Mage Paladin Guide by TienJe and SicHalo

maxicek

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Mage Paladin Guide v1.2
Originally Posted Aug 29, 2008

Note: This guide was originally written for BNet. Please bear in mind it may recommend items not found or permitted in Single Player.


TienJe and SicHalo's Mage Paladin Guide v1.2

Revision History:
  • V1 - original document
  • V1.1 - initial edits
  • V1.2 - new strategy and gear sections

1. Introduction

Mages are widely considered to be the 'holy grail' of all paladin builds, the association stemming from their difficulty and price of construction and the great reward for properly building one. The difficulty stems from its skill allocation, whose optimal levels will change depending on the gear setup and character level. Most character builds are fairly simple to deduce, and are composed simply of maxing this, this, and that. However, optimizing the damage for Blessed Hammer and Fist of Heavens is a 3- and 2- dimensional problem respectively, giving rise to the great confusion that surrounds this build. The rarity of a properly built mage is perhaps only surpassed by the rarity of a well-played one.

This guide will be a bit brief, as I am writing it during my lay-over in the Las Vegas airport, but all the important information should be included.

Character Overview

The Mage build is more than a combination of a hammerdin and a templar; the synergistic nature of hybrid builds really comes through with this paladin. The combination of hammers and FoH is a great mix of defensive and offensive attacks, and between these two attacks, you will find a counter for almost every situation, allowing the Mage to be competitive across the entire PvP landscape.

There are many other builds utilizing hammer CTA's and FoH scepters, but my philosophy is that the power of the mage comes from the combination of the two attacks and the seamless transition between the two, so this build will focus on using a HoTo as the main weapon for both attacks.

Disclaimer

Again, I make no claim as to the origins of this build. This guide merely represents my interpretation.
 

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2. Character Stats

Starting Attributes

  • Strength: 25
  • Dexterity: 20
  • Vitality: 25
  • Energy: 15

  • Hit Points: 55
  • Stamina: 89
  • Mana: 15

Each Character Level

  • Life :+2
  • Stamina: +1
  • Mana: +1.5

Attribute Point Effect

  • 1 Vitality point gives 3 Life
  • 1 Vitality point gives 1 Stamina
  • 1 Energy point gives 1.5 Mana

Stat Allocation

  • STR: enough for equipment
  • DEX: enough for max block with DR/block setup
  • VIT: all remaining points
  • ENG: base

3. Character Equipment

Normally, I like to discuss skill allocations before divulging into the equipment selection, but because the optimal skill setups depend on the equipment choices, I will have to break away from the pattern here, and touch on gear first. As with all my guides, the setups listed here are not the only possible solutions, as many exist. Feel free to tweak them to your personal taste.

Like all characters, Mages can and will have multiple setups.

Main Setups

All setups will be built for 125% FCR, and at least 48% FHR.

Pure Damage Setup
  • Griffons /w Lightning Facet
  • 2 Pal 20 FCR ammy
  • HoTo
  • Enigma
  • HoZ /w Lightning Facet
  • Trang’s Gloves
  • BK/SoJ Ring
  • BK/SoJ Ring
  • Spider Sash
  • FRW/FHR/Stat/Res Boots

As you can see, this setup lacks stack against the elements and DR/block, but it provides the maximum damage possible. The facets in the helm and shield can be switched to any number of runes without affecting the optimal skill allocation, since they give simple linear increases in FoH damage, so this setup can be modified to get up to 24 DR, or +10% max res to any of the elements, which should be enough for pubbies.

The next equipment setup we address will be the DR/block setup. There are a number of different setups, including builds with Stormshield or Ber Shako, but I present one using CoA here, to attempt to maximize the damage, though it will be a bit more pricey.

DR/Block Setup
  • CoA /w 2x Ber
  • 2 pal 10 FCR STR rare ammy
  • Hoto
  • Enigma
  • Spirit Sacred Targe /w base res
  • Trang’s Gloves
  • BK/SoJ Ring
  • BK/SoJ/RFrost Ring
  • Spider Sash
  • FRW/FHR/Stat/Res Boots

This build has 39% DR, and you will have max block, given your DEX investment. With strong hammer damage, 39% DR should be enough to tackle the strongest physical attackers. The important issue in this setup will be getting the necessary STR to wear CoA, and so your 2/10 ammy should have a large amount of STR. At lvl 96, with 18 STR on boots and 20 stat’d Anni and Torch, you will have 155 STR. That means your ammy needs 19 STR to allow you to wear CoA without placing any points into STR. Note that you will be losing + skills and some %Lightning Damage, so your damage in this setup will be lower.

Europe-only Block/DR Setup
  • 2 pal/20 FCR /2soc helm /w 2x Ber
  • 2 pal/10 FCR/Life/Mana/All Res ammy
  • Hoto
  • Enigma
  • Spirit Sacred Targe/w base res
  • Trang ‘s Glove
  • BK/SoJ Ring
  • BK/SoJ/RFrost Ring
  • Water walks
  • Bugged belt (1 skill/10 IAS/ 10% Slow/15 STR/25 DEX/20 all res/20% DR)

This build is very expensive and is an EUSCNL build however it is even superior in a lot of ways to the CoA based setup mainly because this setup reaches 44% PDR and 125% FCR with little loss in skills and you still reap the benefits of good stacked res like the CoA setup. This is the most all rounded build, but note that this build relies on the bugged belt, which is native only to Europe’s realm.

A note to add to this: I cannot specify every possible mage setup out there for you. There are many other possible permutations, so I invite you to use these as a starting point and build your own, based on your own opinions and constraints.

Another note: on Paladins, CTA’s can be made out of scepters, which can spawn with nice bonuses to utility skills. You can find one with 1-3+ Holy Shield/1-3 + Med/others. This is good on switch as when you BO, you can cast Holy Shield with it, which of course saves skill points.

Secondary Gear

Wiz Spike – This is still in my opinion one of the most underrated hammer tool. A wizzy comes packing with 50% fcr 75% all res and an abundance of mana. This is a perfect tool for stack resistances when it is needed. A wizzy can also be socked with a nice jewel. For example you have three main options you can use, 15 all res/9 dex jewel, 30 light res/9 dex jewel or 30% cold res/9 dex jewel.

Grief PB – I carry this in stash as it is highly useful vs bowazons you’re having problems with, although that should not occur often. It’s also useful against Windies for a smite technique which I will mention later in the guide. Grief allows you to adopt a Libby type approach. PB should be the base item of choice, as it can reach 6 FPS smite speed without Fana (with 65% IAS on equip), allowing you to smite with Conc on. Grief will drop you down to the 75% FCR BP.

Malice/Fury – This weapon switch is mainly used to counter high ES sorcs. Open wounds will be a very significant source of damage, as the mage will naturally be a very high level. Both Fury and Malice can be made into scepters, so try and find one with useful +skills i.e. +Conc/+Hammer/+Med/etc. Again, this will drop you down to the 75% FCR BP.

Elemental stack/absorb - The amount you carry is up to what you find appropriate. Consider keeping a combination of TGods, Hotspurs, and Raven Frost rings in your stash. Remember to keep up your FCR, as oftentimes switching on stack or absorb will replace items with FCR.

Charms

Charms are also fairly simple. Use:

  • 9x Life (or some FHR if needed) Combat GC’s
  • Torch
  • Anni
  • Mix 20/11’s, 20/5’s, and 20/17’s for taste
  • 1x 5fhr/ other stat (depends on CoA and belt options)

In order of efficiency 20/5>20/11>20/17

The goal of the charm section is that with your gear setup you have a minimum of 48% FHR. Setups with Spirit shield will naturally hit that BP, but the ones utilizing HoZ will need to use some FHR Combat GC’s.

A lot of this section is common sense, personal preference, and what people can afford. I personally use 10x 20/5 as I want all the stack I can get from gear. Others may stack a particular element with 10x 20/11’s.

Inventory is very important as this is the place where you can get a lot life, stats and resistance from so ideally you want the best charms you can afford.
 

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4. Skill Point Allocation

Get ready to spend a little time here, because this will be the most confusing part of building your Mage. Here we go.

