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# Decent Cheap Merc Gear and Builds

Discussion in 'Sorceress' started by MageChick, Aug 18, 2006.

1. ### MageChickDiabloii.Net Member

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Decent Cheap Merc Gear and Builds

I see a lot of people looking for help for their mercenaries. I also see a bunch of people that just donâ€™t use a merc â€“ generally because they donâ€™t know how to set them up either. Let me start by saying that a good merc can help you immensely, and you donâ€™t have to break the bank to do it. If you are having problems with your merc, or donâ€™t ever use one â€“ dust off a few pgems and read on. Iâ€™ll show you how to build a good merc that improve your game and cost you almost nothing.

This guide will attempt to look at dirt cheap equipment options for higher level mercs. Iâ€™ll discuss some of the options for improving your gear later, but generally thereâ€™s lots of good discussion for how to build godly mercs already. Iâ€™ll limit this to unique gear that can be had for less than 10 pgems, or runewords that donâ€™t take anything higher than Fal/Ko (which can be bought for about 10 pgems). This is meant to point out gear that is useful even for level 70-85 mercs as they make it through hell, but of course if itâ€™s good for hell, then it will more then work in NM. Until you are able to equip your merc with at least semi-decent gear he will be more of a nuisance than help.

In recent patches hiring a merc has gotten much easier. Any merc you hire, even if youâ€™re a level 90+ kind of guy will only be a few levels behind you. The problem of only being able to buy then at level 30 something and spending days of leveling them up is long gone.

If you havenâ€™t already don so, make a nightmare game, go to act two and hire the highest level defensive merc you can find. Youâ€™ll get a mercenary with the very valuable Holy Freeze aura. Heâ€™ll keep all the monsters chilled and moving slow throughout the game. Once youâ€™ve tried it, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ll like it. Teleporting suddenly becomes much safer â€“ youâ€™re MF runs become much faster â€“ and youâ€™ll see that youâ€™re dying much less frequently. Youâ€™ll discover that you may even start doing things that you couldnâ€™t do before. (I often run the countess for runes and keys â€“ I use my meteorb sorc who has no lightning damage skills at all. The countess is always Cold and Fire Immune â€“ so I just my merc kill her. I can get more rune and key drops with my Meteorb Sorc, than I can with my Hammerdin)

When building a merc, there are many different areas to keep in mind. It has a lot to do with what you expect your merc to do (just stand in front and tank vs. kill everything out there vs. MF along side you) For my money Defense > Offense > Magic Find. There's room for argument, but here's how I think each aspect ranks in order. I try to get my merc to tank everything and he only needs to be able to kill what I cannot (dual immunes).

1. Auraâ€™s
2. Life Leech
3. Max Resists
4. Defense / Damage Reduction
5. Hit Recovery
6. Increased Attack Speed
7. Damage
8. MF

Lets look at these in order.

1. Auraâ€™s. This is why you hired your merc â€“ His ability to help you. Beyond the standard Holy Freeze aura, if you use some specific equipment you can get a 2nd or 3rd Aura on your merc. These are like constant area effect spells. The cheapest aura out there is probably the meditation aura that comes on an insight (runeword) polearm.

2. Life Leech. Yes, your merc will naturally heal himself, but he just doesnâ€™t do that fast enough. (Kinda like mana regeneration without warmth â€“ yes its there, but just not quick enough.) Youâ€™ll need to add some gear that has the modification of +% life stolen per hit â€“ Life Leech or LL as its known. The % of life heâ€™s able to leech in NM and Hell is reduced, so weâ€™ll try to get a good about of LL. About 10% or more is needed. Keep in mind that this is tied to IAS and Damage done. The more damage heâ€™s doing and the faster heâ€™s doing it will mean the faster he can leech life off of the monsters.

3. Max Resists. This is important to stress. Your merc will naturally develop some natural resistance as he levels up â€“ but this isnâ€™t enough. I would seriously try to keep you merc with 75% resist all, just like you do. Without good resists, heâ€™ll be getting torn apart in hell â€“ just like everyone else without resists.

4. Defense and Damage Reduction. Iâ€™ll cover these together. They work in completely different ways, but the end result is similar. You can think of Damage Reduction as kinda like a physical damage resistance. It will decrease the damage you are taking from physical attack. This has a cap of 50%, but depending on how high our defense rating is, we can easily get by with much less. Defense is similar. I wonâ€™t get in to the formulas here, Iâ€™ll just say that the higher your defense rating, the less damage youâ€™ll take here too. Weâ€™ll try to pick our armor and helm so that they have about 1000 defense between them. The bare minimum to survive in Hell games is probably about 750. The more here, the better.

5. Hit Recovery. Just like you, when your merc is hit, heâ€™ll go through a hit recovery animation sequence. This only lasts fractions of a second, but during that time, he canâ€™t do anything else. The more you improve hit hit recovery%, the less time this will take. The less time he takes to recover, the more time he can spend attacking and leeching. As little as 9% is good, but lets aim for at least 20%. There are breakpoints associated with this. I wonâ€™t go into it here (there are other stickied guides that explain breakpoints)

6. Increased attack speed. This is sort of like hit recovery for a weapon attack. It does just what it says â€“ makes you attack faster. IAS isnâ€™t as simple as Hit Recovery, lets just say that weâ€™ll try to get about 20%. The faster we are attacking, the more life we are leeching from enemies and the longer we stay alive. (Again, I wonâ€™t get into the breakpoints here, look up that guide.)

7. Damage. I donâ€™t actually worry that much about the amount of damage my merc is doing. I really donâ€™t need him to be able to kill much, or even that quickly. The whole reason I have him is just to keep everything chilled while I kill it. But the damage heâ€™s doing does factor into his defensive posture, sort of. The more damage he does, the more life he can leech, and the longer he lives. So yes damage is important, but itâ€™s not really key. Weâ€™ll try to get about 200+ points of damage coming from our weapon

8. Magic Find (MF). I donâ€™t worry about this at all. Just as above, I donâ€™t particularly if my merc is killing many things. Mercâ€™s arenâ€™t good at killing act bosses (they only do a fraction of the damage they normally do), and when they do kill, mercs kill with your MF% applied to them already. Thatâ€™s enough for me. On a budget, weâ€™ll be focusing on helping just about every other aspect of our merc. MF just isnâ€™t that important here.

Summery:
Now we know what we need for a decent merc build: Holy Freeze Aura, 10% life leech, Max Resists, 1000+ Defense and some Damage Reduction, 20% Hit Recovery, 20% IAS, 200+ Points of Damage, any added MF% we look at will be gravy. Lets look into the cheap equipment available to see whatâ€™s available.

*If you skip all the way to the end, thereâ€™s some cheap sample builds.

2. ### MageChickDiabloii.Net Member

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Merc Armor

Hereâ€™s a look at cheap merc armor. Iâ€™ll try to limit this to gear that can be had for less than 10 pgems, or runewords that donâ€™t take anything higher than Fal/Ko (which can be bought for about 10 pgems). This is meant to point out gear that is useful even for level 70-85 mercs as they make it through hell, but of course if itâ€™s good for hell, then it will more then work in NM.

Let me just make a note about Ethereal items. If an item is ethereal (eth) it cannot be repaired, but it will come with increased damage or defense. Mercâ€™s donâ€™t ever use any durability on their equipment so Eth items can be great for them, you get all the bonuses and none of the disadvantages. If an item is popular for general use, then you may be able to get an eth version cheap. For many of the items popular on mercâ€™s, having an eth version will significantly drive up the price. In general, you can add one star (*) in usefulness to any eth item.

Iâ€™m gonna try to summarize value and effectiveness here as well. Iâ€™m not gonna give prices, thatâ€™s what the trade value forum is for, but Iâ€™ll try to give you an indication of how much to pay
$- No Price. You could probably offer someone 40,000 gold and theyâ€™d jump on it, or just give it to you for free. $$- Limited Price. You can pick this stuff for a couple of pgems or a low rune.$$$ - Average Price. This is the limit of what Iâ€™d call cheap. Several Pgems or mid range rune (Fal/Ko or lower)
 Good Price. I may touch on some things that are just beyond our price. I think of this as the Lem to Um range. Much less than any high rune, but you proably canâ€™t pick this up for anything less than a stash of pgems.
$High Price. Equipment that will sell for a high rune, not covered in this guide * - Not Useful. I generally donâ€™t cover this stuff, why list every piece of junk equipment out there. ** - Limited Usefulness. Might work if it has too, but probably not well *** - Average Usefulness. This will get the job done, but probably with limitations **** - Good Usefulness. This is our goal â€“ good stuff. It may not be perfect, but it will work well ***** - Excellent Usefulness. Among the best out there Boneflesh$, *
Plate Mail
Defense: 234-257 (varies)(Base Defense: 108-116)
Required Level: 26
Required Strength: 65
Durability: 60
+100-120% Enhanced Defense (varies)
5% Life Stolen Per Hit
25% Chance Of Open Wounds
+35 To Attack Rating
(Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later)
Youâ€™ll have to up this at lease once to get any good defense out of it. Even then, youâ€™ll be at about 500 def, and thatâ€™s just not enough for hell. The Life Leech is nice, but pass on this one.

Rockfleece $, * Field Plate Defense: 212-243 (varies)(Base Defense: 101-105) Required Level: 28 Required Strength: 50 Durability: 48 +100-130% Enhanced Defense (varies) Requirements -10% Damage Reduced By 10% +5 To Strength Damage Reduced By 5 (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) Same as above, if you up it once, it will get about 500 def. This one gives you some damage reduction instead of Life Leech, but thatâ€™s just not enough to viable in hell, sorry. Rattlecage $$, * Gothic Plate Defense: 328-335 (varies)(Base Defense: 128-135) Required Level: 29 Required Strength: 70 Durability: 55 +200 Defense 25% Chance of Crushing Blow Hit Causes Monster To Flee 40% +45 To Attack Rating (Spawns In Any Patch) Yes, this is the one that looks like Tal Armor. But itâ€™s no where near as useful. Even uping it wonâ€™t really help. Thereâ€™s more to life than a little crushing blow. Goldskin$$, * Full Plate Mail Defense: 356-405 (varies)(Base Defense: 140-161) Required Level: 28 Required Strength: 80 Durability: 70 +120-150% Enhanced Defense +2 To Light Radius All Resistances +35 Attacker Takes Damage of 10* 100% Extra Gold From Monsters (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) This is the last of the normal unique armors. That does mean it can uped cheaplu still. Youâ€™ll have to do that to get any good defense out of it. If you do, youâ€™ll end up at about 700+ def. Still low, but workable if it has to be. Double the gold drop on merc kills may seem great, but mercâ€™s generally donâ€™t kill that much. Still, it does come with 35% resist all, and if you need resists, this can be a good place to get them. Iâ€™d prefer something else for hell, but this will work in NM just fine. I wouldnâ€™t both with the socket though. Skin of the Flayed One $$, * Demonhide Armor Defense: 342-397 (varies)(Base Defense: 122-136) Required Level: 31 Required Strength: 50 Durability: 58 +150-190% Enhanced Defense (varies) Repairs 1 Durability In 10 Seconds 5-7% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies) Replenish Life +15-25 (varies) Attacker Takes Damage of 15 (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) I guess the life leech makes this useful for low-mid level mercs. Itâ€™s pretty hard to find life leech in armor too, but the def is just too low. It will probably get a merc through NM, but overall â€“ not going to cut in hell. Definitely not worth socketing. Crow Caw$$, ** Tigulated Mail Defense: 477-534 (varies)(Base Defense: 176-190) Required Level: 37 Required Strength: 86 Durability: 36 +150-180% Enhanced Defense (varies) 15% Increased Attack Speed 15% Faster Hit Recovery 35% Chance of Open Wounds +15 Dexterity (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) IAS and FHR â€“ two decent mods, but the def is still kinda low. I guess your merc could wear this for a while, but youâ€™ll want better before hell. Definitely not worth socketing either. Duriel's Shell $$, *** Cuirass Defense: (528-650) - (610-732) (varies)(Base Defense: 188-202) Required Level: 41 Required Strength: 65 Durability: 150 +160-200% Enhanced Defense (varies) + (1.25 Per Character Level) 1-123 Defense (Based On Character Level) + (1 Per Character Level) 1-99 To Life (Based On Character Level) Resist Fire +20% Resist Lightning +20% Resist Poison +20% Resist Cold +50% Cannot Be Frozen +15 To Strength (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) The resists and cannot be frozen are what makes this worthwhile. The Def isnâ€™t that bad either and +15 to str is a bonus. Iâ€™d say this is the first decent armor weâ€™ve come across. You could safely keep your merc in this all the way through hell if you had too. Iâ€™m nor sure Iâ€™d bother to spend a socket quest on it though. You could if the rest of your gear is set, but there is better out there. That said, you could even up this armor if you wanted to. Youâ€™d end up with good defensive armor, and that would be worth socketing. But this is an Exceptional Unique, so Uping it gets expensive (beyond our price range) Shaftstop$$$$, **** Mesh Armor Defense: 599-684 (varies)(Base Defense: 198-213) Required Level: 38 Required Strength: 92 Durability: 45 +180-220% Enhanced Defense (varies) Damage Reduced By 30% +250 Defense Vs. Missile +60 To Life (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) Worth mentioning for the sake of completeness. Good armor if you find it, but beyond our price range. What makes this valuable is the 30% Damage reduction. If you find it, spend the socket quest, you can always sell it later. Guardian Angel$$$, **
Templar Coat
Defense: 770-825 (varies)(Base Defense: 252-274)
Required Level: 45
Required Strength: 118
Durability: 60
+180-200% Enhanced Defense(varies)
+20% Increased Chance Of Blocking
+30% Faster Block Rate
+ (2.5 Per Character Level) 2-247 To Attack Rating Against Demons (Based On Character Level)
15% To Maximum Poison Resist
15% To Maximum Cold Resist
15% To Maximum Lightning Resist
15% To Maximum Fire Resist
(Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later)
Worth using, only if you can find a way to use the increased max resists. Even then it has limited usefulness. If you find it great, just donâ€™t spend the wealth to buy one. Unless your build is based around this armor, donâ€™t bother socketing.

