Warstrategies for a necromancer


New member
Jan 11, 2007
Warstrategies for a necromancer

[Edition 1.0]

[1] Introduction [1]

This small miniature guide is dedicated to those who are interested in learning or contributing from and to the information written in this thread. By no means do I declare myself the lich king, lord of the undead, the magnificent mojomancer, the Legacy of Fishy or anything of the sort. Everyone is free to add their little ideas here. If useful, I will add them to this thread. This thread is not a guide on how to create a certain necromancer. It is not a guide on MF. In fact, it's not a guide for character building AT ALL. This guide is meant to give out strategic tips using minions, curses, and everything else at your disposal, though necromancers interested in using curses and/or minions will find the most useful tips here. This is because I am more experienced with curses and summons, and not so much with poison and melee.

[2]Strategy: Key to victory: Distance yourself from them & basic tips [2]

This little thingamajig is written with the idea that whoever reads it has a basic idea of the workings of a necromancer. However, just to be on the safe side, I will quickly explain why certain actions will be the difference between survival and death.

--First of all, the simplest way to survive is not to run into huge packs of monsters. The necromancer is simply not made to withstand large pig-like creatures running up to him, transforming him into their own personal voodoo-doll. Always remain at safe distance. If that’s not possible, run like the devil himself is after you. Considering the game’s content, that’s not unlikely to happen! Now… if running isn’t an option, remember that age old saying;â€Better the guy next to me than me!â€. In other words, get a mercenary, or a minion. Anything that DOES mindlessly run into a horde of angry monsters.

--Second, more often than not you will die from ranged attacks. Arrows, javelins, lightning enchanted monsters, frost nova corpse explosions.. So it is once again important to position yourself towards an area away from the monsters, but while still being able to see what’s going on with minions or your mercenary. Remember, controlling your surroundings is what makes you different from monsters. Think like a Ninja!

--Third, turn monsters against each other. Confuse and attract are 1-point beauties of spells. While it doesn’t grant you 100% security from mobs, casting a simple clay golem, followed by whatever attacks him first results in every monster standing near it to attack him. Ranger attackers will attack the nearest target, so if that happens to be a monster that is Attract-cursed.. Keep in mind though, Attract/Confused cursed monsters temporarely become your Non-controlled minions, resulting in more monsters charging at them. While this is a powerful weapon in your arsenal, it can be an incredibly dangerous weapon. 20-30 monsters on a screen with confuse suddenly wearing off is NOT something you want happening on you unexpected. It’s good for controlling large crowds though.

--Fourth, opening a TP every few minutes won’t hurt you. You never know when you run into a might-enchanted pack of undead archers. Lord knows I had that happen several times. If they manage to kill you by surprise, at least you don’t have to walk a lot to get your corpse back. (For HC players, naturally this is irrelevant)

--Keep the amount of shortcut skills at an absolute minimum. Example, for my summoner I use F2 Amplify Dmg, F3 Corpse explode, F4 Attract, and F5 Summon Skeleton. This way, skills I need directly are always at hand, while other, less important skills such as Golems or Mages can just be selected from the menu. I also personally prefer to keep “Book of Town Portal†to F1 at all times, should I need a fast exit. So again, keep this at a minimum for the skills you will rely on most.

[3]The Necro’s strategic strengths.[3]

Now, if you understand a little how the basics work of gameplay and distance, which counts for most of the characters who can summon a minion (druid, amazon) or can confuse (assassin), let’s get on with some advanced tips. The main killing skills of the necromancer (without getting into certain challenging builds) are: Skeletons, Corpse Explosion, Bone Spear/Spirit. Then there is the additional force of the Mercenary. Golems, sadly, have no real killing power in 1.10 and beyond. They serve strictly as strategic tools in my eyes.

Now, the killing tools of the necromancer are mentioned already. But the question is; how do we kill efficiently, without being in much danger ourselves? The answer is simply; use decoys and curses.

