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Matriarch ZodZon – Hybrid Passivezon with Death Cleaver & Wrath switch

ffs

Well-known member
Mar 13, 2020
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This Zon is the first completed Mat from the Zod sept I just started last week.

I figured I'd go ahead and start with one of the weaker builds I've been planning. Never played a Passivezon before, so this was something new for me entirely. Moreover I never used Wrath, an interesting runeword that I've been meaning to use as well. So, two things I haven't done, and on paper they seemed to fit together nicely, so that was the plan with her. The general idea was to use Wrath to apply Decrepify to further increase damage and help against single PIs, as well as to use FA for crowd control and against bigger groups of (or unbreakable) PIs.

I'll be brief here since I posted about about her progress in the sept thread in these three posts:

Yesterday after work I was feeling like some lazy running so I figured why not get this started.

Seemed to me like the alphabetical order more or less also resembled the order of "certainty" as to build and gear, so I picked up the amazon first. She's called ZodZon and is about to enter RoF in normal at lvl 29.

Twinking approach was the same I use with most non-caster builds: Envy jeweled bow, helm and armor to start things off, adding Death's set with Hel'ed weapon at lvl 6 and with the help of some strength GCs, plus Hsaru's boots and shield. Alternating between Envy bow and Death's depending on the situation.

I figured to speed things up I'd go with a Java build until she'll be able to use her end game gear. Accordingly she was ready to use her first powerful skill with Charged Strike at lvl 18, and equipped this nice twinking Javelin at that point:

View attachment 60333

The only thing holding back a Java in normal and NM is mana upkeep, and this inconspicuous item is godsend in that regard. The 5 MPK already meant barely any potting was required, and after equipping Wall of the Eyeless at lvl 20 it was like playing mana only ES Sorc with Warmth and Insight. :) Stealth, 2x Manald (now replaced by 2x SoJ) and Eye of Etlich completed her gear.

Being a Java that's about to get access to Lightning Fury, the rest of normal and NM will be among the easiest D2 experiences one can have, so I'll provide another update at the end of NM when I hopefully will begin to transition to the actual melee/passivezon build.

I gave some more thought to end game build and gear, leaning towards this:

Gear:
  • eth Zod'ed Death Cleaver:
  • Stormshield, socket TBD
  • Really nice rare circlet with +2 Passive, 20 FRW, 30 IAS, 57 ED, 8LL, 7 iPDR:
  • HLW
  • Fortitude or CoH (TBD)
  • SoE
  • WT
  • Raven
  • Rare leech/stat/res ring
  • LoH or blood craft gloves with leech/resist (TBD)
  • Switch: Wrath Diamond Bow (to apply Decrepify with Strafe)
  • CtA swapped in from inventory (I expect this is necessary given high dex/str investment for the gear)
  • Merc: A1 Faith actually Might + Pride seems ideal (see edit below)
Build:
  • 1 Critical Strike *
  • 10-20 Strafe (TBD)
  • 20 Penetrate
  • 20 Pierce (want to use SoE)
  • 20 Freezing Arrow**
  • Rest TBD (likely Strafe, Cold Arrow)
* Going for a Passivezon that doesn't even skill her best passive :D Deadly Strike from Death Cleaver and HLW guarantee double damage, so CS is not required.

** The alternative is Valk, but I think D/A/E could too annoying, I already hate it in normal... Currently I'm leaning towards Freezing Arrow for better crowd control and hopefully making gameplay smoother overall. Together with Wrath's Decrepify this should provide a comfortable slowdown to let her hack away with her poor standard attack.

EDIT:

It just occurred to me that the above gear provides enough IAS to get her to 8 FPA without Faith Merc (as opposed to more or less automatic 7 FPA with Faith Merc, which is the fastest possible for this). This leads me to believe a better Merc option is Might + Pride. I don't worry too much about AR issues with max Penetrate and -33 def from Death Cleaver, whereas the aura ED outperforms the 1 frame attack rate difference, and I can still apply Decrepify with Wrath on top of Pride + Might from Merc. Sounds like a lot of damage and better than the initial idea.

