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RobbyD's Time Traveler's Guide to 1.09 v1.3


Well-known member
Guide Author
Mar 13, 2019
This guide was originally posted by RobbyD on January 9th, 2010. It underwent several revisions, this is the latest version. For the old version see:

RobbyD's Time Traveler's Guide to 1.09 v1.3

Hi all - due to some interest in the topic, I have put together a compilation of what I have learned in playing the 1.09 game. Now, I am NOT the original expert, but rather learned what I know by building what I've now decided will be a Septemvirate and researching information that is out there, and asking copious questions that many of the real experts of this board have been extremely helpful in answering. So, I wanted to put all the things I've learned from various folks on this board and various resources on the net all in one spot, from the perspective of somebody familiar with the current patch who wants fire up a 1.09 instance.

I'm sure there is a lot of info I have missed, so I request and welcome feedback from forum members on aspects I have missed or mistakes in the summary.

So, without further ado, I present for your approval, the UPDATED, NEW AND IMPROVED third draft of RobbyD's Time Traveler's Guide to 1.09:


[highlight]RobbyD's Time Traveler's Guide to 1.09 LOD v1.3[/highlight]

1. Introduction (AKA "Why would I want to play 1.09?)
2. Running the Patch
3. Differences Between 1.09 and 1.10-1.13
4. ITAMZ Available in 1.09
5. Imbalances/Bugs
6. Character-Specific Notes
7. 1.09 Builds
8. NYAQ (Not-Yet-Asked Questions)
9. MF/Boss Running in 1.09
10. Helpful Links

[highlight]1. Introduction (AKA "Why would I want to play 1.09?)[/highlight]

As a clarification, this guide addresses the LoD expansion - I have not played Classic.

So, you are thinking about revving up a 1.09 instance, but you are thinking "Why would I waste my time with 1.09?". Well, in my case, I played the game back in 2002-2003 and failed to get any characters past the Hell Ancients, so I wanted to settle the score. For other folks, reasons include:

- Playing a fun (much more balanced than 1.07) patch that isn't so reliant on hard-to-build uber-powered RW items (well, 1.13 seems to have addressed the rune rarity)
- Playing a patch that gives you more flexibility in your builds - ever wanted to build a Tri-Elemental Sorc?
- Avoiding high-level experience penalties for a level 99 character (which can then be converted to 1.13 to respec to a sweet 1.13 build)
- Easy HF rushing
- Obtaining a 1.09 Raven Claw unique Long Bow that gets bugged lvl 30(33?) exploding arrows when converted to 1.10+
- Obtaining ingredients for beta 1.10s Crescent Moon, Call to Arms, etc. (Crescent Moon runes can be collected in 1.09 since Um can drop from the 1.09 HF - but if you are using 1.09 to HF rush, most people get the Hell HF reward in 1.10+ for the Mal-Gul chance to cube up to the Ohm for CtA)
- Obtaining the Azurewrath Crystal Sword to fill the Flavie spot
- Collecting level 90+ charms for gem rolling and amulets
- Exploiting imbalances and bugs such as overpowered GA BuriZon and +3 skills Act 1 Merc
- NO Gloams or OKs in WSK, so melee characters can much more easily run Baal (well, again, 1.13 seems to have made melee more viable, but WSK is MUCH easier in 1.09 than even 1.13)
- Easy (small) Countess and Mephisto maps (and surprisingly different drop patterns for the Countess - I got my first LoH from NM Countess)
- Experience a time before Hammerdins ruled the Earth (*sigh* - 1.13 strikes again - how about a time before Enigma ruled the Earth?)
- Two words: PURPLE BOSSES!

OK - so 1.09 is not a secret to a lot of people - it's not a puzzle to be cracked like 1.07, since:

- It was widely playing on the Realm and plenty of guides, builds, etc. exist
- Most items and all runewords from 1.09 are the same for 1.10+

However, while plenty of knowledge is available for the patch (I as found out from all the helpful forum members and guides that helped me Pat my first character), I have not seen a comprehensive guide from the standpoint of Time Traveling to play the patch. Many people like me remember playing 1.09 back in the day (I happened to be relying on a horrible resource back then, so in retrospect, I'm amazed I got a character as far as Hell Ancients), there are new players who only hear us oldtimers' stories. So - here's some information that I hope will be helpful.

[highlight]2. Running the Patch[/highlight]

You have to play 1.09 as Single Player - it doesn't exist on b.net (though I have rushed some folks using ISP, so you CAN MP).

I originally had heard that pre-1.12 doesn't run on Vista, but I have been informed that it can work (see responses to this guide), but not having tried Vista myself, I can't speak directly to that. I have heard from a buddy that 1.09 was working fine on Vista, and then he decided to install a bunch of updates that Microsoft had issued, and that rendered his 1.09 instance unplayable. However, other players have reported no problems whatsoever. I would just advise that you be aware that Vista and 1.09 MAY not be completely harmoneous.

I don't know how to use the version switcher that I've seen discussed in the forum, but if you have original discs (and note there are 2 versions of the Battle Chest available), you can simply install the original 1.07, patch to 1.09, and fire it up. I also have 1.12 and 1.13 installed - the way I handle that is by renaming the Diablo II directories. When you run the game, it runs what is in the directory name "Diablo II", so if you have 3 versions installed, and you want to play 1.09, name the 1.09 directory "Diablo II" and the other 2 directories "Diablo II 1.12" and "Diablo II 1.13". That way the game ignores those directories.

The process for creating the multiple instances with independent save (character) files I took was this:
NOTE - This approach worked for Windows XP, but copying install directories causes the game not to lauch in Windows7

1. Install 1.07
2. Patch to 1.09 (I Yahoo'd the patch when I originally installed it, but all the patch download sites are in Thyiad's sticky)
3. Rename directory to "Diablo II 1.09" and create new directory "Diablo II"
4. Copy entire contents from the 1.09 directory (except the screenshots if you've already played) to the new directory.
5. Connect to Battle.net from your new directory - this automatically installs to the current patch
6. Delete your 1.09 characters in the 1.13 patch and create your new characters.

To use this method, you have to make sure your disc is 1.07 - if you are shopping for the Battle Chest, the box is a little different for the 1.12 version and the 1.07, but the best way to tell is to look on the side to see what operating systems are listed - if it says "Vista", you have the 1.12 version.

Running 1.09 on Windows7

What I found to work with Windows7 is to make a fresh, from-disc install (in 1.07) and then patch to the version you want to play. If you want multiple patches available, you just have to spend the time to reinstall the game for each patch.

The approach of renaming the directories still works with Windows7.

Item Conversion
If you plan to farm 1.09 Raven Claws and want to convert them to 1.13 without ruining your 1.09 characters, there is a way to do this using ATMA:

1. Create a 1.09 character in your 1.13 directory using ATMA and put the item in that characters stash (not inventory). I don't know if this is consistent, but characters with items loaded in their inventory have resulted in vanished items in my experience.

2. Open that character in your 1.13 game, and viola you have a converted Raven Claw (or SC of Inertial or Azurewrath Crystal Sword, etc.)

[highlight]3. Differences between 1.09 and 1.10-1.13[/highlight]

Where to start - I'll hit on the major items I can think of (though I have not done any extensive 1.10-1.13 play, so please let me know if I'm missing anything):

-Skill Synergies:
These were introduced in 1.10, so 1.09 does not have them (other than some passive bonuses such as the Druid Summoning Tree). This allows for a lot more flexibility in builds, since maxing a skill would only take 22-23 points, instead of >60. This opens up a number of builds that aren't viable in 1.10+.

-Experience Penalties:
There are no global experience penalties in 1.09, so leveling past 90 is not nearly the chore that it is in 1.10+. Level 99 is quite doable if you run cows and/or Hell Act V. However, I think the level difference penalty is active, as I ran Countess with a level 94 pally with nary a pixel in his XP bar.

-Experience Balance:
In 1.09, experience is very much weighted to Act V (and even within Act V, weighted to WSK/Baal). As such, you will often see a notable slow down in experience when you start Act 1 of the next difficulty. My side-by-side comparisons has shown a Normal Act 1 full clear on P8 to get a 1.13 character about 2 levels further than a 1.09 character.

-Mercenary Levels:
Mercenaries have a fixed range of available level when you hire them (as opposed to being tied to your character level like it is in 1.13), so you will often have to work on getting your merc leveled up when you hire a new one. The range for NM Act II mercs is relatively low (max level 35), so that's where this will cause the most inconvenience.

The maximum level for a 1.09 Normal Act 2 Merc upon hiring is 13. That means that Bloodthief and Sparking Mail will not be available right away.

-Mercenary Durability:
Mercs are more fragile in 1.09 than 1.10+ - they get lower natural resists and
MUCH fewer hitpoints as well. For instance, an Act 2 NM merc has 44 [email protected] and 972 hitpoints at level 98 (the highest level for a merc) in 1.09, whereas the same merc sports 62 [email protected] and 2291 hitpoints in 1.10a (Based on my converted level 99 1.09 MeteOrb to 1.10a).

-Mercenary Range of Freedom:
Mercs are tied a little closer to your main character than in 1.13, so they are less likely to get hung up (separated from your character and not teleporting to catch up).

-Council Hydras:
1.09 Council are MUCH less aggressive with casting Hydras, and the Hydras projectiles are much slower that their 1.10+ counterparts.

-Shaman and Unraveler packs:
1.09 has Shaman and Unraveler packs that consist minion Shaman and Unravelers - this is one of the biggest challenges of 1.09, as those packs can be pretty tough. For instance, the bottom of the Flayer Dungeon where you need to get Khalim's Brain has a SU Shaman pack - so it's a little room full of fire-breathing Shaman - if they converge on you, it's mighty hurty. This also makes the Tal Rasha Tombs tough with all the mummy boss packs you have to deal with (though the black magic bolts hurt less in 1.09 than 1.13).

Also, a unique or champion Shaman does not continue to be a unique or champion once you knock him down to flayer in 1.09.

-Baal Mana Burn:
This appears to have been continually nerfed from its original 1.07 incarnation. The 1.09 mana burn still takes a significant amount of life, but nothing compared to what I have read about 1.07, but more than it seems to take in 1.10+. The graphic is also different - it doesn't look like a rocket flame in 1.09, but more like a fat fire hose.

-Lightning Absorb:
Works much better in 1.09 than 1.10+ - if you reach the breakpoint with resists + absorb, then any time you encounter an LE monster, the sparks will act like life leech for your character (assuming you don't encounter the CE/LE bug). This makes it pretty hard to pick any belt other than Thundergod's Vigor, and it's why Blackhorn's Face is so nice for a merc. Conviction from Hell monsters is usually so hight that it overrides this benefit, however.

The 1.10 FAQ on the wiki board states that curses weren't touched, but how they work was changed in a fundamental way - they were make to break immnunities in 1.10+. This isn't possible in 1.09 - no curses can remove immunities in 1.09. Some other differences are that Lower Resists effects magic damage in 1.09 (tested and verified), and Iron Maiden + Blood Gloem treats returned damage as damage dealt for the purpose of IG's impact on a Necro's hitpoints.

-Monster damage and hitpoints:
Monsters, especially in Hell, don't hit as hard or have nearly as many hitpoints as in 1.10+. This is good and bad - it's good that you can mow though monsters much faster, but it lulls you into a sense of invulnerability that get's shattered with you encounter pack of uniques combining Amp Damage, Might, and Fanatacism and/or MSLE + Conviction (which, to my understanding, are higher level curses and auras than in 1.10+).

-Monster curses/auras:
I read somewhere that the level of the curses and auras that monsters have got lowered in 1.10+. I have personally noticed that, in Hell, Amp lasts MUCH longer in 1.09 than 1.13, so I assume it's related to the level. That also explains the disparity of the difficulty of Might/Amp/Conviction packs to the rest of the game in 1.09.

