Diablo 2 Sorceress Starter Guide – Blizzball or Meteorb

Diablo 2 Sorceress Guide

Diablo 2 Sorceress Guide Introduction

Build: Blizzball or Meteorb

So you’ve decided to play a Sorceress? Congrats! Time to enjoy the most fun and best class in the game (according to me at least). The Sorceress is either the first or second most efficient runner for all end game targets that I can think of, whether magic finding, farming for levels, or rune farming. She is also the best budget character for all of these targets due to native Teleport skill and an extremely powerful skill combination with Blizzard and Cold Mastery. And even if you don’t care about the “endgame”, she is a powerful and versatile character to take through the game for a playthrough. Not to mention Telekinesis is sneakily one of the nicest skills in the game. Once you get used to tagging waypoints and picking up potions with it, not to mention stunlocking monsters for your mercenary to kill, it feels tough to live without it.

Her only downside? A bit squishy compared to a tankier build such as a Barbarian or Paladin, with 2hp gained per vitality point and no extremely powerful buffing spells. And compounding on that disadvantage, she has no crowd control skills beyond chilling her enemies with cold damage, and no recastable summon that can tank some damage. Fortunately, with the ability to Teleport to reposition the mercenary, and her potential for powerful builds which do multiple types of damage, the Sorceress makes up for this lack of tankiness with mobility, firepower, and versatility. No particular or specific areas give her problems, beyond just dangerous areas being more likely to punish her squishiness. She’s one of the easiest softcore characters to get through hell, and probably somewhere in the middle in difficulty if playing hardcore.

What Build to Use

A Sorceress has many different builds available to her. I will list some of these in a bit for information only, but two builds, in particular, have stood the test of time and, in my opinion, are the best choices for a first playthrough. And those are Blizzball and Meteorb. I consider a hybrid build (meaning two types of damage such as fire and cold) a necessity for a first playthrough since a single-element spec (Blizzard is very common) needs to skip a lot of enemies or rely on the mercenary a lot. Neither of those are fun to do as a beginner who wants to experience the playthrough in its fullness, and beyond that, a beginner won’t know what they can and can’t skip. Plus killing most things is just more fun.

So which to choose? They both work great, so don’t worry much and choose one and stick with it. The only question is: do you want to be a fire Sorceress with a cold backup (choose Meteorb) or a cold Sorceress with a fire backup (choose Blizzball ). Even within these builds, one can proportion the damage in different ways, but I played several Sorceress’s through the game and think these are the way to go. I enjoy both of these builds, but my personal favorite is Blizzball .

Other builds that I think are at least decent on a fresh-start Sorceress, but will not be included in this guide include: Chain Lightning/Frozen Orb, Blizzard/Nova, pure Blizzard, Blizzard/Fire Wall, Frozen Orb/Hydra, and Fireball/Nova. Again, not recommended in comparison to the two builds in this guide, but those are some ideas you can try out for fun or for variety. And shows how there are a great many options available with the Sorceress class.

Short Version of Guide

This guide got extremely long! But I think it’s all good info so don’t want to cut too much. However, the sheer length is no doubt intimidating. So I will include a short version/summary here and recommend reading individual sections for more information when/if desired! If you want to read the long version anyways, then just skip ahead to section 4. All of this info will be repeated in the longer section with more discussion and tips around it.

Skill Points

Blizzball

1 point in: Warmth, Frozen Armor, Static Field, Telekinesis, Teleport.
Put 1 point in all prerequisites to Blizzard as they become available.
Put extra points into Fireball (and Fire Bolt when Fireball is maxed) until lvl 24.
At level 24, put one point in Blizzard and put subsequent points there as well.
At level 30, put one in Cold Mastery, and 1 in Fire Mastery as soon as possible.
After that, put most available points in Blizzard until it’s maxed.
Then alternate points between Glacial Spike and Cold Mastery until they both have 8 hard points placed.
Next, prioritized Fireball till maxed, then Fire Bolt until it has 10 hard points.
After that, alternated points in Glacial Spike and Cold Mastery until Cold Mastery is at 17 soft points (probably 12 or 13 hard points. It’s ok if off by 1 or 2 points).
All additional points into Glacial Spike.
If you manage to get enough levels to max Glacial Spike, then remaining points to Ice Blast.

Meteorb

1 point in: Warmth, Frozen Armor, Static Field, Telekinesis, Teleport.
Put 1 point in all prerequisites to Frozen Orb as they become available.
Put extra points into Fireball (and Fire Bolt when Fireball is maxed) until lvl 26.
Save 3 skill points unused between lvls 26 and lvl 30.
At level 30, put points in Frozen Orb, Cold Mastery, and Fire Mastery.
Beyond lvl 30 put extra points into Cold Mastery and Frozen Orb, keeping Cold Mastery at about half the hard points as Frozen Orb.
After Frozen Orb is maxed (and Cold Mastery at 10 hard points), prioritize the fire tree like so.
Keep points in Fireball at approx 10 above points in Fire Bolt.
Keep points in Fire Mastery at approx 10 below points in Fire Bolt.
If you’ve manage to get enough levels to get Meteor, keep points in Meteor at approx 10 below points in Fire Mastery.

