The principle behind my Hammerdin build is to maximize Blessed Hammer damage at the lowest level. As this paladin levels up he will have the most possible hammer damage at every level from 18 and up. This means I have painstakingly calculated the value of every last skill and stat point invested in my paladin.
This build can be somewhat hard to level up early because he focuses so intensely on Blessed Hammer, Concentration, and the two synergies, that he virtually ignores everything else. Once he gets to level 29 he owns all with his deadly hammers. If you use the skills, stats, and items I recommend I think you will find this build very easy.
The focus of my guide is on the lower and mid levels not so much on the end game. I am not into PvP so that topic will not even be mentioned in the body of this text.
I recommend utilizing the bare minimum required strength, dexterity, and energy, dumping everything else into vitality.
Energy: nothing. Use equipment and charms to increase your mana pool. You will be starving for mana early. Suck down the blues and bear with it. Your time will come.
Strength: slowly add strength. I recommend 30 by level 15 so you can wear Treads of Cthon unique boots at level 15. Then 60 by level 29 so you can wear Frostburn unique gloves. Last, but certainly not least, make your strength 89 by level 42 so you can use the unique shield Herald of Zakarum. This shield gives +4 skills to hammer and is the only shield I recommend. Having 89 base strength will also ensure you can pick up all your items off of your corpse should you die. No body popping. Go slow with the strength so you can build up your vitality. You will need it.
Dexterity: enough to maintain a 75% chance to block with Holy Shield active. My recommendation is to use math to find the least amount of dexterity required to maintain 75% blocking. Battle.net says that Herald of Zakarum has an 82% chance to block. This is deceiving. The actual chance to block is calculated using your paladin’s dexterity, your shield’s stated chance to block, and your paladin’s level. Quoting from Ragnarod’s 1.10 Paladin FAQ:
â€œTotal Blocking = (Blocking * (Dexterity – 15)) / (Character Level * 2)
Where Blocking is (Shield Blocking + Holy Shield bonus) if you are using Holy Shield. Notice that even if you won’t be shown more than 75% blocking in your shield, its base chance to block might be higher (for example, Stormshield has 77% chance to block, and Herald of Zakarum has 82% chance to block for paladins, those are the numbers that you have to use)
Using my method, you will have 75% total blocking at level 24 and beyond. Before level 24 you’ll be very close to 75% chance to block, but with your high vitality you will stay alive. To take advantage of this, you will need +9 to combat or all skills and one skill point in the skill Holy Shield. You must then cast Holy Shield every 230 seconds when it expires.
I’ll tell you the easy way to get +9 skills in the equipment section.
Vitality: everything else.
This is where I recommend putting all your stat points:
Level Vit Dex Str 10 60 30 25 20 91 44 30 30 96 59 60 42 109 77 89 50 137 89 89 60 173 103 89 70 208 118 89 80 243 133 89 90 279 147 89
The Maximum Damage Paladin is very item dependant. He must maximize his +skills items, his maximum mana, his mana recovery, and his faster casting.
All the items I recommend are from patch 1.09 and earlier. I do this because they are so easy to come by even for the casual player. Anyone with any time in this game and a modicum of trading can easily obtain these items. If you find better equipment then use it but remember the principles I stated above.
At level one, mule a Khalim’s Will to your paladin. Do not confuse this with Khalim’s flail. For Khalim’s Will there are no level, strength or dexterity requirements. I’ve had one for years. It’s the best weapon for characters under level 18, maybe further. It doesn’t matter if you get it in normal, nightmare, or hell. Just get one and use it every time you make a new character. It will kill almost any monster in Acts 1 and 2 in one hit.
At level six, get Death’s Hand and Death’s sash. These will give you 30% increased attack speed, cannot be frozen, +15 to all resistances, 8% life steal, and make you nearly immune to poison in normal. I use this set until level 23.
At level 11, get two Cathan’s Seals, set rings. These give you 6% life steal each. With Khalim’s, Death’s, and Cathan’s you now have a nice +25% life steal at level 11.
At level 15 it gets sweet. Grab a Tarnhelm, an Eye of Etlich, and Treads of Cthon. Now you have +2 to all skills, +3% to 7% additional life steal, any normal monster you hit gets frozen, and you can run faster. I hate running slow. Get a perfect Eye if you can so you will have 32% life steal at level 15.
At level 17, get a 2 socket breastplate and put Tal and Eth runes in it. Breastplates require 30 strength and are ridiculously easy to find. Tal+Eth makes the excellent â€œStealthâ€ rune word. It gives faster casting, faster hit recovery, faster run/walk, and faster mana regeneration. Sweet.
