I’ve noticed a lot of questions relating to PvM LF/PJ Javazons on here lately so I thought I’d throw together a guide that tries to cover most of these questions. I have tried to be as thorough as possible so it’s very long. I’ve also tried to be very flexible by noting different options for both your final build and for the order you get your skills. This is by no means the only way to do it. Suggestions, comments and corrections are welcome.
- 1 Intro
- 2 How I play in general
- 3 How I played this Javazon
- 4 Level 99 Skills Goal
- 5 Skill options
- 6 Skill choices explained
- 7 Equipment
- 8 Merc
- 9 Stats
- 10 Skill Distribution Guide
- 11 Playing Techniques
This is an Amazon guide to a PvM LF/PJ Javazon build based on my experiences. It does not include information/options for building a Hybrid that uses a bow on weapon switch (with one exception) nor does it include info on the melee lightening skills as these are different types of builds. I make no claim that this build is better or worse than those. My Javazon is currently at lvl 87 and has completed all difficulties. I will attempt to explain my skill choices, the order in which to get the skills, how I play with the skills/equipment I have and any optional skill placement based on playing style preference and equipment. There is no perfect build. Others may have differing opinions. I will try to give explanations for choices that I think other Javazons might not agree with. Enjoy.
How I play in general
When starting a new char I usually try to research the different options based on other people’s experiences and set a general game plan for how I’ll proceed. One quirk that I have is that I never spend skill points or stat points unless I feel I must in order to advance. It is not unusual for me to have well over 100 stat points saved on any given character and I often have 250+ on caster characters. Therefore, this guide won’t spend much time on stat point allocation. I will, however, give advice on each stat and reasons to spend or not to spend points on it. Also, I pretty much play exclusively solo. From time to time I’ll hook up with one other player but this char was played almost entirely solo.
How I played this Javazon
Following my style explained above, I lvled this Javazon to 69 using max Lightning Fury (LF) and 1 point in Jab. No Valk, no Plague Javelin (PJ) and no Merc. I used stat points to meet the minimum Strength and Dexterity requirements for equipment and a handful in Vitality with none in Energy. At lvl 69 I made a choice to add Plague Javelin and maxed it in one step. At lvl 74 I decided to get a Might merc and at lvl 77 I invested in Fend and Valk. I’m at lvl 87 now with 5 skill points saved. I’m trying to decide if I want more Poison Javelin synergy (currently slvl 5) or more Jab. My choice will depend of if I can find a better alt weapon to use with Jab.
Level 99 Skills Goal
Every guide starts out with what we’d ultimately like to end up with at level 99. However, as everyone knows, reaching lvl 99 is not something you should plan on. :] A realistic, obtainable goal is lvl 75-85. This guide allows for a very effective build in this clvl range. Skill points spent beyond this range simply enhance the poison damage for Plague Javelin and are not required to be successful.
No Fend. This will save you 2 skill points that you can use to increase your Valk, D/A/E skills, Jab or CS. I think most Javazons will not recommend Fend. However, I have found it useful enough that it may be worth the 2 points. I’ll touch more on this in the next section.
Less poison more Jab.
Spend 5 in Pierce rather than 10. This will save you 5 skill points. I only recommend this if you plan on using the Razortail belt which gives you 33 to Pierce. At slvl 5 with +2 skills you will get 63% from your Pierce skill. Combined with Razortail you will have max Pierce. If you really want to max out your Valk and pump up some other skills, you could spend just 1 point in Pierce if using Razortail. With +2 skills you’d get 42% from your Pierce skill and another 33 from Razotail which is plenty. The goal is 75% or higher. The best thing to do is to figure out what your â€œend-gameâ€ equipment will be and how many +skills it will give you. See info on Pierce in the next section for more details.
If you decide to go with no Fend and/or a 1 or 5 point Pierce, where do you put the points you saved? You have a few options. You could max out Valk (An additional 4 pointsâ€¦and the best option imo.), pump up D/A/E (I don’t recommend thisâ€¦explanation in next section), pump up Jab/Fend or increase your Critical Strike.
Skill choices explained
Lightning Fury is a no-brainer. Excluding Lightning Immune monsters (LIs) this skill is pound for pound the fastest group killer in the game. The more monsters on the screen the better. You may even find yourself just running around gathering up a host of monsters to follow you. Toss a few LFs at the group and they’re all dead. You may run into mana problems when facing Physical Immunes, monsters that you can’t leech from and when fighting single monsters. This is a slvl 30 skill and my guide suggests that you max this first. However, this means that until clvl 30-35, you’ll need to rely on a 1pt Jab and 1pt Plague Javelin. It’s not all that hard to get there but if you’re having trouble, try to group through the 20’s or you can optionally start pumping your Plague Javelin first to help you through these levels.
Plague Javelin is quite useful but not really necessary until Hell difficulty where it becomes a requirement. The poison damage will help neutralize the life regeneration of Hell difficulty monsters and increase your kill speed when dealing with LIs. I’ve also used PJ with a Valk to take down bosses that are too dangerous to go toe to toe with and LF isn’t taking down their life sufficiently.
Notes on Plague/Poison Jav: It has been suggested in many other threads that you do not need to max both of these skills to get useful poison damage. I believe Kristy has suggested that a 20/10, 15/15 or 10/20 skill point distribution between the 2 skills is quite effective. My guide suggests 20/20 with the last 10 points in Poison Javelin being your last 10 points earned by your character. It would be a completely viable option to spend 30 skill points instead of 40 and use remainder on Jab or some other skill of your choice.
Jab & Fend have many uses and complement LF and PJ. 1 point in Jab will take you a long way until you get LF. LF, at times, can be quite mana intensive. â€œManagingâ€ how you leech mana and â€œspendâ€ mana is the primary play challenge of this build. It’s not rocket science but there are a host of methods to use based on your skills, equipment and the monsters you are facing.
A 1 point Jab with +skills will suffice until you get into Hell difficulty. LF is amazing with crowds but kind of a pain with single monsters or a few monsters roaming aroundâ€¦depending on the monster. What you’ll find is that it can cost you a full mana ball or more to take down some single monsters with LF. Mix in Jabs to conserve mana. Jab is also the skill of choice when dealing with single or spread out LIs. Pre-PJ this is all you’ve got and after you get PJ it will speed up killing LIs.
As I mentioned before most Javazons won’t/don’t recommend Fend. I decided to give it a try due to the substantial +dam mod compared to what Jab gives. The catch is that when using Fend on a single target it is fairly slow, but when using it on a group that is surrounding you it’s actually faster than Jab. Soâ€¦.is spending 2 points to get Fend worth having a better physical attack for the scenario where you are in melee range of multiple LIs? Imoâ€¦yes. Is it required? No. I have found that there are enough places with packs of LIs that will rush you to make Fend worth while. However, I like to vary the areas where I play and tend to jump around Acts a lot. I don’t just repeat the same area over and over. The choice, of course, is yours.
Updated notes on Jab/Fend: My opinions stated above still hold true but I think in hindsight I wouldn’t just preferred to spend those 2 extra points in Jab. It’s really a play-style preference. Fend can be useful, but it’s up to you to decide if you want to use it.
I really don’t like to get too deep into the math of this game but some folks like to know these things. You can find the IAS tables for Javelins using Jab, Fend and thrown, Considering Jab/Fend are tertiary skills to this build, I don’t find this information to be critical. It’s more useful for melee Javazon/Spearazon builds.
Update: I don’t know if the thread listed above is working anymore of if it got deleted as well. Perhaps it will be reposted in that thread. If it is, then great, if it’s reposted in another thread I’ll try to update this thread with a new link.
Inner Sight can be a nice skill in your early levels when you don’t have much else at your disposal. It doesn’t have much long-term use but it’s a requirement for Valkâ€¦so use what you’ve got.
Slow Missiles, however, does retain long term benefits even with just 1 point. You won’t have a ton of skills to manage so don’t forget this skill when you’re facing a lot of ranged attackers. It can make things much more manageable.
Decoy is nice when you, your Valk and your merc are facing a powerful pack. An extra body for the monsters to focus on can pay off in certain situations. If one of your minions is being overwhelmed, a Decoy, strategically placed, can give them a little breathing room. Many Amazon players, Bowazon and Javazon alike, use Decoy as a scout in dangerous environments. Cast it at the edge of your screen to get a glimpse at what’s to come.
Valk’s are awesome in v1.10. As I’m sure you’ve read in many threads, slvl 17 (including +skills) is the ultimate, minimum goal. I played my char to lvl 77 without one but find it quite useful in Hell difficulty now. Your Valk will serve as your major meat shield keeping you and your merc out of trouble and can deal a considerable amount of damage.
Dodge, Avoid and Evade are foundation skills for any Amazon. The general thinking in the past was to try to get each of these to 50%. The slvl’s are 12/7/12 respectively to achieve this. Even with +skills, that’s a lot of points. I’ve found that reaching the 50% mark is not necessary and the points can be better spent elsewhere. Shooting for 40% for each is much more efficient. The slvl’s to achieve this are 6/4/6. Assuming you have +2 skills you only need to spend 10 points to get 40%…much better than spending 25 points to get 50%.
