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[Guide] My endgame, /players8 PvM Zealot Guide including Ubers

Discussion in 'Diablo 2 Community Forum' started by Pallyndrome, Feb 6, 2013. | Replies: 1 | Views: 1414

  1. Pallyndrome

    Pallyndrome IncGamers Member

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    Hi, I'm new to the site but a longtime D2 fan. I recently went through Hell at /players8 setting with my lvl 99 Zealot. I thought I'd share my guide, I'd also love constructive feedback if you see any potential areas for improvement. Please note this is a guide for PvM only and how to build/equip a Zealot to ultimately defeat the Uber stages at /players8 setting. Please go easy - I'm new to this stuff but I wanted to share my experiences. I'm not going to get into strategy for specific stages/monsters, but will focus more stats/skill allocation and equipment selection. Enjoy! ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    /players8 PvM Zealadin Build

    I've loved Diablo II since it came out, and after several attempts at a Paladin I finally found the perfect PvM formula. I've been working on this character for quite a while, and after boatloads of boss runs, he's finally hit the coveted lvl 99. If you can find/cube the godly items I recommend & build your characters' skills and stats in the manner listed in this guide, you will end up with a zealot who's IMO unmatched in player vs. monster mode. Admittedly this build would get throttled in PvP, but that's not the intent of this design. The intent was to create a character that could successfully defeat the game and all of the Ubers, and do so even when soloing in /players8 mode.

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    STATS

    Base Stats: Level 99, all quests completed - 585 total stat points (incl. base)

    Strength: 130

    Dexterity: 210

    Vitality: 235

    Energy: 10

    Yes, Vitality is somewhat low by most standards, but with this gear you won't need it. What you WILL need is increased strength to wear the elite gear - some of which is legit elite unique, some upgraded exceptional unique, and some runewords - that I'd recommend for this style of play. Since your elite armor requires more strength than you have at base, be sure to have some strength augment charms/jewelry you can put on in case you die and you need to go back for it later. Pumping up dexterity to 200 is an excellent way to boost attack rating, I find it useful to do so even beyond the point of max block because it will help you keep landing hits against the bosses, which will be critical with the eqipped gearing. Finally, put nothing in energy, you will rarely need it as zeal will be your primary attack. If you are building your character, I'd recommend keeping a near 1-to-1 ratio between dexterity and vitality, a little less than 2-to-3 strength vs. those stats, and absolutely nothing to energy. NOTE: In earlier levels, you can allocate stats differently based on your equipment & skills. However, once you get to Hell and kill the Act bosses, they will sometimes drop one of 4 different Essences which, when all 4 are collected, can be cubed into a Token of Absolution that allows you to reset your skill/stat point allocation.

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    SKILLS

    Starting out, you won't be able to equip all of the skills I'd recommend maxing out; a number of them aren't available until your character reaches higher levels. But, once you've got the gear and have hit a suitable level, you can visit Akara in Act I and have her reset your skills. You can do this three times, once in each difficulty level, and it's useful to reorganize points once more powerful skills become available. The Token mentioned above also allows you to respec ad infinitum. At lvl 99, assuming you've completed all quests at all degrees of difficulty, you will have 110 skill points to allocate as you see fit. For my zealer, I have allocated these points as follows:

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    COMBAT SKILLS

    Sacrifice: 20 pts.

    At lower levels this will be a great attack, dealing huge damage at a small cost in life to you. Even though you won't be able to use it down the road because you'll do too much damage to yourself, it will come in handy in another important way, since it has a synergy with what will be your primary combat skill, Zeal.

    Smite: 1 point

    I don't use Smite (though Smiters swear by it), but for this strategy you need to allocate one point to open up the tree to the Holy Shield skill.

    Holy Bolt: 1 point

    Again, not something I ever use, but you need to allocate at least one point to it so you can get to Holy Shield.

