Hi, my name is Vincent, I go by Soepgroente on these forums and I feel lightning builds are often underrated, so I decided to write a guide about them. This is both for PvM and PvP, and in both I found her to be very cool to play, and also pretty effective. Sure, other builds can beat it in certain areas, but over-all it is a very powerful build, even for solo-play. First I’ll list some ad- and disadvantages of this build to get rid of the “fire ball is better in any way”-argument that most seem to put forward when saying lightning sucks:
– High damage. In fact there is no skill that does more maximum damage than lightning.
– You’ll use lightning skill charms, this also means a 1-point wonder teleport.
– Oh and thunderstorm. One point and it’s at about 1000 damage.
– And an optional energy shield!
– And a free high level static field, it doesn’t end
– Skills that suit well for each situation, chain lightning for groups, lightning for dangerous bosses, charged bolt for bosses you can get close to.
– People say something like “lol a lightning sorc” (they underestimate you) when you’re going to duel them. They won’t talk so tough once you’ve wasted them though.
– Different and slower casting for lightning and chain lightning.
– High mana costs on (chain) lightning. This is in particular annoying for PvM since in PvP you’ll be mostly casting teleport and lightning.
– No static field to help with immune monsters, since they’re immune to lightning on which static will not help, where you can static half the health away from immunes when using cold-tree or fire-tree sorceresses.
– Low minimum damage. Fireball is more consistent; this is generally seen as an advantage.
– One element, which means you have to rely on your mercenary for lightning immunes. This is only an issue in PvM of course. Lightning can be absorbed with the right equipment, but so can fire or cold.
If you’ve read this and you really can’t stand the disadvantages such as the minimum damage of 5, stop reading now and find another build that suits you better.
These are actually pretty obvious. You’re either aiming for the highest damaging lightning possible since that’s your main PvP skill or you make sure you can take a punch but end up with less damage. That would mean we obviously max lightning, and lightning mastery. Then as much in the synergies as you can spare without forgetting the essential skills such as warmth & teleport. That makes for this allocation:
1 thunder storm
20 charged bolt
20 chain lightning
20 lightning mastery
1-20 nova (whatever you can spare)
Or if you go Energy shield route:
8-20 energy shield (depending on your pre-casting equipment)
20 lightning mastery
1 thunder storm
20 chain lightning
Rest in charged bolt/nova
That’s right, no cold armor. Grab an orb with (ultimately) +3 shiver armor +3 cold skills for casting your PvP armor (your weapon switch is good for this if you’re poor and cannot afford call to arms like me). In PvM frozen armor might be more useful, decide which you want yourself. Shiver has the best defence & duration where frozen armor freezes, but the freeze length is very minor in hell where it’s cut to Ό of its original length. If you have something like Call to arms on switch though, you can’t go wrong with a point in frozen armor.
Telekinesis does -6,25% mana drained when using energy shield for each point you spend in it (note that +skills do not count). This is pretty essential since in version 1.10 energy shield gets damaged before resistances and damage reduction, making you lose insane amounts of mana without it. In PvP, where you take the highest damage in the whole game, you will absolutely need the synergy to make energy shield of any use. One hit and you’ll likely be low on mana without it. See my energy shield explained mini-guide.
Since giving up 27+ points that would synergize lightning it means giving up over a third of your damage, I chose not to use energy shield, and rely completely on teleport for my defence. If you do intend to use energy shield, you’ll want to “pre-buff” it. This means that you find as much +to energy shield or +lightning skills as you can, use that equipment, cast energy shield and put on your better setup for dueling. You don’t need to worry about energy shields duration, it starts at 144 seconds (roughly 2½ a minute) and increases with 60 seconds, 1 minute, for each point. I also strongly recommend going for maximum energy shield if you go for it at all, since 95% is 10 times better than 50%. This limit is at level 40, any points after that are wasted since only the duration increases, but it’s already forty minutes so that’s plenty.
Lastly, the reason why I’d only put one point into thunderstorm rather then 20, is because the increase of thunderstorm is only about 1500 damage, where you lose a third of your main damaging skills damage. Since the PvP penalty is now 17% where it was 25% before, and the double hit bug with thunderstorm is gone, and thunderstorm got no increase in damage since 1.09, it results in a pretty weak skill for both PvM and PvP. It’s worth the single point easily though, but nothing more.
The total of this package requires 105-106 skill points meaning you’ll have to level up 93 times if you’ve done all the skill-quests. Level 94 is what you should shoot for, after that the minor increase of life isn’t worth the pain of leveling to me. With an energy shield build there’s still stuff to synergize after level 94 of course. Obviously you’ll be slightly better at level 99 but nothing extreme. Perhaps you need level 95 for a really nice crafted amulet, too. Any skill points left after level 94 should be put in warmth, a cold armor, teleport or energy shield. Of course you can get by with lower levels than 94, but your damage will suffer a little from it. If you skip 10 points of nova and only get to level 84, you lose about 4000 damage. It’s as simple as that, so I really recommend at least level 90, because that’s very doable.
Finally some damage figures to get you warmed up (assuming +20 to lightning skills & completely synergized skills)
– 16,6 yard static field
– 659-686 charged bolt #24 bolts
– 129-135 telekinesis (if only the stun improved with more points now it’s just useless other then a neat tool to grab waypoints, gold, potions, your stash etc)
– 1983-2583 nova (sweet rushing tool! Also nice for naked killing annoying people in pubby games, hehe.)
