The guide itself is a little bit long and mathematical in my opinion, but the introduction was a great source on inspiration. I just had to test it with a shape-shifting druid. This is a guide to a dexbased druid and I know there are such already. But this guide is from a little bit different point of view.
If youâ€™ve played this game for awhile (been there, done that. Been there again done it twice), you might not find anything new here. But if your one of those who usually plays characters like Hammerdin, Single elemental Sorceress or Charge Strike Amazon. If youâ€™ve played a Fanatic Zealot with a BOTD eth Berserker Axe and still really havenâ€™t figured out how that â€œn00bâ€, using Holy Freeze, could kill faster then you. If youâ€™re one of those, then welcome to another worldâ€¦
2. Stat Points
Strength: Put enough here so the druid is able to wear his equipment. Remember to make the best use of strength bonuses granted from items. Save as many points as you can here.
Energy: Put no points here. A small amount of manaleech (ML) is all this druid need to keep his mana up.
Vitality: Put no points here. Now, this is why this druid is a little bit on the wild side. Normally melee characters always invest large amounts into vitality. Donâ€™t do that, I will explain this druidâ€™s secret key for survival later.
Dexterity: Put every point left here. Why? Because this druid use a bow for weapon and therefore dexterity will rise his damage, as well as the usual Attack Rating (AR) and defense.
3. Skill Points
The Skill Point distribution for this build is very much like any werewolf. However, there are always choices of alignment, like secondary attack and Spirit. Youâ€™ll need 96 Skill Points to finish this build, which means itâ€™s finished at level 85.
Shape Shifting tree
Werewolf: 15 pts
Lycantrophy: 20 pts
Feral Rage: 15 pts
Rabies: 1 pt (Prerequirement skill)
Fury: 20 pts
This main skill allows the druid to transmute into a ferocious werewolf. In werewolf shape Heâ€™s allowed to use special attacks like Fury, while other skills like Volcano becomes impossible to use. This skill also grants the druid Increased Attack Speed (IAS) as well as a wonderful AR bonus and 25% more life. If you, against my recommendation, choose to put fewer points here, make sure to put at least 5. Thatâ€™s because he needs that to reach 5 fpa (frames per attack) Attack Speed. Above those 5, points will only affect his AR. But AR is one of the keys to success with this build, so even max Werewolf if you get Skill Points left.
Just because you donâ€™t going to invest any Stat Points in vitality, life isnâ€™t necessarily a bad thing. This fantastic skill increases the druidâ€™s life by 115% (!) (at skill level 20). It also allows him to stay in werewolf shape for a much longer time, which is very comfortable.
This is a very important skill that grants the druid an insanely high amount of lifeleech (LL) (68% at skill level 15) and it makes him run/walk faster. The great thing with this skill is that he can charge it and then switch to an other skill (like Fury) and Feral Rage will still be active (unfortunately the damage and AR bonus doesnâ€™t stay) for 20 seconds. One hit with Feral Rage resets that timer. When Feral Rage is active, a red ball will circle around him. And it shall always be circling there. Itâ€™s essential for survival.
This is a good PvP skill but I think itâ€™s worthless in PvM. The duration time is way to long. 1 point must be invested here because itâ€™s a prerequirement skill.
Raven: 1 pt (Prerequirement skill)
Oak Sage: 1 pt (Prerequirement skill)
Summon Spirit Wolf: 1 pt (Prerequirement skill)
Heart of Wolverine: 20 pts
Summon Dire Wolf: 1 pt (Prerequirement skill)
Summon Grizzly 1 pt
The choice of spirit
Iâ€™ve never liked Oak Sage (OS) much. Not because the life bonus granted from it is bad, itâ€™s great, but because it dies to easily. In 1.10, I find it hard to keep it alive for more then a few seconds. And itâ€™s hard to get any time over to kill monsters if you have to stand and respawn the stupid thing all the time. Therefore my spirit of choice is Heart of Wolverine (HoW), which not can take to much damage either but at least has close to twice as much life as OS. HoW gave my druid approximately 300 more max damage, which are 600 after Deadly Strike (DS). More of that is explained later. One good thing about both spirits is that they are immune to physical attacks. Thatâ€™s very useful in certain situations, which Iâ€™ll explain in the strategy section.
