Dentist is the name for a Necromancer who uses the Poison and Bone spell Teeth. Through v1.09, Teeth was not a viable skill past the early stages of the game. The damage was too low and the fact that only one tooth per shot could hit the same target made it nothing more than a fun novelty crowd hitting attack. In v1.10 Teeth gained huge benefit from synergies, and was thus remade. In fact, Teeth gets one of the largest synergy bonuses of any skill – a whopping 15%. On top of that, Teeth has four skills whose points can count towards it. A ‘fully synergised’ Teeth spell would have 80 x 15% = 1200 percent added to its damage (ie multiply base damage by 13). However like most of the bone skills if we do not put points into Bone Prison, but instead equip ourselves with the unique boots ‘Marrowalk’ we can get a maximum of 93 points of synergies. 93 x 15% = 1395% added damage, approximately 15 times the base damage.
Could it be that the lowly Teeth skill is worth a second look?
For the below data, when I say ‘max synergies’ I mean 20 skill points spent on Bone Spear, Bone Spirit and Bone Wall (but not Bone Prison). The numbers for damage were generated by a skill calculator.
High Level Teeth Damage
Level 37 Teeth
- 24 teeth
- Mana Cost: 21
with Marrow + max synergies:
- Magic Damage: 904-1151
with no Marrow, 20 in BP + max synergies (not using Marrowalks)
- Magic Damage: 786-1001
with no Marrow, no BP + max synergies (82 Skill points)
- Magic Damage: 605-770
Level 30 Teeth
- 24 teeth
- Mana Cost: 17.5
with Marrow + max synergies:
- Magic Damage: 642-837
with no Marrow, no BP + max synergies (82 Skill points)
- Magic Damage: 430-560
Level 20 Teeth
- 21 teeth
- Mana Cost: 12.5
with Level 20 Bonewall, no Marrow (42 Skill Points)
- Magic Damage: 92-124
How does it hold up at lower levels? Fairly well, my level 33 Dentist was doing 74-100 points of damage in Nightmare. You do have to spam the spell, and that can be very mana intensive, but when you kill one thing, everything else on the screen drops dead at about the same time.
So what does it do, and what are the drawbacks?
Teeth works in a fashion very similar to the Amazon skill Multishot, or the Sorceress skill Charged Bolt. It fires off a fan shaped wave of small missiles, which fly just over the length of the screen. When a missile hits something it stops and does its damage, unless it is a monster or player that has already been damaged by that particular volley or wave of missiles.
More points in the skill increases the number of missiles, up to a maximum of 24 (at level 23 I think). The missiles weave from side to side a bit, so that at low levels of skill you may actually miss what you were aiming for. At medium or high levels of skill there will be sufficient missiles that you are practically guaranteed to hit, and with a little practice will hit everything on the screen in the direction you are firing.
As with Multishot, you can control the shape and direction of the fan based on where the mouse pointer is relative to you. The closer the mouse is to the center of the screen, the more spread out the fan will be (up to 120 degrees (a third of the whole screen)), and the width of the fan seems to be based on increments of roughly 30 degrees. If the mouse is right at the edge of the screen the fan is quite narrow, approximately a spread of 60 degrees. The ‘edge’ of the fan also seems to be based on increments of 30 degrees, so even a small movement of the mouse at the boundary between these different zones can give a large change in the shape of the fan.
As you spam your Teeth, you will typically move the mouse around a bit to find the best position to hit as many monsters as you can. You may also find yourself doing a small shuffle to get as many monsters in the optimum field of fire as you can.
Since each monster can only be hit once from each wave, obviously the more monsters there are on the screen the more potential damage you can do. Therefore even with the setup listed above which does an average of just over 1k per tooth, you will hardly ever do the full 24k per volley.
The damage done is of the type ‘Magic’. According to the beastiary, Hell there are very few creatures immune to this kind of damage. Out of the monsters which can appear in Act 1 only 2 out of more than 60 had immunity to magic. The ‘most immune’ type of monster is the Wraiths, where the different kinds of Wraith all have 50% resistance to Magic damage.
All up the average resistance to Magic for Act 1 Hell is 10.11%. Most of the creatures have 0% resistance, and about half all of the subtypes of that monster all have 0% resistance, and for most of the rest only one of the subtypes has any resistance to Magic damage, but that resistance will typically be quite high (50% and up).
Example: out of the five different tpyes of Zombie, only one of them has Immunity to magic, the others all have 0% resistance.
None of the Necromancer curses increase the damage of the Magic damage type. Apparently Lower Resist used to, but it does not work that way in 1.10.
