My name is Garbad_the_Weak and this guide is intended to help you make a fun, successful Fire Elemental Druid. This guide is the result of the combined effort from many able posters in the druid forum over several months. A huge volume of research, testing, and brainstorming has gone into this guide. (My original “condensed” version of this guide was still over 75 pages long!)
Primary contributors include:
The entire Druid forum
This guide is not a “how to make a cookie cutter druid,” in the sense I won’t tell you how to plan out your druid, pick your gear for you, etc. Instead, I try to help you learn about how the different skills work, what to look for in gear, and other useful information in the hopes it will help you make good decisions in creating your own custom elemental druid.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Part 1: General Elemental Information
- 3 Part 2: Comprehensive Fire Skill Discussion
- 4 Part 3: Fire skills and other Druid skills
- 5 Part 4: Magic Find, PvM, and leveling up
- 6 Part 5: PvP and Fire Druids
First, a note about druid elemental skills. Druid elemental skills are not anywhere near as “efficient” as sorceress spells. Most druid skills have some weakness that prevent one skill from dominating. This is not to say they are not effective, simply to say playing a fire druid is not like playing a fireball.
Because of the heavy skill point investment required to get high damage as an elemental druid, few, if any druids, will be able to use both wind and fire skills. Both wind and fire are viable, PvP and PvM. Its up to you to decide which branch (get it, branch – subset of a skill tree…) to pursue.
Wind skills are more spammable (meaning you can cast several in a row without delay), provide better defense (cyclone armor and consistent damage from hurricane). Most wind spells are also physical, meaning fewer monsters are immune and they can do more damage PvP. Wind skills are also much shorter ranged, harder to aim, and more mana intensive.
Fire skills can do more raw damage, have greater range, and are easier to target with (you can clicklock with volcano/fissure). Molten boulder can provide some space through knockback. Armageddon can be used while shifted, as well. On the down side, fire branch druids will struggle vs. fire immunes. Fire skills also have heavy casting delays.
Casting as a Human
18 frames = base
17 frames = 4%
16 frames = 10%
15 frames = 19%
14 frames = 30%
13 frames = 46%
12 frames = 68%
11 frames = 99%
10 frames = 163%
Casting as a Bear (shockwave)
16 frames = base
15 frames = 7%
14 frames = 15%
13 frames = 26%
12 frames = 40%
11 frames = 63%
10 frames = 99%
9 frames = 163%
Fast Cast Breaks for Timered Skills
During some testing into how firestorm worked, we stumbled across the fact that cast timers actually affect the cast rate. The cast timer comes into effect directly after the spell is cast, but the spell is cast halfway through the cast animation, so the second half of the animation occurs during the timer. This means that the second half of the animation does not lengthen the total cast time of the spell. This affects fast cast rate equipment by halving the bonus you get from it. Since the animation is cut in half, any increase in speed is halved also.
This means that for an unshifted druid, the cast breaks for timered skills are:
0% – 10 Frames
10% – 9 Frames
30% – 8 Frames
68% – 7 Frames
163% – 6 Frames
909% – 5 Frames
This obviously has repercussions on the usefulness of fcr equipment. For a spell like firestorm with a short timer, getting to a high level of fcr will increase the speed of the spell quite noticeably, but for say hurricane, where the cast timer is 150 frames, increasing that by 4 frames will be pointless. The exception to this is when you are playing a meleemental build, as the cast time will directly affect how often you get stunned out of casting. In this situation, it is much better to do as much as you can to maximize cast rate.
Click here for a comprehensive discussion of how runwalk works.
Click here for a listing of faster block and hit recovery rates for all classes.
Click on this link to visit Nature’s Storm, a very useful site set up by TheDragoon, the druid forum’s resident expert on all things druidic and mathematically complicated.
It has cast breaks as well as a simple calculator to determine your damage using any elemental skill.
Rainbow facts and other +% fire damage items add a total % increase to your fire damage, NOT a synergy %. In other words, fire facets work exactly like fire mastery.
This is the formula for fire facet damage:
(Base skill damage * (1 + synergy %)) * (1 + % fire damage increase) = total damage
Damage with full synergy at:
Level 40: 5282 to 5844 Fire Damage Per Second
Level 30: 2772 to 3095 Fire Damage Per Second
Level 25: 1768 to 2007 Fire Damage Per Second
Mana cost fixed at 4 mana per cast.
15 frame cast delay (0.6 seconds)
Firestorm is the level one skill in the elementalist’s tree. It takes the form of three ‘snakes’ of flame that issue from the caster. The snakes are very similar to the skill Diablo has, except that the snakes do not divide during their path.
The central snake shoots out in a straight line towards the target, while the two peripheral snakes meander randomly in roughly the direction of attack. They can cross over the central snake, or even end up at the same point. They can also travel out to about 60 degrees from the central snake. The path of the snakes will not change over castings if the caster and the target do not move. The spell will follow the exact same path, even the peripheral snakes. If the caster or the target moves, then the path is generated again. This means that if the target is still, the caster can move until the point is found where all three snakes hit the target, resulting in triple damage.
The snake is a trail of fire, and anything in that trail is damage in a similar way to being in a firewall. The damage is listed per second, and this roughly equates to remaining in the snake for its entire length. Large monsters such as the act bosses or Coldworm the Burrower can remain in the trail for more than 1 second, resulting in a slightly higher damage.
Firestorm has a terrible starting damage, which remains terrible throughout the first 20 levels. At level 20 the damage listed is 107-125 per second. There are two things that redeem firestorm. First of all, after level 20, the damage of firestorm ramps up sharply.
Secondly, the synergies for firestorm (fissure and molten boulder) add 23% damage per point added. This is the largest synergy that the elemental druid has. With full synergies and plus skill firestorm on paper deals incredible damage, and even then, the damage is generally lower than what actually happens.
A maxed firestorm with both synergies maxed and +20 to firestorm will deal 4408 – 4717 damage per second. Bearing in mind that all three snakes can hit, that becomes a whopping 4408 – 14142 damage per second.
However it is not as great as it has sounded so far. The snakes are not actually 1 second long, but only burn for about 16 frames (2/3 of a second). This means that each cast will only do 2/3 the above stated damage. With fast cast you can get it so there is only a few frames gap between casts, you can easily get a near inferno like effect, which will still do almost the same damage over time.
The cast timer for firestorm is 0.6 seconds, or 15 frames. A single second of time takes 25 frames. With taking the affects of timers on cast time into account, it means that with no fast cast gear, the druid will take 25 frames to cast 1 firestorm, or 1 second. With full fast cast gear (163%) to hit the 10 frame break point, each firestorm will take 21 frames. As the burn time is 16 frames, this means that you almost get a continuous stream of flame. The firestorm will do 4/5 listed damage per cast at max fast cast.
The synergies are 23% from both molten boulder and fissure.
Compared to inferno, firestorm is NOT weak. With a maxed synergy and maxed skill, inferno does 683-748 damage per second, at a cost of 21 mana per second. Firestorm, with one synergy at level 20 does 430-500 damage per second. However, taking all three snakes into account this makes 1290-1500, much better. All this for a cost of 4 mana per second (or so). And remember that firestorm really gets going after 20, and has a second synergy, where inferno only has one. Add to that that inferno is a level six skill, and firestorm is quite nice. Who says that sorceresses’ have more power? (Note that the above comparison was done using 163%fcr on the druid).
Firestorm is useful in several situations. It is effective against monster packs moving towards you, as long as they are not too fast. Moving fast means that they will quickly leave the trail, moving towards you means they are always going to get hit by the central snake, and are more likely to cross the path of a peripheral snake.
Against single, non-moving targets is where firestorm shines though. Tie down a boss with your mercenary and then maneuver until you are hitting with all three snakes. Doing three times damage always (min and max) means bosses go down very quickly. Volcano fills a similar role, but firestorm also works up against walls where volcano cannot activate. An important note is that it is much more effective to use firestorm against one enemy, and kill that enemy and move on, rather than just doing diffuse damage to a group. This is because in hell monster regen is so fast, and doing small damage every second is going to be regenerated, while doing big damage every second will not. Because of this, it is important to know what range you should be at to maximise hits on one target.
After much testing, it seems that the most likely place to get double up of trails is at about half range of the firestorm. This equates to about 3 or 4 druid lengths. Also, at close range (in hand to hand) all three snakes will hit.
In the test I targeted a tree and altered distance, and recorded how many trails shorted out on the tree. At maximum range the central flame hit 10/10, but no other hits scored, as the range is shorter if the flame weaves. At half firestorm range an average of two hits was scored, and this was very consistent. Out of 10 attempts, 1 scored a single hit and one scored a triple. At point blank range (i.e. in combat) every cast scored three hits as the flames all originate from the same point.
This effectively means that if you use firestorm in combat it triple the damage. If enemies are moving towards you, cast as they just hit the outer range of the spell, and they should move across several snakes. Adjust your cast time depending on how fast the monsters are.
There are several areas where firestorm is useless. These are any areas that have close walls. The maggot lair and arcane sanctuary are the worst, as the peripheral snakes short out instantly, effectively cutting potential damage by two thirds.
Firestorm, as mentioned earlier can do great damage. It never misses doing its minimum damage either, so in that respect is greater than tornado. It is useful for several builds, or in conjunction with other skills as your ‘spammable’ skill if using fire only. End stage damage if both synergies are maxed and you have +20 skills is 4408 – 14142 as mentioned above. If you get in a good position and all three snakes are hitting every time, then damage is 13224 – 14142 per cast, or 10579-11313 damage per second at 163% fcr.
Damage with full synergy at:
1260 to 1395 Physical Damage
1004 to 1017 Average Fire Damage Per Second
1092 to 1209 Fire Damage
780 to 885 Physical Damage
700 to 712 Average Fire Damage Per Second
676 to 767 Fire Damage
567 to 657 Physical Damage
557 to 569 Average Fire Damage Per Second
491 to 569 Fire Damage
Mana cost ranges between 10 and 25 mana per cast.
50 frame cast delay (2 seconds)
The druid summons a ball of volcanic rock, which rolls in a straight line, leaving behind a trail of fire that lasts for about three seconds. When it collides with a man sized or smaller opponent, it will knock them back. When it collides with a “large” opponent or an obstacle it will explode with some splash damage. When it explodes it also leaves a meteor style flame mat, which lasts about half a second.