This is a skill for all types of druids. Iâ€™ve only chosen to not invest in it once, which I regretted deeply. One point in it itâ€™s all thatâ€™s needed to make an excellent tank.
Before we move on to what kind of equipment this druid needs, I will discuss a few important attributes.
I will put this very simple. If you donâ€™t max, or very close to max, out your characters resistances (except for possibly cold) he/she will die. Do this at almost every cost.
Both LL and ML are important. But thereâ€™s no need to get LL from the equipment because of Feral Rage. ML, however, is needed. But around 4% is enough.
The werewolf has very good hit recovery so he doesnâ€™t need much Faster Hit Recovery (FHR). Here are the breakpoints:
I recommend going for 5 frames or donâ€™t bother at all.
This is one of the keys to success with this build. It has very high AR, which means very good chance to hit. My character has around 20 000. Some PvP players may laugh at this but itâ€™s very (I mean VERY) good for a PvM character. To have 80% chance to hit in act5 hell is generally okay. But consider that it means that 20% of the damage dealt over time is lost. This build has about 95% chance to hit (which is max) which means that only 5% damage dealt over time is lost. A good chance to hit also makes it easier to leech and trig â€œchance of cast on strikingâ€ things.
This give chance to double the physical damage! And this character has around 100% chance of doing so. In other terms, the damage showed in the character screen is only approximately half the damage he deals.
Crushing Blow (CB) reduces a target’s life by a certain fraction:
Normal Monster hit with a melee weapon: 1/4
Normal Monster hit with a ranged weapon: 1/8
Boss/Champion Monster hit with a melee weapon: 1/8
Boss/Champion Monster hit with a ranged weapon: 1/16
Player/Hireling hit with a melee weapon: 1/10
Player/Hireling hit with a ranged weapon: 1/20
For example CB does: 113812 * 1/8 * 0,55 (45%DR) = 7824 damage to a fresh hell Diablo. Or 30856 to a fresh hell Baal. Iâ€™m not entirely sure that the weapon for this build is calculated as melee weapon in werewolf form. But I assume so. Sadly enough, it doesnâ€™t work that good in an 8 players game because the monsters get 450% more life, while CB still deals the same amount of damage as if it were a 1-player game. But itâ€™s still great and this build has 15 â€“ 35% chance of CB.
Damage reduced by X
This goes under important attributes, but it will need some explanations and is therefore under an own rubric. This is the secret key to survival against physical attacks. This attribute can be found at, for example, The Gladiators Bane and the Sol rune. When I first saw it, I thought that it was a ridiculous worthless thing. I mean, my barbarian is running around with 4000 hit points, how can then 20 petty points of damage reduction help him?
This is why. Here are tables of all normal monsters in hell, how much damage they can deal and which kind of damage reduction that works best against them. But before you look at the tables there is a few things you need to know.
- PDR = Damage Reduced by X. Some may consider the abbreviation PDR to be meaning Damage reduced by %. But in Zarhrezz Energy Sorc guide PDR is used as abbreviation for Damage Reduced by X. I choose to do the same.
- DR = Damage reduced by %, which can be granted from, for example, Shaftstop.
- PDRnW = PDR and the attacking monster cursed with Weaken from Soul Drainer.
- DRnW = DR and the attacking monster cursed with Weaken from Soul Drainer.
- MaxDmg = maximum damage, MinDmg = minimum damage, AvgDmg = average damage.
- The columns under PDR, PDRnW, DR and DRnW show how much damage your character will take when the monster hit.
- The data is taken from Arreat Summit and they state: â€œStatistics listed on the Monster pages are for comparison purposes only and may not be exactly what is found in gameâ€. Now, I donâ€™t know exactly what they mean with this but if the damage listed is slightly incorrect, it wonâ€™t do any significant difference.
