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    PvP Necromancer by Vlad

    Updated: 04/21/02 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Vlad's PvP Necro Guide For Diablo 2: Lord Of Destruction
    The following sites may post this FAQ:
    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.
    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 
    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 
    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
    Part 1
    Stat Point Distribution
    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 
    Part 2
    Equipment Guides
    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:
     Other Necros
     Pure Trap Assassins
     FoH Pallys
    Physical Damage Reduce situations:
     All Barbs
     All Zons
     All Druids
     Martial Assassins
    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, 
    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 
    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.
    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.
    Part 3
    Skill Placement
    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 
    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.
    Part 4
    PvP Strategies
    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 
    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 
    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 
    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.
    Part 5
    Charms and Such
    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.
    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 
    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 
    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!
    Contact Me:
    Battle Net accounts on USEast: