Diablo 2 Guide: Invincible Abbot Paladin Build

Part 1- Introduction, and a brief history of The Abbott
Greetings. I’m SSoG, I’m reasonably new, and I’m certifiably insane. I’m also a big fan of deviant builds, having written guides for Taunt-based Barbarians, 2-handed Zealing Paladins, Spearazons, and Meleemancers. I’m currently working on a Blade Shield spamming Assassin. And no, I’m not joking about that. Did I mention that I’m certifiably insane?

Anyway, while I’ve posted several build guides over on The Amazon Basin, I’m planning on transferring a few of the better and more powerful of them over here onto DiabloII.net. The Abbott is the first of these guides to make the transition.

My goal, when I started building the Abbott, was to make the ultimate tank. I have a couple of other characters designed to achieve maximum durability, but with this guy, I wanted to go farther- I wanted to create a character that was absolutely, positively, 100% unkillable- or as close to it as I could possibly get. The results were pretty encouraging- and by “pretty encouragingâ€, I mean “I parked him amid two dozen Gloams, Greater Hellspawn, and Horror Mages in the Hell WSK, went and made a sandwich, and when I came back he was still at full healthâ€.

A ) Important Things To Know About Me and This Guide
First and foremost, I am *EXTREMELY* anti-dupe. If you trade for likely-to-be-duped items, then you are encouraging duping. Since duping is the single largest source of lag on the realms, then trading for dupes is just making lag worse. As a result, I will not ever discuss a single runeword that requires a rune higher than Gul (which is about the highest I would expect a player to be able to legitimately achieve, since it’s the best drop you can get from hellforge). I also won’t be mentioning 40/15s, or 3/20/20s. I don’t even know what 3/20/20s are, to be honest. If you have a problem with this policy… then too bad. Go read another guide- or better yet, go write your own guide. I put a lot of effort into creating this character, and I refuse to believe that all of that effort resulted in nothing more than people creating more lag for everyone.

Second off, I have a very different style of writing guides. I don’t write “Here’s where you put your points, here’s what you wear, go have funâ€. My basic character builds usually require no more than 40 skill points to finish (this one only costs 21). I give you suggestions on what to do with the rest of your skills, and I give suggestions on what sort of gear to get, but in the end, I like to leave it entirely up to you. Put the extra points wherever you want! It’s your character, so personalize it- and most of all, have fun with it! As long as you’re having fun, there are no wrong decisions.

Third off, I love feedback! Anything from “Your guide rocks! Greatest build ever!†to “Ur guide sux lolz I am 1337!!1!!one!1â€. Feel free to add suggestions, comments, concerns, or questions, and I’ll do my best to address each and every one of them. I view this build as a work-in-progress that always has room for improvement, so if you think I missed something, then by all means, let me know. The only feedback that I don’t care about is a discussion of high runes or likely-to-be duped items- because as I said, this isn’t the place for that.

B ) Why an Abbott?
“but SSoG,â€, you say, “My time is valuable. My resources are valuable. Why,†you ask, “should *I* devote either to creating an Abbott?†That’s a very good question, and as such, deserves a very good answer.

Advantages:
1) You mean aside from being able to park in the middle of a Gloam pack and go make a sandwich?

Disadvantages:
1) This is going to be expensive. Not prohibitively so (like I said, I don’t mention a single likely-to-be-duped item, and I give several easily affordable and even no-twink alternatives). Still, if you want to make an Abbott, you’re going to be looking for very specific gear, and you’ll probably have to spend a lot of time shopping or gambling.
2) Killing is not your forte. Surviving is your forte. Attack skills are just something to keep yourself occupied with while the hordes of hell vainly beat their fists against you in frustration. You’ll kill… but not as quickly as a dedicated offensive build.

C ) So what is an Abbott?
An Abbott is a Paladin who devotes his entire life to prayermeditation, and cleansing his soul. Actually, he’s basically just a Paladin who regenerates life faster than he receives damage. Easy to conceptualize, but difficult to actually pull off.

D ) Can you REALLY achieve true invulnerability?
Yes, sort of. With the l33test of gear, it will still be possible for certain combinations of bossmods and groups of more than a dozen to slowly whittle away at your life. The keyword here is “slowlyâ€. Also, note that I said “with the l33test of gearâ€. With a more achievable setup, you’ll be exceedingly DIFFICULT to kill, but still mortal.

E ) Core Skills and Stats of The Abbott.

Stats:
Str- enough for gear. Most of your stuff will be magicals or runewords, but here are a few breakpoints you might be shooting for: Iron Pelt (61), Gladiator’s Bane (111), Griswold’s Honor (148), Arkaine’s Valor (165).
Dex- Enough for Gear, Enough for Max Block, or enough for a decent chance-to-hit. Your call.
Vit- All the rest. Yes, you can get by with a lot less life than other builds, but you’ll still want to invest heavily in Vit. Life regeneration does not happen in a smooth line like Mana regeneration, but rather in a series of hops and spurts, so it’s very important that you get a large enough life ball that you can take a few hits before the regeneration kicks back in.
Energy- Base. You should have Insight present at all times.

Skills:
20 points in Prayer- Maxing a skill that replenishes life on a build dedicated to replenishing life? Imagine that!
1 point in Cleansing- This is your main aura, since it adds the Life Replenish of prayer with a few other handy effects, and does not cost mana.

That gives us 21 spent points. Assuming we’re planning on getting to level 85, we’ll have 75 points left to play around with. Yeah, that’s a lot.

F ) Core Equipment
For this build, equipment is EVERYTHING. Creating an Uber-Abbott can break the bank… but a very good Abbott setup is realistically achievable using nothing but an unlimited supply of gold (and a ridiculous amount of patience and some good shopping boots). This build could probably even be pulled off no-twink… again, assuming you’re willing to devote dozens of hours to shopping.

Under each category, I’ll list three levels of gear- “Theoretical Maximumâ€, “Recommended†and “Minimum Acceptableâ€. Keep in mind, too, that this is all general gear recommendations. There will be more specific recommendations under each of the sub-classes. Sometimes these recommendations vary wildly from the stuff listed here, so be sure to check out the specific sections for more.

Before we begin, here’s a quick list:
Mods we need- +Skills (specifically, +Defensive Auras), PDR, Resists.
Mods we like- Some way to prevent monster healing is handy, since our damage won’t be great. Anything that can boost damage is also appreciated.
Mods we don’t need- Anything else.

As you can see, outfitting an Abbott will be incredibly simple. Just remember our Mantra… +Skills, PDR, Resists… +Skills, PDR, Resists. That’s very important, so say it with me now… +Skills, PDR, Resists… +Skills, PDR, Resists…

Weapons
Your weapon will vary more than any other gear slot depending on what offensive skill you choose. As a result, I’m just going to briefly mention some notables, and tell you to read under each specific variant for recommendations.

Theoretical Maximum- “Insightâ€. It doubles the regen offered by your Prayer, which makes it the largest single source of regeneration available in the entire game. It also moonlights as a pretty solid beat-stick. Remember, though- if you wield an Insight, do not give another Insight to a prayer merc. Prayer will stack, but Meditation will not, meaning you’ll only get the second healing from whoever has the higher Meditation in their insight stick. One last thing- consider socketing your Insight into a staff, not a polearm. It’s just as fast and deals just as much damage… but the requirements are DRASTICALLY lower, and it’s a lot more “monklyâ€. The only drawback is that Paladins have significantly worse hit recovery rates when wielding Staves or Spears… but with as much PDR as you’ll be running, you’ll very rarely get put into Hit Recovery except against monsters like Urdars (with auto-HR attacks).

Recommended- For melee characters, Heaven’s Light makes for a solid 1-handed weapon. Up to +3 skills, -33% enemy defense, 20% ias, 33% crushing blow, solid damage, and 2 open sockets. For casters, Wizardspike is great, thanks to its RIDICULOUS resists and FCR.

Minimum Acceptable- Insight is so dirt cheap (doesn’t require a rune higher than Sol) that I won’t make any other recommendations here for Ladder. If you can’t afford an Insight, then this probably isn’t the guide for you. If you’re playing non-ladder and can’t afford any of the recommendations, then just use whatever weapon you want. Really, the weapon is the least-important gear slot (since it’s the hardest place to find +Skills or a significant amount of PDR or Resists). Just grab the fattest-damage 1-hander you can find and use that.

Armor
Theoretical Maximum- Arkaine’s Valor. Fantastic defense, +2 skills, 15 PDR, +Vitality, and you can have Larzuk punch a hole in it. Either socket it with a Sol (7 PDR) or a Shimmering Jewel (15% resist all), depending on which you need more. Griswold’s Heart is another fantastic choice. It gives you a guaranteed +2 Defensive Auras (as opposed to the +1-2 All Skills on Arkaine’s). It has 3os, which means 21 guaranteed PDR (as opposed to the 17-22 on Arkaine’s). The other mods are slightly worse, and the defense is slightly worse, but the requirements are a TON better (especially the clvl 45 requirement as opposed to 85 on Arkaine’s). The final truly excellent armor choice is Guardian Angel. It has +1 skills and decent defense, as well as +Blocking and +Blocking Speed (neither of which is particularly useful, especially if you’re wielding insight)… but it also offers +15% to all max resists, which is HUGE. If you aren’t boosting the resist auras, then Guardian Angel could actually make a very strong case for being the best armor choice around. Like all armors, either stuff it with a Sol or a Shimmering Jewel, depending on what you need more.

Recommended- Gladiator’s Bane. This is just barely behind Arkaine’s/Griswold’s. It shares the high defense, has better PDR, can get a socket, and has Cannot Be Frozen. All it’s lacking is the +skills.

Minimum Acceptable- Iron Pelt is a poor man’s Gladiator’s Bane, with worse defense and no CBF… but it’s a lot cheaper. Again, toss a Shimmering Jewel or a Sol into the open socket. Jeweler’s Armor of Amicae is another option. If you toss in 4 Sols, it gives a REMARKABLE 43 PDR. It’s a better choice than the Pelt, and shoppable, too. For gothic armour, try one of these vendors: Hralti (Nightmare), Halbu (Nightmare), Larzuk (Nightmare), Charsi (Hell), Gheed (Hell). The optimal clvl is 66. Your odds of actually getting both affixes are only 1/16,561, so if you see a good Artisans armor of Amicae or Jeweler’s Armor of Life, grab that instead. Or grab a good _____ armor of Amicae, give it two sockets at Larzuk, and toss in a pair of Sols. As long as you’re getting at least 28 PDR (preferably more) from your armor, you should be fine.

Shield
This will only be applicable if you aren’t wielding Insight, so be sure to check what build you have before committing to a shield. If you *are* wielding a 1-handed weapon, the shield spot is solely devoted to shoring up whichever you need more- PDR, or Resists.

Theoretical Maximum- A Jeweler’s Sacred Targe of Amicae with the maximum possible resist automod (+45% resist all). Toss in Sols, PDiamonds, or a combination, depending on whether you need resists or PDR more (I’d lean towards PDR, since it’s easier to get good resists from anywhere on your gear, but a perfect JSToA with 4 Sols can give you a whopping 43 PDR, which is NOT so easily gotten from other pieces of gear).

Recommended- Gerke’s Sanctuary. Reading down the list of mods is like reading a shopping list of exactly what this build is looking for. Ridiculously high block… check (Gerke’s has the second best block in the game). Resists… check (20-30% prismatic resists, plus the option to toss in a PDiamond for 19% more). PDR… check, (11-16 points worth, and the option to Sol it, too). All it’s really lacking are the +skills.

Minimum Acceptable- Any old 4os Paladin Shield with a high resist auto-mod. Remember that Larzuk will punch 4 holes for you into any Paladin Shield you find in nightmare or later. Either stuff it full of Sols, PDiamonds, or make a Spirit out of it for +2 skills and some solid resists.

Helm
Theoretical Maximum- Guardian’s Circlet of Life Everlasting, socketed with a pair of Sols. +3 Defensive Auras, +39 PDR. Yowza. Granted, you’ll never be able to find one… but it gives you something to dream about.

