RobbyD's Guide to Twinking in 1.09 (and Ideas for Going Untwinked) o


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Mar 16, 2020
This guide was originally posted by RobbyD on January 15th, 2011. For the old version see:

RobbyD's Guide to Twinking in 1.09 (and Ideas for Going Untwinked)

I know several excellent twinking guides are out there (and I am very grateful to Thyiad for “Thyiad’s Twinkie Tips”, as I relied on that very heavily for several of my characters), but there are several differences between 1.09 and 1.10+ that have an impact on the early game (e.g. if you slap on a 1.09 Raven Claw at level 15 in 1.09, you will be sorely disappointed at the performance). As such, I thought a discussion of twinking (and tips for untwinked early game) would be helpful.

Therefore, I would like to present
[highlight]RobbyD’s Twinking Guide and Untwinked Notes for 1.09 [/highlight]

This guide incorporates my priorities for twinking characters – essentially invulnerable (high def, resists, life), finding nice things (high MF) and able to kill monsters efficiently on a Players 8 setting (high damage). It also incorporates ideas for going untwinked taking advantage of 1.09 bugs and characteristics.

[highlight]Twinking Weapon:[/highlight]

So, Raven Claw is nothing special in 1.09 – what to do? Well, the 1.09 version of bugged HAX pwnage is the Envy bow – Blizzard changed poison stacking in weapons from 1.07 to 1.09, but they forgot to change poison stacking in bows, so 1.09 bows enjoy the same poison stacking as 1.07. That means that each added poison damage source in the bow dramatically increases the poison damage done by the bow. This is doubly beneficial since your Act 1 merc uses bows, so you can utilize this for both your merc and your main character.

With that in mind my standard level 1 starting weapon is this:

3 socket Short Bow with Jewels of Envy (the Envy Bow) - This bow has no Strength requirement and a Dex Requirement of 15, which is met by every character’s default stats. A Jewel of Envy provides 20 poison damage over 2 seconds. If you put 3 of these in a 3os Short Bow, the readout and LCS will list this weapon as doing 60 poison damage over 2 seconds, but the actual game mechanics stacks poison/second and ADDS the duration – so the poison damage rate will still be 30 poison/second, but the duration is actually 6 seconds, so this bow does 180 poison damage over 6 seconds, and is able to be wielded by any character at level 1 with no help from items for stats. This very effectively mows down monsters on P8 in the early game and will get you levels very quickly.

Well, you might ask, if you get that kind of HAX stacking from 3 Jewels of Envy, then what might you get from 5 Jewels of Envy?

Well, if you are willing to do a little more Twink Gear preparation, you can use this as your starting weapon:

5 socket Long Bow with Jewels of Envy (the Power Envy Bow) – This bow has a Strength requirement of 22 and a Dex requirement of 19, so the Barb and the Pally can wield it at level 1 with no help. However, the other characters don’t meet the Strength requirement in their default Stats. Since the Sorceress gets the lowest starting Strength (10), here’s how she can wield this bow at level 1: outfit her with a 2 socket Cap with 2 chipped Amethysts first, and then a 2 socket Leather Armor with 2 chipped Amethysts – available at level 1 and that will get her Strength to 22, which is exactly the requirement for the Bow. Alternatively, you can just start with the Short Bow, then pump Str (and I agree with Thyiad that this is the Stat you should pump exclusively at the beginning) until your character can wield this bow unaided.

This bow does 500 poison damage over 10 seconds.

This path leads to the obvious question – what’s the biggest, baddest bow exploiting the 1.09 poison damage bug then? Well, a 6 socket Long Battle Bow with perfect Emeralds, which is listed at 602 poison damage over 7 seconds (minor bug in 1.09 damage addition – it should be 600/7), but my technical calculation is that it makes the monsters turn green until they die. Well, 3,600 poison damage over 42 seconds, in theory. The trouble with this bow is that it’s not a starting bow (perfect gems have level requirement of 18, and the bow has fairly steep stat requirements: 40 Str and 50 Dex) and at the point where you can reasonably expect to wield it, it takes a very long time to kill (assuming you are playing on a Players 8 setting) and you will likely be at or close to Act 2 (and if you are close to finishing Act 1, it’s nerfed against Andariel since she’s poison resistant).

