I’ve been meaning to write a LLD Mauler guide for quite a while now. Recently a lot of questions have come up (both directly to me and at a couple of forums I visit), so I figure now is just one of those times where I should buckle down and do it. Keep in mind this is my first attempt at a guide, and I didn’t realize how much I really wanted to say until I started to write it. If things seem jumbled or someone has suggestions let me know. I’m new at this.
I’m going to break the guide down into the following sections:
1) Background information – Basically where I prattle on about my experience with Maulers
2) Stat point allocation
3) Skill point distribution
4) Breakpoints and other stats to shoot for
6) What you can and cannot expect from this character
I first started to play low level maulers in 1.09. Everything was completely different back then. First of all, 76legit was the standard for LLD chars. This meant that not every character was considered good manners at level 30. In fact, 29 was the highest a druid could go—thankfully, because Sheals always have been, and always will be the backbone of this build.
In .09 the main focus of a Mauler was on damage. The mantra was pump up your damage as high as it can go (without messing with those 6 Shaels in your weapon), and worry about everything else later. This was viable because leech was huge. Get yourself to 20 leech, and you were nearly unbeatable. You would do so much damage that you’d nearly heal yourself in one whack of the opponent, and a measly 2% mana leech would put you back at max mana.
Oh how times have changed…
When I first came back after my break (I pretty much stopped playing a week after 1.10 came out, and did not start again for about 2 ½ years) I attempted to make a similar build, but it simply did not work. Now, I fully admit I did not have the optimum gear, but the bear didn’t do nearly as well as I’d expected, even knowing he had second-rate gear. This meant I had to rethink my approach.
I came to one conclusion for success in 1.11 with a Mauler. You need to focus on everything the werebear has going for it naturally—not just damage, and then you need to make that sucker as fast as possible in every aspect.
Werebears CANNOT focus purely on damage and be successful in 1.11. Instead, you need to first focus on speed, second on life and defense (which of course will be interchangeable depending upon the duel), and finally on damage. There is no question to this. This is what you will base your gear around, in this order, period. The ONLY exception I make is the weapon, but I’ll get to that much later.
I’ll stat with stats first. Let me preface this with a word of warning: if you use the setup that I use, you will have hardly any stat points left over for vit, if any at all. Do not be alarmed. As for your actual stats, you probably can guess the basic run down.
-Stat points you will need when done-
Strength: This will generally vary from 100-121. Be prepared to need 121 str.
Dex: 67-90 depending on your shield choice. Again, be prepared to go with the highest value. You’re going for max block.
Vit: All that’s left.
Let me throw a figure out there to reiterate how tight you’ll be on stats. If you only go through norm difficulty you will have 185 stat points to work with, if you include your base strength and dex. If you have the highest strength and dexterity requirement from your item choice you need 211 stat points. Again, you have very little room for adjustment. My suggestion is to Hell Rush your character if you need higher strength and dexterity, but that is really your choice.
Skill Point Distribution
If you read no other part of the skill section, read this first part. In all honesty, this is the trickiest part to building a mauler. You can’t just pump maul and be good to go. The reason is because the number of hits required to reach your max damage grows every two levels of Maul. At level 1 it starts at 3 hits. Levels 2 and 3 it takes 4 hits, levels 4 and 5 it takes 5 hits, levels 6 and 7 it takes 6 hits, and so on. This means that the higher you get Maul, the less likely it is that you will reach your max damage in a duel. After about level 15 (10 hits to reach max damage) you’re mainly just putting points into Maul for AR, which is actually just as important.
What I recommend is that you wait until you have your equipment on to use skill points. Once you do then add points into maul until you get over 3k AR without having HoW active. Next, put a point in HoW if you haven’t yet, and then divide up points in Bear and Lycan.
You’ll have to determine for yourself which you need more based upon your equipment and your charms. If you have a lot of max/ar charms, but few life charms, then you’ll want lycan for life. If you have a lot of life charms, but very few max/ar charms then you will want werebear.
I personally prefer bear over lycan in most cases. You will be gaining a decent amount of life from your bear form anyway, and in most cases extra defense and damage will help if you’re just starting off.
For those of you that need hard numbers, here is my initial suggestion based on a Hell Rushed character with 41 stat points to burn:
This should get you to 3k AR on most setups (if you don’t need 13 points in Maul to get there then stick them in either Bear or Lycan). It will take you 9 hits to reach max damage, and you should have around 700 life. You could have considerably more depending on gear and charms. However, like I said, get yourself 3k AR without HoW active, then worry about your other skills. You may find Maul ends up close to level 20, but if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes. If you can’t hit your enemy, you won’t win.
As for HoW, one point in it and you’re done. You want it to be a threat, but you do not want to be dependant upon it. If killing your HoW means you drop 1/3 of your damage and AR then you’re pretty much going to lose most of your duels. Don’t use Sage. It’s a waste and it will get you killed.
