I just beat Baal in Hardcore Normal as a Necromancer. I would like to share the build I used.
Black Razor 2.1: Hardcore Poisonmancer
This Necromancer relies on three overpowered skills: Poison Nova, Bone Spirit, and Fire Golem. He can wipe kill large packs of monsters and dispatch bosses safely. He is one of the few characters that can earn gold faster than they spend on town portal scrolls!
Run into a group of monsters, cast Poison Nova, run away, watch everyone melt. Repeat until nearly all monsters are dead. Your Bone Armor will absorb incidental monster attacks, and the Fire Golem, mercenary, and other minions will clean up any remaining monsters.
In dungeons, make the golem enter the room before you, so he takes the aggro while you run in after him and wreak havoc.
Against act bosses, cast Decrepify and let the Fire Golem tank while you spam Bone Spirit from afar.
Your maximum level is 20, which means you only get 23 skill points. Choose wisely.
Note: Red text indicates discrepancies between tooltip numbers and actual stats!
Fire Golem: 1 point
- Life: 313 × (100% + 20% × (Golem Mastery slvl) + 5% × (Blood Golem slvl))
- Avg. Physical Damage: 79.5 (not displayed in-game)
- Avg. Fire Damage: 33 + 14 × slvl (including bonus from Holy Fire)
- Holy Fire aura damage: 4 + 0.75 × slvl
- Holy Fire aura radius: 8 + (1/3 × slvl) yards
|Avg. Fire Damage||47||61||75||89||103||117||131||145||160||175
|Holy Fire Aura Damage||4.75||5.5||6.25||7||7.75||8.5||9.25||10||10.75||11.5
|Holy Fire Aura Radius (yards)||8.67||9.33||10||10.67||11.33||12||12.67||13.33||14||14.67
The Fire Golem is one of the strongest summons at skill level 1. It can 1-shot most monsters throughout the game and is very durable. Its Holy Fire aura helps finish off monsters and draws monster aggro away from you.
Invest your first skill point here, and it will carry you to the end game. Since additional skill points only increase its damage and attack rating, only a single point is enough.
Note: Holy Fire damage displayed in the tooltips are affected by your
strength. Since the golem has zero strength, actual damage is much lower.
Poison Nova: 1-5 points
- Avg. Poison Damage: (54.7 + 15.6 × slvl) × (100% + 10% × strength) over 2 seconds [levels 1~8]
- Mana Cost: 3 + slvl
|Avg. Poison Damage||70.3||85.9||101.6||117.2||132.8||148.4||164.1||179.7||203.1||226.6
This is your primary killing tool. It boasts the highest total damage among all Necromancer spells, and covers a massive area. You can 1-2 shot most monsters w/o poison resistance.
Spend your second skill point (from Akara) here. It's mana cost is absurdly high, so don't invest too much points here. To maximize mana efficiency, hit as many monsters as possible with a single cast.
Bone Spirit: 1-5 points
- Avg. Magic Damage: (16.5 + 8.5 × slvl) × (100% + 10% × strength) [levels 1~8]
- Mana Cost: 1.5 + 0.5 × slvl
|Avg. Magic Damage||25||33.5||42||50.5||59||67.5||76||84.5||97||109.5
This is your boss killing tool. It deals large damage to a single target, does not require aim, and can be spammed from a safe distance. You can also use it against Poison Immunes (Act 5 barricades, doors, etc.).
Get this skill before taking on Andariel, as Poison Nova is useless against her. It costs a lot of mana, so invest judiciously.
Bone Armor: 5-10 points
- Damage Absorbed: 10 + 10 × slvl
- Mana Cost: 3 + slvl
- Cooldown: 30 seconds
This is your second health bar. You will be aggressively charging into monsters to maximize Poison Nova value, so you need all the protection you can get. This has a fairly long cooldown, so always be aware of it.
Invest 1 point here before entering the Barracks. Most of your spare skill points should also go here.
Decrepify: 1 point
- Effect: -50% movement speed, -50% damage, -50% physical resist, -50% attack speed
- Duration: 3.4 + 0.6 × slvl seconds
- Mana Cost: 1 + 0.5 × slvl
This is your boss killing tool (2). Get this skill before taking on Andariel. Only 1 point is needed, since it becomes less mana efficient with skill level.
