Starter Build Guides

Jul 17, 2020
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I agree it would be best to put together guides that have the same format. The idea of one guide per class for people to use as a jumping off point is great. D2 has so much choice for a newcomer it can be paralyzing. And I think it could be helpful to pin down more precisely how far ranging the class guides are so that the authors have some guard rails to help focus their writing. I play around with GIS some and an important part of cartography is how best to convey your information to the viewer. Some basic principles, translated to D2:

  1. The Audience: Who is your guide for?
  2. The Purpose: What is the ultimate goal of the guide?
  3. Granularity: How detailed does the information need to be?
  4. Significance: How and why is this guide meaningful or useful to the viewer?

I think we've figured out some of these already.
  1. Who? Complete newcomers.
  2. Why? The purpose of the guides is to give them a build that *will* get them through hell.

And others are currently somewhat up in the air.
3. Detail? Do we include breakpoints? Number heavy stuff like ilvl, qlvl, alvl, arealvl, etc? How do we negotiate gearing without talking about crafting Blood gloves/helm/belt/rings for melee, Caster belt/amulets for casters, Hit Power gloves for a bowzon? When to gamble for weapons for a physical build? Which weapons? Shopping for gear like a wand for White? Itemization is such a can of worms for the beginner. I think this will be the most difficult aspect of figuring out what to delegate to the Absolute Beginners Guide, what information is exclusive to the class guide, and what information is so important is should be included in both.​
4. Impact? Figuring out how to make the guide arresting for the average googler. I think we pretty much have it, back to the original intent of the guide: A Foolproof Path Through Hell. And then how to make it meaningful/useful? Clear design like that D3 guide Max posted. They see the title of the guide, they click, and they are immediately drawn into it and keep reading by its ease of use, and lack of a barrier between our intentions and what they actually see in reality.​
I don't know if I have the knowledge to write an entire class guide, but I think I could give contributions to certain areas. As well as help out with the Absolute Beginners Guide.​
 
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PhineasB

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I’d happily (and be honored to) update the guides by Nightfish: Fishymancer, Fishyzon and WC Berserk Barb. I’ve done multiples of each, so think I could update into 1.14 reasonably well.

Not sure where/how to update guides, but I’d also be able to conform to a standard format if that’s the route we go.
 
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Drixx

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Mar 21, 2021
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So I think we are almost there with the content map, now comes the big question:

Who would like to volunteer to write something?

Please post what you would be up for writing. I think we will need to make edited version of NF's guides too.

I'm currently working nights with long stretches of downtime. I'd gladly do some of this work. I can also edit NF's guides and post them (with credit to him obviously).

I'm also thinking that we should have a "primer" for each class, giving advice on the best choices for leveling up until they can start using the build they want to play. I realize as I'm making some builds recently that I actually don't even know for myself what to do with some classes prior to reaching the point where I can run the build I want, and I suspect a lot of new/returning players are gonna get frustrated if it feels like they can only melee attack or use bad skills because it's not obvious to them what to do while they level up.

I'm also happy to write a guide for the aforementioned Paladin Zealot I suggested as a good first build.

I'm also open to you just giving me stuff to compile/edit if you like.
 
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Kartongen

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[...]
3. Detail? Do we include breakpoints? Number heavy stuff like ilvl, qlvl, alvl, arealvl, etc? How do we negotiate gearing without talking about crafting Blood gloves/helm/belt/rings for melee, Caster belt/amulets for casters, Hit Power gloves for a bowzon? When to gamble for weapons for a physical build? Which weapons? Shopping for gear like a wand for White? Itemization is such a can of worms for the beginner. I think this will be the most difficult aspect of figuring out what to delegate to the Absolute Beginners Guide, what information is exclusive to the class guide, and what information is so important is should be included in both.​
[...]

This is why I suggested we make more than one guide. I think a "welcome screen" which say hello and link to the recommended starting 7, as well as a few general guides (such as those I linked to).

In my opinion, we need to make sure that the guides don't overload new players with information, but that the information is available once people get the hang of things.
[...]
I'm also thinking that we should have a "primer" for each class, giving advice on the best choices for leveling up until they can start using the build they want to play.
[...]
While I agree with this, how would this "primer" differ from the starting 7? I think those should be viable primers for beginners, but maybe I am missing some point you are making?


Regarding helping, I have far less experience that many here and also hardly any time at all. I will gladly give some feedback etc though.
 

maxicek

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Dec 24, 2019
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What I'm thinking of is a general overview that explains all the common terms and the basics. alvl and ilvl won't be mentioned (invisible stats) but FHR would. Imagine you pick up a FHR charm, you want to know if it is important or not. The sections would be small stubs with links to mere detailled information if required. For example:

Faster Hit recovery
This is how qucikly you can recover after taking damage. The numbers to aim for vary for each class and in some cases by which weapon you choose. Some numbers to aim for:

ClassWeaponEnoughGood
AmazonAll3252
AssassinAll2748
BarbarianAll2748
Druid, human1-handed swinging weapons*6399
Other weapons5686
Druid, werebearAll5486
Druid, werewolfAll2042
NecromancerAll5686
PaladinSpears and staves4875
Other weapons2748
SorceressAll6086

Read more about Faster Hit Recovery
 

Gynli

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My take on the "primer" was something along the lines of "what to do until the starting build kicks in".

Some builds start rightaway from the gate of rogue camp (fishymancer) and some midway of the first act (fireball for meteorb), while some builds take a while to even get started (whirlwind).

To use whirlwind as a primer example.
Id personally guide a newbie barb to invest couple points in double swing early on and use normal cow + Larzuk combo for insight to really get started.
 
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maxicek

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Most of the guides we currently have don't account for respecs (written pre 1.13). I think we need to factor these in, we shouldn't try and save them. One build for Normal then respec at level 30 is perfectly reasonable and leaves two spare for later.

My logic was that the main guide explains the mechanics, then the build guides give more details. This saves having to explain what FHR is in every guide.

So the guide may refer to a section like I have written above and just suggest how to hit the numbers.
 
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art_vandelay

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I'd be interested in doing a druid starter guide if nobody else wants to do one. My approach would be to actually take a Fire->Wind druid through the game in order to get a better idea of what a "first play through" is actually like. (Obviously untwinked + no extended stash ;))

@maxicek What's your take on item sections? What level of equipment access can be assumed and do we take trading into account?

Personally I think the emphasis should be on low level runewords and items from the cube rather than uniques or sets (because even the easy to get ones aren't guaranteed).
 
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maxicek

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I think we can factor in an amout of farming. We should include things like Vipermagi as a "best" option so somebody knows what to do if they find it, but like you say Stealth / cubed / shopped items is more likely.

The idea of actually trying the build is a great one - A link to a Pat / Mat thread at the end of the guide as a real example is really helpful.
 
Mar 14, 2020
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Lots of great ideas there!

My problem is to differntiate between what I know and deem necessary to know and what new players need to know...point 3 - granularity - of @Jocular's excellent analsysis above.

I would really love to write something about tips and tricks that make your adventure a bit safer or swifter, but: Where do I start? (Moat trick?) Where do I stop? (smashing towers in Act V with a Gremlin on top does give you the drop, but not the XP of the Gremlin...)

Also, what I really liked in old guides was if there was an equipment section for a build with 3 levels of itemization (low level/midrange/highend gear).

I was also thinking about @art_vandelay's suggestion of difficulty ratings for a guide. I like the idea in general, especially for builds, and could see an argument for incuding something like item dependancy as an extra point (*=low item dependancy, e.g. Fishymancer, **=medium item dependancy, i.e. certain Runewords/uniques are necessary for the build to work as expected, e.g. Frenzy Barb; ***=high item dependancy, i.e. either very specific rare to find items are necessary or lots of high-end gear for the build to work properly, e.g. Bearsin or Charged Bolt sorceress)

For non-build guides, a similar system might be helpful (guide for beginners, advanced, professionals) with the "where to start" guide being *, breakpoint tables being **, item generation being *** (and superchests mechanics being **** :LOL:)

If anyone has an idea on how to structure the tips and tricks (by Act? by theme?), feel free to contact me for some brainstorming!
 