Assumptions

Because the levels of +skills on the different gear setups will change the optimal skill allocation, we must select a 'main' setup to optimize for, and then live with the small allocation errors for the switches (the damage differences will be fairly small anyway). For the sake of this guide, I am going to define the Pure Damage setup as our 'main'.

You may choose to use a different setup to optimize for (you probably should if will be using another setup more often), but please note that you will need to use the skill calculators (explained later) to figure out your proper skill allocation if you do.

We must also choose a target character level, since the skill allocation will depend on how many skill points we have to use. I am going to set our target level to be 96. If you want to select a different target character level, you will also need to use the calculators to figure out the skill setup on your own.

Skill Setups

At this point, having chosen a 'main' setup and a target character level, we are ready to continue. Maxing out Hammer and FoH will require the Mage to be lvl 126, which of course is impossible, so we must decide how to spread out our limited skills. We are faced with a choice of how to spread our points between Hammer and FoH, which will change which attack we emphasize.

Listed damages are with Pure Damage setup, with Lightning Facets. Here are three possible skill setups:

60/30 Split
  • 19 Hammer
  • 7 Conc
  • 20 Vigor
  • 14 Blessed Aim
  • 13 FoH
  • 17 Holy Shock
  • 1 Conv
  • 0 Med
Hammer Damage: 10392
FoH Damage: 5626

50/40 Split
  • 15 Hammer
  • 4 Conc
  • 20 Vigor
  • 11 Blessed Aim
  • 20 FoH
  • 20 Holy Shock
  • 1 Conv
  • 0 Med
Hammer Damage: 8075
FoH Damage: 7530

70/20 Split
  • 20 Hammer
  • 11 Conc
  • 20 Vigor
  • 19 Blessed Aim
  • 8 FoH
  • 12 Holy Shock
  • 1 Conv
  • 0 Med
Hammer Damage: 13091
FoH Damage: 3978

Don't ask me which one is better, because I won't answer you.

Custom Skill Allocations and Using the Calculators

If the assumptions made above or the listed skill allocations don't appeal to you, you have the option of using the calculators to devise your own setup. I will guide you through the process in this section.

My calculators are all hosted @ http://holeycow247.googlepages.com

Screenshots:

As with the assumptions listed earlier in this section, you will need to decide on a setup and a character level to optimize for. Add up all the +Paladin/+All/+Combat/+Offensive skill bonuses from your equipment, and record the numbers (don't forget +1 from Battle Command).

Next, you need to figure out how many skill points you have to spread between Hammer and FoH skills. Take your target character level, subtract 1 (you don't get a skill point at level 1), and then add 12 (from skill quests). This is how many total skill points you have to spend.

The next step is to take out the number of points used on pre-reqs and other skills. Using the skill planner at www.d2skills.com, place 1 point in every skill you plan to use/have (don't forget the prereqs), but leave Hammer, Conc, Vigor, Blessed Aim, FoH, and Holy Shock at 0 (the calculators will deal with these). The skill planner will tell you how many skills you have used; subtract his number from the total number of skill points you have. If you don't spend any points in Meditation, the resist auras, and leave Conviction at 1, you will be subtracting 17.

The number you have now is the number of points you have to split between Hammer and FoH, which I will call x. Using the calculators hosted at the link above, plug in the +skills you recorded from your equipment earlier, and enter in the number of skills you want to spend for both Hammer and FoH. The balance is up to you, but you must make sure that the sum equals x, or your Mage won't be built properly.

After entering these numbers, the calculators will automatically output the optimal base levels for Hammer, Conc, Vigor, Blessed Aim, FoH, and Holy Shock. Use these numbers to build your Mage.
 

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5. Tactics

Mages will play much like a hammerdin, using desync, teleport, and hammers in every permutation imaginable. However, because the Mage has FoH, you will be able to apply damage from further away and apply much more pressure than a normal hammerdin. Because FoH is almost impossible to dodge, the opponent is driven to make offensive moves, thus creating openings and bringing them in range of your hammers, lest they let your FoH wear them down without a fight.