    Zeal: 20 points

    Duh. It's a Zealadin guide. Your primary attack, when maxed you will get in 5 consecutive attacks with increased damage and attack rating. Boosting this beyond 20 with +skills gear and maxing out Sacrifice is essential for maximum Zeal damage.

    Charge: 1 point

    Allocate one point so you can get to Holy Shield. With gear skill bonuses this can occassionally be a useful way to get away from/around a crowd of monsters fast or chase down ranged attackers, although I rarely use it.

    Vengeance: 0 point

    Fairly worthless against physical immunes in Hell at higher player levels. There are other ways of dealing with these characters though, as you will see below.

    Blessed Hammer: 1 point

    Another Holy Shield prerequisite. Hammerdins will disagree, but I never use it.

    Conversion: 0 points

    This is a guide to build an ***-kicking demon slayer, not a wannabe necromancer. Look at another guide if you want to build this skill.

    Holy Shield: 20 points

    Finally. The best defensive spell a paladin has, at high levels it will last for 10+ minutes and will give you a ridiculous enhanced defense % bonus. This skill has a synergy with the defensive aura Defiance, which we'll get to shortly.

    Fist of the Heavens: 0 points

    Some like it, I never use it, unless you get it to really high levels it's pretty worthless. It also burns way too much mana for this build.

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    DEFENSIVE AURAS:

    Prayer: 1 point

    In later stages of the game as your gear improves, this will be huge thanks to skill bonuses. Helps you replenish life and has synergies with Meditation and Cleansing.

    Defiance: 19 points

    I wish I had more points, I would have maxed this out but 18 is good enough. Each skill level in Defiance enhances your Holy Shield defense bonus. At my level, my defense rating is multiplied by more than 9x when casting Holy Shield.

    Cleansing: 1 point

    Others will likely disagree, but I find this to be indispensable, especially in later stages of the game when poisons and curses can become lethal. 1 point may not seem like much, but equipment skill bonuses can make it quite effective.

    Resist Fire, Resist Cold, Resist Lightning: 0 points

    Depending on character build these can be very useful. Avengers will max these to get the synergy bonuses to Vengeance, but a Zealer needs their points allocated in a different fashion. At lower levels, with worse gear & before you reset your skills, you may want to invest some points here. But with the gear this zealot is rocking it will be unnecessary. More on that later.

    Vigor: 0 points

    Again, at lower levels you may want to allocate some points, as it will boost your speed and stamina. But then be prepared to redistribute them later when you reset. As your character becomes more & more indestructible, you won't be as concerned with moving around as quickly, and you will likely find some gear that augments stamina and walk/run rate.

    Meditiation: 1 point

    Another skill many will disagree with, but this can be a good way to regen mana if a PI mini boss hits you with mana burn and you are surrounded by PI minions and as a result are unable to leech.

    Redemption: 0 points

    Some find this extremely useful; this zealer doesn't need it, he gets his life/mana by stealing it while kicking ***.

    Salvation: 0 points

    Seems like a waste but with gear skill bonuses this can be the difference between life and death in a room full of monsters with a boss casting conviction, lower resist, etc. auras. At lower levels this can be useful, but once you've maxed and stacked resist it will likely become useless and you can allocate your points elsewhere.

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    OFFENSIVE AURAS:

    Might: 1 point

    Early on this will be your primary aura, so pump points into it. Once you reset your skills, you will only need the one point so you can clear a path to the best aura in the game, Fanaticism.

    Holy Fire, Holy Freeze, Holy Shock: 0 points

    Auradins everywhere are probably swearing at me. I don't give a sh$t. With this build you won't need it. Besides for it to be effective you'd need a totally different skill point allocation approach, since it has synergies with the resist defensive auras.

    Thorns, Sanctuary: 0 points

    Again, useful skills no doubt, but you will mostly be using Fanaticism with this approach. In earlier levels maybe you will want to use some skill points on some of these but do away with them after the reset.

