PvM MeteBlizz Sorceress
Ah, the sorceresses, an elemental spellcaster who is the native owner of the teleport skill. No matter what your favorite class is you will most likely end up making one of these, or a few dozen, unless you really try not to. In my case I foremost think of myself an amazon/assassin player. However, for some reason when I look over my battle.net accounts there's clearly more sorceresses then either of the two mentioned classes ...
Why is this the case? Because sorceresses are fun to play, fun to experiment with, and above all effective at what they do. With this statement I am of course mainly referring to their effectiveness at magic finding (mfing), but also towards general traveling to and killing specific targets in a speedy manner. This is what this guide is about, a build foremost aimed at killing bosses and other common specific targets, while on a moderate budget.
This is a spinoff from Miladys-Knight's Blizzard-Fireball guide, which I highly recommend to read first. Or maybe it's a spinoff from the pure blizzard build? In any case the term “MeteBlizz” has been mentioned a couple of times on these boards previously, although sparsely. Here I will only present my take on it, which is a lot more chilly then it is fiery.
1.2 Before you continue
This guide is aimed at readers with little, but nonetheless some previous experience in playing sorceresses. It is understandable if the newer players have a hard time following some of my ramblings. However, likewise I will probably end up pointing out the obvious at other times. Don't hesitate to ask if something isn't made explicitly clear, I will answer to the best of my ability.
2.1 Main Spell
Just as the name suggests this is a dual elemental sorceress who shall mainly utilize the Blizzard and Meteor skills. There is a high number of viable combinations and by no means is the presented combination sure to be the optimal one. However, it is one that works and I enjoy playing, and those facts alone warrants the writing of this guide. I will now try to explain the logic that brought me to this selection, firstly let us take a look at the cold spells.
Cold Mastery: Unlike the other masteries the cold one does not directly increase the damage of your spells, instead it reduces the resistance of your opponents. You could argue that the result is the same, and in a sense it is, however this method of doing it is more reliable, which is why the cold tree is a great choice for our main skill. Anything that isn't cold immune will have their cold resistance lowered to a point where your spells will hurt them. This is also true for bosses, who all have more then 50% cold resistance in hell difficulty, but still take high damage from the cold spells because of the influence from cold mastery.Code:Cold Spells Ice Frozen The cold tree has a fairly simple layout Bolt Armor with three branches: AoE spells, direct | | damage projectiles and lastly the cold Frost Ice __ | armors. Outside these branches we also Nova Blast \ | have cold mastery which helps them all. | | Shiver | | Armor Out of these skills the two main options | Glacial | to use as a main skill would be Blizzard | Spike | and Frozen Orb. For bosses which are the | / | main targets of this build, blizzard is Blizzard Chilling undoubtedly the best skill. | Armor Frozen Cold We shall however also be using a second Orb Mastery spammable spell, namely Ice Blast.
Blizzard: Because of the effectiveness of cold mastery this is the best boss killing spell available for sorceresses. At least until you can acquire items that greatly reduce the resistance of your opponents for the other elements. When cast it immediately causes a number of large shards to rain down within a 3 yard radius of the targeted point. The spell lasts for four seconds and the shards rain somewhat randomly. This means you cannot be sure to always hit the smaller monsters, but against bosses you should on average hit two or three times for each cast. Its cast delay of 1.8 seconds means you can only have about two blizzards active at the same time, but it also means that you can do something else between casts.
Ice Blast: Out of the skills that are possible to cast in quick succession, this is the skill with the highest single target damage in the cold tree. It launches a slab of ice in a straight line towards your target, and while using it will speed up boss killing considerably, it does take some time for it to traverse the distance. It is foremost a blizzard synergy, but also serves as a clear up skill to kill those monsters that blizzard missed. Need I mention that it also freezes enemies?
Ice Bolt: This spell is the somewhat of a little brother of ice blast. It really does the same thing, but with less damage and only a chilling effect instead of the freezing property. While glacial spike would be a more useful spell in itself, only ice bolt gives a damage synergy towards ice blast among blizzards damage synergies.
Other: Left over are the cold armors, which are all potential one point wonders. Personally I only get one point into frozen armor, since it helps to freeze attackers while blind teleporting. If you plan to use Snowclash (unique belt) then you will get Chilling Armor from it without having to spend any extra points.
2.2 Secondary Spell
To justify selecting meteor as the secondary skill we must now clarify one thing: we already have very few skill points left to spend. This build as I imagine it is nearly pure blizzard. We will only do a 20/1 investment into our backup skill, meaning 20 points into the skill itself and one point into the corresponding mastery. There aren't too many skills that can kill effectively in hell with such a low investment. The one most often mentioned in such a fashion is in fact frozen orb, but for obvious reasons Blizzard/FO sorceresses have some immunity problems ...