The potential “decoys†in this game are easy to sum up; Mercenaries, Necrotic Warriors, Necromages, and Golems.

Clay Golem (or Gumby as he is fondly called) is by far, the biggest “Wall†minion you can get your hands on. The damage it deals is a joke, but a single point in golem and golem mastery, along with a decent amount of + to skills allows the Clay golem to have HP in several thousands in Nightmare and Hell mode. Added to that, the Clay Golem has an innate physical resistance ability of 25%, boosting his survivability of an onslaught. The Clay Golem also covers his enemies in mud and clay, effectively slowing them down. More on Clay Golem later.

Fire Golem, AKA sparky. Personally I do not prefer to use Sparky. Fire golems seem to be exceptionally weak against poison damage (even regular monster poison hurts him severely). On top of that, the mana cost it takes is plain ridiculous. Even a completely maxed out Fire Golem with maxed synenergies deals damage so weak he wouldn’t be able to get very far past act 1. However, Fire Golem has a very important attribute to him, which serves a specific (albeit unintentional) purpose. Specifically in Hardcore mode, this comes in handy; the Holy Fire Aura. This aura deals a miniscule amount of damage to enemies in his direct vicinity. However, this means all monsters damaged by it will target the golem, mostly ignoring everything and everyone else.

Necrotic Warriors are the preferred summons for most Necromancers. They deal a modest amount of damage, but they come in numbers. With some Summon Resist they can easily end up having an innate +40-50 allresistance, which enables them to take a good beating from the likes of Diablo, Baal, and Mephisto. Sadly, they are not very intelligent, with their brains rotting away long ago, and they will rush off to the nearest monster they see. The benefit is that they attack monsters before the monsters run towards you. The disadvantage is that they often run off on their own to fight, and they don’t stay near you if they see an enemy, leaving you open for attack. Good decoys and decent wallers, with a hefty punch.

Necromages are the Skeletal mages, and have been subject of many discussions. Some say their damage is weak. Others say that, with lower resist and a conviction aura, they deal tremendous damage. I won’t say they are useless, even without LR or Conviction. Necromages deal various forms of elemental damage; poison, lightning, fire, cold. They can slow down monsters this way, and prevent heal. But their strategic use here, is that they provide extra targets for monsters, lowering the chance of you being attacked. Since Mages are not melee, they don’t rush off as fast as their warrior kin do. They tend to stick closer to you, providing you with extra defense. Anything coming past your warriors and Golems, will most likely target your mages. However, Mages lack the high amount of HP that the other minions possess, so you will not be able to rely on them for a very long time. They also have (significantly) lower HP than your Necrotic Warriors.

Mercenaries: Yessirree. Mercenaries provide that extra piece of human flesh those pesky carvers would LOVE to chow down on. They provide an extra target, keeping you a little safer. Though Mercenaries, regardless of class (amazon, paladin, mage, or barbarian) will wander off at the most annoying times. Sometimes drawing the horde of monsters you wished you had avoided. But even so, the mercenary provides for good defense and offense. If you can spare the dough, invest in some mercenary equipment. You won’t regret. (more on mercs later).

Now, the important thing to realize is, that curses only require a single point in order to be effective. Unless you’re a Mojomancer (curse specialized necromancer), you only need a point in the following curses; Amplify, Dim Vision, Decripify, Attract, Confuse (with a mandatory point in Weaken, which is a curse we won’t need ever). Optional curses may be Iron Maiden, Life Tap, and Lower Resist, though those should only be used if your mercenary has no Life Leech, or you specialize in Mages, and not Warriors.

Let’s explain the use of those curses here.

Amplify damage Simply takes away 100% of the enemy’s defense. This allows for faster killing. However, some (very rare) unique monsters have above 100% physical defense, and are immune to physical damage no matter if you curse them with this spell. Most of the times these will be monsters that already had that extra physical resistance (ghosts).