Toothrow $$, ** Sharktooth Armor Defense: 713-888 (varies)(Base Defense: 242-258) Required Level: 48 Required Strength: 103 Durability: 63 +160-220% Enhanced Defense (varies) +40-60 Defense(varies) 40% Chance of Open Wounds Fire Resist +15% +10 Strength Attacker Takes Damage of 20-40 (varies) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) Hmm, not much here. The defense and +10 str are OK, but nothing to get excited about. Again if you find it great, just donâ€™t spend the wealth to buy one. Donâ€™t spend the socket quest here. Atma's Wail$$$, ** Embossed Plate Defense: (670-866) - (792-988) (varies)(Base Defense: 282-303) Required Level: 51 Required Strength: 125 Durability: 105 +120-160% Enhanced Defense (varies) + (2 Per Character Level) 2-198 Defense (Based On Character Level) 30% Faster Hit Recovery Replenish Life +10 Increase Maximum Mana 15% +15 To Dexterity +20% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) This looks about the same as the previous two â€“ mediocre def and mods. Donâ€™t bother to socket again. Black Hades $$, *** Chaos Armor Defense: 823-1029 (varies)(Base Defense: 315-342) Required Level: 53 Required Strength: 140 Durability: 70 +140-200% Enhanced Defense (varies) +30-60% Damage To Demons (varies) +200-250 To Attack Rating Against Demons (varies) Half Freeze Duration Gem Socket (3) -2 To Light Radius (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) At first glace, this looks just the previous three, better defense, but lousy mods. The key here is that is always comes with 3 open sockets to use as you wish, no need to waste the quest. That can be useful. I put this about up there with Duriel's Shell â€“ pretty darn good. Please donâ€™t up it, your merc will never have enough str to wear it. Corpsemourn$$$, **
Ornate Plate
Defense: 1127-1262 (varies)(Base Defense: 417-450)
Required Level: 55
Required Strength: 170
Durability: 60
+150-180% Enhanced Defense (varies)
Level 5 Corpse Explosion (40 Charges)
6% Chance To Cast Level 2 Iron Maiden When Struck
Cold Resist +35%
+10 To Vitality
+8 To Strength
(Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later)
The defense is good andâ€¦uhâ€¦thatâ€™s about it. Watch out for the str requirement, your merc will probably need some help to wear it even at mid levels. Worth wearing if you find it, but donâ€™t bother trading for it. Donâ€™t spend the socket quest here either and no matter what, do not think about uping it. Itâ€™s technically possible as this is the last exceptional armor weâ€™ll talk about, but Iâ€™ll laugh at you for even trying it â€“ no one in the game will ever be able to think about wearing it.

The Gladiator's Bane , ***
Wire Fleece
Defense: 1255-1496 (varies)(Base Defense: 375-481)
Required Level: 85
Required Strength: 111
Durability: 135
+150-200% Enhanced Defense (varies)
+50 Defense
Cannot Be Frozen
30% Faster Hit Recovery
Poison Length Reduced By 50%
Attacker Takes Damage Of 20
Damage Reduced By 15-20 (varies)
Magic Damage Reduced By 15-20 (varies)
(Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later)
Another winner here. Good defense and good mods. This qualifies as end game gear. Youâ€™ll have to get your merc to level 85 to wear it, but thatâ€™s the only downside. Socket this thing without looking back. This is the first elite armor in the list, so no more discussion of uping it.

