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Guardian Thant, reviver of iron maiden

Discussion in 'Single Player Forum' started by Maltatai, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. Maltatai

    Maltatai Diabloii.Net Member

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    Here is presented the moderately succesful guardian Thant specifying in attract and iron maiden in combination with revived monsters.

    I played the game on patch 1.14 with no mods and on 1 players setting through hell, clearing all areas.

    Thant is an old character like more or less all my Diablo II characters. He was and is supposed to combine disruptive cursing through attract and iron maiden with the summoning of revived monsters. Thant is originally one of the necromancers in Heroes of Might and Magic III where he specializes in a spell that revives your own undead troops, called "animate dead". The closest thing in Diablo II is revive, although revive bears more similarity with how "animate dead" was altered in the sequel HoMM IV, a game that despite several interesting novelties was disappointing.

    I had tried out skeletons on several occasions but never focused particularly in revive before. Likewise, I hadn't used iron maiden as a main curse since the early patches with far less overall physical resistances. Revive is generally as hyped as iron maiden is generally disdained. My own experiences didn't correspond with either sentiment, more on that later.

    Let's bore you all with some statistics of Thant, based on the endgame main setup with Duress armor;

    Life: 1045
    Mana: 268

    Strength: 79
    Dexterity: 73
    Vitality: 348
    Energy: 31

    Fire resistance: 75
    Cold resistance: 62
    Lightning resistance: 43
    Poison resistance: -25

    Skills (with equipment)

    25 Skeleton Mastery
    20 Golem Mastery
    7 Summon Resist
    25 Revive
    1 Iron Golem
    6 Prerequisite skills

    24 Iron Maiden
    14 Attract
    5 Prerequisite skills

    Thants equipment
    Grims Burning Dead Grim Scythe (socketed with a perfect skull). Is this necromantically stylish or what?
    Duress Breast Plate
    Thants Goblin Toe
    Thants Death Casque Tiara. That name on a summoner tiara!
    Laying of Hands Bramble Mitts. Found those late in the game.
    Chromatic Amulet/Hexing Amulet of Life Everlasting
    Crafted rings and belt with a bit of resistances and life and mana.

    Thants extra equipment
    Thants Heart Carver (socketed with a perfect skull)
    Golemlords Grim Wand
    Rhyme Bone Shield
    Prudence Hard Leather Armor


    Abhaya the rogues equipment
    Riphook with a rewarded socket and a Shael rune
    Treachery armor
    Rare circlet "Bramble Visage" with
    1-118 lightning damage
    9 to life
    damage reduced by 5

    Story
    The beginning of Thants career was fairly unremarkable but normal Duriel was quite funny. I focused on iron maiden early on, with the revived army growing in earnest from late nightmare I think. Thant hurried through nightmare and being the summoner he is the minions did the job well enough even without any noteworthy help from their master. Consequently Thants equipment was a joke. When entering Hell that had become painfully apparent. While revived monsters work well in higher difficulties since their strength are proportional to the enemies, getting those corpses to revive is another matter.

    Some worthless town guard whose insignificant name I have forgotten accompanied Thant, wielding a lackluster stick with not very great effect at all and proving as vulnerable as they always are. He probably emitted a might aura or something as unsubtle. Thant made it through most of Act I, with some areas skipped, and possibly into Act II until I lost interest in him totally due to the overall lack of effectiveness and style.

    I picked up the character years later and managed to rethink and rearm him into something resembling fun. That comeback is really the best thing with Thants career. The countess had been very kind and given up a Mal rune. Into a socket it went with a Tir rune and Thant had a prudent defense. With a little compromising he could use an amulet of life everlasting with around 20 PDR without dropping too much of resistances, but I had a chromatic amulet for elemental areas too. Out with the garbage (town guard) and in with fresh meat...that shoots bloody arrows from her Riphook. Just as with Galthran earlier, a rogue was the ideal choice as teammate. I had had some misgivings about a rogue with no real tank but Abhaya disproved them all. She did extremely well getting the first corpses and with the main skills nearly maxed, Thant had started to put spare points into golem mastery to use an iron golem since he had come across a few fancy items. Over time that golem grew to respectable strength indeed. Thant wielded the Heart Carver and a Rhyme bone shield from nightmare but in hell I switched to a skill boosting and very grim burning grim scythe. Thant had also found the Peasant Crown war hat, later replacing his magic finding crown to complete his grim reaper look.

    To get a feeling for the new wardrobe and get level with the levels I replayed many parts of Act I. At one time I mistook Flavie for Abhaya and panicked when she got surrounded by nasty corrupted rogues! The smith was of course very comical to curse and Andariel could do fairly serious damage to herself too, but her poison clouds ate up the army so much that it was an even, if not too dangerous, battle.

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    Act II was troublesome on occasion when the order of battle was disrupted and when most of the army disappeared when having to advance. Leapers are a pest. Thant had a teleporting amulet but it was of course not a desirable solution as it meant sacrificing a lot of defensive strength. Hell Duriel, the obvious target for this kind of build, did certainly hurt himself... Thants smug laughter echoed in Tal Rashas chamber.

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    Act III greeted the party with two very welcome pieces of equipment. First and most important was a Lem rune in the jungle, meaning treacherous clothing for Abhaya, and Thant should I bother to switch to it, and thus about double the damage for her! She had been using a Duress armor and I contemplated switching between Duress and Treachery to combine venom and cold damage and crushing blow, but the speed of Treachery proved so superior, or so it seemed to me, that I rarely bothered. Thant however donned his old Duress plate from time to time when it seemed safe. Secondly, a hexing amulet of life everlasting.

    As is well known, armies are no guarantee against lightning. True enough, Thant stepped into a damp cellar room with a very unsettling aura and lightning bolts flying out of it. That was not a comfortable part of the game. Far more hilarious were the flayer hordes, who both hit hard, are sensitive to their own damage and can be gathered in myriads with attract. Extremely effective, but I sorely missed some sort of area damage skill to add tot he mess. Revived armies are great against the temple stair traps, but you have to be very careful still, since they engage erratically and it is entirely possible to be swarmed from all sides. Icehawk Riftwing had conviction too, which was very scary. That crusty old bat killed one of my first hardcore characters to ever make it to nightmare, possibly the first, a hybrid Amazon that died when her idiot mercenary mage shot the bat and triggered the explosion prematurely. I consequently hate Icehawk Riftwing, contrasting to for example Beetleburst who can often be more dangerous but hasn't managed to inconvenience me seriously and which/who I quite like.

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    Hell held some numbingly tough demons but nothing was extremely dangerous until the Chaos Sanctuary. Burning souls caused a tense situation but there were none with one-hit-deed attributes at least and Thant dodged them reasonably well. Hephasto seemed to be a bit off. Not only did his workforce start brawling with each other, he managed to punch his thumbs every time he tried to nail something with his hammer. How curious.

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    Contrasting to his dim-witted sentinels, Diablo lived up to his title.

    The battle started reasonably well. Thant had a sizeable army and had managed to get it into position. Diablos spells washed over them but the monsters endured surprisingly well. What they did not do well was deal damage to him. Even with the superior stats compared to skeletons, the revived were so slow and sluggish and bulky that they just chipped at the lord of terror. I sadly lacked any urdars, which would have been useful here. Diablo stood his ground and soon the time was up and Thants army withered into piles of dust. This was going to be a long affair but act bosses don't regenerate... Thant went back to the flayer jungle to easily gather a second army. That took longer than expected but eventually he was back with his new host...only to find out that act bosses do regenerate their health when you travel to another act. Daaaaamn.

    Diablo swatted the flayers aside and roasted them with his spells. The iron golem melted and Thant ran out of spare weapons. Okay, no army. Back to the basics against overgrown bullies. Golems and iron maiden. I can do this all day.

    I can not do this all day! Diablo decided that the blood and clay golems were uninteresting bores not even worthy of sneezing at and went after Thant and Abhaya all the time. Abhaya lost health insanely fast and died. The despairing Thant engaged Diablo with his scythe, absent any weakening curse or bone armor. Smart... He could withstand a hit but possibly not two, and that discounting any spells. This was the scariest boss battle I have had in years in the game. As Thants gold was running out I grabbed the Riphook from Abhaya so he could at least fire uselessly instead of strike uselessly. And so, as Thant switched weapon, Diablo shifted his priorities to the golems. In the misfortunes of the moment I had completely forgotten how the lord of terror goes after the party members with the biggest and baddest sticks. The danger was far from over, and it took an eternity of buying potions and running around dodging spells and recasting golems, but at long last Thant survived Diablo. I resist the word vanquished in this case as it hardly feels appropriate.

    But then, that reward from the vizier...

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    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
  2. Maltatai

    Maltatai Diabloii.Net Member

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    Act V was obviously easier (what could have been harder?) but far from safe. Ranged enemies abound and attempt to snipe the valiant commander bravely leading his spirited army from the back. Revived armies of archers and most of all succubi are the most effective, especially the succubi. Unfortunately that means that enemy packs are also very effective and in the middle of a firefight it is not so easy to see whose blood stars are where. Absolute chaos.

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    Attract was vital to take the heat (ah! the majestic pun!) of burning dead archers off Thant.

    Who designed these stupid wall things? So ugly and pointless. Thant teleported liberally to avoid the depressing monuments to anti-human architectural styles. Like, say, all the new buildings in central Stockholm.

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    The ancients didn't go as I had hoped. I thought that without the area spell wrecking of an act boss the grumpy old wise guys would be easy prey to the revived army. As it turned out, the ancients spawned with nasty curses and auras some five or six times at first, costing me valuable time. Once I had a more manageable trio, it turned out that they could easily outlast the confused and ineffective revives. The army did some damage, but not nearly enough to decide the battle. Someone that did that however, was Abhaya. Diablo could catch her with his spells but the oldtimers chased her and Thant in vain, being irritating and irritated by the elusive archery. This was actually a very nice surprise in its own way; no matter the character build you can count on beating at least weaker spawns of the ancients with just a rogue and slowing gear, with lots of time and patience. Thant did engage them at times but his hit rate is miserable, even with the defense reduction from the scythe. Korlic was especially troublesome with his leaping after Thant. Thant had to retreat to avoid the leap attack and Abhaya couldn't fire while Korlic was airborne. Once Thant was relocating, Abhaya usually followed, further impeding her shooting.

    Had I had more patience, it would probably had made a big difference to go hunting for trees, minotaurs or urdars to beat up the ancients but I was getting a bit too tired of the revived shortcomings to try it out.

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    The Worldstone Keep held a nasty populace in the form of black souls, vipers and sirens among others. Tense and dangerous. Thant was nearly slain by lightning bolts. Baals waves were slow but manageable. The first three were rather easy, even the minion-eating hydras didn't stop Thants army. By the end, especially against Lister, attrition had taken its toll. The few remnants in the end just stood stunned while Abhayas arrows scratched them to oblivion.

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    The duel with Baal was utterly unsatisfying and dangerous but not quite so dangerous as that against Diablo. Thant teleported to Baal with a full army, ran past him to make his monsters follow...and watched Baal effortlessly wave them back and calmly walk away while the morons stood on the spot like a confused town guard. Even when they broke through the barrages of hoarfosts, the damage was negligible. Fires, frost and appendages took a huge toll on Thants life.

    It was as usual Abhaya that won the day, now at a slugs pace. Baal was also attracted to the scythe and Thant could at one instance stand behind a pillar and distract Baal by alternating between the scythe and the wand switch setup. I did engage Baal but it was really little more than a costly distraction to keep his attention off the rogue. In the end he, obviously since this is a guardian thread, bled out and threw up all the matrix robots he had eaten over the years.

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    Thants colleague Galthran had raised Baal as a skeleton. Thants would not allow himself to be outdone and promptly raised himself a new revived minion. The minions first task was to use his tentacles to break off one of the pillars and smash Baals remains to a pulp under it for good measure.

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    Conclusion


    As you probably have guessed, I am not altogether content with how this character turned out. I did manage to bring Thant back from premature retirement in a good way but failed to turn him into a really effective character. Thinking back, I think most of my failure is connected to my misconception that revives can be the dependable backbone of an army and a strategy in the manner skeletons can, which is not the case. Secondly, since I was blinded by the prejudice "revives are such a strong skill that guardianing a reviving summoner is no special feat" I failed to take into account how restricted Thant actually was by the theme and style choices.

    This is a niche build. Revives are a good complement to many skills and at times they are mighty, like when you command armies of succubi and can teleport. Attract and iron maiden is also very good at times. The problem is that both of these concepts work best with something else to back them. The curses of Thant were limited to iron maiden, amplify damage and attract. Adding decrepify would obviously have made things significantly easier at times. Revives need amplify damage to work really well but Thants theme put iron maiden in that place and thus it is not a particularly effective combination. Iron maiden would benefit a lot from poison nova to prevent regeneration for a large group attacking itself. A revived army is not necessary to make the curse work well, a recasted golem is quite enough. Attract is however superb with revives since it summons more monsters to your army, but a simple one point bone wall will do the trick as well.

    This is a themed build too. Thants equipment with the menacing scythe is not optimal for a summoner but I did not pay sufficient attention to build him into a meleer, which would have been needed. The Heart Carver was a good, and cool, start but the rest of his stuff is not enough to give the enduring power needed to go into melee. This is precisely the same mistake I did with Skadlotta the cold tree sorceress. Thant would have required a slowing weapon and Cleglaws gloves, along with Hsarus' set pieces or angelic jewelry or something else with scaling attack rating.

    Abhaya was superb and if that has not sunk in by now the reason Thant beat the game. She was very safe behind the brain dead minions and died very rarely, possibly only against Diablo.

    I will try out revives on more characters but not lean so heavily on them.

    Well, Duriel was at least thoroughly tormented which is the builds main goal.

    Over and out [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
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  3. PhineasB

    PhineasB Diabloii.Net Member

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    Congrats on the Guardian! Even though it sounds like you were a bit disappointed, it is quite a feat to Guardian that build. And lots of patience, to which I can relate based on my experience with the Druid in the Overburdened tournament.
     
  4. Albatross

    Albatross Diabloii.Net Member

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    Congrats, enjoyed the nicely framed images with captions.

    I share your opinion on HoMM III/IV, it's a shame 3DO ran out of money and steam. I actually tried playing the campaign a few months ago because many people claim the story is great, but the gameplay is just atrocious which made me give up after a few missions.
     
  5. jonnyphive

    jonnyphive Diabloii.Net Member

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    Congrats! I feel like I haven't seen a Revive-based summoner in ages so this was a refreshing and high-quality read (as usual with your write-ups). Thanks for sharing!
     
  6. Pijus

    Pijus Diabloii.Net Member

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    How effective was Iron Maiden? On a skeleton necromancer I remember using Edge bow + amp damage, and that was really effective. I used to for maggot lair.

    Also, I happen to love Heroes 4 over all the other games. I bought heroes 3 on GoG, and it's just not nearly as fun for me.
     
  7. Maltatai

    Maltatai Diabloii.Net Member

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    @PhineasB
    Thanks! Yes, Thant was testing his creators patience a lot.

    @Albatross
    Thanks! Nice to know the images are appreciated. I have a set of frames for each class ready to spice up character threads, now I just need to guardian more characters so I can use those...

    @jonnyphive
    Thanks for commenting!

    @Pijus
    Good question. One must remember that the skill gets a serious damage bonus in hilly terrain, against monsters with 666 life and if the necromancer is called Eddie. A Rhyme shield should not be used if it is the Rhyme of an ancient mariner. These are important factors in the equation.:confused:
    .
    .
    .
    OK, sense and sanity coming back on line. Iron maiden is in my experience effective against a fifth or a quarter of the enemies. I consider it good enough for an investment of 20 skill points. Iron maiden requires targets that are energetic melee attackers and sensitive to physical damage. Flayers, corrupted rogues and blunderbores are some examples.

    Most monsters are affected by the curse of course, but in many cases you will be better off with amplify damage or something, so it should not be expected to be an effective solution to all or the majority of the enemies. With this in mind I think many would find iron maiden, and thorns, to be useful additions to their character builds.


    Nice to see more fans of the HoMM universe! I can actually quite understand Pijus sentiment too - it must feel empty and restricted to suddenly lose the liberal hero recruitment and sneaky all-hero raiding options when you move from IV to III.

    Now, I am lastly seriously disappointed in nobody commenting on the revived last flying minion! Here I was hoping to be able to recreate at least a little bit of the fun when Thants colleague raised Baal as his butler. What must a poor writer do to confuse his fellow forumites these days... :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  8. Albatross

    Albatross Diabloii.Net Member

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    I was afraid to ask actually, is that really some sort of undead Tyrael abomination standing next to you? :D I had no idea such foul practices are possible.
     
  9. zemaj

    zemaj Diabloii.Net Member

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    I'm going to go out on a limb and say its ghost-Izual shopped over Tyreal. ;)
     
  10. maxicek

    maxicek Moderator Single Player

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    Interesting character, congratulations. Epic write up and love the comments in the screenshots.
     

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