One of the main problems that you face upon entering Hell Difficulty is the Monster Resistances / Immunities and if you have invested in a single element then you will probably struggle at some parts of the game but also have a hard time farming in any area efficiently. However, apart from the Immunities, some monsters carry also high Resistances able to withstand lots of damage greatly reducing your killing speed. In order to maximize the effectiveness of your casters (and not only) it would be very wise to know how you can deal with such cases and most importantly how to break Immunities.
There are five types of Immunity a monster can have:
In Hell, nearly all monsters have an Immunity. A monster gains an Immunity when its resistance to an element is equal to 100% and above. There are no regular monsters that have two Immunities and since they can’t have any extra modifiers like Uniques do their Resistances are always fixed thus, they will always remain on one Immunity. On the other hand, Unique monsters can spawn with some modifiers that can increase their Resistances to a point where they become immune to an extra element in addition to the one they already had leading to a total of two immunities.
The modifiers that affect a Unique Monster’s Resistances are those below.
- Stone Skin: +50% Physical Resist
- Fire Enchanted: +75% Fire Resist
- Cold Enchanted: +75% Cold Resist
- Lightning Enchanted: +75% Lightning Resist
- Magic Resistant: +40% to Fire, Cold and Lightning Resist
- Spectral Hit: +20% to Fire, Cold and Lightning Resist
Even though it would be possible for a Unique Monster to get three immunities with a mix of the modifiers above the mechanics of the game will prevent that. In such scenarios, one of the modifiers will not grant the corresponding resistance as a consequence the Monster will not develop a third immunity but will remain with just two. Eventually, not taking the Uber Tristram into consideration, regular Monsters can’t have more than one Immunity while Uniques can’t have more than 2 immunities.
You can never tell what Resistances a Monster has from in-game so in order to learn about them you will have to find an external source.
Let’s take a Unique Monster as an example and check some scenarios. Rakanishu is a Unique Monster and in Hell it has the Resistances below:
- Fire – 110%
- Cold – 40%
- Lighting – 75%
The information that we can get from these resistances are:
- Rakanishu is immune to Fire.
- Rakanishu has 40% Cold Resistance
- Rakanishu has 0 Lighting Resistance but since it always spawns as Lighting Enhanced it gains 75% Lighting Resistance.
The same type of monsters carry the same resistances so the minions of Rakanishu and the regular versions of it will have the resistances below.
- Fire – 110%
- Cold – 40%
- Lighting – 0%
If Rakanishu spawns Cold Enchanted then the Resistances will look like this:
- Fire – 110% (immune)
- Cold – 115% (immune)
- Lighting – 75%
You may have also noticed a monster being Immune to Physical and also carrying the Stone Skin modifier. It may raise a question of why a monster needs a Stone Skin modifier since it’s Immune to Physical? This is because it all has to do with the Physical Resistance the monster gets and those two things “cooperate” to achieve that. If that particular monster has 50% Physical Resistance and spawns with Stone Skin it gains another 50% Physical Resistance which leads to 100% Physical Resistance and therefore it becomes immune. If a monster has enough Physical Resistance to be Immune to Physical but nevertheless spawns with Stone Skin then it will simply increase it’s Physical Resistance even more.
Piercing Enemy Resistance
As already mentioned, a Monster gains an immunity when its Resistance to an element is equal to 100% and above. The maximum Resistance our characters can achieve is 95% meaning that they can never be immune to any type while a Monster’s resistance can go way higher not only making it immune but also protecting it in scenarios when you are trying to lower it. Even though a monster with 99% Resistance will take minimal damage from that element, due to the mechanics of the game which will be analyzed below, there’s a huge difference when comparing it to an Immune Monster. Just like it happens with our characters, a Monster’s Resistance can’t go below -100%. This is the maximum negative value it can get meaning that you will deal double damage to that Resistance.
Lowering an enemy’s Resistance is a rare and therefore very powerful mod that you don’t meet very often. Luckily, the formula is not complicated at all since all we have to do is to subtract the Resistance of a Monster with the value of our “-x% to Enemy x Resistance”. For example, if we hold the Hand of Justice Runeword which provides -20% to Enemy Fire Resistance and the enemy has 50% Fire resistance then with simple math (50% – 20% = 30%) we can find that the monster will end up with 30% Fire Resistance. Holding multiple items that reduce monster Resistances such as those below will stack with each other.
