Diablo 2 Guide: The 200% Fast-Cast Charged Boltress Sorceress

1. Introduction
My name is Crazy Runner Guy, CRG for short, and I have been playing D2 since 1999. I originally played on Bnet, and now I play SP exclusively.

I would like thank Lira Lindriel for writing her Charged Boltress guide, as many of my ideas to create the build came from that guide. Her guide is more tailored for an all-around, gear-flexible sorc. In her guide, Lira wrote the following on fast cast:

(200% would mean giving up lots of other things like +skills which means a lower final damage. I’d not advise on it)

This quote inspired me to go for that 200% breakpoint. Thus the goal of Spasm, my Charged Boltress, was to attain the maximum lightning damage possible while maintaining 200% FC.

Please note that this guide was originally written for SP play, and other gear configurations exist depending on where you play. However, since the proposed gear is the only possible combination of equipment (for SP play) that achieves 200% fast cast, I have chosen to focus only on the gear my character, Spasm, used and wore.

2. Abbreviations:
STR-Strength
DEX-Dexterity
VITA-Vitality
NRG-Energy
FC-Fast Cast
FCR-Fast Cast Rate
FHR-Fast Hit Recovery
CB-Charged Boltress
LI-Lightning Immune
LM-Lightning Mastery
TS-Thunderstorm
FO-Frozen Orb
CM-Cold Mastery
ELR-Enemy Lightning Resistance
LSD-Lightning skill damage
Tele-Teleport
PLoD-Pink Lightning of Death
SP-Single Player
PDR-Physical Damage Reduction
HP-Hit Points

3. Stats
The great part about the build is that you need only 58 STR and 75 DEX. Besides those two requirements, everything else will go into Vita.

STR: 58
This is the requirement for Trang-Oul’s Claws and Lidless Wall.

DEX: 75
Our weapon, the Wizardspike, requires 75 dex to pick up.

VITA: Everything else
Why everything else? First, we don’t need energy, as we’ll get mana from other sources, and second, Lidless, our only possible shield, has such horrible blocking that maxing block would cost us too many stat points.

NRG: Base
We’ll get mana from other sources. Keep this at base.

4. Items
As I said earlier, in SP there is only one item configuration for the 200% FCCB:

Wizardspike
50% FC, 75% res all, +15% max mana, in addition to +mana/lvl. This is one amazing dagger. Socket this, like the rest of your gear, with a Lightning Facet. Wizspike has a clvl requirement of 61.

Skin of the Vipermagi
Up to 35% res all, 30% FC and +1 skills. This is probably the most used caster armor in the game, and we shall perpetuate that statement. Socket with a Lightning Facet. Skin has a clvl requirement of 29. Some guides recommend upgrading the Skin to Wrymhide. This is all fine and dandy, but it bumps up your maximum STR requirement to 84, which leaves less in life. Not worth it.

Lidless Wall
No resistances here, but 20% FC, +1 skills and more mana (+10% max and +10 NRG) make this our choice of shield. Socket with a Lightning Facet. Lidless has a clvl requirement of 41. Again, do not upgrade this shield, its STR requirement will jump to 106. More STR equals less life.

Griffon’s Eye
Straight up, this is the BEST helm for any primary lightning sorceress. Although it lacks +2 skills, stats and life/mana that the Harlequin Crest has, it makes up for it by giving us +1 skills and 25% fast cast. The real kicker is the -15-20% Enemy Lightning Resistance and +10-15% Lightning skill damage. Nothing even comes close. Socket with a Lightning Rainbow Facet for a possible -25% ELR and +20% LSD. And besides, Harlequins are ugly. Griffon’s Eye comes into play at clvl 76.

Arachnid Mesh
Weighing in at clvl 80, this may be your highest clvl required item, but don’t let that deter you from leveling up solely for this belt. Just great stats here, with +1 skills and 20% FC. The +5% mana is just gravy.

Trang-Oul’s Claws
Not typically a sorceress glove, as normally Magefist or Frostburns win here, but we are going to need the +30% cold res, and the 20% FC suits our cause nicely. Bonus points here for having the same STR requirement as Lidless Wall.

Jewelry:
These three slots are going to be your hardest to obtain (Except maybe for a good Griffon’s), but be patient and you’ll get them. Eventually.

Both Ring slots:
Bahamut’s Ring of the Apprentice
Unfortunately, SoJ’s don’t fit into our item scheme, as they lack FC, so here’s the next best thing with FC. +91-120 mana comes from Bahamut’s, and the apprentice gives up 10% FC per ring. Personally, I own a perfect BRoA, and I love it. Gambling is the best way to attain these beauties, and you could potentially pick up a rare with Bahamut’s little brother, Great Wyrm’s, which grants 61-90 mana, along with other goodies. Bahamut’s is not available on rares.

Amulet:
Crafted Caster ammy with AT LEAST 15% FC on it.
Now you must trust your luck with your Cube. The mod you are looking for to roll is “Of the Apprentice,†which, like on rings, grants 10% FCR. Luckily for us, Caster amulets have a preset 5-10% FC, so if you roll “of the Apprentice,†you’re going to get at least 15%. Preferably, you would roll an Archangel’s (+2 sorceress skills) or Charged (+2 light skills) Prismatic (+16-20% res all) Amulet of the Apprentice. That would be just amazing. I use one with +101 mana, +16% FC and 14% res all.

With crafting, +sorc skill and +light skills (all char and all tree) were grouped into one category, making it impossible to roll both on a single craft.

Note that it is possible to get a perfect roll and get 20% FCR, for a total of 205%. There is no breakpoint above 200, so any extra (all 1-5% of it) is unnecessary.

The recipe for caster Amulets is Ral + Perfect Amethyst + Jewel + Magic Ammy. Use amulets gambled by your highest clvl character, and craft with that same character.

Read more about crafting at the Arreat Summit’s Crafted Item Page

Boots:
Here, you finally have some freedom with your gear choice, as there are no boots that give fast cast. Thus you are looking for some rare boots, to make up for whatever you are missing, i.e. Lightning and Fire resistance (Cold was taken care of by Trang-Oul’s Claws). Again, gambling is your best friend. Perfect boots would 40% Fire and Light Res, along with 10% FHR and some MF. Anything really beyond that is gravy, as this character is not designed for MF, and FR/W is unnecessary, because you will teleport everywhere.

With our STR, we can gamble and use every type of normal boot except Greaves (STR 70), so have fun pray you don’t roll a nice pair of Mirrored Boots.

In order of preference look for: Lightning resistance, fire resistance, FHR, MF, FR/W, Stats and so on down the line.

Item Socketing:
As stated, we are going for the maximum possible CB damage while still reaching 200% FC, and thus lightning Rainbow facets allow for that maximum damage. Socket your Wizspike, Vipmagi, Griffon’s and Lidless with them, which, with Griffon’s Eye, could bring our total negative enemy lightning resistance to -40% while adding 35% to our lightning skills damage. Bonus points for level-up and death affects.

Inventory:

6x Sparking Grand Charms
Here’s a free +6 lightning skills, something our build is slightly short on. Preferably, these charms have “of Balance†(FHR) as a suffix. These charms are usable at clvl 42 or higher, depending on their suffix.

I cannot stress the importance of FHR enough. The more you have, the better off you will be. The goal we are shooting for is 8 frames, which is 60%, or 5 Sparking GC’s of Balance. You can also get FHR from boots (10% max), so that lowers our burden. SC’s of Balance also grant 5% FHR.

Fast Hit Recovery Breakpoints

Code:
Frames		FHR Required
15		0
14		5
13		9
12		14
11		20
10		30
9		42
8		60
7		86
6		142
5		280

The best way to get Sparking grand charms, other than trading, is by running the Kurast levels in Act 3 NM, and then cubing the Grand Charms you find there using three perfect gems. You’ll eventually roll a Sparking GC, or at least a skiller you can trade straight up for a Sparker.

If you are not like me and don’t carry around a Tome of TP and Identity, along with a cube, leaving 8 squares open, use more of these, up to 8 (then you can hardly pick up anything), or seven with the two tombs.