[highlight]Untwinked Weapon:[/highlight]

Well, the happy circumstance is that the twinking weapon is not hard to emulate if you are going untwinked. Chipped Emeralds provide 10 poison damage over 3 seconds – not half as good as jewel of Envy, sure, but you can still stack it in an easily shopped 3os Short Bow. 3 chipped Emeralds in a short bow will provide 90 poison damage over 9 seconds – still effective, and makeable for an untwinked starting character.

[highlight]Twinking Armor: (A Set-Based Approach)[/highlight]

I give a big nod to Thyiad’s Twinky Tips here for the suggestion of pumping Str and only Str for the first 8 or so levels. Things like AR and Life are addressed by the various Set bonuses, so, using this Set-based approach, you don’t need to focus on those early on – only gear requirements. The following suggestions assume you are pumping Str exclusively until gear requirements are met. This guide also assumes you will be using an Envy bow, so shields are not an option. An Envy Crystal Sword is also very effective and can be used with a shield (+10 Str from Hsarus’ Iron Fist at level 3 FTW), but doesn’t enjoy the bugged poison stacking of the Envy bow.

While Blizzard did a poor job with Sets for the endgame (thus the buffing of the partial Set bonuses for the character sets in 1.10+), they made changes in the Expansion for the classic sets that make them very effective for twinking. Sets provide much larger bonuses at low levels than their unique counterparts, and can be combined to really make your character untouchable in the early game. That’s why my early twinking is focused on mixing and matching partial sets for optimum protection. Set availability (for sets I suggest for twinking) is as follows:

Arctic Gear: Level 2 (Level 3 for the gloves)
Hsarus’ Defense: Level 3
Death’s Disguise: Level 6
Sigon’s Complete Steel: Level 6
Angelic Raiment: Level 12
Iratha’s Finery: Level 15

Another thing that is handy to obtain (several of) is a 3os Mask – no level req, Str requirement of 23 means that if you twinked to wield the Long Bow, you are essentially able to wear this helm (OK, a Sorc will have to wait until level 2), and packed with gems/jewels of your choice. I’ve gotten into the habit if picking up grey Masks since they are so nice for twinking. Want more poison damage? Pack Jewels of Envy in it. Want MF? Chipped Topazes. Want life? Chipped Rubies. Mana? Chipped Sapphires… and so on. I like MF (TC3s to start the game FTW) so I tend use these with Topazes.

For gaps in resists, I highly recommend Azure/Crimson/Tangerine Small Charms – up to 5% resist, and available at level 1. You can fill gaps in resists (a moving target that changes as you change your mix of Sets) by adjusting your mix of these charms in your inventory.

At Level 2, I suggest immediately donning Arctic Furs and Binding for the comparatively huge defense and more these provide.

(Blizzard changed the level requirement for the Arctic Mitts from 1.09 to 1.10+. In 1.09, the gloves are required level 3, so you can’t put on the full Arctic Set until level 3 in 1.09.)

At Level 3, Hsarus’ Iron Heel (Chain Boots – 25/0/0/0, 20% FRW) is highly suggested. If you are pumping Str, a Sorceress (as my example, since she starts with the lowest starting Strength) at lvl 3 will have 20 base Str + 5 Str from the partial Arctic Set bonus for 25 – you need 5 more (only for the Sorc – all other characters will have enough) for these, and 20 short of the 45 needed for Arctic Mitts. As referenced in Thyiad’s Twinky Tips, Large Charms of Strength (+2 or +3 Str) are available at level 2 and can be used to get a Sorceress, Necromancer, or Druid to the Arctic Mitts requirements (Zon, Sin, Barb, and Pally get there just with the set bonuses). Grand Charms of Strength with up to +4 Str are also available at level 1. I suggest using charms only to the extent you have not yet pumped Strength.

So, get Str to 45 and and don Arctic Mitts for IAS, AR, and, most importantly, the big +70 life bonuses. You could also put on Berzerker’s Helm for the FR, but I tend to keep with the Topaz Mask.

This should keep you until Level 6 (if you want, you can put on Infernal Cranium at level 5 for the DGTM and 10% Res @, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble).

