Or call it “How to build a fun character who can kill in hell when you don’t have any itemz”. But that would be too long wouldn’t it? This guide happens to be for one of my favorite builds: The Strafe/Frozenzon. This Amazon specializes in a cold attack using Freezing Arrow and the liberal use of strafe. The S/FA Amazon uses strafe for three main reasons: as a main skill, for cold immunes, and for mana regeneration.
This guide is not supposed to replace Freyas’ excellent FA guide written back when 1.10 came out. Rather this guide is simply an update and addition to it, since that guide is written without strafe as a main attack. His guide can be found here. This guide does not get into the math behind breakpoints This is mostly a leveling guide and tips for playing a FA/Strafezon and some very brief suggestions for gear and skill points.
There are only a couple of negative things about strafe. One is the lock you experience while strafing. You must be aware of where you’re standing before you start strafing. The strafer should use a Valk and Merc. She positions herself behind them, makes sure she won’t get hit while strafing and then locks and loads. The lock is only a second or two so if you’re careful and strategic you’ll be fine even with low life.
Another negative about strafe is that places like Act 3 Flayer Jungle will drive you bananas. There are so many critters running around and shooting little peas at you. This is one of the game locations in which Multishot may be more useful. Some people skip this area anyway so maybe this won’t be an issue for you.
There is no “Best Amazon Build”. There are several Amazon builds that are fun to play. This is not an “Uber Zon” or a Godly Zon” build. So please don’t ask for help with making one of those. This is a zon build that requires strategy, patience and if played well, can generate hours of fun gaming.
What this guide will not do:
This guide will not touch upon any other Hybrid zons, such as Lightning Fury/strafer builds because these are already covered in other guides. It will also not touch upon the fire tree. This guide will not cover gear options (especially higher-end gear) in very great detail.
Here is an overall skill set up for this build, and then we’ll talk about how to get there. I am not going to get into skill descriptions or rate them. That seems to be old hat for guides and most everyone knows what these skills do.
It is not so important to go over where you place each point each level because we’re going to save as many skill points as we can and begin to use them after level 24 or so. It is important to understand that this build starts out slowly. Don’t lose patience. She will become a fast killer.
You can get to level 6 by using Magic Arrow as well as Normal Attack. Then place a point in Cold Arrow and a point in Multi. These will take you along just fine. Use Cold, Multi, Magic and Normal Attack as your regular attacks. You can switch between them all but they will all consume your tiny mana pool very quickly, whereas Normal Attack will not. But you shouldn’t use Normal Attack for long. Other skills will out perform it pretty quickly.
It will get annoying to keep drinking potions but this is what you’ll have to do for many more levels. Don’t be ashamed to place a couple points in energy if you feel you have to do so, but most people will not though. Rather a sapphire or two for + max mana will help and a Tir or two for mana per kill can also help. Keep a belt row dedicated to mana potions and pick up as many as you need.
You will also place a point in Dodge at level 6 and you should already have spent a point each in Inner Sight and Critical Strike. These are all the points you’ll spend for several more levels. Save them all. If you are starting to find it difficult to kill, you may want to spend a couple more in Cold Arrow but try to save most of them.
Find a decent bow…gamble or shop it. Pick up all the gold you find as well as items to sell. You’ll need the gold to gamble for bows, belts, shoes and even hats at this time. Throwing Knives are worth 480 gold each so pick them all up and sell them. Also pick up the throwing potions that drop. Some of them are worth some gold as well. Sell everything not related to an Amazon or her merc early on. Even gems. It may be worth keeping a few to socket into bows to increase your cold damage at this low level but otherwise, sell them. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to collect them later.
At level 12 spend a point in Slow Missiles and Avoid. You may also spend another point or two in Cold Arrow because critters will start becoming harder. But keep saving as many points as you can. Be conservative and patient. Keep gambling or shopping for a better bow. You will need more damage as you progress and we’re not really using our skill set yet. You can also place runes in your bow to increase damage. If you’ve got a couple Iths these would look nice and improve your damage considerably. Another option may be an Eld in there.
At this point, your biggest challenge will be Andariel. Her poison attack will kill you pretty easily. You may be in her lair for a while because your damage isn’t huge yet. Stack up poison resist for this battle and run around a lot. Use the little blood pit to run around to keep her off you. She’ll kill your merc pretty fast so you may have to take her out by yourself. But it is possible…just be patient. This isn’t a hammer pally so it takes a little more strategy.
