Diablo 2 Guide: Asmodeous Paladin Avenger guide for V1.11

Ok. I have decided to post my Avenger guide here for all to see. Not much point having it laying around on my hard drive with nobody getting any benefit from it. Much of the information and research that has gone into this guide comes from the single players forum but I am sure that battle.net players will find the information here applicable. This is a fairly in depth guide and hopefully should dispell any myths about the avenger. Feel free to comment and ask questions.

Foreword.

The Avenger. Many would say that this is a forgotten Character. Vastly over shadowed by the Hammerdin, The Zealot and even other elemental builds such as the Tesladin. Why is this so? In theory, the Avenger should be a strong character to play as Vengeance is able to deal with every monster type in the game. Nothing is immune to Physical, Fire, Cold and Lightning damage all at the same time.

So is the Avenger a capable character then? Is he able to hold his own against the hordes of hell?

Well yes he can. With the right equipment the Avenger is a very capable character. Strong enough to handle every monster and quest in the game and still want more.
This is the biggest problem with the Avenger. His equipment. He is more reliant on his equipment than most other melee classes are, in particular, his weapon. With careful item and skill selection, the Avenger can be a strong class to play. We just have to be careful with our skill and item selection.

So how do we do this? Well, this is a guide, isn’t it? Read on and hopefully, we can get your avenger leaving a trail of smouldering, fried and frozen corpses in his wake.

How does Vengeance work?

Vengeance is a skill from the Combat tree that is available when your Paladin reaches level 18. What the skill does is add a mixture of Cold, Fire and Lightning damage to your Paladins attacks. So, the end result is that your Paladin will be doing Physical, Fire, Cold and Lightning damage with every strike of his weapon. If for example, you had a weapon that did 100 points of damage exactly. Level 1 Vengeance adds 70% damage of Cold, Fire and Lightning damage to this, so 70 points of each element is added to every attack that your Paladin makes. That’s pretty much it.
This means, that only certain things that add to your physical damage, will also count towards Vengeance elemental damage. These are;

  1. – Enhanced or min/max damage from socketing in the weapon.
  2. – Min/max damage from socketing in off weapon equipment.
  3. – Min/max damage from items or charms.
  4. – Weapon and item added damage that reads “adds xx damage” such as Butchers pupil, War traveller boots and Blood Fist gloves.

What doesn’t count towards Vengeance elemental damage;

  1. – Auras enhanced damage such as Might or Fanatism.
  2. – Weapon added damage that reads “damage + xx” such as Grief rune word and The Redeemer. This has been tested in game to not work.
  3. – Factors such as Deadly Strike, Open Wounds or Crushing Blow.
  4. – Strength. Vengeance works from weapon damage only.
  5. – Off weapon enhanced damage such as socketed jewels or Lion Heart, Fortitude or Duress rune words.

These types of effects work with the physical part of your Vengeance damage, but not the elemental parts.

The Maths of Vengeance damage.

The elemental damage component is calculated from the weapon’s damage, or “adjusted” weapon damage from the factors as listed above.
An example is a Avenger armed with a Mighty Sceptre (40-52 damage) with 190 for strength and level 20 Vengeance with no Synergy Skills.

Vengeance Part:

40-52 * 184% = 74-96 for each element
74-96 Cold + 74-96 Fire + 74-96 Lightning = 222-288 Total elemental damage.

Physical part:

40-52 * (1+1.9) = 116-150

Total Physical (116-150) + Total Vengeance (222-288) = 338-438 total damage.

The problems with Vengeance.

