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Getting Benaiah through Hell - D2R Untwinked Zealot Planning & Progress

BBS_Agonistes

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Having a thread where folks can give feedback might be helpful for me, as I've never been the best player and it's been quite a while since I've played D2, so feel free to chime in and tell me how I'm being stupid!

My character is--
Benaiah, lvl 78
1H Fanazealot
D2R, self-found, untwinked

I've completed NM and dabbled in Hell a bit, but my build is just too weak. I started as a Frost Zealot, but that was a complete no-go in Hell as I couldn't kill or leech fast enough. I think I still need to get better gear / level up to handle Hell.

I've got Vengeance, but on its own it seems to slow to handle PIs in Hell. I'm thinking I may also need a point in Conviction, but have to fill in some pre-reqs to get there. I welcome your thoughts on if it's worth it.

I'm currently magic hunting in NM with the following gear:
Amulet: MF / resists
Head: Topazed Mask
Body: "Smoke" Cuirass
Weapon / Shield 1: "Black" Battle Hammer / Rhyme in Auric Shield w/ resists
Weapon / Shield 2: Blade of Ali Baba / Rhyme in Auric Shield w/ resists
Rings: 29 Nagelring / Cathan's (leech)
Gloves: Blood Gloves
Belt: Wilhem's Pride (for dual leech)
Boots: MF boots

Merc:
Topaz Helm
Topaz Armor
Shael/Shael/Amn Hone Sundan

This puts MF right at 400% for my merc killing Baal and switching to Ali Baba's. 400% may be a tad much, now that I'm reviewing diminishing returns on MF, but I don't think I can speed up my run speed anyway. My guy is pretty stable; the "Black" Battle Hammer is just a little slow.

I did 50 Diablo runs at around 350% MF and got the Hone Sundan, Nagelring, and Ali Baba's during that process. This morning I began to run Baal.

10 runs down so far, and run 4 dropped Vampire's Gaze, which I think will help a ton with keeping merc alive in Hell!

The plan is to run NM Baal until I can level up / equip gear to run Hell Countess and put together some runewords and hopefully upgrade my weapon.
 
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Arjan

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Two runewords that made my life a lot easier (before I needed Grief) were a Spirit Shield which I made as soon as I hit the right level to use the shield I made it in and Treachery. The Poison in Treachery help to beat those PIs. The ias helps a lot too.

My MF Pally isn’t that much different then your set up. Just the Grief and the levels makes mine better suited for hell I think
 

BBS_Agonistes

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Thanks for the feedback!

I'll definitely see how Spirit works on main when I pop back in Hell. I'm currently at 86% FHR breakpoint, so I don't need more, but I'm getting most of my FHR from charms, so Spirit would certainly free up some inventory and might open other possibilities. Spirit's boost to Vitality might really help out, and I have the upped Death's Guard belt for another source of CBF, so I don't necessarily need Rhyme. Treachery was definitely something I was hoping to put together by running Countess, either for me or merc, but I hadn't thought about PIs and the poison damage.

Grief would be amazing, but since I can't play much (maybe less than an hour per day on average?) I'm hoping for Oath, Crescent Moon, or a unique/set for my endgame weapon.

For Oath, my concern is more about finding a decent ethereal base. Crescent Moon in a PB is definitely more doable in terms of runes and bases, and I'd of course re-spec to a Holy Shock build. I'm thinking the main hitch with that route will be life leech, so I might have to resign myself to guzzling some potions.

That said, I'm sure I'll run LK for a while in hopes of Lo rune dropping. 😁
 
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Arjan

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Oh it’s the same for me, D2r I play on the PS so I put only a few hours in there. And with no ways to mule easy I am just playing leisurely and save the grinding for LoD on my Pc.

So for D2r I started on my 6th class and get act I done. When all are done with act I They will go to act II and so on.

Grief might be an issue for me. I’ll just see what the game has in store for me.

You might get lucky and get an Ginter’s Rift. The 100ish magic damage helps with those PIs too. I have one with act V merc in LoD

Edit: ment Ginther’s Rift not Azurewrath. That one has a lot more magic damage
 
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BBS_Agonistes

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Ran NM Baal some more. He dropped

-44% MF War Travs, which was a huge upgrade over the rares I was using.

-Butcher's Pupil, which I gave a try since it's similar in damage to the "Black" Battle Hammer I was using. Good grief, this axe simply mows through Baal's waves. Not only is it a faster weapon, but also I hadn't realized how much the knockback on "Black" was slowing me down.

