Diablo 2 Paladin Guide – Build Your Own Zealot!

Diablo 2 Paladin Guide

Introduction

Salutations and welcome to this Diablo 2 Paladin Guide.

I am Kitteh, a long-time player of Diablo 2 and for the last decade or so, exclusively single-player, and now exclusively hardcore. My gameplay has varied from grinding to level 99 (Fordyl), running Ancient Tunnels (AT) 5,000 times (5,000 AT runs) because I like gold and green, and playing various builds to guardianship (Kitteh’s Rebirth). What I’m trying to [not] say is that I don’t like change and this game means an awful lot to me. I live in the single-player forum (SPF), where you will also find some of the most knowledgeable players in the game – feel free to pop in any time 🙂

This guide is written in the context of how I play the game, so do keep that in mind. There are no Hellfire Torches or Annihilus in single player, at least not at the current time, we shall see if Blizzard changes their mind on that for Diablo II Resurrected. The mods that allow those items are not accepted on these forums. We do, however, allow the use of Runeword Mod (RWM) which allows ladder-only runewords to be created in single player, and I will provide a link for this in the ‘Further Reading’ section. If an item requires RWM then it will have ‘RWM’ in parentheses. I will also refer to ‘untwinked’ gameplay, which is how we refer to playing a character strictly with items found by that character.

So, how do you use this guide? Most of the guide will be centred around the basic functionality of a zealot, this section is applicable regardless of the type of zealot that you decide to play and will introduce key mechanics of the build, stats that you want to get, and breakpoints for each. Once you understand these basics, you can choose a ‘flavour’ of zealot, specifically; physical, fire, lightning or cold. There are a few more flavour-specific stats that you want to aim for and these will be addressed in their own sections.

My goal is that after reading this guide, regardless of what you want to build a character for, there is a zealot that you feel comfortable using. I hope for this guide to be informative, but I will provide links to additional guides to provide a larger overview of specific areas where appropriate. I am also happy to take questions by PM on the forums.

Zealots – An Introduction and Key Mechanics

 

Mechanics of Zeal

Diablo 2 Paladin
Diablo 2 Paladin

A zealot, as one might expect, uses the ‘zeal’ skill to ‘phwack’, ‘phwack’, ‘phwack’, ‘phwack’, ‘phwack’ the hordes of The Burning Hells right back to where they came from. Zeal is assigned to your left click button and used in combination with an aura of your choice. It is the choice of aura that dictates the nature of your zealot build, and these choices will be explored in the next section.

Zeal is a melee skill with an elevated attack speed compared to a normal attack. As you allocate skill points to zeal you gain increased damage and attack rating (Table 1). At level one, zeal will strike two times per attack, increasing by one hit until you hit five times at level four. The first strike is aimed at your target and further strikes will hit adjacent enemies if there are any, otherwise all strikes will be targeted at your initial target. Each strike with zeal (so each of the individual five) has a separate chance to hit. Zeal will always cost two mana per attack, that is a volley of five strikes, not each individual strike.

Zeal is uninterruptible both from enemy effects and your own actions. This is important because this means that zeal is not interrupted by blocking, hit recovery, knockback, and stun. However, you can for example, still block, there is just no animation.

 

sLvl% AR% DMG sLvl% AR% DMG sLvl% AR% DMG
1100 1111042 21210102
2200 1212048 22220108
3300 1313054 23230114
4400 1414060 24240120
5506 1515066 25250126
66012 1616072 26260132
77018 1717078 27270138
88024 1818084 28280144
99030 1919090 29290150
1010036 2020096 30300156

Mechanics of Blocking

Diablo 2 Paladin Guide – Build Your Own Zealot!

If you’re playing a zealot then you are going to be right up in the enemy’s face, saying rude things about their friends and pulling stupid faces to put them off. In turn, they will try to put you off by smashing your face in with a club, claw or bolt of lightning. You want to avoid this if at all possible and there are many ways to do so, the primary method being to block those attempts at disfiguring your beautiful face. Note: mercenaries cannot block.

When an attacker attempts to hit a defender with any applicable skill (Table 2), the first thing that happens is a hit check, unless you are running in which case the hit check is bypassed.

Table 2 – Skills which induce a hit check

DefaultAmazonAssassinBarbarianDruidNecromancerPaladinSorceress
AttackFire arrowTiger strikeBashFeral ragePoison daggerSacrifice
ThrowCold arrowDragon talonDouble swingMaulSmite
Multiple shotFists of fireStunRabiesZeal
Exploding arrowDragon clawDouble throwFire clawsCharge
Ice arrowCobra strikeLeap attackHungerVengeance
Immolation arrowClaws of thunderConcentrateFuryConversion
StrafeDragon tailFrenzy
Freezing arrowBlades of iceWhirlwind
JabDragon flightBerserk
Power strikePhoenix strike
Poison javelinBlade sentinel
ImpaleBlade fury
Charged strikeBlade shield
Plague javelin
Fend
Lightning strike

*There are some specific exceptions to note; lightning bolt, guided arrow, lightning fury, smite (only for paladin) and charge (only for monsters).

The chance to hit is determined using the following formula;

% Chance to hit = 100 * 2 * (alvl / (alvl+dlvl) ) * (AR / (AR+DR))

Regarding notation; alvl being the level of the attacker, dlvl the level of the defender, AR the attacker’s attack rating and DR the defender’s defence rating. An attacker’s chance to hit is always 5% <= chance to hit <= 95%.

If the attacker succeeds with the hit check, you get an opportunity to block the attack. In order to block an attack you need to be holding an appropriate item; a shield, a shrunken head (necromancer only items) or an auric shield (paladin only items). Note: nobody calls an auric shield an ‘auric shield’ (they should, it’s a lovely word) so just call it a paladin shield or 75% of people won’t know what you mean and 87% will think you’re a bit weird.

You can block melee attacks, projectiles (arrows and bolts), throwing weapons (javelins, throwing knives and throwing axes) and physical damage missiles. There are two other assaults that you can block, the on-death explosion of a bone fetish and the explosion caused by a monster being fire enchanted. These are two very helpful situational blocks.

Unfortunately, there are also some unblockable attacks, some of which you don’t need to worry much about such as lightning bolt, the explosion from molten boulder, the pulse damage of tornado, impact damage from armageddon and smite (when used by a paladin). However, there are a few nasty exceptions; corpse explosion (including Nihlathak’s), and charge from claw vipers and reanimated hordes. As with chance to hit, there is a formula for calculating block chance;

% Chance to Block = min( (base blocking % of shield + blockfactor + blocking bonus) * (Dexterity-15) / (clvl*2) , 75)

The base blocking % of your shield is base-dependent (Table 3). Blockfactor is class-specific (Table 4) and included in the % that you see on the item. Blocking bonus includes holy shield (discussed below). clvl is the level of your character. The result is your % chance to block which is then capped at 75% when standing still or walking, and 25% when running.

Table 3 – Base block of shields

Normal VersionBase Block (%)Exceptional VersionBase Block (%)Elite VersionBase Block (%)
Buckler0Defender10Heater22
Small shield5Round shield12Luna20
Large shield12Scutum14Hyperion24
Kite shield8Dragon shield18Monarch22
Spiked shield10Barbed shield17Blade barrier20
Bone shield20Grim shield20Troll nest20
Tower shield24Pavise24Aegis24
Gothic shield16Ancient shield16Ward24

 

Normal VersionBase Block (%)Exceptional VersionBase Block (%)Elite VersionBase Block (%)
Targe10Akaran targe10Sacred targe30
Rondache15Akaran rondache15Sacred rondache28
Heraldic shield20Protector shield20Kurast shield25
Aerin shield22Gilded shield22Zakarum shield22
Crown shield25Royal shield25Vortex shield19

Note: Auric shields have a staff mod which is either +AR and % damage, or +XX to all resistances. This plus their slightly better block chance makes them the best shield base for a paladin, unsurprisingly. Use them for runewords whenever possible. If none are available, a bone shield base type is your best option for a balance of block % and strength requirement.

Table 4 – Block factor by class

ClassAmazonAssassinBarbarianDruidNecromancerPaladinSorceress
Block factor25%25%25%20%20%30%20%

A key factor for a paladin is the skill ‘holy shield’, which provides a % chance to block so long as holy shield is active (Table 5). This % is part of ‘blocking bonus’. Holy shield also provides a hefty defence bonus, further increased by points in ‘defiance’. I wouldn’t build around defence generally speaking, but it’s a bonus. The reason that defence has to be very high to be of use, which in the case of a paladin is fairly easy.

Table 5 – Skill bonuses for holy shield by skill level

Skill LevelDuration (Sec)Defence %Block %Skill LevelDuration (Sec)Defence %Block %
13025141640525034
25540181743026534
38055201845528034
410570231948029534
513085252050531035
6155100262153032535
7180115272255534035
8205130282358035536
9230145292460537036
10255160302563038536
11280175312665540036
12305190312768041537
13330205322870543037
14355220332973044537
15380235333075546037

If after all of this you initiate a block, damage is not applied, although piercing can still take place. Sucks to be the person behind you.

If you block during a zeal attack there is no animation, but if you block whilst not mid-zeal, your character enters a blocking animation which must be completed prior to any further actions. If you block again during the animation, the animation starts again and this can ultimately lead to you being locked into a series of blocks. I cannot stress how infuriating or dangerous this can be, much like with faster hit recovery. The difference is that at least here you are blocking the incoming damage. The stat ‘Faster block rate’ reduces the time required to go through this animation, thus getting you back in the game before another club comes a-swinging. There are breakpoints associated with faster block rate (Table 6). Increasing your % faster block rate without reaching the next breakpoint will not reduce the time taken for the animation to take place. Luckily for us we are using holy shield, so you will notice that we have adjusted breakpoints, reaching 2 block frames by default when holy shield is active. You can reach 1 block frame if you get 86% faster block rate. Don’t pursue this.

