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My Archmage (Hydra/Frozen Orb/Charged Bolt) Version 2.0 if

mattguy

Member
Nov 20, 2004
68
0
26
UK
My Archmage Guide (Hydra/Frozen Orb/Charged Bolt) Version 2.0

Archmage JuwelHexe (Hydra/Frozen Orb/Charged Bolt)
===========================================

“Hell is my destiny and none shall stand between me and the Prime Evils. I will not be unprepared but vigilant against all. Such is my strength against Evil… alone.†– JuwelHexe, The Order of Archmage

Table of Contents:
==============
1.0 Revisions
2.0 Introduction
3.0 Strategy
4.0 Skill Allocation
5.0 Equipment & Damage Analysis
6.0 Other Possible Equipments
7.0 Mercenary Selection
8.0 Stat Point Allocation
9.0 Levelling Up Archmage
10.0 Final Words

1.0 Revisions:
===========
Version 2.0:
- Minor guide update to complement Patch 1.11.
- Added skill level up investment example as a supplement to Section 9.
- Major revamp of Section 6 to be more comprehensive.
- Added Table of Contents.
- Added more information on Hydras in Section 5.
- Added Mercenary Selection section.

Version 1.0:
- Initial Release.

2.0 Introduction
============
I am a big fan of archmage mainly for as long as I can remember because she is able to handle different immunes and more importantly not a cookie cutter build. With this baby, I am constantly challenged by different hordes of monster and I basically need to think before I charge into battle. That's what I call strategy (thought there's still some hack and slash involved). I have built a successful Meteororb as well and being a cookie-cutter build, I find it quite repetitive and boring in the end. So here's a short introduction to my archmage, JuwelHexe. Like different facets of jewel, she can deal different types of elemental damage (cliche I know lol). I would like to share my joy and challenge of using her with all of you.

Patch 1.11 does not really impact much on the game play skills (meaning synergies and skill damages). So, it does not affect your skill allocation directly. The only difference is that you are able to hire mercenaries at 1-5 level difference from your current level. That gives a nice leeway for those of us do not fancy leveling our mercenaries at lower level. Let’s face it, without decent equipments, they will just die too easily and waste your gold resurrecting them. Of course, if you have the patience to level them, you will be rewarded with your mercenary having more hit points (though that doesn’t matter much to me because I aim for damage reduction and life leech kits).

Now, to the type of skills I choose. Being an archmage, skill allocation is normally tight and I realized that it is not easy to balance skills and synergies. So after much consideration (and looking through the archmage thread), I have come to realize that three primary skills from each of the sorc trees will suite my needs really well. Their damage analysis will follow after this, but first why I chose those skills. This guide is not by all means to replace the existing archmage thread, but to hopefully complement it and give some insight to any future archmages.

From Cold Tree, the least dependant on synergy skill is Frozen Orb (FO). It just needs Cold Mastery to be effective and it clearly does not need the pathetic 2% synergy from Ice Bolt. The biggest advantage of FO is its area effect (as compared to Blizzard, which actually focus on specific area) that will aid you in crowd control for non-cold immune monsters.

From Fire Tree, I always have fond memories of Hydra. Though some may find auto-targetting annoying, I find it is actually working in my advantage. More of this will be explained in the strategy section. What more, some do not realize the actual damage throughput of well-placed Hydra with your mercenary is keeping monster occupied. It will be revealed in the skill analysis section. Moreover, it is useful around corners, against Black Souls and witches, a perfect spell to keep you safe in the distance. To say the least, having Hydras sprouting from the ground is damn cool *grin*.

And lastly from Lightning Tree, I noticed that most archmages would use Lightning as their main attack. From my perspective, it is very hard to decide since lightning and chain lightning relies heavily on synergies and mastery to actually work. In addition, I would need high fast cast rate to reliably fire off lightning/chain lightning fast enough when monsters swarming at me and am not terribly impress with their average damage since I cannot get enough skill points to get them synergized to a decent level. Thunderstorm, though it doesn't rely on synergy, is too unreliable for my liking because of its random auto aim and in hell level, the damage and frequency are not high enough to handle the regeneration rate of the monsters. I actually run out of ideas until one day when I was playing with the skill calculator, I finally realized that charged bolt does not really need much investment in synergies. It relies quite heavily on lightning mastery though there is still a minimal synergy points worth investing. From strategy point of view, though you have to make every charge bolt hit to be really effective, that problem is offset by the fact that it is spammable. Moreover, I wouldn't worry too much with my lightning skill because with static field, charged bolt and mercenary, I can kill non-lightning immunes quite reliably. The skill's damage will be discussed later. Note, the average damage for charge bolts is normally higher (assuming all charge bolts hit) than lightning/chain lightning with similar number of points invested due to its spammable nature.

3.0 Strategy
=========
Archmage strategy varies from one archmage to the next. But generally, I find all sorceresses must not forget the best utility spell: TELEPORT.

1) Teleport everywhere and not just to Baal or Mephisto or dueling *wink*. Teleport to escape from danger. Teleport to save your arse from Black Souls. Teleport to place your hydra. Bottom line: Just teleport everytime when danger comes (make sure it is hotkeyed in a convenient position in the keyboard). In addition, I will always recommend 1 point investment into any of the cold shields. I personally use Frozen Armor because it freezes enemies when I am in trouble. That will give me enough
time to teleport away. Teleport is also handy to ensure your mercenary survives the onslaught and positioning him strategically will give you time to deal as much damage as possible while he is tanking the enemies.

2) Use static field as much as possible. Being an archmage, you definitely cannot compete with single/dual-tree sorc. Static field is a god-send for archmage. By reducing non-lightning immune enemies hit points to 50% in Hell, you can ensure that your spells/merc will kill faster by 50%. So use it... don't neglect it. Archmage needs to use all spells in her disposal to kill efficiently.

3) Vitality build or Max-block? Generally, an archmage is quite +skill item dependant. Higher +skills = Higher damage. The nice thing about FO/Hydra/CB archmage is that she is quite dependent to her masteries except cold mastery (you will see the result using skill calculator). +skills = higher elemental mastery levels = higher damage. Thus, when you are focusing on +skills, you will miss out on all those good shields that will provide you with max block with decent dexterity invested (Whistan's Guard, Moser's) unless you feel that +1 skill Visceratuant is enough for you. Personally, I prefer Spirit Monarch (+2 skills, FCR, resists). Spirit Monarch is NOT a blocking shield; the dexterity needed for max block is obscene! So invest those stat points into vitality unless you want to scrape through with 50% block. Though each vitality stat = 2 hit points, I find that it is essential for my survival in hell, especially when I accidentally teleport into a group of monsters or those bloody stygian dolls.

