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Deadset's All Characters Cheat Sheet & Endgame Guide Compendium, Season 19 Edition
We can clearly see an influx of new and returning players - people looking for guidance and advice on early crafting, gambling, and character building foundations. This is my attempt to convey as much information as I can in a single thread.
GETTING STARTED THIS SEASONAt the very start of the Season, your first job is, naturally, to create a new seasonal hero. While this first choice does not lock you down too terribly, note that the Seasonal Journey rewards you once per Season - only for the character that completes the chapters first. Bearing that in mind, pick your character and go in game.
While in town, approach one of the followers that most closely matches your class (Templar for Barbarians, Monks and Crusaders, Scoundrel for Demon Hunters, and Enchantress for Witch Doctors, Necromancers and Wizards), select the "Inventory & Skills" option, take their weapon and equip it yourself - it is a significant upgrade over the base weapon that you start with.
Note that once you reach level 7, vendors in all towns - the ones with the nickname "the Fence" in their names - will start selling rings. Each of them has a chance to sell rings that increase your Average Damage (i.e. 2-4 Damage), which is a massive DPS boost early on.
Challenge Rift Completion and Kanai's CubeAfter your character is created, head to the Game Settings menu, go into the Challenge Rifts and start the current weekly run. Note that you have to have completed at least one Greater Rift on your account (either in non-seasonal or previous seasons) to have Challenge Rifts unlocked. Challenge Rifts are a weekly challenge that provides a fixed character and a build (usually using quirky skills and/or heavily unoptimized stats and items), and challenges you to beat the Greater Rift completion time of its original owner.
The completion of the Challenge Rift is usually trivial and can be completed either solo or in a group, and will net you a Challenge Rift Reward cache. Open it up in-game with your brand new seasonal character and claim its contents: Death's Breaths, a couple hundred of each of the base crafting materials, Blood Shard, a couple million gold, and 15 each of the Act-specific bounty cache materials. With your newfound riches, upgrade both your Blacksmith and your Mystic craftsmen in town to their maximum rank.
Your next important step is to acquire Kanai's Cube. Kanai's Cube is found in The Ruins of Sescheron - the waypoint in the top right corner of the Act III map. From that waypoint, run left towards the city and make your way around the ruins; one of its far corners (typically upper right, lower right, or lower left) will have the entrance to the next zone, the Elder Sanctum. Once in the Elder Sanctum, make your way through the zone, practically to its other end. When you find the Cube and click it, it automatically transports itself back to town.
While you are at it, take a look at the Kanai's Cube guide for additional details on its use - it is an incredibly important part of your character progression at any point of the game, so make sure to acquaint yourself thoroughly with its properties.
Which Item to Craft and Extract in the Cube?One of the strongest early game boosts that you can obtain while leveling is to craft a yellow (rare) level 70 item at the blacksmith, then try to upgrade it into a valuable legendary at Kanai's Cube, and finally extract its property for one of the Kanai's Cube legendary power slots. Note that this strategy is stronger for some classes over others, particularly favoring Demon Hunters, Necromancers, and somewhat Barbarians. The remaining classes can skip this step and directly go to gambling, sparing themselves some disappointment and saving some materials for level 70, since you can do this recipe exactly once at the Season's start (you only have so many Death's Breaths).
When choosing which rare item to craft, keep in mind that you are looking to upgrade them into a legendary that provides some form of skill damage multiplier that will skyrocket your leveling efficiency. Every class has a different set of valuable items to attempt for:
- Craft a rare level 70 Two-Handed Mighty Weapon, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Fury of the Vanished Peak or The Gavel of Judgment.
- Craft a rare level 70 One-Handed Flail, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Darklight, Gyrfalcon's Foote or Johanna's Argument.
- Craft a rare level 70 Dagger, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to obtain either a Karlei's Point or a Lord Greenstone's Fan. Demon Hunters are excellent at this strategy since they only have 2 daggers, and they are both great for leveling.
- Craft a rare level 70 Daibo, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either an Incense Torch of the Grand Temple, Balance or The Flow of Eternity.
- Craft a rare level 70 Two-Handed Scythe, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to obtain either a Bloodtide Blade, Maltorius' Petrified Spike, Nayr's Black Death or Reilena's Shadowhook. Necromancers are excellent at this strategy since they only have 4 legendary Two-Handed Scythes, and they are all great for leveling.
- Craft a rare level 70 Staff, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Staff of Chiroptera or Wormwood.
- Craft a rare level 70 Wand, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Fragment of Destiny, Starfire, Unstable Scepter or Wand of Woh.
Note that this part of the leveling strategy requires some amount of luck for non-DH and non-Necromancer players. Leveling in a group minimizes the risk of RNG screwing everyone over, but sometimes you will be unlucky; this is nothing to be bothered by, as leveling in Diablo is still a fairly easy and straightforward process.
If you are lucky, however, and obtain one of the items outlined above, you will have just about enough Death's Breaths to use the Extract Legendary Power recipe in Kanai's Cube. Do that, and then slot the (now maximized) legendary power of the item in the Cube, netting yourself a considerable leveling bonus. Needless to say, adjust your build accordingly to the legendary power, i.e. if you get Guard of Johanna as a Crusader, make Blessed Hammer your main damage dealing skill throughout leveling.
