Fishymancer - Final Version
1. The Build
2.a) Stat Points - Target Values
2.b) Stat Points - Progression
3.a) Skill Points - Target Values
3.b) Skill Points - Progression
3.c) Skill Points - Analysis
3.d) Skill Points - Comparison of Curses
4.a) Gear - Untwinked
4.b) Gear - Twinked
5.a) Hireling - Choice & Gear
5.b) Hireling - Comparison of available Mercs
7. Tactics for specific Monsters and Areas & frequent problems
A. Magic Finding and Boss Running
B. MF Gear
C. NF's Crushing Blow Setup (tm)
D. Multi Player Games
E. Where to post your questions / comments
G. Help, normal Diablo is kicking my ***!
This is a rather minor update, to accomodate some of the changes that have been made to the game since 1.10 was new and also to iron out a few kinks and streamline the guide as a whole. I cut a few things that I felt were not really helpful that I just put in to placate people. I don't feel like placating anyone anymore so they're gone now. (The extra things in the guide, not the people) Oh yea, and I used the "highlight" thing to make it a little easier on the eyes, maybe?
So, in case you haven't read this previously, what is a Fishymancer? Basically this necro relies on plain skeletons and corpse explosion to kill things. This is probably the safest and least item dependant build in the current patch and it is probably capable of beating hardcore without using any items at all. (feel free to use items, though. Most people do. Items are cool) Aside from being easily capable of beating the game with no specific gear this guy also makes an excellent MF character. Not so much for mephisto where sorcs still reign supreme (not to say he can't kill meph, sorcs are just faster), his domain are the alvl 85 areas like the WS K and the Pit. He has no problems running Hell WS K and Baal with lots of MF on him while nearly maintaining his original killing speed.
Why is it called a Fishymancer? Well, originally I just called it a Skelliemancer, but a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... No, actually right here in the forum, Gohanman started calling it a Fishymancer and the term sorta stuck.
If you are looking for something in particular, I'd suggest using crtl+f to bring up the search function and enter what you are looking for there. (for example if you are having trouble with duriel, enter "duriel" and run the search)
Disclaimer: When I say "put no points in skill X" or if I don't mention skill Y, then that's because they are not needed for this particular build, not because those skills "suck" for every Necromancer build.
1. The Build:
I'll try to sum up in a few words what you can expect from your Fishymancer. He is very well up to beating Hardcore untwinked (the definition of untwinked varies from player to player, I take it to mean, "Using only items he finds himself.” (Some people call this "pure".). Apart from that, he is also very handy as an MF char, but more on that later.
This build is probably the safest character you can play in 1.10+, especially if you don't have any gear at all. He is very strong in the field of crowd control. Between his AI curses and the army of undead he is rarely in any real danger.
Since I've seen a couple people say stuff like "I'd like to play a skelliemancer but I have no beast runeword", let me say it once again: You need no items. Period. No items. If you're into stuff like that you can beat the game naked. And not using items on your necromancer as well.
2.a) Stat Points - Target Values:
Here, I'll only provide a rough guideline, as you may need more or less points in certain stats depending on your gear. You will also notice that you don't really need stat points with this build, so it's not really a big deal if you waste a few.
Strength (Str) : Strength lets you wear equipment. How much you need depends strongly on available gear. A good value to aim for is 100, but the Necromancer might be able to get away with as little as 60.
Dexterity (Dex) : Here you will want enough for blocking, so around 200 by the time you beat Hell.
This assumes a good shield, of course, don't aim for 75% chance to block with a shield that has 30% base chance to block... Why? Simple: More points in Dex mean less in Vit, and thus, less life. Up to a certain point, that's a sacrfice we don't mind making. Now, why is it a good idea for a Necro to sacrifice Vit for dex? The Necro receives only 2 Hit points (HP) per point in Vit. This is the low end of what chars get, meaning that he loses less life than other classes that get 3 or 4 points life per point in Vit. Good shields for this build are the Homunculus (72% chance to block), a rhyme (runeword) Tower Shield or Sigon's Guard (64%). Don't try to reach max blocking with a shield that has a lower base chance to block than Sigon's, and even in the case of Sigon's I'd craft an ammy to help with blocking. (More on that later).
Bottom line is that you will need around 200 Points of Dex at level 92 (trust me, in 1.10+ you won't get a lot higher than that anytime soon.). There is a formula to calculate the needed dex at a certain level but I think it's easier to just hover your mouse button over your defence value (this shows you your chance to block) and see if you reached 75% blocking yet. This is one of the few things in the Character Screen that actually work correctly so let's use that, shall we?
Vitality (Vit) : All the rest. Not much more to say here. Everything you don't need otherwise goes here.
Energy (En) : Personally I never put points here anymore. You might want to get a few here in normal and respec later to put them elsewhere. This build doesn't require a lot of mana and usually I don't even put insight on my merc because I can get a long just fine with mana per kill items and blue potions.
2.b) Stat Points - Progression:
There's not much to say here. At low levels I'd work on strength, then on vitality. Most likely you won't need blocking in normal at all, nor will you have a shield that blocks well, so I'd not worry about dex until later. Blocking gets important in Hell, so be sure you've got enough points saved to add them as needed. Don't be afraid to keep stat points saved if you don't want to spend them, there's nothing wrong with that. I've seen a lot of people beat the game with a few hundred points to spare. (I did that, too). In 1.13 you can of course just put them whereever and resepc later. Back in my day we didn't do that. We put our points in a stat and they stayed there and we were thankful for that. Yes, sir.
3.a) Skills - Target Values:
Updated this section with a "core build" and several possiblities what to do with points gained beyong that.