- Hand of Justice (-20% Fire Resistance)
- Phoenix (-28% Fire Resistance)
- Flickering Flame (-15% Fire Resistance)
Total: -20-28-15 = -63%
Reducing the Monster’s Resistance is so much superior to increasing your own damage. An item granting +30% to Fire skill damage is by no means equal to an item granting -30% to enemy Fire Resistance. Gaining more damage will still be heavily countered by the Resistance of the monster. As the numbers go higher the reduction to enemy Resists gains more and more value. With the items described above, a Monster’s fire Resistance would be altered by the table below:
- If a monster has 0% Fire resistance it will now drop to -63%
- If a monster has 50% Fire resistance it will now drop to -13%
- If a monster has 99% Fire resistance it will now drop to 36%
- If a monster has 100% Fire resistance it becomes immune therefore it won’t be affected.
Similar items from your Party Members and from your Hireling don’t stack with yours even if you hit the same target. If you carry the items above and your Hireling carries Obedience (-20% Fire Resistance) the Monster’s Fire Resistance will be altered separately for each unit attacking it. One situation that usually confuses players is the Infinity which grants a Conviction Aura and a -50% to enemy Lighting Resistance. Conviction is an Aura which affects enemies and therefore benefits your spells while the -50% to enemy Lighting Resistance is a negative modifier which affects only the bearer of the item granting it.
As powerful as the negative modifier to enemy Resistances is, it still can’t overpass an immunity. Even if you happen to stack -100% to an enemy Resistance, Immune Monsters are not affected by it. Skills or Items that Passively target to reduce a Resistance don’t work on immunes. However, if you manage to break a Monster’s Immunity the negative resistance modifiers will normally work but how can you break an immunity?
Breaking Monster Immunity
In order to make your character viable in an area with multiple monsters carrying different Immunities breaking their immunity is a one way street.
You can break the Immunities with the Spells Below: The new Sundered Charms will be left out from this part.
Fire, Lighting, Cold Immunity
After breaking a Monster’s Immunity you may have noticed that you still deal very little damage. This is because when the above spells target an Immune Element they will work only at 1/5 of their potential. Immune monsters have really high resistances therefore if the Immunity of a Monster is broken, the penalty those spells receive will still leave the Monster high resistant. This is the main part where dealing with a 100% Resistance makes an immense difference to a 99% Resistance.
A Monster with 99% Resistance will normally have its resistances lowered by either Negative Resistance Modifiers or by the spells mentioned above that can also break Immunities while an Immune Monster with 100% Resistance and above not only is not affected by Negative Resistance Modifiers (while it’s still immune) but also the spells mentioned above work only at 20% of their Power.
When discussing about breaking an Immunity players usually automatically refer to Infinity which provides a level 12 Conviction Aura because it’s the most reliable, doable and effective way that all characters have access to mainly through the Mercenary. For this reason, all of our examples will be around Infinity since it’s the most popular scenario.
A level 12 Conviction Aura grants -85% to enemy Fire, Lighting and Cold Resistance.
Let’s suppose a Unique Monster has the Resistances below:
- 50% Fire Resist
- 110% Lighting Resist (immune)
- 145% Cold Resist (immune)
After the effects of Conviction the monster will now have:
- -35% Fire Resist
- 93% Lighting Resist
- 128% Cold Resist (immune)
The Fire Resistance will take the full effect of Conviction (-85%) thus it will drop to -35%.
The Lighting Resistance is above 100% so it will take only 1/5 of Conviction’s effect (85 / 5 = 17%) which is enough to break the immunity (110 – 17 = 93).
The Cold Resistance is above 100% so it will take only 1/5 of Conviction’s effect (85 / 5 = 17%) so it will be lowered to 128% which still leaves the Monster Immune to Cold.
Conviction and Lower Resist stack with each other. Their negative values will be added and then subtracted from the Monster’s Resistance. However, the 1/5 penalty still applies to both skills against Immunities no matter what. Even if Conviction breaks an immunity, Lower Resist will still work at only 1/5 and via versa. An easy access to both Skills would be with Infinity on the Mercenary and Lower Resist Charges from a Wand.