Desync- The Mage is perhaps the fastest paladin build, with max Vigor and an enormous amount of +skills, giving the Mage the capacity to desync like none other. A Mage played without desync is really losing out on a lot opportunities. Teleport is no doubt a great way for movement, but you must use vigor/charge as well. Desync, especially when coupled with FoH, is extremely aggravating for any opponent.

Mixing attacks- A lot of mage builds use FoH/Hammer scepters on different switches to boost their damage, but I don’t believe that is the proper way to play the mage. FoH, when used liberally, will slowly wear down the opponent, forcing them into playing offensive, which will make your hammers much more effective. Mages should be switching between skills on the fly, keeping the opponent in limbo between trying to attack to out-damage your FoH and trying to dodge the hammers.

FoH Chainlock- This is a variation on the hammerdins throw/unsummon chainlock that only the mage can perform. Instead of using throw weapon or unsummon to stall the hammer casting, the mage can cast a FoH, and use the 1 second casting delay to stall casting in order to allow you to teleport. FoH has the capacity to stun the target, which will allow you (in some cases) to hit with your following tele/hammer, much like a ghosts’s traps help to hold the enemy in place long enough for WW to make contact.

Conviction Delay- Conviction (and any other aura that affects other targets for that matter) has a small delay before the aura will “lock” onto its target. The delay is only about half a second, but it means that switching to Conviction right before casting FoH will usually not allow the –Res to get applied before the FoH hits. Just be aware of this delay, and make sure you keep Conviction on a little longer when you want to deal a heavy hit with FoH, like against a barb that’s holding down WW. Note that FoH is still effective without Conviction, so you can still cast a quick FoH amidst your hammers without waiting for the aura to lock on.

6. Strategies

In this section of the guide I am going to cover individual class dueling, and focus on the most common opponents you will face in both public and private arenas.

Each of the classes will be given a rating of 1-5, 1 being the easiest and 5 being the hardest fight.

Amazons

Bow Ama - [1-2]

A bow ama can dish out a lot of physical damage up to 7k + GA damage at 7 FPA. The key to this fight is firstly to make sure you have high or max DR if possible and of course max block. Unlike a pure hammerdin you have an advantage, FoH. When you’re dueling a bow Ama, use your foh. This can help break up the amazons’ desync, sending the ama into dodge animation or killing her in one- two hits. FoH also allows you to get NL’s for tele stomps (using the FoH CL technique mentioned earlier). If an Ama is still giving problems switch to a Grief setup which will allow you to charge smite the Ama down, once in range use smite to finish off.

Java Ama – [2-3]

A CS zon is very dangerous if you are count off-guard, but should be relatively easy if you’re careful. CS is extremely strong and can easily kill you in a few seconds, but you should be able prevent her from making contact. Use desynch and set up hammers, pelting her with FoH from a distance. Use your hammer and FoH range to your advantage, the foh for chipping her hp down and use your hammers and tele around her creating a hammer field. Do not attempt to tank unless the ama is nearly dead. Javazons will be highly susceptible to dodge lock, so the FoH CL can work very well here, but you should be very careful about when you pull that out. The key to this battle is to wait for the right moment to strike and being patient.

Sorceress

Non-ES Sorcs (light/fire/cold)- [2]

This should be one of the easier fights you face; a simple FoH chainlock and 1-2 hammers should kill her. If the sorc is resisting your FoH and slips out of your CL’s, you can resort to desync hammers and throwing the occasional FoH at her. A grief switch will work very well against non-block sorcs.

ES sorcs (light/fire/cold) - [4-5]

This is definitely one of the hardest match ups you will face. With high enough levels of ES, your skills will be unable to stun, allowing the sorc to slip out of any of your attacks. A sorc like this can tank anywhere from 4 to 20 hammers, depending how quickly you are applying the damage. The number can be increased if the sorc lays back to regen the life she’s lost. This fight requires patience and good timing. It is also important to make use of both desync and delayed NL and FoH CLs. Try to create desync field of hammers and makes sure you use FoH a lot, as even if it does negligible damage, it will slow down mana regen and possibly delete her pool. Try not to be predictable. Using delayed or summon namelocks can pull out some nice surprises. If your CL’s are countered by good walking, you can 1) use desync style and try to anticipate the work patterns and tele slightly ahead not on top or 2)switch to Grief/Malice/Fury and and utilize Charge/Smite. If the sorc decides to walk when you tele lock here, you can adopt Lib-style play and immediately charge + smite with grief while the sorc is running. Against max block builds, Malice or Fury will probably better than Grief.