20 Raise Skeleton (RS)
20 Skeleton Mastery (SM)
1 Raise Mage
1 Clay Golem
1 Blood Golem
1 Iron Golem
1 Fire Golem
1+ Golem Mastery
1+ Summon Resist (SR)
Poison & Bone:
20 Corpse Explosion (CE)
1+ Amplify Damage (Amp)
1 Dim Vison (DV)
1 Decrepify (Decrep)
The core build can be completed with only 76 Skill points. Skills that are marked with a "+" are likely candidates for further skill points. I suggest reading what I have to say in the skill analysis before adding a lot of points to any of those, though.
Note: If you have spare skill points, the damage your skellies deal is displayed as lower than it should be. I do no know if the bug is in the display only and your minions to the right damage in game or if they actually deal less damage. At any rate, the difference is not large but it deserves mentioning.
Remaining Skill Points:
If you plan on doing a lot of runs with your necro you can probably get him into his mid ninties sooner or later. So, if you go with just the minimum values on your core build you can save up enough skill points to max another skill. This will usually mean that you need a decent amount of +skills or you will find your curses' radius (amp damage, mainly) so small that your overall efficiency will suffer. You don't really need anything specific, whatever you decide to do with your points will most likely just have a very minor impact. With respecs you can go ahead and experiment until you find something you like. Personally I found either of the following two things useful:
1) All-round Approach: Put some in Amplifiy Damage, some in Golem Mastery, some in Dim Vision, buff up all your favorite skills.
2) Golem Mastery: This is what I do when I intend to use an Iron Golem made out of a half-decent weapon. 300+ Average Damage, ideally with crushing blow and stuff like that. Personally I favor this approach.
3.b) Skills - Progression:
Basically this is very simple, you will want to max your three main skills in this order:
- Raise Skeleton
- Skeleton Mastery
- Corpse Explosion
Put the very first skill point you get in amplify damage and make sure you get 1 in Skeleton Mastery pretty early, too. One point early on in corpse explosion might be useful for clearing the maggot lair and the arcane sanctum. Make sure you get decrepifiy before fighting Duriel and get summon resist (and as a consequence clay golem and the mastery) before fighting diablo. You don't really need the other golems, curses or revives before you enter hell.
And that's basically it. Simple as that. Deviate from the suggested skill progression at your own risk. I wish I had a nickel for every person that complained about getting his *** kicked by diablo after spending skill points randomly. Yes, the final result is the same but your journey until level 70 might look differently.
3.c) Skills - Analysis:
The whole purpose of this section is to explain why I used the skills I used and why I spent as many points on them as I did. There are also a few hints on how to use the skills here. Seasoned players may want to skip this.
1) RS and Mastery: Not much to say here. More points mean more skellies and more damage for the skellies and your revives. Skellies will start having trouble with hard enemies in Act 4 Hell and beyond. If you have enough + skills items you will most likely be able to beat the game using only skellies and your merc. Points added to RS increase damage a lot more than points added to mastery.
Note about summoned creatures: If your skill level changes, your skellies retain the level they were summoned at. So, if you have 20 RS and are under the effect of a shrine (+2 to all skills) you will summon at skill level (slvl) 22 and those skellies will remain at slvl 22 even after the effect of the shrine wears off. You can use this to your advantage by having a lot of + skills gear on switch. Note that this works the other way around, too: If you put more points into RS you will need to resummon your skellies for them to be at your new slvl.
2) Raise Mage: Mages are not useful for this build as it is geared towards physical damage. The merc and main curse (amp damage) don't aid the mages at all. For this skelliemancer, mages do more harm than good. Especially in tight areas like the maggot lair or the arcane sanctuary where they will block your skellies' path. They also like to block doorways. I heard that some people like using cold mages against act bosses, but personally I never needed them and resummoning mages until you get enough cold ones is tedious. Still, if you have problems with an act boss it might be worth a try to summon as many mages as your slvl 1 with + skills allows.
3) Clay Golem: The slow effect makes the clay golem useful against single enemies like act bosses but not so useful that I'd want to spend more than 1 pt. The extra points don't do much for him anyway. Usually you will have 8-10 skellies, your merc and 4-10 (or more) revives. You don't need another tank.
4) Blood Golem: Don't bother casting this one. He does nothing for you the Clay or Iron Golems don't do better.
5) Iron Golem: Interesting if you have access to a steady supply of high-end items. Using the IK Maul to create Iron Golems worked fine for me when I was running Baal. (IK Maul has ~40% Crushing Blow and is very easy to find. At any rate, I found them faster than my golem used them up)
6) Fire Golem:: This is the most useful golem for questing, especially in HC. It's Holy Fire aura draws enemies to him and away from you. Don't expect him to cause damage, that's not what the golem is there for. It's only there to gather enemies and keep them from bothering your necro.
7.1) Revive: Despite the (relatively) poor AI revives are far from useless. Especially since you can only have a limited number of skellies adding a few revives can be a great help. Just pick your revives carefully. In general it's a good idea to revive fast monsters or monsters that are dangerous to you and deal physical damage. More on that later, in the section about revives.
7.2) Strategy for using Revives: Having an item with Teleport helps a lot. Enigma would be ideal but something with charges works, too. (An Amulet for example) Use that to gather your forces (teleporting next to Baal, Diablo, or into Coldworms chamber). Move a bit after you teleported as sometimes your monsters don't move if you're standing right on top of them.
8) Corpse Explosion: As you will most likely play normal and nightmare on players 8 almost exclusively I'd suggest not investing more than 1 pt here until later in the game. Once you reach hell and switch to players 1 it is extremely useful if you want to kill in a hurry. You don't have to have it, but if you intend for your char to be used for MF you will probably want it. Well, and it's not like there was anything better you could do with 20 skill points.
Trust me, max this skill. Yes, it does seem that additional points don't do that much for CE but that is not true at all. The area your CE covers increases by a larger amount for each skill point you add (Remember geometry in school? If you do you can calculate by how much it goes up. In your face everybody who said maths was useless! ) At any rate, I can't stress enough how useful this is for clearing areas. If you're running the pit or the WS K you will wan this. Especially in the WS K where you can kill gloams from far away it's very handy.
Remember that CE is 50% fire and 50% physical. So, amp damage or lower resist can increase the damage it does.
On a side note, CE is not useless on players 8, don't let the fact that it doesn't scale blind you to that. It does not get a bigger penalty than any other skill. (the only spell that is stronger on p8 is static field, everything else gets the same "penalty") Monsters on players 8 have 450% life. Assuming an amp'd monster with no resistances, CE does so much damage that 3-4 casts would still be enough to kill it.
9) Amp Damage: The most often used curse. Lowers physical resistance by 100%, which doubles the damage your skellies deal and increases the damage you do with CE by 50%. It also breaks nearly every Physical Immunity you will encounter in the game. I like having more than 1 point here because it lets me amplify whole crowds in a hurry and I can get back to doing other things, like casting attract or CE. You'll be pretty slow if you need to cast Amp 4-5 times before you've got every monster. Time is money.
10) Decrepify: Another great curse. Monsters are slowed by 50%, their damage is reduced by 50% and their physical resistance is lowered by 50%. This is extremely handy against act bosses but is _not_ recommended against normal enemies. At first glance it might seem that it does more than Amp but if none of your skellies die why would you need stuff to be slowed and weakened? That's right, you don't need that.
Do not forget to cast this curse against act bosses, though. You will notice a huge difference in your troops' performance. But even against act bosses you can probably make do without it once your clay golem starts working on the bad guy. Then you might want to overwrite your decrep with amp for another 50% more damage.
11) Dim Vision: Handy to use at the start of a battle or to stop ranged attackers. It also keeps reviving monsters from raising their dead, as they can't see them anymore. It’s also great to stop Gloams from frying you. I almost never used this curse, though. Using Attract in combination with Amp is far, far superior to using DV. The only real use I have for this is to blind ranged attackers if there's a really big horde of them. A lot of people swear by this, but personally I very rarely use that. But still, you have the skill as a prerequisite, so why not use it?
12) Attract: The crowd control curse. This one really rules. Cast it on a monster and all the other monsters start attacking it. This curse cannot be overridden by other curses. (Meaning if you cast amp damage on top of it, the attract curse stays active.) What makes this curse so useful is that a) Monsters stop attacking your troops and b) you can cast amp damage on all the other monsters that are currently attacking the victim of this curse. This gives you crowd control and more damage. (Remember, if you cast amp damage on top of dim vision the dim vision curse is gone). When facing a boss pack, cast the curse on a minion, not the boss as it doesn't work when cast on bosses.
By the way: You do not cast attract on the monster to kill it. You're casting it to keep several enemies busy. I'm stating that because some people asked why to bother with this curse, as it doesn't really kill the monster.
I find this curse most useful when I either face very strong enemies (or just lots of them) or when I have no skellies because I'm just starting to play. Once you have your army you don't really need it too much anymore.
13) Lower Resist: This curse has one situation where it is handy, if you have points to spare you might want to consider putting 1 point here at most. There are some enemies in the game that have more than 120% physical resistance. This means that they will stay PI, even after you cast amp on them. This only applies to a few choice bosses and you can kill them without LR, but LR makes it a just a bit faster. There will be more on that later, in the section about Physical Immunes.
14) Iron Maiden: Only as a prereq if you want LR. Monsters deal pitiful damage compared to the huge amounts of life they have, thus having them kill themselves with return damage isn't really gonna work well. Plus, only works against melee enemies which is probably less than half of 'em.
15) Life Tap: This curse returns 50% of the damage your troops deal as life. At first glance this sounds like a very good thing but life tap is still not very useful for this build. Once your merc gets any leech at all he will easily leech back the life he loses. My skellies rarely died, too, so I prefer to keep my enemies amp'd rather than life tap'd. Might be useful for the early stages when your merc has no life leech of his own or if you are in an MP game and have some fragile chars along.
16) Bone Armour: This skill might be have been half-decent in HC back in 1.10 when charges on items could count for synergies. These days I wouldn't spare it a second look.
3.d) Skill Points - Comparison of Curses:
There are several curses that have somewhat similar effects. The trick here is to figure out which of these are the best pick for you for a given situation. Note that the answer to these questions is not "always use curse 1 and never curse 2" but rather "use curse 1 here and use curse 2 there".
1) Decrepify vs. Amp Damage:
Quite often people have asked, which of these two was the better curse, so I thought I'd add a small paragraph about that. Some people argue that the -50% speed and damage decrep provides make it the better curse, but actually you won't need those things very often. Remember, the -50% damage and -50% speed don't do anything for you if you don't take any losses without them. So long as your army doesn't take heavy losses, there is no reason to use decrep, especially since it takes a while to affect larger crowds with this curse. In most cases, amp is the better choice. Decrep enters the scene when you come up against single, tough enemies. Either Act Bosses, or regular boss packs with nasty mods (extra strong, fanaticism or might aura). Lister is a good example here. If he is extra strong and fanatic I usually use decrep instead of amp.
2) Dim Vision vs. Confuse vs. Attract
Another argument I've frequently seen is which of these crowd control curses to use. I've already brushed this argument when I talked about the individual curses, but I think this deserves it's own paragraph as it's being brought up that often.
All of these curses serve when it comes to stopping monsters from hurting you, no argument here. The key factor is that you cannot override attract with another curse (attract on the other hand, can override other curses) which allows you to keep a group of monsters busy and under the effect of amp damage. None of the other curses can do that for you.
Confuse does make all the monsters attack each other, but as the damage they deal is so small compared to their life it's not really a valid alternative to attract.
There is one situation where I'd cast dim vision rather than attract. When you're dealing with very dangerous ranged attackers and can't take the time to aim attracts but just want to fling a curse in the general direction of the monsters. Like Gloams that are shooting at you from off-screen for example. I'd dim vision those, then teleport up close and amp & attract them.
Against regular archers I still prefer using only attract as it works just fine here.
You will probably notice that it's not necessary to cast attract all the time. In most battles your forces will do just fine without it (or another crowd control curse). But don't forget that you have those crowd control curses. They'll be helpful to you at the start of a session when you have only your merc and nothing else.
4.a) Gear - Untwinked:
The first thing you need to know about this build is that it can basically beat the game "naked", which makes it perfect for playing untwinked. (To me, untwinked means that you start with nothing and do little to no boss runs and thus you'll never have a lot of godly items)
I'd suggest always picking up flawless gems and cubing them to perfect. There are a lot of things you can do with them that will help you survive. You might want to have a few of every gem of every quality, just in case you want to upgrade some runes.
What we're looking for in equipment are the following things: MF, Resistance to Lightning, + skills and to a lesser extent: resistance to all elements.
Now I'll cover some of the "cheap" choices, slot by slot. The following items are some examples, there are dozens of possible choices for each slot, especially if you enter the world of crafting and gambling rares.
- Wand with + 3 RS and good other mods. Ideally something with + X to summoning tree and +3 to SM. Those can best be found in act 1 normal up to the cloister and are endgame-worthy.
- 3 Socketed Crown (or other headgear) with Ral/Thul/Ort Runes or Perfect Topazes (PTopaz), depending on your needs.
- Peasant Crown
- 4 os Gothic Plate (or other armour) with Ral/Thul/Ort Runes (if you need resistances and can't make a proper runeword for it) or Perfect Topazes (for MF; duh)
- Wealth Runeword (LemKoTir)
- Skin of the Vipermagi
- Smoke Runeword (NefLum)
- Sigon's Guard
- Rhyme (ShaelEth) Runeword (Tower Shield)
- Whitstan's Guard
- Class Specific Shield with +3 RS / + x SM (do not try to block with this, drops the same as wands mentioned above)
- Resist all ammy (Cube: 1 Perfect Gem of each kind + 1 magic ammy)
- Rare resist all ammy with good other mods
- Ammy of Teleport (You will want to gamble for one of those in any even)
- Crafted safety ammy with 10% blocking (see the Arreat Summit for info on crafting items, crafted items are like rares but they come with a few "built in mods. The saftey ammy comes with 1-10% increased chance for blocking. It is possible (maybe even easy) to get one with 10% blocking and resist all.)
- Rare or Magic Boots with Resistances, MF or Faster Run / Walk
- Treads of Cthon
- Natalya's Soul
- Rare Belt with resis
- Chance guards
- Trang Oul's gloves
- Rare gloves with resis, MF
- Coral Rings (Cube: 1 Magic Ring + 1 Perfect Topaz + 1 Rejuvenation Potion)
- Magic or Rare ring with Resis and MF
4.b) Gear - Twinked:
I've changed this section from "what people thought is awesome" to "what I actually use". There are other options besides the things I use. Feel free to experiment.
- Weapon 1: Arm of King Leoric
- Naj's Puzzler or Spellsteel (teleport charges, I don't have enigma nor will I make it ever)
- Harlequin Crest
- Skin of the Vipermagi
- Skullder's Ire
- Homunculus (PDiamond)
- Mara's Kaleidoscope
- Resist all ammy with good other mods
- (Rare) Ammy of Teleport with good other mods
- Arachnid Mesh
- Verdungo's Hearty Coil
- Trang Oul's Gloves
- Good Rare gloves
- Chance Guards (if interested in gold)
- Stone of Jordan
- Dwarf Star
- Resistance Charms of all kinds
- Summoning Grand Charms
5.a) Hireling - Choice & Gear:
Our final Merc will be a Might Merc. (Act 2, Nightmare, offensive Merc). He has the edge over everything else that is available. (For explanations check the next section). In normal I'd suggest using an Act 2 defensive Merc, though an Act 1 Merc could do well, too, if you have a decent bow for her to use. Still, I'd prefer the one with the aura.
Make sure your merc is always the same level as you are. Levelling him may take a while at first, but it will pay off in the long run. If you put off levelling him for too long he will never start to gain any real experience as the amount of XP he gets is dependant on how close his level is to the level of the monster he fights. (Keeping his level close to yours is especially important for your final merc. It isn't really such a big deal if the first one lags behind as you're going to fire him in Act 2 Nightmare anyway.)
As for the merc's gear: Make sure he has decent equipment. Don't just treat him as a walking aura. If you're untwinked it might be a little harder for you to get great gear but do try to keep him supplied. Shaftstop would make great armour and it's not that hard to find, same for Vampire Gaze, which would be your top choice for a helmet. (Both items socketed with res all jewels if you can manage that). A decent weapon would be an ethereal polearm with the Honour rune word. That is very easy to get and provides decent damage and life leech. On the unique side of things, Bonehew is an excellent late game choice that isn't all that hard to come by. Tomb Reaver would be your very high-end choice. The most popular act 2 merc weapon, The Reaper's Toll, is a *very* poor choice for this build as the merc will constantly override your curses which is something you don't want.
As a rule of thumb, try to give your merc damage, leech and resistances.
There are lots of good setups for your merc, here's what I currently favor on my necro:
Merc - Gear
This is not a highly important slot for a Fishymancer's Merc. You want this one to cover your resistances, get them up to 75% in Hell. If anything will kill your merc, it's usually elemental stuff that passes through the wall of skellies. A few useful examples, in order of preference:
Runewords: Fortitude, Treachery, Gloom, Smoke.
Uniques: Duriel's Shell, Shaftstop, Leviathan
I want my merc to have crushing blow and lifeleech. These things occur on helms and weapons and whichever one i cannot get on one, I get on the other.
Uniques & Sets: Guillaume's Face, Vampire Gaze, Crown of Thieves
What we want here is damage. Lots of damage. And lifesteal or crushing blow, depending on which our helm didn't give us. In contrast to armour, it's highly desirable to have an ethereal item here. (Defence doesnt matter for this merc so having 50% more is just 50% more of something we never needed in the first place)
Runewords: Obedience, Insight
Uniques: Arrioc's Needle, Tomb Reaver, Kelpie Snare,
5.b) Hireling - Comparison of available Mercs:
The following pretty much only explains why Act 2 Might > all. If you knew this / can take it at face value, skip it.
Act 2 vs. everything else:
Act 2 mercs come with one big advantage: Their Aura. Nobody else has one and that gives Act 2 mercs the edge over every other merc, almost regardless of what char you play. This is especially true for this build as you have a lot of minions that will benefit from your merc's aura.
Might vs. Thorns:
Might makes all your skellies and physically attacking minions stronger whereas thorns only works if a physically attacking enemies hits something. So, Thorns is weak when you fight few enemies or enemies that don't attack physically. Might doesn't care. It's always strong.
Might vs. Prayer
If you use your curses cleverly your minions will not get hit very often and hence they won't need any extra healing. Even if they do get hit, they are durable enough to withstand a few hits and regenerate fast enough so that you rarely lose any minions. The benefit of might outshines that of prayer by far. And for the love of god stop putting forth the argument that prayer works so awesomely with insight. It's still a very, very tiny amount of health restored every 2 seconds and not having might is the equivalent of giving myself a lobotomy before trying to beat Deep Blue at chess.
Might vs. Blessed Aim
Blessed Aim helps your skellies hit. On paper this seems to be a good choice but once you are actually in the game you will notice that your skellies have no problem hitting stuff. I don't know why, but that's the way it is. That makes the blessed aim merc pretty redundant for our build and certainly not more useful than might.
Might vs. Defiance:
Defiance improves your Skellies defence, aiding them in surviving melee attacks. Looks like a good choice at first glance but skellies have absolutely no problem surviving even in late hell so you don't need the defiance merc.
Basically there is not much to say about hardcore. Your strategies and gear choices stay the same as the build was supposed to be able to beat the game without dying.
In general, it is a good idea to progress a little more slowly in hardcore, level up a bit more, sell a lot of stuff and gamble. Gloves, Belts and Boots are common choices here. Watch for resistances here.
The section about untwinked gear applies to hardcore, too. Just make sure you focus on resistances more than you'd do in SC.
Basically, you have to be a lot more careful in HC as once you're dead you stay dead (big surprise here). I'd suggest completing the game in softcore at least (with any char) once before trying hardcore. Take a good look at what monsters in hell can do and remember the dangerous ones.
I advise against reckless moves like running too far ahead of your army, that will probably get you killed sooner or later. Also be careful in areas that spawn Gloams. If one of them has conviction you could get in deep trouble.
Running vs. Walking: Another of those things that are frequently brought up. Personally I prefer running for several reasons. For one, walking looks strange to me and I prefer to be as fast as I can. I got my necromancer to guardian without dying and without walking so I guess I can safely say you don't have to walk. Just don't charge along blindly leaving your minions behind. That's not really a good idea.
7. Tactics for specific Monsters and Areas & Frequent Problems
This section will include all those random tidbits of knowledge that don't really belong anywhere, as well as some tactics for act bosses and certain difficult areas.
A note on Player Settings: You should be able to take most, if not all of normal and nightmare on players 8. (assuming you follow the skill progression, that is. If you max the mastery first you will be a lot slower) If your gear is top notch you should be able to do the same on hell. Note that in players 8 hell your main problem is not getting killed, but running out of patience waiting for monsters to die.
The most annoying areas are undoubtedly the Arcane Sanctuary and The Maggot Lair. The passages are very narrow and your minions can't properly engage your enemies. The easiest way to beat those areas is to set the game to players 1, unsummon all of your minions and let your merc and CE do the work. (This applies to Hell difficulty. Normal and Nightmare shouldn't be much of a problem)
Andariel: Shouldn't be much of a problem due to the large amount of monsters she keeps around. Replacing lost skellies is easy here. In hell you can also use CE against her. If you have serious problems against her get a clay golem to slow her a bit. That helps usually.
Duriel: Only a problem in normal. People usually only have difficulty with him if they forget to cast decrep and spend their points differently from the suggested skill progression.
Mephisto: Another weak boss. As usual, keep him decrep'd and you should be fine. Maybe consider reviving a few council members.
Diablo: A lot of people have problems with him, too. Usually this happens when they forget to cast Decrep, don't cast the clay golem or don't have points in SR.
Baal's Minions: CE makes short work of them. I like to use amp against all of them, except against Lister if he spawns with might or fanaticism.
Baal: May take a while to kill in normal play. Teleport is important. Decrep and clay golem are used as usual. If you intend to run him, check the appendix about the CB Set-up. Or just put Crushing Blow on your Merc and believe me that it helps.
Physical Immune Monsters: Amp takes care of all normal PIs and most bosses. The others can be defeated with CE or by reviving monsters that use elemental attacks. Lower Resist helps, too.
Gloams: Usually they shouldn't be much of a problem. Try evading their fire if you can, Amp them and use CE as the first goes down. Teleporting right next to them is a good idea unless you are dealing with a conviction boss. Dim Vision is nice but I found that I rarely needed to use it. Keep your merc's resis up.
