Corwin the Brute's Guide to the LoD Bowazon

I) Introduction

1) Why the Hell do another bowazon guide ?

    I really don't know this one. Perhaps because there is more to bowazons
than just endless cow slaughter and cheesy playing. Perhaps because I think I
may have something to contribute to the already abundant literature on the
subject (although I'm mighty scared about doing a bowazon guide when AK404's
most excellent guide already exists). Or perhaps because I'm bored, or because
I would like to share some of my bowazon tips with others in a less volatile
format than a forum post. Or even perhaps because 1.10 is supposed to come and
I'm a masochist.

2) Ok, got it. But... What is this bowazon thingie anyway ?

    "Bowazon" is the Diablo 2 slang term used to design the members of the
Amazon class using a bow as their main weapon. While other characters in the
game can use a bow (and there are some pretty interesting bows for those
characters), none of them can develop the wide range of skills a bowazon has in
her arsenal. To put it more bluntly: the bowazon is the only mainstream
bow-using character in Diablo 2.

3) What is in this guide ?

    This guide is written at a very generic level. I am not a good number
cruncher, and I will not try to look like one. So you will find lots of tips
and generic analysis but not much maths.

    Except than that, there will be sections dedicated to the stats and skills
of a bowazon, with complete analysis of all LoD Bows and Crossbows skills, a
huge section about all equipment slots, several template bowazon builds ("the
speedazon", "the mageazon"...) with their strengths and weaknesses, a quick and
dirty walkthrough (with a few special description of important bosses and how
to beat them), and many tips I have developed or adopted over two years of
playing bowazons.

    And of course, this guide will be full-packed of the (in)famous Corwin
rants.

4) What is not in this guide ?

    As I said earlier, there will not be much formulas and number crunching.

    This guide doesn't include much useful advice for PvP (Player versus
Player) gaming: PvP is a much different animal from PvM (Player versus
Monster), and is even more terribly unbalanced. In order to keep games "fair",
PvP players have to invent specific rules and restrict some equipment
combinations, and it would take time I haven't to list them (they often change,
by the way). Oh, and I suck at PvP.

    This guide is focused on SoftCore (SC) play: HardCore (HC) play is somewhat
different, and I don't feel I'm qualified enough to write about it.

    This guide is dedicated to "mainstream" amazon builds. By this, I do not
mean the standard "Buriza + Damage Reduction/ Multishot + Guided Arrow"
stereotypic bowazon so often found on Battle.net, but rather time-proven
builds, able to finish the game in Hell difficulty for an average player with a
minimum amount of decent equipment. Variant character players usually have
ample knowledge of the game, and as such do not need guides in order to make
very fun and sometimes surprisingly effective characters.

    This is a guide about "How to play the game as a bowazon", this is not a
game on "How to not play the game as a bowazon". For people wanting this, here
is the guide:
- spam channels asking for power-acting
- once power-acted, make cow game after cow game (don't forget to spam channels
some more asking for help with Ancients at levels 20, 40 and 60, of course:
people love killing Hell Ancients for beggars)
- after leeching enough in cow games (don't forget to spam "Who gets leg ?",
"Who can make ?", "Who has free stuff for me ?" and "Who has WF for trade ?",
it breaks the monotony of public cow runs), equip your (probably duped) godly
equipment
- Proceed to do more cow runs until level 99, alternating more leeching with
dying "because of lag" where you will be able to retire your character (or use
it for duelling)
- Congratulations ! You are now the proud owner of a godly character having
done less than 1% of what is to be seen in D2 ! You may now turn off your
computer and leave some space on the Realms. Thank you.

5) I heard bowazons are cheesy and for n00bs ?

    Eh. For a variety of reasons I will explain, bowazons seem to dominate any
game of D2 they enter. Using the well-known "Diablo2 suckiness reciprocity
principle" ("If they are better than me at what they do, then I must suck or
Blizzard should nerf them"), bowazon are labelled "cheesy", "overpowered",
"unbalanced" by many irritated players. And they are right, to some extent. Let
me try to explain why this is so, and why there is probably not much Blizzard
can do about it.


a) Leveling

    For the better or for the worse, D2 fame is governed by leveling speed
(that can probably be traced down to the existence of a ladder system for this
game, about which an excellent article can be read there:
http://www.lurkerlounge.com/diablo2/loungerant/rant0001.shtml ). Hence, in
order to level as fast as possible, most of D2 players are looking for the
areas that will give the highest amount of experience for the smallest amount
of time invested, with a minimum risk. Since version 1.04 (and with the small
exception of version 1.08, where sorceresses and Bloody Foothills ruled the
show), bowazons have excelled in the fashionable leveling areas. Rule #1: The
fastest leveling build in the current leveling area will always be called
cheesy and people will whine for nerfs about it.

    As of now (version 1.09), the leveling area of choice is the Not So Secret
Anymore Cow Level, and bowazons as well as javazons are probably the best
classes for it, although some sorceress builds come pretty close.

b) Equipment

    The youngest people (D2-wise, at least) reading this may not realize it,
but there was a time where bowazon "sucked". That is to say, they "sucked" like
the druid or the paladin "suck" now (i.e. they don't clear the cow level in
under 4 minutes). Amazons "sucked" because of a bug (the infamous "Bow Bug")
that cut their damage-dealing ability tremendously.

    Version 1.04 corrected this bug, and the bowazons began to "rule", "own",
and of course people started calling for nerfs. Eh. Amazing how fast the
pendulum can swing, no ?

    Lord of Destruction is worse in this regard. With the item inflation,
Blizzard made the terrible mistakes to:
* "design" (using the term "design" loosely here, because "randomly slapping
all the good properties players seem to enjoy on a single item after getting
drunk on cheap vodka" was a bit long) bows able to deal incredible amount of
damage (often in the range of the best close range weapons), not taking into
account the ability of a bowazon to apply said damage to a large amount of
targets in a very short amount of time, with little to no personal risk
* add too many crowd control modifiers to the bowazon's defensive arsenal

    At first, it didn't seem such a problem: after all, those unique items were
supposed to be extremely rare, and balance would be kept, right ? Wrong.
Blizzard completely underestimated two other things here:
* the determination of players to hunt endlessly for better equipment (the
Magic Find (MF) craze)
* the determination of players to cheat (through exploitation of bugs, use of
hacks...). The worse of those cheats are the dupe hacks, that allow an
unscrupulous player to make an exact copy of an existing item. While Blizzard
has some measures to protect the Realms against such duplication exploits, they
are always a step behind the hackers.

    As of now, most bowazons on the Diablo 2 Realms own at least one of the
most powerful bows or crossbows, ranging from the very common Buriza Do Kyanon
to the extra rare and expensive Windforce, with everything in between.

    And here is one of the keys to such bowazons dominating the game: Blizzard
cannot balance the difficulty of Diablo 2 for such extreme weaponry. Because if
they did, people stuck in single player games or without the time or
willingness to dedicate large amount of time to Magic Find would be left out in
the cold.

c) Character balance and game design

    The bowazon is an interesting case as far as character balance is
concerned. Her skills are pretty well-balanced, and all work flawlessly one
with another, while her optimal stats allocation is completely unbalanced. Why
?

    All melee fighters must invest in Strength (to wear equipment, especially
heavy weapons and armors and improve their damage), Dexterity to a lesser
extent (to improve their chance to block if they use a shield and to improve
their chances to hit), and Vitality (to avoid dying).

    All spell casters must invest in Vitality (to avoid dying, because they
don't have the luxury of life leech), and Energy (to fuel their spells).

    A bowazon needs to invest just enough in Strength to wear her equipment,
and can after that pump Dexterity to her heart's content, thus improving both
her damage and her chances to hit at the same time. Life and mana management
are taken care of through life and mana leech. Easy, no ?

    Another interesting point is that ranged fight (or spell casting) is much
more powerful in D2 than close combat. The reasons for this are many, ranging
from the large open spaces found everywhere in the game to the inherent
imbalance of multi-target skills. And there is not much Blizzard can do about
it.

d) Conclusion on "cheesiness" and "Blizzard must nerf the bowazon"

    In my humble opinion, there is not a lot of room for bringing the bowazon
back in line with the other characters. Some tweaking of skills is possible,
but the prevalence of overpowered exceptional/elite ranged weaponry, the mere
existence of mana and life leech, the domination of ranged fight... Make me
extremely pessimistic about a successful rebalance of the bowazon.

    By the way, a few words to the people calling for nerfs. Why do the
bowazons disturb you ? If it is because they take "your" place on the ladder,
then build one. The ladder is not a place for crying whiners. It is a place for
completely nuts near professional power-levelers. Do you believe the people on
the top of the ladder whined about amazons when they realized they were
overpowered ? Nope, they started building some of their own. If bowazons
disturb you because they "own" in your games, play with other people. Sure, the
average Battle.net oh-so-subtle Burizazon will often make some smart comment
like "LOL, Man, yOr pala suXoRz, make a Zon". Do you really need to listen to
her ? Back then (when bowazons "sucked", remember ? ), people willing to party
always played with Bowazons: they were known as considerate, friendly, and
generally nice players. That was before 1.04: when the audience at large
realized Bowazons didn't "suck", they duped the best bows they could fine,
stopped playing their barbarians (who didn't "suck" back then), and started
giving the bowazon the bad reputation they still have now. In public games, you
can't escape jerks. But do not believe the jerkiness comes with the character
build, it's generally the other way around.

6) A few quick points before starting

    This guide is bound to be made obsolete by future bug discovery and
patches. From now on, I will refer by "bow" to both bows and crossbows, and to
a player as "he". No sexism nor crossbow discrimination should be read into
this.

    English is not my first language, so please bear with me, and don't be wary
of pointing my mistakes: I like improving my English.

7) The Tao of the Bowazon

"A bowazon must kill targets before they reach her. This is the core of all
things bowazonish."

    As you will see later in this guide, all bowazon tactics, equipment choice,
strengths and weaknesses boil down to this. This is very important. Follow the
Tao in both of its parts (killing targets and preventing them from reaching
you), and you will become a great bowazon. Don't follow it, and no amount of
godly equipment will save you.


II) Stats and skills

1) Stats

    Warning : while this section about Stats allocation covers most current
bowazon builds, it does not apply to the Mageazon subclass, which will be
discussed later. It does not apply to HC gaming either, for what it's worth. :)

a) Strength (Str)

    For a bowazon, Strength has one use and only one: wear equipment. Strength
doesn't improve bow damage, nor does it improve any secondary stat. Each point
of Strength past the amount needed to carry your equipment is wasted damage.

    Unless you have spotted a very specific unique/set non-bow equipment in
mind, you should always try to invest just enough in Strength to carry your
bow. If you have planned your equipment already and some pieces of your
end-game gear have bonuses to Strength, you can plan the minimal Strength
according to those bonuses. Wearing Str equipment just because it has an Str
bonus isn't good, though: you could invest a few points into Str and use better
equipment instead (why not with a Dexterity bonus ?).

    There is not much more to be known about Strength. The equipment section
will list the required Str scores for many types of weapons.

b) Dexterity (Dex), Attack Rating (AR) and Defense Rating (DR)

The average bowazon thinks about Dex eight times per second
(old Amazon Basin saying)

    And this is true. Adding Dexterity increases the bowazon damage in two
ways: by providing a damage increase (critters drop faster), and an Attack
Rating (AR) increase (critters drop more often).

    The link between damage and Dex is simple: every point in Dexterity adds
one percent to damage. Hence, a bowazon with 300 Dex and a 50-100 bow would
have listed damage of 200-400. It is easy to see why Dex is important,
especially considering many LoD bows exceed the mark of 200 maximum damage.
Things get more complicated when you take physical resistance, critical strike,
Amplify Damage and elemental damage into account, but you get the basics.

    The link between Dex and AR is simple too: each point into Dex adds 4
points to AR (and this can be further enhanced by the Penetrate skill). The
actual chance to hit a target is not only dependant on AR, though: it also
takes into account the level difference between the character and the monster.
So if you don't hit enough, it is perhaps because the monsters have a much
higher level than you. Many amazon skills never do an AR check, and hit
monsters 100% of the time. Generally speaking, bowazons have more than enough
AR to hit monsters of their level.

    Dex has a third bonus: every 4 points to Dex add 1 point to Defense Rating
(DR). Big whoopidoo. First, Defense Rating is useless to a good bowazon: if the
monster gets close enough to hit you, then it was your fault in the first place
(remember the Tao). Second, with some armors (even light ones) ranging in the
800+ DR, the mere 100 additional DR a 400 Dex score would give is completely
insignificant.

    Suggested amount of Dex: the sky is the limit. Seriously. Unless you are
playing a variant build, and after you build a sufficient amount of life as a
safety buffer against lag (more on this coming), all points should be
distributed to Dex.

c) Vitality (Vit), Life, and Stamina

    Vitality is of medium importance to the bowazon: while most other classes
end the game pumping Vitality, a bowazon, thanks to the already discussed
predominance or range fight and the availability of life leech, doesn't need a
lot of life to be successful.

    Each point added to Vitality brings 3 Life points and 3 Stamina points. As
amazons start with 50 Life, get over the course of the game 60 extra Life (from
doing the Golden Bird quest in all 3 difficulties), and gain two extra Life
points per level, the life total of an amazon at the end of the game is:

Life = 50 + (20 x 3) + (level -1) x 2 + (Vit - 20) x 3

    What I like to have is what I call a safety buffer against lag. Lag is
about the only monster in the game that can kill a well-trained and
well-equipped bowazon (that and a crowded town portal or waypoint, that is).
Sometimes, the slightest latency can make you bite the dust before you can
leech enough life to recover from the previous blow. I would suggest an
end-game life total ranging from 450 to 600, depending on your connection
speed. What does matter is not Vitality, but Life total. You can reach this
total with anything from base Vitality to 60+ Vit (I generally stop at 50),
depending on your equipment. A pure glass-cannon bowazon has end-game life
under 350, and it is very difficult to level such characters efficiently (as
you lose 10% of the required experience for reaching the next level when you
die, 5% if you recover your corpse, and this can be hours of leveling lost at
the higher levels for a single wrong step or lag spike).

    Of course, it is possible to have a very successful tank bowazon with 1000+
Life, Damage Reduction and maxed resists, but I think it is a waste,
considering how opposed to the Tao it is. YMMV, of course, and those builds are
often very fun.

    I would generally suggest leveling a bowazon by pumping Str and Dex enough
to wear end-game equipment (when death doesn't cost much experience-wise), then
pump Vit to reach the required end-game Life total if needed, then end with
pumping Dex. Again, YMMV.

    Stamina is nice to have, but nothing to write home about: many unique and
set boots, as well as rare boots have either large bonuses to stamina, slower
stamina drain or faster stamina regeneration. At the end of the game, all
amazons can run for a long time before resting.

d) Energy and Mana

    Don't invest in it. Energy is considered a waste for bowazons, and this for
a variety of excellent reasons.

    First, the rate. Energy only brings mana points, and at a lousy rate: 1.5
mana points per Energy point invested. For comparison's sake, Vitality gives 3
Life points per point invested. If you need more mana (and there are several
bowazon builds that do), items are the way to go, not energy. A good small
charm could give you up to 17 points of mana, which is roughly 11 points in
Energy for just one little inventory square. I'm not even looking at a +90 to
mana amulet or ring.

    Second, the need (or rather the lack of): while some bowazon skills require
ample mana to be used effectively (Immolation and Freezing Arrow mostly), the
bowazon is at heart a physical damage dealer. With the amount of damage a
bowazon can deal in the blink of an eye, the smallest amount of mana leech can
refill the mana globe at an incredible rate.

    Like for the life total, a safety buffer against lag is good to have
mana-wise. But it is much lower: for a standard (physical-damage mostly)
bowazon: a mana total from 200 to 250 is more than she needs already, and can
come from just a few items.

2) Skills

a) Introduction

    By design, a bowazon only uses two of the three skills tree available: Bows
and Crossbows skills, and Passive and Magic skills. Javelin and Spear skills
will not be discussed here, although a small section will be included about
hybrid builds in the Templates section of this guide.

    All the evaluation of skills when compared one to another will be made with
Hell difficulty in mind. All skills (or no skill at all) can be used to make it
to the end of Normal Difficulty. Most skills have enough potential for talented
players to finish Nightmare with. Sadly, many skills just don't cut it in Hell
difficulty, except for the best players.

    Some (many) of the skills are referred to as "Placeholders" or "variant
material". This is in regard to Hell difficulty. Most of those skills have
their use when they become available, and a single point investment in those
can give you some benefit until you gain access to something more useful. Good
examples are Exploding Arrow and Ice Arrow, and Inner Sight is very useful for
low-level HC amazons, who want to invest a bit in life from the scratch.
Generally, a couple of points in Multishot, as well as in Critical Strike
should be enough to carry you to the higher level skills, though.

    Diminishing and Increasing returns: for some skills, large investments
typically don't bring much: critical strike is such a skill (past a certain
point, additional points only give a few percents more). Those skills will be
called "Diminishing returns skills". For other skills (many elemental damage
skills are in this category), additional points past certain skill levels (8
and 16) give a better bonus to reward players for their investment. Those
skills will be called "Increasing returns skills". Generally speaking, it is a
good idea to check for the "sweet spot" in Diminishing returns skills (the
point after which further points seem to become wasted), while Increasing
returns skills should probably be maxed if you plan to use them in the long
term. In the header for each skill section, DR or IR will be listed, for
Diminishing Returns and Increasing Returns.


b) Bow and Crossbow tree

    The bow tree can be divided into 3 parts: Cold Skills (left), Fire Skills
(right), and Physical Skills (middle).

b1) The Cold branch

    The Cold branch is composed of 3 skills, the first two of them having
slightly overlapping effects, while the third one is very separate. All Cold
skills have 100% chance to hit.

    What makes the Cold branch so efficient for a bowazon is the rather
specific way cold duration are computed in the game: cold duration does not
only take the skill duration into account, but also your additional equipment.
Thus making cold skills the ultimate crowd control skills for a bowazon. Cold
duration is halved in Nightmare difficulty, then halved again in Hell
difficulty.

    Cold skills are the perfect embodiment of the second part of the Tao,
before they come to her. If the enemies are frozen, then they can't reach the
bowazon.
b1.1) Cold Arrow (Clvl 6, IR)

    Cold Arrow is a placeholder skill, as all of its effects are amplified in
its cousin down the line, Ice Arrow. Definitely a one point skill, unless you
are making a variant.

    Cold Arrow slows monsters down for a good duration, and adds a ridiculous
amount of cold damage to your attack (this ridiculous amount is of course good
to have when Cold Arrow becomes available at Character Level (Clvl) 6).
b1.2) Ice Arrow (Clvl 18, IR)

    A much better skill than Cold Arrow, Ice Arrow freezes rather than just
chills, although for a much lower duration. The cold damage amount is also
nothing to scoff at, and the skill has some potential as a secondary damage
dealer. Back in Classic Diablo 2 (CD2), Ice Arrow was often used as a
left-click attack for its freezing effect.
b1.3) Freezing Arrow ( Clvl 30, IR)

    Now, we are talking. The queen of Cold skills, and one of the best skills
in the game, Freezing Arrow has encountered many nerfs and bumps over the
various patches. Freezing Arrow (FA) does not only adds a huge amount of cold
damage (more than 300 at level 20, even more so with skill adders), it also has
a huge blast radius (3.3 Yards). All monsters in this radius are frozen solid
for a duration of 2 seconds not taking into account potential cold duration
items. Between this radius and a potentially huge duration (the best duration
I'm aware of is 22 seconds solid in Hell, meaning 88 seconds in Normal
difficulty), Freezing Arrow is probably one of the 3 best crowd control skills
in the game (with Shockwave and Warcry). But crowd control is not the only
strength of FA. FA applications can be roughly divided into 4 groups:

- "Panic Button": this one is the easiest use, and the most reactive one: you
see a group of monsters kill or go past your defensive line, you switch to FA,
freeze them, and move away. Even without lots of additional Cold duration, FA
is very efficient for this, and has saved tons of bowazons over the years. One
point is enough for this, as neither Cold duration nor Blast radius improve
with Slvl.

- Planned Crowd Control: not strictly the same as the "Panic Button", because
tactical use of FA is generally planned. You can use FA to reposition yourself
to get a better Pierce angle, or to carefully stop some of the most dangerous
monster packs in their tracks (like those Frenzy Minotaurs in Act5, or Lister's
pack). If you have a low level FA, you can even use FA for scouting. FA is also
obviously very useful in party playing (more on this later).

- Triggered effects: LoD introduced a brand new type of magical effects, the
"%-chance to cast" effects. When you hit, attack or get hit (only the 2 first
type interest us here), a special spell has a certain chance to be cast. For
example, the GoldStrike Arch unique Gothic Bow has 5% to cast Slvl 5 to7 Fist
of Heavens on attack. While at first those effects look anecdotic at best
(because the chance is so low), any player will soon notice that FA triggers
them in a very reliable way against crowded monsters. This is because each
target in the (large) Blast radius can potentially make the spell trigger.
True, while Fist of Heavens looks great, it is nothing to write home about. The
picture starts changing when we are talking about Amplify Damage or Lower
Resist curses... The ability to trigger powerful and supposedly very random
effects in a reliable way is one of the reasons FA is so popular nowadays. As
for the "Panic Button", only one point in FA is required for Triggered effects
to reach full speed.

- Damage dealer: yes, FA can be used as a very, very effective damage dealer.
First, the cold damage at high skill levels (20+) is good (410-420 damage at
Slvl 25, for example, which is very easy to reach). But its incredible power is
revealed by the FA + Pierce combination (this skill combination is also one of
the reasons Triggered effects work so well with FA). If your FA pierces and
hits another enemy in the immediate range of the first one, FA will trigger
again, and all enemies under the overlapping Blast radiuses will receive the
cold damage twice. Of course, twice is actually quite low in regard to the
potential for multiple pierces against crowded enemies. 4 to 5 successive
pierces are not uncommon in very crowded situations (like the Cow Level),
meaning FA can actually top the damage of the best physical skills with any
bow. If you consider that 100% Pierce is not hard to achieve nowadays (*cough*
Buriza *cough*), we are looking at one of the most impressive crowd
damage-dealing skills of the game. Except for one big drawback: at high levels,
FA's mana cost is huge. Very high level FA can only be sustained in a
consistent way by a high physical damage bow and a huge amount of mana leech
(we are talking 25% and more). Extensive testing seems to imply that at least a
significant portion of your cold damage from items is added to FA's splash
damage.

b2) The Physical branch

    The physical branch is one of the reasons bowazons are so popular (and also
unfortunately so whined about) in D2 world. Sadly, two of the four skills are
probably why people start bowazons, while a good bowazon should be a factor of
the subtle interaction between physical, elemental and passive skills.
b2.1) Magic Arrow (Clvl 1)

    Blech. This skill has no use except as a placeholder. Arrows are so easy to
come by that one of its properties doesn't help at all, and the damage bonus is
so pitiful that it could as well not be there. Oh, and this skill requires an
AR check. Next one ?
b2.2) Multishot (Clvl 6)

    This is the most abused and badly used amazon skill. Despite a flat 25%
damage reduction and the inability to affect the same target with more than one
arrow, Multishot (MS) has by far the best damage over time potential for a
bowazon equipped with a high-end weapon.

    Without taking more time than a single attack, MS spreads a volley of
arrows (one additional arrow per skill point). In theory, we are looking at up
to 15 times (or more with skill adders, not even taking Pierce into account)
the normal damage dealt. In practice, things are different, since it's
extremely unusual for all arrows in a MS volley to hit something (except walls,
which can't crumble in D2). Thus, clever amazon players prefer to limit their
investment in MS to a good number (6, 10, or a bit more), and rather learn how
to aim in order to maximise both the number of arrows hitting, and the impact
of Pierce. But clever amazons are sadly a rare breed.

    Besides being an excellent damage-dealer, MS has also some potential for
triggering effects, has incredible potential for applying crowd control
modifiers (cold damage, knockback...), and is an excellent scouting skill in
open areas when you have some life and/or mana leech: fire a volley of MS in a
direction, and watch at your character: if the leech swirls around her head
show up, then there are monsters in this direction. This tactic is especially
useful in the River of Fire.

    MS is best used against large groups of monsters coming from the same
direction, while FA is more useful for crowds and Strafe is usually the best
skill for scattered monsters.
b2.3) Guided Arrow (Clvl 18)

    Another very criticized skill, Guided Arrow (GA) doesn't look that great at
first. It follows an enemy or acquire a target of its own, has a little damage
bonus, a low mana cost, and auto-hits. Nothing bad, but nothing excellent.

    What makes GA an extremely good and often abused skill is that, since
version 1.09, it pierces and can hit the same target several times, thus
multiplying the damage output. Ouch. While this is especially bad in PvP, GA
also became one of the best skills to use against a single monster (though
boss). With its very low mana cost at high levels, it can also be used to
quickly carry tons of elemental damage on Physical Immune (PI) monsters. While
Piercing GA is capped at 4 successive Pierces (even with 100% Pierce) of the
same target, we are still looking at 5 times the usual damage, without an AR
check, and with a damage bonus. Ouch again. The unique Ballista (Buriza do
Kyanon) with its 100% Pierce and huge cold damage is probably one of the
reasons for the current uproar against GA.