-Ancients Quest Reward:
In 1.09, as long as your character is the prerequisite level 20/40/60 when defeating the Ancients, you get all the levels that the reward points provide for. If the points awarded are enough to give you 3 levels, you get 3 levels.

-Boss stats:
Duriel is straight up Cold Immune (NM and Hell) - makes him VERY tough for a FO or Blizz Sorc. Countess is CI/FE and very often PI/Stone Skin (as are many uniques). I'm sure there are other differences.

-Insta-Kill Monsters:
FE isn't an issue except in rare circumstances when combined with Conviction (see Council Members), but MSLE is the replacement 1HK monster mod. MSLE + Conviction is extremely deadly.

-Rune Upgrades:
You can't cube runes past Thul. Amns and higher must drop. This makes even mid-runes precious, but not all runes are useful in 1.09, because of a much smaller list of possible runewords, discussed in the ITAMZ section.

-Cube recipes:
The Cube recipes are a little different - no upping, no emptying sockets, no adding sockets to white items (Larzuk is your only option for this), but
you still have the 3 pGem recipe for rerolling magic items, potion recipe, etc.

What I learned in the process is that the real "gem" (pun intended) of the 1.09 recipes is the 3 chipped gem + sword recipe, discussed in the ITAMZ section.

-Breaking Immunities:
You can't. PI is PI, LI is LI, CI is CI, etc. in 1.09, and the only way to deal with it is to get a source of alternative damage. If you cast Amp Damage on PIs, they simply don't get Amp'd - no graphic above their head. Cold Mastery does not break cold immunes, for instance, and Conviction doesn't break immunities. ***EDIT*** The Paladin's Sanctuary skill completely removes the physical resistance of undead monsters, so ghosts in Hell, for instance, become completely vulnerable to physical damage, complete with leeching. This does not appear to apply to a Merc though - they are still PI as far as the Merc goes (at least in my experience).

-Crushing Blow:
Crushing Blow stacks with the players setting, so that whether you are on P1 or P8, CB will take off the same percentage of the monster's life. I've tested this with a 'Strength' claw with an Assassin - stacked CB will carve up a non-PI boss on P8 very quickly.

I've been informed that leeching is halved in NM and then effectively halved again in Hell due to the global 50% PDR monsters get, but you CAN leech off of Act bosses, so a melee character like a barb makes an awesome Mephy runner (see "MF / Boss running" section for details), for instance. Based on my research, there is no "leech effectiveness" modifier in 1.09 - that was introduced in 1.10+, so leeching is more universal.

-Hellforge drops:
The NM and Hell Hellforges drop the same range as NM Hellforge does in 1.09 - Sol to Um (so no chance for Mal-Gul from Hell HF). I have personally witnessed a Shael drop from the Hell HF for a buddy I rushed. Mal-Vex can be obtained from Hell Countess (and a lot of patience), but Ohm+ require questing drops.

-Act V:
Act V does not have any "guest" monsters, so no Flayer/Fetish dolls or OKs in the WSK. Further, you don't get Champions or Unique monsters in the WSK or levels 1 and 2 of Nilly's Temple (except for the occasional Evil Urn spawn in Nilly's Halls), so running Halls of Pain racks on P8 is very safe.

What you do get in Baal's Throneroom are Frenzytaurs and scores of PI Succubi throwing Blood Stars at you and casting Amp Damage, so you DO still have to be carerful and have a PI solution if you want to run Baal.

-Moo Moo Farm
This is a great place for XP runs, as the cows are easier to kill, and give more experience than in 1.10+. This is the place for those who want to make a level 99 character to convert to 1.10+. This is also a place people farm for charms, mid runes (Amn - Sheal), etc. Cows are higher level in 1.09 (90) than 1.10+ (83), so better items (such as +2 skills rare ammys) can drop.

-Access to Moo Moo Farm
(from FeardBliss) In 1.09, a character that has not beaten Baal in a given difficulty cannot enter a cow portal created by another character that has. In 1.10+, this restriction is lifted.

-Map sizes
The Countess' Tower and Durance maps are NOT supersized in 1.09 - the NM and Hell maps look no different than Normal maps. This makes running the Countess MUCH more feasible for runes even though her drop rates are lower since you can do them so much faster.

-Open Wounds
The formula is different - OW doesn't scale nearly as much in 1.09, but the weaker monsters may offset this - I haven't tested it.

-Rare Items
In 1.09, rare items can't get some affixes that are available in 1.10+ rares, so they generally pale in comparison to the other options. Specifically, rare weapons CANNOT get the following affixes (that 1.10+ rares CAN get):

- Cruel
- Ferocious
- Master's (100-150% ED/ 151-250 AR) and Grandmaster's
- Elemental prefixes like Condensing, Shocking, etc.
- of the Giant

Rare shields, armor, and helms cannot get 2 sockets (but can get 1). Rare rings can't get mana leech, and ammys can't get life leech, but otherwise are pretty much the same. As in 1.10, ammys, circlets, rings, boots and gloves are where rares really shine, with belts and shields also being potentially useful (rare gloves CAN get dual leech and some +skills, rare shields can spawn "of deflecting")

Pretty much the only difference is that Small Charms of Inertia are 5% FRW, not 3%.

-Elemental absorb isn't capped at 40% as in 1.10+.

-Damage reduction % is capped at 75% (it's 50% in 1.10+): Stormshield, Shaftstop and Harlequin Crest/Vamp's Gaze/String of Ears/Rockstopper can produce a significant PDR build.

-Aura effects lag in taking effect and wearing off: when switching on an aura it takes about 3 seconds for it to affect party members/enemies (I have found this consistently true when my Might Merc casts Might), and it remains for about 8 seconds (you will stay convicted and monsters will stay "Might"y for a little while) after the spawning monster is dead. This is important to keep in mind after you kill an aura boss - you still have the effect for a bit, so cool your heels for a couple of seconds to let it wear off.

A Paladin can exploit this by flashing Holy Freeze/Conviction, get it to affect the monsters and then switch to Fanaticism to attack them. For some reason, Fanatacism suffers NO delay in casting - it's unique among auras in that regard.

-Some SuperUniques are in different locations - for instance, Thresh Socket is always at the first cage of the Barbarian prisoners, and Sharptooth Slayer is at the entrance to the Crystalline Passage in 1.09.

  • There is no temporary bonus to poison or cold resists from chugging potions - all antidote and thawing potions do is cure a case of the greens or blues.
  • BO does not fill your expanded life bulb in 1.09 - you have to fill it yourself once you're buffed
  • According to the 1.10 notes, level 18+ thorns makes you immune to Melee attacks ***EDIT - I HAVE TESTED THIS - IT DID NOT WORK FOR ME***
  • To set to a higher player setting, the command is "PlayersX" instead of "/PlayersX", and it does not give you any indication of minions growing stronger. In 1.09d, it is capped at 8.
  • Anya has no healing ability in 1.09.

[highlight]4. ITAMZ Available in 1.09[/highlight]

With some exceptions, set and unique items are identical between 1.09 and later patches. 1.10+ added many elite level unique items that aren't available in 1.09, but for the most part, all set/uniques in 1.09 are available in 1.10+.

That being said, there are some items that were changed. Some examples I can think of are:
  • Arkaine's Valor - the 1.09 version has +1 or +2 defined for each character - 1.09 Arkaine's Valor
  • Witchwild String - no sockets and level 1 Magic Arrows rather than level 20
  • Wizendraw - no reduction to target cold resistance
  • Characters-specific sets do not get the item-specific partial set bonuses, like the elemental damage on the IK Maul
  • Other than Griswold's set, no Set items gets automatic sockets
  • You get no aura with a full set (tested with Natalya's)
  • Azurewrath is a moderately useful Crystal Sword instead of a 1337 Phase Blade
The exceptional/elite 1.09 Class-specific Sets do not include the item-specific partial bonuses, but do include the general partial bonuses. For instance, the 1.09 Tal Rasha's set has the 65% MF partial bonus for 3 items, but lacks the FCR bonus on the various items. General exceptional/elite sets, like The Disciple and Orphan's Call, are identical (since no item-specific partial set bonuses were added). All normal-level sets (Sigon's, Death's, etc.) include all partial bonuses.

This list is defintely a work in progress, since some pieces of the top end sets are so hard to obtain in 1.09, I have not had a chance to build them all.

All in all, if you build a Tal's, IK, Aldur's, Trang's, Griswold's, M'avina's, or Natalya's set in 1.09 (which is a daunting task given the rarity of at least one items in each of those sets), don't expect to have all the bonuses and/or sockets you get in later patches.

For all other sets, there should be no difference, so collect and build at your pleasure.

While MANY of the 1.10+ elite uniques don't exist in 1.09, the ARE some (which are identical to the 1.10+ counterparts):

  • Axes - Hellslayer, Messerschmidt's Reaver
  • Maces - Baranar's Star, Schaefer's Hammer, The Cranium Basher
  • Swords - Doombringer, Lightsabre, The Grandfather
  • Bows - Eaglehorn, Windforce
  • Daggers - Wizardspike
  • Polearms - Stormspire (rarest unique in the game by far)

  • Body Armor - The Gladiator's Bane, Arkaine's Valor
  • Shields - Blackoak Shield, Stormshield
  • Belts - Nosferatu's Coil (gets renamed "Siggard's Stealth" in coversion)
  • Hemls - Harlequin Crest (AKA the Shako), Veil of Steel

Most of the useful unique amulets you can find in 1.10+ also exist in 1.09:
  • Nokozan Relic
  • The Eye of Etlich
  • The Mahim-Oak Curio
  • Saracen's Chance
  • The Cat's Eye
  • Crescent Moon
  • Atma's Scarab
  • The Rising Sun
  • Highlord's Wrath
  • Mara's Kaleidescope
Only Seraph's Hymn and Metalgrid can't be found in 1.09

  • Nagelring
  • Manald Heal
  • The Stone of Jordan
  • Dwarfstar
  • Ravenfrost
  • Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band
but you can't get Carrion Wind, Nature's Peace, or Wisp Projector.

End-Game Options
Since runewords don't dominate the game, and many of the elite uniques found in 1.10+ don't exist, your end-game items will be different.

Class-Specific Uniques:
Very hard to beat for any character (1 for each character except the Zon, who gets 3). Each of these follow a similar formula:

-Use high end exceptional for a good base but not so ridiculously rare that it never drops
-Add general character +2 skills plus +2 skills of one tree (Bartuc's the exception since 2 can be used at the same time)
-Add huge Resist All on armors
-Add big something faster on weapons (IAS/FHR/FCR)
-Add 20 points to 2 attributes

(The elite item based class-specific uniques were introduced in 1.10+)

Pally - HoZ - Only real competition is Rhyme in a Pally shield or SS for %DR
Barb - Arreat's Face - Hands-down best Barb helm
Necro - Homonculus - Hands-down best Necro shield
Assassin - Bartuc's Cut-Throat - Only real competition is Nat's, which is MUCH more rare
Sorc - Occy - Hands-down best Orb (and even better in 1.09d since the CtTeleport is broken)
Druid - Jalal's Mane (though why did they have to make it just a little sucky compared to Arreat's?)
Zon - Titan's Revenge for a Javazon (best), Lycander's Aim for a Bowazon (not THE best, but very, very good), Lycander's Flank for a SpearaZon (has anybody ever made a SpearaZon?)

Armor, etc.:
Stormshield is unbeatable for a shield for the vast majority of chars that use a shield. For Armor, the runewords (Smoke, Lionheart) compete very well with uniques. I'm a big fan of MF, so I consider Tal's Armor to be the best in the patch for most characters (the 15MDR is VERY nice in 1.09 since it applies after resists), but Skullder's, Gladiator's Bane (for merc), and Duriel's Shell are all very nice. For boots, Gore Rider is very powerful since CB scales with player setting, War Trav obvious for MF. For helms, the standard selection applies (G-Face, Stealskull, Tal's Mask, Vamp Gaze) - just no Andy's - but Blackhorn's Face is much nicer in 1.09 than subsuquent patches because it solves MSLE (and is the only way to get Light Absorb on a merc). For gloves, LoH for Barb, Pally, BowaZon, and Druid - good rares for Sin and LFZon, Trang's/Magefist/Frostburn for casters.

1. Windforce for a BowaZon - absolutely unbeatable, IMHO. Buriza, of course, the most expoited. Honestly most of the high-end uniques are endgame-worthy. No end-game runewords, and M'Avina's doesn't have the partial set bonuses. Titan's for a LF Zon - no other option.
2. Barb - several options - Baranar's Star, Doombringer are all very nice (special mention of Lightsabre for the light absorb), but can be beat by a good 3-chip recipe sword, or (escpecially) a coverted 1.07 craft. I should note that both swords of the BK set can reach the 4fpa BP for a WW Barb, which is imposible with Doombringer and Grandfather. IK Maul does not get 2 sox, but is still probably best for a 2H maul Barb.
3. Pally - I've heard from several sources that Schaefer's Hammer was considered hands-down the best Pally weapon when 1.09 was live - but 3-socket swords and (even better) 1.07 crafts are probably the best source of items here as well.
4. Necro - Caster gear here - +skills depending on main skill - I used "White" since I needed a non-physical damage attack (remember Amp does NOT break immunities) - since a Fishy build isn't viable, AoKL is probably not endgame.
5. Sorc - Nothing beats an Occy.
6. Sin - Bartucs or (for a Tiger Strike build) Nat's.
7. Druid - Buriza, IK Maul are best options in the patch. But 1.07 crafts are your best bet.

Converted 1.07 Crafts:
These can beat the 3-socket recipe for swords (since Larzuk puts 3 sockets in them), and can be even better for other items like Threshers. Of course you have to have access to 1.07 and plenty of crafting material for this option.

No unique charms or gems in 1.09 - Gheed's, Facets, etc. were introduced later.

Runewords don't dominate the game like in 1.10+, and you can beat the game with uniques or socketed Cruel Swords. But there ARE some decent runewords, and all 1.09 runewords work in later patches. The runewords I have either made or seriously considered are:

(This is NOT a comprehensive list of all runewords available in 1.09 - the Wiki Complete Runeword List lists all versions in which each runeword is available.)

****Reasonably easy to build - runes minable from NM Countess****
  • King's Grace (AmnRalThul for 100%ED and another 100% Demon and Undead damage, etc) - My first runeword, excellent value, but not quite up to Hell
  • Honor (AmnElIthTirSol for 160%ED, +1 skills, +250AR, etc) - this is the biggest must-build for a melee character in 1.09, IMHO - needs a 5os weapon - the lack of IAS makes a Knout, Divine Scepter, or Zwiehander best for main character. This in a Yari or Partizan makes an excellent merc weapon.
  • Black (ThulIoNef for 120%ED, 40% CB, +200AR, 15%IAS, etc) - Makes a good boss running weapon - mace only, BTW
  • Strength (AmnTir for 35% ED, 25% CB, and +20 Strength) - cheapest source of CB that I know of - good early Merc weapon, and can be made in claws

****The "Wouldn't that be nice?" List, as you won't be able to make these for a very long time playing 1.09****
  • Silence (uses Ist and Vex, but this is still actually makable since 1.09 Hell Countess drops up to Vex) - decent in this patch for a good weapon to have on MF kill.
  • Fury (pretty much unmakable in 1.09, requires a Jah, which can't be cubed)

Armor:(All These require runes from either Hell Countess or Hellforge drops, but all are makable)
  • Smoke (NefLum for 75% Enh Defence, 50% Resist All, +280 Def against Missles, 20% FHR) - Still popular for the unbelievable value - a Must-build, IMHO. Unbeatable for merc at the start of Hell.
  • Lionheart (HelLumFal for 20% Enh Damage, 30% Resist All, bonuses to all attributes) - Generally considered the best questing armor for 1.09.
  • Wealth (LemKoTir for 300% more gold, 100% MF) - expensive in 1.09 terms for MF - but pair with Ali Baba and Chance Guards if you are gold hunting
  • Lore (only somewhat decent, but good for the low level)
  • Rhyme (ShaelEth for 20% Blocking, 40% FBR, 25% Resist All, 25% MF) - the GOOD shield runeword in 1.09 is still a classic - great bargain like Honor and Smoke,
  • Ancient's Pledge (RalOrtTal for 48/43/48/48 Resists) - beaten by 3 perfect diamonds, but is IS the only runeword that the game itself gives you any clue in making
I also made Melody in a +3 skills GMB for cows, but it's not up to the Buriza in this patch. I've also patted a Necro using White in a +3 Bone Spear Bone Wand (shopped from normal Drognan), Memory in a +ES/+SA staff, and Lore in a Barb hat.

Basically, while runewords are a material part of 1.09 , they don't represent the most powerful items available in the patch.

3-chip Sword Cube Recipe
(3 chipped gem + magic sword --> rerolled magic sword with 3 open sockets)
Given the lack of godly runewords and many of the elite uniques that had not yet been introduced, this recipe is a great source of top weapons in 1.09. It differs from the 1.10+ recipe in that it's only for swords, and always generates 3 sockets while rerolling the mods. It gives you a level 30 item, but that's irrelevant for the use of the recipe, since it relies on the overwriting of the weapon's inherent quality level. For this recipe to generate the sought-after item, that is a Cruel (200-300% ED) or Grandmaster's (150-200% ED, 200-300 AR) affix, you have to use an upper tier elite sword, so it can on generate Cruel on the following swords:

  • Champion Sword (can't get Grandmaster's)
  • Colossus Sword
  • Colossus Blade
  • Mythical Sword
  • Cryptic Sword
  • Conquest Sword
The ultimate weapon would be a high roll Cruel with a godly suffix, such as "of Quickness" for 40% IAS, but that's the beauty of the 3 sockets - usually room to pop a Shael in there.

I rolled a number of cruels using this recipe, including numerous Champion Swords, and a Conquest Sword.

PRO TIP (apologies to Steven Q Urkel) - I used the traditional 3pgem recipe (the one that doesn't add sockets or change the ilvl of the weapon) to make some REALLY nice midgame swords - 2x Cruel Legend Swords - I'm proud of this innovation for 2 reasons - the low required level of Legend Swords (44, just 1 higher than the lvlrq of the Cruel affix) and the base speed of [-15] making them hit the last WW IAS breakpoint with just a Sheal (and Larzuk might put 2 sockets in them) - these were used form 44 to 57 (when Champions Swords became available).

Socketables/High-End Items
1.09 classifies some items as TC90 (1.10 removed this TC) that includes S/U items that even Baal can't drop, such as Griswold's Honor, Stormspire, etc.. This also makes finding really awesome socket items difficult, since you have to run Act V for high elites like Scourges, Berzerker Axes, Colossus Blades, etc. and items like Giant Threshers, Caducei, etc. are ridiculously rare.

Mephisto and Diablo are both mlvl 90, Baal mlvl 95 - so rare amulets from 1.09 Mephisto can have +2 skills. Also of note, those level 90 areas I just mentioned also generate up to level 93 items. Now, charm affix level requirements did not change from 1.09 to later patches from what I can tell from the inDiablo.de affix tool, so this is an observation I have not read anywhere, but you can get charms for rolling ANY affix from running these areas. The 1.10+ level 85 areas have level 87 bosses, so the top GC of Vita, and the top-end elemental damage affixes can't be rolled on A85 charms... but any GC from 1.09 cold caves champions and bosses can roll the top "of Vita" (I've seen it a couple of times).

Now, SCs from these sources canNOT roll "Hibernal", "Shocking", "Pestilent" or "Flaming"... Nilly (98) and Baal (95) SCs are needed for the famous "Pestilent SC of Anthrax" roll.

Global rune drop rates are lower in 1.09 than 1.10+ AND 1.07 (though that might be offset by the fact that you have PlayersX in 1.09 and Countess rune drops were not in place in 1.07). Rune targets are similar to later patches - Countess and HF, cows, Council, etc. LK chest running was not known when 1.09 was the current patch, so I can't speak to that, but each campfire does have 3 superchests in 1.09, so I would expect LK running would work. I've gotten Gul from a Countess' Tower chest, so I think LK is still a good source.

In 1.09, the Countess drops 4, not 6, items. Normal Countess can only drop El and Eld, but NM can drop up to Io, and Hell Countess drops up to Vex (all as her special rune drop - she can't drop a rune as an item drop). She also appears to be able to drop better set/unique items than her 1.10+ countepart. NM Countess dropped me Laying of Hands, and a Highlord's Wrath dropped on the way to the Hell Countess, for instance. She is pretty much your best source for runes Amn+ in 1.09 (other than HF), but she's easy to run, and in Hell is (reportedly) capable of providing runes for 1.09's most godly runeword, Silence. I've personally gotten a Gul, 2 Ist, 3 Mal, 3 Ums, and a tidy number of Puls from her so far. There does not appear to be any effect on her drop by the player setting (from my experience).

From what I have gathered, the 1.09 Hell Countess is the best single target source in any patch (including 1.13b/c) for Vex (about 1:5700) and also drops Gul as a special drop (1:3800). I have confirmed she can drop Gul and Vex.

[highlight]5. Imbalances/Bugs:[/highlight]
While no 1.07 on this issue, there are some imbalances and bugs both fun and frustrating.

I'll start with the frustrating:

- Instakill MSLE: You have FE in 1.10+... well, in 1.09, it's MSLE (Multi Shot Lightning Enhanced) bosses - they are absolute killers, especially for melee characters. I don't care if you have 85% LR - if you don't have a source of absorb or MDR, MSLE will cut you down fast. So, if you want to do any boss running in Hell, you have to solve MSLE. As I mentioned, the solution is decent (doesn't have to be maxed) lightning resist and a source of Lightning Absorb, such as Lightsabre, Thundergod's Vigor, or Blackhorn's Face or maxed LR with some good MDR (15+). Because of this issue, for 1.09, Blackhorn's DESTROYS Vamp's Gaze for ActII merc survivability (Except for certain situations like cows and Ancients). However, LA based immunity can be broken by Conviction - I haven't verified this, but it appears that Conviction doesn't just lower resists, but also seems to automatically disable any elemental absorb. I have also found that integer MDR is very helpful in reducing the effect (Tal Rasha's 3-piece on my Zon, Vamp's Gaze on a Smoke-wearing merc really help with firewalls, MSLE, etc). MDR seems to deal with Conviction better than absorb does.

- Fetish Doll death explosions (especially Champions/Uniques) are more dangerous than in 1.10+ and can also be Instakill - I don't think it matters whether you 1-hit kill them or not.

- LE sparks, if the monster is also CE or FE, carry the damage from the other enchantment when they hit. So, for a LE/CE monster, even if you have max LR and some absorb (meaning lightning fills your bulb), you will receive cold damage from the sparks equivalent to a CE death frost nova each.

- Pindle Enchant bug - when running Pindle, after you've killed his minions, they have a tendancy to get back up (not a bug). The bug is that it appears that whatever Enchantment Pindle had before you killed him is still in place and goes off every time a minion ressurects if your character is standing near or over the corpses - very hurty when Amp'd or Convicted.

- CtC on items is broken 1.09d (not 1.09b). You get the visual effect, but not the practical effect. For instance, Holy Bolt from LoH and Chain Lightning from Lighsabre trigger with regularity, but don't have any effect on monsters. I also mention this in the fun section (read on to see why)

- PI is tediously common on Hell Uniques and almost always appears when a boss spawns Stone Skin (for instance, Hell Countess is PI about 12%-25% of the time)

- The Barbarian's Battle Orders has a bug - if you cast it at a certain level (say on a 2x Echoing Swords switch), then cast it again at a lower level (say, accidentally on your combat switch), it acts like you cast it from no BO and you have the partially empty bulbs that you need to fill.

- The Ko rune evidently was bugged when put into weapons. Instead of raising your Dex by 10, it raises the weapon's Dex requirements by 10, so "Harmony" raises the Dex requirement of a base bow by 10.

- SuperUnique drop bug - if you spawn a SuperUnique, and then leave the spawn radius and return, that monster's drop calculation will be reset to Bishibosh's drops. For example, if you enter Tower Level 5 and then go back to Level 4 or explore one of the side rooms in Tower 5 (like the racks to the left) before killing the Countess, she will no longer have her special rune drop - she will drop from Bishibosh's options.

- HoW Cap - the 1.09 game does not apply any bonuses above level 20 for the Heart of the Wolverine skill of the Druid. SO if your HoW is cast at, say, level 23 on a casting weapon switch, you basically get a level 20 HoW.

- Piecing GA with Valkarie - While piercing GA pwns bosses, it completely misses in some cases. One case is when your Valkerie is activally engaged with a moster - GA passes through the boss like it would hit it, and then turns around to do it again, but there is no impact. If you can get your Valk to disengage, they start hitting. I've also noted that they miss Returned until they start coming at you, and those poison spitting sea serpents if they aren't actively attacking.

- Assassin targeting merc/summon - There is a bug in the attack animation for an Assassin - if you have your charge-up on RMB (I don't know if this is true for all charge-ups, but definitely is the case for Phoenix Strike), if she is near her merc or Shadow, she will attack them (she doesn't actually hit them, but it keeps her from attacking monsters in close quarters).

- Fury Wolf targeting merc/summon - This appears to work just like the Sin PS bug - if you have Fury on RMB and keep it pressed, the Wolf will swat at members of his own crew. Feral Rage does NOT have this bug.

- Assassin skill Blades of Ice doesn't freeze - it just makes pretty frost.

- Assassin Chance to Hit for non-claws is adversely bugged - it's much lower in practice than it should be.

Now the fun:

-Poison stacking in ranged weapons
Poison from multiple sources on a ranged weapon (pEmeralds in a bow, for instance) stack poison damage the old, overpowered 1.07 way. This INCLUDES souces of poison damage from other items, such as charms. The poison/second is stacked as expected, but the duration gets added together. As such, a 5-socket Long Bow stuffed with Jewels of Envy (available at level 1) does a whopping 500 poison damage over 10 seconds, making it amazing as a twinking weapon.

- CtC on items is broken 1.09d (not 1.09b). You get the visual effect, but not the practical effect. I repeat this from the irritating list above because you can have an Occy-weilding Sorc without the one irritating aspect of the weapon - you don't teleport when hit.

- Pierce works with Guided Arrow, making a BuriZon with maxed GA godly (Bosses go down QUICK). I read some sources that claim this is a bug - it's not a bug - it was announced as a feature in the 1.09 notes.

- Magic Damage Reduction, to my understanding, is much more powerful in 1.09 than 1.10+, and is related to the huge danger of MSLE. In 1.09, MDR reduces magic (elemental) damage by that amount per frame, instead of per second. That means that with some decent MDR (say, 15+), you can stand in Diablo's Firestorm or The Summoner's Fire Wall with no damage, since those deliver damage per frame. So Vamp's Gaze with a good 15 MDR can really make a lot of elemental attacks non-issues. It's the other way of dealing with MSLE, but if it gets overrun, the danger remains huge with MSLE.

- Fire Arrow is bugged to convert 50% of the damage to fire damage, instead of the listed amount. This gives a pure BowaZon a low-mana PI solution. This is a bug.

- An Act I merc will shoot a short range lightning hose instead of an arrow for her non-skill shot if her gear gives her +3 skills (general or Amazon) - this IS a bug - there's no sound effect and she doesn't appear to realize the range. This IS effective though, very effective. Use this with a fire arrow rogue and she will br mowing down PIs on P8. Due to it's range, though, you do have to play with your positioning to make sure she's hitting the target. (I use an eth Skin of Vipermagi, Sazabi's Mental Sheath, and Magewrath to get my Druid's Act 1 merc there)

- Delayed Amp Damage - Amp Damage very often casts from a cursed boss with a significant delay - after the boss is dead and even in town.

- Barb and Assassin Masteries are bugged, so that 1 point in a Mastery gets 100% chance of critical strike instead of the listed percentage. The Assassin mastery is further bugged to apply the AR% to damage, and the ED% to AR.
.....(This effective renders Deadly Strike a useless mod for a Barb or Assassin)
.....(This also means that 1 point in each Mastery for a Barb is not wasted if you want to use a variety of weapons or are going untwinked)

- Nightmare Countess TCs are bugged to be the same as Hell Countess TCs - She can drop up to TC66 in NM. More on this in the MF section.

- The Barb skill "Leap Attack" is considered a ranged attack for the purpose of Iron Maiden, so this is a non-Berzerk way for a Barb to deal with the Chaos Sanctuary. The drawback is that this also means that 2 of the 3 Ancients are immune to IM for, say, a Necro.

- The Eth rune (-25% Target Defense) is applied literally - the target's defense is set at exactly -25%, instead of being reduced by 25%, so you essentially get the maximum chance to hit. Makes for a good candidate for socketing in a 3 socket Cruel sword. This worked in PvP too, but the practice of eth-ing a PvP weapon was widely frowned upon.

- Static - You can static some uniques, SuperUniques, and Bosses to a sliver (past the posted 50% cap) in multi-player settings (thank you, Steven Q. Urkel for verifying this), and works against Duriel (don't know if it's always or only sometimes), Mephisto (always), Thresh Socket (sometimes), and Snapchip Shatter (sometimes). It probably works against other bosses as well - I'd be interested in seeing reports on this. I have read reports that on 1.09b, if you push the player setting too high (I think around players 20), static pretty much stops working altogether for Act Bosses, so there's a downside to the bug as well.

Mouseman did some testing and found that level 17 Static works with the Moat trick with Mephisto, so you can run him very safely on a high player setting. You still have to have some other long range attack to take him out after you've gotten him down to a sliver though - FO barely reaches him, but FW, Meteor, Blizz, etc. would be effective.

- Poison Shrines - not a big deal, but these appear to not work - they have the poison cloud animation, but neither your character nor the merc/minions appear to get poisoned.

[highlight]6. Character-Specific Notes:[/highlight]

This section was previously related to strong/weak builds, but that's a subjective thing, so I think a list of character-specific observations is more helpful. This is a work in progress, as I've not yet completed all character types, so input is especially requested here:

Mastery bug makes 1 point in each mastery worth the investment. Leap attack is an alternative to Zerk for IM. Frenzy speed appears to be faster overall.

- Barb Frenzy Speed/Configuration

I was playing around with mixing up Doombringer, Baranar's Star, & Lightsabre to see which setup is the most powerful for a Frenzy Barb using what I've learned about how the IAS/Avg Base Speed works... and it appears that this apparently DOES NOT APPLY to 1.09. As a serious student of Frenzy knows, in 1.10+, the frenzy speed is calculated from the IAS of the lead weapon and the average of the base speed of both weapons. However, when I was testing the Doombring and Lightsabre, there was no difference in how I equipped the weapons, and furthermore, the Barb ALWAYS swung the Doombringer first, and always swung the Doombringer with the Berzerk left-button attack.

Physical bow skills with a good bow destroy the game. Piercing GA, no damage penalty to Strafe. Piercing GA completely misses target in some scenarios.

You have to be careful playing a Hybrid Zon, because of the weapon switch bug which I have not figured out how to correct other than exiting the game.

Cold Mastery isn't a flat decrease, it's a percent decrease of cold resists, so 0 is the bottom. FO dynamics are different - you want to pass the orb through the monster. Static not capped in certain cases.

Elemental tree not viable for endgame. Shapeshifting very much like in later patches. Summoning passive bonuses were the original synergies. HoW is very much a tank compared to later patches. Hunger can overcome IM from Hell OKs.

The attack speed for a 1.09 Werewolf's Feral Rage (and I think normal attacks) starts at 2 frames slower than for 1.10+, but the table is identical for each breakpoint going faster. Fury speed tables are the same, except for the first hit, which is based on Feral Rage speeds.

Zeal points add no enanced damage, Holy Shield's defence bonus is only on shield defense and the duration is much lower. Conviction doesn't break immunities. Blessed Hammer is 1/2 physical, 1/2 magic. Aura's have delays, so aura flashing for combined effects (e.g. Fana + Conv) is feasible.

The 1.10 patch notes state that Level 18+ Thorns no longer renders the main character immune to melee attacks, suggesting that level18+ Thorns will make a cow/Baal runner out of a Pally. I built a Paladin and invested in Thorns to get to slvl18 with skillers, and I found that this does NOT render him immune to melee attacks, so I still don't know what that note refers to.

Curses don't break immunities. RS points are 1:1 to skellies you can raise, but they are much, much weaker than 1.10+. Lower Resists impacts pure magic damage (Bone Spear, Bone Spirit). Damage dealt via IM for a Blood Golem fills health bulb.

Claw Mastery double bugged (100% CS and switch AR and ED bonuses) to be very overpowered. Blades of Ice doesn't freeze. AR bug for non-claw weapons makes hitting with non-claws much harder. No kick damage on boots makes kick finishing moves weak. Venom can't be run with other shadow skills.

[highlight]7. 1.09 Builds[/highlight]

For twinking ideas and information, I posted an independent Twinking Guide for 1.09. I'm open to any ideas to add to that guide.

A good resource for 1.09 builds is the builds section of the Amazon Basin, as pre-1.10 builds are kept there.

My recommendation for a starter character is a Barb, since he makes a good Hell Mephy runner (leech works with Hell bosses), gets a very benificial buff from bugged masteries, and you can make your own endgame weapons for him with the 3-chip recipe.

My suggested builds for all characters:
1. Barb - WW, Frenzy, Zerk - I don't think a Singer is viable, and there aren't good weapons for a thrower.
2. Zon - Bow with Multi-Shot and Guided Arrow (Strafe doesn't work near as well in 1.09 as in 1.10+) and Freezing Arrow for safety, Hybrid with MS/GA and LF on switch.
3. Pally - Zealot, Vengeance (can be combined in a single character). Holy Shock/Freeze is NOT viable. Hammerdin can probably be made, but it's not as powerful.
4. Druid - Shapeshifters. NOT Elementals. Must find a non-skill based source of non-physical damage.
5. Necro - gotta be creative. Fishy is NOT viable in this patch. Immunities are not breakable. Clay Golem doesn't slow. I suggest something with Revives, Iron Golem, Amp/CE, and Bone Spear/Spirit.
6. Sin - Anything other that Phoenix Strike was considered fringe back in the day. Without synergies, a Trapper is probably not viable. No boot damage means a Kicker is hampered. I think a physical damage build focusing on Tiger Strike might be viable.
7. Sorc - anything with FO as an option. Meteor and Nova are both good. Apparently Light/CL is based on IAS instead of FCR - but that might be a good use for a Silence PB. Tri-elementals are viable, but you really don't need the third element if you have a good merc.

Crazy Runner Guy was good enough to dig up some 1.09 level 99 builds that were done by some legends of the day:

Thanks very much, Crazy Runner Guy!

My builds:

Common selections:

- "Smoke" in ethereal elite armor for Merc when starting Hell
- LoH gloves for all physical damage characters (though +2 B/X 20 IAS gloves are used for Zon for cows)
- Hone Sundan (AmnAmnShael) for all Act 2 mercs
- Blackhorns>Gaze on a merc unless you know you won't run into MSLEs or are running cows
- Thundergods Vigor>anything else on a main character unless you've addressed MSLE's
- War Travs used unless resists are an issue

Here are the builds I have done with any "should have done this" post-mat/pat comments:

Barbarian - Patriarch RobbyD Dual wield Frenzy Barb (original untwinked character) that finally made it to Level 99- ended up with max Sword Mastery, pumped Mace Mastery, and put some in Axe Mastery - obviously that was my n00b mistake, but the sword + mace allowed for Baranar's Star to be dual wielded with Lightsabre, so I made the most out of it. I pumped BO once I realized its value, used Zerk for PIs, and Battle Cry for bosses. Frenzy itelf was only pumped about half way. I obviously would not waste points in multiple masteries if I did it again, but one point in each is worth it for the CS.

He ended up being the Meph-running maching (and eventually Baal running) for ITAMZ for my other characters. He found the majority of the S/U items in my stash, including rarities like Tal's Armor, M'Avina's Caster, Naj's Puzzler, etc.

He DID eventually find an Arreat's, but Stealskull + Skullder's Ire + Nosferatu's Coil work for him (TGod's Vigor before Lightsabre was used).

Act 2 HF merc (Hone/Blackhorns/Gladiator's Bane) used for crowd control. This build, complete with warts, is Baal and Cow capable.

Amazon - Matriarch WildBetty - Buriza Bowazon with maxed GA, Freezing Arrow, Valkyrie, and pumped MA, D/E/A that made it to Level 99. Piercing GA works as advertised, absolutely destroying non-PI targets (Act Bosses). I used the bugged Fire Arrow for PI/nonFIs, and either the built in Buriza damage with piercing GA or FA (when a leechable monster is in the mix) for PI/FIs. She can't kill a PI/FI/CE Lister though (well, at least not with a single quiver of bolts), so what I would do if I did her again is to make her a hybrid, with Charged Strike on switch when Lightning is the only way.

She became a MFer late in life after the Barb found the Tal's Armor - now it's Tal's 3-piece (socketed with Topazes) and MF on War Travs and the ammy for ~300% MF.

Might Merc (Hone/Blackhorns/Gladiator's Bane) and Valk used to tie up monster for the arrows - MA for regular clearing, GA for big guys, FA for especially dangerous packs and for cows. She's excellent for any are (including CS)

Druid - Patriarch JebediahYoder - Mauling Werebear with pumped Lycanthropy, Maul, Shockwave, and HoW (to 20 - over that is useless in 1.09) some points in Dire Wolves and Grizzly, and invested the prereqs for Hunger (did this because I wanted to try both the Wolf and Bear before deciding). Very happy to have that point in Hunger - it's a real lifesaver - offsets IM ftw!

Jalal's Mane, Buriza (Shael) (+3 Athena's on switch for summoning/shapeshifting), "Smoke" Wire Fleece, String of Ears. Never made the transition to MF - to hard to gear that on him.

+3 skills lighting hose Rogue Merc (Sazabi's hat/eth Skin of Vipermagi/Magewrath) was used to overcome the lack of an elemental attack. He's not up to P8 Hell Cows, perhaps due to the choice of an Act1 merc instead of an Act2 merc.

Sorc - Matriarch ClimateChange - pure MeteOrb built to Sasja's Guide that made it to Level 99 - playstyle is to get Merc engaged with baddies, then drop Meteors and spam Static. Beat the FA BuriZon for cows - uses Topaz Shako + Occy + War Travs for MF - 34 Res @ Skin, and she now sports serious bling - 2xSoJ and Mara's. FO slows considerably in high player games against FI Frenzytaurs.

She's the best cow-killer (as long as the merc stays on his feet).

Act 2 HF Merc (Gaze/Smoke/Hone) used for crowd control.

She was meant to signal the end of my 1.09 foray... until WildBetty found the Schaefer's Hammer, which inspired:

Pally - Patriarch Schaefer - Fanatic Zealot with Conviction/Sanctuary as secondary aura's. HoZ (thanks to the barb) + Schaefer's (Realgar jewel of Freedom) and Highlord's Wrath/Stealskull(Jewel of Fervor) with Griswold's (jewels of Fervor) used to max zeal speed. Also maxed HS and pumped thorns (to check the patch note about level 18+ Thorns - it didn't work). Most powerful melee build - pwns Barb and Druid - but has an achilles' heel - Blunderbores/Lister's pack that ignore defense smack him around.

Obviously I wouldn't have put points in Thorns if I didn't specifically want to test that Patch note item.

Act 2 Defiance Merc (Hone/Gaze/Smoke) used to stack the HS defense. He's P8 Cow capable but struggles against Lister for Baal running.

Necro Patriarch MasterGomez - Melee/Minion Artillary Necro (MMAN) - Amp/Decrep/LT to assist the merc (Might merc), use IG with nice items, use 1+skillers in Poison Dagger to poke with Blackrog's to slow really tough monsters to help the merc (ST didn't work nearly as well as I hoped - I was not aware of the level formula), Arty aspect was fired up halfway through Hell - CE to clear crowds in Hell (dropping to P1), Bone Spear (White in +3 Bone Spear wand) with Lower Resists was used for secondary PI attack (LR actually helped BS quite a bit). Toxic charms in inventory add to the Poison Dagger effec.

Assassin Matriarch Osterizer - Pheonix Strike/Blender MA Sin with Shadow Master. Max PS, CM, pump SM, Blade Shield - wear Iceblink, Goblin Toe, and Guilluame's Face for stacked CB and HFT delivered from hits and via BS. Strength Runic Talons and Scissors Suwayyah for further CB (I made 2 because, even with the high durability of claws, the Blender build wears them down quick). Dual Bartucs on switch for BoS, BS, and SM casting, Strength + Stormshield for fighting. The Iceblink was replaced with Naj's Light Plate once the level advantage disappeared, and a proper Bartuc's replaced the Strenth claws halfway through Hell Act 5.

After the Sept, I could not get out of 1.09, even when playing other patches, so I did try some more builds:

Nova Sorc Matriarch GIEB_VEX - Nova/Frozen Orb/Meteor - 105% FCR to really make Nova effective - requires agressive telestomping style to really shine.

Hybrid LF/GA Zon Blitzkrieg - LF Titan's / GA Buriza - really playing much more like a true hybrid that her 1.13 counterpart

WW Barb Aleksandr - One of my most powerful 1.09 characters - P8 for the entire game, including Nilly and Ancients.

Fury Wolf Alaric - Used a crafted 1.07 Thresher that rolled Cruel of Swiftness - arguably more powerful than any weapon that could originate in 1.09 because 1.07 crafts get 3 sockets from Larzuk, and keep them when converted to 1.09.

Windforce Zon Wendeh - Well, until I made this character, my WW Barb had the crown as most OP - but a WF Zon is, IMHO, hands-down the most powerful character possible in 1.09. I addressed her one weakness - PI/FI bosses - by shopping a Shocking Bow, getting 2 sockets from Larzuk, and popping a Nef rune and a Jewel of Thunder and used GA - worked even against a PI/FI/LE Talic!

[highlight]8. NYAQ (like a FAQ, but Not Yet versus Frequently):[/highlight]

Some of this sounds fun, but I don't like the idea of starting an untwinked character - is there some source of items for 1.09?

A: I have a trading profile, and there is a number of people playing the patch now.

You said you have recently done MP in 1.09? There are people currently playing the patch?

A: Yes, there is a 1.09 progress thread, where folks currently playing the patch can communicate.

I'm interested in seeing some of the imbalanced and/or bug-exploiting builds, but I don't want to invest the time to do it from ground up. Any way I can see any of what you discuss here in action?

A: If you want to MP, drop me a PM (heh - MPPM). I have a Hamachi channel set up. "D2 1.09" group name and password.

[highlight]9. MF / Boss running in 1.09[/highlight]

Item Generation
Bosses and monsters generate items at the level of the monster, but the TC levels are not exactly the same. For instance, all monsters in Hell Act 5 are all level 90 (normal), 92 (champion), or 93 (unique). However, the fabled TC90 items of 1.09 can only drop in WSK, cold caves (CP/GT/AW), or the red gate areas (Abaddon).

Racks/Chests -
Rack item-generation is similar to other patches in that you can find a 'stable rack' that consistently produces a certain item type, fairly often socketed, occasionally producing a magic, rare, set, or unique version. Like other patches, the item level from racks and chests are consistent with the area level, HOWEVER, this is CAPPED at level 75 (something that is apparently unique to 1.09). This means, for instance, racks can't produce items with qlvl >75. You won't get a Colossus Blade from a rack, for instance. You also won't get a Gladiator's Bane from a Wire Fleece rack.

As far as item types, I think 1.09 is similar to 1.07 in not dropping wooden items from racks - I can't remember seeing a bow drop from a rack, but I have seen Necro Heads on a regular basis.

Gambling -
According to the patch notes, it is theoretically possible to gamble a set/unique item. However, the odd are prohibitively low, and my experience is (after a pretty fair amount of gambling) that I've never gotten a S/U from gambling.

1.09 does not have any special level 85 areas, so Pit, AT, etc. running is a waste of time. The traditional MF targets were bosses, with Pindle and other Act 5 Super Uniques (Frozenstein, etc.) being run over and over for very top-end items. Thresh Socket is not nearly as easy to find in 1.09 - they either moved Thresh or the WP in 1.10.

After taking a friend's advise and running Ancient's Way with a green Lacquered Plate dropping, I would say that the Ancient's Way/Icy Cellar, Glacial Trail and the Crystalline Passage/Frozen River ARE the 1.09 "Pit/AT"... I believe anything in the game INCLUDING the crazy 1.09 TC90 items can drop in these areas, and the lack of "guest" monsters make them predictable (the Frenzytaurs are not PI in AW in 1.09 - PI Frenzytaurs are found in Abaddon in 1.09). They differ from WSK and Nil's Halls in that uniques and champions spawn (including Evil Urns) so these are viable areas for MF.

MF works a little differently in 1.09 as well - it scales 1:1 to 110% and then starts the diminishing returns, but the drop rate overall is lower in 1.09 as well. I have read that 200% MF in 1.12 is equivalent to 500% in 1.09 due to the lower global drop rate (with some exceptions - see my discussion of 1.09 Countess in the next post).

An Argument for The Countess
Mephy, Baal, and Pindle + other A5SUs are commonly referenced in MF guides for 1.09. As discussed above, the CP/GT/AW caves are also very good (in my direct experience). However, another very good MF target is The Countess. She has a significantly higher item generation rate than other SUs, probably due to the fact that she always drops 4 items, and they can potentially all be items (so 4 unique items are possible). Also, her automatic attributes are different than 1.10+ Countess - in 1.09, she always spawns CI/FE, and often spawns Stone Skin/PI (like most unique monsters in the game). She's never LI. As such, a lightning skill will always be effective, and a fire skill will always be somewhat effective.

As mentioned previously, 1.09 Countess has lower drop rates than 1.10+ for runes to Ist, but drops Gul and Vex as special rune drops. This is pretty much offset by how much faster 1.09 Countess is to run due to the small maps. However, 1.09 Countess drops SIGNIFICANTLY better that 1.10+ Countess for items. According to ATMA, at 200% MF, 1.09 Hell Countess drops Skin of Vipermagi, Oculus, HoZ, Staftstop, etc. AT LEAST twice as frequently as 1.12 Countess.

Further, NM Countess' TC availability is bugged to be equal to Hell Countess TCs - that means NM Countess can drop up to TC66 (I personally had my first LoH from NM Countess), but since she is only mlvl 44, she can't drop the uniques of higher TC items, but since LoH and Dark Adherent have qlvl of 39, she can actually drop those. She can drop all the handy exceptional Set items like Aldur's Rhythme, Guillaume's Face, IK Gloves/Boots/Belt, Sazabi Helm, etc.

So - The Countess is a very good MF target in 1.09 for exceptional level items and some elites (Wizzy/Shako). I have personally gotten Vamp's Gaze, Arm of King Leoric, Stone of Jordan, Highlord's Wrath, Butcher's Pupil, etc. either from The Countess herself or from the variious champions/uniques on the way.

She is also a better source for twink gear on Normal than 1.10+ (not for good runes though - she only drops El and Eld in 1.09 Normal). For instance, she is the best source other than the Cow King for Death's Gloves and Sash in 1.09.

Finally, the Tower is a great place for racks - I have a Wire Fleece rack on my Druid's map that has provided plenty of runeword bases, a Wyrmhide rack on my Amazon's map, and a Luna rack (that has already produced a Blackoak Shield) that can also be manipulated to drop Monarchs (I have all the 4os Monarchs I could ever want now), AND a Russet Armor rack that has produced Skullder's Ire on my Sorceress' Tower Map. I also discovered a Gilded Shield rack in my Pally's map that is paired with a Highland Blade rack.

My MF Barb:
This was my original untwinked character, so his gear evolved as items were found. But, once I realized what a MF character the Barb is in 1.09, I geared him up with as much MF as I could and started running Hell Mephy. I started with 4 pTopazes in plain armor, using Frenzy with the Aldur's Rhythm and Fleshrender to get the Frenzy speed, then switched to the Hellslayer or Minotaur for the speeded up Concentrate attack. I ended up with a Stealskull (49% MF + pTopaz) + Skullder's Ire (pTopaz), 30% MF Nagelring, 10% on rare ring with life leech, rare boots with triple 25+ resists and 20% MF, various resist and MF charms using Baranar's Star + Lightsabre (top-speed setup) on Frenzy to get him to a sliver, then weapon swith to Berzerk with Ali Baba (Eth + Poison resist & MF jewel) dual wielded with the Gull for the kill for about 500% MF.

Running Mephy with the Barb in 1.09 is sweet - since Bosses leech, all you have to do is tank Mephy. The Baranar's and Lightsabre bring him down just fine without any CB in 1.09 - those are top-end weapons for that patch. I found a nice map (one corner from WP to DoH3 door with a health shrine on the way 95% of the time) and set frenzy on left click, leap attack on right. Hit the waypoint, buff BC, Shout, and BO, hit the shrine (since BO doesn't fill you red bulb in 1.09... if you don't have a shrine, drink a potion), hit the Durance 3 door, then run straight up the little peninsula and Leap Attack right over the moat. About half the time I have a pack of Fetish Dolls on my heels, so it's fun to say "See Ya!". Buff again, put Battle Cry on right click, then go meet Mephy. BC him to nerf him, frenzy him up to a sliver, weapon switch to dual Ali Babas (I put an Eth rune in each one to make sure I hit him) for the 500+MF kill.

Running Baal requires a bit more patience. You need a big stick on weapon switch for when Lister is PI. My approach is to take one of the Cruel Champion Swords I rolled (Eth, Shael, ED Jewel) on weapon switch (wield 2H) in case Lister spawns PI. You also have to prepare for a MSLE Bartuc - which I handled by replacing Goldwrap with Thundergod's Vigor. I cast a TP before the first wave, because I usually have to go to town to remove the poison from the second wave - then cast TP again, finish off the rest, then go back to town to replace the Cruel Champion Sword with the dual Ali Babas. I use the questing setup (Zerk on left, Frenzy on right) for the minion waves, then go to Boss setup (Frenzy left, Leap Attack right) for Baal. This is pretty much GG for running Baal in 1.09.

Running Countess is purely a quest setup (Zerk/Frenzy), but I still do the Ali Baba + Zerk switch to pop here - about half the time she spawns PI in 1.09, so Zerk is a must.

My Buriza Multi-Shot/GA/FA Zon also runs Countess and Baal (and has an easy time with Baal's minions most of the time, and GA usually takes down Baal quick), but isn't as good a character for Baal MF running because:

(a) Lister is always FI, so if he spawns PI, the bugged low-mana Fire Arrow solution doesn't work. It's either let the cold damage from the Buriza get delivered several times each shot from the piercing GA, or burn through mana pots spamming FA. I ended up just recasting the Valk over and over to lure Lister out of the area, then running around the other way so Baal opens the portal anyway. A hybrid with LF Jav pumped would likely serve much better for Baal running.

(b) It's hard to load her with as much MF as the barb since she requires a 2H weapon and doesn't have the natural resists. Since I've gotten Tal Rasha's Guardianship, though, I have her in Tal's 3-piece (helm/belt/armor) with pTopaz's in the helm and armor for 216% MF just from those 3 pieces. This is pretty much THE way to gear up a Zon for MF in 1.09.

(c) No BO means taking out all those PI Succubi hurling Blood Stars and casting Amp Damage mixed with Frenzytaurs can be a little harrowing.

***1.09 MF Area Running - GEIB CHARMS***
OK, I was under the impression that 1.09 doesn't have the special high level MF areas like the Pits, AT, etc. While it is technically true that 1.09 doesn't have the boosted level areas in earlier acts of Hell, 1.09 DOES have very sweet top level areas very much like Pits, AT, etc. - The Chrystalline Passage/Glacial Trail/Ancient's Way cold caves. These are level 90 areas (not level 85), and can drop any item in the game. Now, there are other level 90 areas (Abaddon, WSK, etc.) in 1.09, but the cold caves are the only areas with all the criteria: plenty of unique/champion packs, any item in the game is possible, and a 2nd level with a sparkly chest. The Frozen Scourge/Yeti/Succubae/Frenzytaurs (Moon Lords, etc), and those recurring walking dead dudes are the monsters you will find here - only the Frenzytaurs are truly dangerous.

The vast majority of these monsters are CI, the exception being the FI Frenzytaurs. The champions/uniques are level 92/93... this means CHARM FARMING! Yes, the level of the area makes this an excellent place to farm charms that can spawn any affix, since 91 (to my knowledge) is the highest level requirement for any charm affix.

I've personally had Schaefer's Hammer and Tal Rasha's Guardianship (both not available from Mephisto) and a Doombringer (possible from Mephisto, but very low odds) drop by running these areas (also add in Sander's Paragon, a Highlord's Wrath, and some very nice socketed items, such as a +3 skill 4os Grand Matron Bow), so it very much represents 1.09's version of A85s, with the added bonus of "Baal charms".

I'd like to thank PegLeg for making me aware of these areas. The 1.09 literature I have read does not discuss area running other than cows - I think that's because Blizzard had not made the case by creating the special A85s to make players aware of the value of area clearing.

[highlight]10. Helpful Links[/highlight]

ioupainmax made an amended item .dat file that lists 1.09 items only, so you can create a 1.09-specific Flavie report. Right-Click and Save As into your Flavie directory. Then, open your Flavie jar, click the "Flavie Settings" tab, and Seach for the "Data file" and select the "109.dat" file instead of the "standard.dat" file. Then you have your 1.09-specific Flavie!

Thanks very much, ioupainmax!
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Well-known member
Guide Author
Mar 13, 2019
Icebird's 1.09 99er Sept, posting the links for now, might migrate later:


Well-known member
Guide Author
Mar 13, 2019
Meet the Endless: 1 level 99 of each class (1.09)

Shamelessly cross-posted just about everywhere. :)

"Everything that has a beginning, has an ending"
- The Matrix

"About frigging well time."
- Icebird

At 10.30 PM Pacific Time last night, after a marathon five and half hour cowing session, Hern the werewolf druid hit 3,520,485,254 experience and turned 99. The 1.09 99 grail is now done. Two hours earlier in the same session, my collaborator and competitor Ryondaahl became the first person to complete the set when sorceress Sky hit 99. Getting 7 level 99 characters in 1.09 isn't a tremendously difficult feat, but it requires a *lot* of patience. Dream, my amazon, hit level 99 last year, and I've been churning them out at approximately 2 months intervals ever since. Compared to say, trying to complete an item goal, I always knew that after playing for an hour, I would always be a little bit closer to the goal. And the light at the end of the tunnel?

Looking forward to this screenshot:

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The beginning

Mythological was the first person to declare an interest in getting 7 level 99 characters. We talked a lot about the different builds, and which would be fastest for each class. Last year Morepheus4 gave me a Windforce Hydra Bow (thanks again!), and I built a dexazon around that with the aim of getting a character to 99, which I duly did. Around the beginning of the year Ryondaahl decided that he would go for the complete set of 99 characters as well. Trying to do the same thing was always in the back of my mind, but I didn't want to officially announce my intentions until I was sure I had seven characters who could do it. Eventually Ryondaahl's frequently updated signature provided enough inspiration for me to throw my hat in the ring.

The Endless

The Endless are characters from Neil Gaiman's comic book series, The Sandman. There are seven of them, so they match up with the Lord of Destruction classes, and I thought the term "Endless" was particularly appropriate for this project. Plus I like theme names.

Most of them were built with the goal of killing cows in the fastest time possible: maximum damage, often at the expense of useful things like life and resists. Apart from Claws who didn't do any solo cow runs, all of them could clear the cow level at players8 in 10 to 15 minutes depending on the character.

How many cow runs does it take to get to 99? I kept a count with Dream and it took her 250 to get from 80 to 99, including a few over 40 for the last level. Much less intimidating than the thousands of high risk Baal runs needed to get a 99 in 1.10 (props to those who have achieved *that* feat).


(Hmmm. No picture. Will have to rectify that tonight)

Dream was your typical 1.09 max damage bowazon, back before they got nerfed into almost irrelevance. In the Sandman comics, Dream is also known as Morepheus, so the name fit on numerous different levels. I left the bow unsocketed for ages, just on the off-chance that I might find a good ED% / IAS jewel to socket in it. Against all odds, I found a perfect Ruby Jewel of Fervor (40% Enhanced Damage). She had maxed Critical Strike, Pierce, Multishot, Frozen Arrow, and a bunch of points in Strafe. She was probably my fastest cow-killer and was simply a breeze to play unless I ran into PIFI monsters. Recently I equipped her with about 1400% worth of gold find gear, just for kicks.


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ClawsOfFury was actually a pretty unique build. She was the only character who didn't do solo cow runs. She took part in a lot of multi-player games, but most of her solo experience came from the Ancients Way, or Nihlathak's Temple. The zombie garden was a particularly fun place for Death Sentry. At one time or another she played almost everywhere - even doing Nihlathak runs sometimes. (Corpse explosion roulette!). She was was third character ever, and my first Matriarch or Patriarch.

You can read more about Claws here.


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JohnKStone posted a guide for a cowadin, which recommended 400 strength for more damage. I made a few tweaks to the build, then went all out on the Titan route. Suffice to say, he was fragile but fun, and did bucket-loads of damage.

You can read more about Destiny here.


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My first attempt at sorc to hit 99 was a Charged Bolt / Frozen Orb / Hydra sorc called Delirium. I later went with Angel, Meteor / Frozen Orb. She's built pretty much according to Zharous' now-classic 1.09 damage reduced / block sorc guide (no longer in the Diabloii.net Strategy Compendium unfortunately). Once again I went with base vitality. Since sorcs only get 2 life per vitality point, I decided to dump my stat points in energy, and get life from equipment (thank you, Small Charms of Vita!). She liked to teleport recklessly into the middle of cow mobs.

You can read more about Angel herel.


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Destruction had two sources of inspiration: Ashrael2's duel-Schaeffer wielding Iron Frenzy Barb UntouchableOne, and MattIs(TheBastard)'s titan frenzy barb AndreTheGiant. Put them together and you get the Iron Titan Frenzy Barb! This guy simply owned. He killed blazingly fast, but without any of the sacrifices to personal safety my other characters had to make for maximum damage. With base vitality he still had 2000 life, good resists, and astronomical (for 1.09 defence). He can do players8 Baal runs with ease.

You can read more about Destruction here.


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When you want to find out how to get a necromancer to 99, you consult the expert. In this case, SPTN member TheDarkKhan, who wrote a great guide to a 1.09 artillary necromancer. I pretty much copied his equipment recommendations. Artillery necros are deceptively fast. You can't run too fast ahead of your army, and sometimes you spend a while waiting for the initial bodies to drop. But once you start chain-detonating corpses, entire packs just vanish. Necromancers are also tremendous fun to play in MP games, and make a welcome addition to almost any party.

You can read more about Despair here.


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The final member of the Endless. Werewolf druid Hern. My second ever character (the less said about the first the better). The full write-up of Hern is further down.

The Final Push

At one stage, after a long break playing Ultimate around Europe, Ryondaahl was about 800 million XP behind me. But after a few months of vigourous Snapchip running, and some very late nights staying up for MP games he had developed a substantial lead. His last character was level 98. On Sunday, Hern was still 95.

Later Sunday he hit 96.
On Tuesday he hit 97.
He reached 98 on Friday night.
He racked up another 120 million XP on Saturday.

Ryondaahl had eased off his playing so that we could try to finish at the same time. At the start of Sunday, he needed around 100 million, and I had about 170 million to go. I hosted a three hour session in the morning before I had to go out, then I started up again at 5 PM local time. Ryon and I were joined by King's Spectre and his concentration paladin Camaris, then by Northstarzon and his zealot NightsDream. At 8.30, Sky hit 99. Timinator arrived moments later. We then formed Team Total and Utter Bovine Annihilation for the last push to 99 for Hern: Tim's necromancer for Amp Damage, my druid plus Ryon's druid Growler, and the two paladins. With all the auras, Hern's max damage hit 8.4k... at 4 frame Fury speed.... before Deadly Strike and Amp Damage were factored in... plus Crushing Blow. We tore through players64 mobs like a Hamilton Beech blender. It was truly something to behold. Finally at 10.30 PM Pacific (7.30 AM in the Netherlands, 1.30 AM on the East Coast, 7.30 PM in New Zealand to indicate where some of the participants were) the threshold was reached. In the Ancients Way naturally, because we ran out of cows with 1.5 million XP to go.

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Credit where credit is due

There are more than a few people who deserve some special accolades.

Ryondaahl definitely gave me the motivation to stick to this project and finish it. I would certainly still be going if I wasn't trying to catch you. Funny to think that pretty recently we felt we would still be going in February. It was a marathon with a true sprint finish, and it was kind of appropriate to finish so close together, after so many months working on this.

D2Addict has almost single-handedly kept 1.09 MP games alive by hosting sessions several times of week. The MP games made all the difference, when I felt I couldn't face another solo cow run.

Jbbto, MP game regular and member of the 1.10 Optimists.

Phylogen, Northstarzon, all the other Usual Suspects that I'm forgetting as well as the people who I MPed with at one time or another: King's Spectre, Serdash, Chase Encode, Usamahanas, Terrier, MattIs, Darkness, Gengis Chuck, Timinator, Sam_Manzanza, Solanaceae, Andy, Melchior, Trenshadow and others I"ve probably forgotten.

The 1.10 Optimists for giving me break from cow runs. :)

All of the people who donated or traded items to make these characters possible: Morepheus4, Hurtlocker, tentpeg, Hakai, and again, plenty of people I've forgotten.

What next?

In the immediate future - World of Warcraft, which I have only allowed myself to sample until I got this project finished. It looks like it could be even more addictive than D2 which is a bit of a worry.

And I still have things I want to do in D2, although I'm going to stay away from large projects for a while. I haven't been exclusively playing my Endless characters all year. I have a bunch of Single Player ladder characters that will be getting more attention in the future. I have a kick assassin to Matriarch and several more characters in planning: a Claws of Thunder assassin, and a Frozen Arrow Mavina-zon. I'll keep bugging Pindle and Baal for leet lewt, and I'll keep participating in MP games.

I've got Half-Life 2 and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within waiting for me. And I may even devote more time to (*gasp*) non-computer game related activities. :)


Level 99 Werewolf Druid

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Hern is your standard werewolf. He slays all with ease, until he hits a PI, where he usually runs with his tail between his legs, because trying to kill thinsg with a dinky little Baranar's Star seems beneath his wolfhood. His end-game gear (for cow runs) is almost completely different from what he wore while questing. His Patriarch gear include IK Stone Crusher, "Lionheart" Great Hauberk and Jalal's Mane. For the final push I went through the charm and jewel collection to fully optimize his for maximum killing speed.


Werewolf: 20
Lycanthropy: 20
Fury: 20
Oak Sake: 20
Summon Dire Wolves: 13
Feral Rage: couple of points

The points in Dire Wolves were to make my Grizzly stronger. He still didn't last very long until I bumped the players setting above 8. I tanked pretty well without him though.


Let's start with The Axe.

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I traded this from RTB (thanks a bunch!) after trying out almost every other potential werewolf weapons: IK Maul, Hellslayer, Schaeffer's Hammer, Messerschnmidt's Reaver. What does the axe have that those other weapons don't?

It's fast. 7/4 Fury fast. And you need all that speed for effective solo cowing with a werewolf. It's only downside was its horrendous repair costs: 50,000 gold per repair, and I was averaging about 2 repairs per run. Why was I wearing Chance Guards? Becuase I picked up almost every gold pile I found, and sold every 35k item I could find.

Hern's Cruel Champion Axe of Swiftness (Sheal-Shael)
Guilliame's Face (socketed +22 maximum damage jewel)
Shaftstop (socketed with +21 maximum damage jewel)
String of Ears
Chance Guards
Gore Rider
Atma's Scarab (Highlords if there was a necro in the group)
Ravenfrost / Manald Heal

His charms were a mixture of some resists, a few Shapeshifting charms, and all the best Fine and Sharp charms I could find: like a +3 max damage / 17 life small charm, and a +10 max damage / 27 life grand charm.

He had a might merc using an ethereal "Honor" Cryptic Axe, Shafstop and Tal's Crest.

Well I think that's about it.

For Penny



Well-known member
Guide Author
Mar 13, 2019
Introducing: Destiny - Level 99 Titan Zealot Paladin (1.09)

(Some people might notice this same post appearing in several different places...)

Destiny the paladin (1.09) reached level 99 yesterday in the company of the usual suspects: D2addict, Jbbto, Ryondaahl, Joutaja and Northstarzon. Three down, four to go.

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Destiny was built with one thing in mind: maximum cow killing efficiency. JohnKStone wrote a cowadin guide recommending 400-ish strength for extra damage. So I thought "if you can make an all-strength barb, why not an all-strength paladin?". The end result was your ultimate glass cannon - kills fast, but dies quick too if you're not careful. Six deaths between 98 and 99 meant it took me closer to 400 million xp to reach the milestone than the listed 290 million. Fun character to play, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend going to the extremes I did (low blocking, low defence, low life).

Level 99 Titan Zealot Paladin

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Fanatacism 20 (27)
Holy Freeze 20 (27)
Holy Shield 20 (22)
Charge 20 (22)
Zeal 11 (13)

On my way to Patriarch I used a Might merc, so the Holy Freeze was invaluable for improving my survival odds. It also gave me another aura for multi-paladin cow games. I chose Charge just for the large damage - I didn't use it much in practice. (1.10 Charge has completely spoiled the 1.09 Charge for me). For PI monsters, I switched to Conviction and Vengeance.


Unlike Dream and ClawsOfFury, Destiny had a very specific set of equipment that he wore for the entire game.

Destiny's Schaeffer's Hammer (122% ED) (socketed with Shael)
Guilliame's Face (socketed with 15% IAS jewel)
Shaftstop (socketed with 15% IAS jewel)
Destiny's Stormshield (socketed with 15% IAS jewel)
Thundergod's Vigor
Gore Riders
Glyph Grasp crafted gloves (20% IAS, 2% life leech, 3% mana leech, 5% crushing blow, 13 life)
Highlord's Wrath / Ravenfrost / Bul Kathos' Wedding Band

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In the charm collection: 5 Offensive aura charms, 1 +11 max damage grand charms, and various +3 max damage Fine Small charms and Small Charms of Vita. The pride of the charm collection? A 3/17 Fine Small Charm of Vita. The large charm is a Sharp (+4 max) Charm of Strength.

I used a Holy Freeze for cow runs (thanks King's Spectre for the idea), my one concession to living longer versus doing more damage. Holy Freeze was pretty much essential, and flashing between HF and Fanatacism while using a Might merc was nerveracking to say the least. The merc was equipped with Vampire Gaze, Shaftstop and Ethereal Spire of Honour.

So putting that all together, Destiny had:

125% IAS - enough for a 4-frame Zeal
65% damage reduction
50% Crushing Blow
67% Deadly Strike

He did solo players8 cow runs in around 15 minutes. With a necromancer in the party, he was devastating no matter what the players setting was. He had to be careful of FE CE monsters - attacking an FE Snapchip for instance was a recipe for almost certain death. More life and more blocking probably would have made things easier, but then I wouldn't have a paladin with almost 600 strength (and I really would have like to find 3 more strength from somewhere).

Next up on the never-ending level 99 treadmill: the sorceress and the barbarian.



Well-known member
Guide Author
Mar 13, 2019
ClawsOfFury - Level 99 SP Assassin (1.09)

About a year ago, ClawsOfFury became my very first character to beat Hell Baal. This morning she finally reached level 99 (my second character to do so), joining a very small group of other level 99 single player assassins (only 3 or 4 that I'm aware of). Claws is one of the characters I'm most proud, since she is probably my one unique original build. She proved adept at almost all areas of the game, since at one time or another I levelled her up almost everywhere: the zombie garden, Ancient's Way, Hell Baal runs, and multiplayer cow games. When I was feeling reckless I even did Nihlathak runs with her. Fittingly enough she reached level 99 in a players64 cow game with D2Addict, Jbbto, Ryondaahl, Flying_Dugong, Joutaja and Solanaceae. Northstarzon probably would have been there too except for CD trouble.

ClawsOfFury likes:
- large tighly clustered packs
- static field
- characters that curse monsters with amp damage
- Oak Sage and Battle Orders

ClawsOfFury dislikes;
- PI Monsters. She could kill them with the meteors from Phoenix Strike (albeit slowly), but she generally parked PI FE or PI FI monsters.
- Shattered corpses that couldnn't be blown up.

Notable items she found on her way to 99
- Schaeffer's Hammer Legendary Mallet
- Arkaine's Valor Balrog Skin
- 40% ED / 15% IAS jewel

And now, on with the build.

ClawsOfFury - Level 99 "Blade Bomber" Assassin


Phoenix Strike 20 (28)
Claw Mastery 20 (24)
Death Sentry 20 (24)

Claws of Thunder 10 (18)
Tiger Strike 7 (15)

Burst of Speed 6 (10
Weapon Block 4 (8)
Dragon Claw 2 (9)

1 point in all other skills except Venom.

The points in Claws of Thunder and Tiger Strike were a bit wasted. I sometimes used CoT for PIs but almost never used Tiger Strike.

Claws generated damage from several different sources. First there was the damage from her claws and from Phoenix Strike. I generally preferred using the first meteor charge. The second charge is tricky to release and the third charge freezes monsters, and ice cubes make poor bombs. Crushing blow was a large part of her build (as you'll see in the equipment) - delivered both by her claws and via Blade Shield. Once the meteors and crushing blow had softened up the pack, I would start laying down Death Sentries. The 1.09 cow runners will attest to how effective Death Sentry can be. It also shone in the zombie garden. The Crushing Blow kept her damage effective, even at ridiculous players settings.


Her equipment changed throughout her career, as I accumulated more items, and even at 99 I tended to swap pieces around depending on what I was doing.

Items she wore constantly:

Bartuc's Cut Throat Greater Talons x2 (190%, 158%)
Guilliame's Face Winged Helm
Goblin Toe Light Plated Boots
Manald Heal, Ravenfrost
Laying of Hands or rare gloves with +2 martial arts, 10% IAS, 3% mana leech

Items she wore while questing:

Naj's Light Plate Hellforge Plate (socketed with 15% resist all jewel)
Thundergod's Vigor War Belt
Saracen's Chance Amulet

Items she wore while levelling:

Tal Rasha's Guardianship Lacquered Plate (socketed with Perfect Topaz)
Tal Rasha's Fine Spun Cloth Mesh Belt
Tal Rasha's Adjudication Amulet

Items she wore in cows:

Shaftstop Mesh Armour
String of Ears Demonhide Sash
Tal Rasha's Adjudication (I liked the life and couldn't be bothered swapping it)


2 Martial Arts skills charms, and just about everything else was resists.

She was accompanied by Rogue merc Elexa, who at various times was armed with Lightning Hose gear, a Witchwild String for cursing stuff, and finally Dream's Windforce when I was clawing my way to 99.