Table 6 – Faster block rate breakpoints

CharacterWeapon / Skill / FormBlock Frames
1716151413121110987654321
Amazon1H swinging weapon (*)04611152329405680120200480
Other weapons0133286600
AssassinAll0133286600
BarbarianAll09204286280
DruidHuman form061320325286174600
Bear form051016274065109223
Wolf form0715274886200
NecromancerAll061320325286174600
PaladinNormal0133286600
With Holy Shield086
SorceressAll0715274886200

For most classes there is always some debate about whether or not to go max block, and there are very valid arguments for both. Personally, I always go max block (or in some cases 50%) if I have a good blocking shield and I am playing a druid, necromancer or sorceress as they get less life per vitality point anyway, so the safety contribution is a little more balanced. However, if you are playing a paladin and using a shield, you are going max block. There is absolutely no reason not do so. Please don’t be that person 🙁

Here are some of the best blocking shields, plus some of the easier to access additional sources (Table 7).

Table 7 – Highlighted shields for blocking

Unique ShieldBlock % for Paladin% Faster Block RateAdditional Key Stats
Herald of Zakarum823020% attack rating; +20 strength +20 vitality; +50 all resistances
Stormshield7735Damaged reduced by 35%; +60 cold resistance; +25 lightning resistance
Moser’s Blessed Circle6730Two open sockets; +25 all resistances
Visceratuant7030
Steelclash6320+15 all resistances; +1 paladin skills;
Pelta Lunata5040

 

Set ShieldBlock % for Paladin% Faster Block RateAdditional Key Stats
Griswold’s Honor7565+45 all resistances; three open sockets
Whitstan’s Guard9740
Sigon’s Guard740+1 all skills

 

Runeword ShieldBlock % % Faster Block RateAdditional Key Stats
Rhyme (ShaelEth)2040Cannot be frozen; +25 all resistances; 25% magic find
Sanctuary (KoKoMal)202020 faster hit recovery; +20 dexterity; +50-70 all resistances

SourceBlock % % Faster Block RateAdditional Key Stat
Isenhart’s Set (Full)30
Eld rune in shield7
Caster shield5-10
Hit power shield5-10
Safety amulet1-10
Guardian Angel20
Twitchthroe 25

 

Attack Speed

You ideally want to reach maximum attack speed, but if playing untwinked it is not as much of a priority. It is very simple, hitting faster means you will kill things faster. There are a few factors in play here. Firstly, zeal has a faster attack speed than standard attacks. Second, every weapon has an attack speed, the base is 0, values >0 are slower and values <0 are faster. Fanaticism provides 35% attack speed at level 20. Finally, you have attack speed on your gear. However, your speed can then be reduced by decrepify and holy freeze etc. This is particularly important if you plan to run Baal as you need to account for the decrepify. The best way to approach this is to use the attack speed calculator to bring all of these factors together.

Despite it’s relatively low base damage., the best bases for speed are phase blades in the endgame, for both the Grief runeword on fanaticism zealots (because the damage primarily comes from the +XXX damage, which is independent of the weapon damage), and for any runeword used on an elemental zealot, for which it primarily exists to deliver the attacks as quickly as possible. Berserker axes provide a slightly higher damage level for a little less speed. On a fanaticism zealot, speed is unlikely to be an issue, with the exception of Baal running because of decrepify. You need to adapt this to your circumstances. Do you have plenty of resources? Make an individualised weapon for every build. Not so many resources? A Phase blade is more widely applicable.

In terms of early game (or untwinked), crystal sword and flail bases (and their equivalents) are your best options for speed. In untwinked gameplay, I usually opt for  flails and I make a duplicate (if possible) and keep it on switch in case I get caught out by durability and don’t want to lose a TP for questing. If you’re playing twinked, your best options are the Death’s Disguise set or the Sigon’s Complete Steel set with any reasonably fast physical weapon, for a fanaticism zealot, and the unique ‘The General’s Tan Do Li Ga’ for an elemental zealot. Other levelling weapons to consider include; ‘Steel’ runeword, ‘Strength’ runeword, ‘Black‘ runeword, Ginther’s Rift, Bloodrise and Butcher’s Pupil.

Damage Mitigation

Resistances

You absolutely, as with any character, want to achieve a minimum of 75 all resistances. You can relax on poison if you like, that’s a personal choice. After damaged reduced and magic damage reduced have been applied, resistances come into play. Resistance ‘resists’ a % of incoming damage, and is one of our primary sources of damage mitigation. You achieve this through your gear primarily, with your shield being a massive source of resistances due to the staff mod bonus available on auric shields. In addition, we gain resists from completing Anya’s quest in Act V, so be sure to do this. If you are playing on Bnet, then you also have the option of Hellfire Torch and Annihilus  to help you reach these numbers. Ordinarily, charms are also a great source, but you really want to be saving charms for damage and attack rating + life if you’re a fanaticism zealot, although it’s not such a problem if you opt for an elemental zealot. If you have skill points left over (more so for a fanaticism zealot), place them into the resist ‘element’ auras. Every two hard points in these skills increases the corresponding maximum resistance by 1%, although this is hard capped at 95%. So 6 hard points in resist cold gives you +3 maximum resist. This is a massive bonus, so sink points here if you can. Similar stats are available on items.

Damage reduced by % (DR%)‘ is essentially a physical equivalent to resistance, reducing incoming physical damage by a %. The difference is that DR% is capped at 50% and this is a hard cap for players. Monsters however, can reach 100% and therefore be physical immune. It’s terribly irritating, actually. You can combat this with curses (discussed below), and Sanctuary (aura, available on Azurewrath, a unique phase blade, and the ‘Lawbringer’ runeword) will pierce enemy damage reduction. A negative DR% (as a default, a player has 0%) will result in more physical damage being taken, as with elemental resistances, but will not increase the effects of crushing blow (discussed later). Unlike elemental resistances, this modifier is a little harder to obtain. Below are some of the better sources of DR% (Table 8).

Table 8 – The best sources of % damage reduced

DR%ItemDR%ItemDR%
Socketed ‘Ber’ rune (helmet, chest, shield)8Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst)8String of Ears 10-15
Rockstopper 10Enigma (JahIthBer)8Verdungo’s Hearty Cord 10-15
Harlequin Crest 10Leviathan 15-25Vampire Gaze 15-20
Crown of Ages 10-15Shaftshop 30Stormshield35

Damage Reduced By

Elemental damage (and magic damage) can also be mitigated by the ‘magic damage reduced’ (MDR), which is applied after cyclone armour and energy shield (not relevant for us), but prior to resistance. MDR subtracts a numeric value from the damage taken, per element (including magic). For example, if you have 100 incoming damage which is split into 50 fire damage and 50 lightning damage, 20 MDR will reduced this to 30 fire damage and 30 lightning damage.

Similarly, ‘damaged reduced’ (DR), which is applied after bone armour and energy shield, but prior to % damage reduced. As with magic damaged reduced, it is an integer subtraction from the incoming damage number (physical only). If you have 100 incoming physical damage, ‘damage reduced by 20’ will reduce this to 80 physical damage.

Interestingly, if the damage reduced by ‘X’ > incoming physical damage, or magic damage reduced by ‘X’ is > incoming elemental/magic damage, the excess is applied to the sum of alternative damage, post-resistance. That is, if you have 50 MDR and incoming damage which consists of 30 fire damage and 70 physical damage, this will be reduced (prior to resistance) to 0 fire damage and 70 physical damage. However, after resistance takes effect, the difference of 20 MDR is applied to the remaining physical damage.

Generally speaking, it is far better to get your elemental resistances maxed, any absorb (see below) that is available and as much % damage reduction as possible. DR and MDR are primarily of use when you are subjected to a flurry of smaller hits, where the relative impact of an integer subtraction is greater. They do little to protect you from bigger hits.

Absorption

Absorb is somewhat similar to resistance, but is applied post-resistance and effectively capped at 40%. It is damage type specific and can exist either as a % absorption or an integer absorption. The % absorb is applied to the damage remaining post-resistance, followed by integer absorption being removed from the remaining damage. The player then heals for the value absorbed as HP. Finally, the damage is applied. As an example, if we have 100 incoming cold damage (post-resistance) with 20% absorb and 20 integer cold absorb, the damage is reduced to 80 cold damage by the 20%, then reduced to 60 cold damage by the 20 integer absorption, causing us to heal for 40 HP and then take 60 cold damage. As with DMR and DR vs DR% and elemental resistances, the numerical variant is more effective for multiple smaller hits, the best examples being lightning enchanted (much like charged bolts from scarab beetles) and hydras when fighting The Council. Below are some of the better sources of absorption (Table 9).

Table 9 – The best sources of absorption

ItemElement% Absorb‘X’ absorbed
Nord’s TenderizerCold5-15
StormlashLightning3-9
LightsabreLightning25
The Rising SunFire0.75 /clvl
Raven FrostCold20
Dwarf StarFire15
Wisp projectorLightning10-20
DragonscaleFire10-20
Nightwing’s VeilCold5-9
HellmouthFire15
Thundergod’s VigorLightning20
Spirit WardCold6-11
Laying of Hands (1.07 version only, where there is also no cap)Fire50
Crescent Moon (ShaelUmTir)Magic9-11
Oath (ShaelPulMalLum)Magic10-15
Phoenix (VexVexLoJah)Fire15-21
Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn)3-8

Additional Mechanics

The following mechanics and attributes are generic to zealots. They apply regardless of which zealot build you choose. Each ‘flavour’ below has some more build-specific mechanics and attributes discussed, which allow you to specialise.

Open wounds and poison

When you attack, you have a % chance (summed from items) to apply open wounds, draining some of the defender’s life over 7 seconds, although the total duration of the effect is 8 seconds (no life drained for the first second). During the full 8 seconds, the defender is unable to regenerate life. This latter effect is the primary reason that we obtain open wounds. It is absolutely not required and don’t stress about getting it, but if you can grab it somewhere (it is often paired with our other desired modifiers) then do so. You can also get this effect from poison damage but you’ll need probably need an inventory slot for that. Below are the better sources of open wounds (Table 10).

