Ever since Diablo II came out, I have always been, well, enchanted with the idea of the skill Enchant. I have always wanted to make a sorceress who focused on this skill, powered up her party, jumped into the fray, and started hacking and slicing up foes herself. Sadly, Enchant has previously been severely underpowered, especially when compared to the party skills of several other character classes.
However, the 1.10 patch dramatically increased the power of Enchant, and this has led many people to experiment with the skill to try to figure out how one could play an effective enchantress. I have been experimenting with 1.10 enchantresses a lot and even wrote up the adventures of a melee enchantress, Grizabella, the Realistic Fighter Mage, during the 1.10 beta. I’ve also listened to the ideas and experiences of others who have tried various enchantress builds, and a consensus seems to be forming regarding the viability of certain enchantress builds. It turns out that while the enchantress is a relatively weak solo character in hell, she can be one of the most powerful characters in the game in a party. This guide is designed to give players a starting point with which to build their own enchantresses.
A. Undocumented Game Features Important to Enchantresses
There are several undocumented game features and bugs that are important for enchantresses to know about:
1. Despite the skill description, there is no 1/3rd penalty for Enchant when used with ranged attacks. So, a multizon gets the same damage and attack rating bonus as a whirlwinding barbarian.
2. When the enchantress herself fights melee (e.g. with a sword), her enchant gets multiplied by an extra factor of her Fire Mastery. So, take Enchant’s listed damage shown in the skill tab (which has already been multiplied by one factor of Fire Mastery) and then multiply by another factor of the enchantress’s current Fire Mastery to find out how much fire damage a melee enchantress would deal. This is fairly easy to see, because the Lying Character Screen (LCS) actually reports the correct damage dealt by the enchantress when she melees. So the fire damage added by Enchant can be calculated for melee enchantresses with the following formula:
(Enchant base damage) * (Warmth synergy) * (Fire Mastery at time of enchanting) * (Fire Mastery at time of striking)
3. However, when the enchantress uses ranged attacks (bows, javelins, etc.), she does not receive the extra Fire Mastery bonus. Despite what the LCS reports, she only gets the straight Enchant damage added to her attacks. So, the enchantress actually deals less damage than the LCS reports. So the fire damage added by Enchant can be calculated for ranged enchantresses with the following formula:
(Enchant base damage) * (Warmth synergy) * (Fire Mastery at time of enchanting)
4. However, Enchant gets carried by the explosions from explosive bolts and arrows when shot by the enchantress (and I suppose other characters as well). The explosive part always hits a monster and if the physical arrow hits as well, it’s like the enchantress hit the target monster twice with her enchant attack. If the enchantress is using a piercing bow as well, the target monster can additionally get hit by the explosions set off by striking monsters or walls behind it. Note: Explosions from arrows shot by rogue mercenaries do not carry enchant. That is, you can’t arm a rogue mercenary with a Kuko and hope to get an area of effect “spell” out of it.
5. Sorceress elemental masteries affect the corresponding elemental damage delivered by equipment. So a sorceress with a level 20 Lightning Mastery, which gives a 278% bonus to lightning damage, who has a charm that does 1-20 lightning damage will actually do 4-76 lightning damage. Items that add fire damage to attacks will have their damage boosted by Fire Mastery and items that cause cold damage will receive the benefit of Cold Mastery’s lower target’s cold resist ability.
6. Enchant does work with assassin kicks even though the LCS doesn’t indicate that it does. To test this, I enchanted a level 5 assassin who promptly killed Blood Raven in a multiplayer game with one kick.
The above six items are believed to be intentional features of the game by those who have cracked and examined the game code. The only bugs involved in the above items are the inaccuracy of the LCS in some cases and the outdated information on the skill tab that says that ranged attacks receive one-third the listed damage.
7. The one real bug that affects enchantresses is that Energy Shield gets affected before resistances are taken into account. This bug causes a sorceress’s mana ball to drain almost instantaneously when she is struck by any type of elemental attack. This means that not only is the sorceress not protected very well by her ES, but it also means that she will have no mana with which to teleport at a time that may be a very critical moment in a fight. Until this bug is fixed, I recommend that enchantresses, and probably all sorceresses, not get Energy Shield.
However, even if the bug is fixed, I recommend that enchantresses do not put more than one point in energy shield and telekinesis. There has been a lot of misinformation written on message boards claiming that with the right mix of top items and lots of points invested into ES and TK that a sorceress can be practically invincible. I’ll save the details which are beyond the scope of this guide, but I’ve run the numbers every which way and it turns out that this idea is completely false. Most of the people proposing these ideas either don’t understand the game mechanics, don’t understand the mathematics involved, or both.
B. Using Enchant in a Party
Although an enchantress and her mercenary can deal a modest amount of damage on their own, an enchantress really shines in a party. It’s possible for her to boost her partymates with an Enchant that adds 1500 fire damage for over 15 minutes using reasonably obtainable equipment (described below). Those with “uber” gear can add even more damage. That’s 1500 fire damage being added to every hit made by your party’s fighter characters, mercenaries, and castable minions. Enchanted multizons, strafezons, blade fury assassins, and skelemancer armies are particularly deadly. In a large party, the enchantress can be responsible for tens of thousands of points of fire damage delivered by her party per second without firing a shot or swinging a weapon of her own.