Vengeance has some draw backs. The first one is the amount of Mana it needs. This does not seem a problem seeing that we can equip Mana leech items on our character. But remember. Leeches only work from Physical damage, not elemental. This makes it much harder to fuel Vengeance from leeching because of the low physical damage which is not boosted in any way by vengeance. Basically, this means we need a lot of mana leech to keep Vengeance going. Depending on your weapon set up, you need 8 – 14% total mana leech for one handed weapons and 5 – 10% typically for two handed which is a tall order considering that we have the same problem with our life leech for the very same reason.
Another problem is that many monsters in the game are immune to Physical damage and while the elemental damage component of Vengeance will work on them, every blow you swing at them is costing you mana, which you won’t win back from them with leeching, and being a Paladin, you don’t have a lot of Mana points to spare.

This is the one weakness’s of the Avenger, the Physically Immune and other monsters that we can’t leech mana from. Some players would say that Vengeance is a great skill versus the Physical Immune. Well, It is. You just can’t rely on Mana Leeches against Physically Immune to replenish your mana.
Fortunately, Physical immune’s and unleechables such as skeletons are usually mixed in with other types of monsters which you can leech from so really all we need is a good sized mana pool to keep our Avenger going in between those leechable targets and drinking the occasional mana potion when required. It really isn’t that hard to pick up the odd mana pot.
A quick note about the Insight rune word. The mana regeneration from level 17 meditation is not enough to run our vengeance attack. The reason for this is because mana regeneration is based upon our total mana pool which is low for a paladin. If your paladin has a mana pool of approx 500 mana points or more, then it could be possible. I haven’t tested in game where the break even point is but it is likely to be high. Equipping your mercenary with Insight is still a good idea. The meditation aura will still help and can offset a lower amount of mana leech.

So you can see the main problem with Vengeance is it’s reliance upon the physical damage of the weapon used.
Remember our Mighty Sceptre example above, 40-52 points physical generates 222 – 288 total elemental damage at level 20 Vengeance with no synergies. With a 300% synergied Vengeance this damage grows to 476 – 618 all from a mere 40-52 point weapon. Then you have the effect of the conviction aura which can double the elemental damage if the targets resistances are reduced to the maximum of -100%. That is a lot of elemental damage stemming from what is a small amount of physical damage.
It is also because of our need for high mana leech to sustain Vengeance, and Life leech as well, that the higher the damage weapon, the better.

Is there anything else you need to know about Vengeance? Well, not really. It does increase your attack rating which is also helpful but hardly needed with Conviction’s effect on defence. It also has a cold Duration. Monsters affected by the cold damage component of Vengeance will be chilled by it, and this duration of chill increases with Vengeance level. This time is Nerfed depending on difficulty setting, but really, it doesn’t matter. The monsters chill timer gets reset every time you hit it, and it will be dead before the timer expires, no matter how much The game difficulty Nerfs it.
Finally keep in mind that vengeance is an interruptible attack. This means that if your character is hit hard enough while performing a vengeance attack, it is interrupted and your paladin has to start his attack again. This is a very good reason to have a good level of fast hit recovery, but more importantly, avoid getting hit in the first place with high defence and shield blocking. Physical damage reduction and lots of hit points will make it harder to interrupt your avengers attacks as the attack must do a total of 1/12 of your total life pool after any reductions to provoke the interruption.

How does Conviction work?

What a fantastic aura. Conviction is from the offence skill tree, available at character level 30. It does two basic things. Firstly, it lowers all affected targets defences. At high levels, coupled with Vengeances boost to your attack rating, well it’s almost pointless doing the maths. It is a pretty good assumption that your Avenger will have a high chance to hit all affected targets. I have found from my experience in game, that a total Attack Rating of 3,000 at level 85 is more than enough to make sure your Avenger rarely misses.
The second benefit that Conviction provides is that it lowers the elemental resistances of our enemies. Hang on, we are doing lots of elemental damage with Vengeance, and this aura lowers our enemies resistances to them? That rocks!!
It sure does. As I’m sure that every player knows, when your character enters Nightmare and Hell difficulty, you cop a penalty to your elemental resistances. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the same can happen to the monsters. Applying a high level of Conviction aura to the monsters resistances can send them plunging into the negatives, meaning that all the elemental damage your swinging at them, can be increased. The highest negative any monster or character can have is -100% resistance which is the cap in hell difficulty.