Table 10 – The best sources of % chance of open wounds (OW)

ItemOW%Extra Stats
‘Um’ rune (weapon)25
Duress (ShaelUmThul)33Faster hit recovery, resistances, crushing blow
Crescent Moon (ShaelUmTir)25CtC static strike, -enemy lightning resistance, ignores target’s defence, attack speed
Steel (TirEl)50Attack speed, mana after kill
Beast (BerTirUmMalLum)25Fanaticism aura, crushing blow, attack speed, high damage, werebear o-skill, strength
Dracul’s Grasp25CtC lifetap, strength, life leech
Gore Rider10Faster run/walk, crushing blow, deadly strike

Crushing blow

Getting % chance of crushing blow is a major offensive stat for a melee build, and is especially useful for uniques and bosses. Prior to your damage being dealt, you have a % chance to reduce the enemy’s current life by a percentage; 25% against normal enemies and 12.5% against champions and higher. This % is halved when using a missile weapon. Notably, you can get 100% chance for crushing blow. The effect of crushing blow is reduced by physical resistance of monsters, but not increased by a negative resistance. Below are the better sources of crushing blow (Table 11).

Table 11 – The best sources of % chance of crushing blow

ItemCB%Extra Stats
Blood gloves (crafted)5-10Life leech/+life guaranteed, potentially knockback
Guillaume’s Face35Deadly strike, faster hit recovery
Stormlash33Attack speed, CtC static field
Ribcracker50Attack speed, faster hit recovery
Heaven’s Light33Attack speed, -target defence, +2-3 paladin skills, 1-2 sockets
Bonesnap40
Rattlecage25
Giant Skull10Knockback, strength, 1-2 sockets
Goblin Toe25
Gore Rider15Open wounds, faster/walk, deadly strike
Black (ThulIoNef)40Attack speed
Death (HelElVexOrtGul)50High damage, deadly strike
Beast (BerTirUmMalLum)20Attack speed, fanaticism
Duress (ShaelUmThul)15Resistances, faster hit recovery

Faster Hit Recovery

When your character is hit with a damage value > 1/12th of the character’s maximum life, the character is stunned. This stun begins an animation which must be completed before any further actions can be taken. Unfortunately, this stun effect can be triggered repeatedly and if destiny slaps you in the face, you can die very quickly. This is bad. Obviously. To avoid this embarrassing end, we can obtain ‘faster hit recovery’ (FHR) which will decrease the number of frames required for the animation end. People often dismiss this mechanic, but I seriously recommend never listening to anything such a person says, whether that be advice on Diablo, cheese and cracker combinations or fashion choices. Ignore them. Faster hit recovery is an excellent attribute to take advantage of and in hardcore, you absolutely want to reaching a high breakpoint. Speaking of which, as with faster attack rate, faster cast rate and faster block rate, just getting your faster hit recovery as high as possible is not going to help. Frames do not function as fractions which means that you have to ‘reach’ a specific value of faster hit recovery in order to for your hit recovery to reach its next point of improvement. These breakpoints are below (Table 12). Your best sources of faster hit recovery are also below (Table 13).

I would at least get 48 faster hit recovery, but I always like to have 86 if I can.

Table 12 – Faster hit recovery breakpoints

CharacterEquipped weaponHit Recovery Frames
171615141312111098765432
Amazonall061320325286174600
Assassinall0715274886200
Barbarianall0715274886200
Druid; Human form1H swinging weapon (*)037131929426399174456
Other weapons05101626395686152377
Druid; Bear formall05101624375486152360
Druid; Wolf formall09204286280
Necromancer; Human formall05101626395686152377
Necromancer; Vampire formall026101624344872117????
PaladinSpears and staves0371320324875129280
Other weapons0715274886200
Sorceressall059142030426086142280
Merc Act 1all061320325286174600
Merc Act 2all059142030426086142280
Merc Act 3all05813182432466386133232600
Merc Act 5all0715274886200
CharacterEquipped weapon171615141312111098765432
Hit Recovery Frames

Table 13 – The best sources of % chance of crushing blow

ItemFHR%Additional stats
of balance‘ on small charms5Paired prefix (resistances/damage/attack rating)
Shael’ rune (armour)20
Kira’s Guardian20All resistances, cannot be frozen
Treachery (ShaelThulLem)20Assassin skills, attack speed, CtC fade, cold resistance
Stealth (TalEth)25Faster cast rate, faster run/walk
Duress (ShaelUmThul)40Crushing blow, open wounds, resistances
Stone (ShaelUmPulLum)60All resistances, attributes, high defence
Ribcracker50Attack speed, crushing blow, good damage
Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn)55Faster cast rate, +skills, mana, magic absorb, resistances (shield)
Sanctuary (KoKoMal)20Block chance/rate, dexterity, all resistances
Verdungo’s Hearty Cord10Vitality, % damaged reduced
Bloodfist30Attack speed, life
Sandstorm Trek20Faster run/walk, poison resist, strength, vitality
Griswold’s Legacy (full set)30All resistances, life, + paladin skills, attributes

Cannot be frozen

Cannot be frozen prevents you form being slowed by cold/freeze length. Note: decrepify and the slowing effect of holy freeze, will still slow you down. This is pretty key for any melee build and you want to get it sharpish, if you can. Rhyme is a very easy source of this modifier, but Ravenfrost is the ideal source. There is an exception to this with WW barbarians in Travincal, where being frozen is actually beneficial. Below are the best sources of cannot be frozen (Table 14).

Table 14 – Items with cannot be frozen

SourceAdditional StatsSourceAdditional Stats
Cham’ rune (armour)Voice of Reason (LemKoElEld)CtC frozen orb, -enemy cold resistance
Kira’s GuardianAll resistances, faster hit recoveryRavenfrostDexterity, cold absorb, attack rating
Duriel’s ShellLife, resistances, strengthRhyme (ShaelEth)Resistances, magic find, block

Life stolen per hit

Life leech returns life to you when dealing physical attack damage. % life stolen per hit is summed across gear, although when dual wielding only the attacking weapon counts. Life stolen per hit is applied at 50% and 33% effectiveness in nightmare and hell, respectively. It is also effected by drain effectiveness, a stat held by monsters. As this value drops, so to does the amount of life returned to the leeching player, with a value of zero rendering life stolen per hit irrelevant. There are a series of monsters with a drain effectiveness value of 0 (Table 15), most notable Mephisto in nightmare and hell, and Diablo in hell. Also below is a table of the best sources of life stolen per hit (Table 16).

Table 15 – Monsters with 0 drain effectiveness

BarricadeBarricaded doorBarricaded towerCatapultDiablo’s bone prisonEvil demon hutFire tower
Flying scimitarGargoyle trapLightning spireMummy sarcophagusNight maruaderPrison doorSkeleton
Skeleton archerSkeleton mageSpawnWillowispWindowWraithMephisto (NM/H)
Diablo (H)

Table 16 – The best sources of % chance of life stolen per hit

ItemLeech %Extra Stats
Blood gloves (crafted)1-3Life, crushing blow.
Dracul’s Grasp7-10Life on kill, strength, open wounds, CtC life tap
String of Ears6-8% damage reduced, magic damaged reduced by
Nosferatu’s Coil5-7Attack speed, slows target, strength
Vampire Gaze6-8% damage reduced, magic damage reduced by
Stealskull5Attack speed, faster hit recovery
Crown of Thieves9-12Life, dexterity, fire resistance
Andariel’s Visage8-10+ skills, attack speed, strength
Tal Rasha’s Hoadric Crest10Life, all resistances
Arreat’s Face3-6Faster hit recovery, + barbarian skills, strength, dexterity, resistances
Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst)8Resistances, + skills, % damage reduced by
Breath of the Dying (VexHelElEldZodEth)12-15Attack speed, attributes, -target defence
Strength (AmnTir)7Crushing blow, strength, vitality
Honor (AmnElEthTirSol)7Deadly strike, + skills, strength
Lawbringer (AmnLemKo)7Sanctuary aura, CtC decrepify, -enemy defence, dexterity
The Reaper’s Toll11-15CtC decrepify, ignore target’s defence, deadly strike
Bul Kathos’ Wedding Band3-5+ skills, life
Rare rings3-8Life, resists, attack rating
Immortal King (Gloves 4 pieces)10Strength, dexterity, attack speed.
Death’s Disguise (Any 2 pieces)8Attack speed, cannot be frozen.
Sigon’s Complete Steel (Any 2 pieces)10Attack speed, attack rating

CtC static strike

Static strike is a sorceress skill which removes 25% of an enemy’s current life, down to a maximum of 33% life in nightmare and 50% life in hell. Reductions to lightning resistance further this effect. With the frequency of attacking with zeal we get plenty of triggers, so we can make great use of three weapons with chance to cast static strike; Stormlash, Schaefer’s Hammer and Crescent Moon. I personally made a Schaefer’s Hammer zealot and it is great fun, and in fact somebody in the SPF got to level 99 with such a build. Additionally, Crescent Moon is best in slot for tesladins (holy shock zealot). Stormlash is exceptionally fast and comes with crushing blow. So, all three are great options!

Stats/Mechanics – Order of Importance

Hardcore

  1. Max resists (75%) (seek to increase your increase your lightning beyond 75)
  2. Max block (75%)
  3. Life stolen per hit
  4. Cannot be frozen
  5. 86 faster hit recovery
  6. Max attack speed (5.2 attacks per second)
  7. Crushing blow

Softcore

  1. Max resists
  2. Cannot be frozen
  3. Max attack speed (5.2 attacks per second)
  4. Life stolen per hit
  5. Crushing blow
  6. Max block (75%)
  7. 48 faster hit recovery (ideally 86, though)

 

Choose a Zealot Flavour

There are various things to consider when choosing a flavour. What do you want to achieve? What looks fun to you? What do you have available? What can you obtain?

  • Fanatacism zealots are the most common, but I’d say holy shock zealots (tesladin) are on a par with them in terms of power.
  • Fanatacism zealots make very good Travincal runners
  • Fanatcism and holy shock zealots are both great Baal runners
  • Holy freeze zealots are the safest for hardcore
  • Holy fire zealots are kinda meh in the long term, but they are great for levelling.

 

What I’m doing here is giving you the information and explaining what you want to obtain in order for your zealot to be the best that it can be. What you can obtain and how you do it is ultimately up to you. Thus, when it comes to recommending gear for each flavour of zealot I am simply giving you the best options. You need to mix and match in order to fill the gaps in your own build. That being said, the item at the top of the list, and in bold, is my suggested best in slot if you have all of the emboldened items. Piece those emboldened items together and you have my ideal gear set-up.