Now we need to start thinking about faster casting. Quoting from Ragnarod’s 1.10 Paladin FAQ:
â€œ0% fcr - 15 frames 9% fcr - 14 frames 18% fcr - 13 frames 30% fcr - 12 frames 48% fcr - 11 frames 75% fcr - 10 frames 125% fcr - 9 framesâ€
With Stealth we get 13 frames.
At level 18, I highly recommend a Rusthandle unique grand scepter. It does decent damage and gives you +1 to paladin skills. Note the strength requirement of 37. You won’t have the base strength required at level 18, but some plus strength charms will help you out. With this you will have +3 to all skills. Your hammers will be doing enough damage to kill everything in your path. I never used my weapon to hit anything after level 18. Ditch your life leech rings, put on two Manaldheal unique rings, and fill your belt with one row of red pots and three rows of blue pots you should have no problem having enough mana. Pick up blue pots as you go and you should be able to kill everything with hammers from level 18 and up. Drink all the blue potions you need. Buy them from the NPC’s. Really, there should be no problem with mana with this build.
At level 23 get Magefists. These, with Stealth, will allow you to get the 12 frame breakpoint. Since you are taking off the Death’s Hand you can go ahead and ditch Death’s Guard and put on a Nightsmoke for more mana.
At level 29 put on 2 Stones of Jordan and Skin of Vipermagi. Skin and Magefist will allow you to break the 11 frame cast rate. The added skills and much needed mana will allow you to cast a lot more hammers. Also at level 29 you should make a â€œRhymeâ€ Shield. â€œRhymeâ€ is the runeword formed by Shael and Eth runes. This is the best low lever caster shield there is. If you use a 2-socket bone shield, you will get 70% chance to block. The bone shield is light so you can run faster. You will get 40% faster block rate, +25 to all resistances, faster mana regeneration, cannot be frozen, +50% extra gold find, and, to top it off, +25% magic find. It will last you until you get your Herald of Zakarum at level 42. You can also use a 2-socket grim shield to make this rune word and get the same benefits. With Skin of Vipermagi, Nightsmoke, and a Rhyme shield you should have 55 to 70% resistances. Ten more when you complete the Anya quest.
You have a choice here at level 29. If you need more mana, drop your Magefists and grab some Frostburns. It will slow down your casting by one frame, but you probably won’t even notice it. In addition, you can use a Whitstan’s Guard from the Disciple set. This is a great shield for blocking. I socketed mine with a perfect diamond for the resists. I found that in Normal I needed more mana than faster casting so I used Frostburns and the Rhyme Shield.
At level 33 get a Suicide branch and trade your Magefists for Frostburns. This bad boy along with Skin of Vipermagi will put you into the 10 frame casting range. To me this is the best PvM rate. Trying to get to the next frame is not worth it. You have to sacrifice too much equipment in my opinion. I love this wand. +1 to skills, 50% FCR, 10% max mana, +40 to life, +10 to all resistances, it’s all good. At this point you will have 65 to 80% resistances, assuming you did the Anya quest. Capped at 75% of course.
At level 36 get a Glooms Trap and Silkweaves. If you have mana problems after putting these on you are doing something wrong. You will still need to drink mana pots though. When you switch out, you will lose 10% of your resistances, but you don’t need them that much right now.
At level 42 you get to wear the fabled Herald of Zakarum. Your total chance to block is now 75%. You get strength, vitality, resistances, oh and did I mention +4 to your hammer skill! The Herald of Zakarum, Skin of Vipermagi, Suicide Branch, and the Anya quest will net 90 to 105% resistances. In normal, you will have maxed resists. If you want to maintain maxed resists in Nightmare you should socket your HoZ with an Um rune. Be careful, Um requires level 47.
At level 61 grab a Wizardspike. It has more max mana than Suicide, mana regeneration, and just as much FCR. You lose a skill point, but it makes up for it with +75% to all resistances. With this item you will have your resists maxed in Hell assuming you followed my other items.
At level 62 dig up a Harlequin Crest, unique shako. +2 to skills, Life, mana, oh and +50% magic find. Put a topaz in it if you want even more magic find.
At level 67 put on a Mara’s Kaleidoscope. +2 to skills and even more resists. If you followed my items you will not need the resists here, so go ahead and get one with low resists, they are easier to trade for.