- Most monsters have two different physical attacks. Iâ€™ve taken no notice about if the maximum- and minimum damage is from different attacks. Therefore may the average damage be slightly incorrect.
- Iâ€™ve excluded monsters that donâ€™t deal physical damage.
- The DR in the tables is 50% (Which is max).
- The PDR in the tables is 100, which is a reasonable amount with very good equipment and armor, helm, amulet and possibly belt as sources.
- The character will of course always take less damage if the monster is cursed with Weaken.
When looking at maximum damage:
- PDR is better then DR against 98,7% of all monster types.
- PDRnW is always better then DRnW.
- PDR is better then DRnW against 98,1% of all monster types.
- With PDR, 48% of all monster types can damage your character.
- With PDRnW, 3% of all monster types can damage your character.
- With DR and DRnW, all monster types can damage your character.
When looking at average damage:
- PDR is always better then DR.
- PDRnW is always better then DRnW.
- PDR is better then DRnW against 98,5% of all monster types.
- With PDR, 16,4% of all monster types can damage your character.
- With PDRnW, 1,4% of all monster types can damage your character.
- With DR and DRnW, all monster types can damage your character.
When looking at minimum damage:
- PDR is always better then DR.
- PDRnW is always better then DRnW.
- PDR is always better then DRnW.
- With PDR, 2,7% of the monster types can damage your character.
- With PDRnW, no monster can damage your character.
- With DR and DRnW, all monster types can damage your character.
In other words and a few weaknesses
Well, that was a lot numbers, so Iâ€™ll put it in simple words here. PDR is almost always better then DR, when facing nonunique monsters. And Weaken from Soul Drainer makes it even better. In fact only 11 types of monsters can at all damage your character then. So now, when I hopefully have convinced you that PDR is superior to DR, I have to tell you about the few weaknesses that PDR has.
- To reach a high amount of PDR specific equipment is required which means sacrifices. He canâ€™t use Jalalâ€™s Mane in Hell for example.
- PDR can be less effective against unique-, super unique- and act
bosses. Because they hit harder and the unique/super unique can have Curse, Fanatism, Might and Extra Strong. Curse though, isnâ€™t always a problem, because itâ€™s calculated after PDR.
Magic damage reduced by X
There is a property called â€œmagic damage reduced by Xâ€ (MR). But it doesnâ€™t work as good as PDR. I think itâ€™s because the magic (meaning cold, lightning, fire, poison and magic) damage that monsters deal is much higher then their physical. But Arreat Summit lists very few elemental attacks so itâ€™s hard to tell. You may prove me theoretical wrong here but Iâ€™ve tested and it doesnâ€™t work very well.
Conclusion and a story
The conclusion is that PDR is an excellent method of defending, especially for a (possible) low life character like the Witchwild werewolf. I love know this. I especially remember a conversation at an other d2 forum, which went somewhat like this:
Person1: Iâ€™m so happy, I managed to trade for a Gladiators Bane todayâ€¦
Person2: Huh, that armor sucks. I donâ€™t even pick it up.
Person3: Thatâ€™s because you donâ€™t know how to use it.
Person2: What?! What do you mean?
If there was a smiley that expressed the insecurity of that there is something essential youâ€™ve missed after all those years of playing. Awaken by gleam of an other and yet undiscovered world within the game itself. That would have suited that last post perfect. I saw it and I smiled. I felt like I was member of a secret club of people who really understand the game. It might be one of the darker sides of the human mind, but damn, that was a good feeling.
I donâ€™t like the expressions expensive and cheap, regarding items; witch is so commonly used when speaking of them. I think itâ€™s somewhat misguiding. If I find a Tyraelâ€™s Might the first time I kill Baal in hell, that armor isnâ€™t â€œexpensiveâ€ to me. Lets just say that the best items for this build can be very hard to come by, while items that make the build doable isnâ€™t.
