A Guide to Survival for a PvM Zealot.


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A Guide to Survival for a PvM Zealot.


So you made a paladin. You have heard about the wonders of paladins knocking out bosses in seconds or running uber tristram in 1 minute or 50 seconds if they claim so and you decide to try one.

Now you have this dark skinned fellow in front of the stash staring back at you with a short sword and buckler and now ye thinking, " HOW AM I GONNA MAKE HIM WORK ??!". Lucky for us though the Zealot is relatively easy to play.

And this guide will teach you how to make him work.

Skills and stats

20 Sacrifice (synergy !)
20 Zeal (left click button)
20 Fanatiscm (right button)
10 - 20 Holy Shield (i prefer to max this for def and more 1 pt smiting fun)
Rest prerequisites and 1 pt wonders

Str: Enough for gear, but if you are untwinked i recommend more. Safe levels to aim for is 118 str for guardian angel for an untwinked dude. But if you are pimped out in gear and all then well calculate your str correctly.

Dex: Enough for 75% block with a shield. In general if you are untwinked, shoot for more, you can't be sure when are you getting a HoZ (best blocking pala shield ever), pimped out fellos add as required.

Vita: Everything else. 1K life is the absolute minimum. That is about 300 vit right there, yup u need that figure and leave the rest to +life items. In general more is good.

Energy: None. Zeal cost 2 mana. Even without mana leech, you will still have enough mana at higher levels to attack more than 50 times. So don't waste any points in here.

Crux of the Gameplay
As we mentioned earlier, stories of super paladin doing impossible things seem far fetch to the newly oriented but here I will share their secret.

Crushing Blow yep repeat after me C-r-u-s-h-i-n-g B-l-o-w.

You might be thinking what the hell does this do, but to make it simple here how it goes. It basically takes away a fixed portion of a monster life away per hit. 1/4 for monsters while 1/8 for bosses.

Big deal you might say as you cull your 100th quill rat with your little short sword but reconsider this. Crushing blow affects bosses and champions, super uniques and the yada yada, all which have normally far higher hp than to be 1 hit KO.

Some simple math:
Normal Andariel has 1024 hp: You deal 50 dmg and have some crushing blow equip. Cb takes off 128 hp from her and then you toss in another 50 dmg from your piddly Rixot's keen (25% CB!). As a result, you will kill her faster.

Now this is only a small scale scenario.

Imagine if you are faced with 60k hp Boss monster. It will take nearly forever to cut him down with 1000 dmg but with CB (removes 1/8 of boss hp per hit) the Boss will lose about an average of 7500 hp per hit !! And that is CB alone and not your damage added ontop of it. Marvel at the numbers.

But of course this is the best case scenario as it does not factor in the Bosses normal damage resistance (normal damage resistances reduces CB effectiveness) as well. But heck whatever, makes you kill faster is great and that translates to longer life !

Tap their life for your own

Another must is a source of Lifetap. It can come from either a wand, a dagger or the Unique Glove's Dracul's Grasp, Exile and Last wish weapon.

Why Lifetap ?
Because anything that lets you:

1) Leech from unleechables
2) Steals back 50% life per hit
3) Has a little radius thus allowing your merc and party benefit as well.
4) Has a sufficient duration for your tapping needs.

Is a very good thing and key to tanking very strong mobs. This also what makes uber pallies stand up to heavy damage.

Strategy and Survival

1. Cast Holy shield
2. Select Zeal on left and Fanatism on right
3. Hold down left click button.
4. Chop chop chop

Best part of it is that the zealot does not require too much thinking and is thus great even after you are drained from a hard day work or just spent awake too long in the night.

However, not everything is fine dandy for the zealot.

The 1 hit wonder
You walked into Chaos Sanctuary and chopping your merry way through and suddenly you died. "XX Killed by OBlivion Knight". You rubbed your eyes ! Waargh it can't be true, my invincible zealot of doom can't be killed !
Well bad news for all there is something called Iron Maidern. It is a dangerous curse that reflects about 2x of your melee damage back to you thus slaughtering you. The bad boys that cast it are Oblivion Knights and they lurk all over the Chaos Sanctuary and appear as Guest Models in ACT5 NM and Hell !

