- 1 Introduction
- 2 Why use this Build?
- 3 Stat Point Allocation
- 4 Skill Points
- 5 Equipment
- 6 Mercenary
- 7 Helpful hints for Gameplay
- 8 Dealing with Dual Immunes
- 9 Final Notes
Opening note: I wrote this Paladin guide with people playing the hardcore ladder in mind, but of course this can apply to anyone. A million thanks to all of the players out there who went and made Frost Zealots – your feedback has helped me fine-tune this guide far better than I could’ve alone. I was honestly amazed at how many people have messaged me! Special thanks to the 2.0 thread “regulars” who kept coming back and helping me fine tune this!!!
The Paladin, with the advent of 1.10, now has what is possibly the highest number of viable builds for any character class. Having played this game since the day it came, there remain only two real fun points that keep me playing: working with lesser-seen builds and, now, running the ladder. I, like many of you, am anxiously awaiting the next ladder reset and trying to plan a character who is capable of getting to the top. Well, look no further!
A Paladin who uses Holy Freeze as his main aura and Zeal as his main attack has so many advantages, its amazing everyone isn’t using them! In addition, there are several different ways to slightly customize your Freezealot based on your preferences and skill choices, and I’ll go over them as well. Lastly, this build is NOT very equipment dependant despite the fact that you’re a meleer! Unfathomable! Plus, I hate build guides that set up the build with EVERY point spent. This guide assumes you’ll make it to 80 or so and thus doesn’t set up builds with insane amounts of skill points… luckily, we wont be sacrificing effectiveness at all.
As a note, I myself find MFing boring as hell, and never do it. Maybe you’re like me, and shake your head when you see people posting “Hey, I found my 8th SS of the day!” Thus, while in my equipment recommendations I’ll of course note the optimal setup, I’ll also make a list of items attainable to people like myself, who like to play through the game and use what they can find. Plus, if you’re making a ladder bid, you wont have time to level up a magic finder – in the time that takes, you’ll have lost your position. That said, on we go.
3.0 note: I refuse to list items like Enigma or BotD that most players shouldn’t have. Obviously if you legitimately get the runes power to you, but I’m being realistic. Also of note is the fact that due to their usefulness perfect gems have become a decent trade item. Even shortly after a ladder reset, you should be able to use perfect gems to acquire a bunch of very respectable items – which is great.
With this Paladin build, you will end up with two major damage types – physical and cold – at the same time. Additionally, thanks to holy shield you’ll have 75% blocking… its like 75% resist physical (and hell, even some magic missiles)! Third, your resists will be excellent with a very high cold resist in particular. Lastly, all enemies will be slowed over 50 percent! 50 percent!!!! They move half as fast, attack half as fast, or shoot half as fast, the whole
time taking periodic cold damage from an aura with huge range. Very few enemies are immune to Holy Freeze.
The standard stuff here…
Str: as much as is needed for gear
Dex: as much as is needed for max blocking
Vit: everything else
Energy: do I really have to say it… not a point
There are a few different ways you can go about doing this, depending about how you want to tailor your character. I’ll give the main points and let you decide how you want to do the rest! All of these builds assume that you’ll need pretty high attacking rating as you enter hell difficulty and thus they max Zeal… plus, the new damage bonus doesn’t hurt.
General Notes about IM: If you deal massive physical damage and are worried about Iron Maiden, keep your fists with Zeal/Holy Freeze on weapon switch! This way you can eliminate the casters without worrying about returning a lot of physical damage! Thanks to Squix.
Also of definite note was this recommendation by Loboleal:
“I realized that speed and AR with your fists were a serious problem.
I found a solution for those issues: Bone Wand of Piercing.
3-7 Physical damage, ITD and fast attack. Better than your naked fists.”
Amishamigo throws in his two cents, noting a Buzzing Cutlass would do well, too!
I thought about this and also came up with another plus… ever notice that wands spawn all the time with massive elemental damage that seems all but useless? Put ’em to use on your switch!