The range of conviction is fixed at 13.3 yards radius, about 2/3 of the viewable screen @ 800×600 resolution. Its not huge but remember what range your Avenger works best at? Yeah. Up close and personal.
So how much Conviction do we need? The level to aim for is level 25. That is when this skill tops out at -150% resistances.

Draw backs? As you would expect, there is a drawback, but it’s not a bad one. Once a target enters the aura’s range, it takes 2 seconds for the target to be effected by the aura. (this is indicated by the green aura around their feet) If you maintain the aura, then the targets will always be affected until they either die, or leave the range. If they leave the range, or you turn the Conviction aura off, the effect will disappear almost instantly. This means that trying to swap to another aura and have Conviction’s effects “lingering” will not work, so don’t even bother trying.

The science of Conviction and target’s resistances.

How does Conviction work on a targets resistances or immunity? Various monsters in the game have all sorts of resistances and immunities to the three elements, Poison, Physical damage and so on. For all the details on these, have a look at the monster statistics at the arreat summit;

Monster Statistics

Monsters can have either a total immunity to a given element which cannot be defeated by any amount of lower resistance such as Conviction. Resistances greater than 100% give the monster total resistance to an element and this is the resistance that can be broken. Basically, how this works is as follows.

For resistances of up to 99%, the Conviction aura value is applied directly, so 99% becomes –51% resistance, 80% becomes –70% and 50% becomes –100%.
For resistances of 100% (totally resistant) and up, the value of Conviction is calculated as such;

Target’s resistance – (Total lower resistance value/5).

So, if a monster has a total resistance value of 120%, this is reduced to 90%. What this means is that if the monster has a resistance listing of 130% or more, it cannot be broken by Conviction.

Conviction is not the only skill that can lower a targets resistance to elemental damage such as the Necromancer’s lower resistance or the Sorceress’s Cold mastery skill. When two or more skills are at work, the game checks for the highest value and applies this first to the targets resistances before applying any other sources to the targets resistance value. If the targets resistance are still over 100%, then the second source of lower resistance is ineffective.

What other skills should I consider?

There are a few. Lets have a look at the best ones in brief. Note that spending skill points in these area’s is quite expensive as you have to buy a couple of pre-requisite skills in the defensive tree. You can do with out these skills, even Holy shield if you don’t mind building your shield blocking chance via Dexterity points. Every skill point after all could be spent on boosting Vengeance synergies. Using these skills can also add flavour to your Avenger so Consider what you use carefully.

Holy Shield.
Increases Shield Blocking Chance and your entire Defence rating. Higher levels also increase duration. 1 – 10 points is typical for this skill for Avengers, as the bulk of your skill points should be spent on Vengeance and it’s synergy skills, the three resistances. I personally recommend 1-5 skill points.

Redemption.
This skill is a good skill for the avenger as it can return life and mana during combat to your character. You can use Vengeance with out the Conviction aura. Your effective damage will be far less but it will still be good enough for a couple of seconds while you “flash” the Redemption aura long enough to “redeem” several monsters corpses. The only problem with this skill is that it takes 5 skill points to buy, making it a fairly expensive choice skill point wise. The pre requisite skills can be useful, Vigor, Meditation and Cleansing. But seriously, you can do without these skills if you really want to top out your Avengers damage. Using these skills can certainly add flavour to playing your Avenger. The final choice is yours.

Synergy Skills.

Resist Lightning, Cold & Fire.
Synergy skills can be used to further boost our Vengeance percentage. Each skill point spent here adds 10% extra damage, but only of the one corresponding element. Overall you only gain a 3.33% damage gain. Most players would spend most points on Lightning resistance as this will build up the passive lightning resistance which is very handy as lightning is the most deadly used element against you.

