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.