Barbarian

BvB (or Fort BvC) barb – [1-2]

These guys are specialized in barb killing and are very weak versus all other characters. A bvb usually has low res, limitied mobility (no enigma) and lower hp compared to their caster killing brothers. Despite the disadvantage you can still not underestimate them as they can do very high damage. Use your range here and abuse their lack or res with FoH. Use boxing style hammer play by dropping hammers a head of their path on either side creating a hammer trap, because they usually can’t tele they have a hard time getting out of hammer traps. You will have to anticipate desync patterns as whirlwind desyncs a lot.

BvC (with enigma) barb – [2-4]

These barbs are design to kill casters, they can have as high as 8k + hp so no surprises when the tank 4 + hammer hit and a few FoHs. A BvC will play defensive vs a hammer based build so you have to make use of FoH to chip away HP. You have to be aggressive vs barbs and apply pressure with both FoH and Hammer. If they are not stacked it’s an easy fight. However if they stack your FoH, you have to adopt a more hammer based strategy, making use of boxing style hammer tactics, teleing beside and around him and dropping hammers to force the barb to keep on whirling so he will either slip and eat a hammer. Make sure to utilize desync to keep the barb on his heels. Unlike BvB’s, these guys will tele to a hammer free zone for safety. This gives you a moment to foh chainlock or a delayed namelock to surprise him. Use FoH again to give his correct position on screen so you know exactly where the barb is as they will be desyncing.

If the barb uses Widow on switch, play an aggressive desync-lock style game and try to catch the barb with his bow out. Hammers stun barbs, so if you catch a barb with a bow out, you may be able to kill them in one jump, as they cannot whirl to safety with the bow equipped. Oak is useful here as it takes a hit for you when you jump.

Necromancer

Bone Necro – [3-4]

A bone necro is a very hard fight. They will almost always adopt a defensive style of play. Again, this will be another duel where you will wait for the right moment to pounce. Try to bomb him with FoH, and jump when the opportunity arises; you have to be extremely quick in this duel, as there is always the danger of attracting 3-4 spirits ever time you jump. Be careful not to change directions by 180 degrees (running back to where you came from), as spirits that have locked on will be following right behind, even if they have gone invisible. If you’re allowed, always keep Oak up to grant you momentary summon stack as you jump. You will have to figure out how offensive you need to be based on how much damage FoH does to the necro.

Poison Necs – [1-2]

Not much really to say here. If you have good Res you should not have a problem. Simply use desync hammers + FoH and FoH chainlocks when the moment is right. You can use Cleansing to cut the poison length period down.

Assassins

Trapper – [3-4]

A trapper can be a very hard duel if they are skilled. You will have to use your foh locks to pull off some stomps. Pull away whenever you get caught with a swirly from MB. Remember to Charge and not tele out of traps. Use the edge of your screen to FoH and chip her life down. The assa will tele to a new spot when she sees a lot of pressure from you from hammers and FoH, which makes for a great opportunity for a FoH CL. A C/C sin will be much harder than a W/S trapper, but the strategy will still be the same for both.

Hybrid WW/Trapper [4]

These can be very hard to beat, they have nice trap damage and still have a good whirlwind damage, have up to 60% claw block and use Fade for resist. Now the style is similar to dueling a trapper, however will have to watch out for WW when you jump. Overall, you’ll need to be much more transient. Stick to casting only 1-2 hammers when you tele stomp, and make sure you don’t jump into a whirl. Just like versus a trapper, the best opportunities come when the Sin is recasting or moving to a new area. If the hybrid plays offensively, you can desync defensively to try and catch the Sin with a few invisible hammers.