Now then, instead of sitting here dreaming about a “Fire Orb”, let us review our actual options shall we. To simplify our selection, let us assume a +10 to all skills setup and a faster cast rate of 117%. Given this setup and a 20/1 investment into each skill one at a time, the skills that can obtain an average of 5k damage per second against single targets are:
Charged Bolt: This is the only lightning skill that could actually kill single targets decently fast on its own with such a meager investment. The problem it faces is that to do its full damage you need to cast it from point-blank range, and it will be utterly useless against groups of enemies since it neither splashes nor pierces when used in this fashion. The other lightning skills can outperform charged bolt when it comes to damage against groups, but in turn they're simply lacking single target damage. In conclusion charged bolt is not a good choice, and we should look elsewhere then the lightning tree to find our secondary skill ...Code:Fire Spells █ Lightning Spells Fire Warmth █ Charged Bolt | █ Bolt Inferno | | █ Static | Telekinesis | | | █ Field | | Blaze Fire___ | █ | | | | Ball \ | █ Nova Lightning | | | \ | █ | | | Fire___ | Enchant █ | ___ Chain __ Teleport Wall \ | | █ | / Lightning \ | Meteor | █ Thunder \_ Mana | █ Storm Shield Fire Hydra █ Lightning Mastery █ Mastery
Hydra: It actually has rather respectable damage on paper. With the ability fire 3 fire bolts at once and have multiple hydras out it can in fact kill single targets. The problem of this skill occurs when you are facing multiple enemies. In such a situation its damage will most likely spread out instead of focusing on taking down one opponent at a time. If you can cast a stack of hydras outside the pack and get them to focus their damage it can still kill, but its lack of splash damage makes it a lot less practical then other alternatives.
Blaze: A skill that causes flames to appear in your wake, a cool concept but sadly not very useful. If you run around the same spot I imagine that you should be able to stack up enough flames to do moderately good damage, but that's a far to cumbersome and unpractical method. This will work especially poorly for ranged enemies who don't always head directly towards your position.
Enchant: This is an interesting skill, and could potentially do the most damage out of all, if you had enough party members to cast it on. However, without a proper investment I fear this skill will simply not cut it while you're limited to yourself and your mercenary to apply it. That said it might still be worth one point to give your hireling an attack rating bonus.
Fire Wall: One of my favorite spells in Diablo 1, and it is in fact still quite strong in Diablo 2. It obviously causes a wall of fire to spring forth at your targeted point, just as it did in Diablo 1, however the duration has been reduced greatly. At most you will be able to have two firewalls affecting a target at once, and it doesn't take long to get this “stack” casted. This means that you will quickly reach your maximum fire damage output, which is both a good and a bad thing. Let us get back to this in a moment, and for now move on to mention the last considered alternative.
Meteor: After a slight delay this skill will make a meteor fall down, causing direct fire damage in a 4 yard radius, and also leaving patches of flames burning around the point of impact. The impact damage aside, the flames of this skill is the direct opposite from those of fire wall, they last long but do low damage. This characteristic means that it takes a longer time to reach the maximum damage potential, since you have time to stack a lot of flames before the first ones run out.
So which one is better? I cannot directly answer that question, but I do know which one I prefer. Above all meteor is easier to use since the AoE isn't a line of flames, but instead a somewhat circular area around the point of impact. With some simplifications we can receive an estimate that meteor should start out with around 45% of the DPS of firewall, 100% after about 8-10 seconds, and end up near 200% after 23-24 seconds. These numbers of course are only a rough estimates, and a proper comparison could swing the favor slightly in any direction. I will however provide a small example to show that the numbers are not completely randomly guessed:
Let us once again bring up out +10 to skills example. Consider a case after 18 seconds from when the first meteor landed. Since the duration of the fires of a level 30 meteor is 18.5 seconds we should now have obtained approximately max of our DPS potential. With a casting delay of 1.2 seconds we should have casted about 18/1.2 = 15 meteors. This gives 15 stacks of flames meaning about 15*830 direct DPS from those, and we also have 3779/1.2 DPS from the direct impact damage. In total this sums to around 15600 DPS for our meteor. A single level 30 firewall would have a DPS of 4606.5 and stacking two of them gives 9213 DPS. From these numbers we receive 15600/9213 = 1.69 thus your meteor stack should be doing around 70% more damage. Again this assumes 20/1 investment and disregards casting times, the math is rather crude to say the least, but the truth should be somewhere along those lines.
Another thing to notice is the fact that the flame part of meteor is only synergized by inferno, and not even pure fire sorceresses invest into that skill. That means that although our impact damage will suffer greatly from the lack of synergies, the flames take a far less serious hit from the 20/1 investment when comparing your meteor to that of a pure fire sorceress.
So now we have both our main and our backup skill, this should be a good time to summarize the build's skill outline. We will return to discuss a bit more on the usage of our selected skills in the strategy section, but for now let us get on with the summary.