Fanaticism – Physical

Introduction

Diablo 2 Paladin Guide – Build Your Own Zealot!

Fanaticism is our aura of choice, providing huge attack speed, physical damage and attack rating (Table 17). This also benefits your mercenary, but only at 50% effectiveness.

Table 17 – Skill bonuses for fanaticism by skill level

Skill LevelRadius (Yards)Damage %Attack Speed %Attack Rating %Skill LevelRadius (Yards)Damage %Attack Speed %Attack Rating %
17501440161730534115
28671845171832234120
39842050181933934125
491012355191935634130
5101182560202037335135
6111352665212139035140
7111522770222140735145
8121692875232242436150
9131862980242344136155
10132033085252345836160
11142203190262447536165
12152373195272549237170
131525432100282550937175
141627133105292652637180
151728833110302754337185

 

Deadly strike

  • Provides a % chance of a critical hit, dealing double physical attack damage
  • Any % chance to deadly strike will stack* for a final % chance – > 100% deadly strike is useless
    • *There is an exception. When dual wielding, only the % from the attacking weapon counts
  • The doubled damage from deadly strike occurs prior to conversion, but this is not relevant for us

Deadly strike provides a % chance of a critical hit, which doubles your physical attack damage. This occurs prior to conversion, but for us this has no impact. All sources of deadly strike will stack for a final % chance of deadly strike, unless dual wielding, in which case only the % on the attacking weapon counts. Again, this doesn’t affect us.

General damage modifiers

+ minimum or maximum damage is added to your weapon damage after on-weapon enhanced damage, but prior to any other % enhanced damage. + minimum and maximum damage are not modifiers that you should seek on your gear, because there are better modifiers, but they do push your damage if you happen to get them. The only source that you should focus on is charms, where you want to obtain ‘Fine’ small charms, granting + maximum damage and attack rating. Ideally, combined with a life modifier or faster hit recovery, depending on your needs.

The two big damage modifiers that you want are a large % damage on your weapon, which (after the application of the ethereal bonus) increases the base damage of the weapon by that percentage. For example, 300% weapon damage multiples your weapon’s damage 3x. The second big modifier is % damage which includes zeal, auras and other gear slots. Say we have 500% damage, our weapon damage is now x15. This is why these two modifiers are so important. They are easily accessible and they multiple to massively increased your damage.

Chance to cast amplify damage & decrepify

Chance to cast curse is a powerful modifier, especially for a fast hitting skill like zeal. There are two curses that we are interested in; amplify damage and decrepify. Amplify damage reduces the enemies damage by 100%, thereby doubling the effectiveness of your physical damage, which can also remove physical immunities. The second curse of interest is decrepify, reducing physical resistance by 50% (fewer monsters can have their immunity removed by a 50% decrease), reduces enemy physical damage by 50% and reduces enemy attack and movement speed by 50%. In terms of damage, there is no contest, amplify damage wins. However, I play hardcore and the defensive attributes of decrepify are absolutely worth the lower damage. Honestly, both are very powerful so choose whichever suits you best. Here are some sources of chance to cast (Table 18). The most commonly used are The Reaper’s Toll (decrepify) on a mercenary, Atma’s Scarab (amplify damage) on any fast hitting build and Witchwild String (amplify damage) on any bow character or hunter build.

Some people pursue life tap on a zealot. I don’t advise this on a physical zealot as it is not required, leech is plenty. The exception is Ubers. However, for elemental zealots it can be a good option.

Table 18 – Sources of chance to cast decrepify or amplify damage

SourceCurseCtC %CtC Type
The Fetid SprinklerDecrepify5On striking
Wrath (PulLumBerMal)Decrepify30On striking
The Reaper’s TollDecrepify33On striking
Lawbringer (AmnLemKo)Decrepify20On striking
Executioner’s JusticeDecrepify50On kill
The Cranium BasherAmplify damage4On striking
The Gavel of PainAmplify damage5On striking
The Vile HuskAmplify damage6On striking
Atma’s ScarabAmplify damage5On striking
LaceratorAmplify damage33On striking
Witchwild StringAmplify damage2On striking
Brand (JahLoMalGul)Amplify damage35When struck

Skill Points

Based on a level 90 character, which gives you 101 skill points.

Skill Points & NotesSkill Icon
Zeal – 20 Points

  • Your primary skill. Max this for maximum damage and attack rating.
Zeal
Sacrifice – 20 Points

  • Sacrifice acts as a synergy for zeal, providing extra damage.
  • Once you have reached 5 hits with zeal (level 4), you should balance allocation of points between zeal and sacrifice depending how good your chance to hit is. This is because sacrifice gives a bigger damage boost than raw points in zeal.
Sacrifice
Fanatacism – 20 Points

  • This is your build defining aura, proving attack speed, damage and attack rating.
Fanaticism
Holy Shield – 20 Points

  • A key component of your defence.
Holy Shield

What you do with your skill points from here is up to you. Vigor and redemption are nice utilities. Personally, I would sink your spare points into the resist auras to increase your maximum elemental resistances, as discussed in the damage mitigation section. Alternatively, put them in defiance for more defence from holy shield. Finally, if you’re really stuck for attack rating, hard points in blessed aim give 5% each.

Stat Points

Strength

  • Allocate only enough to use all your equipment. This will vary

Dexterity

  • Allocate only enough to use all your equipment and achieve max block. This will vary

Vitality

  • All other stat points should be allocated here

Energy

  • You need no points here. Please, please, please don’t put stat points here.

Gear

Head

  1. Guillame’s Face. Faster hit recovery, deadly strike and crushing blow. Socket it with an Um if you need resists, or a Ber rune otherwise. On the lower end, use a perfect ruby. 
  2. Vampire’s Gaze. Leech and damage reduction.
  3. Crown of Thieves. Leech, life and some resistances.
  4. Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest. Life, resistances and leech.
  5. Kira’s Guardian. Massive resistances and cannot be frozen.
  6. Rare circlet with resists

Chest

  1. Fortitude (ElSolDolLo) runeword (RWM) in an archon plate. Fortitude has a big damage bonus, good defence, resists and +5% maximum lightning resist.
  2. Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst) runeword. A solid choice with leech, resists and damage reduction. If you can get this, you probably have access to Fortitude though, which is objectively the best option.
  3. Treachery (ShaelThulLem) runeword. 45% increased attack speed plus CtC fade when struck. Great on a mercenary.
  4. Duriel’s Shell. Life, cannot be frozen, resistances, strength.
  5. Shaftshop. Huge % damage reduction, plus life and defence.
  6. Stone (ShaulUmPulLum) runeword. Massive amount of defence, plus some resists.
  7. Lionheart (HelLumFal) runeword. Life, stats. resists and % damage.
  8. Smoke (NefLum) runeword. An easy +50 to all resistances

Gloves

  1. Laying of Hands. Attack speed, 350% damage to demons and a big chuck of fire resists. You don’t actually need the attack speed here, but the damage to demons is massive and fire resists caps it off.
  2. Rare gloves with resists
  3. Bloodfists. Life and faster hit recovery.
  4. Lavagout. A cheap version of Laying of Hands.
  5. Dracul’s Grasp. Leech and life tap. As I said before, I don’t recommend the life tap route, but the option is there.
  6. Death’s Hand. Pair it with the belt for 30% attack speed and some life leech.

Belt

  1. Verdungo’s. Damage reduction, life and faster hit recovery. A girl’s best friend.
  2. String of Ears. Leech and damage reduction.
  3. Nosferatu’s Coil. Leech, slow enemies and a bit of attack speed.
  4. Rare belt with resists.
  5. Death’s Guard. Cannot be frozen. Pair it with the gloves for 30% attack speed and some life leech.

Boots

  1. Gore Rider. Crushing blow and deadly strike. Lovely.
  2. War Traveller’s. Flat physical damage is nice, but Gore Rider is a bit better. A very close second though.
  3. Rare boots with resists.
  4. Goblin Toe. A lesser version of Gore Rider. Still gets you some crushing blow.

Amulet

  1. Highlord’s Wrath. Attack speed, deadly strike and lightning resist.
  2. Metalgrid. Solid amounts of resistances and attack rating.
  3. Mara’s Kaleidoscope. Resists.
  4. Atma’s Scarab. Amplify damage.
  5. Rare amulet with life and resists

Ring 1

  1. Raven Frost. You absolutely need ‘Cannot be frozen’ somewhere, and this is the best place to get it. 
  2. Dwarf Star. Life, magic damage reduced and fire absorb.
  3. Rare ring. Life, leech, resists.

Ring 2

  1. Rare ring. Life, life stolen, resists, attack rating.
  2. Dwarf Star. Life, magic damage reduced and fire absorb.
  3. Raven Frost. You absolutely need ‘Cannot be frozen’ somewhere, and this is the best place to get it.

Main Hand 1

  1. Grief (EthTirLoMalRal) (RWM) runeword. Best in slot, undeniably. Massive damage, attack speed, ignore’s defence, damage to demons and deadly strike. Stick it in a phaseblade.
  2. Death (HelElVexOrtGul) (RWM) runeword. Huge damage, huge crushing blow %, deadly strike and attack rating. It lack attack speed but that isn’t a problem for us. It’s indestructible so pop it in an ethereal berserker axe.
  3. Oath (ShaelPulMalLum) (RWM) runeword. Huge damage, attack speed and all at a relatively low cost. It’s indestructible, so put it in an ethereal base.
  4. Stormlash
  5. Schaefer’s Hammer
  6. Use and then upgrade an exceptional unique; Butcher’s Pupil and Ginther’s Rift.
  7. Low-end runewords; Honor (AmnElIthTirSol), Black (ThulIoNef).

Offhand 1

  1. Herald of Zakarum. Block chance, block rate, huge resists, good defence. Pop an Um rune in it, or a perfect diamond on the lower end.
  2. Sanctuary (KoKoMal) runeword. Block chance, block rate, faster hit recovery, huge resists and magic damage reduced. Put it in an auric shield and your resists are covered.
  3. Exile (VexOhmIstDol) runeword. Only pursue this if you insist on life tap. It has very nice defence.
  4. Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn) (RWM) runeword. Faster hit recovery and resists. Auric shield gives you even more resists.
  5. Rhyme (ShaelEth) runeword. Block chance, block rate, resistances and cannot be frozen. Auric shield for extra resists.
  6. Any shield from the table of good blocking shields, discussed in the blocking section.

