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Vlad's PvP Necro Guide For Diablo 2: Lord Of Destruction

The following sites may post this FAQ:
diabloii.net
gamefaqs.com

I have not authorized this posted anywhere else at this time. You can 
post my FAQ if you wish, just contact me. I really don't mind who posts 
it, would just like to know where it's going to be.
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Before going any farther, you have to realize what you're starting with 
a PvP Necro. It's not a piece of cake by any means. You're going to 
die...a lot. It takes a lot of patience and practice to get highly 
skilled with a Necromancer. But learn to use him effectively, and you 
will have one of the most versatile duelists around. I've been playing 
dueling Necros for 2 1/2 years, and I still am surprised by what they can 
do. I think you will be too, and hopefully, so will your opponents!

There are 2 kinds of Necromancer duelists. The 'Pure' PvP Necro, and 
the Damage Reduce Necro. Both have their uses, but for true overall 
versatility, nothing beats a Physical Damage Reduce Necro. Why? Because 
a physical damage reduce Necro can actually get quite tough. Tanking 
guided arrows, surviving up to 3-4 whirlwinds, they can be quite 
frightening in duels.

So you think that a 'Pure' PvP Necro would be better in duels against 
Sorcs and other Necros, right? Not true. These duels are much more 
skill based. Whereas in a duel against a Zon or Barb, being able to 
take some hits can win things for you, in a duel against a Sorc or 
Necro, there are many times you will never get hit at all and still 
win.

I will be outlining the stats for such a char, taking into account the 
proper rules for fair dueling as established on the dii.net PvP Forums 
(http://www.myleague.com/useastpvp).

I am a fair and legit dueler, and these rules are the result of many 
months of testing and debate from some of the top players on battle-
net. If you don't believe that, try fighting them sometime!  These 
rules have been established as the way to achieve the fairest rules 
possible in the 1.09 patch.

Table of Contents

1: Stat point distribution
2: Equipment guides
3: Skill point distribution
4: PvP strategies
  a: Vs. Amazon strategies
  b: Vs. Assassin strategies
  c: Vs. Barbarian strategies
  d: Vs. Druid strategies
  e. Vs. Necromancer strategies
  f: Vs. Paladin Strategies
  g: Vs. Sorceress strategies
5: Charms and accessories
6: Wrap up/Credits
7: Contact Me

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Part 1

Stat Point Distribution
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Why Stat point distribution first you ask? Because you should read this 
before choosing your equipment! There are several different options for 
gear later, each having advantages and drawbacks. Get a feel for what 
stats you need before making any permanent decisions.

Although not usually the most important part of a build, you have to 
get all your stats in just the right place to be an extremely effective 
dueling necro. It is especially important to a character like a necro, 
because he can't afford to waste points on strength or dex, when he 
could be getting higher life.

For this particular build, you are trying to achieve 2 important 
things: Max block rate (75%), and a high lvl of physical damage 
reduction (50% or more). This is challenging to achieve, while at the 
same time managing your life and mana lvls.

I would strongly suggest saving all your stat pts until you are 
absolutely sure of what you will be wearing. For instance, if you 
decide to wear a Stormshield with no negative requirement jewel/rune in 
it, you will need far more strength then if you can't afford this item, 
and are using a Whitstans Guard. 

Perhaps the most common stat layout would be:

Strength: 133
Dex: 210
Vitality: All leftovers
Energy: 25 (Base)

With this stat line, you can wear a Stormshield with a -15% req jewel 
in it, achieve maximum block with it at lvl 99, and should still have 
enough mana and life to hold your own in a fight.

Another possible stat line:

Strength: 78
Dex: 225+
Vitality: All leftovers
Energy: 25

With these stats, you would be wearing a Shaftstop with -15% reqs, and 
trying to raise your dex so you could achieve a DECENT block rate with 
a Lidless Wall. This can be an effective build, but I find it difficult 
to achieve a good block rate with Lidless without a lot of dex being 
wasted. You could also use a Whitstan's Guard with this build, but far 
less dex would be required. Stormshield comes with inherent block rate 
bonuses, and has a faster block rate. However, you save a lot of 
points, which can be used to boost your vitality, making you better in 
fights against other mages.