Order: Pump Resist Cold until you get Zeal. Once you get Zeal, pump it until you get Holy Freeze. Pump Holy Freeze until you get Holy Shield, and sink those 5 points into it so you’re all set. Your blocking and duration should now be at respectable levels. I suggest finishing Holy Freeze and getting at least 10-15 into Zeal before you pump Resist Cold. Personally, I max both of those before I finish Resist Cold. At this point you’ll be around 60 or so, and will be dealing about 750 cold damage per hit! Once you max out salvation, you’ll be doing roughly 1000+ cold damage per hit, plus the physical from Zeal. After you’ve “finished” this build around 80, you can pump Holy Shield for the defense, or pump Sacrifice to increase your physical damage. **This is my recommended build, as I prefer reliance on cold damage instead of physical**
Order: This build is exactly like the above one except instead of Salvation, you pump up Sacrifice to increase your physical damage. Set up your skills with Zeal, then Holy Freeze, then Resist Cold with Sacrifice last… after all, this is a cold build! Cold comes first, damn it! Of course once you’re done you can always sink points into Salvation, or Holy Shield if
that’s your thing. If you anticipate getting a nice damage weapon and are going to use a might mercenary, this is a decent avenue.
Order: I’m sure you can figure this out, but if you’re having trouble deciding what kind of damage to specialize in, it cant hurt to make a spread between both!
Order: You know the drill by now… maxing Holy Shield comes last after you’ve sunk those first 5 points into it. The big advantage here is you get a massive 300+ percent defense bonus! If you’re able to come by high defense gear or anticipate that you will, this isn’t a bad build despite the fact that you sacrifice some damage output. Once you’re done with the main
build, you can pump either Salvation or Sacrifice depending on your damage plans, or go for the defense and max defiance to get some insane d.
Order: You can choose, with a build like this! This will take you closer to level 90 to achieve, but Any1 pointed this out to me as a possible build that he has tested. Oh, the damage!!!
General Notes: The Freezealot is based on cold damage, yes. However, the optimal setup is based around something else as well: crushing blow. Not enough people seem to put emphasis on this awesome attribute. Achieving at least 50% crushing blow is a HUGE bonus… having near or at 100% – 75% is a great, balanced goal – turns you into a MACHINE that will wow everyone who sees you in action. An example: you deal 1/4 damage to normal monsters, 1/10 to bosses. With max monster increases, monsters are 4.5 times stronger. Thus, theoretically, it would take a handful more than 45 hits to kill hell Baal in a full game. That’s 9 quick Zeals… considering your huge cold (physical too for some!) damage on top of it, it wont take much more than that if you’re using an optimal setup.
Your goals should be, in general, to max your resists, have a shield with high blocking, and get a fast weapon to rapidly deliver that cold damage. You could shoot for damage reduction, but I personally never actively go after DR and never have a problem – after all, you have 75% block and the enemies move super slowly!
Now that we’re in version 3.0 here, I’d like to note something I didn’t stress enough before – make sure to put on as many +skills as you can. The cold damage REALLY jumps with as little as 5, and if you manage to get higher it just gets insane. I list some numbers down near the bottom.
Lastly, while I list tons of sets and uniques below, please don’t be an elitist tool and ID ALL RARES! Especially when you’re in hell and normal items can spawn with insane mods, you might miss something amazing! Since they can always be upgraded, please god don’t pass them up. A good rare has the potential to replace 95% of items people normally use, plus you can feel cool when you show off your equipment and its not what everyone else uses.
3.0 note: I’ve added a lot to the equipment area, since besides skills its pretty much what the game revolves around! Since your weapon is possibly the most important item you’ll have, extra attention is given to it.
Your goal here is something fast with good physical damage if you’re going that route… and of course, something that has crushing blow. If you’re worried solely about cold, get something fast with other nice mods.
Ultimate: Heaven’s Light – Amazing damage, great speed, +2-3 skills, 33% target defense AND!… 33% crushing blow! Now the best part… 1-2 sockets. Throw an ETH in one of them and you have a weapon with 58% target defense – really makes your job easier. You could also throw in some runes to increase your crushing blow if you’re rich, otherwise its up to you. If you’re really boss you could throw in a nice cold rainbow facet…
Others: Stormlash, Stonecrusher, Nords (more cold, VERY fast, huge AR bonus, easy to find)
Great: Zakarum’s Hand – +2 Holy Freeze and ITD with 30% IAS. Excellent mid-game weapon.