Blocked Doorways: Quite often people have problems getting through doors or narrow passages blocked by a few monsters. Only one or two of your skeletons will be able to attack and monsters may take forever to go down that way. Fortunately, there are some ways to deal with this: The first option, available to all necromancers, is to cast terror several times. That scares monsters away from the door and you will be able to move in. The second option is a bit more straight forward and this will probably be your preferred way of solving issues like that in later stages: Just teleport into the room.
Getting the first corpses: Well, once you've got your army you're pretty much unstoppable, but what about the start of session when you don't have any army?
Some people like to visit earlier acts to get their first skeletons, but I found that to be unnecessary. Your merc should be more than sufficient to get those first few corpses. Just make sure you put those crowd control curses to good use to keep him alive. Also, consider casting CE on the first few corpses, rather than beginning to raise your army immediately. Usually it's faster to cast CE on the first two corpses and then have about 20 dead monsters rather than raise skellies or revives immediately.
Once you've reached Act 5 you could just pop through the red portal and raise the dead bodies in Pindle's Garden as skeletons. Personally, I never found that to be necessary but it's still nice to know.
A general note about revives: They are all next to immortal unless their timer runs out. Hence monsters with a lot of life (or physical immunity) don't make better revives. That being said, there are several kinds of monsters that make good revives:
Archers like Dark Rogues or Skeleton Archers are excellent choices as they don't need to close with the enemies and thus can never get in each other’s ways. Those are probably my favourite revives. Spear Cats are okay, too, but they seem to be less effective than the archers.
Succubi make good revives if nothing else is available. Their attack is physical but they are a bit erratic. An annoying side effect is that a lot of them cast their own curses. Usually you will want another curse to be in effect so you may not like some types of succubi. Experiment a bit to see which ones you like.
Ghosts are great revives for the arcane sanctuary. They can't block each other's path, which is awesome in this place.
Standard Melee Monsters are solid choice. Examples are Serpent Magi, Doom Knights, Desert Raiders, Dark Rogues, Beetles, Balrogs, Yetis and Thrashers. All of these make decent revives especially if you can teleport.
Gorebellies and their look-alikes (the big guys with the clubs) deserve special notice as they have Crushing Blow. If you're entering a tough battle against an act boss or the Ancients consider looking for a couple of these guys. Note that you can bring them from act 4 to act 5. Just make sure you can quickly get to where you need them, so you'll probably want to leave your town portal open in act 5 and get the Urdars without using a new portal.
Vampires are okay if you need to take something down that's PI and stays PI. They are also useful in the Arcane Sanctuary, as they don't need to close with their enemies. They're not as good as ghosts there but better than melee monsters like Goatmen.
But not every monster that you fear makes a good revive. Gloams are poor choice, as are Stygian Dolls, or any other erratic creature, for that matter. (Gloombats, Fetishes, Fallens) Slow moving creatures like Mummies, Zombies, Cadavers, Maggots or Corpse Spitters are very poor, too.
Well, this will be a short one, but I does need mentioning as having a good hotkey setup will make you just that much more efficient. Here's what I suggest, it may seem a bit weird at first, but once you got used to it you will not want to go back, I promise you that.
(Note, the point here is not to assign the skills the way I did, the point is using the letter keys for hotkeys. I do have some thought behind assigning them the way I did but maybe you'll find that it doesn't suit you.)
Q: Skill 1: Corpse Explostion
W: Skill 2: Fire Golem
E: Skill 3: Clay Golem
R: Skill 4: Teleport
A: Skill 5: Amp Damage
S: Skill 6: Dim Vision
D: Skilll 7: Decrep
F: Skill 8: Attract
Y/Z: Skill 9: Raise Skeleton (this on is "Z" for americans and "Y" for german keyboards)
X: Skill 10: Revive
C: Skill 11: unassigned, for use of optional skill
Space: Town Portal
T: Skill Tree
Z/Y: Character Screen ("Y" for americans, "Z" for germans)
U: Quest Screen
O: Merc Screen
Number keys 1-4: Potions (1+2 Health, 3 Mana, 4 Rejuv)
Teleport is overrated. The end.
Okay, not quite the end. But you get the point - or not. At any rate, you do *not* need an Enigma for this build to work. I've never used one outside of performing tests and I never will. There are a few rare moments when having teleport is neat but charges can get that job done easily.
For beating the game, teleport is hardly necessary. You can kill anything that comes your way, so why would you skip it? For MFing, you will run areas, and again, no need to skip stuff. The only moment I use TP is when I fight Baal to position my people on him. But that is one charge per run.
If I had an enigma I would probably use it, mostly for the +2skills and the MF. But I'd still not use the teleport much nor would I go out of my way to get an enigma anyway.
Appendix A: Magic Finding and Boss Running
A lot of the things I'll say here have nothing to do with the necromancer build, but apply to MF in general. It might still be interesting to some and it covers quite a few frequently asked questions about magic finding. Still, it can be skipped in good conscience if you don't want to do any serious MFing.
Things I'll cover here are the basics of how MF works, where to MF in the various stages of the game and how to compare your MF results. (Like, comparing your finds from Mephisto to what Baal gives you)
First up let me repeat once more that magic find works on act bosses just fine. Regardless of what blizzard or anybody else says. Several people (including me) have done extensive testing on that and have verified that MF works just as it always has.
Okay, that being said, how does it work? Well, let's say a monster has a 1% chance of dropping a unique item. If you wear MF gear that gives +100% chance to find magic items his odds will be 2%. If his odds were 4% before they are 8% afterwards. Simple right?
Now, one more thing you need to know about Magic Find is that there are diminishing returns. Meaning that your actual MF percentage is lower than the sum of MF you get from your items. That means that every single point of MF helps you less than the last. But that doesn't mean it's a bad idea to try for as much MF as possible. It is only a bad idea if it slows you down a lot. With this build you shouldn't really have those problems as you can sacrifice basically everything for the sake of MF without endangering your life or slowing down.