Spending the Challenge Rift Blood ShardsYour next step is to try and gamble for valuable items from Kadala at level 1. Since not every legendary is available right from the start, the legendary item pools for some classes are restricted in a beneficial way to obtain another strong damage multiplier right from the start. If you do not consider the legendaries listed for your class particularly attractive, you can always gamble for Helms for a considerable chance at obtaining Leoric's Crown; extracting its power and socketing rubies in your helmets throughout leveling will net you a hefty amount of extra experience.
- Gamble for Bracers, trying to obtain either Bracers of Destruction or Bracers of the First Men. Spend any remaining Blood Shards on Boots for a chance at Lut Socks.
- Gamble for Bracers, trying to obtain Gabriel's Vambraces. If you are lucky to get them quick, you can also spend some (or all, if you are feeling lucky) on shields for Guard of Johanna or Denial. At level 31, if you have any Blood Shards saved over, or new ones you are willing to spend, you can try your luck at Pants for Hammer Jammers.
- Not many great options; you can gamble for Belts, trying to obtain the Hellcat Waistguard, although Grenade comes a little later in the leveling process. Otherwise, either go for Leorics Crown (helm) or the damage proc of Pox Faulds (pants). Another gambling strategy you can attempt is saving shards for level 30, when you can gamble on Quivers for a chance at Sin Seekers, or level 31 - for the additional chance at Holy Point Shot and Spines of Seething Hatred.
- Gamble for either Boots (hoping to obtain Rivera Dancers or The Crudest Boots) or Bracers (hoping to obtain either Pinto's Pride, Cesars Memento or Gungdo Gear). Adjust your gambling strategy for Monk depending on the item you obtained (if any) on the previous step, where you upgraded a rare item (i.e. gambling for bracers if you got an Incense Torch of the Grand Temple, hoping to get Pinto's Pride).
- Gamble for Gloves, trying to obtain Grasp of Essence.
- Not many great options; you can gamble for Mojos, trying to obtain a Gazing Demise, but its usefulness is rather limited in early character progression. Otherwise, either go for Leoric's Crown (helm) or the damage proc of Pox Faulds (pants).
- Not many great options; you can gamble for Bracers, trying to obtain Ashnagarr's Blood Bracer, but its defensive properties are not very useful early on. Otherwise, either go for Leoric's Crown (helm) or the damage proc of Pox Faulds (pants). Another gambling strategy you can attempt is saving shards for level 31, when you can gamble on Rings for a chance at Manald Heal,or level 33 - for Source gambling for Etched Sigil.
Crafting a High Level Rare and Reducing Level RequirementPick a two-handed weapon category of your choice (2h Axes, Maces, Swords...) and craft a level 70 weapon of the chosen type. Avoid class-specific weapons, since they add a class-specific roll to the secondary stat pool (i.e. Max Fury), making this strat harder. You are looking for a roll with:
- At least a Crowd Control secondary stat - Chance to Stun, Slow, Fear,.. etc. On Hit;
- Ideally, also a Life per Hit primary stat;
Of course, if you are very lucky, the Reduced Level Requirement can roll onto your crafted item outright.
Complete a Boss BountyAn easy early boost to your character in Seasons is to check your bounties for any easily completed act boss killing bounties - the most famous examples being Zoltun Kulle (at the Archives of Zoltun Kulle waypoint) and Maghda (down from the Road to Alcarnus waypoint) in Act II. Another option is Azmodan at the very end of Act III. Simply run past the mobs and go straight for the boss kill.
The boss bounties reward you with a Diabolic Hoard chest that is guaranteed to drop you a couple of rare items; they will boost your overall character power nicely right at the beginning.
LEVELING UPAnd this is it! You've made it to the actual leveling part! :) You have three major options:
Torment VI Traps MethodTurn the difficulty up to Torment VI and go to the Halls of Agony Level 1. Run and dodge past monsters that come in your way until you reach the falling blades traps; there, lure the monsters towards these traps and watch as they get slaughtered, netting you tremendous experience.
This method, while extremely efficient time-wise, is also (arguably) quite unfun and counter-intuitive, not to mention prone to mishaps. Needless to say, this strategy is not Hardcore-friendly and will result in the (frequent) death of your character.
Via Massacre BonusYou can also consider leveling via Massacre bonuses — a very potent strategy in solo play. The Massacre bonus XP system was revised in Patch 2.4.1 into a multiplicative experience bonus that rewards you for chaining kills of monsters. The caveat is this bonus only works in bounties - and not during Rifts.
To successfully pull of long chains of monster kills, pick highly populated zones - the Cathedral (Act I), Halls of Agony Level 3 (Act I), and, most notably, Fields of Misery (Act I). The tactic is to always be on the move, leading monsters into one another, abusing Cursed Chests for monster spawns, and generally using skills with DoTs or high AoE (Rend for Barbarian, Blessed Hammer for Crusader, Multishot for Demon Hunter, Wave of Light for Monk, Locust Swarm for Witch Doctors, Blizzard for Wizards).
While Massacre leveling will require frequent restarts of the game (every 5-10 minutes), it will result in some of the fastest leveling in Diablo 3, clocking under the 2 hour mark when you get the hang of it. Due to its individual nature and the level of coordination required to pull it off in a multiplayer game, leveling by Massacre bonuses can only be recommended for 2+ players if they are experienced and have voice communication; this is predominantly a solo leveling technique. It also has the considerable downside of losing the increased legendary drop rate and blood shards of rifting.
Via RiftingFor groups and players that do not stress losing an hour in the 1-70 race, the general recommendation is to stick to rifts for the 1-70 journey. Rifts grant you increased legendary drop rate, blood shards for gambling, and a hefty "hand-in" bonus at the end. While rifting has a higher degree of randomness than bounties (map layout, monster density and composition are all RNG), the removal of Rift Keystones as a requirement to open them allows you to simply remake if you get a bad (difficult or slow) rift.
ENDGAME HIGHLIGHTS FOR SEASON 19Now that you have made it here, what do you have to look forward to? :)
BARBARIANSHaedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Wrath of the Wastes
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Barbarian. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include:
Wrath of the Wastes - Rend
Built from the ashes of a very old Rend/IK mixture, the Rend Wastes Barbarian truly shows the potential and terror of this DoT build. An unstoppable machine that whirls, cleaves and guts demons like Barbarians were always meant to do. With the newfound powers of Ambo's Pride, this build bleeds his enemies dry in an instant, turning what was once an unassuming bleed into a fearsome nuke that gets applied every second. Couple that with the savage elegance of Whirlwinding, and it's no wonder so many people plan on maining Barb this Season.
Might of the Earth - Seismic Slam
Always underappreciated, but always ready to pounce from the shadows and deliver, the Earthquake set has been quietly sitting very close to the leaderboard's top through a select few, but very devout Barbarian players. In Season 19, we finally have Seismic Slam the way it should always have been - a thunderous mid-range devastator, the perfected counterpart of its older EQ cousin. With the new Fjord Cutter, this build is sure to leave its mark among the top.
CRUSADERSHaedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Roland's Legacy
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Crusader. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include:
Aegis of Valor - Heaven's Fury Shotgun
One of the two new sets in Season 19 ascends Crusaders to a whole new level, and evokes the times when the Holy Shotgun was considered OP, because it was the only Reaper of Souls build that demolished T6. Hundreds of millions of damage and health spikes later, what is now known as the God Crusader delivers a mixture of Fist of the Heavens and Heaven's Fury Shotgun shots with righteous ferocity that has earned him the one rigthful nickname: God Crusader. In short, it's pretty damn OP.
Aegis of Valor - Fist of the Heavens
Not as strong as its counterpart, but just as satisfying - the Fist of the Heavens visuals are undeniable - and one of the best Crusader farming builds out there, again courtesy of the new Aegis of Valor Crusader. Mount up, descend into battle and demolish screens full of demons with violent, electrified arcs covering the entire battlefield? What more could you ask for?
DEMON HUNTERSHaedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Unhallowed Essence
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Demon Hunter. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include:
Natalya - Rapid Fire
The emergence of the Rapid Fire build finally brought the close range, Tommy gun-like fantasy of the Demon Hunter class to life - all in a destructive, methodical playstyle that isn't afraid to get into the thick of fights and chaingun-and-grenade its way out. With its focus on channeled destruction, the Natalya set is the other perfect home for this build, aside from the traditional LoD take on it - and a very high performing build, too.
Shadow - Impale
The ninja-like, assassin playstyle of Shadow Impale ramps up in power so fast, that it often sits at the top of the leaderboard for a week, waiting for slower builds to catch up. Impale DHs vault in, plant a dagger in an elite's back (usually ending its life outright), and then disappear in the shadows, onto their next target. The build has grown to include the Aughild set for additional elite devastation, making it one of the ultimate 'hunting' styles in the game.
MONKSHaedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Raiment of a Thousand Storms
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Monk. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include:
Sunwuko - Tempest Rush
Empowered by a slew of changes to its core items, the Tempest Rush Monk offers one of the most fluid, easy-to-grasp and satisfying endgame playstyles, one that draws monsters in helpless piles and alternates periods of sustain damage with carefully calculated bursts of cold destruction. I've been looking for a relaxing, chill Monk endgame build for a while, and this is their perfect answer to Whirlwind Barbs.
Patterns of Justice - Tempest Rush
Rooting its powers firmly in the brand new, dedicated Patterns of Justice set, this alternate take on Tempest Rushing gives its Sunwuko brother a decent competitor. The set empowers Sweeping Wind to astronomical proportions, stacking all the runes and swelling the vortex of destruction to a veritable cyclone.
NECROMANCERSHaedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Bones of Rathma
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Necromancer. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include:
Legacy of Dreams - Coprse Lance
The Corpse Lance Necromancer patiently waited out the demise of Thorns builds, and will make his run for the top of Season 19. This build is a highly mobile, bursty, timing-oriented spec that bides its time and Lances everything into oblivion once Land of the Dead reaches the lands of the living. This is certainly one of the more divisive playstyles in terms of enjoyment, but once its cooldowns line up, you cannot deny its power.
