Beginner's Guide to Build Selection


Diabloii.Net Member
Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

A common question from newer players is what is the easiest character/build with which to play the game. Easiest is subjective, so you'll get a few different opinions as to what character/build you should start with, but I'll give it a go. This is purely PvM questing, no PvP considerations taken.

#1 Necromancer
The Fishymancer is the stable of this character and a normal starting point for most players. This build is completely item independent and could solve Hell naked if necessary. With 20+ minions doing the dirty work you'll find yourself in personal danger infrequently. Going can be a bit slow and tedious, but you will encounter few, if any, monsters that are immune to your party. Since this character can load up on the MF he makes an excellent runner of areas in search of equipment for the rest of your planned builds.

Other builds are possible with the Necromancer, but the choices are fairly small and the rest are more difficult and definitely more item dependent, such as the Dentist.

#2 Sorceress
There are many more options for this character, all relatively the same as far as ease of play is concerned. Popular choices are the Meteorb, Blizzballer, pure Blizzard and pure Lightning sorceresses. The first two make excellent all around MFers and can solo any part of the game due to dealing multiple types of elemental damage. The second two are more specialized in that some areas they will be relying purely on their mercenary to deal with all encountered monsters. This makes questing with them more difficult, however once done they are faster boss runners than dual elemental builds.

They are fragile creatures however, so care must be taken to keep them out of harms way. Thankfully they have Teleport as a skill that allows them to run away from danger, or reposition their mercenary companion at will. Therefore it's suggested that an Act II mercenary is acquired, as you'll need a durable tank to keep the monster packs at bay and the aura these mercenaries have (Defiance, Holy Freeze) are invaluable to that end.

#3 Paladin
This character is the most versatile of all the classes, and has the most possible builds available. The easiest build type would be any of the Zealot types, or the Hammerdin. A plethora of auras for all occasions ensures the Paladin is not without a means to deal with most situations and Holy Shield ensures his survivability is high with a decent blocking ability.

Both types mentioned above require very little skill switching. The zealots (Frost Zealot, Tesladin, Fanaticism enhanced pure Zealot) are pure click-and-hold until the monsters are dead type fighters. The Hammerdin is similar in that he simply spams fields of hammers and waits for monsters to wander through and kill themselves off. The zealots have some issues with immune monsters in Hell and therefore require backup skills, while nothing except a single monster in Act III (Wailing Beast) is immune to the Hammerdin (which is why he's so popular).

The Hammerdin is fairly item independent, as are the elemental zealots. On the flip side the pure Zealot does require a high damage weapon to be effective, and so is the most difficult of the zealot types to equip.

#4 Assassin
The easiest of builds for this character would be the Trapper (Lightning or Fire). Simply cast Cloak of Shadows, lay traps and wait until the monsters are all dead. Move forward, rinse and repeat. Not the most interesting play style but simple.

However on the flip side the Martial arts builds (Phoenix striker, DTail Kicker) are much more difficult. Due to the number of skills used they are being switched constantly so great attention is required to ensure the correct number of charges is obtained and the right type of attack used, all depending on what immunity the monsters have. More intense than almost any other build type and fairly item dependent to boot.

Both styles have access to an effiecent companion in the Shadow Master. Just keep an eye on her, as she is know to convert some of the monsters from time to time. They can't be hurt by you, but don't bypass them as they will turn on you again once the conversion wears off. You don't want enemies both in front and behind you if you can avoid it.

#4 Amazon
This character also has a fair amount of possible builds available, the easiest being the Lighthing Fury Amazon and the Multishot/Strafazon. A pure LF build can deal with most packs (LF) and all bosses (CS) within seconds and has the needed backup skills (Jab, FA...) to take on the LIs as well. This build is very item independent as her damage does not rely on how good a weapon she
wields, since it is all elemental and always hits the target.

The Bowazon takes on enemies from afar and with skills like Knockback and Chance to Flee ensures no one ever gets close. She is more fragile than her melee sisters so take care in where you stand and be aware that with Strafe you are locked in place until your round of arrows are away. She is also more item dependent in that a high damaging bow is absolutely necessary and certain mods (Knockback, leech) are highly desired.

What makes these builds really shine though is that the Amazon has access to the best tank in the game, the Valkyrie. Along with that she has an excellent scout in the Decoy that can be cast far ahead to see what monsters/dangers lie in wait.

#6 Druid
Druids have a limited number of simple builds available. The normal ones are fire, wind and werewolf/werebear. The Fire and Wind druids have excellent tank options in the form of a summonable bear or a pack of wolves. However their skills are not the easiest to aim, especially Armageddon, so there is a learning curve. Cold and fire are the two most common immunities in Hell, so a backup plan is required to solo the game.

The werebear and werewolf builds, while powerful do have trouble on the defensive end (wolf) or slow attack speed (bear). This makes them a little more difficult than the above characters to play, but not absurdly so. Along with this is their item dependence, especially for weapons. However they do make up for it with increased life pool and insane attack speed/leech (wolf) or
shockwave (bear).

#7 Barbarian
Probably his easiest build would be an Immortal King WWer. Not the easiest set to finish but very viable to solo the game. He's not the fastest character and will encounter trouble when fighting mana burn monsters, or when simply swarmed since he has zero blocking abilities (2-handed weapon). He doesn't have a summonable tank to help relieve the pressure nor any extremely good crowd control skills. A couple of the warcries help, such as Howl, but this character relies on his fighting abilities to win more than anything else.

