Diablo 2 Guide: Chain Lighting/Frozen Orb Sorceress v1.0

Introduction to the Chain Lighting/Frozen Orb Sorceress

CL/FO (Chain Lighting/Frozen Orb) is a great all around build that rivals the effectiveness of (and at times surpasses) Meteorb in almost all areas except max damage.

This guide will help you build a viable CL/FO sorc for Hell that is also great for solo MFing, especially in areas rather than bosses (as in The Pit, etc) while providing a bit of customization room.

This is my first real guide to 1.10 so if you have any questions/comments/ideas feel free to express them.

Quick FAQ

Diablo 2 Guide: Chain Lighting/Frozen Orb Sorceress v1.0How is this Sorceress build for running through hell? Awesome. I think it’s the best PvM build out there with the right equipment.

What kind of MFing can this build do? Just about anything. Eldritch, Shenk, other Ac5 Super Uniques, Baal, The Pit, Meph, Andariel, and Countess. Pindle is do-able but it’s not particularly as fast as Meteor or Blizzard.

This is my first sorc. Do you recommend this for new sorcs? Probably not. Unless you are rich and have all the items to twink your sorc I think you would be much more suited for Meteorb. But then again, my guide may provide all the information you need to succeed.

Is CL as powerful as Meteor? Yes and No. This is explained in the CL section of Skill allocation and statistics.

Is CL/FO leet item dependant? To be an unstoppable speed freak killing machine, yes. To be decent, no.

Does the low minimum damage that CL has negatively effect the sorc’s performance? In most occassions, you will never notice the minimum damage downside. If there are a low number of enemies on the screen, then yes it does come into play but that is why you have Lightning and FO to deal with them.

What is the 4 frame penalty? CL suffers a 4 frame penalty for hitting the same monsters more than once in a single cast. As long as monsters are far enough away that it doesn’t violate the 4 frame penalty, CL will bounce back and forth between them for the full number of hits alloted (4 frames at CL’s travel speed = about 2/3 of the vertical screen in distance). It can also hit monsters multiple times that are packed tightly. An example is: arcs 1-8 of 11 total arcs strike different monsters. Those hits take up 4 frames in which the last 3 arcs can nail the same monsters again.

What are the sorceress FCR breakpoints?

0%-8% = 13 fpc (frames per cast)
9%-19% = 12 fpc
20%-36% = 11 fpc
37%-62% = 10 fpc
63%-104% = 9 fpc (ideal for untwinked)
105%-199% = 8 fpc (ideal for twinked)
200+% = 7 fpc (impossible to achieve as far as I know)

CL and Lightning have a slower fpc I believe but I do not know for sure. It may start at 15-16fpc and drop from there. At 110% FCR you should be casting 2.5 times per second or close.

 Skill allocation and statistics

Your typical build will look like this

18-**20 Lightning
20 Chain Lightning
20 Lightning Mastery
1-**5 Static Field
1 Teleport
2 in prereqs
**1 Energy Shield
**2-9 Charged Bolt (1st point is taken as prereq)

20 Frozen Orb
10-**17 Cold Mastery
1 Frozen Armor
5 in prereqs
**1 Chilling Armor
**1 Shiver Armor

**1 Warmth
** = customizable skills

The main build is complete at 98 points or level 88.

The customizable skills listed can be a bit of tailoring to the build according to how you want to play but you only have 11 hard to get points to play with so it’s more of an end game deal. If you want to concentrate on Hell Meph, put more in CM. If you want to run The Pit more, raise Lightning and CB. If you feel the need to increase your Static Field range, go ahead.

Chain Lightning

Each point in a CL synergy raises the damage by almost 100/arc. By increasing the optional skill CB to 5 you would effectively get a 250 average damage per arc increase to each target. A notable increase.

The damage factor of CL is a bit hazy. It can do massive damage but in a different respect to Meteor.

A quick calculation reveals this:
(with these stats: 20CL/20L/20LM/1CB/+10skills/+0 monster resists/CL damage = 9-3949):

1970 average damage * 11 targets * 4 CL = 86680 average damage per 1.2 seconds

That’s a ton of damage and it’s a screen killer. But…with the 4 frame penalty in effect thats only 7880 average damage to each individual enemy. This is what I am talking about when I say CL slows down in high player hell games. 7880 damage doesn’t really cut it due to monster/player count scaling. But it is more than adequate for solo or low player games.

The other downside to CL is it is very mana intensive. But there are ways to deal with this in which I will discuss in Tips and Tactics section.

But then you have to consider CL’s other good attributes. Where Meteor is confined to a 4 meter space on the screen, CL can hit enemies anywhere within 1.5 screens and start arcing targets from any point. It also decimates packs of monsters that tend to scatter, killing them much faster than a Meteor sorc could. Scattering enemies like devilkin, demon imps, blood lords, Succubus, etc.

With the change from IAS to FCR dependency in 1.10, it is much easier to obtain insane casting speed with CL. It is possible to cast 5-6 CL by the time one meteor hits the ground using 105% FCR. FCR is very important to increasing your damage output. The faster you can cast CL the more damage you will do over time. You just can’t do that with Meteor. FCR to a CL sorc is just as important as IAS to a Bowazon.


You should also have Lightning maxed for the CL synergy. This is a great finishing skill for those left over monsters. It is also a great CI super unique killer for monsters like Shenk. Not much to say here as it is a pretty straightforward skill.

Frozon Orb and Cold Mastery

For more information on FO and CM, I decided to include an excerpt from sajsa’s Meteorb guide. Very informative and everything sajsa explains applies here.

Originally Posted by sasja
Why Frozen Orb and Cold Mastery?
1.10 has made the Sorceress’ skill points incredibly tight by introducing synergies. Each tree has at least one attack with 3 synergies, which – if maxed – will get the damage of that attack to incredible heights. But maxing this attack to the full will cost you 20 skill points in the attack itself, 3*20 skill points in synergies, and another 20 points in the relevant mastery, so this requires 100 skill points out of 110 being ultimately available at level 99 – a level most of us will never reach! Having a cold spell which slows the fast monsters i Hell is invaluable, and Frozen Orb is a bargain. It only has one synergy, which is not powerful enough to really be necessary, kicks *** all the way through Nightmare, and does decent damage in Hell. Furthermore, the unique function of Cold Mastery makes a few points go a long way. Each skill point in Cold Mastery will increase the percentage which will be subtracted from your opponent’s cold resistance before calculating the damage, down to a minimum of -100%. Only cold immune monsters cannot be affected by Cold Mastery. Let’s run a few examples to see how useful this really is. I’ll compare skill level 0, 1 (giving -30% to the monster’s cold resistance), 7 (giving -50%), 17 (giving -100%) and 27 (giving -150%) in Cold Mastery, assuming an average of 265 damage pr shard for Frozen Orb.

Monster with 0 in cold resistance:
Cold Mastery 0 (0%): 265 * (100 + 0)/100 = 265
Cold Mastery 1 (20%): 265 * (100 + 20)/100 = 318 (improvement of 20% – not surprisingly)
Cold Mastery 7 (50%): 265 * (100 + 50)/100 = 398 (improvement of 50%)
Cold Mastery 17 (100%): 265 * (100 + 100)/100 = 530 (improvement of 100%)
Cold Mastery 27 (150%): 265 * (100 + 100)/100 = 530 (improvement of 100% – remember that -100% is the lower cap)

Monster with 75 in cold resistance (for instance Mephisto):
Cold Mastery 0 (0%): 265 * (100 – 75 + 0)/100 = 66
Cold Mastery 1 (20%): 265 * (100 – 75 + 20)/100 = 146 (improvement of about 120%)
Cold Mastery 7 (50%): 265 * (100 – 75 + 50)/100 = 199 (improvement of about 200%)
Cold Mastery 17 (100%): 265 * (100 – 75 + 100)/100 = 331 (improvement of about 400%)
Cold Mastery 27 (150%): 265 * (100 – 75 + 150)/100 = 464 (improvement of about 600%)

Stat allocation and statistics

CL/FO stats very item dependent. If you have the equipment to twink your sorc you will find you have much more room for VIT and Max Block. I do recommend a bit of planning on what equipment you will be looking to use. Winging stats for this build, while do-able, is not advised. You can do decent I suppose but you want to be the best you can be.

The typical Max Block spread

STR – enough for equipment
DEX – enough for max block which depends on your shield
VIT – everything else
ENE – 100-125 depending on +mana equipment

The typical VIT sorc spread

STR – enough for equipment
DEX – Base
VIT – everything else
ENE – 100-125 depending on +mana equipment

A highly twinked sorc could save further stat points to accumulate more life, add mana or easily obtain max block.

I highly recommend Max Block but it does require a bit of twinking equipment to make it effective. You are stationary while casting CL which means you are a target for ranged. Blocking 75% of ranged attacks is a good deal. It is also a good idea to put one point in Energy Shield since you will be pumping DEX with stats that could boost your life by over 200 points in VIT.

For more information on Max block and Energy shield visit wc3pomet’s very informative thread here

I will say one thing in defense of ES. It’s better to see your blue orb disappear than your red. If you find you are having problems staying alive, try a point in ES.


