Diablo 2 Guide: Elemental Druid

Introduction

A bit about my play style, I am a die hard challenge player and have been working on pure single tree builds. I do not MF at all in fact typically my builds contain very little MF. I hate losing characters that I work hard to build so I play softcore. This build is part of my character grail where I only twink between the grail characters and I only allow myself to use skills in 1 skill tree.

I looked into making an elemental druid, the typical wind druid guide calls for Oak Sage and is a decent single tree build, though highly over-rated and lacking in versatility (it’s also a cookie cutter and I don’t like chocolate chips).

I played a pure elemental tree character to try this build, I also designed a multi tree build based on my experience (have not played it), I believe it will work more easily than the single tree build. My builds lean towards the windy build but have an additional 2 skills in the fire elemental side that makes the build much more versatile. It also includes a minion for added crowd control. Both builds are given here. Other options are also mentioned they could make this build extremely powerful but more fragile they are only briefly mentioned.

This build is intended for PvM; with minor twinking (1 item at the minimum), solo play (but could easily be adapted for multi-play); and “/players 8” through normal/nightmare ‘/players 1-4” for Hell (with more twinking “/players 4-8” Hell is possible with this build).

Warning: This build is based off the use of the “charge/synergy bug” If you are one who does not abuse “features/bugs” than this build is not for you, your fire damage will not reach the level desired without using this bug.

Essential Items

There is one item that makes this build doable, “Stone” a rune word that is placed in 4 socket armor. It’s Sheal-Um-Pul-Lum, in a 4 socket armor:

+60% Faster Hit Recovery
+220-260% Enhanced Defense
+300 Defense Vs. Missile
+16 To Strength
+16 To Vitality
+10 To Energy
All Resistances +15
Level 16 Molten Boulder (80 Charges)
Level 16 Clay Golem (16 Charges)

You will want to use the highlighted affixes to their max advantage, I suggest making this armor in a dusk shroud, it will give you about 1500 defense for a clvl 49 with 77 strength required. The added resistance, FHR, and stats are just cream.

This is the only item required to take your damage from firestorm into the 1000’s range, (given a few +skills).

Skill Point Distribution

There are 2 variants that would work for this build, the pure elemental, and the hybrid. Other variants may apply and a player’s personal style will make their druid unique.

Pure Dual Elemental
20 Firestorm
20 Cyclone Armor
20 Twister
20 Tornado
20 Hurricane
1 Arctic Blast

This totals 101 skill points, any other points would have to go into Arctic Blast (they are wasted points, because Arctic Blast suffers from the same “bug” as Inferno, about 1/3rd listed damage).

Hybrid Dual Elemental
20 Firestorm
10 Cyclone Armor
20 Twister
20 Tornado
20 Hurricane
10 Oak Sage
1 Grizzly
3 prerequisites. for Grizzly (staffmod from pelt can save these points also carrying a crescent moon rune word for prebuffing may make the staffmod method more ideal.)

This will use 104 possible skill points, remaining points could be spent in Cyclone Armor, Oak Sage, or Grizzly the choice is up to the player. My opinion is that better alternatives exist for the summon skills such as no points except for Oak Sage and 1 in Raven, see comments below.

Skill Distribution Comments

Description of skills

Shapeshifting skills don’t work well with most elemental skills so I would advise against them. Fireclaw/Armageddon druids can use and abuse these skills, but that is a completely different build seen here (this guide has really in depth descriptions of all druid skills).

Armageddon Can be used with great effect in this build, but reading the above skill placement there are no points placed in the skill Armageddon. This skill would need to come from a pelt in the player’s equipment. But many will ask what good is a slvl 1 or even a slvl 10 Armageddon? Well remember we already have 20 skill points in firestorm and another 16 points in molten boulder from our stone armor that’s 36 synergy points which is 14% * 36 = 504% more fire damage; surprisingly with +9 skill points a +1 Armageddon will give the player a 1000 fire damage skill. It’s not huge but as a cast and forget with hurricane and tornado going off at the same time the damage really adds up fast.

Armageddon, works like hurricane, it’s a cast and forget, however the damage is more random. It has a radius equal to Hurricane’s but it deals damage only when a meteor strikes an enemy. With some experience one can get good at placing enemies in the radius even around corners for attacks protected by walls.

