Matriarch Sarissa - Stealth Jab/Fendazon

TopHatCat64

Member
May 27, 2020
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Matriarch Sarissa

Code:
Lvl 81

Fend: 1126-7324 (w/ Fanat) | 8390 attack rating
Jab: 845-5473 (w/ Fanat) | 7770 attack rating

Life: 1214
Resists: 75 F, -13 C, 61 L, -13 P
Str: 98 | Dex: 148 | Vit: 234

Skills
20 Fend
20 Jab
20 Decoy
20 Penetrate
9 Critical Strike

Gear
Code:
Darksight Helm 'Ort'
Mara's Kaleidoscope
Eth Up'ed Hone Sundan '3 Shaels'*
'Fortitude' Archon Plate
Laying of Hands
String of Ears
Gore Rider
Dread Spiral rare ring*
Death Whorl rare ring*
Switch: eth Demon's Arch / Moser's Blessed Circle '2 pdiamonds'

Merc: 'Faith' Diamond Bow / 'Treachery' Archon Plate / 1.07 Vamp Gaze 'ias jewel'

Charms (combined stats): 22 min dmg, 69 max dmg, 481 attack rating, 101 life

Hone Sundan
Ghost Spear
Two Hand Damage: 99 - 726
Durability: 28 of 28
Required Level: 69
Required Strength: 112
Required Dexterity: 153
Fingerprint: 0xed8f06e9
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+60% Increased Attack Speed
196% Enhanced Damage
Adds 20 - 40 Damage
45% Chance of Crushing Blow
Repairs 1 Durability in 10 Seconds
Required Level +7
Ethereal
3 Sockets (3 used)
Socketed: Shael Rune
Socketed: Shael Rune
Socketed: Shael Rune

Dread Spiral
Ring
Required Level: 65
Fingerprint: 0x51f25657
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
8% Life stolen per hit
+14 to Strength
+32 to Life
+4 to Mana
Lightning Resist +26%
Fire Resist +16%

Death Whorl
Ring
Required Level: 65
Fingerprint: 0x7fe17647
Item Level: 89
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+3 to Maximum Damage
8% Life stolen per hit
+33 to Life
+38 to Mana
Lightning Resist +18%
Fire Resist +21%

The Planning Stage

Despite my love of amazons, I've never actually used Fend in a build. A major reason why, is the Fend bug. It's a wordy post, but essentially, Fend will whiff all subsequent attacks if you dodge, block or enter hit recovery at any point during the Fend cycle.
  1. The only tried-and-true solution to this bug is to not put any skill points into the Dodge/Evade/Avoid.
  2. No D/A/E means no points into Valkyrie.
  3. If you don't want to block, then using a shield is out.
  4. Combine points 1-3 together and you get a melee amazon with a very limited defensive toolbox
So, how does vulnerable melee zon stay alive without getting squashed every 5 seconds?

Darksight Helm.

I've been trying to figure out a good build to use this helmet on for years, but I could never really justify wearing it over helms with better all-around stats (Kira's, G Face, Nightwing's, Arreat's, etc...) My theory was that this build, with Decoy as my only defensive skill, was going to take damage too quickly to be able to "outgear" it by stacking on a ton of life, leech, and resists. Even with 2000+ life and max resists, I would hard-pressed to leech back enough life to offset the consistent stream of successful hits I'd be enduring. I needed to "outskill" all the damage I would be facing, and that's where DSH's charges of Cloak of Shadows came in.

One plus to not wanting to wear a shield, is that it meant that I could wield a two-handed weapon - something I rarely do on my non-druid melee characters. Consensus among past fendazons seemed to be an eth up'ed Hone Sundan, and luckily I had one with 196% ed in my stashes.

I wanted a name that conveyed the choice of Hone Sundan, and so I looked up spears and spear fighting. Sarissa is named after the 20 ft long spears that Greek phalanxes used somewhere around 330 BC. This is my first 'Faith' build, and I like to keep a theme going when it comes to my big expensive runewords, so my subsequent Faith builds will keep this Greek naming scheme.