Here are some tips that will make using Enchant in a party more fun and effective:
1. Although you can’t Enchant players in town (the game thinks you’re trying to trade with other players), you can Enchant their minions. There are often breaks in the middle of the game when people hang out in town for a couple of minutes. This would be a great time to break out your best +skills items and Enchant everyone’s minions. It’s especially a good time to Enchant a necromancer’s skeletons, because in town is one of the few times skelemancers will sit still long enough for you to enchant all of his skeletons. Then, when the party gets moving again, try to be one of the first members of the party to take the waypoint or townportal to where the party is going and wait for your partymates. That way, you can quickly hit the players with your Enchant, swap out any items you want to swap out, and get moving with your party without having to worry about Enchanting everyone’s minions on the move.
2. Players and mercenaries should get a full power Enchant, but fragile castable minions don’t have to have their Enchants at full power. Some castable minions like iron golems, shadow masters, and skeletons tend to last a long time and could benefit from a full power enchant. However, the decision to take the trouble to swap in +skills items to cast Enchant on other types of golems, valkyries, grizzlies, and wolves depends on the playing style of the casting character. Some people like to frequently recast their minions in order to move their minions to the right place. In this case, a low power Enchant on the go is fine. But if the player instead tends to let their minions live from fight to fight, then giving them a full power enchant could be worth it. Revives expire after three minutes and necromancers tend to replace them long before that anyway, so I tend to cast whatever Enchant I have on them on the go and let that be that.
3. Necromancers love it when you enchant their minions, but it can be a pain in the butt to do it. Both skeletons and revives move around so much, it’s impossible to get them all. Don’t stress about it though. Enchant a sizable selection of them every once in a while and let that be that. You might want to be more exacting with your Enchants before a major fight, however (e.g. a fight with act bosses or the ancients).
4. A lower level Enchant can’t override a higher level Enchant. This is a good thing, of course, but it should make you pause to consider whether you want to hit that skill shrine or not. Hitting the skill shrine means that your Enchant damage will be boosted significantly, but it comes with a price. Once you cast a boosted Enchant on your party, you won’t be able to refresh your party’s Enchant until the boosted Enchant fully wears off (unless you find another skill shrine in the meantime, of course). That means that sometime in the future, everyone’s Enchant will suddenly wear off. Do you want this to happen in the middle of a pitched battle? Personally, I’ve stopped taking skill shrines for this reason, but the choice is up to you.
5. Enchantresses make great twinkers. You can cast Enchant on weak struggling characters in Act 1 normal and watch them take out Andariel in two hits. Best of all, low level characters will be able to do the killing themselves, so you can leave the area and let them get all of the experience points. This cheesy behavior isn’t something I’d like to encourage in the general bnet community, but twinking is one obvious use for an enchantress, so no enchantress guide would be complete without at least a mention of it. One thing though: If you’re planning to cast a high level enchant on a low level stranger, please be courteous enough to ask them if they would like to be enchanted first. Some people actually like to play the game the way it was intended.
C. Basic Build and Equipment
Skill Point Allocation
For the first 65 skill points, all enchantresses essentially start out the same way — max Enchant, Warmth, and Fire Mastery (1 point each in two prerequisites), 1 point in Telekinesis, 1 point in Teleport, and possibly 1 point in Frozen Armor. I usually put points into Warmth at the start, place points in Enchant every level from 18 on until it’s maxed, place one point in Fire Mastery at level 30, and then finish maxing Enchant, Warmth, and Fire Mastery in that order. Different styles of enchantresses then diverge when it comes to assigning further skill points. These options will be explained later.
The Game of Life
When I posted the first rough drafts of this guide, I received several messages from readers whose basic message was, “I read your guide and I got so excited that I created an enchantress and had a blast for a while but now I’m dying all the time. What am I doing wrong?” I asked them to describe their gear and ended up getting lists of some of the most powerful items in the game — stuff that I can only dream of finding (magic finding runs quickly bore me). Puzzled about why someone with that kind of gear would die so frequently, I then asked them to tell me how much life they had. Invariably, I’d get a message saying something to the tune of “500.” I could only stare dumbfounded at the number. Since I exclusively play hardcore and have played for a long time over a dialup connection, the need for life is so ingrained in me that I didn’t think it even needed mentioning in the early versions of the guide.
An enchantress should be obsessed with obtaining +life items, since she gets so little life from stat points placed in vitality. This holds doubly true for melee enchantresses who are in danger of being hit more often and have to divert a lot of stat points to dexterity to maximize their blocking. Every effort should be made to obtain as many +life charms as one can reasonably fit in one’s inventory. Perfect rubies socketed in armor and helms can be a godsend to life starved enchantresses. Also, just because an item has a “name” and is coveted by other melee classes doesn’t mean it’s a good item for your enchantress to wear. For example, if you have only 500 life, which would be a better belt to wear: a String of Ears or a blue +100 life Plated Belt that you can buy from nightmare Larzuk? Let’s see… you can wear an item that will reduce the physical damage you take by 10-15% or you can wear an item that will boost your life by 20% — something that would be effective against any kind of damage you take. Also, if you shop for a bit, you can buy a blue +100 life Plated Belt with an additional resistance mod on it. Suddenly those “junky” magic items sold at the shop don’t look so bad, do they?
These are the kinds of considerations you need to think about when deciding how to equip your enchantress. Items that barbarians covet might not be very good for your enchantress to wear if wearing them means sacrificing a significant fraction of her life ball. On the other hand, an item like a SoE might be useful to an enchantress if she wears other pieces of equipment that give her a large enough life pool.