    Except for the cheesy Piercing, GA still has many interesting tactical
uses: it is a great scouting skill especially in closed environments (tombs
come to mind), allow a clever bowazon to shoot from behind a door or from a
corner at dangerous bosses... And it even has some ultra-cheesy applications
against three dangerous act bosses, the three Prime Evils nonetheless:
Mephisto, Diablo and Baal (more on this in the walkthrough section).
b2.4) Strafe (Clvl 24)

    The queen is no more... Once the leveling skill of all bowazons, Strafe
fell from grace in 1.04, where MS took the crown of damage over time, and has
been tremendously nerfed in LoD.

    Strafe still has its uses, though. First, it is elegant. ;) Seeing a
bowazon fire the exact number of arrows, all in the required direction, in a
neat sequential way as opposed to a bestial, brutish MS volley is something I
will never be tired of.

    Strafe adds a little bonus to damage, makes separate AR checks for each
target, and gains one extra target per skill point, stopping at level 6 for 10
targets. The mana cost is constant, 11 mana (the equivalent of a level 8
Multishot, which only fires 9 arrows).

    This "target" definition needs to be looked at, by the way. Strafe fires an
extra arrow at every living object in the vicinity, including friendly players,
summons, mercenaries... But those arrows are only directed at the enemy target.
Thus, party playing (or the simple use of Valkyrie, mercenary and Decoy) can
lead to impressive streams of arrows at a single target (an unlucky boss,
perhaps). Testing seems to indicate that AR check for additional arrows on a
single target is capped at 50% chance to hit, which would explain the
inconsistencies noticed.

    While most players using it stop at 6 points, a maxed Strafe features a
decent amount of additional damage, and cannot be considered a waste of skill
points.

    A Strafe cycle is composed of a first arrow fired at the normal attack
speed, then successive arrows fired at a much faster rate (see the section on
IAS for more informations).

    Strafe is best used in corridors, or against scattered targets.

    The main weakness of Strafe is known as Strafe-lock, and happens when you
fire your Strafe cycle without cover near the enemy. Until you have been hit
(which can mean instant death for a glass-cannon bowazon) or your cycle is
over, you can not move and as such are very vulnerable to attacks. Careful
planning (something most amazons seem to lack nowadays) can render the
probability of Strafe-lock void, though.

b3) The Fire branch

    Probably the weakest part of the bow tree, the Fire branch is made of 3
skills. One of them shines because of a bug, one of them is pure variant
material, and the last one was nerfed into oblivion because of Blizzard's
inability to code a graphical engine.:(

    All Fire skills hit 100% of the time.
b3.1) Fire Arrow (Clvl 1)

    Bug or feature ? When you look at Fire Arrow's description, it looks as yet
another placeholder skill: weak fire damage, low mana cost and no other
characteristic. But 1.09 brought a "feature" (bug ?) that made this skill the
best physical-immune killer for a bowazon, and at Slvl1 nonetheless: Fire Arrow
converts all physical damage a bowazon can deal to fire damage. Which means a
bowazon using it has exactly the same killing power against Physical Immune
non-Fire Immune monsters. Weird, I know.

    Correction: it seems Fire Arrow "only" converts 50% of Physical Damage to
Fire Damage. This still makes it a very powerful tool.

    The 1.10 patch may very well remove this "feature", so while it is a great
tool currently, it could not last. ;)
b3.2) Exploding Arrow (Clvl 12)

    Variant material: the fire damage is pathetic even at high levels, and the
Blast radius isn't great either. Besides, Immolation Arrow further down the
Fire branch is much better at all levels than Exploding Arrow.
b3.3) Immolation Arrow (Clvl 24, IR)

    Why did they do this ? Back in CD2, Immolation Arrow (Immo) was an
excellent skill, with lots of tactical use. It was also the best boss killing
skill a bowazon could use, with the possibility to stack multiple Immos in
order to create patches of fire where monsters would burn very quickly (back
then, a high level Immo could last for 20 seconds or more). In order to ease
the graphical load on low-end computers, Blizzard nerfed Immo in two ways: it
now has a one second timer (thus making spamming Immo impossible), and the
flame duration was shot down, being cut to 3 seconds. In exchange, Immo can now
leech mana and life (making it a self-sufficient skill), and has improved Fire
Damage. This is not sufficient by far.

    Immo still has its use, though. Being on an increasing returns mechanism,
and with the very high Skill levels attainable in LoD, it can still deal a good
amount of fire damage. But what makes it really look bad is the Fire Arrow bug,
that can deal tremendous amounts of fire damage for a very low mana cost.

    In order to use Immo efficiently, having a high level Valkyrie or a
friendly player tanking is important, in order to have monsters stay in the
fire patch as long as possible. If you want to use Immolation to its full
potential, you have to think like a sorceress would do, and be prepared to max
the skill, as well as acquire a large number of extra bow skills items. A level
30+ Immolation still packs a lot of punch.

c) Passive and magic skills

    While most players concentrate on the effects of bow and crossbow skills,
the true power of the bowazon lies in her passive and magic skills, as they
interact in a very subtle way to give her her extraordinary advantages: if a
bowazon needs to invest so little in Vitality and can concentrate on Dex
instead, for example, it is mainly because of the Passive skills (although the
nature of ranged combat and the existence of leech helps too).

    We can divide the Passive and Magic tree into three branches Magic skills
and summons (left), Defensive passives (middle) ,and Offensive passives
(right). As their name implies, passive skills don't require hotkeys, and are
always in use.

c1) Magic Skills
c1.1) Inner Sight (Clvl 1)

    While somewhat useful at low levels, the fact that Inner Sight reduces
target defense by a fixed amount makes it useless very quickly. Inner Sight is
definitely a placeholder skill, which is somewhat sad I suppose.
c1.2) Slow Missiles (Clvl 1)

    Probably one of the best and most underrated skills of the amazon (with
Decoy), Slow Missiles (SM) reduces the travelling speed of all incoming
missiles to a third. Depending on lag, this may not always be that useful, as
dodging even slowed missiles may still be a problem if your connection is not
good. A very important use of Slow Missiles is against Lightning Enchanted Boss
monsters and Inferno-throwing monsters (like those pesky shamans): those kind
of missiles do not travel for a distance, but rather for a duration before
disappearing, and as such Slow Missile helps reduce their range. Multi Shot
LEBs are problematic, because there is a bug that makes additional lightning
bolts emitted by a MSLEB still travel at the same speed and distance but
renders them invisible (while not thoroughly tested, this particular behavior
is the only explanation for a variety of deaths).

    As of 1.08, Slow Missiles seems to act somewhat strangely, especially as
far as casting area is concerned (it seems the casting area is centered on your
amazon, not on the mouse pointer), so you should practice your SM skill against
low threat ranged attackers, like those skeletons in Act 2 Sewers in Normal
difficulty. Better safe than sorry !
c1.3) Decoy (Clvl 24)

    An incredibly powerful skill, Decoy has an infinity of amazing tactical
uses for a thinking bowazon. Most players believe getting access to Valkyrie
renders Decoy obsolete, nothing could be further from the truth. Decoy has one
main advantage over the Valkyrie: it doesn't move. All interesting applications
of the Decoy come from this fact. Here are a few possibilities to use the
Decoy, but any player can find new uses for it with experience.

- Against ranged attackers: while a good Valkyrie is probably more useful
against melee attackers than a Decoy, the pattern quickly changes when facing
ranged attackers, as the Valk will probably move toward them, letting some of
them bring their attention back to you. As a Decoy doesn't move, while it is
alive you don't need to worry about being under fire. This tactic is also very
useful against the dreaded Lightning Enchanted Bosses (LEBs), because you can
cast your Decoy with precision between the sparks and yourself.

- Breaking a crowd: a tactic developed by AK404, the breaking of crowd through
the use of both Decoy and Valkyrie makes wonders: summoning both at a certain
distance from yourself, and at a distance one from the other, you can quickly
break large crowds into more manageable clusters, easy preys for several of
your skills. While a Valkyrie is a powerful tank (especially in MP games where
her Hit Points scale with the number of players), she can't tank indefinitely
against a large crowd. A Decoy will perhaps only last a couple of seconds, but
will definitely draw attention away from both the Valk and yourself.

- Scouting: perhaps the best Decoy trick in the book. There are some enemies in
the game a standard bowazon should avoid at all cost. The Stygian Dolls in the
Durance of Hate, and the Suicide Minions in Act5 are prime example of those, as
their dangerous death explosion can kill most bowazons in one unavoidable hit.
In open spaces, those are generally not a big deal, as the bowazon can snipe
them from a distance. In the mazes of Durance of Hate or WorldStone Keep, this
is another story, however, as you risk running into them at any corner. Thus, a
Decoy cast from a safe distance just at the corner will lure them out, allowing
for remote elimination.

- Building chokepoints: another neat Decoy trick. In some areas (Act 2 Tombs or
Arcane Sanctuary come to mind, but Act 3 bridges in the jungle are also a good
example), there are narrow corridors that can be blocked with a Decoy, thus
building an artificial accumulation point for monsters. This is a dream for
Area of Effect attacks, such as Freezing Arrow or Immolation.

- Portable Wall: LoD gave us Knockback on bows. One of the problems encountered
with Knockback weapons in open spaces is the lack of wall on which to pin the
target (this is especially true for single enduring targets such as bosses). In
those cases, summon a Decoy just behind the monster: the Decoy will act as a
mini-wall on which the monster will be knocked back. Your tanking companions
will thank you for this one.

Those are just a few examples of the many uses of Decoy. Keep in mind that as
the Decoy has exactly the same hit points as your amazon, it is in no way a
tank. Use your Valkyrie or Merc for this role.
c1.4) Valkyrie (Valk)

    DiabloII's dumb blonde. Since version 1.0, the Valkyrie's Artificial
Intelligence seems to be downgraded with each patch. She is still a formidable
skill, although the way to use it properly changed a lot over time due to this
clumsiness unheard of even on Iron Golem made out of a cracked buckler.

    Like many other minions, the Valkyrie has the advantage to see her life
points scale with the number of players in the game. This makes even a
low-level Valkyrie a formidable tank in large games, able to stand incredible
amount of damage without problems (except against act bosses, who get a large
damage bonus against minions).

    What you should not expect from your Valkyrie:
* Kill anything by herself
* Take intelligent decisions on where and when to move
* Scout the surroundings
* Generally be where you need her

    What you can expect from your Valkyrie
* Take lots of heat from you
* Sustain large amounts of punishment without dying
* Stand her ground until she disappears

    When you look at those little lists, the best tactical trick for the Valk
should come to your mind quickly: Combat Drop. This tactic was first proposed
by AK404, and is realized by summoning your Valkyrie in the middle of the fight
like you would drop a Decoy. Before this tactic was designed, people used to
summon their high level Valkyrie, and wait for her to engage the incoming mobs.
Of course, this tactic changed the amount of investment advised into the
Valkyrie: while she was once a "must-max" skill, she suddenly found much more
profitable uses at a lower level of 5 to 10, in order to keep her mana cost low
enough for effective Combat Drop. Very high level Valkyries (Slvl 20+) are
still useful, especially against very hard-hitting bosses (Fanaticism / Curse /
Extra Strong Frenzy Minotaurs come to mind). Having a good Valk also
tremendously increases the MTBD (Mean Time Between Deaths) of your mercenary,
thus saving you a lot of money.

    The best thing a bowazon can do defense-wise is probably to summon a Valk
into an incoming group of enemies, then summon a Decoy a bit in front of
herself. This way, if the Valk dies, the Decoy can hold a few precious seconds
in which the bowazon will summon a new Valk, fall back a few paces, and summon
another Decoy. Rinse and repeat until all enemies are dead.
c2) Defensive Passives

    The prime strength of the Spearazons, Javazons and Tankazons, defensive
passives are a good bonus for the bowazon, but are not mandatory: if you follow
the Tao, melee combat should never happen, and Slow Missiles, Decoy and
Valkyrie are tools allowing a bowazon to effectively disarm any ranged
opponent. But still, let's look at this interesting subtree.

    The power of the Defensive Passives as opposed to other forms of Defense
(Defense, Damage Reduction/Resistances, Blocking...) is that they are always
reliable: no matter what enemy is attacking, what difficulty level you are
playing at or what attack is incoming, a successful Dodge or Avoid will save
you. People with bad connection speed or Hardcore Players are know to invest a
bit more into defensive passives.
c2.1) Dodge (Clvl6, DR)

    Dodge is used against melee attacks when the amazon is standing still.
Hint: she shouldn't. Dodge requires a 12 points investment to reach 50%, which
is steep considering that a bowazon is not supposed to fight at close range.
Diminishing Returns quickly hit Dodge. I would recommend putting only one point
into Dodge, and let skill bonuses take care of the rest. If your connection is
not very good, however, Dodge can be a life-saver when there is lag. And of
course, many HC players end with large amounts of Dodge, which is then a Good
Thing(tm).
c2.2) Avoid (Clvl 12, DR)

    Avoid is a bit more useful for a bowazon, as it allows her to escape ranged
attacks while standing still (in Strafe-lock for example). 50% in Avoid is easy
to reach, requiring only 7 points. But a good use of SM, Decoy and Valkyrie is
generally preferable to pumping Avoid.
c2.3) Evade (Clvl 24, DR)

    Once the bane of bowazons fighting Diablo (thanks to a bug that locked the
bowazon in the same place until the animation was over into Diablo's Fire Lines
and dreaded Lightning Breath of Death), Evade has been fixed in this case and
is probably the most useful defensive passive for a bowazon, as it is used for
all kind of attacks reaching the bowazon while she is moving.

    Don't overdo it, though: due to very steep diminishing returns, and
depending on the amount of skill bonuses you wear, one point in Evade may
perfectly be more than enough.

    Evade works against all ranged attacks having a physical part. It is also
useful against several area of effect spells, like the Blizzard used by Zakarum
priests in Act 3.

c3) The offensive passives

    A very powerful sub-tree, the offensive passives are the prime target of
people calling for nerfs. And somewhat rightly so, as the effects of those
three skills affect nearly all of the amazon's attacks in a powerful way.
c3.1) Critical Strike (Clvl 1, DR)

    Critical Strike (CS) gives you a growing chance of inflicting double damage
with a physical attack (this skill doesn't work with elemental attacks, such as
Ice Arrow or Immolation). Thus, while evaluating your bowazon's damage
potential, you can add CS as a flat percentage to your physical damage. Other
skills (Strafe, Guided Arrow) give you a percent-base damage bonus, but this
only takes into account weapon damage, while CS actually takes into account
your Dexterity rating. More often than not, investing an extra point into CS
will result in a greater damage increase over time than investing into a
damage-enhancing skill.

    There is an item-based version of Critical Strike, called Deadly Strike
(DS). DS works exactly the same, but doesn't cumulate with CS as of 1.09.
Having your damage multiplied by 4 is not possible anymore: if one of those
properties kicks in, the other won't.

    Unless you use a very specific build (elemental specialist, or amazon
loaded with Deadly Strike items), there is no reason at all not to invest into
CS. Good breakpoints for CS are 8 (over 50%), 11 (58%, after which steep
diminishing returns start appearing), and 16 (65%, the last 2% jump).

c3.2) Penetrate (Clvl 18)

    Penetrate looks great on paper, but doesn't work as well as it seems for a
bowazon. This skill increases your Attack Rating (AR) by a percent-based value.
At first it seems very good. But there are three problems with it.

    First, most bowazons concentrate on increasing their Dexterity. Thus, they
already typically have very high AR values anyway. HardCore players invest more
into Penetrate because they have to remove points from Dex to increase their
Vitality instead.

    Second, the actual To Hit value depends from AR opposed to DR, but also
from the level difference between the player and the monster. And Penetrate
doesn't help for this second factor. On the playing field, players investing
lots into Penetrate don't connect much more than players with much lower skill
level.

    Third: there are only four bowazons attacks that require an AR check:
normal attack, Magic Arrow, Multishot and Strafe. And most players don't use
normal attack or Magic Arrow at all.

    As a result, I would recommend investing only one point into Penetrate (the
first point is the best one anyway, as it gives a larger bonus), letting skill
bonuses do the rest.

c3.3) Pierce (Clvl 30)

    The best bowazon skill, and perhaps one of the 4 or 5 best skills in the
game. Pierce works with all amazon skills, provided the player takes some
thinking about building monsters clusters (tactic referred to as "herding", and
made popular by javazons) and learns a little about positioning. Experienced
bowazons are able to out-kill anyone using what the average player would
consider a lousy bow only through the virtues of well-used skills and piercing.

    Contrary to what the tables suggest, Pierce has no real Diminishing
Returns, as the probability of successive Pierces increases a lot even with the
last skill points. A successful Pierce hitting another monster in line at least
doubles your damage for this shot. For certain Area of Effect skills
(Immolation or FA), the results can be much, much better due to overlapping
effect zones (as explained in the FA description).

    Unless you are using Piercing items (Razortail, Buriza do Kyanon...),
having 12 points in Pierce for 75% chance of Piercing is highly recommended.
When you are near the end of the game, and you don't know what to do with your
points, you can always invest into Pierce and max it. This skill is that good.

Warning: it seems that Pierce can only occur a maximum of 4 times with the same
attack. This makes the theory of successive Pierce a bit less true...


III) Equipment

    Ah, the equipment ! The heart and bones of LoD, with its tons of
super-powerful items (the "uber" gear). The cause for endless Magic Find runs,
and what still drives many players to the game, more than one year after LoD
came out.

    LoD changed lots of things about equipment: back in CD2, the best toys were
the rare items, with unique and set items being relegated to the role of
curiosity, providing some functions normally unfindable on rare equipment
slots. But rares were the most generally useful items. LoD changed the way
equipment and especially rare items work in five fundamental ways:

* existence of very powerful (downright overpowered in some cases) ready-made
items. Those can be unique items that beat every possible rare combination,
powerful sets with interesting interacting properties, or runewords (which are
kind of customisable uniques)
* socketing and customisation: by socketing a rune or jewel into an existing
item, it is possible to enhance its properties, and thus helps giving a unique
item the kind of properties mix that would appeal on a rare item.
* new "magic-only" affixes, far more powerful than what could spawn even on the
best rare. Once again, Blizzard overdid their initial goal, which was giving
some more choices to the player. There is no contest than the most important
property of a weapon is damage. By making magical items able to have much more
damage than the most powerful rare weapon would have, Blizzard just changed the
focus from "rares are the only way to go" to "high-end magical items are the
only way to go".
* charms: this one is a good one. Charms are a very interesting feature of LoD,
and one that has lots of potential. Charms replaced one of the most important
values of rares, which was all those "little modifiers" adding up to end into a
powerful equipment build: some resistances, a little bit of life or mana, run
speed, hit recovery... All those important affixes can now be found on charm,
allowing the player to focus on damage on its main equipment slots.
* Affix pool corruption: the introduction of tons of new affixes, most of them
completely useless, made it extremely difficult to get a good rare item with
useful properties. Level one Poison Dagger charges and low bonuses to Stamina
have replaced leech and good resistances, for example.

    Now for a minor rant: LoD new equipment features sent game balance down the
drain. Thanks to the incredible design flaw of "balance by rarity" and to a
less than properly secured environment (the supposedly "cheat-free" Realms),
LoD has quickly turned into a click-fest populated by godly characters,
unkillable by all but the worst boss packs, or by the player's stupidity. Those
new toys also gave birth to a vast number of nerfs, ranging from the
diminishing returns on run/walk and weapon speed to the incredibly silly global
50% physical resistance on all monsters in Hell difficulty. This was not done
without casualties: several very interesting character builds (for the bowazon
as well as for all other character classes) were rendered impossible to play
without the top-end gear, as generic monsters and the global game difficulty
proved too though. On the other hand, people having the luck (or the
dedication, or the low ethics) to acquire the high-end toys were definitely
handed a free pass, as balancing the game for such high-end gear while keeping
it at least doable for less fortunate players (and God helps Single Players) is
simply impossible.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm not ranting because I'm jealous of people having
those kind of items (I actually own most of them). I'm ranting because the
creeping featurism turned my favorite game into a generic click-fest, and,
above everything, hindered the good-will players to the profit of
script-kiddies, Ebay sellers, and exploiters. The urge to own all the new toys
also turned a perfectly understandable love of the game into a kind of insane
addiction. But enough ranting for now. ;)

    This equipment section will be divided into 3 main parts: the first one and
shortest will describe what modifiers are interesting to a bowazon, and on what
equipment slots. The second one will be about ready-made items, with short
descriptions of many popular items (more information about ready-made items can
be found at the Horadrim Library http://planetdiablo.com/library ). The last
part will explain some equipment balancing tricks for a bowazon (using
alternate weapon slot, socketing quests and charms wisely).

1) What do those modifiers mean for my bowazon ?

    Over the course of playing, a character typically gets access to tons of
items: most of them drop from random monsters, but others can be gambled,
bought, or obtained as quest rewards or from specific bosses. Following the
excellent work of Bolshoi Too in his impressive and still unmatched javazon
FAQ, this section will describe the different modifiers available in the game,
and how they impact a bowazon, listed by efficiency. This will help you
evaluate your magical and rare items quickly, by looking for their properties
in the list.

    But before reading too much into this list, remember that equipping a
bowazon is a matter of balance. Fine-tuning a bowazon equipment is not slapping
all enhanced damage equipment you can put on, with just two pieces of leech
jewelry. While this may get you a long way in the cow level, remember we are
not talking about this kind of bowazon (that doesn't require a guide anyway)
here.

a) Must-have modifiers

    Those are the modifiers an average bowazon really wants to have to some
extent, in order to finish the game without too much trouble. Specialist builds
may or may not require some of those affixes, but they are the exception rather
than the rule.

- Enhanced Damage (ED): either percent-based, bonuses to minimum or maximum
damage, or scaling damage (damage bonus that increases with your character
level). Enhanced Damage is the most important property for increasing your
physical damage output and thus kill enemies faster (remember the Tao ? ). It
is of course mostly found on the bow itself. Except in very close cases, use
the bow that will yield the best damage over time (more on this later). ED can
also be found on other specific items and in jewels. My recommendation would be
to completely dedicate your bow slot to damage, and not really think about it
elsewhere. An exception would be for good jewels with both some kind of
additional damage and other interesting properties, and for charms.

- Mana and Life leech (ML and LL): the bread and butter of a regular bowazon.
Mana and life leech are one of the reasons bowazons are so powerful, as they
can apply them to a number of targets very quickly. And since they hit from a
distance, life leech only helps for the occasionally connecting hit, and as
such doesn't mean as much as for a physical contact build (like a barbarian, a
paladin, a spearazon...). Generally, and depending on your bow damage, you can
do very well in Hell with about 10% mana and 10% life leech. People using low
damage bows or using very high mana cost skills (such as high level Immo or FA)
will typically want more leech (especially mana). On the other hand, owners of
very high damage bows can perfectly get along with just 5% mana and life leech.
Mana and life leech now spawn on about every affix slot: helms (uniques or
circlets), jewelry (rings for life and amulets for mana, except for a few
unique items), weapon, runes/gems (socketed in weapons, Amn for life and Vex
for mana, and skulls for dual leech), gloves, some belts (uniques and set),
armors (uniques)...

- Increased Attack Speed (IAS): not completely a must-have modifier, but very
close. IAS is one of the three easiest way (with ED and Dexterity) to increase
your damage over time. In some cases, a well-placed IAS piece of equipment will
give a tremendous boost to your damage over time, much more than what some ED
equipment would have given you. The rules governing IAS and how you can use it
effectively will be described with more detail in the Speedazon section of this
guide. Basically, IAS depends both on your inherent weapon speed and your
additional IAS modifiers, and is governed by speed breakpoints (a speed
breakpoint is an amount of IAS for which your attack effectively becomes
faster). As a rule of thumb, if adding an IAS piece of equipment allows you to
jump to the next speed breakpoint and doesn't deprive you from a mandatory slot
(like leech), then there is no reason not to use it. Balancing weapon speed is
perhaps one of the most fun parts of equipment optimisation. IAS comes on
weapons, on several unique/set items, and in the form of runes (Shael in
weapon) and jewels (jewels of Fervor).

- Fast Run/Walk (FRW): a slow bowazon is often a dead bowazon. Not much else to
say on Fast/Run walk, it's mostly found on boots (although it can appear on
rare circlets and is included on many non-boots set/unique items), but now
charms are a very popular way of getting more FRW.

- Cold Damage: as was explained in the Cold sub-tree section, cold damage and
especially duration are added together to provide extremely long
freezing/chilling time. This is a Good Thing (tm). Cold Damage can be found on
bows, amulets, various uniques/sets (RavenFrost ring and Eye of Etlitch amulet
are very popular choices), runes/jewels, and in form of charms. Since it can
spawn on charms as either a prefix or a suffix, it is very easy to get good
charms with cold damage and whatever other affix you like. You should always
try to have at least 1 second cold duration in Hell, which means a total of 4
seconds (because duration is quartered in Hell). This is a bare minimum, and
higher freeze times are obviously very recommended.

b) Very Important

    This section lists the modifiers you will want to a degree or another in
your equipment. If adding one of those modifiers doesn't deprive you from a
mandatory modifier, then you should consider using it. Great bowazons are
noticed by their uses of such modifiers, and the way they balance them against
the "Must have" modifiers.