Oh, and in case any body was wondering MF works just fine with your minions. (I've seen this being asked a couple of times on various boards)
Word of Advice: All the Act Bosses are a lot easier to kill if you have crushing blow. (Check the section about CB for more info)
There's one last thing we need to cover before we move on: How to reroll maps. Let's say you don't like the map you have because the waypoint is far away from where you want to go. Now, just change difficulties and you'll get a new map. Of course you have to explore it again and it might not be good but after a few tries you'll probably get a good map. As you'll have to do quite a few runs to get what you want it does make sense to spend some time looking for a quick map. After you've got one, keep that map. Some people may tell you that maps "dry up", meaning that after a while you don't get any good results anymore. I have not been able to prove that something like that does happen. I did about 500 Meph runs on the same map and results didn't change noticeably. The first 30 runs yielded the same average number of uniques as the last 30 runs, etc. But we'll get to the comparing part later on. For now let's just say once you've got a quick map, stick to that until you're done running. Oh, and by the way: Maps change once you enter MP games so be aware that you'll lose your perfect map if you go MPing.
Okay, let's get started: Whom to run? Common targets are Nightmare Mephisto, Hell Mephisto, Hell Baal and of course the level 85 areas in Hell, namely the Worldstone Keep and the pit. Now we can tick these areas off one by one.
Nightmare Mephisto: The good things about him are that you can run him quickly if you have a short map and that he drops very well, just like all the act bosses. And you can access him without fighting a lot of monsters (unlike Diablo and Baal). He is probably your first stop in your MF career. Personally I ran him only long enough to get a few basic items so that I could get to Hell Mephisto. This build is not perfect for running Meph but it can cope well enough.
Hell Mephisto (max TC 78, lvl 87): Now, this is where the fun starts. As always with Mephisto, it's important to have a good map. (A Waypoint close to the stairs down). Everybody runs him because it's very quick and the results are good. I'd suggest moving on after you've gotten most of the items you can reasonably expect him to drop. Which means most items of TC 72 and lower. While Mephisto can drop up to TC 78 his odds for TC 75 and TC 78 are low and very low respectively so you will probably get those items quicker from other places. (In other words, don't run Mephisto for Stormlash). Same as with NM Meph, this build isn't perfect but it can manage.
If you plan to farm Mephisto (NM, Hell, or both) for a lot of gear you should seriously consider doing this with the perfect char (imo), a Meteorb-Sorc, or a blizzard sorc which seems to be all the rage lately. Note that you do *not* need any gear from mephisto to beat the game with this build. This is probably only something that's interesting for you if you intend to run mephisto a lot. (500-1000 runs are a common number here. By then you'll have gotten most of the things he can give you)
The level 85 areas (max TC 87): In those areas normal monsters have a level of 85, champions are lvl 87 and bosses are lvl 88. This means that bosses and champions can drop every item in the game. Most common choices are the Pit (Act 1, Tamoe Highlands) and the Worldstone Keep. The difference between the two is that the monsters in the Pit are easier to kill, but the WS K has Baal at the end of it, which tips the balance in its favor for me. Also I enjoy playing in the WS K more because it's more dangerous and thus less boring. This build can handle *any* alvl85 area with ease (Mausoleum makes a little less sense due to having doorways, but it can be done). Pick any one you like and run it to your heart's content.
Hell Baal (max TC 87, lvl 99): This guy can actually drop every item in the game and as he is at the end of one of those lvl 85 areas the time you spend getting to him is well spent from the item hunter's point of view. What you don't want to do is skip the Keep and just farm his minions and Baal himself. That is not a good idea.
Now, on to part 2: How to analyse your findings, this is only interesting to you if you want to compare your findings to those of others or if you want to compare your Mephisto results to your Baal results. First of all you need to know about failed items. A failed unique item is a rare item with 3 times the normal durabilty; a failed set is a magic item with 2 times the normal durability. (For example, let's take a colossus voulge, a failed unique would have 150 durability, the failed set would have 100. Obviously you need to know the base durability in order to check this) A failed item can be created in two different ways:
1) The game tries to create a Unique (or Set) item but the base item that has been selected doesn't have a Unique (or Set) version. This is what would happen all the time when the game tries to create a Unique / Set Colossus Voulge.
2) The game tries to create a Unique (or Set) item but the monster that drops the item has a level that is lower than the quality level (qlvl) of the item. Let's take an item with a high qlvl (87), the Arachnid Mesh (unique Spiderweb Sash). Now, let's say you kill Pindleskin and he decides to drop a Spiderweb Sash. As Pindle's level is 86 he cannot drop the Arachnid Mesh and thus you'll end up with triple durability Spiderweb sash.
Ok, but what about bows or other ranged weapons? Well, there's no way to check if those are failed or not. But sometimes you can deduce a few things: For example a blue grand matron bow you got from hell baal can't be a failed item. Neither can a yellow short bow.
So, now that we've gotten the basics out of the way we can start comparing our findings. What you need to count is the total number of Sets and Uniques. (Total number = regular Uniques + failed Uniques). Obviously you have to disregard runs where you got things like a blue Crusader Bow where you can't be sure if you've gotten a failed item or not. (you can say for sure that a yellow crusader bow from hell baal can't be failed, though) Also you need to count the total number of items you got, as well as keep track of how many runs you did.
If you do all that and do a statistically significant number of runs you will find that Baal and Mephisto have exactly the same odds of dropping you a Unqiue or Set item. (Personally, I did 500 Mephisto and 200 Baal runs (while taking notes, in total I probably did "some" more); but something like 50 should show you the right tendency, too. Remember not to change anything while taking notes (MF percentage, player settings, etc).
