Noob Seeks Advice


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I've reinstalled my Diablo II Battle Chest,and updated to LoD v1.14d. It's been years,but I love the game. I also very distinctly remember Duriel living up to his title as Prince of Pain. A brick wall of suffering that prompts dozens of deaths,winning with attrition,not strategy or tactics.

So. Let's address that.

I've yet to make any characters; I like to go in with a plan. A plan with room to flex,but a plan,nonetheless. I plan on running in a simulated eight player environment via the /players8 command,because more loot means a better shot at good loot,by sheer probability. The Runeword Mod mentioned in several of your stickies also seems like it'd be a welcome addition; More content available to me means more options are available to me. Also,please use as little jargon as possible,as this is my first-ever exposure to the larger Diablo II community,so I'd never understand it without a dictionary on hand. What can I say? I'm a bit of a hermit.

Here's what I'm looking for;

-A build that is viable against Normal 8p Duriel. This is the top priority,for me.
-Fun. Priority number two! I wanna enjoy myself!
-Potential directions to viably take each of the characters.
-General tips and tricks,beyond the bare basics.
-Other mods allowed by this community that would allow for a more enjoyable Diablo II experience.

The way I see it,Duriel is the ultimate test in Diablo II. He's the gatekeeper betwixt you and the Prime Evils. Sorta like Iudex Gundyr and the rest of Dark Souls III. Except Duriel's halfway through the game,vastly amplifying iteration time...

My definition of fun varies from game to game,but for Diablo II,it rests in my ability to approach a challenge,and get clever to conquer it. Fight smarter,not harder. This is identical to how I get fun from Dark Souls. Diablo has a wealth of deceptively deep systems that I can experiment with,not the least of which being the Horadric Cube.

I don't do graduation. I find an objective,lock onto it,then dive into the deep-end,armoured to the nines,and swim for it. Gimme a diving block to start on,and I'll go from there. Hell,I'll probably end up using this thread to chronicle my journey through Sanctuary.


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I have a suggestion that is character-independent. In normal, much of duriel's damage is cold dmg. You can limit this by chugging ~20 thawing potions in advance (and having some cold res. This will boost iirc your res by 50%, and even your max res. Each pot adds 30s to the duration.
Defiance merc (defensive I believe) would also help survival against him, and crushing blow (any amount, can be acquired on some low lvl runewords) will help take him out much faster. No matter what, you'll likely want to go to town at least once during your fight if you plan to do /p8 in normal.


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I got nothing wrong with tactical retreats. My beef with it comes from when it devolves into attrition.

I thought Duriel's cold shenanigans was wholly unresistable,thanks to it being based on the Holy Freeze Aura?


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You can't avoid the chilling effect, but in normal the amount of cold DMG is significant enough to want to resist against. The less you have to heal (and your merc, who you can also give thawing pots iirc) the easier the fight is!


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So,chug a couple dozen Thawing Potions to stack the durations of multiple flat Cold Resist buffs. Got it. I'm going to assume Antidote Potions work the same,and would be handy for Andariel. I've brute-forced her in the past; Inflict as much damage as possible,run off,and wait for poison to pass. Lots of healing potions later...

I'm looking for a smarter approach to the game,and that starts with strategy talks like this.

Anything specific,from anybody? I normally play doorkickers in games,but I'm game for anything,so long as it has room for experimental chicanery.


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So,chug a couple dozen Thawing Potions to stack the durations of multiple flat Cold Resist buffs. Got it. I'm going to assume Antidote Potions work the same,and would be handy for Andariel.

I don't really know what kind of build you're open to playing. Sorc is easy to spam static with until low HP, and is easy in normal if you go with fire build (and easy NM + Hell if you switch to blizzard with respec). You can also build 'leaf' starting at countess in normal and have an OP staff for at least 2 difficulty levels (buy one with +3 fireball). Fire druid is also really good in normal, and fissure is big enough to hit duriel pretty easily.


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A while back on a forum tourney I decided to go with a feral rage druid. We could only use equipment found by the character (untwinked), and couldn't re-run areas (single-pass). A challenge of the tourney was to fight Duriel at /p8 without going back and forth to town. It was a surprisingly easy fight- werewolves have massive health and feral rage gives 48% life steal at level 10. Combined with Crushflange (33% crushing blow), it didn't take long.

I dunno if you'd find feral rage fun though...I always find single attack builds a little boring.

I think the most fun I've had is a Phoenix strike assassin, but she might be a little fragile for Duriel /p8. Perhaps that's part of the challenge/fun that you're talking about though. Pstrike is viable all the way through hell with minimal gear, I think it's a really strong and safe build. Dunno if I'd call her a door-kicker, but she'll be right up there in the action with lots of different spells being used every fight.
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I'll be grinding for loot/equipment freely,so I won't be doing single-pass runs. I'll also be doing un-twinked runs. I don't want to do a one trick pony build. I value versatility,and experimentation. One trick ponies are anathema to both.