If a boulder hits a monster head on, the ball will knock the enemy back, and continue on, hitting them again. In this way, several hits can be scored with the same boulder on the same enemy, knocking them back for its entire duration. When the boulder knocks back an enemy, the angle of knock back is calculated relative to your current position and will always knock the monster away from the centre of your screen, regardless of which angle the boulder hit them from. This means that the boulder can knock monsters out of its own range of damage.
The damage the boulder does is divided into fire damage and physical damage. The trail of fire does a separate damage, calculated per second. A level 20 boulder will do 120-144 physical damage, 129-155 fire damage and the trail does 205-209 damage per second. This totals 249-299 damage per hit, with 205-209 damage done by the trail. The physical and fire damage are applied every time a monster is hit, with the splash damage when it explodes only carrying the fire damage portion.
The cast timer for Molten Boulder is 2 seconds. This is now long enough that it is very noticeable. You cannot use any other timered skill during this time. Unless you want to do nothing for two seconds, you may choose to use a non-timered skill in this time, or go hand to hand. Just remember that when you move, the angle of knock back moves too.
Molten Boulder at level 20 costs 19.5 mana, which is not a lot considering you are only casting it once every two seconds. The cost increases 0.5 mana per cast with each level.
The synergies for Molten Boulder are somewhat disappointing though. It gets a 10% synergy from volcano and a 8% synergy from firestorm. However, each synergy only affects half the damage that the spell does, physical and fire damage respectively. Therefore, the volcano synergy only adds 5% to total damage, and the firestorm synergy a piddly 4%. This also means you have to choose which aspect of the damage to pump up first, which can leave your options limited.
Molten Boulder, along with volcano, adds a second damage type to the fire elementalist, granting them a way to deal with those pesky fire immunes. Dual fire/physical immunes will still pose major problems but at least immunities won’t stop the knock back effect.
Molten Boulder is best used at oncoming enemies if they are small, as they will be hit head on, and therefore hit more than once. It is very useful in its knock back ability to clear some space around you or a party member to prevent being swarmed. The only problem with this is that the 2 second timer means that you can only reasonably hope to keep two directions clear at a time.
Molten Boulder’s knock back makes it a very useful tool against highly dangerous enemies as you can keep them well away from yourself. If you hit a monster dead on and don’t move, you can push them back to almost the edge of the screen. Melee monsters will then normally attempt to reach you again, so will walk back towards you, right into another boulder that will knock them back again. If you choose the correct angle from which to strike, LEBs wont be able to hurt you at all.
If a monster is particularly tough, another thing you can do is to cast a Fissure in front of it as it walks towards you, then, as it reaches the near side of the Fissure, throw a boulder at them, damaging them further and forcing them back across the Fissure’s damage zone. Unfortunately in order for this tactic of be of much use in hell, you will have to have invested a lot of skill points into the fire side of the tree.
Against large enemies Molten Boulder becomes almost useless. The main problem is that it will only hit once per cast, and Molten Boulder’s main advantage is in its knock back. Without this, its usefulness is very limited. If the fire damage is high enough, you can stun large monsters with a boulder to slow them down so you can regroup for the fight, but apart from that, there isn’t much Molten Boulder can do. You’re best bet against packs of large monsters is to switch to another attack.
Where Molten Boulder really shines is in areas that that restrict enemy movement. The Maggot Lair is the ideal show house of Molten Boulder’s strength. As the boulder travels in a straight line, and most of the enemies in the Maggot Lair or Arcane Sanctuary are small, you can literally line them up and bowl them down.
End Game Usefulness
Even a single point in Molten Boulder is always useful due to the knock back. Even though large monsters do not get knocked back, it can still be used against small fire immunes to good effect, increasing the spells usefulness well into Hell difficulty.
Maxed, with both synergies maxed and +20 skills, Molten Boulder does 1260-1395 physical damage and 1092-1209 fire damage with each hit. This is a lot of damage, as it can hit a single enemy, or small pack of enemies, many times with each cast and you can have two going at the same time. At this level the trail will do 1004-1007 fire damage per second, which can be stacked two deep. But that’s still not much, just gravy on top of the main attack. With a 2 second timer, a spammable spell can be thrown into the mix to cause even more damage.
Molten Boulder is a great spell both offensively and defensively IF used wisely. Its not for everyone though.
Level 40: 3601 to 3764 Fire Damage
Level 30: 2325 to 2430 Fire Damage
Level 25: 1757 to 1832 Fire Damage
50 frame cast delay (2 seconds)
15 mana per cast fixed
Fissure opens volcanic vents in the earth. The vents open in a radius of about a quarter of a screen over 3.2 seconds. One vent opens per 6 frames, resulting in about 13 vents. These vents are spread evenly (randomly) throughout the area. The spell takes a few frames to warm up, and winds down a bit before the end. This is because the vents stay open longer than 6 frames, so you get a lot of overlap, when many vents are open at once. The middle 2 seconds are when the peak number of vents are open.
