I was wondering what areas I should focus on for pvm. From what I have read on these forums, rs and skel mast should be maxed ASAP, but i find skelly mages are very useful in tight spots like doorways, narrow halls, etc. CE also seems to be a useful skill, even with just one point.
So back to the point, what should I sink points into? A lot of rs, then skel mast? A solid mastery first, then flood rs? both evenly? more mages? more ce? (thought I would prefer to save that for later since my minions seem to be doing just fine on their own).
Another thought, I have been finding myself standing far back from my minions with armor/stats geared towards resistances and vit (popping off the odd ce if things get too hairy). Is it worth getting a few points in bone wall to keep myself out of harms way while my minions work? or should I sink more points into minions, then just try to avoid direct confrontation?
The following skills are strongly recommended and do great even with 1 point:
Amp Damage: great curse to use in general -100% physical resistance goes a long way
Decrepify (this needs one prerequisite skill though, two if you count amp damage): Use this where Amp won't cut it - hard hitting/fast hitting monsters when you or your army have been surrounded, against archer/mage packs so they are easier to get to without being turned into a pincushion (a volley of 20 arrows is usually not dangerous for your merc/minions but is a major concern for you); Where Decrepify really shines though is versus Act bosses - combine it with a Clay Golem and you've pretty much erased any chance of the boss managing to kill you or any of your minions for that matter.
My personal favourite though is Bone Armor. just put a single point in here and get a safety net that absorbs some damage. Its other purpose though is that you get a very visible indicator of whether you are in danger: say for example that you are running along a tunnel with many open doorways (a bad idea but everyone gets impatient at some point in time) and your Bone Armor suddenly dissapears altogether - the first thing you do would be to backtrack a little and let your minions catch up with you and they'll automatically deal with the nearest threat (usually the cause of your Bone Armor going *poof*).
As for your question about SM/RS point distribution, 1 point in RS gives your melee skeletons better stats than 1 point in SM.
edit: Oh and about those Skeleton Mages :P, if the reason that you think they are useful in doorways is that they can attack while the melee skeletons are just randomly moving around behind them, then I'm sorry but the mages are the cause of that since the melee skeletons can't get past if they're firing.
tyvm for the replies, after going through the palace cellar and the maggot lair, I am now realizing how much of a nuisance the mages are. I just bought a wand with a +1 to bone wall, and it seems relatively ineffective. Either the enemies simply walk around it, or if i surround myself/place in a hallway, both myself and my minions are trapped, and have to sit and wait until the wall crumbles (more an inconvenience than a problem)
I will most likely put a point on bone armor like you said (had a wand with +1 before, and I see what you mean by the damage indicator), or just flood my rs instead.
Thanks all, and I am still open to other opinions ^_^
at least one in amplify damage
it removes physical immunity, increases the damage of skeleton warriors and increases the damage of corpse explosion
skeleton mages don't benefit from amp damage, because it only doubles physical damage, not magical; so your skeleton warriors will be doing tons of damage but your mages will be doing very little
and very soon you will begin to find dim vision a life saver, I have it maxed
just slowly walk ahead spamming dim vision; no archers to worry about, no lightning ranged attacks to worry about
nobody sees you or your skeletons
1 in amp, 1 in decrepify, max raise skeleton warrior, max skeleton mastery, 1 in golem mastery, max corpse explosion, max dim vision
forgot the bone and poison stuff
and when you get in a tight spot like the maggot lair, just cast the clay golem behind the monsters, then hit the monsters with amp damage and let your skeletons do the rest
i really like the fishymancer and i advocate spending on mages but thats mainly a personal preference.
I just want to warn you about your hardest fight in the game, Diablo in Normal.
When youre at a low level your skellies arent to tough and big D kills them at an astonishing rate.
Save some money beforehand for merc resurrection and recast the dead clay golem about 1000 times usually does it tho.
Or get some help.