I saved the best for last. This is where I did most of my work. I used common mathematical techniques to find the fastest way to develop the most damage as quickly as possible while leveling up your hammerdin. He does this at the cost of having no melee combat skills to speak of. No Zeal, no Vengeance, and only one point in Smite. He uses the normal attack with a level one might aura until he can effectively cast hammers.
Speaking of auras, this guy does not right away max Concentration. To achieve the maximum damage hammer at the lower levels it becomes necessary to max Blessed Hammer first, then balance Concentration with the synergies Vigor and Blessed Aim.
You may be thinking this sounds ridiculous, but the whole idea is to maximize hammer damage at lower levels. This will be proven here.
First off Concentration adds 50% of it’s stated damage to Blessed Hammer. This means that it adds 30% on the first point and 7.5% on all points thereafter. On the other hand, Blessed Aim and Vigor add 14% damage to hammer. To quote Snake-Byte, â€œbut what you’ve got to remember is that Vigor and Conc increase the base damage of hammers, and that is again modified by concentration. So say you’re getting 14% per level from Vigor and Blessed Aim, at some point you’re going to start getting more damage per point in Conc than you are per point into the synergies because the synergies increase the base damage of hammers.â€
Secondly, nothing increases hammer damage than points in Blessed Hammer. The added damage tails off at the top end, but even at level twenty the increase is better than the 14% added by BA or Vigor. In other words, max Blessed Hammer first.
Here is the cool math part. If math is boring to you go ahead and skip to the SKILLS DISTRIBUTION section below.
I modeled the min and max damage of Blessed Hammer as a function of skill level an came up with two second order polynomials.
Base min = 0.1285*BH^2+6.9255*BH+5.6421
Base max = 0.1333*BH^2+6.804*BH+10.032
Where BH is your Blessed Hammer skill level. Please note that these formulae are approximate with respect to actual damage. They should get you to within a few points however. The main idea is that you can use them to prove what skill gives you the most damage.
Next we add in Blessed Aim and Vigor
Min = Base min*(1+0.14*(BA+V))
Max = Base Max*(1+0.14*(BA+V))
Where BA and V are the skill levels of your Blessed Aim and Vigor. Please note that items that add skill points to your BA and Vigor will not add damage to your hammers. They do add damage to base hammer damage and Concentration.
Now we add Concentration. Note that Concentration damage is calculated as a percentage of base hammer damage plus the damage added by BA and Vigor.
Total min = Min*(1+0.5*(0.15*C+0.45))
Total max = Max*(1+0.5*(0.15*C+0.45))
Where C is your Concentration skill level.
If you put it all together in terms of skill levels only and simplify you get:
Total min = [(0.1285*BH^2+6.925*BH+5.6421)*(1+1.14*(BA+V))]* [1+(0.075*C+0.225)]
Total max = [(0.1333*BH^2+6.804*BH+10.032)*(1+1.14*(BA+V))]* [1+(0.075*C+0.225)]
This you can easily insert into a spreadsheet as I did in the Hammer Damage spreadsheet in Excel file available from me by email. I also put in my stat points level by level using the chance to block formula to find required dex. My address is at the end of the guide.
First off I must thank Loboleal for figuring out the best point distribution. I only came up with the formulae; Loboleal did the painstaking point-by-point distribution. If you want to max your Hammer Damage by level 79, do what Loboleal recommends. This is assuming you have completed all the skill point adding quests, Den of Evil, Radament, and Izual in Normal, Nightmare, and Hell.
Level 1 – 12: one point each in Might, Prayer, Smite, Holy Bolt, Defiance, Charge, Blessed Aim, and Cleansing. Save all other points. If you have done Den and Radament you should have 5 points leftover.
Level 13 – 17: put a point in Blessed Aim every level. Trust me.
Level 18 and 19: You should have plenty of points to do this. Blessed Hammer, Concentration, Vigor, and Blessed Aim. Now you can cast some killer hammers. And with your level 7 and 8 Blessed Aim they will be very powerful.
Level 20 – 23: Pump Blessed Hammer every level. Do Izual, but save one point at level 23.
Level 24: Holy Shield and Meditation. In case you don’t know, Holy Shield is your best friend for defense. It increases your chance to block and your defense rating.
Level 25 – 38: Max Blessed Hammer, but go ahead and drop a point in Redemption at level 30. You should still be in Normal leveling up. At level 38 you should be at 20/2/2/9 for BH/Conc/Vigor/BA.