Fissure hits every time a enemy that is not in hit recovery is over a vent (this is from experience, not hard data). This results in some enemies getting hit a lot more often than others. The less time an enemy spends in hit recovery, the more hits they will take. Therefore high health enemies (no hit recovery) or fast recovering enemies take much more damage from fissure. You can see this by casting fissure on fallen in hell difficulty. They are fire immune, so take no damage and therefore do not go into hit recovery. They have an almost permanent fire hit animation over them when they cross a fissure. An enemy will get hit every few frames when over a vent and not in a hit recovery.
Also the speed of the enemy alters the damage. Up to a certain point, the faster the enemy the more they will get hit. I think this is mainly due to having faster hit recoveries, and also running across several vents quickly. However once they reach a certain speed (about running corrupt rogues) they will take less hit than other creatures with the same hit recovery. This is because they cross the field much faster and therefore spend less time on the vents.
Stationary monsters such as ranged attackers will take less damage as they will usually only be hit be one vent. Vents can stack and one monster can be on several vents at once. This is obviously more likely if the enemy is larger.
Fissure’s main damage time is the middle two seconds, so this is when you want monsters in the area of effect. Therefore it will depend on the speed of the monsters as to when and where you cast the fissure. Fast monsters will mean you cast the fissure earlier and further from the monster. Slow monsters you can practically cast the spell on them and they will still be in the area at peak time. For monsters like zombies and death beetles where they speed up after being hit, I find it is most effective to cast so they are on the edge of the area, so once they get hit they charge through the centre of the vents.
For ranged attackers, particularly shaman and unravellers I find that you have to cast on them, then move out of their attack range. If you do this they will start moving and cross many more vents.
Obviously fissure is much more effective against packs than single enemies. The only time this is not true is against act bosses. They are large so cover many vents, and generally are fast so hit many as well. Fissure is particularly effective if you can bait an act boss to run over multiple areas. This is probably the safest way for a fire elementalist to tackle them.
In small cramped space fissure is good and bad, and it is mostly luck. If you cast fissure early enough, then you should be able to get a few vents open on a narrow path before the enemies are near you. If you cast at normal time, then it is unlikely that any vents will have opened on the path at time you want.
Even knowing when to use fissure, I find I generally cast it too close to monsters. Often they can run over it and take no damage as no vents have opened. Cast it too far away and your mercenary or minions will attack the monsters before they reach the fissure, again taking no damage. I find that taking where I would instinctively cast it, to move it about a druid length down the screen. This will mean that by the time monsters get there, the peak number of vents will be open, and they will still have to cross the area to get to you.
End Game Usefulness
Fissure is a great area effect skill, and probably the best one the druid has. The later skills may be more damaging, but are not as effective against packs or harder to use.
With both synergies maxed and +20 skills, fissure will do 3532-3694 damage per vent. This is good damage, and when spread across a pack is phenomenal, especially considering each vent can hit multiple times.
877 to 884 Physical Damage
1566 to 1716 Fire Damage
537 to 544 Physical Damage
928 to 962 Fire Damage
387 to 394 Physical Damage
661 to 672 Fire Damage
100 frame cast delay (4 seconds)
25 mana per cast fixed
Volcano raises a small volcano in the ground. The volcano shoots out balls of magma in a large radius (about two thirds of the screen) which do fire and physical damage. An enemy standing directly on top of the volcano gets hit by every shot. It is important to realize that while volcano does do damage to a wide area, the spell is NOT area of effect. Volcano is a single point attack spell which happens to have a wide area of splash damage. This extra damage just makes the spell stronger, and is not a weakness.
The volcano shoots every 2 frames, and lasts for six seconds. This means you get 75 shots (thanks Kristy). The casting delay is four seconds, which is quite long. You will definitely want to do something else in that time, or at least maneuver.
Like molten boulder, volcano receives synergies for each type of damage. However, the synergies are each 12%, which is higher than molten boulder’s, which is strange for a later skill. The other skill of this level, Tornado, receives 9% synergies to total damage. The 12% synergy makes the synergy split less noticeable. The synergies are 12% fire damage from fissure and Armageddon, 12% elemental damage from molten boulder.
Volcano does affect a large area but it is a single point attack. The peripheral balls singly do fairly small damage, and I have seen whole packs walk through a volcano shower unscathed. However, placed under a stationary foes’ feet, every ball will hit, resulting in a huge total damage. This is very effective against bosses, and is considered a boss killer of choice for many druids. I find firestorm can do as well, but none doubt the power of volcano.
It is incredibly effective in indoor confined areas with narrow passageways. Narrow corridors are good for a Volcano user, as the monsters will move in to take the place of the last one to fall, thereby maximizing the damage you get out of a Volcano. In wider corridors (i.e. catacombs) volcano loses some effectiveness. The shower will mostly land outside the walls, and you cannot bring up a volcano near walls. This is infuriating when a boss has run against a wall to hide, and one of the reasons I prefer firestorm. In areas like this the best thing to do is to funnel them into a doorway or similar so they all have to cross the central flame to reach you.