At higher levels Teeth can hit multiple monsters even if they are lined up in a formation which would have been ideal for Bone Spear, so long as the line is a bit crooked you should be able to get all of the monsters. Simply fire off a narrow spread and the missiles will pass through monsters which have already been hit, and hit the ones standing behind them.
At medium to low levels I found it helpful if the monsters were spread out a bit rather than bunched up – the ideal would be to have them in a line at right angles to where I am. If you are having difficulty picturing this, simply imagine the way that in the Arcane Sanctuary the goatmen will all line up on the edge of the platform next to the platform you are on. Not coincidentally, the Arcane Sanctuary is quite a good place to level up as a Dentist. Other wide open spaces with barriers to the monsters movement which work quite well are places like the Bloody Foothills (just outside Harrogath in Act 5). And also the jungles of Act 3, where the flayers all crowd along the edges of the rivers.
- Teeth – 20
- Bone Wall – 20
- Bone Armour – 1
- Corpse Explosion – 1
- Bone Spirit – 20
- Bone Spear – 20
- Bone Prison – 0 (leaving open possibility of using Marrowalks)
- Curses – 0
- Summons – 0
- Poison – 0
Points placement: basically dump the points into Teeth till Bone Wall becomes available at level 12. Then alternate between Bone Wall and Teeth, until Teeth is maxed at about Clvl 30, then alternate between Bone Spirit and Bone Wall till Bone Wall is maxed, then finish Bone Spirit, and lastly work on Bone Spear.
In the next part I’ll look at the skills and explain why I chose to put points into the ones I did, and the reason for the order I put them in. Just because I avoid certain skills does not mean they are ‘bad’.
Necromancer strength requirements in general are quite low, and I spent little or no time performing fisticuffs past Act 1, so let your end gear determine how much to put in here. I put in a fair bit early on, because I wanted to have at least 60 points by the time I hit level 27.
Due to lack of fisticuffs, and lack of interest in all things blocking, I left this quite low (40ish), just enough for my gear.
I did not put everything else in here, I kept a reserve of 30 to 40 points in case I found a particularly attractive gear option.
Even though this is an extremely mana reliant build, I did not deliberately put any points into Energy (my finger slipped once when I was tired – it was an accident, I swear). My intention was always to solve the mana problems with my gear.
- ‘Insight’ Polearm (Ral + Tir + Tal + Sol) for the Meditation Aura. Note: for bonus style points, make it in a scythe.
This was my one ‘must have’ item. Everything else was just whatever I found (eg Nokozoan Relic) or whatever was lying around on mules (eg Stealth runeword).
Unfortunately, it does restrict my particular implementation of the Dentist to ladder only. If playing non ladder, I would tend to focus not on items to give faster mana regen, but on items to increase the size of the mana pool. (Eg saphired armour and helms, charms with bonus mana, rings of braininess etc) And I’d have dumped some points into Energy as well.
Bone Wall is not cheap, and because I haven’t used it in the past, I tend to not get it positioned correctly, so it requires several casts. Once maxed, the mana cost of Teeth at least 12.5 per cast, so killing even a single monster could take half my mana orb (of course, to kill that monster and a bunch of his buddies at the same time would still take only half the mana orb).
With Meditation active, my mana orb refills in 12 seconds.
Boneshade – Lich Wand
- One-Hand Damage: 10 To 31 (20.5 Avg)
- Required Level: 79
- Required Strength: 25
- Durability: 17
- Base Weapon Speed: [-20]
- +50% Damage To Undead
- +2 To Necromancer Skill Levels (Necromancer Only)
- +1-2 To Bone Spirit (Necromancer Only) (varies)
- +2-3 To Bone Spear (Necromancer Only) (varies)
- +2-3 To Bone Wall (Necromancer Only) (varies)
- +4-5 To Bone Armor (Necromancer Only) (varies)
- +4-5 To Teeth (Necromancer Only) (varies)
- +25% Faster Cast Rate
- (Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later)
+7 to Teeth! Oh yes! Oh my goodness!
Discussion of other Gear options
Recently on the Necromancer forum we discussed how it would be possible to get to a level of 55 in Bone Spirit. For various reasons, I chose to use 30 as the example ‘mid range’ damage. I used 37 just because that made the top end damage come out to an average of just over 1k per tooth, which means that its quite easy to figure out how many shots you need to kill a monster when looking at the beastiary. (About 6 shots in Act 1 Hell)
For gear options the following is attainable with only moderate effort:
- A +3 Poison and Bone Circlet (gambling)
- A +3 Poison and Bone Amulet (money money money)
- A +3 Poison and Bone Wand (easy – just shop for it)
- A +3 Poison and Bone Fetish (somewhat difficult to find)
Without any other pluses that already takes you beyond 30 points.