Arkaine's Valor -$, **** Balrog Skin Defense: 1295-1450 (varies)(Base Defense: 410-517) Required Level: 85 Required Strength: 165 Durability: 30 +150-180% Enhanced Defense (varies) +1-2 To All Skills* (varies) + (0.5 Per Character Level) 0-49 To Vitality (Based On Character Level) 30% Faster Hit Recovery Damage Reduced By 10-15 (varies) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later) This is only within our price range if is a +1 skill variety and even then youâ€™ll probably only find the lower defense damage reduction ones for less than 10 pgems. But, this is good armor if you can get it. Another piece of end game gear. Youâ€™ll have to get your merc to level 85 to wear it, but thatâ€™s the only downside. Socket this thing without looking back. Leviathan , **** Kraken Shell Defense: 1514-1722 (varies)(Base Defense: 417-523) Required Level: 65 Required Strength: 174 +170-200% Enhanced Defense (varies) +100-150 Defense (varies) +40-50 To Strength (varies) Damage Reduced By 15-25% (varies) Indestructible (Ladder Only) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later) Depending on your bartering skills, these next two pieces push the edge of our spending limit, but they are definitely worth it if you can get them. The defense, godly str and damage reduction make this a clear winner. Even a low def/str/dr set would be awesome. You canâ€™t find anything better until you move into the expensive runeword armors. Spend the socket quest without delay. Steel Carapace , *** Shadow Plate Defense: 1618-1785 (varies)(Base Defense: 446-557) Required Level: 66 Required Strength: 230 Durability: 70 +190-220% Enhanced Defense (varies) Regenerate Mana 10-15% (varies) +20% Faster Hit Recovery Cold Resist +40-60% (varies) Damage Reduced by 9-14 (varies) Repairs 1 Durability in 20 Seconds 8% Chance To Cast Level 6 Iron Maiden When Struck (Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later) Oustanding defense again. The hit recovery is nice too. Unfortunately, youâ€™ll probably have to socket this thing with a hel rune (or -15% requirement jewel) just to get past the str requirement. Set Items Sazabi's Ghost Liberator $$, *** Balrog Skin Defense: 810-917 (varies)(Base Defense: 410-517) Required Level: 67 Required Strength: 165 Durability: 30 +400 Defense +30% Faster Hit Recovery +300 To Attack Rating Against Demons +50-75 To Life (varies) +25 To Strength Acceptable defense, Faster Hit Recovery, Life and Strength. This will work, well into hell if you can't afford anything better. Iâ€™d probably hold off on using a socket quest though. If your merc can carry a sword, you could even consider the whole Sazabi set. It's only Helm, Armor and Sword, so your Act 3 or 5 merc could wear the whole thing. Griswold's Heart$$$$, **** Ornate Plate Defense: 917-950 (varies) (Base Defense 417-450) Required Level: 45 Required Strength: 102 Durability: 60 +500 Defense Requirements -40% +20 To Strength +2 To Defensive Aura Skills (Paladin Only) Socketed (3) Acceptable defense again, but limited stats. The key here is the 3 open sockets that it always comes with. You can use these to get some nice hit recovery, or just about anything else. This has the potential to be some really good armor, even in hell. If you find this on your own, great - its not that hard to find. But it can be a bit beyond our â€œdirt cheapâ€ budget if youâ€™re trying to trade for it. Lots of paladinâ€™s out there keep the price high on this one. Iâ€™d save your pgems for something better and cheaper. Natalya's Shadow$$$, **
Loricated Mail
Defense: 540-721 (varies)(Base Defense: 390-496)
Required Level: 73
Required Strength: 149
Durability: 36
+150-225 Defense (varies)
+ (1 Per Character Level) 1-99 To Life (Based On Character Level)
Poison Length Reduced By 75%
Poison Resist +25%
+2 To Shadow Disciplines Skills (Assassin Only)
Socketed (1-3) (varies)
Defense is kinda low, but it could work if it had to. Just like Grizâ€™s this comes with sockets. Youâ€™ll need to use them to make this armor worth anything. But even then â€“ Iâ€™d rather sell is to some assassin for some pgems and buy something better. Youâ€™ll both be happy.

Rune word Armor

Before we get started talking about rune word armor and open sockets (os), I should mention that Tal+Thul+P Topaz+any plain armor will give you a random number of sockets in the armor. If you do this in an eth armor, youâ€™ll end up with the sockets and it will raise the base def on the item as well. This is a great trick when building merc armor. If you do the socket quest to get sockets on the armow, youâ€™ll always get the most number of sockets available.

Smoke $$, *** 2 Socket Body Armor Nef + Lum +75% Enhanced Defense +280 Defense Vs. Missile All Resistances +50 20% Faster Hit Recovery Level 6 Weaken (18 Charges) +10 To Energy -1 To Light Radius If you can build this in a piece of elite armor you could get around 1000 def total in the end, more if you do the eth os glitch (1500+ total def is possible). That along with great resistances and even some hit recovery make this decent armor. Now if you drop this in the first 2os breast plate you find, youâ€™ll be disappointed. As with all rune words, the base armor your build it in will factor into the level and str reqâ€™d. In the end when you level your merc enough, he wonâ€™t need the full +50 resist all anymore. The defense you ended up with will probably determine how long you can keep using this armor. With about 1000 defense you could keep it all the way thru hell. Lionheart,$$$, ** 3 Socket Body Armor Hel + Lum + Fal +20% Enhanced Damage Requirements -15% +25 To Strength +10 To Energy +20 To Vitality +15 To Dexterity +50 To Life All Resistances +30 Iâ€™ll mention this for the sake of completeness. There just isnâ€™t much here that impresses me. The mods are decent although the +energy and +vitality wonâ€™t do your merc any good. Iâ€™d say keep the runes and use them for something else. Treachery, , **** 3 Socket Body Armor Shael + Thul + Lem 5% Chance To Cast Level 15 Fade When Struck 25% Chance To Cast level 15 Venom On Striking +2 To Assassin Skills +45% Increased Attack Speed +20% Faster Hit Recovery Cold Resist +30% 50% Extra Gold From Monsters This is mentioned also for the sake of completeness. The Lem it takes to make puts it above our â€œdirt cheapâ€ price range, but it can be good armor. There isnâ€™t any increased defense here, but in a good glitched eth armor you can still get over 1000 defense and thatâ€™s pretty good. If you donâ€™t do the glitch, or donâ€™t use eth armor, youâ€™ll be capped at about 500 def, and that just wonâ€™t cut it. Obviously the 2 assassin skills wonâ€™t do us any good, but the 45% IAS is huge, and the 20% Hit Recovery is nice. This is probably up there with some of the other good uniqueâ€™s that are just beyond our price range. All of the good 3 and 4 open socket runewords will take an UM (or higher) to build, which is way beyond our price range. Having said that, Duress, Gloom or Stone are all great armor, especially if used with the eth glitch. After that, look to Fortitude, or maybe Chains of Honor as the best merc armors out there. My favorite here, by price point are$ (Sorry, nothing real useful here, spend 300,000 gold shopping and youâ€™ll do better)
$$Duriel's Shell, Sazabi's Ghost Liberator$$$Black Hades, Smoke  Leviathon $ Iâ€™m not getting into the real expensive gear

3. ### MageChickDiabloii.Net Member

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Merc Helms

Undead Crown $, ** Crown Defense: 99-113 (varies)(Base Defense: 25-45) Required Level: 29 Required Strength: 55 Durability: 50 +30-60% Enhanced Defense +50% Damage Vs. Undead +50-100 Attack Rating Vs. Undead (varies) Half Freeze Duration 5% Life Stolen Per Hit Poison Resist +50% +40 Defense +3 To Skeleton Mastery (Necromancer Only) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) 5% life leech is about the only reason to have this on a merc. The defense isnâ€™t that terrible either I guess, but its not that good. Itâ€™s only a normal unique, so you can up it cheaply the first time. Not worth a socket quest Iâ€™m afraid. Itâ€™ll work for NM, but youâ€™ll want to find something better before moving to hell Rockstopper $$, **** Sallet Defense: 163-201 (varies)(Base Defense: 52-62) Required Level: 31 Required Strength: 43 Durability: 18 +160-220% Enhanced Defense (varies) Damage Reduced By 10% 30% Faster Hit Recovery Cold Resist +20-40% (varies) Fire Resist +20-50% (varies) Lightning Resist +20-40% (varies) +15 To Vitality (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) Good defense, damage reduction, hit recovery and resistance too. This could be a great merc helm. You can safely leave this equipped all the way through hell. Go ahead and socket it for added versatility. Go ahead and up it if you want for more def. Stealskull$$, **** Casque Defense: 219-248 (varies)(Base Defense 63-72) Required Level: 35 Required Strength: 59 Durability: 24 +200-240% Enhanced Defense (varies) 10% Increased Attack speed 10% Faster Hit Recovery 5% Life Stolen Per Hit 5% Mana Stolen Per Hit 30-50% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items (varies) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) Good defense, ias, hit recovery, life leech, and MF. Another clear winner. You can safely leave this equipped all the way through hell. Go ahead and socket it for added versatility. Go ahead and up it if you want more def. Crown of Thieves $$, **** Grand Crown Defense: 296-342 (varies)(Base Defense: 78-113) Required Level: 49 Required Strength: 103 Durability: 50 +160-200% Enhanced Defense (varies) 9-12% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies) Fire Resist +33% +35 To Mana +50 To Life +25 To Dexterity 80-100% Extra Gold From Monsters (varies) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) Great defense and life leech. This one will work well all the way through hell too. Iâ€™d spend a socket quest on it, although I canâ€™t recommend uping it because the str reqâ€™d will start to get high. Vampire Gaze$$$$, **** Grim Helm Defense: 252 (Base Defense: 60-125) Required Level: 41 Required Strength: 58 Durability: 40 +100% Enhanced Defense Adds 6-22 Cold Damage - 4 Second Duration 15% Slower Stamina Drain 6-8% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies) 6-8% Mana Stolen Per Hit (varies) Damage Reduced By 15-20% (varies) Magic Damage Reduced By 10-15 (varies) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) I have to mention this one here, but it is out of our price range. You might be able to get a low life leech, low damage reduction variety for about 15-20 pgems. If you can great â€“ your merc can wear this through hell. Itâ€™s worth a socket quest, but donâ€™t up it. Andariel's Visage$$$$, ***** Demonhead Defense: 310-387 (varies)(Base Defense: 101-154) Required Level: 83 Required Strength: 102 Durability: 20 +100-150% Enhanced Defense (varies) +2 To All Skills 20% Increased Attack Speed 8-10% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies) +25-30 To Strength (varies) +10% To Maximum Poison Resist Fire Resist -30% Poison Resist +70% 15% Chance To Cast Level 15 Poison Nova When Struck Level 3 Venom (20 charges) (Ladder Only) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later) Yeah, again this is out of our price range, but for my money, this is the best merc helm out there that can be had for less than an arm and a leg. Youâ€™ll probably pay about 20-25 pgems for even a cheap one though. For near perfect stats, the prices go higher. The +skills are kinda irrelevant, the outstanding defense, 20% ias, 8-10% life leech, and strength are what make this a winner. You can socket it ral to get rid of the -30% fire resist penalty if you want. Ondal's Almighty$$, ** Spired Helm Defense: 164-209 (varies)(Base Defense: 114-159) Required Level: 69 Required Strength: 116 Durability: 40 10% Chance To Cast Level 3 Weaken On Striking 24% Faster Hit Recovery Requirements -40% +50 Defense +15 To Dexterity +10 To Strength Mediocre defense and some hit recovery here. Nothing too great, but workable. Iâ€™d get something else before venturing into hell. Donâ€™t waste the socket quest on it either. Itâ€™s a set item, so no chance to upgrade. Natalya's Totem $$, ** Grim Helm Defense: 195-300(varies) (Base Defense: 60-125) Required Level: 59 Required Strength: 58 Durability: 40 +135-175 Defense (varies) All Resistances +10-20 (varies) +20-30 To Dexterity (varies) +10-20 To Strength (varies) Magic Damage Reduced By 3 Defense, resistance and strength. This could be workable, but thereâ€™s better stuff out there. Sell this to some assassin Guillaume's Face$$$, ****
Winged Helm
Defense: 217 (Base Defense: 85-98)
Required Level: 34
Required Strength: 115
Durability: 40
+120% Enhanced Defense
+30% Faster Hit Recovery
35% Chance of Crushing Blow
+15 To Strength
Average Defense, Nice Hit Recovery and some str. The big bonus here is the crushing blow though. This is really help your merc kill. If you can balance this with your mercâ€™s other gear and still get everything you need, then this can be a great addition, even for hell. By all means socket this thing.

Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest $$, *** Death Mask Defense: 99-131 (varies)(Base Defense: 54-86) Required Level: 66 Required Strength: 55 Durability: 20 10% Life Stolen Per Hit 10% Mana Stolen Per Hit All Resistances +15 +45 Defense +30 To Mana +60 To Life Yes, this makes a decent merc helm. The Defense is kinda low, but the life leech, resist all, and nice life bonus make this a good merc helm. There are a few better ones, but this will work even in hell. If you have the need to socket it, go ahead, but Iâ€™d try to save up for something better if you can. Fortunately, even the most expensive merc helms arenâ€™t that expensive. Iâ€™d try to move into an andyâ€™s or vamp gaze if you can, but their not that much of a step up from the other gear. The only time merc helms get really expensive is when we start talking ethereal stuff. My favorite here, by price point are  Undead Crown$$ Rockstopper, Stealskull, Crown of Thieves, Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest
$$Guillaume's Face$$$$Vampire Gaze, Andariel's Visage$$$$Sorry, not going to go here, but there really arenâ€™t many options beyond what weâ€™ve discussed. Eth Andyâ€™s or Crown or Ages I should say that without looking at price, all of these (except the Undead Crown) have about equal usefulness, just use whichever one fits your build and you can find first. 4. ### MageChickDiabloii.Net Member Joined: Apr 30, 2006 Messages: 817 Likes Received: 0 Trophy Points: 165 Merc Weapons (Act 2 merc's only) The Battlebranch$$, **
Poleaxe
Two-Hand Damage: (27-30) To (58-66) (42.5-48 Avg)
Required Level: 25
Required Strength: 62
Durability: 65
Base Weapon Speed: [10]
+50-70% Enhanced Damage(varies)
30% Increased Attack Speed
+50-100 To Attack Rating(varies)
7% Life Stolen Per Hit
+10 To Dexterity
(Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later)
This looks useful at first glance because of the 30% IAS and 7% LL, but the damage is no where near enough. You can up it for more damage and that may get you through NM, but you need more for hell. Donâ€™t waste a socket quest here.

The Meat Scraper $$, ** Lochaber Axe Two-Hand Damage: (15-18) To (145-174) (80-96 Avg) Required Level: 41 Required Strength: 80 Durability: 50 Base Weapon Speed: [10] +150-200% Enhanced Damage (varies) 50% Chance Of Open Wounds 30% Increased Attack Speed 10% Life Stolen Per Hit 25% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items +3 To Masteries (Barbarian Only) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later) Better than the first option, but the result is about the same. Up it to get you through NM, look for something better in hell. Donâ€™t bother to socket. Blackleach Blade$$, *
Bill
Two-Hand Damage: (28-33) To (107-250) (67.5-141.5 Avg)
Required Level: 42
Required Strength: 72
Durability: 50
Base Weapon Speed: [0]
+100-140% Enhanced Damage (varies)
+ (1.25 Per Character Level) 1-123 To Maximum Damage (Based On Character Level)
5% Chance To Cast Level 5 Weaken On Striking
Requirements -25%
8% Life Stolen Per Hit
(Only Spawns In Patch 1.09 or later)
Pass on this one for the exact same reasons and this doesnâ€™t even have the IAS.

Bonehew $$, *** Ogre Axe Two-Hand Damage: (103-117) To (536-609) (319.5-363 Avg) Required Level: 64 Required Strength: 195 Required Dexterity: 75 Durability: 50 Base Weapon Speed: [0] +270-320% Enhanced Damage (varies) Level 14 Corpse Explosion (30 charges) Prevent Monster Heal 30% Increased Attack Speed 50% Chance To Cast Level 16 Bone Spear On Striking Socketed (2) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later) Finally, a decent damage pole arm. Watch out for the strength requirement. This may be too steep for mid level mercâ€™s. It always comes with 2 sockets, so no need to bother with the socket quest. This is a good place to invest some Shaelâ€™s or Amnâ€™s depending on what your other gear looks like. A worthy pole to help your merc in hell. The Reaper's Toll$$$$, **** Thresher Two-Hand Damage: (34-40) To (408-479) (221-259.5 Avg) Required Level: 75 Required Strength: 114 Required Dexterity: 89 Durability: 65 Base Weapon Speed: [-10] +190-240% Enhanced Damage (varies) Ignore Target's Defense Adds 4-44 Cold Damage 11-15% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies) 33% Deadly Strike 33% Chance To Cast Level 1 Decrepify On Striking Requirements -25% (Ladder Only) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later) This is one of my favorite poles â€“ probably just because I found a nice eth on early in ladder. That said, just about everyone likes this polearm, if youâ€™re on a budget the higher LL% and ED% will be out of your price range. Donâ€™t worry, the differences between a top of the line Reapers and a cheap one arenâ€™t that much. A great pole for hell, well worthy of a socket quest. Tomb Reaver$$$$, **** Cryptic Axe Two-Hand Damage: (99-125) To (450-570) (274.5-347.5 Avg) Required Level: 84 Required Strength: 165 Required Dexterity: 103 Durability: 65 Base Weapon Speed: [10] +200-280% Enhanced Damage (varies) +150-230% Damage To Undead (varies) +60% Increased Attack Speed +250-350 To Attack Rating Against Undead (varies) All Resistances +30-50 (varies) 10% Reanimate As: Returned* +10-14 Life After Each Kill (varies) +50-80% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items (varies) +4 To Light Radius Socketed (1-3) (varies) (Ladder Only) (Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later) This is arguably the best non-rune word pole there is, and its priced to match. So why are we talking about it? Because the 1 or 2 socket varieties can be had for cheap, and they are well worth it. Thatâ€™s right, this thing comes with a variable number of sockets. If you can get this at least you donâ€™t have to worry about using a quest. Stormspire$$$, ** Giant Thresher Two-Hand Damage: (100-140) To (285-399) (192.5-269.5 Avg) Required Level: 70 Required Strength: 188 Required Dexterity: 140 Base Weapon Speed: [-10] 150-250% Enhanced Damage (varies) Adds 1-237 Lightning Damage 2% Chance To Cast Level 20 Charged Bolt When Struck 5% Chance To Cast Level 5 Chain Lightning When Struck 30% Increased Attack Speed Lightning Resist +50% +10 To Strength Attacker Takes Lightning Damage of 27 Indestructible (Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later) This is one fast weapon, but thatâ€™s about all it has going for it. Iâ€™d rather have a bonhew. Better than nothing, but surprisingly for an elite unique item, Iâ€™ll pass on it all together. Not worth socketing and not really viable in hell Hwanin's Justice$, *
Bill
Damage: 42 To 159 (100.5 Avg)
Required Level: 28
Required Strength: 95
Base Weapon Speed: [0]
+200% Enhanced Damage
40% Increased Attack Speed
+330 To Attack Rating
Indestructible
10% Chance To Cast Level 3 Ice Blast On Striking
Included just for the sake of completeness. This is not a viable weapon in hell. It is quick, but the damage is too low, and you canâ€™t up it because itâ€™s a set item.

Letâ€™s look at the elite pole arms that weâ€™ll want to use for rune words.
Code:
 	             Damage	     Level Str  Dex  Range   Soc   Speed

Ogre Axe        28 to 145 (86.5 Avg) 45    195    75     3    3   [0]Normal
Colossus Voulge 17 to 165 (91 Avg)   48    210    55     3    4   [10]Slow
Thresher        12 to 141 (76.5 Avg) 53    152    118    2    5   [-10]Fast
Cryptic Axe     33 to 150 (91.5 Avg) 59    165    103    4    5   [10]Slow
Great Poleaxe   46 to 127 (86.5 Avg) 63    179    99     5    6   [0]Normal
Giant Thresher  40 to 114 (77 Avg)   66    188    140    5    6   [-10]Fast

Honor $$, *** 5 Socket Melee Weapons Amn + El + Ith + Tir + Sol +160% Enhanced Damage +9 To Minimum Damage +9 To Maximum Damage 25% Deadly Strike +250 To Attack Rating +1 to All Skills 7% Life Stolen Per Hit Replenish Life +10 +10 To Strength +1 To Light Radius +2 To Mana After Each Kill This will easily get you over 200 points of damage (average) in an elite pole. The runes are cheap too. The only thing missing is IAS. Still this will compare well to a Bonhew, Reapers Toll or Tomb Reaver. Not a bad weapon to go into hell with Strength$$$, ** 2 Socket Melee Weapons Amn + Tir 35% Enhanced Damage 25% Chance Of Crushing Blow 7% Life Stolen Per Hit +2 To Mana After Each Kill +20 To Strength +10 To Vitality Included for completes again. You wonâ€™t end up with much more than 100 points of damage (average) even in an elite pole arm. Thereâ€™s no IAS either, so Iâ€™ll pass in favor of something better. Still, it may get you through NM. Insight $$, **** 4 Socket Polearms/Staves Ral + Tir + Tal + Sol Level 10-17 Meditation Aura When Equipped (varies) +35% Faster Cast Rate +200-260% Enhanced Damage (varies) +9 To Minimum Damage 180-250% Bonus to Attack Rating (varies) Adds 5-30 Fire Damage +75 Poison Damage Over 5 Seconds +1-6 To Critical Strike (varies) +5 To All Attributes +2 To Mana After Each Kill 23% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items This is a great pole arm. You can expect to get about 300 points of damage (average) out of any elite pole arm. That alone will put you at the high end of what the uniques will do. But the main reason to use this is for the level 10-17 Meditation Aura. This will almost give your sorc unlimited mana. It even comes with some add MF as a bonus. Unless you just donâ€™t need the mana for some reason, this is the polearm for you. Even at levels above 90, youâ€™ll still see some mercâ€™s carrying this thing. Until/Unless you outgrow the need for mana, get one of these, you wonâ€™t regret it. Obedience$$$$, **** 5 Socket Polearms Hel + Ko + Thul + Eth + Fal 30% Chance To Cast Level 21 Enchant When You Kill An Enemy 40% Faster Hit Recovery +370% Enhanced Damage -25% Target Defense Adds 3-14 Cold Damage 3 Second Duration (Normal) -25% To Enemy Fire Resistance 40% Chance of Crushing Blow +200-300 Defense (varies) +10 To Strength +10 To Dexterity All Resistances +20-30 (varies) Requirements -20% This is my favorite weapon for mercs on a budget. None of the runes are expensive by themselves, but it does take a few mid level runes to make. If you can build this in an eth elite polearm, the damage will be godly. Itâ€™s not just the awesome ED% that make this the damage winner. The level 21 Enchant matched with -25% fire resistance, the -25% target defense, and the 40% Crushing Blow all help. Even the multiple high rune word poles canâ€™t match it for damage. To top it off we get extra defense, nice resistances and 40% Hit recovery. If you donâ€™t need the mana from insight, this is the pole to get. Spears There are three spears which should be interesting. None of them are expensive. Spear section courtesy of Indemaijinj Kelpie Snare$$, *** Fuscina Two-Hand Damage: (75-83) To (138-153) (106.5-118 Avg) Required Level: 33 Required Strength: 77 Required Dexterity: 25 Durability: 35 Base Weapon Speed: [0] +140-180% Enhanced Damage (varies) Adds 30-50 Damage Slows Target By 75% + (1.25 Per Character Level) 1-123 To Life (Based On Character Level) Fire Resist +50% +10 To Strength No leech and the slow speed is a problem, but the things this stick does to act bosses is plain cruel. If you can chill them as well they'll be utterly toothless (if they ever were that dangerous in the first place). The merc will be in trouble against massed regular monsters, however. If you do anything other than boss running this will need to be upgraded and the attack speed remedied. Hone Sundan $$, *** Yari Two-Hand Damage: (95-107) To (193-217) (144-162 Avg) Required Level: 37 Required Strength: 101 Base Weapon Speed: [0] Durability: 28 +160-200% Enhanced Damage (varies) Adds 20-40 Damage 45% Chance of Crushing Blow Repairs 1 Durability In 10 Seconds Socketed (3) Three sockets and Crushing Blow. Upgraded with two Shaels and an Amn this one will be good against bosses and anything else. Arguably Obedience will do what it does and more too, but if you are non-ladder this is one of the best things you can equip your merc with, especially if you find an ethereal one. Arioc's Needle$$$, ***
Hyperion Spear
Two-Hand Damage: (98-115) To (333-392) (215.5-253.5 Avg)
Required Level: 81
Required Strength: 155
Required Dexterity: 120
Base Weapon Speed: [-10]
+180-230% Enhanced Damage (varies)
+394 Poison Damage Over 10 Seconds
+30% Increased Attack Speed
+2-4 To All Skills (varies)
Ignore Target's Defense
(Only Spawns In Patch 1.10 or later)
Fast and very damaging with it's massive 50% Deadly Strike. The skills can even boost his auras for what it might be worth. The huge level requirement is a bit of a problem though.

