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Diablo 2 Guide: Paladin FAQ

Guide by: Ragnarod -

General Paladin Questions

Diablo 2 Guide: Paladin FAQ
Diablo 2 Paladin

Paladin subclasses

Vindicator (Smite paladin)
Templar (FoH paladin)
Hammerdin (Blessed Hammer paladin)
Crusader (Charge paladin)
Ranger (Bow paladin)
Undead Hunter (Sanctuary paladin)
Martyr (Sacrifice paladin)
Mage (Blessed Hammer + FoH paladin)
Vindicator/Templar (Smite + FoH paladin)
Liberator (Charge + Blessed Hammer + FoH paladin)
Judicator (Blessed Hammer + Smite + FoH paladin)
Frost Crusader (Charge + Holy Freeze paladin)
Avenger (Vengeance paladin)
Fanatic Avenger (Vengeance + Fanaticism paladin)
Zealot (Zeal + Fanaticism paladin)
Power Zealot (Zeal + Concentration paladin)
Elemental Zealot (Zeal paladin with lots of elemental damage)
Tesladin / Shockadin (Holy Shock paladin, usually coupled with Zeal)
Missionary (Conversion + Thorns paladin)
Medic (Holy Bolt + Prayer paladin)
Vanquisher (Smite + Blessed Hammer paladin)
Smealot (Smite + Zeal paladin)
Dragoon (Throwing paladin
Fallen Paladin (Auraless paladin)

Common abbreviations

D2C = Diablo 2 Classic
LoD = Lord of Destruction
FoH = Fist of the Heavens
Bh = Blessed Hammer
Hs = Holy shield
Hf = Holy Freeze generally, though it can mean Holy Fire too
Conc = Concentration
Conv = Conviction
Fana = Fanaticism
HoZ = Herald of Zakarum (Unique Gilded Shield)
Ll = Life Leech
Ml = Mana Leech
Dr = Damage Reduction (usually %)
Lr = Lightning Resistance
Cr = Cold Resistance
Fr = Fire Resistance
Frw = Fast run/walk
Fhr = Fast Hit Recovery
Fbr = Fast Block Rate
V/t = Vindicator/Templar

Attack Speed

First of all, you need to know what frames are to understand this section. This game measures time by frames. One frame is 1/25 of a second, so the amount of frames given for each attack is the amount of frames it will take the attack to be made in the game. That also means that, the lesser the amount of frames is, the faster your attack will be

To know the exact amount of frames you need for your particular weapon and attack type, you can use this calculator, or check these Zeal and Smite tables. Please note that as of now the Zeal tables have a few errors that I’ll try to correct as soon as possible

Fast Cast Rate, Fast Block Rate and Fast Hit Recovery

The Fast Cast Rate breakpoints are the following:

0% 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 frames

Regarding Fast Block Rate:

Without Holy Shield:

0% fbr – 5 frames
13% fbr – 4 frames
32% fbr – 3 frames
86% fbr – 2 frames
600% fbr – 1 frame

With Holy Shield

0% fbr – 2 frames
86% fbr – 1 frame

And Fast Hit Recovery:

0% fhr – 9 frames
7% fhr – 8 frames
15% fhr – 7 frames
27% fhr – 6 frames
48% fhr – 5 frames
86% fhr – 4 frames
200% fhr – 3 frames

If you’re not wielding spears or staves, else it’ll be slower:

0% fhr – 13 frames
3% fhr – 12 frames
7% fhr – 11 frames
13% fhr – 10 frames
20% fhr – 9 frames
32% fhr – 8 frames
48% fhr – 7 frames
75% fhr – 6 frames
120% fhr – 5 frames
280% fhr – 4 frames

Chance to Block

This is the formula:

Total 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)

Deadly Strike, Crushing Blow, Open Wounds

Deadly Strike gives you a chance of hitting for double damage. The damage is doubled after all other bonuses have been applied, including strength or dexterity modifying weapon damage, but only physical damage will be doubled

Open Wounds will drain a certain amount of life for 8 seconds, depending on the level of the attacker, following the formula:

Level=1-15: (9*Level+31)/256
Level=16-30: (18*Level-64)/256
Level=31-45: (27*Level-374)/256
Level=46-60: (36*Level-779)/256
Level=61-99: (45*Level-1319)/256

This formula calculates the damage dealt per frame, you should multiply the result for 25 to obtain the damage per second

It’ll also prevent healing while it lasts, and it’s not affected by the PvP penalty. Open Wounds damage is divided by 1/4 against other players (1/8 if it’s a ranged attack)

Crushing Blow reduces the target’s current life by a certain amount, depending on the attack type and the kind of target. Against normal monsters, it reduces 1/4 of their current life when you’re using a melee attack, and 1/8 when you’re using a ranged attack. Against bosses, it’ll reduce 1/8 of their current life if it’s a melee attack, or 1/16 if it’s a ranged attack. Against mercenaries and players, it’ll reduced 1/10 of their current life if it’s a melee attack, and 1/20 if it’s a ranged attack. PvP penalty doesn’t affect Crushing Blow, but the damage dealt is reduced by Damage Reduction % items, so it’ll be less effective against monsters with Damage Reduction, and against opponents with a lot of Damage Reduction. Crushing Blow only takes into account the base life of the monsters at players 1, so it’ll be less effective when there are more players in the game

1.10 Facts

Heart of the Oak will only work in a Flail, Knout or Scourge, not in Scepters or Battle Hammers

Life Leech and Mana Leech are reduced to 1/2 their effect in Nightmare, and to 1/3 in Hell, so it’s even more important than before for Melee builds, keep this in mind

Absorb % is capped at 40%, so you won’t be able to become totally immune to an elemental attack if you don’t combine this kind of absorb with the straight absorb

Damage Reduction % is capped at 50%, down from 75% in 1.09

Synergies only take into account the base skill level, not the +skill items. This is right for all synergies, except for Prayer

Slow has been capped to 50% in PvP

Auras can no longer be stacked, they only remain active for 1 second after you switch one for the other. The only way to have multiple auras active at the same time is using the new items that grant an aura while equipped

Auras granted by items aren’t affected by +skill items, but they will benefit from the synergies you’ve invested in, if they have any

The PvP penalty is now 1/6

Synergy List

Combat Skills

Sacrifice receives bonuses from:
Redemption: 15% damage/level
Fanaticism: 5% damage/level

Holy Bolt receives bonuses from:
Blessed Hammer: 50% magical damage/level
Fist of the Heavens: 50% magical damage/level
Prayer: 15% life healed/level

Zeal receives bonuses from:
Sacrifice: 12% damage/level

Charge receives bonuses from:
Vigor: 20% damage/level
Might: 20% damage/level

Vengeance receives bonuses from:
Resist Fire: 10% fire damage/level
Resist Cold: 10% cold damage/level
Resist Lightning: 10% lightning damage/level
Salvation: 2% elemental damage/level

Blessed Hammer receives bonuses from:
Blessed Aim: 14% magical damage/level
Vigor: 14% magical damage/level

Holy Shield receives bonuses from:
Defiance: 15% enhanced defense/level

Fist of the Heavens receives bonuses from:
Holy Bolt: 15% Holy Bolt damage/level
Holy Shock: 7% lightning damage/level

Offensive Auras

Holy Fire receives bonuses from:
Fire Resistance: 18% fire damage/level
Salvation: 6% fire damage/level

Holy Freeze receives bonuses from:
Cold Resistance: 15% cold damage/level
Salvation: 7% cold damage/level

Holy Shock receives bonuses from:
Lightning Resistance: 12% lightning damage/level
Salvation: 4% lightning damage/level