Level 12 Conviction (-85%) + Level 1 Lower Resists (-31%) would grant -116% to Resistances but -23% to Immune Elements (116 / 5 = -23%) so the above Resistances would be:
- -66% Fire Resist
- 87% Lighting Resist
- 117% Cold Resist (immune)
The Conviction and Lower Resist combined are still not enough to break the Cold Immunity. Even the Lighting Resistance which initially was immune is still very high. At this point, the only way to further reduce the resistances is by carrying negative resistance modifiers which as said above would work at full effect once the immunity has been broken. Eventually, if your character was equipped with Griffin’s Eye (-20% to enemy Lighting Resistance), Phoenix Shield Runeword (-28% to enemy Fire Resistance) and Voice of Reason Runeword (-24% Cold Resistance) after the effects of Conviction and Lower Resists, the Resistances of the Monster’s would look like these:
- -94% Fire Resist
- 67% Lighting Resist
- 117% Cold Resist (immune)
Fire has been literally penetrated to almost its maximum negative value, Lighting is still holding up to a decent percentage while Cold Resistance was not affected at all and simply remains unbreakable no matter what. You may have also heard that Lighting monsters tend to be breakable. This is because almost all Lighting immune monsters have their value close to 110% which is breakable by Infinity alone. Fire Immunes usually tend to be close to 120-130% which is very hard to break while Cold Immunes tend to be at 140% which is almost impossible to break.
- Conviction maxes its negative values at level 25 which is -150%.
- Lower Resist maxes its negative values at level 59 which is -70%.
- Those two combined can grant -220% to enemy resistances (except Poison).
- If a monster is immune it will take 1/5 of that value leading to a total of -44% to that resistance (220 / 5 = 44%).
That concludes that any monster with a resistance of 144% and above is virtually impossible to break no matter what even in Multiplayer games with 8 different Characters because there is no other combination. The scenario above is technically speaking feasible but obviously almost unreachable. Lower Resist at level 25 grants -65% to enemy resistances so that scenario is much more approachable but would still require two players, a Paladin with a Level 25 Conviction and a Necromancer with a Level 25 Lower Resist.
Poison Resistance is only lowered by Lower Resist. So in the extreme scenario of a level 59 Lower Resist, (70 / 5 = 14%) monsters with 114% Poison Resist and above are unbreakable. Otherwise, a level 25 Lower Resist (65 / 5 = 13%) would break any monster with 112% and below Poison Resist. Not taking the new Grim Ward in D2r into consideration, Amplify Damage and Decrepify are the only two sources of breaking a Physical Immunity. Since Curses can’t be stacked then it all comes to Amplify Damage delivering the highest possible reduction which is 100%. A Physical Immune monster will take only 20% of that amount meaning that any Physical Immune with a Resistance of 120% and above is unbreakable. Grim Ward has received an excellent buff but it doesn’t work on monsters than can’t be frightened therefore it doesn’t work on Uniques, Champions and Bosses which makes Amplify Damage an overall better skill. Unfortunately, Grim Ward will override any curse so the scenario of stacking it Amplify Damage is not possible.
A sorceress specializing in the Cold tree can probably become the most dominant budget character in the game because of Cold Mastery.
In earlier patches, Cold Mastery was able to overpass Cold Immunity. Even though that was changed and Cold Mastery can no longer break Immunities it still remains one of the best skills in the game. Sorceress has such easy access to it and it passively works all the time. The negative value Cold Mastery provides to enemy monsters can easily go to extreme amounts that any non-immune Monsters will severely suffer from it. Any extra source of negative value to Cold Resistance will be added to Cold Mastery and if you manage to break a Cold Immunity then Cold Mastery will surely make short work of the enemy.
For the reasons stated above Cold Mastery is also considered one of the best skills in PvP.
The new charms that have been added to the game function in such a way to make it pretty much viable for any class to deal with Immunes. By carrying a specific Sunder charm, the corresponding Immunity of all your enemies will be dropped to 95% no matter what their initially value was.
Since Sunder Charms are still new to the game, the developers themselves are still experimenting on their functionality for better balance. In the first release, the spells that could break an Immunity were supposed to work at their potential after the effects of a Sunder charm but seeing how powerful that would be, it was quickly changed. Those spells will now receive the 1/5 penalty like in any other case so a Sunder Charm combined with Conviction will basically drop the Resistance (Cold, Fire or Lighting) of an Immune monster to 78% regardless of the primary value. Any additional negative resistance modifiers will simply drop it even more. For that reason, Cold Mastery’s practicality has been increased even more.
To sum up, Immunities are everywhere, you can choose either to avoid them or find an alternative way to deal with them. In some scenarios as described above, you can directly deal with them with your main source of damage even though that will not be always possible. In any case, Immunities can force you to develop new builds so that you can run different areas with different characters. The new Sunder Charms can probably remove that from the game since once they are acquired they can be abused to farm any area in the game with pretty much any character.