Recommended- Circlets, always circlets. It’s hard to make recommendations here for specific circlets, but you’re looking for +skills (specifically, +defensive auras), PDR, and resists, in some combination or another. Personally, I’d just spend every single gold piece I make gambling circlets until I find one with a combination of mods that I love… and even then, I’d continue gambling circlets just on the off chance that I found something better.

Jewelry
For Amulets, it’s the same deal as for Helms. A Guardian’s amulet of Life Everlasting is the dream, but there are so many other possible combinations that I won’t even try to tell you what to wear. Again, gamble until you find an acceptable combination of +skills (specifically +defensive auras), PDR, and/or resists, and then continue gambling afterwards on the off chance you find something better. If all else fails, just wear a plain old Amulet of Life Everlasting.

For rings, it’s a lot easier to make recommendations. Nature’s Peace is a STELLAR little ring because it comes equipped with Prevent Monster Heal, 7-11 PDR, and Slain Monsters RIP. If you still need some +skills, then go with SoJ or Bul-Kathos. Otherwise, gamble, roll, and craft to your heart’s content. Safety Rings come with up to 4 PDR built in, and can get any of the resist mods, so that’s a good place to start.

Belt
The belt isn’t really a make-or-break slot, so you have a lot of options. If you want +skills, Arachnid’s is the only choice, and the Faster Cast is handy for caster variants, but it’s lacking resists. There are no good PDR belts (the best is Bladebuckle with a measly 3 PDR), so if you can’t get Arachnid’s (which is most of us), then just grab the best resist belt you can possibly find. This means either Thundergod’s (no resists, but +20 lightning absorb and +10% maximum lightning resist) or a good crafted/rare (my belt of choice). I recommend Caster Belts if you’re a caster variant for the FCR, or Safety Belts otherwise, for the 1-4 points of PDR, the built-in poison resist, and the chance to get all the other resists you’ll need, too.

Gloves
Once again, there are no choices that really set themselves above the pack, so once again we’re going to be wearing yellows or oranges. If you’re going to craft, once again I recommend Safety Gloves for the 1-4 points of PDR, the built-in cold resist, and the chance to get all the other resists you’ll need, too. Otherwise… Magefists or Frosties work for caster-types, Hellmouth has some fire absorb, but I really just prefer Safety crafts.

Boots
Hotspur or Infernostride for the strong Fire Resists and some +% maximum fire resist (I prefer Hotspur because the resists are better and I don’t mind the loss of fr/w). Otherwise, Safety Crafts come with 1-4 PDR, and at least 5-10% fire resist. Craft until you get a set with great resists.

Charms
Anni and Torch are both no-brainers if you have them. I mean, duh. What build wouldn’t love them? Otherwise, look for Defensive Aura GCs and enough resist charms to max you out in hell. Also, if you’re wielding insight in a Stave instead of a Polearm, get some FHR charms. They’ll help a lot against Urdars. 20% FHR will shave 4 frames off of your recovery speed with a Stave (and get you back to where you’d normally be with a non-stave and 0% FHR).

A Brief Discussion of the Griswold’s Set
Griswold’s Set is very interesting for the Abbott, since so many pieces are nearly *identical* to other pieces of suggested Abbott Gear. For instance, Griswold’s Armor is nearly identical to Arkaine’s Valor (both offer up to +2 to Prayer, and both over over 20 points of PDR). Likewise, Griswold’s Honor is very similar to a 4os Paladin Shield with a high resist automod (Gris’s Honor automatically has the best possible Resist mod, and then trades the fourth socket for +20% blocking and +65% blocking speed). Griswold’s Caddy is probably the best 1-handed Paladin weapon out there, if you go the melee route. That just leaves the helm as the weak sister of the bunch. The only decent mod on the helm is the 2os (which translates to 14 PDR)- far below what you could easily get from magical circlets. On the other hand, if you consider all of the bonuses you get for completing the set… suddenly the helm adds +3 skills, 14 PDR, 55% resist all, and 150 life. That’s a *VERY* nice helm.