- Dexterity bonuses: the third way to increase damage over time. As a single
point in Dexterity gives a bonus of 1% of the weapon's damage, it is not
surprising if many bowazons have 50 or more additional Dex points in the form
of equipment (50 is probably a bit conservative on my side). Dex bonuses can be
found on all equipment slots, from headgear to boots.

- Chance to cast the Amplify Damage curse (AD): ideally, this should belong to
the "Must have" section, as AD is the absolute best way to cut through non
physical immune (PI) monsters like a hot knife through butter. AD works by
removing 100% to the physical resistance of the target (it doesn't work on PI
critters, though). In Normal and Nightmare, this doubles your damage output. In
Hell, monsters have a base 50% Physical Resistance, so your actual physical
damage output (not elemental) in this case is tripled ! Freezing Arrow
(especially when combined with Pierce) is probably the best way to trigger AD.
Why didn't I list this in the "Must have" section ? Because there are very few
ways to get it: some bows can have it at the lowish Slvl 1 (very small area),
but otherwise the only way to get it is either using the WitchWild String
unique Short Siege Bow or one of two unique amulets: the Atma's Scarab (on
which the other properties aren't exactly stellar), or the 1.08 version of the
Saracen's Chance (probably the best amazon amulet, but a very expensive item).

- Skill bonuses: while absolutely not mandatory, skill bonuses are what make
certain bowazon builds (mainly those who work with Increasing Returns skills
like Freezing Arrow) very powerful. For an average bowazon, a single bonus to
all skills gives: better defensive potential (passives, better Valk...) and
much better offensive potential (offensive passives and bow skills). Not bad
for a single equipment slot, even if this increase is only a few percents
generally. Skill bonuses can be found on bow, gloves, armors (uniques),
headgear, amulets, and 2 unique rings (Stone of Jordan and Bul-Khatos Wedding
Band), as well as on charms. It is in certain cases best not to have too many
skill bonuses, as the cost for several skills can become hard to manage
(Freezing Arrow, Immolation, Multishot, Valkyrie).

- Life bonuses: it is usually more effective to get a higher life total from
your equipment (especially charms) than from your stats, and pump Dexterity
rather than Vitality. Consider it: a decent small life charm can give 15 to 20
Life points. 15 is the equivalent of 5 Vitality points. On the other hand, the
maximum amount of Dexterity you can get on a small charm is 2 points. As usual,
YMMV.

- Crowd control modifiers: you may have personal preferences, but most bowazons
use some kind of item-based crowd control. Those include Freezes Target
(different from cold damage), Hit blinds target, Knocks Target Back, Hit Causes
Monster to Flee (Slows Target should be included in this list, but it is
currently bugged on the Realms). Those modifiers do not kill monsters directly,
but they provide a bowazon with the power to control the flow of battle. A
little warning, some people (melee fighters mostly) do not like partying with
bowazons using Knockback or Flee, as it makes their task very hard. Also,
necromancers may not like Flee or Blind, as those properties override their own
curses when they trigger. More on this in the party play chapter. Crowd Control
modifiers spawn on many equipment slots, especially on unique and set items,
with the notable exception of Knockback, who can be obtained by the Hitpower
Gloves crafting recipe. Of all Crowd Control modifiers, I find Knockback to be
the best one, as it is generally very reliable (the other ones trigger
depending on the level difference, which can be a pain).

An extra word of caution about Knockback, though. There are certain builds that
completely rely on monsters staying in the same place, like Javazons and Meteor
Sorceresses, while other builds like Trapper assassins, Artillery
necromancers... are much more efficient against compact crowds. If you party
with those classes, please think of applying Freezing Arrow first on the
monsters before unleashing MS/Strafe at them, it will greatly ease the life of
your partners. Thanks for them, because careless Knockback really ruin their
build !

- Resistances: what ? I thought a bowazon was never to be hit ? In theory, yes.
In practice, lag, situation assessment mistakes, bad luck and some very
specific monsters or events (Ghoul Lords and Act5 Catapults) will mean that you
will have to take some hits. Melee hits are generally avoidable, unless your
connection really sucks, but ranged attacks can sometimes be a problem, and the
most popular of them are elemental-based. So while having a much higher life
total could be an option, having at least some resistances is certainly as
efficient. I'm not advocating maxing all resistances in Hell (without
resistances-enhancing skills and without using a shield, it's very difficult to
do), but your goal should be to have positive or slightly negative resistances
in Hell difficulty, with Fire and especially Lightning getting the bunch of
your attention. While the Resist All property is of course very nice to have,
individual resists stacking up on several equipment slots can be just as good.
For example, a ring with two 25% resists is better overall than a ring with 10%
to all resists (the first one gives a total of 50%, while the second one gives
only 40% total). If you have a vast selection of gear, the best way to improve
your resists is generally to combine rare items (jewelry, headgear, gloves and
boots are good slots for this) with high individual resistances.

- Cannot be Frozen: being chilled (a character can never be completely frozen
except by the very dangerous Laggy-Realms monster) is dangerous: it reduces
both your damage output over time, your ability to react to enemies moves, and
your run/walk speed. Thus, items with "Cannot be Frozen" (specific
set/unique/runeword items, and the Cham rune socketed in armor or helm) are
extremely valuable, even more so for a fragile bowazon depending on her speed
and reactivity to survive. The lesser version of Cannot be Frozen (Half-Freeze
duration) is about useless, though. Warning: Cannot be Frozen items do not
protect against the Holy Freeze Aura used by many aura-enchanted monsters.

- AR bonus or Ignores Target Defense: those are important, depending on your
Dexterity. Keep in mind that even in the case of Ignores Target Defense (which
doesn't work against bosses), the biggest influence on your actual To Hit
probability will probably come from the level difference. AR bonuses are
further boosted by the Penetrate skill. There are several modifiers that will
give an AR bonus scaling with your level, and those are very good to have. Also
keep in mind that Dexterity will improve both your AR and your damage.

- Elemental Damage: once insignificant in CD2, Elemental Damage became very
important in LoD, thanks to the appearance of Physical Immune monsters, as well
as good work by Blizzard on elemental damage affixes (i.e. including affixes
doing an actually noteworthy amount of elemental damage). While the Fire Arrow
bug can be exploited to deal tremendous amounts of Fire Damage, and while the
amazon has in theory decent elemental skills damage-wise (Ice Arrow and
Immolation mostly, because Freezing Arrow is more a crowd attack skill than a
single target skill), we encounter two problems: the first one is Physical
Immune/Fire Immune bosses (which can't be killed with the Fire Arrow
bug/feature), the second one is mana management. Typically, bowazons have low
mana pools, and their good elemental skills are pretty expensive. This means
that killing a physical immune boss with any skill except Fire Arrow is
generally very difficult, and requires either lots of mana potions, or frequent
trips to town. The solution is, of course, to use item-based elemental damage.
As far as I'm concerned, the best source by far for elemental damage would be
using the 2nd slot weapon with a fast, high elemental damage bow. I tend to
prefer lightning damage, since cold damage typically has lower average damage
(but cold has other advantages), poison is dealt over time (a bowazon running
against a PI boss typically has little time to deal with him before he comes to
her (the Tao, remember ? )), and Fire damage can be obtained through exploiting
the Fire Arrow bug, unless you are opposed to it.

c) Nice to have

    In this section, we will talk about various modifiers that will generally
be used to make the difference between two otherwise equivalent rare items.
While those modifiers are useful (no doubt about it), they are never a matter
or life and death to your character.

- Magic Find (MF): Magic Find improves the chances that a monster will drop a
magical, rare, set or unique item. Keep in mind that it does not improve the
item type (prepare to be buried under rare Short War Bows found in Act 4 Hell),
nor does it impact the quality of the affixes spawning on items (+ Light Radius
and 7% Poison Resist, here we go ! ). Unless you have large amounts of Magic
Find on your character, don't have too much hope of finding the godliest items
out there (whether those items are necessary to enjoy the game is another
question entirely). Those require luck and patience, and generally building a
specific character dedicated to MF through boss farming (a section about Magic
Finding with a bowazon will be included later). MF can be found on all item
slots by courtesy of unique items mostly.

- Extra Gold Find (GF): GF is much more reliable than MF. But since a bowazon
typically has low expenses (none of the tremendous repair costs plaguing
barbarians or assassins, for example), all this extra gold will probably end
being gambled away. Thus, while nice GF is not important. Take into account
that gold is shared with your party, so if you can have some GF without losing
your killing power, your party members will probably thank you a lot.

- Extra Damage and AR against Demons or Undeads: while those modifiers are
good, they are never a replacement for good old-fashioned ED. When appearing on
very good items (like the GoldStrike Arch unique Gothic Bow or the Laying of
Hand set Bramble Mitts), they are of course worthy of note. But who here uses a
Melody bow exclusively ?

- mana bonus: this one is easy. You will probably want some additional mana,
but you should never go out of your way to get some. Mana bonuses can be found
on just any piece of equipment and on charms. Try to find either rare or
unique/set items with both mana bonuses and other good modifiers, or use
dual-mod charms.

- Strength bonuses: those are good provided you planned your equipment ahead of
building your character. If you already have enough Str to wear your gear, then
extra Str is not doing you any good. If you can plan ahead, then any bonus Str
point is equivalent to a Dex point. And we know Dex is good. ;) Str can be
found on just any piece of equipment.

- Lesser Item Requirements: Those are similar to Str bonuses: if you can plan
them ahead, they are a good way to pump Dex instead of Str. If you didn't plan
your gear, then they are a loss of an affix slot. They can spawn on many slots
of equipment, but to you bow and armor are probably the slots where they matter
much.

- Deadly Strike (DS): the item based version of Critical Strike, Deadly
Strike's usefulness for you will mainly depend on your CS level. Both modifiers
can't stack to provide you with 4 times the damage. If you planned your
equipment well, you may want to use some DS equipment and save a few skill
points on CS, but typically skill points are easy to come by for a bowazon.

- Absorb: a sort of souped-up resistances, absorb is more useful when the
resists are maxed, because it allows a character to bypass the maximum resists
limitation (and even heal when attacked in some cases). To a bowazon generally
scrambling for resists, having enough to actually make good use of absorb gear
is very hard. Absorb spawns on unique items, on various equipment slots. Except
for the Ravenfrost ring, those items are generally not very helpful to a
bowazon.

d) Nothing to write home about

- Prevents Monster Healing (PMH): depending on your bow damage, you may want a
piece of equipment that prevents monster healing as, especially in large games,
monster regeneration can really slow you down in your killing. Generally, PMH
spawns on unique and set items. You find it on unique/set items, as it only
spawns as a random affix on melee weapons. As of now (1.09), any amount of
Poison Damage will have the exact same effect as items with PMH. Some people
consider this a bug which may or may not be fixed in 1.10, which is why PMH is
in this section.

- Sockets: extra sockets (as a magical affix) are nice. But unless you get
really lucky (by scoring a Jeweler's Plate of the Whale, for example), they are
not that useful. After all, the "jeweler's" family of affixes are prefixes,
meaning most interesting weapon combination are impossible. Besides, you have
the socket quest available for your items, and you can't put runewords into
magical socketable items. Can spawn on socketable slots (armor, bow, headgear).

- Shorter Poison Duration: considering poisoning monsters have a definite
tendency to re-poison you while they are alive, and considering poison alone
can't kill you, shorter poison duration is definitely not something very
important...

- Stamina bonus: this one is easy. While somewhat nice to have in the beginning
of the game, typically you will get enough Stamina over the course of leveling.
Stamina bonuses mostly spawn on boots and charms.

- Stamina regeneration/Slower stamina drain: this one is much the same. While
nice early on, your stamina total in the end of the game should allow you to
run for long distances already. A commodity in very intricate mazes, nothing
more. Generally spawns on boots.

- mana per kill: at first mana per kill looks like a very nice bonus, and early
on in the game it is. After all, it's some kind of mana recovery that, unlike
mana leech,  also works on Physical Immunes and unleechable monsters, right ?
The problem is that unless you stack tons of "triumphant" bonuses, you will
soon discover that near the end of the game, unless you can leech, the amount
of mana needed to destroy a single monster is generally astronomic when
compared to the triumphant bonus you get on his death. Even the low cost skills
Guided Arrow and Fire Arrow can't hope to recover the mana spent to destroy a
though PI boss. Variant material. Generally spawns on jewelry, circlets, bow,
and on several unique items.

- Faster Hit Recovery (FHR): since you don't tank and try not to get it (the
Tao), you don't need FHR. Besides, considering the very low life amount a
bowazon has, a situation where you would need FHR (trapped in the middle of a
crowd) is generally equivalent to instant death. The few melee hits you will
get through either lag or bad moves is not enough to warrant wanting FHR. This
modifier can be found on boots, belts, armor, charms, and on several unique
equipment slots.

- Damage Reduction: Damage-reduction exists in two forms, percent-based and
flat. The percent-based version can only be found on unique items (Shaftstop,
Vampire Gaze...) and with the extra-rare Ber rune, while the flat damage
reduction exists on many items. Both forms are about useless for a bowazon,
because of the Tao. Random flat reduction found on a few items used for their
other properties doesn't mean much in Hell difficulty (when this minotaur hits
you for 100 damage points, you are very glad to have 3 points on damage
reduction on your ring), and as far as percent-based damage reduction items are
concerned, only Vampire Gaze and String of Ears are interesting for a bowazon
(Vampire Gaze for its nice dual leech and cold damage properties, and String of
Ears for the life leech).

- Magic Damage Reduction (MDR): once very useful against some type of attacks
(like Firewall or Diablo's Lightning Breath) because of a bug, MDR was nerfed
into oblivion in 1.09. Same as for Damage Reduction: when comparing the amount
of MDR you can typically get on a few random items to the huge elemental
damages dealt to you near the end of the game, you quickly understand the
reason why this is in the "Nothing to write home about" section. Spawns on
about every slots, and on a variety of unique items.

- Open Wounds: using complicated rules (the amount of damage dealt by Open
Wounds depends on your level), Open Wounds is another of those modifier that
look great on paper, but are nearly useless in game. Open Wounds makes a
monster bleed continuously, and lose a certain amount of hit points every
second. Too slow to kill bosses, and useless against normal monsters, generally
already dead before it has time to do any noteworthy damage. Spawns on unique
and set items mostly.

- Higher maximum resistances: since a bowazon generally has other things to do
than get maxed resistances, items granting higher maximum resistance bonuses
are generally useless for her. Spawns on unique/set items, and using 4 runes
(Gul, Vex, Ohm and Lo), all of which could be much better used elsewhere.

e) Totally useless

    The complete junk. Some of those affixes are just useless to a bowazon
(although they could be very useful for other classes), but most of those are
the true mark of Ormus' rings and Anya's Rare items: they just keep frustrating
the player a lot, but screenshots can be used to entertain your friends.

- Defense Rating: getting a Defense Rating worth something in LoD is generally
not easy, and is probably an exercise best kept for melee classes, who get nice
defense-enhancing skills (the Barbarian with Shout and Iron Skin, for example).
Since you shouldn't be getting hit often, and since Defense Rating is probably
the weakest form of defense anyway, you shouldn't go out of your way to acquire
great defense rating items. Besides, those items generally require huge amount
of Str, and the armors are usually heavy-weight, slowing you down. Hint:
Arkaine's Valor is not the best choice for a bowazon. Spawns on all armor
slots, as well as a special property on several items (Defense bonus on a
non-armor piece applies to your total defense).

- DR versus Missiles: about as useless as generic Defense Rating since Decoy,
Valk and Slow Missiles are so much better to protect you from ranged attacks.
Spawns on specific set/unique items.

- Light Radius: the flagship of stinky modifiers, and the signature of the
"best" Ormus rings. Not only is Light Radius about useless on its own, it's
capped at a ridiculous value (bonuses after +5 Light Radius don't do anything).
It's only use would be to counteract specific items with negative Light Radius.
Spawns on: about every damn item that could have been interesting otherwise.

- Damage goes to mana (vulpine): this bonus is very interesting for melee
classes and spellcasters, but typically much less for bowazons (who avoids
getting hit, remember ? ). This item works by adding to your mana a percentage
of the damage dealt to you. Melee fighters love it against Physical Immune/Mana
burn monsters, but a bowazon shouldn't encounter those monstrosities in close
range anyway (or she will be dead before the Vulpine bonus can help her
anyway). Spawns on amulets, and on various unique/set items.

- Energy Bonus: see the section on Stats to understand while Energy bonus is
pitiful... The returns are way too low for an amazon when compared to a flat
mana bonus. Spawns on: tons of slots, but you don't want it since it's useless
anyway, remember ?

- Fast Cast Rate (FCR): this one is different. It is a very good mod, just not
for bowazon. FCR affects the following Amazon skills: Inner Sight (useless),
Slow Missiles, Decoy, and Valkyrie. Since a player has no reason to spam any of
those skills, FCR thus becomes useless for a bowazon. Yes, sometimes, the tenth
of second you could have won with FCR would have helped you survive while
casting this Valk, but still the occurrence are far too rare to bother IMHO. A
nice rare FCR amulet or circlet can have a good trading value for another
class, though. Spawns on: specific set/unique items and jewelry/circlets.

- Self-repair: since bows don't have durability and since you seldom get hit,
self-repair is all but useless, except perhaps in the case of etheral pieces of
equipment. Spawns on: armor slots that could have used some useful bonus
instead.

- Indestructible: same deal as self-repair. Nuff said.

- Faster Block: do you use a shield ? No, you use a bow. Next one.

- Attacker takes damage: this one is useless for two reasons. The first one is
that you don't want to get it anyway, and if you get hit your last problem will
probably be "Did I inflict any retaliation damage ?". Second, except for some
very specific unique items (and even for those, it's not pretty), the amount of
damage dealt is absolutely pitiful when compared to the monster's life total.
Spawns on: items Blizzard thought would be fun to ruin with this useless
property.

f) Try it for yourself

This is the section about what is often referred to as "variant material".
Those are modifiers that look interesting, if not very powerful, and that can
be used to build a fun and challenging character. While this is out of the
scope of this guide to list all the builds you can do and the tricks you can
use with those modifiers, here are a few ones :

- All Spell Charges: seriously, the idea of charged items could have been nice,
except the skill levels on them are totally nuts. What use is a level 4 Teeth
or Charged Bolt on a required level 45 item, I wonder. Pure variant material.
Spell Charges are one of the main reasons why rare items mostly suck in LoD:
affix pool corruption. Still, I know a few talented players who like charges of
Weaken (get your own portable Shaftstop !), Dim Vision (which works like Blind
Target on your bow), Attract and Confuse (to get some rest when a bad boss pack
is closing fast), Telekinesis (for opening those urns and doors), Teleport
(obvious uses), and even a second weapon slot used by a wand with Lower Resist
charges, for their elemental arrows. The idea behind some of those charges is
that while you won't need them most of the time, sometimes you wish you had
such an item.

- All Chances to cast spell XXX except for Amplify Damage: same as Spell
Charges, the chances to cast spell XXX are best used in the case of Fist of
Heaven to provide nice fireworks. The damage is generally very low and/or the
spell ill-chosen. Still cool to look at, though. Spawns on many rares, and on
specific uniques that often have other redeeming qualities. Still, those items
can provide a lot of fun when used with FA (which almost always triggers such
effects on crowds)

- Life Regeneration: or the best way to believe you could perhaps avoid using a
Town Portal. In combat situations, Life Regeneration bonuses are not very
useful, as the rate at which you get damaged is generally way faster than the
Regeneration rate (FYI, Life Leech, on the other hand, is instant). Life
Regeneration generally has two uses that may make it worth for you : between
fights if you are low on leech, because it gives you some more life before
taking the next pack (obviously more efficient if you play carefully, and don't
rush like mad to the next monsters), and if you stack a lot of similar items,
in which case the net amount of life gained per second may become useful. An
interesting property of Life Regeneration is that it helps a lot versus poison
attacks, which can make a difference in some dangerous fights.

- Faster Mana regeneration: a great boon for spellcasters, mana regeneration is
generally useless for bowazons, except the mageazon variety (more on this
later). As the rate is indexed on your total mana pool, it's generally futile
to build a mana pool large enough so that faster mana regeneration becomes
useful. Spawns on specific items, and through the use of socketed skulls in
helm/armor. Much like Life Regen items, Faster Mana regen can be somewhat
useful between fights and if you have several items with it.

- Crushing Blow: in CD2, Crushing Blow (CB, do not confuse with CorwinBrute
please) was a great modifier (that didn't work for ranged attacks). LoD gave us
Crushing Blow working with bows, and many more sources for getting it, but, in
a typical Blizzard fashion, nerfed it to near uselessness at the same time.
Crushing Blow gives you a chance to halve a random monster's (not a boss)
current hit points after your attack. This would be good, except:
* It is affected by Physical Resistance (and as such halved in Hell). Flip side
is that Amp Damage affects Crushing Blow as well.
* It is halved again on bows (meaning it will only remove 12.5% of a monster's
remaining life in Hell)
* It doesn't scale with the number of players in the game (I think ?)
    As it is, Crushing Blow on bows looks like a so-so modifier, or a tidy
source of additional damage, but a killer thing about it is that it's triggered
by FA. So in good amounts, it can be an excellent crowd-softener. This modifier
spawns on unique/set items only, with the exception of the extra-rare Ber rune
socketed in a weapon and a crafting recipe (Blood gloves).

2) Can you tell me more about item XXX ?

    Sure thing. While I do not have the time or the willingness to evaluate all
existing equipment, I will do my best to present all the existing bow
solutions, from the most underrated to the "uber-items" (except for normal
unique bows, more on those later). I will also describe interesting items on
other equipment slots, as well as useable sets and partial sets combinations.

a) The bow

    This is your main slot. Your bowazon will probably switch her bow many
times over her carrier. Fortunately, Blizzard gave us a nice variety of unique
bows to play with. If the normal unique bows are absolute jokes, and the elite
ones are so overpowered it's not even funny, the exceptional unique bows all
have a very distinct flavor, and most of them can definitely be used for a long
time.
a1) Of normal unique bows: "Rant time !"

    If I was a good writer, I would give you a great, funny, full of poetic
imagery rant like AK404 does them so well. Sadly I'm not. So instead, you will
get the good old CB style rant.

    I'm not describing any of the normal unique bows for a simple reason: they
all suck and are completely unusable because of level requirements. When LoD
started, one of the thing Blizzard did was trying their best to tone down
"twinking" (the act of equipping a character with gear he could never have
found early on in the game, in order to help him breeze through the beginning
of the game). For this, they added level requirements on every unique item in
the game. In some cases, those minimum levels were good, but in the case of
normal bows they failed horribly. Not only are those bows useless for their
required levels, but they also suck when compared to the low-end exceptional
unique bows, or to any rare bow imported from CD2, or to some rare bows found
in LoD, or to a socketed Hunter Bow with flawed topazes... You get the idea.

    The only one that could potentially be somewhat useful is the Rogue's Bow
for baby speedazons, and even about this one I'm not sure.

    Simply put: don't waste your time with normal unique bows (and don't even
get me started about crossbows). Socket a Hunter Bow with gems (or 20 poison
damage jewels, even better and with which you can clear Normal difficulty in no
time), and use it instead to get a good start. It will bring you much faster
and with less frustration to where you want to be. Which serves as a clever
transition to the second part, the Exceptional Unique bows.
a2) Exceptional unique bows: "A job well done"

    While normal unique bows all suck, Exceptional unique bows are a great case
of good design (kudos to whoever designed them at Blizzard). Very detailed
descriptions of all those bows can be found at the Horadrim Library, I will
just underline what makes them good in a few words.

- Skystrike: a very good bow, that flawlessly makes an excellent transition
from main weapons in a bowazon's young years to an excellent second slot weapon
later in the game. For its required level, Skystrike features good damage,
excellent speed, a skill bonus exactly when you need it the most (i.e. when you
are busy acquiring your end-game skills like Valkyrie, Pierce and Freezing
Arrow), and tons of elemental damage (in form of a hefty Lightning damage, and
a chance to cast a level 6 meteor, which is about the maximum a sorceress could
have around this level). Later in the game, the physical damage starts to feel
low, and the meteor isn't that great, but this bow is still great for quickly
applying a good amount of lightning damage very quickly.

- Riphook: I don't like Riphook much because of the slow target bug, which
causes terrible desynchronisation between the client and the server. But with
pretty good damage, very high speed, and some life leech, it is a speedazon's
dream at this time of her career. Riphook Matriarchs are not unheard of, so
this bow is definitely a good weapon, although most player will probably want
to switch to something else (with higher damage mostly) later in their
character's life.

