The Acrid Axemancer - Unusual "Chance To Cast" Melee Necro The Acrid Axemancer What is the Acrid Axemancer? The Acrid Axemancer is a melee necro that takes advantage of gear that has chance to cast attributes. The primary examples of such gear are: (1) the "Breath of the Dying" berserker axe with its 50% chance to cast a level 20 poison nova when you kill an enemy, (2) the "Bone" runeword armor with its 15% chance to cast bone armor when struck, and (3) Andariel's Visage with its 15% to cast a level 15 poison nova when struck. Can you see why such items are so powerful for a melee necro? By maxing the synergies to poison nova (poison dagger and poison explosion), our axemancer is constantly firing off relatively powerful poison novas as he mows down enemies with his axe, and his bone armor is constantly refreshed as enemies strike him. One note for those that may be interested in trying this character out is that there is no "untwinked" way to play this character. It is very gear-dependent and gear-specific and is built around a couple of core items that are mandatory ("Breath of the Dying" and "Bone"). Breakpoints FHR frames: 13 - 0% 12 - 5% 11 - 10% 10 - 16% 9 - 26% 8 - 39% (very easy to get with boots, jewels, charm, etc...) 7 - 56% (I'm here) 6 - 86% 5 - 152% 4 - 377% FCR frames: 15 - 0% (I'm here since this is not a caster character AT ALL.) 14 - 9% 13 - 18% 12 - 30% 11 - 48% 10 - 75% 9 - 125% IAS frames (for a Necro wielding a berserker axe): 18 - 0% 17 - 7% 16 - 15% 15 - 23% 14 - 35% 13 - 52% 12 - 72% (I'm here just from wearing eBOTD and Andy's) 11 - 117% (would require sacrifices in gear to get here - not worth it IMO) 10 - 194% Skills Curses - 1 point in all (Attract and Confuse are optional) Summoning - none at all. Poison Dagger - 20 (synergizes the "chance to cast" poison novas) Poison Explosion - 20 (synergizes the "chance to cast" poison novas) Poison Nova - 20 (you will need a secondary attack sometimes so you should max this since you will max its synergies) Bone Armor - 1 Bone Wall - 20 (synergizes your bone armor) Bone Prison - As much as you can. (synergizes your bone armor) I also have Battle Command, Battle Orders, and Battle Cry with the "Call to Arms" flail that I have on switch. Stats Strength - None (or very little depending on gear selection). Dexterity - None. Vitality - Everything! Energy - None. Suggested Gear Weapon: Ethereal Breath of the Dying beserker axe No other choice at all. This entire character is built around this weapon and its 50% chance to cast a level 20 poison nova when you kill an enemy. Also contains massive life leech, plus 30 to all attributes, self-repairs itself (REALLY nice) and all in a high-damage weapon. Armor: "Bone" Runeword No other choice at all. This almost-never-used runeword seems to have been tailor-made for melee necros in mind. Plus 2 to necro skills (helps our curses), 30 to all resists, and the very nice 15% to cast level 10 bone armor when struck. May as well put it in an Archon Plate because this necro will have a huge amount of strength from the other gear we use. Helm: Andariel's Visage Plus 2 skills (helps our curses), big life leech, increased attack speed to meet our breakpoint, massive poison resist, and a massive bonus to strength. Oh...and it has 15% to a level 15 poison nova when struck. Socket it to help with resist problems. Shield: "Phoenix" Runeword Adds 400% enhanced damage, bonus to life, and increased maximum fire and lite resist. On top of that we get big fire sorb. The chance to cast firestorm is a bit of a turnoff but not too big a deal. Melee necro's don't have blazing speed anyway. You will hardly notice the firestorm delay. Belt: Thundergod's Vigor We have to have some lite sorb and this fits us well. We also get increased maximum lite resist, 1-50 lite damage added, and big bonuses to strength (helps us equip other gear) and vitality. Amulet: Metalgrid You will be lacking resists, AR, and defense and this helps out in all these departments. Boots: Rare Tri-Resist Boots Andy's helm took care of our poison resists, but now we really need some fire, lite, and cold resists. Some FHR and FRW is also a plus. Ring #1: Ravenfrost We need some more AR and the "cannot be frozen." The cold sorb is a welcome bonus as well. Ring #2: Any unique/rare/crafted ring that fills in the gaps of what you feel is lacking: resists (fire especially if wearing Andy's), AR, life, etc... Gloves: Trang's gloves to add damage to your Poison Novas. Otherwise, any unique/rare/crafted gloves that fills in the gaps of what you feel is lacking: resists (fire especially if wearing Andy's), AR, life, etc... Switch Gear: Call to Arms and Spirit Monarch for battle orders. Charms: You will carry an Ani and a Torch, of course. If you want to carry grand charms, I would carry Curse grand charms since PnB charms won't help your "chance to cast" novas. Or you could just carry small charms that fit whatever you need/want: life, fhr, frw,damage, AR, etc. A wealthy person might stack up on 451 poison small charms. Merc – Act 2 Normal Offensive You absolutely must use the Blessed Aim merc. Your AR is terrible and without his aura you won't be able to hit anything. For example, I notice that without my merc I often have a low chance to hit monsters (say 50-60%), but with the merc I have 90%+ chance to hit. I tried early on using a Doom cryptic axe on him for Holy Freeze. The merc was awesome...very nice damage, busted corpses preventing resurrection, and he rarely died. But eventually switched to Pride because of the Concentration aura. My max damage (with no damage charms and no auras activated) is around 4K. Just by having the merc's aura, my max damage increases to 6K. I have no doubt that Infinity would also be a fine choice. The main thing is that merc be a blessed aim merc. What Can And Can’t Hurt Us We will have max resists (hopefully) with most of them at 85 or 90%. Add to that one item each for fire sorb, lite sorb, and cold sorb and we can practically ignore all elemental attacks from monsters. Even poison isn’t a problem because it will drain so little of our life that our life leeching while meleeing will quickly replenish the small amounts lost to poison. But we can’t sorb magic damage. So be aware of those groups of Vipers that shoot bone spears. They will hurt and your bone armor does not protect you against them. So (outside of the occasional encounter with Vipers) we really only have to worry about physical damage killing us. As long as the axemancer isn’t completely surrounded by very quick and very strong monsters (the last wave in the throne is nasty), his life leeching and the chance to cast bone armor should keep him safe in almost all skirmishes. Oh, there is one thing that will kill you…and I mean quick. Iron Maiden. It will kill you and it will kill your merc; and without your merc’s blessed aim aura, trying to melee is quite a bit slower (assuming you avoid IM-killing yourself). You either have to avoid the Chaos Sanctuary altogether or switch over to just being a plain old poison nova necro (these situations are why I suggest going ahead and maxing poison nova). Melee And Massive Chains Of Poison Novas Your EBOTD has a 50% to cast a level 20 poison nova when you kill an enemy. You will notice it doesn’t qualify that with “how” you kill an enemy. For example, say I decide to take on a large crowd of monsters. I attack with my axe and bring the first monster down and (50% of the time) it triggers a poison nova. Now the entire group of monsters is poisoned. Say they are weak enough that the poison nova kills them. Well, 50% of their deaths will trigger more poison novas in very rapid succession. You can get some unbelievable chains of poison novas firing off of you while you are meleeing (the chance to cast skills don’t interrupt your attacks or your running). One "Unusual" Way To Trigger Poison Novas There are certain areas of the game that have fires burning on the floor (like in the Tower and Catacombs. for example). Since you absorb fire, stand in it. It counts as being struck...repeatedly. This will quickly generate a click-to-cast poison nova from the Andy's helm (15% to cast when struck). This is useful if you want to get a chain of novas going without wanting to take time to swing the axe, kill a monster, and hope it's death triggers one. Other things that work great in triggering the "15% chance to cast when struck" novas: Those statues that spit out fireballs. Those lightning spires in arcane. Hydras and meteors cast by Ghoul Lords. The Use Of Curses You put a point in (at least eight of) the curses and you will have use for most of them. There are two curses that are the most useful are Amp Damage and Lower Resist. Amp is best if you need to kill those first few enemies to start the nova chains, and they are not poison immunes. Lower Resist is best if the monsters are poison immune; after all, you won’t get any long chains of poison novas if they can’t be killed by them. If you are too lazy to switch between Amp and Lower Resist depending on the monster’s immunity, then I would use Lower Resist all the time. Dim Vision is also very useful against very large groups of monsters that do either magic (Vipers) or large amounts of physical damage quickly (Dolls are especially dangerous when they surround you). Dim Vision is also useful if you are in a hurry to get somewhere and don’t want to fight every monster on your way. You just Dim them and run by them. The other curses are used only in special circumstances. Decrepify is useful on all the act bosses and on the last wave at the throne. Life Tap has its uses early in the game before you are fully geared. It’s also a nice party curse to have since some people will request it. Videos Of Game Play My computer lags badly when using video making software, but I decided to make these low-quality vids (1st vid is really bad, 2nd one is a bit better) anyway since some people will need to see this character in action to see exactly how it is supposed to work. It's very hard to see what I am doing in these vids, but the only things I am doing are casting lower resist and swinging my axe. The bazillion poison novas and re-casting of bone armor (as well as a couple of bone spears) are all "chance to cast." (I may make more videos - hopefully better quality - in other game areas later and add them here if possible.) Conclusion This game is too dang old to continually play with the same old cookie-cutter builds. And few of these experimental builds are both fun to play yet reasonably effective in PvM. The Acrid Axemancer is quite tough and pretty hard to kill (I tank the waves at the throne in 8ppl baal runs – LOL), and he does decent enough damage (more than the other popular melee necros) that it is a viable alternative to standard builds.