By level 18 you can now spend a point in Ice Arrow. This is the only point you’ll spend in this skill, as it only adds to cold duration and you can save skill points here by using cold damage charms which do the same thing. You can also spend a point in Penetrate. Guided Arrow is a prerequisite for Strafe so you can either spend your one point in it now or wait for level 24. It doesn’t matter, as you’ll have to spend the point anyway and we won’t be using this skill. If you want to experiment with it that’s fine, but don’t spend any more than one point here.
Things are going to start getting more difficult now. Act two will begin to plod along. Radament could be a pain. His skellies he keeps raising will be annoying and his poison attack can hurt. But he doesn’t chase you down like Andy does so you can plink away at him from a distance while also keeping those skellies at bay.
Stick another point or two in Cold Arrow, here and there, to increase its damage but try to save a lot of skills. Save as many as you can without dying. Try to be patient as this is one the hardest parts of the game and where many players lose patience with Amazons. Our skills are not yet mature and the critters just keep getting harder. While it may be hard trying to get to level 24 to get strafe, and to level 30 to get to Freezing Arrow it is your prize and boy does it pay off. Keep your eyes on that prize and be patient and strategic. Remember this is a ranged character so you don’t have to get very close to them to kill them.
Once you hit level 24 you can breathe a partial sigh of relief. I say “partial” because level 1 strafe isn’t exactly a killer skill. But it can supplant your other main attack skills at this time. You’ll now use Strafe and Cold Arrow exclusively. Gone is Magic Arrow. Gone is Guided Arrow. Gone is Normal Attack (you should have disposed of that long ago. These two skills will kill Duriel, and maybe even Mephisto, depending on how quickly you move through the game. Strafe and Cold Arrow will continue to be mana hungry so you need to keep quaffing mana potions and find some mana leech/regen. Keep gambling and shopping for better bows.
At level 25, if you haven’t found a decent bow, make an Edge (tir, tal, amn) runeword in a 3 socket bow. Even if you have found a decent rare bow at least compare this with what you’ve found:
Level 15 Thorns Aura When Equipped +35% Increased Attack Speed +320-380% Damage To Demons (varies) +280% Damage To Undead +75 Poison Damage Over 5 Seconds 7% Life Stolen Per Hit Prevent Monster Heal +5-10 To All Attributes (varies) +2 To Mana After Each Kill Reduces All Vendor Prices 15%!!!
I am sure that any rare you find by level 25 can’t beat that! This runeword can be made with runes found by this level, too. Run the Countess a few times and you’ll have a glut of El’s, Tal’s, Tir’s and other low level runes. Get that Amn and you’re in luck.
Now you’ve hit the prize! By the time you hit level 30 I am hoping you have several points saved up. At this time we’ll spend points on Freezing Arrow, Pierce and Valkyrie. You may also spend another point in Strafe. Then, each subsequent level we’ll spend a point in Freezing Arrow and another on Strafe until you’re pout of points. You need to get your damage up to face Diablo and/or Baals minions.
After you run out of skill points you can spend new points on Strafe or Freezing Arrow. You’ll also want to get pierce up to level 5 sooner or later. If your Valk keeps dying you can spend another point on her but it may be just as easy to keep recasting her. You’ll have time to pump her later on.
Now you’re moving along just fine. You’ll switch between FA and Strafe as you wish. The mana problem isn’t gone, however, so keep in mind that mana potions will be your friends for a while yet. Find some mana leech. The Strafe attack is a physical attack and mana leech works on physical attacks. The more leech you have the quicker strafe will refill your mana bulb. By the time you hit level 40 or 50 your mana pool is large enough that it isn’t as annoying as it used to be but FA can still consume your pool. So, with some leech you can spam FA then strafe to refill the bulb, then FA again and simply rinse and repeat. Keep some mana potions handy though.
At level 39, make a Melody runeword bow, if you have or can get a Ko rune. This will be the hardest rune to find as it won’t drop until level 39, according to the Arreat Summit.. But the bow is nice and will hold you for quite a time.
+50% Enhanced Damage +300% Damage To Undead +3 To Bow and Crossbow Skills (Amazon Only) +3 To Critical Strike (Amazon Only) +3 To Dodge (Amazon Only) +3 To Slow Missiles (Amazon Only) 20% Increased Attack Speed +10 To Dexterity Knockback
At level 43 consider making a Treachery runeword (shael, thul, lem). Find a 3 socket Dusk Shroud (or anything with three sockets). Consider this if you’re playing untwinked. The runeword may be made for an Assassin, but Amazons love it for it’s mods. It can’t be beat for the Fade it offers as well as the IAS.