Others: General’s Tan Do Li Ga (you’ll be hitting VERY fast… and the monsters get VERY slow, they barely move), Atlantean
Sicarius_J recommends a Crescent Moon Phase Blade, and its a good idea. VERY fast, and since it can trigger static, it can add to or make up for crushing blow you have since it triggers so much. He also notes that a Kingslayer has great mods that would work well with this build.
Frenzied Bovine notes that a Fleshripper has many of our coveted mods and is very fast. It also has Slows Target 50%… I’ve tested it, and monsters are so slowed that its like watching a slideshow when they move or attack. You can pretty much walk out of the way of their attacks.
Other: Crushflange! Yes, with 33% crushing blow you’ll still be taking names. In fact, I was mocked several times while in hell for STILL hanging onto my crushflange… but once they saw me ripping with my massive cold damage aided by the crushing blow, they shut up.
Also: “Black” – Thul Io Nef. You can definitely find these runes… whatever you get from your nightmare hellforge should be suitable to get an Io with, which is the hardest thing to find here. Put this is a flail of some sort since they’re lightning fast. This has 40% crushing blow on a one hander! In fact, once I can use this, I do… all the way until I get a Heaven’s Light. Yes, its that’s good.
gvandale also recommends an (upgraded) Headstriker, which is certainly a solid choice.
Low Level: Halcyon noted that the Strength runeword has 25% crushing blow and plenty of other good low level mods. This is great for starting out, especially if you cant find a Crushflange (though you’d be surprised how much they drop, or how easy it is to trade for one!)
Ultimate: There is only one armor paladins should shoot for endgame…
Guardian Angel. With bonuses on it for everything paladins hold dear, even the best runewords barely match it pound for pound. Of course, socket it with an UM for the resistances if you need em – and you certainly may.
Great: There are so many good unique and set armors, I could seriously list half of them. Rattlecage is nice for the 25% crushing blow, plus you could upgrade it for more defense. Duriel’s shell is always great as well. Vipermagi has resists and that lovely skill point. Pick something that complements your other gear and you’re off and running.
Ultimate: Guillaume’s Face, the set helm from the Orphans Call set. All great mods, but we really want it for the 35% crushing blow it has! Socket it with shael for faster recovery or um of course for the resistance. However, there is also .. Rockstopper, my personal favorite! Every paladin I’ve ever made used one as soon as I could trade for it! Huge resists, damage reduction and more! My personal favorite, and nightmare Baal will drop it a bunch. If you don’t have Guillaume’s Face, or even if you do and don’t mind 65-75% crushing blow, use this! The mods on it are second to none for this build.
Great: Face of Horror, Lore runeword
Other: Rares, baby.
Ultimate: There is only one, and you already know what it is: The Herald of Zakarum, the greatest shield ever conceived. You could upgrade it for a little more defense but until you’re at that sick point where you’re just trying to make your gear perfect, don’t bother. This shield is kind of hard to get a hold of though, so you’ll probably be using something else for a long time.
Others: Any of the unique paladin shields are decent overall.
Great: So many good shields out there… Steelclash is of course a standard, and easy to find. Orphan’s Call set shield is VERY nice as well.
Other: The “Rhyme” runeword, Shael + Eth, is awesome. Every bonus on it rocks and makes it perfect to put in a paladin shield! I suggest finding a shield that has a high resist automod to start – there’s no reason not to!
Other: There’s the one time that you’ll be more than happy to use a rare. Save your imbues for shields and identify EVERY RARE! You can always upgrade it, and there are some damn nice shields to be found. An ancients pledge can really bolster sagging resists. Holy Shield can help make up for poor blocking. A sacred targe has amazing blocking, if you can hold off on your imbues long enough to find them.
Please don’t forget rares here… I’ve more than once in normal play found +2 paladin skill prismatic shields with plenty of other great mods!!!
Low Level: Its hard to beat the ancients pledge in a paladin shield for low to mid levels.
Ultimate: This is the one place where I’m TOTALLY undecided. Steelrend, the elite unique Orge Gauntlets, have 10% crushing blow and other nice mods. However, things like the immortal king gloves or even upgraded bloodfist are fine choices. If you go IK (with huge str and dex), you will probably want the IK belt too. Any1 noted that together they give you +50 AR, +106 defense and +25% IAS! What a combo considering those items are great to begin with.