At Level 6, you are looking at a choice: Keep Arctic and/or look at Sigon’s and/or Death’s. All these Sets give very nice bonuses, and but Sigon’s has a much higher Str requirement. If you are willing to fuss with your gear (namely, stuffing your inventory with LCoS) to get to the Strength requirements, I highly recommend the combination of Sigon’s Boots and Helm (scaling + 50 AR, Mana, 10% life leech, 20% FRW, 0/40/0/0, 50%MF) with either Death’s Sash and Gloves (15/15/15/65, 30%IAS, 8% leech, CBF) or Arctic belt, gloves, and armor (10/75/10/10, 10%IAS, +70 life, 40% MF, +50 AR). You should be good until level 12 now.

At Level 12, my very favorite early Set becomes available: Angelic Raiment. Fantastic defense on the armor, 50/0/0/0, huge +40 life, AR and MF from the rings, and +skill and +75 life from the ammy, plus +50 mana and +10 Dex from the Set partials. I LOVE this set! Since this replaces the Arctic Furs, I think it makes since to go with Death’s gloves + belt and Sigon’s boots + helm, but you can also to 4-piece Sigon’s if you so choose. I tend to go with Death’s at least until Andariel because of the virtual immunity to poison damage it provides.

As a matter of fact, I consider the full Death’s (and if you’ve gotten Strength to 70 for Sigon’s, you should be ready for the Death’s Sword) a VERY viable setup for any character. The Set bonus on the Sword provides 25-75 Cold Damage – this is HUGE and can take you well past Act 1 – only beaten when the first really good runewords become available. This also allows you to use a shield – Sigons for the huge blocking and +skill, Hsarus’ for the +10 Strength, or…

At Level 13, if you are using the Death's Sword, you can actually go with the first unique item I recommend – Stormguild Large Shield for great blocking and 0/0/25/0.

Also at level 13, if you have it, you might want to put on the Cow King’s Hooves – I have not tried these boots yet (I haven’t started a character since I found them), but they have incredible stats - +20 Dex (!!), 30% FRW, 25-35 Fire Damage (from BOOTS), and 25% MF to top it off.

At Level 15, Iratha’s Finery becomes available. I have not personally relied on this set since it removes the most valuable bonus from the other sets, but this set will essentially remove any resists gaps you have.

Now here we are at level 15 with no UbAr overpowered Raven Claw… now what to do? I would stick with the Envy Long Bow or Full Death’s until level 25 (with the possible exception of the Necro if you are actually playing a Necro in 1.09, who might see fit to use The Jade Tan Do at level 19 with a point in Poison Dagger).

Mixing and matching armor pieces of these sets will keep your character well protected until the first level breakpoint (Level 29, where many characters will benefit from a transition to unique items).

*1.09 Bug Alert* - when you have set bonuses that provide +life/+mana, your bulbs partially empty when you weapon switch if that changes your partials at all (and that includes having identical set items on each switch). This can be annoying.

[highlight]Level 25/27/29 Runewords: [/highlight]
While 1.09 does not have any really awesome endgame runewords, the runewords you can make are very powerful for their level requirements. Three weapon runewords can be made at level 25 or level 27 (which, coincidentally, corresponds to the level requirement of most exceptional weapons, so you can make some really nice weapons that will carry even casters to level 30, when all main skills should be available, and melee characters can use these through Nightmare. These are:

Strength (AmnTir) - all melee weapons: +35% damage, 25% Crushing Blow, 7% life leech, +20 Strength, +10 Vitality – not huge damage here, but the big bonus of this runeword is that it can be make in knives and Assassin claws. I used Strength Claws into Hell Act 5 with my Sin.

King’s Grace (AmnRalThul) – Swords and Scepters: +100% damage, +150 AR, +100% damage to Demons and Undead, +100 AR to Undead and Demons, 7% life leech. Now we’re talking! Pop this in a Rune Sword or Divine Scepter since it has no IAS, and you will be mowing through the monsters.

Honor (AmnElIthTirSol) – all melee weapons: +160% damage, +250 AR, +1 Skills, +9 Min/Max damage, 25% Deadly Strike, +10 Strength, 7% life leech. THIS is your monster! Again, no IAS, so put it in something fast – Knout, Divine Scepter, or… if you are really feeling like making a little slower big stick, try putting in a Naga. This also makes an awesome weapon in a Spear or Poleaxe for an Act 2 Merc.

Also, a for a shield, at level 29 you can make:
Rhyme (ShaelEth) – all shields and necro heads: +20% Blocking, +40% Faster Blocking, 25/25/25/25, Cannot be Frozen, 25%MF, 50%GF, 15% Regen mana. It’s really hard to beat this shield – especially in a Pally shield with staff resists.