Gear Recommendations

HelmLore Runeword, Rockstopper, Peasant Crown, socketed helm with ral, thul, and/or ort for resistances
Amulet – Rare, magic, or crafted caster amulet with fcr, resistances, and/or plus skills
WeaponSpirit runeword (rwm), Wizard Spike, Spectral Shard, Suicide Branch, rare or magic orb with fcr, skills, and/or resistances, Oculus, Tal Rasha’s Lidless Eye
Body/ArmorSkin of the vipermagi, Smoke runeword, Lionheart runeword, Stealth runeword
Shield – If blocking: Rhyme runeword bone shield, Whistan’s Guard, Moser’s Blessed Circle, Viscertuant; If not blocking: 3x pdiamond shield, Ancients Pledge runeword, Moser’s Blessed Circle, Viscertuant.
GlovesMagefist, Trang Oul’s Claws, Bloodfist, rare gloves with resistances
Rings – Rare rings with fcr and/or resistances, Dwarf Star, Nagelring
Belt – Rare or crafted caster belt with life, faster hit recovery, and/or resistances, String of Ears, Nightsmoke, Snowclash
Boots – Rare boots with resistances, Waterwalk
Charms – Resistances, life, faster hit recovery, skills if you get very lucky
Merc HelmTal Rasha’s helm, Vampire Gaze, Crown of Thieves, crafted blood helm, Wormskull, Undead Crown
Merc ArmorTreachery runeword, Smoke runeword, Duriel’s Shell, Lionheart runeword, Stone runeword, Shaftstop, Duress runeword, ral ort shael in a 3os armor
Merc WeaponInsight runeword (rwm), Obedience runeword (rwm), Hone Sundan, Kelpie Snare, Bonehew, Arioc’s Needle

Stat Points

Strength – Enough for gear, probably 60ish is highest I would want to go

Dexterity – If blocking (need a decent blocking shield), then enough for 50% block. Or if you are in hell and have 750 hp or more, feel free to put all additional stats toward dexterity for more block. If not blocking, either want this at zero investment, or up to 35 max to use some pieces of gear such as flails (unless you find Wizard Spike, then it’s worth the 75 dex for sure).

Energy – Zero

Vitality – All of the rest

Playthrough Targets

P1 normal countess for stealth and leaf, shop drognan in act 2 for a 2 or 3 to Fireball gray 2os leaf base. Get act 2 merc and cube a savage polearm for him. Farm Baal/Pindleskin/Eldritch till lvl 40 then go to Nightmare.

P1 nm countess for runes for Spirit and Insight (if you have ladder runewords), and lore and rhyme. Grab a holy freeze merc in act 2 if desired. Farm nightmare Mephisto on p1 or p3 for some of the gear in the gearing section. Farm Baal/Pindleskin/Eldritch till lvl 70. Get most of the following recommended stats before starting hell, returning to nightmare Mephisto for more gear if needed.

Recommended Stats for Hell

  • Level 70 or higher
  • 63+ fcr (can go for 105 if you have lots of good fcr gear)
  • Max (75) fire and lightning res, 55+ cold resist
  • Some plus skills (not necessary but quite nice)
  • Either 20 or 30 faster hit recovery is optional but highly desirable if you can get it
  • 750+ hp with 50+ block recommended or 1k+ life if max vita build, but I prefer the block option

For hell, play mostly on p1, be careful and take it slow.

Endgame Farming

Moat trick p1 Mephisto for basic sets and uniques. Commonly seeking Harlequin Crest and Arachnid Mesh along with several others.

Farm lower kurast on a fast 6 superchest map on players7 with 200fcr (but 105 is fine) for runes. Want Heart of the Oak and Call to Arms at a minimum. Could also stay for Infinity and/or Enigma (especially Enigma for other characters), but that will be a longer time to farm.

Then could move onto Ancient Tunnels for magic finding and/or exp farming, to Chaos Sanctuary for exp farming, or Secret Cow Level or Travincal for more rune farming.

The Early Game

Now that we have the space for a longer more thorough version of the guide, let’s take a second to discuss the early game. Diablo 2 has 3 difficulties, which you play through all of them consecutively: normal, nightmare, and hell. During your playthrough, you are given 3 chances to respec (reassign all your skill and stat points) before beating the game. These are given by Akara in act 1 rogue encampment in each of the 3 difficulties as a reward for completing the den of evil quest. They can be redeemed at any time, including after you are in later difficulties. DO NOT WASTE THESE. Do not click the option to reassign kill/stat points in her dialogue options unless you have a solid plan for what to do with them.

With that in mind, I think there are three good choices you can make for approaching the early game.

1. If you want to experiment and discover the game for yourself, this is the time to do it. Feel free to take your time in normal and use whatever skills and stats you want. Many players have fond memories of this experimentation and period of discovery. Just save that first respec for when you get stuck (likely to be in late normal or early nightmare difficulty).

2. Start with putting points into Charged Bolt, and later into Lightning. In my opinion, Charged Bolt is the only proper starter skill which the Sorceress has. Nova is popular and powerful, but the mana management and headaches from that are extremely tedious. Fireball is a great starter build (and will be discussed next), but is a slog until you reach level 12. The cold tree is even more annoying to slog through at the start, but it does work. So Charged Bolt it is.

Charged Bolt build

1 point in Frost Nova (use this once on enemies to slow them as a form of crowd control)
1 point in Warmth
1 point Static Field
1 point Telekinesis
Rest into Charged Bolt

This build makes normal a breeze with its nice area of effect (aoe) and lowish mana cost. You can respec to your main build at level 16ish (at which point you follow option #3 below). Alternatively, if you are enjoying the Lightning tree, you can keep going all the way through normal by starting to put points in Lightning when its available and eventually transitioning to this as your main skill after a few points are in it. And you will want to grab Teleport as soon as possible.

