This is the Final Version of my Avenger guide. Many thanks to all of you who contributed in suggestions and such with the first version. This one is much more complete. If you have questions, or feel that I didn’t cover something. Just send me a private message and I’ll help you out if I can. I have to say that this Avenger has been great fun for me to play, and I suggest for all of you Paladin fans out there to give it a whirl. Don’t be afraid to do your own thing though, this is just a sort of template to start from.
Ok, I’ve always been a fan of Avengers. I played two or three in 1.09 and previous patches. And now they’ve gotten a nice overhaul in 1.10. For those of you who don’t know, an Avenger is a Paladin who uses Vengeance as his main attack, and Conviction as his main aura.
After taking huge amounts of elemental damage from obnoxious Gloams, Balrogs, Steel Scarabs, LEB’s, Archers, Mages and basically every other enemy in Hell (yeah they ALL have elemental damage now it seems) while playing my new characters on the ladder; I decided that it would be best for me to make a character that can “tank” this sort of damage.
So, I started working on a ladder Zealot that would wear Guardian Angel, a Herald of Zakarum (or other shield with huge resist all bonus), and other items to achieve a lovely 90/90/90/90 resistances setup… not counting the cold absorb from Nord’s Tenderizer/Raven Frost and fire absorb from Dwarf Star he’d have.
This character reached the high 30’s before I read in the forums that the fire/cold/lightning resistance auras now give a passive bonus to your maximum resists, even when they aren’t being used as the active aura. The way this works is that for every 2 points you spend on a Resistance aura, that resistance’s max is raised by one point. So if you had 10 points in Resist Fire, your maximum fire resist would go up 5 points. This also stacks on top of +max resist equipment (up to 95% of course). However, it DOES NOT receive bonuses from +skill items. You won’t see your maximum resists go up unless you actually spend the points on these skills. Now, many of us never considered for a second “wasting” points on these three skills until now. But in 1.10 they have two uses. They increase the damage of Vengeance through a synergy bonus, and they raise your maximum resists. Also, with the resistance auras active, you and your party can achieve near immunity to that element while the aura is “turned on”.
Also, with Holy Shield maxed you can easily achieve 10k or more defense and max blocking. Keep in mind, while in 1.09 Holy Shield only enhanced your shield blocking and shield defense, now it enhances your blocking and TOTAL defense.
One final bit of advice before I start the character guide:
The Avenger is most effective while in a party. Conviction gives great bonuses to both Melee Fighters, and Spell casters alike. You can solo Hell with this build, but I highly suggest you use the Avenger in team play; he’s far more effective there.
One quick note about aura flashing before we continue to the skills section:
In 1.09 many people (myself included) would “flash” conviction onto enemies and then use Fanaticism and Vengeance to attack the enemies while they were affected by Conviction. However, aura flashing has been almost entirely removed in 1.10, and while it may still be possible with some auras; it’s neither easy to do, nor consistent, nor necessary to achieve a huge damage output with Vengeance anymore. With that said, we won’t consider offensive auras for combat other than Conviction.
Here is the skill outline for the Avenger I built:
20 Conviction (Right Click skill, main aura)
20 Vengeance (Left Click skill, main attack)
10 Resist Fire (synergy for Vengeance and gives passive bonus to max Fire resist)
10 Resist Cold (synergy for Vengeance and gives passive bonus to max Cold resist)
10 Resist Lightning (synergy for Vengeance and gives passive bonus to max Lightning resist)
20 Holy Shield
Prerequisites and Utility Skills:
Prayer, Defiance, Cleansing, Vigor, Meditation, and Redemption.
Might, Holy Fire, Thorns, Holy Freeze, and Sanctuary.
Sacrifice, Smite, Zeal, Holy Bolt, Charge, and Blessed Hammer=
17 Points in Prerequisites
Total= 107 Points
Cleansing, Vigor, and Redemption are all invaluable to any Paladin build. You can just flash over briefly to Redemption after (or even sometimes during) combat and completely refill your mana and life. This is a very useful skill for destroying corpses, but it usually will make any Necromancer in your party upset. Be sure to communicate with him before using it consistently as it’s NOT a necessity for you, but corpses are for him usually. Meditation is another great option for restoring mana rapidly in between fights, especially when you don’t want to use potions constantly and there are no bodies for Redemption to “redeem”.