My Build:

Strength: 156
Dex: 210
Vitality: 200+
Energy: 25

This is how I built my PvP Necro. He has enough base strength so he can 
wear a Stormshield without any -req jewel in it at all, because I opted 
to put a Ber rune in my Stormshield. I find that 210 dex allows for max 
block rate with Stormy at higher lvls, and my Vitality is high enough 
so I don't die very often at all. I always suggest keeping energy at 
BASE LEVEL.

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Part 2

Equipment Guides
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This is without a doubt the most important factor of a dueling Necro. 
It isn't easy to say, but it is indeed much easier to play this build 
if you have the right items.

It's not hard to assemble your gear. There are only a few things to 
keep in mind when planning your layout:

-You will be dueling in nightmare. According to the rules established 
on the diabloii.net PvP forums, the most fair and legitimate duels 
occur in nightmare difficulty. After my 2 1/2 years of experience, I 
agree. Remember you only have to deal with the -50 resist penalty in 
nightmare, it's much easier to overcome.

-Cast rate is your best friend. No matter what else you're wearing, or 
what you're doing, cast rate helps it get done faster. Cast rate breaks 
down as follows, and is measured is fps, or frames per second.

11 fps: 48 
10 fps: 75
9 fps: 125

I would strongly suggest not going past 125 cast. It's a complete waste 
for the marginal increase you will get in performance.

Now for the gear. Notice that in situations where you would switch 
between items depending on whether you need damage reduce or not, I 
have included 2 item selections, Caster gear, and Damage Reduce Gear.

Caster Gear situations:
 Sorcs
 Other Necros
 Pure Trap Assassins
 FoH Pallys

Physical Damage Reduce situations:
 All Barbs
 All Zons
 All Druids
 Martial Assassins
 Chargadins/Smiters

Also, note that items with +mana/life come BEFORE items with +dex/str. 
This is because the pts you would save putting into str/dex would be 
wasted in Vitality, and you shouldn't need much more mana. A Necro only 
gets 10 life for every 5 pts in Vitality. Yikes! Notice that I rate 
mana more importantly then life, this will be explained in the Strategy 
section, and dex more then strength, because you will only need a set 
amount of strength to wear your gear, but the amount of dex to get high 
blocking rates will increase with your character level.

Low End Gear For Your Necro:
(With mods being listed from least important to most important)

Hat: + skills Circlet, with fast cast, +dex/str, or +mana/life

Wand: Wizardspike, or some 20 fast cast + skills wand

Shield: Wall of Eyeless or Lidless Wall
  Damage Reduce Shield: Whitstans Guard

Armor: Skins of Vipermagi, or Stealth runeword armor

Belt: Tal's Belt, crafted Cast belt, or Rare with, +mana/life, +str/dex

Shoes: Waterwalks or similar boots

Ammy: Most any Rare ammy will do. Mara's is okay as well

Rings: 2 Rings that add fast cast, resists, +mana/life, +str/dex

It's hard to get Damage Reduce Gear on a budget >_<
So you will have to pretend you have it, and just get high block rate 
for your Whitstans's Guard instead. This should protect you a lot. 
Wizardspike should be easy to get, sometimes people even give them 
away. Wall of Eyeless is the same deal, but Lidless can be tough to 
find. Luckily, Eyeless and Lidless are very similar, so don't feel bad 
using Eyeless. Vipermagi is AWESOME armor for your Nec, try to snag 
one. Stealth can do in a pinch, but Vipermagi is much more useful. As 
for Tal's Belt, it adds loads of dex and mana, both of which you are 
going to need bad. Waterwalk adds 15 dex, and over 60 life!? Perfect! 
Use whatever rings or ammys seem to help your situation the most. I 
suggest ones that add mana, because with this gear setup, and no pts in 
base Energy, you will run out of mana easily.