Firestorm Will be your main attack through most of the game, yes it will deal low damage until you wear “Stone” but with stone and +skills it will be quite strong. You can use Firestorm from clvl 1 onwards. I tend to start with it at clvl 6 since until then it will be easier to melee with the enemies. By the time you reach Andy your Firestorm should be strong enough to take her out with little to no problems.

Twister/Tornado These are your wind skills, depending on your style of play either are acceptable. Twister is easier to control has a wider cone of damage but the damage is reduced significantly, maxed out with synergies and +skill you may get 1000 out of it but don’t hold your breath. Tornado on the other hand is strong with 1 shot so a small area coming out it’s hard to control and in fact moves about often without hitting enemies. I preferred Twister in normal and nightmare but the damage is insignificant for play in Hell.

Cyclone Armor What can you say here. Strong damage reduction to 3 elements, builds stronger with every level, helps keep your hurricane on for a longer time, more cast and forget aspect to hurricane; IE more time to Tornado/Firestorm. You should always keep Cyclone Armor on your druid.

Hurricane  This is your bread and butter, most of the time you will keep this running, it will prove its usefulness over and over, and I suggest maxing it second. The damage is the same radius as frost nova but it is continuous. It’s pulse based every 20 frames a pulse goes off dealing the stated damage to everyone in the path, moving in circles will create a wider path and thus greater radius of damage, when all else fails run in circles around enemies while your health refills. You will get 5 pulses every 4 seconds with Hurricane.

Clay Golem You are wearing stone armor so you have charges of slvl 16 Clay Golem at your disposal, they are fairly cheap to repair about 4800 gold a cast and the golem last really well in Hell. If the player plans to use the Clay Golem throughout it would be wise to get a Bloodmoon for prebuffing. The Clay Golem will have a life of ~1700 (~3000 with Bloodmoon)

For Hybrid Players

Oak Sage Basically adds life to the player and all their party members, it can be very useful to have an additional percentage added to your life (for obvious reasons). Oak Sage needs about slvl 10 to even be considered in Hell otherwise the player will end up needing to recast Oak Sage far to often.

Grizzly You will want another tank; with this build you are wearing stone armor so a slvl 16 clay golem will be at your beckon call. The clay golem is plenty strong until about midway through Act 3 Hell, after which recasting starts becoming an issue, I am sure Oak Sage will push this issue further into Act 4 Hell but the problem will still exist. Grizzly seems like a nice option to support this group, large life, large damage, cost mana to cast not charges everything a true meat shield needs. May I suggest that you get a pelt with +grizzly and use crescent moon on the switch to synergize the grizzly for better results at low levels, sure a 4 skill points Grizzly can hold its own but a Grizzly with 14 in synergy will do so much better. Synergy on Grizzly’s can be prebuffed, since they are a cast minion, the same could be applied to the clay golem; a Bloodmoon on the switch will add a lot of life to the golem.

Wolves Sometimes players would rather have several smaller minions than 1 big tank. That’s where the wolf skills come into play. A player could place some points into dire wolves and then wield “Beast” rune word to get the grizzly synergy. This will make for a very strong group of wolves to handle the tanking portion of the job for the druid. The choice is up to the player though.

Skill Issues

Casting Delay

A sore subject with many, but it warrants being spoken of. Casting delay is when a skill gets cast there is a no casting time frame that will prevent other skills from being cast. 3 skills in this build have a casting delay:

Armageddon ~6 seconds (150 frames)
Hurricane ~6 seconds (150 frames)
Firestorm ~ 0.6 seconds (15 frames)

What happens here is when the skill is used the 3 listed skills appear red like they would in town, during that time they are uncastable. There is nothing you can do to shorten or get rid of that casting delay; you have to learn to deal with it. When casting hurricane and Armageddon, in order to keep them active 100% of the time, you will find that Firestorm is rarely able to be cast. By adding charges of fissure you increase the duration of Armageddon and increase the power of Firestorm (by 23% per slvl). Charges of fissure are available on clubs and staffs with up to slvl 7 charges. This will help some with the Armageddon, Hurricane problem.

Casting delay and FCR

FCR does not get rid of casting delay but will allow for more castings per timeframe. What happens is the actual casting time of the skill is shortened but the time between castings remains the same.