Druid

Fury/Rabies Druid – [2]

A shapeshifting druid can have from 7k to 10k+ hp, and come complete with hard-hitting Fury and Rabies, but you have all the tools you need to counter them. Use your FoH to attach from range, and mix in hammers to protect yourself. If he manages to catch you with Rabies, use Cleansing to clear it away faster. Whatever you do, do not tele stomp. Fury will kill you in seconds.

Wind Druid – [4-5]

Truly one of the hardest matchups you will get. Minion stack will be your worst nightmare. Windies will see you as prey, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fight back. Before going into this fight u ideally want at least 39% DR and 86% FHR. You will have to mix up offensive and defensive play. The druid will negate your FoH with its minions and Cyclone Armor, so you won’t want to use it much. Use desync (or walking against slower druids) to lay overlapping hammer fields, trying to draw the druid through them. If they tele away to re-summon, you can try to grab a namelock or desync onto the druid and catch him while he is summoning. Don’t jump if the druid is spamming Tornados upward. Make sure to stay moving. Against the better druids, you will probably need the Grief setup, allowing you to smite the druid into your hammers when the windy jumps you. Grief will also allow you to charge the druid, especially when your hammers have killed his minions. Overall, a very tough duel, and will require a lot of practice.

Paladins

Smiters - [2]

A smiter can be a very dangerous dueler for all classes, but mages are able to deal with them fairly well. Now here are some basic rules, the same as against any other non-ww melee char: 1) make sure u have decent amount of DR and are using block. 2) never directly tele stomp a smiter. Again, your FoH is invaluable here, as it will force the smiter to you, even if he is stacking lightning. Try and tele *close* to him (not on him) and drop a hammer and tele/charge away. Desyncing smiters will be hard to predict, so always have hammers floating around you. Should be an easy fight over-all.

V/T and T/V - [2-3]

These are very similar builds to smiters however they both incorporate Foh into their builds, V/T is a smite orientated build and T/V is an Foh orientated build. Both can be a bit harder than smiters. The only difference here is to make sure you use stack gear, and the duel will boil down to a Mage vs Smiter duel; you’re still superior because hammer> smite in almost all cases. Keep an eye out for a FoH scepter because this is a flag for a jump opportunity. With their FoH scepter out, their smite will be very weak, and you can easily out-damage them with a telehammer.

Hammerdin – [2 -4]

This fight can be really easy or hard. Depending on the skill of you and your opponent and gear and of course luck is involved as well. A duel like this is very based on a desync style of play where both sides charge around the field in random patterns and may use some delayed namelocks. Now this duel can be easy if they are not stacking against your FoH, chipping away at their life and forcing them into more dangerous play. If he sorbs and stacks, your advantage is not completely lost, as you can still chip away at his life (although must slower) and useFoH to detect his position. A lot of this duel is anticipation and being able to read their desync patterns. Doing this means you can tele ahead of his path and drop some hammers. Never move in a straight line; use a mixture of short + long desync charges in random directions so your less predictable, and never charge through the paladins extrapolated wake. Again, Oak from HoTo is very useful here, the summon stack allowing you to tele hammer the other din.
Mage (Identical match up) – [1-5]

This is your identical match up. Now various builds do exist and the most important thing is to make sure you have some stacked Res, and it will boil down to a HvH duel. Figure out your opponents damage balance, and play to your strengths. If he has higher hammer damage to you, stick to being a pest and float around, chipping away with FoH. If you have the stronger hammer, you can play more of a desync game. Overall, it’ll just come down to who is the better player. You’ll have to play this one to figure out your own strats.

FoH – [1-2]

Make sure to stack some lightning res here, or you’ll fall prey very soon. To beat an FoH’er just use FoH/Desync/Delay CL’s and try to time your stomping when the other pal is about to cast FoH.

Auradin – [1]

These guys are just FoH’ers and Chargers with a passive source of damage, but their damage will be much less than their counterparts. With proper resistances and stack, the duel will boil down to a Mage vs. FoH or Mage vs. V\T matchup, depending on whether they use FoH or Charge. Use the same strategies as in those duels.




That’s all for now.