Dim Vision Lowers the sight of enemies. They have more difficulty actually spotting you. Dim Vision doesn’t require much investing if your setup gives a decent amount of + to skills. This skill is excellent to cast ahead of you in dungeons, as it completely blinds any and all monsters (except unique and champs). Gloams and tomb vipers will simply stand still and do nothing until they are attacked at melee-close range, while it prevents Shamans, Ancient Ones (aka Revivers) from reviving fallen underlings. A most excellent and often underrated skill.

Decripify is the curse of Baal’s preference, and without doubt also the most powerful boss-curse. It slows down an enemy by 50%, Weakens the enemy by 50%, and lowers defenses by 50%. Unlike Amplify Dmg and Weaken though, this spell has a much shorter duration and a much smaller radius. More on this spell later.

Attract and Confuse are my personal favorites on the curse area, since they are the mob controllers. Trouble is, these curses require some timing. They are like a double-edged sword; on the one hand they have monsters attacking each other. On the other hand… they attract attention from monsters around the initial pack, far and wide. This can be a problem if an aura-enchanted monster comes running and you suddenly realized you’re surrounded by a rough 20 fanatic-aura-enchanted monsters. More on Attract and Confuse and their secrets later.

(note: Attract in general lasts longer than Confuse. Confuse works on a large group, attract only on an individual monster. Attract can not be overridden by any curse, while confuse can.)

[4]The Necro’s Killing strengths, and Mercenaries.[4]

A necromancer on his own, is sadly not able to kill much by himself. He lacks the pure strength. While some rare kinds of necromancers have physically trained themselves to fight in hand to hand combat, most other necromancers have to rely on several killing techniques, and minions. The minions we discussed before.

Corpse explosion only needs one word to truly define it; KABOOM. This skill pumps a corpse full of death energy and explodes it. About 50%-100% of the corpse’s original Hit Points define it’s power (half is fire dmg, half is physical dmg). The more points in this skill, the wider the radius. This skill has the honor of potentially being the strongest spell in the game. Even with only 1 point in it, this skill can reach a very high Radius with enough + to skills to boost. If maxed to lv20 AND with + to skills, this little sucker can end up blasting the entire screen at an easy 10/12-yard radius. The damage dealt is 50% Fire damage, and 50% Physical damage. In conjunction with Lower resist or Amplify damage this spell is the purest form of screenclearing-murder. The downside of this spell is… you need a corpse beforehand.

(writer’s note: this skill does NOT work on monsters that were killed by someone affected by “Rest in peace†status. In other words; don’t use a Nature’s Peace ring).

Bone Spear/Spirit is the necromancer’s special element; Pure Magic. Only Ancient Ones in Hellmode and their kin are immune to this, making it the least-resisted element ingame. While it will never deal as much damage as say, the sorceresses’ thunder or fire damage, hardly any monster has an innate resistance to this. Bone Spear passes through monsters, making it a good horde-weakening spell, and Spirit targets any monster close to your cursor. On low to mid levels, Bone Spirit is the better damage dealer, while a maxed out Bonemancer with a lot of + to skills might find that Spear and Spirit deal almost equal damage, or Spear even exceeds Spirit. Even a pure summoner/fishymancer with a good deal of +skill will find Bone Spirit/Spear to be a great backup to weaken monsters while their minions are walling them.

Poison Dagger/Explosion/Nova deal poison damage per second. While Poison Dagger and Poison Explosion seem to deal long-term poison, the damage per second is quite low compared to Poison Nova, which casts a screen-covering ring of poison clouds that can deal thousands of points of poison damage in a mere 1-2 seconds. A great way to prevent a monster/boss from healing, or massively weaken large crowds of monsters. Combine this with specific equipment that boosts poison damage for even larger crowd control!