Great: Hey! I said I was undecided, didn’t I?!?! My recommendation would be to craft some gloves with crushing blow on them. This is actually your best bet for this build, since crafting some gloves with IAS, resists and crushing blow would be absolutely perfect.
Other: Laying of Hands is decent thanks to its IAS and Fire Res, and Sanders isn’t the worst either.
Ultimate: Really, Gore Riders are probably your best choice here, since they have 15% crushing blow and an all-important 30% faster run. If you’ve done a good job getting all the crushing blow gear together, you’d have:
15 (boots) + 35 (helm) + 40 (“black”) + 7% (lets say some crafted gloves) =
97% alright! We did it, good as 100 for all intents.
Of course, using Heaven’s Light we drop down to 90%, but its such a good weapon its worth it. However, look below…
Great: Goblin Toe, of course! 25% crushing blow can definitely bring you to 100%, but it lacks the faster movement that make the Gores so great. Charms could make up for it if you find enough faster run charms.
Other: Pretty much anything works here… rares, crafted, Immortal King, Aldurs, or any unique you find. Infernostride is a nice choice I’ve used in the past.
Low Level: Sigons or Hsarus are great for their resists and speed. Heck, even Sanders.
Great: Immortal Kings (see gloves); upgraded Bladebuckle are both fine. Rares and crafts will get you by too, as long as they have 4 slots and some resists. Faster hit recovery isn’t hard to get either. You can always try and imbue.
Low Level: Rares, without a doubt. I actually have used a Bladebuckle in hell to good effect.
Ultimate: Well, its standard, but its true: having a ravenfrost is super helpful. The cannot be frozen is godly, and it really saves you with its huge attack rating and dex bonuses for blocking. Aside from having at least 1, the other choice should be whatever compliments your equipment at the time.
Great: Dwarf Star is more than decent, and really most if not all of the unique rings are great.
Other: I honestly end up using rares most of the time – gamble gamble gamble! You can land some huge AR + resist rings.
Low Level: Magic rings, really. Getting a magic ring with a giant bonus to one resist can help a lot and last a long time!
Ultimate: Who ISN’T going to say Maras here. However, theBlackKnight points out that Seraphs Hymn or Highlords are also great choices, since they have very useful mods and you can make up for resistances with charms.
Great: We aren’t all likely to have a Maras, so your best bet is to find something that compliments your build and fills in the gaps. I usually go for a rare with +skills and resists… again, gamble and trade. Usually you can trade that +1 amazon amulet you got for something equal with paladin skills you can use.
Other: You can craft an amulet with increased chance of blocking… that ain’t bad!
Low Level: A prismatic magic amulet works wonders.
I don’t have much to say about charms… usually 1/2 my inventory is full of them. Having one small with a cold damage mod will additionally slow enemies when you hit them, even if its just 1-2 damage. Pretty much charms are great to add a little life or make up for lagging resistances. If you can get any +paladin skill charms of course, hang on to them! As I mentioned before, points in Holy Freeze over 20 make a huge difference.
That about sums it up for equipment. Like I said, shoot for huge max resists, max block and the highest crushing blow you can get. That will take you all the way through hell. While your crushing blow is cutting enemies down left and right, your massive cold damage will do the rest of the job.
Ahhh, you thought I forgot, didn’t you? This is a personal preference thing, but here are some recommendations.
3.0 note: After having talked with several people and done a recent play through, I would recommend getting a Blessed Aim mercenary if you’re having problems hitting. He makes a huge difference in how well you hit, especially in hell. If you’re able to give him decent gear, he can also make up for low physical damage on your part if you go mostly all cold.
If you’re going to aim for high physical damage via the sacrifice synergy, you should probably get an act2 might mercenary. If you want to be cool and unique, hire an act 1 fire arrow mercenary and equip her well… she can actually rock! Hire an act3 cold mercenary and be the ultimate cold machine. Because not only can he hold the most equipment out of anyone in the game, but he wont just slow enemies, he’ll freeze em! I’ve used this in the past and he’s great fun.
