Starter Build Guides

Swamigoon

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Apr 18, 2020
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I wonder: how does my "noob D2 LoD" experience compare to others?

Guide writers: your target audience is not me. I purchased game CDs at a retail store back in the early 2000s, but our new D2R players will almost certainly purchase and download the game online. However, our new PureDiablo visitors may have experiences similar to mine, so would you please indulge my reminiscence, and let me put myself back in the "new player" situation. Here is my attempt to humbly introduce "to whom you might be writing:"

Starting out as a single player

The paperback manual that came with the CD suggested I start an Amazon, to get a feel for gameplay. So that's what I did. As she leveled, I put a point into *every* skill of *every* tree, just to try it out and see what it would do. At level 11, she had already spent one point in each of the ten lowest tier skills, and I still had another skill point to spend, so I put a second point in Multiple Shot, because I thought it just looked so cool when she used that skill!

Multiple Shot would drain her mana more quickly than before, so I invested some stat points in energy. I examined (and usually sold) every item that every monster dropped. If I thought it seemed like a neat thing to try, I stashed it, until I could spend enough strength or dexterity to equip it. If I already had enough strength and dexterity to try out the new toys, I would spend stat points in either vitality or energy, depending on whether I felt the red bulb or blue bulb needed attention. I found certain "superunique" monsters particularly challenging, especially Pitspawn Fouldog, and later Andariel. I grew very adept with what I then imagined to be the most useful skill in the game: cast a town portal periodically, so that I could more quickly retrieve corpses!

When my Amazon finally completed act 1, I felt a such sense of accomplishment. I had found a whole new desert location, with new horrors and new adventures! But first, I wanted to start another single player character and see what other ways I could fight through act 1. My second character was a necromancer. Wow, such a different playing style, and such fun! Again, I tried every possible skill, just to see what it would do. When I had an unspent extra skill point but no new skills to try, I spent another point in the skill I thought looked coolest: Bone Armor!

Enjoying the game's replayability

And so it continued, until I had tried all five characters, all 150 of their skills, and almost every armor piece and melee/thrown/missile weapon available in normal difficulty. Out of sheer stubbornness, I defeated normal difficulty Diablo with each of those five characters. Not long after that, I obtained the LoD expansion CD. I can't remember whether I converted any characters to play the expansion's act 5, but I'm pretty sure I actually started over, with seven new characters, one of each class. I tried out all 210 skills on those next seven characters, and practiced with them until I normal Baal was defeated seven times.

I was still figuring out how to properly "hack and slash" with a mouse and a few keystrokes. I was generally just using these keys: [Tab] and [Space] for the automap, [Alt] to find loot to pick up, [ B ] to look at what I picked up, [R] to walk or run, and [1] through [4] to stay hydrated.

I really appreciated having a mercenary help out with fighting. I also quickly developed affection for "minion" skills that could take some of the heat away from my character: my Amazon's Valkyrie, my Assassins' shadow clones and traps, and a variety of my Necromancers' and Druids' summons. My sorceress didn't have independently fighting minions, at least not quite like those, but she could summon hydras and a lightning storm. Those spells helped to fight her enemies while she was free to do something else. My barbarian had only one "summon" skill, a Grim Ward, which didn't help out much with monster killing. It looked really cool, but alas, it only dispersed monsters rather than attack them. I was also disappointed that the Paladin had no minion to summon, except for a really stupid hammer missile which briefly floated around in a spiral and bonked whatever bad guy happened to cross its path.

So as a "noob," I guess you could say that I tended to use summoned minions and mercenaries quite a bit as "training wheels," to help me learn to navigate the game. I perceived other skills as more advanced challenges to master when I was ready to try playing the game "without training wheels" (that is, without minions, making more use of characters' direct skills.)