Levelling your Avenger.

When leveling an Avenger, it is usually best to build your skills up in a particular order. The reason being is that the mana cost for Vengeance increases with level and at low levels you will find it hard to leech enough mana to run a high level of vengeance. So, I recommend that you put one point into Vengeance to begin with, then build up your three synergy resistance skills, spend one point in Conviction at level 30 then return to the three synergy skills and build them to level 10 each. Then build Conviction to level 25 (including items) and then finally, build vengeance up to level 20 last. After that, then continue building up the synergy skills or other skills as you see fit.

Statistics.

So, how do we assign our stats for an Avenger? Pretty much the same as any other.

Strength.
Strength does not contribute to our Vengeance damage so just enough for our equipment is the order of the day. More strength will help leeches and be able to equip the best items.

Dexterity.
The old Maintain 75% chance to block with a shield holds true for just about any melee class character. Here is the formula for working how much Dexterity you need to maintain 75% blocking chance. Remember that the final chance to block is capped at 75%, But, figures over 75% are used in these calculations, the cap is only applied to the final result and remember to include bonus’s to blocking from item such as Guardian Angel;

Formula for working out blocking rates

Required Blocking % = (dexterity – 15) shield block.
—————————————————–
level x 2.

For example, A Level 85 paladin with level 24 Holy Shield and Herald of Zakarum.

75% = (dexterity – 15) 118
——————————
170

Therefore,

75 x 170 divided by 118 = dexterity – 15.

108 = dexterity -15.

123 total dexterity needed.

Vitality.
Well, best way to plan how much to put here, is basically every point that you don’t need for Strength or Dexterity. This should be your highest Statistic. Life and plenty of it equals survival for any character.

Energy.
You would think that putting some points here is a good idea for such a Mana reliant melee class character. It’s not. Every Statistic point wasted here gives you a mere 1.5 points of Energy. One swing of level 21 Vengeance costs 9 mana points, or 6 Statistic points. Waste, isn’t it? Far better to build up your mana reserves with items and back pack charms.

Weapon Selection.

If I haven’t made it apparent by now, Weapon selection is crucial. There are two aspects of our weapon we really need here, anything else is a very distant last priority. Only skill boosters have any real relevance, as each skill level boost adds 6% more fire, cold and lightning damage or 18% more damage in total.

Damage.

Physical damage is what creates Vengeance damage.
The general rule of thumb is that you want to have a weapon that roughly equals these minimums;

  • – 220 average damage @ 11 frames per second attack speed.
  • – 200 average damage @ 10 frames per second attack speed.
  • – 180 average damage @ 9 frames per second attack speed.
  • – 160 average damage @ 8 frames per second attack speed.

Or, if you prefer, 500 points of damage per second. This is the cut off point in my opinion, where an Avenger will be able to finish Hell difficulty and be enjoyable to play. Less than this will make playing your Avenger a chore rather than a pleasure. It is true that you can complete the game with less, but just don’t expect to enjoy the experience. Naturally, more damage makes the game easier to beat and therefore, more fun!

Attack Speeds.

Getting a fast attack speed is difficult without the boost from aura’s such as Fanatism. So how much Increased Attack Speed do we need? Well, the best way to figure that out is to use the ever popular german calculator.

Weapon speed calculator

Depending on the weapon, you should plan for about 80-120% IAS to achieve the best swing speeds
which is a serious investment in IAS equipment but well worth it.

Fast Hit Recovery and Block Speed.

The Paladin has the best fast hit recovery and blocking speed tables in the game. Very good idea to have a good hit recovery time as Vengeance is an interruptible attack. Hit recovery can be gained from items or small charms in the back pack where as any user of Holy Shield will not need to address blocking speed.

Fast Hit Recovery.