Strength 115 (170)
Dexterity 126 (204)
Vitality 324 (324)
Energy 25(25)

Life: 1355 (in Tal's set gear)

Resists: 74/37/75/-41 (with LoH and Tal's set items)

Apart from the odd MP game, ClawsOfFury will probably retire now, since there is absolutely nothing else for her to do in the game. Thanks to all the cow game regulars for making this happen, especially D2Addict for al the games he's hosted, and Ryondaahl for keeping me motivated with his own quest for level 99 characters.



Well-known member
Guide Author
Mar 13, 2019
Once more with feeling! Angel, 1.09 Level 99 Meteor Sorc

Well I finally managed to avoid the distractions of 1.10 long enough to complete the journey of Angel the Sorceress to level 99 in the 1.09 patch. With Ryondaahl away, the motivation sagged a bit, and she probably took the longest of my characters to get from 98 to 99.

For those keeping count at home, that's 4 of 7 completed on this wacky mission of mine (completed to date: Amazon, Assassin and Paladin).

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Angel was built according to Zharous' classic 1.09 Damage Reduction / Block meteor sorceress guide. She's the carpet bomber in group of seven. Basic cow killing approach is pretty simple:

1. Teleport to cow.
2. Cast meteor
3. Cast static 2 or 3 times
4. Watch meteor land, wipe out cows
5. Repeat steps 2 to 4 as necessary.
6. Teleport to next cow.

She was quite reckless at times, particularly when under the inflluence of an experience shrine, fearlessly teleporting right into the middle of packs. I'd have to down a red potion every so often, but I rarely took damage fast enough to be in any danger. (Exception was the one and only Baal run I tried at level 98 - where I forgot about the Fire Immune Unfreezable Unchillable Unslowable Frenzutaurs...).

As usual, a shout out to all the 1.09 cow game regulars, D2addict, Jbbto, Phylogen, NSZ, Serdash, and Ryondaahl. Angel would also like to thank Artemis the zon, who tirelessly opened the red portal for her after Angel accidently killed the king with an errant meteor somewhere in the late 80s.

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Level 99 Sorceress


Str: 133 (177 after items)
Dex: 230 (237)
Vit: 10 (42)
Ene: 212 (234)

Life: 684
Mana: 1298

Resists (in cow killing gear): -50 / 10 / 55 / -50

I had enough strength to wield a Hel'd Stormshield, and enough dex for 75% block. Since sorcs only get 2 life per vitality point, I opted to leave vitality at base, and get all my life from equipment. (according to ATMA my naked life would 198!).


Meteor: 20 (36)
Fire Mastery 20 (36)
Firewall: 11 (27)

Frozen Orb 20 (30)

Charged Bolt 15 (25)

The points in Charged Bolt were invested when I though Angel was going to be a tri-sorc. I switched to Firewall when I realized I might as well take advantage of the maxed Fire Mastery and the +16 to fire skills.


(Her cow running gear - for questing I opted for less skills and higher resists)

The Occulus
Styx' Harlequin Crest
Stormshield (Hel)
Skullder's Ire
War Traveler
2 x Stone of Jordan / Crafted caster amulet (+2 sorc skills, 10% faster cast)
Crafted caster belt (5% faster cast, mana)

Charms: 5 Fire skills charms (including one found on her 3rd to last cow run), lots of small charms of Vita (8 x 20 life, 1 x 19 life, 1 x 15 life), 2 lightning resist grand charms, and several lightning resist small charms.

Extra special shout out to Tentpeg aka X Factor. He held a huge "I'm finished with 1.09 giveaway." I asked for a couple of SoJs and some fire charms- he sent me practically an entire meteor sorc on a mule (rings, charms, shield, Harley etc etc).

Next up: Destruction the frernzy barb (currently 91), who thankfully can open his own cow portal... (no more map rerolls!).



Well-known member
Guide Author
Mar 13, 2019
Introducing: Destruction - Level 99 Barbarian (1.09)

Tick off character class number five on the neverending quest for 7 level 99 characters in 1.09. In a full cow game attended by all the 1.09 regulars except D2Addict, Destruction the barbarian reached level 99. (Technically he ran out of cows with 100,000 xp to go, so Pindle provided the last bit of experience to push him over the top).

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Destruction had two principal sources of inspiration I'd like to acknowledge here: Ashrael2's iron frenzy barb UntouchableOne, and MattIs' Grandfather-wielding titan frenzy barb AndreTheGiant. I'd played a sword wielding Warcry frenzy barb before, and the idea of stopping every couple of seconds to stun cows didn't appeal. So Destruction is built around the twin principals of massive defence and maximum damage.

In practice, he was almost indestructible and chewed up cows like a blender, resembling nothing quite as much as a slightly deranged carpenter. He could clear the cow level solo at players8 in about ten minutes, and he was far safer than my titan zealot paladin. The only cows he really feared were Cursed Blessed Aim bosses and Fanatical packs. He could also run Baal blazingly fast (especially since the static from the Schaeffer's could take Baal down to zero at players8). The two highlights of his treasure finding career were very appropriate: a Schaeffer's Hammer (given away to Phylogen) and the 37% ED / 15% IAS jewel he put in one of his hammers.

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Level 99 Frenzy Barbarian

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Strength: 495 (550)
Dexterity: 20 (**)
Vitality: 65 (144)
Energy: 10

Life: 2181 at level 99

Resists: 60 / 14 /86 / 14

Damage: 2172 - 5877 / 2059 - 5749

Attack rating: 8737
Defence rating: 19465


Frenzy 20 (26)
Mace Mastery 20 (28)
Iron Skin 20 (28)
Shout 20 (35 with echoing weapons)
Battle Orders 12 (27 with echoing weapons)

1 point in all the other usual suspects


Destruction's Schaeffer's Hammer (128% ED socketed with a 37% ED/15% IAS jewel)
Schaeffer's Hammer (121% ED socketed with a 28% ED / 15% IAS jewel)
Arreat's Face (socketed with a 16% Fire Resist / 15% IAS jewel)
Destruction's Arkaine's Valor (socketed with a 19% Fire Resist / 15% IAS jewel)
Thudergod's Vigor
War Traveler
Glyph Grasp crafted gloves (20% IAS, 2% life leech, 3% mana leech, 5% crushing blow)
The Cat's Eye
Bul Kathos' Wedding Band (4% life leech)

4 War Cry charms, 4 Mastery charms, small charms with either life and damage, or life and defence.

Might merc

Ethereal Crown of Thieves
Gladiator's Bane
289% Cruel War Pike socketed with 2 Shaels

I used a Defiance merc while questing - he pushed my defence over 25,000. I decided I wanted the extra damage more than the extra defence. Zanarhi's defence rating with Shout was 13,900 - enough to tank cows quite happily by himself..

Only two characters remain to get to 99: Despair the necromancer (currently 90) and Hern the druid (currently 89). As usual I'd like to thank Ryondaahl for keeping me motivated, D2Addict for hosting lots of cow games, and all the 1.09 regulars.



Well-known member
Guide Author
Mar 13, 2019
Introducing: Despair Level 99 Necromancer (1.09)

At approximately 10.15 AM Pacific Time, in the company of Jbbto's werewolf Jacko, Despair the necromancer uttered the words "I feel much stronger now" for the final time.

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Despair was built around TheDarkKhan's excellent guide to the 1.09 artillery necromancer. He had maxed Bone Spirit and Poison Nova, although at high players settings, both skills did very little damage - as I discovered every time I had to kill a PI cow. (Just imagine spamming bone spirits non-stop for a minute and half).

He was fun to play through the game, and probably completed more acts in MP games than any of my other characters. Necromancers are just generally way more fun to play in groups. He was a slow but fairly safe killer in most places in the game. but in the Cow Level his destructive capabilities increased exponentially.

He lived by the motto "Get other people to do your dirty work for you". His Thorns merc got most of the initial kills. The merc was backed up by a golem, whose role was to stand in the middle of a pack and take damage, and by an army of revives. Every my revives hit something, the enemy took damage. Every my revives got hit, the enemy took damage. Win-win situation all round. Once a few bodies were on the ground, and the rest of the mob was softened up, it was time to unleash a chain reaction of Corpse Explosions - one of the most entertaining spells in the game. Like javazons, he liked his mobs large. So while the minions were dealing with one herd, Despair would often go in search of more cows he could lure back to the front lines.

I put almost all of my points in energy. Necromancers don't have Warmth, and artillery necros are mana hogs. So I opted for a huge mana pool. Strength was initially 65 (for Silkweaves), later increased to 97 so he could wear Skullder's Ire.

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Level 99 Necromancer


Bone Spirit 20 (34)
Corpse Explosion 20 (34)
Poison Nova 20 (34)
Golem Mastery 20 (35)
Skeleton Mastery 4 (19)

All other skills: 1 point. Curses were level 15 after equipment.


Styx's Harlequin Crest (perfect topaz)
Skin of the Vipermagi (sometimes Skullder's Ire)
Despair's Blackhand Key
Despair's Homonculous
Gloom's Trap
Mara's Kaleidoscope
The Stone of Jordan (x2)

3 Poison and Bone charms, 3 summoning charms.

Kasim the thorns merc wore a Vampire Gaze, Shaftstop and used a Amn-Amn-Amn Hone Sundan.

So that's 6 out 7 members of the Endless finished, with only Hern the druid to go.



Well-known member
Guide Author
Mar 13, 2019
In response to the original version 1.1 @Fruit posted a test result on the "lightning bolts carry elemental damage" myth:
Hm, I can't find my 1.09 notes. May have deleted them accidentally while re-organising some stuff. :(
Oh well. At least for my own peace of mind, I'll test this later to know for sure. I know that MSLE was patched in 1.10, but I don't recall there ever being a change for LECE or LEFE throughout the patches. The bolts in 1.06, 1.07 and 1.14 certainly don't carry any damage, but of course that doesn't prove anything for 1.09.

Cheers :)

Edit: Tested the following combinations. LE: to confirm the damage of 1 bolt (91). LECEFE: each bolt does 91 lightning damage. MSLECE: each bolt does 91 lightning damage. MSLEFE: each bolt does 91 lightning damage.

Like I said, the conclusion was probably drawn by players standing close enough for the fire explosion or/and cold nova to hit them. Even in testing specifically it would make sense to stand close enough (to make sure that (a) bolt(s) would hit you). Key part is that the cold nova and fire explosion are invisible, so it just appears like the damage came from the bolt(s).
I'm not sure what to say in case you're skeptical. I would suggest testing it yourself, but that demands a time investment. As for my own tests, in case you were curious:
- I modified The Cow King to spawn with the mentioned combinations. I modified velocity (movement speed) of cows to be 0, to make sure I was in control of distance.
- I positioned myself so that (only) 1 bolt would hit me, while being outside the range of fire explosion and/or cold nova.
- At his level (93), each bolt would consistently do 91 damage, or crit for 182, while I had 0 lightning resistance.
- I was never chilled.
- Damage received was always in multiples of 91.
(After moving closer, I would be chilled and damaged by the invisible nova after putting him into hit recovery. Moving even closer, the invisible fire explosion would also hit me.)

I noticed a short while back that the 1.06 guide lists the same information, but in that patch it also is not the case. I highly doubt there has ever been a patch where the bolts carried any damage, I think it was just an untrue conclusion that spread naturally. Btw, I know the site you linked is a very reliable source, so I can understand why nobody would ever think twice about it. But it is what it is! :)
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