Raise Skeleton: 0-X points
- Life: (21 + 15 × slvl) × (100% + 50% × max(0, slvl - 3))
- Avg. Damage: 60.5 + (slvl - 1) × (100% + 7% × (Skeleton Mastery slvl) + 10% × strength)
(Also gains 7% × max(0, slvl - 3) Enhanced Damage)
- # of Necroskeletons: 1 + (approx. (Skeleton Mastery slvl) ÷ 3) (see Skeleton Mastery for details)
The Necromancer starts with a wand with +1 to Raise Skeleton. A level 1 Necroskeleton deals significant damage and can easily 1-shot most monsters in Act 1. He will carry you to level 2, at which point Fire Golem will take his place.
Don't put your first few skill points here, as the # of necroskeletons do NOT increase with skill level
, and the points are needed elsewhere. Its Life scales rapidly with skill level, so invest spare points here if you want a second tank / physical damage dealer. Otherwise, you can use the 1-point necroskeleton like a zergling--very fragile, but deals significant damage if kept alive.
Raise Skeletal Mage: 0-1 point
- Life: (61 + 15 × slvl) × (100% + 7% × max(0, slvl - 3))
- Missile Level: max(0, [slvl ÷ 2 - 1]) + (Skeleton Mastery slvl)
- # of Necromages: 1 + (approx. (Skeleton Mastery slvl) ÷ 9) (see Skeleton Mastery for details)
A single cold Necromage is marginally useful for its slowing effect. Unfortunately, its damage is mediocre, and while it has more life than the Necroskeleton at level 1, it grows less quickly. Also, the # of Necromages does NOT increase with skill level
. Use only as a 1-point wonder.
Skeleton Mastery: 0-4 points
- # of Necroskeletons: (slvl / 2) - (slvl / 6) + 1
- # of Necromages: (slvl / 6) - (slvl / 18) + 1
- # of Revives: slvl / 18 + 1
- Mastery Bonuses to Raise Skeleton:
- AR: +15 per mastery slvl
- Defense: +15 per mastery slvl
- Damage: Increases bonus damage by 7% per mastery slvl. [small](This is rather complicated; see Raise Skeleton)[/small]
- Also reduces Life regeneration for some reason. (Why?)
- Mastery Bonuses to Raise Skeleton Mage:
- AR: +15 per mastery slvl
- Missile Level: +1 per mastery slvl
- Also reduces Life regeneration for some reason. (Why?)
- Mastery Bonuses to Revive:
- Life +%: +5% per mastery slvl
- Damage +%: +10% per mastery slvl
|# of Necroskeletons||1||2||2||3||3||3||3||4||4||5
|# of Necromages||1||1||1||1||1||2||2||2||2||2
|# of Revives||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1
Skeleton Mastery increases the number of Necroskeletons, Necromages, and Revives at every other level. In fact, this skill is the only means of increasing the number of summons. I really like this idea, but the numbers need to be adjusted. As it is, the practical
maximum number of Necromages is 2, and Revives 1. This is not enough.
Skeleton Mastery also improves minion damage. It strongly affects Necromage/Revive damage, but only slightly increases Necroskeleton damage. These effects are mostly irrelevant, since Necromage damage is still quite small, and the number of Necromages/Revives is limited.
For a full summoner build, I recommend investing only 4 points here. Skill points are scarce, and an extra Necromage is much less useful than an extra Necroskeleton. Ignore this skill if you prefer a more active playstyle.
- Revive: A single revive might be useful as a second tank. However, monsters generally have much higher defense than AR, so it will deal little damage--if it ever attacks, that is. Revive AI is very dumb. Also, the # of Necromages does NOT increase with skill level. In fact, additional skill levels have no effect at all!. Use only as a 1-point wonder.
- Clay/Blood/Iron Golem: While the other golems also have high damage, they are less than the Fire Golem at level 1. The Clay and Blood Golems also have much less Life than the Fire Golem, and would require more skill points to match the Fire Golem's durability. The Iron Golem has high defense compared to monster AR, making the thorns effect useless. The synergy bonuses are not worth it.
