New Pally build - The Squire Intro Ok, people, first of all Iâ€™d like to warn you that Iâ€™m not a native English speaker so I really am sorry if you find lots of mistakes and odd expressions in this guide. That said, read on! Reference HC- hardcore Tppked- Town portal player kill HB- Holy bolt FOH- fists of the heavens AR- Attack rating FHR- Fast hit recovery FCR- Fast cast rate IM- Iron Maiden MF- Magic find How many of us wanted to start the HC experience and found that we are just too damn poor to make anything different from a summonmancer or a trapasin? Take heed my brothers, for even the poorest and most miserable of you have a chance on this build. Just when you thought every possible Paladin build had been tried, I bring to youâ€¦ The Squire The story as how I came across the idea of this build is long and you probably donâ€™t want to read it, so Iâ€™ll make it short: I figured out that something fun to play in Hardcore would be the very well known cleric build by MadOnion (healer/undead killer), as saving lives would be a lot more appreciated. Sadly, I found that HC pubs are pretty much unplayable nowadays as my cleric was tppked twice and thereâ€™s not much real teamplay going on. You just canâ€™t trust anyone. So I thought about soloingâ€¦ why not adapt the build for single playing? would it work? What is a Squire? During the middle ages, a squireâ€™s responsibility was to take care of his lord in any way that he could, and aid him during battle. He would carry his weapons and shields and always stand by his side. In that same way, a Squire Paladin is a supporter. Heâ€™ll not fight his enemies directly, but only through his hireling, whom he shall strengthen and heal to make him virtually invincible. Yes, as you are thinking, this is not a power build. But believe me when I sayâ€¦ it is really fun and absolutely viable even with the most awful gear. SKILLS As soon as you read these ones, youâ€™ll see the skill setup is almost the same as the cleric, but the playing experience is different. (Iâ€™ll cover that up in the strategy section). Something good about this build is that you donâ€™t need to achieve high levels to make it work. BASIC 20 Holy bolt 20 Prayer 20 Concentration 1 cleansing 1+ Meditation 1 to prereq OPTIONAL 1->20 â€“ Fists of the heavens And / or 1->20 â€“ Blessed hammers This is how skills work: Holy bolt: this is your main skill. You will be casting these things all the time, for healing as well as undead killing. Something to bear in mind is that undead monsters are physical resistant, and in hell most PI monsters are actually, undead. That means that you can rape with ease almost every monster your hireling would have problems killing (Oblivion nights casting IM, packs of ghosts, gloams and such baddies). Thatâ€™s why this build should work very well all the way. Prayer: very important healing synergy for HB, this is where youâ€™ll pour your first skill points. You wonâ€™t be using this one directly, because itâ€™ll dry your mana relatively quick, and thatâ€™s something you canâ€™t afford when healing. However, by the time you have 10+ points here, and cleansing or meditation, the passive bonus from prayer will give you a very useful tool to get free life regeneration for you and your hireling in defensive situations. Concentration: this is the main difference from the cleric. This aura gives the biggest damage bonus to allies. The 20% chance of uninterrupted attack is VERY useful for a hireling that will be surrounded by lots of monsters and taking heavy hits from every direction. If you feel like going for speed and AR instead of damage, max Fanat, but Iâ€™d rather stick to this one. Cleansing: as soon as you get to lvl 12, put your point here and marvel on the free regeneration from prayer. In the first acts youâ€™ll hardly need to drink a potion even when taking part of the fight yourself. (later on you WILL stay out of it).Youâ€™ll also use it to take curses like Amp damage or IM away from you and your hireling. Meditation: This skill grants mana regeneration that helps quite a lot when the heavy-healing takes place (Boss fights). It also regenerates life as fast as prayer would, but free of charge. I found one point is enough here, more would only add mana regeneration and youâ€™d rather put that point somewhere else. Now here comes a choice: Fists of the heavens / Blessed Hammer: These skills are the undead damage synergy for Holy bolt, but you will have to choose which one to max first. FOH is good for undead packs like the ones youâ€™ll find in tombs, and the bolts will also heal your hireling. You will be maxing HB Anyway, so the bolt damage from FOH will get to its maximum. The lightning damage wonâ€™t get far without synergies nor conviction, but still will help against some monsters, bosses or as a strategic tool to draw monsters to you. (see strat section). Hammers, in the other hand, can give you a secondary attack to help your hireling with crowd control when surrounded by small, annoying non-undead monsters like carvers and fetishes. Remember you will be maxing concentration anyway, so youâ€™d get some damage here. And, your equipment will tend to help tooâ€¦ as Iâ€™ll explain later on, you will be going after FCR and +skills if possible. Â¿What to choose? If you want to play safe and act like a real squire, then FOH is the way to go. You wonâ€™t have a Holy shield to support you when standing still and casting hammers, and your damage wonâ€™t be that great w/o the synergies. STATS Strength As little as possible. I recommend being very frugal with this. The guy on the heavy equipment will be your hireling, not you. Dexterity: Enough for max block. w/o holy shield you might need some more than the average pally. Life: All you can spare Energy: nothing hereâ€¦. You hear me? NOTHING! HIRELING Well.. never was this choice more important. Thatâ€™s what this build is all about. Act 1 Rogue. They can cause some nice damage with conc, but you canâ€™t have her running away from rushing packs, you really need a tank. Act 2 Auramerc: As you might have guessed, this is the one. You can experiment yourself with the auras you think are better, but once you get to nightmare youâ€™ll have to choose between Holy freeze or might. Might and Concentration will stack, and the damage goes up like crazy. However, Holy freeze grants a decent crowd control, and thatâ€™s something youâ€™ll need a lot. Slowing them is like speeding him up. Act3 Ironwolves: I thought about a whole new variant for this build based on this merc: the Elemental squire. Instead of concentration, max conviction. You can try that if you wish, but Iâ€™m too afraid of immunes to do it. Act5 Barbarian: I tried barbs and they donâ€™t seem to work that good. Thereâ€™s nothing special about them except for their higher life. They also seem slow to me, donâ€™t grant any crowd control and swords donâ€™t get the high damage polearn class weapons do. EQUIPMENT I wonâ€™t list particular items here, for this build is specially thought for the poor and miserable like me. However Iâ€™ll tell you what you should aim for. FCR. An additional 10% fcr can mean the difference between your mercâ€™s life and death. Resists. You wonâ€™t get into the fight, but elemental crossfire always happens. Get decent resists or you wonâ€™t make it in nightmare/hell. Keep your eyes open for a 3 os shield and use the Ral-ort-tal in act 5 to make an Ancients Pledge. +Skills. Not easy to get, but some low items grant it. Gamble for circlets, never leave an unid ammy on the ground, and trade for sigons shield if you can. You can easily get both + skills and fcr buying a +2 to HB +10% FCR scepter from an npc. Iâ€™ve been using one of those from act 2 norm till now. Your Hirelings equipment. This is a whole new thing. Your hirelingâ€™s equipment should vary according to the situation you get him in, however there are some things that are always welcome: DAMAGE. Get the highest damage polearn you can get. (use Charsiâ€™s imbue) Speed. I found sometimes a faster attack is better, even if the damage is not the best. Best thing to do is to have two weapons for switch: One slower with high damage for single big monsters and one faster for crowds and switch it dropping it directly on his picture (you are a squire, remember? You carry his weapons) Fast hit recovery. Heâ€™ll need as much of it as possible. If not, you risk him getting into serious stunlock, and healing doesnâ€™t help there. Chance of finding magic item. Â¿what? Yes.. this is not vital, but the MF on your hireling stacks with your own, As long as he makes the killing blow (which will be happening all the time) so if you feel like it, you can mf quite a lot with this build. This is not a factâ€¦. But I think that unique polearns class weapons seem to drop all the time. Many of them have â€œslow targets by x%â€. I got Kelpie Snare Fuscina from a chest and the 75% slow + holy freeze makes monsters he hits almost completely frozen. STRATEGY. Hereâ€™s where the fun starts. If you thought this build was just clicking on the fighting guy and casting HB till he kills them all, youâ€™re wrong. Youâ€™ll need to keep your eyes open to be safe yourself, know how to position your char and switch auras in a clever way, as well as killing the undead. During the first levels, all through normal difficulty, youâ€™ll be using a Blessed aim Merc. A good choice is to have a defensive setup with meditation on your right and HB on your left and for switch concentration and a throwing weapon. Youâ€™ll get the AR from him and damage from yourself. And when he gets injured, just switch and heal him. Later on, your damage wonâ€™t be enough and heâ€™ll need full attention. Then youâ€™ll have concentration and HB to keep healing and damage up. Whenever you get damaged, cursed, or your mana drops, change to cleansing/ meditation till youâ€™re ok. Crowd control Get him a fast weapon and avoid getting surrounded yourself. Youâ€™ll find that some annoying creatures tend to follow you and ignore your merc (luckily, most wonâ€™t). In that case, just run (or walk if they are slow) in circles around your merc and let him blow them to bits one by one. This is why you need max block. Remember that crowd control is only a problem with non-undead monsters and maybe not even there, if you chose hammers. On heavens nameâ€¦ Donâ€™t run! Donâ€™t get suicidal running into unexplored areas. Your hireling can be invincible as long as you heal him, but if you get into some serious chaotic situation where he is getting surrounded and you are getting chased, while champion archers shoot volleys at youâ€¦ then you wonâ€™t be able to stand still healing, he will die and youâ€™ll end up running to town and loosing money. The basic method is: scout ahead, let your merc follow you and as soon as a pack of monster attack, retreat and lead them to him. 9 times