves to death". The so called "block stun" can be deadly if you're facing some ranged attackers that would normally not cause that much damage, but force you to block ALL their attacks now... Then you can't hit back - especially the melee monsters that might be there, too. Well - in short: My Hellfire Warrior uses a two-handed sword :)]

I advise to use a good sword, or other one handed weapon. Axes swing slower, and they, as do Mauls, rob you of the shield's protection AND the ability to block attacks with it. The higher damage an axe or maul might offer is, IMO not worth it. For the helm again, take one that has a good AC above all else. Secondary enchantments are nice, but no use if you are hit too often... In the beginning, you should pick up and sell everything you find lying around in the dungeons (except perhaps rags and bucklers...) to raise the money for better equipment. Conserve your money, by repairing your gear yourself. This will lower the durability some, but in the beginning your equipment will be raplaced by better things frequently. Let Grizwold fix only those items you think you will keep for a longer time.

Oh, and something to heed for later: You may wish to keep a set of replacement gear (probably the last set you used, before you found better) in town, for the utmost emergency. If you die and only the recall to town enchantment can bring you back from the dead, all your gear not in your enchanted backpack will remain in the dungeon. To retrieve it can be a pain in the butt for us, who depend most on their steel... A good reason to learn the Telekinesis spell as soon as you can. Retrieve your gear from a safe position, then show those nasties who's the boss again...

I'll not discuss jewelry here - in the beginning be glad if you can find ANYTHING useful... Later on, some enchantments that add to-hit chance, life, resistances or all stats are very handy. Refer to Gen. Bolty's advanced lecture for details... Only note: The "of thieves" enchantment is something never to pass up if you find it. Due to a misspelling in the magic formula, it not only halves the damage you receive from traps, but from EVERY ranged monster attack - be it arrow or magic. [Ed. note: This has been fixed in version 1.07 - it is now limited to trap damage as originally intended.]

The choice of weaponry is a philosophy in itself. I'll only mention two basic considerations: Always look out for two things: Do I HIT the enemies most of the time, and do I cause enough damage to "stun" them, i.e. do they recoil from the shock and pain if I hit them? If the answer to both questions is "yes", your weapon is fine, if not: look for some better weapon that fixes the problem. Never throw items away, that improve your magic skill, even if you are not going to wear them in combat. Use them in town, to boost your understanding of the magic arts and read a few more spellbooks! (Some call these things their "reading glasses"...) Note that these glasses can come in handy in item retrieval, too. Everything that helps you cast more spells will help, once your best armor and weapon lie at the feet of some monsters that killed you!


Some notes on spells: Many Warriors disdain the use of magic. They think it not "honorable", or a waste of effort. I couldn't agree less. I think that a wise Warrior will use any means at his disposal, including all the spells he might come upon and learn in his travels. Of course, one should not focus on offensive spells... We're simply no match for the sorcerors, or even the sisters here. You'll always cast too slow and hit too badly, to punch it with a fireball... But especially early on, there are a lot of spells that will help you greatly. Healing is the first. Learn it ASAP. Use your limited mana and all the potions you may come upon, to preserve healing potions. You will last longer. Don't bother with firebolt or charged bolt too much... You'll do more damage with a sword... Sometimes, ranged attackers can be an exception, but you'll still not be very good at it...

Holy Bolt can come in handy early on, as you can take out some of these pesky skeleton archers with it. They can really be a pest, they flee from you and make you look like a porcupine at times. Holy Bolt, even at your poor casting speed, can be quicker that chasing them around. And as they tend to stand still while firing at you, you'll even hit them most of the time...

Forget Inferno. For it to work, the critters have to be close. And if they are close... *pats the hilt of his sword* The very best early support spell is a decent Fire Wall. Once you can cast one, it can be a great addition to your fighting skills. Positioned behind the door you are fighting in front of, or cast behind you to cover a retreat, it will weaken, even kill lots of enemies before they close in. Later in the game, your skill will probably not suffice, to keep the Fire Wall hot enough to severely damage the tougher creatures. But early on, learn it and learn to use it well. Town portal is a must to make you dungeon trips more safe, AND more convenient... [Always cast a Town Portal in the first safe corner on a new level!] Lightning, like Fireball, Elemental, Chain Lightning, Flame Wave, has its drawbacks for a Warrior. All these spells can be used to some effect, but face it - you'll not even come close to a sorcerer's prowess with them... A Guardian, later on, can be effective to recon around corners, to draw out enemies and to support you with some firepower while you are fighting. I will not even mention the spells of the 4th degree...yet. Gen. Bolty covers the finer points of Telekilling, but leave that for later... MUCH later...


My opinion on training: Early on, as you gather experience, you'll want to improve your stats. But what to focus on? I might be in contradiction to many, but: early on, don't improve your strength too much! Practice your hand-eye coordination, and raise your dex. This will be VITAL for blocking with your shield, and hitting your opponents. Harden your constitution, to improve vitality. You'll last longer in battle. AND: Put some effort into your mental skill, and learn magic, at least to stage 17 early, so you may learn healing, and other spells later. Only train your strength from time to time, in order to be able to use the next better weapon or armor. The only benefit apart from that, is better damage in melee. And that depends HEAVILY on your experience. A Warrior of the 10th circle, for instance, needs 10 points of strength for a single added point of damage. Once you are MUCH higher, pump all the iron you can, and get your strength REALLY up.