  • 9 frames = 0
  • 8 frames = 7
  • 7 frames = 15
  • 6 frames = 27
  • 5 frames = 48 (Recommended target point)
  • 4 frames = 86
  • 3 frames = 200

Block speed. (With out Holy Shield)

  • 5 frames = 0
  • 4 frames = 13
  • 3 frames = 32
  • 2 frames = 86
  • 1 frame = 600

Block Speed. (with Holy Shield)

  • 2 frames = 0
  • 1 frame = 86

Equipment Set Up.

I think I have pretty already covered a lot of what is required for a good Avenger. But to honour the tradition of listing pretty toys that work very well, here it is!

Weapon.
Anything with lots of damage that you can swing quickly. Way too many choices to really mention here but you should get the idea from this list.

Ethereal Oath is a fairly easy to make and very nasty stick if you can’t get Breath of the Dying. Rune master full of damage jewels is also a surprisingly huge damage puppy. Heaven’s Light is another hidden treasure thanks to skills and two sockets for nasty damage jewels. For those on a budget, upgraded Butchers pupil or Head Striker with any enhanced damage jewel can finish the game with. Finally, rares can spawn with 300% or more enhanced damage.

Amulet
Highlord’s Wrath. Skill level, IAS and lightning resistance. Cresent moon can solve all your mana leech problems in one item. Mara’s Kaleidoscope or Seraph’s Hymn work great on an Avenger craving skill levels as would any rare amulet with skill boosting properties.

Armor.
Guardian angel is very popular for obvious reasons, But I like Duress for the cold damage, resistances and hit recovery. The rune wealthy will head straight for Chains of Honour or Enigma or even a Fortitude. Treachery is the hidden surprise if you need IAS and resists. You can get hit to activate it before casting Holy shield.

Shield.
No need to mention Herald of Zakarum is there? Dragon scale is nice if you have resistances elsewhere and Tiamat’s rebuke will serve faithfully for those on a budget or even for those who are not as all it lacks is a decent block chance.

Rings.
One will be a Raven frost. Anti freeze, dexterity and Cold damage making it too hard to miss. Bul Kathos is good also, otherwise plug some much needed leeches here with a good rare or crafted.

Belt.
Not much to get skill or elemental damage wise, so get some damage resistance here with either Verdungo’s hearty cord or good old String of Ears.

Boots.
War travellers or use Tear haunch or Gore riders while your trying to get a pair of War travellers. 15-25 extra weapon damage is just too good to miss.

Gloves.
Blood Fist is a surprisingly good cheapy if 10% IAS is enough. Other wise lava gout’s for fire damage and 20% IAS. I have to mention Dracul’s here as these are simply the best melee glove ever invented, according to Zealot players anyway though don’t expect life tap to trigger as often due to the slower attack speeds of avengers. Rare’s and crafts often spawn with IAS so don’t forget these either.

Helms.
Andariel’s Visage is a very good choice here. Look for a fire resist jewel of fervor for the hole Larzuk leaves for you in it. Hope you are not into character fashion in any way. Crown of the Ages for the wealthy as two holes equals 30% IAS. Another ugly such as Tal Rasha’s set piece is a great all rounder for everything and Vampire gaze is another dual leech handy hat if you don’t mind your paladin looking absolutely hideous. Kira’s Guardian is a great way to avoid using Raven frost for anti freeze and plugging a lot of the resistance you will want in one package.

The Griswold Avenger.

A special mention for my favourite Avenger set up. Griswold’s full set up is near perfect for an Avenger as the full set adds 20-40 damage (which works with vengeance) and is one of the few weapons that can reach 8 fps without the Fanatism aura(110% IAS total needed) and has more open sockets for min/max damage jewels than you can poke a caddy at.