Other effective ways to increase your life pool are: 1. Make a ‘Call to Arms’ weapon and use it on weapon switch to give you a low-power Battle Orders. 2. Always party with a barbarian with a high level Battle Orders and/or a druid with a high level Oak Sage.
How much life should you get? Personally, I wouldn’t even consider walking around hell without at least 900 life, and generally I try to shoot for 1000 life. This assumes that I have max resistances, some magic damage reduction, and plenty of other defensive gear as well.
Besides the usual task of acquiring good resistance, damage reduction, life, and possibly blocking gear, an enchantress should focus very hard on obtaining +skills equipment, especially equipment that focuses on the fire skills tree. +Fire skills equipment boosts both Enchant and Fire Mastery, and even one extra +skill point can have a dramatic effect on the strength of one’s Enchant. For example, my current hardcore ladder enchantress has an Enchant that adds 1144-1400 fire damage when she isn’t wearing her +1 all skills ‘Lore’ circlet and 1253-1524 fire damage when she does. That’s an increase of over 100 fire damage for every hit scored by all the fighters and fighter minions in the party.
The nice thing about Enchant is that it is a “fire and forget” spell that lasts a long time. That means that it is possible to put on +skills equipment, cast Enchant on the fighter members of the party and the party’s minions, and then switch to one’s fighting equipment. It’s up to the individual player to decide at what point equipment switching is too awkward. (For example, I switch my amulets and helm when casting Enchant on partymembers and mercenaries, but it would be too awkward for me to switch any more equipment than that).
So what are some good +skills equipment? There are the usual suspects that everyone knows about: Bul-Kathos rings, SOJ’s, Mara’s Kaleidoscope, ‘Chains of Honor’ armor, etc. However, to obtain more than a couple of the top of the line pieces of equipment in ladder games is out of the realm of most legitimate players’ possibilities. So, instead, here is a list of easily obtainable items that can quickly boost the power of your Enchant:
1. The easiest and cheapest way to power up your Enchant is with a ‘Leaf’ staff which only requires Tir+Ral and gives you an automatic +3 to all fire skills. Use that on weapon switch for when your are enchanting your party, and you’ll see a big boost to the damage you’re giving your party and to the length of time your enchantment works. Even better, you can shop the normal difficulty Act 2 magic shop and try to find a two socket staff with +Enchant bonuses on it. Even a +1 to Enchant ‘Leaf’ staff makes a big difference. After a lot of shopping, I finally found a two socket +3 Enchant +3 Shiver Armor staff which I made into a ‘Leaf’ staff, and I still use it on weapon switch in hell. Obviously, the ultimate ‘Leaf’ staff would be a +3 Enchant +3 Fire Mastery one, but by the time Fire Mastery shows up on staves in the shops, all the staves are magic which cannot be made into runewords. I still check every white and grey staff that drops hoping to find that elusive ultimate enchantress staff. Incidentally, if you’re just starting out and don’t have a Ral, yet, you can get one off the Countess in normal, and normal Countess runs don’t take very long if you run past the monsters in the upper levels.
2. Similarly, a Hexfire (+3 fire skills) or a good sorceress orb paired with a Sigon’s shield or Visceratuant on weapon switch can give a nice boost to one’s Enchant. By having +all fire skills, one boosts both Enchant and Fire Mastery. A melee sorceress can even use a the Hexfire as her weapon and boost her extra multiplicative bonus factor of Fire Mastery (the extra melee bonus factor is based on your current Fire Mastery at the time of the attack — not your Fire Mastery when your Enchant was cast).
3. A ‘Lore’ helm gives +1 skills and 30% lightning resistance and only requires Ort+Sol. It’s a very cheap and useful helm to use until you find or gamble something better.
4. A +fire skills amulet can be easily found or gambled. Obviously, it’d be nice to gamble a rare one with some other useful mods on it, but if you just get a plain blue one (+3 fire skills can only appear on blue amulets), you can use it while Enchanting your party, and then swap it out for a better amulet for use when fighting.
5. +fire skills circlet. Like the amulet, this can be gambled, and if there are no other useful mods on it, it can be swapped with a better helm.
6. +1 Fire skills grand charms. You can find these while adventuring or trade for them in trading games. If you get desperate, you can also use the 3-perfect gem horadric cube recipe to reroll grand charms until you get one. Make sure to roll charms that have been found in Act 3 nightmare (after the Spider Forest) or later to have a chance of getting a +1 fire tree mod on it. The nice thing about rolling charms like this is that even if you don’t get the charm you’re looking for, you might get something else useful.
7. A ‘Delirium’ helm. This is more difficult to obtain than the first six items, but the runes are obtainable with some effort. This is the probably the single most powerful item an enchantress can have — especially if she wants to adventure solo. Not only does it give +2 to all skills, but it also has an 11% chance on striking of casting a high level Confuse curse on her targets. This is a much lower chance than was available in the 1.10 beta, but the Confuse curse can still be a powerful way to occupy large mobs of monsters while the enchantress picks the mob apart.