With this build you’ll have 3 points leftover at level 99. Now that would be if you even managed to reach level 99 and had done all of the skill quests throughout the game. As many of you know, leveling is much harder now, and you will want to shoot for a more realistic 90-95 or so points for your build (12 pts from quests plus being level 80ish). With that said, you will want to max the skills in this order probably:
1. Conviction- because it assures you of hitting more often, raises your damage exponentially (by lowering enemy resistances), and raises your parties’ damage and chance to hit greatly. It’s also the only aura you’ll use for combat.
2. Resistance Auras-because they raise your max resists, increase damage, and don’t immediately raise the mana cost of Vengeance until you are higher level and more equipped to handle it.
3. Vengeance-because it deals insane damage and is your main attack.
4. Holy Shield- because the defense bonus it gives counts for all of your armors, not just your shield. I suggest about 5-10 points early on, then max it at the end of the game.
Some people have suggested another build that is less mana intensive. You see, Vengeance does have a rather steep mana cost at level 20 or higher: it can cost you around 10 mana per hit. The following build uses one point in Vengeance for the main attack (since it only costs 4 mana at level one), and raises the damage of it through the resist aura synergies.
The alternative build would probably look something like this:
Prerequisites and Utility Skills:
Prayer, Defiance, Cleansing, Vigor, Meditation, Redemption.
Might, Holy Fire, Thorns, Holy Freeze, and Sanctuary.
Sacrifice, Smite, Zeal, Holy Bolt, Charge, Blessed Hammer =
17 Points in Prerequisites
1 point in Vengeance
20 Resist Fire
20 Resist Cold
20 Resist Lightning
10 Holy Shield
So you’d have 2 points leftover if you were at level 99. This taken into consideration, you’d probably end up putting more like 5 points in Holy Shield and anywhere from 10-15 in each of the resistance auras for most of the game. You’d only get to really max out this type of the Avenger build at the end of the game. Some others have suggested maxing only Lightning Resist and putting 10 in the other two. It’s all a matter of taste really; develop a strategy that suits you based on these concepts.
Both seem to be good builds, and I personally don’t know which is better. Vengeance gives 18% elemental damage per point (6% for 3 elements= 18%) but takes the mana cost up a good bit. While a synergy gives 10% to one type of elemental damage (based on which synergy you pumped) and increases your passive resists as well, without raising the mana cost.
This build gets close to the amount of damage that the max Vengeance build does, but it takes a few more points to complete, and doesn’t usually get to put as many in Holy Shield. It does take much less mana to attack with, and gives you 85/85/85/75 resists without any +max resist gear.
My suggestion is to use this build if:
1. You want really high resists without using Guardian Angel or other +max resist gear.
2. You want to have a lower mana cost with Vengeance.
3. You just think it’s more fun than the max Vengeance build.
Both builds are good, and both of them have their strengths. However, maxing Conviction IS a must for both builds, and so is using some in the Resist Auras to achieve better resists and damage. At least 5 points in Holy Shield is suggested also, since you’ll get great bonuses from it even at level 5. The duration is much longer now also, so with only 5 points you won’t constantly be recasting it.
Since both builds are so similar in damage output, skill point placement, and resistances; from here on out unless I state that I’m talking about one particular build, assume that I’m referring to all of the aforementioned builds.
Strength: As for most builds, just enough to wear your equipment. Nothing much to say here other than that. Look at your endgame goal for Strength and aim for having that in time to where all of your gear. So your strength will likely need to be anywhere from 80-170, depending on what equipment you choose.
Dexterity: Max blocking is a must for Hell difficulty. If you’re getting slaughtered in Nightmare and Hell and you’re blocking is below 75, then you should know what is wrong here. Depending on what equipment you have you may need as little as 100 points here. However, if you don’t have high-level Holy Shield, a high blocking shield, or other +chance to block items; you may end up spending around 150 or so here. I personally suggest you go for Guardian Angel, the Herald of Zakarum, Raven Frost, and maxed Holy Shield. With those items you’ll need VERY little dexterity to achieve max blocking even at level 90+. To figure out how much blocking you have/need, just hover your mouse pointer over your defense (while Holy Shield is on, otherwise it will be lower than what you really need); it will show your chance to block. Then check it after each point you put into dexterity to see when it is at 75%.