Breakpoints and other stats to shoot for
Remember I said the Mauler Hierarchy of Needs is Speed, Defense/Life, and Damage? Well, it’s time to talk about Speed.
Breakpoints you need at all times:
Faster Block Rate – 40 FBR (7 Frames)
Faster Hit Recovery – 54 FHR (7 Frames)
Faster Attack Speed – 5 Frame Attack (only IAS on your weapon will play a part in this)
What I mean by “need at all times” is, if you do not always have at least these three breakpoints taken care of you will lose. I mean it. We’re talking just Save and Exit here if you don’t listen.
I also highly recommend that you are able to reach the 86 FHR (6 Frames) breakpoint at all times. I do not always need it, but there are times where it comes in handy and I have an armor in my stash with 44 FHR on it just in case.
Stats to shoot for:
Life: 1000+ (1.5k+ preferred)
AR: 3000+ (Higher the better, I currently have about 6k on both my maulers)
Damage: 1000+ Max without HoW (This is hard to get, and is likely what will take you the longest)
Defense: 2000+ (1.5k is really what you’ll need in most cases, but the more the better)
FRW: You will need to have as close to 100 FRW as you can get at your disposal at all times for casters, even if you’re not always using it or wearing the items that get you there.
Alright, now that we’ve covered the hard numbers you’re going for, lets talk about how you get there.
I’m going to have to be honest. I’m pretty set in my ways. People may come up with other gear choices that work for them, but I like what I use and I’ll likely not budge unless a mauler comes along that just smashes me every time. Here is a run down on your basic options, your dream gear, and what I prefer. This will be a long section, but I want to be sure people know there are many options out there, regardless of how rigid I personally am with my own setup.
Pcrown: Even if you don’t use it, you want one in your stash for the FRW. Shael it unless you have a lot of FHR charms. If you do, then I prefer a Pruby. You can use max jewels if you really want, but it’s a waste on a pcrown.
White pelt with skills you use on it: It’s not a bad choice, really. You can get your three sockets and stick it full of all sorts of jewels, gems, and runes, but it’s not really what I prefer. The reason is because you need AR to cut down on skills invested in Maul, and you’re not getting AR from this.
Blue 2SS Pelt with other skills you use: Again, it’s not a bad choice, especially if you can get two sockets and nice mods. It’s just not my style.
Rare 2SS helm with other skills you use on it: THIS is what I shoot for. Get one with some AR, Visionary is your godsend for this. 2os would be great as well, along with life. Hard to find, but I personally think it can’t be beat.
Dream Helm: 2SS, 3 Lycan, 3 Bear, and 3 Maul with the Visionary mod, life, and 2os. Oh I can dream…
4os Sup Ancient or Mage Plate: When I first started again I had a 15ed Ancient with 4 Prubies in it. It’s a perfectly respectable armor for someone working his or her way up, and pretty easy to come by.
Holy Ancient/Mage of Squid: It needs to have 2os, or it’s not worth it. I say Holy (Enhanced Defense) instead of Artisans because you want to focus on def. That’s what the bear has going for it, use your advantages. I put 2 Prubies in mine. Again, you’re welcome to use max jewels if you want, but I haven’t used a single max jewel since I changed my build and I have not missed them.
Holy Ancient/Mage of Stability: When I started the latest ladder I shopped a Holy Ancient Armor of Stability. Took me three tries to get 2 sockets, but you cannot beat the fhr. I still use it when I need 86 fhr. It’s Pruby and Shael’d for survivability.
Peace Mage Plate: This is what I currently use most of the time. For the longest time I swore off Peace, but dangit, the critical strike is too nice to ignore. Plus, it has some FHR.
Dream Armor: Eth rare Ornate Plate with self-repair, high ed, 2os, stability mod, -reqs, and any other nice mod the D2 gods would like to give me. Oh how I would love that…
Weapon—You are getting your IAS from your weapons. For more information take a look at the wereform attack speed calculator here.
6 Shael’d Crystal Sword/Dimensional Blade: Perfectly acceptable choice. You hit your 5 frame attack and you save on some stat points. However, you lose range and damage. Damage I could deal with (well, maybe not with the Crystal Sword), but range is needed. Though, for all I know you may try it and like it.
6 Shael’d Naga: I use this. You do more damage than with the swords, you hit just as fast, and you have a higher range. Also, it’s a hefty str requirement, but it just adds more to your damage. I know people that swore this off as simply not workable with the str required. To each their own, try it out, see what you like best.
War/Grim Scythe: You need 90 IAS to get to 5 frames. How you choose to get there on this weapon is up to you. However, you do need one of these two in your stash, and you do need it to hit 5 frames. Beyond that, it’s up to you which you use and how you get to that frame. It’s for those fast little casters. I will be honest again, I tend not to need it most of the time.