5% Chance To Cast Level 15 Fade When Struck 25% Chance To Cast level 15 Venom On Striking +2 To Assassin Skills +45% Increased Attack Speed +20% Faster Hit Recovery Cold Resist +30% 50% Extra Gold From Monsters
Use both Strafe and Freezing Arrow skills liberally. Freeze enemies then plink them to death with Strafe. Then freeze them again. It is fun and safe! By the time you hit level 50 you’re really starting to realize the killing power and safety of this build. It is not a Blizzard sorc or a Lightning Fury Amazon. The damage output isn’t going to be 17K per frozen arrow but the damage can be considerable and the build is simply fun.
This guide will not focus on perfecting this build at higher levels. It is more of a poor-man’s build and help guide. Play the game through and play untwinked or mule stuff to your heart’s content. This build can solo hell and you’ll have a great time playing a ranged character with a damage skill in Freezing Arrow that has an area of effect similar to some Sorceress skills. You don’t have to touch every monster like a Concentrate Barbarian does but you also don’t have the huge damage of a Lightning Fury Amazon or a Hammerdin either. It takes strategy and skill to beat Hell Baal but you’ll do it!
Now let’s discuss some gear options. I am not going to tell you which equipment is best and which to use but I will make recommendations based on my experience and accepted norms in this forum. I will point to other sources for what these choices have to offer instead of writing it all up again. I am not going to list every item and why it is nice. That has been done elsewhere. See Chipmc’s Witchwild String Strafezon guide, Blushnine’s Ice Maiden Guide and Freyas FA Guide for a pretty nice gear descriptions and why you should consider each option. I’ll go over a few options here but I am not going to cover every piece of equipment or every equipment slot either. Remember, this is mostly a Poor Man’s Guide.
Mavina’s Set: This set is a really nice lower budget set of gear for this build. The only drawbacks are the lower damage of the bow and you may not get to the last breakpoint using it. But the entire set does give you 100% magic find, which would certainly be helpful while you’re wandering around.
If you replace the Mav bow with ICE (amn, shael, jah, lo) you lose out on the MF and skills but you gain so much more. If I may quote Evrae Altana (a member here):
But this is a Poor Man’s Guide. We’ll talk a little about these “Rich Man’s” items a little bit but mostly concentrate on other items.
There are a lot of choices here.
Peace (shael, thul, amn)can help you early in the game. But if you can get your hands on a Lem make a Treachery (shael, thul, lem) instead of Peace. The Fade alone can help keep you safe and the IAS will help you get to the last BP, Which is one of our goals. You can finish the game with Treachery.
Other options are Lionheat (hel, lum, fal). This is a little more expensive but it is no Chains of Honor, which is also pretty nice, of course, but far more expensive. Other less expensive options are Twitchthroe, Silks, even Duriels Shell, but this last may be better suited for your merc. Look for rares with resists, IAS, + to dex,
There is really only one option here.
Laying of Hands from The Disciple set is second to none. This is not really a “Rich Man’s” item. It can be had for a stash full of pgems (or less) on most realms.
Cleglaw’s gloves may be useful early in the game. The Knockback can be helpful the Slow will be nice before you get FA.
If you can’t get LoH then look for a pair of gloves with mana leech, IAS or knockback. You may also craft some Hit Power Gloves. See Superdave’s Glove Crafting Guide for more info on crafting gloves.
Ravenfrost and Manald Heal. The MH will help your mana problem and RF will keep you from being frozen. A frozen zon is a dead zon.
There are so many options here. Witchwild String, Faith, Ice Runeword, Windforce or Eaglehorn. Lower budgets can use WWS, Edge and even Goldstrike Arch. There are plenty of bows out there that can work. Get the highest damage and fastest bow you can find. The name of the game on a strafer is speed. You’ll want to hit the fastest breakpoint you can afford without compromising damage and safety. WWS is not the highest damage bow around but it more than makes up for lower damage with the Amp and the two sockets. Place two Shaels (or a shael/nef) in there and it will do the job nicely for you.