For those of you who plan to use items like the ones I listed above, don’t pump dexterity very high until you are wearing them (around level 40 usually). This way you won’t waste points in dexterity that could have been spent on….
Vitality: the rest of your points go here. You want to be able to survive hell don’t you? Well some of these baddies are going to hurt you no more how high your defense, blocking, and resists are. Get as much Vitality as you can. Supplement this with +life items as well.
Energy: base, none, nothing, zilch. Not a single point. I really think that you can get by just fine with none in energy. When you first use Vengeance you may think otherwise because it can eat through your mana. However, further down in this guide in the Strategy section I’ve included a list of ways to easily deal with your mana problem WITHOUT pointing any points in energy. Also, you only get 1.5 mana per point in energy. So it’s fairly useless to put any points here.
Keep in mind while placing your stat points, by the time you reach Hell you should have:
1. Enough strength to wear all of your equipment without using gobs of +strength charms.
2. Enough dexterity to achieve max blocking.
3. Well over 1k life. More is suggested however.
4. At least 200 mana or massive mana leech. That’s WITHOUT placing any stat points in Energy.
Paladins or any melee class have become even more gear dependent in 1.10. I can assure you that without some decent gear, you won’t have an easy time with Nightmare or Hell difficulties. It’s also important that you plan ahead so you’ll know how much strength/dexterity you need to equip your weapons/armor and how much dexterity you need for blocking. With that said, let’s move forward.
Lots of choices here. I’m going to name some pretty obvious Uniques/Sets that come to mind. Also, rares have the possibility to spawn more than 400ed in 1.10. So do not leave rares on the ground. You will be surprised at the possibilities these things have, even normal/exceptional ones can be upgraded to elite status now.
Examples: Baranar’s Star, Nord’s Tenderizer, Demon Limb, Lightsabre, Azurewrath (elite). The list goes on and on, there are so many good elite unique weapons to choose from. Take your pick. You want high physical damage because that is what determines how well you will leech, and how much Vengeance damage you will do.
For lower levels, ladder, or those of us who are just plain poor: Crescent Moon runeword is awesome for an Avenger. Check out the mods on this one. And its runes aren’t that expensive (Shael+Um+Tir). Place this one in an elite/exceptional sword or axe and you are ready to go.
I’m not going to bother naming anymore weapons. I highly suggest something like Crescent Moon. The static field triggering is just awesome, and it has other great mods too. I could go on and name things like Breath of the Dying, but there wouldn’t be much point in that. If you want to see all of your weapon choices, head to the Arreat summit. They have all items in the game listed there.
I do suggest however that you shoot for a fairly fast attack speed. You don’t have Zeal/Fanaticism so you’ll want a fast weapon for sure.
Guardian Angel was the armor I chose to wear for my Avenger. Almost every mod on this armor is extremely useful. It also gives you a huge defense bonus when multiplied by Holy Shield. And most importantly, with 10 in each resistance aura and this armor on. Your maximum resistances are 95/95/95/90, which is as good as it gets really. Coupled with some absorption, I never even felt elemental damage even in Hell difficulty (Oh, was that you shooting me Mr.Gloam, I didn’t notice).
Some very nice expensive armors are: Chains of Honor (probably the best armor in the game), Enigma (mostly for MF, but has some crazy mods), Leviathan, Arkaine’s Valor, Templar’s Might, or even Tyrael’s Armor. I put emphasis on elite armors simply because defense DOES matter a lot. Especially since Holy Shield multiplies it as well.
Good cheap options here are: Tals Mask, Lore runeword, Rockstopper, and Peasant Crown.
For those of you with more wealth or access to items: Vampire Gaze, Crown of Ages, Harlequin Crest, and even Delirium Runeword are all nice. Andariel’s Visage doesn’t look too shabby either.