Underneath each GC, you should have a SC of vita, or a +single resistance charm (11% is max on these), of “Of Balanceâ€. In other words, use these six to eight slots to round out your character and fill in any holes you have.

5. Mercenary
Your best friend will be an Act 2 NM defensive merc (Holy Freeze). This will slow everything down even more than your FO will, and make things easier to kill with CB.

Things to look for on merc gear, in order of priority:
Life leech (Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest is my favorite)
Crushing Blow (Guillaume’s Face or Hone Sundan)
IAS (Shaels/IAS Jewels)
CBF (Duriel’s Shell)

I also enjoy the chance to cast Decrepify on Reaper’s Toll. Ideally, a Hone Sundan, (2x Amn, Shael), Guillaume’s Face and Duriel’s Shell make their way onto my mercs, especially this one.

If you are into Baal running, a Kelpie Snare is amazing against Baal, with 75% slow target. I have seen gear configurations also with Ethereal Guardian Angels and Kira’s Guardians.

Remember, slowing monsters down is essential, and when you combine Slow Target, Holy Freeze, Decrepify and Cold Duration (from FO), monsters move at a crawl.

Why not a Defiance Merc?
This one is a personal preference, and I have never been satisfied with capitalizing on defense, unless you REALLY want to. If you do, go build a smiter pally with Exile or an Iron barb. Anything else just can’t capitalize on defense.

Defense, like AR, has huge diminishing returns, and unless you can pump it to huge levels (15k+), it’s just not worth it. Holy freeze is simply better for its slowing ability. And besides, you need the crowd control.

Leveling Gear
As listed below in the Leveling and Gear Guide section, lots of secondary gear is suggested. Here’s a quick list of the gear (what I used). For more detail see the Leveling and Gear Guide section.

In order of clvl required:
Low level unique melee weapon (Stoutnail is great)
Full Cathan’s Set
Magefist
Spectral Shard
SoJ(s)
Peasant Crown
String of Ears
The Occulus
Harlequin Crest

6. Skill Points

Lightning Tree (69 points)
20 Charged Bolt
20 Lightning
20 Lighting Mastery
1 Telekinesis
1 Teleport
1 Chain Lightning
1 Static
1 Nova
1 Thunderstorm

Cold Tree (26+)
20 Frozen Orb
1+ Cold Mastery
1 Blizzard
1 Glacial Spike
1 Ice Blast
1 Frost Nova
1 Ice Bolt

Fire Tree (1)
1 Warmth

Total Skill Points: 96
Build complete at clvl 85

Now for some explanation:

Charged Bolt
This is your primary killing and this gets maxed first. 24 bolts is nothing to shy away from, especially when you are casting at 168 of them in two seconds (7 casts in 49 frames). More on CB below, in the strategy section.

Lightning
Not only is this the only “true†synergy for CB, but is also works wonders in areas like the Maggot Lair and Arcane Sanctuary where enemies come in straight lines. This will be your primary killing skill until you get Blizzard at clvl 24. This is also useful against far off, dangerous enemies (succubi, for one)

Lightning Mastery
This skill will improve the damage of all of your lightning skills, and it gets maxed third, second in the lightning tree.

Static Field
Arguably the best sorceress skill, static takes away huge chunks of life from every non-LI and scales with players. Only one point here because of our massive +lightning skills.

Teleport
This is the be all and end all of transportation, especially considering how much FC you will have. Don’t want to kill anything in Act 1 besides the Den of Evil, the Smith, Countess and Andariel? You don’t have to, and Teleport makes that possible. This skill starts at 24 mana and goes down one points per skill lvl [24- (slvl-1)=mana cost]. See more on this skill in the strategy section, below.

Thunderstorm
A throwback of v1.09, this skill returns to the CB sorc because of our massive +lightning skills and our maxed mastery. One point wonder.

Frozen Orb
Hands down, the best secondary skill available to us. With this maxed at clvl 49, you can walk through all on NM, hardly pausing to use CB, if you want to do it that way. See more on this skill in the strategy section, below.

Why Frozen Orb?
First, FO has a huge range, by that I mean the entire screen. Because of the randomness of the shards emitted, nearly everything on the screen gets hit, often multiple times. FO also slows enemies, and is your number one boss killer. I am biased for it, but like a necromancer’s Corpse Explosion, it really is that damn good.

Cold Mastery
Another great skill, and more so because it reduces enemy resistances by a large percentage. This gets one point to start out with (as that’s really all you need), and then gets every point afterwards. It is important to stop investing in this skill once it hits slvl 17 (with +skills), as negative monster resistances are capped at -100 (although Rainbow Facets can go beyond this). Also, Cold Mastery does not break cold immunes. This skill can also be maxed, if you will be running areas with heavily (but not immune) cold-resistant monsters.

For detailed explanation on Cold Mastery and why slvl 17 is ideal for most purposes, read Sasja’s Met/Orb Guide

Blizzard
This will be your primary killing skill, along with Static Field, until you get Orb, upon which it will become obsolete. Don’t fret, because it is still a great skill, and it can kill anything in Norm, especially for the six levels we’ll use it for. One point here.

Other backup skill options
Although I have always been a fan of FO (I have only built one sorc without it, and that was a pure Blizzard sorc), you can use an alternate skill. Since skill points are tight outside the lightning tree, you should rely on a skill that has very few synergies (sans mastery). Looking around, this leaves Firewall. I have not tested this as I have not used the skill extensively (read: never). However, it does have excellent damage, and has only two prerequisites (as opposed to FO’s five. For more explanation on how to use Firewall, Lira does an excellent job. Lira’s Charged Boltress guide

If you choose to go this route, I suggest avoiding Thunderstorm, and then dropping all of your spare skill points into Fire Mastery. If that is your route, your skills will look like this:

Lightning Tree (63 points)
20 Charged Bolt
20 Lightning Mastery
20 Lightning
1 Static Field: 1
1 Telekeneisis:1
1 Teleport: 1

Fire Tree (23+ points)
20 Fire Wall
1+ Fire Mastery
1 Inferno
1 Blaze

Note that with this skill setup, there are only two pre-req’s not used in the final setup.

Why I chose FO is explained above.

Skill Placement Order:

Code:
1:		Charged Bolt
2: 		Warmth
3: 		Ice Bolt
4-5: 		Save
6, Den: 	Static Field, Frost Nova, Telekeniesis, Ice Blast
7-11: 		CB
12: 		Lightning
13-17: 		CB
18, Rada: 	Teleport, Glacial Spike
19-23: 		CB
24: 		Blizzard
25-27: 		CB
28-29: 		Save
30: 		Lightning Mastery, Cold Mastery, Frozen Orb
Izual:	 	LM, CB (CB Maxed)
31-49: 		Frozen Orb (FO Maxed)
50-63, Quests:	Lightning Mastery (LM Maxed)
64-79, Quests:	Lightning (Lightning Maxed)
80: 		Chain Lightning
81:		Nova
82: 		Thunderstorm
83+: 		Cold Mastery until slvl 17 (with +skills), then Thunderstorm

Now, it is not necessary to follow this exactly. I got T-Storm at clvl 24, and I regretted it until I hit 42 when I threw on my lightning skillers, but you can do it, if you want.

7. Leveling and Gear Guide:
First, low level sorceresses are horrible. They have very little power to do anything. To adjust for that, twink on to them a low level unique blunt weapon, like Stoutnail. This will carry you until clvl 11.

At clvl 11, mule over the entire Cathan’s set (yes, there IS a use for those damn rings). This will be your primary gear until clvl 29.

Once you hit clvl 29, you should have at least 51 in Dex, and thus you can remove the entire Cathan’s set. Place on your character a pair of SoJ’s, a Spectral Shard (Wizardspike’s little bro), a Peasant Crown, a String of Ears, a Rhyme Bone Shield (Shael + Eth) and a Skin of the Vipermagi, along with an Eye of Etlich and Mage Fist. You should now have +4 skills, plenty of res and 100% FC, close to the 105% breakpoint, so when you level up and another piece of FC gear is available, you’ll hit that breakpoint. Also, I put on a String of Ears here. Until you hit clvl 80, your belt really doesn’t matter.