I would not bother with Ancient’s Pledge, since I think 3 perfect Diamonds beat this runeword.

[highlight] Level 29/30/31 [/highlight]: Gear Breakpoint –

OK, here is where some pretty nice unique armor becomes available, and you might start thinking about rearranging your gear. Some obvious availabilities at level 29 are:


Skin of the Vipermagi: This is endgame for Necros and Sorcs (and nice for all classes), so if you are playing one of those, you will want to put that on.

Peasant Crown: Good for all classes, especially melee.

String of Ears: Obvious choice for melee characters – likely endgame (though I recommend Thundergod’s Vigor over these for most characters due to 1.09 MSLE, it’s not available until level 47)

Infernostride: Very nice for the FRW and huge fire resists – highly recommended for your fight against normal Diablo.

At level 31, these weapons are available:

Skystrike: Finally a good bow for your Zon.

Ribcracker: Needs no introduction, especially for a Druid.

Bloodletter: A Barb will hum with a pair of these

Level 31 releases some really nice armor items:
Rockstopper and

Moser’s Blessed Circle.

Many builds will appreciate these items.

[highlight] Level 41/42 [/highlight]: Gear Breakpoint –

Here’s where a lot of endgame gear becomes available. All the 1.09 class-specific uniques have required level 42 (Oculus, Arreat’s Face, Jalal’s Mane, Herald of Zakarum, Bartuc’s, Titan’s Revenge, Lycander’s Aim) and many other endgame items are available by level 41/42.


Blackhorn’s Face (to make your merc immune to MSLE)

Duriel’s Shell (obvious NM armor for main character and merc)

Skullder’s Ire (for the serious Mfer)


Hand of Blesssed Light or Antlanten for your Pally

Buriza-Do Kyanon – the fabled overpowered crossbow for you Zon.

Athena’s Wrath for you Druid (at least for casting switch, but a decent main weapon in its own right):

Hone Sundan for your merc.

[highlight]Merc Gear: [/highlight]
Outfitting your mercs in the early game is tricky, especially for folks used to 1.13 that get mercs at their character’s level and that gain levels reasonably fast. 1.09 mercs have a set range of levels for each Act, and level very slowly when you first hire them. As such, you have to be a little creative when outfitting them. I’m assuming your merc progression will be: Normal Act 1, Normal Act 2, Nightmare Act 2 and that you will keep your NM Act 2 merc for the rest of your character’s play. An alternative some may choose is the +3 Skills Act 1 merc for the lightning hose bug – I’ll touch on gear for that too.

Normal Act 1 Merc: OK, she’s really low level and gains levels very slowly. If you are going P8, your character will be significantly ahead of this merc when you get her. I suggest making sure you have a Fire Arrow merc, since that skill is bugged to be overpowered in 1.09 (some say it converts 50% of the physical damage to fire damage, but my guess is that it adds the fire damage on top of the full physical damage – it’s very powerful, is most effective against Andariel, and is effective all through the game if you go with the lightning hose merc). Pretty much the only choice available to you is the Arctic Furs. If you are planning on changing mercs in Act 2, that’s probably the only armor you need to put on her. Maybe put a 3-Topaz mask on her when she can wear that. An envy bow is the obvious weapon choice (though you may go with the Raven Claw against Andariel).

Normal Act 2 Merc
I think these guys come in the early teens in level, so at the start, you might as well pop a Dimoak’s Hew on him. You can also go with a Razortine. The point is that you only need to get to level 17 for the first must-have for the merc: Bloodthief. Also at 17, you can put on a really nice helm for a merc, Duskdeep. Once he has these, he will likely be outkilling your main character. For amor, I’d go with Angelic for the unnaturally high defense until level 22, and then put on Iceblink (I also like the Face of Horror to go with this). It’s FUN to watch him with Iceblink and Face of Horror. At level 25, you will need the Face of Horror for the Strength bonus so that he can equip my hands-down recommendation for his weapon - an “Honor” Yari. At level 28 I recommend Goldskin. At level 41, obviously Duriel’s Shell/Vampire Gaze/Hone Sundan (AmnAmnShael).