out of 10 they will forget about you. If you want to bring a particular monster to him, and not the whole pack, cast FOH on it and retreat, thatâ€™s what you should do on the minions of destruction to avoid him getting into stunlock. BOSSES. This is indeed the hardest point of this build. For those of you who donâ€™t already know itâ€¦ the damage from hirelings on bosses is 50% in norm, 35% in NM and 25% in hell. But the worst part isâ€¦ that hirelings get an 1000% extra damage from end act bosses. Thatâ€™s right. TEN times more. But donâ€™t panic. When I said that as long as you heal him, he was invincible I meant it. Blizzard folks definitely wanted mercs out of the question in end act bosses, but we wonâ€™t let that happen. The good thing is that all end act bosses will try to finish of your merc before attacking you, so you will be safe most of the time. Specifically: In most end act duels youâ€™ll put to test your full healing capabilities. Itâ€™s pretty scary watching your mercs health drop to half in one hit and then back to full as you heal him. But keep your aim steady and he will stay alive. Andy: Difficulty - low Buy for your merc poison length reduce/resist items and make sure you draw Andy away from the surrounding monsters, so he can take her on alone. Remember Andyâ€™s nova will go through him and hit you too, so have some black potions in handy. Duriel Difficulty- low All melee bosses are quite easy. The only problem with Duriel is that heâ€™ll slow your merc and that will make this duel take some time. The knockback effect will make it hard for you to aim your healing so you should let Duriel corner your merc against a wall, where he will be able to retaliate faster. Fast hit recovery and cold resists help too. Mephisto Difficulty â€“ Medium / low Meph is an elemental attacker, and your merc should have some overall decent resists when facing him. Meph tends to move fast and once in a while he will try to shoot at you with his cold orb, but once your merc engages him he will stay put. The hardest part of meph is probably getting to him through that damn room full of champions. Clean at least one side of the room and draw Meph away from his starting point, where columns or other obstacles can stand in your Hbâ€™s way. In Nightmare/hell you could use having 1 point in salvation for the massive elemental damages of this room and some other situations. Diablo Difficulty â€“ High Youâ€™ll hate big-D. Youâ€™ll feel like crying when you see your merc die in a millisecond incinerated with the lightning stream. The way to go here is: Get your merc FULL lightning resists, and yourself full Fire (you WILL get hit by fire nova). Donâ€™t try to lead your merc to him, because he will get in walk-position as soon as he sees Diablo. Diablo will launch his lightning; you wonâ€™t be able to heal your moving merc and its gg for him. Lead him to you, instead. Stay in a safe distance and donâ€™t let your merc walk to him. Take the fire novas like a man, and sooner or later, Diablo will charge at you to get melee. When that happens, your merc will be able to close in really fast and safe and you just retreat to start the mad healing. Nowâ€¦ be clever and form a triangle between Diablo, your merc and yourself so that when he casts the lightning you donâ€™t get caught within the stream. Once you get to this position, itâ€™s over for Big D. Just make sure you have some mana potions and rejuvs for yourself in case your life drops. Bear in mind that youâ€™ll need at least 11+ skill points in HB and 10+ in prayer to keep your merc alive here in normal and full healing for the rest. Ancients- Difficulty â€“ Low I was terrified when first fighting the ancients, but they where a piece of cake. Misteriously, they all attacked my merc and that made things really easy for me. Use the environment wisely to avoid getting hit by the thrower if he decides to swing at you. And make sure you have a clear line for constant healing. Baal- Difficulty â€“ Medium/Hard Baal is not half as hard as he is annoying. But before we get to him, youâ€™ll need to take care of his minions. Just draw them away from Baal so that he canâ€™t curse your merc. The minions of destruction can be especially hard because of the stunning effect so dress him up with FHR items and try to take them on 1 by 1 or in small groups. Baal is a pain in the butt mainly because heâ€™ll burn your mana if you get close, and duplicate himself. If that happens go back to town and re-enter till the clone disappears. Be ready for a long, long battle, as the lord of destruction has plenty of hit points. Conclusions To be honest, my char (lvl 52 Theone_Squire) is still in nightmare fighting his way through act V to meet the mighty Diablo for the second time. Iâ€™m not positive as how this build will work in hell, and wasnâ€™t going to write this guide till I got there. However my squire is doing very well and the only thing that gets worse in hell is the damage output of your merc on end act bosses. That will only make duels take longer but youâ€™ll succeed sooner or later. I preferred as well to share this with you now so you can start trying it and then give me some feedback. Last thing: This is a build thought originally for HardCore singleplaying poor people. But if you are rich, you can have fun building a real GODLY rune based merc, and you can also support perfectly well melee friends if you can get into safe teamplay games.