3. The last option is to save your normal respec and stick to the main build from the beginning. You might do this because you have plans in the endgame for those respecs, or because you want to stay true to your build from the beginning, or because you want to save respecs for optimizing your stat point placements around the gear you end up with.

This route makes the early game a bit tedious before you get to level 12 and unlock Fireball. But it doesn’t take too long to get to level 12, so it’s not a bad route to go. And at level 12, things start going smoothly. For what it’s worth, I’ve done both several times, and if you don’t have an opinion, I recommend going the Charged Bolt route (#2 above). Here’s how you place skill points for cold+fire from the beginning, independent of whether you chose blizzball or Meteorb.

Early game fire build to avoid respecs

Reference next section for points for lvl 30 and after
1 point Frost Nova (use to chill for crowd control)
1 point Warmth
1 point Static Field
1 point Telekinesis
1 point Teleport as soon as available
1 point all cold tree prerequisites to Blizzard or Frozen Orb
All extra points into Fire Bolt until level 12
For levels 12-29 all extra points go into Fireball
If extra points available with cold tree prerequisites met and Fireball maxed, they go into Fire Bolt

Blizzball and Meteorb Builds

So you’ve done one of the 3 options is the previous section (or a combo thereof), have reached level 30 or more and are ready to progress. Excellent. Here is how to place your points.

Note that the optimal order to place points and even the final configuration of points that is optimal can be complicated and depends on the number of plus skills you have on your gear. If you’re interested and math-inclined, I encourage you to figure out what is optimal based on the damage formulas for these spells on the amazon basin. The progression I present here will work extremely well and be close to optimal for those who don’t want to bust out the calculators.

Blizzball

In this build, Blizzard will be you main form of damage, and Fireball will be used on cold immune monsters. Blizzard has a substantial timer between casting though, so you have a few options for what you can do between casts. You can kite (run sideways or Teleport somewhere else) for safety, or you can spam Glacial Spike for safety, or spam Fireball for damage between Blizzard casts. Play around with all of those options and see what you like. Glacial Spike should be kept in mind as a safety spell though for dangerous situations since it is very effective at freezing monsters. Note that “hard points” in a skill, means the number of points you’ve manually placed in it, which mean that plus skills from gear do not count for hard points. “Soft points” means total number in the skill, including skills from gear.

1 point in: Warmth, Frozen Armor, Static Field, Telekinesis, Teleport.
Put 1 point in all prerequisites to Blizzard as they become available.
Put extra points into Fireball (and Fire Bolt when Fireball is maxed) until lvl 24.
At level 24, put one point in Blizzard and put subsequent points there as well.
At level 30, put one in Cold Mastery, and 1 in Fire Mastery as soon as possible.
After that, put most available points in Blizzard until it’s maxed.
Then alternate points between Glacial Spike and Cold Mastery until they both have 8 hard points placed.
Next, prioritized Fireball till maxed, then Fire Bolt until it has 10 hard points.
After that, alternated points in Glacial Spike and Cold Mastery until Cold Mastery is at 17 soft points (probably 12 or 13 hard points. It’s ok if off by 1 or 2 points).
All additional points into Glacial Spike.
If you manage to get enough levels to max Glacial Spike, then remaining points to Ice Blast.

Just as a checkpoint, at level 70 (the lowest level I’ll recommend starting hell), you should have something like this: max Fireball, 10 hard points Fire Bolt, 1 hard point Fire Mastery, max Blizzard , 9 or 10 hard points Cold Mastery, and 9 or 10 hard points Glacial Spike.

Meteorb

This build is called Meteorb (portmanteau of Meteor and Frozen Orb), but most people never use Meteor, opting for Fireball instead. That is how I recommend it be played and the skill point progression will reflect that. In this build you will most often be shooting Fireballs as your primary form of damage. One might cast a Frozen Orb at the beginning of a fight and in between every 3 or 4 Fireballs to keep the enemies chilled. And fire immunes will be taken out with Frozen Orb. When taking out these fire immunes, I recommend repositioning either through running or Teleporting during each Frozen Orb cool down to increase safety. Also note that if act bosses are feeling tough, switching to using Frozen Orb as if they are a fire immune makes the fights much safer. A bit slower since it’s not as much damage as your Fireball, but it is a nice strategy to make the diablo fight easier for example. And feel free to mostly use Frozen Orb till near the end of nightmare difficultly. It does great work killing monsters quickly until about then. Just experiment between the two for different fights.

Also to get the most out of your Frozen Orb, make sure that the spherical part of spell passes through the enemy in question, and if you can get it perfectly positioned so that the orb explodes while it is in the middle of the enemy or just barely behind them, this is called “sweet-spotting”, and is the most damaging way to use your Frozen Orb.

1 point in: Warmth, Frozen Armor, Static Field, Telekinesis, Teleport.
Put 1 point in all prerequisites to Frozen Orb as they become available.
Put extra points into Fireball (and Fire Bolt when Fireball is maxed) until lvl 26.
Save 3 skill points unused between lvls 26 and lvl 30.
At level 30, put points in Frozen Orb, Cold Mastery, and Fire Mastery.
Beyond lvl 30 put extra points into Cold Mastery and Frozen Orb, keeping Cold Mastery at about half the hard points as Frozen Orb.
After Frozen Orb is maxed (and Cold Mastery at 10 hard points), prioritize the fire tree like so.
Keep points in Fireball at approx 10 above points in Fire Bolt.
Keep points in Fire Mastery at approx 10 below points in Fire Bolt.
If you’ve manage to get enough levels to get Meteor, keep points in Meteor at approx 10 below points in Fire Mastery.