Conclusion:
Hereâ€™s the top picks for decent, dirt cheap pole arms ranked in order.
Insight (Clear winner if you can use the aura)
Obediance (Best damage available)
Tomb Reaver (Good damage and 1-3 open sockets)
The Reaper's Toll (Good damage and 10-15% life leech)
Bonhew (Better than average damage and 2 open sockets)

5. ### MageChickDiabloii.Net Member

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Sample Merc Builds

For setting up some sample builds, weâ€™ll go back to looking at the various elements we need to consider.

1. Auraâ€™s
2. Life Leech (LL)
3. Max Resists
4. Defense / Damage Reduction (DR%)
5. Hit Recovery (FHR)
6. Increased Attack Speed (IAS)
7. Damage
8. MF

Weâ€™ll start by selecting one of the recommended poles, then weâ€™ll add some complimentary armor and helm. To complete it, weâ€™ll add sockets as needed to fill in any holes. You'll see how every build here uses the every element from above to cover all the bases.

Cheapest, workable Insight build I can think of, Ladder only
Insight Polearm (first 4os pole you find that your merc can wear)
Crow Caw (IAS and FHR)
Tal Helm (LL and Resist)

Good Insight, builds within our price range, Ladder only
Insight Polearm (Eth Great Poleaxe/Giant Thresher preferred)
Andyâ€™s Visage socketed Ral, (LL, IAS, +2 skills)
Rockstopper (resistance, FHR, socketed for FHR)
-or-
Insight Polearm (Eth Great Poleaxe/Giant Thresher preferred)
Andyâ€™s Visage socketed Ral, (LL, IAS, +2 skills)
Black Hades/Grizwalds (3os socketed for resists, FHR)

High damage builds, just above our price range, Ladder only
Obediance Polearm in Eth Great Poleaxe/Giant Thresher (Damage, FHR, Resists)
Andyâ€™s Visage socketed Ral, (LL, IAS, +2 skills)
Leviathon (Defense, DR%)
-or -
Obediance Polearm in Eth Great Poleaxe/Giant Thresher (Damage, FHR, Resists)
Vampire Gaze (LL, DR%)
Trechery (IAS, FHR)

Bonehew (2os socketed for IAS or LL)
Vampire Gaze (LL, DR%, socketed for FHR)
Durials shell (Resists, Canâ€™t be frozen, socketed for FHR)

6. ### FrostBurnDiabloii.Net Member

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Magnificient effort.

7. ### MageChickDiabloii.Net Member

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TY.

In retrospect I should have covered everything from cheap to $$. There's just not that much left so say for$$\$ Gear. A few runeword armors and poles. Maybe one more revision to include everything?

8. ### JokleDiabloii.Net Member

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Thank you, now I understand what to use for my merc instead of just putting radom stuff on him. This helped me out a lot.

9. ### DelreichDiabloii.Net Member

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That one seems a bit odd to me. Unless I've missed some easter egg where you can get Zaphod to tank for you... :tongue:

10. ### MageChickDiabloii.Net Member

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sure he'll tank - but I did give him too helms. do'oh. Lets make that

Insight
Andy's
Up'd Durial's Shell (Shael'd) or Smoke Armor (FHR and Resists)

11. ### lagalotDiabloii.Net Member

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Kudos for the time and effort.:thumbsup:
Beware the double-post.:wink:
Make it upd eth Duriels shell.:grin:

12. ### melianorD3 Wizard Moderator

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HAXXOR! rop:

Thanks alot for your effort MageChick :sunny:

13. ### poeptegelDiabloii.Net Member

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idd this is realy great!!!:laugh:

------------------\quote/---------------------
Before we get started talking about rune word armor and open sockets (os), I should mention that Tal+Thul+P Topaz+any plain armor will give you a random number of sockets in the armor. If you do this in an eth armor, youâ€™ll end up with the sockets and it will raise the base def on the item as well. This is a great trick when building merc armor. If you do the socket quest to get sockets on the armow, youâ€™ll always get the most number of sockets available.
-----------------\end quote/---------------------

Whats p? and whats eth armor?
thanks

14. ### MageChickDiabloii.Net Member

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P = Perfect (Perfect Topaz in this example)
Eth = Etheral

15. ### Dr Elmer JiggleDiabloii.Net Member

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The Blood crafting recipes are an easy way to get a mercenary armor and helmet that will last through Nightmare mode and maybe early Hell. It's not great, but it will tide you over until you get something better. It's especially useful when you're starting with nothing, like with an untwinked character or after a ladder reset. The guaranteed life steal is the key benefit, particularly if his weapon is Insight, which doesn't have any built in life steal.

Blood Helm:
Magic Helm/Casque/Armet + Ral Rune + Perfect Ruby + Any Jewel
(1-3)% Life Stolen Per Hit
+(10-20) To Life

Blood Body
Magic Plate Mail/Templar Coat/Hellforge Plate + Thul Rune + Perfect Ruby + Any Jewel
+ (1-3) Life Per Demon Kill
(1-3)% Life Stolen Per Hit
+(10-20) To Life

16. ### poeptegelDiabloii.Net Member

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thanks!:thumbsup:
i will try this when i am at home! rop: rop:

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I will try to make the Stone runeword, I hace Stealskull now, its pretty good just needs upping and want an Insight.

Maybe upping a Goldskin isnt that bad either if eth...

18. ### MassAssassinDiabloii.Net Member

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Re: Decent Cheap Merc Gear and Builds

Been using this guide for a little while, found out how to make a merc surive and I've learned just from the game, but seeing as it didn't get many responses I wanted you to see that I appreciated the detail and the hard work to a fantastic guide!

19. ### interloopDiabloii.Net Member

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Re: Decent Cheap Merc Gear and Builds

Agreed, excellent guide.

20. ### ddkknollDiabloii.Net Member

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Re: Decent Cheap Merc Gear and Builds

I right now have my merg using a 1 skill ark valor, reapers troll, and a 8 LL 15 DR gaze. In short-he sucks. Anyone know why?