This is The Simple Bowazon Guide, not because a bowazon is easy to play, but because most of the ideas in this guide are pretty straightforward. In other words, making this guide is being done more for new players, but maybe non-zon players will find it useful as well. To be different, this guide does NOT use Strafe as the main attack skill, it uses Multishot. For a bowazon that uses Strafe, check out Lone Wolf’s Sniperzon Guide.
Bowazon…this term means an Amazon that uses bows. And this is probably the toughest part of playing this character- getting a suitable weapon that will do enough damage in Hell. Some say this character is only for the rich. I got lucky in the beta and found a Windforce, which of course works amazingly well, but many different bows will work just as well, though perhaps not a quickly. But read on, and I will address bows in the equipment section!
Stat placement is pretty simple.
Strength should be enough to wear your armor and use your bow. Shields aren’t used in this build except at first, in the very early stages, so Str is not extremely important, as it is in most melee characters. I would suggest in the 100-120 area should probably be good enough, although some bows require much more.
Dexterity is the most important skill you have! Every 100 points of dexterity equals 100% more damage from your weapon. In this way, even a modest-damage bow can inflict serious pain on the bad guys. Put anything you have left in here.
Vitality. I would recommend the same as Strength…in the 100-120 range. If you die often, put in more! In my current Mat’d zon I have 92 including equipment-added points, and I rarely die. But sometimes it’s close, so I’m putting the next couple levels’ worth of points into Vitality.
Energy. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. Nothing. Nil. In other words, if you put points here, restart your character. Seriously. Why waste them?
I chose these skills after many many Amazons that I have played. The Amazon is my favorite character by far, mainly because I like to stand back and turn monsters into pincushions rather than have them beat on me. In 1.10, monsters are very tough, so a standoff type of character is much more survivable. This skills I chose are for mob-damage and efficiency. But I’ll explain under each one.
Magic Arrow. I love this skill now! It used to be pretty weak, but in 1.10 it’s undergone a serious revamping. Now Magic Arrow (MA for short) does extra physical damage (1 point extra per skill level), it adds Attack Rating (AR), and it converts some of your physical damage to magic damage (one percent per skill level). Add to that a zero mana cost above level 13, and you have a winner. Plus, no prerequisites!
I had this skill at around lvl 10, but with +skills items it was about lvl 16. You have the spare points in this build, so you could also max it out. If you have +5 to skills for example, it will do 25 extra damage, convert 25% of your physical damage to magic, and add 226 to AR. Quite nice for 0 mana. Oh, and it doesn’t use up ammunition. Heh.
This skill is used in a few places. Single monsters of course. Undead…most “fleshless” undead like skeletons do not leech, so mana and life can run out quickly when fighting them, especially in large amounts, like in Act 2. MA works great on these since it costs nothing. It’s also a nice, cheap PI-killer.
Multishot is my crowd-killing skill of choice. The Strafe versus Multishot debate will rage on. Different skills for different builds for different folks. I’ve used Strafe extensively, but I decided a while back to try out good old Multishot again. The result? Far greater crowd killing speed. The reasoning is like this- Let’s say I have 10 monsters in a mob. Every Multishot I put out spreads, let’s say, 15 arrows across the screen. As long as an arrow passes through a creature it will have a chance to hit, based on your AR and the monster’s defense and blocking. So I can easilty hit ALL 10 monsters with EVERY shot. Strafe doesn’t do this regularly. You’ll damage the monsters closer to you faster, leaving fresh ones behind them. Pierce will solve this somewhat, but it benefits Multi in the same ways. And frankly, you have a merc and a Valkyrie to tank anyway, so the faster the mobs die the faster you go on to the next one.
I’d recommend putting 15-20 pts in this skill. At lvl 15, you get 16 arrows. Now…Multi has a variable angle. If you click farther away, the fan-shaped output of your Multishot will be much tighter. Click closer and it’s extremely wide-angle. This is great stuff. You can cover huge mobs or small mobs. The tighter the coverage, the better chance of hitting each monsters, so make it as small as you can while still covering each monster with arrow fire. But if you get flanked (monsters come from the sides) you can widen it to hit any new monsters. At lvl 15, it costs 18 mana to use, but with multiple hits you’ll get multiple leeching. Mana leech is a MUST, but then this is nothing new in Diablo 2.
Other bow skills…nothing is necessary. If you feel inclined, you can get a modest amount of Freezing Arrow and its synergies, or even Immolation Arrow and its synergies. There are points to spare! This is a rare thing in a 1.10 character build.