Initially I wanted to go with Faith Merc. But as suspected in the post above, tthe Pride Merc worked out nicely indeed. Don't think I could have gotten more damage/clear speed with another setup, at least I couldn't think of one.

I pushed the Zon a good bit further yesterday, making her way through early A2 Hell now.

As expected, Java gameplay throughout normal and NM was swift, brutal and merciless. After arriving in A5 NM, I took my usual leveling stops at Eldritch and then Pindle in order to transition to the end game gear as quickly as possible. In this case this meant Pindle runs until lvl 73.

Then I switched to the exact build and gear as described above, with Pride/Might Merc. LCS at lvl 78 in early A2 Hell:

View attachment 60336

Damage numbers aren't bad as is, but of course it's actually 200% of that since damage is doubled for every hit (or will be rather, at lvl 78 I'm only at 97% or so :)).

Charms are 6x Sharp GCs with 21-39 life each, 8x Fine SCs with 5-20 life each. I guess in general I better get used to much of that gear and inventory screen, because I think it will look very similar for many of the chars in this sept. :D

As for gameplay: Awesome. Basically everything works as intended, somewhat surprisingly. ;) I’ll record some gameplay and will post it when she’s Mat’ed.

Strategy is simple: Shoot 2-3 rounds of arrows on Wrath switch and immediately engage with melee switch to utilise the Decrepify. As for PIs: If they're just PI, I normally simply use FA on Wrath switch since it’s the most convenient way. Against PI bosses that are cold immune, I use Wrath for Decrepify to break them, then switch to Death Cleaver and focus them down. Still reasonably fast, and that basically covers things. :) Didn't encounter any unbreakable PI/CI yet, not sure they exist either tbh.

The only thing I underestimated a little bit is the pretty short lvl 1 Decrepify duration from Wrath procs. I switch weapons a little more often than anticipated. But it’s still perfectly fine, only for bigger groups and tougher boss packs I usually switch weapons 2-3 times, against normal small-ish groups I just fire one volley with Wrath and then stay on Death Cleaver switch. Even if Decrep runs out during the fight, this still cleans things up quickly.

I’d say skill use on bow switch until now is roughly 40% FA, 30% Strafe and 30% Guided Arrow/standard attack.

So far 0 deaths and she didn't even encounter any noticeable survivability issues at all, to my surprise. In addition to 49% PDR with Stormshield and SoE, she has 14 iPDR on top of it from circlet and SoE which seems to do quite a lot as well. Overall she is much tankier than I had anticipated. I do use CtA, but that’s really mostly for the Merc since he has barely any life upkeep with Pride. Zon doesn't really need it frankly, at least until now.

With that in mind I also tried Phoenix instead of Stormshield at one point, because with the latter it felt like even going a bit overkill in safety. Phoenix brought Max dmg from 5.5 to 6.9k and the harder hits were noticeable. However, given the 11 frame delay caused by Firestorm procs from Phoenix, I believe this doesn’t actually result in a DPS improvement. Currently still using Stormshield and I certainly can’t go wrong with it. But I’ll look into other shield options before Mat‘ing her.

Regarding shields, I eventually stuck with Stormshield and didn't regret it. She was never in any danger from physical damage really. I did try other shields, in particular socketed ones to add more damage via jewels. But in the end Stormshield was too good to drop I felt.

Amazon is now lvl 81, A4 Hell (River of Flame WP).

The struggle is getting real. :D Lots of nasty enemies, and the lack of AoE is painful at times, in particular vs CI monster types that spawn additional mobs to deal with. FA does what it can, but it's becoming less useful. Reduced freeze duration from FA is noticeable now that monsters don't die that quickly. Maybe skilling Ice Arrow instead of Cold Arrow as synergy would help, although the extra FA damage is welcome against PIs. The short Decrepify duration from Wrath is becoming more of a problem, too, with fights taking longer in general. Anyway, now turned it down to P1 and I guess she's still progressing okay, but at her own pace. ;) Should Mat her in the upcoming days in any case.

(...)

