I originally posted this on the necro forum, so my apologies for re-posting it here in SP, but I know that there are a lot more people in the SP forum, and undoubtedly experienced.
I need a bit of help with my summoner please, who is geared towards physical damage and running level 85 areas and bosses. Basically, I'm deciding between maxing Bone Spear or Skeleton Magi, as back-up damage and to handle PIs. Here are the details:
Level 90 Necro with Enigma (the Enigma is a 'hand-me-down' from my brother, and he assures me that it is legit...!) (don't ask me how... I don't know)
20 points to spend
+14 All Skills
+1 Summoning Grand Charm
20 in SM
20 in RS
7 in CE
20 in Bone Wall, 1 in Bone Armour
1 in Skele Magi, Revive, CG, GM, SR and pre-reqs
1 in Amp, Decrep, DV and pre-reqs
None in LR (can't spare the points as I want to get CE as high as possible)
I also have 80% FCR, the obligatory Might merc and I intend to play at player setting 3 to 8, in order to level and get more drops. So...
Maxed Bone Spear
With 80% FCR, I can spam BS like a semi-automatic weapon. Each BS does about 1220 magic damage and can hit multiple targets. Good against single targets, like PI uniques. Note that my BS has been synergised by Bone Wall, which allows for the 1.2k damage. BS looks cool.
I can't pick up stuff while I'm casting it. Eats mana up, but nothing a blue pot can't fix. I have to cast it to do damage; magi will keep attacking so long as there is a target.
Maxed Skeleton Magi
Once raised, they require no further intervention from me, so I can pick-up drops while they go on attacking monsters. Enigma with tele, so no annoying blocking of doorways. 15+ magi flinging their elements at monsters look cool.
Elemental damage, so monsters will resist some or all of it. I won't have LR to help with PIs. Each mage will attack its own target, so the damage is spread out. I doubt that magi will significantly increase my killing speed.
I'm inclined towards BS for the magical damage, as magi elemental attacks can be resisted. BS lets me focus on my chosen target, whereas magi damage is spread out.
So after all of that, which do I max? BS or Magi? Bearing in mind that my melee skeletons cut down everything in their paths, even at players8.
Frostburn, are you a pure summoner or a bone/summon hybrid? Looks to me tat you're a hybrid, but why didn't you max bone spirit? You still can actually go the CE way, CE will be your backup damage (meaning your primary damage is skellies+might merc right). Merc wit some elemental damage can be backup to PI's too (albeit a little slow). Don't really know much bout bonemancers but i know it takes lotsa synergies to actually do some decent damage.
Bonespear will be slow because of the "low" damage it deals, especiallly in hell and that you'll be playing in players 3 to 8, in which unique monsters have insane health, so it'll be pretty slow, besides it requires heavy investment both in the skill and the synergy.
Magi Skeletons require corpses and yes, the damage can spread, but Amplify Damage will make short work of any normal PI monster, so only uniques and superuniques are your worry, in which all the army will concentrate on them (since they'll be the only one alive), with good crowd control (Dim Vision, Atract), you can make short work of the mob and let the unique and superunique alone, in which then all the magi skeletons will concentrate on him, besides magi skeletons can deal 4 types of damage, so you can laugh at immunities, but LR can really help them, still it would be slow, but quicker than compared to bonespear (and they don't require mana). But as you posted, managing them is tedious.
As Tracul posted, CE can be an excellent support damage............. at p1. At higher setting it will require many corpses to bring down monsters, but it can be done
Pure Bonemancers are *NOT* effective unless they have maxed their synergies so avoid Bone Spear. Mage Skeletons are lame IMO so don't use them either. Amplify Damage + Corpse Explosion should smash anything that gets in your way. I wouldn't have maxed Bone Wall...I would have invested in Corpse Explosion instead. The Necromancer I'm talking about is the pure most-used Fishymancer.
First of all, are you playing 1.11? 1.11 loses the synergy "bug" so it's waaay more difficult to play a hybrid bone summoner now (if not impossible at higher players settings in Hell - like anything above players3)
Back in 1.10 you could do a very viable necro with maxed bone spear with synergies and still have a great army ... plus use the Marrowalk "feature", which I like to call it, to boost your bone damage very, very nicely.
But in 1.11, even using Enigma and a ton of skillers and stuff it's going to be difficult to clear Hell on p5-6 and above.
Anyways, what i'm saying is that in 1.11 you either pick a bone necro or a summoner utilizing mages and CE and/or amp/LR.
Either way, you're gonna have to turn down the players settings unless you're fully decked out with elite runewords - and even then you'll run into some monsters/bosses that retain physical resistance and be "immune to physical" that amp damage will not break.
Thus you're skellies and merc are useless and your elemental damage dishers, your mages, have to be good enough to deal enough damage to counter the high regen rates for Hell players8 monsters.
A less than fully synergized bone spear will not touch a players8 Hell monster.
Then you'll have to look at alternative methods of dishing out elemental damage yourself.
I'm tire so I hope that all makes sense. Good luck.
I'm gonna agree with everyone who says not to bother with Bone Spear. Bone Spirit might be viable, but don't expect it to kill quickly in Hell, especially not on higher /players settings. However, it is better than BSpear, as it does more damage per cast, and it's seeking. The single-target nature isn't an issue, if you're only relying on it to take out bosses that remain immune to physical (and possibly fire as well).
However, I'll disagree with those who advise against mages. I mean, once you've maxed Raise Skeleton, Skeleton Mastery, Corpse Explosion, and gotten your support skills like Amp Damage, Summon Resist, and Clay Golem, you'll have loads of points to spare. I generally prefer mages to revives because mages stick around longer, and the AI isn't as annoying (revives tend to get lost, they often wander around rather than attacking what you want them to attack, and when they do attack, they're often in the way of your skellies and merc). If your merc has Open Wounds on his gear, and can tank this hypothetical PI uberboss, that will take care of the monster regeneration (since PHM doesn't work with mercs). Then your mages can take out the baddie, slowly but surely. Lower Resist will certainly help, and is highly recommended. It's also a nice party-friendly curse if you're hooked up with elemental/poison damage characters.
Generally, though, Amp + CE should see you through 99% of the physical immunes out there. I'd not waste the points in Bone Wall (a single point in Bone Armor is well spent, though, as it can be a lifesaver when attacks get past your army). They can instead go towards prerequisites for Lower Resist. Having every curse makes you very versatile, especially for party play, but you don't need more than a single point in each, with the possible exception of Amp, if you've got lots of +skills. Lower Resist in particular has big diminishing returns, and with +14 skills, as you said, no more hard points are needed.
If you do go with mages, though, you should unsummon the poison ones whenever you get them (if you care about damage). The poison damage gets drawn out over longer and longer times, meaning the damage per frame doesn't really improve much (if at all), and since it won't stack, after the first poison bolt hits, these guys are totally useless. Having some elemental mages in their place is much more sensible, and the only reason not to unsummon the offending minions would be that you find this micromanagement to be too tedious.
I just had to post an untwinked point of view.
In my experience with my Untwinked Guardian Fishy 1 point in mages, 1 in revives and 1 in lower resist helped a lot in Act 5 hell /players 1. If I encountered physical immunes I had my mages going and also revives from monsters with elemental attacks (skeleton mages, gloams, etc). Coupled with lower resist the could, albeit slowly, kill the PI's that I encountered on my quest.
My skills were:
a couple on points in summon resist, all curses at least 1, amp and decprep some more. Every golem 1.