At 37, equip only ONE of your Bahamut’s. You don’t need the other as, as you now have hit the 105% breakpoint and the skill and mana from the SoJ are superior to the mana from your other ring. With all this mana, you will get hit with the Blood/Mana curse from Baal and succubi. Don’t worry, just take off enough +mana to kill them. As your mana goes down, you will have to rely on FO more, which is not an issue.

At 42, you should have 58 STR, and here’s where the fun really begins. Grab all of your skillers, along with an Oculus and your Lidless Wall. Socket the Lidless or your Vipermagi with a lightning Rainbow Facet. This should put your CB damage through the roof.

At 45, swap your Magefists for Trang-Oul’s Claws.

Run Baal until clvl 50, then go to NM.

At 61 (Act 3 NM), swap the Occy for the a Wizspike

At 62, swap your ugly Peasant’s Crown for the evener uglier Harlequin Crest.

At 76, Griffon’s Eye will become your primary helm.

At 80, trade your belt, whatever it is, for Arachnid Mesh. Grab your other Bahamut’s Ring of the Apprentice and your FC ammy, and you’re at 200% FC! Enjoy!

Leveling Guide
The purpose of this is to illustrate how you can go through the game on /players8 (/p1-3 for hell in SP only), or in a party, as the relative levels apply to Bnet play, and about where you should be level wise. Note gear is not listed in this section, and that it is based off of how I played my sorceress.

During teleporting sessions, the most important monsters to kill are boss packs and champions. Since speed is one of our goals, normal creatures aren’t worth our time, and comparatively, especially in NM, when immunities are rare and static takes away 2/3 HP of everything, your mana is better spent, XP wise, on bosses and champions

6: Complete the Den of Evil
18: Complete Act 1 and kill Andariel
24-25: Complete Act 2 and kill Duriel
30ish: High Council, Mephisto tele through act 4 and kill Diablo
31-37: Run Eldritch and Shenk, then proceed through Act 5
42: Do full clears of the Crystalline Passage, Frozen River and Ancients Way. This should ready you for the Ancients. As stated above, you should hit this level before fighting the trio and Baal
50: Run Baal until 50, when XP begins to dries out
51: Tele through Act 1 NM, kill Andariel
53-55: Tele through Act 2 NM, kill Duriel
60: Tele through Act 3 NM, kill Council, Mephisto
61: Tele though Act 4, kill Diablo
62: Kill Shenk and company
62-76: Kill the Ancients, Baal and his minions
76-80: Either go on to Hell, or stay in NM, but run something until clvl 80 (I did Countess)

8. Playing Strategies

Static Field and Charged Bolt
One great aspect of the Charged Boltress is her massive Static Field radius. With this, you can kill monsters is one of a couple of ways:

First, you can static them to half while they are walking towards you, and then force them to approach you through a field of bolts. If you do this, make sure you Orb the monsters so they walk slower through your bolts. Teleport at will and make them walk through the field multiple times.

Second, you can teleport on the monster, orb and static them, and then stand in their face and CB them to death. This is a great strategy with less dangerous foe, and it does a tremendous amount of damage. If you are fast enough, you put the monster into a permanent hit recovery until it dies. If this is your primary strategy, make sure you have plenty of FHR.

Either way, learn to “feel†your Static Field radius. This will prevent you from wasting mana points casting SF while nothing is in range.

As Lira points out, she put CB on her left click and used shift to activate it, this always keeping her right click open for another skill. This is great, but one must learn not to click on a monster to cast CB. You will move towards the monster, and that’s not what you want. If you have played a hammerdin, you will be more familiar with this tactic (BH goes on left click).

To get maximum damage, cast FO between CBs, and then cast more CBs while the timer passes for FO.

Teleport
First, the most important aspect of teleporting is not the actual skill itself, but having FHR. Since we have low blocking, and a slow block speed, FHR is crucial to our survival. See the charms section, above for more information.