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You can do a sorc. Her static field can take down p8 Duriell to just a few hp in seconds. You could invest a few points into that skill for some larger radius and then just finish him off with a few casts of any spell :)


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I think Duriel is not really very good for loot. He drops a lot of TP scrolls / garbage for me. Also, /p7 has the same drops as /p8 (1/3/5/7 are the same as 2/4/6/8 respectively.) So if you just want loot at least run the odd numbers. A lot of bosses also max out at /p5, almost certain Meph does so maybe Duriel does also. And to be honest, /p3 is pretty much the sweet spot for bosses.

Cold sorc is the best bet for low-mid gear. You can run dual tree sorc with one tree being cold, if you want more options but less kill power. Or Blizz sorc for highest kill power without high runes, but only having one element.


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I'll stick to /p8. I relish a challenge.

Anyways,several character ideas came to me for this run. I want your feedback. Remember that the goal is to have fun in all difficulties,which means I need to be able to take down Duriel without resorting to the Meat Grinder.

Due to the fact that enemies later on,especially on higher difficulties,gain steep resistances and even immunities to the elements,I'm not going to run a Sorceress; It's less versatility and experimentation,and more rock-paper-scissors-to-not-die,with skill points spread across the four corners of Sanctuary,meaning no big bangers.

-An Amazon. I've never actually played an Amazon before,so I'd like to learn. From what I can gather,they're either archers,or hoplites.
-A Barbarian. I think a Barbarian with a focus on Leap Attack,and several of the Cries,plus some Masteries (Weapon of choice,and choice passive bonuses) would work. I'm thinking an all aggro Barbarian,with dual weapons,or a polearm (I love me some polearms,IRL).
-A Necromancer. And not a Summonmancer; Duriel will eat them for dinner. Instead,I'm thinking a combo of Curses and Poison & Bone spells. And Corpse Explosion,just to spite Nihlathak.
-A Paladin. No,not a Hammerdin; I dislike cheese. I was,instead,thinking of a Holy Freeze-centric Paladin,using Charge to close the distance,Smite (Or whatever the shield bash is called) to inflict some stuns and knockback,and Zeal for when I need damage quick. And a crossbow in my pocket,just in case there's an enemy I can't quite reach for melee.
-A Druid. My last character was a tanky Werebear/Rabies Druid,but by Act IV,he could barely hit anything. In exchange,he was impossible to kill. It got boring. Instead,maybe an Elementalist,with a few Summons,like the Solar Creeper to keep mana topped up.
-An Assassin. Gotta learn sometime.

I would like feedback on these concepts.


Diabloii.Net Member
Welcome to the forums Riddle78, Hope you find what ur looking for. I must say your goal is a bit limited: defeat Duriel p/8 in Normal. Alot of the advice given here will get that done for you. But I think you need to at least try some of the suggestions before self-suggesting other build options. After all its just 2 Acts. Anyways keep us updated with how you go.


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My goal isn't killing Duriel. My goal is a character who can kill Duriel without resorting to attrition,and thus allow me to properly play the game as a whole,instead of throwing myself at the enemy like a human wave.


Diabloii.Net Member
Welcome to the forums Riddle78, Hope you find what ur looking for. I must say your goal is a bit limited: defeat Duriel p/8 in Normal. Alot of the advice given here will get that done for you. But I think you need to at least try some of the suggestions before self-suggesting other build options. After all its just 2 Acts. Anyways keep us updated with how you go.
I remember beating Duriel in normal p1 was a goal of mine in the beginning :D


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As others said before, sorc is the best choice, especially in Normal difficulty, because You can Static Duriel to death...Just keep in mind, that having more points in this skill (either hard ones or from items) helps alot - You can buy Staff with +3 Static field even from Akara...same has to be said about Faster cast rate ability...I STRONGLY sugest, and i really mean it, use Stealth Runeword as a armor...its very cheap - You need to have only TAL and ETH and two socket armor, which is really easy to get (Running Countess in Act1 will get You the runes, armor can be buyed or find)...Rings and amulets with Faster cast rate ability (FCR) can be found in act 1 Normal easily too...Just keep in mind, that there are some breakpoints for FCR, You can find them even here on wiki...