However, if you’re really looking for something to compliment your build, go for something that does a damage type you don’t do – which probably means an act3 lightning/fire or act1 fire mercenary. The act 1 archers really get underestimated, but they really help dish it with a half-decent bow.
I realized that while I went over most aspects of this character in 2.0, I never actually gave hints for playing him! Here are things that have helped my Frost Zealot survive.
1. Know your aura size
When maxed out, the range of Holy Freeze is gigantic, giving you a radius pretty much equal to and sometimes greater than the size of the screen and “pings” very often! This means that you can hear monsters ahead of you being frozen before you even get into range!!! The difference this makes when venturing into areas with archers could save your life.
2. Balance dexterity and vitality
You need high dexterity to keep blocking at 75%, but at higher levels those precious points could be spent in vitality. Be sure to take note of times you could save on dexterity through items. The IK gloves adds 20, Ravenfrost adds a ton, and oft times rare amulets will spawn with a decent +dex mod. If you know you have some dex coming your way, try to spend your points in vitality instead.
Since you need a point in charge to get to Holy Shield, make sure you use it! I use charge all the time. You can attack a point on the ground with it and charge to simply move very fast – I can beat some BoS assassins and teleport sorceresses in a race! I also use it to charge into packs of archers to get right into the battle and take them out faster.
4. Slow ’em even more
The more sources of cold damage you have, the better your freezing ability. By keeping one small charm with cold damage on it in my inventory, monsters are slowed even more when you hit them. This is especially useful for charging into a pack of archers and slowing their fire to a crawl once they’re hit.
5. Get items by helping others
This is by no means a magic finding build. However, as all builds get more item-geared when you get to hell, you’ll need a way to get better stuff. I recommend doing Baal runs with friends… this way you can split the drops well and not worry about grabbers. If you cant do that, try helping others gain experience – in the cow level! Once you’re in your mid 40s, you should probably be able to handle the Normal Cow Level. Create a game called “I cow for you” or some such and wait for the low levels to join. They’ll be able to sit behind you and leech experience while you’re on the front line to get all the drops. A few of these will net you decent experience and decent gear – or at least trade fodder. Read Skkra’s Story at the bottom to see how this helped me.
6. Speed up your Zeal… if you can
I’ve never been a big fan of running the numbers to find zeal framerates. However, its not overly difficult to find a fair amount of IAs in your gear. Since enemies are already so slowed from your aura, I wouldn’t worry about getting a 4 frame zeal. 5 frames is definitely acceptable; honestly, I never calculate my frame rate – I simply play with what I can get and I’ve never had a speed problem.
7. Enchant yourself
Its fairly easy to find or shop a weapon with charges of enchant on it. I often keep one on my switch to enchant myself with. It’s a nice little way to get a boost to your attack rating without dropping points in Blessed Aim for the hidden passive bonus. Better yet, if you can find a Demon Limb to keep on switch, you’re more than set, especially since it has massive fire damage to deal with cold/physical immunes!
8. Curse them
Instead of a wand with enchant, why not get one with Lower Resist? This is great to have on switch… even level 1 is -31 to their cold… that’s a massive damage boost for you if your Holy Freeze is at a decent level, especially if you’re fighting bosses with a ton of hit points in hell.
Dealing with Dual Immunes
There are those rare occasions when you run into a dual cold/physical immune. When this happens, it seems your choices boil down to the following:
1. Have a high elemental damage weapon on switch
This can be a unique, any of the new runewords, or, as was mentioned earlier, a wand with a bunch of elemental damage on it – these come up all the time!
2. Have a mercenary that deals a third damage type
Act 1 fire, act 3 fire or lightning
3. Let your party handle it
If you play in a party, dual immunes shouldn’t be an issue
It happens. Cant win ’em all!
Here are the kind of numbers you can expect your Holy Freeze zealot to achieve. I added this so people can see the base numbers they’ll get as well as the importance of +skills if possible.
But now, to show the importance of a few +skills for this build, lets assume this quite attainable setup – many of these can just be magics! +2 on weapon, +1 Lore helm, +1 shield, +1 offensive aura amulet. Remember synergy skills don’t count above 20!