- Kuko Shakaku: despite its funny name, the Kuko Shakaku is to be considered
seriously. A well-designed bow centered around Fire Damage, the Kuko is one of
the favorite weapons used by Mageazons, because it helps them so much. The gems
on this bow are not the damage (which is nothing to laugh at, though), but the
large skill bonuses (+3 to all bow skills, and +6 to Immolation Arrow, a skill
which is on increasing returns) and the incredible 50% bonus to Pierce (meaning
a small 5 points in Pierce will already grant you 100% Pierce). The Fire Damage
is also good for killing Physical Immunes (in fact, many people have testified
they killed PI monsters much faster using piercing Guided Arrow with Kuko than
using Fire Arrow). The "Fire explosive arrows" property is not very good,
considering it only works with normal attacks and Explosive Arrow. Kuko Shakaku
can be used both as a main weapon for certain builds, or as a secondary weapon
for its Fire Damage.

- Endlesshail: the worst of unique bows, Endlesshail is not very well designed.
It is still useable, no doubt about it (thanks to its good damage, bonus to
Strafe, and good cold damage and duration), but it lacks any form of IAS that
would have made him a great bow for speedazons. Too bad.

- WitchWild String (WWS): or "How to outkill the Burizazons with a short siege
bow". In the hand of a clever amazon, the WWS is a deadly weapon. While its
physical damage does not seem that great at first, the scaling Deadly Strike,
and above everything the triggered Amp Damage can make the effective damage
(which is quite different from the "bragging rights number on the Lying
Character screen") skyrocket. Since a decent amount of Critical Strike and the
scaling Deadly Strike give you a very good chance at double damage, and Amp
triples the effective damage in Hell (and is very easy to trigger against packs
with FA), you are looking at a constant 3 times the listed damage (taking into
account the blanket physical resistance in Hell). Not bad... The 40% to all
resistances is a boon for HC players. WWS can be used either as a main weapon,
or as a secondary weapon for triggering Amp before switching to a more damaging
weapon.

- Cliffkiller: a good middle-life bow. With high damage, Knockback, and a nice
Life and skills bonus, the Cliffkiller is a decent weapon. It lacks any form of
IAS or Leech, though, and shows less "personality" than the other bows. Deadly
in the hands of a Rogue mercenary (more on this later).

- Magewrath: another surprisingly effective weapon. With good damage, and
decent AR, Dexterity and skills (+1 to all skills, +3 to Guided Arrow) bonuses,
Magewrath would already be a decent weapon. What makes it more than that is a
nice crowd control modifier (Hit blinds target), as well as a godly 15% mana
leech, the highest leech bonus on a single bow. Basically, you can use only
Magewrath for your mana leech needs and get away with it without any problems.

- GoldStrike Arch (GSA): the unique Gothic Bow, the GSA is one of the best bows
in the game. It features very high damage and accuracy (its AR bonus is the
equivalent of 10 to 15 points put into Penetrate), as well as blazing speed
(it's the fastest 10 base speed bow in the game). For its special properties,
we get huge damage bonuses to Demons and Undead, a cool SFX-theme with a chance
to cast Fist of Heavens on attack, and a useless Replenish Life. This bow is
very versatile, and can compliment a physical damage build very well (whether
it is used in a speed rig or in a beatdown rig).

- Lycander's Aim: my personal favorite. This bow only has two less than optimal
modifiers: enhanced defense, and an energy bonus. The rest of the modifiers
(huge damage (especially minimum damage), incredible skill bonus, mana leech,
increased speed and Dexterity bonus, not very high requirements) makes it my
personal recommendation as far as exceptional bows are concerned. No matter
what you want to do (use elemental skills, use mostly physical damage, or
better yet a mix of both), the Lycander's Aim will help you doing it better.

    The unique crossbows mostly suck (because of the way speed interacts with
crossbows), except for the Pus Spitter (which has the interesting property of
triggered Lower Resist, and as such could be used by an elemental specialist
much like the WWS is used by physical-based amazons), and the sad subject of
the next paragraph (which will be my only rant about exceptional
bows/crossbows)

- The Buriza-do Kyanon (BdK): or "What the Hell were they smoking when they
designed this thing ?". Also nicknamed "Blizzard Cannon", "Tuna Cannon", "BFG
(for Big F*cking Gun), "Burrito cannon", "Cheese cannon", and many others. The
BdK is single-handly responsible for the bad reputation amazons got on the
Realms. While the 1.08 version was interesting (a powerful crossbow made for a
refreshing change), the 1.09 version is so overpowered and pigeonholes the
bowazon into a single stupid role that it is not even funny. We are not talking
about " mildly overpowered" here. What we are talking here is a fat slice of
cheese, the stinky French variety. The BFG features incredible damage (both
base and scaling), huge elemental damage (cold, with a lengthy duration),
Freezes target, huge speed bonus (nearly enough on the weapon alone to have it
at top speed), a fat Dexterity bonus (more than making up for the huge Strength
requirement) and, worst of all, a moronic 100% Pierce bonus (to get some kind
of equivalent, this means a little 60 points into the Pierce skill). Because it
is slow, and because of its incredible Piercing and cold damage, the Buriza
works best with 2 skills: Multishot and Guided Arrow (although FA is also worth
mentioning). Add to this that it's extremely easy to find, has a low level
requirement, and you should begin to understand while players on Battle.net are
ranting about "mindless overpowered bowazons". The Tuna Cannon is the flagship
of stereotypical bowazon builds, and as such amazons using this crossbow are
often scorned, which is very sad because not all of them fit the stereotype.

a3) Elite unique bows: "Ranting again ?"

    The two elite unique bows are the exact opposite of the normal unique bows:
both of them are way too good. Those bows perfectly embody why "balance by
rarity" is a bad idea: an amazon equipped with either of those two bows can cut
through the game with absolutely no difficulty, and is likely to at least
mildly irritate party players by frustrating them of kills. Duping also made
this "balance by rarity" a moot point, and I would wager that at least 95% of
Windforces and 80% of Eaglehorns on the Realms are duped. The frustrating part
is that back in Diablo1 (where those two bows come from), they were good but
not overpowered weapons, and both had a very specific feeling to them. In their
D2 incarnation, they are just a powergamer's wet dream.

- Eaglehorn: less brute-force than its counterpart, it doesn't take a grand D2
analyst to understand why the Eaglehorn is so good: it features impressive
damage (with a scaling property), is extremely reliable (thanks to both a
scaling AR bonus as well as ITD), and even has 2 little goodies in the form of
a nice Dexterity bonus and a +1 to all skill levels (although at level 69, a
bowazon is likely to have finished her skill assignment). For a bow, Eaglehorn
is slow (it has the slowest base speed, and no IAS), and does not feature any
leech (although its damage makes other sources of leech very effective on their
own). It is still a more than very good and reliable bow for a physical damage
specialist.

- Windforce: or "I really need to try some of those drugs". Windforce is the
best ranged weapon in the game, period. People can argue about preferring an
hypothetic  Cruel XXX Bow of XXX socketed with very specific jewels/runes, it's
unlikely this weapon would be a match for a well-optimised WF build. Its
incredible scaling damage makes its max damage top the best close range
weapons, and with IAS, Knockback and mana leech on the weapon itself, it also
frees too much other equipment slots for a single weapon (only the BFG compares
to Windforce for this). Extreme amazon builds using WF are often in the 6000 to
8000 max damage land, and this kind of damage can be applied simultaneously to
many target. Windforce is extremely rare, extremely valuable, and as such
extremely duped.

a4) Rare and Magical Bows

    Good rare bows are hard to find, because of affixe pool dilution. A nice
rare exceptional or elite bow can still take you through the game, but unless
you are playing Single Player or No-Twink, there are bows available for a
handful of chipped gems that flat-out beat any kind of rare bow, except the
dream bow with only the best affixes at their maxed-out value, something which
still has to spawn on Battle.net as far as I know.

    Magical bows are more interesting, because some of them can be bought at
shops (thus replacing boring Magic Find duties by boring shopping duties), or
they can be cubed (using the Magical Item + 3 Perfect Gems of any type recipe).
What you want is, of course, a weapon featuring either the Cruel or
GrandMaster's prefix, and ideally a decent/good suffix. Since no good runewords
exist for fast bows, and no elite unique either, a magical bow is nearly
mandatory for speedazons. Unfortunately, "low" doesn't even begin to describe
the odds of cubing a really good bow.

Here is some information about elite bows. This information is provided in the
following way: Name/Strength required/Dexterity required/Base speed/Minimum
damage - Maximum damage
* Spider Bow/64/143/5/23-50: while not very fast, a high-end Spider Bow can be
a good choice, due to a low Strength requirement
* Blade Bow/76/119/-10/21-41: very fast and with low requirements, the Blade
Bow would be the best speedazon bow if Matriarchal didn't exist.
* Shadow Bow/52/188/0/15-59: with its average speed and extremely low required
Strength, the Shadow Bow is somewhat popular. Its drawback is that you can't
buy a good one at the vendors, you have to cube it or find it.
* Great Bow/127/107/-10/12-52: oh, the irony. The only great thing about this
bow is the name: the Strength requirement is downright stupid, especially when
compared to the Matriarchal and Blade Bows. Avoid this one.
* Diamond Bow/89/132/0/33-40: with its very small damage range, it is easy to
make a good Diamond Bow an extremely reliable weapon. Some extreme builds
manage to get those bows to have a minimum damage higher than the maximum,
which is of course very nice, as the minimum damage "pushes" the maximum.
* Crusader Bow/97/121/10/15-63: a definitely good weapon. The Crusader is slow,
but its Strength requirement is not very high (after all, it's only two points
higher than a Gothic Bow, the old CD2 staple). Its damage is also solid.
Crusader Bows can get 6 sockets, making them very popular for the Silence Rune
Word.
* Ward Bow/72/146/0/20-53: the popularity of the Ward Bow comes for a great
part from the fact that it's easy to shop for a good one (Grandmaster's or
Crual) in Hell Act 4 and 5. The Ward Bow has no weak points, and a very cool
name.
* Hydrah Bow/134/167/10/10-68: the only Hydrah Bow worth mentioning is
Windforce. All other Hydrah Bows are flat-out beaten by similar Crusader or
Grand Matron bows, if only for the Strength requirement. Hint: Silence Hydrah
Bows are not worth it.
* Matriarchal Bow/87/187/-10/20-47: the flagship weapon of current speedazon
builds, the Matriarchal Bow is the best -10 base speed bow, because of his
excellent average damage and inherent skill modifier. You will love this
weapon.:)
* Grand Matron Bow/108/152/10/14-72: the best 10 base speed elite bow, the GMB
has decent requirements, huge average damage, and inherent skills. Its only
drawback is that a bug prevents it from getting 6 sockets, which is a shame, as
a Silence GMB would really rock.

b) The armor slots

    The fact that Defense Rating is useless for a bowazon doesn't mean she
should not chose her armor slots carefully. In fact, a bowazon has a
surprisingly large amount of choice available when choosing her armor, because
DR doesn't matter for her. She is restricted by the amount of Str needed to
wear certain items, but since many high-end armors have lesser requirements, it
doesn't matter much.

b1) Headgear

    There isn't much to be found as far as normal headgear is concerned:
Tarnhelm used to be good for MFers, but Stealskull is so much better now it is
not even funny. I would strongly advise not overlooking Biggin's Bonnet and
especially Duskdeep at low levels. Undead Crown and Wormskull could also find
some use with their life leech. But generally speaking, don't count on unique
helms too much for your young bowazon.

    In exceptional uniques, the pattern changes a lot, though: there are some
quite godly equipment pieces available.

- Peasant's Crown: 60 Life, 30 Mana (through Vitality and Energy bonuses) ,+1
to all skills and fast run/walk. A very decent helm, although the look on a
bowazon is horrible.

- Rockstopper: featuring a very defensive package, Rockstopper is perhaps not
the helm of choice for a bowazon, although HC players probably like it for its
strong resistances and decent life boost.

- Stealskull: perhaps the best exceptional helm for a bowazon, mostly for the
IAS and dual leech properties. The Magic Find on it is also a good feature, and
the rest of the modifiers are not that useful for a bowazon, although they are
not a total waste either.

- Darksight Helm, Valkyrie Wing and Blackhorn's Face: I will pass on those
three helms quickly, they typically don't have much for a bowazon. Perhaps the
Valkyrie Wing could be useful if the Strength requirement wasn't so high.
Darksight Helm has mana leech and Cannot be Frozen, but the other mods leave
much to desire. And Blackhorn's Face is much better for a melee fighter, and
causes desynch (the Slow Bug).

- Crown of Thieves: with huge life leech, a good resist, and large bonuses to
Mana, Life and more importantly Dex, the Crown of Thieves is a very good
bowazon helm. And it doesn't look that bad. ;)

- Vampire Gaze: everyone and his mother wants one of those, and people are
mostly interested in the Damage Reduction property of the Vampire Gaze. The
most interesting properties of this helm for a bowazon are in fact the dual
leech, and the nice Cold Damage (and Cold duration). While it is a great helm,
the fact that it is really priced high makes it a luxurious commodity, easily
replaced by a good circlet.

    As far as Elite unique Helms are concerned, there is not much to say: the
Harlequin's Crest is much more useful on spellcasters, and the Veil of Steel is
way to heavy for a fragile bowazon.

b2) Armor

    There are several normal unique armors worth mentioning. I will try to make
it short and only describe three of them.

- Greyform: the old CD2 bowazon staple, Greyform is now more into the category
of excellent twinking gear than in the realm of end-game equipment. Still, with
good life leech, two nice resists, and a Dexterity bonus, this armor has lots
of features appealing to a bowazon.

- Twitchthroe: the only armor dedicated speedazons used back in CD2, there is a
good news and a bad one for Twitchthroe lovers: the good one is that in LoD
Twitchthroe is more powerful than ever, with an increased IAS bonus. It still
has Dex and Str bonuses, as well as the less useful FHR, and the completely
useless Increased Blocking (for a bowazon anyway). The bad news is that thanks
to socket quests and 4 sockets armor, speedazons have much better toys than
Twitchthroe available. Another end-game equipment that became good twink-gear
(which is still far from bad).

- Silks of the Victor: the most overpriced armor of CD2 turned into a piece of
junk that dedicated MFers throw aside... Well, they shouldn't, because (for its
required level) this armor has two interesting mods for a bowazon: +1 to all
skills (remember, it is around level 30 that you need those skill boosts the
most), and 5% mana leech (always nice to have).

    Let's move to exceptional unique armors. The sky is the limit here. Or
rather, your Str is the limit. Don't fear too much, most of the good armors for
a bowazon require little Str.

- The Spirit Shroud: while worth mentioning (because of the +1 to skills and
the Cannot be Frozen properties), the Spirit Shroud is more of a spellcaster's
armor (you don't need replenish life, remember ?).

- Skin of the Vipermagi: perhaps the best spellcaster's armor in the game, the
Skin of Vipermagi can be useful to bowazons wanting to boost their resistances
and skill level at the same time. But its power pales in comparison to the
Lionheart runeword's. Still a very good armor for builds needing high skill
levels (like mageazons, dinozons or vamps)

- Skin of the Flayed One and Iron Pelt are about useless.

- Crow Caw: while this armor looks good with its Dex bonus and IAS, Twichthroe
is lighter and can be used earlier.

- Spirit Forge is a nice idea, mostly due to some a nice combination of
defensive and offensive features, improved by the presence of two empty sockets
for further customisation.

- Duriel's Shell: one of the most overlooked armors in the game. With scaling
life and DR, good prismatic resistance, a nice Str bonus and Cannot be Frozen,
the Shell has lots to offer to a bowazon caring about her defense. It is a very
prized armor in HC.

- Shaftstop: the armor of PvP players and of idiotic conformists, Shaftstop has
little other value to a PvM bowazon than the nice bonus to life. Blech.

- Skullder's Ire: one of the armor of choice for MFers, the Ire has not much to
offer to a bowazon, except a +1 to all skill bonuses. Technically, a Wealth
armor could be preferable for the Gold Find bonus.

- Que-Hegan's Wisdom: a nice armor, much better suited for spellcasters. If you
use an elemental heavy build, it may be an option, although I would tend to
suggest using Skin of Vipermagi instead.

- Guardian Angel: if you find it, don't plan on using it on your bowazon, but
rather start a paladin instead. ;) None of the bonuses are particularly useful
for a bowazon.

- Toothrow: I'm really wondering what bonuses could be useful to a bowazon on
Toothrow. Or to any class for that matter.

- Atma's Wail: lots of bonuses on this armor, but except for the Dexterity
bonus and the small MF bonus, none of them matter for a bowazon.

- Black Hades: while this armor is very heavy, its bonus against demons and its
3 empty socket make it a potential choice. Nothing to write home about, though.

- Corpsemourn: point me to a bowazon with 170 Strength, and I will point you to
a bad build. ;) Save this armor for your mercenary.

    Both Elite unique armors are completely useless for a bowazon: except for
Cannot be Frozen, the Gladiator's Bane is junk, and Arkaine's Valor requires an
indecent amount of Str, and gives very little value to a bowazon (yep, even the
1.08 one).
b3) Gloves

    There are lots of good unique gloves available, but generally speaking you
may want either a rare pair of gloves with properties fitting your build, or
even better crafted Hitpower gloves (for the Knockback modifier).

    In normal unique gloves, the Hand of Broc is nice to have early on for the
Dual Leech property. Later in the game, rare dual leech gloves can spawn, with
potentially much better other modifiers.

    Bloodfist can help a bowazon for a long time, with their large life bonus
(useful early on, when you are pumping Dex and Str to wield better bows), IAS,
and sizable boost to minimum damage. Probably the best normal unique gloves for
a bowazon.

    Chance Guards are technically excellent gloves for the people interested in
Magic Find, but I tend to prefer rare gloves with less MF, but generally much
better modifiers.

    Magefist and Frostburn are better suited to the elemental-heavy amazons,
for their boost to mana regeneration and mana pool respectively. As an
interesting side note, Magefist's bonus to Fire Skills works for Fire Arrow,
Exploding Arrow and Immolation.

    As far as exceptional unique gloves are concerned, there is less good to be
told: all of those gloves are certainly nice, but all pale in comparison to a
good pair of rare/crafted gloves which can be obtained easily, or in comparison
to some excellent Set gloves that exist. The only interesting properties on
unique exceptional gloves are the large bonuses against Undeads on Gravepalm
and Ghoulhide, the Fire Damage and Enchant (plus the IAS) on Lava Gout, and the
funny chances to cast on Hellmouth.

b4) Belt

    Choosing between normal unique belts, a bowazon can consider Nightsmoke for
the resistances bonus, but especially Goldwrap, which is an end-game belt for
speed addicts (and MFers, of course). Unless you need other mods on your belt
(like leech), or you don't need the extra IAS, Goldwrap may very well be the
good belt for you.

    There is much more choice between exceptional unique belts, as nearly all
of those have something to offer to a bowazon.

- String of Ears: one of the most used belts, the best property the SoE has to
offer to a bowazon is the good Life Leech bonus. The damage reduction is nice,
but a bowazon doesn't need it that much.

- Razortail: unless you really need IAS, Razortail is the best bowazon belt.
+10 to Maximum Damage and +15 to Dexterity mean an impressive damage increase
(remember this +10 to Max Damage is affected by Dexterity, auras...), but the
best modifier is the 33% bonus to Pierce. Using Razortail, you will only need 9
points in Pierce to reach 100% Pierce. No other belt can come close to the
damage output bonus Razortail can give you either directly (damage and Dex) or
indirectly (through Pierce).

- Gloom's Trap: it is a nice belt, with mana leech and other mana bonuses, and
+15 to Vitality. While there are best options available, a Gloom's Trap is
certainly a decent choice, especially if you need mana leech badly. Pay
attention to the seemingly inoffensive -3 to Light Radius, which can prove
deadly in dark areas.

    The two last exceptional unique belts Snowclash and Thundergod's Vigor
don't bring a lot of value to a bowazon.

    There is an elite belt, the Nosferatu's Coil. If it worked, Nosferatu's
Coil would be on par with Razortail for the title of best bowazon belt, with
IAS, leech, and a good Str bonus (useful if you plan your gear early in your
career). But Nosferatu's Coil features the infamous Slow Target, which is
bugged and causes desynch. You may want to use it, but take care, and above
everything warn your partners that you use a Slow Target item.
b5) Boots

    I tend to prefer rare boots with Fast run and resistances on bowazons.
Still, some of the unique boots can bring good value. In normal unique boots, I
would recommend Gorefoot for the small mana leech bonus, and Threads of Cthon
for the incredible endurance they give. Both of those boots are strictly
beginner's gear, though.

    Exceptional unique boots have some interesting properties of which a
bowazon can gain much.

- Infernostride: those boots provide some decent fire-related mods: a nice
resistance and a fine amount of fire damage. Not much else, though.

- Waterwalk: those are much better, mostly for their large Dex and Life
bonuses. Still not enough to convince me of dropping good rare boots, but YMMV.

- Silkweave: spellcaster boots. Can be useful to elementalists for the mana
boost, but not very exciting for a generic bowazon.

- War Traveler: now, we are talking (again). While the War Traveler are better
known for their large MF bonus, the incredible property on them is their 15-25
damage bonus. When modified by Dex and other factors (Critical Strike, friendly
damage aura...), War Traveler can add 100 points or even more to your damage
output. Definitely powerful.

- Gore Riders: an interesting pair of boots for their damage boosting
properties (Crushing Blow, Open Wounds, Deadly Strike), the Gore Riders can't
hold the comparison to the War Traveler for a bowazon (mostly because Crushing
Blow is nerfed on bows).

c) The jewelry

    While rare or crafted jewelry has a lot to offer to a bowazon (leech,
resistances, skills), there are some nice unique amulets and rings that offer
some excellent options to a bowazon (and modifiers they can't find anywhere
else). More often than not, a bowazon will end with a mix of unique and
rare/crafted jewelry.

c1) Amulets

    Together with the weapon and belt slots, the amulet slot is perhaps where
unique items are the way to go for a bowazon. While excellent rare and crafted
amulets exist, most mainstream bowazon builds use one of the unique amulets as
a cornerstone. We can keep out the Nokozan's Relic (useless garbage), Mahim-Oak
Curio (not even good twink gear), the Rising Sun and the Mara's Kaleidoscope
(not very useful to a bowazon).

- The Eye of Etlitch: back in CD2, the Eye of Etlitch (EoE) was the bowazon
amulet, except in case of particularly excellent rares. The best mods on the
EoE are not the Life leech and skill bonus (although they are nice), but the
hidden Cold duration. Nowadays, cold damage charms are an excellent way to get
some cold duration, so the EoE is a bit less useful. Extreme Frostmaiden builds
still sport it proudly, though.

- Saracen's Chance: while the 1.09 version does not bring a lot of value to a
bowazon (nice stats and resists bonus, but nothing else), we will mention the
1.08 version, probably the best amulet an amazon could want with bonuses to Str
and Dex, 10% to all resistances (the 1.09 version is better in this regard),
and a 3% chance to cast level 5 Amplify Damage on attack, which is simply
devastating.

- The Cat's Eye: an amulet made for bowazons, with its run/walk, Dexterity, and
above everything IAS bonus. PvP amazons as well as speedazons often use it.

- Crescent Moon: another excellent amulet, mostly for its huge mana leech and
decent life leech properties (dual leech). The other bonuses are not excellent
for a bowazon, though. Try to find your leech elsewhere before using it.

- Atma's Scarab: the only interest (but a big one) that the Scarab has for a
bowazon is the chance to cast Amplify Damage. If you don't have an 1.08
Saracen's Chance and need Amp. Damage, Atma's Scarab is the only choice.

- Highlord's Wrath: an excellent amulet (mostly for its IAS property), the
Highlord's Wrath brings some good properties to your bowazon, like a small
skill bonus, and especially scaling Deadly Strike. Depending on your build,
Cat's Eye may still be a better choice.

c2) Rings

    Rings are a curiosity slot, in that they often are less useful than good
rare/crafted rings. Blizzard did a good balance job on unique rings, with most
of them having some very desirable and distinctive properties balanced by
important holes in the package they furnish.

- Nagelring: useful to MFers and not much else. Even then, you may prefer a
rare ring with some MF (probably less than on the Nagelring) and other good
properties.

- Manald Heal: the only ring with mana leech in LoD. This makes it a good
choice for people needing lots of mana leech. The other properties are not very
useful, though.

- The Stone of Jordan (SoJ): the "currency" of Battle.net, the SoJ is useless
to bowazons, except perhaps to elemental specialists who could use its mana and
skill bonuses.

- Dwarf Star: a defensive ring with Fire absorb, MDR and a nice life bonus, the
Dwarf Star is not that useful to a bowazon (except perhaps in HC). Still a ring
to have in stash for fire-heavy situations.

- Raven Frost: the best unique ring for a bowazon, the Raven Frost's two most
important points are Cannot be Frozen and a large bonus to Dex (although the
other properties are interesting too). If you don't have Cannot be Frozen
elsewhere on your equipment, then acquiring a Raven Frost is highly recommended
! Raven Frost also features cold damage, with a nice cold duration (4 seconds)
and a very large boost to your Attack Rating.

- Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band: a very overpriced item, the Wedding Band is not
that useful. It has a nice life and a skill bonus, but the life leech on it is
very low, and the stamina bonus is pitiful. Use it as trading bait.

d) Runewords (all equipment slots), or "Of an excellent idea mostly ruined"

    Runewords were one of the best ideas, and perhaps the biggest
disappointment in LoD. The idea behind runewords is excellent: take a socketed
item (a basic one, magical socketed items do not work with runewords), socket
it with the correct runes in the correct order, and you get an item with not
only the properties of the runes, but also a specific name and additional
properties. Sadly, this excellent idea mostly failed for a variety of reasons:
* Lack of runewords: as of now (1.09), there is a pitiful 24 different
runewords enabled, while we were promised around 170. Blizzard promised more
runewords would be made available over time (first for Realms only, and later
through patches for Single player mode). As of now, they lied.
* Quality of the runewords: there are very few runewords offering a good
quality/price ratio (and even more so for a bowazon, more on this in a moment).
Most of the 24 existing runewords are pitiful when compared to existing
uniques, and most of those which don't require insanely hard to find runes.
* Rarity of runes: what were they thinking ? There are 33 different runes, and
many players will never see one of the 10 last ones. The system used for rune
drops makes many of them insanely hard to find. As such, most players can only
drool when reading the powerful runewords descriptions.
* No in-game help for runewords: I said earlier that Blizzard lied about new
runewords. This may be false, and it is a possibility that Blizzard implemented
all of the missing runewords a long time ago. But since there is no way to get
any scrap of information in the game about runewords (except for Ancient's
Pledge, the reward for the second quest in Act 5), they may as well not exist.
Considering the insane rarity of most runes, and the incredible amount of
existing combinations (number of sockets, item type, order of the runes) for
socketing items, even the most daring players stopped their experiments on
runewords a long time ago.

    After this small rant, we can go on with the actual runewords that could be
useful for a bowazon. This will be quick.:(

    First, the bow. There are only 3 runewords usable in bows.

    While Melody (Shael+Ko+Nef) isn't bad with its damage versus undead and
large skill bonuses, it isn't great either, mostly because the enhanced damage
is so low (only 50%).

    Zephyr (Ort+Eth) has even less enhanced damage, but is a good twinking
weapon with its decent lightning damage, IAS and even faster run/walk. Still
not a great weapon by any stretch of imagination, though.

    The last runeword for bows, Silence (Dol+Eld+Hel+Ist+Tir+Vex) is actually
completely godly (large enhanced damage and mana leech, skill bonus, IAS, and
even an insane 75% to all resistances, only to mention some of its bonuses).
The only problems with Silence are that it requires a 6 socket weapon (meaning
only the slowest bows can get socketed with it), and that the Blind Target
attribute can wreak havoc in party play, mostly with Necromancers who have to
constantly recast their own curses. The bow with which Silence would really
shine, the Grand Matron Bow, can as of now only get 5 sockets. The jury is
still out on whether this is a bug or a feature.

    On to helms: all helm runewords, Lore (Ort+Sol), Nadir (Nef+Tir), and
Radiance (Nef+Sol+Ith) are useless to a bowazon (Nadir being in fact completely
useless for all characters). Lore can have some uses for twinking, mostly
because of the large Lightning resistance.

    Where runewords provide the best value to a bowazon is on the armor slot.
There are only four armor runewords existing, but most of those are pretty
useful to certain bowazons.

    Stealth (Tal+Eth) is not very good to a bowazon, although it can be a
decent twinking armor with a small dexterity bonus and a nice run/walk bonus.
Stealth is better suited for spellcasters, though.

    Smoke (Nef+Lum) has an incredible defensive power with its 50% to all
resistances. The other modifiers are less useful to a bowazon, which typically
doesn't require a high defense. Still a great armor, on par with many uniques,
and obviously a premium item for HC players, many of them even place it over
Lionheart. YMMV, as always.

    Wealth (Lem+Ko+Tir) is an excellent armor for MFers. Between 100% MF and
300% Extra Gold, it is easy to see where the name came from. Wealth even has a
little bonus of +10 to Dexterity, always nice for a bowazon.

    Lionheart (Hel+Lum+Fal): the Lionheart runeword is really TEH BESTO !
(http://lunar.damnsw.net/~chapsy/lionheart.php). Simply put, the overall
offensive (Dex bonus, Str bonus (more Dex) and enhanced damage) and defensive
(30% to all resistances and large life bonus) package of Lionheart can't be
matched by any other armor. The only cases where I would see the use of any
other set of armor for a bowazon would be an elemental attacks specialist
(needing a skill boost), a MFer (Wealth would be better in this case), or a
speedazon (needing IAS on her armor). Except for those specific cases,
Lionheart is the best amazon armor you could think of.

e) Sets, or "Of another excellent idea mostly ruined"

    Sets are good. Or rather, they should have been good, and only some of them
are useful. In this section, we will look at which sets a bowazon can use. This
includes both a few full sets, and several partial sets combinations. In LoD,
sets give special bonuses when you have at least two items, and continue adding
bonuses as you add more pieces. The Classic D2 sets are even better for this,
in that individual pieces get additional bonuses when you add more items. There
are 3 sets in the game that use a bow (Arctic Gear, Vidala's Rig, M'avina's
Battle Hymn), and 3 which don't require any weapon or shield (Iratha's Finery,
Cow King's Leathers, The Disciple). In addition to this, the combinations for
partial set items are limitless.
e1) Full sets with bows

    The Arctic Gear is an excellent early-game set. It features a very low
required level of 3 (although the Str and Dex requirement make it very unlikely
that you will use it so early), tons of useful modifiers (life, resistances,
IAS, Str, Dex), and enough cold damage to carry you without problems to a point
where you will be able to switch to one of the earliest exceptional unique
bows. Except if you are into variant playing, the Arctic Gear is not an
end-game rig, though.

    While Vidala's Rig is far from being a bad set, it fails badly in the
damage department (although it has a little amount of elemental damage). It
features some resistances, good Dex and Str bonuses, but its main selling
points are the Piercing and Freezing modifiers that come as a full set bonus.
At level 14 (when you can equip the full set), those are very helpful modifiers
to have.

    M'avina's Battle Hymn was supposed to be the flagship bowazon gear, but
sadly isn't. While the bonuses on many individual pieces are good, and while
the full set bonuses are nice too, the set has several very important flaws.
The worst of those flaws is that while the set certainly looks fast right out
of the box ("Look ! 40%IAS on bow !" "Look, 30% IAS on diadem !"), taking any
sort of advantage of this speed completely removes any hope of customisation
(you will need to put jewels of Fervor into the diadem and armor, and either
Shael the bow or use an IAS amulet). Most of the problems of the set can be
traced to the gloves and armor (the other pieces are all decent): without IAS
or leech, the gloves are that bad, and the armor has nothing to offer to a
bowazon except the passive bonus. The full set bonuses are very nice, though,
and the full set is definitely a correct end-game rig. But it is very easy to
complete an equivalent setup for a fraction of the price using exceptional
unique items and rare items.
e2) Full sets without bows

    Iratha's Finery (required level 15) is definitely a good set. For just the
4 equipment slots it uses (helm, gloves, amulet and belt), no other combination
in the game can give such incredible resist bonuses, with 65% to all
resistances and +10% to maximum resistances. The set also offers nice
additional bonuses to a bowazon: 20% IAS, 20% Fast Run/Walk, +5 to minimum
damage, and a nice 25 to Dexterity. The only problem with the Finery is that it
removes the amulet, helm and belt slots, making it hard for a bowazon to gather
enough mana leech at the end of the game. Still, this set is an excellent
option (especially for HC) easily overlooked.

    The Disciple (required level 65) is an excellent all-around set, usable by
all classes. With excellent resistances, a large skill bonus, and other goodies
(stats bonuses for example), the strength of the Disciple is that it can be
used by absolutely any class or build. For bowazons, the set is a good option,
especially since it includes the Laying of Hands Bramble Mitts. Those gloves
are perhaps the best ready-made option for a bowazon, thanks to their IAS bonus
and incredible 350% Damage to demons. The other pieces are somewhat useful, but
don't bother to use them unless you want to go for the full set bonus. While it
blocks the amulet slot, the Disciple lets the helm slot free, allowing for an
easy addition of mana leech to your build (since 7 or 8% mana leech circlets
are easy to come by).

    The Cow King's Leathers is a sort of joke set by Blizzard (its pieces can
only be collected into the cow level), but that doesn't mean it is not useful
to a bowazon. This set gives a sizable amount of Magic Find and some Gold Find
(always good for item junkies), some resistances and Dexterity, and above
everything a very cool 30% IAS as a part of the full set bonus. What is even
better is that it doesn't take any crucial item slot for a bowazon (except
perhaps the helm), meaning it can easily be used.
e3) Partial set combos and individual items worthy of notice

    Death's Hand (gloves) + Death's Guard (belt): an impressive combination for
a bowazon, both early on and later in the game. For just two items, you get 30%
IAS, 8% Life Leech, 15% to all resistances (more for poison), and Cannot be
Frozen. The only drawback is that you will be stuck with a 2 rows belt. A very
effective combination.

    Sigon's Gage (gloves) + any other item (generally belt or boots): you just
can't argue with 30% IAS and 10% Life Leech.

    Tal Rasha's Guardianship (armor) + Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest (helm) + Tal
Rasha's Fine-spun Cloth (belt). Perhaps the best all-around option for Magic
Find characters. The Crest (huge dual leech, prismatic, large bonus to life and
mana) is one of the best helms in the game (using what I call "balance by
style", as for all its effectiveness it is really ugly on a bowazon), the armor
is impressive with its large MF bonus and huge resistances, and the belt is not
lost on a bowazon with its 20 added points to Dexterity. As a partial set
bonus, you get replenish life (useless), but another 65% to Magic Find !
Supposing you socket 2 perfect topazes in the helm and armor, you get 211-216%
MF with just those 3 slots, along with dual leech, huge resistances, and other
excellent bonuses. Best MF combo in the game for a fighter class, but hard to
make because the armor is very rare and expensive.

    As far as individual items are concerned, Wilhelm's Pride battle belt is
good for dual leech, while Sander's Taboo (gloves) and Sander's Riprap (boots)
are also decent mid-life items (the gloves for IAS and Life, the boots for very
good run/walk and stats bonuses). With their excellent run/walk and nice
resistances, the Natalya's Soul boots are also a popular choice.

f) Crafting recipes worth using

    Crafting is one of those addictive features of LoD, just like cubing items
or Magic Find. There are two different views about crafting: you can consider
crafted items are freebie rares, or you can use very specific recipes, hoping
for a combination of fixed and random modifiers that will give you an
unsurpassed item.

    Crafting recipes are done by putting into your Horadric Cube a specific
kind of magical item (its exceptional and elite versions work too), a specific
perfect gem and rune, and a random magical jewel. Crafted items get specific
properties (depending on the recipe used), and random modifiers, chosen amongst
the available rare modifiers (magic-only affixes can't spawn on crafted items).

    As a rule of thumb, you should always craft with your higher level
character, using base items (the rune, gem and jewel don't matter) found as far
into the game as possible (more tuning of crafting level is possible to get
more chance at specific affixes, but this is out of the scope of this guide).
This ensures you will get the largest possible affixes selection. A little
warning, though: crafted items get a 22 level requirement malus, because of the
fixed modifiers. As such, it is very easy to craft godly but about impossible
to use items (like all those required level 89 +2 to skills amulets).

    Hitpower gloves (magical Chain Gloves, Ort rune, sapphire) are perhaps the
most popular craft for bowazons. This is because they have Knockback as a fixed
modifier. For the additional properties, look for IAS, leech, skill bonuses...
Everything you could want on rare gloves.

    About all Blood crafted item (except shield and weapon, of course) can be
useful to a bowazon, because of their inner Life Leech property. Blood Gloves
(magical Heavy Gloves, Nef rune, ruby) are excellent, because a good pair could
potentially have up to 6% Life Leech (crafted bonus and rare modifier). Blood
Amulets (magical amulet, Amn rune, ruby) are also a safe bet, as dual-leech
prismatic amulets are not unheard of. Lastly, Blood Rings (magical ring, Sol
rune, ruby) are impressive if you get more life leech as a random modifier (you
could be lucky and have up to 11% Life leech on your ring). Blood Boots
(magical Light Plated boots, Eth rune, ruby) are easy to make, and can give you
a tiny amount of Life leech (not enough on its own, but certainly a welcome
addition), as well as all the goodies often found on rare boots (excellent
resistances, fast run/walk...).

    The Caster and Safety families of crafting recipe are generally less useful
to bowazons.

3) Now that I know more about items, how do I equip my bowazon ?

    After reading the previous sections, you should be able to see if a
particular piece of equipment is good or not to a bowazon. But depending on
your playing habits, taste for Magic Find, luck, and packratish behavior, you
may have a large selection of gear to chose from when preparing your character.

    No-twink playing is easier for those kind of decisions, since when you find
a new item you just have to evaluate it against your current equipment. Where
no-twink play is much, much harder is about throwing away equipment when your
stash is full...

a) The fine art of balancing your equipment slots

    So you need damage, leech, perhaps some IAS, and nothing else, right ?
Wrong. While the laziest bowazons could get away with this in the cow level
(where resistances are not a concern, and the outdoor environment gives
bowazons a real edge), such a selection of gear is bound to have you bite the
dust in about any other area.

    Your main balance decision will be survival versus damage. While at first
it may look as if more damage = faster dropping enemies = better survival, the
situation is in fact a bit more complicated. Lag, bad play decisions, bad luck
(in the form of boss properties) can take a toll quickly, and whether you play
HC (in which case death is definitive) or SC at high levels (in which case
dying can mean hours of leveling down the drain), thinking a bit about survival
is important.

    As far as damage is concerned, here are the possibilities to increase
damage:
* Use a bigger bow. This one is a given: more damage on bow = better damage
overall. Just don't forget that speed also helps a lot, and that heavier bow
sometimes require lots of Strength, meaning less Dex and thus less damage. As I
said earlier, dedicate your bow slot to damage, and don't think too much about
it elsewhere.
* Use a faster bow or more IAS: when looking at damage over time charts, you
could be surprised at the effectiveness of IAS. For example, moving to the next
IAS breakpoint could easily mean 10 or 20% more damage over time. A full IAS
rig is even more deadly, allowing speedazons with "puny" bows to kill monsters
surprisingly fast (speed has other advantages as far as survival is concerned).
The main choice for IAS comes from the speed breakpoints (see the speedazon
chapter for more information about them). Remember that most IAS gear comes at
the price of survival gear, so careful planning is really needed here.
* Increase your Dexterity: another given. More Dex = more damage. But Dex is
where it is easier to balance things out. This +25 to Dex amulet may be good
damage-wise, but why not replace it with this mana leech/prismatic/skills
amulet ? Since the amount of Dex you can get from items is generally not huge
in regard to your base Dexterity, and since getting Life from items generally
has better rewards than getting Dex from items, I would strongly advise against
always pumping Dex through items.
* Use secondary effects: those effects have very varying efficiency. While
Amplify Damage is the king of secondary effects, giving you such a huge boost
to damage that you should really consider using it if you can, Crushing Blow,
Open Wounds and other less than stellar effects could perfectly be ditched in
favor of survival gear (one of the reasons why I don't like Gore Riders that
much for bowazons). You shouldn't remove survival gear for damage secondary
effects (except Amp Damage).
* Elemental Damage: you will need at least one big source of elemental damage
to deal with physical immune monsters. While using the Fire Arrow bug is a
possibility, don't overlook elemental damage bows. They may become a necessity
in 1.10 anyway. ;) I would advise dedicating your second weapon slot to a high
elemental damage weapon, and not worrying about elemental damage (except cold,
but this is a survival problem) elsewhere..
* Skill bonuses typically don't add a lot offensive-wise to a bowazon. An extra
MS arrow or 5% more damage on Strafe and Guided Arrow are nice but not godly.
Extra damage on elemental arrows is a much better reason to have skill bonuses,
and of course increasing your passives generally helps your bowazon a lot even
in the offensive department (through better Critical Strike, Penetrate and
Pierce). I would recommend against completely sacrificing raw damage or speed
for skills, but you could remove some survival gear for a skill bonus if
needed.

    For survival, here are a few interesting possibilities:
* More life: this one is a given. Since there are so many perfectly good items
with large life bonuses out there, it is very easy to use items to build up on
life. Don't overdo it, though: once you reach the safety zone against lag,
pumping life further is counter-productive.
* Better resistances: as a rule of thumb, I will gladly sacrifice some damage
potential for better Lightning and Fire resistances, since those elements are
the most common and most damaging into the game. I would think twice about Cold
and Poison resistances, though.
* Use Crowd Control modifiers: perhaps the best defensive possibility for a
bowazon, crowd control modifiers are nice in that they are applied during
attack. I would chose one or two of those (generally cold duration and
Knockback), and would never sacrifice them for anything, be it other survival
gear or better damage. The only thing that can replace Hitpower gloves is
better Hitpower gloves.
* Use IAS: yes, IAS is also useful for survival. Faster shooting means both
that you stay in place less longer and can move earlier (very important for
example in the case of Strafe-lock), but also that you apply crowd control
modifiers much faster ! Since a bowazon rules by controlling the pace of
battle, IAS is one of the best tools you can use.
* Better leech: life and mana leech are the basis of a successful physical
damage build. While more leech sounds always good ,don't overdo it. If you can
leech enough mana to sustain your skills (either through leeching from groups
or using Guided Arrow as a mana recovery skill), then you probably can go
without more mana leech (most of your mana problems will come from Physical
Immunes anyway). For life leech, it should serve you in order to repair the
little damage done by the occasional hit. So except if you play carelessly,
more than 10% Life leech is often a waste (a bowazon has too little hit points
to survive inside a crowd, no matter what amount of leech she uses).
* Run faster: repositioning to get the most of your skills and avoid getting
hit takes running. Hence, running faster is important. I would consider
anything over 50% FRW being a waste for PvM, though (PvP is entirely different
in regard to run/walk).
* Don't get frozen: getting frozen is perhaps one of the easiest way to die as
a bowazon. I strongly advise in favor of wearing one piece of equipment with
the "Cannot be Frozen" modifier, even if you have to sacrifice some damage for
it.
* Skills bonuses add a lot to your defensive potential, by bumping your
defensive passives and your Valkyrie.
* The other defensive modifiers are probably not worth mentioning, and should
come as bonuses.

    Above everything, don't be afraid of experimenting. The main balance
consideration should be speed breakpoints, as IAS equipment is not always easy
to come by, and excellent IAS equipment (providing further damage bonus or
survival potential) is even harder to get.

b) Socketing: making your items unique

    Another great feature of LoD, socketing is a pleasure. But it needs to be
well done. The first quest of Act5 gives you the possibility to add sockets to
existing equipment. Through this quest, unique, rare and set items can get one
socket (if they don't already have one or more), and magical items randomly get
one or two sockets (normal items get their maximum potential sockets, depending
on the level of the monster who dropped them). This means that your bowazon
could socket her bow, her helm and her armor, for example. Before doing
anything, keep in mind that socketing is definitive. You can switch equipment
back and forth, but you can never get rid of a misused socket quest.

    Socketing can be used to add either offense or defense to your character.
When socketing your bow, you should generally focus on offense. This can be
done either through damage runes or jewels (Enhanced Damage jewels or Ohm runes
for percent-base damage, +min or + max damage jewels, Ith and Sol runes for
flat damage increase), or better speed (jewels of Fervor or Shael runes).
Elemental damage socketable items (gems, some runes, high elemental damage
jewels) are of course an option, but those work just as well on other slots. An
excellent defensive option for your weapon comes in the form of better leech
(Amn rune for 7% Life Leech, Vex rune for 7% Mana leech, or a perfect skull for
4% Life and 3% Mana leech). If you don't use Hitpower gloves and need
Knockback, just stick a Nef rune in your bow and be happy (a warning, Knockback
can be a nuisance to your teammates, and Nef in bow makes Knockback impossible
to avoid, short of using FA to freeze the monsters first). Pipe dream socket
for weapon: Ruby jewel of Fervor (up to 40% Enhanced Damage, 15% IAS).

    Socketing your helm and armor is a more tricky business. Depending on your
current survival potential, you may want to add offensive potential to those
items. Enhanced damage jewels don't give that much of a boost to your total
damage, but min and max damage jewels are potentially interesting. Elemental
damage jewels could perfectly be considered also, and dedicated speedazons will
of course want those jewels of Fervor for IAS.

    But by far the best use (except in the case of going past an IAS
breakpoint) of sockets in armor or helm is defensive. A prismatic jewel or UM
rune is never wasted in those slots (except if you already have maxed Hell
resists without charms, in which case I would like to see your gear). Pipe
dream socket for armor/helm: Scintillating jewel of Fervor (10 to 15% to all
resistances, 15% IAS).

    If neither defensive nor offensive options appeal to you, you could always
add some utility power, such as mana per kill (not that useful, but then again
who am I to say this), or Magic Find.

    You shouldn't waste an excellent item with a misused socket, but on the
other hand you shouldn't waste an excellent jewel or rune on an average item.
Here again, think a lot. Oh, and please stop dumping Ist runes into helms and
armors. Perfect topazes exist for a reason, ok ?
c) Charms: what they can give you

    Charms are IMHO the best feature of LoD. Charms work by sacrificing
inventory space for small bonuses (although charms are sometimes pretty
overpowered). In order to assess a charm's quality, just imagine what would
happen if your inventory was completely full of copies of this charm. The
amount of customisation you can do with charms is limitless. Here are some of
the things you can do with them:
* Increase your physical damage: some charms (red, fine, sharp, of
craftmanship...) add a little amount to your minimum or maximum damage. This
amount is further enhanced by your Dexterity, as well as by other damage
enhancers (friendly aura, Critical Strike...). For example, a grand charm with
10 to max damage would mean 40 more maximum damage on a bowazon with 300 Dex.
Apply this 3 times per second to several targets with a speedazon, use 5 such
charms, and you get an idea of the amount of damage those innocent-looking
charms can give over time. Other charms for getting more damage are Dexterity
charm.
* Get elemental damage: also an interesting possibility with charms, elemental
damage can reach very nice amounts, especially for Lightning and Poison damage.
Cold damage charms have their own use, in that each cold damage charm adds one
second to your total cold duration.
* Increase your life and mana: considering the good but not great returns an
amazon gets on Vitality points, and the atrocious returns investing in Energy
means, Life and mana charms are very popular. You can get up to 20 Life points
and/or 17 mana points on a single small charm, which is quite impressive to say
the least.
* Run faster: small charms can give you 5% Fast Run/Walk on them. This can
stack very quickly to allow you to move at blinding speeds. Again, don't overdo
it: there is probably something better you could do of your charm space. My
best use for FRW charms is when I use boots with incredible modifiers (huge
resistances mostly) but no FRW.
* Get resistances: a very popular use for charms, resistances are easy to get.
You could either use Shimmering charms (for their resist all properties) or
just use charms with a single resistance (and preferably another affix at the
same time) to cover holes in your build. I would suggest to keep to this second
option, and not forget resistances on your main equipment, as maintaining good
resistances only or nearly only with charms is a pain.
* Get rich !: with Magic Find or Gold Find on charms, you can improve your
earthly D2 possessions quickly. I would recommend using those kind of charms on
dedicated MF characters only and in large amounts, because just a few don't
give that much.
* Improve your skills: grand charms can spawn with +1 to a skill tree. Those
which interest us are of course Fletcher's (bow skills) and Acrobat's (passive
skills) charms. Depending on your build, any of those may be an excellent way
to improve your build. Elemental-heavy bowazons are of course very interested
in Fletcher's charms, which improve the damage of their elemental skills a lot.

d) Various uber items

    This section is dedicated to a few dream bowazon items, including "perfect"
bows and incredibly powerful jewelry/armor. Keep in mind that trading for such
godly items is not recommended, because of the very high risk of getting dupes.
This list is my personal selection and totally non-objective, of course.
* Cruel (300%) Matriarchal Bow of Evisceration (+63 Max), 2 sockets with 2 Ruby
Jewels of Fervor (40%ED/15%IAS), obviously a speedazon's dream with 96-289
damage and 30% IAS.
* Cruel (300%) Diamond Bow of Transcendence (+20 Min), 2 sockets filled with 2
rare jewels featuring 30%ED and +18 Minimum damage, total being 208-209 damage.
* Windforce. Nuff said.
* 1.08 Saracen's Chance : best zon amulet ever. Resists, stats boosts, and of
course Amplify Damage
* Rare circlet with +2 Amazon skills, 20% Prismatic, an extra 40% Lightning
Resist, 8% Mana and Life leech, 30% Fast Run/Walk. Still gambling. Socketed
with a perfect Scintillating Jewel of Fervor (15% all resistances, 15% IAS).
* Jeweler's (4 sockets) Wire Fleece (or lighter armor if you prefer) of the
Whale (+100 Life), filled with 4 perfect Scintillating jewels of Fervor. 60%
all resists, 60% IAS, +100 Life. Where do I sign up ?
* War Travelers : if you don't need resists on your boots slot, then you will
be hard-pressed to find better boots than those. The main selling point is, of
course, the large physical damage boost, but the other attributes are not too
shabby either.