    Conviction: 1 point

    Just one point here can actually be very useful when augmented by item skill bonuses in breaking monster immunities. Used in conjunction with a weapon that deals elemental damage (say a Famine axe, or Azurewrath) this can be a great way to deal with physical immunes.

    Blessed Aim: 1 point

    Another skill that is useful at early levels, but at higher levels you just need the 1 point in it to pave the way for Fanaticism.

    Concentration: 1 point

    Ditto above.

    Fanaticism: 20 points

    Hands down the best aura a Paladin has at his disposal, either offensive or defensive. This skill adds increased attack speed and huge bonuses to damage and attack rating. It will make your Zeal attacks powerful, accurate, lightning quick and capable of clearing a large crowd of monsters in moments. When used with elite life-leeching gear it will make you basically invincible as you will constantly be healing yourself as you deal out damage to those around you.

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    EQUIPMENT


    Equipment will be critical to this approach, as a number of the skills you allocated one point to will be drawing big bonuses off + n skills equipment. Over the years I have found (and made) some downright godly items. I built this character around a concept of big base defense, damage reduction and max resist coupled with solid damage/attack rating, the perfect "safe" approach for a close quarters melee fighter. This build is, under most circumstances, an absolute tank.

    HELM

    Crown of Ages Corona

    This is the a great melee helm, better drops will yield a defense rating of nearly 400 and 2 sockets. It has 10-15% damage reduction by default, and if you socket it with 2 BER runes you can bump this up to 31%. Not too shabby. The +1 All Skills and added resistances aren't too shabby either.

    ARMOR

    Guardian Angel Hellforged Plate (upgraded from Templar coat)

    Great armor with a +1 to all Paladin skills, and +15% to max resist for all elements, and a per-level bonus to attack rating vs. Demons. Ideal armor for shielding a zealer in a crowd from the elements. In its upgraded form I rolled a defense rating of 1569. You can ask Larzuk to socket this and insert a 'BER' rune to add further damage reduction, which will be critical in Hell (especially if you plan to solo Hell at higher player levels). If this still isn't enough DR you can also look at upgraded Shaftstop Mesh Armor, which boasts damage reduction of 30%.

    SHIELDS

    Bugged Ethereal Exile Vortex Shield

    For a long time I swore by the upp'ed HoZ, which is a great shield that offers tons of skill and stat bonuses, but it's hard to beat an Ethereal Exile shield. Adds +5% max fire & cold resist, freezes targets (great for crowd control) and with an ethereal you can roll a defense in excess of 1800 on a good roll. Paladin shields also come with inherent properties, things like +5%-45% all resist or 65% ED/120 AR bonus, and some even have up to 3 skill bonuses of +1-3 in any Paladin skill. Find a good one with +skill bonuses to things relevant to your character and socket this baby up! Youre probably thinking, no resists on the shield or the armor? Well, getting so much max resist of elsewhere is impossible, so yes. You can make up for this by stacking Shimmering (+all resist) charms in your inventory. You can also augment resistances further by using a Metalgrid Amulet or Mara's Kaleidescope, and there are rare rings to be found with up to 11% all resist. If you'd rather get a shield with some resistances, go with the upp'ed HoZ and socket it with BER, this will boost your base physical damage reduction to 44%, close to the 50% cap. Or keep an eye out for a rare socketed ethereal Auric Shield with self-repair mod and toss a few more BER runes in there (a guy can dream, right?) If you still think you need to stack physical damage resistances even further in certain areas (like in the Chaos Sanctuary when Oblivion Knights curse you with Amplify Damage), you could also look for a Stormshield Monarch, which boasts damage reduction of 35%. But aside from certain nasty melee confrontations, you should be fine. Honestly I find that since v1.10 elemental and magic damage have the potential to be far more dangerous in general, so I focused more on MDR and max resist gear with a secondary focus on PDR. To be honest, so equipped your defensive rating will be so high monsters will rarely be able to hit you, plus you'll be effectively healing yourself so quickly every time you hit an enemy that you will almost never be in real trouble. Plus your Exile shield will freeze most monsters you attack, which is great for crowd control, basically turning attackers to stone as you zeal them to dust.