For The Rich Folks:

Hat: Harlequin Crest Shako OR
Rare Circlet with +2 skills, dual 20-30% cast and run mods, +dex/str, 
+mana/life

Caster Wand: A White runeword wand, with overall +6 to Bone Spirit.
  Damage Reduce Wand: Wizardspike

Caster Shield: Lidless Wall OR a Rare necro head with overall +5 Bone 
Spirit, fast cast, resists, +mana/life, +str/dex
  Damage Reduce Shield: Stormshield

Caster Armor: Skins of Vipermagi
  Damage Reduce Armor: Shaftstop

Caster Belt: A nice .08 crafted Caster belt, fast cast, resists, 
+mana/life, +str/dex
  Damage Reduce Belt: You can get some nice mods on belts to help you 
wear your heavier items, so I reversed the desirability of mods on this 
item: +str/dex, +mana/life, resists

Shoes: Waterwalks. I have never seen any terribly desirable crafted 
Caster belts, even though they might potentially exist.

Ammy: +2 skills, or +3 Poison/Bone skills, fast cast, resists, 
+mana/life, +str/dex

Caster Rings: 2 SOJ's
  Damage Reduce Rings: 1 Ravenfrost and 1 SOJ

It's good to be rich. PvP Necros are not terribly expensive to equip, 
but it can get pricey.
Most of the equipment I listed is optional, and only to be used as 
reference. The most important thing to remember is you want to get a 
good balance between cast rate and damage reduce when you are in such a 
duel. Otherwise, get as much life/resists/mana and cast rate as 
possible.
Following this advice, socket your stuff accordingly. For instance, you 
could have the Circlet I mentioned, put a Ber rune in it, wear Shaft 
and Stormshield with -15% req jewels, and your damage reduce would 
almost be maxed at 73%, however your cast rate would suffer. Usually 
when I wear damage reduce gear, I use Wizardspike to offset the loss of 
cast rate.
As for shoes, I really have not seen a more useful pair for duels then 
Waterwalks. When you witch to cast gear, you might want to switch to 
Silkweaves for the boost in mana, but I just save myself the bother and 
keep Waterwalks on all the time. I like the life boost and other mods.
For rings, the mana and skill boost from SOJ's make them superior in 
cast duels. 1 Ravenfrost with your damage reduce gear on will give you 
a dex bonus for more block rate, give you some anti-freeze, and help 
with equipping items.
Keep a Thundergod's Vigor belt in your stash. You shouldn't have too 
much trouble equipping it, and it's very useful against sorcs. One 
piece of absorb gear for each element in nightmare difficulty is 
considered fair by most, so paired with Ravenfrost, it should afford 
some protection.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALL YOUR ITEMS COMPLETELY CUSTOMIZED AND PLANNED OUT 
BEFORE ALLOTING STAT POINTS. There's nothing more annoying the wasting 
a whole lot of stat pts. The only things you'll have to worry about are 
your strength and dex requirements when wearing your damage reduce 
gear. Put on your Ravenfrost, ammy, belt, boots, etc, and slowly put 
your points in as you put on more of your gear. For instance, if your 
Wizardspike has a +10 str jewel, put enough dex in to use it, then 
modify your strength to wear your next heaviest item from there.

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Part 3

Skill Placement
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Ah, the never-ending controversy between Necros. No one ever seems to 
like to settle on what skills are the best. Fortunately, I've heard it 
all and I'll tell you what skills you want! ~_^

First, you have to realize that you will accumulate 110 skill pts to 
distribute over the course of the game if you reach lvl 99. Here's the 
breakdown:

98 from leveling
3 from the Den of Evil Quest x 3
3 from the Radament Quest x 3
6 from the Izual Quest x 3

Total = 110

And here's where you should put them:

20 - Bone Spirit
20 - Bone Armor
20 - Poison Nova
6 - Corpse Explosion
1 - Bone Prison
  You need 3 pts in requirements for these
  
20 - Lower Resist
20 - Decrepify
  You need 5 pts in requirements for these

1 - Clay Golem
1 - Golem Mastery
1 - Summon Resist
  You don't need any requirements...