First, the end results. Reverse order may be weird, but this is a build that doesn’t really come into its own until after lvl 30 when you get Valkyrie. So…
Valkyrie. Max this as soon as you can. The valkyrie is the best tank in the game. At lvl 17, she gets a rare war pike. At lvl 20 she has 2000-2400 life, +475% damage, +840 AR, +190% defense, and costs 44 mana to cast. Plus she will have the same chances to Dodge/Avoid/Evade as you do. This makes for quite a durable meat-shield. Max her.
Decoy. This is a one-point wonder, but more points will increase the life of your Valkyrie. I put about 6 points here. And I use it ALL THE TIME. Decoy is a very important skill to the strategy of this build. You must hotkey it and use it. It’s sort of like the Attract curse and the Valkyrie all in one. More on this in the strategy section.
Inner Sight, Slow Missiles…1 point in each. I do still use Slow Missiles on occasion. Act 2 sewers for example. I hate Burning Dead Archers with the white-hot passion of a thousand burning suns.
Dodge/Avoid/Evade. Put 6 points in each of these. If you have a few +skills items, then cut them back a little. At lvl 6, they give a 40%/48%/40% chance of avoiding their respective attacks, which isn’t bad, but more points really start to hit diminishing returns, with 2% or 1% per skill level after 6.
Critical Strike…6 or 7 points after skills. This gives you around a 50% chance to do double damage.
Penetrate…to taste. It’s like salt on your food. If your chance to hit is under, say, 80-85%, then pump this up. You want a high % chance to hit of course. And Multishot doesn’t add to your AR. charms will work for this of course, as will bonuses on equipment, but Penetrate is a HUGE increase. Mine’s maxed out, and at lvl 20 it adds 225% to my AR which is enough to have 90+% chance to hit in Hell.
Pierce…put 9 points here after +skills items. This gives a 69% chance to pierce. If you have an item like the Razortail belt that adds a % chance, it simply adds it to the top. So another 30% from Razortail makes it 99% chance. Quite fun! And effective, and more pierce = more hit = more leech = faster kills.
At lower levels you’re going to be using a javelin and shield and meleeing most of the time. At some time you’ll start using a bow, probably in the Monastery region, but you’ll still have the javs/shield on weapon switch. So skills aren’t as important at the beginning, especially when you have little or no leech. So place them as you see fit. Get your prerequisites out of the way and save up points if necessary. But get the good skills when you hit that level. But the end of Act 1, you should be in the level 15-20 range, so you should have MA, Multi, and a few passives. More ahead in Strategy and Equipment.
A word about speed Speed is very important. Also known as IAS, Increased Attack Speed allows you to fire arrows faster, and therefore damage your enemies more rapidly. There are tables at the amazon forum that calculate speed. Unfortunately, there are different table for many of the bows in the game, so the increased speed you have on a hunter’s bow is different than, say, a gothic bow. Follow the numbers across. The number before the slash is the number of frames per attack. The lower the better, as Diablo 2 uses a 25-frame-per-second timer in the game. So if you had 5 frames per attack, that’s 5 attacks per second (which is VERY fast).
Bow This is the toughest part of being a bowazon. The trick is to have the most damaging and fastest bow you can get your greedy paws on at any given level. At lower levels, I’d stay away from most of the basic unique bows. Their requirements are WAY too high for what you get. You’re better off with a 3 socket “___” bow with a few gems thrown in, preferably emerald, sapphire, and topaz. The emerald gives you good poison damage, the topaz dcent lightning, and the sapphire gives the all-important freeze effect. Freeze is a great thing, which you’ll find out very quickly if you don’t realize it already.
Later in the game the exceptional unique bows become available, and they’re really nice. Skystrike is fun…meteors dropping all over the place make for explosive fun. Endlesshail is more for the Strafe-user, but it’s still fast. Best bet however, is the Riphook unique Razor Bow. It has life steal, 30% chance of open wounds, slows target by 30%, 35 extra mana, and the all-important 30% IAS. This makes it fast, damaging, and with the open wounds, enemies continue to “bleed”. When upgraded to an elite, it’s usable until the end of the game, although the damage is still a bit low. Goldstrike Arch is nice as well, with good ED for demons, too, and upgraded it provides a cheap alternative to more exotic end-game bows, although the damage is a bit on the low side. But with Fist of the Heavens being improved, it adds a bit of punch. But, the Buriza-do Kyanon unique Ballista is a great alternative, although there is a definite cheese factor. You can upgrade it, which usually pumps it to over 500 dmg, and it pierces 100%, which can save you skill points. Cold damage is impressive as well.