That said, no CB on BP, so killing Baal is slower. I simply hit the waves with the Butcher's, then Baal with "Black."

Going to run Baal for a bit more, then on to Hell Countess!
 

Arjan

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Ran NM Baal some more. He dropped

-44% MF War Travs, which was a huge upgrade over the rares I was using.

-Butcher's Pupil, which I gave a try since it's similar in damage to the "Black" Battle Hammer I was using. Good grief, this axe simply mows through Baal's waves. Not only is it a faster weapon, but also I hadn't realized how much the knockback on "Black" was slowing me down.

That said, no CB on BP, so killing Baal is slower. I simply hit the waves with the Butcher's, then Baal with "Black."

Going to run Baal for a bit more, then on to Hell Countess!
Nice finds! Keep us updated on your other Baal runs.

I never really considered butchers pupil as a weapon. Might need to try it one time then.

Baal was an absolute arse today. Didn’t drop a green or gold item at all. I didn’t run him that much today. Spent most of my time in LK and found a Gul
 

ioupain

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Hi @BBS_Agonistes, I remember you from the other forum, long time no see! Hope you're ok?
  • Came here to say Lawbringer as @LouB said and Treachery as @Arjan said.
  • Voice of Reason Phase Blade is great on a Cryodin, but seems like the moment for that has already passed if you've switched builds?
  • Giving up some MF for more Crushing blow on your Paladin himself (Guillaume's) might also help out for bigger targets. (Escpecially when you switch out Black)
  • I'd give the Mercenary a Treachery in an Ethereal base too as well as consider how often he gets the killing blow and if you need him to be sturdy or MF-y
  • Switch to 'Black' in a Knout/Scourge if possible - faster Base Speed = More Hits = More chances to apply CB/OW/LL/ML/Slow and any other damage types from your gear and charms. Additionally, it has greater range so you whiff less often if a monster moves out of melee range.
  • Consider a point in Redemption to make sure you get corpses off the battlefield
  • Consider a point in Salvation for situational use (less important than Redemption and you can totally make do without if you have maxed resists)
  • Sanctuary (KoKoMal) in an Auric shield with high inherent resists is an option (but then so is an Auric shield with 4 perfect Diamonds) - which will come from Hell Countess with time - only really an option if you can net yourself CBF from a source other than Rhyme
  • Aiming for a source of Enchant like Obedience, Lavagout or Demon Limb would also help your AR and add some diversity to damage.
  • Laying of Hands instead of Blood Gloves if you can find the LL and CB elsewhere, Countess and Act Bosses are demons as you'll no doubt be aware.
 

BBS_Agonistes

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Thanks for all the input everyone! It's super helpful and I'm happy to even see some remember me from way back! I didn't expect that.

Progress:
-Switched "Black" mallet for a knout. Lower damage, but as you guys said, much faster CB for knocking out Baal.
-Kept running Baal for a bit, who gave me a dry streak but then dropped Thundergod's Vigor.

I'm keeping track of runs in chunks of 50, and so far have done 50 for NM Diablo and 50 for NM Baal. The gear talk in the thread inspired me to make a list of unique/set items useful for midgame through endgame on this project and future ones. (This character is completely self-found, but I am muling items off to a Barb and Sorc that are in progress and have immediate plans for an Amazon.)

My spreadsheet wishlist contained 146 items in total. I then used Silospen's Drop Calculator to see how many could ideally be farmed in Nightmare. Out of the 146 items, 94 can be found in NM, and the vast majority of those (80 or so) are more/as likely to drop from NM Baal, Andy, Diablo, etc. as any target in Hell.

As far as how many of these items I've found, this is where my progress currently stands:

NMFarm.png

I will do another 50 runs of Baal and see how much my returns diminish. I want to level up at least once more to get a point in Conviction before moving to Hell anyway. Depending on how much returns diminish, I may camp out until I knock out 50%-70%+ of this list before moving to Hell and farming Countess.

I'll post an updated chart once I complete another 50 runs!
 
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SirName

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That demon limb should be good enough to get you though Hell, nice find. Solves any AR issues as well.

I prefer Smoke over Treachery especially for a fanazealot as the extra IAS is (probably) not needed. The need to get hit in order to trigger Fade and keep it active is a bit contradictory to easily obtainable max block with Holy shield.

With Smoke you get a consistent 50 all res vs 60 which needs work and might just be gone at any minute without a warning as Fade ends (is there a timer available in D2R? In that case forget my ramblings). I had issues with this. You might not.