    GLOVES

    Dracul's Grasp Vampirebone Gloves

    Good defense rating, a bonus of 10-15 to strength (low strength reqs), proc for life tap, 7-10% life stolen per hit, as well as +10 life per kill. Great gloves, although as an alternative Souldrain Vambraces will get the job done as well, with a proc to cast weaken, 5-7% lifesteal & manasteal, and -50 to monster defense per hit. Venom Grip aren't bad either and with this build can be used to get to 95% max poison resist, which may come in handy against Lilith and other creatures with lethal poison attacks, although if you put a point into Cleansing it's not critical. If you don't feel you need life-leech on your gloves another nice option to look into are Steelrend Ogre Gauntlets, which have a big defense rating, bonuses to strength, % chance crushing blow, and enhanced damage%.

    BELTS

    Thundergod's Vigor Colossus Girdle (upgraded from War Belt)

    Pluses to Strength and Vitality, proc for Fist of the Heavens when struck, and most importantly, +20 lightning absorbs and +10& to max lightning resistance. Aside from pure magic damage, lightning is generally the most devastating enemy attack in the game. With this belt + other gear, you can stand in a room full of lightning enchanted monsters zapping you from all angles and barely take a dent. In fact, the lightning absorbs will serve to heal your character. If you can find String of Ears it can be useful if you need even MORE life leeching capabilities, or additional % damage reduction / magical damage reduction. String of Ears will be very useful against most of the Ubers for its 15% damage reduction, except for Uber Diablo and especially Uber Mephisto, where you'd better stick with Thundergod's Vigor to counteract their brutal lightning attacks. For most normal monsters though this belt is ideal since when coupled with the gear listed above, it gets you to the 50% damage reduction cap. This is crucial particularly for close-quarters melee combat against strong monsters (for example, a pack of Blood Lords enchanted with Fanaticism). NOTE: If you have the runes, try to upgrade this to the Elite version (Colossus Girdle), although it's not critical.

    BOOTS

    Gorerider Myrmidon Greaves (upgraded from War Boots)

    Great boots for a zealot, these feature increased chances (10-15%) for crushing blow, deadly strike, and open wounds. Also has lowered reqs, bonuses to stamina and walk/run speed and a high defense rating in its upgraded form. These boots are an absolute must, especially against Ubers. NOTE: If you have the runes, try to upgrade these to the Elite version (Myrmidon Greaves), although it's not critical.

    WEAPON(S)

    There are a lot of choices here, and nearly all of them are Runewords. You can choose what to socket them in. One great option is an ethereal Breath of the Dying beserker axe, this weapon doles out solid damage, has 60% IAS and has a massive life-leech up to 15% (!). Other runewords to look into: Grief (poison attack, poison pierce, bonuses to deadly strike, attack rating vs. demons etc.) Last Wish (60-70% bonus to crushing blow, proc for Life Tap, Might Aura when equipped) and Death (huge per-level bonus to deadly strike, lightning damage, big bonuses to attack rating). I also like Famine for the offhand, which I use in a Berserker Axe, and comes with a 12% life-leech, huge magic/elemental damage add-ons, and prevent monster heal - ideal weapon for a level with physically immunes. Use this weapon in conjunction with Conviction and you can take care of them without much trouble. Also, check out Azurewrath, a Godly Elite Unique phase blade with +1 all skills, big Magic/Cold Damage bonuses and Sanctuary aura when equipped, useful for levels with lots of undead monsters. Honestly, an ethereal BoTD beserker axe is probably the best overall weapon that's readily available. It deals huge damage, has dual leeching (up to 15% life, 7% mana), Prevent Monster Heal and a whopping +30 to all stats. Others will argue that Grief (say, in a phase blade, or if your other gear offers IAS, a berserker axe) is superior because of the way damage add-ons are calc'd, its poison damage combined w/ poison pierce, and bonuses to Deadly Strike and demon damage. The only weakness Grief suffers from is no leeching, so you'll need your other gear to make up for it, maybe a nice rare dual leech ring(or even a crafted dual-leech blood ring.) Another good choice is Death, which offers big bonuses to Crushing Blow and Deadly Strike, high damage, attack rating bonuses and mana leech. With Death though you will need IAS augmenting gear to hit max IAS, which is critical for a Zealot.