As for other characters

Amazon - Charged strike skill (Javelin and spear tree) is one of the best Boss killers, even in Hell, if not best at all...and its available at level 18...if You are planning to play with players 8 through whole Acts 1 and 2 Normal, You can easily get level 27 character before fighting Duriel...At this point, You can have lvl 8 Charged strike, which would be devastating for him

Barbarian - generally, Barbarians have less problems thanks to high life pool, if You can get him past level 24 before fighting Duriel, You can use Battle orders skill, which improves Your life and mana even further...To me, best fighting skill at the beginning for Barbarian is Double swing, which needs 0 mana at certain level, and such Barbarian can be lately transformed to Frenzy Barbarian

Necromancer - on the contrary, Summoner will be easies for Duriel fight, but You have to use Clay golem and Decrepify (curse) to slow him down...Basically, he will be very slow, and Your merc and Your army should kill him relativelly easily

Paladin - Holy shock or Holy freeze will do just fine, supporte by Zeal which cannot be interuppted You have decent skills to fight Duriel...Just keep in mind, that Crushing blow ability is Your best friend , while fighting Bosses as a melee character (Crushflange unique mace has this ability for example)

As for Druid, i sugest Fissure caster, this is very strong skill in Normal, can be supported by Firestorm, both You can get very soon, however lately (at the end of Nightmare difficulty) You will experience big problems with Fire immune monsters, You need to find the way to deal with them, either with help of Merc, Bear as a summon and probably Oak sage to boost Your and mercs+ Bears life pool...Also, Volcano and Molten Boulder can be used to deal with Fire immunes (FI), as they can do also Physical damage...You have to decide, which way fits Your playing style better

Assasin - hard to say, as Martial arts tree is the one i never truly explored...


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My two cents: if you're going untwinked, and not going to tp back to town during the fight, you will likely want to focus on a build that can deal damage without relying on finding strong weapons: things like javazon, any sorceress (which I think you underestimate the versatility of--you can easily create a two-element sorceress that deals respectable damage of both types without needing the best of gear), elemental druid, trapsin. There are plenty of builds

Iirc, you can get to at least level 28 by the time you fight duriel if you're going single pass (which I know you aren't planning on, but what I mean to say is that you might be around there or higher by the time you fight him). If you end up focusing on a level 24 skill, you should be able to put a handful in it before you fight duriel (tornado, lightning sentry, blizzard, meteor)

On another point, no one is going to suggest something to you that they can guarantee to be fun to you. There are some classes you will find more fun than others, and vice versa.

One thing you might find useful is open wounds, but if you're unable to go toe-to-toe with duriel, expect to run around a lot if you use it. Incidentally, you can easily create an item with just such an effect: the malice runeword (ith el eth in a 3 socket melee weapon; it will grant you 100% chance to cause the open wounds effect upon striking your target)


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You speak very highly of Crushflange,and I can see why. I might need to look into farming on Act I to grab it,if I go Paladin. That said,its damage output is... Poor,at best. It's literally just a stick to deliver fractional damage. After Duriel,it'd need replacing,but that should be an easy thing to do.

...I guess I put too high of an emphasis on Duriel. Duriel isn't my endgame,merely the "Zero Point" I'm measuring against; To me,Duriel is the ultimate "Pony up,or step down." mark in the game. If I can kill Duriel without a million and one attempts,without resorting to repeated suicide runs to wear down the beach one grain at a time,but rather with an actual strategy or tactic,then I can have fun with the game as a whole. I'll likely TP out of the fight once or twice,because I'm pragmatic like that,but if I find myself using human wave tactics... Well. I want to avoid that.

I think I'll run a Paladin,first. Synergizes well with my preferred means of play (Wade in swinging),and skills to make it happen. I'll use this thread to chronicle my journey. Here's what I think I'm gonna do;

-Melee weapons will be maces and shields; Apparently,the Paladin swings maces around faster than everybody else? Besides,it just fits,thematically. I'll keep a crossbow,as good as I can find,in my secondary set,just in case I can't immediately reach a threat. Looking at you,Arcane Sanctuary.
-Heavy armour. When you're actively charging into melee,you need every point of armour you can get. Ones with elemental resistances will be handy,as well as hit recovery.
-Core skills will be Charge,Holy Freeze,Smite,and Zeal. Charge to rapidly engage mobs from a distance,Holy Freeze to stack the fight in my advantage by default (Hello,irresistible chilling!),Smite for disruption and shots at Crushing Blow (!!!),and Zeal for when something needs to die,now. Should be fun. Might throw in Vengeance (Lots of extra damage,but expensive),or fall back to Sacrifice (BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!); Who knows,at this point.
-This build will need plenty of nearly everything for Attributes,I know. I'll play it by ear,see what comes up.
-Malice sounds more than a little bonkers. I'll see if I can't slap it onto something.
-Crushflange will be a nice thing to have,but if I grow bored of farming for it,I'll proceed to Lut Gholein without; Smite offers Crushing Blow chances.

This should offer a kit that has an answer for most challenges. I'll keep you all posted. Before I begin,any other Diablo II Net-approved mods,besides the Runeword Mod,that you all would suggest? I'll admit,I'm a modaholic. Give me the names,and I'll RTFM.