Most of it is self explanatory, Spirit is your main damage dealer, 
Lower resist increases damage for Spirit and Nova, Decrepify slows 
speedy opponents, and Nova is good against Sorcs and Barbs. All these 
are very helpful to you and should be maxed. Spirit does pure magic 
damage, and cannot be resisted except for magic damage reduced items, 
which almost nobody uses much of. After the 3/4 penalty in duels, and 
lower resist, you will usually be looking at doing about 200+ damage 
with each shot. It's a powerful attack, but slow.
Bone Prison is another very important skill, but doesn't need to be 
maxed. You don't need to have these take a lot of damage to help in a 
duel. You will see their importance in my strategy section.
Put 1 pt in Clay Golem, Golem Mastery, and Summon Resist. A golem is 
always helpful in duels, to run with you and distract attacks away from 
you, such as FoH, other Bone Spirits, Thunderstorm, etc. With these 3 
skills and your + skills, you should have a pretty tough golem.

If you don't plan on reaching level 99, and few people do, I would 
suggest cutting back on Poison Nova. Why not Corpse Explosion? First, 
Poison Nova does very low damage in Nightmare difficulty, even at high 
levels. Its usefulness in duels is severely limited, just because it 
can't deal damage very fast. It's nice compliment to your other skills, 
but don't expect it to win you anything.
So next we look at PvM skills. Sure, you can leech your way to lvl 99 
hypothetically, but there are many people that won't play with you and 
just leave your game if they realize you're doing nothing to help kill 
things. Corpse Explosion is by far the fastest killer for PvM in cow 
levels, the most popular place to level. So that's where my leftover 
pts are going on my PvP Necro. Again, if you're making the PERFECT PvP 
Necro, you would avoid this skill entirely, but it's hard to keep 
leveling without it after a certain point.

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Part 4

PvP Strategies
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Here are the math-ups against most of the popular PvP builds you'll see 
on b-net lately. I won't include crazy things like an Elementalist 
Druid, these are builds that could actually do well in a duel.

Necro Tactics:

Invisible Bone Spirits
  A little cheap, but necessary to win in most situations. If you can 
get your cast rate high enough, you are actually capable of generating 
invisible bone spirits, because the game does not generate the image 
fast enough to keep up with your cast animation. This happens after you 
reach 125 cast rate.

Bone Spirit Lock
  Once you position your cursor over an opponent, and their name 
appears over them, you can hold down the right click, and basically 
lock them under your cursor. Even running off the screen does not get 
them out of this lock. By doing this, you can send a cloud of spirits 
after them, and if they run away, switch your skill to bone prison 
without letting go of the right click button. You will surround them 
with 3-4 prisons, with your spirits following close behind ^_^  

Section a: Vs. The Amazon

There are 2 kinds of Amazons, a Bowazon and A Hybrid, which uses bows 
and javs. Well, they're both pretty much the same to you.

Start off with cursing them with lower resist. This has a huge range at 
lvl 30+, so it should work from well off screen. Keep this on them at 
all times, because your opportunities to deal damage are few, so you 
need to make the most of them.
A competent Zon will start off with barrages of multishot from well off 
the screen. This can work to your advantage. Use some bone walls 
between you and the zon if this is near the start of the duel. The zon 
will leech life from the walls, and she will advance on you thinking 
you will soon die from either the multishot or finish you with some 
guided arrows. Estimate the angle she approaches and send some spirits 
at her. This will make her choose a different angle of attack, and 
throw off her estimate of where you are. You also may hit her with some 
invisible spirits.
When she changes directions, estimate where she's going and send 
spirits into her path. Try to stay on the offensive after this and you 
should win.
If the zon is quite speedy, you will have a hard time tracking her down 
and catching her in spirit crossfire. In this situation, use the 
terrain to your advantage, and make her come to you. Try to get her on 
your screen and spirit lock her, fencing her in some prisons.

Always remember that zons have valkeries. These can get pretty tough, 
and distract a lot of your spirits. Always keep some spirits headed 
toward the zon, and try to keep her valkerie as dead as often as 
possible.