So as a checkpoint, at level 70 (the lowest level I’ll recommend starting hell), you should have something like this: max Frozen Orb, 10 hard points in Cold Mastery, max Fireball, approx 14 hard points in Fire Bolt, and approx. 4 hard points in Fire Mastery.

Gear Recommendations

I’m going over gear recommendations before stat points placement (which will be next), as your gear will affect your stat points. I will also go over gearing a decent bit in “the playthrough” section later in the guide, so there might be more information in there, and it will likely repeat a bit.

In the early game, we want to prioritize resistances, mana, and mana after each kill (mpk abbreviated from mana per kill). Fire and lightning resistances are the most important. Cold resistance is decently important too. And poison resistance is nice to have, but is not very important at all. Note that defense is nice to have when it sacrifices nothing else at all, but it is a stat that gives very little on your playthrough, so don’t worry about it much at all. Faster cast rate and plus to any relevant skills are very nice if you can get them as well, but they often don’t show up much till later in the game. And I also would prioritize mana over them, so that you aren’t constantly running out. Well you probably will be anyways, but mana and mpk help a lot. Here are some things to look out for and consider.

You can shop 2 socketed helms and armor in act 1 normal from Charsi. You can shop 3 socketed weapons (usually want double axe) and 3 socketed armor (usually want breast plate), and 3 socketed shields (usually want large shield) from fara in act 2 normal. You can farm normal countess a bit for some low runes, and save all the gems you see and cube some up to better tiers with the horadric cube found in a2 (see amazon basin website for huge list of possible cube recipes). Consider the following for socket options. Diamonds, rals, topazes, rubies in shield for resistances. Sapphires in helm or armor sockets for mana or rals for resistances. And tirs in weapon for mpk (can also put tirs in shield and armor if desired).

If you come across other items with these desirable stats, whether uniques, sets, rares, or magic items, use them too, as long as the strength requirement is less than 60ish and the dex requirement is 35 or less. Some uniques in particular that are nice to find include Bloodfist, Hotspur, Magefist, and Skin of the vipermagi, but the last two can’t show up till very late in normal, probably not till nightmare.

Some runewords that are nice to make in normal include leaf for fire spells damage increase (can shop a base with plus to Fireball in a2 norm for insane damage, just make sure it’s a gray base, not blue!), stealth, and ancients pledge.

After level 30 or so, and especially into Nightmare, we will shift our focus from mana and mpk to fcr and skills. The mana you get after each level up should be helping a bit at this point, and we’re just starting to need a little more fire power. In general, we’ll be shooting for 63+ faster cast rate (fcr), max (75) fire and lightning res, 55+ cold resist, and plus skills wherever you can get them. Either 20 or 30 faster hit recovery is optional but highly desirable if you can get it.

Here is a list of items to consider for each slot. When and where you might go about farming these items in your playthrough will be discussed in “the playthrough” section. Ladder-only runewords will be denoted with “(rwm)” which is an abbreviation for “runeword mod”. They will be verrrry roughly listed from best to worst options, and some tinkering with what you have available is always necessary to get the desire fcr and resists mentioned above. I will not be including items I think it is extremely unlikely to find in the playthrough such as Harlequin Crest shako, maras kaleidoscope amulet, tals armor, stone of Jordan, and high level runewords. But if you find extremely rare sets/uniques or high level runes such as these, consider yourself blessed.

Gear to look for

HelmLore Runeword, Rockstopper, Peasant Crown, socketed helm with ral, thul, and/or ort for resistances
Amulet – Rare, magic, or crafted caster amulet with fcr, resistances, and/or plus skills
Weapon – Spirit runeword (rwm), Wizard Spike, Spectral Shard, Suicide Branch, rare or magic orb with fcr, skills, and/or resistances, Oculus, Tal Rasha’s Lidless Eye
Body/ArmorSkin of the vipermagi, Smoke runeword, Lionheart runeword, Stealth runeword
Shield – If blocking: Rhyme runeword bone shield, Whistan’s Guard, Moser’s Blessed Circle, Viscertuant; If not blocking: 3x pdiamond shield, Ancients Pledge runeword, Moser’s Blessed Circle, Viscertuant.
GlovesMagefist, Trang Oul’s Claws, Bloodfist, rare gloves with resistances
Rings – Rare rings with fcr and/or resistances, Dwarf Star, Nagelring
Belt – Rare or crafted caster belt with life, faster hit recovery, and/or resistances, String of Ears, Nightsmoke, Snowclash
Boots – Rare boots with resistances, Waterwalk
Charms – Resistances, life, faster hit recovery, skills if you get very lucky
Merc HelmTal Rasha’s helm, Vampire Gaze, Crown of Thieves, crafted blood helm, Wormskull, Undead Crown
Merc ArmorTreachery runeword, Smoke runeword, Duriel’s Shell, Lionheart runeword, Stone runeword, Shaftstop, Duress runeword, ral ort shael in a 3os armor
Merc WeaponInsight runeword (rwm), Obedience runeword (rwm), Hone Sundan, Kelpie Snare, Bonehew, Arioc’s Needle

Stat Points

First, we have to make a decision. Do you want some block % in hell, at the cost of some hp? This is a hotly debated topic, especially in the past. My personal opinion is that having some block makes hell much, much more approachable to a beginner. But since we need a decent amount of hp to survive some non blockable attacks (like Lightning bolts from souls) we also need a decent amount of hp. My thought is that it’s best to prioritize hp until you have 750ish total, and then priority dex for block. In my experience that usually results in 50% or so block with a rhyme bone shield or something similar.

