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Sep 4, 2018
I just beat normal difficulty with my Bonemancer, known in short to immature people as the Boner (yeah, go ahead and laugh). Magic is a different type of elemental damage that isn't resisted by many and few monsters are immune to it. Strange that monsters can increase their magical resistance and yet we can't! Which seems unfair to me. Also, there's no way to reduce the magic resistance of monsters. Still, bone armor did make me practically immune to physical damage, which is one of two only ways to be immune to a certain type of damage, the other being the druid's cyclone armor.

I did something different with this bonemancer than what I usually did years ago. For this bonemancer, I did not invest any points in energy. As I did with my previous build, the fire sorceress, I relied on mana potions and equipping items that replenished mana per kill.

At the start I got the necessary prerequisites, then pumped teeth until bone wall became available. Then I pumped bone wall to increase the damage of teeth which at that point was my primary attack so that I would not increase it's mana cost and to increase the life of bone armor. Once bone spear became available, I made it my primary attack to inflict more damage and pumped it. Once bone spirit became available, I pumped it to increase bone spear's damage without increasing the mana cost.

Through it all, I got a point in clay golem to act as a tank, golem mastery to increase its speed and life, and summon resist to increase its resistances. I also got curses to help me through normal difficulty including iron maiden to help with bosses and tough superuniques. My main curse at the end was decrepify, although I'll need to respect in order to get rid of iron maiden since I won't need it anymore due to monsters having partial physical resistance in higher difficulties.

Bone Spirit will be maxed first, then Bone Spear, then Bone Wall and Bone Prison, and finally Teeth. All this skills need to be maxed to increase the damage of my bone spears and spirits as well as increasing the life of my bone armor.

Here is my planned endgame equipment for myself and my hireling:

Helmet: Harlequin Crest (increased skill levels, life, and mana)
Amulet: Mara's Kaleidoscope (increased resistances and skill levels)
Armor: Enigma Archon Plate (teleport skill, increased skill levels, life per kill)
Weapon: Heart of the Oak Flail (increased skill levels, resistances, and cast speed)
Swap Weapon: Call To Arms Flail (debuff purposes)
Shield: Darkforce Spawn (increased mana pool, skill levels, and casting speed)
Swap Shield: Spirit Monarch (increased skill levels for debuffing purposes)
Rings: 2 Stone of Jordans (increased skill levels and mana pool)
Belt: Arachnid Mesh (increased skill level, casting speed, and skill level)
Boots: Silkweave (increased mana pool, mana per kill)
Gloves: Magefist (increased casting speed and mana recovery)

Act 2 Nightmare Defensive Hireling

Andariel's Visage (life leech and skills levels to increase level of holy freeze)
Treachery (increased resistances and attack speed)
Insight Cryptic Axe (meditation aura to increase mana regeneration rate)

If I keep my current skill layout, once I have all my important skills maxed, I won't have any skill points left at level 99. Like I said, I'll need to respect to get rid of iron maiden, or should I get rid of curses altogether? What about summoning? How does my equipment for myself and my hireling look? Should anything be changed? What skills should I get rid off when I respec and where should those skill points go?


May 1, 2012
Well, opinions differ and it looks like a lot of your choices are similar to concepts I've seen before, perhaps the traditional version of a bone necro.

And I don't want to discourage that: I ultimately chose a different path but I do not want to tout it as superior. Basically, I wanted a bone necro who could also engage in melee combat. I sacrificed some items that make being a caster more convenient for slots that gave me a reasonably robust melee role. Melee is faster at killing bosses and tears right through magic-immune monsters. I liked it, but it's also not strictly necessary.

Now, as for the things that are more broadly applicable, here's my take...

You want exactly 6 hard skill points into curses. Amplify Damage, Life Tap, and Decrepify are all useful. Terror, Weaken, and Iron Maiden are prereqs. Decrepify slows down powerful monsters and helps your merc in combat. Life Tap can be used to save your merc from dying. And Amplify Damage is for Corpse Explosion.

Depending on what your goals are, you could potentially ignore the Summoning tree, but I've come to the conclusion that every necromancer should have at least 9 hard skill points there. That's a single point in everything except Fire Golem. Why? Revives! They can be a bit cumbersome a lot of the time and you might not always use them, but Revive is kind of the strongest skill in the entire game. With those 9 hard point invested and with +skills, a bone necro can generate a short-term army of considerable power. I used this myself to easily and repeatedly run Baal on /players8 with a bone necro. Usually I'd make an army of Moon Lords from WSK and the Throne of Destruction to clear his first few minion waves, then make a new army out of his fourth minion wave. Also, if you're using Enigma anyway, you can teleport to keep your Revives concentrated in a location of your choosing. It's well worth those 9 points.

And then there's Corpse Explosion. I didn't see you mention it, but the skill is generally the primary killer for bone necros. You don't sit in the same spot for 5 minutes shooting every monster on the screen to death with Bone Spear. You kill a couple of them and then blow up the rest with CE. But how many skill points go into it? Depends on whom you ask. Maxing the skill gives you a massive range, but you have to drop a synergy for your Bone Spear. Some would argue that the scale of the damage difference between the board-wiping Corpse Explosion and the puny little Bone Spear is such that you might as well optimize the more powerful thing: one more synergy isn't going replace the killing potency of a maxed Corpse Explosion. And that's true. Others would argue that a bone necro is using so much +skill gear that Corpse Explosion already gets a decent radius. A lot of the time you're blowing up corpses and the monsters you're killing are right next to the corpses already, so that huge radius is sometimes wasted anyway. And that's also true. Some would advocate for a mixed approach, throwing some points into CE to get the radius to some amount perceived to be desirable once +skills are accounted for. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. I've found that a bone necro with only a single hard point in Corpse Explosion can get the job done, albeit not quite as quickly. And if you do only invest a single point in CE, you can dump those points into another Bone Spear synergy. But I've also seen the max CE approach and it has its appeal too.

Holy Freeze is an unusual choice due to the aforementioned use of monster corpses, but I've seen some exaggeration on that front. You could employ a Holy Freeze merc and alo use Corpse Explosion. Still, I don't think I'd go for it myself. My suggestion would be a Might merc if you're planning on letting your merc actually swing at stuff. If you mostly just want someone to wield Insight, then I'd go for a Prayer merc. Prayer synergizes with Meditation.