Against moving packs, the best you can do is cast the volcano so the pack is on the outer edge when it starts. Then they will take as much damage as possible as they cross the area. Another weakness of the spell is that you will always want to attack the most powerful monster, such as a boss. In a bunched pack it is very easy to target the wrong monster and waste a volcano, only doing splash damage to your main target. In some situations it may be more useful to stay on namelock with a tough monster.
End Game Usefulness
Volcano is great for killing single stationary targets. With maxed synergies and +20 skills each ball does 877-884 physical and 1496-1508 fire damage. Considering how many shots you get not too much can withstand a volcano, that total if the enemy stands on top is 177975-179400 damage. This is grossly inflated as very few enemies will stand still for 6 seconds, but if they do, woah.
However, against moving targets you would be best to use one of the synergies. The damage area is so large it is unusual for two balls to hit the same area.
2009 to 2034 Average Fire Damage Per Second
10170 to 11364 Fire Damage
1401 to 1424 Average Fire Damage Per Second
6598 to 7604 Fire Damage
1114 to 1138 Average Fire Damage Per Second
5010 to 5893 Fire Damage
150 frame cast delay (6 seconds)
35 mana per cast fixed
The final spell of the druids tree, requiring a point in all other skills for pre-requisites (9). This isn’t so bad as all of the fire skills synergise Armageddon. The spell creates a small meteor shower to fall around the druid. It creates one small meteor every 8 frames, and it falls somewhere in the same radius a hurricane. This means it can land behind the druid. Each rock calculates its fall point as it is created, so if the druid moves, the next rock will fall near him.
Armageddon is the most powerful spell a druid has, but is perhaps the hardest to use. As the rocks fall randomly, many miss targets so much damage potential is wasted. Each rock has a small area of effect, so each can hit more than one enemy. At level twenty each rock does 390-471 fire damage, with the duration lasting 10 seconds. The rocks leave behind a patch of flame that does 164-168 fire damage per second. As one rock drops every 8 frames, the total number of rocks is about 31.
The synergies are 7% fire damage for firestorm, molten boulder and volcano, and +2 second duration for fissure. Unlike all other elemental spells, Armageddon can be used while in wereforms. This will be discussed later.
As mentioned before, Armageddon is notoriously difficult to use. The tactics required are to maximize hits; otherwise about half of the hits will be wasted (rocks that drop behind the druid).
There are really three tactics to use.
1. Get mobbed: The most dangerous tactic is to run into the middle of a pack, so you get surrounded. If you are totally surrounded all the rocks will hit, but you are in lots of danger. Ideally, there needs to be some way to stop the enemies hitting you or you will die before the rocks drop.
2. Charge through: Still dangerous is to charge through the center of a pack, leaving rocks dropping behind you. You can get hit, and then mobbed so it is tricky, but you will score a high proportion of hits. A similar tactic is the drive-by, in which you skirt the edge of a group, and hope the rocks land on the group’s side. I little less risky, but the number of hits will be similar to just standing at the front of a pack.
3. Run away: The safest tactic and possibly the most effective. As you run, the enemies chase. The rocks drop behind you, as there is a small delay while they fall. If you are running at the right speed, they should drop right on your pursuers. Done correctly you should score almost all hits, and not get hit yourself. However, this tactic has its drawbacks. Firstly you need a lot of room to backtrack. If you cannot backtrack without activating other monsters the tactic is useless, for example right when you enter the cow level. Secondly most people find it annoying to just run away all the time, and then have to cover old ground to get back to where they were. A good tactic in HC though, as it is quite safe.
As the pinnacle of the druid’s elemental arts, you would expect the game to be viable at end stage, but it really depends on how you use it. Just casting it and hoping will never work, but maximizing hits will create a very viable skill. However, to maximize all synergies and the skill requires 100 points, which are very hard to come by in 1.10.
Just to show though, with maxed synergies and +20 skills each rock does 5408-6130 fire damage and 2007-2033 fire damage per second. With fissure maxed the skill lasts 30 seconds, so there are roughly 93 rocks. If each hits, the damage is 502994-570090 on impact. The damage also splashes to nearby targets, and then leaves a damaging mat of fire.
In this section I will discuss which skills are useful together. This is mainly what skills should be used during cast timers but is also what skills work well together and complement each other.
Skills within cast timers
Arctic Blast can be useful within a cast timer. Sweeping it across the enemies will result in chilling for a minimum of 4 seconds at level 1. This is great, and should keep the enemy chilled until the next time you use a timered spell. The damage is not very good and Arctic Blast is too mana intensive to keep up a continual stream, unless you use arctic blast as a main spell. I would only recommend 1 point in arctic blast, but if you find yourself using it a lot in the timers then put a few points into it. With plus skills you can easily make a 10+ second chill, and the length will increase so you can chill more enemies.
Twister has no timer so can be used at any time. It is mainly useful for only the stun as the damage is low. With three twisters going out it is quite easy to affect most of a pack, stunning them. This is especially useful with good fcr as then the time between stuns decreases to almost nothing. Even with no fcr an enemy has very little time to move, especially if you do enough damage to put them into hit recovery. 1 point is sufficient as the stun length does not increase, but more points if you need to put the enemy in hit recovery.