Exploring new experiences

As I began to try playing Nightmare difficulty, I naturally began to look for more info about my new favorite game on the Internet. My first searches led me to Blizzard's official Arreat Summit site, now at https://classic.battle.net/diablo2exp/. There were some forums there once, but it looks like they're trying to migrate them yet again. Also, fans of the game had set up their own forums, with interesting names like Phrozen Keep, Lurker Lounge, or D2jsp. I wasn't impressed enough to dive very deeply into those. But two other forum sites successfully captured my attention. One of those, "The Amazon Basin," is still there, and still active, although not nearly as active as it once was. I still have my account there, and I even authored one of their build guides. In addition to their forums, the Basin's primary asset was a system for playing private (password-protected) Battle.net game instances, with which they kept out public game "riff-raff" from spoiling their fun. I played quite a bit on Battle.net, but I never successfully joined a Basin game, and anyway, Battle.net was never as satisfying to me as my Single Player accomplishments. Another favorite feature of mine at the Basin is onderduiker's comprehensive and very geeky wiki. The other fan-built forum that I grew to love most was DiabloII.net, later absorbed into a concern called IncGamers, and as of last year, now recovered and rebuilt better-than-ever here at PureDiablo.com.

The first things I consumed at these sites were the build guides. I got very frustrated with most of them, because they seemed more like "wish lists" full of hard-to-find equipment, rather than realistic suggestions of how to pursue success without insane item wealth. But along the way, I learned some great lessons:
  • Putting stat points in Energy is usually what noobs do, not experienced players.
  • Spamming skill points all over the trees is for noobs. Good players plan skill investments carefully.
  • Picking up and admiring every item is for noobs. Skilled players discriminate, and choose wisely what they pick up and identify.
  • Stash space is limited, but Single Players can get a utility called GoMule for unlimited collectible packrattery and for trading items between characters.
  • Pets aren't just training wheels for noobs - there are lots of fun builds that complement direct skills with summoned minions.
  • There are function keys, [F1] - [F8], that can be assigned to used to spells and skills. Also, if you keep dying, because in your moment of panic you accidentally hit skill key [F1] instead of the potion drinker key [1], you can change your keyboard controls to map other keys that work better for you.
  • Prize gear that improves resistances, in order to survive more effectively in Nightmare/Hell difficulty.
  • As you play, try to notice how your attack rating, defense, attack speed, cast rate, etc. contribute to your character's effectiveness.
We have a nice collection of guides here, although in my opinion, the Basin's guides have higher quality in general. But we have many other fantastic assets:
  • longevity
  • active discussions full of courtesy and cameraderie
  • a simple system for item traders, with rules that help keep trading fair
  • tolerance for certain mods and tools that maintain or improve the game's replayability
  • intolerance for mods or practices that promote "cheats," or otherwise diminish the game's challenges and replayability.
Well, I've typed too long - those are some of my thoughts. New/improved guides are a great way to try to position PureDiablo to attract more SPFers. Other forums at places like Blizzard and Reddit will be stiff competition, but I believe PureDiablo can stay strong and keep growing.
 
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Maltatai

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2020
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@maxicek
An amazon build I would recommend is plague javelin with a valkyrie and a cold mage. Super easy to aim and hit with the huge cloud it spreads, three damage types without even trying and lightning bolt as auto-hit backup. Cold mages behind a valkyrie need very little babysitting and equipment to contribute well, and valkyries with freezing as backup are nigh unkillable by anything smaller than Hephasto. The amazon can carry a shield for protection and devastate crowds early enough to be rewarding for a new player. Also a few skill points over for dodging and other convenient stuff.

@Swamigoon
If I catch you apologizing one more time for typing too long I will ask Deckard Cain to beat you up (he can do that, just listen to the Deckard Cain rap). Internet illiteracy has ruined enough gaming culture without us adding to the problem.

Totally agree on the charm of minions. Having a friend or two to watch over and be helped by is one of the most engaging things with this game.

The comparison to the Basins guides is very interesting. I agree that the guides over there ar egenerally better but the SPF wins out in "guidance" mainly because of the character threads - those are the real guides. I would also think those are a significant reason why we have seen so little effort in updating the build guides, the latter have been neither very relevant nor interesting compared to all the guardian threads and tournaments.

The first things I consumed at these sites were the build guides. I got very frustrated with most of them, because they seemed more like "wish lists" full of hard-to-find equipment, rather than realistic suggestions of how to pursue success without insane item wealth.
+10 000 to this.
 

maxicek

Moderator
Dec 24, 2019
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My experience was similar @Swamigoon - People will not arrive here completely fresh, most likely they are already stuck. They have tried some items but are unsure what is useful and what is not.

Nightfish's guide is worth a re-read. He explains why choices are made and has very cheap recommendations for gear and a clear skill progression.