So I highly recommend that route. Several people disagree though, so feel free to try either way. But if quill rats are obliterating you as soon as you enter hell your first time through (which is what happened to me), consider trying block.

Strength – Enough for gear, probably 60ish is highest I would want to go

Dexterity – If blocking (and then you need a decent blocking shield as mentioned above), then enough for 50% block. Or if you are in hell and have 750 hp or more, feel free to put all additional stats toward dexterity for more block. If not blocking, either want this at zero investment, or up to 35 max to use some pieces of gear such as flails (unless you find Wizard Spike, then it’s worth the 75 dex for sure).

Energy – If you are in the early game and are going to use one of your respecs by early nightmare, then feel free to put 20 or so points in here to help out with mana. For the mid game onwards though, we want zero points in energy, as they are too valuable for extra hp, and you can always drink more mana potions.

Vitality – All of the rest

Note that it’s often nice to save 20-30 unused stat points, at least until you are geared up for hell, just in case you need something extra to equip a really good piece of gear you find.

The Playthrough

In this section I’ll go over a couple of progression tips as well as common farming targets I usually look for when progressing through the game. There are many different ways to approach playthrough, and don’t be afraid to experiment. You can always go backward and farm more levels or better gear later. But this a decent way to approach gearing up for each part of the game. Also note that I recommend following the quest log and completing all quests, as that’s a fun way to experience the game. Later on you can decide if you want to do some of the optional quests. But this also makes sure you won’t miss any stat-boosting quest rewards.

Starting off right away in act 1, change the player setting to 8. Press enter to bring up the chat box, and type “/players8” and press enter. You should get a message in the top left saying players set to 8 if it worked. This increase monsters’ hp by a factor of 4.5 as well as the experience they give by the same amount. It also affects drop rates sometimes, but the details of that are beyond the scope of this guide. Then just walk outside and kill monsters and keep moving forward and progressing. Don’t be afraid to just whack monsters with the staff you start with. I usually do most of the killing like that for the first couple of levels since your spells are weak and your mana is low. Also if you find strangling gas potions, use them as your swap weapon and throw them into a group periodically before engaging. They are quite nice.

Also save most all of the gems you find, as they will be quite useful. Just as examples, you might want to out your best diamonds, rubies, or topazes in a shield for resistances until you get Ancients Pledge. You will want chipped diamonds or higher in a2 for a savage polearm recipe that I will mention. You might want sapphires or rubies in helm or armor sockets for better mana or life, respectively. Later in Nightmare when we do our first bit of magic finding (and later in the post-game if you want to do more), putting perfect topazes in armor and/or helms will be a great option. Those are just a few examples to keep in mind.

I usually keep it on p8 (players8) until I reach the underground passage, but at this point I usually go down to p3 to speed things up, while still giving a decent amount of exp. Even if you start moving faster and skipping some enemies (which is fine), I recommend killing most all boss packs (a unique monster and their minions or a pack of champions), as they give high exp, as well as decent drops.

When you reach the black marsh, I recommend farming the countess (at the bottom of the forgotten tower) for a bit. Do this on p1 both to speed things up, and because the countess is unusual in that she drops more runes on p1 than on higher psettings. I recommend farming her till you have the runes for leaf, stealth, and an extra ral for fire resistances in a helm. You can also farm up 3+ tirs for making an mpk weapon when you’re level 30ish as described above, or you can just return here and farm her for them when you’re ready to make that. Also, I sometimes even stay longer and farm 4 more rals and a tal, so that I can make ancient’s pledge runeword as soon as I get the horadric cube in a2. Then you can cube 3 rals to ort and make that shield. But that takes more time and is not mandatory by any means.

For the bases for those runewords, you can shop a 2os armor from Charsi in a1 immediately and start using stealth as soon as you have a high enough level. For the leaf staff, you can get a base from Akara, but its faster to shop one with plus skills to Fireball in a2, so I will go over that soon, and for ancients pledge, will need to wait till act 2 to shop a shield.

After that can progress onwards on p3. But before you enter catacombs level 4, I recommend going down to p1 to make Andariel an easier fight (typical for act bosses) and the clearing the room prior to her so you have a path of retreat. Then go back to town and drink about 10 antidote potions. This should improve your poison resistances for the fight (drink more for longer duration). Then time to face andy. Drop a town portal in the corner for an easy return to the area if you die. Static Field is amazing in normal difficulty and I recommend standing right next her and using static until her health is extremely low, and then finish her off.

For andy in all difficulties, it is highly recommended that you “quest bug” her, so that she drops well if you come back to farm her later. This usually happens by accident, but just to make sure, what you need to do is, after killing andy, talk to Warriv, go to act 2, and immediately save and exit. Really all you need to do is talk to Warriv prior to save and exit, but I do the routine I just mentioned as it is hard to mess up. So just do NOT save and exit right after killing her.

Now that I’ve given an example of how I like to progress through an act (stay on p3, go to p1 for the act boss, use static on the act boss), I will shorten the tips and only give act-specific ones. On starting a2, I recommend you hire a mercenary right away from Gries in the top left of the map. I recommend a “combat” type mercenary, which has a prayer aura. The regeneration is very convenient. You can just give him whatever shopped armor and helm for now, and any cheap shopped weapon.