Here’s how the mods compare between a perfect Arkaine’s Valor (Sol’d), a perfect 2os Guardian’s Helm of Life Everlasting (2x Sol), a perfect Jeweler’s Sacred Targe of Amicae (3x PDiamond 1x Sol), and a fat 1-hander, compared to the Griswold’s set (8x Sol).

Assorted Gear:
+2 all skills
+3 Defensive Auras
+68 PDR
+102% Resist All
Note: by substituting Sols instead of PDiamonds into the shield, you could get 89 PDR and 45% resist all. I put the Diamonds in to get more comparable numbers.

Griswold’s:
+5 All Skills
+56 PDR
100% Resist All

That’s remarkably close. Both setups will have similar defense values (with a very slight edge to the assorted gear), and both setups will also carry 30% FHR. The assorted gear also adds .5 Vit per Level, while Griswold’s set adds an additional 9% chance to block, 65% faster block rate, +150 life, 40 strength, 30 dexterity, 20-30% magic find, and .25 Cold Absorb per level. It also has slightly lower stat requirements (148 max str instead of 161) and drastically lower level requirements (clvl 69 instead of clvl 85). And remember- that assorted gear was considered to be “perfect”. The point? While Griswold’s Heart is the only piece of the set that’s really optimal for this build on its own, the set as a whole is *FANTASTIC* for melee-based Abbotts- probably far better than anything else you’d be able to achieve, realistically. If you’re willing to forego the Insight, and you aren’t a caster variant, Griswold’s is a GREAT end-game option. A little lacking in the PDR department, but not a big deal (Amulet of Life Everlasting + 2x Nature’s Peace + Safety Gloves + Safety Belt = 110 PDR, still).

Merc
A Prayer merc seems like the obvious choice here, since Prayer stacks, but I usually don’t get one unless I’m not wielding insight. Remember, having both you and your merc wielding Insight is A Very Bad Thing ™, because the mana regen and healing aspect of Meditation does not stack. Anyway, if I have an Insight already, or if I feel comfortable with my regen without the Merc, then I skip the Prayer guy for something a little bit more durable. Holy Freeze is fantastic (cutting monster attack speed in half is basically the same as doubling your regeneration). Defiance is great if you’re trying to max out your defense, and he’s pretty durable. I usually skip Might, since you don’t benefit a lot from any more ED. Lawbringer Mercs, Cold Wolves, and Rogues are also all good choices.

G ) Final Setup.
Minimum setup:
AT LEAST 80 PDR
AT LEAST slvl 26 Prayer
75+% Resist All

Recommended setup:
100+ PDR
Slvl 30+ Prayer
85+% Resist All

Uber setup:
150 PDR
Slvl 40+ Prayer
90+% Resist All

H ) Basic Strategies and Tactics.
*First off, you will not be a fast killer. That’s not what this build is all about. That’s not a huge problem- after all, you only have to kill the enemies faster than they kill you, and they will not be killing you very fast at all.

*If you can’t get an uber-l33t setup, then don’t worry, just cobble together what you can. You won’t be invincible, but you’ll be a heck of a lot closer than where you were before you started.

*While you might be tempted to run Cleansing 24/7 for the extra regeneration, it’s not always necessary. If you’re wielding Insight, then you can turn off the Cleansing and still keep half of your regeneration. In areas populated by elemental attackers, you will be FAR safer running Resist Fire/Lightning than Cleansing, because of the +Max Resists (going from 75% resists to 95% resists will cut your regeneration in half, but cut the elemental damage you receive to a fifth).

*Speaking of Resist Fire/Lightning, remember that not only do you get +1% maximum resist for every 2 points spent on the aura… but when the aura is active, everyone within range will get +1% maximum resist for every 1 hard point spent. As a result, 20 points in Resist Lightning = 95% Lightning Resist. This is A Very Good Thing ™ when you’re facing Gloams and Diablo’s LHoD.

*If you have a budget setup, remember that you are not invincible. View your rig more as a means of drastically reducing the damage you take than a means of eliminating it outright. Play like any other Paladin, and just take comfort in the fact that the game will be a little bit more forgiving of your mistakes. In other words- don’t try anything that you wouldn’t do with a normal paladin, such as standing in the middle of Lister’s pack while it spawns.