IV) Some template builds

    In this section, we will take a look at several time-proven bowazon builds.
While some equipment will be listed, you should note that what defines a
specific build is not really specific gear, but rather generic orientations in
the build's gear and the skills. When my memory will allow it, I will give
credit where it's due. As a matter or fact, most of those builds (except number
2 ;) ) originated from or were refined at the Amazon Basin forums.

    Except for the speedazon section, which will have lots of technical data
for speed calculations, all template description will be made of: introduction,
stats and skills allocation, gear selection, and a few quick tips on playing
(plus the credits). Playing a character is a very personal thing. I will only
be able to give a few generic tips for each style, but the knowledge can only
come from the practice.

1) The Speedazon

"It's not the size of the bow that matters, it's the frequency with which you
use it."
 (DoubleTrouble, The Amazon Basin)

    Or "IAS Addicts". The philosophy behind the speedazon was simple in CD2:
instead of using a big and cumbersome bow, they used very fast bows and as many
Increased Attack Speed (IAS) items as possible (back then, the choice was
simple: IAS gloves, Goldwrap belt, Twitchthroe armor, and a 20% IAS bow).

    In LoD, the speedazon design changed a lot for the following reasons:
* IAS comes in many forms, thanks to the inclusion of sockets (jewels of
Fervor), and to a wealth of options for IAS slots (we now even have IAS
amulets)
* There is a new formula for calculating effective speed, as IAS now has
diminishing returns except for the base bow speed
* There is a hard cap at 75% effective speed increase

    So while in theory you can reach very fast speeds with about any bow
(crossbows are completely out with the new effective speed formula), it is much
easier to reach equivalent speed with a faster base bow. And this is how it
should be in my humble opinion.

    While this section is dedicated to the "pure" speedazons, everybody should
read this to understand how IAS affects the rate of fire.

a) The speed mechanism

    Much better persons than I have already written much about the speed
formula, so I will just give a few definitions about speed.

- What is a 9/2 rig ? Diablo2 runs at 25 frames per second (FPS). This has
nothing to do with display framerate, it is just the speed of internal
calculations. When talking about bow speed, most people use the x/y notation
(introduced by DoubleTrouble), where x and y refer to numbers of frames. The
first number (x) is the number of frames elapsing between two normal attacks.
The second one (y) is the number of frames between two successive Strafe
arrows. In our 9/2 rig example, normal attacks (this means all attacks except
Strafe) are separated by 9 frames, while in a volley of Strafe, the first arrow
will require 9 frames, while the following arrows will require 2 frames each.

- What is a -10 Base bow ? I explained earlier how base bow speed had a large
influence over your final effective speed. This is because the speed modifier
inherent to the bow is not affected by the diminishing returns formula. To
reach the higher speeds, a fast base bow is highly recommended. For the base
speed notation, keep in mind that the faster bows have a lower base speed. -10
is faster than 0, for example. Additional IAS items (different from the bow
speed) are noted with a different notation: higher is better. Keep in mind that
bow base speed is different from IAS on bow slot: while the GoldStrike Arch
unique Gothic Bow has a modifier of 50%IAS, it is not a -40 base bow, but just
a 10 Base bow with 50%IAS. There are 4 different base speeds for bows: -10, 0,
5, 10, and 5 different base speeds for crossbows: -60, -40, -10, 0, 10.

- I added IAS and I don't fire faster, why ? Since the game runs at 25 FPS,
there are some truncations done into the IAS calculations. Adding IAS may not
always give you any in-game speed increase. This is the fundamental notion of
speed breakpoints: amounts of IAS for which you gain a real speed increase.
Knowing the speed breakpoints for your weapon of choice will allow you to
balance your gear much better.

- So how does this speed formula work anyway ? Each character in Diablo2 has a
base attack speed for each kind of weapon. In our case (amazon) the base speed
is 13 frames for bows, and 19 frames for crossbows (this number of frames is
the number of frames between two successive attacks). This number of frames is
then modified using this formula:

Frames = {256*(Base + 1)/[(100 + Speed Increase)/100*256]} - 1

    Speed increase depends from both base speed and additional IAS, using the
following formula:

Speed Increase = Base Weapon Speed Modifier+ Fanat + [IAS/(1 + IAS/120)]

    Fanat is the IAS bonus given by a friendly paladin using the Fanaticism
aura, which is exempted from diminishing returns. Please also note that speed
increase is capped at 75% anyway.

    Those formulas come from Dagni's revolutionary discovery about IAS, which
can be found at the following address:
http://www.lurkerlounge.com/cgi-bin/forum/forum.cgi?az=read_count&om=674&forum=Workshop

- What is the maximum speed I can reach ? This is a tricky question. ;) In
theory (and it works well in Single Player), you can reach a maximum speed of
7/2. On the Realms, 7/2 is not reliable, because lag will prevent certain
arrows from firing. While your client will display the arrows being shot at
7/2, depending on lag you may only be at 8/2 or even sometimes 9/2 ! To test
your firing speed, take a full quiver (350 arrows), go into the Blood Moor, set
your normal attack on your right mouse button, and fire in the air while using
a stopwatch. When your quiver is empty, count the time spent from full quiver
to empty quiver. This will give you your true firing rate.

b) What are the different attainable speeds ?

"7/2 ... 0-10 arrows in one second flat.  Accept no substitutes."
(Chevalis, The Amazon Basin)

    The following data has been drawn from Zendragon's most excellent Bow
Bible, which can be found there:
http://www.knittingdragon.com/games/d2/bowbible/ ). I will only list some of
the most important breakpoints for speedazons apprentice. If you just want to
know about the breakpoints for a generalist bowazon, visiting the Bow Bible is
highly recommended. The IAS number listed for each speed is the amount of
additional IAS needed to reach this speed, discounting the base speed.

* -10 Base Bows (hunter's, composite, razor, double, great, matriarchal, blade)
    8/2: 75 IAS
    7/2: 142 IAS

* 0 Base (Bows long, short battle, short war, stag, cedar, short siege, rune,
ashwood, shadow, ward, diamond)
    8/2: 105 IAS
    7/2: 201 IAS

* 5 Base Bows: (short, edge, spider)
    8/2: 125 IAS
    7/2: 240 IAS

* 10 Base Bow (long battle, long war, reflex, gothic, large siege, ceremonial,
hydra, grand matron, crusader)
    9/3: 89 IAS (useful if you don't plan on using Strafe much)
    9/2: 120 IAS
    8/2: 147 IAS

c) Speedazon's stats and skills

    Most speedazons use physical attacks, mostly Multishot and Strafe (and of
course Guided Arrow against single targets). Both high-end elemental skills
(Freezing Arrow and Immolation) are not really effective: at high levels, FA
has such a huge mana cost that a speedazon using it at full rate would empty
her mana pool very quickly, and Immolation has a timer that prevent from
spamming it anyway. Multishot should be kept to a moderate level (10-15
modified) to prevent it from draining the mana pool too fast.

    As very fast bows are generally less damaging for a single shot, a high
level of Critical Strike is highly recommended. Pierce is of course very
important too. Thanks to the huge speed at which crowd control modifiers will
be applied to the enemies, defensive passives generally don't need any
investment beyond the first point (HC players will probably not want to neglect
them, though).

    Generally speaking, a speedazon will want to apply moderate to high
physical damage at an impressive rate of fire. Thus, she is likely to invest a
lot in Dexterity. Since most fast bows don't require a lot of Strength, Str
will likely be kept very low (87 for a Matriarchal bow, for example). The
points saved in Str can be invested into further Dex, or some Vitality (due to
generally horrible resistances, speedazons need some life).

d) Speedazon's equipment

    Before putting together your equipment, you should ask yourself what speed
you want to reach. For slow bows (10 base), you will also want to know
beforehand if you will use Strafe a lot or not: going from a 3 Frames Strafe to
a 2 Frames Strafe means a 50% damage boost over time.

    If you already have the equipment handy, I would suggest to check your
average Realm connection to see if you can reliably hit 7/2 before trying to
put together a 7/2 rig: if you can't go faster than 8/2 for connection
problems, just having the pretty 7/2 rain of arrow graphics won't do you much
good...

    While you will want tons of IAS, you also don't want to forget crowd
control. I would highly recommend Knockback here: it's simply impossible for
monsters to come near a speedazon equipped with Knockback, which is of course
invulnerability at its best. Crafted Hitpower gloves with IAS are definitely
the way to go for speedazons.

    As far as the end-game bow is concerned, there are sadly no very good
ready-made options for high-level speedazons. While Windforce (20%IAS),
M'avina's Caster (40% IAS) and GoldStrike Arch (50%IAS) seem good options, they
are all 10 Base speed bows. The best option for having a high-end fast bow is
using an Horadric Cube Recipe: 3 perfect gems and a magical item reroll the
modifiers of this item. Use a fast bow (Matriarchal and Blade are the most
popular choices) found near the end of the game and cube it until you get a
high damage prefix (like Ferocious, Grandmaster's or Cruel) on it. A good
suffix is then just the icing on the cake. ;) After cubing a good bow, socket
it using one of your quest rewards, and put either Shael runes or Jewels of
Fervor with a good prefix in it.

    Once your bow is taken care of, you will want to add just the good amount
of IAS to reach your target speed breakpoint, with a combination of ready-made
items (Goldwrap, Twitchthroe, Stealskull, Cat's Eye...), partial set bonuses
(Death's or Sigon's set), and jewels of Fervor socketed in your equipment. If
possible, keep your armor slot available for a Lionheart runic armor. If you
can't reach your target speed without using your armor slot, then you will need
a socketable armor with Jewels of Fervor.

    Additional mods: you will absolutely want the "Cannot be Frozen" property
(a chilled speedazon is a speedazon no more), and a decent amount of leech.
Elemental damage gives much more to a speedazon than to another bowazon, as she
can apply it very quickly.

    Equipping a speedazon is just like equipping any other bowazon, with the
additional constraint of reaching a certain IAS level. Maintaining good resists
and life with a 7/2 rig is a complete nightmare unless you have godly equipment
available, which is the reason why most experimented speedazons stop at 8/2
(which just requires 75% IAS with a -10 Bow).

e) Speedazon quick tips

* Watch your mana and your quiver: many young speedazons empty their mana pool
or quiver at an incredible speed, and thus either die horrible deaths or are
forced to go to town very often. After a while, you will start to develop a
feeling for the number of arrows you need for a given monster.
* Don't rush: time is on your side. Being a speedazon doesn't mean rushing as
fast as possible to the monsters and transform them into pincushions. With
perhaps the exception of the Frostmaiden, no bowazon can control the flow of
battle as well as the speedazon: their reactivity is simply unmatched.
* Don't overdo it with the IAS: sometimes 8/2 is just as effective as 7/2. What
use is being able to fire fast if you are dead ? And of course, plan your IAS
carefully: you don't want to be sitting between 2 breakpoints, with removing an
item meaning going down one notch ,and adding more items meaning a complete
loss of your defensive potential (leech, life and resists)
* Don't scorn players without IAS: this one is more a personal rant. ;) I've
seen too many people scorning "slowazons" to feel comfortable. Keep an open
mind, those players may just be as effective as you are.
* Cover your partners: as said earlier, a speedazon is unchallenged in the
Crowd Control department. Put this power at your fellow players' service, they
will be glad for it.

f) Fast credits

    While the first version of the speedazon (the gatlingazon) was my idea (I
had just gambled a Goldwrap, and some nice rare SIAS gloves if you want to know
the quick and dirty truth about it), the "speedazon" nickname was found by
GoldenBow. Both GoldenBow and myself worked on the generic ideas behind trading
damage for speed, and applying crowd control modifiers (back then, crowd
control for bowazons meant cold damage and not much else)

    But the true pioneer of the sub-class is of course DoubleTrouble, for doing
an extraordinary amount of maths work, for further going down the path of fast
bows, and for coming up with the speed notation concept. DoubleTrouble is the
inventor of the speedazon.

    In current times, credits should be given to Dagni of the Lurker Lounge,
who discovered the new weapon speed formula (allowing for much more effective
equipment planning), and of course to two of my friends at the Amazon Basin:
ZenDragon, for his huge work on the Bow Bible, and Chevalis for his huge
contribution to speedazon's tactics (mostly in the crowd control department).

2) The Barbazon and the Beatdown Kit

    Blech. The Barbazon in its various incarnations (the original Carrion Song
Barbazon, the Burizazon, the DupeForceazon, the DupeEagleazon...) is sadly by
far the most encountered bowazon type on the Realms, and, much like for
lawyers, "95% of the bowazons give a bad reputation to the remaining 5%". The
barbazon only thrives in a specific level, which changes from time to time:
currently, we are talking about the Not So Secret Anymore Cow Level. If this
random bowazon you meet seems to be equipped with nothing but the godliest
items, first asks "Wut bow", then goes on with "LOL ! Yor bow suxOrZ !" before
proceeding to the Cow Level and getting killed at least twice during the run,
then you have found yourself a barbazon (character names referring to various
female anatomy parts is certainly a worthy indication of extreme barbazonism
too).

    This section will not be dedicated to those low specimens of humanity, but
rather to building an efficient amazon around a very damaging and slow bow
(Cruel Hydrah Bow, Windforce, Tuna Cannon...). Getting the highest possible
damage is referred to as a "Beatdown Kit". The Beatdown Kit is the noble
incarnation of the barbazon.

a) Barbazon's stats and skills

What makes a barbazon is not the skills she uses, but the skills she doesn't
(Oprah, The Amazon Basin)

    Barbazons don't have skills. ;) Seriously, most conformists amazons use
Multishot and Guided Arrow as their only skills, because those work very well
with slow and damaging weapons. Throw in some Freezing Arrow as a Panic Button,
use Decoy and Valk as you should, and suddenly you don't have a barbazon
anymore (besides, FA is the way to go to trigger effects, mostly Amp Damage
which is an essential part of the Beatdown kit). Considering the huge damage of
the weapons we are talking about, even a maxed Multishot is easy to sustain
with about any amount of mana leech. Strafe is of course a possibility, but
bringing those slow weapons to a 2 frames Strafe is hard (downright impossible
with the BFG). And of course, tons of Critical Strike will make your damage
even more impressive. Pierce will make your damage skyrocket, but if you plan
on using the Tuna Cannon, don't invest into it: it has a 100% Pierce built-in
anyway.

    As far as stats are concerned, most high-end weaponry requires lots of
Strength (97 for Eaglehorn, 110 for the Buriza-do Kyanon and up to 134 for
Windforce). Thus, your Dexterity is likely to be a bit on the low side,
especially if you are considering a decent life total. My advise would be to go
nuts on Dexterity (after all, those uber-weapons are just begging for more Dex
to really show their potential), and find life through items.

b) Barbazon's equipment

    The weapon first: you will want a huge damage weapon, and speed is only the
icing of the cake for this kind of build. Popular choices are the two elite
unique bows (Eaglehorn and WindForce), as well as the Buriza-do Kyanon
ballista. The GoldStrike Arch is also an excellent choice, with its incredible
speed, accuracy, good damage and excellent damage against undeads and demons.

    With those huge damage weapons, you typically don't need much as far as
leech is concerned. 10% in both life and mana leech is probably already more
than you need.

    As far as IAS is concerned, you should check the speed tables and see how
well you can do. One of the interesting properties of the BFG is that it only
requires 15% additional IAS to reach the next speed breakpoint.

    For crowd control, things get a little more complicated: using slow
weapons, you won't have lots of crowd control power. I would advise using both
Knockback and another modifier (cold damage comes to mind), and adapt your
tactics to stay very far away from the monsters.

    Additional Dexterity is important too on your items, of course.

    If you are putting together a full Beatdown kit, you will want even more
damage on your items, as well as special forms of damage, like additional
damage to demons and/or undeads (Laying of Hands or Ghoulhide gloves are a must
for this). Getting some form of Amp Damage is also important for the beatdown
kit (1.08 Saracen's Chance or Atma's Scarab amulets, or a WitchWild String on
second weapon slot).

    As you see, unless you go for the full beatdown kit, you are very free
equipment-wise, which is perhaps another reason those builds are so popular...

c) Barbazon tips

* Damage is NOT everything: so many people died while looking at the pretty
numbers on the (lying anyway) Character Screen...
* Be careful of Amp Damage: like all triggered effects, Amp Damage makes a
small pause in your attack when it triggers. Try to stay as far as possible
from the monsters (especially since you will probably have low Vitality)
* Always think of the worst case scenario: Windforce may have the highest
maximum damage for a ranged weapon, it also has a very poor minimum damage and
no AR boost. So it's very possible that just a few unlucky shots (either
missing or doing very low damage) will put you in a dangerous situation.
* Use some skills: MS and GA may be very effective, but using only those you
won't get very far. A small investment in Strafe and a generous use of Decoy,
Valk and good passive skills investment will make you superior to all the other
barbazons.

d) Barbazons credits

    The Beatdown Kit was conceptualised by AK404. Kudos to him. For the
Barbazon, I will have to credit cheatlist and the other lame Web sites where
you can find dupe exploits, bots and the like: they made it possible for every
low-life lamer on Battle.net to run around with godly equipment they don't
deserve. Oh, and kudos to Mousepad for his "excellent" Maphack, which
single-handy managed to ruin D2 for thousands of players.

3) The Vamp

    Welcome to the glory of 1.09 Bowazon design. The Vamp was born on the
Amazon Basin forums, as a build developed to take advantage of the fact that
both Immolation and Freezing Arrow can leech mana and life in 1.09.

    The Vamp is an evolution of the dinozon: while the dinozon makes liberal
use of FA and Immo, she needs to refuel her mana pool with "recovery" attacks
(MS and Strafe mostly). Through huge amounts of mana leech, the Vamp makes it
possible to get rid of recovery skills altogether.

    The Vamp is a curiosity: while most of her damage is elemental, she needs
high Dexterity and a very damaging bow in order to power up her leech. But
spamming level 30+ FA on a single critter without a drop in the mana pool is
too good to pass. ;)

a) Vamp stats and skills

    Skill-wise, you will want both max Freezing Arrow and max Immolation. Add
to this the need for a huge Pierce (depending on items perhaps), and you see
that you will probably not see the beginning of a free skill point for a long
time. Where you can save points is on Critical Strike (elemental arrows don't
trigger CS) and Penetrate (elemental arrows always hit). A good level Valkyrie
is nice to have, since she can hold enemies in Immolation patches. This is
certainly not mandatory, considering Immo only lasts for 3 seconds anyway.

    Stats-wise, enough Str for your equipment (eh), and a fine balance of
Dexterity and Vitality. You want enough Dex to power-up your leech, but since
your damage is mostly elemental, once you can leech back easily you don't need
much more Dex. While investing into Energy may sound tempting at first (after
all, you will want lots of mana for those expensive skills), the rewards are so
bad that getting some mana gear is much better. It is possible to have 500 or
600 mana with base Energy anyway. ;)

b) Vamp gear

    Equipping your Vamp is a tricky business. You have 3 main points to
achieve:
* Get enough mana leech to use your high-level skills all the time
* Get enough damage to power up this leech
* Get tons of skill bonuses to improve your damage (both FA and Immo being on
increasing returns)

    Secondary gear objectives are survival (life leech, resists, life bonus),
mana pool (because of the high cost of those skills you will use, the safety
zone for mana is much higher), and other bonuses (cannot be frozen, crowd
control (by the way, avoid Knockback with this build, as it pushes the monsters
away from your Immolation patches), mana per kill...). As you see, building a
Vamp requires high end gear, but it is really worth it.

    For the weapon, there are several options fitting the build pretty well. In
exceptional unique bows, you will want to look at Magewrath (huge mana leech,
small skill bonus), and of course Lycander's Aim, perhaps the best bow for this
build (nice mana leech, huge skill bonus). While Kuko Shakaku may looks nice at
first (Piercing, incredible skill bonus especially for Immolation), its
physical damage is simply too low to fire high level Immo and FA without mana
recovery skills. The last (and by far the most expensive) option is a Silence
bow (go with a Crusader for the much lower Str requirement): skill bonuses,
high damage, 11% mana leech, and other godly bonuses (Blinds target, 75% to all
resistances...).

    After choosing your weapon, you will want some mana leech. The good news is
that mana leech can be found on about just every equipment slot nowadays. Tal
Rasha's (Ugly) Horadric Crest is terrific (10% Dual leech, +15 to all
resistances), but Vampire Gaze or a nice mana leech circlet are other good
options. There are lots of amulets with mana leech, and the unique Crescent
Moon amulet is dual leech with up to 15% mana leech on this single slot ! There
are magical/rare mana leech gloves, and several unique/set belts with mana
leech. The unique Manald Heal ring has a decent amount of mana leech, and other
nice properties. As you see, the choice is yours. You will want at least 25%
Mana leech for this build, and perhaps more depending on your skill levels.

    Skill bonuses can be found on the weapon, on charms, and of course on about
every other equipment slot. You will want to reach at least level 25 in both FA
and Immo, with 30 or more being even better. The Stone of Jordan unique ring is
nice for the vamps, since it features both a skill bonus and a large boost to
mana.

    As you see, there are very different available options for equipping a
successful Vamp. Generally speaking, if you get high damage, leech, and skills,
you will do fine. Everything else is not mandatory, although it is very
helpful.

c) Vamp tactics

* Don't overshoot: this is the fastest way to empty your mana ball (by spamming
too much), and thus to die.
* Learn how to Pierce: especially with FA, overlapping areas of effect will
make your damage skyrocket. Learn both how to herd critters and how to
calculate firing angles to get the most out of Pierce.
* Your mana is more important than your skill level: if you see that you have
trouble leeching after adding one or several skill bonus items(s), then remove
it (them) until you get more leech or more damage. You don't want to use mana
recovery skills, remember ?
* Don't count on Pierce for mana leech: while you will more often than not hit
several targets with a single shot (or there is something seriously wrong with
your playing style), and thus leech proportionally, ideally you want to leech
enough mana from a single critter (a boss, for example) to kill him without
switching skills.
* Be wary of Physical Immune critters: this one seems counter-intuitive. After
all, you deal tons of elemental damage, right ? Wrong. Without the ability to
leech, your mana ball will drop flat very quickly, and you won't deal any
damage. Always have some backup plan for physical immunes (elemental damage bow
combined with GA, or cheesy Fire Arrow bug). Of course, a huge mana pool may
help you killing PI monsters without alternative tactics, but if this is true
in the case of a single PI boss, it certainly won't help against mosquitoes,
skeletons, ghosts, and all the variety of PI or unleechable monsters you will
encounter.

d) Vamp credits

    This one is easy. ;) The Vamp is the creation of FrigidWoman of the Amazon
Basin. Kudos to him for an excellent, powerful, and definitely fun bowazon
build.

4) The Mageazon

Mageazons do it with more energy
(Shadguy, The Amazon Basin)

    The Mageazon's origins go back to CD2. The idea behind the build is the
following: make an amazon that will only kill using elemental damage, and that
won't rely on leech for mana recovery. At first a variant character, the
mageazon quickly proved very effective, up to the point of achieving success in
solo-8 situations (playing alone in a game with 7 other players, unpartied).

    When LoD arrived, the timer on Immolation seemed to be the doom of the
mageazon (that, and the fact that Pierce worked fishy with elemental skills).
But excellent build designers took advantage of the new LoD toys, and thus
remade the mageazon, perhaps even stronger than before. The mageazon is a great
all-around build, because she isn't afraid of the worst enemies of the
bowazons: Physical Immune and unleechable monsters. On the other hand, she is
not likely to achieve the same killing rate as the more mainstream bowazons in
leveling areas of choice (read: Cow Level).

a) Mageazon's Stats and Skills

    For the skills, refer to the Vamp section: maxed FA, maxed Immolation.
Pierce will likely also come from items, so you can skip on it depending on
your items (you will really want 100% Pierce with this build). The points saved
on Critical Strike, Penetrate and Pierce will allow you to invest a lot in
Valkyrie and perhaps even invest many points in Ice Arrow for single critters
(for a single target, Ice Arrow is more mana-efficient than FA, and its freeze
time is longer).

    For stats, the mageazon is indeed the most specific bowazon build. You will
actually (gasp !) invest into Energy. And a lot. Once Str and Dex allow you to
carry your equipment, all Stats points will be invested either into Energy (to
increase the mana pool) or into Vitality (because you won't be able to leech
life).

b) Mageazon's equipment

    The Mageazon's choice of weapon will depend on very different
considerations than usual. You will mostly want skill bonuses and Pierce on
your weapon. Thus, the Kuko Shakaku seems the perfect bow for the task An
interesting alternative early on is the Doomslinger unique crossbow, and the
Demon Machine (unique Chu-Ko-Nu) can present some advantages. With its huge
skill bonus and a nice Energy bonus, Lycander's Aim may also be used, although
the mana leech on it may be disliked by mageazon purists. ;) As an alternative
weapon, the Pus Spitter and its chance to trigger Lower Resist is certainly
worth mentioning.