Concentration barbarians do require a mention. For those that are having trouble finding the entire Immortal King set they make a decent backup build. It is a melee build so a good weapon is necessary, but that is the extent of his item dependence.
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Diabloii.Net Member
NVM, found the guides I was missing, they just weren't listed in the Druid forum....odd.
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Moderator Single Player, D2 Assassin, Barbarian
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection


*runs off to SPF FAQ Sticky*


Amazing, absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for this.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

he's leaving out the two main amazon builds that are good untwinked. Lightning amazons are only good if you have conviction, and if you use frozen arrow or strafe/multi shot, you are better of looking at the guides that specialise in those builds.
Physical bowazon are only good with strong weapons and the guide he linked to isn't focussing on gear attainable for new players.

The two guides I'd link to are the fa/lf hybrid and the lf/strafe hybrid.

P.S. or I must be misinterpreting the goal of this guide.


Diabloii.Net Member
I have to disagree that lightning amazons are good only with conviction. I've taken two through Hell without high end runewords like Infinity without any difficulties. Yes conviction makes everything absurdly easy, but without it you still progress at a good pace.

The hybrids are good untwinkled I agree, but they aren't as simple to play as the two I mentioned. Since this is for beginners I went for simple builds more often than not. Only exception was the Assassin martial artists, but I was clear up front that they were very involved builds.

As for the bowazon guide, I admit it gives weapon choices out of reach of beginners. Problem was I couldn't find another pure bowazon guide that fit the bill, this one was closest and the most informative one I could find. If you have a suggestion for a different pure physical bowazon guide I should link to I'd be happy to hear it.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

This seems like the best guide for the poor if you ask me. Use wws - only a few pgms - gives lots of gear option, including some very cheap - though it misses treachery - and it has the advantage that with the two sockets from wws, you can easily twink your bow according to your other equipment - you can fill in ias if you need, knockback, life leech...
P.S. Just add as a note to the guide that treachery is a good armour and that /2 strafe is a myth so that they don't need to stress ias to much.


Diabloii.Net Member
Chipmc's guide. Not sure why I didn't think of that one, I've read it several times. :dontknow: Good suggestion, thanks!


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

it isnt really the point of your guide, but it would be useful to give some general or individual hints for each class how to get basic gear. some of the in depth guides only cover (momentarily) non-accessable mid- or highend-equipment and almost all of them leave out how to get it quickly.

points would be:
- low end runewords and countess runs
- mid level gambling and crafting
- norm and nm mf

also a link to a leveling guide should be given.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

Lightning amazons are only good if you have conviction
Did you even read (or try) Ugla's Fury guide? Actually it's very decent untwinked build, you don't even need titans for replenish (charged strike is the main attack), This build just rip thorugh normal, NM and non-LI hell almost naked and you still have a good way to dispose LI enemies (LR charges,jab). It also isn't mana-hungry like FA/LF build. You can also fluently continue after you get Infinity (runes get duped).



Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

Thanks for this, excellent place to start.

Been a while since I played D and D2 but I started a Hammerdin on US East Ladder and im into NM now. Having a blast and glad to be part of this forum!


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

Very nice guides from the topics in the beginning!
I want to ask a question to get a straight answer on this one anyway:
I started a LF Amazon @ Europe Ladder, I was wondering about stats, there will be some problem to get my gear because I don't have anything to trade with. What must i have at least in STR, DEX, VIT, ENG?
Please reply
Current lvl 43 Amazon(my only char) played many years ago
str around 60
dex around 110
vit around 120
eng base


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

The best option if probably to go with a Rhyme shield - runeword - in a high block shield, heater for instance. That way you can get max block without to much dexterity - even more if you craft safety amulet though it's hard to get a good one for amazons - and on top you get some nice resistance and cannot be frozen.
Your dexterity should be enough for max block.

You str will be harder. Seen the fact that your gear will evolve, even when you are at the end of your leveling process, it will be wise to put enough points there just to use any useful item you find.
I'd start with something like 100 str and keep some extra spare points, just in case.
Vitality gets all the rest unless you really think you have to little energy, though even then, charms, smart craft or frost burns are considered a better option. Try getting +mana after each kill, might be more effective then mana leech.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

Great guide for anyone who is finding it hard to make choice for there first character.
I picked the Necromancer as his a good base character to start on and never in danger as his summons do all the work for him.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

chaos sanct is a tough place though... the IM + high monster life = slow killing speed for skelles


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

slow killing speed for skellies? try the bloody hills while still in normal difficulty (i HATE going into that place with my summonancer...)

you're minions will often attack one or two at a time on those narrow stairs and paths... while waiting for them to finish their loooong work on the monsters (players 8 will drive you insane) and you can't even get a coffee or something and then come back, because you have to dodge those stupid catapult shots all the time (!!)


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: Beginner's Guide to Build Selection

I'm not sure if this is the right way of going about mentioning this, but I have been working on a guide for using a cheap MFing/Rushing Hdin to start off with. It's currently in its second version and located here.

At this point, the reader would need a small bit of wealth to get started. However, I'm playing through the game untwinked as a Hdin and will be adding in my findings to the guide as I go along.