Critical Strike is very important in terms of mana leech from thrown Javelins and Jab/Fend. CS has substantial diminishing returns starting at the slvl 7-9 range. Slvl 8 is 51% and is a nice goal. With +2 skills you only need to put 6 points in CS. CS will help you early in the game when you are mostly using Jab, and late in the game for mana leech and taking down LIs.
Penetrate really isn’t very important to a Javazon. You only need 1 point here as a pre-req to Pierce. The AR bonus really only helps with Jab & Fend, both of which give their own AR bonus. Fend gives a 10% AR bonus per point (same as Penetrate) as well as a +dam bonus. Jab gives a 9% AR bonus per point.
Pierce is a primary skill for a Javazon. Each time LF or PJ pierce a monster and hit another monster the effects of the skill multiply by the number of times the javelin hits. Each time it pierces you have another chance to hit. The results are devastating. You want a 75% or more chance to pierce so that this happens frequently. This can be achieved in a few different ways depending on points placed in Pierce, +skills and use of the Razortail unique belt which adds 33 to your chance to pierce. In this build I assume you have +2 to all skills from Titan’s and that’s all. So your 3 options in this scenario are:
Now, if you’re going to have more +skills just use the percentages found on the Arreat Summit web site for each Pierce skill level to determine how you get 75%+ chance to pierce. If you are unsure whether you are going to use Razortail put 1 to 5 points in Pierce until you are sure. That way, if you use Razortail you’ll get between 75% and 95% chance to pierce. If you don’t end up using Razortail then you can pump Pierce up to 10. If you put more than 5 in Pierce and end up using Razortail you’ll have wasted points in Pierce. Got it?
Notes about Pierce: It was discussed at length in the original thread about the max attainable Pierce and whether Pierce from various sources stacks. Pierce from the skill and from items does indeed stack. However, I’ve not seen clear evidence on whether it is maxed a 95% or 100%. Believe what you want, the points spent and the results are not â€œbuild breakersâ€. You’ll be fine with whichever way you go. :]
I’ve always hated reading guides that are equipment dependant. Wellâ€¦.now that I’m writing a guideâ€¦.I understand why it’s done. The bottom line isâ€¦if you want to survive and excel in Hell difficultyâ€¦you’re going to have to have some pretty nice equipment. I’ll try to give a few good choices for each piece of equipment and my preference for end-game stuff. I think there are clear-cut choices for Weapon, Shield, Helm, Belt and Rings but many options for Gloves, Boots, Armor and Amulet. It would be good to hear from others what their equipment preferences are to supplement what is listed hereâ€¦as I feel my suggestions for the latter group of equipment are not very comprehensive.
Imo Titan’s Revenge is a must-have weapon for a throwing Javazon. It does decent/good physical damage, the mods are excellent and most importantly the stack size is large and it replenishes quantityâ€¦.this is the deciding factor over all others. It’s fairly hard to find a rare Javelin with mods that compare to Titan’s. If you can’t get a Titan’s, here are the things to consider based on how Javazon skills work relative to the weapon used. With LF and PJ, your 2 main skills, the physical damage of the javelin really isn’t very important. You could use crappy, cracked normal javelins for these skills and you’d do just as much lightening and poison damage as with a Titan’s. The problem is that you won’t leech any mana/life back to keep your bulbs full. Some players like to find very high-damage, fast javelins to keep on their weapon switch to use with Jab and Fend. This is a good idea but these javelins aren’t much easier to obtain than a Titan’s. A Titan’s is kind of the balance between all things javelin. Good damage, great mods, high stack size and replenish quantity.
Update on weapon: Many people ask if a Thunderstroke is a good weapon for this build. It is not. Primarily because of the low stack size. I can’t stress this enough. Even with a Titan’s you’ll be running out more often than you like but it is certainly the best option and isn’t really all that annoying. Anything else and you’ll be pulling your hair out because of the frequent repairs.
I didn’t include this the first time around but some of the thread discussion brought out some good ideas for an alt weapon. Personally, I don’t use an alt weapon although I would if I found the right one. I just keep an extra Titan’s around kind of like a Bowazon keeps an extra set of arrows around. But there are some good choices for an alt weapon if you can find them and if you have the stats to weapon switch to them.
There is really only 1 choice if you want to weapon switch to a Javelin and that would be Demon’s Arch. It’ll give you about 40 more physical damage than the Titan’s and add 232-323 Fire damage. It adds lightening damage as well but that not important as your weapon switch item would be used for LIs. Note that you’d need 127 str to use this item. The other unique Javelins don’t have any physical or non-lightening/poison elemental strengths over Titan’s so they’re not suggested. Wraith Flight might be alright due to It’s high physical damage but it’s a little slow. I suppose there are Cruel rares out there that would work as well. You’ll also either have to have a second nice shield or be content with manually swapping out the Javelins which, imo, isn’t very practical.
Most people seem to like to use a good spear on weapon switch. The key is high physical damage and speed. Extra non-lightening/poison damage is a bonus. Any of the elite unique spears are good but I think Arioc’s Needle is the best of the bunch. It’s fast, ITD, good physical damage, +skills and Deadly Strike. The added poison damage isn’t needed. Viperfork is the fastest but has the lowest physical damage and again, the added poison damage doesn’t matter compared to your Plague Javelin. The Steel Pillar has huge physical damage but is a little slower than the others. Shael it and it should be fast enough with that much damage. The 2 Amazon specific spears, Lycander’s Flank and Stoneraven are also good options provided they are Shael’ed. Watch the requirements of the spears though. They’ll be more than you need for your standard set of equipment. In particular be careful about the +str and +dex you lose when switching away from Titan’s and/or Stormshield.
The biggest issue with weapon switching to another Javelin or Spear is that you’d lose your 35% DR from SSâ€¦provided you’re using SS. If you’re using Shaftstop instead you’ll most likely be losing resistances from your shield. In any eventâ€¦.you’re going to lose something that has to do with safety making melee more dangerous. The range and high damage of a spear can help offset this. Just remember you’ll be more susceptible to attack when switching.
Finally, while I stated at the beginning that I wouldn’t cover Hybrid buildsâ€¦ieâ€¦builds that use a bow on weapon switchâ€¦there is one bow worth mentioning for this build and that is Witchwild String (WWS). I don’t really consider using this item on switch to be a true Hybrid because you don’t have to spend a single point in the Bow tree to use it effectively. WWS comes with a lvl 20 Magic Arrow. At level 20 it costs no mana to use. Ideally, you’d want to upgrade it to a Diamond Bow for added physical damage. The requirements shouldn’t be a problem and it has other mods that are very nice. First it gives +40 res all which can help if you’re depending on your shield for resistances. With chance to cast amp damage, you are essentially doubling the physical damage you do and it also has critical strike equal to your character level increasing the physical damage even more. With 2 sockets you can enhance it further. A Nef for Knockback and an Eth for -25 Target Defense are runes to consider. The loss of DR from SS when switching to WWS isn’t that big of a concern as you’ll be ranged.
Stormshield (SS), hands down, is the shield of choice. But even if you get one, you won’t be able to use it until lvl 73. Until then find one with good res all mods or really anything else that helps keep you alive. The Ancient’s Pledge runeword is an obvious, easy to make, early choice. If it’s not clear, the reason SS is so good is because of the 35% damage reduced (DR), 72% block and hefty cold and lightning resist mods. DR is often overlooked by many players. It is every bit as important as resistances and blockâ€¦perhaps more.
Update on shield: I’ll go ahead and include other good shields but SS is still by far the best choice. The only time I’d say you shouldn’t use a SS is if you want to use a Shaftstop armor. Shaftstop gives 30% DRâ€¦.so combined with a SS you are going overboard on DR. Soâ€¦either go Um’d Shaftstop and a high res/block shield or a high res armor with a SS. As for other shields: Moser’s Blessed Circle with 2 Perfect Diamondsâ€¦good block % and lots of resists. Spirit Ward is a nice shield for res all/blocking and cold absorb but his has a very high str requirementâ€¦185. If you’ve got a lot of str so you can use other itemsâ€¦.for exampleâ€¦Steel Pillar on weapons switchâ€¦.this is an optionâ€¦.but imo that’s far too much str. Gerke’s Sanctuary is good for similar reasons but the str req is a little lessâ€¦.133. The Sanctuary Runeword (Ko+Ko+Mal) has great shield mods and would be great with a Shaftstop armor. Whistan’s Guard (Orphan’s Call set) can be a good early shield due to its insanely high block %. Req lvl is only 29 and it has a 92% chance to block. Put a Perfect Diamond in it for some added res all.
There are several good helm choices. My preference is Vampire Gaze due it the dual leech and 15-20% DR mods. SS and Vamp Gaze together (Or Shaftstop and a perfect Vamp Gaze) max your DR at 50%. This is huge. Other popular choices are Stealskull (Dual leech, MF, IAS), Rockstopper (resists, DR), Tal-Rasha’s Mask (Big dual leech, res all). Like I saidâ€¦.plenty of choices.
Update on helms: Some more optionsâ€¦Crown of Ages is awesomeâ€¦.DRâ€¦res allâ€¦socketsâ€¦.but very rare. Harlequin’s Crest also give DR, +2 skills, big mana/life and good if you’re going to try to make an MF’er.