End-game bows…Lycander’s Aim upgraded to elite is nice, Witchwild String upgraded is good, a Breath of the Dying Crusader or Hydra bow is super-expensive, but it’s fast. Kind of a waste of a Zod, since bows can’t be ethereal. And of course the Eaglehorn or Windforce unique bows. M’avina’s Caster is decent as well. Basically any bow that’s faster and has, let’s say, 200 or more damage maximum, would be great stuff.
Rares are another option, with 200% or more enhanced damage appearing all over the place later on in the game. Even check the normal rares…I have a nice Hunter’s Bow with 330% damage that I upgraded twice, and it really kicks butt. I have recently seen rare bows with 400% ED on them , and it’s pretty scary. They’re fairly available.
Armor Armor is extremely variable. Here’s where I go out on a limb. I don’t think the bowazon needs maximum resists in Hell like the other classes do. I survived with only 2 death all the way to matriarch with all three necessary resists at -20 or worse. Armor is usually a large source of resists, so you can wear almost anything to supply other mods, like Cannot Be Frozen or IAS. Enigma is a great runeword for this character, as it has 45% faster run/walk…and you NEED to move frequently. Move or die.
Duriel’s Shell is nice with CBF and good resists, Twitchthroe studded leather is decent too, Shaftstop of course, it all depends on your needs. Some armors leech, which is great if you don’t have it on jewelry. Remember though, that there are different armor weights, and heavier armor will cause you to run slower, which is kind of bad, although enough faster run/walk will nullify that.
Gloves Again, lots of variable. Knockback is VERY helpful with this build, so crafted Hitpower gloves are very fun, since they come with knockback. Dream hitpower gloves would have +2 to bow skills, 20% IAS, and 30% magic find along with the normal mods. Good luck crafting them, though. Lava Gout gloves are nice…Enchant adds AR and damage, plus they have 20% IAS. Laying of Hands (set item Bramble Mitts) are very nice…20% IAS and tons of extra damage to demons comes in very “handy” har-de-har har! HANDy…get it? *sigh*
Headgear Repeat theme here…lots of variability. Look through the uniques list and find a helm that adds fun stuff. Stealskull is nice, as it’s dual leech and has magic find. Valkyrie Wing is nice of course, and seems to be amazon-themed. Otherwise, rare circlets with leech, AR, dex, skill levels, or magic find are very good choices. Delirium in a helmet is nice, unless your merc uses something like The Reaper’s Toll thresher, because the confuse curse will override his decrepify. Otherwise it’s amazing for crowd control, although a bit on the pricey side.
Belt Razortail is my favorite for its extra pierce, although Goldwrap is also nice. Upgrade Goldwrap to a battle belt for 4 slots. When using Goldwrap for MF, you might want to change your bow to a Shael’d Buriza, since it has 100% Pierce, since the belt has magic find and increased attack speed. Tal Rasha’s belt is decent. Wilhelm’s Pride set belt is nice for dual-leech. Nosferatu’s Coil for leech and slow, Hwanin’s for prevent monster heal…again, there are a myriad of choices.
Boots Fast movement is important, so get at least 30% faster run/walk. 40% is nice too if you can get it, like on Aldur’s Advance set boots. Rares can again have tons of great mods on them, such as resists, magic find, attributes, and speed.
Jewelry Rings…Ravenfrost is the BEST. Lots of AR, Cannot be Frozen, are two very nice mods to have. 200 or more AR adds a huge amount to your overall attack rating. And being frozen is the worst. Less so for the bowazon, because you’re usually not directly in melee range, but it’s still bad. Otherwise a nice mana leech ring (or dual leech) comes quite in handy. Rares are the way to go if you don’t have cool uniques like the Wisp Projector or Carrion Wind. For amulet choices…rare ammys are nice, as is the Cat’s Eye, Eye of Etlich, and almost any of the other ones. Atma’s Scarab is great, as it has a chance to cast amplify damage, a very powerful curse which reduces enemies’ physical resistance by 50%. This has the effect of possibly tripling your damage in Hell, depending on the physical resistance of the monster (which varies quite a bit). Scary! And fun!
Charms Right now I use a couple big +AR charms, about 10 MF small charms, and the rest are combination small charms with cold damage and something else, like resists, poison, or other elemental damage. A couple of +life charms are nice too if you’re not Mfing. Cold damage stacks, and cold/freeze time increases with each cold source, so the more you have, the better. Monsters in Hell freeze for at least 3 seconds for me, which is enough time to fire, freeze, and move to a better location while they’re stuck there.
Overall, the most important piece of equipment is your bow. Everything else is secondary if your playing skills are up to snuff. Speaking of which, let’s talk Strategy.