– 6-32689 lightning (the big killer!)
– 6-12207 chain lightning (nice in PvM, really nice)
– 4 mana cost teleport (with 1 point, may I remind you)
– 1273-1884 thunderstorm (1 point only, sweet)
That’s not counting %lightning skill damage, but those increases aren’t that huge because your mastery already gives loads of %enhanced damage and it stacks with that.
Energy shield or not? Basically ES makes you immune (well, the damage is so small that you don’t need to watch your life) to any attack. Your life is really low though, so poison and/or open wounds will bring you to 1 really fast because they don’t get absorbed. The second issue is, will you be able to keep the shield up at all times? You die if you lose your ES, simple. It’s a real good defence though. Outweigh damage vs. survivability here.
I’ll get sttp (straight to the point)
Strength: As much as needed for your equipment. As little as possible.
Dexterity: Base, enough for wizardspike, or enough for max block. I wouldn’t go for a build with no dex though, as not being able to use wizardspike gives up a lot of versatility. You’re almost there anyway, with 25 base dexterity, anihilus, shako and possibly waterwalks. You can always -req your wizzy, if you’ve got a nice jewel with more mods.
Vitality: The rest. You can’t have enough life.
Energy: I said nothing before, though you need as much mana to be able to keep teleporting. If you don’t have 10 lightning skill charms or a call to arms (or simply don’t want to use CtA, which is very understandable) you may end up with lower mana. In this case it’s worth the sacrifice of life, since you’ll be a sitting duck without mana.
Yea dexterity, should you go for blocking or not? I’ll list a couple of advantages and disadvantages for you. I’m not going to say what you should do, just giving some objective advice so you can make the decision yourself.
– 75% block means 75% chance to completely negate any physical attack. On average damage taken this means 75% physical resistance.
– Some elemental attacks can be blocked. Mephisto’s cold ball for example. Those are the only two advantages, but they are nothing to sneeze at.
– Investing in dexterity means you’ll have less life. About 300 usually, before call to arms. This means you’re risking 1-hit kills a little more, and simply can take less of unblockable damage.
– Blocking sort of limits your shield choice, since you’ll be needing a shield with high block % to not lose too much of your precious life.
– Block-lock. Every time you block you go through the block animation. This means you’re toast against a quick attacking enemy without a good block rate. This is in particular annoying in PvM once you’re surrounded. Even though hit recovery is usually slower than block recovery, you need to have at least 1/12 of your life taken away in one hit for any effect at all. This usually shouldn’t happen, in PvM at least. More details on FHR/FBR later.
Most people go for a blocking-build for PvP. For a relatively slow connection it’s definitely a must or amazons for example will eat you alive. There’s also a lot of people that don’t go for block though, thinking they can beat most blockable attacks anyway because of teleport and want the extra life for elemental opponents. This also holds truth, though a good amazon or barbarian is a tough match-up without block.
I went for block myself, with a stormshield + shako getting 45 DR% with charged bolt & PvM in mind, and got a little disappointed. Together (str + dex) I wasted about 250 points that could’ve gone into vitality. That’s 500 life! I found that my mercenary could do the tanking and that I could use charged bolt safely most of the time without getting hit badly. Mostly if I got hit it was by elemental attacks. Sure when I wasn’t careful while mephisto running and my life had dropped below 100 I was grateful for hearing that “ping” indicating that I just blocked the cold ball. On the other hand I was begging for more life when facing off against a boss-pack of black souls (lightning immune, yikes!)
My rebuild used no block, but she never really got off the ground anymore because the ladder ended and I focused on my druid.
It’s up to you.
For an energy shield build I strongly recommend against block, you’ll need all the mana you can get, you’ll survive melee anyway if you can put up enough mana.
3.a. Untwinked equipment
Probably the hardest part of the guide, people might start yelling “I can’t afford this, I can’t afford that” but I can’t help that. You simply need to have a little wealth to play PvP effectively. In PvM use whatever you find. Lightning isn’t great for untwinked play. It’s certainly doable, but you’ll have an easier time with Meteorb for example. You don’t have to be very rich, but you kinda need the basics. If you’re going untwinked simply aim for these stats on your items mainly:
+Faster cast rate
-Enemy lightning resistance (this is extremely nice for magic finding at mephisto for example, a mere 25% decrease will double your actual damage on mephisto)
3.b. PvP equipment:
On to the more wealthy equipment part. Before we pick this, there are a couple of things you need to know. One second is 25 frames, this means that if you’re at 10fpc, you can cast at the very most 5 attacks every 2 seconds.
| Faster cast rate:|
|Faster cast rate|
Lightning / Chain Lightning:
|Faster hit recovery:|
Seeing this, it’s a huge increase to get to at least 30 fhr for a 10fph hit recovery. As a wise person once said: “You don’t want to spend time reeling from your opponents attacks, you’ll want to strike back immediately after you get hit”. More hit recovery helps versus stunlock. Every time 1/12 of your hp is taken away (this means 100+ damage in 1 hit if you have 1200 life for example) you go into your hit recovery animation. So both more life and faster hit recovery help to counter stunlock. But if you get stunned (smite, mind blast, shockwave do this for example) you get the famous “swirly thing” above your head, and any attack, no matter the damage, even zero, puts you into your hit recovery animation. So especially against trappers, but also smiters, you’ll want that faster hit recovery.