4) Keep your distance. I believe this is quite applicable for JuwelHexe. Hydra is a type of spell you would want to keep your distance while they does their wonders and recasting them when they expire. Keep reasonable safe distance and teleport when enemies close in.

5) Use your environment to your advantage. The main advantage of Hydra is due to the fact that you will be out of harm's way... well most of the time anyway. Cast Hydras around corner while you remain out of enemies' sight. Lure the enemies to ready casted Hydras. With good FCR, you can cast up to the total of 5 hydras. Teleport away while letting your Hydras do all the work. Spam enemies with charge bolt when they are in a tightly knitted group. The list goes on and on. I found out most of sorceresses will just charge into battle and stay rooted at one spot (to their unfortunate demise) while the environment offers plenty of space to maneuver whilst you cast your spells. Again... teleport is the key to survival.

6) Enchant your mercenary. Since Enchant is one of your pre-req spells to Hydra, use it on your mercenary. Most of you will be thinking that Enchant will have too low damage. That is true because if we take lvl1 Enchant (pre-req), lvl18 Fire Mastery see skill allocation section) and at least +10 to skills (see the Equipment & Damage analysis section), Enchant is only mere 100-142 fire damage and 110% AR. But remember, every bit of damage counts for archmage. If your mercenary hits 10 times, he will do additional 1000-1420 fire damage... soon that will suddenly add up to a lot of damage. So never neglect
your pre-requisites... especially Enchant. Another pre-requisite worth mentioning is Glacial Spike. If the enemies are too fast and non-cold immune, freeze them using Glacial Spike. It limits their mobility and provides more time for Hydra to deal its damage or allows you to safely charge bolt them at melee range. Again, never forget about your pre-requisites.

4.0 Skill Allocation:
=================
Fire: (42)
-----
1 Firebolt
1 Warmth
1 Fireball
1 Enchant
20 Hydra
18 Fire Mastery

Cold: (31)
-----
1 Ice Bolt
1 Frozen Armor
1 Ice Blast
1 Glacial Spike
1 Frost Nova
1 Blizzard
20 Frozen Orb
5 Cold Mastery

Lightning: (37)
----------
20 Charged Bolt
4 Lightning
1 Telekinesis
1 Teleport
1 Static Field
10 Lightning Mastery

I find it really hard to balance my skill investment amongst all three elemental skills. I found out after much tweaking with the skill calculators, I have good damage output from all 3 elements with the skill allocation above. As you can see from above, the build will only be finished at lvl 99!! To put some thought into this, I just want to fully utilize 110 points in my arsenal. But realistically, it will finish at least at lvl89 = 100 skills after all the quests. How to reduce the skill allocation by 10 points? Hydra is very dependant on mastery to have good enough fire damage in hell. So that leaves us with cold and lightning skills. Since Cold mastery will not increase its effectiveness after 100% and we have some +skills items, we can actually leave it at level 1 (reduce 4 points). Same goes for Lightning mastery since the lightning synergy only works for hard points invested, we can reduce lightning mastery to level 4 (saving another 6 points). The reason why I reduce lightning synergy is due to the fact that I will be using static field to handle a whole chunk of non-lightning immune monsters' hit points, leaving SPAMMABLE charge bolt and mercenary to handle the rest. So reducing lightning mastery is not as critical as reducing Fire Mastery (since Hydras have casting delays, a 1 sec delay before firing and setup time needed to have 4 hydras casted on average).

As for me, I personally won't foresee any reason that I cannot achieve level 99 because archmage is so darn interesting to play with.

5.0 Equipment & Damage Analysis:
============================
The question of using Tal Rasha's or all unique setup is always a hot debate. I will do the analysis below and we shall draw conclusion from that. This is based on the items I have acquired during all my Diablo II LOD games with help from friends. I will make some assumptions along the way and if there's anything wrong with the calculation, just let me know *grin*. For an archmage, you have to be prepared to invest mid to high-level items. After all, she is an item dependant character.

Tal Rasha's Setup:
==================
Helm: Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest
Amulet: Tal Rasha's Adjudication
Armor: Tal Rasha's Guardianship
Weapon: Tal Rasha's Lidless Eye
Shield: Spirit Monarch
Ring: Raven Frost
Ring: Stone Ring of Jordan
Belt: Tal Rasha's Fine-Spun Cloth
Boots: Waterwalk/Sandstorm Trek
Gloves: Magefists

Total +Skills: +9 to Cold and Lightning (+10 to Fire Skills)
Additional +skills: +2 to Fire, Cold and Lightning Mastery
Additional Information: -15% Enemy Fire & Lightning Resistance, +15% Cold Skills Damage

Hydra:
------
Hydra Damage = 847-947 per bolt per Hydra head (3 Hydra head per cast, max 9 bolts per hydra, average 4 hydras casted)
Average Hydra Damage = 897 per bolt
There are 3 hydras per cast, Hydras damage = avg 2691 per bolt
On normal, each hydra will spew maximum of 9 bolts = avg 24,219 dmg
Taking into consideration of -15% Enemy Fire resistance,

Grand Hydra total damage = avg 27851.85 dmg per Hydra Casted (Enemy resistance = 0)

Frozen Orb:
-----------
Frozen Orb Damage = 399-419 per bolt (-95% Enemy cold Resist)
Average FO damage = 409 per bolt
Considering +15% Cold skills damage = avg 470.35 dmg per bolt
Lastly, considering -95% Enemy resistance for 0 resistance monster

Grand Frozen Orb total damage = avg 917 dmg per bolt (Enemy resistance = 0)

Charged Bolt:
-------------
Charged Bolt Damage = 128-137 per bolt (24 bolts)
Average Charged Bolt Damage = 132.5 per bolt
Total Charged Bolt damage = avg 3180 dmg
Considering -15% Enemy lightning resistance,

Grand Charged Bolt Total Damage = avg 3657 dmg (Enemy resistance = 0)

Lightning:
----------
Lightning Damage = 10-1581
Average lightning dmg = 795.5 dmg
Considering -15% Enemy Lightning Resistance,

Grand Lightning Total Damage = avg 915 dmg (Enemy Resistance = 0)


High Skills Setup:
==================
Helm: Harlequin's Crest
Amulet: Tal Rasha's Adjudication
Armor: Skin of Viper Magi
Weapon: Oculus
Shield: Spirit Monarch
Ring: Stone Ring of Jordan
Ring: Raven Frost
Belt: Arachnid's Mesh
Boots: Waterwalk/Sandstorm Trek
Gloves: Magefists

Total +Skills: +12 to Cold and Lightning (+13 to Fire Skills)

Hydra:
------
Hydra Damage = 980-1113 per bolt per Hydra head (3 Hydra head per cast, average 9 bolts per hydra, average 4 hydras casted)
Average Hydra Damage = 1046.5 per bolt
There are 3 hydras per cast, Hydras damage = avg 3139.5 per bolt
On normal, each hydra will spew maximum of 9 bolts = avg 28255.5 dmg

Grand Hydra total damage = avg 28255.5 dmg per Hydra Casted (Enemy resistance = 0)


Frozen Orb:
-----------
Frozen Orb Damage = 445-466 per bolt (-100% Enemy cold Resist)
Average FO damage = 455.5 per bolt
Lastly, considering -100% Enemy resistance for 0 resistance monster

Grand Frozen Orb total damage = avg 911 dmg per bolt (Enemy resistance = 0)


Charged Bolt:
-------------
Charged Bolt Damage = 161-171 per bolt (24 bolts)
Average Charged Bolt Damage = 166 per bolt
Total Charged Bolt damage = avg 3984 dmg

Grand Charged Bolt Total Damage = avg 3984 dmg


Lightning:
----------
Lightning Damage = 10-2006
Average lightning dmg = 1008 dmg

Grand Lightning Total Damage = avg 1008 dmg

Code:
==========================================================================
|| Enemy Res %				|   0	|  25	|  50	|  75	||
==========================================================================
|| Hydra Avg Dmg/Cast 	| Tal Rasha	| 27852	| 21797	| 18164	| 9688	||
||			| High Skill	| 28256	| 21192	| 14128	| 7064	||
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
|| FO Avg Dmg/Shard 	| Tal Rasha	| 917	| 800	| 682	| 564	||
||			| High Skill	| 911	| 797	| 683	| 569	||
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
|| CB Avg Dmg 		| Tal Rasha	| 3657	| 2862	| 2385	| 1272	||
|| (All 24 bolts hit)	| High Skill	| 3984	| 2988	| 1992	| 996	||
==========================================================================

As you can see from the analysis above, it is quite certain that your Hydras benefit the most from the Tal Rasha setup while Frozen Orb will benefit the most from High Skill setup. Charged Bolt will see noticeable difference once the enemy has approximately 50% resistance and above.

A little more information about Hydra: The damage output above is for 1 casted Hydra spell. In other words, if you have high FCR, you will be able to cast 4-5 Hydras on average during battle. That equates to approximately 111,408 – 139,269 fire damage (Tal setup) and 113,024 – 141280 fire damage against single target. Not too shabby for a skill that requires Fire Mastery only (since we cannot invest in it synergies due to skill points restriction) though you must have patient to set up your Hydras while keeping enemies at bay.

The conclusion? Keep your Tal Rasha setup. As can be seen in the stickied thread "The Truth about Tal Rasha", Tal Rasha setup will have more damage output when the resistance of the monster increases, which is highly probable in Hell. So, having a Tal Rasha setup is no longer a thing to scoff at (although I have people ridicule me when I was looking for a perfect Tal Rasha's Orb *doh*). Of course, the equipment selection is never rigid and you can cater it to your liking. The only weakness in all setups is always regarding resistance, which can be remedied by having lots of resistance charms.

Last but not the least, I have to warn you that Archmage, especially Hydra/FrozenOrb/ChargedBolt build, is not a “fast†damage dealer as you can see from the table above. You have to resort to variety spells, including your pre-requisites, to deal damage “over timeâ€. Do not expect to have your Archmage deal quick death to enemies in Hell difficulty because you won’t have the sufficient damage per cast to do it. Patience and strategy is the key to your survival while you destroy your enemies with a ‘cocktail’ of elemental attacks. To have a quick summary to deal with different immunes in Hell, I have put a short list of skills involved below:

Against Cold Immune: ENCHANT YOUR MERCENARY. Cast Hydras first, Static Field as you wait for the casting delay, another Hydra after its casting delay, when enemies are at 50% of their hit points start your Charged Bolt spam (it has faster casting rate than Lightning). Remember to aim for at least 4 Hydras in the battle while you spam Charged Bolt/Lightning. In addition, since your enemies are not chilled, try not to stay rooted in one spot for too long and watch your mercenary’s health bar!

Against Fire Immune: ENCHANT YOUR MERCENARY. Frozen Orb, Static Field, Frozen Orb, Charged Bolt/Lightning, rinse and repeat.

Against Lightning Immune: ENCHANT YOUR MERCENARY. Cast Hydras first and then Frozen Orb. Put in some Fireballs during casting delays. Repeat the process with caution and watch your mercenary health bar as well.

I just want to stress the importance of ENCHANTING YOUR MERCENARY regardless of any situation. You will not be swarmed specifically by Fire Immunes all the time, especially when there are Unique Monsters around with their minions. Be prepared in all situation and think before you rush/teleport into a horde.
 

mattguy

Member
Nov 20, 2004
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0
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My Guide (continue)

6.0 Other Possible Equipments:
========================
As I mentioned, by all means "suit up" your sorceress to your liking. If you have access to high runes, Chains of Honor is always very nice to complement this build and definitely Stone Ring of Jordan. If you are a MF freak, replace the boots with War Traveler. I am more inclined to Sandstorm Trek because of the FHR and poison resistance. I have to warn you that if you are aiming for high MF, this build might not be good for you. But I personally can cater my MF needs with her to the range of 200%-300%, which is more than enough. The rest is up to the luck of your drop of course. Mara's Kaleidoscope is perfect if you are lacking of resistance. Always aim for +skills equipment if you are poor and cannot afford Tal Rasha’s set yet. Remember Tal Rasha’s Set as whole is a lot cheaper to acquire than those individual expensive uniques.