    I personally don't use these weapons anymore, although I used a BoTD eth berserker axe for a long time. These days I use a rare ethereal Caduceus with 442% ED, +247 to attack rating, 40% IAS, dual leech, Paladin skill tree automods and +2 Paladin Skills, and after taking it to Larzuk, socketed with Zod. I use this for the big skill bonuses that boost my attack rating and damage, though it deals a good deal less average damage than an eth BoTD berserker axe. This is more a matter of taste than anything and BoTD, Death or Grief are all more than capable alternatives.

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    JEWELRY

    At various times in the game, and especially against Ubers, you will need to swap amulets/rings or other armor to counteract whatever the primary attack of a given monster is. Here's what I've stockpiled over the last several years as my character has become more and more powerful. Most of it is unique, but at super high levels (>lvl90) every once in a while you can find an amazing rare amulet (or in some cases, a rare scepter. I'm thinking of calling it the God Rod). I have one I like so much I almost always use it, it's so good it supplanted Mara's Kaleidescope/Metalgrid as the primary amulet on my Pally. There are also some great rare rings out there, some of which offer dual leeching. Keep an eye out, the moral of the story is don't ignore the rares, some of these are downright godly these days.

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    AMULETS

    Mara's Kaleidescope Amulet

    +2 to skills, big + all resist (up to 30%), +5 all attributes. A great amulet for any player class.

    Metalgrid Amulet

    This amulet has an even bigger + to all resist (it can get as high as 35%!) than Mara's, along with huge bonuses to defense and attack ratings.

    Seraph's Hymn Amulet Huge

    bonuses to attack rating/damage vs. demons/undead, +2 all skills, +2 paladin defensive auras. Pick your spots with this amulet, it's a great thing to have in Act IV Hell as it will help you clear out those Pit Bosses with ease.

    Ghoul Beads Amulet

    I found this rare ammy when I was at lvl 95, it is the best rare ammy I have ever found. It has +2 Paladin skills, +27 strength, +19 dexterity, +18 attack rating, +20% all resist and a life-leech of 7%. If you don't find one as nice as this, any of the above (or below) suggestions should do the trick.

    Other great amulets to look for are: Highlords' Wrath (has a big per level bonus to deadly strike), Crescent Moon or Eye of Elitch, both of which have great life-leeching bonuses, although with the rest of the gear listed you likely won't need it. For a bump to defense, attack rating and attributes, the Mahim-Oak curio is pretty nice as well, though again you likely won't need it.

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    RINGS

    Bul-Kathos Wedding Band Ring

    +3-5% Life-leech, +1 to all skills, +.5 to life/lvl, +50 stamina. Good all around ring and useful if you need additional life-leech.

    Dwarf-star Ring Magic

    damage reduction up to 15, fire absorbs, this is a great ring when facing claw vipers,succubi or necromages to reduce the damage of their pure magic attacks. Using this in conjunction with String of Ears will help keep you alive if for some reason there are succubi, vipers AND necromages in a given stage! You could also craft a Safety shield or other Safety gear if you find need for even more magic resistance/reduction.

    Nature's Peace Ring

    Prevents monster heal, slain monsters rest in peace, damage reduction, additional poison resist (+30%).

    Carrion Wind Ring

    Huge life-leech (up to 9%), chance to cast Poison Nova attack when struck, huge poison resist (+55%). Crucial ring to have against Lilith to stack poison resist and max your leeching since she hits like a truck.