The obvious best choice here is Herald of Zakarum. This shield is absolutely awesome. It will give you resists, huge blocking, a nice bonus to your combat skills, 2 to your other skills, strength, and vitality. Nothing compares to ole Zak.
But for those of you with less resources make yourself one of these shields in a Paladin shield with the base resists mod: Ancients Pledge, Rhyme, or Sanctuary are all very good. Also, putting 4 Perfect Diamonds in a 4 socket Paladin shield with good base resists can net you upwards of 100 or more resists. As far as shields go you really need to pick up huge amounts of resistances here, since you are going to have +max and need that much more. And the rest of your gear is more limited.
You can also find some good rare shield with resists and +1 or +2 to Paladin skills.
Some of the new elite uniques might be ok, but I really think resists are most important here. Stormshield is always a good choice, but I think it’s second to Herald of Zakarum for a Paladin. Casting Hydra with Dragonscale (and Conviction on to lower damage) would certainly be a fun and interesting way to take out enemies from afar.
Good choices here are: Nightsmoke (returns 50% of the damage you take to mana), Sigons Belt (combined with other sigons pieces of course), Deaths sash (with Deaths gloves), Wilhelm’s Set Battle Belt has nice dual leech.
Your best bet is probably String of Ears, Verdungo’s Hearty Cord (since you won’t leech much anyways this probably beats out String of Ears), or ThunderGod’s Vigor for the dual stat bonuses and lightning resist.
Deaths or Sigons set gloves are nice if combined with other pieces of the set.
Some good boots for low levels are: Sanders Boots, Sigons Boots (combined with other sigons pieces), and Cow Kings Boots
Good boots for higher levels are: War Travelers (probably best for the 15-25 damage mod), Gore Riders, and nice Rare boots with R/W, resists, and MF.
At low levels a good option is to use 2 Angelic Rings combined with the Angelic amulet and armor to get great mods. But these should be replaced by the time you are reaching level 40ish at the latest.
Rare dual leech rings are back and are still an awesome option.
I also suggest very highly that one of your rings be Raven Frost. This ring gives Cannot be Frozen, mana (which you’ll need), dexterity (saves points), huge Cold Absorb, a big AR bonus (not as important since you have Conviction lowering enemy defense to basically nothing), and even cold damage.
Other great rings are: Stone of Jordan (since you’ll need mana, it’s also a great ring), Bul-Kathos’ Wedding Band, Manald Heal (mana leech!) and Carrion Wind (life leech, and damage take to mana to name a few reasons).
Finally, for those of you who aren’t rich enough to acquire such items. A rare or magical ring with a good bonus to mana can be quite helpful. The same can be said for your amulet also.
As I suggested before, Angelic Amulet can be nice when combined with other angelic pieces at lower levels.
Good amulets for mid-range Avengers are: Eye of Etlich, a rare amulet with mana, +skills, and resists.
As far as endgame amulets go: Rare leech/life/mana/resists/skills amulet (not all of these mods necessarily, but a combination of a few is nice), Mara’s Kaleidoscope, Crescent Moon (for those of you having lots of mana troubles, this amulet might solve all of your problems), or even Seraph’s Hymn or Metal Grid.
If you can’t afford something really nice go for one with a bonus to mana, which can be invaluable to keep you swinging your Vengeance.
Charms are very important for an Avenger. Based on how much (or how little) mana leech, mana, or mana troubles you have; you may want a few +mana small charms or a few +mana (40-50) grand charms. Life charms are also very good here.
And lastly, you need to save all the all-resistances charms and single resistance (9-11%) small charms you find throughout the game. You’ll want these when you get to Hell difficulty since you may be hurting for resists due to your choice of gear. Some large/grand charms can be very good too. Ultimately, charms with two mods (life/mana or life/resists) are your best bet.
Let me start with the basic strategies/tactics to avoid having mana troubles with an Avenger.
1. Have a mana pool of at least 200 mana. You can achieve this easily with your base mana bonus at higher levels, and some from charms and items. You’d be surprised how many good items have +to mana on them and people don’t realize it. Charms, I think, are the most important. A couple small charms with 15-17 mana, and another good mod if you are lucky, can really help you out.