Legacy of Dreams - Singularity
Love them or hate them, you can't deny Singularity Necromancer is one of the most ruthlessly effective summoner builds in the game; cold, calculating and intensive to play (both in terms of resource management and, befitting of Necromancers, frailty of the character). Replacing The Legacy of Nightmares for that of Dreams, Singularity Necros stay at the peak of their offensive power through Convention of Elements, Krysbin and the Circle of Nailuj rings.
WITCH DOCTORSHaedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Helltooth Harness
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Witch Doctor. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include:
Zunimassa - Carnevil DoD
The Carnevil Witch Doctor summons an army of swarming minions at his side, whose adorable mimicking of his blowdart attack - and positively horrifying attack speed - are a sight to behold. This has been a long time coming; Zunimassa has been building up in power over the course of a few patches, with set and item changes that slowly inched it up in viability. Season 19 will see the continued domination of this build, with the Zuni Fetishes empowered by the craftable Aughild set (fitting just right into the vacant slots of the setup) and the Attack Speed madness of Echoing Fury in the Cube.
Jade Harvester WD
With power to match his imposing name, the Jade Harvester is a force to be reckoned with - crippling the enemies with damage over time effects, and then recklessly diving in to 'consume' and apply their entire duration instantly with a well placed Soul Harvest. This build now benefits from the Captain Crimson craftable set, as well as The Flavor of Time amulet, keeping it high in the WD pantheon of builds.
WIZARDSHaedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Delsere's Magnum Opus
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Wizard. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include:
Vyr - Archon
Transforming the Wizard into an unstoppable being of Arcane destruction, the Achon build simply has it all - power, mobility, versatility. For the modest investment of two relatively easy-to-obtain sets - Vyr and Chantodo - this build will take you into the highest of Greater Rifts, and with a relatively simple to grasp playstyle to boot. This remains one of the strongest builds you could go for on a Wizard, and has an excellent character power-to-time-invested ratio.
Legacy of Dreams - Star 'Bazooka' Pact
The Star Pact Wizard has a rather complex rotation and playstyle, but rewards it with a monstrously powerful punch - and still a monstrously strong one after the nerft. In a densely packed fight, no other build will deliver comparable punishment as the arcane juggernauts dropped by the (fittingly nicknamed) Bazooka Wiz.
Thank you so much for reading this and my guides! Good luck and have a great Season 19!
PD2 Summoner Druid - An In-Depth Guide
Guide is written and updated for Season #1 AwakeningThe druids summoning tree recieved a massive rework in PD2 with the goal to make it a viable self reliant build archetype on its own. Not only got the minions buffed themselves but now you are able to summon multiple of them at the same time, which wasn’t a thing back in D2 LOD. I won’t go over all changes in detail but I recommend taking a look at the official wikis druid section to see all changes that have been done in this mod before continuing reading.
An in-depth guide?My goal with my guides is to really provide a lot of information to players, not just a list of items and no explanation how to get there or why you want them. Also I am not a fan of videos; imo you can’t tell if you like playing a build just by watching someone playing it in a perfect handmade setting for a couple of minutes… you can’t grasp the actuall feeling of the build this way But don’t worry I got something even better for you! In various sections of this guide you will find 4 different singleplayer savegames to DOWNLOAD with characters in different progression stages with real gear all functioning properly! So you can try and test the build in this guide to full extend yourself, on your pace, the way you like it and as long as you want to see if it fits your taste and if you actually want to play it on ladder.
Just to mention it: I am mostly a HC player, so I design all my builds geared towards a HC setting – feel free to adjust everything you don’t like to your liking if you play SC. Don’t treat my recommendations as the only options you have, think for yourself and try out different stuff which looks interesting to you.
General Playstyle:Very meticulous and safe playstyle – perfectly suited for HC. Your minions will kill, tank and draw attention away from you while you are standing in the back spamming Ravens… Sounds boring to you? Well if you like you can also get your hands dirty: use you shapeshifting abilities and transform into a bear, fight by your minions side and maul down hords of daemons with them! If the situation is dangerous just sit back, kite and reposition your trusty merc and your minions with the new teleporting ability Gust. Carrion Vine devouers fallen corpses to heal you and your minions after an engagement. Cast Cyclone Armour in the right situations to protect yourself from elemental damage.