For shield I would take Rhyme in a pally shield with resists ( should be easy enough to get a Rhyme with atleast 50 all res). Rhyme has better blocking than Spirit and also “Cannot be frozen”. You said Spirit has +vita. Well I think you get more Vita in the end by using Rhyme as less points are needed in dexterity to achieve max block (the better blocking is the thing here). Also the +skills and mana from Spirit are not really all needed for a physical attack build.

On the subject of physical immunes: Most are undead and solved easily with 1 point in Sanctuary. Sanctuary aura sets physical resist to 0 for all undead and lets you use your main skill and weapon against them. Hilariously the 0 physical resist enables lifeleach from Spectre type enemies. :)

For the non undead you could just use 1pt Vengeance beefed up with resist aura of choice which in turn passively icreases max resist cap of chosen element. And of course you have nice fire damage from Demon Limb + enchant if you decide to use those.
 

BBS_Agonistes

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Thanks for the tip about Sanctuary! Somehow I had forgotten entirely that it removed physical immunity from undead... I think it's one of those things that's not listed in the in-game description when you hover over it? It was definitely undead I was having trouble with in the Tower, so that solves the Countess running problem.

And yes, I was relieved when Demon Limb dropped because I find a high-damage weapon with leech (from weapon or elsewhere) is really nice in Hell for not getting frustrated. It's just a lot more fun when you can have a decent kill speed, and the Enchant will be great.

I've used Treachery on a max block paladin in the past and had the same problem, so I may save that for my merc.
 
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LouB

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I know you are only playing what you find, but if you are using black for the CB you should try and pair it with Gore Riders boots and Guillaume's Face. the three of them will give you 90% CB. Just 10% more gives you 100% chance. You haven't mentioned how you're doing with Rune finding. I found Death, to be amazing on a fanatic zealer. 100% CB and if you find a Highlord's amulet 100% deadly strike. Three of the runes are easy, but the Gul and Vex can be a little hard to find. Highlord's is definitely harder to find than a Vex. I put mine in a War Spike to get to 4fps.
 
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BBS_Agonistes

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Finished the second set of 50 Baal runs and they were pretty profitable. Not too much diminishing in returns just in pure percentages, and a lot of the items were much better this 50 runs.
1655607118378.png

My list of items changed a tad, but I felt the last 50 runs were the most profitable, as they dropped a lot of items I really wanted for this build and a few others. Highlights included:
  • Chance Guards
  • Guillaume's Face
  • Harlequin Crest x2
  • Laying of Hands x2
  • Homunculus
  • Razortail
  • String of Ears
  • Demonlimb

The only item I really wanted that I still don't have is Gore Riders and a better amulet. My MF gear is now Shako/Chance Guards/Nagelring/Upped Goldwrap/ War Travs instead of all the Topaz gear and blue and yellow magic find, so that's nice.

I really had fun finding these items... the first time in a long time I did some serious MFing.
In the past I came to the SPF and started trading before I had found much and found the best way to do so was farm Lower Kurast for runes (for my runewords) and just pick up tons of crafting materials to trade with folks. That meant I never found a lot of those Exceptional/Elite set and uniques myself simply because a low or mid role would go for so cheap on the trading forums. That meant my "getting items" basically amounted to LK runs ad infinitum, which sort of removed some of the fun of it in the long run. Playing self-found and untwinked for the time being is really making me enjoy a simple item like Laying of Hands or Guillaume's Face, which brings me back to my old days of first playing D2.

Now it's off with the MF gear and on to Hell to farm the Countess for runes.
I know you are only playing what you find, but if you are using black for the CB you should try and pair it with Gore Riders boots and Guillaume's Face. the three of them will give you 90% CB. Just 10% more gives you 100% chance. You haven't mentioned how you're doing with Rune finding. I found Death, to be amazing on a fanatic zealer. 100% CB and if you find a Highlord's amulet 100% deadly strike. Three of the runes are easy, but the Gul and Vex can be a little hard to find. Highlord's is definitely harder to find than a Vex. I put mine in a War Spike to get to 4fps.

Hopefully the Countess is generous! Let the runes begin!
 

BBS_Agonistes

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Hey, this post may inspire you!
Thanks, Excalibur! That's actually a bit like what I had in mind eventually for this guy, but with some really useful options I hadn't considered. Since I was always SP, I never have done the Ubers, and I'd love for him to eventually be able to do those. I think that's now more my long-term goal rather than just beating the game, so I will probably be aiming for some of that higher-tier stuff and maybe some build that could both manage Ubers and some other areas like Trav? IDK... that's a bit far off, but definitely fun to plan for.
On the subject of physical immunes: Most are undead and solved easily with 1 point in Sanctuary. Sanctuary aura sets physical resist to 0 for all undead and lets you use your main skill and weapon against them. Hilariously the 0 physical resist enables lifeleach from Spectre type enemies. :)
Just came back to this post to say this tip really helped out for the PIs on Countess runs. I think I didn't know it set their physical resist at 0 because with Sanctuary the hover-over text still says "Immune to Physical," whereas when Conviction breaks a resist, that attribute disappears from the monster's description. The knockback is actually useful because I'm just trying to get in and out with some runes.
 
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Excalibur

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Thanks, Excalibur! That's actually a bit like what I had in mind eventually for this guy, but with some really useful options I hadn't considered. Since I was always SP, I never have done the Ubers, and I'd love for him to eventually be able to do those. I think that's now more my long-term goal rather than just beating the game, so I will probably be aiming for some of that higher-tier stuff and maybe some build that could both manage Ubers and some other areas like Trav? IDK... that's a bit far off, but definitely fun to plan for.
I also never done ubers until D2R. My Zealot is still in D2L but I did plenty Uber runs with my Smiter and I think my so well equipped Zealot wouldn't stand a chance. There are many factors that simply do not work very well so it will be a good challenge to pull it through with a Zealot. Personally, I am not going to even try but I would like to see your effort. :)
 
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BBS_Agonistes

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I also never done ubers until D2R. My Zealot is still in D2L but I did plenty Uber runs with my Smiter and I think my so well equipped Zealot wouldn't stand a chance. There are many factors that simply do not work very well so it will be a good challenge to pull it through with a Zealot. Personally, I am not going to even try but I would like to see your effort. :)
I will probably just end up doing a complete respec to Smiter, but we'll see. For me, it will take a LONG time to get the gear to even attempt that, but it would be a fun long-term goal for this character.
 
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Excalibur

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Before you even try, let me tell you why I believe a Zealot won't be able to handle Ubers no matter how effortlessly he can handle pvm. I would like to make myself clear that I am assuming that you actually want to use Zeal against them because most Zealot players are still using Smite against Ubers. One point in Smite is still much more effective than using Zeal.

Main problem 1: You will miss a LOT! This is already sealing your fate and this is why a Smiter is so good. His attacks always hit.
Main problem 2: Lifesteal doesn't work on Memphisto and barely works against Baal and Diablo.
Main problem 3: There will be plenty mobs around you and many of them with Physical Immunity.
Main problem 4: Zeal will spread its attack to adjacent targets so you can't focus on purely damaging a Boss. Out of the 5 attacks, if the 3 are spread to nearby mobs and 2 target AND miss the boss which is very likely to happen you are already doomed.
Main problem 5: The Hireling won't survive a second and a Hireling is a great boost to a Zealot.
Main problem 6: Ubers heal like there is no tomorrow. You need to keep the damage floating on them. You can't keep coming back and forth to town.
Main problem 7: Mephisto's Conviction aura is so deadly. My Smiter with 95% LR(!!) and Thundergod's vigor ended up dying instantly from his lightning bolts. It's insane. And all of this at Players 1.

In order to counter everything mentioned above you will end up focusing on a much more defensive oriented build which will leave you without much damage. You will need to change your gear a LOT and will most likely break the play-style of a Zealot. Again, all of this assuming that you want to use Zeal.

I am pretty sure that in the end it's quite feasible to do it but I think it will be quite a mess. I haven't tried it to see how it performs in action, it's just my theory from the experience that I got after farming them over 90 times.
 
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BBS_Agonistes

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I certainly consider you an Uber expert, so I appreciate your sound wisdom and sober judgment!

To be clear, I was thinking of a Zealot that uses Smite against the Ubers, but the Ubers seem so daunting for the reasons you describe that it's probably best to make a clean break of the Zealot path at some point and go full Uber Smiter build if that's what I want to do. It doesn't seem like something you'd want to do halfway. Mephisto's Conviction aura was my central area of concern when it comes to planning gear, and your anecdote certainly confirms that!

I think I'll just stick to making Patriarch on this guy as an untwinked Zealot, then maybe take my sorceress and do so MFing and LK to eventually equip him for Ubers.
 
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