2. Use Redemption/Meditation in between battles. Redemption will usually refill your mana bulb instantly. You just quickly switch to it (even during battle, especially against shamans and other things that revive) and you get life/mana back as well as destroy corpses. All in just a split second. Meditation on the other hand, with a decent base mana of say 200, can quickly heal you even with no corpses around.
3. Use Potions. People seem to have something against using potions in general. This isn’t PvP however so don’t show any mercy to Hell’s Minions. Potions are wonderful, easy to find (nearly every enemy drops one in 8 player games, and Champions/Uniques drop TONS), and you can buy them now. Simply using potions can solve the mana problems of an avenger by themselves. But combined with the other methods I’m suggesting, you should never have any mana problems.
4. And finally, use a quick Zeal. With a little leech a quick 5 hit zeal can restore you to full while still dealing decent damage. It can also leech back a lot of health. I am not suggesting you put 5 pts here. I think it’s a lot easier to just receive the 4 pts you need from say… Herald of Zakarum or an amulet. Don’t count Zeal out; it’s one of the best and fastest ways to regenerate mana.
5. Get some Mana leech items. I’ve listed a lot of possibilities in the equipment section. Mana leech may not completely solve your mana problems, but it will slow down the rate at which you expend mana.
That about wraps things up for mana troubles; if you have other methods then use them. If you follow these steps I can assure you that you will not have any mana troubles though. One final note, carry Rejuvenation potions not only for when you are dying, but also for Mana burning packs of monsters. A few mana pots, and a few small rejuvenation pots and you can easily handle a pack of mana stealing immune to physical ghosts.
Try to just level up gradually. Don’t rush ahead at all. Use your one point in Sacrifice and Might to carry you through until you get Zeal at level 12. Zeal is a good skill even with only one point in it. You’ll end up using Zeal throughout the game due to it’s ability to quickly leech back all of your mana and life. Zeal will help you kill Andariel, usually at around level 15. Then you move on to Act 2.
Keep leveling up and moving forward gradually. Use Zeal as your main attack, or Vengeance if it is better at this point. You’ll need some mana leech at this level though for it to work well. Partying can help you throughout Normal, since you will be investing your points in Resistance Auras unlike other melee classes that are already maxing their main combat skills. By the time you reach 30 however you should have one point in each prerequisite, a few in each resistance aura, and a few in Holy Shield (preferably five). You’ll also want at least one point in Vengeance for sure. When you hit level 30 make sure you have two points to spend. One goes to Conviction, and the other to the best utility skill in your arsenal: Redemption. From here your mana problems will quickly disappear I think. Use Redemption after battles to restore your mana, saving your mana potions for other times when you are swarmed and need to recover mana.
Try to level in Normal until you can’t take it anymore. Level 45 is highly suggested. Your best bet for leveling up is to party with at least one spell caster (Sorceress, Druid, Trapper, etc.), in 8-player Baal runs. While you may not be a powerhouse yourself yet, Sorceress’s and other classes will absolutely love you since you will be putting their damage through the roof and tanking for them. You can very rapidly get to the mid 40’s doing these Baal runs. And it takes a lot of strain off of your shoulders if you have a full team to play with as well.
Take your time in Nightmare. It helps, as always for an Avenger, to play with a party. They will greatly benefit from your Conviction aura, and you can benefit from them as well. Once you get to act two, hire yourself a good Aura Mercenary (more on this in the Mercenary Section). These guys should be kept alive until they are more powerful. Ideal gear to give them is something like: Gaze, Shaft (Chains of Honor), and a big damage weapon with leech if possible. If you don’t have good gear for them, then find a good exceptional Pole/Spear and cube it with the Horardric Cube (3 gems) and when you get one with decent Enhanced Damage, socket it with Amns if possible. This is a cheap solution for your mercenary.
In Act 4 you will need to watch out for the Iron Maiden casting clowns in the Chaos Sanctuary. While most of your damage is Elemental, the part that you deal that is physical can still hurt you while you are cursed with Iron Maiden.