What i gonna do ??!
1) Be extra careful, the moment you spot em use throwing or ranged weapons and take em out.

2) If you spotted them earlier, you can use Charge to rapidly close the distance and get the first hit and hopefully slay them. OKs tend to curse Decripfy on something approaching them so you can avoid the negative effects of IM using this tactic. But this is also a bad idea if it sends you right into packs of Doom Knights and Venom Lords.

3) Get a party member to help out, preferably casters or bowers. Hell level OKs are always immune to cold and need to be taken out by Fire, Light or Magic. Lit or magic is better since the Fire Immune Doom Knights tend to congregate around OKs and thus block out fireballs and such.

4) Don't zeal blindly. General rule of the thumb if there are Doom Knights chances are there is an Oblivion Knight somewhere.

If cursed. Stop attacking and run. Either tp out to town to get IM removed or touch a shrine or use Cleansing aura to get it off faster. When using Cleansing you will be vulnerable to other monsters still, so use throwing weapons as back up.

Waah i can't hurt em !
Physical immunes ! Those things are basically immune to phyiscal damage which is your normal mode of attack. Your Vaunted Crushing Blow is counted as a physical damage as well so it will not work too !

What i gonna do ??!
1) Use a strong elemental attack weapon. Azurewrath, Baranar's Star, Gimmershreds all can work ! Use Conviction aura (if u have it as a 1 pointer) to speed up the process.

2) Conviction + Vengence. If you have a nice big big damage weapon like say Ebotdz this can do the job well enough. Vengence won't work with +damage weapons like Grief though.

3) Use OW and poison ! They still affect PI especially OW.

4) If you merc has an elemental damage weapon or is an Iron Wolf let them do the killing. Your party can serve for this effect as well.

5) Run away ! Use smite, knock him silly a few times then bail out.

If the enemy is undead PI, you can use 1 pt Sanctuary and whack the living day lights out of them, even when they are Physical Immune. Azurewrath also serve for this effect.

Those bolts of lightning from them hurt !
Ok we are talking about Gloams and Lightning enchanted monsters. Gloams / Black Souls are the new kids in the block, their nuclear lightning bolts of doom are the bane for many chars. Lucky for pallies, pallies have class specific shield that can gain resistance as automods and a handy salvation aura ! However, even with maxed out LR, they will still hurt you a ton especially if there are 10 huge bolts streaking into your face.

What i gonna do ??!
1) Run ! Don't walk blindly into the lightning bolts.

2) Slap on ultra expensive light absorb gear like Wisp Projector and laugh at them for healing you. Lightsabre and tgods are nice to have but Lightsabre's damage is not too desirable even with CB gear due to Gloams / Black Souls having strong Physical damage reduction.

3) Kill them ! This bastards are particularly adversed to Sanctuary aura, since Sanctuary automatically negates their strong Physical Damage resistance. Be sure to be able to tank a few hits while u rush towards them. And life tap.

If your lit resist aint max from the start, i suggest Salvation. This aura is also a party saver in this kind of circumstances.

Multi Shot Lightning Enchanted monsters might not be dreadful as the past, but once you encounter one with Conviction aura, OH THE PAIN. Even more dreadful is meeting Gloams with this kind of mods.

The solution is similar to the one above except every hit will trigger another Charge Bolt of massive hurt. You might want to consider fighting the monster with Salvation aura on in this situation but if you are not too worried and confident that you can tank the hits, use fana and zeal to wipe him out quickly.

Against gloams with such dreadful mods however, i advise you to use Salvation. There is still the lightning bolt from off screen to contend with !

These guys explode and i die !
Hell yeah those undead stygian dolls ! They have a nasty mode of self destruct that turns your char to swiss cheese the moment they die if they explode too close. Since you fight melee, damn this will happen often and it will !

Being ungodly fast and small to target doesn't help much either.

What i gonna do ??!
1) Let the merc do it ! You paid him for a reason damn it ! On a side note he won't get affected by the blast so let him happily cut them down. On another note, if you are feeling particularly nasty, you can lure the buggers near an annoying party member loud mouth and let him kill them and get killed in the process !

2) Spot some DR gear. You can't have too much of DR since it will affect your resist (more important than DR) and CB. I don't suggest this.