- Very safe playstyle
- Not many klicks required to play this build
- Can be build very tanky
- Very good bossing character
- Can do Ubers and MiniUbers solo and safely
- DClone is possible solo (but very hard, you have to play really well)
- Can do maps with dangerous mods/high density in HC solo
- Very good build for group compositions which want to tackle difficult content together
- Smooth ladder starter
- Summoner playstyle is not for everyone
- Achieving good clear speed requires some gear investment / not the best farming speed at the start of a ladder
- Minions are a little weak at the at the start of Hell difficulty, requires frequent resummoning and good positioning
- Druids don’t have good life scaling (comperatively low HP pool at the beginning of Hell to other classes, weak FHR and block frames), you will need good gear and some investment to feel tanky, otherwise you have to know what you are doing
- If you want to play this build well, you need to switch between many skills, kite, pay attention to your envirenment and constantly reposition. The skill cap of this build is quite high – profund D2 knowledge will be required to play this build to max efficiency, especially in groups, since your mistakes might cause deaths to your group members
- Requires to setup minions everytime you start a new game
Basic skill point distribution in the endgame:Summoning Tree:
- 20 Raven
- 20 Summon Spirit Wolf
- 20 Summon Dire Wolf
- 20 Summon Grizzly
- 1 Poison Creeper
- 1 Carrion Vine
- 1 Heart of the Wolverine
- 1 Arctic Blast
- 1 Cyclone Armor
- 1 Gust
- Strength: enough to wear your gear (and to be able to perform a weapon swap in combat)
- Dexterity: depends if you are going for max block; otherwise no points here/enough to wear gear
- Vitality: Everything you can spare goes here
- Energy: Nothing
- %FCR: If you are focusing on Gust and are mostly spamming Ravens in the background you would want to reach at least 46% FCR breakpoint (13 frames) for your teleport to feel smooth, more is always good but not needed (reminder: you can’t use Gust while shapeshifted – but you can perform warcrys while shapeshifted in PD2! Those also depend on your %FCR breakpoint)
- %FHR: If you go maxblock I would aim for the 63% breakpoint (7 frames) – if you prefer going werebear form often and wielding a 2H-weapon go for 86% (6 frames)
- %FBR: Druid has very slow blocking frames so investing here is a must; go for the 6 frames breakpoint (52% in human form, 65% in bear form if you insist using a shield), don’t use shields with no extra %FBR on them to avoid getting block-locked.
- %IAS: Depending on your weapon choice if you wanna go full werebear (use an IAS calculator), otherwise, none.
Leveling – How to level this build from scratch:
Normal:Pretty easy overall for summoner. Spam Ravens and resummon your minions when needed – Diablo is the most difficult encounter here since he is able to kill your minions fast. Just keep your distance and keep resummoning them until he is deas (this will take a while but it is a safe approach).
|Level 2||Raven||Level 13||Cyclone Armor||Level 24||Raven|
|Akara||Poison Crepper||Level 14||Summon Spirit Wolf||Level 25||Raven|
|Level 3||Arctic Blast||Level 15||Summon Spirit Wolf||Level 26||Raven|
|Level 4||Raven||Level 16||Summon Spirit Wolf||Level 27||Raven|
|Level 5||Raven||Level 17||Summon Spirit Wolf||Level 28||Raven|
|Level 6||Raven||Level 18||Gust||Level 29||Raven|
|Level 7||Raven||Radament||Summon Dire Wolf||Level 30||Summon Grizzly|
|Level 8||Raven||Level 19||Summon Dire Wolf||Level 31||Raven|
|Level 9||Raven||Level 20||Summon Dire Wolf||Level 32||Raven|
|Level 10||Raven||Level 21||Summon Spirit Wolf||Level 33||Raven|
|Level 11||Heart of The Wolverin||Level 22||Raven||Level 34||Raven|
|Level 12||Carrion Vine||Level 23||Raven||Level 35||Summon Grizzly|
Here is an example of how your character should look like at this stage in the game – download the savegame and copy it into your D2 savegamefolder and start it in Single Player: DOWNLOAD - Early Nightmare Test Character
Nightmare:Got your basic gear ready and some decent resists to start out? Good – if not farm Nightmare Countess and Black Marsh/Stony Field for runeword bases and runes before you go on. You can also attempt to build a Lore now if you have a good base. Just carry on through the acts – Nightmare is easy with basic gear, you will face no problems at all (watch out for dolls in Act 3! Their explosions got reworked and now have a delay). If summoner is to slow for your liking at this point you can respec to wind druid at lvl 40 (it basically utilizes the some gear, so you can make an easy switch anytime you want using a respec – Hurricane will carry hard in Nightmare and is a great tool for farming Nightmare Cows at a decent speed with very little gear) – but summoner can also do everything at this point without problems. After maxin out ravens put around 5 points each into both of you wolves and then max out Grizzly, after that max out Spirit Wolves and Dire Wolves in this order. Once you kill Baal it is farming time! You have do do some farming for basic gear in PD2 before you go to Hell difficulty, otherwise you will struggle hard. So take your time to farm up some gear in Nightmare Cows. Nightmare Cows is THE best farming spot at this point in PD2 thanks to player 5 loot; Cow Kings drop table is really nice and you can kill him here; the portal can still be opened afterwards – you can drop a ton of good stuff there. Lets assume you get really unlucky and get no good drops at all; you sill will be able to progress as summoner, no worries.
Gear to look out for at the end of Nightmare: Just pick up every amulet and charm, reroll grand charms from Cow Level for Skillers, sell them and buy 3-4 clean summon skillers for your druid. Gamble amulets for a good chance at +3 class tree skill levels with the gold you get from cows and selling items to vendors – sell +3 amulets for other classes and buy a +3 summon druid amulet if you don’t find one yourself. Build yourself a Rhyme shield in an exceptional base, upgrade your Stealth to a Smoke chest in an exceptional base (if you can’t find a Lum rune, just buy one or use a 3os chest and socket it with Ral-Ort-Thul for some resist instead. Overcap your resists with charms to have good resistances when you enter Hell difficulty. I recommend using a respec hear to invest some points into dexterity reaching around 50% chance to block with a Rhyme shield. We likely won’t have access to %PDR or decent amounts of flat PDR at this point so block is an option to consider against physical attacks.