Bottom line is that there's never â€bad" equipment. Be flexible and try to complement all the equipment pieces. To sum it all up, following is the list of possible equipments (from poor to rich):

HELM: Tarnhelm, Peasant Crown, Lore runeword, Andariel’s Visage (be careful of the –30% Fire Resistance), Crown of Ages.

AMULET: Eye of Etlich, +1 or +2 to Sorceress skills rare/magic amulet, The Rising Sun, Highlord’s Wrath, Mara’s Kaleidoscope.

ARMOR: Spirit Shroud, Duriel’s Shell, Skullder’s Ire, Que-Hegan’s Wisdom, Ormus’s Robes, Chains of Honor runeword, Enigma runeword (though not as useful as CoH), Lionheart runeword.

WEAPONS: Any nice orbs (+sorc skill), Spire of Lazarus, The Iron Jang Bong, Leaf runeword, Razorswitch, Chromatic Ire, Warspear, Skull Collector, Memory Runeword, Wizardspike (Useful for teleport), Heart of the Oak runeword (very good but expensive), Ondal’s Wisdom, Eschuta’s Temper, Death’s Fanthom, Mang Song’s Lesson. Remember, staffs are also quite powerful, especially Chromatic Ire at mid-level, though you need to sacrifice your shield slot.

SHIELD: Viscerataunt, Moser’s Blessed Circle (add two perfect diamonds for fantastic bonus to resists), Lidless Wall, Rhyme runeword, Splendor runeword, Stormshield (damage reduction is nice but consider other shields that offer +skill).

RINGS: Nagelring (for MF), any resists/+life rings/FCR rings, Manald Heal, Dwarf Star, Stone Ring of Jordan, Bul-Khatos’ Wedding Ring (more life = suvivability).

GLOVES: Chance Guards (for MF, higher %MF = more expensive), Frostburn (huge mana boost)

BELTS: Nightsmoke (early levels), Goldwrap (MF), Glooms Trap, Snowclash, Thundergod’s Vigor

BOOTS: Any unique/resists boots, Inferno Stride (early levels), Natasha’s Boots, War Traveller

CHARMS: +resists (most important), +skillers, +life

7.0 Mercenary Selection (Even the toughest need mercenary *wink*)
===================
As an archmage, you cannot clear out enemies fast enough as the likes of single or dual-tree sorceress. You WILL need an extra tank and your mercenary is the key to your survival. With the rise of Patch 1.11, having a mercenary is no longer a problem from any difficulty level because they will always be 1-5 levels apart from your current level!! This allows us to experiment with different mercenaries without leveling up to see if they complement your build.

For the case of JuwelHexe, Act2 Holy Freeze Mercenary complements her really well. With Hydra, the key to high fire damage is when your enemies are quite stationary/with minimal movement. Holy freeze will slow down enemies (even those with cold immunes). Coupled with chilling effect of Frozen Orb for non-cold immune enemies, my little Hydras can reliably hit enemies. In addition, when you position your merc through teleport, the enemies will first be hit by the cold damage from his Holy Freeze. This will 'attract' the enemies’ attention to your merc while you set up your hydras, etc. Don’t forget to keep your merc healthy at all times! Below is the list of mercenaries you can consider:

Act 1 Mercenaries: Ice rogue can actually complement this build really well with her range attack. But unfortunately, for a sorceress, you really need a tank when you have enemies swarming at you. Ice rogue does not really cut out to tank dangerous enemies. This means that, instead of tanking enemies, she has to rely on her attacks to make sufficient enough damage to kill enemies or chill them. Unless you can provide her with really good bow such as Faith, I suggest that you should consider other types of mercenary.

Act 2 Mercenaries: Coupled with their auras, desert mercenaries are one of the best mercenaries to complement any sorceress build. The most useful mercenaries from this Act are from Normal (Defensive = Defiance Aura, Combat = Prayer Aura) and Nightmare difficulty (Offensive = Might Aura, Defensive = Holy Freeze Aura). I am a big fan of Holy Freeze mercenary as seen from above. However, if you want to have a mercenary that kills faster, go for Might Aura. Sometimes, the best defense is the best offense (which translates to the fact that if your merc kills faster, they will be fewer enemies to deal with). Apart from that, it can be quite useful to have Prayer Aura merc as well since you and your merc will have life recovery when dealing with monsters. But in Hell level, you will have some difficulty when your merc is tanking for you since the life recovery will not be able to offset the huge damage you are taking from Hell monsters. If you want more defenses, go for the Defiance Aura merc but I want to warn you that in Hell level, monsters will have high hit rate anyway (some with Ignore Target Defense) and as a Sorceress you will not benefit much from the Defiance Aura since you will rely mostly on your teleport for your defense unless you are an Enchanter. So I would recommend either Might or Holy Freeze merc for an Archmage.

Act 3 Mercenaries: This is quite an interesting choice if you choose to go for it. Though it is quite nice to customize them (they have sword and shield slot open), I am afraid that their usefulness will only last you until the end of Nightmare. In Hell, they also suffer similar problems with Act 1 Mercenaries and against elemental immunes because they rarely use their physical attacks.

Act 5 Mercenaries: Ah… the big daddy of tanks. The barbarian mercenaries have high hit points and life recovery as compared to the rest of the mercenaries. In addition, they have the ability to stun and bash (both synergize with each other) and the ability to dish out huge damage depending on the weapon you equip them with. The only down point of this mercs is the lack of aura. Another disadvantage of these mercenaries is their tendency to rush into battle in frenzy. But your teleport should be able to control them to a certain extend. It is up to individual’s choice. Personally I would go for Act 2 mercenaries.

Possible Act 2 Mercenary equipments:
---------------------------------------------------
I tend to aim for more damage reduction in the choice of their equipment rather than resistance because once they tend to have high resistance anyway once they level up. I have a mixture of equipment that I tend to use and realistic since most of us is not that rich to afford good runewords:

HELM:
- Tal Rasha’s Helm (for life leech and resist for those early levels)
- Rockstopper (Damage reduction, resist)
- Harlequin’s Crest (Damage reduction, +skill)
- Stealskull (life leech and increase attack speed, IAS)
- Vampire Gaze (highly recommended because of life leech and damage reduction).

ARMOR:
- Any mid-level armor if you are poor
- Duriel’s Shell (for resist and cannot be frozen mod)
- Fortitude Runeword (%damage but expensive)
- Leviathan (nice damage reduction, +strength)
- Shaftstop (very good damage reduction - Recommended).

WEAPON:
- Passion Runeword (cheap and watch out for high damage socketed polearm)
- Hone Sundan (3 sockets – add Amn Amn Shael, crushing blow, easy to get, decent mid-level damage)
- Cresent Moon runeword (Static field, ITD, open wounds, -35% enemy lightning resistance)
- Obedience runeword (-25% target defense, -25% enemy fire resist, 40% crushing blow!!, resist)
- Bonehew (2 Sockets – add Amn Amn or Amn Shael or Shael Shael if you have life leech)
- Reaper’s Toll (Decrepify, 11-15% life leech, huge damage – Recommended)
- Insight runeword (though not needed because with high +skills and magefist, your mana regeneration should be sufficient enough)
- Tomb Reaver (Reanimate mod)
- Other more expensive options include Infinity runeword (use it if you can get your hands on it, Conviction aura will do wonders with you damage output) and Breath of the Dying runeword. Doom Runeword is very good if you opt for Might mercenary and supplement him with Holy Freeze Aura (best of both worlds). Lastly, Pride runeword will provide your mercenary with high damage output because of Concentration aura and deadly strike mod.

8.0 Stat Point Allocation:
======================
For this setup and after a *long* discussion about equipment and skill allocation, I will keep it short and simple here. This is the general rule most sorceress use when placing stat points:

Strength: Enough to wear all setup. Aim for 156 to equip your Spirit Monarch.
Dexterity: None. Not interested since I'm using Spirit Monarch.
Vitality: The rest.
Energy: None or minimal if you are playing untweaked. 75 would be the number for untweak character. I won't aim for more than that. With my current equipment, I don't need any additional energy. More importantly, my mana regeneration is fast enough without resorting to mana potions during teleport.

Currently, with my sorceress in Hell, this is what her stats look like for comparison with all her equipment set up (using high skill setup as above):

Strength: 171
Dexterity: 39
Vitality: 334
Energy: 57
Life: 1064
Mana: 640

With these stats, I survived pretty well in Hell difficulty and I have not many worries except for occasional Stygian Dolls/Black Souls swarm.

9.0 Levelling up Archmage:
====================
The basic strategy I use all the time is to save enough skill points for the next skill level breakpoint for the pre-req and main spell. So in other words, before I reach level 30 for those 'cool' spells, I will have enough skill point saved for Hydra, Fire Mastery, Frozen Orb, Cold Mastery and Lightning Mastery. With that tactic, I can ensure that my +skills are put into good use and it will help my survival. I cannot deny that levelling her up to level 30 is excruciating slow (not to mention difficult). Most of the time, I relied on stronger characters while I stay behind with support spells. Following is the example of skill investment I used when I am leveling my Archmage:

Level 2 - Warmth [1] Very important to help you regenerate your mana.
Level 3 - Firebolt [1] Since you have a +1 Firebolt staff in the beginning.
Level 4 - Charged Bolt [1]
Level 5 - Ice Bolt [1]
Den of Evil - Frozen Armor [1]
Level 6 - Frost Nova [1] Use Frost Nova to aid you melee monsters.
Level 7 - Static Field [1] Great against bosses.
Level 8 - Telekinesis [1]
Level 9 - Ice Blast [1] Your first freeze spell.
Level 10 - Charged Bolt [2]
Level 11 - Save [1]
Level 12 - Fireball [1], Lightning [1] Lightning in the case where charged bolt is not dealing enough damage.
Level 13 - Charged Bolt [3]
Level 14 - Charged Bolt [4]
Level 15 - Charged Bolt [5]
Level 16 - Save [1]
Level 17 - Save [2]
Level 18 - Glacial Spike [1], Teleport [1], Enchant [1] Remember to use Enchant on your mercenary.
Level 19 - Charged Bolt [6]
Level 20 - Charged Bolt [7]
Radamant’s Quest - Charged Bolt [8]
Level 21 - Charged Bolt [9]
Level 22 - Charged Bolt [10]
Level 23 - Charged Bolt [11] Charged Bolt would be your focus until you have Frozen Orb.
Level 24 - Blizzard [1] Use Blizzard to supplement your damage until Level 30
Level 25 - Charged Bolt [12]
Level 26 - Charged Bolt [13]
Izual’s Quest - Save [1]
Level 27 - Save [2]
Level 28 - Save [3]
Level 29 - Save [4]
Level 30 - Hydra [1], Fire Mastery [1], Frozen Orb [1], Cold Mastery [1], Lightning Mastery [1]

From here onwards, things will get simpler. Here’s the order to maximize out your skills as a summary:

Frozen Orb -> Hydra -> Charged Bolt -> Fire Mastery (to level 18) -> Lightning Mastery (to level 10) -> Cold Mastery (to level 5) -> Lightning (to level 4).

The order I have suggested is based on my experience as an Archmage. All the investments will help you to survive in Normal, Nightmare and Hell difficulty as you progresses. But remember; only enter Nightmare difficulty around level 45 – 50 and Hell difficulty after level 75 – 78. Frozen Orb will basically clear out the Nightmare difficulty areas until Act 5 and by the time you are entering Hell difficulty, your Hydras will be able to dish out solid damage against any Cold Immunes. Moreover, you will have Static Field and Charged Bolt (it is at quite a decent level) to spam the remaining damage during casting delays.


10.0 Final Words:
=============
Having this Archmage has been great and widely expand my fun and enjoyment outside typical cookie cutter builds. After version 1.00 of this guide, I personally feel this guide is more complete and quite informative for those who are skeptical about Archmage and Tal Rasha’s Set. I have used this build personally and realistically in Battle.Net games. Nonetheless, I hope I have made this guide as original as possible without wasting your time reading it and finding it repetitive in other guides. Do give more suggestions to improve the guide and, who knows, I will release Version 3.0 of this guide if there are any major additions.

I would like to give personal thanks to those authors that have written guides before me because they have given good insights into the inner workings of sorceress and without them I am sure that this guide would be quite empty. In addition, my best mate in Battle.Net to allow me the opportunity to test this build with good equipments. Cheers!