Once you get to Act 5, DO NOT rush on to Hell. An Avenger is not a spell caster so he can’t “fake-it” through Hell. Simply repeat the process you used to level up in Normal Difficulty, run Baal with a large party if possible. By now you should have Conviction and your Resistance Auras maxed, and be working on Vengeance for the massive damage increase (or for the other builds, maxing your Resist auras one by one to increase damage/max resists). This is the time when the Avenger begins to really come into true power. You’ll likely be equipping yourself with your best gear, maxing skills, and enjoying the benefits of party play here.
Keep doing Baal runs until you have all of your best equipment on. The reason I suggest this is because Hell difficulty is VERY hard now. It’s not a place to rush to anymore, and receive experience for free. You have to do the leveling yourself, otherwise you are going to get slaughtered in Hell and not have very much fun. While some classes (casters mostly) can hurry through Hell to enjoy large Hell runs for even more experience, I do not suggest this kind of reckless behavior for an Avenger.
Your final challenge: Hell difficulty. I’m going to try to explain some of the more difficult areas from my experience, and from the perspective of a fellow Avenger.
Act One shouldn’t be too hard. It’s the easiest of the Hell acts by far.
When you do get to Act Two though, do not give up hope if it’s considerably more difficult that the others. I find this act to be one of the hardest in the game in Hell. Steel Scarabs and Unravellers will give many parties troubles, but not yours! Against Steel Scarabs, you can tank their damage. If your party is dying to their deadly sparks, simply switch on Resist Lightning and make them all nearly immune. While you lose damage in doing this, you do gain the benefit of actually having a party fighting for you. You can also use such defensive auras to allow your party to regroup into safer or more tactical positions. Then when they are safe, you can switch back to Conviction and crush them. Against annoying Unravellers/Horadrim Ancients who raise skeletons and zombies repeatedly, just switch to Redemption and watch as their army of corpses evaporates after being slain.
Act Three isn’t too hard. This is where you will first see the annoying Hell Gloams. Don’t be intimidated though. While these guys are the new one hit KO of 1.10, they aren’t for you. You’ll likely have anywhere from 85-95% lightning resist, plus possibly some absorb. If your party is getting slaughtered, once again, switch over to Resist Lightning. Aside from that, Act 3 really isn’t too hard. The Durance is of course huge now, and can be annoying with those stupid dolls popping everywhere. But my experience was that Act 3 isn’t too difficult. Kill Mephisto and head on to Act 4.
Act 4 is short and rather sweet. Aside from the Iron Maiden casting mages, which you need to take out first, you shouldn’t have too much trouble here. If your party is getting swarmed by fire breathing Balrogs, then switch to Resist Fire until things settle down.
Once you are in Act 5, make sure to get a good party to play with. If you are soloing, make sure to take your time here. Act 5 of Hell is the ultimate challenge that 1.10 has to offer. Most of the enemies will just be harder versions of what you’ve faced in earlier acts however, so you won’t be too surprised here.
Lister the tormentor can be a hard boss to solo. I highly suggest a party for him (you get more experience this way as well). But if you do take him on, simply lure his minions out into the open, and pick them off one by one.
Once you’ve become a Patriarch is when I think you’ll possibly have the most fun of all- in big Hell Baal games. This has become the new “cow-run” for leveling. As it should be, it offers more experience than anywhere else in the game, and is certainly manageable with a good party. Of course there are a few annoyances like Iron Maiden mages to watch out for, and Burning Souls to shield your party from. But with a decent team it’s not too hard to get into the low 90’s in little time with this build.
With the Avenger, you’ll probably get more comments from people in games to “play with me next run” or “your aura is awesome, my spells are killing them so much faster”. The main reason I chose to play the Avenger is because he’s an unstoppable killing machine. Generating high amounts of elemental and physical damage, there is nothing that can be immune to him, and nothing that can stand against his party when aided by Conviction.
The act two mercenaries are generally the best for this type of build. I suggest you get Might, Holy Freeze, or Defiance. I’d say the order I just listed is in order of usefulness, but maybe Holy Freeze is better than Might. For those of you who are rich, equip a Might mercenary with a “Doom” weapon and you’ll have a “Might/Holy Freeze” mercenary.
Good luck, and happy avenging!
Much thanks goes out to Ragnarod and those in the Paladin forums for encouraging me to write a complete version of this guide. Thanks again!