After that, I usually shop a few bases from the act 2 NPC’s. To do this, you will want to go ahead and do the sewers quest and get the waypoint so that you can reload fara’s shopping window quickly (by going to sewers and immediately returning). This is the last place in the game you can shop runeword bases (assuming you aren’t very low level), as beyond here all items sold by vendors will be blue. But you can always return to act 2 normal at any time to shop these. I recommend shopping fara for a 3os large shield (for ancients pledge), and maybe a 3os ring mail or breast plate if you see one. From Drognan you can shop a 2os bone shield (for rhyme later) and a +3 or +2 to Fireball leaf base (it can take a while to shop these, so I recommend stopping if you get a +2). Again remember on the leaf base, double check it’s an item with a gray name and not blue.

Now time to progress. As soon as you progress in a2 far enough to get the Horadric Cube from the halls of the dead, return to town and let’s give him a better weapon. Use the “savage polearm” cube recipe. Which is a staff (buy a cheap one from akara in a1), a diamond of any quality (so use chipped if you have them), any belt, and a kris (buy cheap versions of those last two from fara in a2). A partizan is the best result, damage-wise, but your merc will need to level up a while before using it due to the stat requirements. So ideally you make a few of these and get one that the merc can wear now, and a partizan for him to equip later.

The horadric cube has tons of different recipes which can be looked up. A few I think are nice to use in this early game are cubing 3 magic amulets to get a magic ring and/or cubing 3 magic rings to get a magic amulet. This is not mandatory but can be a nice way to get more chances at decent jewelry. Also cube up 3 rejuvenation potions to get full rejuvenation potions.

The only other act 2 specific tip I have is to drink thawing potions before fighting Duriel just like you did antidote potions before Andariel.

From there on, I usually just leave things at p3 for general questing and play through normal difficultly. A couple of notes for act 5. You will get a quest reward from Larzuk for killing Shenk the overseer, which allows you to socket an item. If you have any plans at all for endgame farming I recommend not using these till well after your playthrough. Will want to save them for true endgame items. Also, you should almost never ever get the halls of pain waypoint. This will permanently close the portal where one can easily access Pindleskin, who is a common farming target. And be sure you do the ancients on p1. You get nothing for doing them at a higher psetting. At the end of normal, I farm Baal, Pindleskin, and/or Eldritch until I’m about level 40, on players 8 if I can handle it (but can decrease a bit if tough), and then I take on nightmare.

In Nightmare, from the beginning, you should keep an eye out for 4os polearm bases and 4os swords, if you have access to ladder-only Runewords. Spirit and Insight are extremely desirable, and we want to find whatever base we can to get them up and running as soon as possible. Then when you get to Countess, I again recommend stopping for a p1 farming session. Here we want 2 sol runes, one for insight and one for lore. As well as the remaining runes for rhyme, Insight, lore, and Spirit. Lore should be made immediately since you can go back to normal and shop the base if necessary. But otherwise, just get those runes and save them for when the bases come along.

When you get to act 2, we have a couple of different mercenary auras we can consider. I recommend you either stick with your prayer merc for convenience or that you hire a “defensive” mercenary for a holy freeze aura. Just choose between convenience versus increased safety. Note that if your mercenary ends up using Insight weapon, then prayer aura will be much more effective than it would be otherwise, since the mediation granted by Insight synergizes prayer. So I probably recommend sticking with prayer until right before hell, and then hiring a holy freeze merc (make sure you hire defensive in nightmare difficulty).

Now play through the game regularly until getting to nightmare Mephisto. He is another common farming target to get ready for hell. You could farm him now, or you could wait till the end of nightmare and return here if you aren’t geared up for hell by then (probably won’t be). I will talk about farming Mephisto in more detail a couple of paragraphs later.

Once you finish pushing through Nightmare, it’s time to get ready for hell. I mentioned most of this in another section, but my rough guidelines for being “hell-ready” are:

  • Level 70 or higher
  • 63+ fcr (can go for 105 if you have lots of good fcr gear)
  • Max (75) fire and lightning res, 55+ cold resist
  • Some plus skills (not necessary but quite nice)
  • Either 20 or 30 faster hit recovery is optional but highly desirable if you can get it
  • 750+ hp with 50+ block recommended. hopefully 1k+ life if max vita build, but again I prefer the block option

And these are just rough guidelines. You don’t have to check every box or get everything perfect, and if you want to go try out hell with whatever gear without farming at all, you can do that too. Just know you can always return to nightmare and improve your gear. In general hell is much harder than normal and nightmare, and for a smooth playthrough, you will likely want to farm some gear. Many people’s idea of the post-game in diablo 2 (including mine), includes farming specific targets over and over, so maybe not a terrible idea to get a taste for that now anyways. But again don’t take any of this as set it stone. Could always just grind out hell with poor gear and determination or skill.

But ok so after finishing nightmare, you can get level 70 by farming Baal, Pindleskin and/or Eldritch. We want p8 here if you’re feeling fast and comfortable, but don’t be afraid to decrease psetting if it’s difficult. As long as you’re on p3 or higher and doing smooth runs, it won’t take forever. You can also keep going and get a higher level if desired and just quit when it gets slow (probably around 74ish). Your choice.

