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Diablo 2 Piercing Guide

Guide by: Excalibur -

Diablo 2 piercing guide

What is Piercing?

Piercing is one of those rare and interesting attributes that usually favors a specific class, namely the Amazons. Combined with the Amazon Spells the final outcome can lead to an extremely entertaining and sometimes powerful build. But how exactly Piercing works? Is it necessary to aim for 100% pierce and what are the benefits of it? Why players usually hesitate to decide whether or not a 100% pierce does anything at all, especially at Cows? Let’s analyze a few stuff!

Piercing is when a Ranged Physical Attack has a chance to penetrate through enemies and needless to say it only occurs in a straight line just like the projectile travels. Under normal conditions, a projectile will stop when it meets its first target. Piercing will give you a chance that your attack will continue to the next target. The Piercing attribute is affecting only Ranged Physical Attacks and obviously has no effect in Melee Attacks or with Spells. To avoid confusion, Piercing is usually referred as Piercing Attack or as a Chance to Pierce. Both of these titles are meant to be the same. For example, a +33% Piercing Attack given from the Razortail is just the same as having a 33% chance to pierce.

What is Piercing Work?

Piercing will work with:

  • Bows
  • Crossbows
  • Javelins
  • Throwing Axes
  • Throwing Knives

Piercing can pass through a maximum of 4 targets therefore you can hit up to 5 targets in total. Higher % of Piercing will obviously give you a higher chance to pierce through enemies but the chance applies to each monster separately. If you have 80% Pierce it doesn’t mean that you are hitting five monsters 8 out of 10 times. Every time that you hit a monster the game will check if your projectile will travel to the next monster. If the check is successful the game will make the same check once it reaches the next target. Eventually, the 80% Pierce can be misleading since it’s way less when calculating hitting all of the 5 targets.

Let’s check a scenario with 80% Pierce.

  • Target 1: The projectile has 80% chance to Pierce. Chance to pierce is 80%.
  • Target 2: The projectile has once again 80% to Pierce which is 20% less than the 1st target. Chance to pierce 64%.
  • Target 3: The projectile has once again 80% to Pierce which is 20% less than the 2nd target. Chance to pierce 51%.
  • Target 4: The projectile has once again 80% to Pierce which is 20% less than the 3rd target. Chance to pierce 41%.
  • Target 5: If the check is successful on target 4, Pierce will end on target 5.

As you can see high Piercing doesn’t guarantee you Piercing that often through all the applicable targets. If the projectile doesn’t pass through the first target, the Piercing ends. If the projectile doesn’t pass through the second target the Piercing ends once again and so on. On top of that, you have to take your chance to hit into consideration. Piercing will only occur when a hit is successful. Every time a projectile travels there’s a check for it to hit and then there’s a check for it to Pierce. If the attack is unsuccessful no piercing will occur. Given also the fact that your attack to hit is capped at 95% it drastically reduces your chance to Pierce through 4 enemies even with as high Pierce as 90%-95%. So basically, the above example would only be valid with skills that never miss such as the Lighting Fury. This is why 100% Pierce makes a huge difference since it guarantees to Pierce through all of your targets as long as the hit is successful reducing the massive difference that can occur with almost perfect Pierce. With 95% chance to hit and 100% Pierce you are still close to 82% to Pierce through all enemies because there’s always the chance that a projectile will eventually miss one of the 5 targets.

Mobs / Pierce Lvl1510151820

The table above shows the chances to Pierce through 4 monsters at different Pierce Levels of the Amazon’s Skill. It’s proves that every point in Pierce may actually worth it.

Pierce stacks additively so reaching 100% Pierce is feasible. Most of the items that provide Pierce are either Bows or Crossbows but there are a few exceptions such as the Amazon’s Pierce Spell, the Razortail Belt, the Warshrike Winged knife and the bonus from the Vidala’s set. Even though Piercing stacks with all of your sources, it doesn’t work when combing two weapons. In case of a Barbarian holding two Warshrikes which grant 50% pierce each you won’t have a total of 100% pierce. This is because most of the modifiers that are found on a weapon are only affecting attacks that belong to that weapon . Going over 100% Pierce has not any extra effect.