Leveling and Observations

Before I started using Fend, I assumed it would basically be the amazon's version of Zeal or Fury. After hitting lvl 24 and trying it out I quickly realized that Fend does not do a set number of hits like the aforementioned skills. That means two things:
  1. When only in range of one target, the Fend essentially acts like the slowww normal, unskilled attack you start with at lvl 1. You don't do multiple hits against that one target. This is more of an issue that I originally planned for, because you frequently end up in range of only one monster, even in large packs of melee monsters. Slower, less aggressive melee monsters (like frozen horrors) tend to spread out and take their time approaching you, so it's harder to hit more then one.
  2. Fend is best when you're in the middle of a tightly packed crowd of monsters to take advantage of unlimited number of fast hits you're dishing out. I originally was rolling around with Fend on my right click, but that meant that I always engaged monsters at max range. With short range weapons like swords, that wouldn't be much of an issue, but Hone Sundan has a huge reach. Because of HS's range, I was usually was only able to engage one monster, which lead to the issues I mentioned in point 1. Fend was much more efficient as my left click. I would manually move myself into crowds, and then shift+left click to start the fend cycle. HS's range became an advantage again, since I was now in range of multiple monsters.
I had originally planned on go through the whole game with Fend as my only attack skill, but I ended up maxing Jab, since it complimented Fend perfectly. As mentioned, Fend is awful against single targets, while Jab is tailor-made for isolated monsters.

I used Decoy and Cloak of Shadows sparingly throughout normal and nightmare - there just wasn't that much of a threat. Once I got to hell, however, both skills proved invaluable in keeping me alive.

I've used Decoy on multiple mats at this point and it's definitely one of my favorite skills. Decoy requires no corpse, so it can placed exactly when you need it. It can be summoned anywhere, so it's exactly where you need it. And it has an unusually high priority to monsters, so that I could stand right next to it and fend away without getting hit. When faced with really dangerous packs of monsters (might/fanat-enchanted, cursed, etc...), I would "go fishing" with my decoy to string out the minions. I would cast a decoy at the edge of my screen, then as monsters started to charge towards it, I would recast it a little closer to me, and then move back, repeating the process until the pack was sufficiently spaced out, then, I would cast Cloak of Shadows to lock them in place so I could kill each monster one by one.

Cloak of Shadows was a god send for this build. In hell difficulty, I simply could not stand being hit by even small groups of melee monsters at once. If they were backed up my ranged monsters, forget about it. CoS, solved both issues. I could pick and choose my battles, running in between blinded monsters to quickly kill isolated monsters without being overwhelmed. Some monsters, like champs/uniques/bosses, could not be blinded by CoS, and I prioritized them first. The few times I did die, were instances where my cloak wore off before I was ready or when I was hit with damage that cloak couldn't mitigate (FE death explosions).

Overall, a very fun character that required a lot of tactical thought.
 
Last edited:

saracen85

Well-known member
May 1, 2020
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Congrats on the famer! :ROFLMAO:
Sorry, can't resist... Zons and Hone Sundans, just a sight for sore eyes.

Before I started using Fend, I assumed it would basically be the amazon's version of Zeal or Fury.

This goes the same for me as well. Had to change my mindset that Fend being a worse version of Zeal to a situational skill, to be complemented with Jab.
 
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maxicek

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Dec 24, 2019
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Congratulations THC.

You aren’t tempting me to start a Fend/Jab zon. My biggest problem with it is the other Spear & Javelin skills are so good by comparison.
 
Apr 24, 2020
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Was Dim Vision useful, or do you think something such as Delirium might have been better with the confuse, fear, and mind blast triggers?
 

TopHatCat64

Member
May 27, 2020
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Was Dim Vision useful, or do you think something such as Delirium might have been better with the confuse, fear, and mind blast triggers?
Darksight Helm's CTC Dim Vision was occasionally helpful when I got hit by arrows before I cast Cloak of Shadows, but it definitely wasn't something I could rely on.

It's certainly possible that Delirium might have been just as good for crowd control as DSH, but DSH has a couple advantages over Delirium for this particular build:
  • I have to get hit frequently to trigger Delirium's procs, something I tried to avoid in this build since I'm pretty fragile. I could cast CoS without having to get hit at all.
  • Along the same lines, I prefer the reliability of controlling when CoS is cast vs. relying on chance for Delirium's procs to go off.
  • Confused monsters can still see and target me from outside melee range whereas Cloaked monsters can only see and engage me when I'm right next to them
  • Nothing to do with gameplay, but I wanted to use an item that I rarely see discussed, let alone equipped.
 
Last edited:
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maxicek

Moderator
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Dec 24, 2019
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Hah, that's part of the appeal for me! Questing with less popular skills/items is what keeps me coming back after all these years.
Agreed, but I'm more likely to use a 2h sword than fend (3/8 Mats) :)
 

PhineasB

Well-known member
Mar 14, 2020
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Really nice Mat, and I really appreciated the detailed write up and explanation of approach. It seems like that gear worked just as you planned, with skill usage honed through the game play. And it’s always nice to see more fendazons, given their relative limitations to other spear/javelin skills. Well done!
 
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