Diabloii.Net Member
What i wrote in my previous post is based on my experience as a purely Hardcore player...Which means, that dying is not an option ;) So i've picked builds which were best for the task from my point of view, and with the goal of killing Duriel Normal at p8 setting - without dying, or better to say, easiest way to go...But thats my opinion, others might have different and You aswell...

As for lvl 28 before Duriel - yes, its possible to get it even with single pass project, but You have to do full clears...I've even reached once level 29 with single pass character, but had help of multiple shrines (either experience one and monster shrine)

As for debate about Crushing blow and Open wound, both are very usefull, but Crushing blows gets even more important with higher players setting...

Anyway, i wish You best of luck and will be watching this thread very closely ;)


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Check the stickies for FAQs and links

GoMule has greater ease of use than ATMA (both are used for item storage and transfer)


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Hey @Riddle78 I'm always a bit surprised when people say they struggle with Duriel. I find him to be the easiest of all the Act Bosses, regardless of the difficulty level. I guess that means my strategy for him works.

I usually play hardcore, untwinked, single-pass, full clears at p8 through Normal and NM. I don't mind taking a few trips back to town during the Duriel fight to restock potions as there is no point pushing things in hardcore. Having said that, there are plenty of times when I don't need to make a trip back to town at all. The following works for all classes and builds and is independent of skills. If you have a skill that can help (and enough mana to use it) then that is bonus.

The plan is:
(1) As has already been mentioned, thawing potions. These are probably the biggest single thing you can do to make Duriel easier. Make sure you feed your merc as many as you take yourself (if you want your merc to survive). I usually drink 4, which is 2 minutes protection, and return to town if we are still going after 2 mins.
(2) Also as mentioned, get some OW or CB (or both). OW is more reliable to find as there are two cheap runewords that provide it, Steel and Malice. Steel is 50% OW with 25% IAS; Malice is 100% OW; Both work fine and you will almost certainly have the runes by the time you reach Duriel. Make the runeword in a fast one-handed base. I like Flails which you can shop a 2 or 3 socketed one from Fara.
(3) Get a good blocking shield. The best you can have at this stage of the game is a Bone Shield of Deflecting, which can be shopped from Drognan. Duriel can't really hurt you when you block his attacks.
(4) Get an Act 2 merc and give him the biggest damage weapon you can find. This is almost certainly going to be a Savage Lochaber Axe. Use the Savage Polearm cube recipe until you get a Lochaber Axe. Your merc will be able to equip this from level 23. You can keep making new ones until you get some life leech as well, but it really isn't necessary (I never bother). The flavour of merc doesn't matter, I like Prayer mercs at this stage, but go with whatever. (You can use an Act 1 merc also, but it is a bit more difficult). Remember to feed him thawing potions as well.
(5) Level - I'm usually level 28 when I tackle Duriel. If you are a lower level then things will be more difficult.
(6) Life - As much as you can get. You want to put as many points into Vitality as you can. That most likely means none in energy and the minimum for gear (your Flail) in Strength and Dex.
(7) Carry as many healing pots and rejuv pots as you can. If you are wanting to use a skill then you will likely need some mana pots as well. Use pots to keep both you and your merc alive for as long as possible and then tp out when the pots run out (see below).
(8) Cast a tp as soon as you enter Duriel's Lair. You may not need it, but if you do need it you will be happy that it is already cast.
(9) Often it is better to tank Duriel yourself and let your merc swing away without being knocked back all the time. Your higher blocking will most likely make you the better tank at this stage of the game (even if you are a Sorc).

And really that is all there is to it.

Positioning yourself on the opposite side of Duriel to your merc can make Duriel waste a lot of time turning back and forth between the two of you, or you can stand one-in-front-of-the-other so that Duriel's knockback wont work.

Skills - you can do all the above without resorting to any skills. I usually find that my mana pool is so small at this stage that skills aren't always great to rely on. However, if you have a recastable minion then you can really mess with Duriel. Duriel seems to have a very strong preference for attacking minions. He will probably one hit kill many of them (however, see Nightfish's Fishymancer guide for how to make a Necros skeletons strong enough to take p8 Duriel down). So, he will kill your minion then start to turn to attack you or your merc. This is when you recast the minion on the opposite side. Duriel turns slowly and before he can attack you (or your merc) he will turn back to the minion to kill it again. With a bit of timing and a few mana pots, you can take advantage of his AI to keep him constantly turning or attacking a minion and he will never actually get a hit on you or your merc.

So, I guess the point from all the above is that any class, any build can take down Normal Duriel without too much fuss. This lets you focus on playing a build that is going to be 'fun' throughout the whole game rather than worrying about whether it is going to be able to defeat Duriel. Normal Diablo is a much tougher untwinked p8 opponent!
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