3) Pump more vit. If you have like 1k hp minimum you should not die in 1 blast. You are a paladin ! A knight can't be slain so easily.

Extra Strong EXtra Fast Fanatism and CURSED / ManaBurn !
These huge minotaurs are tough brutes that are always spoiling for a fight, they are also counted as the animal class, so stuff like LoH (ED against Demons) loses a great deal of effectiveness against them. And one more thing they cannot be chilled and have frenzy !

So a pack of those spawning those mods above will be a real challenge, so let's show em the meaning of steel.

What i gonna do ??!
1) Have your best weapon at hand, some chest thumping, holy shield, max block and stand your ground. Those frenzytaurs with these mods are going to outrun you anyway so no point giving them free hits. Recommended if you have very strong gear and a RENEWABLE source of lifetap aka Exile, Draculs, Last Wish.

2) If the top solution sounds suicidal or you are ill afford to stand up against those odds straight away, you can run away tp out and swap on whatever DR gear you got. Hey they outnumber you anyway so why not get alittle more advantage. Vamp gaze, Shaftstop even String of Ears can be bought with pgems on realms anyway so don't be afraid to keep a few in stash ! Lure them a few at a time. Lifetap is still needed of course.

Of course there is CoA, dungos and blah blah as DR gear but if you have those you should look at solution 1. Enjoy a good fight !

3) Let's gang up on them ! Parties are there for a reason. Don't be surprised to see some casters torn to pieces one those monsters dashes upon them though. In fact you guys might have to fight all over the place which is a good thing since you can focus on one at a time.

4) Retreat, if you are playing untwinked and solo this might be the only way, this bastards are seriously strong and will take time to kill and they always come in packs thus your merc and you might not be enough to stop them. Lifetap and CB will be your route to salvation if you still intend to take em on.

More to come......


Diabloii.Net Member
*choking cough gasp*
Yup Tomb Vipers in Nillathak's temple. If you do not have the guts to try it don't do it ! I strongly recommend that all melee players give this place a wide wide berth. The poison cloud deals a shocking amount of damage. Still if you want to try, go ahead. Just be careful, melee chars are very very exposed to the poison.

Yep while we are at Nilathak remember that he is a necro, so he has corpse explosion. Nuff said.

What i gonna do ??!
1) Use redemption to clear up corpses.
2) Wear nature's peace. Or anything with slain monsters rest in peace mod.
3) Use freeze target gear to make sure that all monsters are frozen so you can shatter them leaving no corpses.
4) Don't fight him. Leave keys to the key runners. You don't really need to personalise your item do you ?

These are mainly highlights to the more dangerous areas in Hell and NM level. So be wary warrior !

General strategies would be more simple.

1) Don't pick fights greater than you can handle. So don't charge in blindly.
2) Don't be afraid to drink pots.
3) Run ! Can't kill em all at times.
4) Iron Maidern will bring u to your knees even when you are a lvl99 zealer in act 4 normal.
5) Strike a balance between Damage, Resistance, Life and Defense. A PvM zealot is like running a marathon, he needs to last long.


now i know this is everyone's favourite part and i know there are dozens of known configurations for zealots so I'm just going to showcase the main items.


1) Guillimare's Face
2) Dracul's Grasp
3) Goreriders / Goblin Toe

This items are the ones who help you deal the raw damage required to kill off bosses more efficiently and keep you alive. Item 1 and 3 offer enough CB together and Dracul's offer you the undoubt cheapest form of Life tap. Combined this even with a not so decent weapon, you will still be killing bosses efficiently and gaining back enough life in the progress.

Given how easy is it to get resist for a pala, I am going to just note down some good ones. Abuse the fact that palas can have resist easily so this stat should be maxed especially for lightning and fire.


1. 4 pdiamond pala shield with high base resist. 76 resist from the pdiamonds alone and not counting the base resist of the shield !
2. 3 pdiamond Grisworld's shield ! Another cheap but great favourite.
3. Sanctuary. The king of resistance, a good roll in a high base resist shield will have you in the realm of 100+ resists. You are negating hell resistance reduction in one hand.
4. Herald Of Zakarum. When Um or Pdiamond it has 72 res and 69 res respectively. Not really uber high in resist but the other *** kicking mods make up for it.