Here is an example of how your character should look like at this stage in the game at the bare minimum before you should enter Hell – download the savegame and copy it into your D2 savegamefolder and start it in Single Player mode: DOWNLOAD - Early Hell Test Character
Hell:Hell is difficult for almost any character build without gear in PD2 similar to vanilla. As a summoner just be careful, keep resummoning your minions when they die and take your time – you will get there. Just do Act 1 normaly until you reach Outer Cloister waypoint. From now on just farm Pits. It is a lvl 85 zone with a high treasure class which can drop almos all items in the game. Farm up gear before you continue through the acts. You can do it as a summoner with basic gear but you have to really know what you are doing to not die – farming Pits for gear is way easier. For skill points just finish maxing out your wolves and put the rest points into Gust to lower the cooldown further.
Gear to look out for while farming Hell Pits: You want to get complete Aldur’s Set as soon as possible. Every piece but the body armour can drop even in Nightmare difficulty – Aldurs isn’t overly rare and one of the easiest class sets to farm. The Set also recieved a huge buff in PD2 which makes it the abolut best midgame gear choice overall for this build – you need very good gear before you can even think about outclassing it. So just farm and buy all pieces one by one if you don’t find them yourself. Once you have aquired the full set just buy two Nagel rings for MF, look out for a white Monarch, socket it and build yourself a Spirit shield, buy IK belt if you havn’t found a decent rare belt yet and you are basically done. Before you carry on I highly recommend buying any kind of Ampliy Damage on hit weapon for your merc to deal with physical immunes.
Here is an example of how your character should look like at this stage in the game. You can cruise through Hell now and farm any regular Hell content with this setup and even do easy maps – download the savegame and copy it into your D2 savegamefolder and start it in Single Player mode: DOWNLOAD - Midgame Test Character
From here on out it is your choice where you want to take the build – get more clean skillers first and decide from there what you want to upgrade next.
Endgame Gearing:This section only covers endgame gear options (check leveling section for gear progression). PD2 provides a very in-depth gearing system thanks to various balancing changes to uniques, runewords and adding a corruption and socketing system on top of that. Everything depends on gear composition – imo their is no (or very seldomly) clear BIS option for a gear slot for any build type. Just take a look, compare and try to reach breakpoints where you can. I will also mention usefull corruptions to look out for on each gear slot. I won’t list every option since there is just too much to cover – instead I will focus on pointing out interesting concepts and ideas for you to build around. If you have questions regarding gear choices just ask in this thread – people can have a discussion and help each other out with ideas.
What should be your focus?Try to stack +skills until you reach around slvl 45 with precast gear and stop there (you don’t need that many, around lvl 35 is sufficient for all regular content). More is always possible but not needed. At this level your minions can tank Ubers confortabely and going for more damage won’t improve your clear speed by much – don’t be a mindless „tooltip warrior“ in PD2, higher numbers don’t always translate into higher clear speed in this game. After that focus on defence, getting extra auras from gear and building a great merc.
Want to see how a fully decked out HC Summon Druid performs in PD2? Download this savegame and copy it into your Diablo 2 savegame folder, start the game in Single Player mode and enjoy! DOWNLOAD - Endgame Test Character
- Heart of the Oak [Ko-Vex-Pul-Thul] in a Flail: good old Hoto, great %FCR, 3 skills and some resist. This runeword got nerfed in PD2 but it is still a very good option to consider for defensive setups which don’t have room for resists or %FCR in other slots.
- Beast [Ber-Tir-Um-Mal-Lum] in an Berserker Axe/Ettin Axe (1h) or a Champion Axe (2h): Depending if you want to use werebaerform often and fighting yourself with your minions – go for a 2H weapon since it has better %IAS frames and more damage. The classic approach would be just wearing it for the Fanaticism aura to buff you minions and stand back which also works. Keep in mind that this runeword got changed slightly in this mod – it no longer provides up to 40 Strength but has more %ED and a higher level of Fanaticism to compensate for it.
- Doom [Hel-Ohm-Um-Lo-Cham] in an Berserker Axe/Ettin Axe (1h) or a Champion Axe (2h): You don’t feel the need for more damage but wan’t more CC to support your group? Then Doom is the choice for you – Holy Forst provides some nice slowing effect and cold damage to you to deal with highly physical resistant monsters on your own, damage and %IAS is also great. Doom is a top choice for group support if you play with someone who can provide you and your minions with a Fanaticism aura already like a Bowzon or a Zeal Paladin.
- Stormshield: Want %DR and max block on your build? Then this is the choice for you – not much to say here since it is still one of the best choices despite the huge %DR nerf it recieved.