Whitstan's Guard: This is an all around good shield. You hit your FBR breakpoint, you have a huge Chance to Block mod, and it has some nice defense for its level. When I use this I tend to stick a pdiamond in it. Also, this shield only needs 67 dex to get max block.
Rhyme Shield: This is what I use. I use a Sup Grim Shield. I like it because I get my Cannot Be Frozen mod, resistance, mana regeneration, and my 40 FBR breakpoint. Plus, who knows, maybe that 25% extra MF will get me a Lenymo from random fallens that I kill waiting to duel. The down side, you need 90 dex for max block when using the Grim.
Artisan’s Shield of Deflection: I have not ever used this. I doubt that I ever will. The up sides are that it will cut down on the points you need for max block and you can easily get your FBR breakpoint with some extra sockets to spare for res or damage. The down side is it locks you into Death’s Sash for CBF and will likely be lower defense than your other options. Remember, that’s what you’re partially focusing on. You just need to decide if you want flexibility in your belt or not, because if you go with this you’re going with Death’s Sash.
Bloodfists: I do not negotiate on this. These are your gloves, period. Huge FHR, Life, and a little bit of damage. The ONLY time you can take these off is if you are putting on Death’s gloves for the poison damage length reduction. Otherwise, you wear your Bloodfists and you like it. Up them if you have a high ed pair, the extra defense never hurt anyone… especially a Werebear.
Death’s Belt: If you did not go with Rhyme as your shield this will be your belt.
Rare FHR Belt: If you need some extra FHR this is always a nice option, and res on these things never hurt anyone.
String of Ears: I use this most of the time. The DR and MDR is pretty nice, and the defense an’t too shabby either.
Cow King’s: These are some nice boots. If you’re hurting for stat points the 20 dex from these is the most you’re going to get from any option at this level. The FRW is great as well. Plus, if you have Rhyme you have 50% MF to get yourself a Diggler.
Sander’s: I use these. The FRW is insane, they give you AR, and you get 15 stat points. All around great pair of LLD boots. Plus they don’t have one of those stupid mods you have no use for on there taunting you.
Rare FRW/FHR boots: If you really need res or something, sure… why not. However, only use them if you don’t need the stats from boots, though. It’s always better to get your stats from equipment than charms. Always.
Angelics: If you’re just starting out you’ll want these. They give you a load of life, some replenish life (hey, I love to avoid going to Akara if I can) and massive AR. They will cut down on your need for points in Maul.
AR/Stat/Res Rare Rings: I used these for a little while when I was trying to get SoJs. They work pretty well, but you’re not going to get as much AR as Angelics. Bottom line, if you don’t have a really good rare ammy to go with these then you are better off sticking with Angelics.
SoJs: Once you start to get a fair amount of AR from charms, a helm with AR on it, and a nice rare ammy, it’s time to get a couple of these. There is simply no substitute for +skills in dueling and the mana is always nice.
Rare +2 SS Ammy: This is your goal. Aside from your charms, a good SS Ammy and Pelt will determine if you’re a good Werebear, or one of the best. You want +2 SS, stats (life is best), and Res. Anything less is not good enough.
Charms: You want Max Damage/Attack Rating/Life charms. If you need to make up FHR then do so, but it’s better to get it from your equips. If res is needed, you can use res charms as well, but eventually you will want to get as much as you can from your equipment. Defense charms are acceptable alternatives for this build, and you may even prefer them for some duels. However, the dream inventory will always be 40x 3/20/15’s.
Switch: Spirit sword and Sig’s Shield for casting HoW and Bear.
What you can and cannot expect from this character
I’m going to be blunt. You’re not a top tier dueler. You will lose badly to most dedicated ranged LLDers. Your FHR is not fast enough to beat a top trapper, you will not build damage up fast enough to beat a top necro, and a high defense sorc with max block will prove nearly impossible to hit usually. Hammerdins… well, they are just their own special case.
That said, Zons are usually pretty easy, and of the other ranged builds, if they aren’t top of the line, you’ve got a decent shot if you play smart and utilize the speed I have told you to build up (both in breakpoints and in FRW). Smiters will be a challenge pretty consistently. Eventually you’ll see an improvement in duels with smiters, but be ready to be smacked around really good for a long time first. I’ve met very few chargers that are a challenge.
As for melee chars, Conc barbs will be a pain in the butt if they are top of the line. You need to build up your defense for them and hope for the best. Aside from that, you’re pretty much the king of melee… not that there are many melee characters left. Wolves may be a special case, but I never see them do duel on the current ladder, and on the last ladder I don’t remember many that gave me a problem.
I do have to say this as well. When you start, especially if you do not have all your charms yet, your damage will be very low. Do not let it bother you. You just need to build them up. Where other builds are spending on max jewels, you’re spending on your charms. Once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much of an impact one charm can have on your damage, attack rating, and life.