Now that sure is a nice amount of cold damage to add PER HIT of a Zeal! But could we go higher? What if we had a nice, yet fairly attainable, “elite” setup? +3 Heavens Light, +2 rare circlet, +2 rare shield, +2 rare amulet, +1 Guardian Angel and a +1 unique belt with battle command +1 from the barb in your party! I’m not going to consider 2 SOJs (unpractical for this build) or a +3 amulet (only spawns on magic). Get ready…
Yes… it can get that sick. Plus, just for my own sick satisfaction, here are the numbers if you managed to get, say, 6 Offensive Aura grand charms to bring the total up to level 38…
So keep rerolling those grand charms (act III nightmare, Great Marsh-Kurast grand charms are best – they can get +skills but have the least chance of getting other junk) because, my god, those numbers are disgusting!
I’ve personally taken this build all the way through hell Baal twice, untwinked, in preparation for the ladder run I want to make next season. It is quite viable and very capable of handling any area in the game thanks to two main damage types. Of course, in hell you will all but need to have more decent gear if you want to do well, but really, who doesn’t.
Like I said, I’m not rich. However, I was still able to achieve most of my “ultimate” items. Your best bet is to do Baal runs with some friends. This way no one grabs and everyone can get the great drops that they need, or get the items they can trade for what they need.
The guide officially ends here, but below is the story of my current (as of 3/16/04) Frost Zealot, who I made to better revise this guide! I have been incredibly pleased that everyone has enjoyed this guide – I honestly thought it may just fade into oblivion, yet the guide has hit ~6,000 views. Thank you everyone!
Feel free to come game with me… *Kitriara on USEast hardcore ladder.
Here is the story, so far, of Skkra, the little Frost Zealot that could. He started out completely untwinked and has played his way up to Act II hell, where he is as of this posting. I’ll update this thread as he kills Hell Baal (since I wont be able to update the guide!)
Skkra quickly assembled whatever gear he could get his hands on. In Act I he found Death’s Gloves and a nice rare skull cap. He was 18 when he killed Andariel which was nice since she got to taste the cold!
By the end of Act II he had found (surprise!) Isenharts Sword which was nice since it’s so fast. My rings jewelry was magic at this point, the rest of my equipment rare.
Things went fine all the way to Act V. At this point Baal Runs rapidly leveled me up and let me finish maxing Holy Freeze. I managed to grab a few better pieces of gear and was saving up lots of gems to trade with.
Once I finished normal, I spent a bunch of games doing cow runs. This gave me a bunch of decent resist charms and jewels. I sold everything else that dropped – especially any armor – for money. With this I gambled as much as possible and better outfit myself.
Nightmare went off without a hitch. I made my way through each act, doing plenty of gambling along the way. I gambled a lovely amulet: +1 sorceress skills, 10% faster cast, +10 strength with 19% prismatic, 42% lightning! I traded this for an equivalent paladin amulet: +1 paladin skills, +20 dex, 18% prismatic with high cold.
Nightmare hellforge gave me a Shael. Ah well… I’m holding onto it until I find a good sacred targe to make Rhyme in. A little bit ago I had traded some gems for the Hand of Zakarum which did nice by me.
Anya actually decided to be nice with my shield and gave me a rare with good resists! I kept this until I found a rare +1 paladin 14% prismatic one. My rings are both gambled rares at this point too.
I killed Baal my first nightmare run so that I’d always be safe to make the games. Killing Baal each time as I went from my 50s to 70s was excellent, and helped me outfit my paladin the way he is now. Meanwhile, I used the trading forums to unload all of my chipped gems for “junk” that people find left and right – some of these even fell in my games, I just wasn’t fast enough to get it!
In my mid 70s I did a few nightmare cow runs to find more stuff, get experience and raise money for gambling.
I just played through Act I hell last night, and finally purchased an act 2 blessed aim mercenary who is helping a LOT – he adds about 2300 AR!
My current gear is now:
– My rare paladin amulet (traded a gamble)
– Rare rings (both gambled)
– Bladebuckle (traded)
– 29% Vipermagi (traded)
– Laying of Hands (found nm Baal)
– Sigons Boots (found nm somewhere)
– Rockstopper (found nm Baal)
– Rare shield (found nm somewhere)
– Nords (acquired with perfect gems)
This guide has honestly reached a level I never imagined in terms of content! Keep making those Frost Zealots, and I’ll see you on bnet!