Faster Hit Recovery and Fast Cast Items
In addition to +skills items, enchantresses should equip themselves with some faster hit recovery items, because sorceresses have the slowest hit recovery rate of any character class. Here is the hit recovery table for sorceresses (thanks to Rivo at the Amazon Basin for providing this information):
fhr-----speed(frame=1/25 second) 0-------15 5-------14 9-------13 14------12 20------11 30------10 42-------9 60-------8 86-------7 142------6 280------5 1480-----4
So you can see that a sorceress without any hit recovery items takes a full 15 frames to recover from a hit. This could be very dangerous if the enchantress finds herself in a crowd of monsters where she can repeatedly get her attempts to teleport away disrupted. A simple addition of 20% faster hit recovery reduces the recovery rate to 11 frames, a dramatic improvement, and only 42% fhr can get the hit recovery rate down to 9 frames. So a small amount of fhr items can make a big difference. Obviously, a melee enchantress should place particular emphasis on equipping herself with faster hit recovery items.
Similarly, a small amount of fast cast goes a long way toward reducing one’s teleport casting time, making it less likely to be disrupted by monster attacks. This is one reason why I particularly like having my enchantresses wear the Skin of the Vipermagi armor, which provides some fast cast in addition to its other goodies.
D. Ranged vs Melee Enchantresses
Enchantresses can be divided up into three camps: ranged, melee, and a hybrid of the two. Each is built quite differently, so it’s a good idea to know which kind of enchantress you’re going to build from the start.
The Ranged Enchantress
Ranged enchantresses use unique bows and crossbows that fire explosive arrows or bolts. Enchant gets carried by the explosions, so this is a way for an enchantress to have an area of effect “spell.” The explosive part always hits a monster and if the physical arrow hits as well, it’s like the enchantress hits the target monster twice with her enchant attack. If the enchantress is using a piercing bow as well, a monster can additionally get hit by the explosions set off by striking monsters or walls behind it. The radii of the explosions are much greater than that of Fireball, so when a piercing bow is used against large mobs of monsters, Enchant can be as powerful as a maxed out Fireball and it doesn’t cost any mana during a battle to use it!
However, unlike a Fireball sorceress, a bow enchantress can’t use a shield, so she has no blocking and has to get her resistances from other pieces of equipment. This makes her very fragile, especially with all of the dangerous ranged monsters in 1.10. A hardcore ranged sorceress should be very careful and should probably play most of the time in a party.
Stat-pointwise, a bow enchantress is easy to make. As you’ll see, the ultimate weapon for a bow enchantress is a demon machine, so one should get enough strength (80) and dexterity (95) to equip one. All other points should be thrown into vitality. An enchantress has little need for mana and anyway she’ll have max Warmth, so she’ll have all the mana she needs with base energy.
The following unique weapons are of interest to ranged enchantresses:
1. Raven Claw (long bow) and Hellcast (heavy crossbow) are two cheap normal uniques with exploding arrows or bolts that can quickly get a ranged enchantress started. Most players think of them as “junk” and often leave them on the ground or sell them at the shop. But in the hands of an enchantress, they can be powerful weapons that can get her through all of normal difficulty quite easily. Then, she can upgrade them using the cube recipe and use them through nightmare (However, the str and dex requirements on the upgraded Hellcast may be prohibitive).
2. The Kuko Shakaku (cedar bow) is the first dominating bow an enchantress can get, and she can probably do quite well using it even in hell. It comes with exploding arrows, a built in 50% piercing rate, and does excellent physical damage (for leeching and for dealing with fire immunes). Plus the 40-180 fire damage on the bow gets multiplied by the enchantress’s fire mastery bonus for some nice extra damage. The one problem with the Kuko is that it has a 16 frames-per-second firing rate in the hands of a sorceress which is quite slow. If an enchantress plans to use a Kuko for an extended period of time, then she should try to equip herself with lots of increased attack speed gear (65% ias would get her to an 11 fps firing rate).
3. The Demon Machine (chu-ko-nu) is by far the best weapon for the ranged enchantress. It fires exploding bolts, comes with a 66% pierce rate, adds 632 to the enchantress’s attack rating (which gets further multiplied by Enchant’s attack rating bonus), does more physical damage than the Kuko, and best of all, is much much faster than the Kuko. One only needs 10% increased attack speed to reach the DM’s maximum fire rate of 11 frames per second. For a sorceress, one needs 65% ias to get a Kuko to fire that fast and 110% ias to get it any faster than the DM. If one wears a Razortail, one can get a 99% pierce rate and cause some massive chain explosions. Luckily, it shouldn’t be difficult to trade for a DM, since amazons consider it “junk,” because they can get bow speeds that are faster than a DM. But sorceresses have much slower attack rates than amazons when using bows, so the DM becomes the ultimate weapon for a ranged enchantress.
A reader asked how one should socket one’s DM. The answer is that it depends on what other equipment one is wearing. You only need 10% ias to reach the DM’s maximum fire rate, so that frees up a lot of equipment slots that people often use for ias. Personally, I socketed my DM with a +15% ias +16% fire resist jewel. That way, my ias is covered and I can use my other equipment for resists and life. Other good socketing ideas are a Nef for knockback and a Mal (if you’re lucky enough to have one) for Prevent Monster Heal. It’s kind of a waste to socket a DM with a Shael, since there are plenty of +15% ias jewels with other useful mods on them that one could use instead. Luckily, in 1.10, you can use the Hel + tp + item cube recipe to unsocket your DM if you later regret how you socketed yours.