Mercenaries are the other white meat in the game. They are what you want them to be; cannonfodder, sacrifices, killing machines.. but the big question is: Which mercenary suits me best? To answer that question, ask yourself this: “Which type of necromancer am I?â€

1 – Do I fight from a distance?
2 – Do I let minions fight for me, and do I use mostly curses to assist?
3 – Do I use meatshields?
4 – Would I prefer a merc to keep monsters at bay?

If the answer was “yes†on three or more questions, you would be best suited for an Act 2 or Act 5 merc, since those are close-combat experts. If you would prefer to keep a mercenary to attack from a distance, you may want to consider an Act 1 rogue merc, or possibly an act 3 battlemage merc.

Act 1,3,5 mercs are pretty straightforward. They simply attack and attack and have not many special attributes that are specifically noteworthy (no secondairy attacks that are worth noting that is). A1 mercs attack with bows, and can deal great deals of various forms of damage based on their equipment. A3 mercs can deal lightning, fire, or cold damage, and use no melee attacks, and A5 mercs are walking Conans, who deal exceptional physical damage, have great life stats, and even greater resists. They can also use barbarian helmets. However, runewords aside, they grant you very little strategic difference in your choices. Cold Arrow/Fire arrow mercs don’t differ much, element aside, and the same goes for the A3 mercs. A5 mercs strangely, are all the same (you would expect sword masters, axe masters, hammer masters?).

Act 2 mercs however, are a different story. There are no less than SIX different mercenary types of Act 2 you can buy, each using a different Aura. The following A2 mercs can be bought:

Normal Mode (combat) – Prayer aura. Prayer slowly regenerates the life of you and him, plus any allies and minions around. Having this mercenary use an “Insight†Runeword (Ral Tir Tal Sol) grants him a meditation Aura, which in turn nearly doubles the effect of the innate Prayer aura.

Normal Mode (Defense) – Defiance aura. Grants you, your minions, and your mercenary increased defense.

Normal mode (offense) – Blessed aim aura. Greatly increases the AR of yourself and your minions (your mercs never seems to miss anyway)

Nightmare mode (combat) – Thorns aura. Thorns works as an innate form of Iron Maiden, and it returns any damage dealt to you, your merc, and your minions several times back to any melee attacker.

Nightmare mode (defense) – Holy Freeze aura. It freezes the unfreezable. Everything around you receives a movement penalty, as well as minor cold damage. Frozen monsters might shatter upon destruction, and might work against CE casters or Summoners at some points.

Nightmare Mode (offense) – Might aura. Greatly increases the damage dealt by yourself, your minions, and your mercenary (physical damage only).

Clearly, if you decide on an Act 2 mercenary, you will have to pick a type that suits you best. If you are the type that prefers to deal damage first, and heal/resummon later, then you might wish to go for Normal Offense (Blessed Aim), Nightmare Defense (holy freeze), Nightmare Combat (thorns) or Nightmare Offense (Might).

If you are the type that prefers to keep minions/mercenary/self alive as long as possible without having to constantly resummon/heal, you’ll have to consider Normal Combat (prayer), Normal Defense (defiance), and Nightmare Defense (Holy freeze).

And if you’re just the type that adapts to every situation, or just want your merc/minions to massively weaken groups of enemies before destroying them yourself (with spells, Poison, or CE), you will love the Normal Offense (Blessed aim), Nightmare Combat (thorns), Nightmare Offense (Might) mercs.

*authors tip: if you are new to the necromancer, or Diablo 2 in general, just mess around with each type of mercenary. It might take a long time before finding the proper merc. Some swear upon the holy freeze merc while using a poisonmancer, while some others might go for a A1 rogue merc and summons. It’s entirely up to yourself.

[4]Deadly and/or useful attack combo’s[4]

The necromancer is one of the most versatile characters in the game. Having skills that are offensive, defensive, or assisting of nature, he is an addition to any group. A necromancer player with some strategic insight however, can give the Prime Evils a run for their money by using vicious combinations of curses, attacks, or minions. Here are a few personal favorites to use

Amplify Damage + Corpse Explosion is basically the first combination almost every necromancer will use. With only a few +skills to amplify damage and CE, you can clear entire rooms. A maxed CE with a lot of + to skills is able to damage the entire screen in a single blow.