Main hand 2

  1. Call to Arms (AmnRalMalIstOhm) runeword. Provides battle orders (BO) for a big life boost.
  2. Something elemental to deal with physical immunes; Barana’s Star, Gimmershed, Ginther’s Rift Lightsabre
  3. Demon’s Limb. Provides enchant charges.

Offhand 2

  • Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn) (RWM) runeword. +2 skills for BO.
  • If not using Call to Arms, pick a shield from ‘Offhand 1’

Inventory

  • Cap your resists and reach any breakpoints you require; ‘shimmering’ (@resists) or ‘amber/emerald/ruby/sapphire’ (lightning/poison/fire/cold) as a prefix for resists, and ‘of balance’ as a suffix for faster hit recovery.
  • After that, you want to fill up with charms carrying the prefix ‘fine’ for damage and attack rating, with the suffix ‘vita’ for life. If playing HC, prioritise the life.

Mercenary

The best mercenary is an act 2 mercenary for the aura. There are a few good options;

  • Might – more physical damage. On softcore, I’d go for might. Offensive mercenary hired in nightmare
  • Blessed aim – more attack rating. In untwinked play, you may benefit from this more, depends on your gear etc. Offensive mercenary hired in normal or hell
  • Holy freeze – slows enemies. On hardcore, I’d recommend holy freeze every time. It doesn’t have a massive range though, so best not to get too reliant on it. Defensive mercenary hired in nightmare

In terms of gear, you are looking for the following; any application of curses or use of auras, life leech, maxed resists, crushing blow, raw damage, life. In that order.

Weapon

  1. The Reaper’s Toll – best in slot. Provides damage and safety through decrepify.
  2. Obedience runeword. A solid high damage weapon, easy to make.
  3. Hone Sundan. High % of crushing blow, decent damage and three open sockets.
  4. Kelpie snare. Decent damage, but mostly it slows targets by 75%. delicious for hardcore play.
  5. If you’re playing untwinked, a good savage polearm will get him along. It can’t roll an elite base.

 

Head

  1. Guillame’s Face. Crushing blow and deadly strike. A lovely helmet. Use if you get leech elsewhere.
  2. Vampire’s Gaze. Leech and damage reduction.
  3. Crown of Thieves. Leech, life and some resistances.
  4. Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest. Life, resistances and leech.
  5. Andariel’s Visage. Leech, attack speed.
  6. Kira’s Guardian. Massive resistances and cannot be frozen.
  7. Rare circlet with resists

Chest

  1. Fortitude (ElSolDolLo) runeword (RWM) in an ethereal bugged base, which you make by transmuting an ethereal base (no sockets) with Tal, Thul and a perfect topaz. Fortitude has a big damage bonus, good defence, resists and +5% maximum lightning resist.
  2. Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst) runeword. A solid choice with leech, resists and damage reduction. If you can get this, you probably have access to Fortitude though, which is objectively the best option.
  3. Treachery (ShaelThulLem) runeword. 45% increased attack speed plus CtC fade when struck. Great on a mercenary.
  4. Shaftshop. Huge % damage reduction, plus life and defence.
  5. Stone (ShaulUmPulLum) runeword. Massive amount of defence, plus some resists.
  6. Lionheart (HelLumFal) runeword. Life, stats. resists and % damage.
  7. Smoke (NefLum) runeword. An easy +50 to all resistances.

 

 

 

Holy Freeze – Cold

Introduction

Diablo 2 Paladin Guide – Build Your Own Zealot!

Holy freeze has three components; a radial pulse of cold damage, a slowing effect (movement and attack speed) within its radius, and an addition of cold damage to your attacks (Table 19).

Table 19 – Skill bonuses for holy freeze by skill level

Skill LevelRadius (Yards)Radial DamageWeapon Damage– Enemy SpeedSkill LevelRadius (Yards)Radial DamageWeapon Damage– Enemy Speed
142-310-1530161425-26125-13053
253-415-2034171528-29140-14553
354-520-2537181531-32155-16053
465-625-3040191634-35170-17554
576-730-3542201737-38185-19054
677-835-4044211740-41200-20554
788-940-4545221843-44215-22055
899-1045-5046231947-48235-24055
9911-1255-6048241951-52255-26055
101013-1465-7048252055-56275-28055
111115-1675-8049262159-60295-30056
121117-1885-9050272163-64315-32056
131219-2095-10051282267-68335-34056
141321-22105-11051292372-73360-36556
151323-24115-12052302377-78385-39056

The radial pulse occurs every two seconds, applying cold damage to all enemies within range. Note: two active holy freeze auras can both damage the same target.

Holy freeze also applies a slowing effect to enemies within its radius. People often mistake this as being a chilling effect due to its aesthetic, but it is actually a separate effect. This is important for two reasons. First, if enemies are able to be chilled then this slowing effect will stack with the chilling effect (there is no cold length), plus any other sources of slowing, meaning that holy freeze is a big crowd control boost. Second, no amount of cold resistance or ‘cannot be frozen’ modifiers will prevent holy freeze from applying its slowing effect, although it is capped by a monsters chill effectiveness, which is a modifier that determines how much effect slowing effects can actually have. In addition, all of the evils (prime and lesser) are immune to the slow effect and the radial damage (but not the added damage). There are a host of monsters that can be unaffected (Table 20).

The third component is the aforementioned added cold damage, which is applied to your attacks, and also the explosion effect of freezing arrow, in addition to the arrow itself. Not that we are using freezing arrow, but it’s still interesting. The added cold damage provided by holy freeze is actually mediocre compared to the other two elemental auras, the utility aspect of it is fantastic, which is why it is so good for hardcore play. Unlike fanaticism in our physical zealot variant, the effects of holy freeze do not transfer to your mercenary. That is, they will not have the cold damage added to their attacks.

Table 20 – Monsters with zero chill effectiveness

BarricadeBarricaded DoorBarricaded TowerCatapultDeath Lord
Diablo’s Bone PrisonEvil Demon HutFire TowerKorlicLightning Spire
Mummy SarcophagusPrison DoorTalicTrapped SoulWindow

There are a few damage enhancing modifiers that you can look for. The first is % cold damage, which applies to the added cold damage twice, once prior to being added to weapon damage and then again for your melee attack. You can also obtain -XX to enemy cold resistance, lowering the amount of your cold damage that an enemy will resist. There are multiple sources of both of these, see below for the better sources (Table 21). Flat added cold damage also helps, of course. Finally, unlike fanaticism, the elemental auras benefit greatly from + skill levels as it scales their damage much like for a spell.

Table 21 – Relevant items with % cold damage and – enemy cold resistance

Item of Interest% Cold Damage– % Enemy Cold ResistanceAdditional Stats of Interest
Rainbow Facet3-53-5Added cold damage
Ormus’ Robes10-150
Nightwing’s Veil8-15010-20 dexterity, +2 all skills
Doom (HelOhmUmLoCham)040-60+2 all skills, 45% IAS, % damage
Voice of Reason (LemKoElEld)024CtC frozen orb/ice blast, cold damage, cannot be frezon

Skill Points

Based on a level 90 character, which gives you 101 skill points.

Skill Points & NotesSkill Icon
Zeal – 20 Points

  • Your attack skill. The damage is of course helpful, especially for leeching, but you are also after the attack rating. Max this.
Zeal
Holy Freeze – 20

  • This is where the bulk of your damage comes from. Max it ASAP.
Holy-Freeze
Resist Cold – 20

  • The greater synergy for holy freeze. You also get maximum cold resist.
Resist Cold
Holy Shield – XX Points

  • As discussed previously, this is one of the defining benefits of the Paladin class. Put your remaining points here. Alternatively, you could put some into the two remaining resist auras. If your damage is low, you could put some points into sacrifice for the physical damage, but don’t expect too much from it. Finally, you have the option of boosting your AR via hard points in blessed aim.
Holy Shield
Salvation – 20

  • The lesser synergy for holy freeze. This is the last skill to max, unless your attack rating is exceptional.

 

Salvation

 

Stat Points

Strength

  • Allocate only enough to use all your equipment. This will vary

Dexterity

  • Allocate only enough to use all your equipment and achieve max block. This will vary

Vitality

  • All other stat points should be allocated here

Energy

  • You need no points here. Please, please, please don’t put stat points here.

Gear

Head

  1. Nightwing’s Veil. + skills, % cold damage, cold absorb, dexterity. Socket with a jewel of fervor, preferably scintillating. Alternative sockets if not using my preferred set-up. On hardcore, socket with Shael if you need faster hit recovery, Um if your resists need attention or a ruby for life. For softcore, pop in a Rainbow Facet jewel.
  2. Guillame’s Face. Faster hit recovery, deadly strike and crushing blow. Socket it with an Um if you need resists, or a Ber rune otherwise. On the lower end, use a perfect ruby.
  3. Vampire’s Gaze. Leech and damage reduction.
  4. Crown of Thieves. Leech, life and some resistances.
  5. Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest. Life, resistances and leech.
  6. Kira’s Guardian. Massive resistances and cannot be frozen.
  7. Rare circlet with resists

Chest

  1. Treachery (ShaelThulLem) runeword. 45% increased attack speed plus CtC fade when struck. 
  2. Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst) runeword. A solid choice with leech, resists and damage reduction.
  3. Fortitude (ElSolDolLo) runeword (RWM) in an archon plate. Fortitude has a big damage bonus, good defence, resists and +5% maximum lightning resist.
  4. Duriel’s Shell. Life, cannot be frozen, resistances, strength.
  5. Shaftshop. Huge % damage reduction, plus life and defence.
  6. Stone (ShaulUmPulLum) runeword. Massive amount of defence, plus some resists.
  7. Lionheart (HelLumFal) runeword. Life, stats. resists and % damage.
  8. Smoke (NefLum) runeword. An easy +50 to all resistances

Gloves

  1. Crafted blood gloves. Crushing blow, attack speed, leech, resistances.
  2. Laying of Hands. Attack speed and fire resistance. You can also swap for some rare ias/resist gloves, especially if your fire is already healthy.
  3. Rare gloves with resists and attack speed.
  4. Bloodfists. Life and faster hit recovery.
  5. Lavagout. A cheap version of Laying of Hands.
  6. Dracul’s Grasp. Leech and life tap.
  7. Death’s Hand. Pair it with the belt for 30% attack speed and some life leech.