Now, it would be easy to say ‘oh, but what if you had +3 to Teeth on the Wand and the Fetish?’. That would add another +6 … however it is my understanding that the level 1 staff mods (ie the level one skills) do not get generated on items once the iLevel goes beyond a certain point. I could be wrong, but I think you can’t even get a level 30 skill and a level 1 skill on the same wand.
Naturally, I’d love to be proved wrong, but just a warning that trying to find +3 P&B and +3 Teeth may be impossible.
The good news, is that you can *make* one. Here’s how you do it:
- Shop for a 2 socket normal wand with +3 Teeth
- Insert runes Dol + Io to make ‘White’ runeword
Pretty easy eh?
That takes us to +15, splendor in a +3 to Teeth fetish takes us to +16. How do we get the last +1 to get to 37? Well, we could use an Armour such as Skin of the Vipermagi.
Since I recommend ‘Insight’, and that is a ladder only runeword, I assume however that people are not that rich.
Now lets look at the other skills from the point of view of a Dentist.
I start with this one because in theory it compliments Teeth very nicely. It helps in three different ways. (1) By providing synergy to increase Teeth’s damage. (2) By providing a barrier you can make which the monster will spread out along. (3) By drawing in large mobs of monsters. The more monsters on screen, the more damage Teeth does.
However, in practice I found that generally I wanted it to either pull monsters, or as defense. And naturally, when I wanted extra defense, it attracted extra monsters. When I wanted to pull extra monsters it would just get in the way.
I had the most trouble with big fast monsters (eg Andariel). With these monsters its fairly hard to click near them (to put a BW between you and them) without clicking on them, and if you do that the Bone Wall is cast as though you had clicked on their feet, which is probably not very useful, or even distinctly unhelpful.
I had this wonderful theory that I and a ranged attacking merc (either a Rogue or an Iron Wolf) could sit behind these big BWs and lob attacks at our leisure through these ‘one way damage filters’. What I found though was that often when I’ve been moving and then I spot the monster, and stop, the merc blithely keeps going. So often I was left with the choice of trapping the merc in with the monster(s). Because of that I am seriously considering upgrading to a Nightmare Act 2 merc (Holy Freeze?) – with the additional benefit that I can give them the Polearm to lug around, freeing up my wand and fetish equipment slots.
The downside to that will be that when I get into a situation where I throw around great masses of BWs and cover the screen with them, that he won’t be contributing anything, whereas the Act 3 merc would.
Bone Spear performs much the same function as Teeth does. Ie it has an attack not as damaging as Bone Spirit but which can hit multiple enemies (if lined up right). And of course they all cross synergise each other. Perhaps the real question shouldn’t be Spear vs Spirit (since you’ll probably get both anyway), perhaps it should be Spear vs Teeth? For this reason of the synergies I chose to max this one last.
From playing around with the skill calculator, I decided that when comparing Teeth to Spirit that with both of them at level 20 a single Spirit does something like 4-6 times as much damage as a single volley of Teeth. What does this mean? Well, when there is a mob of critters on the screen, or if I’m moving into an unexplored area Teeth is my attack of choice. In fact sometimes I’ll scout ahead with a Bone Wall simply to create the large mob of critters which makes Teeth better than Spirit. On the other hand, against bosses like Izual or Baal, where I simply want to do the most damage to a single target in the shortest time, that is when I switch to Bone Spirit. Against a normal boss and their pack of monsters, I will kill the minions with Teeth, and then if the boss has a lot of hit points I will switch to Spirit to finish them off, or if they are low on life I’ll just finish the job with Teeth.
Gets a nice boost from my early investment in Bone Wall.
Nice spell, I should probably use it more. As noted I don’t really anticipate problems with immunities, so its multiple different types of damage aren’t as useful as they are on other necro builds. With all the pluses to Poison and Bone, even a single point should give a decent radius.
The Poison spells are nice, but with 80+ points already scheduled for the Bone spells, and the Poison spells themselves requiring a large investment, it is difficult to squeeze them in. With 25 points to spend and say +20 to P&B skills the optimum damage for PNova would be attained by putting 1 in PDagger, 10 in PExplosion, and 14 in PNova. At that point however, PNova is only doing 1876-1949 damage, which is less than two hits of Teeth. Plus you wouldn’t have Lower Resist or the optimum Poison gear…
Basically it boils down to this – you can make the Poison spells do a lot of damage, or you can make Teeth do a lot of damage, but there are not enough skill points to do both.