4. An eclectic choice would be a Buriza-Do Kyanon (ballista) which does not fire explosive bolts but is fast (for sorceresses), delivers cold damage, has automatic pierce, and has an ability to freeze targets. The Buriza would probably be best used by an enchantress who chooses to max out Cold Mastery and uses it on weapon switch against fire immunes. Of course, such an enchantress would then have to deal with storing items that boost her Enchant in her cube which could be awkward. (One reader commented that he tried this and found the Buriza to be very ineffective in the hell Chaos Sanctuary even in a one player game. Your mileage may vary, as they say).
MongoJerry’s 1.10 Enchantress Guide Part II
The Melee Enchantress
Ah, the build closest to my heart. Buildwise, one should have enough dexterity to obtain max blocking, enough strength to wear the equipment one wants to wear, and all other points thrown into vitality. (Note: In addition to the usual unique, set, and runeword shields most people talk about — ‘Rhyme’ is a good cheap shield runeword, btw –, consider purchasing a 3-socket +20% blocking tower shield at the Act I hell shops and socketing it with 3 perfect diamonds. 64% block and +57% to all resists isn’t anything to sneeze at. Alternatively, one could buy a Chromatic Tower Shield of Deflecting and use the Larzuk quest reward to create sockets in it. The problem with this idea is that you’d have to pray that he gives you two sockets instead of just one).
When choosing a weapon, speed is the most important statistic to look at, because you want to deliver your Enchant damage as often as possible. Besides the usual melee weapons that everyone knows about (Azurewrath, Lightsabre, etc.), notable melee weapons for an enchantress are:
1. Hexfire is fast, gives +3 fire skills, and has Ignores Target Defense. Fighting with the Hexfire (as opposed to having it on weapon switch) boosts the enchantress’s current Fire Mastery which increases the bonus multiplicative factor of Fire Mastery that melee enchantresses receive. The ITD is also nice, but it isn’t as important as it was in previous versions of D2 when Enchant didn’t provide an attack rating bonus.
2. A ‘Passion’ phase blade, because of its ability to allow a sorceress to Zeal and Berserk. Note that +all skills items will boost the number of Zeal attacks in an attack sequence, so one should wear at least a handful of +all skills items to take full advantage of ‘Passion.’ A phase blade is a good weapon with which to make a ‘Passion’ blade because of its fast base attack speed.
3. A ‘Kingslayer’ phase blade is fast, delivers lots of damage, has 33% crushing blow, has prevent monster heal, and allows an enchantress to use Vengeance against fire immunes. What’s not to like? An enchantress who uses a ‘Kingslayer’ should probably put a lot of skill points in Lightning Mastery and Cold Mastery to increase the damage output of her Vengeance attack even more.
4. A ‘Beast’ weapon is a hilariously fun weapon to use, although the runes are rare. The enchantress equipped with a ‘Beast’ weapon can turn herself into a werebear, increasing her life, defense, and damage output. Plus, ‘Beast’ gives off a lvl 9 fanaticism aura that your party will appreciate, has a 20% chance of crushing blow, and has prevent monster heal. An enchantress who wears high defense armor, maxes a cold armor, uses a defiance merc, and turns into a werebear can get a defense rating that would make an iron barb step back and say, “Wow!” The one downside to the werebear enchantress is that she can’t use any special skills in werebear form — e.g. she can’t teleport, cast static field, or cast enchant on partymembers while in werebear form.
The key to playing a melee enchantress (and what makes them different from, say, a Holy Fire paladin) is teleport. You should be teleporting a *lot* when you’re playing a melee enchantress. The idea is that you’re zipping in and out and from one side of a battle to the other, picking off monsters. An enchantress can’t deal the raw damage that a barbarian or paladin can, but she can use her mobility to her advantage. For example (as you can read in Grizabella’s adventures linked to above), in the Chaos Sanctuary, you can draw off the fire immune minions and then suddenly teleport you and your merc next to the cold immune oblivion knights in back and kill them. Repeat as necessary until all the oblivion knights are dead, and then you can pick off the minions at your leisure. The same principle applies when dealing with carver or flayer shaman or hollow ones. In a party, this can be very powerful. You pick off the critical monsters like OK’s and shaman while your party cleans up the minions.
For most players and characters, mercenaries are considered little more than an afterthought. Sure, they might like having an extra tank around to distract monsters with, but the ability for the mercenary to kill things is typically considered just a nice bonus. A melee enchantress, however, should consider her mercenary as an extension of herself and a vital part of her arsenal. The sorceress has an advantage over other character classes in that she can position her mercenaries exactly where she wants them to be by the use of teleport. By teleporting next to a monster that is temporarily by itself, a melee sorceress can create an advantageous 2-on-1 situation for a brief moment — often long enough to kill the monster and teleport away to safety. The mercenary, who reappears on top of the sorceress, will attack immediately upon reappearing and typically hits the target monster first and with luck can send the monster into hit recovery or even better freezes, chills, or slows the target using his equipment. This makes it much safer for the enchantress herself to start swinging away at the monster. In addition, the mercenary who is standing on top of the enchantress, will often absorb damage delivered by the target monster or ranged monsters in the area that would normally have been taken by the enchantress herself. In effect, this is like giving the enchantress bonus hit points. Because of this symbiosis with the mercenary, a melee enchantress should place heavy emphasis on obtaining good equipment for her mercenary and be willing to use her imbue and socket quest rewards to make her mercenary’s equipment the best possible.
Pmak writes in to say that when he played his melee enchantress, he found some monsters that were absolutely impossible to melee (he posted a screenshot of a particularly nasty Hephasto). He suggested that even a melee enchantress should have on weapon switch or in stash some kind of ranged weapon like a Demon Machine or some throwing knives to use against such monsters if the enchantress is playing solo. That sounds like a reasonable suggestion to me.
The Thrower Enchantress
Some people like a mix of ranged and melee fighting, and enchantress hybrids come in two forms. First, there are the throwing weapon enchantresses (javelins, throwing axes, etc.). These enchantresses are built like melee enchantresses in that they have max blocking, but they have an advantage over melee characters in that they have the option to use a ranged attack against particularly dangerous monsters. This kind of enchantress has the best ability to survive of all enchantress styles, but the build has a major drawback in that it generally allows the enchantress to only attack one monster at a time. Plus, it’s a pain having to return to town to repair one’s weapons so often.
This build could be made to work, though, if you have the right equipment. For example, if you fought with the unique winged knife, Warshrike, which has a 50% pierce mod and wore a RazorTail, then you’d have **% pierce, allowing you to hit more than one monster at a time if the monsters are lined up correctly. Also, Warshrike and many other throwing weapons have the “Replenishes Quantity” property on them, but in my experience, these don’t replenish fast enough to avoid repair trips to town. If one has more than one set of “Replenishes Quantity” throwing items, however, then one could store a spare set of throwing weapons in one’s cube and swap them out when the first set of throwing items runs low. The first set will then slowly replenish its quantity while sitting in the cube. How many spare sets of weapons you need to carry depends on the number of times you plan to throw your weapons. A thrower enchantress should consider fighting melee when possible both to conserve her supply of throwing weapons and to get the bonus multiplicative factor of Fire Mastery that occurs when she fights melee.
Another useful throwing weapon is the unique flying axe, Gimmershred, which delivers a lot of elemental damage that can be further powered up by placing skill points in Lightning and Cold Masteries. Sadly, Gimmershred doesn’t have a pierce modifier on it.
The thrower enchantress could work well as a hardcore version of an enchantress, especially if she subsequently focuses on Static Field. She could enchant her party and provide Static Field support to her party while staying back out of the fray. The throwing weapons in this case would only be used to occupy oneself when dealing with lightning immunes.
My first hardcore ladder enchantress was a thrower enchantress, and frankly I found her frustrating to play, because I hated not being able to deliver effective killing damage myself. I felt more of a leech rather than an active contributor to my party. I would suggest not starting a thrower enchantress until one has obtained some of the higher end unique throwing weapons. To each his own, however.
The Bow/Melee Enchantress Hybrid
This enchantress has a bow/crossbow with exploding arrows/bolts in one weapon slot and a melee weapon with a shield on weapon switch. The idea is that one could quickly choose which weapon is right for a given situation — for example, one might throw on the shield when one enters an area with archers but switch to a bow to shoot at monsters across the Frozen River. This build has a lot of flexibility and could be effective if played correctly.
However, I have some concerns about this build, especially in hardcore, for the following reasons:
1. Ranged and melee characters should allocate stats differently. A melee character should have more dexterity in order to obtain max blocking while a ranged attacker doesn’t need as much dexterity and should instead power up vitality.
2. Ranged and melee characters need different types of equipment. Melee characters can get a lot of their resistances from their shields, allowing other pieces of equipment to perform other functions — +life, life leech, lightning damage, etc — while a ranged attacker has to depend on non-shield equipment to get their resistances. So, you’re stuck with one of two non-ideal situations. Either a) You have max resistances on your non-shield equipment, forcing your melee character to use less than ideal equipment or b) You have lousy resistances when you’re fighting with the bow.
3. I like having items on switch that power up my Enchant — like the ‘Leaf’ staff. One could power up only in town (or for other characters, just outside of town, since you can’t Enchant other characters in town). However, that means that you can’t power up to full power castable minions (skellies, golems, valkyries, shadow masters) on the fly, you can’t power up to full power characters who join your party in the middle of the game, and you can’t refresh everyone’s Enchant on the fly (a lower power Enchant can’t override a more powerful Enchant, so you’d have to wait for the powered up Enchant to fully wear off before refreshing everyone’s Enchant with a low power version). One could also store a ‘Leaf’ staff in one’s cube for the times one wants to refresh people’s Enchants. That’s more practical, but it could be awkward and would make it harder to cast Enchant on the fly.
I’m not saying that this build can’t work, but as a practical matter with reasonable ladder available equipment, I think it’s better to choose from the beginning whether your character is going to be a ranged or melee enchantress and build her accordingly.
Pmak points out, however, there can be times in 1.10 where a melee enchantress could meet a monster that absolutely cannot be safely fought melee. In this case, having a Demon Machine or some throwing knives could be helpful to have as a backup weapon, especially if one is soloing. I think this is a good idea, but I would suggest that this character is a melee enchantress who uses missle-fire weapons only in unique emergency situations. That is, 99% of the time this kind of enchantress fights melee, but for those special 1% of time situations, she uses her backup missle-fire weapons. This is different from the build I was discussing in this section where the switch between melee and bows is assumed to occur frequently during the course of play.
E. Fire Immunes
Through normal and nightmare difficulties, an enchantress is one of the more powerful characters in the game. But the moment she reaches hell, she hits a wall. Why? Fire immunes. Many enchantress enthusiasts gloss over this issue. People who have not actually played enchantresses in hell often cast this worry aside by saying that killing fire immunes isn’t a big deal because they can be killed with physical damage from your weapons and with all kinds of imaginary elemental damage equipment that they think they’ll have (which somehow mysteriously also gives them max resistances, life, mana, blocking, and life leech). Or they say they’ll kill the fire immunes using an underpowered cold or lightning skill using the few (20-30) skill points they’ll have left to work with after they’ve powered up their Enchant. Let me tell you from the experience of a person who wrote up the adventures of a melee enchantress in hell for the 1.10 beta and who has played an enchantress in hell on bnet: fire immunes are a serious problem. There are a lot of fire immunes in hell and it’s rare to have an area that doesn’t have at least one type of fire immune monster in it. In fact, I’ve run into some areas that *only* had fire immune monsters. In addition, some of the scariest monsters in the game are fire immune — moon lords, Lister’s pack, the Infector’s pack, and practically the entire Chaos Sanctuary.
OK, there are a lot of fire immune monsters. But can’t you take them out using reasonable equipment and some patience? Yes, you can in a one player game, as demonstrated in Grizabella’s adventures. However, if you’re playing on bnet in multiplayer games, I’ll flatly say that no, you personally won’t be able to take out fire immunes in hell in any time period that will feel satisfying.
So what can you do when you’re up against fire immune monsters other than step back and let the rest of the party handle them? There are a few things you can do involving equipment and the spare skill points that you have to work with to at least let you deal some damage against fire immunes. These are detailed in the next section.
F. Life after Enchant
After one has chosen whether one’s enchantress will be a ranged, melee, or hybrid enchantress, one should then decide how one will deal with fire immunes and, relatedly, what skill the enchantress will focus on once she has fully powered up her Enchant. After maxing Enchant, Warmth, and Fire Mastery, one will typically only have 20-30 skill points to work with, so it would be impossible to fully power up a secondary attack spell with all of its synergies. However, those spare skill points can still be applied usefully, and here are some ideas that people have tried:
PHYSICAL DAMAGE ENCHANTRESS: This is the oddball of the group in that it depends on one’s equipment rather than skill selection. The idea is that one deals with fire immunes by pumping up the amount of physical damage one deals by using enhanced damage and +damage jewels and charms and as much crushing blow equipment as one can safely use. Crushing blow items would be especially beneficial to a zealing melee enchantress. In addition to equipping oneself this way, one can then spend one’s spare skill points in any of the following ways.
STATIC FIELD ENCHANTRESS: After a less than satisfying jaunt with a thrower enchantress who poured her spare points into Thunderstorm, I remade my bnet Grizabella as a bow enchantress who maxed out Static Field. The idea is that since I play hardcore over a laggy modem, it’s silly to think I’d play an enchantress in anything other than a party. So, I designed the new Grizabella completely for party play. She uses a demon machine to attack non-fire immunes and Static Field to damage fire immunes. That way, Grizabella can contribute powerfully to a party even when the party is up against large groups of fire immunes. Think about how powerful this kind of enchantress would be in a large party. She could Enchant all the players and minions in the party, contribute a piercing area of effect exploding arrow fire attack, and even against packs of fire immunes, she could contribute as much as half the party’s damage output by spamming Static Field. Talk about an awesome display of power!
COLD SPELL ENCHANTRESS: This enchantress style is similar to the Static Field Enchantress except that instead of investing points in the lightning tree, the points are put into the cold tree — typically Frozen Orb, Blizzard, or Glacial Spike. The ability to slow down monsters and have a non-fire attack are big plusses. Crystalion reports that he’s enjoying having a low powered glacial spike (1 point + items) as a way to support parties by freezing fire immunes for them. The downside to this build, though, is that you’ll never have enough points in the cold tree to do as much damage as a dedicated cold sorceress.
The nice thing about this build compared to the Static Field Enchantress is that it has the potential for limited solo play (probably only in one-player games), since the cold attack can be used to slowly but surely kill fire immune monsters. Obviously, you’ll need a tank (Act II or Act V merc) for solo play.
LIGHTNING MASTERY ENCHANTRESS: This enchantress maxes Lightning Mastery instead of cold spells and packs as many lightning damage charms, jewels, and other equipment on herself as can be safely managed. Perhaps she might even have a high lightning damage weapon on weapon switch for use against fire immunes such as Gimmershred or Skystrike. Lightning Mastery boosts the lightning damage provided by equipment, giving the enchantress an effective third damage type (fire, physical, and lightning). This build is more equipment dependent than the others in that one needs to find the equipment that gives large amounts of lightning damage while simultaneously providing resists, life, and other necessary mods. However, with a good tank mercenary, this build could potentially become the best solo style enchantress, provided the right equipment can be found.
COLD MASTERY ENCHANTRESS: Similarly, an enchantress could max out Cold Mastery and arm herself with items that deliver a lot of cold damage. A Buriza-Do Kyanon would be the obvious weapon of choice for a ranged cold mastery enchantress with its speed, cold damage, automatic pierce, and ability to freeze targets.
COLD ARMOR ENCHANTRESS: Typically a melee enchantress, a cold armor enchantress focuses on getting high defense armor and maxes out a cold armor (usually Shiver Armor) to give her the highest defense possible. A defiance mercenary would also be helpful for this type of enchantress.
THUNDERSTORM ENCHANTRESS: This enchantress places points in Thunderstorm and Lightning Mastery in order to have a non-fire secondary attack. The nice thing about Thunderstorm is that it’s a “fire and forget” attack that is always running. Unfortunately, even a fully powered Thunderstorm is not as powerful as it was in 1.09, and it’s unlikely that an enchantress will have the skill points available to max out both Thunderstorm and Lightning Mastery, which means that the Thunderstorm will be that much less powerful.