Armors: Smoke, Chains of Honor, Prudence, Stone, Fortitude, Duriel's Shell, Naj Hellforge Plate, Grisworld armor with resistance runes, Guardian Angel etc.

Belts: IK belt, Disciple set belt, Thundergods etc

Amulets: Metalgrid, Highlords, Saracen's, Mahim Oak Curi, Maras of course. Magic prismatic ammy also work and rares with resist.

Helms: Crown of Ages, Kira's Guardian, Veil of Steel, Tal's Rasha crest etc or even a Guil face socketed with UM.

Charms: Torch, Anni, misc resistance Charms.

I think that's about it for the survival guide. If you feel i have left out any major points or areas do tell.

Hope you guys enjoyed the guide and have fun zealing away, safely.


Diabloii.Net Member
On another note, if you are feeling particularly nasty, you can lure the buggers near an annoying party member loud mouth and let him kill them and get killed in the process !


A bit of guides miss this out. But anyways, a lot of starting players might find it difficult to hit hell monsters. Maybe a tad about solutions for that?


Diabloii.Net Member
That rounds out a zealot pretty well bladewind.
I particularly like the mention of the frenzy taurs,one my personal favourite fights for a melee char.The stone skin IP fanat cursed bosses are especially nasty.


Diabloii.Net Member
I haven't had such luck as to face a Moon Lord with such mods. :p Most of the time i encounter undead mobs with this kind of mods and Sanctuary fixes it easy.


Guide addition.

Help ! I am not hitting them at all !
Ah, the well known AR problem. Zealots are always plagued by AR difficulities since their skill is not always hit like Smite so you will need some decent AR.

What i gonna do ??!

1) Equip AR boosting gear. Rings and ammies can provide good AR ! For example, Ravenfrost (+dex + AR), Angelic's ring and ammy (HUGE AR BONUS if using 2 Angelic rings) and Metalgrid (good source of AR and nice resist to boot !). Others include fine charms with max damage + AR mods. Visionary Circlets are also possible but extremely expensive if its in a rare with desirable mods.

2) Equip weapons with mods that help chance to hit.

For example many uniques and runewords have -target defense by X% or Ignore Target's Defence which will set monster def to 0.
Note that while - target def by X% works against bosses and in pvp, ITD does not work on champion, bosses and super uniques and PvP.
Other weapons that offer AR boost are available for example Nord's and Baranar's star grant X % boost to AR while Schafear's Hammer offers X AR per Clvl.

3)Use blessed aim passive bonus to AR ! This is more for PvP but if you need the extra AR go ahead, no one is stopping you.

4)Merc. A blessed aim merc will naturally shoot your AR to insane levels for sure but i much prefer to use a might or defiance merc.

5) Use enchant ! Lavagout as a chance of CTC Enchant but its not very reliable at times, a better alternative is to use Demon Limb for its massive lvl23 enchant ! Cast it whenever you need it. Or if you have an Oath runeword or Wisp Projector ring, you can use Heart of Wolverine charges ! Guranteed to last as long as it stays alive ! However, that means you will be stuck to using the Oath / Wisp to keep the HoW from poofing.

Another creative way is to use the Battle Cry on CTA !! Its short range but since Zeal is a in your face skill, it works ! Make good use of the free - target defense and damage ! It works on bosses to and tough mobs especially those that deal big physical damage (Frenzytaurs) ! So its not entirely useless on a CtA.

6) Get a higher level. Easily done, the higher your level, the higher your chance to strike them. Most hell level monsters are lvl 80+ (aside from act1 hell) so you need to be near their realm to hit them more often. A lvl60 is going to have trouble trying to touch them !

So in general get around +5 (more is better) /-5 (don't go below -5) of the monsters level for best chance to hit.

General good levels to go to next difficulty level.

Norm to NM = 45 to 50++.
This pretty much ensures you have a good chance to hit. Some paladins like to hold off to lvl50 so they can max fana for best results. I personally reach lvl54 for both my NL and L paladins when i returned to D2 and started untwinked. It made the first few acts much easier since I hit the monsters far more often than a lvl30+ would.