Appendix B. MF Gear
Generally speaking, the perfect MF gear gives you 75% LR, a decent ammout of + skills and (surprise) a lot of MF. I'm not going to recommend a specific setup here anymore as there's just too much you can vary. Personally I wouldn't prioritise MF if you have 250+% already. Like, I wouldn't drop my SoJs for Nagelrings, nor would I fill my inventory with 7% MF charms.
I like to keep my inventory as empty as possible so I can pick up stuff like jewels, flawless gems, charms, interesting rares or whites, etc.
Appendix C. NF's Crushing Blow Setup (tm)
This is what I used before I got lazy and piled crushing blow on my merc. You can put that stuff on any build that has problems with an act boss and see their HP melt down.
NF's patented Crushing Blow (CB) Setup consists of three parts, all of them really easy to get:
1) A 6 sockted weapon (I used a Phase Blade) with 4 Eths and 2 Shaels OR 4 Eths 1 Shael and 1 Um (Open Wounds pwns). This makes sure you can hit Baal, even if your AR is extremely low. (Remember, normal "Ignore Target Defence" doesn't work on Act Bosses, but "-100% Target Defence" does. UPDATE: -Target defence is at half efficiency vs bosses so getting 6 Eths in a phase blade is probably a better option than 4Eth2Shael) (basically a 4 socketed weapon with 4Eths is enough, too. But it's not that hard to find something with 6 sockets)
2) Gore Rider or Goblin Toe. Those provide crushing blow and open wounds in the case of Gore Riders, I'd go with Goblin Toe if you don't have gore riders or if you have an um rune in your phase blade
3) Guillaume's Face: This provides the biggest chunk of CB.
These three items together can reduce the time you take to kill Baal to a fraction of how long it would take using only skellies and your merc. Note the physical resistance affects CB and Baal starts with 50% PR. With Decrep you get him down to 0% which increases the damage CB does, doubles it, in fact.
Now, what shield do we use with our Phase Blade? Ideally, Stormshield. If you don't have that, any shield with decent blocking and resis will do. A Rhyme Tower shield is a cheap alternative. Don't forget that you'll use this shield only against Baal himself so it doesn't really matter if your resis drop a little on switch.
What's the point of all this? Well, bascially it's just something you can do to speed up your baal running a little. If you don't need your weapon switch for teleport it's free anyway and the boots and helm can fit in the cube so you can switch those out in the time it takes baal to walk through the portal. Of course your merc can take care of baal on his own but sometimes it's nice to show the youngsters what old people can do besides playing bingo...
Appendix D. Multiplayer Games
I have recently taken this build through a HC MP trip from lvl 1 to guardian with 3 other fine people of the SPF and I can safely say it works pretty well. Even with 12 skellies and 20 Revives, I was not able to make the game lag enough to kill them, though it did get a little confusing. But between all the meatshields everyone was safe. This build synergises well with an enchantress. Just think about how much damage the ench does if she buffs each of your minions. Omnomnom. Any build dealing physical damage will love your amp damage curse, of course. What you don't work that well with is cold damage based builds because they tend to shatter the bodies you wanted to... do unspeakable things to. And maybe cast CE or RS on them, too.
Appendix E. Where to post your questions / comments
Before asking a question I would ask that you make sure it is not covered in the guide. If it is and you still ask, I usually won't bother replying unless I'm feeling extremely nice. If you have valid questions or comments please bring them to the SPF and either post in an existing thread or start a new one if you can't find the one with the latest version of the guide. I rarely read the posts in the strategy compendium so whatever you have to say might go unheeded if posted there.
Don't send me PMs about guides. Post in the thread instead!
Appendix F. Credits
In no specific order I want to thank:
- Lone_Wolf for pointing out that Gore Riders are better than Goblin Toe
- Serdash for proofreading the entire (!) guide
- Hakai_no_Tenshi for atma
- Gohanman for comming up with the name Fishymancer
- Kung_Poo for writing those funny stories about his necromancer
- RTB, Thrugg, Shade and Tenshi for providing all the info about the inner workings of the game one could ever want
- Randall for Flavie
- RTB for the FE Mod
- The SPF for being such a great place
- Buzull for inspiring me to start a HC sept and for hosting it for a while
- Everyone I forgot for not being angry about me forgetting
- Everyone who read one of my guides and decided to use them for his chars (especially if you followed my assassin guide I love you )
A small note on questions about the build and my answering them: Experience has shown that it is a pretty bad idea to have the guide in the first post and a lot of answers scattered throughout the thread. Should any new questions arise I will answer them as good as I can and then I'll include them in the guide, here in the first post. Depending on my mood, if you ask something that is covered in the guide you'll get an answer or scorn and ridicule. You have been warned. Anyone asking about Normal Diablo will be kicked in the shins. Hard.
Finally, the one most frequently asked question, once again because I get asked this all the time:
G. Help, normal Diablo is kicking my ***!
Q: I get pwnd by normal Diablo! What gives?
A: Here are some thoughts that might help you:
1: Follow the skill progression. Roughly 2/3 of all people that asked this question just put their points in random skills and then wonder why it doesn't work. Max RS first, SM after that and put points only into skills you need right now. That means that on the curses tree you get only decrep and the prereqs of it before fighting diablo. Everything else should be spent on your skellies.
2: Use your skills. About 1/3 of all people that asked this question didn't use their skills properly. First, cast decrepify on diablo (and refresh the curse as needed). Have your clay golem out to slow him down further. Recast it as soon as it goes down. 90% of the time diablo will focus on this guy (no idea why, he just does) If one of your skellies goes down, recast it immediately. There should be plenty of bodies around, usually.
3: It is possible to bring down normal diablo on players 8, I have repeatedly done that in HC untwinked. But if you find that you followed step 1 and 2 and still have problems you can lower the player settings to 1.