Section b: Vs. the Assassin

A very tough or very easy win.

Most Assassins are martial artists. They will try to dragon flight you, 
a type of teleport, then charge up tiger strike so they can deal a 
final, fatal move to you. The important thing to remember is that 
dragon flight locks onto the nearest target, so if you put up some bone 
walls, the assassin will automatically fly to them, setting them up for 
some harsh punishment from your spirits. The assassin can of course 
leech off your bone walls, but if they sit around they will receive far 
more damage then they can get back.
Because of dragon flight, I usually don't even bother using decrepify 
on assassins. Stick to lower resist.
If the assassin decides to forget trying to use dragon flight, then you 
have some problems. Assassins are VERY fast, and you won't have much 
time to do anything while they follow you. Keep running, and when they 
attack, hope your shield blocks or they miss. Then you have an open 
chance to fire a couple spirits, which the assassin will run into if 
they keep following. Assassins don't have terribly high life, so you 
should prevail if you're wearing the right gear and have your block 
rate maxed.

Trapassins are just plain easy. You deal more dmg, attack from a 
greater range, and just outclass them in any category. If they do close 
on you, just stand your ground and keep casting spirits at them, you do 
more dmg then they can.

Section c: Vs. a Barbarian

Besides Necro, I've spent most of my hours in PvP playing Barbarians. 
They are a decent match up against a Necro, but especially in a lag 
free environment the Necro has the upper hand. Just decrepify the Barb, 
slowing him to a snails pace. Remember! Decrepify does not kick in 
until your opponent stops for some reason. If they keep running, it 
doesn't affect them at all. Make them WW at you, and then it will kick 
in. It sometimes is difficult targeting a speedy barb with this skill, 
but just estimate where they will be on the screen and cast it, and you 
should hit them with it.

Other then that, just keep running and firing spirits. If the Barb is 
still closing on you, you need more fast run gear! Also, use Poison 
Nova from a safe distance, it will slowly add to your damage. You'll 
need every bit you can get, because Barbs can have huge hit points, 
especially with all the duped gear around.
If a Barb stops WW'ing you, it's not some new strategy he's developed, 
he's just out of mana. He will then try to Berserk you. This is 
downright laughable, because as long as you keep moving, he will always 
miss. The same with leap attack, don't worry about it.
Remember, always keep Decrepify on a Barb. Even if he starts trying to 
Zerk' you, you never know when he will have enough for a potentially 
fatal WW.

Section d: Vs. the Druid

All druid duelists are shapeshifters. I say shapeshifters because I 
have seen Werebear duelists before that were decent, contrary to 
popular belief. Expect a Druid to have high life and decent dmg, but 
for the most part they are quite slow. They are not so slow that you 
will be able to outrun them, however, they are slower then an assassin 
or Barb, but still faster then you!
Use decrep on them, it should allow you almost complete freedom to cast 
spells at them without them catching you.

The worst thing about a druid to deal with is all their life. It takes 
a LONG time to kill a druid with just spirits. Use poison nova to back 
it up, and you should have no problems.

If you find you are just not able to inflict enough dmg, use Iron 
Maiden and prisons. Druids have no inherent way to escape a prison, so 
they will just have to sit there until the prison goes away or you kill 
them, this is, if they don't just leave the game. This is a pretty 
cheap kill, and mighty unrewarding. A fast druid should give you a run 
for your money, especially a Werebear with shockwave...

Section e: Vs. the Necromancer

Here's where you will see if your build is a good one. Most other 
necros don't wear physical damage gear, so they will have an advantage 
in + skills and life.

You will want to use your speed and cast rate to bombard the other 
necro from different directions. Try to hit him with some invisible 
spirits, it's your best bet. If this isn't working, try to close on 
him, always keeping some distraction in front to dissuade your 
opponent's spirits. Walls or golems work well.