NM to Hell = 70 to 75++.
Easily achieveable level to obtain due to NM baal mobs now spawn at rather high levels. You generally would want to obtain this level as well, most people would want to reach at least lvl70 to reach most of the runeword gear lvl reqs (lvl69 for Enigma for instance). Most elite unique gear should be used by clvl 75 so no worries there either.

This level thus offers you the safety net of having nearly all of your Endgame equipment available to you and the ability to hit monsters easier.

For general PvM, I will try to shoot for around 5k to 6k AR as a minimum for a Zeal paladin. 6k AR should net you 80+% chance to hit most act5 level monsters so keep that in mind.

Thanks to jackson pointing out.

Again keep comments and recommendations coming, so one day i can condensed all the good zealot tips and compile them into a mega tip book. :D


Diabloii.Net Member
You added pretty much what I was gonna suggest when I saw Jacksons comment before.I considered it was your guide so I left it to you:wink:.

One thing though with end gear like eexile and ebotdz/death runeword etc...high defense and big damage having a blessed aim merc becomes very viable and really lets you land a lot more hits.

Oh btw for those frenzy taur packs try hunting a little in crystalline/ancients way...the evil urns down there can spawn some wicked boss packs.:smiley:


Diabloii.Net Member
A blessed aim merc will work if you already have Exile and Lastwish. :laugh: But if you have such awesome gear, playing alone is not hard either. ;)


Diabloii.Net Member
No significant mention of smite and convert? This guide is contributing to paladin pvm noobness, I'm afraid.

1-3+ points in convert, 5-10+ points in smite = unstoppable pvm melee paladin, be it zealer, or vengence. Massive pack of bloodlords ? 2 packs ? No problem. Whats that? Smite and then convert? Smite, smite, convert, convert, zeal, own the hell up?!

All pvm melee paladins need to make use of convert and/or smite, no question. How many do? less than 1%. How many suck? about 98%.

IN hellmode you can get away with convert and 1-4 zeal. Convert causes 1-hit kills. Damage is really only needed for special monsters, and of course, converting monsters allows zeal to hit fewer targets. Smite can also knock monsters back which can benifit both convert and zeal. There are all sorts of tactical synergies here.

I dont agree with the sacrifice synergy. Unless you are twinked into godmode, you are going to get more of your damage from cb/ow/other than from sacrifice synergy.

Fanaticism? Eh.. too much incommon with sacrafice synergy? Maybe. Should get more ias and alternate aura? maybe. Conviction? maybe.


Diabloii.Net Member
I did not mention Conversion, since Convert has being nerfed to hell and Sins get better Conversion chance with 1 pt Mindblast than a pala with 1 pt Conversion. So I don't avocate the waste of points, not even 1 point.

Do you think trying to Convert a pack of frenzytaur is a waste of time and dangerous ? Yes i think so.

So while you are trying to convert him, he and his goons plus other monsters are going to have free hits at you. This Conversion is no Assasin mindblast which as an AoE where groups of monsters get stunned and stuck there while some get Converted. If Conversion was at least as powerful as last time I would fully recommend Conversion and love to rebuild my Convertadin but now its a no no.

True i left out the smite part but that is an oversight. Smite has very little use in general PvM aside from boss killing due to its nature of single attack and no crowd control, also a pure zealot has only 1 pt smite with no plus skills gear, the stun duration is neligible, at 0.6 seconds. Even with my main pala my smite only has a duration of 1.8 seconds (+5 to combat skills).
I still take roughly about 4 seconds (20+ chance to convert is reaally low) to convert something if i do have convert which means im open to free hits from other monsters. Also if im holding a big damage weapon and have high AR, im more like just to cut him down before I convert him, that happened to me before.

Finally it boil downs to that both Smite and Convert are single effect skills. Mindblast boasts having 2 skills in one for their stunning and converting in an AOE package which makes it far more superior (abielt lacking the ability of smite be able to do huge damage of course). Conversion simply does not have a spot anymore in most PvM zealots. However, since you mention that Conversion has excellent crowd control property I will look into it.

As for Sacrifice synergy, i will mention again, this is a Cookie Cutter / Fanatical Zealot build. He will have to max Sacrifice for the completeness of the build and to maximize his damage for his main form of attack. Also while this is mostly PvM, but i also try to make sure the player can make their PvM zealot become full PvP Zealot with just gear changes. No one likes to rebuild a whole char for some other purposes.