If you really did want to go down the Poison path – the Venom runeword seems to me to be the best way of combining the two. In this case your Poison damage comes from putting 20 points into PDagger and then using the synergies from the runeword. You’d do about 900 poison damage a second with the PDagger, over 17 seconds, so you could hit the boss, run back, and spam Bone Spirit at them. It would also give you a way of dealing with Magic immunes.
Much like the Poison spells require too many skill points to be useful.
Like skeletons only requiring an even large skill point investment (instead of Amp you’d need Lower Resist)
Can be useful with only a small point investment. Note that most of the gear options I outlined above grant pluses specifically to Poison and Bone – not to Necromancer skills in general. So to get a decent number (6-10) would require actually spending more skill points in this skill. If you want minions, and your build has less than 30 skill points spare (as is the case with a Dentist) then Revives are definitely the way to go.
A golem is definitely handy to have, and will help keep your merc alive and the monsters distracted. What I did was to shop for gear with +clay golem, and then when I hit level 27 I completely abandoned the use of the Golem in favour of using Insight. I never regretted that decision. Bone Wall to some extent fills the same role as something between the monsters and me. And the massive increase in mana (and hence damage output) was so much better than having a golem that it was no contest.
That said, if I swap the Polearm off to an Act 2 merc, I will happily go back to using the golem gear – to have the cake and eat it too as it were. Once I get to the point where I’ve spent the 82 skill points to max out Teeth + synergies I might consider adding a Golem to help the merc.
For the following analysis, please keep in mind what I said about Revives, that I am deliberately choosing gear with pluses to P&B, not Necromancer skills in general. So lets compare the different Golems to see what we can get for a minimal points investment.
|Points||Clay Golem||Iron Golem||Fire Golem|
Keeping in mind that skill points are fairly tight, and pluses to summons relatively few, what this table tells us is if you wanted to spend between 3-8 skill points (plus at least one each in Golem Mastery and Summon Resist) you should go for either the Iron or Fire Golems. If you are willing to spend more than that then go for the Clay Golem.
If your only concern is the life of the Golem, what you can do is actually put points in Blood Golem to boost the life of the Iron or Fire Golems. What this means is that you would have to commit to putting 15 points into Clay Golem just to equal the life of the Iron or Fire Golems.
But why would you put extra points into Blood Golem instead of Golem Mastery? Keep in mind that this is about what happens when there are few or no pluses. I’ll show you a table for optimum Golem hps for different amounts of points invested, and then the same thing with +5 to summoning skills to illustrate the difference that +summons makes.
In the following tables the number in brackets following the optimum hit points is the skill allocation between the base Golem skill, the level of Mastery, and the level of Blood Golem (if any)
Table of Optimum Golem Hit Points with no +skills:
|Points||Clay Golem||Iron Golem||Fire Golem|
|5||676||4 / 1||1421||1 / 2 / 1||1266||1 / 1 / 1|
|10||1364||7 / 3||2401||1 / 7 / 1||2279||1 / 6 / 1|
|15||2299||9 / 6||3381||1 / 12 / 1||3292||1 / 11 / 1|
|20||3467||12 / 8||4361||1 / 17 / 1||4305||1 / 16 / 1|
|25||4884||14 / 11||5047||1 / 20 / 3||5166||1 / 20 / 2|
So with no pluses to skills Clay Golems just don’t catch up. However, once we add even a little bit of +skill, the picture changes – since those pluses count double for Clay, once for the base skill, and again for the mastery.
Table of Optimum Golem Hit Points with +5 to skills:
|Points||Clay Golem||Iron Golem||Fire Golem|
|5||2299||4 / 1||2401||1 / 2 / 1||2279||1 / 1 / 1|
|10||3467||7 / 3||3381||1 / 7 / 1||3292||1 / 6 / 1|
|15||4884||9 / 6||4361||1 / 12 / 1||4305||1 / 11 / 1|
What a difference even a small number of +skills makes. Of course for this build, which is otherwise so heavily focused on the P&B tree, getting +5 to all skills requires the ‘super rich’ gear options. Otherwise you sacrifice a significant amount of Teeth and Spirit damage.
Depending on your gear, and what sort of merc you want, and also how many points you want to put into this as a secondary line of skills, either a Fire or Iron Golem is probably the best choice.
On the asusmption that you don’t want to put more than half a dozen skill points into this, and are just looking for something to help tank for your Act 2 merc, my recommendation is for the Fire Golem unless you are also getting some Revives, in which case go with Iron (the extra point for the FG equates to an extra Revive, which is more useful, and will help tank for your Golem).
No curse increases the damage done by Teeth (or Bone Spirit) and Bone Wall plays the part of a defensive curse. I found that most of the time in combat what I want to do is slap down a Bone Wall and start blasting away with the Teeth. In Normal Bone Wall hit points are so low that I often skipped it, and just went straight to blasting away with Teeth. Time spent cursing would mean less time Teething, so less damage.
Even so, there might be some uses for curses in certain limited situations.
Great help for your merc, if using an Act 2 merc. This is perhaps the best offensive curse, but does not help defensively. Personally, I’m more interested in keeping him alive to keep the Meditation aura up than on beefing up his damage.
See also this guide. Hell is a nasty place, and Dim Vision will make it just that bit safer for you. It will not however solve this builds problem with large fast moving bosses. Also it requires a large skill point investment to be viable in Hell. I think a ‘Dark Dentist’ would be one of the better options for combining curses and Teeth. Dim Vision is great for your merc as well. And it takes care of the ultra dangerous Black Soul type monsters.
There are better options for the Dentist.
Sometimes the monsters will start beating on the bars of their cage… why not punish them for it? Iron Maiden requires a large skill point investment to be effective. In order to get the monsters to attack the Bone Walls, a technique that has been suggested is to back off, way out of their visual range, and then bring them back on screen.
Make the monsters run away, can help control the situation till you get your Bone Walls arranged nice and neatly. Did not really appeal to me.
Bone Wall is very similar in its function in this build to Confuse. Since you already have Bone Wall, you don’t need Confuse. Note that some monsters which cannot be confused (bosses, champions and minions of destruction) will still be effected by Bone Walls.
For keeping the a melee merc alive. Somewhat useful when fighting the Ancients.
For the Dentist this is the true ‘one point wonder’ of the curses. This is what you can use to help sort out the fast moving large bosses. Only the duration increases at higher levels. At low levels the duration is quite short, but all you really need to do is hit the monster(s) with it, slap down some Bone Walls, and then you are away laughing. Think of it as the Dentist’s ‘anaesthetic’. Decrepify will slow down the ultra dangerous Black Souls, but often they will start attacking from way offscreen, so Decrepify is little or no help there.
Does not increase the damage of Teeth. You don’t really have much elemental damage, so its not particularly useful. If you were able to give yourself some elemental damage (such as by using various pieces of the Trang Oul’s set to get Fireball, Firewall or Meteor) you might consider using this curse.
However, even with a decent level of Lower Resist, the damage from Fire Ball will have problems going over 500 or 600 per shot, or 1000 for the Fire Wall. If using Fire Ball, you would probably want to have Trang’s Wings plus Moonfall on weapon switch, and then use either the gloves or belt. For Fire Wall use both the gloves and the belt and have a Lower Resist wand (to save skill points) on weapon switch.
Since the basic skills plus synergies require 82 skill points (achieved in the mid 70s), and the experience penalties start kicking in soon after it may not make much sense to talk about variants. In any case, when discussing the skills above, I’ve assumed that you will only be looking at them once you get to Hell difficulty, and tried to weigh them according to their usefulness in Hell.
Realistically there is really only about another 10-15 skill points to gain before the xp penalties kick in with a vengeance.
With that in mind, here are some good skill ‘mini packages’ to customise your Dentist:
- Clay Golem + Summon Resist (3+ points)
- Iron Golem + Summon Resist (5+ points)
- Fire Golem + Summon Resist (6+ points)
- Revive (6 points minimum (without Mastery))
- Iron Golem + Revive + Summon Mastery + Skeleton Mastery (9 points, extra points to go in Revive or Golem Mastery)
- Decrepify (4 points)
- Decrepify + Lower Resist + Trangs set pieces (7 points minimum)
- Poison Dagger + ‘Venom’ Runeword + Decrepify + Lower Resist (up to 20 points in Poison Dagger, 7+ for Lower Resist)
- Lower Resist + Trangs set pieces (0 points if using LR from a wand)
- Dim Vision (up to 20 points)
More esoteric equipment options for dealing with Magic Immunes could include Double Dream (helm + shield) for a level 30 Holy Shock, and use Lower Resist then throw stuff at them (rich people read as: Demons Arch, Warshrike or Gimmershred. Poor people read as: any old Jav will do).