ENERGY SHIELD ENCHANTRESS: This enchantress places her spare points mostly in Telekinesis and perhaps some in Energy Shield itself to improve the effectiveness of her Energy Shield. Until the Energy Shield bug mentioned in section (A) gets fixed, I don’t recommend this build. If the bug is fixed, then this could be an effective way to increase the damage one can absorb in battle.
TELEPORT ENCHANTRESS: A Teleport enchantress throws as many points as she can into Teleport so that with +skill items, she can get a level 24 Teleport which only costs one mana point to cast. This way, she’s not afraid of any mana burn monsters and could even use the bugged Energy Shield to increase the damage she can absorb without fear of finding herself in a dangerous position without the ability to Teleport.
INFERNO ENCHANTRESS: Since Inferno shares the same synergies as Enchant (Warmth and the pseudo-synergy Fire Mastery), some have thought that an Inferno/Enchant specialist would make a good build. This obviously makes the enchantress a one-tree sorceress who will have to depend on party members to take out fire immunes. It’s a nice idea, but it’s generally acknowledged that Inferno is not a good skill for a variety of reasons. If, however, you just plain want to make an Inferno sorceress no matter what anyone else says, then an Inferno enchantress would be a good way to go.
FIREWALL/METEOR/HYDRA ENCHANTRESS: Similar to the Inferno enchantress, an enchantress could decide that since she has already maxed Fire Mastery, she might as well power up her Firewall, Meteor, or Hydra. A melee enchantress could cast Meteors on herself as the monsters approach and then hack away at the monsters as the Meteors fall (and perhaps alternate casting Meteor and meleeing). A ranged sorceress could cast her Meteor, Firewall, or Hydra on monsters surrounding her tank mercenary. Unfortunately, this obviously makes the enchantress a one-tree sorceress who will have to depend on party members to take out fire immunes.
Most enchantresses will want a good tank mercenary to assist them. This generally narrows the list down to Act V barbarians or Act II holy freeze, defiance, might, or prayer mercs. The original Grizabella used a holy freeze merc to good effect. However, I’ve begun to really like using Act V mercenaries with my melee enchantresses. They’re faster, more aggressive, and tougher than Act II mercenaries, and they hit their targets twice in each attack, which is good when they’re Enchanted. (Act II mercs use a “jab” attack, so they hit multiple times when they attack, too). To take full advantage of Enchant, the mercenary should be equipped with the fastest high damage weapon possible.
A melee or throwing enchantress can use her tank mercenary as a “teleport bomb” by teleporting next to her chosen target. The mercenary will attack the target immediately (no delay at all!), and often a tank mercenary can deal more damage than the enchantress herself. An enchantress and her mercenary can combine their strength to pick off a strategic target — a shaman, oblivion knight, or hollow one, for example — and teleport away before the target’s friends turn around to attack them. A tank mercenary equipped with “freeze target” or “slows target” equipment can make this kind of attack even safer by slowing down or freezing a given target. A ranged enchantress can use this type of attack as well, of course, but since she doesn’t have a shield, teleporting next to dangerous monsters can be a risky proposition.
The other option I’ve enjoyed is using a rogue mercenary when paired with a ranged enchantress. Again, I only intend to play my ranged enchantress in a party, so I don’t have to worry so much about having a tank to protect me. The biggest problem with rogue mercs is their propensity to wander around and not shoot at things. However, if you teleport into a position where monsters are in range, the rogue merc will immediately begin firing and will continue to fire until all monsters in range are dead. Thus, you don’t have to wait for your mercenary to catch up and walk over to monsters to attack them. When equipped with a fast bow, the rogue mercenary can provide an effective “artillery” attack for your party.
Crystalion writes in to say he’s had good success using his Act III cold merc. The idea is that he teleports near his intended target, the merc freezes the target, and he kills it. Additionally, the cold merc can be used from range to freeze potential targets as he shoots his bow. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of using a mercenary who can’t take advantage of one’s Enchant and I think a holy freeze mercenary could be used for crowd control just as effectively. However, Crystalion has made it work, so I present the idea to you to decide for yourself if you want to try it.
One fun idea to think about is the idea of an enchantress team. When a sorceress uses a melee attack, she gets an extra Fire Mastery bonus applied to the Enchant cast on her — whether it was her own Enchant or someone else’s! So one could imagine a team made up of one ranged enchantress with a full-power enchant and perhaps a maxed out static field as a party support skill and a group of melee sorceresses who max out Fire Mastery but not Enchant or Warmth. The melee fighters can get the full Fire Mastery bonus applied to their enchanted melee attacks but save an extra 42 points that they can spend in other supplemental skills. They could all max out a cold armor, Thunderstorm, and Lightning Mastery, for example. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see a team of melee sorceresses teleporting around the screen and hacking away at monster mobs? One can dream.
Another esoteric idea some have proposed is an enchantress who maxes Warmth and Fire Mastery but uses a Demon Limb, which has charges of level 23 Enchant on it, to cast Enchant. That way, she can get all of the benefits of Enchant while saving 22 skill points that she can place elsewhere. It’s a nice idea, but recharging the Demon Limb would get expensive if the enchantress plans to cast Enchant on more than just herself and her mercenary. I couldn’t imagine using it to cast Enchant on a necromancer army, for example.