“Through the darkest storms, bitterest blizzards and scorching fires of Hell, I remained unscathed. At last, the Evil is no more and I shall now fade back into nothingness†– Trials of JuwelHexe, Excerpt from Archmages’ Forgotten Legends
 

phool

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Apr 27, 2005
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Ahh, the mythical trisorc... It's interesting to me you go for charged bolt (have u actually tried this particular attack in hell with the allocated skill points?) over nova, and hydra over firewall... If I went for a trisorc My skill distribution would be as follows:
20 firewall (the prereq glacial spike can help here)
4 fire mastery
20 nova
20 light mastery
20 freezing orb
15 cold mastery (or 14 CM and 1 frozen armor*)
+all prereqs, tele, warmth (1 each)*
*warmth can potentially be got from the new sorc armor, chilling armor - better because of higher +ed% than frozen - from snowclash. A memory on switch is ideal for Energy Shield (and SF, though this is a prereq). You can socket the helm, presumably shako, with cham to get CBF.

lets assume a setup of +2 skills armor, helm and amu, a +3 orb (I'll ignore item- and facet-based -res or +skill damage), a +2 shield, 2 +1 rings, and magefist (I would probably favour frostburn for this build). This comes to a total of +13 all, or +13 all and +1fire. According to my skill calc, attacks to following damage:
nova = 1340-1783
fire wall = 6629-6687**
FO = 461-482 per bolt, not inc CM, with -155 at lvl 15 this almost guarantees the lowest possible -100 res, so 922-964 (against a single enemy a skilled FO should therefore do about 10k at the least).

Not only does this utilise all elements, u hav an attack for every situation.

**I would be inclined to replace this with fireball - CM is cut down to lvl 4 (-100res), FM to lvl 1, fireball is maxed and 16 points are put in firebolt. This fireball does 3254-3556 damage.
 

mattguy

Member
Nov 20, 2004
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phool said:
Ahh, the mythical trisorc... It's interesting to me you go for charged bolt (have u actually tried this particular attack in hell with the allocated skill points?) over nova, and hydra over firewall... If I went for a trisorc My skill distribution would be as follows:
20 firewall (the prereq glacial spike can help here)
4 fire mastery
20 nova
20 light mastery
20 freezing orb
15 cold mastery (or 14 CM and 1 frozen armor*)
+all prereqs, tele, warmth (1 each)*
*warmth can potentially be got from the new sorc armor, chilling armor - better because of higher +ed% than frozen - from snowclash. A memory on switch is ideal for Energy Shield (and SF, though this is a prereq). You can socket the helm, presumably shako, with cham to get CBF.

lets assume a setup of +2 skills armor, helm and amu, a +3 orb (I'll ignore item- and facet-based -res or +skill damage), a +2 shield, 2 +1 rings, and magefist (I would probably favour frostburn for this build). This comes to a total of +13 all, or +13 all and +1fire. According to my skill calc, attacks to following damage:
nova = 1340-1783
fire wall = 6629-6687**
FO = 461-482 per bolt, not inc CM, with -155 at lvl 15 this almost guarantees the lowest possible -100 res, so 922-964 (against a single enemy a skilled FO should therefore do about 10k at the least).

Not only does this utilise all elements, u hav an attack for every situation.

**I would be inclined to replace this with fireball - CM is cut down to lvl 4 (-100res), FM to lvl 1, fireball is maxed and 16 points are put in firebolt. This fireball does 3254-3556 damage.

I have tried and tested this build in Hell and she works perfectly allright. In fact, I am surprised by her efficiency. I think there are many variants of Archmages out there and yours may be one of it. I focus on this variant (and I think it's not highlighted anywhere in this forum) and would like to share it efficiency with everyone and encourage everyone to try out different variants of Archmage. The only weakness with your build is that Nova will drain your mana very very fast. If you are willing to drain mana pots while casting every other spells, it is really up to you. For me, charged bolts do not drain that much mana as compared to Nova and with its spammable nature and Warmth at quite a good level after +skills, I have sufficient fire power until my mana pool disappears. To each its own approach :). I did consider Nova last time before I started this archmage but since its efficiency is not as great as pre-1.10, I prefer to focus on other skills. Moreover, as you can read from my guide, Cold Mastery does not really need to have more than 4-5 points since you have +skills items and a minimum of -100% is more than enough in Hell level. I believe your build is highlighted in the Archmage thread.

Glad you spend some time reading my guide. Appreciate it. Long live Archmage!
 

phool

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I honestly have trouble believing you can use a hardly synergised charged bolt in hell. Nova costs about 45 mana at the lvls described and on players one, hell most of the toughest enemies have 11k health at most - so 7 hits to kill anything in the game (I don't consider the build ideal for team play of more than 3 players unless someone's got conviction, or your packing numerous charms give a leaning towards one element). Filling your inventory with lightning GCs, a torch and anni should give you a good 3k lightning nova at 60mana. Char is anticipated to have 1.5k mana (using a CTA on switch, presumably) so using an oculus - +5 mana per kill - your mana should be staying pretty steadily high. Taking the lower example of fallen ones, with less than 0.5k hp, I anticipate killing 10 per nova - i.e. +50mana. With FO killing 1 with every ice bolt nova won't be used unless it's hurting a good number.
 

mattguy

Member
Nov 20, 2004
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phool said:
I honestly have trouble believing you can use a hardly synergised charged bolt in hell. Nova costs about 45 mana at the lvls described and on players one, hell most of the toughest enemies have 11k health at most - so 7 hits to kill anything in the game (I don't consider the build ideal for team play of more than 3 players unless someone's got conviction, or your packing numerous charms give a leaning towards one element). Filling your inventory with lightning GCs, a torch and anni should give you a good 3k lightning nova at 60mana. Char is anticipated to have 1.5k mana (using a CTA on switch, presumably) so using an oculus - +5 mana per kill - your mana should be staying pretty steadily high. Taking the lower example of fallen ones, with less than 0.5k hp, I anticipate killing 10 per nova - i.e. +50mana. With FO killing 1 with every ice bolt nova won't be used unless it's hurting a good number.