Faster cast is even more essential than faster hit recovery, I’d recommend hitting at least the 63-fcr breakpoint. The breakpoint after that is slightly bugged; you could start double teleporting from time to time with 105-114 faster cast rate. If you get that sometimes, 63-104 is actually better than 105-114. I haven’t had any trouble in the few last months though. I did when 1.10 first came out but not anymore. Either way after 115% faster cast rate this problem is gone, so I would aim for 63+ or 115+ for teleporting. With the addition of the lightning breakpoints though, you’ll want 63, 78 or 117+ faster cast. Don’t sacrifice too much damage for it, but it’s nice since faster teleport means better defence, and more casting means more hits resulting in more damage and easier hitting. Hitting 117 fcr would be really nice, though you can get away with 78. I wouldn’t recommend below that though, and strongly advice getting 105/115 if you go no-energy shield.
Other things you’ll want from your equipment is as much mana and life as possible. Plusses to strength can be count as 2 life per strength, if you go max block you can count dexterity as 2 life too. If you go block, you’ll want a good blocking shield. You’ll also want resistance’s from your equipment, and as many +skills as possible. Damage is king, don’t sacrifice too much if you lose damage. You haven’t got enough damage until you take out your opponent with one hit.
Something good to use is to have a few special things in your stash when fighting other opponents. It allows you to optimise your equipment against virtually any opponent. I’ll list some equipment now (including socketing advice).
Weapon: Eschuta’s temper (lightning facet jewel). A wizardspike in stash if stacking resistances is needed. Also a really good weapon which offers less damage for more survivability is Heart of the Oak. If you want pure damage, make it in a +3 lightning/lm staff. Gives up a shield though.
Shield: Lidless wall for non-block, for block you should go with either an upgraded visceraunt’s, whistans guard, sanctuary runeword or stormshield. The latter makes you practically invisible versus anything that does melee damage. You can tank any melee opponent removing any challenge for those duels. By far not my favorite for those reasons. While it excels against melee opponents, it’s pretty weak versus elemental stuff. Socket your shield with an um rune if you lack resistance’s, with a jah rune for +50 life or with a lightning facet jewel for more damage.
Weapon-switch: “Call to arms” crystal sword, flail or caduceus to keep a decent weapon. Battle orders boosts your life & mana significantly, if you can afford, think it’s ok and are allowed to use it, use it! No socket needed. If you can’t use it for either reason you should keep a shiver armor orb on switch.
Shield-switch: Any +1 skills shield (lidless wall, sigon shield) to boost your battle orders by another level. Fal it if it lets you meet the strength requirement.
Rings: 2 stones of jordan. Unbeatable, you’ll like the mana. If you really have enough mana, you can use a bul-kathos instead which gives life which is good. Some 10fcr ring with lots of mana/resist/life/stats can also be really good if you need to hit a breakpoint.
Amulet: A crafted caster amulet. The faster cast rate on it doesn’t matter if you’re shooting for 63% since you’ll have 60 without it and it starts at 5. If you’re shooting for 115+ you’ll want more on the amulet. If you go no-block you’ll have lidless wall and be at 80% fcr already. Mara’s or tal’s amulet are the only real other options.
Armor: “Enigma” breast plate for 63 fcr’ers (faster cast raters). Yes in a breast plate, screw defence, go for the lowest strength requirement. You need to be checked if you don’t think 40 vitality outweighs a few hundreds of defence. 1 strength = 2 life. Like this you don’t need to put any strength at all if you have a perfect anihilus small charm. If you’re going 115 fcr, vipermagi is the best choice in my opinion. Don’t overlook Que-hagens if you can get by with 10 fcr and 20-35% resistance less, it has this nice 20 FHR. I feel that the vitality bonus from arkaine’s valor is outweighed by the insane strength requirement. The faster hit recovery is nice, but you can get it elsewhere for less strength. Chains of honor has +2 skills and lots of resistance, which is really really nice too. Ormus robes with +3 lightning shouldn’t be overlooked either. The 15% lightning damage acts like a little better than +1 lightning mastery, so with the 20 FCR this might be cheaper than enigma and the likes. The last option is a “stealth” runeword, but it’s just not as good as the other options. Socket it with a lightning facet jewel, jah or a perfect ruby if it’s not a runeword.
Gloves: Bloodfists are unbeatable for me. 40 life & 30 faster hit recovery, lovely! If you keep running out of mana you might want to use frostburns but you’re losing 30 fhr I wouldn’t know where else to get without making sacrifices. If you need fcr from your gloves, go with magefist (adding 37% mana regeneration rate too) or trang-oul gloves (adding 30% cold resistance). Frostburns for an energy shield build, period.
Belt: Arachnid’s mesh without a doubt. +1 skills & 20 fcr, hardly a replacement for this.
Helmet: Shako. +2 skills & insane life/mana. What’s not to like about this helmet? Might wanna try griffon’s eye but you’ll lose all that mana and life, not what I’d do. Socket with a perfect ruby, jah rune or lightning facet. In PvM the -resistances are really nice since mephisto won’t simply place 2 more lightning resist charms in his inventory to make up for the lost resistance. In pubby games people will not stack resist though, so -resist is usually a powerful tool.