This is what makes the Witchwild werewolf witchwild. The weapon of choice is an upgraded Witchwild String (WWS). Even upgraded the damage of this bow isnâ€™t good. But it has three attributes, which makes it highly interesting. One, it has 2 sockets that makes it possible to reach 9/5/5/5/5 fpa with Fury. Two, it has a very high amount of DS. Three, it has chance to cast Amplify on striking. You might still be skeptic but I promise that it works. Put two Sheal runes or one Sheal and an ed/ias jewel in it to reach desired speed. For those who donâ€™t know, bows and crossbows work as melee weapons when the druid is in werewolf-/werebear form.
You have to get at least 20 PDR here. This can be achieved with a Circlet/Tiara/Corona/Diadem of Life Everlasting socked with Sol rune(s). Or with a Circlet/Tiara/Corona/Diadem of Amicae socked with Sol rune(s). Life Everlasting is the best suffix and give 10-25 PDR Amicae gives 8-15 and Sol gives 7. Itâ€™s preferable to have a nice prefix too. The best is Chromatic. In worst case, a helm socked with 3 Sol runes can do the job.
Try to get at least 25 PDR, buy less can work in some cases. Hereâ€™re the options. Armor of Amicae socked with as many Sol runes as possible. The Gladiators Bane socked with a Sol rune. Iron Pelt socked with Sol rune. Arkaineâ€™s Valor socked with Sol rune. An armor socked with four or three Sol runes can do as well. Griswoldâ€™s Heart and Black Hades are interesting, though especially Black Hades has a bit high strength requirement.
There are two ways to go here. The first is Crafted Blood Gloves. This is because the 10% CB a good pair gives and the only other gloves that gives that is Steelrend and they are way to heavy. Try to get a pair with resistances, good life and good leech. Venom Grip is like bad blood gloves but theyâ€™re okay. The other way is Soul Drainer. This is mostly because of their high chance to cast Weaken. Why thatâ€™s good is explained in the PDR discussion. The downside of it is that Weaken will override the Amplify curse from WWS.
My first choice here is what I think is the overall best belt in the game.Thundergodâ€™s Vigor. It has great strength and vitality bonuses and it got the combination +10% maximum lightning resist and 20 lightning absorb. Thatâ€™s all anyone needs to nullify Black Souls and their relatives, which can kill most characters in a few hits otherwise. The only downsides of this belt are the high strength requirement and the Chance to cast Fist of the Heavens when struck, because Fist of the Heavens have a short cast delay that can be annoying. Other alternatives are Credendum for nice resistances, strength- and dexterity bonus, Nosferatu’s Coil for saving Stat Points from strength and some leech, Verdungo’s Hearty Cord for great vitality bonus and Crafted Safety Belt for some PDR and possibly other good attributes. Rare belts can be good too.
There are two options here. Goblin Toe and Gore Rider. Goblin Toe can be used already at level 22 and is, with its 25% chance of Crushing Blow, superior to any other boots then. WWS gives 1-99% Deadly Strike (based on character level) and itâ€™s necessary to come very close to 100%. So I think that Gore Rider (which gives 15% Crushing Blow, 15% Deadly Strike and some open wounds) is better as long as you donâ€™t take your character to high 90is. Then it can be a good idea to switch back to Goblin Toe.
Almost every melee character needs a Raven Frost and the Witchwild werewolf is no exception. You can skip it if you use The Gladiators Bane (both items gives Cannot be Frozen which is necessary) but I see no reason why. If he canâ€™t get ML elsewhere the other ring shall be one with ML and preferably AR, resistances and strength or dexterity. If there is open slot(s) here though, Bul-Kathos’ Wedding Band and and/or Dwarf Star should be filling it/them. This is because their awesome life bonus, Bul-Kathosâ€™ Wedding Bandâ€™s +skill and Dwarf Starâ€™s fire absorb.
Thereâ€™s only one option here. An Amulet of Life Everlasting with approximately 18+ PDR. A good prefix is nice here too. The best is Chromatic.