Allright. I’ll do the analysis of the damage output and give the pros and cons between Charged Bolt and Nova. This will sufficiently and clearly illustrate the point why I choose Charged Bolt (unsynergized nonetheless) over Nova. Let us assume the setup:

-> +12 to Sorceress Skills
-> Level 20 Charged Bolt
-> Level 20 Nova
-> Level 1 Lightning Mastery

This setup we are using excludes Lightning GCs, Torch, Anni, etc. Just a typical equipment setup and with the skill invested above. Moreover, I want to do the analysis on the skill itself without support from Frozen Orb, Static Field, etc. Now onto the calculation of damage itself:

Charged Bolt Damage:
Average damage per Bolt = 98
Total Damage for 24 Bolts = 2352
Mana Cost: 18.5

Nova Damage:
Total Damage = 827
Mana Cost: 46

Assuming all Charged Bolt hits, Charged Bolt will be approximately 284% more damage than Nova and it is UNSYNERGIZED. In addition, by comparing the mana consumption, for each Nova you cast, you can cast 2.5 times Charged Bolt. This equates to approximately 569% more potential damage than Nova against single target. Not only you will have 48 Charged Bolts in battle, Charged Bolt itself has longer range and more versatile spread area compared to Nova. What I mean by that is with Nova you will need to be quite close to your enemies while Charged Bolt allows a safer distance for you to spam with a huge conelike area extending from you when you cast it. Moreover, with the mana consumption of Nova, as you mentioned it, you will have to rely on your equipment to offset mana consumption because the mana cost will increase exponentially as you spam Nova in comparison with Charged Bolt.

From another point of view, if the average damage for 1 Charged Bolt is 98 and a Nova casted is 827, you will need approximately 9 Charged Bolts to hit a single target in order to achieve the damage output of Nova. In other words, you will need 37.5% of your 24 Charged Bolts to hit for the same damage output of Nova. Taking into consideration of mana consumption (1 Nova = 2.5 times Charged bolt), you will need just approximately 16.7% of your Charge Bolts to hit in order to have the same damage output as a Nova casted. To me, it is a very good odds that my Charge Bolts will hit a same target and get a damage output as considerable, if not more, than a Nova. With the nature of Charged Bolt area of effect, it ensures that I will be able to deal as much damage to enemies when I spam it. In addition, you have the option to synergize your Charged Bolts in those last few levels while Nova has no synergies to rely on.

With FO killing 1 with every ice bolt nova won't be used unless it's hurting a good number.
I have to say if that's the case, why chose Nova if there's a limitation to the number of enemies to kill before using the skill itself in order to maintain the mana use? For an Archmage, such limitation will be a waste of skill points investment. I will spam my Charged Bolt while waiting for casting delays, regardless of the number of enemies my Archmage is against. But in the defense of Nova, I don't say that it is a bad skill, it is just a skill that requires more mana pots as compared to Charge bolt. I am sure there is successful build with Nova as Lightning damage for an Archmage out there.

So, as a conclusion, the mathematics are clear: 16.7% of 24 Charged Bolts against a single target will achieve the same damage output of Nova (taking into consideration of non-moving single target and the 2.5 more mana consumption on Nova’s part), Charged Bolt has better area of damage when you spam it as compared to Nova which is limited to a certain range around yourself (and requires an Archmage to engage her enemies at near-melee range) and Charged Bolts optional synergy points to invest in at later levels if you choose to. I am not here to bash Nova, but to defend the fact that Charged Bolts spell is doable, if not more effective, as compared to Nova in Hell difficulties even though it is not synergized. Cheers! :innocent:
 

phool

Member
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mattguy said:
Charged Bolt Damage:
Average damage per Bolt = 98
Total Damage for 24 Bolts = 2352
Mana Cost: 18.5

Nova Damage:
Total Damage = 827
Mana Cost: 46

I'm sorry, and am beginning to think it's time this thread died a quick death, but you're factoring something out; every single bolt is hitting, which requires a wall of enemies. However nova is hitting one enemy. Lets say there's 15 enemies in range, I don't think this is unrealistic, nova does 827*15 (12405) while charged bolt continues to do 2352 - 1/5 as much for 1/3 the mana - and a lot slower killing.
 

mattguy

Member
Nov 20, 2004
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phool said:
I'm sorry, and am beginning to think it's time this thread died a quick death, but you're factoring something out; every single bolt is hitting, which requires a wall of enemies. However nova is hitting one enemy. Lets say there's 15 enemies in range, I don't think this is unrealistic, nova does 827*15 (12405) while charged bolt continues to do 2352 - 1/5 as much for 1/3 the mana - and a lot slower killing.

I am not saying that Nova is a bad skill :lol: I do admit that it is a good skill as well. If you read my reply carefully, I just say that I need 17% of my Charge Bolts hit to have the same damage output as Nova. Perhaps next time I should just post some screenshot of Charged Bolt and Nova in working for comparison if you want. No doubt Nova will deal more damage against 15 enemies as you put it. As an Archmage player, I don't recklessly charge into battle and have 15 enemies on my tail and at near melee range to fire off my Nova. At the times you might also encounter extra strong enemies or extra fast ones = quick death. At most I will deal with 10 enemies in my screen and Charged Bolt serve me very well.

So I stick to my choice of Charged Bolt and I do NOT DENY the power of Nova as well. It is just that Charged Bolt has fit into my tactics and I have gone through Hell level with this build without ANY difficulties at all. Like I said in my guide, the aim of Archmage is NOT FAST damage but tactics and COCKTAIL/COMBINATION of damage from every elemental trees. I do not see Charged Bolts as a weakness since I have been through Hell and return :uhhuh: I might have survived more on Charged Bolt since I have enough mana for other high mana spells such as Hydra or Frozen Orb even after I spam Charged Bolt. So far, I do not guzzle down on mana pots during a wave of enemies.

phool said:
I'm sorry, and am beginning to think it's time this thread died a quick death

I don't really mind. I am happy with my guide and my enjoyment of writing it and sharing it with my fellow forum goers. It has been a pleasure using this build and I do put all the facts out there for people to read. I don't write a guide if I think it is not workable in Hell difficulties or it is just an idea out of thin air. I will put down the facts and mathematics to show that this build is viable. I have even test it as well in Hell difficulty. So I am pretty happy with the result of this build and to tell that Archmage is a fun experimental build to play with. There is so much combination out there... go and have fun with it. Cheers!
 

lothars

Member
Aug 4, 2005
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phool said:
Ahh, the mythical trisorc... It's interesting to me you go for charged bolt (have u actually tried this particular attack in hell with the allocated skill points?) over nova, and hydra over firewall... If I went for a trisorc My skill distribution would be as follows:
20 firewall (the prereq glacial spike can help here)
4 fire mastery
20 nova
20 light mastery
20 freezing orb
15 cold mastery (or 14 CM and 1 frozen armor*)
+all prereqs, tele, warmth (1 each)*
*warmth can potentially be got from the new sorc armor, chilling armor - better because of higher +ed% than frozen - from snowclash. A memory on switch is ideal for Energy Shield (and SF, though this is a prereq). You can socket the helm, presumably shako, with cham to get CBF.

lets assume a setup of +2 skills armor, helm and amu, a +3 orb (I'll ignore item- and facet-based -res or +skill damage), a +2 shield, 2 +1 rings, and magefist (I would probably favour frostburn for this build). This comes to a total of +13 all, or +13 all and +1fire. According to my skill calc, attacks to following damage:
nova = 1340-1783
fire wall = 6629-6687**
FO = 461-482 per bolt, not inc CM, with -155 at lvl 15 this almost guarantees the lowest possible -100 res, so 922-964 (against a single enemy a skilled FO should therefore do about 10k at the least).