The Bowler — Fissure/Molten Boulder
These skills work well together, but don’t synergize. However firestorm and volcano synergize both of them, so maxing two synergies isn’t too bad. This also works with volcano/molten boulder, and these skills synergize each other. The tactic is to cast a fissure/volcano in front of the enemy. They advance towards you, crossing the field of fire. After the cast timer wears off (you could do one of the above things in between) you cast a molten boulder into the face of the enemy. They will get knocked back by the boulder (if they are small) into the field of the fissure/volcano. By doing this you can get big damage. Fissure’s timer is 2 seconds, leaving 1.2 seconds before the fissure ends. This means you must make sure the enemy is close to the fissure and you are too, so you have time to knock them back. Volcano’s timer is 4 seconds, leaving 2 seconds before it ends. I would recommend chilling the enemy with arctic blast in the timer and trying to leave them about half in the area when the timer finishes. With proper angling, you can then knock them back onto the central flame, taking lots of damage.
Flamerainer — Firestorm/Fissure/Armageddon:
This is not a skill combination that helps during cast timers, but the skills are very effective together. Fissure laid in front of the enemies when you first see them, then they run across it and you start spamming firestorms at them. The skills synergize each other and by using both, you have a skill for packs, and one that wastes bosses. It is a good combo for most damage for lowest points, as 40 points grants good damage. Then you can either use some cold skills or summons. It is true that fissure and volcano or molten boulder and volcano synergize, but the synergy only is a half synergy, so for 40 points, the damage output is lower. These skills work best when all three are maxed, preferably along with firestorm, but that is 80 points then.
This works great, but only when the +duration skills are maxed. Firestorm works best in base contact (3 times damage) so seems great with Armageddon which also requires close range.
Molten Boulder and Armageddon
Armageddon requires the enemy to be close to score hits, so pushing them away is very counter-productive. In areas with lots of large monsters, firestorm would do more damage.
Volcano and Armageddon
The timers are simply too long to wait to use firestorm, and it would be much better to use a non-timered skill.
Druid summons are a valuable asset to any build, providing damage, life, distraction, you name it. Most elemental druids prefer to spend their skill points into synergies to boost damage, but a few points invested into the summoning tree will greatly improve most elemental druids.
Druid summons have various synergies and invisible bonuses and in some situations are even invincible. Please consult a druid summon guide for the specifics. For our purposes, simply know that more points into summons makes a summon with more life, damage, and resists.
Most, if not all, elemental druids should have at least 1 point into Oak Sage. Oak sage increases your life by a %, which makes you very party (and summon/mercenary) friendly. It also costs very little mana and combined with your (hopefully) high skill levels can double or more your life with a very minor skill point investment.
You should seriously consider oak, especially at low levels. However, you can also get charges of oak from the popular runeword Heart of the Oak.
Heart of Wolverine
Not useful to you, except in rare hybrids (Geomancers). May be useful to your mercenary and bear, but typically oak is much better.
Spirit of Barbs
Spirit of Barbs returns a % physical damage back to an attacker. It would be primarily useful as a tank and to distract your opponents. I have never been a fan of SoB, although some druids swear by it. This skill has suck poor returns though generally an act2 thorns mercenary + oak or something would be much better.
Ravens will travel near you and seek to peck out the eyes of your enemies. They have a decent range and targeting time. They cannot be targeted by monsters and players and can only be killed my shiver armor and a few other forms of damage.
Ravens are much more useful than they appear at first glance. Although ravens damage is insignificant, they are very useful to distract a target (Diablo), blind ranged attackers, and blocklock (PvP). You can only have 5 ravens at a time, so some elemental druids put one point into ravens. When combined with your naturally high skill levels as an elemental druid, they can be quite helpful.
You can also get ravens through the popular Heart of the Oak runeword or from Ravenlore, the perfect elementalist helm.
Spirit Wolves are cute little puppies that follow you around sniffing (much like most of the druid forum ). You can have up to 5 at a time, and points into Spirit wolves provide an ar/defense boost to other summons. Spirit Wolves were considered a must in 09, both PvM and PvP. They provided great distraction and served as lightning rods in PvP. In 1.10, spirit wolves are much less useful. They die very quickly PvM and can be ignored in PvP. However, some druids find it useful to have one point into spirit wolves to help out/distract.
Dire wolves are a stronger, faster version of spirit wolves. You can have only 3, and points into Dire wolves provide a passive life boost for all other summons. Few druids use dire wolves. They typically either invest only one point for spirit wolves or go all out and max grizzly.
A Grizzly could do crushing damage in 1.09, yet 1.10 Grizzlies are much weaker, at least on paper. Blizzard nerfed Grizzly damage but supposedly gave Grizzly a better AI. No one I know has reported an improvement, but many druids still like the damage a bear can provide. Most druids recommend maxing Grizzly if you put any points into it at all.
Poison vine is only useful to reduce monster life replenish once you leave the mor. One point into poison vine might be worth it, but most druids don’t use it.
Carrion vine can be useful if you find yourself using a lot of life potions, but again, most druids prefer to save their points.
Solar Creeper is, yet again, typically considered not worth the investment, but if you find yourself in desperate need of mana, consider it.
