My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. WTH!?


Diabloii.Net Member
My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. WTH!?

One would think, that after 8 years, the game would be a little monotonous. This weekend I had some of the most fun I have had in a _long_ while playing D2. (With apologies to my buddy Greg: "Hey! Doing Uber Trist not only for the first but second time as well with you was _also_ a blast!")

"My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. What the Heck?!"

So after starting my hammerdin, getting him up to ~60 and double checking my base strength I realized I shouldn't of put any in. Doh! While muling all his gear across 2 characters (there is probably some related / paraphased Murphy's Law from Civ 4 "The ever expanding bureaucracy is expanding to meet the ever expanding needs of the bureaucracy", that could be adapted to the number of characters, items, and stash space in D2 that could be said, but I digress...), I was thinking about how the heck I'm going to level him up to 24 and hit anything with zero stats added to base str and dex. Normally, I pump str up to ~60 so I can use two Sig's items for that 10% life leech, but as they say "Necessity is the Mother of Invention" (I would also say "Curiosity is the Father".) I wasn't too worried about the no dex, due to:
a) leveling up increases your Chance To Hit% (found this out when I had a lev ** IK 'zerker with base dex), and
b) angelic wings + ring takes care of the "virtual dex" problem by giving a ton of AR.

I hate leeching xp at low levels mainly because I find it boring -- I want to be in the middle of action -- which got me checking my low level twink mules for "starter" gear. So after muling the high level gear, nuking the old hammerdin, re-making, and twinking him out, I did about 16 Trist runs to get him up to 15 since that i the fastest way to level up from level one. It was actually a nice change to be able to drop all my stat pts into vitality. Nice & easy with a TON of life to boot!

This is where the real fun begins..

Normally, I'm the kind of guy who wants to reach the destination and skip the journey, but after getting sick of doing rushes and baal runs on my uber sin, I decided a little change of scenery wouldn't hurt -- I would go "old skool" and just play the game normally :shocked: with my new hammerdin until 24 -- who knows -- I might even have some fun along way. Making new toons and leveling them up is fun with trist runs, then it becomes a grind from 15 - 24 so I'm always trying to "optimize" that "dead zone" grind. As it turns out, I was in for a real treat that day and hopefully you'll enjoy the story too.

I joined an Andy game hoping to battle wits with Andariel to test out my combination of twink gear when some high level toon jumped in and completed Andy for us. Curses! The _one_ time I don't want Andy and someone kills her. :hanky: LOL. Oh well...

Since I was able to go to A2, I decided to get the A2 waypoints up to, but not including Arcane with my sorc in my muling game. I didn't bother with any A1 wps, except for Cat 2 which I snagged earlier. I still needed to level up to 24, so I joined an Act 1 Leveling game. No one complained that I was 15 when most were ~ 8. One necro who had died in Jail 1 told me "Holy Domination!" when I went and cleared the spot so he could get his body back. I was pretty much one-shotting everything. Looks like I was off to a good start.

The last 3 quest were available in A1 but we didn't do them as everyone just wanted to level strangely enough. No one had any wp's so we ended walking to Andy. I have never seen Andy owned so faster before for low level toons, but I was wondering, OK, that went REALLY well, but what about A2? Can't leech from skeletons, and you usually get surrounded by them real fast, along with those annoying lightning bugs. I dropped 2 pts in Resist Lightning for A2 and laughed at those scarab bugs. That left skeletons and Greater Mummies, but at least you can leech from the latter.

"Ha!" as I laughed in the sewers at the skeletons shooting and wasting their fire arrows at someone basically fire immune as I had 90% fire resist. The sewers was a breeze until Radament. I don't know how I ended up at Radament alone with the rest of the party in town, but I got Radament down to about 5% when I ran out of health potions. Doh! "The Cavalry has arrived in the nick of time!" was my thoughts as the rest of the party showed up just then and we finished off Rad for that precious Book of Skill.

In the Maggot Lair, tanking was not a problem. Cleansing was invaluable for those Sand Maggots, along with Lightning Resist. I even got to play "Cleric" and used Holy Bolt to heal a druid that would occasionally tank when I wasn't on the front line. I broke my main weapon (Angelic Sword) a few times through-out the act, including here, so I had the opportunity to test another weapon (Crushflange) and found that both worked well. Angelic was fast - good for taking on multiple targets since I didn't have zeal, but I also enjoyed the 33% Crushing Blow on Crushflange when taking on the bigger, single mini-bosses.

"How do you like dem apples!" as I charged the Claw Vipers and turned the tables on them. Lite Res again proved invaluable on the 2nd "floor" snagging the Horadric Amulet from Fangskin

In Arcane I again got to be a Cleric and healed a crazy sorc that kept teleporting into enemies ahead of us. Now I could of been a cold hearted [email protected] and just let her die, but as they say "Karma is a b!tch", so in the middle of combat, I did a 180 and fired off a few holy bolts to heal her. Oddly enough, she thanked me, and I noticed she wasn't as reckless anymore, so who knows, maybe "Random Acts of Kindness" DO work in this day and age. The same druid who tanked in Maggot Lair got caught at the front lines again a few times and got hammered on by the fire ball from the Vampires, so Holy Bolt came in handy again. Its always nice to be thanked by other players when it seems so rare these days.

I accidentally triggered my hammers a few times in Tal Rasha's tomb by tyring to switch from Charge back to Normal attack and/or from Lite Res to Concentration when I got surrounded by skeletons. I was surprised how powerful it was with only a few points in both it and Concentration. I figured that there would be plenty of time to get sick of my hammers post-Nightmare and Hell and also didn't want any hammerdin "love" comments coming my way from my fellow party especially with all the hammer bot games now-a-days, so you can understand my reluctance to be "cheesy" with it while having fun at a low level. But without zeal, I "relented" to using it a few times for some of the mini-bosses, and massive skeletons in the tomb. Hey, you gotta use what you're given.

Death's Sash was invaluable fighting Duriel. Again, somehow I ended up tanking her solo for the first 25% of her life but I didn't complain when the rest of the party slowly trickled into her chamber to help as that enabled me to get some quick hits on her when someone else got the honors of being #1 on her agro list.

Ahhh, Act 3, the one act everyone loves to hate or hates to love. With vigor, it wasn't as bad as I remember it, go figure. Cleansing, Lite Res, and Meditation all came in handy as we decided to collect all the Khalim Flail pieces from the various dungeon pieces. The only trouble we ever ran into was the unique spider Sszark the Burning, collecting Khalim's eye, who dropped _everyone_. Hammer Revenge took care of THAT problem. :cool: For the council again I pulled out my hammers for crowd control and for tanking. At the risk of sounding cliche, I was pleasantly surprised how well hammers worked at low level with about 6 into both Hammers and Concentration.

We made our way to Mephisto, and fortunately this time, I wasn't first in line. (Hey! I had a valid excuse of restocking my pots. :wink2: ) Either one of the sorcs had static field, or we had a good party, becaus he was about half way down when I came back down. Sorry to disappoint the readers, but the fight was uneventful. Can't have "drama" all the time I guess :)

So, now I'm 24 at the start of A4 and am wondering if I should keep playing "old-skool" and face Diablo to show him who is boss or give into the temptation of Ancients and Normal Baaling. Hmmm, decisions...

In case anyone wondering what this "wonder" gear is, this cheap "starter" gear makes leveling up new toons a hell of lot of fun again.

Lev 1-12:
Helm: Biggin's Bonnet (w/ chip ruby for +life)
Armor: Artic Furs (w/ chip amethyst +str/dmg)
Belt1: Artic Belt (swap out at lev 6 for...)
Belt2: Death's Sash (...can't be frozen!)
Weapon: Khalim's Flaim (PITA to make but dual leech!)
Gloves1: Cleglaw' Pinchers (2 items gives AR!)
Gloves2: Bloodfist
Boots: Hotspur (+45% fire res, +15% max fire res!!)
Shield1: Cleglaw's Claw (w/ +2 dex jewel) (2 items +15% res!)
Sheild2: Pelta Lunata (w/ chip diamond)
Ring: Rare +1 str +1 dex
Str Charms: +5 (large), +4 (grand), +3 (grand)
Dex Charms, +4 (grand w/ +25% psn!), +3 (large), +1 (small)

Lev 12-24
Armor: Angelic Set (complete)
Weapon1: Angelic Sickle (w/ flawed skull)
Weapon2: Crushflange (33% CB!)
Amy: Angelic Wings (the gravy: +1 skills!)
Ring: Angelic Halo (+AR)
Sheild: Steelclash (w/ diamond)

I think what made this build so much fun was that I got to do a little of everything: tank, heal, cure, regen mana, and even pull out the 'ole hammers. And that is what being a paliden is all about -- helping the party. And for that, it simply doesn't get any better then this.

I think I hear Diablo challenging me to a duel...

Michael-Angelo, Hammerdin in Training
US West


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. WTH!?