Luhkoh

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Idk how much time I can devote to this at the moment, but great idea! I vividly remember how much stuff I didn't know when I started playing 3 years ago. Even stuff like "resistances are more important than defense" and "feel free to experiment a bit in normal difficulty but DO NOT waste your akara respec" were things I really would have wanted to know hahaha. Or like how when you enter hell, physical damage changes from like the least threatening dmg type to the most threatening.

I tried to fairly thoroughly explore the recommended starting builds in my untwinked till patmat sept i did HERE. In particular I have a few thoughts. I think fishyzon is hard, and berserk barb is easy.

The latter is slow and you have to mf nm andy/meph a tad for a halfway decent two hand weapon. But the playstyle is extremely easy and very safe for SC. I didn't even use warcry. Howl+taunt is so OP and I think barbs status as "hard" (which I've seen repeated many places) is undeserved. Definitely requires some patience though. Also I think berserk is definitely preferable to concentrate just becuase its a lot more damage with fewer immunes, and is more than "safe enough". But concentrate would work similarly ofc, just slower. I however would DEFINITELY not recommend a beginner to use whirlwind. Requires good weapons, leech, kinda tought to handle, and still is easy to get yourself killed. Just my opinion though. I covered my strategy for getting through the game with him pretty thoroughly in his patmat thread here. And honestly really enjoyed the playthrough. Definitely the one that most exceeded my expectations of the sept.

Fishyzon is honestly pretty tough untwinked imo. No crowd control other than FA, which sucks the mana bulb dry at an insane rate, and the ancients fight is just terrible imo. If I had to do an untwinked zon again, I would either go with LF/CS with max valk (for some c-c and to handle important immunes) with 1 point FA for cc, or i would just go bowazon with something like clegaws gloves, riphook, and blackhorns. The latter would probably be slow, but seems very safe and like it would have no problems. Again havent tested though.

I also wonder about a werebear druid being one of the easier beginner builds with super high life, shockwave for crazy c-c, and fc/maul as the attacks which should be able to handle immunes and such. Same issues as barb where you need to mf a decent weapon and killing is slow. Highly theoretical though since I haven't tried it.

Also I fully agree with @maxicek not including pure blizz. A beginner doesnt know what parts they can skip, and probably doesn't want to and also probably SHOULDNT skip content. So you need a way to kill all single immunes imo. So I say something like:

Normal difficulty
  • Amazon - poison jav, exploding arrow, or power strike (she's kinda weird in that she doesn't have an obvious starting build imo)
  • Assassin - fireblast + wake of fire
  • Barbarian - double swing
  • Druid - firestorm + fissure
  • Necromancer - skeletons
  • Paladin - holy fire
  • Sorceress - charged bolt into lightning
Nightmare through Hell Difficulty
  • Amazon - LF+CS+Valk, or Fishyzon, or Bowazon with slow and knockback
  • Assassin - Lightning trapsin who MAXES fireblast (critical untwinked imo)
  • Barbarian - Berserker with max howl and 1 point taunt (warcry optional)
  • Druid - Wind druid (or maybeeee FC/maul bear? anyone have any thoughts on that?)
  • Necromancer - Fishymancer or boner (I like the latter better for a beginner tbh)
  • Paladin - Hammerdin or Frost zealot or Tesladin
  • Sorceress - Meteorb or blizzball, which i think of as whether you want fire sorc with cold backup (meteorb) or cold sorc with fire backup (blizzball).
Idk if that helps in any way. Maybe I'll get inspired to draft a character guide, but no promises 😅.
 