Sanctuary receives bonuses from:
Cleansing: 7% magical damage/level

Defensive Auras

Cleansing receives bonuses from:
Prayer: +1 life healed every 2 seconds

Meditation receives bonuses from:
Prayer: +1 life healed every 2 seconds

Combat Skills

Sacrifice: Sacrifice offers an impressive ED bonus, but at the cost of losing 8% of the damage dealt after each hit. To offset this loss of life, life leech is vital for the Martyr (Sacrifice using paladin). Take into account that leech is reduced to 1/2 in Nightmare, and 1/3 in Hell, so you’ll have a harder time compensating the life loss in the later stages of the game. Note that this life loss is reduced by Damage Reduction % gear, so you’d ideally want 50% Damage Reduction to take only 4% of the damage dealt. Same as a normal attack, Sacrifice is capped at 8 frames

Smite: Smite speed depends on your weapon speed, and Increased Attack Speed gotten from gear affect it. Smite ignores both target’s defense and target’s block, so it nearly always will hit your target (Smite can be blocked by dual wielding sins using the weapon block skill, and amazons can dodge or evade it though). It has an added knockback effect to it, and it also stuns its target (this feature doesn’t work in PvP though, or against bosses for example). The damage of smite is greatly increased by the Holy Shield skill, and it’s capped at 6 frames. Smite damage is enhanced by Strength bonus (which is displayed on the character screen) and Enhanced Damage outside your weapon (which isn’t)

Things that work with smite:

Crushing blow
Chance to cast something on striking
Hit blinds target
Hit freezes target
Open Wounds
Enhanced Damage
Prevent Monster Heal
+Damage modifier on the Redeemer (unique Mighty Scepter) and Astreon’s Iron Ward (unique Caduceus)
Curses such as Life Tap, Amplify Damage

Things that won’t work with smite:

Life or Mana leech
Deadly Strike
Elemental Damage
+Max/Min Damage

The +damage modifier is specially useful in PvP, since it adds the straight amount of damage indicated (it won’t be displayed in the character screen) to your attack, without being affected by the PvP penalty, Damage Reduction…

Zeal: Zeal is the fastest attack a Paladin has available, being able to reach 4 frames. Note that only 1h weapons (except daggers) are able to reach 4 frames. Daggers and 2h weapons are capped at 5 frames. The first hit will be slower, however, since it’s made as a normal attack (so, for example, zealing with a 4 frame weapon will result in your 5 hits being at 8/4/4/4/4 frames). Zeal has been made uninterruptible in 1.10

Even if the amount of hits is capped at 5 (which you reach at level 4), you get a 6% enhanced damage bonus for every point in Zeal from level 5 on, so this is definitely a skill worth maxing if it’s going to be your main attack

Charge: When charging, your weapon range is very important, and you’ll hit much more with a range 3 weapon (such as a Berserker Axe) than with a range 1 weapon (such as a Legendary Mallet). Items that add to your fast run/walk won’t help charging faster, only Vigor speeds up charge. Shift charging is handy not only as an attack, but as a mean to travel faster

Vengeance: Vengeance takes the damage from your weapon, and adds elemental damage based on that one. As an example, if your Vengeance added 200% elemental damage, and you were using a 50-100 damage weapon, it would add 100-200 fire damage, 100-200 cold damage and 100-200 lightning damage to your attack. That’s the reason why Deadly Strike isn’t particularly useful to Avengers, since it only doubles physical damage, and why most prefer Conviction (lessening enemies resistances) to Fanaticism (enhances physical damage, besides the attack rating and attack speed bonuses), since the main source of damage of the Avenger is elemental damage.

Blessed Hammer: Blessed Hammer deals magical damage, and ignores resistances of demons and undeads (even those who are magic immune), so the only monster you won’t be able to kill with it is the Wailing Beast in the Act 3 Temples. That’s one of the reasons the Hammerdin is one of the most popular characters in 1.10, besides the fact that Blessed Hammer damage has been increased a lot from the previous patch. The only aura that enhances Blessed Hammer damage is Concentration, and at 1/2 its effect (for example, if Concentration added 400% enhanced damage, Blessed Hammer would get 200% enhanced damage when this aura is active). Keep in mind hammers have their own pattern of movement when they’re cast, and that they’re affected by fast cast rate, so you’ll want to have at least 48% fast cast rate to use this skill effectively. Undead enemies take 50% more damage from Blessed Hammer, so it’s specially effective against these. The base damage of Blessed Hammer increases in this way:

1: 12-16 base +8 min/max to level 8
9: 82max +10 min/max to level 16
17: 164max +12 min/max to level 22
23: 237max +13 min/max to level 28
29: 316max +14 min/max to level 49 (and looks like it stays that way)

You can find a good Blessed Hammer damage calculator in this site

Conversion: It’s a nice skill for PvM, specially coupled with thorns. These kind of paladins used to be popular back in D2C, until they were nerfed, and are barely played in these days. It’s also noticeable that the attack doesn’t need to hit for the monster to be converted, you can convert them even if you miss, so your attack rating isn’t very important. With monsters being made much stronger in this patch, Conversion can be a helpful skill in hard situations when you’re being swarmed by monsters. All regular monsters can be converted now

Holy Shield: If you aren’t going to use Smite, level 10-11 Holy Shield is enough to grant you a nice block bonus, above that level it has diminishing returns concerning block. If you are going to use Smite though, every point into Holy Shield will add more damage than every point into Smite, so maxing it is a must. If you cast Holy Shield with more +skill items on, and then revert to another setup, the bonus to smite damage and the defense bonus won’t remain, but the bonus to block will, it’s up to you if it’s worth it. Another thing worth noting is that Holy Shield enhances your whole defense now, instead of enhancing only the defense of your shield as it did in 1.09

Fist of the Heavens: As of now, FoH isn’t a good PvM skill, since it has a high mana cost, only deals lightning damage, has a 1 second timer and only hits one target at a time. It’s a great PvP skill, but it’s nowhere as useful in PvM. It’s normally used in conjunction with Conviction to reduce your target’s lightning resistance. Note that while fast cast rate affects the speed at which the casting animation is done, it won’t affect the 1 second timer between each FoH. Same as Blessed Hammer, FoH ignores resistances of demons and undeads

Offensive Auras

Thorns: Since the amount of damage it deals is based on the amount of damage you receive, if you take less damage due to wearing damage reduction gear, the damage returned will also be less. The damage returned is also reduced by the opponent’s damage reduction, and it works at 1/10 its listed damage returned in PvP

Blessed Aim: Blessed Aim has been granted a hidden passive bonus in 1.10, giving 5% extra AR per point invested in it, even when it’s not active. Note that +skills don’t increase this passive bonification, only skill points invested directly will increase it

Concentration: Concentration is the only aura that increases Blessed Hammer damage (at 1/2 its listed enhanced damage bonus), and it’s usually regarded as a better aura for teamplay than Fanaticism, since the lack of IAS is compensated by a higher damage and range. For solo purposes however, the 20% chance of your attack not being interrupted can’t compare to the IAS and AR bonus from Fanaticism

Holy Freeze: This aura has got Cold damage added to your attack now, besides its classic slow effect, which makes it an even more useful aura than it ever was, specially since you can hire a mercenary with this aura, or get it from the ‘Doom’ runeword. Note that even if you get the aura from the runeword, its cold damage will be increased by the synergies, if you have points invested in any (Cold Resistance and Salvation). Holy Freeze isn’t affected by Cannot Be Frozen or any other mod, and cannot be resisted. You can avoid being targeted by Holy Freeze if there’s some obstacle between the character with Holy Freeze and you, such as a house, the mud pools you can’t thread in the Blood Moor… Note that some monsters are immune to the effects of Holy Freeze (Act 5 Frenzytaurs for example)

Holy Freeze slow % works as the increased attack speed % on Fanaticism, just that the other way round, both affect the base weapon speed. So, for example, if you were using a level 20 Fanaticism (35% IAS) and got frozen by Holy Freeze with, let’s say, 50% slow, if you were using a weapon with base speed 0 (as a berserker axe) you’d get your effective attack speed by making the calculations for a weapon with base speed 15 (50 from Holy Freeze – 35 from Fana, and then adding it to the base speed of your weapon)

