Viet's Updated Mage Guide Viet's Guide to a Mage For the longest, I have been experimenting and making all different types of mages. Now that I feel my time with D2 is running short, I will pass down my knowledge that I've learned through trial and error and experience. First and foremost, a mage is a paladin who uses blessed hammer and fist of the heavens as his main skills. When dueling an opponent, a mage has the ability to attack with the element of surprise and frustrate people. This in itself is priceless, but as far as the cost of making one, it can get pretty expensive. Just know that there are different ways to make one, so choose carefully. A good mage needs good damage, a good damage requires a high level, and a high level requires dedication. Sub-Variants There is no right or wrong way to make one because in the end of it all, it's all about personal preference and how you like to play. Here are the sub-variants that I have tried or heard about. Hammer / FOH with max block (125 fcr recommended) FOH / Hammer with max block or no block (75 fcr recommended) Evenly balanced Hammer / FOH with max block or no block (75 or 125 fcr is fine) Low damage / High tankage with max block (125 fcr is recommended) Stat Allocations Strength - No points here because Enigma will provide enough for you Dexterity - Enough to get max block or none if you want to go the all vita route Vitality - The rest of your points should go here, or all of it if you are going all vita Energy - Don't waste a single point here until Paladins can use ES Gear Options This section will give you all the options on what gear to choose from depending on what sub-variant you want to make. Recommended setups for each variant will be listed accordingly on the bottom. Keep in mind that you want the optimum amount of +skills since your damage depends on it. Helms Shako (Jah'd / Ber'd / Vex'd / Lo'd / 15 resist jewel with good 2nd mod) Crown of the Ages (Dual Ber'd) Griffons Eye (5-5 light facet'd) Rare or Magical 2 Pally 20 fcr 2 open socketed circlet Armor Enigma Breast / Mage plate or Dusk Shroud if you have the strength Weapons Heart of the Oak (HOTO) flail +3 FOH +1-3 Conviction Scepter with 5x 5-5 Light Facets Call to Arms (CTA) on switch Shields Paladin Spirit Shield with base resists Herald of Zakarum (HOZ) Any Paladin Spirit on switch for Battle Order purposes Gloves Trang's Gloves Magefists Belts Arachnid's Belt Verdungo's Hearty Cord Boots Waterwalks Sandstorm Treks (Treks) Amulets Mara's Kaleidoscope 2 Pally / 0 fcr or 10 fcr or 20 fcr crafted with any of the following: strength, dexterity, life, mana, all resistances Rings Stone of Jordans (SOJ) Bul-Kathos Rings 10 fcr with any of the following: strength, dexterity, life, mana, all resistances Inventory 9x Paladin Combat Grand Charms (Pcombats) Paladin Hellfire Torch Annihilus Small Charm Rest 20 life small charms with optional second mods depending on what you need Optional Gear for Absorbing, Stacking, etc. Stormshield Monarch (SS) Hotspur Boots Tri-Resist Rare boots with +Stats Snowclash Belt Thundergod's Belt Dual Ravenfrost Rings Dual Wisp Projector Rings Perfect Resist Kira's Guardian Tiara Treachery Armor Recommended Gear Setups Hammer / FOH (9k+ hammers and 4k+ FOH damage with 125 fcr and max block) Helm: Griffons Eye Diadem 5-5 Light Facet'd Armor: Enigma Armor Belt: Arachnid's Belt Glove: Trang's Glove Boot: Waterwalks / Treks Weapon: HOTO Shield: Paladin Spirit Rings: 2x Sojs / BK rings Amulet: Mara's Kaleidoscope Ammy or 2 Pally ammy with neat mods This variant emphasizes more on hammers so you will be much more effective vs barbarians / melee paladins / whirldwind assassins / and a few other melee-orientated characters. FOH damage will be good enough to chip away at your opponent's life but use it conservatively because FOH is a timer spell meaning that after you cast it, you are vulnerable the very moment after that. Certain sorceress builds would pose a threat since it's hard to hammer them, you will be dependant on hitting them with FOH whenever given the chance. FOH / Hammer (6k hammers and 6k+ FOH damage with 75 fcr and max block is optional) Helm: Griffons Eye Diadem 5-5 Light Facet'd Armor: Enigma Armor Belt: Arachnid's Belt Glove: Trang's Glove Boot: Waterwalks / Treks Weapon: +3 FOH +1-3 Conviction Scepter with 5x 5-5 Light Facets Shield: HOZ Rings: 2x Sojs / BK Rings Amulet: 2 Pally ammy with 10 fcr and other mods This variant emphasizes more on FOH so you will be much more effective vs sorceress / amazons / hammerdins / and a few other caster characters. FOH damage will be devastating if you can reach the 7k mark, and 6k hammers as a backup isn't too shabby neither. This was the very first mage variant that I have tried, both max block and all vita, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. I didn't like the fact that my main skill could be absorbed and stacked to virtually nothing. Evenly balanced damage Hammer / FOH (8k hammers and 5k+ FOH with 75 or 125 fcr and max block is optional) Helm: Griffons Eye Diadem 5-5 Light Facet'd Armor: Enigma Armor Belt: Arachnid's Belt Glove: Trang's Glove Boot: Waterwalks / Treks Weapon: HOTO Shield: Paladin Spirit Rings: 2x Sojs / BK rings Amulet: Mara's Kaleidoscope Ammy or 2 Pally ammy with neat mods This variant is basically the same as Hammer / FOH but just optimized to have a bit more FOH damage and less hammer damage. You will have a better chance at killing certain casters and still maintain a good chance at killing melee opponents if you go with max block. Low damage / High Tankage (6k hammers and 4.5k FOH with max block) Helm: Crown of the Ages (Dual Ber'd) / Perfect Kiras (Vex'd / Lo'd / Resist Jewel'd) Armor: Enigma Armor Belt: Verdungo's Belt / Thundergod's Belt / Snowclash Glove: Trang's Glove Boot: Tri-Resist Dual Stat Rare Boots / Hotspurs Weapon: Wizardspike with resist jewel Shield: Paladin Spirit with high base resists Rings: 2x Sojs / BK rings / Ravenfrosts / Wisp Projectors / Dwarf Stars Amulet: 2 Pally 20 fcr crafted ammy This is the only variant that I haven't tried. The whole point of this build is to naturally be able to tank any elemental damage and maintain 50% damage reduced. You basically sacrifice damage to tank, and since I haven't personally tried this, I can't tell you if it worth it or not. But given the stacked resists and high % dr, you will at least dish out as much as you can take. Skill Placement As mentioned earlier, depending on how high you are willing to level your character, the amount of skill points you to get play around with will vary. With the damage I listed for each variant, you should be able to attain that at roughly level 92+. Although I would like to just give one layout on how your skills should be placed, your skill placement will differ a lot depending if you are going mostly foh or mostly hammer. So to make things more convenient here is a suggested skill point layout done with all the +skills (even the +1 battle command from CTA) you will have if you use the recommended setup. Note that I have also calculated the +12 skill points you gain from the quests so since you have 23 prerequisites, I have it labeled as 11 prereqs. Hammer / FOH (9k hammers / 4k foh) 19 vigor 04 concentration 18 blessed hammer 12 blessed aim 13 fist of heavens 14 holy shock 11 prereqs FOH / Hammer (6k hammers / 6k foh) 19 fist of heavens 19 holy shock 19 vigor 14 blessed hammer 08 blessed aim 01 concentration 11 prereqs Evenly Hammer / FOH (8k hammers / 5k foh) 19 vigor 02 concentration 17 blessed hammer 10 blessed aim 15 fist of heavens 17 holy shock 11 prereqs Low damage / High Tankage (6k hammers / 4.5k foh) 18 fist of heavens 16 holy shock 19 vigor 02 concentration 18 blessed hammer 07 blessed aim 11 prereqs Remember that this is just to give you an idea of how it should be. If you want to further optimize your damage, there are a bunch of links that are stickied for your use. Dueling Strategies Before reading this section, please keep in mind that dueling strategies will vary depending on what type of variant you chose. These are just general ideas on how to duel them with a balanced mage. Javazons / CS zons - This should be a fairly easy duel. These type of zons need to attack at a moderately close range, so all you have to do is spam a few hammers when they follow you and if they haven't died by then, a FOH or two should take them down when they are trying to run back to heal. Bowazons - This one is going to be tough, and a lot of it will depend on luck. Take notice or rather take a guess of where the bowazon is spamming her guided arrows and make sure you don't run into that trail. The best thing to do in this situation is to vigor + charge (desynch) from a direction where the arrows aren't spammed and FOH her when you are in range. Because of their ability to dodge and evade, that one FOH can kill them instantly or not. This can be described as a do-or-die situation, so if you don't kill her the first few shots, don't feel bad that she will kill you. If you see an opening, tele + hammer is also an option. Whirldwind Assassins - This duel will vary depending on the skill of the other player. You desynch around and spam hammers in a pattern surrounding the WWsin. Be careful of her whirlwinds though, since WWsins max venom and have high open wounds, one hit could bring your life down drastically. Use desynch to dodge the whirlwinds and to spam 1-3 hammers accordingly to where she will end up after the animation is done. You also have the option of a free FOH once you see the whirlwind miss. A few WWsins will have mind blast and wake of fire handy to keep you stunned, in which case all you need to vigor + charge out of there and continue spamming around her. Trap Assassins - By far one of the most annoying duels. You have a big disadvantage here, since both of your skills require you to be in the range of traps for you to cast, it is a no-win situation. Your only chance of winning is if the trapsin is playing offensive and she happens to land in a hammer field, in which you take advantage and hammer / FOH accordingly. But rushing in first to try and hammer or FOH her will result in your death about 99% of the times. Most of the times I don't even bother dueling trappers, mainly because I don't like losing. Bone Necromancers - The outcome of this duel will greatly vary depending on the mage and the necro. Because of bone prison, I don't recommend desynching at all (only if you are experienced and know when to, then it's OK) so you will have to depend on teleport. Basic strategy is to create a field of 2-4 hammers around yourself depending on how close/far he is to you and FOH when he comes in range, then move out of the area and repeat. Stay in one spot too long and you are sure to get hit by a stream of bone spirits, so just hit-and-run. In certain scenarios, there will probably be a chance where you can tele on him and hammer. Sometimes they will try to teleport on you and spear, when you have a feeling they will, just stand and spam. Poison/Summon Necromancers â€“ I never really dueled any of these builds so I wouldnâ€™t have any idea of how I would do or how I should play against them. Whirlwind Barbarians - This should be pretty easy depending on how experienced you are. Just like how you duel a WWsin, you lay 2-3 hammers in a pattern around the barbarian and desynch around to dodge his WW. Once you see his whirlwind miss, take the time to either FOH him or hammer in the place where the animation will end. Repeat the process until he is dead. BvC Barbarians - There are a couple that I can beat, and there are a few that I can't. BvC will have good resists and depending on what gear of choice they choose, they also have the option of negating your FOH. You will use almost the same strategy as a WW barb, but the only difference is you have to watch out for guided arrows (thanks to widowmaker). Sometimes it is inevitable to dodge so if you are max block, you will have a good chance of blocking them and continue spamming 1-3 hammers in a pattern around him. Remember to be offensive, the farther you get away from him, the better chance he has to spam more guided arrows. Melee Paladins / Druids (Smiter / Zealer / Charger / Fury / Mauler) - This is too easy of a duel if you ask me. Because of the fact that they have to get close to you to do damage, all you have to do is spam hammers and you will most likely kill them. Smart melee pallies will try to attack you from the south or tele and attack you at your blind spot, so make sure you are always south of the opponent if that is even necessary. Hammerdins - This could be easy and it could be hard. Usually if a hammerdin doesn't absorb your FOH, then he will most likely be the one to bite the dust. However don't get too sloppy, because he can tele and hammer you while you are casting FOH so make sure you only hit him when he is casting hammers. Always be careful if the hammerdin knows how to desynch, because there could be a bunch of invisible hammers waiting for you. If you are confused as to where he is, FOH will reveal his location for that second. If you feel that he is about to tele on you, then just stand there and spam hammers of your own, he will most likely teleport to where your hammers are spawning from. If he absorbs your FOH, then it will just be a classic hammer vs hammer match. Desynch some hammers of your own and use FOH to see where he is at the moment if necessary. V/T or T/V - You will have to play pretty defensive if you aren't stacking or absorbing his FOH. Since I duel good-mannered, a V/T or T/V's foh does a good amount of damage depending, so make sure you stay out of that range of his conviction where they can FOH you and try to guess what direction they will try to get you from. Desynch hammers there and all should be well if you can aim, and if you notice his life is low, just finish him with FOH. You have more of an advantage too, that is if the other V/T or T/V isn't stacking against your FOH either. If you went with the FOH / Hammer variant, just trade FOH shots with him and hammer when he gets close. Fireball Sorceress - Because of their ability to tank (ES) and spam an amazing number of fireballs in an instant, this duel can get tough. Desynching can get you in a bit of trouble if you run into a random fireball, so only desynch when you feel it's safe to. Personally, I create a hammer field then teleport and FOH and go back to my field, hopefully luring her in. Depending on your skill/experience, this duel can go either way. If you went with the FOH / Hammer variant just teleport around and FOH her every chance you get and keep a few hammers up just in case she teleports near you. Blizzard Sorceress - If one blizzard doesn't kill you the first time, the second one will (given that you arenâ€™t stacking or anything). You definitely do not want to desynch into a blizzard neither, so use it accordingly. Just create a hammer field and move, FOH when she gets in range, and tele + hammer only if you see the chance. If you like to be uber defensive, desynch some hammers far away if you are positive that she will come there. Blizzers will usually have ice blast handy as a spam spell, so be careful not to get caught while trying to tele on her. Orber Sorceress - Since orbs have more of a range on them than any of your skills, you can wait for them to come to you or you can cast desynch hammers in the place where you think they will go. If you want to FOH them, make sure you time it right and move out of there quickly because you will most likely get hit with an orb in return either while you are casting it or after. Lightning Sorceress - It doesn't take much for them to kill you, and most likely they will have ES so they can tank what you can dish out. Be patient and create hammer fields to lure them in, or if you know where they will be, desynch hammers there. In some scenarios, the sorc will teleport on you and if you happen to be desynching at that moment, you will end up charging her with your weapon. Since light sorcs also have nova, this can mean instant death when you get too close to her. Use teleport as movement and desynch only when you think itâ€™s safe, and FOH only when she is at a good distance or running away. Wind Druids - By far the hardest to deal with in my opinion. Don't even bother desynching because you will most likely charge into his summons and death will soon come afterwards. I advise that if you want a slight chance of winning, then create a hammer field consisting of 2-3 hammers and teleport to a new spot and repeat. If you feel that he will teleport on you, then don't stop and spam, teleport elsewhere and make sure he isn't too close before you spam again. In the best case scenario, he will tele into a stream of hammers and once all of his summons are gone and he isn't dead by then, you can chase him down with a few FOH as a finisher. If his life is still high, then you'd have to be patient and create hammer fields again until you see the opportunity to finish him off. Know-howâ€™s - Charge lock happens when you die while you are vigor charging (desynching). There is nothing you can do except save and exit. - While vigor charging, if you switch hotkeys before you reach your designated target, you will notice your pally charging in a slow motion. To prevent this from happening, just practice switching to hammers + concentration after getting to the spot you chose to go to. - Some opponents will be momentarily stunned in faster hit recovery animation when you hit them with FOH. If you time it right, there is an opportunity where you can teleport on him/her right after and hammer them to death. - Make sure you have enough strength to wear everything. I hear a lot about body popping during duels so only if itâ€™s needed, add a few points into strength to make sure you donâ€™t glitch what you are wearing (in most cases you wonâ€™t have to worry about this unless you are going for the tankage build which requires 174 strength for COA). - Desynching is random, but knowing how it happens will increase your chances of doing it. Usually long vigor charges from a screen away going onto your opponentsâ€™ area will glitch your movement, but I donâ€™t personally suggest just vigor charging in a straight line. Itâ€™s better to zig-zag, and if you hammer vs hammer a lot, you will know what Iâ€™m talking about. - I feel that the 55% fhr you gain from spirit shield is more than enough. Even with 0, you can desynch out of virtually anything, so no need to hit the 86% fhr breakpoint unless you are actually planning to teleport out of a mind blast or bone spear. - In my opinion, cannot be frozen is overrated. I gladly sacrificed a cham rune for a 5/5 light facet anyday, and even when I am frozen from blizzard or whatever deals cold damage, as long as you have vigor itâ€™s more than bearable.