Belt

  1. Verdungo’s. Damage reduction, life and faster hit recovery. A girl’s best friend.
  2. Arachnid Mesh. + skills for the damage.
  3. String of Ears. Leech and damage reduction.
  4. Nosferatu’s Coil. Leech, slow enemies and a bit of attack speed.
  5. Rare belt with resists.
  6. Death’s Guard. Cannot be frozen. Pair it with the gloves for 30% attack speed and some life leech.

Boots

  1. Rare with faster run/walk, faster hit recovery and resists.
  2. Gore Rider. Crushing blow and deadly strike. Lovely.
  3. War Traveller’s. Flat physical damage is nice, but Gore Rider is a bit better.
  4. Goblin Toe. A lesser version of Gore Rider. Still gets you some crushing blow.

Amulet

  1. Mara’s Kaleidoscope. + skills and resists.
  2. Highlord’s Wrath. Attack speed, deadly strike and lightning resist.
  3. Metalgrid. Solid amounts of resistances and attack rating.
  4. Atma’s Scarab. Amplify damage.
  5. Rare amulet with life and resists

Ring 1

  1. Rare ring. Life, leech, resists, attack rating.
  2. Dwarf Star. Life, magic damage reduced and fire absorb.
  3. Raven Frost. Cannot be frozen.

Ring 2

  1. Dwarf Star. Life, magic damage reduced and fire absorb.
  2. Raven Frost. Cannot be frozen.
  3. Rare ring. Life, leech, resists.

Main Hand 1

  1. Voice of Reason (LemKoElEld) runeword. -enemy cold resistance, cannot be frozen, dexterity, + cold damage, CtC frozen orb and ice blast (very aesthetically pleasing!).
  2. Grief (EthTirLoMalRal) (RWM) runeword. Attack speed, ignore’s defence. Stick it in a phaseblade.
  3. Stormlash
  4. Nord’s Tenderizer
  5. Use and then upgrade an exceptional unique; Butcher’s Pupil and Ginther’s Rift.
  6. Low-end runewords; Honor (AmnElIthTirSol), Black (ThulIoNef).

Offhand 1

  1. Herald of Zakarum. Block chance, block rate, huge resists, good defence. Pop an Um rune in it, or a perfect diamond on the lower end.
  2. Exile (VexOhmIstDol) runeword. Life tap and high defence. This is a better looking option for elemental zealots as we have less physical damage to provide leech. I generally do OK without it.
  3. Sanctuary (KoKoMal) runeword. Block chance, block rate, faster hit recovery, huge resists and magic damage reduced. Put it in an auric shield and your resists are covered.
  4. Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn) (RWM) runeword. Faster hit recovery and resists. Auric shield gives you even more resists.
  5. Rhyme (ShaelEth) runeword. Block chance, block rate, resistances and cannot be frozen. Auric shield for extra resists.
  6. Any shield from the table of good blocking shields, discussed in the blocking section.

Main hand 2

  1. Call to Arms (AmnRalMalIstOhm) runeword. Provides battle orders (BO) for a big life boost.
  2. Something elemental to deal with physical immunes; Barana’s Star, Gimmershed, Ginther’s Rift, Lightsabre
  3. Demon’s Limb. Provides enchant charges.

Offhand 2

  • Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn) (RWM) runeword. +2 skills for BO.
  • If not using Call to Arms, pick a shield from ‘Offhand 1’

Inventory

  • Cap your resists and reach any breakpoints you require; ‘shimmering’ (@resists) or ‘amber/emerald/ruby/sapphire’ (lightning/poison/fire/cold) as a prefix for resists, and ‘of balance’ as a suffix for faster hit recovery.
  • After that, you want to fill up with charms carrying the prefix ‘fine’/’steel’ for attack rating or ‘hibernal’ for cold damage, with the suffix ‘vita’ for life. If playing HC, prioritise the life.

Mercenary

The best mercenary is an act 2 mercenary for the aura. There are a couple of good options. Might is probably best to get a little more physical damage to help with leech, since you have less physical damage than a fanatacism zealot.

  • Might – more physical damage. On softcore, I’d go for might. Offensive mercenary hired in nightmare
  • Blessed aim – more attack rating. In untwinked play, you may benefit from this more, depends on your gear etc. Offensive mercenary hired in normal or hell

In terms of gear, you are looking for the following; any application of curses or use of auras, life leech, maxed resists, crushing blow, raw damage, life. In that order.

Weapon

  1. Infinity (BerMalBerIst) (RWM) runeword. Conviction aura for -enemy resistances plus a big chunk of crushing blow.
  2. The Reaper’s Toll. Provides damage and safety through decrepify.
  3. Obedience runeword. A solid high damage weapon, easy to make.
  4. Hone Sundan. High % of crushing blow, decent damage and three open sockets.
  5. Kelpie snare. Decent damage, but mostly it slows targets by 75%. delicious for hardcore play.
  6. If you’re playing untwinked, a good savage polearm will get him along. It can’t roll an elite base.

 

Head

  1. Vampire’s Gaze. Leech and damage reduction.
  2. Guillame’s Face. Crushing blow and deadly strike. A lovely helmet. Use if you get leech elsewhere.
  3. Crown of Thieves. Leech, life and some resistances.
  4. Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest. Life, resistances and leech.
  5. Andariel’s Visage. Leech, attack speed.
  6. Kira’s Guardian. Massive resistances and cannot be frozen.
  7. Rare circlet with resists

Chest

  1. Fortitude (ElSolDolLo) runeword (RWM) in an ethereal bugged base, which you make by transmuting an ethereal base (no sockets) with Tal, Thul and a perfect topaz. Fortitude has a big damage bonus, good defence, resists and +5% maximum lightning resist.
  2. Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst) runeword. A solid choice with leech, resists and damage reduction. If you can get this, you probably have access to Fortitude though, which is objectively the best option.
  3. Treachery (ShaelThulLem) runeword. 45% increased attack speed plus CtC fade when struck. Great on a mercenary.
  4. Shaftshop. Huge % damage reduction, plus life and defence.
  5. Stone (ShaulUmPulLum) runeword. Massive amount of defence, plus some resists.
  6. Lionheart (HelLumFal) runeword. Life, stats. resists and % damage.
  7. Smoke (NefLum) runeword. An easy +50 to all resistances.

 

Holy Shock – Lightning

Diablo 2 Paladin Guide – Build Your Own Zealot!

The first component of holy shock is a radial pulse of lightning damage every two seconds, applying lightning damage to all enemies within range. Note: two active holy shock auras can both damage the same target. The second component is the addition of weapon lightning damage. As with the other elemental offensive auras, the weapon damage is only supplied to the wielder. As with all lightning damage, we have a high maximum damage output with the caveat of of a minimum damage of just 1. By the nature of zeal we are applying our damage at speed and therefore we counter some of that downside of lightning skills. Below are the bonuses provided by holy shock per skill level (Table 22).

Table 22 – Skill bonuses for holy shock by skill level

Skill LevelRadius (Yards)Radial Damage (1-XXX)Weapon Damage (1-XXXX)Skill LevelRadius (Yards)Radial Damage (1-XXX)Weapon Damage (1-XXXX)
1410601614116696
2516961715126756
35221321815136816
46281681916146876
57342042017156936
67402402117166996
784627622181761,056
895231223191881,128
996036024192001,200
10106840825202121,272
11117645626212241,344
12118450427212361,416
13129255228222481,488
141310060029232631,578
151310864830232781,668

 

There are a few damage enhancing modifiers that you can look for. The first is % lightning damage, which applies to the added lightning damage twice, once prior to being added to weapon damage and then again for your melee attack. You can also obtain -XX to enemy lightning resistance, lowering the amount of your lightning damage that an enemy will resist. There are multiple sources of both of these, see below for the better sources (Table 23). Flat added lightning damage also helps, of course. Finally, unlike fanaticism, the elemental auras benefit greatly from + skill levels as it scales their damage much like for a spell.

Table 23 – Relevant items with % lightning damage and – enemy lightning resistance

Item of Interest% Lightning Damage– % Enemy Lightning ResistanceAdditional Stats of Interest
Rainbow Facet3-53-5
Griffon’s Eye Diadem10-1515-20+ skills, faster cast rate
Ormus’ Robes10-15+3 specific lightning skill
Eschuta’s Temper10-20+ sorceress skills, faster cast rate
Crescent Moon (ShaelUmTir)35Attack speed, CtC static strike, ignore target’s defence
Infinity (BerMalBerIst)45-55Conviction aura, crushing blow

Skill Points

Based on a level 90 character, which gives you 101 skill points.

Skill Points & NotesSkill Icon
Zeal – 20 Points

  • Your attack skill. The damage is of course helpful, especially for leeching, but you are also after the attack rating. Max this.
Zeal
Holy Shock– 20 Points

  • This is where the bulk of your damage comes from. Max it ASAP.
Holy-Shock
Resist Lightning – 20

  • The greater synergy for holy shock. You also get maximum lightning resist.
Resist-Lightning
Salvation – 20

  • The lesser synergy for holy shock. This is the last skill to max, unless your attack rating is exceptional.
Salvation
Holy Shield – XX

  • As discussed previously, this is one of the defining benefits of the Paladin class. Put your remaining points here. Alternatively, you could put some into the two remaining resist auras. If your damage is low, you could put some points into sacrifice for the physical damage, but don’t expect too much from it. Finally, you have the option of boosting your AR via hard points in blessed aim.
Holy Shield

 

Stat Points

Strength

  • Allocate only enough to use all your equipment. This will vary

Dexterity

  • Allocate only enough to use all your equipment and achieve max block. This will vary

Vitality

  • All other stat points should be allocated here

Energy

  • You need no points here. Please, please, please don’t put stat points here.