For an elementalist’s purposes, there are essentially three shapeshifting skills you may want to plan your build around – Fireclaws, Rabies, and Shockwave. None of these skills affect a PURE elementalist, but all have potential in hybrids. I include a brief mention of these skills to help lead you into hybrids, although they are not a part of this guide.
Fireclaws is a melee skill that can be used by either a wolf or a bear. Fireclaws is included in this guide because Fireclaws draws synergies from fire elemental skills. Because a Fire druid would have lots of points into synergy skills, some druids will want to make a elemental/Fireclaws hybrid, which we druids refer to as a Flamebear.
This build will require good gear decisions, as you will want to get high skill levels combined with a very fast weapon. Click here to read my report on a PvP flamebear I created shortly after 1.10 came out. Note that a maxed synergy lvl 40 fireclaws could do over 16k damage per swing potentially at 4 frames.
Some forum members have discussed the possibility of exploiting the STONE runeword synergy in the hope of saving skill points. So far, this hasn’t been fully accepted as a viable build. Come on over to the forum to discuss this with us.
Rabies is also a melee skill that can be used by a wolf only. Rabies synergizes with poison creeper and can potentially do 25k poison damage over about 20 seconds (lvl 40). A potentially viable hybrid could use rabies combined with a fire skill or perhaps Armageddon. IE, infect them and finish them off with fire.
A viable Rabies hybrid would almost certainly want to use a carrion wind to save points.
Only a druid in werebear form can use Shockwave. Shockwave fires out a small pattern of stunning waves. These waves travel roughly 10 yards (1/3 of a 800 x 600 screen). Shockwave is used for stunning only; even at very high levels its damage is too low to kill efficiently. However, a lvl 40 shockwave can stun for up to 25 seconds.
Shockwave could be useful to an elementalist as a form of “passive attack.” The druid would shift into a bear, gaining high life and defense (at the cost of not being able to cast any spells other than Armageddon) and shock while your mercenary, grizzly, and Armageddon combine to bring down enemies. An example of a build like this would be a Shaman, which is considered to be much less effective in 1.10.
However, now that druids can use Armageddon while shifted, a potentially viable build could use Armageddon combined with a high level grizzly and shockwave to kill. Shock and awe druid?
Another variety to consider would be a variant of Fenriswulf’s famous Hunter druid. A hunter is a druid who uses a bow to attack combined with elemental and summoning skills as support. In 09, many people considered Hunters to be one of the most fun types of druids to play, despite the challenge. For example, you could combine Hurricane with a Hunter build for additional killing power and slowing.
Cyclone armor is the defensive skill of the elemental druid. It forms a swirling barrier around the druid that protects against elemental (not poison) damage. In this way it is very similar to a necromancer’s bone armor.
Exactly how cyclone works is the subject of some debate among druids. We believe cyclone is NOT affected by your resists but IS affected by the PvP penalty. This means cyclone will absorb the amount of damage * PvP penalty (if applicable).
Fire Druids are highly effective at every aspect of the game. We struggle with Fire and physical immunes, but with care and a little planning, your fire druid should be able to cruise through any aspect of PvM at any level. In addition, because fire druids are generally less reliant on fast cast than most casters, fire druids are great for people on a budget or for untwinked play. Because of incredible synergy boosts, Fire druids also can continue to expand their primary attacks well into the 90s.
Fire druids gain reasonably effective skills immediately (unlike our wind druid friends) so the early levels are not difficult. If you are not familiar with fire druids, we suggest investing only 1 point into firestorm and molten boulder until you get to try out them both and see which you prefer. Many druids use a bow in the initial levels.
If you prefer firestorm, simply pump firestorm until you can use fissure, then begin pumping fissure and firestorm as you can. Expand into other skills/synergies as you get older. You should easily do enough damage the entire game.
If you prefer boulder, plan on it being your main skill and max it out. Then begin maxing firestorm as a complimentary attack and synergy. Move from there into volcano. Again, your damage should be adequate, although it can be a bit slow in the early 20s.
For gear, simply look for skills and resists. Anything else is really gravy. Fast cast is not really a requirement for most skills, although it’s a little bit helpful. In general, pack the same gear that everyone else wants. If you decide to use firestorm, make sure you have good block (sigon’s shield if possible), as you will be in close quarters most of the time.
Look for in particular: Magefist (the perfect fire druid gloves), Spirit Shroud/Vipermagi (ideal for any low level casters), sigons shield, a good pelt, etc.
In the lower levels, most druids don’t worry about dexterity or energy too much. Few fire druids have mana problems at any level due to timers and reasonable mana cost, and most low level shields give such poor block its not worth the dexterity to maintain 75%. Instead, focus on building up vitality to overcome your naturally poor life and strength to wear items (for most casters, aim for about 100 strength endgame, which allows the use of almost any desirable caster item). I like to reach about 65 strength almost immediately to allow the use of sigons set or other items. As you round into the 30s, you will want to begin planning on if you want to use a shield or not (and there are plenty of viable 2 handed caster weapons or no block is an option). I suggest a mosers shield as a great compromise between block and useful mods.