There are some Spells such as the Necromancer’s Bone Spear and the Sorceress’s Lighting Spell that will always pierce through all enemies and there some spells such as the Fire Bolt or the Bone Spirit that will only hit the first target. This is how these spells work by default and there’s nothing you can do to change it. You have no power over the piercing of the spells no matter what. The Amazon Spells such as the Freezing Arrow, Immolation Arrow or the Lighting Fury are physical projectiles that carry an elemental damage. This is why Piercing works normally on those skills.

Eventually, let’s also check what other sources have an impact on Pierce.

  • Piercing through enemies will give you a chance to apply modifiers individually to each target. For example, you may Life Leech from each target the Projectile hits. Skills that carry damage in a radius will also cause chaos to your enemies since there’s a chance of hitting multiple times the same targets with just one projectile.
  • You may have noticed sometimes that your Projectile keeps traveling but doesn’t deal any damage. This happens when a hit is not successful but the Pierce is. As already said, Pierce will only work when you hit the target so in that scenario the animation of Pierce will happen but basically it’s only a graphical effect that carries no damage.
  • Blocking may also occur which will prevent a monster from taking any damage or be affected by a modifier but the Pierce can still occur and normally damage and apply the modifiers to the following monsters.

Javazon and Cows

With everything said above, how does Pierce affect Lighting Fury when farming Cows? This is probably the most popular scenario where Pierce is usually taken into consideration therefore we are going to repeat a lot of the information given above to make it as clear as possible. Due to the diminishing returns, it’s almost impossible to reach 100% Pierce by leveling the skill alone so adding plenty points to Pierce is sometimes not very profitable. Pierce stacks additively with any extra Piercing sources that you have including the Amazon’s Pierce Skill therefore Razortail is a great choice to reach 100% Pierce effortlessly. Since Razortail adds 33% Pierce you would need a level 9 Pierce (69%) to eventually hit that 100% Pierce in which case one point in Pierce can still enough due to the extra Skill Points that you get from your gear.

Now, the main question is; do we really need 100% Pierce? Does it really help?

Well, Pierce will obviously start paying off in high density areas so Cows is the best place to make use of it. However, due to the nature of the Lighting Fury sometimes it’s really hard to notice whether 100% Pierce is helping at all since Lighting Fury will destroy a medium to large group of Cows with or without any Pierce. Pierce will start to shine either when you are using an under-powered gear or when the Cows are resisting lots of damage when handled at increased Player Settings.

As described above, your projectile will carry the modifiers to each unit that it Pierces. This works extremely well with a skill such as the Lighting Fury because each Javelin that Pierces will release additional Lighting Bolts massively increasing your damage. As already seen, even a Pierce ratio as high as 80% is a lot less when it comes to Piercing all the 4 targets making Piercing a lot inconsistent and sometimes unreliable for the heaviest damage possible. Since Lighting Fury is a skill that always hits you basically nullify the only thing that could slow that power down. With 100% Pierce and with a Spell as devastating as the Lighting Fury is, every Javelin that you throw will always hit and will always penetrate through the hordes of Cows leading to complete massacre obliterating one further problem that you usually face at Cows which is none other than the few surviving Cows which eventually you either have to ignore or herd into a new group. Both annoying and time consuming. Finally, to make the best usage of Pierce, never forget to align the monsters in a line.

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Well-known member

252 messages 475 likes

Nitpick :)

Pierce will work with:

Also maybe good to mention and distinguish from piercing resistances.

Note to self: start an amazon named Brosnan

Edit: forgot this :( : good work!

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Well-known member

2,479 messages 2,119 likes

Nitpick :)

Pierce will work with:


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