- Gerke’s Sanctuary: Got buffed in PD2 and is a top tier choice now. Great resists, max block viable, a +skill and %DR paired with some flat pdr and mdr – one of the best defensive shields you can get
- Moser’s Blessed Circle: still one of the best shields available imo for a rather cheap price
- Rhyme [Shael-Eth]: super easy to get and very decent in an elite base for any max block build out there. You get resists and the very valuable affix CNBF which affects cast speed in PD2 so it is great to have in any build now. Corruptions to look out for: +1 skill, resists, CNBF, block chance/block rate, cast speed, %PDR, %FHR, Replenish Life
- Call to Arms [Amn-Ral-Mal-Ist-Ohm]: While BO got a massive deserved nerf in PD2 CtA ist still great and better than ever for this build in particular. Mostly overlocked CtA also gives the player access to Battle Cry which got reworked and reduces physical resistances of monsters now. You can break physical immunes with this and it stacks with curses! And you can perform warcrys while shapeshifted – it is a massive buff your build so use it in your weapon slot to prebuff (it basically gives +2 skills, one from the runeword and one from Battle command) and as a utility tool – use your weapin swap actively in combat to perform warcrys.
- Lidless Wall: Great caster shield overall with skills, %FCR and mana after kill. In this build it is used as prebuff gear – you can even corrupt it for another skill which leads to a +3 all skills off hand, which is he highest you can get in this gear slot.
- Rain [Ort-Mal-Ith]: Really great runeword for just a Mal rune. Got buffed in this mod and offers up to +3 to summon skills. I personally really like the Cyclone armor on struck especially against frame based attacks like Diablos Lightning Hose – it can safe you when you make a mistake or don’t pay attention.
- upped Spirit Shroud: Yes – this thing is good now, really good. It provides a skill, %FCR and CNBF in PD2 as well as huge amounts of flat mdr and high replenish life which is a buffed stat in this mod – if you stack it on different gear pieces the regen is significant. What makes this chest really good is the high potential through corruption and sockets you can get on top of that.
- Arkaine’s Valor: Really great body armour for summoners in general – huge defense rating, +2 skills, high %FHR paired with vitality on lvl. Again – corruptions and sockets bring huge potential. This can be a +3 all skills chest which also work for warcrys
- Aldur’s Stony Gaze: Recieved a massive buff and gives up to +4 to summon skills on top of FHR and cold resists and has huge corruption potential on top of that.
- Spirit Keeper: Very defensive helmet which gives up to +3 to a random druid skill in this mod (many great options for this type of build available like: any summon, HotW, Gust, Cyclone Armor, Werebear, Lycanthropy etc.) – maybe not as much damage as other options but versatile.
- Jalal’s Maine: got nerfed but is still one of the most well rounded options for any druid build thanks tot he wide variety of stats it provides – makes other gear slots very flexible.
- Steelshade: Got reworked and is now one of the best option for any max block build which depends on +skills – it grants massive block chance and block rate… on a helmet! This helm can save you tons of dexterity investment which leads to more effective HP overall.
- Trang-Oul’s Claws: Looking for %FCR? Get these! They are better than Magefist since you don’t need the +1 to fire skills and the mana regen and it provides some cold resists instead as well as a higher defense rating.
- Bloodfist: Great gloves which you can wear from start to finish – 30% FHR and 40 flat life is huge – you rarely get rare gloves which are better than that.
- Waterwalk: are now 40% FRW in this mod, also max fire res and flat life are nice
- Aldur’s Advance: the „worse Waterwalk“ in this mod, but cheaper
- Hotspur: low level boots with max fire res, fire resist and little life but without %FRW – if you are using a Vigor merc this downside isn’t that harsh they are worth considering
- Infernostride: max fire res and %FRW, pretty nice boots overall
- Natalya’s Soul: already capped on fire resist? Then this pair of boots might be great for you
- rare/crafted boots: rare boots can have a variety of great stats like %FHR, %FRW and resists
- String of Ears: great belt for Werebear Hybrid since it provides leech on top of %PDR and flat mdr
- Verdungo’s Hearty Cord: %PDR and huge amounts of Vitality paired with little %FHR – solid defensive choice
- Rare/crafted belt: have huge potential and can be some of the best items in the game.
- Bul-Katho’s Wedding Band: +1 skill, life on level paired with life leech – great slot to get some leech for the werebaer.
- Wisp Projector: got reworked in PD2 and provides non class skills now and +1 all skills on top o fit. This nets potentially +4 to HotW – it also has some %lightning absorb which is great (if you consider wearing 2 of them for +8 to HotW on your druid… won’t work sry since non class skill levels are capped to +3 for classes which have the original skill available to them, so +3 is max for druid – for other classes this will stack to +6 of course)
- Ravenfrost: Can’t get CNBF on other gear slots? Going for max block? Then this is a great ring for you. Up to 20 dex and 250 AR help you reaching max block and hitting monsters with werebear. The cold absorb is also great to have – consider having one around for heavy cold damage encounters.
- Rare/crafted ring: can provide life, stats, %FCR and resists to fill out deficits
- Mara’s Kaleidoscop: +2 all skills paired with resists and all stats
- +3 Summoning magic amulet: Simple but it just works fine, it also can have a nice suffix on top of it like life or %FCR. Since they are fairly common this can be a good target for getting a nice corruption too
- crafted caster amulet: can have +2 druid skills and up to 20% FCR with other goodies
- Nokozan Relic: worth mentioning since it is fairly common and got buffed. Provides huge amounts of %FHR, fire resist and max fire resist; a good corruption can make it pretty nice.
- 9x Summon Skiller
- Resist/FHR charmes to reach breakpoints
- Life charms
Open Sockets:Sockets should be used to reach breakpoints where you can with either jewels or runes for purely defensive purpose, no need to look out for offensive stats here. If you are satisfied with your defences go for %magic find.
Mercenary:Mercs got an overhaul in PD2 to actually bring diversity and chouce to choosing a follower for your build. All mercs now provide some kind of passive aura and some of them have a wider variaty of weapons they can equip. Mercs also have more than 3 gearslots to equip them in this mod – check out the merc section on the wiki for more information.
The Act 1 rogue merc is actually really useful in this mod. It is my personal choice for a follower for this build. Vigor aura not only provides movement speed to you and your minions but also increases velocity which makes your minions more responsive and act faster! This is a huge improvement to their sometimes clunky minion AI. Otherwise it is ranged attacker, which does not benefit from the melee splash changes – so consider it a support role, not a damage dealer.Act 2 - Defense (Defiance):
Very good if you are figthing in werebear form often since it boosts your defense further (defense rating works while running/walking in PD2!) – combined with the defense bonus from shapeshifting you can reach some pretty good numbers. I would not go for this if you are mostly in human form, since druid has no way of scaling defense to great effect if not shapeshifted.Act 5 - Barbarian (Might):
Need more damage? Then this merc might be the choice for you. Might aura got buffed in PD2 and provides a huge boost to your minions. The barbarian merc is also the most durable one and can hold on its own if needed. (nice thing to know: since barb mercs can now equip 2h axes and 2h maces in this mod this merc can wear full Immortal King set and get all the boni from it – if you want your merc to become a walking death mashine go for it; thanks to elemental damage bonus he is able to deal with physical immunes this way)
- Wrath [Pul-Lum-Ber-Mal] in a Chu-Ko-Nu: luxury option with CNBF and higher Amplify damage proc rate than Wildwitch String on an Act 1 merc – still very little damage but you reach 8 frames with it without further IAS investment in other slots.
- Wildwitch String: the new go to weapon for breaking phyiscal immunes on Act 1 merc – socket it with 2 shaels and stack off weapon IAS on gear to reach the 10 frames breakpoint (54 IAS needed with 2x Shael in bow) – deals almost no damage but good enough against singel immunes if you wait long enough – Amplify Damage is a huge DPS boost to your minions.
- The Reaper's Toll got changes and now has Amplify Damage on hit - overall a really fast and solid weapon with good damage and leech on top of it
- Vile Husk: Again, Amplify Damage on Strike is king – your Act 5 Barbarian will help you out greatly with it. (Decrepify got reworked in this mod an no longer provides physical resist reduction => Lawbringer is no option here for breaking physical immunitiy)
Merc Body Armour:
- Treachery [Shael-Thul-Lem]: Got nerfed and now only provides a much weaker version of Fade on struck – still a great chest since it provides huge amounts of %IAS and some %FHR
- Heavenly Garb: Very overlooked option imo. Sanctuary aura makes it so any physical resist of every undead monster in the game is ignored (the game will treat it as the monster having 0% DR, yes even physical immune monsters!) – most physical immune monsters you will encounter are of undead type so heaving even a seemingly weak lvl 1 aura around will let you deal with them easily, they will fall over like flies.
- Templar‘s Might: One of the best reworks in this mod imo – it now provides a lvl 8 Might aura (which got buffed btw) to enhance the damage of your minions and yourself. It has a really high strength requirement so consider sockting -15% requirement jewels into so you don't have to search for extra stats in every gear slot of your merc just that he/she can wear it.
- Shaftstop: Very defensive option thanks to huge amounts of %PDR and life – best defensive merc chest in the game (could also be an option for your character to be honst)
- The Galdiator’s Bane: Got buffed in PD2 and now provides even more flat pdr and mdr on top of great stats like %FHR, CNBF and great defense. The Attaker takes damage on hit mod got buffed hard so if you want you can stack this attribute on all gear slots and make a thorns merc.
- Laying of Hands: damage against daemons, huge fire resist and 20% IAS – could not wish for more.
- Dracul's Grasp: got reworked and no longer provides lifetap on hit, still really good gloves for mercs thanks to open wounds, life leech and 20% IAS.
- Ghoul Hide: again huge damage potential paired with 20% IAS – you get the theme here, IAS is king in almost all situations.
- String of Ears: BIS merc belt – nothing else to say here, don’t think anyone would ever consider something else. Not that rare to get, great stats, leech and damage reduction.
Merc Boots:Same options to consider as for your character – noteworthy mention: Rite of Passage set boots have CNBF in this mod and are not too rare to get; cheap option for your merc.
- Vampire Gaze: The %DR option, very defensive and overall great choice
- Andariel's Face: Has +2 skills which apply to merc auras as well as %IAS – really great merc helmet overall
- Tal Rasha's Horadic Crest: cheap and great, has everything your merc wants.
- Guillaume's Face: Want to stack crushing blow on a Act 5 merc? Go for it, he will be an absolute powerhouse and can solo the game with great gear and your support
- Crown of Ages: Very rare but also really good – has 75% curse reduction in this mod which gets rid of curses almost immediately on your merc – also has %DR, great %FHR and 2 open sockets to custumize.