Nightmare Act 2 Merc
Here’s the deal – you get this guy with starting level in the 30’s – that means he will not be able to wield the level 41 gear that your normal merc had been using, so you will need to have that ‘Honor’ Yari, Goldskin, and say, Rockstopper ready when you hire him. You also need to be ready to get him leveled up, but if you have the pre-41 gear ready for him, he should do just fine.

+3 Skills Lightning Hose Rogue Merc
If you want to exploit this 1.09 bug, you need to get a total of exactly +3 skills (general skills or Amazon Skills - but NOT Bow/Crossbow skills) on her gear. I accomplished this with some resists by using Skin of the Vipermagi, Sazabi's Helm, and Magewrath unique Rune Bow. I used the Fire Arrow merc since that is bugged too - she either shoots Fire Arrows or Lightning Hose (replaces her normal shot). I imagine a Silence Crusader Bow would work well for this, allowing some more merc-friendly armor, but that is a difficult runeword to make in 1.09.

[highlight]Ideas for Playing 1.09 Untwinked: [/highlight]

OK, I know somebody has to start somewhere, and you might not have any 1.09 gear (no matter how fabulously wealthy you are in 1.13). Obviously, 1.07 gear can be brought forward to 1.09, but no everybody has taken on the enigmatic 1.07 patch. So here’s some things to keep in mind for untwinked play:

Weapon – as mentioned already, you can make an Envy Bow Light with chipped Emeralds that, while not as powerful, should do the job nicely. Also, a larger percentage of any jewels you get in early Act 1 will be Jewels of Envy, so you might be able to accumulate the makings of an nice Envy Bow early on (in a 3os Short Bow, obviously, since you won’t be getting a 5os Long Bow until much later).

I also recommend the 3-chip sword recipe (3 chipped gems + a magic sword = new magic sword with 3 open sockets) – that was (I think) originally meant as an early game recipe, because it sets your item’s level to 30 and adds 3 sockets (in 1.07, it always produced a Long Sword, which would actually be beneficial if you are starting with Short Swords). Obviously this is the best way to get untwinked weapons late in the game as well (if you use it with a Conquest, Cryptic, Mythical, Champion, Colossus Sword or Colossus Blade, it can produce a “Cruel” sword – get ready for a lot of rolling though).

*1.09 Bug Alert* Don’t expect to be able to shop a Conquest or Cryptic Sword for this recipe in Hell Acts 1 or 2. In 1.09, Hell Act 1 and 2 Shops do not produce Exceptional or Elite items. So, if you want to shop for a weapon so you can use that recipe for a Cruel 3os Sword, you will have to get to Act 3 to get a Champion or Mythical Sword.

The Savage Polearm Recipe (diamond + Knife + Belt + Staff) is reportedly a good way to get a starting Act 2 merc weapon (always gets a “Savage” prefix), but I haven’t personally tested it.

Runes – Don’t expect to run Normal Countess for nice runes – she can only drop El and Eld in 1.09, though in NM and Hell she drops up to Io and Vex, respectively.

HOWEVER, Normal Countess is a much better early-game MF target in 1.09 than in 1.13. In 1.09, she is the second best target (other than the Cow King) for Death’s Gloves and Sash. You might want to run Countess and Coldcrow for early gear.

Crafting – works the same as in 1.10+, so you can craft nice gloves/ammys, etc. Keep in mind that anything requiring Amn or higher means you have to get that rune to drop – you can’t cube past Thul in 1.09.

1.09 Bugs/Characteristics to be aware of:
Barb and Sin Masteries are bugged to provide a 100% chance of Critical Strike. As such, and since 1.09 skill allocation requirements are free of synergy constraints, I’d go ahead and put an point in each of the 3 level 1 masteries for the Barb and for claw mastery for the Sin.

An Assassin’s chance to hit is bugged to be low, especially for a non claw.

Fire Arrow is bugged to produce much higher fire damage than intended (this applies to the Fire Rogue Merc as well), so a point in this is a cheap PI solution for a Zon.

NM Countess: In addition to being a good source of providing runes for some really nice runewords (up to Io, so you can make Strength, King’s Grace, Honor, Black, and Rhyme by running her), she is bugged to drop up to Treasure Class 66… in Nightmare Act 1! I know for a fact that you can get Laying of Hands from NM Countess – my Barb still wears the pair (item level 44 LoH gloves) that he got from NM Countess.

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