To help those that will be playing untwinked I will list the mods to look for, followed by a list of ideal/adequate equipment. A CL/FO sorc responds very well to better equipment. The more +skills and FCR you can obtain, the faster your CL will kill. With a synergized CL at slvl20 and no +skills, you will do 6-1954. With +10 skills you will do 9-3949 which doubles your damage. And it nearly doubles again with +20 skills to 11-6606.

Very important mods
– +Skills
– Fast Cast Rate
– +Mana/+Life
– Cannot be Frozen (Being frozen absolutely destroys your killing power. This mod is a must!)
– Resists
– Magic Find
– High chance to block (for max block sorcs)

Good to have mods
– Fast Hit Recovery
– Faster Run/Walk
– Absorb
– +Mana after kill
– Higher Defense
– Damage to mana
– Damage reduction

A quick word about choosing your equipment
If you don’t have some of the things here, choose items with similiar mods or at least items with mods I have listed above. Also don’t forget about the wonderful world of trading. You don’t have to find all this stuff on your own. These are listed in no special order.

Enigma runeword
Chains of Honor runeword
Tal Rasha’s Gaurdianship
Que-Hagans Wisdom
Duriel’s Shell
Skullder’s Ire
Naj’s Light Plate

Harlequin Crest
Tal Rasha’s Crest
Nightwing’s Veil
Andariel’s Visage
Peasant Crown
Lore runeword
+2/3 skills Rare/Magical Circlet (could get some very nice secondary mods on these including FCR, MF and Resists)
Griffon’s Eye Diadem
Kiara’s Gaurdian Tiara

Death’s Fathom
Eschuta’s Temper
Tal Rasha’s Lidless Eye
+2all or +3Lightning skills Orb

Whistan’s Gaurd
Storm Shield
Rhyme runeword
Sanctuary runeword
Gerke’s Sanctuary
Wall of the Eyeless
Lidless Wall
3-4 socket shield with Ist, Um, or Pdiamonds
Moser’s Blessed Circle

Arachnid Mesh
Verdungo’s Mighty Cord
String of Ears
Tal Rasha’s Fine Spun Cloth
Thunder God’s Vigor
Trang Oul’s Girth

Chance Gaurds
Trang-Ouls Claws
Caster Gloves (see Tips and Tactics for creating caster equipment)

War Travelers
Sandstorm Trek
Natalya’s Soul
Cow King’s Hooves
Aldur’s Advance
Caster boots

Mara’s Kaleidascope
Saracen’s Chance
The Mahim-Oak Curio
Telling of Beads
Tal Rasha’s Adjudication
+3 skills Magical Amulet
20% FCR rare amulet

Stone of Jordan
Dwarf Star
Wisp Projector
Manald Heal
+Mana/Life/Resist/MF rare rings
10% Dual mod FCR magical rings

A cheap way to get 78%MF is to wear Tancred’s Wierd amulet with another Tancred’s set item, preferably the boots.

Set bonuses with Tancred’s Wierd amulet and Tancred’s Hobnails boots would be:
+15 Lightning Damage
Heal Stamina Plus 25%
+10 to Dexterity
30% Faster Run/Walk
Damage Reduced by 2
Magic Damage Reduced by 1
+78% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items

Not too shabby indeed. Another would be to use Vidala’s Rig with the amulet and boots.

Set bonuses with Vidala’s Fetlock boots and Vidala’s Snare amulet would be:
Cold Resist 20%
+15 To Life
50% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items
30% Faster Run/Walk
+150 to Maximum Stamina
All Resistances +8
+75 To Attack Rating

It’s always best to plan your equipment before hand, especially if it has rigorous requirements. Remember that you can fill unwanted voids in mods by using charms and by socketing items. This allows even more flexibility when designing your optimal equipment.

My picks:
Vipermagi or Enigma or Skullder’s Ire
Harlequin Crest
Storm Shield or Whistan’s Gaurd(alt Lidless Wall)
Frostburns or Magefist or Chance Gaurds
Stone of Jordan or Dual Mod FRC magical ring
Ravenfrost or +Mana/resists rare ring
Occulus or Death’s Fathom(alt Wizspike)
War Traveler’s
Arachnid’s Mesh or Verdungo’s Mighty Cord or Tal Rasha’s Fine Spun Cloth
Mara’s or Tal Rasha’s Adjudication or Dual Mod +3 Lightning amulet

My current equipment:
Vipermagi Ptopazed
Harlequin Crest Ptopazed
Whistan’s Gaurd Umed (alt Lidless Wall)
Occulus Isted (alt Wizspike)
Dual Mod 10% FCR/19% MF magical ring
Dual Mod +3 Light skills/25% MF magical amulet
War Traveler’s
Tal Rasha’s Fine Spun Cloth

