With Diablo pushing 14 years of beloved gameplay by its fans, it is safe to assume that MOST players of it have become more than familiar with its workings. Yet, sure enough, I still find myself occasionally learning about minor details I had never known before (it was just a few months ago that I realized you can hold shift to put all your points into a single stat with one click. And all this time I had been ruining my index finger...) One thing that I found out recently shocked me. It isn't necessarily a groundbreaking discovery, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who know of it. It doesn't open new doors to overpowered characters, but it DOES offer up a new build idea that is different, VERY safe, and makes for possibly the best party player in the game. Its no secret that synergies work based on hard points only, and that +skill items only boost individual skills and do not affect synergy bonuses. However, there is, for some reason, ONE exception to this rule: Prayer. I noticed that the bonus Cleansing and Meditation receives from Prayer IS NOT limited to hard points. Rather, whatever level Prayer is is the level of bonuses to replenish life it offers the other two auras. This FLOORED me, because now the replenishing effects from using any of the auras has now gone from "a nice bonus" or "a last ditch resort of healing without going back to town that takes FOREVER" to a VERY effective means of staying alive. Now, all of us are familiar with the strategy of using an Insight polearm on a Prayer Act 2 Mercenary to get the double-regeneration effect. However, even this is often viewed (and rightly so) as negligible for most characters. The Summon Necromancer may be the exception, as with so many targets, each one will only be handling 1-4 monsters on average, making the regeneration more effective since most monsters actually don't do that much physical damage, and its the mobs one one target that are truly dangerous. But looking at the numbers, a normal act 2 mercenary hits his maximum Prayer level of 18 at clvl 75. (Hell Act 2 Prayer Mercs have a lvl 16 Prayer from the get-go and stays there.) At lvl 18, Prayer heals 21 life every 2 seconds, so using an Insight on said merc results in 42 life healed every 2 seconds. Not too shabby for free healing, but certainly not something that will matter much in Hell or even most of Nightmare. However, given that Prayer ignores the "hard points only" rule with synergies, suddenly this opens up all new possibilities of recovery (and has the side effect of making that Seraph's Hymn a bit more appealing.) What I did was try to create a Paladin that could take advantage of the double-regen strategy while still being able to kill. Typical Clerics will focus on using a single healing aura and sitting back while healing their party with Holy Bolts, only being useful as a killer when it comes to the undead. Certainly, there had to be a better way! What I found was a VERY fun Hammerdin/Cleric hybrid that can not only do fine on its own, but turns a large party into a nearly invulnerable army that makes group play a blast! The concept is very simple: Since Insight grants 33% cast rate and the Meditation aura, it makes sense to use Blessed Hammer since you will be able to cast them at a decent (but not impressive) rate and never run out of mana. However, as well all know, maxing out Hammer skills leave NO room for maxing out Prayer. Most Hammerdins use the rest of the points in Holy Shield, which itself isn't able to be maxed in the build, at least not until 96+ So how to get around this and still get the Prayer we want? Simple! Pride! It should be obvious that this is a PvM build, and it DOES rely heavily on the Mercenary for any killing power. But by moving the source of Concentration to the mercenary, we are free to invest the points we would have spent on it ourselves to Prayer. Here is a list of gear used to maximize Prayers efficiency. Obviously, tweaks could be made to increase things like Hammer damage and cast rate. But for the sake of this build, we are going for maximum healing power: Shako - Cham Enigma Breast Plate Seraph's Hymn Insight* Arachnid Mesh Trang Oul's Claws 2x Stone of Jordan Rare Resist Boots with Fire/Poison/Lightning Resist Anni/Torch 9x Defensive Grand Charms Remaining space filled with Resist and Life Small Charms *Given that this build will never swing, it really does not matter what you use. I used a 4 socketed Gnarled Staff since it has no stat requirements, and I suggest you utilize a similar strategy. I'm sure you'll all notice how lacking the build is in resist. That's where the small charms are very important. Even after the torch/anni and charms, you may not hit perfect resist, and that is okay. As long as you are in the 55%+ resist range, you should be fine in Hell (but Conviction-wielding unique bosses will have your hide!) Oh yeah, I forgot to mention stat points, but I figured it'd be obvious that A) with no shield, this is a max vita build and B) with a breast plate Enigma, you should not need ANY points in strength. This build, when twinked, is 100% vitality and NOTHING ELSE. Anyways, this setup, after Battle Orders, gets us a whopping level 46 Prayer, which heals 77 life every two seconds. Since the mercenary has our Concentration covered, our skill setup is as follows: 20 Blessed Hammer 20 Blessed Aim 20 Vigor 20 Prayer 1 Redemption Remaining points go to Holy Shield and prerequisites With this setup, your Blessed Hammer should top out right around 4.2K damage as long as your merc is alive. While that isn't nearly the 12-16k that many dedicated Hammerdins are used to, it is still more than enough to hold your own in Hell. But the more important factor here is that by not using Concentration ourselves, not only do we get to max Prayer, but we get to use another aura ourselves. Namely Cleansing. This is how we achieve the double-regeneration effect. So with that setup, at level 90 and with Battle Orders, our skills look like this: Blessed Hammer: Level 34, ~4k Damage Prayer: Level 46, 77 Life healed every two seconds Cleansing: Level 26, Curses and Poison Length reduced by 84% Holy Bolt: Level 15, Heals 120-240 life, ~2k Magic Damage (for those pesky Unravelers) Holy Shield: Level 28, 445% Defense Bonus, 37% chance to block Total regeneration per second with Meditation from Insight and Cleansing activated: 152 life every two seconds It is important to note that this will not keep you immortal or save you from mobs, however when playing alone, it will allow you to heal completely in less than one minute without pots or a visit to town, you'll be virtually immune to poison, curses will be laughed off, and you will never run out of mana. Again, party play is where this character truly shines. Especially accompanied by a true Hammerdin, as the Pride on your merc can be swapped out for a bigger beat stick and you'll enjoy the benefits of a full-fledged Hammerdin. In fact, when I played this setup along side Hammerdins, I noticed almost no difference in my killing power when compared to theirs, and we all enjoyed unlimited life and mana, without anyone in the party worrying about Iron Maiden, Amplify Damage, or any kind of poison. This build is hands down my favorite for a party-focused character, and is a HUGE benefit to have while running ANY part of the game. I know this was a pretty messy "guide" but it was originally just supposed to be a post about my discovery of Prayer's synergy that turned into me sharing my experience with making this character. As rare as newly discovered builds are after nearly 14 years of D2, I felt that a bit more in-depth look was in order. Hope you guys enjoyed the read, and if you choose to make one of these for yourselves, you are very welcome, if only for finally giving SOME kind of worth to those Preserver's Grand Charms!