*If you have a recommended or even an elite setup, remember that it’s not a carte blanche to do whatever you want to do. Massive damage attacks will still wear you down in a hurry, so don’t try popping FEs in nightmare, and avoid FECE or FELE or FELECEs still. Sure, odds are that you’ll survive, but the odds are even better if you play a little bit smarter. Also, avoid Conviction Enchanted Bosses like the plague. They’re pretty much the one thing that can pierce your defenses and leave you a sitting duck. If you’re going to take one on, make sure you have stacked resists, a high level of Conviction, or a healthy investment in Salvation (or the appropriate resist aura).

*One last thing. No matter what gear you’re wearing, if you charge while IM’ed, you will die. In my experience, there’s very little difference between a blaze of glory and a trail of gory.

A ) Why Blessed Hammer?
Well, first, there are the obvious advantages. The damage is very good, and it takes out crowds in a hurry. Aiming is less of a problem, since we can get right up close and personal without worries. The biggest advantage, though, is one that isn’t immediately obvious. We will only have enough skill points to synergize a single attack skill, so we better make it a versatile one. If I recall correctly, there’s only one enemy in the entire game immune, or even resistant, to Blessed Hammer (Wailing Beasts), which makes it a great choice for our primary killing skill. There are cons, of course- primarily, we’ll be a lot less powerful than a true Hammerdin- but all in all Blessed Hammer makes for a very serviceable killing skill. Plus, it looks pretty monkly, with glowing hammers flying around us in circles while we stand and pray.

B ) Skills
Obviously, we’re going to start off with the core 21 point Abbott build. After this, we have two options. We can choose to run Cleansing at all times, or we can decide that we’re brave enough to switch to Concentration and reserve Cleansing for the tougher or more dangerous battles.

If you choose to run Cleansing as your main aura, then put a point into Holy Bolt, Might, and Defiance (prereqs), 20 points into Blessed Hammer, 20 points into Vigor, and 20 points into Blessed Aim. If you want, you can spend an additional 3 points to get Holy Shield (assuming you are wielding a 1-handed weapon). That brings us to 89 spent points, which finishes us up at clvl 78. Additional points can go wherever you want, although personally, I’d put them in Resist Lightning.

If you choose to run Concentration and reserve Cleansing for dangerous battles, then put a point into Holy Bolt and Might (as prereqs), 20 points into Blessed Hammer, 20 points into Blessed Aim, and 20 points into Concentration. I chose to max Blessed Aim instead of Vigor because it saves you a skill point (to get Vigor, you’d need to invest a pre-req point into Defiance, whereas you already needed to get the Might prereq anyway). If you’d rather, you can spend the extra point and max Vigor instead. Again, if you choose, you can invest another 3 points to get Holy Shield (1 point should be sufficient with +skills), which will bring the skill point total to ** (clvl 77 to complete). Additional points should probably go into Vigor to further boost your damage.

C ) Equipment
+Skills and Faster Cast Rate become a huge priority if you go the Blessed Hammer route. Caster crafts, Wizardspike, and even possibly a Spirit Shield (in a high resistance class specific) are all very valuable pieces of gear for this setup. Another note: Insight actually has a bit of faster cast rate (35%, so not fabulous, but some), so another option would be to run Concentration at all times and then wield an insight to make up for your lack of Cleansing. This would also make you independent of your merc, which is another nice benefit. You’ll lose out on some +skills and FCR, but this is a much cheaper and ultimately still viable route to take.

D ) Playing Strategies
Honestly, despite probably being the most efficient Abbott, I think this is the least fun. Since you’re a ranged attacker (sort of), enemies frequently don’t get close enough to marvel at your invulnerability. This character is ultimately viable, but I found myself wondering why I didn’t just make a Hammerdin, who would have been just as safe, but a lot more powerful. The only place where I even noticed and appreciated the Abbott aspect was in the Maggot Lair.

With that aside, play this guy exactly like your average, boringgarden-variety Hammerdin.