    After choosing a weapon, we have two thing left to do: build a huge mana
pool, and increase skill levels. As said many times in this guide, Energy alone
won't help you much for mana. You will want both a huge mana pool and faster
mana regeneration. Items with percent-based bonus to mana like the Stone of
Jordan or the Frostburn unique gauntlets are some of the best choices you may
do: they will really make your Energy investment worth. Other than that, items
with high mana bonuses (Bahamut's rings and amulets) are popular choices, and
of course the unique Shako, the Harlequin's Crest is the best helm you could
want with its huge level-based mana and life bonuses, as well as a nice +2 to
all skills. Socketing your gear with perfect Sapphires or Skulls will either
boost your mana or your mana regeneration rate.

    Additional Elemental damage should strongly be considered, too. A good
selection of Lightning Damage charms will help you live through those times
where your mana ball will be empty.

    For the skill bonuses, report to the Vamp section: charms are probably your
best bet here, coupled with specific unique items. Charms are also a good way
to give you tons of mana.

    For crowd control, you won't want Knockback. Cold damage will work very
well, especially considering you will often shoot FA.

    Another thing you will want is lots of life and good resistances, since you
won't have life leech to help you. The mageazon is one of the rare bowazon
builds where considering stacking good amounts of Life Regen (and perhaps even
getting a Prayer Mercenary) should be strongly considered.

c) Mageazon's Tactical Department

* Time is on your side: or don't overshoot. Especially since you can't leech, a
single misfired arrow can put a dent into your mana pool from which you could
very well not recover.
* Don't rush: since you can't leech life, rushing into enemies will mean you
will have to drink potions to survive. And potions have this nasty habit of
lacking when you really would need them.
* Pay attention to your Valkyrie: since you can't leech, your Valkyrie,
mercenary and Decoy are the only things between death and you. Take good care
of them all. A high-level Valkyrie is a formidable tank, but her less than
optimal AI will mean frequent combat drops, which can again be hard for your
mana pool.
* Don't be afraid of drinking, though: don't play a mageazon like you would
play a "normal" bowazon, but play her like you would play a sorceress, and one
without Teleport at that. I've seen many players fail with mageazons because
they were unconsciously relying on leech.

d) Mageazon's Legacy

    I think Jondefool and Lok are the inventors of this surprisingly effective
build. You can check the Mageazon description by Jondefool there:
http://diablo.realmsbeyond.net/diablo/vd2mageazon.html
And Lok's Mageazon report there:
http://diablo.realmsbeyond.net/diablo/strategymageazon.html


5) The Frostmaiden

Frostmaidens are so cool, they are cryogenic
(AK404, in his Bowazon Guide (read it ! read it!))

    Developed a long time ago, the Frostmaiden takes advantage of the stacking
of cold durations between items. Back in CD2, the best item for this was the
Eye of Etlitch, with perhaps a cold damage belt and Frostburn gloves.

    LoD gave tons of new cold damage items (especially charms), and an
improved, leeching FA, but at the same time gave us Cold Immune monsters. No
fun. At the same time, the role of FA changed completely: because of a bug, FA
used to be a one-point wonder (physical damage was added to FA's splash damage,
imagine that). Now, this bug has been removed, but the cold damage of a high
level FA makes it worth maxing this skill.

    By the way, remember that cold duration is halved in Nightmare and halved
again in Hell. Huge freeze time in Hell are possible to come by, but damn hard
(although a 4 seconds freeze time in Hell is already enough).

    Frostmaidens are probably the most lag-friendly bowazon style (especially
if you go the low FA road).

a) Frostmaiden's stats and skills

    Without surprise, the Frostmaiden mostly invests into the Cold branch of
the bow tree. Some Frostmaidens max both Freezing and Ice Arrow, but FA is
indeed the prerequisite for this build (against strong single enemies that
can't be frozen anyway, GA/Pierce is often more efficient than Ice Arrow
considering the huge amount of item-based cold damage a Frostmaiden sports).
But what makes the true strength of the Frostmaiden is not FA, but Pierce.
Getting up to 100% Pierce (with the help of items) is what makes the build
shine.

    You could run two kinds of Frostmaidens: the first one would use FA as a
damage dealer, with maxed FA, skill bonuses and high mana leech, the second one
would use level 1 FA (easily spammable) just to freeze the monsters, and use
any skill she wants on the disabled critters. Remember, Pierce and cold
duration are what make the build, not only FA damage.

    For stats, use the standard allocation. No surprise here.

b) Want some ice cream ?

    As a Frostmaiden, you will want mana leech and physical damage (to power-up
your high level FA), but what you need most is cold damage and duration. I
would highly advise getting a long duration Eye of Etlitch amulet (the life
leech and skill bonus will also help), and other good items include the Vampire
Gaze unique Grim Helm (4 seconds duration), the Ravenfrost ring (4 seconds
duration), and perhaps the Frostburn unique gauntlets (2 seconds duration only,
but a huge mana boost). Another nice item is the M'avina's Icy Clutch Battle
Gauntlets, with their 6 seconds Cold Duration

    For your weapon, use either a good mana leech bow (Magewrath and Lycander's
Aim come to mind, with Magewrath having the extra advantage of a secondary
crowd control method with Blind Target, useful against Cold Immune monsters) or
the Buriza-do Kyanon ballista (incredible cold damage, and another 4 seconds
duration, plus the Freeze target modifier).

    Other than that, dedicate the rest of your slots to skill bonuses and mana
leech if you go the high FA road, or to enhance your physical damage if you go
the low FA path. Charms will of course be dedicated to cold damage. Generally,
you should only want small charms, because even with higher damage, large and
grand charms only add 1 second to your freeze time.

    A working alternative to high mana leech is the use of refiller skills.
Refiller skills are low cost physical damage skills that help you refill your
mana bulb very quickly while the monsters are still frozen from your last FA.
GA and Strafe are very popular choices for this task, and with even a small
amount of mana leech, they can refill your mana ball in a single shot. I still
prefer the high mana leech road myself, because it is safer when there is lag,
but you may want to try the alternative by yourself. Using refiller skills and
low mana leech works best with a larger mana pool, because you will want to
make sure you don't run out of mana if you have to fire several FAs in a row.

c) The Icy Manipulator

    Sorry, old MtG reference here. Sue me. ;)
* Your worst enemies are the cold immunes: this one is a given. Since your gear
and skills are so much centred around cold damage, being unable to deal it is a
hard blow to your strategy. Practice alternate tactics (standard bowazon tips)
to get yourself out of trouble.
* Help your partners: the Frostmaiden is perhaps the most party-friendly of the
bowazons, except of course for the poor partied necromancers, deprived of
corpses. First-line fighters and spellcasters (fragile sorcs especially) will
love you. Always keep an eye on your party, and fire FAs in the direction of
all of your team mates.
* Don't spam: there is no need too ;)
* Use triggered spells: this one isn't very helpful, but damn it's fun to
watch. Equipping the GoldStrike Arch, Hellmouth gauntlets, and Atma's Scarab
will lighten your day when firing FA in crowds. ;) This sub-kind of Frostmaiden
is called the SFXazon for obvious reasons, and sometimes the Lagazon by people
with slow computers.

d) Frozen credits

    The first incarnation of the Frostmaiden was indeed GoldenBow (one of the
people who developed the Speedazon), back when we were toying around with the
"relative speed" concept. Golden Bow went a very long way into the game using a
bow (an hunter bow IIRC) socketed with perfect sapphires. He once declared "I
wouldn't trade my bow for a faster one without cold damage". The Frostmaiden
was born there.

    Later, Ice Mage refined the concept with good theories on cumulative
freezing times, and interesting tactics on FA, Pierce, and Ice Arrow, and if
I'm not mistaken, AK404 was the one to come up with the "Frostmaiden" name.

6) The Dinozon

    The dinozon is a curiosity in that she appeared at the same time as the
barbazons (a dark age indeed). Back when the little kids were playing around
with characters named "NakedZonTits", equipped with godly duped Gothic Bows
(Carrion Song, where are you ? ) and "oWnZor1ng" with their maxed Multishot
(occasionally switching to GA for cheap PKing), a group of old-time amazon
players decided they had enough of seeing their own favorite class being
discredited by those idiots, and came up with a balanced and perfectly
effective build. In reaction to the barbazon invasion, and since this build was
the refining of about 6 months of amazon tactics, it was called "the dinozon".

    At first, the dinozon was a matter of style: the idea was just to play
using all the skills a bowazon could use, thus making an amazon able to solo
any part of the game effectively (while the barbazons were only clearing the
River of Fire and Chaos Sanctuary, leveling places of choice back then). The
general principle behind the dinozon was (and still is) "balance". But in fact,
"dinozon" was more of a codename between old timers.

    Things changed at the release of the first dinozon guide, by Trepidati0n.
Here, for the first time, we had a perfectly well-written document, with
blueprints stats and skills allocation, as well as equipment and tactics
consideration. At this time, the dinozon ceased to be a style, and became a
fully grown character sub-class.

    LoD shot the dinozons badly: the prevalence of high-powered weaponry, the
bad nerfing of Immolation, and the 800x600 resolution (allowing even the more
clueless barbazons to see what was coming without the need for any kind of
scouting tactics) sent the dinozons build down the drain. Still, they were able
to play much more efficiently than the converted barbazons (that power-leveling
and rushing allowed those barbazons to remake characters in a heartbeat is
another story, of course). And of course, the LoD 1.09 version of the Buriza-do
Kyanon was the last nail in the coffin: for the first time, barbazons had at
their disposal a single item that would allow them to outperform dinozons in
every situation.

    Nowadays, dinozons are a rare sight on Battle.net. On the other hand,
before dying, they gave birth to the Vamp.

a) Old skills, crumpy stats

    The dinozon wants to invest the exact amount of skill points in every skill
to make it useful. Investing past diminishing returns or after getting all the
good elements of a skill for a minor damage increase is not good: contrary to
most amazon builds, dinozons never have tons of saved skill points: there is so
much you want to do...

    Here is a small list of skills you may want to use with a dinozon:
Multishot (around 10 to 15 points), Guided Arrow (a single point is generally
enough to get all the scouting and targeting benefits), Ice Arrow (one point to
max, depending if you prefer FA for cold damage), Strafe (6 points are enough
to get the most of this skill), Immolation (maxed), Freezing Arrow (one point
to max, depending on your style), plus a good variety of passives.
    For stats, the standard allocation works well. You may want to have a good
life amount, of course.

b) Wheelchair and Walking stick

    Like for the stats, building a dinozon gear is a matter of fine balance.
Since you want to be able to clear the full game by yourself, survival (in form
of leech, extra resists, life and mana) is as important as raw damage ability
(coming from Dex, IAS and high damage weaponry).

    There are several bows that work pretty well with the Dinozon style:
Skystrike is good for excellent speed, high elemental damage, and a skill
boost, but the damage is a bit on the low side later in the game. It is a nice
weapon switch, though, just like the Kuko Shakaku. The WitchWild String is
incredibly effective for a dinozon (Amp damage, deadly strike and huge
resists), , but its drawback is that its physical damage is not enough to leech
back a high level FA if you go this way (spamming level 20+ FA with a WWS to
trigger AD is a good way to find you without any mana left). Magewrath is an
excellent dinozon weapon, with decent damage and huge mana leech (freeing
equipment slots), the GoldStrike Arch is another dinozon favorite (with its
excellent damage and incredible speed), and Eaglehorn is also quite useful. But
my personal recommendation goes to the Lycander's Aim, perhaps the best dinozon
bow available for the incredible features package it brings (nice damage, some
speed, a Dexterity boost, mana leech, and of course the huge skills bonus...).

    For the rest of your gear, while your number one priority should be to have
enough leech to quickly recover from the use of your high-cost elemental skills
(FA and Immolation), balance finely between speed, skill bonuses and resists. I
can't give much more precisions, as it is a very personal thing. I generally
stop at 10/3 or 9/3 as far as speed is concerned, and try to have at least
maxed Fire and Lightning resists in Hell.

c) Oldest tricks in the book

    There is basically only one trick in the dinozon's book: be flexible. Keep
your mind open to all the great skills that are available, and you will soon
(through the time-proven "trial and death" process) develop a feeling of which
skill is right for which situation.

    Against tight packs of monsters, you will want either Multishot or Freezing
Arrow, depending on the monster's density and resistances. Against lined-up
target, Immolation and Strafe can both be good, especially when completed with
a good Pierce. For scattered targets, use either Strafe or several GA shots.
Other situations will call for other uses of those skills, and of course, the
sky is the limit as far as dinozon's tactics are concerned.

    The use of passive skills is a lot more easier. You will want to always
have your Valk and Decoy up, use Slow Missiles a lot, and you will rely more on
your fight planning skills than on your defensive passives to get out of
trouble.

d) I don't remember this guy... Memory was better in the good ol'days...

    While I was the one to come up with the Dinozon nickname, the build is
really a team effort at the Amazon Basin. Among the grumpy ol'timers, I would
like to thank again Siegzon, Oprah, AK404, and especially Trepidati0n (HTML
comments are not allowed), who made the first comprehensive dinozon guide.

7) The Hybrid

    The Hybrid is a LoD curiosity. It is basically a new build relying on the
excellent Weapon Switch feature, which allows an amazon to switch from a
Bow/Arrows configuration to a Javelins/Shield configuration.

    I won't detail the Hybrid build much, because I never built one. What you
want is to build an efficient bowazon/javazon character. This means that, in
order to take advantage of your bowazon side, you will probably have high Dex,
which means lowish life (except if you have godly gear, of course). As such,
you will probably build the javazon part in a ranger style, using mostly
Lightning Fury. Lightning Fury is an excellent crowd killing skill, and the
build allows you to fall back in bow mode for single hard to kill critters.

    Most Hybrids are built around GA as a main bow skill (often in combo with
the Buriza), and Lightning Fury as a main javelin skill (with the staple
Javazon gear, Titan's Revenge). The rest of the gear is the generic
leech/IAS/extra Dex/resists... thingie. Generic bonuses to skills or bonuses to
all amazon skills are preferred to specific bow or javelin skills boosts, as
those would only benefit half of the build.

    More information on hybrid builds can be found at the Amazon Basin forums,
as usual.

    A funny build to try at least once is the SFXazon, who stacks items with
"Chance to cast XXX". Wearing Hellmouth gloves, a Goldstrike Arch, and shooting
FAs at crowds is the best thing to fry a videocard since the CD2 Lightning Fury
(which could actually halt your computer for a few seconds).


V) Playing the damn game

    This section will be dedicated to some generic information on playing the
game. As I said, this is not a guide to power-acting then leeching in cows. The
first part will include a small walkthrough, with some specific tips on various
encounters and quests. After this, we will try to analyse some of the good
leveling spots for bowazons in various difficulty levels. We will go on with a
short treaty on Magic Find with a bowazon (where to MF, and what to sacrifice
for it), and we will end with a lengthy part about party playing.

1) Walkthrough

    This walkthrough will not include much in term of solving quests. The
quests are all very easily done, because they are very straightforward. If you
are really stuck, try to look at GameFAQS for tips.

    If you are playing single player and have difficulties to level, a great
way to increase your experience is by use of the "players X" command. Simply
press Enter while in the game and type "players X" (with X an integer between 1
and 8), then Enter again. Any new monster appearing will now have more Hit
Points and give more Experience (like if you were in a game with X players).
Before hard boss fights, simply turn the command off by typing "players 1".

a) Normal Difficulty

    Anyone can finish Normal Difficulty (well, in SoftCore anyway), with
absolutely any skills of choice. The only "difficulty" of Normal is if you have
already planned your end-game skills, and want to save skill points (this is
less true for a bowazon, because many of her low and mid-level skills are very
useful and should receive some points, like CS, Multishot...). Anyway, Normal
Diff can be done without using any skill at all if you feel like it.

You won't encounter much problems in Normal difficulty, mostly because very,
very few (if any) enemies have immunities. Your main enemy will be your mana
pool, because your damage will probably be too low to allow you constant use of
your skills with mana leech.

Act 1 Normal is your training ground. After building a few characters, you will
really want to rush through it, because it is so simple. In MultiPlayers games,
you can easily level up to 18 (and thus get access to Ice Arrow) by doing
several times the catacombs levels. While you won't find many good items in A1,
your best bet as far as survival is concerned is to find a socketable Hunter's
Bow and put some chipped gems in it (sapphires and topazes work best) for
elemental damage. Of course, if you have access to external gear (this is
referred to as "twinking", then you may very well have much better options
available, like a full Arctic's Gear set (this set will allow you to finish
Normal Difficulty without looking back). In Single Player, you should be around
level 14 when killing Andariel.

Act 2 Normal introduces various types of new threats, and large amounts of
unleechable monsters, like the skeletons. Pay attention to those. If a mummy is
around a pack of undeads, it can constantly resurrect them (this is the case
for the first quest boss, Radament). Against those enemies, use Ice Arrow,
which will freeze and shatter any critter. If you don't have Ice Arrow for
Radament, level a bit in the sewers. At the end of Act 2, you will meet Duriel.
Probably without any summons yet (although you may have a Decoy if you leveled
a lot, in which case Duriel will be very easy), this will be an hard fight:
Duriel has a terrible Holy Freeze aura, which slows you down to a crawl, there
is very little room to avoid him, and he has a very fast and very damaging
Charge attack. Your best bet is to hide behind your mercenary, and to feed him
potions often, while attacking Duriel with GA or Ice Arrow (you will want to
use those auto-hit skills). In Act2, you will also discover the Horadric Cube.
Start cubing your gems to save stash space, and also make some rejuvenation
potions which will help you a lot against Duriel. As far as gear is concerned,
if you have enough gems you can build a better socketable bow, this time with
normal gems.

Act 3 Normal is a pain. Actually, Act3 is a pain in all difficulties. I
strongly advise you to do a straight run through the entire jungle section of
A3, only stopping for getting the various parts of Khalim. Once you get to
level 24 and get Decoy (if you haven't already), things get a lot better for
you, as you can use your Decoy to draw away some of the Flayer's attention. As
far as very dangerous (lethal) encounters are concerned, you will have mainly
three: one in the Ruined Temples, with Battlemaid Sarina (those temples are
often known as "Stair Traps" because monsters can wait for you at the stairs
and kill you while the level loads); the second one, a very nasty battle, takes
place in Travincal with the Kurast Council. The corrupted Zakarum Priests are
formidable foes for a young bowazon. Use every trick in your arsenal (again,
Decoy rules here) to keep them away from you, and don't engage them without
having cleared the entire map so you can fall back without awakening more
monsters. The last hard part is the entire Durance of Hate maps, with its crowd
of exploding Dolls. Keep those away from you ! If you invested mostly in Str
and Dex until now, then those Dolls can perhaps kill you in one hit if they die
near you. The third map of Durance is home to more Council members (including
the infamous Bremm Sparkfist), so take care there too. Mephisto isn't too hard
to beat if you use GA from far away on him.

Act 4 is probably the hardest act overall in the game. On the other hand, you
will probably gain access (if you haven't somewhere in A3) to the Freezing
Arrow, Valkyrie and Pierce skills, three skills that will turn you into a
grown-up bowazon. I strongly suggest you to save some skill points before level
30, so you can invest in all those skills at the same time. There are no really
specific tactics to doing well in A4: advance slowly, scout with your Decoy and
with some skills like GA and Multishot, and always have some place to fall
back. Diablo is a very annoying boss, as he has a high chance to block any
incoming physical attack. If your resists are good, you should be able to kill
him in the end, provided you avoid his Lightning Breath and his Flame attack.

Act 5 Normal is mostly a walk in the park. Most enemies (except those annoying
Minotaurs packs, which can be dealt with using Decoy and Valkyrie) don't move
much, don't do much damage, and die easily. There are 3 hard parts in A5: the
first one is the cheesy Nhilathak. He's a necromancer able to summon enemies
and who uses one of the most powerful necromancer spells: Corpse Explosion. In
order to deal with him easily, deprive him of ammunitions by killing his
summoned monsters with either FA or Ice Arrow (thus shattering the corpses).
The second hard encounter is with the three Barbarians on the Arreat Summit.
Here again, you will want to always have a Valkyrie engaging them, a Decoy
between them and you, and you will always be on the move. If you manage to do
this, shooting GAs from a good distance should get them in the end (warning,
don't forget they regain all their energy if you leave the Arreat's Summit or
if you die). The last challenge is the Throne of Destruction, and especially
the last wave of Baal's Minions. While those minions are not very difficult (FA
tends to dispatch them very easily), the apparition of Lister and his pack
takes part after a very long loading time. Unless you have a very fast
computer, I strongly advise taking your distances before Lister appears. Baal
himself is not very difficult if you deal with him from behind the columns. Pay
attention to both his orange attack (the infamous "Anti-Minions Spray") and his
Blue Wave, which will chill you and slow you down (not to mention a decent
amount of damage).

Congratulations, you are now a Slayer ! Before proceeding to Nightmare
difficulty, you may want to redo some of the most experience-rewarding areas in
A5, to prepare you for what is coming.

b) Nightmare Difficulty (NM)

    I will not detail each act, but rather the new challenges you will meet in
this difficulty.

* Bosses now get a second random attribute (or a first one in case of specific
bosses): this can make for nasty combinations, such as Multishot/Lightning
Enchanted, Lightning Enchanted/Cold Enchanted, Might Aura/Curse... Generally
speaking, you should want to check monsters abilities before engaging them, and
stay at a safe distance from bosses before shooting Some of the most powerful
bosses can kill your Valk pretty quickly, before rushing at you.
* Your leech is halved in Nightmare. This mean skills you took for granted in
Normal can now drain your mana very quickly. Increasing your damage to break
even on leech will be one of your top priorities in NM.
* You will encounter your first batches of Immune Monsters. Some specific
monsters also have immunities (like Duriel, who is now Cold Immune). But since
not many (if any) monsters have two immunities, you are generally ok if you use
both a physical and an elemental attack.
* Your resists are hit hard (-30%). Combined with the lack of a shield, this
means that you may start having negative resists in Nightmare. And in
Nightmare, monsters start having pretty powerful elemental attacks of their
own.

    Generally speaking, once you manage to break even on leech and find some
better resists, NM difficulty is not that difficult.

c) Hell Difficulty (H)

    Welcome to the real fighting ground of D2. Unless you play a very specific
variant, Normal is a walk in the park. Unless you play fully no-twink or your
luck sucks very badly, Nightmare is very doable. But in Hell, if you really
play through the game (as opposed to: leeching your way up to the Cow Level),
you will suffer a lot. Like for Nightmare, I will simply detail what you can
expect in Hell mode, and how to counter it.

* The biggest change is that all monsters get a free 50% Physical Resistance.
This has two very annoying side-effects: first, your leech is again halved
(because you do half the listed damage), meaning breaking even on expensive
skills is now really, really hard. Second, all Stone Skin bosses are now
Physical Immune.
* Bosses now get 2 extra random attributes. In Hell, this can translate in an
wealth of nasty combos, as well as in many, many dual Immunes bosses, which
means that you will have to find yourself a high elemental damage bow, in
addition to your physical damage and to your likely abuse of the Fire Arrow
bug/feature.
* Generally speaking, monsters hit a lot harder. By now, you should already
master the various crowd-control techniques available to a bowazon, so this
should not be a big problem, though.
* Your resists hurt again. This time, you get -100% from your base resists.
Lacking a shield, only bowazons with the best equipment can max their resists
in Hell. Since you will probably have to make some choices as far as resists
are concerned, I would advise keeping focused on Lightning and Fire
resistances.

    Some specific tips for Hell:
* Hell Council: a very hard fight for a bowazon: all 3 Boss council members
have 2 immunities, and they sport a very large variety of nasty mods (fighting
against Fanaticism and Might Enchanted Council members while cursed isn't
unheard of). As usual, fully clear Travincal before taking them, and try to
isolate them. Don't forget they can heal themselves, so never let one alone
until he's dead. If you really can't do it, recreate a game to change their
mods (IIRC, people playing SP should first create a game in another
difficulty). Don't forget that you only have to kill one to get the last part
of Khalim's Will, so you can kill one and park the other two.
* Hell Diablo: there is a small trick to avoid his LBOD (Lightning Breath of
Death) in Hell difficulty: you can try to tank him, as his LBOD will fly just
behind you. Of course, this requires tons of life leech and a good amount of
life to survive him at point blank range.
* Hell Ancients: those guys can be a real pain. If you are playing on the
Realms, try to find some friends or random strangers to help you. A balanced
party (including tanks (barbarians or druids), ranged fighters like yourself,
and elemental attackers (sorceresses, assassins...), backed-up by a summoner
necromancer) can deal with them easily. If you are alone, then you will need
luck on the attributes they draw (if they are really impossible to beat, then
cast a TP, it will reset their health and attributes). Before the fight, try to
gather as many Full Rejuvenation potions as you can, and leave them on the
Arreat's Summit's ground. This way, if you drink potions during the fight, you
can quickly click on the extra potions and refill your belt. Except for that,
it's the same basic technique: always have a Decoy and a Valk up, and never
stay at the same place for 2 seconds.
* Hell Nhilathak: welcome to the cheesiest place in the game. Hell Nhilathak
does suck. There is no absolutely guaranteed technique against his level 30+
Corpse Explosion, as his minions are Cold Immunes, meaning you can't even
deprive him from corpses using FA. Try to kill him in a solo game, because more
players in game means more damage from his CE. Unless you have very high life
and very high Fire resistance, his CE should be able to 1-hit-kill you anyway.
The best tactic I've found against this guy is to kill some monsters from very
far away, then summon a Decoy as far as possible in his general direction. He
will probably blow away the Decoy, thus wasting a corpse. Rinse and repeat
until you disposed from all corpses.