1. Resistances. You have to max (or at least close) all resistances but cold which can be left at 60-70.
2. Damage/Attack Rating and life.
3. Skills and elemental damage. (if there is any room left).
Chromatic Circlet/Tiara/Corona/Diadem of Life Everlasting (Socked with 2 Sol runes)
Chromatic Amulet of Life Everlasting
Witchwild String (upgraded and socked with Sheal and a ed/ias jewel)
Jewelerâ€™s Armor of Amicae (Socked with 4 Sol runes)
Bul-Kathos’ Wedding Band or Dwarf Star
Shimmering Small Charms of Vita (until max resist is reached), Fine Small Charms of Vita, one Tome of Town Portal, one Tome of Identify and 8 squares of free space.
A mercenary is absolutely needed. Most suitable for this build is act2 Might-, Holy Freeze- or Defiance mercenary. I prefer Might.
Hereâ€™re examples of suitable equipment for the mercenary. Make Sure he has max resist, Cannot be Frozen and some LL.
Armor: Durielâ€™s Shell, Shaftstop, The Gladiators Bane.
- Play through act 1 in players 8 mode and put everything in strength until the druid can wear Sigonâ€™s set. Then put everything in dexterity until strength, eventually, is needed again.
- A fast as possible, equip Sigonâ€™s set, Angelic Wings and Halo, Manald Heal and Steel flail.
- Continue in act 2 with players 8 mode until he reaches level 20. Then equip him with Rougeâ€™s Bow. Then continue in players 1 mode. This may sound crazy. But it works.
- When he reach level 22, put a pair of Goblin Toes on his feet. These boots has an other name. Theyâ€™re called: â€œThe Enabletokilleverythinginnormalveryeasily Bootsâ€. Put a 15 maxdamage jewel in Rougeâ€™s Bow when the first quest in act 5 is done.
- Continue through normal and stay in act 5 and do baalruns until he reach level 45. When possible Equip him with items that can take him through nightmare. Not necessarily everything at the same time but when he leaves normal the equipment should look approximately like this: Amulet of Life Everlasting, Jalalâ€™s Mane, Iron Pelt with Sol, WWS (not upgraded), Bloodfist, String of Ears, Goblin Toe, Raven Frost and a ML ring.
- Play through nightmare and upgrade WWS when the druid reaches level 61.
- Stay in nightmare act 5 and do baalruns until level 75. Now he should be wearing most of the endgame equipment.
- Make sure his resistances are around 60 â€“ 65 in hell (the third Anya Quest will finish them). Then play through it.
Of course there is other ways, my word isnâ€™t law for this build. But this is how I did and it worked. A comment on the baalrunning is that you can chose to play it in everything between players 1 to players 8 depending on how fast it goes. I use to think that when you chose a combat shrine in front of an experience shrine, then youâ€™re playing in a too many players mode. The best way to level in hell at low 80s is, in my opinion, Eldrichruns.
Iâ€™ll put it simple.
2. Max out Fury as fast as possible. Then finish Lycantrophy.
4. Max the Spirit.
The Witchwild werewolf is played mostly like any Feral Rage-/Fury Druid. But since his life probably will be lower then other werewolvesâ€™ thereâ€™s reason to play it a little more careful. In general, a fight is preceded like this: Check if there’re any extra dangerous monsters in the area. If there isnâ€™t, go in, charge Feral Rage and make the mercenary go in there and tank. Then switch to fury and wellâ€¦ happy killing. But if there are dangerous monsters around, be more careful and let the mercenary do more of the tanking job. Lurk in the outer parts of the monster group. In both cases, always make sure that Feral Rage is active by switching back to it every 19th second and hit once before switching to fury again. Thereâ€™re also some special situations, which I want to discuss a bit further.
Facing Fire Enchanted monsters
Thereâ€™s well known that Fire Enchanted critters can be extremely dangerous in 1.10. And especially with a low life character Fire Enchant often means instant death. Therefore always, always, always make sure the mercenary finish them while your character is out of range. Same thing with Dolls (those nasty little monsters who explode when they die). Note that some Fire Enchanted monsters are very dangerous when theyâ€™re alive too. The Ancient Ones have one hit kill if theyâ€™re Fire Enchanted, High Councils too. And if a monster is both Fire- and Lightning Enchanted the lightning bolts will carry the fire damage and probably kill your character instantly.