Her final gear and build at lvl 82:

Gear:
  • eth Death Cleaver (Zod)
  • Stormshield (Um)
  • +2 Passive, 20 FRW, 30 IAS, 57 ED, 8 LL rare circlet (two IAS/ED jewels socketed)
  • Fortitude
  • HLW
  • SoE
  • LoH
  • War Traveler
  • Raven
  • Dual leech, FR, LR ring
  • Switch: 'Wrath' Diamond Bow
  • Merc: Might Merc with Pride, CoH, Tal Rasha's helm
  • Inventory: CtA, Cube, Sharp GCs with life, Fine SCs with life
Build:
  • 20 Penetrate
  • 18 Pierce
  • 20 Freezing Arrow
  • 17 Cold Arrow
  • 5 Ice Arrow
  • 5 Strafe
  • 1 Decoy, pre-reqs
Her Zod item of choice being Death Cleaver, the 66% DS along with Highlord's basically guaranteed double damage, so I didn't need to invest Critical Strike. No Valk since I didn't want to skill D/A/E.

After switching to the melee build in A5 NM, she continued to finish NM on P8 and started Hell on P3. Things went smooth for a while, but starting in A2 Hell it became tedious, and A4 was a struggle even on P1. I died twice to Souls on her way to RoF, not having a lot of LR at the time but unnecessary nonetheless. :rolleyes: On the other hand, A5 was pretty easy again, including Ancients and Baal.

Mat Pic:
Screenshot026.jpg

Here's some gameplay footage at the start of A5 Hell:


As for drops, she didn't find any interesting items, but 2 Ist runes which are always a welcome sight.

***

She was interesting to play, and I enjoyed the use of Wrath switch even though the Decrepify duration is rather short. Wrath switch also saw the use of severals skills depending on the situation (FA, Strafe, standard attack...). The melee part, despite being the "main" part of this build, was not that exciting. Unless one enjoys just using standard attack. :)
 

maxicek

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 24, 2019
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Congratulations ffs, nice build.

I always hate A2 with melee characters, too many unleechables. What was the merc gear, I always seem to have problems keeping my Pride merc alive?
 

PhineasB

Well-known member
Mar 14, 2020
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I always hate A2 with melee characters, too many unleechables. What was the merc gear, I always seem to have problems keeping my Pride merc alive?
This I am interested in hearing also. Congrats on the nice Mat, and I think a creative take on the passive-zon within the SPF!
 

ffs

Well-known member
Mar 13, 2020
245
547
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@maxicek & @PhineasB: Merc was using Pride, ebug CoH, Tal Rasha's helm. I had to revive him 4-5 of times in hell, so he did die occasionally but not that often. He was the main reason I used CtA, the Amazon didn't really need it but he did, IIRC his deaths all happened when BO ran out. I think Wrath helped him with all those Decrep/Life Time procs. Forti should be better than CoH, but I was happy with his survivability for the playthrough.
 
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Peytron

Active member
Mar 19, 2020
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An Amazon using a melee weapon is really cool. It was a little hard to tell by the video, but does the melee attack do that much more damage than the ranged attack?
 

PhineasB

Well-known member
Mar 14, 2020
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I had issued with blind target overriding amp with my necro-supporting Pride merc, especially when PI involved or amp (Pat write up). I'm guessing ability of Zon to freeze and use ranged attack to keep proc'ing decrep was a significant difference, and I'm glad it worked out for her either way :)
 

ffs

Well-known member
Mar 13, 2020
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@PhineasB Yes that blind target proc is annoying. I just tried to apply Decrep and kill them before the Merc got close, really. :D Didn't always work of course. I imagine it's more annoying for a pure melee build indeed. For the playthrough it was fine.

An Amazon using a melee weapon is really cool. It was a little hard to tell by the video, but does the melee attack do that much more damage than the ranged attack?
Yes, melee attack deals much more damage than the ranged attack in case of this build and gear. I think max dmg with Cleaver was at 5.6k (x2 with Deadly Strike), whereas FA damage was at 1.1k or so. Any physical attack with Wrath was laughable since there's no ED on the weapon. Its function was really just Decrepify and FA for crowd control, although FA was sometimes better against larger groups despite the lower damage.