Not only does this utilise all elements, u hav an attack for every situation.

**I would be inclined to replace this with fireball - CM is cut down to lvl 4 (-100res), FM to lvl 1, fireball is maxed and 16 points are put in firebolt. This fireball does 3254-3556 damage.


I fully disagree with this version of trimage because firewall is really to limiting IMO compared to Hydra, though Nova is really good, I think that CB is a better overall skill for damage potential.

but than again that's my opinion
 

EnerSense

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mattguy said:
From Fire Tree, I always have fond memories of Hydra. Though some may find auto-targetting annoying, I find it is actually working in my advantage. More of this will be explained in the strategy section. What more, some do not realize the actual damage throughput of well-placed Hydra with your mercenary is keeping monster occupied. It will be revealed in the skill analysis section. Moreover, it is useful around corners, against Black Souls and witches, a perfect spell to keep you safe in the distance. To say the least, having Hydras sprouting from the ground is damn cool *grin*.

Hi mattguy! As I said before, if I make another Archmage I'd make this one. Quick question. When your character is walking around, do you just have her cast Hydra everywhere she goes?

BTW, my Archmage Venus made Matriarch a few days ago. Posted in SPF and its bumped down a few pages by now. :)
 

mattguy

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lothars said:
I fully disagree with this version of trimage because firewall is really to limiting IMO compared to Hydra,

In the beginning, I too agree with you that Firewall is more limiting because you have to rely most of the time for Glacial Spike/Frozen Orb to freeze/chill the enemies. I guess Firewall will be similar to Hydra except Hydra can be casted across corners, spot enemies, etc., which makes it a much more versatile skill as compared to Firewall. However, I do admit there is a successful Archmage using Firewall skill out there as in the Archmage thread. It all boils down to your tactics.

lothars said:
though Nova is really good, I think that CB is a better overall skill for damage potential.

but than again that's my opinion

I'm glad you at least acknowledge that Charged Bolts is a viable skill in Hell difficulty, especially the damage potential. I guess they have to test the skill out themselves and see the skill in action to realize that when you cast charge bolts, the whole screen can potentially be 'spammed' = increased damage potential, which can be irritating for some players at times because of the Charged Bolt animation (it is cool though). As explained in previous threads (and probably ignored lol), I have acknowledge Nova as a powerful skill... but the mana consumption and the limitation of its range to melee puts me off while I can rely on Charged Bolt for better survivability of my Archmage. :lol:
 

mattguy

Member
Nov 20, 2004
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EnerSense said:
Hi mattguy! As I said before, if I make another Archmage I'd make this one. Quick question. When your character is walking around, do you just have her cast Hydra everywhere she goes?

BTW, my Archmage Venus made Matriarch a few days ago. Posted in SPF and its bumped down a few pages by now. :)

Hi :). Sorry for not replying earlier. I normally use my Hydras as scout. So at least 1 of them will be around at the very edge of the screen to 'scout' ahead of me. It's a lot easier to plan against enemies by estimating the direction they would swarm me. Have fun building this one!

I have read the thread. Congrats! It shows that Archmage, though have 'misleading' damage output (due to the fact that she uses all of her elemental skills) when compared to single/dual tree sorceress can survive in hell and solo as well! I will mat my archmage soon if I have the time ;).
 

EnerSense

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mattguy said:
Hi :). Sorry for not replying earlier. I normally use my Hydras as scout. So at least 1 of them will be around at the very edge of the screen to 'scout' ahead of me. It's a lot easier to plan against enemies by estimating the direction they would swarm me. Have fun building this one!

Oh, I see. Just trying to get the feel for this build before I try it. Good luck trying to make Matriarch! :)
 

TheHof

Member
Aug 15, 2005
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Have any thoughts on making this build in hardcore? I've been looking at it, and I too am intrigued by the possibility of a sorcereress that uses all three elements. It seems like a lot of fun.

I'd be getting some energy shield, which adds a few but not too many points. I think my plan would be to work up the cold tree while getting energy shield, work up the fire tree, then round out my lit skills. It's HC, so I'll probably have less mana, but be more willing to take my time and chug mana pots, hang back getting some mana regen, etc.

Hmm. :) Might try this in a week or so, after I'm done with some MF or my current HC character dies. :D

Hof
 

mattguy

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TheHof said:
Have any thoughts on making this build in hardcore? I've been looking at it, and I too am intrigued by the possibility of a sorcereress that uses all three elements. It seems like a lot of fun.

I'd be getting some energy shield, which adds a few but not too many points. I think my plan would be to work up the cold tree while getting energy shield, work up the fire tree, then round out my lit skills. It's HC, so I'll probably have less mana, but be more willing to take my time and chug mana pots, hang back getting some mana regen, etc.

Hmm. :) Might try this in a week or so, after I'm done with some MF or my current HC character dies. :D

Hof

Hi there,

This particular build is one of the safest sorceress solo I've ever done. Except for accidental teleport (due to lapse of judgement lol), I didn't die any serious death... just stupid ones. If you tend to hold back, Hydra is the best option out there because you can cast them at the edge of the screen.

The only catch about any archmages is that you have to be prepared to invest in lots of +skill equipments. If you don't have a MF character or you are poor, you might have to struggle a bit in Hell difficulty. In such situation, some runewords can help you alot there like Lore, Spirit sword and Shield, etc. can be quite cheap and 'farm'able from NM/Hell Countess. Nonetheless, it is fun and really enjoyable build to play. Good luck! :thumbsup: