My Bowazon Cyrene, plus Windforce vs. Faith in-depth comparison

Naturallog

Diabloii.Net Member
The Bowazon has been my favorite build to play since soon after I first installed D2. Still, I held off building my first single player Bowazon until I could piece together a solid set of gear for her. Not wanting to build a "perfect" gear set only to discover I based it around the wrong weapon, I first made a detailed comparison between Faith and Windforce, the two leading Bowazon weapons. There are some comparisons already posted in these forums, however none was detailed enough to satisfy me. My new Amazon, Cyrene, is the final result of my efforts. If you just want to know what the best gear setup is, I have a TL;DR summary at the bottom.

No matter which main weapon you choose, Faith is required for its Fanatacism aura, which allows a Bowazon to reach the 7fpa breakpoint for Multishot. This is essential for a max DPS build, since Multishot is our single best skill for clearing out big areas all at once. The question we face is to wield Faith ourselves, or give it to our merc? To answer this, I will compare the two setups assuming realistic end-game stats for a Bowazon. I'll also compare my theoretical results to actual numbers taken from my Bowazon at level 85.

For both the Windforce and Faith Bowazon setups, I will assume +55 damage from gear (War Travelers = +20 avg, 7x +10 max GCs = +70 max = +35 avg). I will also assume 400 dex = +400% ED and Fortitude armor = +300% ED. I also assume the use of Laying of Hands gloves = +350% ED vs Demons and Raven Frost = +15-45 cold damage = +30 avg cold damage. A 45% IAS helm is needed for the Faith GMB to reach 7fpa, however I didn't include any assumptions about what IAS jewels are used. Some players may socket +damage or +%ED which will affect the results.

For the Faith setup, I am assuming a minimum of level 13 Fanatacism (won't reach 7fpa Multi with level 12) in a GMB (Since the GMB hits the same breakpoints as the Mat bow with level 13+ Fanatacism there is no reason to use Mat), an Act 2 merc with level 18-22 Might aura (up to +4 skills from gear) and a Pride polearm, level 16-20 Concentration aura. For the Windforce setup, I am assuming level 95 (a pretty high baseline to favor Windforce's damage) an Act 1 merc with a Faith bow, level 12-15 Fanatacism aura.

Calculations are as follows:
(avg weapon damage + additional damage)(1 + %ED/100) + elemental damage
%ED includes 400% from Dex, 300% from Fortitude, and all active auras.
Elemental damage includes +30 cold damage from Raven Frost plus 120 fire damage from Faith (for Faith GMB calculations only).
All results are truncated.

Base damage of each weapon

Windforce, assuming level 95 and socketed ohm: 40-568 = 304 avg
Faith GMB: 60-309 = 184.5 avg

Faith GMB, lvl 13 Fanatacism, lvl 18 Might, lvl 16 Pride (worst case)
(184.5 + 55)(1 + 4.00 + 3.00 + 2.1 + 2.85 + 2.54) + 30 + 120 = 3,859
vs. Demons
(184.5 + 55)(1 + 4.00 + 3.00 + 2.1 + 2.85 + 2.54 + 3.5) + 30 + 120 = 4,698

Faith GMB, lvl 15 Fanatacism, lvl 22 Might, lvl 20 Pride (best case)
(184.5 + 55)(1 + 4.00 + 3.00 + 2.5 + 3.45 + 2.**) + 30 + 120 = 4,180
vs. Demons
(184.5 + 55)(1 + 4.00 + 3.00 + 2.5 + 3.45 + 2.** + 3.5) + 30 + 120 = 5,019

Windforce lvl 95 (ohm), lvl 15 Fanatacism (best case)
(304 + 55)(1 + 4.00 + 3.00 + 1.44) + 30 = 3,418
vs. Demons
(304 + 55)(1 + 4.00 + 3.00 + 1.44 + 3.5) + 30 = 4,675

My actual average damage when level 85 with 384 Dex, level 14 Fanatacism, level 19 Pride, a Might merc with Andy's Visage, and exactly +70 max damage from charms (I shuffled charms a bit to match my assumed value, I really run with +49 max damage) was 4,071. This is just short of the 4,180 of my best case Faith GMB calculation, and confirms these calculations closely mirror actual in-game results.

As we can see, even at level 95 with a socketed Ohm, Windforce's damage against non-Demons is 11.4% less than a worst case Faith GMB. Against Demons, the Windforce is roughly equal to a worst case Faith GMB, and 6.9% less than a best case Faith GMB. These numbers favor Faith slightly, however they can change depending on your exact gear. More importantly, +%ED favors Windforce damage while +damage favors Faith GMB damage. So a player putting all their points in Dex (500 or more total) along with socketing +%ED/IAS jewels in their helm will favor Windforce while a player putting fewer points in Dex (Hardcore maybe) and socketing +damage/IAS jewels will favor Faith.

Overall, these differences are not enough to bump Windforce up to parity with a best case Faith GMB. It takes a whopping 638% ED to increase Windforce's non-Demon damage to Faith's levels. This is clearly impossible. For Windforce to equal a Faith GMB's damage to Demons, it still takes 288% ED. This could be possible with excellent jewels and a full Dex build, but would still fall short on non-demons.

Raw damage is not the only consideration, however. Each bow has its own unique stats. Applicable damage stats are listed below (ignoring the 120 fire damage, which was accounted for in my calculations already).

Faith
+1-2 All Skills
Ignore Target's Defense
+300% Attack Rating
+75% Damage to Undead
+50 Attack Rating Against Undead
+15 All Resistances
+10% Reanimate as: Returned

Windforce
+20% Increased Attack Speed
+6-8% Mana Stolen Per Hit
+10 Strength
+5 Dexterity
Knockback

Windforce's 20% IAS gives us some gear options. We can swap our 45 IAS helm for Andy's Visage or Stealskull, but we would lose two potential damage or resist jewels for not many useful stats. We could swap our amulet for Atma's Scarab, which actually looks like a great idea. Amplify Damage doubles our physical damage (or more than doubles it against enemies with physical damage reduction). However the 5% chance to cast is pretty low in practice, and only the middle two arrows of Multishot carry the chance to cast. It's good against bosses, but we lose the 20% run speed we would get from Cat's Eye (important because we lack Enigma) which in practice slows our run times down more than Amplify Damage speeds them up. The best choice is swapping our belt to Razortail, giving us 100% pierce and other nice stats.

As for the rest of Windforce's stats, the mana steal does loosen up our need for a dual leech ring and allow us to use one with just life leech. This should give us an easier time finding a ring with good stats, but this likely helps our resists and life rather than damage. The stats on Windforce are cancelled out by its higher strength requirement, so in practice WF actually costs you some Dex vs. a GMB. The knockback might seem useful, however in practice it's only carried by the middle two Multishot arrows, and honestly very few things live long enough to reach my Amazon even without knockback. Still, some people like it.

Faith gives us a whopping 300% AR along with Ignore Target's Defense. This not only saves us talent points by making Penetrate irrelevant (Cyrene has over 13k AR with one point in it) but also ensures our chance to hit will be better than or equal to Windforce no matter how many points in Penetrate the Windforce wielding Zon has. In my opinion, the huge AR boost alone outweighs all of Windforce's stats, other than possibly the 20% IAS giving some gear flexibility. Along with ITD, it's very useful in Chaos Sanctuary where high AR is needed.

Faith's +skills (and up to +3 bow skills from the GMB) are a slight help, but since physical damage Bowazons don't really benefit much from +skills this mostly frees up points for us to spend elsewhere. Similarly, the damage and AR vs Undead aren't much of a help. The +15 to all resistances is handy on this build, which struggles with low resistances due to gear choices. I didn't think the 10% chance to reanimate would be much use, but after using Faith for a while I've come to enjoy it. The random skeletons you produce add an extra layer of cannon fodder in front of your fragile Zon, and you won't see them much at all if you give the bow to your merc.

Overall I find Faith's bonuses to be more useful than Windforce's. There is some room to debate the utility of 20% IAS or knockback, but overall Faith just kills it with ITD, huge AR, resists, and reanimate. When combined with the edge in raw damage Faith enjoys, I think this decision is easy. Weapon choice: Faith GMB.

Other Gear

Helm: We need 45% IAS out of our helm, so our choices are 3 15IAS jewels in a 3os helm or a M'avina's Diadem with one 15IAS jewel. Since M'avina's helm has no useful damage stats, I use a Tiara gemmed with one 28%ED/15IAS, one [email protected]/15IAS, and one +24LR/15IAS. The Tiara is for style points, and the resist jewels help me reach acceptable resistance levels.

Body Armor: Fortitude, the 300% ED bonus can't be beat. Mine is rolled in a 15% ED superior Wire Fleece (I repair with Rals, it's super expensive).

Gloves: Laying of Hands. 20% IAS, 50 FR, and 350% damage to Demons, these cannot be beat.

Belt: Two choices of 10% IAS belt. Goldwrap is good for MF, but Nosferatu's Coil gives life leech and slows target. Cyrene uses Goldwrap because I have not found Nosferatu's yet. If we go with Windforce, the best Bowazon belt is Razortail. +10 max damage, +15 Dex, and 33% chance to pierce. This lets us reach 100% pierce with only level 9 Pierce (or 99% with level 8).

Boots: A lot of people recommend Gore Riders, but I would never use them over War Travelers. The deadly strike on Gores only applies to attacks that don't critically strike, so it's hugely devalued. Meanwhile the open wounds and crushing blow only apply on the middle two arrows of Multishot, by far my most used ability. Crushing blow is also less effective for ranged attacks than melee, so its effect on bosses is reduced. War Travelers give us up to 50% MF, +20 average damage (hugely beneficial to a Bowazon), and +10 Str/Vit.

Amulet: Cat's Eye. We need 20% IAS from our amulet. Since +skills don't mean much and deadly strike is devalued by the Critical Strike skill, Highlord's Wrath is a poor choice. The Dex and run speed from Cat's Eye make it ideal for our Enigma-less bow build.

Rings: 20 Dex Raven Frost and a dual leech crafted Blood ring. Since we only need a few % life and mana leech to keep our blue and red orbs full, pretty much any leech values are fine. Get a ring with good life and resistances. Cyrene is using a mediocre rare now because the Blood ring I want to use requires level 96. If using Nosferatu's Coil over Goldwrap, only mana leech is needed.

Weapon swap: I don't find CtA too useful since Cyrene is not HC, but if your zon is HC I would definitely use CtA and Lidless. Otherwise, a Harmony bow gives a nice Vigor aura for getting around without Enigma.

Mercenary Gear

Weapon: Pride. Some people will say Reaper's Toll is useful for the Decrepify, however in my experience the merc doesn't hit very many enemies since Multishot kills from so far away and we can't move our Merc around because we aren't using Enigma. Pride's aura is useful even when your merc is running along trying to find something to hit. Consider a Reaper's Toll for high player count Chaos Sanctuary to help with Diablo and the many tough boss packs.

Helm: Andy's Visage, socketed with Ral or +FR/15IAS jewel. The IAS, life leech, and +2 skills (better Might aura) make this helm a winner.

Body Armor: Chains of Honor or Fortitude in an eth bugged armor. CoA has decent defense, +2 skills, life leech, +200% damage to Demons, and strong resists. Fortitude offers +300% ED, resists, and huge defense.

In summary:
Faith in a GMB is the highest damage bow.
Full gear setup:
Weapon 1: Faith GMB
Weapon 2: CtA/Lidless or Harmony
Helm: 3os helm socketed with 3x 15IAS jewels with the best mods you can find.
Body Armor: Fortitude
Gloves: Laying of Hands
Belt: Nosferatu's Coil or Goldwrap
Boots: War Traveler
Amulet: Cat's Eye
Ring1: Raven Frost
Ring2: Dual leech ring, preferably Blood crafted.

Merc gear:
Weapon: Pride
Helm: Andy's Visage
Body Armor: Chains of Honor or Fortitude
 
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Naturallog

Diabloii.Net Member
Skills and Stats

Since Dex gives 1% ED and 5 AR per point, we want as much Dex as possible. That means we want only enough Str to equip gear, no Energy, and enough Vit that we feel safe. I personally chose 75 base Vit before gear. Hardcore builds might want more Vit, and many players choose to ignore Vit entirely to squeeze out all the damage they can. I have 101 base Str before gear (111 with gear to equip a Wire Fleece). All the rest will be put into Dex.

Necessary Skills

Multishot- With excellent gear, Multishot outshines all other bow skills for quickly clearing out entire rooms of enemies. Each point increases Multishot's mana cost and adds an arrow. Multishot shouldn't be maxed, but instead left at a level where the number of arrows is high enough for good coverage and the mana cost is still reasonable. I chose level 18, but I find anything past level 15 works about the same. I just like a few more arrows.

Strafe- Not as useful as Multishot, but still good for some things. Very useful when leveling up, and better damage against tightly packed groups. Best in narrow corridors where the enemies are lined up. The minimum number of arrows fired starts at 2 and increases by one every four levels of Strafe, so for best results on small groups I prefer level 16 or 20 Strafe. I don't use it too often though, so I left it at 16.

Critical Strike- Chance to double your damage. Very useful, but the additional chance per point invested drops off rapidly by level 15 or so. Still, it's not a bad skill to max anyway.

Pierce- Chance for your arrows to keep going after hitting an enemy. Excellent skill, should be maxed unless using Razortail. If Razortail is used, go for a max of level 8 (99% pierce) or 9 (100% pierce).

Other Skills

Magic Arrow- Very underrated skill, in my opinion. Kills physical immunes without costing any mana. Also great on leech immune bosses. Magic immunes aren't very common so you'll rarely encounter anything Magic Arrow isn't effective on. Needs to be at least level 15 to be effective against physical immunes, but I prefer to max it.

Freezing Arrow- Can be used to kill physical immunes. Should be maxed or not taken at all. Holds enemies in place for easy kills. Mana intensive, will require blue potions.

Immolation Arrow- Can be used to kill physical immunes. Should be maxed or not taken at all. Mana intensive, will require blue potions.

Guided Arrow- Useful against bosses. Always hits, but can be blocked. Mana cost goes down with each level. Additional points aren't necessary for damage, but will help your mana last longer against leech immune bosses.

Valkyrie- Will attract attention away from your Zon, keeping you a little safer. Not much damage, but pretty durable except against act bosses. Needs to be at least level 15 or so to be durable, but I prefer to max it.

Decoy- A stationary Valkyrie. Can be useful, especially when leveling. Hard points in Decoy increase your Valkyrie's resists. I prefer taking it only as a pre-req to Valkyrie, but extra points could be spent here.

Penetrate- 10% AR per level. Not very useful to Faith wielders, since their AR will already be sky high without it. Windforce users might desire additional points.

Dodge/Avoid/Evade- Makes your Zon a little safer. Not a bad place to dump extra points. You can get locked in the dodge animation though, which is annoying and possibly fatal.
 
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krischan

Europe Trade Moderator
Belt: Three choices of 10% IAS belt. Goldwrap is good for MF, Nosferatu's Coil gives life leech and slows target, but the king of Bowazon belts is Razortail. +10 max damage, +15 Dex, and 33% chance to pierce. This lets us reach 100% pierce with only level 9 Pierce (or 99% with level 8).
Razortail has no IAS. That means, your zon has just 85%IAS (tiara, LoH, Cat's Eye), but you need 92-95% for 7 fpa on everything but strafe, with L13-15 fanaticism. That means, it's either Razortail or 95% IAS. If you choose Razortail, 48+% IAS are enough. In chat case, I would also replace Cat's Eye with Atma's, so you are better prepared for physical immunes (magic arrow is still excellent versus tough or unbreakable PIs), and the tiara with a Giant Skull with a 30% IAS socketing, so you have knockback as well. Besides, 8 fpa with knockback and 100% pierce ais probably better than 7 fpa without it.

Boots: A lot of people recommend Gore Riders, but I would never use them over War Travelers. The deadly strike on Gores only applies to attacks that don't critically strike, so it's hugely devalued. Meanwhile the open wounds and crushing blow only apply on the middle two arrows of Multishot, by far my most used ability. Crushing blow is also less effective for ranged attacks than melee, so its effect on bosses is reduced. War Travelers give us up to 50% MF, +20 average damage (hugely beneficial to a Bowazon), and +10 Str/Vit.
Yes, CB isn't that useful, but I'm usually improving or evening out resists here with Natalya's or good rare ones.

Mercenary Gear
The merc of my bowazon is dead most of the time except when being in the Pits, so he just has Obedience, Andy's+Ral and Treachery (or even just Griswold's + IAS jewels).

Multishot- With excellent gear, Multishot outshines all other bow skills for quickly clearing out entire rooms of enemies.

Strafe- Not as useful as Multishot, but still good for some things.
I disagree, but it's certainly a matter of where you are going to with your bowazon.

For maximum speed multishot, your Faith zon will have no knockback, less means versus physical immunes and - very bad - no 100% piercing.

With strafe, it would be enough to have 20% IAS which come from LoH and even L12 fanaticism would be good enough. That means, you have other of choices regarding the helm, amulet and belt. I'm usually choosing a Giant Skull (knockback) Atma's Scarab (ctc Amp) and Razortail (piercing). I would still try to have enough for 8 fpa with all the other skills, see above.

Mutlishot is useful when being under attack by too many enemies or when dodge or evade is triggered too often (which screws up strafe). I'm happy with 10 arrows.

Critical Strike- Chance to double your damage. Very useful, but the additional chance per point invested drops off rapidly by level 15 or so. Still, it's not a bad skill to max anyway.
I think it's better to stop when further skill points increase the chance for a crit by just 1%.

Pierce- Chance for your arrows to keep going after hitting an enemy. Excellent skill, and when combined with 33% pierce from Razortail allows you to reach 100% chance to pierce. Of course going past 100% is useless, so stop at level 9. Or level 8 for 99% chance to pierce.
Reaching these 99 or 100% need Razortail, a belt which you cannot choose if you want 7FPA with multishot.

Magic Arrow- Very underrated skill, in my opinion. Kills physical immunes without costing any mana. Also great on leech immune bosses. Magic immunes aren't very common so you'll rarely encounter anything Magic Arrow isn't effective on. Needs to be at least level 15 to be effective against physical immunes, but I prefer to max it.
It also doesn't need any arrows. Once I forgot to refill stocks before fighting the Ancients and when I ran out of arrows, I had to kill them with magic arrows. I wouldn't max it, however. All you need is reducing the mana consumption to less than you replenish. Its AR bonus is bugged BTW, it's not applied.

Freezing Arrow- Can be used to kill physical immunes. Should be maxed or not taken at all. Holds enemies in place for easy kills. Mana intensive, will require blue potions.
It should receive 1 point in any case. It freezes enemies which is very useful in certain situations. I wouldn't max it for a build like this, however.

Immolation Arrow- Can be used to kill physical immunes. Should be maxed or not taken at all. Mana intensive, will require blue potions.
For me, it's no points.

Guided Arrow- Useful against bosses. Always hits, but can be blocked. Mana cost goes down with each level. Additional points aren't necessary for damage, but will help your mana last longer against leech immune bosses.
I agree. Remaining points are going into here for me. That's what I'm using versus Diablo.

Valkyrie- Will attract attention away from your Zon, keeping you a little safer. Not much damage, but pretty durable except against act bosses. Needs to be at least level 15 or so to be durable, but I prefer to max it.
The same here.

Decoy- A stationary Valkyrie. Can be useful, especially when leveling. Hard points in Decoy increase your Valkyrie's resists. I prefer taking it only as a pre-req to Valkyrie, but extra points could be spent here.
One point is enough for me.

Penetrate- 10% AR per level. Not very useful to Faith wielders, since their AR will already be sky high without it. Windforce users might desire additional points.
I'm maxing it when having no ITD.

Dodge/Avoid/Evade- Makes your Zon a little safer. Not a bad place to dump extra points. You can get locked in the dodge animation though, which is annoying and possibly fatal.
For strafe, it's even more problematic. Triggering dodge or evade causes following strafe shots to miss, just as if being hit.

With Faith, you could also make a hybrid and maximize lightning fury while making less investments into secondary skills.
 

Gripphon

Diabloii.Net Member
Great comparisons there.

I have always valued Mat bow higher than GMB because I don't need 45 IAS helm (meaning more options) and also GMB pretty much puts kabash to Razortail aka 100% pierce which I don't like, so I thought I'd rather have 100% pierce and more flexible helm with 7 fpa and slightly lower damage than to go GMB and to sacrifice something. Also Mat bow makes it easier to actually try Icezon (without an Ice). Overall, concluded I prefer Mat bow as best bow for amazon in general, but GMB does offer higher dps, but much more restricted gear. It is more suitable for strafe users, I prefer to use multishot more to my advantage.
 

Naturallog

Diabloii.Net Member
Razortail has no IAS. That means, your zon has just 85%IAS (tiara, LoH, Cat's Eye), but you need 92-95% for 7 fpa on everything but strafe, with L13-15 fanaticism. That means, it's either Razortail or 95% IAS. If you choose Razortail, 48+% IAS are enough. In chat case, I would also replace Cat's Eye with Atma's, so you are better prepared for physical immunes (magic arrow is still excellent versus tough or unbreakable PIs), and the tiara with a Giant Skull with a 30% IAS socketing, so you have knockback as well. Besides, 8 fpa with knockback and 100% pierce ais probably better than 7 fpa without it.
Ouch, can't believe I messed this up. I'll fix it.

The merc of my bowazon is dead most of the time except when being in the Pits, so he just has Obedience, Andy's+Ral and Treachery (or even just Griswold's + IAS jewels).
Why? Mine survives Chaos just fine. Sometimes D gets him, just depends on if he pukes lightening or not.

As for Multi vs Strafe, I tried both and can't get my clear times with Strafe down to what Multi can do. Part of this is due to a very open Pits map I rolled, where I'm free to mow down whole areas at once. If I had a more typical map with narrow corridors, Strafe would perform better. In Chaos I've had huge success with just Multi.
 
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krischan

Europe Trade Moderator
He usually survives the CS monsters, but /p3 Diablo kills him more often than not.

To my taste, it's a bit tiring to keep an eye on the merc all the time. My bowazon survives well without him, even in Baal's throne room and on the way to it.
 

helvete

Diabloii.Net Member
How about if you socket the WF with a 40%ED -15%req jewel, give pride to might merc, and just focus on getting to x/3/3 strafe with the rest of the gear being towards damage? Pretty sure the superior damage of the WF would shine as more %ED from gear is added. Like a 120%ED/57dex tiara etc.
 

Naturallog

Diabloii.Net Member
How about if you socket the WF with a 40%ED -15%req jewel, give pride to might merc, and just focus on getting to x/3/3 strafe with the rest of the gear being towards damage? Pretty sure the superior damage of the WF would shine as more %ED from gear is added. Like a 120%ED/57dex tiara etc.
This is actually a fantastic strategy for a Strafe build. You could only reach 9fpa (55 IAS on gear with 15IAS jewel in WF, 70 without) for Multishot, Guided, and Magic Arrow though. So you'd need to gain 28% more damage to break even on non-Strafe skills. In other words, 7fpa is the way to go for every physical attack that isn't Strafe. That's one reason Strafe works better with poor gear compared to other attacks, it's easier to reach a good attack speed breakpoint.

If/when I find a Windforce, I'll socket it with the best IAS/ED jewel I have and try a 9fpa Windforce + Might/Pride merc setup. Since the attack speeds will be different this isn't something I can compare just with math. Slower attacks are easier to interrupt, and I might find the change in pace to be not worth the possible damage gain. I'll also lose the AR bonus from Fanatacism, which isn't good.

EDIT: Just adding the Might/Pride auras (level 22 and 20 respectively) to Windforce and dropping the Fanatacism results in less DPS than a Faith setup with the same level Might/Pride, once the change to 9fpa is accounted for. But the gap is much smaller. I think the best scenario for Windforce is to give up on the dream of 7fpa and just make a max damage Strafe-centered build.
 
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helvete

Diabloii.Net Member
Seeing as my strategy for running is this:
- Run towards unexplored area for a bit
- Fire strafe
- If more than one arrow is fired, continue to fire strafe
- If onlu one arrow fired, run a bit further and attempt strafe again.

With WF, max dex, max dmg gear and atma scarab, merc being might/pride.... Even with you firing MS with a slightly faster speed.... I just don't see how you kill faster. Unless doing cows.

For cows, I could see it. MS fired faster, but still... that much lower weapon damage... you'd need to fire around 30% faster.
 

Naturallog

Diabloii.Net Member
Because Multi actually kills things so far away Strafe doesn't even fire at them, and hits basically everything in a 90 degree arc. It's not a big deal in most Pit maps, where you're just attacking one or two groups at once, but in Chaos runs I can clear 4 groups by holding right click for 3 seconds, then I move on. Strafe needs to work on one group at a time to be most effective. Otherwise it shoots a few arrows at one group, then a few at another group, and so on. Multi just hits everything with every volley.
 

krischan

Europe Trade Moderator
I agree that MS is useful in wide, open areas, when being under attack because remaining strafe shots misses after a hit or just when dodge or evade is triggered and being locked while strafing, but it uses up arrows very quickly. By the way, ctc effects and the like are just applied to the middle two arrows.

I don't think that cows is a good area for any non-lightning character because you will probably kill the King by accident sooner or later. From that point on, you will have to use a portal opener in a TCP/IP game and enter it with your zon via a second game instance. You will also lack a /players command there, so you need dummy characters from further game instances in order to reach a decent player count.
 

Korlic

Diabloii.Net Member
Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't you hit max attack speed with 80% IAS on WF using strafe?

If so Andy's with 15 IAS jewel, LoH and WF with a 15/40 jewel would be enough. Granted if you use MS or other skills like that it will be less effective.
 

Crazy Runner Guy

Diabloii.Net Member
My $0.02:

I like bowazons because as soon as you pick your bow and fpa, the rest of your gear is essentially set. I also prefer MS > Strafe for its ability to take better take down most groups vs. the situation-specific lined-up groups.

On Faith, there are really only two bows to make a Faith in: Mat bow, or a Shadow (37 average, 0 WSM, wider damage spread), or Diamond Bow (36.5 average; again 0 WSM, but tighter damage spread). I prefer Shadow, because the +3 skills on the mat bow doesn't matter too much to a physical-damage bowazon. It also adds versatility if you want to put in on an A1 merc. And it has a higher damage - assuming you can hit the IAS breakpoints below -

You need 45% IAS with an slvl 14 or 15 fanat for 7 fpa MS with a mat bow. For slvl 12 or 13, you need 50% IAS. Either is easy to get.

You need 65% IAS witn an slvl 14 or 15 fanat for 7 fpa MS with a Shadow/Diamond bow. For slvl 12 or 13, you need 70% IAS. This is harder to get, and requires at least 35% in the helm plus use of Cat's Eye/HW and 20% IAS gloves (LoH).

I have an v1.07 Valk Wing, so LoH plus IAS-jeweled helm is 65% IAS - enough for by Faith'd (+1/slvl 15 fanat) Shadow Bow. If I didn't have that, I'd probably go with Andy's, Vamp Gaze/Tal's or something similar - but my FCR speed would suffer

Why not a Crusader/Hydra/GMB? They all have a 20 base speed, and need 95% (or worse, 100%, with an slvl 12 Fanat) IAS to hit 7 fpa. That means if you want to wear Fort, you need to have gloves/45% IAS helm/ammy/belt dedicated to IAS - in other words, you need to wear Nos's Coil instead of Razortail. If you roll an slvl 12, you need to re-roll - otherwise you also lose out on LoH, as you will need to wear either Sigon's set (gloves + boots) or IK set (gloves + boots). I posit that any dps you gain by using a GMB you lose by having only ~69% pierce. (And I've re-rolled my Shadow Bow, a 10% ed superior, once).

I prefer Faith > Windy > anything else for a couple of reasons.

First, it allows you to use Reapers on a merc. The Decrep is an instant 50% ED. And the Decrep proc'ing is further up'd due to the Fanat, which pushes their fpa down easily.

I've tried Pride (in an eth Cryptic Axe, I know should have waited for eth GT/Thresher), and the added ed% just doesn't cut it on higher players settings. (I know there is a Gripphon post out there somewhere were he says the only A2 merc weapons which should ever be used are Reapers, Insight, and Infinity - I have yet to find any reason to prove him wrong.)

Second, ITD (Jah) + 300% AR means you don't need to put anything into Penetrate. Those points can instead be dumped into D/A/E or Valk.

Third, 15% all resists on a character where they are hard to come by.

Fourth, WF + Faith-wielding A1 merc means one less meat shield - your use of Decoy will be more judicious, even with the KB from WF. It also means you need to rely on your Valk more, which you have less skill points for due to them being re-directed into penetrate. The A1 merc also just does less damage.

Fifth, while bowazons aren't skill-dependent, the +skill(s) from Faith are most useful for your passive tree, where you will have at least one point in every skill - and seven of those skills are useful and could use the point (Crit/Penetrate/Pierce/D/A/E/Valk), and even Decoy benefits from it.

I think that's it - Faith is one of those rare pieces of gear that is so far superior to every other viable option that if you have the runes, there is (almost) no excuse for using anything else when the build warrants it.
 
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Gripphon

Diabloii.Net Member
I've tried Pride (in an eth Cryptic Axe, I know should have waited for eth GT/Thresher), and the added ed% just doesn't cut it on higher players settings. (I know there is a Gripphon post out there somewhere were he says the only A2 merc weapons which should ever be used are Reapers, Insight, and Infinity - I have yet to find any reason to prove him wrong.)
Haha :D
I like to say those 3 are the holy trinity polearms of d2 for mercs, though there might be some usage of something else in some special situations and for special builds, though I admit I never really used anything else. However, I never did optimized PvM bowa or similar "enigmaless" builds.

I'm not bowa expert though. I also used Enigma on her to position merc with instant curse to boost my damage more than Fortitude ever could, but I lacked damage on range which I think I made up with extra movement speed and teleport. Maybe one day I might give all of this a more testing attention.
 

Crazy Runner Guy

Diabloii.Net Member
I'm not bowa expert though. I also used Enigma on her to position merc with instant curse to boost my damage more than Fortitude ever could, but I lacked damage on range which I think I made up with extra movement speed and teleport. Maybe one day I might give all of this a more testing attention.
I agree with this sentiment - it certainly works e.g. for WW barbs or Zealots running Throne/Baal. The issue with using Enigma on a zon while in the throne is that it kills the decoy and unless you're quick, you could get hit with a decrep. Hence I swap to Fort after creeps in throne are dead, I can re-cast BC/BO with Enigma's +2, and swap to Fort for Waves 1-4 (skip Lister).
 

Gripphon

Diabloii.Net Member
For Baal runs I'd certainly use Enigma to get there and then throw Fortitude on once I clear the room. Or something like that. In Travincal I'd consider using teleport charges amulet + Fortitude etc. Kinda adaptable build for various combinations. One more reason why I never really liked GMB as a bow, it just limits too much for my taste and don't have those "fancy" options in this amount.
 

ffs

Diabloii.Net Member
@Naturallog Great analysis and interesting discussion since I'm really thinking in which type of bow I should build Faith.

When looking isolated at damage though (i.e. notwithstanding the advantages of using Faith yourself, or using WF) I'm surprised that Faith comes out on top as well. I was under the impression the predominant opinion seemed to be that WF + Faith Merc is higher damage than Faith + A2 Might/Pride Merc still. Maybe the enhanced damage from head piece (which you chose to ignore) does put WF over the top? I imagine this must have been calculated lots of times but I couldn't find a comprehensive write-up like yours supporting that (different) result. But based on your calculations it's close in any case.

What I don't understand is assuming Ohm in WF (or anything other than ias/ed for that matter), especially along with 45ias head piece. Personally I don't have the stuff to make a really godly 45ias/100+ed head piece, but in general in that situation a 15ias/ed jewel in WF means you only need one more ias gear piece in order to reach 7 fpa, whereas with Ohm you'd need two. So for example Atma's wouldn't be an option anymore.

I think I'll make Faith in a diamond bow and go WF + Faith Merc. Opens up the possibility to use Faith on merc, zon and maybe with other characters/mercs, and the difference in damage output seems small anyway. Also not sold on the main argument of ITD/300% AR, it's not like those 20 points in Penetrate can be put to much better use imo.

Again thanks for the in-depth comparison, very helpful calculations, including for someone deciding to go down another route. :)
 

Naturallog

Diabloii.Net Member
Why not a Crusader/Hydra/GMB? They all have a 20 base speed, and need 95% (or worse, 100%, with an slvl 12 Fanat) IAS to hit 7 fpa. That means if you want to wear Fort, you need to have gloves/45% IAS helm/ammy/belt dedicated to IAS - in other words, you need to wear Nos's Coil instead of Razortail. If you roll an slvl 12, you need to re-roll - otherwise you also lose out on LoH, as you will need to wear either Sigon's set (gloves + boots) or IK set (gloves + boots). I posit that any dps you gain by using a GMB you lose by having only ~69% pierce. (And I've re-rolled my Shadow Bow, a 10% ed superior, once).
I chose a GMB because going with a Shadow would drop my average base damage from 184.5 to 159. That's a lot of damage to make up for with gear changes. And what would I change? Razortail is nice, and bumps average damage up 5 points, but I don't notice much difference between 100% and ~75% pierce. Multishot fires so many arrows that even if one or two fail to pierce, other arrows often hit the back enemies anyway.

Atma's scarab was a huge disappointment when I tried it with a strafe build. It can be completely replaced by using Magic Arrow on physical immunes. The run speed on Cat's Eye makes more difference in clear times than Atma's amp, which is unreliable due to its 5% chance to cast. For gloves, LoH are second to none so there's no room for upgrades here. It's possible to use another helm, but what would that helm be? Gskull gives knockback, but I don't care since I mostly use Multishot and only the middle two arrows carry knockback. Your best option here would be a 2os rare circlet with FRW and resists. Very nice if you have one, and if I ever find one I could see myself trying a Diamond Bow Faith (I have a 15% ED 4os Diamond). But even with that you're still trading some damage for FRW and resists. I would be inclined to just take the damage, unless you're willing to experiment with expensive runewords.

First, it allows you to use Reapers on a merc. The Decrep is an instant 50% ED. And the Decrep proc'ing is further up'd due to the Fanat, which pushes their fpa down easily.

I've tried Pride (in an eth Cryptic Axe, I know should have waited for eth GT/Thresher), and the added ed% just doesn't cut it on higher players settings. (I know there is a Gripphon post out there somewhere were he says the only A2 merc weapons which should ever be used are Reapers, Insight, and Infinity - I have yet to find any reason to prove him wrong.)
Without Enigma, I can't put my merc on top of enemies to trigger the Decrepify. Most things die before my merc even gets near them, much less has time to Decrepify them. And I run pits on p5. Chaos might work a little better, especially against Diablo.

When looking isolated at damage though (i.e. notwithstanding the advantages of using Faith yourself, or using WF) I'm surprised that Faith comes out on top as well. I was under the impression the predominant opinion seemed to be that WF + Faith Merc is higher damage than Faith + A2 Might/Pride Merc still. Maybe the enhanced damage from head piece (which you chose to ignore) does put WF over the top? I imagine this must have been calculated lots of times but I couldn't find a comprehensive write-up like yours supporting that (different) result. But based on your calculations it's close in any case.

What I don't understand is assuming Ohm in WF (or anything other than ias/ed for that matter), especially along with 45ias head piece. Personally I don't have the stuff to make a really godly 45ias/100+ed head piece, but in general in that situation a 15ias/ed jewel in WF means you only need one more ias gear piece in order to reach 7 fpa, whereas with Ohm you'd need two. So for example Atma's wouldn't be an option anymore.
Most other calculations I found don't assume additional +damage from gear like War Traveler boots and Sharp GCs. Because Faith setups have a lot more +%ED than WF, that +damage is boosted further, which favors Faith. I added +55 damage from gear, which is a reasonable amount to assume given War Traveler boots, charms, and possible +damage/IAS jewels. I assumed an Ohm in WF because I wanted to give WF a favorable base damage for comparisons. A 40/15 jewel would be ideal if you want to leverage that extra 15 IAS. Otherwise, the Ohm is obviously better.
 
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