Well you had alot of work with this text for sure, its good to read that people still find D2 interesting after so many years, I have played it 7 years or smth, I have really lost the count, anyway I still think diablo as the best game. For many people this game has became a mf runs, rushes, baaling, keyruns etc and the whole idea of questing and fighting yourself through all the acts have benn forgotten.

I wish more people would discover that fighting like you did is fun.

Anyway about your items.. you must have like thousand mules to store all these low lvl items u might need, anyway great work u did with ur story :thumbsup:



Diabloii.Net Member
Re: My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. WTH!?

Glad to see you are having a good time!

I enjoy public games myself....but never cared for the solo artists that decide to swoop in and kill the bosses for loot and then jet.

Had someone take out mephisto on me when I was working my way down to him in the durance....had to start that part all over. >_<


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. WTH!?

My twink gear is a bit different:
Helm: Tarn helm
Armor: Angelic Armor
Belt: Death's Sash (...can't be frozen!)
Weapon: Khalim's Flaim (PITA to make but dual leech!)
Gloves: Death's Gloves
Boots: Vidala's Fetlock
Shield: Sigon's Shield (or simply a buckler if I don't have enough strength)
Ring1: Angelic
Ring2: Manald
Ammy: Angelic

+3 all skills, life, mana, and a hell of a tank for just about every character in norm.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. WTH!?

I am planning on making a Hammerdin of my own. Right now, I assemble the gear for him. However, as for leveling, I am thinking of going the more "standard" way, I don't like the fact all my friends just Glitch Rush and go sit at an UT leveling game.

I do, however, have a personal BObarb, so THAT could be a good way of "twinking" my character - have him BO'd with a lvl 41 BO! (I still have a ways to go before achieving that perfect lvl 54 BO :undecided:).


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. WTH!?

Thx for the compliments! It was fun writing while reminiscing the weekend.

I too wish more people would play the game "normally." Heck, my "dream" setup would be "Team Paladin" of 4-8 paladins going thru every nook and cranny of every act, playing "pure core." That is, you are only allowed to use what you find -- no twinking or trading.

I've been playing since 2000, pretty much the day D2 came out, so yeah, the game has gotten pretty boring -- but has held up amazingly well for such an old [computer] game. I usually play off and on for a few months at a time, while I check out other games -- but I always seem to keep coming back: perfecting this char, acquiring those last few "collectibles.", etc. MUST... RESIST... COMPLETING... SETS... I'm not addicted, I can quite any time! lol.

While I normally have 2 accounts, I only need about 3 chars to hold the low level items as a lot of low set & unique items are junk and don't have a good synergy. I usually level the mules up to 8 ~ 12 so they can wear isenheart, and/or sigs -- the exception being the gem mules.

Once I snag a HEL rune, I'll post my cleglaws setup I use on new kickers. I always get people commenting how the heck I'm one shotting the mobs when I do trist runs. hehe. I was just happy I finally found a use for that set!


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. WTH!?

I do, however, have a personal BObarb, so THAT could be a good way of "twinking" my character - have him BO'd with a lvl 41 BO! (I still have a ways to go before achieving that perfect lvl 54 BO :undecided:).
Lev 41? Whoa! Nice!

Assuming +3 warcry maces, torch, anni, and 10x Warcry Grand Charms, what other gear?



Diabloii.Net Member
Re: My hammerdin, the low level melee tank. WTH!?

No, I don't have many skillers yet.

+6 from 2x BO sticks
+3 from Echoing Amulet
+2 from Arkaine's (got it cheap, for a pair of low Dracs)
+3 from low Torch
+2 from 2x BO skillers
+4 from a +3 BO "Lore" helmet (I found it myself, sadly it was 2-socket already, or I'd have made Delirium for +5 BO instead).
+1 from BC
+21 total, with +18 to BC and Shout.

Since it's a pure BO barb, and I don't use him for anything else than buffing my chars (I have 2 PC's), I have pumped both BO, BC and Shout.

A perfect BO setup would be like:

+4 CtA (3 BO minimum)
+3 HotO or BO stick (2x CtA's does not work)
+2 any armor with +2 (CoH, Enigma, Arkaine's)
+3 Echoing Amulet
+6 Echoing barb helm with +3 BO (quite expensive)
+1 Arachnid
+2 BK's or SoJ's (expensive, goddamn)
+9 Skillers
+3 Torch
+1 Anni (I don't even have one on all my regular chars, not to mention a BObarb...)
+1 BC
+35 total (whoops, not 34, like I thought before). This gear would provide a whopping +197% to life, mana and stamina. Get a skill shrine, and it becomes lvl 57 -> +203% = TRIPLES your health.