Part 3- Vengeance as a Primary Attack.
A ) Why Vengeance?
It shares one giant strength with Blessed Hammer- nothing in the game is immune to it. Aside from that… it deals less damage than Blessed Hammer, attacks fewer targets than Blessed Hammer… but also requires wading into melee, which gives the satisfaction of watching monsters swing at you in vain. For that alone, it is far better than Blessed Hammer. Plus, it gives you an excuse to sink a ton of points into Resist Auras, which takes you even closer to invincibility.

B ) Skills
Choices, choices, choices. Start all builds with the basic 21 point Abbot setup.

Option #1 (the Max Damage route)-
Max Vengeance
40 points into Resist Auras
Total = 83 spent skill points, clvl 72 to finish
Additional points can either be spent in the Resist Auras or Holy Shield/Defiance

Option #2 (the Max Defense route)-
Max Vengeance
Max Holy Shield
Max Defiance
Total = 87 skill points, clvl 76 to finish
Additional points should go into the resist auras

Option #3 (the Conviction route)-
Max Vengeance
Max Conviction (or enough to get to slvl 25 after +skills)
20 points into Resist Auras
Total = ** skill points, clvl 77 to finish
Additional points should go into Resist Auras. Holy Shield is pointless, since you should only do this if you’re already wielding Insight.

If you go with Option 3, you can run Conviction as your primary aura and let the Meditation from Prayer handle all of your healing needs. If you get in a sticky situation, you can switch to Cleansing to double your healing.

C ) Equipment
Heaven’s Light deals solid damage, the Crushing Blow is very tasty, and it can get pretty fast if you double-shael it. Griz’s Caddy is, obviously, pretty darn uber. Any fantastic-damage 1-hander also works wonderfully. If you’re playing on realms, feel free to stick with Insight, instead. Not only is it a lot cheaper, but if you socket it into a Polearm, it’ll have more range and deal more damage, although it’ll be slower.

D ) Playing Strategies
This is your basic Avenger build, very similar in playstyle to the Angel or Guardian Angel. The Vengeance will be weaker, but your character will be safer, so in the long run it works out alright. Remember to keep boosting your AR, unless you’re going the Conviction/Insight route, because your chance to hit will be pretty low.

Part 4- Charge as a Primary Attack
A ) Why Charge?
First off, the damage is insane (it’s pretty easy to break 5,000 per hit). Second off, steering is fun. Third off… it’s ugly, and you know how much I like ugly. It also takes advantage of Insight’s strengths while ignoring its weaknesses- specifically, it likes a weapon with a lot of ED, but couldn’t care less about attack speed. The one drawback is you’re only dealing one damage type, so Physical Immunes are problematic.

B ) Skills
Max Charge and its two synergies (Might and Vigor). It’s as simple as that, and completes with just 85 skill points (clvl 74). Additional skill points either go into Resist Auras, or into a PI solution. Possible solutions are a point in Zeal combined with a strong elemental-damage weapon (Gimmershreds, Rift), or a handful of points into Vengeance, or a point in Sanctuary (which allows you to damage PI undead), or even a moderate investment into Conviction (which, combined with your nice +skills and the aforementioned elemental damage weapons to Zeal with, would work fantastically). Another idea for skill points is Blessed Aim, which gives you a passive AR bonus… and AR will be very important for this build. As slowly as you’ll be attacking, you’ll want AT LEAST an 80+% chance to hit. 85% is much better, though.

C ) Equipment
Insight is, hands down, the weapon to go with for this build. The damage is just awesome, and for once, the lack of IAS doesn’t bother us in the least. I’d socket it in an Archon Staff for the highest possible damage value, although if you’re more concerned with style (and really, aren’t we all?), then stick it into a Shillelagh. The damage isn’t much lower (86.5 average base compared to 91), and the speed is better for those times when you accidentally use standard attack (17 frames base, 15 frames with 20% ias on your gloves, compared to 20/16 for the Archon staff)… but most importantly, it doesn’t look as stupid as the Archon Staff (which, in case you haven’t seen it, has two little horns on the end and looks more like a Shaman weapon than a “monkly” weapon). Also, don’t socket the Insight into Polearms, since they have a longer range (range is bad when Charging, since if a monster is in range, you’ll poke him instead of charging him). Don’t socket into Staffs with a lot of Staffmods (i.e. +skills) if you can avoid it, either, because they cost a bunch of gold to repair.