Because of our lack of blocking, teleport is your best friend. To fully master this style of sorceress, one must learn to teleport accurately and precisely. Anyone who has ever dueled knows the difficulty of teleporting.

One of the first things to master is where your hotkeys are placed. You should not need to think about what skill is where. I keep mine on QWER and ASDF, with over flow into ZXV, with the quest screen on Y and the quick skill selection on G. This allows for fast skill switching.

Once hotkeys are mastered, the next trick is to learn to interpret what is on the screen with what you are teleporting into. As FC rises, this becomes more and more difficult, as you get less and less reaction time to react if you teleport poorly. However, the benefit of FC is if you teleport erroneously, you need less time to get out of your situation, especially if you have enough FHR.

The most important purpose of this skill is constant movement. A stationary CB sorceress is generally a dead one, unless your merc is tanking everything is style.

On SP, there is no lag. However, on Bnet, you must learn to deal with this. You can run into a “black wall†because are teleporting to fast. You can also create massive lag by doing this. As stated before this guide is written for SP play, and any advantage 200% FCR may give you may be taken away by Bnet’s inherent lag.

I cannot teach you to teleport smoothly, and I have never read or found a guide on teleportation. Just remember to be smooth about teleport, use teleport to your advantage offensively, defensively, never forgoing retreat and in area travel, which brings me to my next point.

Area travel
Essentially, this build, once it hits 105% FC, can “rush itself.†By that, I mean this build can kill only the necessary monsters to complete an area and push itself through an entire act in under twenty minutes, and do act 4 NM in fewer than 10 minutes, and Hell Acts 1-3 in less than one hour. Trust me, I’ve done it.

This is accomplished via teleporting to only the major, necessary areas, and killing only those that give major XP, i.e. bosses, their packs and champions. You can still get all the WPs this way, however.

When teleporting, just know what to watch for, like the dirt roads in Act 1, or familiar level layouts in areas that are sure to lead to a stairway.

This method of travel is further supported by your huge mana pool, and your +light skills (reducing the cost of Teleport, similar to how Bone Prison works)

Despite this, this character is capable of playing a “full clears, no parking†style, similar how SPF moderator AlterEgo plays, should that be your style and preference.

More on Frozen Orb
Frozen Orb is simply the best sorceress skill in the game for all-around killing. The only skill that even comes close is a synergized Blizzard, an option not available to us. However, because we lack a high level of Mastery, we must learn to efficiently use FO. This is done through careful aim.

Cast FO a few times. Notice the ball of ice gradually releases ice shards and eventually explodes at a certain distance? Learn to feel and recognize this explosion distance. If FO hits a monster, and the orb finally explodes on that monster, all 16 shards (16 shards are released with each circle of bolts) will hit that monster, in addition to every shard that hit the creature during the orb’s movement. Practice this tactic against Meph and other targets with plenty of HP. Notice how much more damage is done when Orbs explode and finish in this manner.

Tough Areas
Act 5 NM will be the first area you hit a snag, and your progress can and most likely will slow down. Monsters have more HP, more resistances than anything you’ve seen in the game thus far. But don’t fret. Here’s some answers to your problems.

Succubi
Probably the most damaging of any of the ranged characters (Gloams are a different story), my first death came in the NM Throne to some Succubi. Not only can they Blood/Mana curse you, forcing you to take off one of your +mana items (SoJ normally is best), but they do lots of damage, especially when you are amp’d. The trick to this is constant movement. You can cast and react faster than the Succubi, and your spells travel faster and wider then theirs. Use this to your advantage. Remember, an immobile sorceress is a dead one!

Gloams
Slowing them is the big key. They don’t have a lot of HP (lots of PDR though), so they should be taken down quickly. Just remember to move around a lot and keep out of their bolts. Whatever you do, do not teleport in a straight line away from them. Teleport in a circle, or even just sidestep them, throw and Orb and teleport again. Remember what I said about hotkeys? You must be fast on your fingers, especially in later areas.