Now for other stats, besides the runewords we already made from nm countess, nm Mephisto will give us the rest of the gear we need. For this farming session, you will want to stack as much MF on your gear as you can, while still keeping enough resistances to feel safe, and not losing TOO much fcr/skills for kill speed. Hopefully you’ll get 200-300 MF, but 150 is the minimum I would want. Some easy ways to get mf include putting perfect topazes in helms and armor, shopping gloves or boots with MF from vendors or using rare ones you’ve already found. Maybe have already found some rings or amulets with MF as well. Could also make wealth runeword if you have Lem and Ko. And your mf will probably improve during the running, as Mephisto will drop thing that will be immediate MF or dmg improvements. Anyways you’ll probably run Mephisto at least a few hundred times, and see what gear you get from the list in the previous section. The biggest and most helpful item he can drop in my opinion is Skin of the vipermagi. You will want to farm him on p3 or p1. See if p3 goes pretty quickly, but if not, you won’t lose much on p1 (p3 is 9.5% better).

So after you farm him awhile, hopefully you have enough of the items from the gear list to hit something close to those recommended stats. You can also consider grinding out the first half of a1 hell without ideal gear since getting to hell countess opens up more runes you can farm. From her you could get the runes for Smoke or Lionheart or Treachery, if one of those items is the missing link your gear or your merc’s gear. If you have ladder runewords, hopefully you have Insight in an exceptional polearm base by now too. If not, it’s probably worth farming nightmare cows for one, since this will make life much better in hell.

So now you are ready to take on hell. I don’t have many hell-specific tips, but will say a few things. Probably play on p1 the whole way, expect there to be some very tough situations that are hard to survive (or impossible to make the merc survive), take it slow, and reposition frequently between casts and stay far from enemies for safety. If you see a dual fire and cold immune and still want to (or have to) kill it, you can Static Field the monster to half health, and then spam them with Telekinesis so they’re pinned against a wall while your merc kills them. Ancients can be tough in hell. Reroll them till you get a roll without “cursed” and be sure no cold+fire immunes. Then try and separate them by Teleporting around so you can take them out one by one.

Also physical-type damage goes from being somewhat of an afterthought in Normal and Nightmare to being the most dangerous type of damage in hell (which is why I recommend block). But expect this, and be careful around ranged type monsters like archers, and be extremely careful around monsters who have Might or Fanaticism aura, and extremely careful while you are cursed with Amplify Damage (or return to town and heal to remove the curse when you can). And keep in mind you can always tele past random packs to skip them if they are tough or if you just want to move on. But good luck!

Endgame Farming

Congratulations, you beat the game! But maybe you’re interested in leveling to higher levels, or finding gear for other characters, or even just farming gear for its own sake (for many of us d2 addicts, this is the most enjoyable part of the game). Well fortunately the Sorceress is THE BEST character to begin this journey, and will serve you extremely well the entire time.

No matter your goal, we have 2 unavoidable and extremely profitable first stops. Mephisto and Lower Kurast (both in hell difficulty). First let’s stop at Mephisto since he can be done with barely any gear at all.

Mephisto

For Mephisto, we want to stack as much magic find as is reasonable. But first, keep on your survival/questing gear and be sure to roll a good Mephisto farming map. This can be boring but actually doesn’t end up taking too long. Go to Durance 2 waypoint and see if the entrance to level 3 is on a tile adjacent to the entrance. Really the only options for this are a single turn forward and left or a “wraparound tile” to the right of the waypoint entrance. With left and right being determined by the entrance tile orientation. But I’m not going to go into map reading directions thoroughly. The point is, if the entrance to Durance 3 isn’t very close (like 5 or less Teleports), then don’t waste time looking for it. Enter another difficulty and then reenter hell to reroll your map.

Also for Mephisto farming, I really recommend respec’ing to pure Blizzard. The farming method to be discussed will also work with a Blizzard hybrid, with Meteor, or even with hydra or firewall. But pure Blizzard is much faster than any of those.

Once you get a decent entrance, we have one more thing to check. Need to make sure that the monster spawn locations in Durance 3 are not poorly placed for “moat tricking”. So to moat trick, tele straight to Mephisto slightly up the right side, then come down the left side and tele over the gap, scooting back about to the brazier there. Mephisto should follow you and stand there unable to get to you, just waiting for you to kill him without risk. If that description was confusing, don’t worry! A video should clear things up. Here is me moat tricking Mephisto with my hc Sorceress who barely has any decent gear (other than a super lucky early soj).

I mentioned checking monster spawn locations. Basically, try and do the moat trick as shown, but if you get to your final landing spot, and monsters (or hydras) are attacking you, then, unfortunately, it’s time to reroll the map. This final landing spot should be safe 90%+ of the time on an acceptable map. Note that the merc interferes with this trick, so don’t bring him along. You want decent mana and a few plus skills where available, but otherwise just stack MF. I kept some decent resists since I’m in HC as well, but in softcore in the past I have done this farming with extremely negative resists. If you get hit you might die, but you should almost never get hit.

Also it’s a good tip to have a damage swap and an MF swap. The weapon and shield you have equipped at the time Mephisto dies determines the MF total. So for example it’s a good idea to have Spirit and Lidless Wall on the damage swap, then a few seconds before Mephisto dies, switch to Alibaba and rhyme.

As mentioned in the nightmare Mephisto description in the playthrough, p3 is 9.5% better than p1 (trust me, we did the math on this and most of the drop calculators don’t compare act boss psettings well). So I have found it’s pretty much always better to farm him on p1 unless your gear is very good. At which point you are unlikely to be farming him anyways.

Common items to want from this farm, in rough order of priority are Harlequin Crest, Arachnid Mesh, War Traveler, Reapers Toll, Stormshield, Wizardspike, Skin of the vipermagi, and others. Harlequin Crest (commonly just called Shako), is the primary target and pretty much a necessity.

