What makes a good SP Guide?

What does a guide need to be good

  • Total voters


Moderator Single Player, D2 Assassin, Barbarian
What makes a good SP Guide?

There's more guides on here and the Strategy Compendium than you can shake a stick at but what get's you enthused?

  • Is it the layout; easy on the eye makes it worth reading?
  • Does it need to be doable without Bnet gear (no Last Wish's please).
  • Is the devil in the detail; do you bother unless it specifies certain gear choices?
  • Do you prefer guides that lets you customize the build?

There's got to be more to it than that. So what do you think makes a good guide; feel free to give examples!


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

I chose the "explains the reasons behind it's choices" -one because I'm a curious type. The clear layout is also important so I might actually read it. Also chose the "what skills/items to use" -option because otherwise it's not much of a guide.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

I like all of the above blended together, with some ideas on how to play it

That's way I like the Pat/Mat/Guardian Compendium by winmar (thanks again for it:thumbup:), as you get a feel how they were to play as well as "strap on this, swing that, become l33t"

BNet gear choices can be funny though: "BerBerBerber Griz's Caddy, Shako with Cham, Enigma Sacred Armour, Exile Shield, with Phoenix on switch for Redemption" <-- like that but with more spelling errors


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

It'd be nice to have all of those... but a combination of any 3+ would make a guide above average I would say.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

Every 2nd skilled player can say "for blizzard build - maximize blizzard and it's synergies, put one point in teleport". What makes a good guide is explanation how the skills actually work, when is the best to use them and at least 2 or three ways how to deal with immunes etc.

BTW, I would suggest Ugla's Fury amazon guide to be added


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

I wanted to vote "Fix the forums that after voting in poll, it won't jump to random thread"


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

From most to least important:

- offers different possibilities for gear (ofc. including some SP-viable). Or even better, recommend mods and easy ways to obtain those instead of a slot-by-slot item list.
- identifies a "core build" which leaves 20+ points for customization.
- explains the reasons behind everything
- discusses strategy and recommends playstyle

Layout doesn't have to be great. But if layout (or, for that matter, writing) is really sloppy I probably won't read it.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

As the game ages, more information becomes available, more gets written, but little pruned. Information should be condensed, rationalized and kept up to date, not added to ad infinitum.

Guides should just give the outline of a build, i.e. skillpoint options, stat/gear only if a certain piece is essential to the build, play strategies only if they are revolutionary. Ias/fhr/fcr/whatever linked, as it's not really core business. I like Nightfish's guides a lot for these reasons, they give you the gist of a build without ploughing through details only relevant to the happy few, leave room to think for yourself.
This on the other hand is way overboard.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

I generally like when a guide states a reason why the build exists. What is it good at? What is it bad it? How does it play? Interesting strategies? How is it different from a bunch of other builds?

In regards to items I prefer a core list of mods I'm looking for, rather then a set list of items that are "best". That way, its easier for the reader to customize their rig based on personal preference/inventory.

When it comes to skills, I'm pretty much the same way. I like having a core group of skills and then some wiggle room to tweak the build.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

Good layout is MOST important. What use is a guide if it's not readable?

I think explaining the reasons behind choices is very useful. Guides that just tell you get last wish/grief, baal until 90 and put 80 points into blah blah skills is useless as a guide. Understanding the thinking behind a build allows people to modify the build according to their gear/preferences, or maybe invent their own build.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

I had to choose other,

One of the best things to have in a guide is how to actually "Play" the character. You have to know how to use the skills that are in the guide, take a look at the compendium guides you'll see that they all discuss how to use the skills in the build for instance the hammerdin guide explains how to stand when casting.

Merlin The Wizzard

Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

Tagged four options. I can only add that the guide should be written for something that needs explaining. It should fill a gap in the knowledgebase, so to speak. It's also important to lay out at the start at how in depth a guide will be, but most do this already.

A guide that preciesly explains how poison damage works (the tao of poison) might be useful or interesting to many, but it's not an easy read, especially for the mathematically ungifted or uninterested. And just compare Hrus' explanation to MF compared to Jiansonz ...

Both are lauded, both were needed, bot deal with MF. But where one gives a REALLY thorough explanation of magic find, the other deals in more practical use during gameplay... Both are by the way excellent in almost every way, allthough I am afraid to say that I skipped portions of Hrus' Bible :)

Low Key

Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

Although all choices are good, the most important one in my opinion are the layout and explaining the skill/item choices.

The first one really is what can make a difference between a good giude and a great guide. The more easier a guide is to the eyes, the easier its to read and follow. The second is great for beginners, so that they'll understand why an item is used and through that, what mods are important and useful.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

I really like reading SSoG's guides since even though I'm not sure I'd ever play more than one or two his guides seem to embody all that is good in guides. What makes them truly unique though is that "even in this new, post-1.09 age where you need 150 talents to build a real character" he manages to create a build that focuses around a skill that doesn't require synergies or only requires one piece of equipment. In addition, his gear selection centers around items that are fairly common given the way most SPers play the game.


Diabloii.Net Member
You duplicated yourself with the 3rd and 4th options :hide:

A guide should do just that, give you pointers and hints as to how to make a character along with the reasoning behind those choices. I like explanations for why I'm maxing a certain skill or why only a single point is placed in another. Also knowing the benefits of the mods the build needs and why certain items are desired is very helpful. That way I can decide to agree or disagree with the guide, but if no explanation is given I don't have that option. Just don't go over board with the explanations, shorter is better as long as the point gets across.

Format is also very important. None of us would read a "guide" that was a single huge block of text. Different sections for each piece such as skills, strategy and items gives the reader a little breather. It also allows someone to go back to the guide to refresh their memory on a certain aspect easier than hunting through the text.

Edit: What, no "hide" emotion anymore? That was one of my favorite ones [/rant]


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

I wanted to vote "Fix the forums that after voting in poll, it won't jump to random thread"

My "other" is that I prefer guides that include a bit of story. At the very least, the charater's strenghts and weaknesses. So I can tell if I, personally, would enjoy playing your charater, despite a differnt play style.

It'd be awsome if we had a rating set up for build guides (al la the Meyer's-Briggs personality test, not just useful vs. not) with things like:
"level of attention required" -- fishymancer low, charged 'sin high; gear richness needed; killing ability, full clears or need to park half an act?; killing speed, and not just act bosses; customizability -- have to spend 70+ points, use X equipment, and play with X style vs. tinker with it; age-- this would be what level/ act a charter needs to be before using end game skills/ tactics; ratings on running various bosses, for instance if I HATE running "x" boss, who's my next best choice or should I even bother?

For info guides a math meter (chaos theroy vs. elementary algerbra) would be nice too.... Sorry RTB, my eyes skip numbers when I read



Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

Anything by SSoG. He covers everything. After reading one of his guides, I know exactly what the build is good/bad at, the pros and cons of every skill for that character, and he gives good tactics for using the build. Basically everything you'd want to know while playing the game from carver killer to baal slayer.

I never have any questions after reading his guides. That's what makes a good guide.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

What I like:
  • Clear Layout.
    The most important part of any guide (or any post in the forum, come to think of it)
  • Tells you what skills/gear to use.
    I voted for the skills half of this option, but I prefer to keep gear discussion to a minimum. As for skills, I prefer it when the author simply lists the skills and includes a strategy section later, rather than explaining the strategy for each skill individually.
  • Aoiding unrealistic gear choices.
    Once again, gear discussion should be kept to a minimum, unless the build depends on it. I really liked the description of the WWS in the Witchyzon guide, but I don't need it explained in the LF/FA guide.
  • Give reasons.
  • Other.
    I really like discussion of battle tactics. The Charging Guide is a great example of this.

What I don't like:
  • Extensive gear discussion.
  • Early level skill progression.
    Saying "max Frozen Orb first 'cause it rules Nightmare" is fine. Advising me to get Decreptify before fighting Duriel is dandy. However, telling me where to place each skill point for the first 30 levels is totally unecessary.
  • Early level twinking discussion.
    People who do this already know what they are doing. People who don't will just skip it.
  • Snobbishness. Just because your build isn't cookie cutter doesn't mean you should tell people to "quit Diablo 2" if they play easier characters. Example. (The tone is light, but it's still just a waste of space, imo)

That's all I can think of for right now.


Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

I haven't read all the guides. Only some of the barb and pally ones that were stickied; either here or in the character strategy forums.

As some one very new to the game, what I find most helpful is:

- explanation of how to play the character;
- explanation of how the skill selections and gear suggestions work to support the character;
- an indication of what skill I should have, along with what mods on my equipped gear or switches for certain challenges. I've switched to hardcore after beating the game on SC normal, and knowing how to shore up a character's weaknesses is very helpful.

less priority

- clear layout (necessary for court documents or a resume perhaps, but I'm a glutton for learning this game right now and if the guide is interesting or useful I'll read it.)

- breakpoint inclusion or links....I'm not too lazy to look it up for myself.

Merlin The Wizzard

Diabloii.Net Member
Re: What makes a good SP Guide?

Clear layout is terribly important people.

Just think about this. We tend to organize and structure our own thoughts and ideas. Teachers gradually build up to the next level of knowledge by laying a foundation, testing its strength by repetitive questioning, and then moving on. Our lives are run by agendas.

An organized guide provides many advantages:
a) it allows those who only need to know certain aspects of a guide to quickly look those up.
b) it allows for easy reading, and gives a clear intention of where the writer is going.
c) It looks more appealing then one solid block of text.
d) Because the information is presented to you in a structured and well organized manner, chances are more of the details of this guide will stick.

If I were to write a guide, I'd most definitely look into the layout...

The content is much more of a gray area.
Some people might be more served by general guidelines, since these provide a sense of deirection as faar as character development and items needed goes, yet they leave more then enough room to experiment on their own and to find out certain aspects of the build for themselves...
Others, however, may be much more enamored by an extremely in depth guide, a reference work where they can pretty much find the answer to every question they could come up with for the build, ranging from 'What skill is most important to develop in the early game' to questions like 'Given a wind velocity of 2 beaufort at an angle of 40% in the back, how much distance can a barbarian with a 20 feet running start leap with 4 invested skill points, including the distance he may skid out on the icy slopes of harrogath given he wears soft leather boots with negligible friction from the sole and a body weight of 96 kilos and 3 ounces?'
Well, perhaps not QUITE that precise, but you get my drift...