Amplify Damage + Corpse explosion + Conviction (runeword addition) is an even more deadly combination. With a lowered resistance to physical damage AND fire damage, there is nothing that can survive for long when there’s corpses around

Lower Resist + Corpse explosion, where lower resist replaces amplify damage. This is slightly less effective than amplify damage, since Amplify removes 100% of an opponent’s physical resistance, and lower resist will never remove 100% fire resistance. However, this combination is still quite deadly

Dim Vision + attract is a personal favorite. Dim Vision removes a lot of an enemy’s sight, while attract still allows for a monster to be targeted by anything near himself. This is great for large hoards that you need to keep occupied, while you, or your merc, or you minions slaughter them slowly.

Confusion, confusion, confusion, Dim Vision + Attract + Amplify damage + CE. Sounds confusing doesn’t it? Well imagine how your opponents will feel! Confusing a pack of monsters attracts more monsters that instantly attack the confused pack (when no fire golem is present). Confuse that pack as well, and anything around it will be drawn into it as well. Dim Vision instantly overrules confusion, blinding all enemies, and a simple attract in the middle (once or twice) will focus nearly every monster on the attracted monster. Then you only need to create a single corpse by use of poison, summons, or your merc, and the amplify damage/CE combination will instantly finish them. This is a great technique for the hidden Cow Level where zounds of cowhordes are wandering about, but be wary not to kill the Cow King by accident. This strategy is a very good way to collect groups of monsters and prevent them from spreading out (which is very bad, especially for summoners who will see their minions running in every direction, leaving you vulnerable for attacks)

Iron Maiden + Thorns is also a decent way to deal damage, though I personally do not prefer it. A maxed out Iron Maiden with a highlevel Thorns merc will allow for an obscene 1600%+ damage returned on anything that physically strikes you.

Thorns + Lifetap is a little tweak on the above combo. You, your merc, and any minions are granted life for any damage you deal, while your opponents will take heavy damage from their own attacks as well as your team.

Last updated on Wednesday November 25th, may update if people enjoy adding/reading this thread.
Re: Warstrategies for a necromancer

Re-assign the skill hotkeys from the F* keys to the letter keys on the left side of the keyboard. With this setup, your potion and skill hotkeys are all easily accessible and do not require much hand movement to press them. Then use those hotkeys until skill selection and activation become automatic and second nature. Do not give up on it!

Being able to activate a particular skill or a potion within a split second after deciding to activate it is vital for necromancer players.
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Re: Warstrategies for a necromancer

Things that are missing IMO are Teleport for summoners (even if it's just from charges) and Decrep on Bosses.

Also I don't see any reason to just use five hotkeys.

To me the guide also makes it seem a lot more complicated than it really is.
Re: Warstrategies for a necromancer

Well, thats why I posted it, so other people can help improve it. Keep in mind though, that I based a lot of the suggestions on my own experiences. For example, about the skills/potion hotkeys, it's not useful for myself to switch those keys. My hand is -always- on the F keys, so taking a potion or switching skills is exceptionally convenient for myself this way. As for the "keeping it to five", my reason for this is that I have trouble selecting more than just those five keys from the hotkeys, and this works better for myself. When (or if) there are more replies I'll edit this all in.

And I know this guide looks more complicated and probably very disorganised/hectic, my apologies for that. I have some kind of problem with keeping a straight line in my works. If someone feels they could properly organise it, by all means go ahead. I made this specifically so that new members can learn about the necromancer's strengths and nothing else :).

*slams head*

I noticed I forgot to include the awesome "use the opponent's auras against them" tactic too... I hang my head in shame :(. Don't feel like updating it now, but it will happen in the future :)
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