Facing The Ancient Ones
The ancient ones are no match as long as they havenâ€™t got any super nasty mods. Look out for: Fire Enchant, Cursed, Aura Enchanted (with Fanatism or Might) and Extra Strong. If any of them has any of these, put up a Town Portal and restart. Otherwise, give it a shot. Some combinations of other mods then those mentioned can be deadly as well.
Facing Lister and his lads
Beside The Ancient Ones, beating Lister is the toughest challenge in the game. The Minions of Destruction has pretty high damage, are fast and stun-/knock back attack. Theyâ€™ll kill the mercenary easily and your character will be stunned if he tank. But hereâ€™s a trick to fool them. The Spirit (Oak Sage or Heart of Wolverine) is immune to physical damage. So considering Lister hasnâ€™t anything that can break this immunity (like Spectral Hit, Curse or Fire Enchant) the Spirit can easily tank him and his minions. So when they spawn, make sure theyâ€™re following your character out of range for Baalâ€™s curse and then summon the Spirit in the middle of them. If it works itâ€™s easy to kill them one by one while the others are busy. If it doesnâ€™t work the Spirit will die instantly. Then fall back and try to shatter the group.
When standing in a group of monsters and Fury seems to miss the target
Sometimes when enemies surround the werewolf, he seems to be unable to hit with fury. Thereâ€™s a simple solution to escape death in this situation. Switch to Feral Rage.
How to handle the Iron Maiden curse
This is known as one of the biggest problems a physical damage melee character face. But Iron Maiden (IM) canâ€™t actually kill the werewolf. This is because the druid canâ€™t die in werewolf (or werebear) shape. When he has one hit point left he will be formed human again and cause he only can use Fury and Feral Rage in werewolf shape heâ€™ll stop attacking. And add to this that the life leeched with the hit that made him human again will come afterwards and fill up the red globe. However, the druid will probably be killed in a few hits if heâ€™s in human form (If he not got very good PDR- or PDRnW equipment). But thereâ€™s at least a chance of survival. An other method to solve this is to play in human form and actually shoot arrows with WWS. With HoW the damage and AR are okay, and he has an unlimited supply of arrows because WWS fires Magic Arrows. Thanks Summoned for the tip.
7. Does this build really work then?
For comparison purpose, here is my Witchwild werewolf:
Equipment: Upgraded WWS (166%, socked with 2 Sheal runes), Amulet of Life Everlasting (21PDR), Artisan’s Tiara of Nirvana (socked with 3 Sol runes), The Gladiators Bane (Socked with Sol rune), Crafted Blood Gloves, Raven Frost, Credendum, Rare ML ring with 20strength, Gore Rider.
Charms: Almost full inventory with resist charms and a few maxdmg/AR charms.
Stats (with equipment): 120 Strength, 441 Dexterity, 25 Vitality, and 20 Energy.
Damage (Fury without DS calculated in): 1220 â€“ 1940.
Chance of CB: 25%
Chance of DS: 100%
AR (Fury): 19911
Mercenary: Act2 Might equipped with: The Reaper’s Toll, Shaftstop and Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest.
Not impressed ay? His equipment isnâ€™t very good. With 67 PDR the defensive part is on the edge of whatâ€™s playable. And the lack of resistances from equipment forced me to use a lot of resist charms, which means less maxdmg/AR charms. He died a few more times then a â€œnormalâ€ character but there was no problem making him through hell. And with better equipment he would become almost â€œimmortalâ€. Not impressed by the damage ay? Not even when calculating DS in. But if I say he killed Diablo in hell in 22 seconds (Players 1)? And that was at lower character level and the mercenary and all summonings died. So the damage was a lot lower. With that I hope Iâ€™ve convinced you that this build does bite in hell, it really does.