2.3 Skillpoint distribution summary
Just as all other builds, at level 99 we would have 110 skillpoints at our disposal, but leveling up to that point is a tedious process and we really should not aim that high. Let us first determine the cornerstone skills of the build and then work forward from there:
A total of 73 skillpoints, which is reached in your mid sixties when quest rewards have been taken into account. However the above is not all there is to it, specifically you must note the plus signs on the values for cold mastery and ice bolt. They should obviously not be left at level one, instead you should aim for level 27 cold mastery after skill bonuses, and work towards maxing ice bolt. Level 27 cold mastery gives you -150% enemy cold resistance, and the reason to aim for this level is mainly because the average cold resistance among all non cold immune monster types lies somewhere around 50-60%. It also so happens that quite a few of the monsters at commonly ran target locations have 50% cold resistance, including venom lords and minions of destruction. That said, there are a couple more skills that you need to consider that were not mentioned above.Code:Cold Spells Lightning Spells Fire Spells 20 Blizzard 1 Static Field 20 Meteor 20 Ice Blast 1 Telekinesis 1 Fire Mastery 1+ Cold mastery 1 Teleport 5 Prerequisites 1+ Ice Bolt 2 Prerequisites
Warmth (“Optional”): This skill increases mana regeneration and should be considered a one point wonder. I may list it as optional but that is only because it isn't needed theoretically. For example you could (pronounced as should) be using an insight mercenary which gives you enough mana regeneration, or you could be using the phoenix runeword to restore both your mana and health in regular intervals. In any case I would put a point in here, and unless you can find a really good reason not to then I suggest you do as well.
Frozen Armor (Optional): The armor skills of the cold tree were mentioned before as possible one point wonders, and I would personally recommend placing a point in frozen armor. The added defense is not really a big deal in my opinion, but freezing attackers is. Above all this is useful for blind teleporting, where it can save your life to have your attacker freeze for a moment, giving you enough time to teleport out before their next attack.
All in all with maxed ice bolt and high cold mastery you may not be done until you are in your nineties, and even then we are assuming a rather good amount of +skills from your equipment. If you are on a lower budget stopping at level 17 cold mastery might actually be a better choice. This will give you -100% enemy cold resistance, which is a nice and practical number. Against monsters with zero cold resistance level 17 obviously is optimal, since you cannot lower your enemies resistance more then down to -100%. Still, my personal preference is and will stay at level 27, if they aren't cold immune then opponents should simply die fast, regardless if they have 0% or 99% cold resistance.
3. Stat points
Since the addition of re-specifications you can now reset your statpoints to make sure you optimize them even if you make some “mistakes” early on. For this build the needed strength is fairly straight forward. Your final goal will most likely be 156, which is needed for the monarch type shields. If you don't plan to use a monarch the question gets trickier, but in any case you should only get as much strength as your equipment needs, nothing more. Some other values to keep in mind are 95 and 84, which are the requirements of a pair of “War Traveler” boots and the armor from “Tal Rasha's set” respectively.
There are not may pieces of equipment that we need to consider that have dexterity requirements, and I personally prefer not to go for blocking with this build. On hardcore you may wish to consider blocking, but most of you can probably skip any investment into dexterity. In any case the only number to keep in mind that I can think of is 75, which is the requirement of “Wizardspike”. Other then that you will have to use the block formula if you wish to utilize blocking:
3.3 VitalityCode:Blocking Total Blocking % = Min( [(Blocking * (Dexterity - 15)) / (Character Level * 2)] , 75) Dexterity investment for 75% block with a selection of shields: cLvl Whitstan's Gerke's Spirit Ward Visceratuant* Stormshield Moser's* 85 162 188 193 193 206 212 86 164 190 195 195 208 214 87 165 192 197 197 210 216 88 167 194 199 199 213 219 89 169 196 201 201 215 221 90 171 198 203 203 217 223 91 172 200 205 205 219 225 92 174 202 207 207 221 228 93 176 204 209 209 224 230 94 178 206 211 211 226 232 95 179 208 213 213 228 235 * = Upgraded versions cLvl = Character Level
We do not wish to spare the skillpoints required to make an energy shield build, and because of this life is your focus, not mana. Thus, just as most other builds this is where you spend most of your points, since vitality is the stat that provides more life when increased. If you find yourself running out of mana while leveling you can choose to divert some points from vitality in favor of increasing your mana pool, but once you have obtained a high enough level and end game equipment this should no longer be needed.
As almost all other builds we aim to keep this stat at its base, unless we really hunger for more mana. Once your reach level 25-27 there are runewords available that can increase and replenish your mana pool well enough without the any extra points into energy. Before these levels you can use sapphires socketed into your equipment and/or tir runes to maintain your mana pool. In the end stages of this build you will also not be using very mana intensive spells, as such you should respec to base energy later on if you spent any points here while leveling.