Magic Finding with a Multizon
Magic finding is entirely possible, but I hate to say it, it’s not the BEST character to use. I’ve found that with a little over 200% MF, my killing speed is greatly diminished. My current setup is…Harlequin Crest shako with a perfect topaz, Enigma armor (wire fleece), Chance Guards (only 37%), upgraded Goldwrap, Aldur’s Advance boots, and Ravenfrost/rare ring/Atma’s Scarab. Unfortunately, the gloves mean I don’t have that extra 20% IAS and knockback, so to get the knockback I switch from my Breath o’ the Dying hydra bow to a Windforce. (yes yes, cry me a river, right?) But the BotD was so much faster. So now I’m firing slower, though I’m doing a bit more damage per shot, just to get MF on my gloves. And I still have none on my boots and rings and amulet, which of course I could change, given the right equipment.
First, let’s talk about the concept of a bowazon here. Once your character “matures” i.e. is about 40th level or more and you have all the necessary skills to survive and kill quickly, you’ll realize something- that playing this character is almost a support role for your tanks. This may seem weird at first, like you aren’t really doing most of the damage, but this is certainly not the case. Your merc and your valkyrie are mostly just taking the hits, while you damage the whole mob simultaneously. Then once they’re near death, your tanks start taking them down. This is at a higher /players setting than 1 though, so at /players 1 all bets are off…you’ll be killing just as fast as your merc and valk.
Early in the game you’ll be melee for the first few levels, until you can find/afford a bow. Again, a socketed bow using your normal attack is about your only choice here. You’ll get multishot soon, but it’s expensive to use, and you won’t have leeching ability or the damage to make it effective for quite some time (more damage = more leech). So- get the best shield you can find/buy/twink/carry, get a good javelin, and you’re set for a while. Once your skills start improving, and MA starts reaching higher levels, you can slowly stop using the javelin (although I’ve put one point into Jab just for fighting Duriel in days past, but it hasn’t been necessary in 1.10).
Once you get to Act 2, you should have Decoy soon, and an Act 2 mercenary. My personal favorite is an Act 2 Nightmare Defensive, which is the Holy Freeze merc. This guy works GREAT! He slows down whole mobs, so they stay in the hail of withering arrow fire longer, and die faster. Plus they hurt your minions less. but until Nightmare, just use whatever Act 2 merc you want…the Prayer merc is nice for the life regeneration.
Once you get valk, the party starts. Keep boosting valk until she survives a goodly amount of time, then switch to other skills and give them a few points…repeat until your skills are at a good level.
Decoy Play Decoy is invaluable. It’s an easily-cast chunk of bait. And your valk and merc are sometimes vvveeerrrryyyy slllloooowww. So I run ahead, with MA on left-click and Decoy on right-click, and as soon as I see enemies, rather than shoot, I cast Decoy and back off. Even if it only lasts a hit or two, by that time your tanks have taken the front positions and are in the thick of things, and you’re in the back firing multishots. The mob dies soon. If you get flanked, cast your decoy in front of the new mob. If there are archers hitting you, cast it in the middle of them, or at least get the decoy closer to them than you are.
Makes sense, right? Turn your decoy into the target, rather than you. And while archers and missile troops can fire from way off screen, so can you. Blind multishot fire can decimate mobs before you even see them…you just walk along and suddenly there are bodies everywhere from your blind fire. Decoy also helps to take the heat off your tanks. Another target is great for example, when your tanks are overrun by Frenzytaur mobs, especially in Act 5 Hell when they could be physically immune. They’ll make short work of your minions if you don’t help as much as possible.
Also keep in mind that Valkyrie is portable. If you’re really in trouble, recast her where you need her. But above all, STAY OUT OF MELEE RANGE AND MOVE CONSTANTLY. Meteors raining down on your head HURT, so move when you hear/see them. Blizzards HURT, so move! The list goes on and on.
But as far as satisfying play, I don’t think anything beats opening fire on a massed mob of bad guys, especially in the chaos Sanctuary, and having an entire mob frozen, making that sizzling noise, and just collapsing after a few rounds of fire and dissolving into nothingness. All of the boss mobs that guard the seals are just total cake for this build. Even Baal’s minions aren’t much of a problem. Just remember to always stay in back and use your decoy to absorb fire, and you’ll be fine, and you’ll have a blast.
I hope you enjoyed this guide, and found it informative. Now go forth, and make Moogazons. Actually, I take no credit for this build, since it’s existed since D2 came out. But it’s cool to put a name to them. Heh heh.