One word about Faith (ohm, jah, lem, eld) vs. Ice (amn, shael, jah, lo). If you can get the runes for Ice, you can get the runes for Faith, and Faith seems to be a better all-around runeword. Fanatacism will help you reach those last breakpoints. The huge AR boosts will allow you to hit and pierce everything (the ITD of Ice may be less than desirable), and you have an awesome Strafe bow to boot.
Ice is obviously custom built for a Frostmaiden but if you’re going to use a physical damage bow skill like strafe then you may think that Faith is a better value for your runes. It is up to you. If you want more of a pure cold zon then go Ice. If you’re after more of a balanced physical/elemental build then go Faith. If you can afford neither then go Mav’s set or look at some of the other bow options we have discussed. WWS is a great little bow and can be had for a stash full (or less) of Pgems in most cases. I have finished the game with a cold zon using WWS and wearing Treachery, so while gear is important for this build, it is not a requirement that you get your hands on the best gear in the game. It is a fun build designed to maximize your strategic planning and makes you think.
It doesn’t matter. You don’t really even need a switch on this build. You’ve got elemental damage to take care of physical immunes and physical damage to take care of cold immunes. You could use a Buriza for fun on switch.
Of course Torch and Anni are nice to have. But it is not a show stopper if you do not. First keep all those cold damage small or large charms you find. Several cold damage charms will stack the cold duration in hell and add to the freeze time.
Find some + to dex charms and use them as long as you have the space.
Some skillers will be nice to add to your Valk/Decoy and to FA damage.
In summary, get as many +skills as possible. This will increase your cold damage.
Razortail: belt 100% Pierce with about 9 hard points in the skill.
Gloves: LoH or something like +2 bow/20IAS/mana/mana leech or +3bow/20IAS.
Boots: War travelers for physical damage or some rare boots with +mana. Boots which gives mana, regenerate mana and FR/W.
Amulet: a rare +2 ama skills/mana/manaleech ammy is nice. Maras (expensive) or Crescent Moon for huge mana leech or even Cat’s Eye.
Rings: one Ravenfrost. The other could be SoJ. BK is also good since it has +skills or a Manald Heal.
Armor: CoH is great but expensive. It gives +2 skills and 200 ED to demons. Treachery, Twitchthroe, Silks, even Duriels Shell or Peace are other decent options.
If you have the Ice runeword a Frostmaiden can wear pretty much anything else and still be somewhat effective. I have seen Frostyzons using Ice and decked out in MF gear. Kind of weird but I have seen one or two.
This is relatively straightforward and I will spend little time here
Strength: as little investment here as is possible. Just enough to wear your gear. For example, keep some points in reserve so you can wear Treachery in a Dusk Shroud or a Wire Fleece. Wire Fleece has a higher strength requirement so make sue you have some spare points if you can’t find a DS. Check the strength requirement of gear you find and use the gear with the lowest possible strength requirement.
Dexterity: most points go here s it increases your damage and AR
Vitality: place points here until you begin to perfect your strategy and you feel safe in hell
Energy: none. If you can make if through the beginning of the game you won’t have a need to place anything here.
Tips and Strategy
Save stat points up until you start to get your end game gear together. Also save them so you have points to spend if you need a little extra life once you get to hell. If you’re anything like me you run headlong into danger and get hit sometimes.
Use Strafe as a scouting tool. Strafe will not go off if there are no monsters around. It will shoot one arrow instead of a volley. Take a few steps and strafe. Take a few more steps and strafe again. Strafe into open doors. Strafe around corners. You arrows won’t bend around corners like Guided but if there are critters nearby you’ll send off an entire volley. You can also scout with Decoy. You can block doors with her as well then put arrows in the backs of the critters inside.
You don’t need AR for the splash damage of FA, but if the main arrow doesn’t hit, then it won’t pierce. The splash damage will always hit, if the main arrow hits.
Act two NM Offensive Merc will give you the Might aura. This will increase your physical damage. Kit him out with Insight for mana help or Reapers, something like a Duriels Shell (Cannot be frozen, resists) or Fortitude and Andariel’s Visage (Life Leech) or Guillaume’s Face (CB, DS).
Well, that’s about it. Please let me know how this guide can be improved. Let me know if you know of other less expensive gear that I may have forgotten about. Give me your strategies that have worked for you. The more you give feedback the more we’ll help others. I’ll update this guide as you post here and give credit where due.
Thanks for reading! I want to see the progress you make so keep posting your updates as you progress through the game. Good luck!