D ) Playing Strategies
Since you have Insight, you can run Might instead of Cleansing if you rather, but with as much ED as Charge has, Might’s bonus isn’t very consequential. I’d stick with Cleansing. Also, develop a good feel for Charge strategies early. Learn your weapon’s range, and make sure you always charge enemies outside of the range, because otherwise you’ll just swing instead. Also, there’s a bug where sometimes, when using Charge excessively, you will sometimes get frozen and unable to move. While this is generally a Really Bad Thing ™, it’s not the end of the world for the Monk, since he’s almost invincible, anyway. Just hit your weapon switch, and then switch back quickly, and you should be unstuck.

Part 5- A brief list of monsters that will still be able to hurt you.
Alright, so once again my bid at total invulnerability fell a little bit short (although this one got pretty darn close). Here is a list of monsters that you must still be wary around with even the most uber of gear setups.

Gloams (if you have less than 85% Lightning Resist).
Fire Enchanted (mainly in Nightmare- most Hell FEs are nothing to worry about)
Diablo (the LHoD will still hurt you even with 95% resist-all.)
Minions of Destruction
Venom Lords
Frenzytaurs
Other very strong physical damage enemies (especially ES/Fana/Might Boss packs)
OKs, if you’re using Charge or Vengeance.
That’s actually more or less it, although every once in a while you’ll encounter a bosspack with a really unlucky set of mods or a large enough group of enemies that you’ll find your life dropping again. Just try to play smart and keep half an eye on your life bulb so you have some warning in case you run into a really nasty pack.

Against everything else, you can literally go and get something to eat while parked in the middle of the pack. I wouldn’t recommend trying it in Hardcore, because Stuff Happens ™, but you can content yourself that you COULD, if you wanted to.

One last note: All testing was done in SP, Players = 1. There are discussions at the moment about whether or not higher player count games cause monsters to deal more damage. If that’s the case, then you’ll have to be more wary in larger games, because more and more monsters will be able to break past your PDR and put the hurting on you.

Part 6- Final Thoughts and Musings
Have you noticed how I really haven’t made any recommendation for +Replenish Life gear? That’s because it’s woefully inefficient. How it works is that the +Replenish Life value is divided by *256*, and that’s how much life you regain per frame (25 frames in a second). The end result is that you can divide your Replenish Life value by 10, and that’s about how many HP per second you’re regaining… and since the highest single-gear replenish life totals you’re going to be seeing are around +20 (or, if you socket with Dols instead of Sols, +30), and since a single +skill will give you about 1.5 points of life regen per second, you can see that Replenish Life simply isn’t as efficient as Prayer when it comes to keeping you topped off. The nice thing is that, like mana regeneration, Replenish Life operates smoothly (unlike Prayer, which regenerates in pulses). Still, the values are just too low to really be considered Hell Viable. Again, it’s not something that I’d turn my nose up at if it happened to spawn on an otherwise awesome item, but it’s also not something that I’m going to go out of my way to get.

One final thought: You know what the nicest part of this build was, really? How few mods I really wound up caring about. I’ve mentioned the Mantra several times (+Skills, PDR, Resists… +Skills, PDR, Resists…), but that’s REALLY what all gear evaluation comes down to. Offensive mods are nice and all (*especially* a good source of PMH), but I can easily and immediately decide between two pieces of gear, just by going to the Mantra (+Skills, PDR, Resists…). That was really convienient, and made my job a lot easier. It also makes this build a ton easier to create cheaply or even no-twink, since you’re just looking for 3 mods (two of which are easiest to find on Magicals/Rares/Crafts).

If you’re faced with a choice between two items with some combination of +Skills, PDR, and Resists, here’s how I decide. First, I check my resists. If I’m short on something, I place extra emphasis on maxing that resist first (although you don’t have to sweat it if you’re short on poison resists, especially with Cleansing running all the time). If I’m all maxed out, and I still can’t decide between the two items, the tiebreaker goes to whichever has the higher PDR, since I’d rather avoid damage in the first place than regenerate it later.

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