ďWolfbrotherĒ Guide for Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

By Devon Butler
08/23/01


Introduction

Hello, this guide was written to create the Wolfbrother, a themed druid
variant thatís quite viable in multiplayer games.  Your basic focus as a
Wolfbrother will obviously be the summoning and shapeshifting trees.

I wrote this a day or two after the 1.09 patch came out so hopefully
anything I say here will still be accurate.

Copyright/Legal Stuff

This guide was created for private use only.  Please do not sell it,
publish it, or really do anything to it without prior permission from the
author.  If youíd like to contribute, feel free to contact the author.  

All Diablo II references belong to Blizzard Entertainment.  

Version 0.1 Ė 10:30 a.m., 08/23/01: Started the guide

Table of Contents

1. Becoming a Wolfbrother
A.	Basic idea
B.	Basic skill focus
C.	Basic stat focus
2.  Skill Choices
3.  Stat Choices
4.  Equipment
5.  Other Wolfbrother tips
6.  Final Thoughts


1.  Becoming a Wolfbrother

You hear their call.  Your kin beckon you from your quiet cabin nestled in
a small snow-covered valley.  All your life you have felt a kinship with
these noble beings of the forest.  Fierce, predatory, and loyal you creep
from the warmth of your home into the chill winter night.  You feel each
mind of the pack touch your own, welcoming you among them.  

Heeding their calls you drop to your knees and your body begins to change.
 Twisting, reforming itself into a savage hybrid.  A scream erupts from
your lips but turns into a howl as the process completes itself.  No
longer feeling the nightís bitter air you lope off into the woods to join
your brothers and sisters.  The hunt has begun.

A.  Basic Premise of a Wolfbrother


The general idea behind a Wolfbrother is to create a shape
shifting-summoning hybrid who specializes in wolves.  Seems simple right? 
Well youíd be surprised.  There are many, many out there who have turned
their noses up at me at my idea.  Telling me that it ďsuxxorsĒ and all
that other clever bnet slang that people are wont to throw about.  I of
course remind them that itís just a game and at least Iím having fun doing
my own thing rather than copying someone elseís tired idea.  Their
response is almost always going hostile.

You will be laughed at occasionally for picking a build that is not
designed for sheer power.  Yet I think in the end youíll have more fun and
get more out of the game than the repetitious ďclick, kill, click, kill,
loot, kill, click, die, loot, clickĒ sequence.  

B. Basic Skill Focus

Ok, your basic skills to work on as a Wolfbrother are: Lycanthropy,
Werewolf, Spirit Wolves, Dire Wolves, Heart of Wolverine, Feral Rage, and
Fury.

These skills are what will make you and your pack a force to be reckoned
with.

D.  Stat Focus 

Strong, fast, and tough you are Mother Natureís avatar of justice. 
Dispensing her rage wherever necessary.  As a result your strength,
vitality, and dexterity must be high.  

2.  Skill Choices

Here we go.  Hereís a look at every skill that youíll want to invest in. 
You will notice a lack of ratings next to any skill here.  I personally
think virtually any skill has its uses and should not be judged poorly
because of my lack of knowledge with it.

Elemental Tree

Letís get this right out of the way.  You are not like other druids.  They
shunned you for your ability to communicate with the animals.  You
attained a level of attunement that they were never able to achieve.  

As I stated above, you are Mother Natureís avatar of justice.  You get
right into the thick of things and let the demons know that they are an
abomination of everything you stand for.  Standing back and hurling
meteors at things is not your style.

So in short, zero points are used here.

Summoning Tree

Ah, here we go.  This is where youíll spend some points bringing forth
your animal companions.

Skill Name: Raven
Prerequisites: Level 1
Pros: Provides an un-targetable bird that will peck your opponents eyes
out.
Cons: Not really worth it.  Too many points to get too little damage.  In
addition since your ravens cannot be targeted, they cannot distract
monsters from you.
Wolfbrother Comments: These birds are better suited to eating than using
to attack with.  
Final Decision: Youíll need a point in here as a prerequisite, but other
than that.  Leave Ďem.

Skill Name: Poison Creeper
Prerequisites: Level 1
Pros: Itís a vine, and it likes to poison things…and die.  Mostly it
likes dying.
Cons: Oh, I think I took care of that in Pros.
Wolfbrother Comments: I do not like plants, especially this one.
Final Decision: Prerequisite if you wish to continue in the vine tree.

Skill Name: Oak Sage
Prerequisites: Level 6
Pros:  Provides you with a fair hit point bonus.
Cons:  Enjoys trying to impress monsters by standing directly next to the
biggest and nastiest one possible.  As a result, it gets beaten pretty
hard.
Wolfbrother Comments: Bah, oaks are trees, and trees are plants, and you
know how I feel about plants.
Final Decision: Put a point in it.

Skill Name: Spirit Wolves
Prerequisites: Level 6, Raven
Pros:  You can get up to five of your kin to fight with you.  In addition
any point spent here will provide your wolves with a passive bonus to hit
and defense.
Cons:  They are not as tough as their dire cousins and will be wiped out
quickly at higher difficulty levels.
Wolfbrother Comments:  Good companions to have, but I prefer my Dire
brothers and sisters.
Final Decision: Put a few points in here, at least four.

Skill Name:  Carrion Vine
Prerequisites: Level 12, Poison Creeper
Pros:  Creates a tougher vine that will devour corpses and provide you
with the fruits of its labor.
Cons: Can get beaten down if left alone.
Wolfbrother Comments:  While my aforementioned dislike for plants still
remains, this one serves a purpose.
Final Decision: Put a point here, more if you like.

Skill Name:  Heart of Wolverine
Prerequisites: Level 18, Oak Sage
Pros: Adds to attack rating and damage.  Looks better than the damn Oak
Sage.
Cons: Cons?  You hit things more easily and deal more damage.  No cons
here.
Wolfbrother Comments:  Ah yes.  The wolverine is a fearsome creature. 
When our pack possesses itís courage and ferocity they are unstoppable.
Final Decision:  Allocate tons of points here for maximum benefit.

Skill Name: Dire Wolf
Prerequisites: Level 18, Oak Sage
Pros: Can bring up to three fearsome hunters of the north to devour your
enemies.  Can deal quite a bit of damage and provide a passive boost to
hit points for your wolves.  In addition they can consume a corpse and
enter a blood rage, thus dealing more damage.
Cons: None.  You have ravenous beasts on your side, what more could you
want.
Wolfbrother Comments:  Valuable comrades.  I would be lost without them.
Final Decision:  You know what to do.  Plenty of points here.

Skill Name: Solar Creeper
Prerequisites: Level 24, Carrion Vine
Pros: It eats stuff for mana…that good I guess.
Cons:  You donít need the extra mana.
Wolfbrother Comments:  Lousy plants.
Final Decision:  Donít bother unless youíre a fan of wasting points.  In
this theme it isnít needed.

Skill Name:  Spirit of Barbs
Prerequisites:  Level 30, Heart of Wolverine
Pros:  It hurts things that hurt you.
Cons:  You have to take a punch for it to work.
Wolfbrother Comments:  Barbs?  The only time Iím covered with barbs is
when I walk through one of those damn prickly plants.
Final Decision:  Youíll be relying on Heart of Wolverine too much to worry
about this one.

Skill Name:  Summon Grizzly
Prerequisites:  Level 30, Dire Wolf
Pros: Creates a bear.  In addition wolves get a bonus to damage.
Cons: You donít like bears.
Wolfbrother Comments:  Bah bears.  Clumsy, stupid things.  Sure they can
take a beating, but who wants a brick wall for a companion?
Final Decision:  Donít bother unless you somehow have thousands of points
to waste.

Shape Shifting Tree

Here is where your true power lays.  

Skill Name:  Werewolf
Prerequisites: Level 1
Pros:  You get to be a giant canine…what more could you ask for? 
Well, ok.  Letís see, bonus to life, increased attack speed, increased
attack rating, and a bonus to stamina.  Happy?
Cons:  None.
Wolfbrother Comments:  I am at my finest when I join my brothers in this
form.
Final Decision:  Youíll want plenty of points in here.  You will start
running into diminishing returns after a while (10+ points) or so.  

Skill Name:  Lycanthropy
Prerequisites:  Level 1, Werewolf
Pros:  Bonus to your life and increases the amount of time spent in your
form.
Cons:  Sort of makes you seem like you gained your powers through some
sort of disease rather than a truly natural gift.
Wolfbrother Comments:  I was not bitten by some deranged beast.  Well,
that isnít how I gained my powers anyway.
Final Decision:  Great place to put points if you donít want to save any,
or canít decide where to put them.

Skill Name:  Werebear
Prerequisites: Level 6
Pros:  None, who wants to be a smelly bear?
Cons:  Constant jokes about ďarenít you supposed to be putting out a fire
somewhere?Ē
Wolfbrother Comments:  Stupid bears…
Final Decision:  Do not bother.

Skill Name:  Feral Rage
Prerequisites:  Level 12, Werewolf
Pros:  Fantastic.  The amount of life leech you get increases for each
consecutive hit (up to three) and only requires one additional hit every
20 seconds to keep it going.
Cons:  Um, none?
Wolfbrother Comments:  My rage knows no bounds.
Final Decision:  Very good skill thatís overlooked sometimes in favor of
Fury.  You can easily Feral Rage three hits, switch to Fury and then
switch back to Feral Rage before it runs out.  Thus you do insane damage
and steal a lot of life.  Not many points are needed to make this a very
good skill.

Skill Name:  Maul
Prerequisites: Level 12, Werebear
Pros:  You get to maul somebody.
Cons:  Youíd have to be an ugly bear to do it.
Wolfbrother Comments:  Maul?  Why maul when you can RAGE?
Final Decision:  Again, donít bother.

Skill Name:  Rabies
Prerequisites:  Level 18, Feral Rage
Pros:  Spread disease (poison) throughout some mobs.
Cons:  Animals with rabies are usually put down.
Wolfbrother Comments:  I am not some sort of diseased mutt!  
Final Decision:  Put a point in for prerequisites but donít use it!

Skill Name:  Fire Claws
Prerequisites:  Level 18, Feral Rage, Maul
Pros:  You get to burn stuff.
Cons:  Your paws are on fire…and way too many prereqs.
Wolfbrother Comments:  I do not wish to have my hands burned.
Final Decision:  Donít worry about it.  

Skill Name:  Hunger
Prerequisites:  Level 24, Fire Claws
Pros:  Get huge leech abilities
Cons:  Large reduction in damage, plus all the prerequisites.
Wolfbrother Comments:  When I am hungry I kill more, not less.
Final Decision:  If it didnít have all those prerequisites itíd be
great…unfortunately it does.  Forget it.

Skill Name:  Shockwave
Prerequisites:  Level 24, Maul
Pros:  Er…uh...you can create a sonic wave?
Cons:  Youíd need to be a bear…need I say more?
Wolfbrother Comments:  The only shockwave I ever see is after one of my
claws tears through an evil monstrosity.  
Final Decision:  Youíd need to be a bear, so pass on it.

Skill Name:  Fury
Prerequisites:  Level 30, Rabies
Pros:  Incredible.  Adds a lot to hit and damage.  Similar to Zeal for a
Paladin…but much cooler.
Cons:  None.
Wolfbrother Comments:  You do not wish to bring my wrath down upon you.
Final Decision:  Fantastic skill.  This combined with Feral Rage will be
your bread and butter.

3.  Stat Choices

Strength: Youíre strong.  Therefore it would stand to reason that your
strength would be high.  In my opinion there is no magic number here.  If
you add to strength you deal more damage and can use better weapons.  

Dexterity: You agilely flit about the woods and many find it difficult to
catch you, let alone hit you.  Many dislike taking this to a high level,
however thereís nothing worse than finding a fantastic item only to see
that youíre way short on the dex requirement.

Vitality: Youíre tough.  Perhaps not as tough as those moronic bears, but
you can take a hit pretty well.  Investing here can never hurt.

Energy: Other druids might cast spells.  You rely on your rage to see your
way to victory.  Not much, if any, is needed here.  What mana you do have
can be easily leeched back.

4.  Equipment

With so many pieces of equipment out there it would be futile to try and
catalogue every item and compare them to each other.  Instead Iíll give
you a list of item characteristics that you might find useful and some
specific set or unique items.  

Now all of this is dependent on your play style, but fortunately the
Wolfbrother gives you quite a bit of room to maneuver when it comes to
equipment selection.  Since you wonít be utilizing hunger you may want to
invest in some form of mana leech, or the +mana after each kill.  Your
still cost little to use and with these youíll make sure that youíll
always be ready for anything.

Plus to skills is always nice.  Always.