My personal avenger has over 6 kay average damage with might mercenary at 8 fps with the following set up;

Griswold’s Full set.
-Weapon – 2 x Ohm & 2 x 40% ED jewels with second mods. (2-3 fire & +7 str)
-Armor – full of min damage fervor jewels. (+22 to min damage)
-helm – full of min/max damage jewels. (9 – 43 damage)
-Shield. – One 6 to min damage jewel of Fervor, two UM runes.
Crafted ias gloves.
War traveller boots. (average magic find)
String of ears belt. (8/13/15%)
Raven frost ring.
Rare life leech ring with +9 min damage.
Cresent moon amulet. (perfect)

back pack of 5 x combat skill charms, 4 small FHR charms with resistances and 4 small charms of various elemental damage. note that I am a single player so battle.net players can add realm only charms as well.

Mercenaries.

Like any character in the game, the Avenger’s abilities can be supplemented by a faithful hireling.
Who to choose? Well, here are some idea’s;

1). Act Two desert.
Might Aura. Damage is good, but the Might aura only boosts the physical damage and not your Vengeance damage. Still, damage is damage and it will boost the effectiveness of your leeches which is why the Might aura mercenary is a very good choice.

2). Act Two Desert. Frozen Aura.
Vengeance isn’t the fastest attack in the game. If you cant speed up your Vengeance attacks any more, then slow everything around you down. Often called the matrix mercenary for very good reason.

3). Act Three Lone Wolf.
Running the Conviction Aura are we? And this guy throws elemental damage around? A match made in heaven! Of all the characters in the game, it is the Avenger with which this Mercenary can work well with. The cold version has the advantage of Freezing it’s target with the Glacial spike attack while the Lightning version Uses Lightning which can hit multiple targets. This mercenary is also surprisingly robust thanks to a shield slot.

Equipping the Avengers Mercenary.

These weapons can really help your avenger when equipped on your mercenary.

  1. Reapers Toll pole arm. This is a great choice for crowd control. Well, it doesn’t control crowds, it just makes them weaker meaning that being surrounded by a crowd is far less dangerous.
  2. Cresent moon rune word. The chain lightning and static field is quite effective when combined with the Conviction aura as is any weapon boasting good elemental damage.
  3. Rift Polearm. Level 21 Frozen orb and Conviction. Requires higher level runes to make but is well worth it when combined with conviction.
  4. Insight. Meditation aura. Nice damage stick for a mercenary and the meditation aura can help if your mana leech isn’t enough. Unfortunately, it won’t replace mana leech completely.
  5. Pride. Expensive but often called the two mercenaries in one stick. Put this onto a freeze mercenary and get the best of both, physical damage boosting from the Concentration aura and the matrix effect.

The two handed Avenger.

Viable? In a word yes. The two handed Avenger is a Titan or Glass cannon build. A fairly fragile melee class character that puts out huge amounts of damage. The two handed avenger is easily capable of huge damage, coupled to a high level conviction, well look out! One hit kills are the order of the day even in multi player games with 3-4 extra players. Figures of 8.5 – 18 kay damage with a Oath Ethereal Glorious axe are mind blowing with a full resistance & survivable set up.
The drawbacks are that a paladin is pretty fragile with out a shield and does not have any life boosting skills like the Barbarian or Druid does so the paladin has to try and boost his life with items as best as he can.
Basically, you can build the three synergy skills higher as you don’t need to spend any skill points on Holy Shield. Equipment set up is geared for survival. You will want 80% + to fire, cold and lightning resists, 75% poison resists, some physical damage reduction and at least 14% life and 6% mana leech.
Add in some fast hit recovery (48% or higher suggested), forget about defence and add as much life as you can muster. Items such as Doom bringer and Call to Arms rune word perhaps?
For Stat points, base energy, enough strength and dexterity for equipment and the rest in vitality and finally, A Reapers Toll pole arm on the mercenary to make those crowds hurt less.

Conclusion.

So, there you have it. The basics and a couple of the finer points of the Avenger. So what do you think? ready to give the Avenger a go? Go on. Sitting there reading guides isn’t what you should be doing any how. Fire up Diablo 2/LoD and start playing!!!

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