“The cast timer for firestorm is 0.6 seconds, or 15 frames. A single second of time takes 25 frames. With taking the affects of timers on cast time into account, it means that with no fast cast gear, the druid will take 25 frames to cast 1 firestorm, or 1 second. With full fast cast gear (163%) to hit the 10 frame break point, each firestorm will take 21 frames. As the burn time is 16 frames, this means that you almost get a continuous stream of flame. The firestorm will do 4/5 listed damage per cast at max fast cast.” – Garbad_the_weak

In my opinion you will not notice the Firestorm cast delay once you have 30% or better FCR (14 frame breakpoint), you will definitely notice the casting delay of Hurricane and Armageddon. During the Hurricane and Armageddon casting delays you can and should use Tornado or Twister, when Firestorm is available it is the better skill to use. Most times I find myself using either Firestorm or Armageddon using both at the same time with hurricane just do not cut it.

Stat Distribution

Strength – enough to wear all equipment

Dexterity – enough for high block rate, I suggest keeping your chance to block above 50%, of course 75% is preferred.

Vitality – whatever you have not spent elsewhere spend here

Energy – 0, with your skills needing 4-30 mana per cast max you will be better served using +mana items and potions.

I highly suggest keeping a high block rate, you will be close to battle in order for the elemental skills to deliver full effect. Having 75% chance to block is a great thing and will serve anyone well. You really have low strength requirements your main item only needs 77 strength. Compared to the other builds out there you can spend very little and be quite strong with equipment. Think like a sorceress here saved stat points can give you more life which you will want and need. Oak sage for the hybrid will boost your life significantly, having “Call to Arms” (if you’re really rich) on the switch will more than provide enough extra life to this build.

Life will become a major problem with this build typically Druids are known for high life. They have BO from their party or Call to Arms on the switch, Oak Sage to boost their life, summons to protect them. With this build you do not have those benefits so think more like a sorceress than a druid when getting your stats figured out.

Alternative Stat Arrangement

Strength – enough for Earthshifter to be equipped

Dexterity – 0 you will not need it for equipment, blocking, or AR so no stat points

Vitality – whatever you have not spent elsewhere spend here

Energy – 0, with your skills needing 4-30 mana per cast max you will be better served using +mana items and potions.

Earthshifter has charges of volcano which will give Armageddon an additional 18*14% more damage. It also has +7 elemental skills, the downfall is it will give no blocking and will cost an extreme amount of stat points so less life. It would be a glass cannon so to speak.

Damage values

I often wonder what kind of damage to expect out of a build. Here I will describe differing amounts of total damage.

With 0 +skill items you can expect a total damage of:

Firestorm 504- 586
Twister 340- 360
Tornado 1501-1602
Hurricane 929-1040

With 5 +skills

Firestorm 811- 921
Twister 487- 520
Tornado 2117-2266
Hurricane 1232-1437
Armageddon (+1 staffmod) 604-936

With 10 +skills

Firestorm 1272-1420
Twister 665- 710
Tornado 2821-2997
Hurricane 1573-1688
Armageddon (+1 staffmod) 1147-1528

With 15 +skills

Firestorm 1848-2051
Twister 865-922
Tornado 3591-3795
Hurricane 1941-2056
Armageddon (+1 staffmod) 1751-2192

To get Twister to 1000 minimum damage you must reach 19 +skills, this is possible but very unlikely. Remember you lose 2 Plus skills due to your armor right off the bat. Having 2 fire skills for over 1000 damage, along with your windy style druid, makes up for the small damage loss of the windy.

As you probably guessed more +skills = a stronger build.

Leveling & Gameplay

First 30 levels

You are in a funny situation for the early part of the game; you have no cast and forget skills. Hurricane is available at clvl 30 so is Armageddon, but until then your stuck with wind and Firestorm. How are you to survive? Easy start early by maxing Firestorm, in your first 30 levels you should max Firestorm and place 1 point in other skills as they become available to you. Once Firestorm is maxed place points towards a goal of 10 in cyclone armor. This will give you the best result, twister and tornado are not strong yet but there are no immunes yet either. I suggest making a leaf staff for an extra 3 skill levels to your Firestorm.

Levels 30-XX (when stone can be equipped, 47 minimum goes up with elite armors)

In these levels you have hurricane, a fully fledged Firestorm, and a point in Twister/Tornado. Your damage sources are going to be hurricane and Firestorm. There is a problem though and you will quickly learn about it as you play. Hurricane has a casting delay of about 10 seconds after its cast. This delay effects your Firestorm/Armageddon/hurricane skills (I suspect the other fire skills as well) and will keep you from being able to cast them. This is why cyclone armor of 10 is so important, you don’t want to have to wait on casting Firestorm or not have a hurricane running. These are the hardest levels in your build. Learn how to switch from hurricane to tornado then once Firestorm can be used again switch to it (this play style becomes very useful later on as well). Keep placing points in hurricane, it will add to every other skill except Firestorm.