Gear

Head

  1. Griffon’s Eye. This gives us + skills, % lightning damage and – enemy lightning resistance. Objectively best in slot. Stick a jewel of fervor in here. Alternative sockets if not using my preferred set-up. On hardcore, socket with Shael if you need faster hit recovery, Um if your resists need attention or a ruby for life. 
  2. Guillame’s Face. Faster hit recovery, deadly strike and crushing blow. Socket it with an Um if you need resists, or a Ber rune otherwise. On the lower end, use a perfect ruby.
  3. Vampire’s Gaze. Leech and damage reduction.
  4. Crown of Thieves. Leech, life and some resistances.
  5. Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest. Life, resistances and leech.
  6. Kira’s Guardian. Massive resistances and cannot be frozen.
  7. Rare circlet with resists

Chest

  1. Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst) runeword. A solid choice with leech, resists and damage reduction.
  2. Treachery (ShaelThulLem) runeword. 45% increased attack speed plus CtC fade when struck.
  3. Fortitude (ElSolDolLo) runeword (RWM) in an archon plate. Fortitude has a big physical damage bonus, good defence, resists and +5% maximum lightning resist.
  4. Duriel’s Shell. Life, cannot be frozen, resistances, strength.
  5. Shaftshop. Huge % damage reduction, plus life and defence.
  6. Stone (ShaulUmPulLum) runeword. Massive amount of defence, plus some resists.
  7. Lionheart (HelLumFal) runeword. Life, stats. resists and % damage.
  8. Smoke (NefLum) runeword. An easy +50 to all resistances

Gloves

  1. Crafted blood gloves. Crushing blow, attack speed, leech, resistances.
  2. Laying of Hands. Attack speed and fire resistance.
  3. Rare gloves with resists and attack speed.
  4. Bloodfists. Life and faster hit recovery.
  5. Lavagout. A cheap version of Laying of Hands.
  6. Dracul’s Grasp. Leech and life tap.
  7. Death’s Hand. Pair it with the belt for 30% attack speed and some life leech.

Belt

  1. Verdungo’s. Damage reduction, life and faster hit recovery. A girl’s best friend.
  2. Arachnid Mesh. + skills for the damage.
  3. String of Ears. Leech and damage reduction.
  4. Nosferatu’s Coil. Leech, slow enemies and a bit of attack speed.
  5. Rare belt with resists.
  6. Death’s Guard. Cannot be frozen. Pair it with the gloves for 30% attack speed and some life leech.

Boots

  1. Rare with faster run/walk, faster hit recovery and resists.
  2. Gore Rider. Crushing blow and deadly strike. Lovely.
  3. War Traveller’s. Flat physical damage is nice, but Gore Rider is a bit better.
  4. Goblin Toe. A lesser version of Gore Rider. Still gets you some crushing blow.

Amulet

  1. Highlord’s Wrath. Attack speed, deadly strike and lightning resist.
  2. Mara’s Kaleidoscope. + skills and resists.
  3. Metalgrid. Solid amounts of resistances and attack rating.
  4. Atma’s Scarab. Amplify damage.
  5. Rare amulet with life and resists

Ring 1

  1. Raven Frost. Cannot be frozen.
  2. Dwarf Star. Life, magic damage reduced and fire absorb.
  3. Rare ring. Life, leech, resists.

Ring 2

  1. Bul Kathos’ Wedding Band. + skills, life, leech.
  2. Dwarf Star. Life, magic damage reduced and fire absorb.
  3. Rare ring. Life, leech, resists.

Main Hand 1

  1. Crescent Moon (ShaelUmTir). Attack speed, -enemy lightning resistance, CtC static strike, ignores target’s defence and magic absorb. Absolutely best in slot. Make it in a phaseblade.
  2. Grief (EthTirLoMalRal) (RWM) runeword. Attack speed, ignore’s defence. Stick it in a phaseblade.
  3. Stormlash
  4. Use and then upgrade an exceptional unique; Butcher’s Pupil and Ginther’s Rift.
  5. Low-end runewords; Honor (AmnElIthTirSol), Black  (ThulIoNef).

Offhand 1

  1. Herald of Zakarum. Block chance, block rate, huge resists, good defence. Pop an Um rune in it, or a perfect diamond on the lower end.
  2. Exile (VexOhmIstDol) runeword. Life tap and high defence. This is a better looking option for elemental zealots as we have less physical damage to provide leech. I generally do OK without it.
  3. Sanctuary (KoKoMal) runeword. Block chance, block rate, faster hit recovery, huge resists and magic damage reduced. Put it in an auric shield and your resists are covered.
  4. Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn) (RWM) runeword. Faster hit recovery and resists. Auric shield gives you even more resists.
  5. Rhyme (ShaelEth) runeword. Block chance, block rate, resistances and cannot be frozen. Auric shield for extra resists.
  6. Any shield from the table of good blocking shields, discussed in the blocking section.

Main hand 2

  1. Call to Arms (AmnRalMalIstOhm) runeword. Provides battle orders (BO) for a big life boost.
  2. Something elemental to deal with physical immunes; Barana’s Star, Gimmershed, Ginther’s Rift, Lightsabre
  3. Demon’s Limb. Provides enchant charges.

Offhand 2

  • Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn) (RWM) runeword. +2 skills for BO.
  • If not using Call to Arms, pick a shield from ‘Offhand 1’

Inventory

  • Cap your resists and reach any breakpoints you require; ‘shimmering’ (@resists) or ‘amber/emerald/ruby/sapphire’ (lightning/poison/fire/cold) as a prefix for resists, and ‘of balance’ as a suffix for faster hit recovery.
  • After that, you want to fill up with charms carrying the prefix ‘fine’/’steel’ for attack rating or ‘shocking’ for lightning damage, with the suffix ‘vita’ for life. If playing HC, prioritise the life.

Mercenary

The best mercenary is an act 2 mercenary for the aura. There are a couple of good options. Might is probably best to get a little more physical damage to help with leech, since you have less physical damage than a fanatacism zealot.

  • Might – more physical damage. On softcore, I’d go for might. Offensive mercenary hired in nightmare
  • Blessed aim – more attack rating. In untwinked play, you may benefit from this more, depends on your gear etc. Offensive mercenary hired in normal or hell

In terms of gear, you are looking for the following; any application of curses or use of auras, life leech, maxed resists, crushing blow, raw damage, life. In that order.

Weapon

  1. Infinity (BerMalBerIst) (RWM) runeword. Conviction aura for -enemy resistances plus a big chunk of crushing blow.
  2. The Reaper’s Toll. Provides damage and safety through decrepify.
  3. Obedience runeword. A solid high damage weapon, easy to make.
  4. Hone Sundan. High % of crushing blow, decent damage and three open sockets.
  5. Kelpie snare. Decent damage, but mostly it slows targets by 75%. delicious for hardcore play.
  6. If you’re playing untwinked, a good savage polearm will get him along. It can’t roll an elite base.

 

Head

  1. Vampire’s Gaze. Leech and damage reduction.
  2. Guillame’s Face. Crushing blow and deadly strike. A lovely helmet. Use if you get leech elsewhere.
  3. Crown of Thieves. Leech, life and some resistances.
  4. Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest. Life, resistances and leech.
  5. Andariel’s Visage. Leech, attack speed.
  6. Kira’s Guardian. Massive resistances and cannot be frozen.
  7. Rare circlet with resists

Chest

  1. Fortitude (ElSolDolLo) runeword (RWM) in an ethereal bugged base, which you make by transmuting an ethereal base (no sockets) with Tal, Thul and a perfect topaz. Fortitude has a big damage bonus, good defence, resists and +5% maximum lightning resist.
  2. Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst) runeword. A solid choice with leech, resists and damage reduction. If you can get this, you probably have access to Fortitude though, which is objectively the best option.
  3. Treachery (ShaelThulLem) runeword. 45% increased attack speed plus CtC fade when struck. Great on a mercenary.
  4. Duriel’s Shell. Life, cannot be frozen, resistances, strength.
  5. Shaftshop. Huge % damage reduction, plus life and defence.
  6. Stone (ShaulUmPulLum) runeword. Massive amount of defence, plus some resists.
  7. Lionheart (HelLumFal) runeword. Life, stats. resists and % damage.
  8. Smoke (NefLum) runeword. An easy +50 to all resistances.

 

 

 

Holy Fire – Fire

Diablo 2 Paladin Guide – Build Your Own Zealot!

The first component of holy fire is a radial pulse of fire damage every two seconds, applying fire damage to all enemies within range. Note: two active holy fire auras can both damage the same target. The second component is the addition of weapon fire damage. As with the other elemental offensive auras, the weapon damage is only supplied to the wielder. Below are the bonuses provided by holy fire per skill level (Table 24).

Table 24 – Skill bonuses for holy fire by skill level

Skill LevelRadius (Yards)Radial Damage Weapon Damage Skill LevelRadius (Yards)Radial Damage Weapon Damage
141-36-18161412.5-14.575-87
251.5-3.59-21171514-1684-96
352-412-24181515.5-17.593-105
462.5-4.515-27191617-19102-114
573-518-30201718.5-20.5111-123
673.5-5.521-33211720-22120-132
784-624-36221821.5-23.5129-141
894.5-6.527-39231924-26144-156
995.5-7.533-45241926.5-28.5159-171
10106.5-8.539-51252029-31174-186
11117.5-9.545-57262131.5-33.5189-201
12118.5-10.551-63272134-36204-216
13129.5-11.557-69282236.6-38.5219-231
141310.5-12.563-75292340-42240-252
151311.5-13.569-81302343.5-45.5261-273

 

There are a few damage enhancing modifiers that you can look for. The first is % fire damage, which applies to the added fire damage twice, once prior to being added to weapon damage and then again for your melee attack. You can also obtain -XX to enemy fire resistance, lowering the amount of your fire damage that an enemy will resist. There are multiple sources of both of these, see below for the better sources (Table 25). Flat added fire damage also helps, of course. Finally, unlike fanaticism, the elemental auras benefit greatly from + skill levels as it scales their damage much like for a spell.