Act Bosses and Company
All of the act bosses in Normal are very easy. Against them, static until they have a sliver left, then kill them with what ever spell you have. Baal is by far the easiest, because you have a heavily-invested Frozen Orb.

In NM, things get a little harder. Your merc will most likely die of Andariel’s poison, and when that happens, so does your tank for static and Orb. If you must resort to it, teleport back and forth in a line casting CB’s for Andy to walk through as she follows your teleports. FO every once in a while, and she’s toast. The same strategy applies to Duriel, only you must tele more often and rely on CB, as Duriel nicely resists cold damage.

Mephisto is a cake walk. Static as far as you can, then Orb him as discussed above.

Diablo is the deadliest the prime evils, but getting to him is easy. Teleport all the way to the middle of the CS, and then tele or kill your way to each of the three seals. Open each seal, and kill the pack. When all three bosses are dead, Diablo will appear and kill everything, and you won’t need to worry about anything but D. Again static him until death, and then, after your merc dies (most likely he will), stay out at the magical FO range, and Orb him. While the timer is running, cast lots of CB’s, especially if he hops towards you. If he uses his PLoD, teleport in a circle around him.

Baal is like Meph, easy, but much more difficult and annoying. Orb is your best friend here, and give your merc something with slow on it, preferably a Kelpie Snare. Then watch Baal just stand there and die.

Without slow or a lot of life leech/PDR, life against Baal is difficult at best. In v1.10, he got a lot tougher, and he is especially annoying when he drains your mana, pushes you back with his cold wedge, and then teleports away before you can recover. Very annoying. Orb is your best friend, but it will take a while. Unfortunately, FO is much more efficient and more effective than CB.

Despite that, you can tele onto Baal and CB away. I recommend this only if Baal is slowed down (Reaper’s, Kelpie Snare, for example).

The Ancients

NOTE: Fire Enchanted Ancients are bugged in v1.10 SP, and are an instant kill to any character they hit, regardless of life, resists and absorb. If ANY Ancient spawns FE in any difficulty, immediately re-roll.

Normal:
These guys are a piece of cake, especially since you can static them down to nothing, the throw one Orb and they’re dead. It helps to hit clvl 42 before taking on the Trio, but it doesn’t really matter. As stated, Static and orb them to death.

Nightmare:
This is where things get interesting. Immunites can come into play (normally one per Ancient). For this fight, you need to be quick on the teleport. Hit the Altar, and after checking the mods, teleport in static range of all three, throw an Orb, and static away! From there, Teleport out, and start CB’ing and FO’ing as they come to you. When they approach, teleport in a straight line away from them (do not use this strategy against Mawdawc, he will hit you every time!) and lather, rinse and repeat.

Should your merc tank them (i.e. using Kelpie Snare or some other slowing item), move out to the magical FO distance and start throwing. They should die soon enough.

Hell:
Probably your hardest individual fight of the game. While your gear stays the same, strategy and merc gear will change. Essentially, you will reroll them until you get none of them Cold Immune, then with your merc wearing a Kelpie Snare (75% Slow Target), your must static them down, and slow them. From there, tele away from those coming at you, and blast them with CB. Do this until any of the trio is too close. Then tele again, until all of the non-LI’s are dead. After that, move the fight to the middle of the Summit. From there, position the Ancient(s) in the middle, and throw Orbs at them while you walk around the circle (but inside the pillars). The Ancient(s) will be slow (You can switch the Kelpie back to the recommended Reaper’s Toll), and it is just a manner of time before you kill them.

During this whole process, your merc MUST stay alive. If your merc dies, you might as well reroll and start over.

What Next?
After killing Baal in Hell and achieving the title of Matriarch, you have a couple of options to continue this character. The best use of her is on Countess runs. Why? She’s fast and no MF is required (and she actually drops more runes with 0% MF). Also, the Countess is always CI/FI in Hell. This means she will not be LI, and thus easily killable.

The Boltress can also run Baal, but I recommend staying around /p3 for that. CB does a lot of damage, but getting close to Baal’s minions could prove fatal.

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