Get lower on them! More damage is always good, and in a duel like this 
it may be determined by only 4-5 hits. Make them count! Decrepify can 
be useful, but difficult to do. You have to run close to them, get 
decrepify on them, then force them to start running. If done right, you 
can keep casting spirits at them and decrep'ing them until they're 
dead.
Know your angles. Flush your opponent into one part of the screen, and 
have a train of spirits there waiting to flatten him. Spirits move 
really slow, so really lay them out there for your unwitting foes.
If your opponent ventures onto your screen, make them pay. Spirit lock 
them, and your send some spirits after him. Unless he's really speedy, 
he'll be dead.

Section f: Vs. the Paladin

There are 2 kinds of Pallys: A FoHadin, who uses Fist of the Heavens, 
or a Chargadin/Smiter.

Just like an assassin, a FoHadin auto targets the nearest thing with 
Fist of the Heavens. Just keep bone walls, golems, etc, up, and you 
will have one of the easiest duels of your life.

A Smiter/Charger is not too bad either. Cast spirits to get them on the 
defensive, and then get decrep on them as soon as possible. If they 
ever charge at you, there is a glitch that causes them to move so slow 
they are basically standing still. Pelt them with spirits until death 
comes.
If they just put on Vigor or something and try to get you in a Smite 
lock, follow the assassin strategy. A Pally does less damage and moves 
slower, so this is a lot easier.

Section g: Vs. the Sorceress

The biggest challenge of all! Sorcs can cast faster then you, and most 
of your sneaky tricks will be useless against them.

Start off with lower resist, and cast random bone walls around the 
screen. These are your cover. Bone walls can absorb frozen orbs, 
thunderstorm, etc.
Make the sorc come to you. Running from a sorc without cover, or 
attacking one without cover is suicide.
Remember that while bonewalls won't keep the sorc from teleporting 
away, they do lag them. Getting them in a lock with prisons isn't 
cheap, it's the same as you would do to any other char. But it does 
slow the sorc down as she tries to teleport around you.
Always have a cloud of spirits following her. You never know when the 
opportunity will arise to stop her in her tracks and have that bunch 
hit her.
Use the slow speed to lay out your spirits. Place them where you think 
she'll be. If you duels sorcs enough, you can anticipate their 
movements very well.
Max your resists!
Sorcs won't hit you with physical attacks, but wear a Ravenfrost vs. 
them anyway, for the anti-freeze and cold absorb. Also, put on a 
Thundergod's Vigor belt. The longer you can survive, the better. Most 
people consider one absorb item for each element fair.

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Part 5

Charms and Such
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So what to put in your inventory?

I always start off my inventory with a good selection of + poison/bone 
charms. Spirit is your main damage dealer, and this only enhances it. 
Try to get some useful other mods, like faster run speed, + life or 
mana, or resists on these charms.

Fill your inventory with enough small inertia charms to reach about 
100-120 run speed. More or less depending on your preferences. Once 
again, other mods on these charms, like + life/mana, are great.

The rest of your inventory should be dual small charms of life or mana. 
These are REALLY hard to get, so if you can't find some nice ones, just 
get a bunch of vita small charms.

Last, if your resists are poor, get some resist charms. Max resists are 
much better then a little + life or mana.

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There you have it. I find the Necromancer really fun to play and fight 
with, and real easy to get into character with. He is extremely 
versatile, and if built right he has a good chance of defeating 
anything.

I hope this guide gets you started on your path to despoiling the 
wretched world of the living!

And remember, if they don't like losing, ignore them, and let them eat 
stake!

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Thanks To:

-Spyder, for being a great opponent and getting me started back on the 
road of death

-Infirmary, for being one of the greatest PvP Necros on USEast

-Silent Reaper, for instilling the fear of Necros in my absence

-WFCXSephiroth, for lending me some stuff to get going after my 
temporary hiatus

-all non-necro characters, for making such wonderful sheep to be 
slaughtered while living, and such useful material after death!

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Contact Me:

AIM:
  TOGASHI

E-Mail:
  Togashi_pika@lycos.com

Battle Net accounts on USEast:
  *Vlad_TepesIII
  *Vlad^De^Impaler