I (somewhat) recently got back into the game after watching some D3 trailers. I quit a while ago and have never done much in Hell difficulty before now. Got a few random questions.
Level 83 Fireballer, 272 life
Probably going to respec to Meteorb so I don't have to Glacial Spike lock fire immunes and wait for my merc to kill them. Will probably take the opportunity to redo stat points, but not entirely sure what it should look like at the end.
71% ES + 37% damage to mana (Tal-Rasha's belt)
SUPER terrible gear (though still pretty good at killing Hell Mephisto). Lore runeword helm, Stealth runeword armor, Lidless Wall, a bunch of +cast speed stuff. Barely kept in the game by Insight runeword on merc. Keeping my merc alive tends to be my main focus (lots of teleporting in place).
Even with ES it seems that any hits I take put me really low health though they'll leave me with plenty of mana. With the Meditation Aura I really haven't bothered putting points in Telekinesis. Are reduce damage sets the only way to live or is this par for the course?
Related, I've heard that you're supposed to go pretty much all energy but I find myself putting points into vitality just so I don't get one-touched. Still, I'm feeling at this point that my life total is too far behind the curve to recover with stat points. Is there a certain minimum health I should look to get?
On stat points, I'm totally not block capped. Seems like that would take a LOT of dex. Assuming my merc stays alive mana shouldn't be an issue except for an energy shield buffer. Is that why points in Telekinesis are recommended?
Currently have defiance merc. Should I just get the Holy Freeze merc? I'm not sure the defiance is doing enough without a great base defense. Leveling another merc is gonna be annoying...
To start with, telekinesis is ESSENTIAL for any Energy shield using sorc. I would make it more of a balance than all energy though. To be pure energy, you need good equipment(max resist and good physical damage reduced by %).
You have a few options. Reset stat and skill points by visiting Akara - I wouldn't go the Energy shield route. Energy shield is more for sorcs with higher end equipment or sorcs geared to fight certain bosses, like Meph or Baal. Respec to Meteorb or Chain Lightning/Frozen Orb(20 pts FO, 20 pts CL/Lightning/Light Mastery, 1+ pts Cold Mastery). Alternate Route: Go pure Blizzard with maxed synergies. Sounds like you need some better equipment, so going Pure Blizzard will allow you to effectively take down the big bosses with relatively few immunities. Blizzard is stronger than Frozen Orb, and anything cold immune your merc will have to take down, but it will take down big bosses alot faster than Meteorb or CL/Orb. Don't worry too much about max block. Not so important if you play your sorc away from the melee and have your merc tanking. Stats you'll want are: Just enough strength to equip all your gear, dex the same, and the rest into Vit.
Make sure your merc is outfitted well too. Get a new merc from A2 NM, the defense kind. His Holy Freeze aura will help him survive. Insight is awesome, but in a Scythe it's pretty worthless to him. Try to at least get him an exceptional polearm insight, and give him some life leech too. Tal's Mask is a great cheap source for this, and adds to his Life and Resist as well. A little higher end is Vampire Gaze, with life leech and physical damage reduction. Shaftstop or Leviathan Armor are great for reducing his physical damage taken, and are relatively cheap as well. Can't afford those? Just slap a good cheap runeword armor on him. Smoke, Treachery, Lionheart, and Duress come to mind.
If you are a non-cold pvm sorc you should have a holy freeze merc, it will make all the difference.
If you are going the ES route, you must also pump TK. If you are using ES without a decent level TK, you're basically losing ~50% of it's effectiveness.
If you do not have good gear/high level ES you shouldn't go pure energy. With 71% ES (not synergized with TK) and not even 300 life monsters are going to to kill you and dance on your corpse. Try picking up some + life gear or charms. Adding points into vitality does little for a sorc, but if you've got spare stat points you can pump vit a little.
You also mentioned blocking. Unless you'll be using whistans or stormshield I would not bother with getting max block (or any, really) on a softcore sorc. It will take alot of dex to achieve max block with any other shield, your stats are better spent elsewhere.