Techniques and Tips

Level Progression

Starting out in Act1 Normal try to find a +skills staff to get you through to clvl12. Only put points in prereqs as every point you have is essential finishing the build sooner and to maxing the power of your 3 main skills. At clvl12 start pumping Lightning exclusively. It is mana intensive so find some socketable items and put some chipped sapphires in there to increase your mana pool. Continue to use your +skills staff for most enemies and use Lightning for the big ones. At clvl18 start pumping CL exclusively. At clvl30 place 1 point in LM and then Max FO and get CM to 5-8. This will get you through Nightmare with amazing ease and it’s much less mana intensive than the Lightning tree. Once FO and CM are done, get CL and Lightning to slvl10 then max LM. Finally, finish CL first and then Lightning last. Your remaining skill points can go to customize the build to fit your priorities.

Gameplay Tips

Open with FO. This will drain most monster’s health to half. CL easily dispatches them after that and it saves you some mana while keeping most of the speed.
Use FO or Lightning to kill single or few enemies. It’s much less mana intensive and much more powerful than CL.
Use a defiance merc for Meph. Try to keep him alive and go back to town quickly and talk to Ormus to heal him if you need to. Use the extra money saved from reviving your merc to gamble circlets and coronets. You don’t have to use a merc for Meph but I run The Pit and Meph in one game and it’s just easier and cheaper to keep him alive.

Bind your offensive spells to your left click and Static/TP/Buff to your right click. This allows you cast your spells while leaving Teleport active on your right click for fast moving or quick escapes. When done correctly you are a speed freak killing machine.
Bind your skills off of the F# row. My skills are ERTSDFGCVB and my info screens are F1-F6. This allows for quicker changing of skills which you will need to be effective. It takes a bit to get used to but it works much better. You will see what I mean in my next tip.
You will be using FO against Act bosses. You can squeeze an extra attack with 70& FCR and 2 extra attacks with 110% FCR inbetween FO casts. FO-Lightning-FO-Lightning-FO or FO-L-L-FO-L-L-FO etc.

If you are having troubles staying alive, try a point in ES, get more resists, or add life. Also review your techniques in how you approach and kill monsters. Learn which to be careful around.
This build is mana intensive. Pick up greater/super mana pots on the ground to keep your belt full and lessen trips to town. Use Lightning and FO more if you need to.
Mods that you will want to aspire to are 70%FCR, 700 life/mana, 50% resists, +10 skills. In a perfect world it would be 110% FCR, 1000 life/mana, max resists, +15 or more skills. I can’t even reach that so don’t worry

Merc Recommendation

You need a tank. This limits the good mercs to Act2 and Act5. While Act5 mercs are decent, you can’t beat the auras that Act2 mercs give to you and your party. The best of them is Defiance or Holy Freeze.

Act 2 Defiance mercs are found in Normal and Hell modes under “Defensive”. The Holy Freeze merc is in Act 2 Nightmare also under “Defensive”.

Holy Freeze is better versus monsters as even Cold Immunes are frozen. Defiance is better versus act bosses.

Merc equipment should be essentially the same whether for Defiance or Holy freeze. High defense armor, high damage-decently quick weapon, plenty of life leech, max resists. Ideally it would be similiar to Reaper’s Toll cryptic axe (polearm, Bonehew works good too), ethereal armor with 1200 defense or more, and Tal Rasha’s Helm for more life leech. Socket them according to his needs.

Caster Items

Caster items can be invaluable but are not available to you until Nightmare mode. A complete list can be found here. This is more for people that are just starting out on the ladder or simply don’t have any sorc items available. It helps by filling a void in equipment where you have to use an unrelated item with no helpful mods. If you plan on doing this be sure to keep those crappy jewels and every amethyst gem you can find for use when crafting.

Dealing with the High mana consumption of CL

Due to it’s spammable nature, CL can cost a ton of mana. You can see how much it costs by multiplying it’s mana cost to times cast per second.

A level slvl30 CL will cost 38 mana * 2.5/second with 110% FCR = 95 mana/second

So what can you do about it? Well mana regeneration doesn’t help a 95 mana/second drain so it’s almost worthless which is why I put very little, if any, in Warmth. It’s best to have the highest mana pool you can get. That coupled with +Mana after kill is the best mod you can get. As well as Damage to Mana.

Closing Comments

This Sorceress build plays very differently than a Meteorb build. You will be constantly casting and TPing. Always doing something and doing it with blazing speed. CL/FO is living life on the edge. In contrast to the Meteorb build where moving too fast can get you into trouble and slow/methodical ruled the day.

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