Back in the day, we used to jump into games of Hell/Hell with 4 warriors, and it was a ton of fun. We were all skeptical of adding in Rogues or Sorcs to the mix because of friendly fire, so we remained just a wave of iron over Diablo and his minions.
I never had much luck shopping for a King's Sword of Haste, but I was able to purchase an awesome King's Sword of Vampires. In those games, I noticed I never had to fall back to town for more potions like the others. The experience and gear I got from those games outpaced everyone else just because of my endurance, and how quickly I could level rooms of trash. I'd often be mostly done with the first level by the time they made it back from Adria.
As the game has matured, I've realized that playing a Warrior with a focus on this weapon is a great intermediate step between beginning and end game.
The Big Idea
A King's Sword of Vampires Warrior has unlimited mana for utility spells and trash clearing power. A KSOV Warrior is easier to gear then a traditional Haste/HOS Warrior, and it's a ton of fun to juggle a spell and melee offense.
How Does It Work?
The Vampires suffix gives you 5% mana for every damage you deal with your weapon. This includes damage from the warrior's innate melee crit bonus and bonuses based on the weapon type vs the monster type.
If your Warrior's average swing is for 140 damage, and he crits 40% of the time, you'll be pulling in about 10 mana per swing on average. Monster types that are weak to your weapon are basically little walking mana potions.
In practice, this means you're going to be constantly switching between slinging spells and 'refueling' with your melee swings. You'll be drastically increasing your speed of clearing levels by frequently mixing in Chain Lightnings and Teleports.
Now For The Disclaimer
Clearly a Vampires Warrior isn't the only type of Warrior that has access to spells. A Warrior with a KSoH/HoS setup is still going to Teleport around and occasionally sling a Chain Lightning or Healing spell depending on the situation. The frequency of their spells is limited by how often they're willing to make the long walk to Adria to buy more potions. The efficiency of those potions is related to the size of their mana pool.
In order to have a big mana pool and be able to run a Helm of Sprits, you have to have some pretty badass gear. A KSoV Warrior needs very little in the way of dungeon drops to be effective - in fact, you can function just fine with storebought gear and common jewelry.
This is because you do not have to wear a Helm of Sprits for endurance, and you do not need a large mana pool to be effective. A larger mana pool will make your life easier, but it is by no means necessary.
How Do I Do This?
Build your Warrior normally until you hit level 29. I'd recommend spending a lot of time in Nightmare Church, Level 2. Try and grab a Helm of Sprits even if you don't plan on using it early on. The experience is easy and good, and you'll get tons of money for buying Books, Elixirs and shopping. Don't forget about shrines for stats, Enchanted shrines and Hidden shrines, either.
Once you hit 29 or 30, you're alternating between shopping Gris and getting more money to shop Gris. Here's your wishlist:
- King's Sword of Vampires (though if you see a KSoH, certainly buy it!)
- Obsidian Tower Shield of the Tiger
- Obsidian Great Helm of the Stars
- Awesome Full Plate Mail
With this setup, you can get max resists and enough AC to take you all the way through Nightmare Hell and Hell Caves. Your jewelry should just be icing on the cake - I'd wear +Dexterity jewelry early on and add in Heavens/Zodiac jewelry as you find it.
Your only early treks into Normal or Nightmare Hell should be to get serviceable rings and amulets, since you're buying everything else from the store. You'll also want to keep a set of +Magic jewels for using books.
The ideal setup includes one Resist/All-stats jewel so you can replace the Obs. Helm of Stars with a Royal Circlet to improve your AC and Mana pool. AC is important for a Vampires Warrior because you're going to be throwing a lot of spells, and you want to be able to throw them in the thick of the fight.
The Church and Catacombs are your friends. You'll be constantly looking for Enchanted Shrines to up your spell levels, and it's very easy to clear entire rooms with Chain Lightning at a ridiculous speed.
I'd stay in Nightmare Church until level 23 or so, Nightmare Catacombs until 30, Hell Church until 36 and then Hell Catacombs until 44. (Quick tip, you can easily teleport to Catacombs Level 8 by walking into the Cave, mousing over the Stairs back to Town until it says "Level 8" and then teleport onto it. It'll whisk you across the level to the actual Stairs up to Level 8. I'd recommend doing this in your upper 20's and low 40's to skip the first two levels of the Catacombs when the experience there gets thin.)
Living The Dream
Eventually you'll reach the point where you're easily juggling your mana pool vs. meleeing. You'll never be using potions to actually stay alive - rather, they're just chugged to speed up the process. I usually keep a belt slot or two empty just to use scrolls/potions as I find them.
Around level 40, you'll want to start spending some time in Nightmare Hell to improve your jewelry. The goal should be to find the ridiculous jewelry that make KSoH/HoS play possible and efficient.
While the KSoV Warrior destroys 94% of the game, it struggles against the most important level - level 16. Level 16 is where you're mostly likely to find ridiculous items like Awesome Full Plate of Stars, Dragons/Obs Jewelry of the Zodiac and so on.
Chasing Advocates without a Haste weapon is frustrating. Make no mistake, you can clear level 16 with a KSoV without using a potion - it just takes more time then you'd want.
At this point, you can flip between the two weapons and setups as the situation allows, clearing like a pro.
- Chain Lightning is awesome and will be your main spell besides Teleport and Healing. The sheer damage-per-cast it can do is ridiculous. Alternating casts with melee is great too because it gives the sprites time to clear off the screen before you unleash the next one. Still, don't over-zealously level it up because it will start to streak. Just let Enchanted Shrines tinker with it as you work up your other spells.
- Maxing Healing will reduce the mana cost, making it more and more efficient.
- You want to get your Teleport up to level 8 to reach it's maximum efficiency.
- You can use Stone Curse somewhat liberally to reduce the difficulty of Hell levels. Just realize it's rarely mana efficient to use since you probably won't leech as much as you spent to cast it. I like using it on runners in certain spots, and to create artificial choke points against lots of melee monsters.
- I found that playing a KSoV Warrior made me appreciate spells I'd looked over in the past. I found myself using Fire Wall to great effect in Hell, and even Fire Bolt to kill pesky archers/runners in the Church and Catacombs. I found spots where Guardian was efficient, and more.
- Don't forget how awesome it can be use throw spells through Immune monsters to hit the ranged ones behind them.
- A KSoV swings in 0.45 seconds and a KSoH swings in 0.35 seconds. That tenth of a second makes a difference against teleporting mages, and when you're trying to swing out of block stun. Constantly casting Chain Lightning, Fireballing runners/witches and not having to make Adria runs are what you get for that extra tenth of a second on each swing.
I hope this guide is helpful for anyone looking at different ways to enjoy this classic.. I still enjoy Diablo 1 from time to time, and this has always been one of my favorite ways to play it because it lets you enjoy all of the locations in the game, juggle more resources and mix melee and spell combat seamlessly. I also found it's a more casual way to play since it doesn't take quite the same level of gear to be successful.