As for CB and OW notes, i did mention them throughout the guide but do remember that CB will not kill off the Boss in the end, it will stop at the last 5% to 10% of the Boss 's life. No big deal for a player with deck out gear, he probably won't even need the sacrifice synergy since his damage is already mad enough, but for the unfortunate guy who is still using an Aldur's Rthymn the extra damage from Sacrifice synergy will help him ALOT since it will boost his life steal by offering bigger physical damage and kill off the Boss faster.

I have said my piece.

Your Zealot (more correctly Smealot) hybrid with Conversion + Smite has gotten my attention though, can we see a guide come out soon ? If conversion is effective as you claim so, I will add it to the guide.


Diabloii.Net Member
The single largest mistake made by melee paladins and especially poor ones, is failing to use smite and convert.

I dont see why you mention mind blast, that spell is not comparable to convert, the duration is half (6-10 verses 16), and the paladin cant cast it.

Any paladin with a light saber (ignore defense) on switch or/and conviction aura, and 4 or so points of convert ( after +skills), tends to land at least one converts a second, on average, and I find that I can land several a second.

Those "frenzytaur" get stuned no problem, stun, *and then* convert, if you cant spare the 0 - 1 seconds it normally takes to convert. It's not a waste of time, its the most effecient and safe way to melee them, and get those sweet boss drops.

Convert takes wits, that's the primary problem with the skill, smite, too.


Diabloii.Net Member
Bladewind said:
Your Zealot (more correctly Smealot) hybrid with Conversion + Smite has gotten my attention though, can we see a guide come out soon ? If conversion is effective as you claim so, I will add it to the guide.
I dont think I'm the guide writting type, and I dont think smealot-hybrid sounds good, either. However, I'll tell you what I play, and you people can try figure out the genious.

vengence: primary damage
zeal: cb, proc, leech damage
conviction aura: used both for reduced resistance and reduced defense.
4+ convert, 5++ smite: for crowd control.
holy sheild, some resist auras if max resist or vengence damage needed. 90+ resists desirable.

The primary play strategy is first crowd control and second offense, generally opening conflict with either convert or smite. Smite on runners and then waste them, convert on mean mobs. Mass convert can be used when another party member has a large aoe attack, or when mobs are too dangerous to fight, taking advantage of the 1-hit after-convert kill.

I play on every map, in multiplayer, and often find myself saving rich peoples corpses. Only moderately good gear, far from ideal; *everyone* asks to see the gear. Cookie-cutter culture.


Diabloii.Net Member
for those nasties like Frenzytaurs use the freeze target mods on Exile to stop em in they tracks or pick up a sc or two with +2 to cold dmg mod. They have weaps with this too. Works good on Lister and co too.

xix sephra

Diabloii.Net Member
so short summery

whack things with ur weapon till it dies and use crushing blow.. if they have iron maiden use throwing weapons. and get expensive absorb gear/dr gear ready to swap for the rest.. no resist lightning aura no salvation ? im sorry i have to vote you off the island.


Diabloii.Net Member
1) I did mention salvation.

2) Cold damage does not affect Frenzytaurs.

3) Fine, i see your point, uglystick, i will try out the build for myself and see is it worth working on. But i get the gist of your build, this is more of an Avenger.


Diabloii.Net Member
Bladewind said:
2) Cold damage does not affect Frenzytaurs.
Not sure if you just misphrased, but cold damage DOES affect Frenzytaurs, they just cannot be frozen / chilled. :rolleyes:


Diabloii.Net Member
Blood lords can and do be frozen with + freeze target mod. Not too sure bout the bosses of the packs all the time but they the first to die anyways as any good zealot should be namelocking any boss of packs at all times till he dies. the rest of the minions should be dead by the time boss dies.


Diabloii.Net Member
Bladewind, nice guide:) Always good to add to the current knowledge base.
If I may make a small suggestion. I find that another couple of very important considerations in the zealot build are max block and achieving the fastest weapon speed (frames per second). They may seem common knowledge to many of us, but since this guide is intended as a starter guide for Zealot paladins, perhaps it would be good to add a "how to" on these important points.