Lower Kurast

Once you get enough gear to get 105 fcr pretty easily, you have the option of going on and starting Lower Kurast (LK) farming. This is where we go in the early part of the endgame for runes. As a Sorceress, you probably want to farm Call to Arms (cta) and Heart of the Oak (hoto) from here at a minimum. At that point you could start “endgame” farming as a Blizzard Sorceress in the ancient tunnels. However, it’s also an option to remain in LK and farm the runes for Infinity and/or Enigma. These are important if you want to play other classes or want to do other targets than ancient tunnels as a Sorceress. Keep in mind it’s also a fine idea to just park a Sorceress on a good Mephisto map forever, then make a new Sorceress to farm LK and park her there forever, and then maybe even make a third Sorceress to roll a good ancient tunnels map after you’ve gotten hoto and cta. Not necessary at all. Just wanted to mention it.

Preferably, especially if softcore, you farm LK at 200 fcr. Nothing here matters except speed with which you open 6 chests. This can be done with Wizardspike, Vipermagi, and either Arachs + 10fcr amulet or 10fcr caster belt + 20fcr amulet. But if you don’t have 200, 105 works just fine.

These runs should be done on players7 (players8 is the same drops but slightly harder hitting monsters). Rolling a good map is paramount. You want to roll a map where a “campfire tile” (which is a tile with two huts with 3 chests between them, along with a campfire) is adjacent to the waypoint, and a second campfire tile is either adjacent to waypoint as well, or adjacent to the first campfire tile. We then want to hit the 6 chests in those four huts as quickly as possible (resist the urge to kill monsters), while holding “show items” during the chest opening, and looking for flashes of orange runes. Carry a lot of keys with you and not much else, and use Telekinesis on the chests if you think it helps (I do, but some people prefer clicking them without tk). These runs can drop runes up to and including ber. They take a while to get used to and get a good rhythm going, but once you do, sub 26s runs should be very achievable. If that description is confusing, again here are some example runs.

Also, check out this legendary post by gripphon on LK farming (amongst other rune farming targets for later in the game). Note that his pattern numbers are outdated, but close enough for the purposes of this guide.
https://www.purediablo.com/forums/threads/guide-gripphons-lk-vs-travincal-vs-cows-runefinding-guide.149/

Additionally, this is one of the best places in the game to farm gems and charms and jewels. I consider it mandatory to pick up flawless amethysts if you see them for future caster amulet crafts, and to pick up small charms, grand charms, and rare rings. Other flawless gems can be picked up for charm rerolls down the line, and jewels are a good thing to pick up too, but I would consider those to be less than mandatory.

Things to do when bored of LK and Mephisto

So that’s all well and good, but you’ve done several hundred runs of both the targets above, and are super bored, what then? Many options. Keep in mind the two above are your best options, purely from an efficiency perspective, until you have the primary goals from them. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other things to do.

You can quest other classes/characters through the game. You can also farm Pindleskin with the Sorceress or with many of those other classes. Actually, Pindleskin is one of the only targets I feel is very productive with non-Sorceress before you have access to Enigma. You want to farm him with highish MF and he can drop many of the best extremely rare items in the game. Sorceress, Barbarian, Amazon, and Assassin are all good at him.

Also, you can take your Blizzard Sorceress and go straight to ancient tunnels with any gear whatsoever (not recommended in hc). She can clear the area with about anything and any item in the game can drop. But target boss packs, not regular monsters and read Albatross’s guide below. She won’t be nearly as fast or as safe as when you get the recommended gear from Mephisto and LK, but it can be fun to get straight to the action.

You can also farm cows with your Sorceress and hope for lucky rune drops from there. That’s how I got my first jah. Probably players 3 with a pure Blizzard Sorceress with block. Again won’t be nearly as fast as if you farm good gear first, but is a fun way to change things up.

After cta, hoto, shako

This is where we actually get to the endgame farming rather than prepping for it. There are 3 common goals here: magic finding (mf), runefinding (rf), and exp farming (xp). There are likely other things you can do as well, but those are the main three I think of.

For MF, the Sorceress’s home is in the Ancient Tunnels (see Albatross’s guide below). There are a few build options here, but Blizzard is the most common. See ffs’s 101 thread below for more. After Infinity is farmed, she can do most any area in the game with various builds, making The Pit, City of the Damned, or Worldstone Keep options she can do for variety (The Pit being better than those latter two). But those will likely not be as good and definitely won’t be as comfortable as ancient tunnels.

For runefinding, the Sorceress can do anything. See Gripphon’s post in the references below. Can always do more Lower Kurast, but now cows are also a great option, and if you have Infinity, Travincal becomes maybe the best runefinding spot in the game. Arcane Sanctuary is also good (see ffs’s 101 thread below).

For experience, you can just stay in Ancient Tunnels, experimenting with various players settings. Or if you want to get serious, you can go to Chaos Sanctuary and start 2-seal runs (see phineas’s compendium thread below). And you can do this all through level 98. And then if you wanted to start the serious grind to 99, Nihlathak or p1/p7 Diablo runs become the way to go.

Also keep an eye on the SPF for the various tournaments we have! In particular, RFL’s (runefinding leagues) and MFO’s (magic finding Olympics) are two big tournaments to join!

References

@Albatross’s Ancient Tunnels Guide
@ffs’s Build Efficiency 101
@gripphon’s Runefinding Bible
@PhineasB’s 99er Compendium
Past MFO’s and RFL’s


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Rush

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Sorceress start guide: blizzball or meteorb

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