By level 60 or so, you should be near maxing your primary 3 skills/synergies. For example, a primary firestorm/Armageddon would have maxed firestorm, boulder, Armageddon and would be working on fissure and other synergies. A primary bowler would have maxed fissure, boulder, and firestorm and would be working on volcano, etc.
Your gear should be focused along the same lines as lower levels. Most druids prefer having max block in hell, although you may be able to do fine with high defense or good evasion skills. Aim for max resists, good skill levels, and whatever fast cast and defense/dr you can fit in. Really good fire druids items include RavenLore, Heart of the Oak, Engima/ark valor, shako, bk rings, maras, etc. Standard godly caster gear. You have the advantage on other casters because you need less fast cast and dr to survive, so you should be able to pull out a few more + skill items.
A very, very nice gear setup would be:
Heart of the Oak Flail
Stormshield with fire facet
RavenLore with fire facet
Chains of Honor armor
1 bk rings / 1 raven frost
10 elemental charms and annihulus
Beyond that, its really personal choice. Just put together the best gear you can think off and don’t worry about perfection.
Like everyone else, fire druids generally choose either an act 1 mercenary or an act 2 mercenary. Generally, act 2 defiance mercenaries work well with Armageddon/firestorm builds and act 2 holy freeze mercenaries work well with boulder/fissure, although opinion varies.
Act 1 cold mercenaries provide you with range and the ability to dent PI/FIs, but leave you without a tank (unless you have a strong grizzly). Windforce + Chains of Honor + Delirium would be my ideal gear on an act 1 mercenary. I have found the delirium helmet runeword to work wonders with fissure as the monsters stand still and die.
Act 2 mercenaries give you a choice of several useful auras (holy freeze, defiance, prayer) and a very reliable tank. BoTD + Chains of Honor + delirium would be my choice.
Q: What about + mana gear? As a caster, won’t I need SoJs, Wizardspike and so forth?
A: Generally, no. Fire skills generally cost very little mana and have long delays so minimal mana is needed.
Q: How do I deal with fire and physical immunes?
A: Run for your life! A dedicated fire druid can’t really defeat a FI/PI. Some druids use act 1 cold mercenaries to fight them, but most druids simply run past them or let their party destroy them.
Q: What monsters are not affected by molten boulder’s knockback?
A: The following monsters will not be affected, as they are “large.” Only the base family is listed, and only in the act in which they first appear. Notice how the list gets longer as you go further through the acts and remember: in Hell Act 5, pretty much any monster can spawn.
None of the act bosses, or other special super uniques, can be knocked back.
Stationary enemies (e.g. Blood Hawk Nests) cannot be knocked back.
Act 1: Tainted, Wendigo.
Act 2: Blunderbore, Maggot Demon.
Act 3: Frog Demon, Thorned Hulk.
Act 4: Finger Mage, Regurgitator, Vile Mother.
Act 5: Baal’s Minion, Blood Lord, Defiler, Frozen Horror, Overseer, Minion,
Seige Beast, Snow Yeti.
First, the reality. A fire druid is not a necromancer. In this day of absorb abusers wearing enigma and CTA, a fire druid is not a top build by any stretch. In fact, by most rankings, fire druids are near the bottom. If this appeals to you, fine, but be warned fire skills are generally absorbable, hard to hit with, and not instant killers like other PvP builds.
For a dedicated (public) PvP druid, you need to assume your opponent will absorb you. To counter this, you should focus on physical damage (volcano). Volcano and Armageddon are usually considered the only two viable fire skills, although some use Boulder as a deterrent.
Notes: Perfect items are used in calculations for convince. I do NOT endorse dupes. These recommendations are for a public no-holds-barred type duel. Many are cheap and bad mannered. Welcome to 1.10.
Focus on Fire Damage (not recommended)
Crystal sword with 6 5/5 fire facets
Stormshield with –15% reqs, 10% resist all, stat
+6 BO Call to Arms flail
Engima Breast Plate
Ravenlore with 5/5 facet
2 BK rings
Waterwalk boots (still better than any other 1.10 caster boots)
10 elemental skills with life, anni, 9 5% resist all 20 life scs
This will give you teleport, high level BO, -50% fire resists, roughly 15k Armageddon damage, almost maxed resists in hell, etc. Some gear adjustment will be required for some matchups, of course (getting more stack, improving fast cast to speed teleport, etc).
Focus on Physical Damage
Note: Focusing on physical damage means you actually only need to max volcano and boulder, so you COULD use other points in summons or wind skills.
Stormshield with –15% reqs, 10% resist all, stat
+6 BO Call to Arms flail
Engima Breast Plate
Shako with 15% resist all stat
2 BK rings
Waterwalk boots (still better than any other 1.10 caster boots)
10 elemental skills with life, anni, 9 5% resist all 20 life scs
This would give good mods and about 1k physical volcano. This would make a semi-viable ranged attack, although the casting delays would be painful.
Because fire absorb totally cripples your build, you have two choices. First, you can try to get -% resistance gear (see fire gear above). Next you can avoid fire damage altogether and focus on physical damage. You can also try to use charges of amplify damage to improve your mediocre physical damage.
Private dueling is obviously much more fair and mannered. Depending on the rules you duel under, absorb might not be allowed which would open up more skills as viable to you (fissure, Armageddon).