    Raven Frost Ring

    Mainly useful for cannot be frozen ability, but also the huge AR bonus. You will need this in the throne room at the end of Act V, and also against Uber Izual and especially Uber Duriel. Personally I always wear one of these for the boost to AR and to make sure I can keep moving and hitting things even if hit with cold enchantments.

    Wisp Ring

    If you opt to go with String of Ears and not Thundergod's Vigor, this ring can be very useful for the Lightning Absorbs, especially if you plan to attack a room full of gloams or council members so equipped. Otherwise risk certain death.

    Keep an eye out for rare rings as mentioned above. I found one that supplanted Bul-Kathos as my other ring: +11% resist all, 8% life leech, bonuses to life, strength, stamina and +118 to attack rating. You also may want to try your hand at crafting some jewelry; Blood and Safety recipes can generate some great ammys. Blood can give you dual leeching, and Safety can add additional hard damage points reduction if you feel you need it.

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    CHARMS

    Aside from the cube and a town portal book, my entire inventory is stacked with these. Most of these are small charms with +5% resist and +20 life, since my gear doesn't have a lot of inherent resistances, I need to stack these to get my resists stacked to over +250% (critical in Hell. If you get hit by a boss monster using Conviction aura and don't have stacked res to +250 at least, you're in trouble). I also have a few Grand charms to boost various Paladin skill trees, I personally focus on Offensive auras to pump fanaticism as high as possible. Since killing the Ubers I also have a Hellfire Torch (made several runs in Uber Tristam to get a +3 Paladin Skills variety), and an Annihilus charm (+1 all skills). Both of these also add up to +20% all resist each and up to +20 all stats. Before I had these, I was stacking two additional charms, a medium and a small, for additional resistance. The cube and belt are the only place potions are kept, this build rarely needs more than that.

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    CONCLUSION


    When you add this all up, you get ample +skill bonuses, so that allocating just 1 point to a given skill nets a much higher skill level. This means all those skills you allocated just one point to are now potent aids in your quest, especially in Hell. You also end up with a character that has 95/95/95/90 resist to C/F/L/P respectively in base gear, with 39% damage reduction, which means you are nearly impervious to elemental attacks and well-protected against physical damage, and if you feel you need more you can always equip String of Ears for additional DR, and maybe some crafted Safety jewelry for additional hard Damage points reduction. Defense rating exceeds 50K when Holy Shield is cast, Zeal attack rating is 16K (w/ Fanaticism) with my Godly Caduceus equipped, and deals out 4.7 - 5.5K damage (not bad considering the maxed out IAS).
    NOTE: In hell, you can occassionally get hit with a "perfect storm" of monsters - i.e., close quarters, with two boss monsters, one casting an aura like conviction or fanaticism, another boss with huge elemental spectral hit that's cursing you with Amplify Damage. In this instance, proceed with caution and try to draw some of the monsters away from the pack. As powerful as this Paladin is, the right combination of monster auras/curses/damage type can still kill you! Some of these random encounters have the potential to be even nastier than Uber battles. Here's an example that happened to me the other day in Act I Hell on /players8: The Hole, Level 2 - physical/lightning immune boss monster (wooly) with mana drain and amplify damage curse, potent lightning attack; 2nd boss (dark rogue) casting fanaticism on her troops, either melee spearswomen or archers, with elemental add-ons to their ranged attacks. Narrow corridor, probably 30 monsters in total. You would not believe how fast my life dropped, the combo of amplify damage and fanaticism with potent lightning attack from a phyiscal immune boss is absolutely brutal. These sorts of things happen in Hell, so it's best to always be on alert. Any time you see aura-enchanted monsters ahead, play it safe, don't run in there like Rambo or you may wind up dead.

    That's about it for now. Feedback is appreciated. Thanks to Blizzard for making such a great game that's infinitely replayable.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  2. Pallyndrome

    Pallyndrome IncGamers Member

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    wow, how the heck do I format this thing properly? It looks like one giant run-on sentence...

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