Again, there are many good belts out there but 3 seem to stand out for this build imo. Thundergod’s Vigor (tgods), Razortail and String of Ears (SoE). Each has advantages and your choice, should you be so fortunate to be able to choose, will mostly depend on what helm and shield you are using. If you are getting max DR from SS (or Shaftstop) and Vampire Gaze, then the DR mod on SoE is wasted. Razortail allows you to save a handful of skill points on Pierce. And tgods, my preference, is great not just because it has +3 to LF, but because of the increase to max lightening resist, lightening absorb and added str/vit. All of these things together make it an awesome beltâ€¦.especially the lightening res/absorb mods for those nasty Gloams/Black Souls/etc.
I haven’t really explored all the possibilities for good gloves as I found +2 Jav & Spears, 20% IAS, 3% LL gloves. That’s good enough for me. (Pick up and identify all rare gloves that drop.) The gloves that I see people recommend or using most often in posts around here are the Trang-Oul gloves because of the 25% increase to poison damage. Those are a good choice. I would still recommend +jav skills gloves as long as they have a second mod that’s good. Soul Drainers would be alrightâ€¦.but good rares are probably the best way to go. Until you can get these I’d just look for gloves that make up for deficiencies elsewhereâ€¦.such as leech or resistances.
This is another area where I don’t see a clear-cut, must-have choice. I’m currently using Waterwalks and they serve me well. I might swap them for Infernostrides. *shrug* Of course, FRW is pretty importantâ€¦.but a lot of the uniques have this. Resists, elemental absorbs, increase max res, +def vs missilesâ€¦etc are good. Same as glovesâ€¦.try to make up for deficiencies with your choice of boots.
Update on boots: Marrowwalk’s could actually be interesting. The Life Tap charges would be useful to keep your merc alive in nasty situations and the Bone Prison could even be useful from time to time. +str/dex to help meet reqs and mana regen. Not bad. :] Silkwave’s are also a good choice because of the +mana per kill. This is a great mod especially when facing unleechable monsters.
Most of the other items I’ve recommended don’t do a lot in the way of resistances, so I like to use any good res all armor I can find. Defense isn’t really all that important. With max DR, resistances, block and 40% D/A/Eâ€¦.you’re pretty safe. A personal favorite is the Smoke runeword. (Nef+Lum) Although, other than the resistances and def it doesn’t have much else on itâ€¦.but it’s not that hard to make. The def vs Missiles and FHR are good too. Any other unique/rare with res that helps you get maxed out is fine. Some other LF/PJ Javazons like to use the Bramble runeword (Ral+Ohm+Sur+Eth) for the 25-50% increase to poison damage. Ohm and Sur are very high level runes though. But if you can make this, it’s very nice armor. The other mods on it are great too. I think I would trade out my Smoke Ornate plate for Bramble if I could get the runes. One note about using Bramble with SS is that the 2 together give complementary bonuses to resistances. SS does +60 cold, +25 lightening and Bramble gives +30 fire, +100 poison.
Update on armor: The main armor I left out was Shaftstop. If you’d like to use a shield other than Stormshield, Shaftstop is the best way to get DR%. It’s a great armor. One of the best in the game imo. Um it for some res all. Other great armors are the runewords Chains of Honor (Dol+Um+Ber+Ist) and Enigma (Jah+Ish+Ber)â€¦.although Enigma doesn’t get you any resistances and only 8% DR. It’s great for MF’ing though. Skin of the Vipermagi is an armor that’s great for just about any class. Durial’s Shell can help a lot when lacking some of the other suggested items. And Tyrael’s Might (very rare) would certainly work well.
It’s hard to recommend Mara’s cause it’s pretty rareâ€¦.more rare than most of the other equipment here. But no doubt it would be a great amulet to have on any build. Several of the other uniques are okayâ€¦.but none really seem to be great all around for this build, although they could be perfect for filling in for stats you’re lacking. Otherwise you’re looking for resistances, leech and +skills. I’m using a mana leech, res all rare amulet.
Raven Frost is a must imo. The Cannot Be Frozen, and Cold Absorb mods are excellent. The +dex, AR and mana is nice too. It’s just great all around. Manald Heal for the mana leech (can’t have too much for this build), regen mana/life and +life. Dwarf Star is good for the Fire Absorb and +life. Using Raven Frost, Dwarf Star and the Thundergod’s Vigor belt will get you elemental absorb in fire, cold and lightning. If you can’t get these specific rings, look for rings with similar mods, specifically leechâ€¦and resists are common ring mods if you need them.