Life leech is nice, but youíll get plenty of that from Feral Rage. 
Increased attack speed is also a nice modification to have.  

I would stay away from anything with charges.  They have insane prices to
repair since the 1.09 patch.  Besides, why were werewolves teleporting
anyway?

Items with ďcasts ____ X% of the time when hitĒ or when you attack are
fairly decent.  Those with Frost Nova in particular can help you out.  

Weapons.  Ok, hereís what I do.  I have an ungodly two handed weapon as my
primary attack weapon.  With a decent speed and a ton of damage you can
become a whirling tornado of claws and fangs.  My alternate set-up is a
good one-handed weapon with elemental damage and a decent shield.  While
it should be evident why my alternate is like that, Iíll explain it later.

Poison reduction is also nice, as is ďcannot be frozenĒ, and letís not
forget resists.

The weapon of choice right now for shape shifting druids seems to be the
Immortal Kingís Stone Crusher (Maul).  But thatís difficult to find and it
usually costs a paw and a tail to trade for it.  If you get your hands on
it and can actually use it, great.  If not, donít sweat it.

There are the ever popular Silks of the Victor.  Iíve never been fond of
them but +1 to skills is +1 to skills.  If you want to trade for nice
items you had better have a Stone of Jordan, or twelve because itís the
accepted medium of currency.  Personally youíll have more fun if you just
hunt for items by yourself or with some friends.  

5.  Other Wolfbrother Tips

Combat.  The only drawback to having your wolf brethren with you is that
they can easily be sent packing in Hell difficulty.  Your skirmish line
can easily falter and fall if you arenít paying attention to the battle. 
Quickly you will find yourself surrounded and friendless in a very hostile
environment.  How do you combat this?  Well, there isnít much to it.  Just
pay attention.  If you notice that you and two of your wolves are railing
on one monster and the third is left to handle four or fives you should
consider moving over to help your beleaguered comrade.  

Investing a lot of points in Dire Wolves will give them more life and
damage, but as you progress you will have to summon them more.  Itís the
drawback to avoiding bears and Oak Sage.

I already stated that Feral Rage and Fury can be combined for a
devastating effect.  Let me reemphasize that:  use Feral Rage and Fury in
combination whenever possible!  Youíll leech back so much life that youíll
rarely have to worry about being smacked around.

Mercenaries.  While you are a proud and noble lord of the forest, it is
sometimes wise to seek aid.  The Barbarians found in Act V are preferable.
 They provide a solid wall to keep you and yours alive, they also seem
more connected to nature, unlike those foul necromancers.  Plus they smell
slightly better than bears.

Physical Immune Monsters.  These are your bane.  Your whole goal is to
inflict such massive physical damage that nothing can stand before you. 
Unfortunately physically immune monsters put a slight dent in your plan. 
How do you fix this?  

Mercenary.  Get a mercenary and equip them with a nice socketed weapon
containing gems.

Charms.  Load up on charms that give you elemental damage (poison is a
favorite of many).  

Get your own socketed item.  Pack a maul with gems and youíll find that
those PI monsters donít last quite as long as they did before.

My personal preference is to combine charms with my secondary weapon
set-up.  Finding a decent elemental damage one handed weapon is not
difficult.  This with a shield (to keep you safe while you slowly beat the
monster down) should make the encounter rather safe, if not enjoyable.  

Etiquette.  Yes you are a wild beast, but you are not a homicidal maniac. 
Randomly attacking other players without prior provocation will give all
of us Wolfbrothers a bad name.  Treat others with respect, but be wary of
Paladins.  They usually try and convert you to their religion, Zakarum.

6.  Final Thoughts

I sincerely hope that this guide has provided you with some information,
and hopefully a little entertainment.  Variations and character themes are
the only things that have kept me playing Diablo II for as long as I have.
 


Thanks To:

Blizzard, for making a great game.  Even if it took a really, really long
time.
The 5% of the bnet population who are friendly and personable.
Me, for amusing myself by writing this guide.
Jonathon Spectreís Were-Guide at www.lurkerlounge.com.  After reading such
an amusing and insightful guide I was inspired to try my own hand at it.

Any actual numbers were gathered from www.diabloii.net, a fantastic
website full of information, or from www.battle.net, Blizzardís own
resource page.
And to anyone who actually read this and enjoyed it.

This document Copyright 2001 by Devon Butler.