[Or, put simple: Blocking, to-hit chance and AC bonus are based on dex, High vitality gives more hit points and magic the ability to use spells. Str*clvl/100 is the damage bonus you get in melee. As you see, that is only really interesting at higher levels. The only other thing Str is good for, is wearing better armor and weapons.]

Some basic strategies

I already mentioned the use of proper positioning, choke points and the right speed of advancement/retreat against melee monsters. But now comes the hard part: what to do against those cowardly ranged attackers, that can REALLY ba a pain in the butt? Well, there is no golden way, but there are quite a few things that work. Decide which one to use depending on personal preferences and the situation. Think before acting, and use your brains, not just your brawns.

The most important thing first: Don't get obsessed about chasing a fleeing enemy. Abort the pursuit, as soon as it takes you into undiscovered territory. I have seen many a fresh recruit die, when a fleeing monster - be it a goat archer or a fallen one - lured him into a pack of other creatures. Be patient. They will return. If you activate some other, retreat, and finish off the pursuers first, then return to the one that fled.

Try to use holy bolts, once you know the spell against skeleton archers. Use Fire Walls later, to keep Goat Archers from fleeing (or to barbecue them WHILE fleeing...).

Later, against some of the spell-casting types, like Magistrates or Cabalists, even Advocates, if nothing else works and you are alone, consider the use of a bow! You might not be as precise or as fast with it as one of the sisters, but against those teleporting demons, a bow can be your best friend at low levels!

But above all, practice the art of cornering ranged attackers. They flee away from you - so retreat, circumvent them, drive the towards a wall and then into a corner. Once there they won't stand a chance. It even works against those mages. Once cornered they can only teleport on the spot and will surely fall for your sword. Visit Gen. Bolty's lecture for diagrams and further detail about it.

Be careful about those spitting doggies - if they have a boss they often fire a barrage of deadly spit that can drop you in seconds. A fire wall, again, is your best friend against them. Try to stay JUST out of their reach, and warm up their behinds with it... Try to isolate the remains and finish them off one by one. Oh, and: Heed the advice of Colonel O'Toth again and STAND STILL while fighting them! Running around among them you'll only end up standing in the puddles of acid they leave behind when dying... [Translation: Use the SHIFT key... see below...]

One other kind of trouble makers are those flying fiends that "Blink" to another spot. Especially when with a boss the can be VERY nasty, surrounding you in no time. Use a bladed weapon, as they are animals [1.5x damage from swords], and some Firewalls to soften them up. When in doubt, retreat (cover it with a firewall if possible).

A special mention goes to the Zombies of the "Black Death" variety. Avoid them like the proverbial plague! They will cause sickness and a degenerative condition, in which you lose health PERMANENTLY! Never allow them to hit you! Use ranged attacks (Holy Bolt if possible), or fight from a frim stand, to hit them before they hit you.

[Technical note: Not only for them Black deaths: PRACTICE THE USE OF THE SHIFT KEY! Many Warriors neglect it. Stand in a spot, and swing at advancing enemies when they are still two squares away. That way you can "catch" them the very moment they try to enter the adjacent square - seemingly even still one away. This can also work fine when in pursuit of a ranged attacker. Your char will not swing while a square behind, but if you hold the shift key and take a swing out of the movement, you can often catch them, too. And did I mention the usefulness of the shift key in coop games? You'll help those rogues a lot if you don't run around the enemies like a beheaded chicken...]

And, the usual words about the two main bosses that might await you early on:

Boss Advice

The Butcher... well, see if that strange toy that mage came up with, that Landru automaton posts Prof. Pete's "Basic Butcher Bashing 101" somewhere... it can usually be found somewhere on the black board here. Just some short pointers: Don't think about using spells. You'll run out of mana long before you run out of butcher... using a bow might work, if you can catch him behind a grate (he is too stupid to open doors) or in the stairs down (he's even to stupid to get out of them). Otherwise, make sure you have some decent armor (leather or hard leather, a decent cap and small shield should suffice), a good weapon and a belt full of red pots, and bash it out with him... If you don't feel up to it, leave his door closed. Go down to get some more training and perhaps a better weapon and return later.

King Leoric... for him, too, there is an excellent treatment from Prof. Pete that the automaton will continuously repost upon requests... As he is a skeleton, use a blunt weapon. Preferably one with a to-hit enchantment, as Leo can be hard to hit. You might try some holy bolts, but with your slow casing speed and little mana, you'll have much more trouble than a sorc or one of the sisters...

A side note: On occasion, I bashed both of them to death with a staff of healing, when I had one... Just hit them again and again, and cast a healing from the staff from time to time...


And the survival tip on shrines: DON'T TOUCH ANY YOU DON'T KNOW. Hands off goat shrines and cauldrons. The Ornate, Sacred and Fascinating shrine will give you 2 levels for insignificant spells, and diminish your mana pool by one tenth. Many may think that loss to be insignificant to a Warrior.. They couldn't be more mistaken! We with our limited supply of mana are even more dependent on it than those over endowed sorcerers! Losing 40 out of 200 max mana is a lot WORSE than loosing 100 out of a possible thousand! Check the list of shrine effects in that field guide given below and proceed with extreme care!

Well, heed this and you might just stay alive long enough, to qualify for General Bolty's lecture... But anyway, feel free to listen to it right now. While much of the finer points might be outa reach for you yet, it'll give you good pointers on where to go to...

Another thing you'll need later on is some good reference. Look up everything you'll ever need in General (i.R.) Jarulf's field.

And remember, ladies: No one of you undisciplined grunts is gonna die in that dungeon, without my written permission!! Is that clear?