 

maxicek

Moderator
Dec 24, 2019
813
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Reply and add your name if you want to contribute. Don't worry if there is more than one person per section, we can work that out later.


Beginners Guide to D2

SectionContent OutlineAuthor
General Introduction- Why D2 is different to other ARPGs (including D3)
- BNet vs Single Player
@Vang
The Character Screen- Stats
- Life
- Mana
- Resists
- Damage and Attack Rating
- Blocking / not blocking
- Defense
Extended Stats(Not shown currently but available in D2R)
- FHR / FCR etc
- Leech
- Crushing Blow / Deadly Strike / Open Wounds
- MF / GF
Skills- Why to save points
- Links to starter build guides
Quests & Playing the Game- What is important
- What can be skipped if required
- Dealing with Immunities
- Tips for completing quests
Mercenaries- Which ones to hire
- How to equip them
What to do after completing the game- Farming for items
- Next step builds
Other stuff not decided where to go yet- What to do if you get stuck
- Notes for console users

Linking to the starter build guides:

ClassBuild[DifficultyAuthor
AmazonFishyzon / Gunslinger / ?Medium@PhineasB
@Drixx
AssassinTrapper, starting out fire and respect to FB / LightningMedium
BarbarianWhirlwind / Hybrid / NF BerserkerHard@PhineasB
@Drixx
DruidElemental, start out Fire and respect to WindMedium@art_vandelay
NecromancerFishymancerEasy@PhineasB
@Drixx
PaladinZealot & respect to HammerdinMedium
SorceressMeteorbEasy
 

maxicek

Moderator
Dec 24, 2019
813
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The main guide I think is best broken down by writing each section individually, at least in the first instance. When we have authors agreed, @Rush will set everyone up with access and we can all write it directly into the site.

I'm going to leave it to those who volunteer to write to decide exactly what build they choose. I'm assuming authors will consider the guidance in this thread, but ultimately if you feel your starter build is the best volunteer to write it :)
 

art_vandelay

Well-known member
Mar 16, 2020
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Added myself to the extended stats section. I bet we can't just link to the basin wiki for those :p

I started that Druid for the guide and I have to say I get what some of you are saying about "not being new to the game" anymore. I finished act 4 at level 24 which is waaaay to low for a new player. Does anyone have good ballpark estimates for what a p1 full clear gets you?

I also thought about adding in something about the players command because otherwise new players will be underleveled for Hell, at least in my opinion.

Fire Druid is interesting because I would opt to play without summons and possibly even merc so it is easier to drag monsters over Fissures but a new player will be overwhelmed by that and needs the summons to be safe.

***

Beginners Guide to D2

SectionContent OutlineAuthor
General Introduction- Why D2 is different to other ARPGs (including D3)
- BNet vs Single Player
@Vang
The Character Screen- Stats
- Life
- Mana
- Resists
- Damage and Attack Rating
- Blocking / not blocking
- Defense
Extended Stats(Not shown currently but available in D2R)
- FHR / FCR etc
- Leech
- Crushing Blow / Deadly Strike / Open Wounds
- MF / GF
@art_vandelay
Skills- Why to save points
- Links to starter build guides
Quests & Playing the Game- What is important
- What can be skipped if required
- Dealing with Immunities
- Tips for completing quests
Mercenaries- Which ones to hire
- How to equip them
What to do after completing the game- Farming for items
- Next step builds
Other stuff not decided where to go yet- What to do if you get stuck
- Notes for console users

Linking to the starter build guides:

ClassBuild[DifficultyAuthor
AmazonFishyzon / Gunslinger / ?Medium@PhineasB
@Drixx
AssassinTrapper, starting out fire and respect to FB / LightningMedium
BarbarianWhirlwind / Hybrid / NF BerserkerHard@PhineasB
@Drixx
DruidElemental, start out Fire and respect to WindMedium@art_vandelay
NecromancerFishymancerEasy@PhineasB
@Drixx
PaladinZealot & respect to HammerdinMedium
SorceressMeteorbEasy
 
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Mar 14, 2020
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I started that Druid for the guide and I have to say I get what some of you are saying about "not being new to the game" anymore. I finished act 4 at level 24 which is waaaay to low for a new player. Does anyone have good ballpark estimates for what a p1 full clear gets you?
Here's a table from my Ability Scroll Sept:
N1N2N3N4N5NM1
17​
23​
26​
28​
37​
44​
16​
23​
26​
28​
36​
16​
23​
26​
27​
36​
44​
17​
24​
27​
28​
36​
44​
16​
24​
26​
28​
36​
16​
23​
26​
28​
36 (37)
16​
24​
26​
28​
36​
44​

This was single pass full clears on p1 for 7 characters. The 36 (37) in Act Normal was before/after cows.
 

