The Quest for the Faith Runeword Optimal Base
I must have read every relevant thread about the optimal base for the Faith Runeword on the internet before choosing a base for mine and all of them came to slightly different conclusions with people recommending pretty much any bow except for Spider and Hydra. So I decided that it was time to collect all the arguments for each bow (or rather the reasons against them) in one spot.
I do not compare overall damage here. Doing that is completely unfeasible with the amount of item combinations and charm options available. If you have the wealth to make the best possible Bowazon available you will not need any advice anyway because you must have farmed for years to collect it and in that time learned everything there is to know about Bowazons. You will also know that in that case a perfect Faith in a Grand Matron Bow can beat a Windforce with the right setup.
What I do attempt here is in fact more of a qualitative approach. I want to narrow the choice of bows down without assuming too much, the actual choice between the few remaining bows is up to you and your equipment as well as your choice of character. The latter point is important because a lot of (not necessarily endgame) builds can profit from a Faith Rogue. (e.g. Throw Barb, Avenger, Arcane Sanctuary Javazon, …)
Some things I kept in mind while arguing for and against the different bases:
- Requirements for strength, dexterity and character level should not be too restrictive.
- If two bows have the same average damage then the bow with the higher minimum damage is to be prefered. (more reliable leech!)
- Rogues can’t equip amazon specific bows or crossbows
- Due to the way that animations work in this game there is no way to get a crossbow to 7 fpa, so they won’t be considered here at all.
- We live in the post 1.13b era of Diablo II, so making a Fortitude is not the limiting factor when building a Bowazon. In fact making any other sort of damage armor is significantly more time and resource draining than finding or trading a Lo rune. (Think: 160% ED/60% IAS armor with useful suffix and potentially a prefix if you also play version 1.07 of the game)
I also want to add that I personally do not consider 8 fpa to be acceptable on a Bowazon using someting as expensive as a Faith. A lot of my arguments will be based on that.
For convenience here are the stats of the ten elite bows:
We immediately see that Spider Bow can’t get 4os so we are left with nine elite bows with weapon speed modifier (WSM) of -10, 0 and 10 respectively.
Requirements; eliminating Hydra and Ward Bow
First off I want to eliminate regular bows that are simply worse than others just from looking at their stats.
- Level: Every elite bow has a lvl requirement below 65 (that of a Jah rune) so this requirement does not affect our choice.
- Strength: A Bowazon will most likely wear War Travellers which means that she will have at least 105 strength; 95 needed for equipping WTs and 10 granted by them. Additionally any rogue will have at least 107 strength at level 65 which means that the only bows where strength can be used as an argument against them are Great Bow, Hydra Bow and Grand Matron Bow. In the case of the GMB we only have to consider the Amazon and I’m sure she can spare three points into strength.
- Dexterity: A level 65 rogue has at least 159 dexterity and hence the only bow that might be out of reach for her is the Shadow Bow. None of the dex requirements are really an obstacle for an Amazon.
Now Hydra and Crusader Bow have the same Weapon Speed Modifier (WSM) of 10, i.e. they have the same speed, and they have the same average damage. However Hydra Bow has significantly higher requirements as well as lower minimum damage than Crusader Bow and hence is simply worse.
In the same vein Ward and Diamond Bow have the same WSM, average damage and unproblematic requirements but the minimum damage of the Diamond Bow is 13 points higher than that of the Ward Bow. This is mostly a question of style but when it comes to reliability the Diamond Bow is better.
Eliminations for an Amazon-only Faith
In case we do not want our Rogue or another class to be able to use the Faith the choices become much simpler. The GMB has significantly higher average damage (more than 10% extra!) than the other two WSM 10 bows and similarly the Matriarchal Bow has higher average damage than the other two WSM -10 Bows.
Since we do not have to think of the Rogue’s ability to equip a Shadow Bow it will be better than Diamond Bow for us. So we are left with Matriarchal Bow, Shadow Bow and Grand Matron Bow.
Some people swear by Matriarchal Bow Faith on a Freezing Arrow Amazon while the consensus for Multishot is that Grand Matron Bow is the best possible base when it comes to damage optimization.
Considerations for a first Faith and low runewealth
If you do not have a bunch of spare Jah runes lying around you might be interested in the number of rerolls it takes to get certain Fanaticism levels on your faith:
The five probabilities in the upper right are confidence levels, i.e. if you want a a 99% chance for a level 14-15 Fanaticism you need 7 rolls on average.
The less than 1 in 50 chance to get lvl 12 Fanaticism if you make three Faiths is somewhat reasonable if you’re rich, but avoiding lvl 12-13 at all costs will drive you into poverty.
Now why is the level 12 Fanaticism roll so dreaded? The answer is actually very simple:
An Amazon wielding a WSM 10 bow (Hydra, Crusader or Grand Matron Bow) under the influence of a Faith (either her own or her mercenary’s) needs 100% Increased Attack Speed (IAS) to reach 7 frames per attack (fpa) if Fanaticism rolled level 12 and 95% IAS if the roll is level 13 or higher.
It just so happens that you can get a maximum of exactly 95% IAS by using the glove, belt, helm and amulet slots together and that is assuming a 45% IAS helm and no Razortail. This means that either your Bow or your Armor will have to provide the IAS in order for you to reach 7fpa. If your Bow does not provide any IAS (e.g. Faith) this means that you can’t use Fortitude and reach 7fpa at the same time.