As you may have noticed I stress DR% equipment a lot in this build. While you are ranged attacking most of the time I still feel that DR is a huge advantage to nearly every build. And this build will require you to go melee to deal with LIs, single monsters and bossesâ€¦.unless you’re going with the WWS on weapon switch. However, I don’t mean to try to lock you into a specific set of equipment. If you’re comfortable with meleeing without max DRâ€¦or any DRâ€¦then go for it. The selection of DR equipment is very limited and I’ve covered most of the useful items above. Here are mods that I find important to the build:
Max DR (50%)
Max Block (75%)
Max Resistances (75%)
Mana Leech/+Mana Per Kill/+Mana/Mana Regen
Elemental Absorbs (Fire/Cold/Lightening)
Frankly, I don’t think a merc is nearly as important to a Javazon as it is to other builds. None of the merc choices REALLY stand out as a must have complement to the Javazon. Having said that, there are a couple of choices that can assist you. My choice was to go with a Might merc. (Act 2, NM, Offense) A Might merc helps you in 2 ways. First, it increases your physical damage when using Jab, Fend and the initial hit when throwing your Jav. Mana leech is important and Might can help you leech. It also increases the damage output of your Valk. I suppose a Holy Freeze merc (Act 2, NM, Defense) could be beneficial as well but I find that having a Valk and merc is enough for crowd control.
The challenge with a merc is to keep them alive. I’ve not read many guides that give suggestions on how to do this. So here are some that I’ve learned. I’ve been playing D2 since it first came out and only started using mercs recently. I could never figure out how to keep them alive. I’ve formulated a merc â€œstarter setâ€ that has been very good for Act 2 mercs. I now have mercs on almost all of my chars and have been able to keep them alive and lvling with this set of equip: Lance of Yaggai, Duskdeep and Goldskinâ€¦.all low-level, normal uniques. This will max a merc’s resistances pretty much anywhere, anytime. Their damage output will stink, but as they level, and gain natural resistances, you can replace the Lance with one that has higher damage and more suitable mods, and still maintain max resistances with Duskdeep and Goldskin. As they continue to level, you can replace the helm for better, non-res, mods and get them a Smoke runeword armor to increase their defense and still have enough res all to keep them max. When swapping out equipment for mods other than res all, the best mods to look for are, life leech, replenish life, +life, damage reduced, elemental absorbs and prevent monster heal. Although, prevent monster heal isn’t as important in this build since you have Plague Javelin to counter life regen in Hell difficulty. Remember, the primary purpose for a merc is their aura, not their killing ability. Their ability to kill is a bonus once you get them equipment to keep them safe. Even with good equipment, they will die. Resurrect them immediately after they die. And after a while you should get the hang of feeding them life/rejuv potions and/or retreating in times of need.
For higher level Act 2 mercs there are essentially 3 weapons that stand out: Reaper’s Toll Polearm, Doom runeword Polearm and Crescent Moon runeword Polearm. The Reaper has a chance to cast Decrepify which will slow down monsters and amp damage them. Good for safety and leeching. Doom adds a level 12 Holy Freeze aura to your merc which his also good for safety. Crescent Moon is probably the easiest to get out of the 3 and adds a chance to cast Static Field on striking which will increase your kill rate. For this build I’d probably choose the Reaper’s Toll. Add an Um’ed Shaftstop and an Um’ed Vamp Gaze (or Crown of Ages) and he’d be nearly as tough as your Valk. Combined with the equipment for you, that’s a LOT of great stuff to get though. :]
One final merc tip. If you are high level and not currently using a merc or want to change your merc to an Act 2, NM mercâ€¦..outfit them with equip to get them max resistances in NM and load up a players 8 NM game. Just do Baal Minion runs over and over. (Forget Baalâ€¦just do the minions. It’s a time efficiency thing.) You’ll have that merc up to your level in no time and probably get a few lvls yourself. On the way to Baal’s minions you should be able to kill virtually everything on the screen with LF before the merc gets in harms way. If players 8 is too hard for youâ€¦lower it a little until you are comfortable. After doing a few runs like this you’ll get an idea for the different types of monsters that can spawn on this run. Depending on your preferences, you may or may not want to re-roll the level to get a set of monsters that are very easy for you to tear through. Your merc will probably die a few times during the actual minion battles. Resurrect them between each batch of minions that spawn. The minions are huge experience.
As I stated about how I play, I generally don’t spend my stat points unless I really need to, but here is a little info about each stat and its use in this build:
Strength: Minimum to use equipment. This will most likely be 156 to use Stormshield. Keep in mind that a Titan’s gives you +20 to str and if you are going to use a Thundergod’s belt, it also gives +20 to str. However, points in strength are never â€œwastedâ€ as the physical damage calculation for Titan’s uses both strength and dexterity. Strength is actually more heavily weighted than Dexterity with the proportions being 0.8%/str and 0.5%/dex. Also remember that if you’re going to choose a spear for weapon switch that you’ll need more strength, as you’ll lose 20 from Titan’s and 30 from SS. That can be a lot to overcome with other gear.
Dexterity: Minimum to maintain max block. If you’re using Stormshield or some other high percentage block shield, this won’t be too hard to do. I found a formula in another thread to calc max block. I compared it with a few other posts and they all seem to be the same. So these are the numbers I’ve calculated based on that formula. Please inform me if this somehow turns out to be wrong.
Dex needed for Max Block (75%) using Stormshield on an Amazon:
clvl 73 = 168 dex
clvl 75 = 172 dex
clvl 80 = 182 dex
clvl 85 = 193 dex
clvl 90 = 203 dex
clvl 95 = 213 dex
clvl 99 = 222 dex
If you’re using a different shield here is the formula to calc the dex needed for max block 75%:
Dex = [ (75*clvl*2) / (block % for Amazon on shield) ] + 15
Where the number in  is rounded up.
Vitality: Everything else. (Stat note: 1 pt Vitality = +2 life, +1 Stamina)
Energy: None. (Stat note: 1 pt Energy = +1.5 mana) This build is fairly mana intensive, butâ€¦wellâ€¦it’s â€œsituationallyâ€ mana intensive. Depending on the monsters you may have no mana problems at all, or you may have major mana problems. I prefer to address this by wearing as much mana leech as possible and getting +mana charms. Ultimately, your play style will address the mana issue. You’ll need to learn when to use what skills against different monsters to keep your mana full and your killing power high. Every situation has a solution.
Skill Distribution Guide
Most guides give you an end-game skill point distribution but don’t give much advice on how to get there. So I’ve decided to break down skill point distribution for every 25 lvls. Skill point distribution per lvl is excessive and restrictive. These are just guidelines to get you skills that you’ll need, at the time you’ll need them, throughout your journey. Also note that his guide leans toward LF as your primary skill and PJ as your secondary skill. I’ve seen many people post on the Amazon forums with a build that ultimately ends up about the same as this one but they went all poison first, and then followed up with LF. So that is obviously a viable option, however, this guide promotes going LF first. It is my opinion that LF is a much faster killer than PJ and will allow you to lvl faster.
Levels 1 â€“ 25 (28 skill points: 24 from lvls +4 from quests)
I’m assuming you’ve killed Izual on Normal by lvl 25 which is a pretty safe assumption. We’re basically getting all pre-reqs in the Javelin & Spear tree with a little build up in the Passive & Magic tree. Killing big D might be tough, but labor through it so you can move on. Load up on fire resist and make sure you’re standing right next to him when you Jab so his lightening attack won’t hit you. You can hit him with a lvl 1 Plague Javelin from time to time for a little assistance. Or you can buy a million mana pots and kill him from a distance with Lightening Bolt.
In the beginning, get your lvl 1 Jab right away and Critical Strike up to lvl 6. Jab will be your main attack until you can get Lightening Fury at lvl 30. Lightening Bolt, Poison Javelin and Plague Javelin can assist you but you probably won’t have enough mana/leech to use them consistently. Inner Sight can be spammed in any situation to make mobs easier to kill. Slow Missiles is helpful with ranged attackersâ€¦especially unique ranged mobs. The first 15 levels should be cake without whatever equipment you can find. From 15 to 25 might prove a little more challenging if you don’t do any poison skills first. If you’re having too much trouble, get a group to help you get to lvl 30 or so.
Tir runes are not that hard to find in your early levels and are a great substitute for mana leech itemsâ€¦.perhaps even better when you’re low level and don’t do a ton of physical damage. Get a 3 socket armor and put 3 Tir’s in there. It’ll last you a long time. As for the rest of your equipment use whatever you can find/buy. I like to use socketed stuff early on with any gems, jewels and runes that drop.
8 skill points saved
Levels 26 â€“ 50 (55 skill points: 49 from lvls +6 from quests)
You may have +8 skill points from quests if you kill Izual in NM, which shouldn’t be too hard for lvl 50. But to be safe I’ll assume you haven’t.
It’s time to get your main skill, Lightening Fury, and its complement Pierce. You’ll also have a tank with your Valk. You should have at least +2 to all skills from a Titan’s Revenge, equipable at clvl 42. Max LF asap, but make sure you get at least 1 point in Pierce. The order in which you get points into Valk and Pierce is up to you and will probably be determined by what equipment you are using. Getting your Pierce % up is more important than Valk imo for NM difficulty.
Levels 26 to 33 or so might be pretty hard if you’ve not done any poison, but once you get a handful of points into Lightening Fury and Pierce everything will change. The rest of nightmare shouldn’t prove too difficult. The main challenges will be the bosses. I wish I had some specific advice for each boss at this point, but honestly, it’s been so long since I faced the NM bosses that I can’t remember what I did to defeat them. It would be much appreciated if other LF/PJ’ers who’ve recently built their zons would post their experiences with bosses in NM difficulty.