JoeBruce

New member
Jun 18, 2020
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I didn't read the entire (i.e. most of) the thread, but if we want a true guide for someone's first time playing this game, then read below.

Attack anything that moves until it doesn't.
Pick up and save everything you find. EVERYTHING.
Put one point in every skill.
Enjoy.
 
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I didn't read the entire (i.e. most of) the thread, but if we want a true guide for someone's first time playing this game, then read below.

Attack anything that moves until it doesn't.
Pick up and save everything you find. EVERYTHING.
Put one point in every skill.
Enjoy.
Ah, you're wrong, you're missing 15 points in thorns and none into combat skills or vitality.
 
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gedda-d-e

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Oct 31, 2020
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This is a great initiative.

Not adding myself to the list yet due to real life :)rolleyes:) but if you cannot find anyone to write the Pala section, let me know.

Also, I honestly think an Avenger should be on there. If these build guides are about beating Hell as much as educating in different styles of builds, it is a fairly straight forward build that will get you a pat, is very easy to play (twack twack twack) can be made great with some decent gear.

/g
 

Swamigoon

Well-known member
Apr 18, 2020
300
840
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I'd like to draft something for "Quests & Playing the Game."

Beginners Guide to D2

SectionContent OutlineAuthor
General Introduction- Why D2 is different to other ARPGs (including D3)
- BNet vs Single Player
@Vang
The Character Screen- Stats
- Life
- Mana
- Resists
- Damage and Attack Rating
- Blocking / not blocking
- Defense
Extended Stats(Not shown currently but available in D2R)
- FHR / FCR etc
- Leech
- Crushing Blow / Deadly Strike / Open Wounds
- MF / GF
@art_vandelay
Skills- Why to save points
- Links to starter build guides
Quests & Playing the Game- What is important
- What can be skipped if required
- Dealing with immunities
- Tips for completing quests
@Swamigoon
Mercenaries- Which ones to hire
- How to equip them
What to do after completing the game- Farming for items
- Next step builds
Other stuff not decided where to go yet- What to do if you get stuck
- Notes for console users

Linking to the starter build guides:

ClassBuild[DifficultyAuthor
AmazonFishyzon / Gunslinger / ?Medium@PhineasB
@Drixx
AssassinTrapper, starting out fire and respect to FB / LightningMedium
BarbarianWhirlwind / Hybrid / NF BerserkerHard@PhineasB
@Drixx
DruidElemental, start out Fire and respec to WindMedium@art_vandelay
NecromancerFishymancerEasy@PhineasB
@Drixx
PaladinZealot & respec to HammerdinMedium
SorceressMeteorbEasy
 

Gynli

Member
Mar 17, 2020
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Edit.

I cant commit to [writing a guide] cause real life work; but i can offer to try out a build once a guide is complete. :)
 
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Drixx

New member
Mar 21, 2021
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3
3
SectionContent OutlineAuthor
General Introduction- Why D2 is different to other ARPGs (including D3)
- BNet vs Single Player
@Vang
The Character Screen- Stats
- Life
- Mana
- Resists
- Damage and Attack Rating
- Blocking / not blocking
- Defense
Extended Stats(Not shown currently but available in D2R)
- FHR / FCR etc
- Leech
- Crushing Blow / Deadly Strike / Open Wounds
- MF / GF
Skills- Why to save points
- Links to starter build guides
Quests & Playing the Game- What is important
- What can be skipped if required
- Dealing with Immunities
- Tips for completing quests
Mercenaries- Which ones to hire
- How to equip them
@Drixx
What to do after completing the game- Farming for items
- Next step builds
@Drixx
Other stuff not decided where to go yet- What to do if you get stuck
- Notes for console users

Linking to the starter build guides:

ClassBuild[DifficultyAuthor
AmazonFishyzon / Gunslinger / ?Medium@PhineasB
@Drixx
AssassinTrapper, starting out fire and respect to FB / LightningMedium
BarbarianWhirlwind / Hybrid / NF BerserkerHard@PhineasB
DruidElemental, start out Fire and respect to WindMedium@art_vandelay
NecromancerFishymancerEasy@PhineasB
@Drixx
PaladinZealot & respect to HammerdinMedium@Drixx
SorceressMeteorbEasy

I will do the prototype Merc guide and "what to do after completing" tonight. I'll break the latter into probably 4 parts I think, since generally it comes down to "Hell Meph, Areas, Runes, Specific targeted finding (TC3, SoJ, etc...)" as the broad categories. I'll work on character guides after those. Probably a couple days per guide realistic to the amount of time free.
 

Drixx

New member
Mar 21, 2021
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3
Should we operate on the assumption that "Ladder Only" Runewords will be obtainable single player as they are now? That probably has a huge impact on how to do these guides for SP vs. Online play. Being able to make Insight completely trivializes the mana struggle for Sorcs in the midgame and without it there would definitely be some different suggestions on how to spend skills early and when to respec.

Also, I think I'll include a "Twinked" section on the guides for people who do some NM or Hell Meph farming and want to try other builds. Stuff that's not super obvious like the "hidden" set bonuses. Sigon's looks like trash until you realize all the extra stuff it gives as a set, for example.
 

Rush

Administrator
Staff member
Mar 12, 2020
474
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A heads-up I have added a new search filter system to the guides section and I am still working my way editing all historical guides for grammar, layout, typos etc :) See https://www.purediablo.com/strategy/ for the filter system on the right nav.
 
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Swamigoon

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Apr 18, 2020
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Attached is the beginning of a very rough draft for a "Quests & Playing the Game" guide. Suggestions and comments are very appreciated - reply to this thread if you like, or in a private message to me if you think it more appropriate.
 

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Nice @Swamigoon ! A few A1 notes:
- Den of Evil superunique = Corpsefire
- gorilla Treehead :LOL: = Treehead Woodfist
- Taome Highland - > Monastery Gate
- Alvls: Pits (7/39-40/85), (5, 38-39, 80-81)

* sorry, gotta get back to RFL.. 😓
 

art_vandelay

Well-known member
Mar 16, 2020
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@Swamigoon I like it but there are a few inaccuracies:
  • The area level is not used to determine monster level in normal, there monsters tend to not have the same level in the same area.
  • Superchests and sparkly chests are different, all the ones you listed are sparkly chests. See the super chest thread in my signature for locations on both.
  • Cain charges 100 per item if not saved instead of 100 total.
  • Barracks has neither super nor sparkly chests.
  • Pitspawn is in level 2 of the Jail.
  • For Andariel to be bugged it suffices to take any WP home and talk to Warriv in the same game.
  • Items with -% to Enemy X Resist don't break immunities, they work like Cold Mastery.
It's great that there's also a "how to skip" section in there, for all the impatient players :D
 

Swamigoon

Well-known member
Apr 18, 2020
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Fantastic feedback so far; thanks! Much of the draft consists of placeholders, to go back and fix later. I've never submitted a guide here before, so I'm drafting using an HTML composer. Are our forum guides here formatted using the same BBcode that we use in forum posts?

@D2DC , Much of the draft consists of placeholders. I haven't even named the quests correctly yet! Thanks for helping me correct those placeholders more quickly. I'm in the RFL too, so that first draft was pretty swiftly written and very incomplete.

@art_vandelay , excellent corrections; are you willing to review future drafts too? That would be generous. I was using information I found in a couple of wiki sites, https://diablo2.diablowiki.net/Area_Level and https://www.theamazonbasin.com/wiki/index.php?title=Act_Summaries . So far, to me it looks like area and regular monster levels track reasonably closely, even in normal difficulty, but I'll study these some more. I'd like to include a link to your chest guide in my guide.

Everyone: I feel that, if our guides have links that invite site visitors to sample high-quality forum material, they're more likely to lurk, register, join, and participate with us. Would it be better to just link to art_vandelay's chest guide and be done, rather than bloat my guide by enumerating special chests by areas? Or do you think our expected visitors would prefer having this information included among quests and areas in this guide?
 
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