Level 39 – 70: Here it gets interesting. What we have found is that at this point you should alternate Concentration and one of the synergy skills, Vigor or BA, to maximize your damage. I picked Vigor first arbitrarily here. You could just as well max Blessed Aim first. They add the same amount of damage. So at level 39 put a point in Conc, at 40 put a point in Vigor, and alternate until you max out both skills. This will occur at level 70. By the way, by level 51 you should be in Nightmare and done with Den of Evil and Radament. Kill Izual about level 60, move into Hell about level 70, and clean out the Den of Evil.
Level 71 – 79: Max Blessed Aim. Grab the Hell Radament and Izual quests to complete your build.
Level 80 and up: You are on your own now. Holy Shield is nice to increase your chance to block and save on some dexterity points for use in vitality.
If you want to see how it all works out damage wise, here it is:
Clvl Skill Used BH Conc Vig BA Hammer Damage 2 Might 3 Smite Den Prayer 4 Save1 5 Save2 6 Holy Bolt/Defiance 7 Save2 8 Save3 9 Save4 10 Save5 11 Save6 12 Charge/BA/Cleansing 1 Radmnt Save5 1 13 Save5/BA 2 14 Save5/BA 3 15 Save5/BA 4 16 Save5/BA 5 17 Save5/BA 6 18 BH/Conc/Vigor/BA 1 1 1 7 35/47 19 BH/Conc/Vigor 2 2 2 7 62/75 20 BH 3 2 2 7 86/98 21 BH 4 2 2 7 110/122 22 BH 5 2 2 7 135/147 23 BH 6 2 2 7 161/173 Izual 1 Save1 6 2 2 7 161/173 Izual 2 Save2 6 2 2 7 161/173 24 BH/HolyShield/Meditatn 7 2 2 7 188/199 25 BH 8 2 2 7 215/227 26 BH 9 2 2 7 243/255 27 BH 10 2 2 7 273/284 28 BH 11 2 2 7 302/314 29 BH 12 2 2 7 333/345 30 Redmptn 12 2 2 7 333/345 31 BH 13 2 2 7 365/376 32 BH 14 2 2 7 397/408 33 BH 15 2 2 7 430/442 34 BH 16 2 2 7 464/476 35 BH 17 2 2 7 499/510 36 BH 18 2 2 7 534/546 37 BH 19 2 2 7 570/582 38 BH 20 2 2 7 608/620 39 Conc 20 3 2 7 641/654 40 Vig 20 3 3 7 680/694 41 Conc 20 4 3 7 716/730 42 Vig 20 4 4 7 757/772 43 Conc 20 5 4 7 795/810 44 Vig 20 5 5 7 838/855 45 Conc 20 6 5 7 878/895 46 Vig 20 6 6 7 924/942 47 Conc 20 7 6 7 965/984 Den Vig 20 7 7 7 1013/1033 48 Conc 20 8 7 7 1056/1077 49 Vig 20 8 8 7 1106/1128 50 Conc 20 9 8 7 1152/1175 Radmnt Vig 20 9 9 7 1204/1228 51 Conc 20 10 9 7 1251/1276 52 Vig 20 10 10 7 1305/1331 53 Conc 20 11 10 7 1355/1382 54 Vig 20 11 11 7 1411/1439 55 Conc 20 12 11 7 1462/1492 56 Vig 20 12 12 7 1521/1551 57 Conc 20 13 12 7 1574/1606 58 Vig 20 13 13 7 1635/1667 59 Conc 20 14 13 7 1690/1724 Izual 1 Vig 20 14 14 7 1753/1788 Izual 2 Conc 20 15 14 7 1810/1847 60 Vig 20 15 15 7 1875/1912 61 Conc 20 16 15 7 1934/1973 62 Vig 20 16 16 7 2001/2041 63 Conc 20 17 16 7 2063/2104 64 Vig 20 17 17 7 2131/2174 65 Conc 20 18 17 7 2195/2239 66 Vig 20 18 18 7 2266/2311 67 Conc 20 19 18 7 2332/2378 68 Vig 20 19 19 7 2404/2452 69 Conc 20 20 19 7 2472/2522 70 Vig 20 20 20 7 2547/2598 Den BA 20 20 20 8 2621/2674 71 BA 20 20 20 9 2696/2750 72 BA 20 20 20 10 2771/2826 73 BA 20 20 20 11 2845/2902 74 BA 20 20 20 12 2920/2978 Radmnt BA 20 20 20 13 2994/3054 75 BA 20 20 20 14 3069/3130 76 BA 20 20 20 15 3143/3206 77 BA 20 20 20 16 3218/3282 78 BA 20 20 20 17 3293/3359 79 BA 20 20 20 18 3367/3435 Izual 1 BA 20 20 20 19 3442/3511 Izual 2 BA 20 20 20 20 3516/3587
Get a Nightmare Act 2 Holy Freeze mercenary. This is the only mercenary I recommend. Give him a good weapon, some life leech, and some resists and he will slow down all your enemies so you can pelt them with hammers. I recommend Duriel’s Shell, Tal’s Mask, and a Spire of Honor, or Hone Sundan if you have some nice ED jewels to put in it. Make sure he levels up with you. I know it’s hard to resist killing everything in sight with your awesome hammers, but let your merc get a few kills himself.
I’ve read some posts, some websites, tried things out and come up with a method of leveling up that works for my paladin and me in 1.10. Some might think it’s cheesy so take it with a grain of salt.
Level 1 – 12 Solo Act 1. Do the Den of Evil quest. Get as far as you can by yourself. At level 12 get someone to kill Andariel for you. Get an Act 2 merc.
Level 12 – 18 Do sewer runs, kill Radamant. At level 18 have a high level sorceress grab the cube, the staff, and the amulet for you. Get the Arcane waypoint from her.
Level 18 – 24 Do Arcane runs. This is your chance to perfect your hammer technique. Kill everything with hammers. I found that if you pick up mana potions you won’t have to buy any. Don’t forget to put your Khalim’s Will back on your mule.
I hate Act 3 for some reason. To skip Act 3, have a high level sorceress go to Travincal and kill the council members. Do not pick up the flail. You will not be able to take a portal to Durance until you talk to Cain. Grab the Durance waypoint. Kill Mephisto. I had no problem killing Mephisto solo at level 24.
Level 24 – 26 Clear all of Act 4 solo, especially Izual for the two skill points. I had no problem doing all of Act 4 including Diablo using nothing but hammers and my merc.
Level 26 – 42 Do Shenk and rescue the barbarians. I did this solo. Have someone give you the Crystalline Passage waypoint and grab Anya. Get the Ancients’ Way waypoint. Do the Ancients quest. I soloed the Ancients at level 27 and didn’t even lose my merc. Touch the altar step back and spam hammers, move, spam hammers, etc. Then go get the Worldstone waypoint.
I found doing Baal runs to be amazingly easy. From the Worldstone waypoint I use vigor and run through to the Throne room. You’ll have to drink a health pot every once and a while running, but Baal’s minions will replenish your supply. The formula is easy. Spam a nice hammer field right before the minions appear. Most of the minions will die very quickly. Run up to the last ones and nail them point blank with a hammer or two, or let your merc kill them. The council member group is the worst because of their hydras. If you spam a hammer field to kill most of them, cast a portal, then go see Malah for a quick heal, your merc won’t get killed by their hydras. For Baal just run up to him and nail him point blank with hammers. At this level solo Baal runs will give you almost a full level per run in Normal.
Level 42 and up: More into nightmare once you get your Herald of Zakarum. The funny thing is, Nightmare is easier than Normal in this case. Watch every monster fall beneath the feet of the mighty hammerdin.
Hell is much harder though. I waited until I got my Wizardspike and an Um rune in my HoZ so I would have maxed resists in Hell. I have no problem doing solo Baal runs. This guide is primarily written for the leveling up stage rather than the end game. There are other fine hammerdin guides on this website that focus on fighting strategy and the end game.
Level 85 Paladin
Def 3008 (w/Holy Shield)
Chance to block 75%
All resists 75%
Lvl 34 Blessed Hammer
Lvl 31 Blessed Aim
Lvl 31 Concentration
Lvl 29 Vigor
Lvl 15 Holy Shield
Hammer Damage 8949/9041
He can continuously cast hammers for about 20 seconds before running out of mana.
Note: skill levels added to the synergies do not affect hammer damage.
Harlequin Crest socketed with perfect topaz
Skin of Vipermagi socketed with perfect topaz
Wizardspike socketed with Ist rune
Herald of Zakarum socketed with Um rune
2 Stones of Jordan
3 combat Skills charms
2 Offensive Skills charms
13 6-7% smfc
As I said, this build is a little hard to level up until his hammers are powerful enough to become his main weapon. Follow my items guide and leveling will be made simpler. If you are having a hard time hitting things with your hammers read one of the other fine hammerdin guides on this website as they have all the strategy and other information about hammer damage.
Thanks to Ragnarod for the information I lifted from his FAQ. Thanks to Snake-Byte for making me see the light. And thanks to Loboleal for doing the skill point distribution.