- Golem Mastery: This increases the Fire Golem's life and movement speed. The golem already has a massive HP pool, though, so you won't need it.
- Dim Vision, Terror: Potentially useful when wading through dangerous, tight monster packs. Only 1 point should be enough, as you won't have more to spare.
- Amplify Damage, Lower Resist: Greatly nerfed compared to cLoD; they now have sharply diminishing returns. Your will never need these curses, as your spells and summons already deal massive damage.
- Weaken/Life Tap/Iron Maiden/Confuse/Attract: Useless or irrelevant to this build.
- Teeth, Bone Spear: Deals too little damage. 1-shotting monsters is much safer than 10-shotting them.
- Poison Dagger: Deals too little damage and requires you to melee. High risk, low return.
- Corpse Explosion: Requires a significant skill point investment to cover as wide an area as Poison Nova, by then which costs a ridiculous amount of mana. Poison Explosion can also 1- or 2-shot most monsters and does not require a corpse.
- Poison Explosion: Worse in every aspect compared to Poison Nova.
- Bone Wall, Bone Prison: Might be useful for crowd control, but unnecessary in practice. Why waste mana setting up barricades when you can instantly melt them with Poison Nova?
- Strength: Each point adds +10% skill synergy damage. Early-game, your spells and summons deal so much damage that this is not needed. Consider investing in strength over energy when you have enough +Mana gear.
- Dexterity: Each point adds +5 AR, +0.25 defense, +1 Max Stamina, +1% Defense, +1% Magic Find, +0.091% movement speed. Looks fancy, but not worth it.
- Vitality: Each point adds +2 Max Life and +0.5 HP regen per second. This is a hardcore guide, so ~50% of your stat points should go here.
- Energy: Each point adds +0.75 Max Mana. Early game, you will be mana hungry, so invest ~50% of your stat points here. Later on, when you have enough +Mana gear, strength surpasses energy in terms of mana efficiency.
This build is powerful and should work with any mercenary. That said, some thoughts on the merc choice:
- Act 1 Rogue: I prefer this one. I already have a strong tank (Fire Golem), so I don't really need another. She is available at early game, tends to stay away from danger and does not block the golem in narrow passages. She also uses Inner Sight, which allows her and the golem to land attacks more frequently.
- Act 2 Desert Merc: I can see the Prayer/Defiance merc being used for survival, or Blessed Aim for increased damage output. He would block narrow passageways in Act 2, though.
Since this mod is Normal difficulty-only, Nightmare mercs (Thorns/Holy Freeze/Might) are out of the question.
- Act 3 Iron Wolf: Since spells receive synergy from strength, I expect these will be much stronger than they were in cLoD. However, they have very low health, so using them might be tricky.
- Act 5 Barbarian: Unlocks too late in the game to be useful.
Purchase and wear a rag from Gheed as soon as possible. HP regeneration from vitality activates only when you have a body armor equipped, and because potions are no longer available at vendors, HP regen is vital to your early game survival.
Focus on gear that provides +Life, +Vitality, +Mana and Mana Regen. +Mana provides more mana than +Energy.
Wear items with +Strength, as it increases your spell damage. Sometimes, +strength items can be more mana efficient than +mana or +energy items.
Defense and protection is useful for your merc, not you. You will be running around a lot, so defense matters little. Protection does not reduce the amount of damage absorbed by Bone Armor, and it won't be relevant against the high-damage attacks that can shatter your Bone Armor.
Shop for wands with:
- + to Golem Mastery. This will be your "Fire Golem summoning" wand. Fire Golems never die outside of boss fights, so you can carry it around in your inventory. Even better if it also has + to Fire Golem.
- + to Bone Armor. This will be your "Bone Armor casting" wand, ready to swap in combat.
- Mana regen/energy/faster cast rate. This is your combat wand.
- + to Raise Skeleton/Raise Skeletal Mage. It's nice to have an extra body in front of you, or to catch straggling monsters.
Picking up and selling scrap magic items will net you a large amount of gold. Magic Find will increase your income much more than Gold Find.
Be frugal with potions, as they are scarce (esp. mana potions). Once you have enough gold, you can use town portal scrolls to restore health/mana and save potions for emergencies.