Holy Shock: Holy Shock has had its damage increased, and it’s now a very viable main skill for a paladin build, the Tesladin. Your only problem will be Lightning Immune monsters, so you should have some kind of backup attack to take care of them. Items with –light resistance, such as the unique jewels or the ‘Crescent Moon’ runeword will improve its effectiveness too

Sanctuary: Sanctuary deals magical damage and knocks back Undead monsters, and also adds damage to your attack when fighting Undeads. A very useful feature is that it’ll let you leech from physical immune undead monsters (such as the ghosts in act 2) when it’s active. Unfortunately, it won’t work against Super Unique monsters (such as Pindleskin) and bosses, and it won’t add damage to ranged attacks, just melee ones

Fanaticism: This is probably the ultimate melee paladin aura, adding Damage, AR and IAS to your attack. The main drawback is that, when playing in a party, the range from Fanaticism isn’t very high (thought it has been increased from the previous patch), and your team members will only benefit from half the Enhanced Damage. All in all, one of the most useful auras available

Conviction: Conviction will lower the Defense and Fire, Cold and Lightning resistances of your enemies, making it a very interesting aura, specially for Avengers (who rely mostly on the elemental damage added from Vengeance) and team members who use elemental attacks. One of the most interesting features of Conviction is that it’s capable of removing immunities (acting at 1/5 of its listed affectivity). Conviction is capped at -150 resistances in 1.10 (level 25)

While Conviction acts at only 1/5 effectiveness against immune creatures, if it barely pierces the immunity (say it leaves them with 99% resistance to that element) then the Sorceress skill “cold mastery” will begin to work on the enemy, as will other items that lower enemy resistances by a percent that would not normally help against immune creatures. So an Avenger/Cold Sorceress combo is generally unstoppable (even cold immunes will often have negative 100 cold resistance for the Sorc’s attacks). There are some immunes with resistances too high to pierce, but with high level Conviction the majority of these monsters will be left somewhat venerable to the elemental attacks they were previously immune to.

Defensive Auras

Prayer: Prayer is an interesting skill, since it’s the exception to the synergy rule. +Skills will increase the synergistic effects that Prayer has on Cleansing and Meditation. It also seems that its mana cost is much higher than it should be when it’s on, but this is a minor bug since you’ll want to have cleansing or meditation on as soon as possible, because they heal the same amount of life Prayer does with an extra effect and without the mana cost that Prayer has

Defiance: Defense is of more importance in 1.10, and as a result this aura has gotten more useful. While it’s an aura that only one build (the Defiant) will use as main one, the possibility of getting it from an item (Azurewrath, or the ‘Exile’ runeword) is certainly interesting, and even Act 2 Defiant mercenaries are starting to rise in popularity

Cleansing: This skill will reduce the duration of poisons and curses, which is a very useful feature in places such as the Chaos Sanctuary. While it’s not an aura you’d want to max, 1 point in here is something you shouldn’t miss

Individual Resist Auras: These auras have been granted a hidden passive bonus in 1.10. When they’re active, you and your party members will receive a 1% bonus to your max resistance to that element per level, up to 95%. When the aura isn’t active, the Paladin will receive a 0.5% bonus to his max resistance to that element per level, counting only the base skill points of the aura in question

Vigor: This aura is the only source that can speed up Charge. That fact, together with the damage that this skill adds to Blessed Hammer and Charge, makes it an interesting option to invest spare points. Definitely a must have, even at level 1

Meditation: Similar to Cleansing, this is a useful skill for caster paladins, replenishing your mana at a nice speed. While it doesn’t deserve maxing it, spending 1 point in it is very useful, and can come handy specially in hard battles against bosses, when Redemption isn’t useful, such as the Ancients

Redemption: When activated, Redemption will instantly absorb corpses of slain monsters and refill your life and mana by a certain fixed amount for each corpse you absorb. This aura is invaluable for non-leeching paladins, such as the Hammerdin, and it’s also helpful to prevent monsters being resurrected, or Nihlathak exploding them

Salvation: Salvation will grant a high amount of Fire, Cold and Lightning resistance when active. This skill is the substitute of the individual Resist Auras.

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