Stone armor and beyond

Once stone armor is placed on your build you will notice a 4 fold increase (well 23%*16 = 368%) in your Firestorm damage. This is a welcome surprise, now you can use your hurricane and Firestorm at a decent damage rate, meanwhile your Tornado will become useful. Max Hurricane first then Tornado then Twister.

You also gain a minion, keep the golem out with you he will be surprisingly useful. The golem cost ~ 4800 gold per cast so in short order he is less expensive to replace than the mercenary you’ve been running around with. In some instances leave the mercenary in town and use just the golem it makes more economic sense to do so (maggot’s lair hell comes to mind).

At any point in time you can start using Armageddon. The extra 36 synergy levels make this skill useful. Remember to cast Hurricane, then Armageddon, Armageddon, Hurricane. In other words Hurricane last 3 times as long as Armageddon so the player needs to recast Armageddon twice as often as Hurricane. Every 30 seconds you will get 20 seconds of Armageddon and 30 seconds of Hurricane. Casting delay will rear it ugly head when you are trying to keep Hurricane and Armageddon going at the same time, there is nothing the player can do about it so just have to get use to it.

Keeping Armageddon and Hurricane active through Nightmare is okay, keeping them active in Hell can be harmful. In Hell you run into death beetles and other lightning enchanted enemies with hurricane on expect to take a lot of lightning damage you may want to have high resistance to lightning. Let the Hurricane down unless you need the extra power using tornado and Firestorm will be your best bet for facing lightning enchanted creatures.

Keep an eye out for +skills; every +skill you get is more damage for each type of damage you are dealing. When facing things that are not immune to any of your skills (poison immunes, lightning immunes) your skills will gain 3 times as much with every +skill. Remember you have 3 types of damage physical (Tornado/Twister), cold (Hurricane), and fire (Firestorm/Armageddon); use them to your advantage.

Item Affixes

Personal note: I hate guides that tell you what items YOU MUST HAVE in order to build the character, for the most part those type of guides mislead and narrow the play experience, especially for more challenging builds that teach skill to players. I won’t give items for this guide but some suggestions on what to look for in the items the Druid uses.

Armor – “Stone” rune word is a must as described above, for untwinked players this build would be near impossible to play. The “Stone” rune word is really the only item that needs twinked though, it may be a reason to go a bit off the untwinked path for one this build.

Helmet – You should be looking for +skills, FCR, +life, resistances out of your helm, if your using a pelt you can get staffmods that work with your build, in fact Armageddon would only come from this item so getting a +elemental/+3 Armageddon/ +3 Hurricane pelt would be a most godly item.

Weapon – You are a caster so +skills, +elemental tree, FCR, +Mana/life, charges of fissure are all good choices to keep a look out for. My most ideal weapon would be a club with +3 elemental tree and slvl 7 charges of fissure.

Shield – The most important part of a shield is defense; so get a shield with high chance to block, resistances, and other defensive characteristics. I use a Moser’s Blessed Circle with 2 perfect diamonds, but other fine shields are out there.

Jewelry – Rings and amulets are made for casters in my opinion, they have +skills, FCR, +life/mana, resistances and other useful affixes, they would be a good place to add on magic find if the player is so inclined.

Gloves, and Boots – FCR is important on gloves so would be +skills too bad only Magefists have the +skills this build would want and that would only help 1 maybe 2 skills. As for boots resistance, +life/mana, and other typical caster affixes. Faster run/walk is really not needed in the Boots though you need to be close to the enemies and able to runway but you don’t want to go running full force into them when trying to strike them with tornado so I suggest avoiding faster run/walk and sticking to the basic resistance, +life/mana boots.

Charms – First and foremost skill charms with +elemental tree will take precedence over most charms out there, especially if they have a stat booster like +str or +life as a second affix. Resistances and life are important for this build to get from charms, with charms its not impossible to get 75+ in all resistances with the build. Other affixes the player could want is FHR, increased stats (I suggest only using small charms for this one), +mana, and maybe Magic Find.

Closing

I hope you all enjoy playing the dual elemental druid I know I have enjoyed playing it for the past few months. Remember the build is a challenging build not your typical cookie cutter so it takes a bit of work getting use to it. However, once you get use to the build you may find it more intriguing than a windy druid.

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