Boots: Waterwalks add max fire resistance and just a lot of hit points for a low strength requirement. Another option are the new unique scarabshell boots, offering 15 strength & vitality with 20 fhr. But probably the best are crafted blood boots, with 15 life replenish, dexterity, life and 10 fhr. Maybe some resistances.
Charms: 1 anihilus, 10 lightning charms with as much life and/or fhr as possible, 9 life/(mana or resist) small charms.
“Jewelers gothic shield of the colossus” with 3 perfect topazes and one with 3 perfect saphires. For stacking resistances. Of course you can use a plain 3-socketed one since I realize jewelers is hard to get. But that’s a pretty cool shield if you can get it. Stack your cold resistance against cold sorceresses. Stack your lightning resistance against paladins. It might be nice to keep more life/resist charms in your stash to stack a little more if needed. Remember the cap on conviction is now -150% so you’ll “only” ever need as much as 325% lightning resistance in hell to get the full deal. That’s 120+75+10~20 what you already should have from anihilus + stash shield + wizardspike. Guardian angel for upping your maximum resistance is an option as well, but the requirements are so high
Another idea is to have a set of resistance drain equipment in your stash (griffon’s eye + 4 facet armor + 6 facet crystal sword + 3 facet bone shield or something). Make sure you hit the desired breakpoints for FCR though, else you’re not going to last long.
An optimal equipment in my eyes would be:
Chains of honor dusk shroud
Heart of the Oak flail
+2 sorc/20 fcr circlet with really nice mods, or griffon’s eye in pubby duels (lightning facet or jah)
Bloodfists (upgraded twice for fun)
Lidless wall (um)
+2 sorc/17+ fcr amulet
Waterwalks (upgraded, love it)
Though there’s probably no “best” possible, this would be an excellent all-around setup.
3.c. PvM equipment for the twinkers (thanks to Celandro)
Section 3c.1 PVM Damage analysis:
UberCharacter Imaginary Level 99 with 20 Lighting, 20 Lightning Mastery, 60 synergies, and all perfect gear
(f) Designates lightning facet
(t) Designates P. topaz
(j) Designates 10% mf jewel
(d) Designates P. diamond
Option 1: Griffons Eye (f), Tal Orb (f), Tal Bp (f), Tal Amy, Tal Belt, Shield (fx4), 2soj, 10lightGC, Anihilus SC WS: ali-baba (ix2), ryhme.
Option 2: Shako (f), Occy (f), Enigma, Maras, Arach Belt, Lidless (f), 2soj, 10lightGC, Anihilus SC WS: ali-baba (ix2), ryhme.
Option 3: Griffons Eye (f), Occy (f), Enigma, Maras, Arach Belt, Lidless (f), 2soj, 10lightGC, Anihilus SC WS: ali-baba (ix2), ryhme.
Option 4: Griffons Eye (f), Occy (f), Arkaine (f), Maras, Arach Belt, Shield (fx4), 2soj, 10lightGC, Anihilus SC WS: ali-baba (ix2), ryhme.
Option 5: Griffons Eye (f), Tal Orb (f), Tal Bp (f), Tal Amy, Tal Belt, Lidless (f), 2soj, 10lightGC, Anihilus SC WS: ali-baba (ix2), ryhme.
Option 6: Shako (f), Tal Orb (f), Tal Bp (f), Tal Amy, Tal Belt, Shield (fx4), 2soj, 10lightGC, Anihilus SC WS: ali-baba (ix2), ryhme.
Option 7: Griffons Eye (f), Crescent Moon Runeword, Arkaine (f), Maras, Arach Belt, Shield (fx4), 2soj, 10lightGC, Anihilus SC WS: ali-baba (ix2), ryhme.
Option 8: Tal Helm (f), Tal Orb (f), Tal Bp (f), Tal Amy, Tal Belt, Shield (fx4), 2soj, 10lightGC, Anihilus SC WS: ali-baba (ix2), ryhme.
Celandro: Actual Level 89 with 20 Lightning, 20 Lightning Mastery, 50 synergies, all actual gear except for imaginary Tal Armor and Crescent Moon
(f) designates lightning facet
(t) designates ptopaz
(j) designates 10% mf jewel
(d) designates pdiamond
Option A: Griffons Eye(f), Occy, Vipermagi, TalAmy, Goldwrap, Mosers(dx2), 2×25%mf rings, 3lightGC WS:alibaba(jx2), ryme
Option B: Griffons Eye(f), Tal Orb, Tal Armor(t), TalAmy, Tal Belt, Mosers(dx2), 2×25%mf rings, 3lightGC WS:alibaba(jx2), ryme
Option C: Griffons Eye(f), Occy, Skulders(t), 35%MF Amy, Goldwrap, Mosers(dx2), 2×25%mf rings, 3lightGC WS:alibaba(jx2), ryme
Option D: Shako(t), Occy, Skulders(t), 35%MF Amy, Goldwrap, Mosers(dx2), 2×25%mf rings, 3lightGC WS:alibaba(jx2), ryme
Option E: Shako(t), Occy, Vipermagi, TalAmy, Goldwrap, Mosers(dx2), 2×25%mf rings, 3lightGC WS:alibaba(jx2), ryme
Option F: Griffons Eye(f), Crescent Moon, Vipermagi, TalAmy, Goldwrap, Mosers(dx2), 2×25%mf rings, 3lightGC WS:alibaba(jx2), ryme
Summary: Against high resist mobs, reducing monster resist increases damage significantly. Tals set, Griffons eye, and surprisingly Crescent Moon runeword are excellent damagewise for this reason. MF wise, tals set w/ 4+ items does the best damage while obtaining good mf numbers, especially when using a weapon switch for the kill.
In terms of pure damage, ignoring FCR, item evaluation order is:
Helms: Griffons Eye(f), 5 item tals(f), Shako(f), 4 item tals w/orb(f)
Weapons: Crescent Moon, 4+ item tals(f), Escuta(f), Occy(f), Heart of the Oak
Armor: 4+ item tals(f), +2 armor(f), +1 armor(f), enigma (last 2 order may change depending on how many other -resist items you have)
Belt: 4+item tals, Arach Belt
Shield: Shield(fx4), +1 shield(f)
Amulet: 4+item tals, various +2 amys including tal mara crafted
Which mercenary to use? For me the answer is pretty clear, but again, I’ll give an objective view on mercenaries and list their advantages (if any) and disadvantages.
Act 1 – Rogues do rather low damage and don’t tank. They don’t die a lot but you might want to look elsewhere. The main goal of your mercenary is taking out lightning immunes for you. They’re cool for public dueling games though.
Act 3 – Either cold or fire obviously. Cold has this nice freeze and gets high defence, the most passive mercenary out there really. It’ll take ages to slaughter lightning immunes in hell though. Fire dies a lot, still does bad damage. I don’t recommend him.
Act 5 – Barbarians are nice, they stun a little. However when taking out lightning immunes you’ve got telekinesis to stun for you so that doesn’t really help. I hear they survive pretty decently, so they’re not a bad choice. No aura though
Act 2 – These aura babies are what most players use and there’s a reason for that. Time to go more into detail:
Normal/hell (you should always hire them from normal for the best stats):
Defensive – Defiance. Nice for extra defence; survives best of all of them given a random situation.
Combat – Prayer. Don’t bother with this one, the regeneration rate is ok but you can just use a potion every once in a while instead. He doesn’t add anything you can’t do yourself that’s useful compared to other mercenaries.
Offensive – Blessed aim. Probably an even worse choice since mercenaries pretty much seem to hit anyway. You don’t use attack rating so this one’s out of the question.
Defensive – Holy freeze. Slows everything except act bosses down including cold immunes. Better than defiance against elemental attackers, arguably not as nice against physical ones.
Combat – Thorns. Monsters have no damage compared to their hit points & regeneration rate so I’d call this one next to useless too.
Offensive – Might. Kills immunes the quickest, my personal favourite for any 1-tree sorceress including this build.
I’ll basically give a levelling up guide + some low-level items that are worth looking into. I’m not going to list every exceptional unique and its uses, just browse through http://www.battle.net/diablo2exp if you want to see some mid-level items. I find that by doing baalruns mostly, only the lower and higher levels can be a pain. This describes the pure-damage build for levelling up, if you’re going energy shield you’ll want to max that out later so you can do some serious damage early on where it’s easy to survive anyway.
Level 1-5 – Start out just doing quests etc. That’ll level you up quickly. Assign one to warmth and the other four points (three levels + one quest skill point) into charged bolt. Place all your stats into vitality after you’ve reached the total strength you’re going to need. That shouldn’t be more than adding about 30 points anyway. Depending on whether you’re going to use enigma. Making 2 sapphire helms/armors to fight your low mana is nice.
Level 6-11 – Put one point into telekinesis and static field, keep working on charged bolt all those other levels. It should start to really kill smoothly by now. By this time you’ll have saved Cain or be on your way doing it. From level 9 and onwards you can start using bloodfist.
Level 12-17 – Put one in lightning and one in nova. Again keep pushing charged bolt. After you’ve defeated the countess you can skip the rest of act 1 and join a “Kill andy” game and go to act 2. You should be about level 14 before resuming to act 2. Hire a defiance mercenary until nightmare. You’ll want a might mercenary eventually, to quickly dispose of any lightning immunes. Do the sewers and earn another skill point.
Level 18-23 – Place one point in chain lightning, and teleport. Spire of lazarus is a real nice staff here. Keep working on charged bolt. Levelling in 8player games in act 2 still goes really fast here. Your mercenary is an awesome help here and will kill once you’re out of mana. Try getting the staff in act 2 while levelling, I hate that part personally.
Level 24-29 – One point of thunderstorm now. Max out charged bolt and put the remaining points into lightning. At level 29 you can twink quite a bit. Vipermagi, sojs, frostburns, peasant crown and more becomes available in this period. Level in act 2 or cows up to level 24, do the ancients to get 25, then do baal runs. This is probably the most effective method.
Level 30-49 – Max lightning mastery. Your main attack will be charged bolt until mid-sixties, raping everything with ease. You can tweak further, a very nice staff is the memory runeword or any of the unique exceptional staffs really, except ribcracker of course. At level 42 you can switch to oculus + lidless wall. Make up for any lacking strength with charms and rings etc. But don’t invest in strength because you don’t have enough yet, you’ll regret it later. You can level in normal up to level 50-ish, but going to nightmare after level 42 (with oculus/lidless) works out fine. The +7-10 mana per kill is extremely nice! Find a nice place to level to about 45, then you can start doing nightmare baalruns. Hire a might mercenary in act 2 nightmare.
Level 50-60’s- Max lightning to synergise charged bolt. Charged bolt is awesome throughout nightmare. You can start doing baalruns in nightmare.
Level 65-75 – Work on chain lightning. Nightmare baalruns, up to level 80 is well possible, but I got bored quickly and entered hell at level 74. No problems for me, your mercenary might die a couple of times if he isn’t tweaked too well. By now you can wear most of your equipment and you’re really kicking *** on nightmare baalruns.
Level 76+ – Start hell baal runs, act 4 runs, shenk/pindle/eldtrich runs, whatever you like doing. Any of those places level quick until about level 86, then diablo & baalruns are the quickest. Max chain lightning and start working on your final synergy, nova. You can now wear any equipment except for perhaps a few crafted amulets. After level 90-ish everything goes slowly, but baalruns are the fastest.
Note that any damage you’re doing is cut into 17% when doing PvP. That makes your lightning drop from about 6-38 000 to 1-6300. That’s not too shabby, 3150 average damage per strike. Factor in that any decent player has maxed lightning resistance, so another 75% goes off of it. You’ll be taking away nearly 800 actual hit points on average each time you hit! That’s simply amazing
Say somebody uses thundergods + guardian angel. 95% resistance and +20 absorb. You’ll still take away (3150*(1-0,95)) – 40 = 115 hit points per hit on average. Though if you get a bad roll people will heal. On the other hand, with a good roll you still do decent damage. Thunderstorm or charged bolt will be absorbed by just thundergods though.
First, remove the horadric cube from your inventory if you’re coming from PvM. Any charm is better than no charm. Remove tomes of identify and town portal too. If you wish to use town portals mid-duels in public games, use a belt slot. Here are some strategies for each specific opponent I’ve encountered.
These come in three variants. The javazon, hybrid and bowazon. I haven’t encountered any bowazons yet in 1.10. They play like hybrid’s anyway since those usually have their bow out against sorceresses. When they’ve summoned a valkyrie you can even use chain lightning for funny effects.
They run fast, generally have ok-life with low resistances. A good one however will have his lightning resistance maxed. Make sure you keep teleporting, they’ll chase you and run into your lightnings occasionally. Once they do they’re probably stunned so you can spawn another one. Then it’s over quickly. If they walk to you in a straight line you can probably kill them before they can get to you too. I haven’t tried tanking them but I assume that’s easily done if you have max block and might also be possible without block. Watch out for charged strike, even if you have max resist you’ll die very fast to it.
Also a good strategy is to teleport a little behind them. They’ll usually turn around but you’ll be spamming lightnings at them and then it’s over again already!
These are a bit tougher since it’s much harder to avoid guided arrow or multishot. Since multishot does rather low damage and is attack-rating dependent however it’s not as dangerous. You can probably take 2-3 guided arrows too. A fine strategy is to quickly teleport on top of the amazon once the bow is out and spam lightning. They’ll likely have low resistances in bow-mode so the duel is often finished in 1-2 lightnings.
If they play smart & defensively you still have teleport. Keep teleporting around and don’t repeat your pattern. Cast an occasional lightning in their direction, you can push them in a corner like that. Once you can get close to hit them it’s quickly over. Thunderstorm might even stun them if either their lightning resistance and/or life is crappy. It can at least put them into a dodge/evade/avoid animation which is real nice, since it takes 6 frames. If you’ve got max block you can usually tank guided arrow and spam them to death with lightning.
These come in three variants too, pure melee, trappers and hybrids. I’ll start with the relatively easy people:
If they use c/s that’s actually good. C/c can actually block your spells and potentially attacks faster. Watch out for dragon flight too. The key here is to keep teleporting. They can’t catch you like that. If they run up to you, you can lightning them to death. If they’re more than a screen away but their shadow is in range, use chain lightning and hope they’re not paying attention since you’re off-screen anyway. It’s a great thing to keep the shadow master dead. Especially the first kill is essential since good assassins summon shadow masters with lots of +skills. I can’t stress enough that you should be teleporting if you’re not casting lightning. It should cost 4 or less mana making you able to teleport infinitely. They’ll likely wear thundergods meaning they have 85% resistance & +20 absorb. This means if they have 2000 hit points, you’ll need about 5 hits on average to take them out. Try to keep the upper hand and not be the one who’s being chased. The same strategy goes to kickers really, do not get hit!
You can probably tank these with ES build.
These are really nasty. Use the same tactics when starting out. These might use enigma if you’re in a public game, but they can never teleport as good as you since you cast at least as fast and they run out of mana sooner or later because they can’t really get teleport much below 15 mana and they don’t have warmth. It’s a nasty addition though since it already takes lots of careful playing to beat a non-teleporting assassin that only uses dragon flight. Their traps are stronger than ever, maxing lightning resistance is essential. Wouldn’t bother too much with fire resistance. If they use firetraps at all, you’re dead anyway since they’ll only hit you if they can mind blast you, and then you’re dead anyway unless you load up on absorb items.
A fine idea against trapsins might be to use oculus for its chance to cast teleport. It sounds strange but it can save your butt. There’s no way you’re going to survive a good stunlock without something drastic. Once you’re not completely stunned however (when the assassin is only mind-blasting you and there’s no traps near) you can try to teleport away or cast lightning in his/her direction. No matter how you do it, against a skilled assassin this is a tough duel.
You cannot tank these with ES for infinity, a while though but as you’re stunned your mana will slowly perish. Same tactics as above.
Their trap damage is lower, but they can dragon-flight in once you’re stunned and melee you to death. Treat them the same as trapsins only play even more defensively. Keep teleporting and try to out-power them once you get stunlocked with your lightning if you get a chance to cast any at all.
See trapsin comment for ES build.
A new build with 1.10, they dragon flight up to you and do massive poison and open wounds damage and kick at 3fpa. That’s really fast. They’re almost always c/c too, so they’re able to block your lightning. This could be a tough match-up, the key is here to not get hit at all times. Charged bolt could be good here if they don’t wear tgods or have a lot of Mdr. It will take you 3 hits to take them out on avarage with maxed resist. That’s doable. Good luck if they wear tgods though.
Since ES doesn’t absorb OW/poison and this is wear a lot of their dmg comes from, better watch out and not tank them.
General note with assassins: Walking out of traps usually works better than trying to teleport out of them. Teleport away once you’re not getting hit by all the traps anymore. If you see a melee build still be aware of traps/mind blast, a lot of assassins still put a point in here purely for the stun.
I have yet to meet one that I couldn’t tank. Silly enough, but casting lightning while he whirls through you (if he gets that far) is a quick win. Barbarians have to get close to do any damage. Easiest is to just tank them, they’re probably the under-powered class of 1.10. This might not work on every barbarian, but a bit of teleporting shouldn’t be too hard. Once they’re whirling through you don’t run or teleport out of there though, then they’ll get many more hits in then you want and you might actually lose this duel. If they miss their whirlwind it’s free hits for your lightnings and thunderstorm until they stop. Look out for berserk. Only the best of barbs or over-absorbers can stand a chance against you.
If they use enigma you’re up against a tough match and you should keep teleporting, since a short whirlwind after their teleport makes quick work of you.
Tank them with ES build.
These are divided into elemental and melee builds. You’ve got some wicked crossed builds like summoners etc but you can use chain lightning on those for some laughs.
Generally you’ll want to make the druid run up to you while you cast 1-2 lightnings. You finish them off if they get stunned by them, otherwise you teleport away. Repeat. They’ll start dodging when they notice the pain of lightning so aim in the direction you think they’re going to walk. Any pets? Chain lightning. You can also use it on the spirit of the druid. The key in this duel is, do not get hit. They have to be very close to you to hit you, but when they do they hurt. Don’t let them have any chance and don’t let them hit you. These should be a peace of cake like barbarians. They can’t teleport in shapeshifted form. Haha. Only annoying thing is that they can be stuck at 1 hp for a while, though thunderstorm really helps here.
Possibly tank with energy shield build, otherwise tank them after you’ve weakened them.
In particular the wind druid is hard, since he’ll have high hit points, high cyclone armor and high damaging attacks. Fortunately hurricane is rather low damage and tornadoes are dodge-able if you’re far away. You’ll probably have to shoot a few lightnings to actually do damage since their cyclone armor absorbs a lot. Keep your distance and try hitting in pairs of lightnings, otherwise the druid simply recasts cyclone armor and your efforts are for nothing. You might end up in a win-win (or lose-lose) situation, he can’t hit you and you can’t damage him. If they have enigma you should keep teleporting so that they can’t hit you, ever. Then you can lure them into teleporting into your lightning. A hard match-up not so much because they easily kill you but because of cyclone armor.
Fire druids have volcano, which is hard to avoid with teleport so stay away from it. Other than that they’re not too hard to beat, you can take a few hits and they have a weak or no cyclone armor. Walk a lot and only teleport if you need to get away.
Tank with ES build.
This is a tough match-up. Their bone spirits have gotten synergies. A good one who is abusing marrowwalk boots will do well over 5000 damage. That’s nearly 1000 of your life taken away meaning that you must never get hit! Nobody seems to have discovered the poison nova build yet. Less damage, but much easier to hit somebody with. Anyway, bone spirit. It travels slow, but becomes invisible if you teleport away and return. If the necromancer casts a few that follow you, I recommend running until you hear them go poof. Once you’re getting decrepified you should teleport away. Teleport behind them and try to get a lightning in before they get a chance to cast Bone spirit at you. Keep your distance; listen closely to your speakers if you hear any spirits approaching. Bone spear flies faster and is harder to dodge, but at least you can always see it.
With ES build just tank them.
Hard, hard. Your life will be at 1 in no time, unless you stack resist and have Plreduction. Especially with ES build you’re at 1 in no-time, avoid this at all costs.
Ah, the most versatile duelers out there. There are so many builds that I’ll describe per skill what you can do against it.
Get faster hit recovery. Really. Don’t play near walls either, once you’re down to a wall you’re most likely dead. Fortunately smite knocks back so you get a split second to escape. Faster hit recovery slightly increases this time. Best thing is not to get hit by it of course, which is doable since the paladin has to be very close.
Relatively low dmg so tankable with ES build.
Extreme speed and deadlier than ever. They don’t even need to use fanaticism to get a lot of damage with this, even with vigor they’ll often have near or above 10 000 damage. That hurts, don’t let them get you. Once they’re charging at you, you can try to tank them and keep on casting lightnings though. Hope you can take a hit. Otherwise keep teleporting and casting lightnings in the paladins direction. Get closer step by step and teleport in circles. Teleport a few screens away if you notice he’s name-locked you so that he loses this. Or teleport over a small mud-pool thingie so they’re stuck and quickly cast a few lightnings. This is a neat trick that will end the duel quickly.
Rumours that it’s bugged with ES, so stay away with it, as it will 1-hit kill you with ES.
Fist of heavens:
Grab your topaz-shield for this skill. You can let this become a shoot-out since your lightning damage is superior. If you have the strength an (ethereal) thundergods might come in handy.
ES can tank it.
Such a close-range skill, it doesn’t really matter since it’s fairly easy to avoid. Keep your eyes open though, one hit should kill you if it’s well synergised. Keep teleporting if they use enigma.
Less damage with ES, but not really tankable. Same strategy but you can take a few hits (with pauses between though) so it allows for mistakes.
Doesn’t affect your cast rate and the damage is so minor, you can forget about this skill.
Kills you quickly, act like melee-druids on this. Don’t get hit.
It might be hard to duel a paladin using a combination of these skills, (FoH + smite & charge is a hard combo to fight) but remember your awesome damage and the fact that you can keep on teleporting, where any paladin that doesn’t use mediation will run out of mana sooner or later.
Ah SvS duels, probably my favourite if your opponent is skilled and the equipment is fairly balanced. Since they’ve got many skills that potentially hurt, like the paladin, I describe skill – per – skill what you can do against it.
Stack on cold resistance so you can survive one hit. But most important of all: keep teleporting. This sorceress does ok damage with tons of -resistance. You’re going to need about 500% cold resistance to nullify all that. Blizzard is escapable though, it usually takes a while before the first spike hits you, and by then you’re long gone. Try to lure them into a lightning, or teleport on top of them and cast lightning like mad. Nova might be a skill that comes in handy in this duel too. Hard match-up!
Tank with ES.
These are more defensively, probably have energy shield and lots in teleport and telekinesis, with a good level of warmth too. Their attack is significantly weaker than blizzard but it’s harder to dodge. You can probably out-damage these people though. Never get hit by a full orb, then you’re in trouble.
Can be absorbed a little with ES, though not really tankable.
Travels slower than lightning and does less damage if you have stacked resistance. Plus it’s smaller. Lightning is superior to this. Don’t underestimate this thing though, it might hurt.
See orb for ES.
Even less damage, but travels faster therefor might hit you. Don’t worry too much if you stack resistances though.
See ice blast.
Haven’t duelled anybody with this skill. Not a proper sorc at least. The best combination of equipment & skill wins here. Should be you since you’ve read my guide.
Can take a hit with ES but watch out as it can really put a drain on your mana with some lucky hits.
The double-hit bug is gone and the pvp-penalty has gone from Ό to 17%. Yet thunderstorm’s damage has remained the same. No need to worry too much about this with maximised resistances. It does around 500 damage after the PvP-penalty resulting in 125 with full resistance. That’s not even enough to put you into faster hit recovery if you have over 1500 life, which you should.
ES laughs at this.
Your lightning is superior. Show them once they get close which they have to with nova.
See t-storm for ES.
Yea watch out for fire bolt. At higher levels it does almost equal damage to fireball. Both of these skills are hard to duel against. They can cast a little faster while your lightning has a little range making it harder to dodge. If you’re lucky you’ll win a shoot-out if you’re unlucky you won’t. Their damage is your average damage but much more consistent. You have thunderstorm though, and unless they’ve maxed teleport you have more mana. If they use energy shield make sure one thunderstorm hit connects. They’ll have low mana since they usually don’t have the points to max both teleport & telekinesis. Their mana should drop really fast from lightnings. If you keep losing you can put on a dwarf star.
See lightning for ES.
Play offensive. If you play defensive you’re constantly dodging hydras and you’re not getting anywhere. Hydra’s react kind of slow. Plus they take a whole second to start firing after they’re summoned. This is enough time to have casten a lightning and be gone. Once they’ve placed five hydras you’ve lost a significant advantage.
You can absorb one hydra’s damage, but I wouldn’t try my luck against five.
Shouldn’t scratch you since you’re constantly teleporting.
ES can probably absorb it, but as you can step out of it easily it’s no problem if it can’t.
Well that’s it, hope you’ll enjoy the build! If you have any positive feedback I love to hear it (it’s one of the reasons I’m even writing it) and if you have things to make this guide better I’m always listening to it if you bring it in a nice way. If you can catch over 5 spelling/grammar errors drop me a PM/email, don’t bother with only one unless it makes the guide look awful.
Special thanks to Melianor for the inspiration to this build, Celandro for the PvM equipment section and to Mule for the energy shield idea.