For a Windforce you will have 20% on the bow itself so even if you do not socket it with more IAS you can still use Razortail AND Fortitude at the same time while reaching 7fpa. (Note however that people have found that Faith on the Amazon together with Pride on a Might mercenary is the most damaging setup)
Needless to say it’s quite a lot harder to make a good body armor with IAS that beats Fortitude than to simply make a Fortitude.
My takeaway here is that it is a huge risk to make your first Faith in a WSM 10 bow if you do not have the rune wealth to reroll if you draw the short end of the stick. So the list of remaining bows for a “poor man’s” Faith is down to the WSM -10 and 0 bows excluding the Ward Bow, i.e. five bows remaining.
WSM -10 vs. 0
I will now compare those non-class specific bows with WSM -10 to those with WSM 0 for an Amazon to show that the former will not be optimal bases for Faith.
Before I do this I want to note that the difference between minimum and maximum damage is 7 for Diamond and at least 20 for every other bow, so assuming a non-superior base the difference between mix and max after applying the On-weapon ED from Faith is 30,1 for Diamond and at least 86 for every other bow. This only becomes larger in a superior base. I do not know exactly what happens when min exceeds max damage but it won’t matter in most cases because only the richest of the rich could ever afford to put 86 min damage on their equipment. So for the time being I assume that the maximum damage bonus on equip exceeds the minimum damage bonus.
If we want to compare the damage per second (dps) of WSM -10 and 0 bows we only need to compare the term:
where aps is the amount of attacks per second, avgbonus is the average of the minimum and the maximum bonus on your equipment and avgbase is the average of the min and the max damage of the base weapon. Note that since a second is 25 frames the aps is given by 25 divided by the frames per attack (fpa).
In order to get a Faith in a WSM -10 base to 7 fpa you need 50%/45% Increased Attack Speed (IAS) at Fanaticism levels 12-13/14-15. I can’t imagine a scenario where you would not get that, so this is the fpa I will use for the WSM -10 calculations.
Similarly a Faith in a WSM 0 base reaches 8fpa at 35%/30% IAS if the Fana level is 12/13-15 and again I will take this as the absolute lowest fpa acceptable. Additionally it reaches 7 fpa at 70%/65% IAS with Fana level 12-13/14-15. This is perfectly achievable with something like 35% on Andariel’s Visage, 20% on gloves and amulet each.
The point I will attempt to make here is that a 7 fpa Faith in a WSM -10 bow barely outdamages an 8 fpa Faith in a WSM 0 bow. So even if you lack the equipment to get to 7 fpa with a WSM 0 bow it is still better to avoid the WSM -10 base because a lucky drop can get you to the next IAS breakpoint and hence significantly more dps while the WSM -10 base is maxed out for good and will never beat a 7 fpa WSM 0 base anyway.
To facilitate things I assume that the bows in consideration are all superior with +15% Enhanced Damage. I only look at some of the possible average damage bonuses from equipment. Among them the baseline of 0, the War Travellers + Razortail combo with 25, the same with eight 1.14d maximum damage grand charms and then the same with eight 1.07 maximum damage grand charms. For reference a grand charm can get up to 14 max damage in 1.14d and 40 in 1.07. The last value is just for science since the chances of having eight 40 maxdam grand charms from 1.07 but not being able to hit 70% IAS from your equip are rather low.
Remember that to get the average bonus you have to divide all that max damage from the grand charms by two. I calculated the dps for WSM -10 bows at 7 fpa and the dps for WSM 0 bows at 8 fpa. I then marked the lowest value in each column with red color and the highest value in green (everything in between is yellow). The values in the last row are obtained by dividing the highest WSM -10 value by the highest WSM 0 value.
So you need a total of 320 maximum damage on top of your War Travellers + Razortail combo just to make your 8 fpa WSM -10 bow do 7% more damage than your 8 fps WSM 10 bow. Case closed.
Additional Info, don’t click this:
Looking at the value (‘7 fpa Great Bow dmg + avgbonus’/’8 fpa Shadow Bow dmg + avgbonus’)-1 one can see that it grows as avgbonus grows. It is bounded from above by its limit for avgbonus to infinity which is (8/7)-1=1/7=1,14… and that in turn means that no matter how much avgbonus you stack on you will never get to 15% higher damage on your 7 fpa WSM -10 bow compared to the 8 fpa WSM 0 bow.
I would argue that this eliminates Blade and Great Bow for good if you want to use Faith on your Bowazon.
Why did I not make the same argument for Matriarchal Bow vs. Grand Matron Bow? The difference here is that due to the ‘WSM 10 + level 12 Fanaticism’ combo you might very well be stuck with 8 fpa on your Grand Matron Bow while in the WSM 0 case you can reach 7 fpa even with a bad roll, you get to keep your armor and you still have an excellent weapon for a Freezing Arrow Amazon. I have no doubt in my mind that a 8fpa Grand Matron Bow always outdamages a 7 fpa Matriarchal Bow.
In my opinion I gave good arguments to disregard Spider, Blade, Great, Ward and Hydra bow altogether which means that there are only five options in total: Crusader and Grand Matron Bow in the WSM 10 category, Diamond and Shadow Bow in the WSM 0 category and Matriarchal Bow in the WSM -10 category.
So what did I pick? Well, I don’t swim in Jah’s so no Crusader Bow or Grand Matron Bow for me. Also I want to use this on a Rogue for weird builds so no Matriarchal Bow either. That leaves the choice between Diamond and Shadow where I landed on Diamond because it requires no extra Dex to equip for the Rogue at level 65. The damage difference here matters very little ultimately.
I hope this enables you to make an informed choice for your first Faith Runeword bow!