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Mar 14, 2020
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So you need a way to kill all single immunes imo. So I say something like:
Druid - Wind druid
I would still lean towards Fire Druid even on NM/Hell? The Windys I've played have trouble with PIs, even with hurricane and decent gear. There just isn't enough elemental dmg in there. A Fire Druid can at least rely on Merc/Grizzly to do some physical damage to FIs.. There are however a LOT of those.. :cautious:
 
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Luhkoh

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@D2DC yeah technically i was meaning hurricane can kill PI's. It does work, but definitely sucks. I actually hated my wind druid playthrough and think he should be listed as "hard" along with the zon, and thats why i mentioned the werebear spitball idea. But I know of enough people who have done the wind druid playthrough and said he was a good character, so that I know my opinion there is definitely not universal. I don't understand it though :p. And yes fissure rocks through nm. Loved my druid playthrough until hell, when I respec'd. I've never tried staying fissure through hell and relying on merc + grizzly for FIs. Maybe that would work well with extra points in grizzly. Seems like it would be pretty annoying with the sheer number of FI's around though. Heck maybe just a fury playthrough where you stop and farm hell countess for a lem for lawbringer would be fine too (well, if we have ladder runewords in d2r).
 
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Kartongen

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For FC/Maul one of the BIS weapons is rolled with chippies. (Cruel <elite polearm> of quickness, 2x shael)
This is not too bad, but not super beginner friendly imo for two reasons.
One: it means you NEED to use extended stash.
Two: What if you are unlucky on rolls? (Can be mitigated with a backup plan.)

While I really like the LF/FA amazon, I have to second @Luhkoh's point about ancients being really rough though.
And the beginner build should probably definately involve a valk.
 

Gynli

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Mar 17, 2020
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Edited post.

I want to toss some other guides/info idea as well.

My logical train of thought for the guides goes as following :

1. Welcome!
A guide for things you need to know BEFORE playing d2.
- Including how to buy and install the game
- I also want to suggest that people first be left to play the game, till they get stuck.

2. Stuck!
2.a. Where am i?
A guide for when stuck due to not knowing what to do.
- A playthrough guide of NORMAL (perhaps leaning towards the story more)

2.b. Its too hard!
A guide for when stuck due to difficulty
* the main focus of the thread
- A guide to beating hell with general tips and tricks and links to starter-7
- the starter build guide with its build specific tips and tricks

3. I beat the game! What now?
3.a. Try another!
A showcase of builds and links to each build guide

3.b. Try something else!
A list of end game contents and their specific guides
- grail, pk??, lvl 99, theme builds etc

4. Cool what is that thing!?
A list of in depth guide to specific topics
- a lot of the great guides we already have in SPF would fit here

5. Come join us at SPF!
Showcase of SPF specifics
- tourneys, MFL, RFL, group play etc
 
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maxicek

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@Gynli The original intention of this is it will go in the Strategy Compendium and be BNet or Single Player applicable. But I like the idea of a better intro to the SPF, maybe this needs to be improved on too. I was trying to capture this in the Community & Links thread, maybe I need to make it more friendly for new players. We haven't had many people completely new to the game in the last 10+ years at least.
 
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@Luhkoh

I like the idea of the class builds being dynamic through each difficulty. Someone else mentioned how bad it would feel for a newbie to start a Hdin and not have access to the skill until Act II, and it not being truly strong until level ~25. Hmmm, but what if they fall in love with being a Tesla/FrostZealot and dislike the fact that the guide is now forcing them to become a caster? Decisions, decisions.


As far as FC/Maul...it's potentially strong, and very safe. But, starting Hell is very difficult for the build even with Shockwave and Grizzly unless you take the time to level up to at least 80 in NM. And get lucky with drops (I did w/ Athena's Wrath). Being a hybrid you're starved for skill points. And stat points if you go the polearm route and need to invest in strength *and* dex. On my now-deeded Maul/FC untwinked 99er I found that Hell was extremely uncomfortable prior to respeccing to Fissure druid and mfing Andy with a teleport staff on switch to get stuff like Jalals, Ribcracker, SoE, Raven. Maybe because I was HC...but I have vivid memories of running away from the demon rogue bosspacks with my heart in my throat 😁 I know getting through hell would've been a slog without taking the time to really get some gear and levels.


I like @art_vandelay's suggestion of putting our money where our mouth's are and, in a couple month's time, following whatever is written to see strengths and weaknesses.

And @Gynli has a great idea for a separate "Stuck!" general guide! Helps prevent the class guides from becoming overly long or detailed.