Table 25 – Relevant items with % fire damage and – enemy fire resistance

Item of Interest% Fire Damage– % Enemy Fire ResistanceAdditional Stats of Interest
Rainbow Facet3-53-5
Ormus’ Robes10-15+3 specific fire skill
Eschuta’s Temper10-20+ sorceress skills, faster cast rate

 

Skill Points

Based on a level 90 character, which gives you 101 skill points.

Skill Points & NotesSkill Icon
Zeal – 20 Points

  • Your attack skill. The damage is of course helpful, especially for leeching, but you are also after the attack rating. Max this..
Zeal
Holy Fire – 20 Points

  • This is where the bulk of your damage comes from. Max it ASAP.
Holy-Shock
Resist Fire – 20

  • The greater synergy for holy fire. You also get maximum fire resist.
Resist-Lightning
Salvation – 20

  • The lesser synergy for holy shock. This is the last skill to max, unless your attack rating is exceptional.
Salvation
Holy Shield – XX

  • As discussed previously, this is one of the defining benefits of the Paladin class. Put your remaining points here. Alternatively, you could put some into the two remaining resist auras. If your damage is low, you could put some points into sacrifice for the physical damage, but don’t expect too much from it. Finally, you have the option of boosting your AR via hard points in blessed aim.
Holy Shield

 

Stat Points

Strength

  • Allocate only enough to use all your equipment. This will vary

Dexterity

  • Allocate only enough to use all your equipment and achieve max block. This will vary

Vitality

  • All other stat points should be allocated here

Energy

  • You need no points here. Please, please, please don’t put stat points here.

Gear

Head

  1. Guillame’s Face. Faster hit recovery, deadly strike and crushing blow. Socket it with an Um if you need resists, or a Ber rune otherwise. On the lower end, use a perfect ruby.
  2. Vampire’s Gaze. Leech and damage reduction.
  3. Crown of Thieves. Leech, life and some resistances.
  4. Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest. Life, resistances and leech.
  5. Kira’s Guardian. Massive resistances and cannot be frozen.
  6. Rare circlet with resists

Chest

  1. Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst) runeword. A solid choice with leech, resists and damage reduction.
  2. Treachery (ShaelThulLem) runeword. 45% increased attack speed plus CtC fade when struck.
  3. Fortitude (ElSolDolLo) runeword (RWM) in an archon plate. Fortitude has a big physical damage bonus, good defence, resists and +5% maximum lightning resist.
  4. Shaftshop. Huge % damage reduction, plus life and defence.
  5. Stone (ShaulUmPulLum) runeword. Massive amount of defence, plus some resists.
  6. Lionheart (HelLumFal) runeword. Life, stats. resists and % damage.
  7. Smoke (NefLum) runeword. An easy +50 to all resistances

Gloves

  1. Crafted blood gloves. Crushing blow, attack speed, leech, resistances.
  2. Laying of Hands. Attack speed and fire resistance.
  3. Rare gloves with resists and attack speed.
  4. Bloodfists. Life and faster hit recovery.
  5. Lavagout. A cheap version of Laying of Hands.
  6. Dracul’s Grasp. Leech and life tap.
  7. Death’s Hand. Pair it with the belt for 30% attack speed and some life leech.

Belt

  1. Verdungo’s. Damage reduction, life and faster hit recovery. A girl’s best friend.
  2. Arachnid Mesh. + skills for the damage.
  3. String of Ears. Leech and damage reduction.
  4. Nosferatu’s Coil. Leech, slow enemies and a bit of attack speed.
  5. Rare belt with resists.
  6. Death’s Guard. Cannot be frozen. Pair it with the gloves for 30% attack speed and some life leech.

Boots

  1. Rare with faster run/walk, faster hit recovery and resists.
  2. Gore Rider. Crushing blow and deadly strike. Lovely.
  3. War Traveller’s. Flat physical damage is nice, but Gore Rider is a bit better.
  4. Goblin Toe. A lesser version of Gore Rider. Still gets you some crushing blow.

Amulet

  1. Highlord’s Wrath. Attack speed, deadly strike and lightning resist.
  2. Mara’s Kaleidoscope. + skills and resists.
  3. Metalgrid. Solid amounts of resistances and attack rating.
  4. Atma’s Scarab. Amplify damage.
  5. Rare amulet with life and resists

Ring 1

  1. Raven Frost. Cannot be frozen.
  2. Dwarf Star. Life, magic damage reduced and fire absorb.
  3. Rare ring. Life, leech, resists.

Ring 2

  1. Bul Kathos’ Wedding Band. + skills, life, leech.
  2. Dwarf Star. Life, magic damage reduced and fire absorb.
  3. Rare ring. Life, leech, resists.

Main Hand 1

  1. Grief (EthTirLoMalRal) (RWM) runeword. Attack speed (needs to be 35%+), ignore target’s defence. Stick it in a phaseblade.
  2. Stormlash
  3. Use and then upgrade an exceptional unique; Butcher’s Pupil and  Ginther’s Rift.
  4. Low-end runewords; Honor (AmnElIthTirSol), Black (ThulIoNef).

Offhand 1

  1. Herald of Zakarum. Block chance, block rate, huge resists, good defence. Pop an Um rune in it, or a perfect diamond on the lower end.
  2. Exile (VexOhmIstDol) runeword. Life tap and high defence. This is a better looking option for elemental zealots as we have less physical damage to provide leech. I generally do OK without it.
  3. Sanctuary (KoKoMal) runeword. Block chance, block rate, faster hit recovery, huge resists and magic damage reduced. Put it in an auric shield and your resists are covered.
  4. Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn) (RWM) runeword. Faster hit recovery and resists. Auric shield gives you even more resists.
  5. Rhyme (ShaelEth) runeword. Block chance, block rate, resistances and cannot be frozen. Auric shield for extra resists.
  6. Any shield from the table of good blocking shields, discussed in the blocking section.

Main hand 2

  1. Call to Arms (AmnRalMalIstOhm) runeword. Provides battle orders (BO) for a big life boost.
  2. Something elemental to deal with physical immunes; Barana’s Star, Gimmershed, Ginther’s Rift, Lightsabre
  3. Demon’s Limb. Provides enchant charges.

Offhand 2

  • Spirit (TalThulOrtAmn) (RWM) runeword. +2 skills for BO.
  • If not using Call to Arms, pick a shield from ‘Offhand 1’

Inventory

  • Cap your resists and reach any breakpoints you require; ‘shimmering’ (@resists) or ‘amber/emerald/ruby/sapphire’ (lightning/poison/fire/cold) as a prefix for resists, and ‘of balance’ as a suffix for faster hit recovery.
  • After that, you want to fill up with charms carrying the prefix ‘fine’/’steel’ for attack rating or ‘flaming’ for fire damage, with the suffix ‘vita’ for life. If playing HC, prioritise the life.

Mercenary

The best mercenary is an act 2 mercenary for the aura. There are a couple of good options. Might is probably best to get a little more physical damage to help with leech, since you have less physical damage than a fanatacism zealot.

  • Might – more physical damage. On softcore, I’d go for might. Offensive mercenary hired in nightmare
  • Blessed aim – more attack rating. In untwinked play, you may benefit from this more, depends on your gear etc. Offensive mercenary hired in normal or hell

In terms of gear, you are looking for the following; any application of curses or use of auras, life leech, maxed resists, crushing blow, raw damage, life. In that order.

Weapon

  1. Infinity (BerMalBerIst) (RWM) runeword. Conviction aura for -enemy resistances plus a big chunk of crushing blow.
  2. The Reaper’s Toll. Provides damage and safety through decrepify.
  3. Obedience runeword. A solid high damage weapon, easy to make.
  4. Hone Sundan. High % of crushing blow, decent damage and three open sockets.
  5. Kelpie snare. Decent damage, but mostly it slows targets by 75%. delicious for hardcore play.
  6. If you’re playing untwinked, a good savage polearm will get him along. It can’t roll an elite base.

 

Head

  1. Vampire’s Gaze. Leech and damage reduction.
  2. Guillame’s Face. Crushing blow and deadly strike. A lovely helmet. Use if you get leech elsewhere.
  3. Crown of Thieves. Leech, life and some resistances.
  4. Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest. Life, resistances and leech.
  5. Andariel’s Visage. Leech, attack speed.
  6. Kira’s Guardian. Massive resistances and cannot be frozen.
  7. Rare circlet with resists

Chest

  1. Fortitude (ElSolDolLo) runeword (RWM) in an ethereal bugged base, which you make by transmuting an ethereal base (no sockets) with Tal, Thul and a perfect topaz. Fortitude has a big damage bonus, good defence, resists and +5% maximum lightning resist.
  2. Chains of Honour (DolUmBerIst) runeword. A solid choice with leech, resists and damage reduction. If you can get this, you probably have access to Fortitude though, which is objectively the best option.
  3. Treachery (ShaelThulLem) runeword. 45% increased attack speed plus CtC fade when struck. Great on a mercenary.
  4. Shaftshop. Huge % damage reduction, plus life and defence.
  5. Stone (ShaulUmPulLum) runeword. Massive amount of defence, plus some resists.
  6. Lionheart (HelLumFal) runeword. Life, stats. resists and % damage.
  7. Smoke (NefLum) runeword. An easy +50 to all resistances.

Concluding Remarks

I hope that this has been helpful for anybody looking to play a zealot build. Remember, this guide is to give you the understanding of how to build your zealot with some example frameworks. Ultimately, just do what you enjoy the most. Found the complete Griswold’s set and want to make use of it? You go ahead and do that, choose the rest of your gear accordingly. Want to use Breath of the Dying just because its your chase item and you finally crafted it? Hell, I played a Sigonator zealot once (Full Sigon’s Complete Steel) – that was interesting. Power to you. Play the game in whatever way makes you happy, but these are the building blocks that you want to keep in mind when doing so.

Further Reading

Game Modifications

GoMule – download

Runeword mod (RWM) – download

Utilities

Attack speed calculator

Additional Guides

Zealots completed by members of the single player forum

Swamigoon’s guide to overcoming monster resistances

Onderduiker’s enemy resistance spreadsheet

Swamigoon’s guide to quests and areas

Sunbearie’s guide to mercenaries


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Rush

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Develop an understanding of the mechanics that form the foundation of a zealot in this Diablo 2 Paladin guide. Use this newfound knowledge to build your own zealot!

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