Passive & Magic (31 points)
1 Inner Sight, Slow Missiles, Decoy, Avoid, Evade, Penetrate
6 Critical Strike
10 Pierce (As I’ve described in other areasâ€¦you may only be going for 1 or 5 points here. Get the lvl you ultimately will want and use any extras in Valk.)
Levels 51 â€“ 75 (84 skill points: 74 from lvls +10 from quests)
Now we work on getting Plague Javelin as you prepare or start work on Hell difficulty, and pumping up your Valk to survive the upcoming onslaught. As I mentioned in the beginning, it is quite possible to get to lvl 70 with just LF, Pierce and Jab. So whether you want to pump up your Valk first or you Plague Jav first is up to you. You may even choose to alternate between them. When you move on to Hell difficulty I suggest that you have a high lvl Plague over a high lvl Valk. A mid lvl Valk will still serve as a good tank but the poison damage is a must when facing LIs. I suggest playing 8 player NM games until you are in you mid to late 70s. You’ll be much better prepared for Hell. Baal minion runs, of course, are lots of experience with little effort. NM, even with players 8, shouldn’t be much of a challenge with max LF and a good Pierce. Use this time to lvl your Merc if necessary. Having your merc in the 70s really helps when moving to Hell difficulty as they’ll have more natural resistances and you’ll be able to equip them with better, non res gear.
Levels 76 â€“ 99 (110 skill points: 98 from lvls +12 from quests)
Finish it off. Get your Avoid to 2 and Evade to 4. Fend if you want it. Pump your Valk up to whatever lvl you’ve decided to take her to and as the very last step, after you’ve got all your other skills to the final lvl you want them, get synergy from Poison Javelin.
At this point, you should have a good idea of how you are playing this zon. You may decide you would like to deemphasize poison and go for more Jab. Or, as an alternative outside the suggested build here, you could skimp on the poison synergy and go with some Charged Strike to help with boss killing if that’s your thing. If you’re able to save points in Pierce by using Razortail and more +skill items, and are fine with less poison synergy, you should have enough points to max Charged Strike. LF is a synergy to CS so it should be good enough to work on bosses. It won’t be nearly as powerful as a pure Lightening zon but suitable for boss killing.
I didn’t include this the first time around and I’m not going to go into too much depth here as I think everyone should (and does) find their own style of play. And how you approach these situations will depend a lot on what skills you choose and what alt weapon you go with. But this is just a general scenario of how I approach play in Hell difficulty.
For packs of non-LIs it’s straight forward. LF till almost everyone is dead then follow up with Jab (or whatever alt attack you’re going to use for single monsters). Toss in a Plague Javelin from time to time to speed things up. Try to use a highly leechable monster as your primary target when spamming LF.
For mixed packs of non-LIs and LIs I generally do the same as above, using a highly leechable monster as my primary LF target. Spam LF until all the non LIs are dead. If there is a leechable LI, this is a good LF target as the initial physical damage of your thrown javelin will kill the LI and all the bolts will kill the non-LIs on the screen. Mix in Plague Javelins as often as you can, again targeting a leechable LI when possible. When there are only LIs left, continue with your Plagues and use your alt, non-lightening attack to pick the LIs off one by one. I try to start with the stragglers and let my merc/valk work on the more dense packs. If you went with Fend you can stand behind you Valk or Merc when they’re facing a pack and Fend multiple LIs at once. Or if you have Max DR and block and the monsters are particularly nasty you can just let them swarm you and Fend away.
When facing just LIs it’s the same as the last half of the previous tactic. Plauge as often as possible and pick off the stragglers with your alt, non-lightening attack. Use your tanks as a buffer so that you’re not the monsters primary target.
The worst scenario is Lightening Immunes/Poison Immues. This takes a lot of patience and careful advancement. The best strategy is to use your Decoy, Valk and Merc to lure a few monsters at a time to a â€œsafeâ€ area. Soâ€¦just be careful about charging ahead without looking to see what kind of monsters are around. Casting Decoy at the edge of the screen is a good way to â€œscoutâ€ ahead. You’ll have to rely entirely on your alt, non-lightening/poison attack and your Valk/Merc to take these down.
Finally, bosses and super uniques can be as hard as LIs/PIs. LF is not a good single target skill and, depending on your poison damage, Plague can be slow going. If you have max DR, block and resistances you should be able to tank most bosses just fine. So Plague away and Jab, Jab, Jab. Or use Magic Arrow if using WWS on weapon switchâ€¦.or Charged Strike instead of Jab if you go that way.