2) Leveling your bowazon

    Ah, the mandatory cheesy leveling section.:). First, why do mindless
leveling ? Well, there is a large variety of reasons:
* You could be leveling for the sake of it, ultimately trying to reach level 99
(or whatever limit you want for yourself). For many players, this is a
perfectly legit goal.
* You could want to use some specific piece of equipment. LoD is full of
very-high level gear (like those Rlvl 89 +2 skills crafted amulets, or some of
the Elite uniques).
* You could get trashed badly by some monsters, and want to improve your stats
and skills before taking them. If you are alone and without extremely good
gear, entering Nightmare before level 35-40 and Hell before level 65-70 is not
recommended.
* All of the above.:)

    So you want to level. A lot. Depending on the difficulty you are in, there
are a few places that offer extremely high experience/risk ratio. Remember that
you want to avoid risk when leveling, because dying in Nightmare and Hell
results in lost experience. I will assume that you want to actually contribute
to the leveling effort, and not stay in a corner watching TV while your team
mates are doing all the job.

    A quick note: please party. The CD2 days of solo-8 for maximum experience
are now over, as you will get a nice experience bonus if you party. While
solo-8 still gives more experience per monster, you will probably end leveling
faster if you really party (that is unless 5 out of 8 players are just
leeching).

* Arcane Sanctuary: in Normal and Nightmare, this is a perfect leveling place.
The straight ways make it very easy to build artificial chokepoints for
monsters (with a merc, Valk, Decoy, or a friendly tank). In Hell, this area is
less bowazon-friendly, because of the numerous Physical Immunes.
* Canyon of Magi: an old Javazon leveling area, the Canyon of Magi can still be
an interesting leveling place, because there are never any bosses there.
* Kurast: while the jungle and its awful Flayers is a terrible place to level,
the various Kurast areas are very nice for a bowazon (well, there are those
Physical Immune mosquitoes, but they have low life and as such fall quickly to
elemental attacks). As a bonus, you will usually get some good loot. Avoid the
sewers, full of dangerous unleechable monsters.
* The Bloody Foothills. Or the Boring Foothills. An excellent leveling place
for everyone in Normal and Nightmare (this is probably the highest reward/risk
area of the game, more of a slaughterhouse), the BF in Hell are not
bowazon-friendly because of many Physical Immunes, meaning you will probably
end leeching Exp from sorcs.
* The Halls of Pain: a very nice leveling area, with easy to kill monsters and
no random bosses. The low monster density makes it hard to level very quickly
there, though, but at least it's safe. HC players love Halls !
* The Glacial Trail also has a good experience/risk ratio, because there are no
minotaurs there.
* The Worldstone Keep. Provided you can avoid those dangerous exploding Spawns
(Decoy rules for this), you should do fine there.
* The Secret Cow Level. The best leveling place for a bowazon. While cows can
be dangerous, there is a lot of room to move around in the Moo Moo Farm, and
the very large herds of bovines mean multi-target skills (MS, FA) can be used
to their fullest extent. The Cow Level is easily the best experience/time
level.
*
3) MFing with your bowazon

    GIVE ITAMZ AMA ! As a matter or fact, bowazons aren't the best characters
for Magic Finding (the act of slapping tons of "Extra Chance to get Magical
Items" items on a character, and repeatedly cleaning the same areas over and
over, hoping to hit the jackpot). Where they shine is against crowds of
monsters, and generally not against single dangerous monsters (like act bosses,
the preferred target of MFers). Which means that your best bet for MFing with
your bowazon is against normal monsters. The Secret Cow Level is a nice place
for MFing (as you really don't need much resists there), but if you play in a
party, there is a very high probability that the stuff that drops will end into
someone's else pockets. Play with friends to avoid this.

    As with everything else, MFing with a bowazon is a matter of balance. You
want to have a lot of MF, true, but you also don't want to die too often. Which
means paying attention to your life and resistance totals. Since MFing has some
very, very steep diminishing returns, anything over 400%MF is probably
something of a waste if it means giving up valuable killing or survival gear.
What does matter is the number of good items you get over time. If you have to
give up 50% of your killing speed in order to have an effective increase of
your MF (after diminishing returns) of 10%, then you are probably better off
without the extra MF.

Now, up to some very interesting bowazon MF items:
* Tal's Combo: Tal Rasha's Armor, Mask ("The Fugly"), and Belt. This is by far
the best combo you could hope for with a bowazon, and was already discussed in
the Sets section. Quick reminder: with 2 Topazes in Fugly and Armor, you get
211-216%MF, +20 Dex, large life and resistances bonuses, 10% Dual Leech, for
just 3 item slots. Sign me in.
* Tal's Combo #2: Tal Rasha's armor, belt, amulet, and Stealskull. Depending on
your IAS needs, this combo may be more useful for you than the previous one.
You get less resists (except for lightning, which is the most important resist
anyway), you lose some life and some leech, but you come ahead in the MF
department and this 10% extra IAS may be enough for you to jump to the next
breakpoint. YMMV, as usual.
* Goldwrap, Stealskull: those items (unique Heavy Belt, unique Casque) share
something, they both feature both a good amount of MF and some IAS. If you want
to MF with a bowazon and don't have access to Tal's set, then those items are a
very good choice if you need to reach a specific IAS breakpoint. Stealskull has
the added bonus of 5% dual-leech.
* Charms. Charms allow you to get some nice MF (up to 7% per square of
inventory), without sacrificing your survival gear.
* Wealth Runeword: Lem+Ko+Tir. While this armor doesn't offer much to a
bowazon, it has 100%MF as well as 300% Gold Find, meaning it's an excellent Get
Rich Quick scheme. I sometimes put a Wealth armor when entering the cow level,
since my armor slots are often dedicated to resists, which are not really
needed in the Moo Moo Farm.
* Silence Bow: good damage, mana leech, 75% resist all, and 30% MF. The
interesting point of a Silence weapon when MFing is that you get your resists
pretty well set-up with just this weapon, allowing you to dedicate other
equipment slots to pure MF.
* M'avina's Battle Hymn features 100%MF. The problem is that the set's
weaknesses (lack of leech and resists, mostly) are somewhat hard to cover, so
you may end up with just those 100%MF if you want to build a viable char around
the set. YMMV, of course.
* War Travelers are already some of the best bowazon boots available (for the
large damage bonus mostly), and they feature some good MF. What else could you
want ? Oh, yes, resists.
* GoldStrike Arch: while this bow doesn't have any MF per se, it is very
interesting for the MF bowazon. The large damage bonus to Demons and Undeads
means that you will kill those annoying act bosses very quickly. The incredible
speed also frees up some equipment slots (slap a Shael in it, a Goldwrap and a
Stealskull, and you are at 9/3 already, with some decent MF).
* Buriza-do-Kyanon: the Tuna Cannon is a mighty weapon for MFers, since it does
very well on its own (nearly no additional IAS required), features uber-damage,
and works so well with GA.
* Laying of Hands: 20% IAS, 50% Fire resist, 350%ED against Demons ? Mephisto,
here I come ! Those gloves pack so many features in one equipment slots that
they are very hard to beat for the MFing bowazon. Hint: Chance Guards suck
badly when compared to those.

Of the monsters to kill:
* As said earlier, cows are a very valid target for MFing. Hell Cows can drop
nearly any item in the game (except for Immortal King's Armor, some Griswold's
set items, Bul-Khatos Mythical Sword, and Stormspire). Although the chance for
a given cow to drop an uber-item is very, very low, their sheer number should
give you something in the end.
* Runs in the various parts of A5 generally turn out very profitable. Some
super-unique monsters in A5 (Thresh Socket, Pindleskin, Frozenstein, Snapchip
Shatter...) are known to be able to drop some of the rarest items in the game.
* Mephisto in Hell is not advised for bowazons, as the risk of running into
deadly explosive dolls is too high. Leave this one to barbarians and
sorceresses, trust me.
* A very popular and rewarding boss-only item run is the famous "3 SU run".
Start in A5, take the Frigid Highlands Waypoint. Go North and kill Eldritch the
Rectifier, then South for Shenk the Overseer. Once both are dealt with, go back
to Harrogath, enter the Red Portal near Anya (to close the Red Portal, you need
to kill Nhilathak and get the Halls of Pain WP, the portal stays open if you do
only one or none of those), and slay Pindleskin. Pindleskin can drop any item
in the game, making him a very popular target (and his predictability makes him
a very abused monster by the low-life cheaters adepts of the Pindlebot cheat,
an automated Pindleskin-runs program).
* Baal in Hell can drop nearly all items (except those elusive Griswold's
Legacy Part and a few other trinklets), and is quite doable for a bowazon
(because FA works very well against his various waves of minions). While Baal
runs can be a bit longish, they are quite profitable if you are a bit lucky.

Thus ends our little MFing session.

4) Party playing

    Multi-Player is probably what makes LoD such a great game. Between the
heinous Player Killers, the "Jokeonomy" (ruined by hacks, bots, and Ebay), the
bragging spoiled brats encountered in every public game, lechers, beggars, and
generally inept ALL-CAPS players, Battle.net is sooo much fun ! Seriously, if
you find a good group of players with which you can play private games, then
you don't get many better games than D2 in Multiplayer. While the various
character classes are not very well balanced (I would like to apply for the
"Understatement of the Year Award" with this one), the variety of party tricks
and skill interactions is simply amazing.

    In this section, we will discover how a bowazon can help other classes, and
in which ways those can help you.

a) Partying with other Amazons

    Other bowazons are easy to party with. Depending on the styles, the main
advantage offered by having several bowazons party together is an incredible
concentrated firepower. Not much can stand in the way of several bowazons. The
obvious problem is that a bowazon party will often be stopped dead in its
tracks by the first nasty PI boss.

    Javazons come into two breeds mostly. Rangers Javazons are, like bowazons,
adept of ranged mass-destruction (using Lightning Fury mostly). When partied
with Javazons, don't use FA too much, as they rely on getting huge herds of
monsters together to get the most out of LF. Tanking Javazons can be thought of
as "Clever Valks".:) They don't deal a huge amount of damage, but they are
among the best tanking characters in the game. As with any tank, they will draw
attention to themselves, letting you deal loads of range damage with little
threat to yourself. Help them stay alive with FA.

    Spearazons are a very special character subclass. Lacking a shield, they
don't have the huge tanking potential of Javazons, and exclusively rely on
their aptitude to leech large amounts of life to survive. FA is key to helping
a spearazon. Try to avoid large volleys of MS when there is a spearazon in
front of you, because it may draw too many monsters for her to handle.

b) Partying with Barbarians

    Once vilified in CD2 as stupid stereotypical unfriendly player (how fun,
look at what people say about bowazons now), the surviving Babas on the Realms
are now either smart players, or uber-gear stupid players. Try to find the
first variety.

    A good party barb will use lots of Warcries, and will generally be a
top-knotch tank. If you see someone mindlessly Whirlwinding through hordes of
monsters, you have found the other kind of barb. Blech.

    As usual, use FA to help a barb survive. A party-friendly barb will often
have high level Battle Orders (which increases Life, Mana, and Stamina totals
by a huge amount), and will often sport a very high-level Berserk that will
provide a lot of help against those pesky PI bosses. Barbs are generally more
solid than Spearazons, so they usually won't mind you spamming MS all over the
screen.

    Babas aren't immortal, though. Most of them are very vulnerable to specific
boss combos. The always popular MSLEBs are often a pain for them. With your
Valk and Decoy, you are sometimes better equipped than the Babas to deal with
those. Offer your help if this is the case. Two very bad things to do against
MSLEBs are Slow Missiles (which makes bugged invisible bolts) and Strafe (which
releases a very large amount of sparks at one).

c) Partying with Paladins

    Paladins are the most party-friendly class in D2. Their auras can help
their team mates in various ways, from increasing damage to resistances, mana
regeneration... Good party paladins will have several auras to choose from, and
will discuss which one(s) they should use with the party. Unless you are really
starved for damage (for example if you can't leech enough), it is considered
good form to let the other classes have the first pick of auras (necros and
sorcs are known to be more fond of Meditation than of Fanaticism, for example).

    If the paladin uses a Combat aura, know what it does ! Few paladins use
Might (because A2 Mercs supply it nicely). Some are still using Concentration
(high damage boost, high range, switch to GA/MS/Strafe for those), or
Conviction (decreases Monster Defense and Resistances, which means using FA and
Immolation a lot), but most use Fanaticism (nice damage and AR boost, speed
boost, use physical skills a lot). The downside to Fanaticism is that it has a
very low range, so you should stay near your friendly paladin.

    Paladins generally make OK tanks, although they often have much lower life
than barbarians (this is somewhat made up for by their mastery of shields).
Some paladin variants ("Brickadins") are very well equipped to deal with the
nasty MSLEBs, CELEBs... and will say so. Let them do, they generally know what
they are doing.

d) Partying with Necromancers

    One generic tip when playing partied with Necromancers: don't use FA.
Please don't. Most Necromancers (unless you happen to meet the random Poison
Dagger / Poison Nova variant guy) depend on corpses one way or another, be it
to use Corpse Explosion or to Revive them. FA deprives them of their most basic
resource. How would you feel if some necromancer stole all arrows from the
ground and you couldn't restock them at a merchant ?

    Good Necromancers are a great party asset: they will know how many Revives
to use in order to provide good protection, they will make ample use of those
excellent AI Curses (Terror, Confuse...), and they will probably use Amplify
Damage a lot in order to boost your physical damage. Bowazons and Necromancers
team well together, because the bowazon usually can deal significant physical
damage, allowing the Necromancer to start the "CE Chain Reaction".

    Bad party Necromancers never quite caught up with the realities of LoD, and
will insist on using Iron Maiden. A new breed of bad party necro will insist on
using only Lower Resists even without sorceresses around, and will mindlessly
spam their pitiful damage Bone Spirit. For about 12 seconds before they run out
of mana, of course.

e) Partying with Sorceresses

    Well, you wonder where all those old WW barbs of CD2 went when LoD came out
? Look no further (well, actually, many of them are now playing bowazons). Once
a very fun and challenging class to play (a bit like bowazons before 1.04),
Sorceresses are back for a revenge, complete with graphical-heavy supa-powerful
spells. Who needs a party when your Firewall does 10,000 damage per second ?

    Seriously, there are still lots of good party sorceresses on Realms. They
are a great asset, and will usually use a variety of spells to deal with
specific threats. Like bowazons, sorceresses fight best against large crowds of
monsters. A good sorceress will advance with the rest of the team, and use
Teleport for scout/retreat tactics. She will make good use of Static Field
(still a great spell, and graphical lag friendly), coupled with effective high
level spells. Pay attention to her fighting style, and help by providing
distraction/backup (Valk, Decoy, FA...). Sorceresses are very fragile, since
they don't have any leech.

    Bad sorceresses generally don't pay attention to the enemies' immunities,
and will provide some great fun when using level 35 Charged Bolt or Nova
against MSLEBs, for example. Another common tactic of bad party sorc is
teleporting far ahead of the team, then bringing back unmanageable amounts of
enemies.




f) Partying with Assassins

    There are two main varieties of Assassins encountered, Trappers and Martial
Artists. Trappers generally don't need much help, as they feature excellent
crowd control and crowd killing skills. If they use Death Sentry (many of them
do), you may want to stop using FA, as, like Necromancers, they rely on corpses
to power-up their main skill.

    Martial Artists are a bit like spearazons, in that they are often first
line fighters with not much life. They have much better crowd control than
spearazons, though (the third Phoenix Strike charge-up being an excellent
crowd-control skill). When playing with a Martial Artist, please remove your
Knockback items if you can: MA assassins often rely on a very careful timing
that does not mix well with monsters flying back and forth.

    Assassins have two annoying problems attached to them, and a good party
assassin is often one who will be aware of those problems. First is their main
minion, the unbearable Shadow Master. This minion will, generally at the worst
time possible, use the infamous Mind Blast on enemies. There is a very bad
bug/feature with this skill (as well as with the paladin's Conversion skill):
converted enemies count as being part of your party, and as such get the
benefits of paladins/mercs auras, druid spirits... The problematic parts comes
when the Mind Blast effect wears off: there is a handful of seconds where
monsters revert to their basic AI (which is attacking your party) but keep all
the benefits of the auras they gained. Finding yourself in the middle of a pack
of Might Fanatics monsters is no fun at all. Good party sins will probably
refrain themselves from using Shadow Master a lot. The other annoying skill is
Cloak of Shadow, which turns the screen dark for everyone in the party. This is
not as dangerous as Mind Blast, but can be annoying at times. Of course, Shadow
Masters just love casting Cloak of Shadow.:)

g) Partying with Druids

    Druids also come mostly in two flavours: the variant Elementalist, and the
mainstream Shapeshifter (2 sub-flavors here, Werewolf and Werebear).

    Druids are often great party assets. Since the Elemental tree is so weak,
most Elementalists have an excellent understanding of the game to try such a
difficult build, and as such are very talented players. Try to use your crowd
control abilities to their full extent for them, so they can maximise what
little killing power they have.

    While more mainstream builds, the two shapeshifters are very potent and
party friendly builds: the bear is an excellent tank, with loads of life and
the stunning Shockwave skill (pun intended). This skill is one of the best
crowd control skills in the game. When partying with a Werebear, you should
help him deal with one target at a time (they don't have any multi-target
attacks, except Shockwave which does pitiful damage). Werewolves are a
different kind of front-line fighters, able to disable many enemies quickly
(using the incredible Fury skill), but lacking the extra life and safety the
Bear provides. Think of Werewolves as extra-fast Fending Spearazons, and you
won't fall too far from the truth.

    Nearly all druids use one spirit or another. Of the 3 different spirits,
the 2 best ones are of course Oak Sage (which provides a huge life boost to the
entire party) and Heart of Wolverine, which gives extra AR and Damage. Not many
druids invest in both spirits, so they probably won't give you much choice.:).
Both are good for you, although HoW is probably a bit better suited to a
bowazon style. The last spirit (Spirit of Barbs) is a very underpowered version
of the Iron Maiden curse and the Thorns aura, and is very seldom seen.

h) Summing up

    As a general rule of thumb, a bowazon has two main roles in a party:
provide artillery support (in form of large amounts of damage on a variety of
targets), and provide backup fire (generally using FA so the front line can
have a break, or the weak back line characters can escape unwanted monsters).
The ability of a bowazon to control the flow of battle (mostly using items) is
only matched by necromancers', and perhaps some barbarians' (those using Grim
Ward, Taunt and War Cry) and assassins'.

    You should remember your place: at the rear. Running in front of your party
will make the life of your tanks very difficult, as they will have both to help
you and try to maintain the first line closed.

    Crowd Control modifiers (mostly the infamous Knockback), as well as FA can
be very detrimental to your party: KB removes the enemies from the first line
fighters' reach (and prevents your friendly tanks from leeching life/mana), and
FA deprives Assassins and Necromancers (and to some extent, Elementalists) from
much needed corpses. If you are in a good party, you may without problem give
up KB and FA, as the value provided by party members able to do their job will
more than make up for it.


VI) Tips and tricks, Miscellaneous section

    Welcome to my little personal mess. Thanks for making it this far.

1) Hotkeys

    I've been asked the question about what hotkeys I use on my bowazons very
often. While Hotkeys are a very personal thing, here are a few tips I think
work for everyone:
* Don't use the default F1-F8 (and more in LoD) Function keys: those are too
far away from your natural position (which is near the space bar for cleaning
screen, Alt to check items, and Shift to stand still and shoot).
* Keep a Hotkey handy for Town Portal. Trust me on this.
* Try to have as many common Hotkeys as possible between your various
characters. This way, you will start developing an instinct for switching
offensive/defensive skills
* I generally use only one skill on the Left Mouse Button (LMB), and keep all
my other skills on the Right Mouse Button (RMB). I usually choose GA or Ice
Arrow for a good LMB attack.
* Practice, practice, practice. Once you get a setup you are comfortable with,
stick with it on as many characters as you can.
* My usual bowazon setup is made of two parts: the first part is accessed by
the Z, X, C, V keys, and consists of Offensive skills (Strafe, FA,
Immolation...), which vary from character to character. The second part is
accessed with the A, S, D and F keys, and is always the following defensive
sequence: A = Slow Missiles, S = Decoy, D = Valkyrie, F = Town Portal. Thus,
all my skills are available without moving my left hand, which saved my
bowazons' lives more times than I can remember. Such a setup makes casting a FA
round followed by a Valk and a Decoy before returning to MS or Strafe for the
killing a very easy feat to perform.

2) Hirelings

    Hirelings, or Mercs are an excellent, and quite overpowered feature of LoD.
Back in CD2, mercs were usually cannon fodder for act bosses (many, many Act 2
mercenaries died at the end of Duriel in those dark days).

    Mercs come in 4 varieties:
* The Act 1 Rogues. Those are not that useful for a bowazon, because the weak
ranged attack they sport cannot match the versatility of a bowazon's arsenal.
The only interesting part with them (for a bowazon, anyway) is the intriguing
bug/feature/Easter Egg that can be obtained by stacking items giving bonuses to
skills (either generic +skills or +amazon skills only) on them: after +3, this
changes their attack in the most drastic ways. For example, stacking +3 to all
skills on a Rogue Merc will give her a short range but extremely powerful
Lightning Attack. Rogues have good AI, and try to avoid close fights, meaning
they survive pretty well.
* The A2 Desert Guards. The best mercs in LoD, period. Those guy can use
Polearms and Spears, and get both the Amazon Jab skill as well as one Paladin
aura. This aura depends on the difficulty the Merc was hired (Normal and Hell
give the same auras, Nightmare is different), as well as on his type (there are
3 different Desert Guard types: Offensive, Defensive, and Combat).
Combat/Normal or Hell gives the Prayer aura (which replenishes life), not very
useful to a bowazon, unless you are low on life leech, or already planning to
use many Life Regen items (think mageazon). Combat/Nightmare give Thorns
(returns damage taken), not useful either as you don't want to get hit anyway.
Defense/Normal or Hell is Defiance, which boosts your Defense Rating (yoopie !
another useless property for a bowie !). Defense/Nightmare is much better,
giving Holy Freeze (slows down all enemies, even Cold Immunes). Offense/Normal
or Hell give Blessed Aim (large AR increase), which is nice but not great, as
AR is generally not a problem for SC bowazons. The last and best merc is
Offense/Nightmare, giving the incredibly powerful Might Aura, for a very large
Damage boost. Probably the best choice for a bowazon. Keeping your Desert Guard
alive is hard, as he tends to throw himself in the middle of enemy packs, but
it's worth the effort.
* Act 3 Ironwolves are weak mages, casting spells in one of the 3 different
elements: Fire, Cold, or Lightning. While they could potentially be useful if
you were starved of elemental damage, the fact is that their spells are not
very powerful, and that those hirelings die somewhat easily when challenged
(because of lack of leech and low life amount, although their AI keeps them out
of trouble most of time). There are expert bowazons who like them a lot
(especially the Ice variety) because they are quite easy to level as they
generally stay out of melee range and can catch monsters you missed easily, so
as always you may want to try them first hand.
* Act 5 Barbarians are very good tanks, and as such would be very useful if you
didn't have a Valk. The nice damage they can provide is usuall not worth giving
up a Might Merc.

    As mercenaries require much cash to resurrect, training (leveling) them and
equipping them well is mandatory if you don't want to find yourself broke
because of resurrection costs very quickly. On the other hand, you don't want
to spend all your trading resources on equipping your mercenary so here are a
few very low price items that will greatly help you keeping your best bud
alive:
* Tal's Fugly. Since mercenaries graphics do not change when you equip them,
the only balancing factor of Tal's Fugly Mask (its ugliness) is gone. While
mercs don't need mana leech, there is still life leech, resist all, and a huge
life boost. This one is one of the best choices if not the best choice, and
people generally give those away.
* Crown of Thieves: huge life leech here, so it's obviously very helpful. The
rest of the stats aren't bad either.
* Spirit Shroud: +1 to all skills and Cannot be Frozen are the 2 best mods
here.
* Duriel's Shell: the best affordable merc armor (I'm not talking Shaftstop or
Arkaine's Valor for mercs here), with high resists, a nice Str boost, Cannot be
Frozen, scaling defense and life. An etheral one comes into the range of elite
armor easily.
* Honor Runeword melee weapons: Amn+El+Ith+Tir+Sol. All runes are very easy to
find, and the runeword bonuses are nothing to scoff at: good damage, +1 to all
skills, life leech... I generally put this in etheral weapons, since merc's
equipment never loses durability. For your Act2 mercs, a little trick: when
socketed at Lazruk with a quest reward, all weapons of the following types
automatically gain 5 sockets: Treshers, Mancatchers, Cryptic Axes.
* Cliffkiller: for a Rogue Hireling, this is an excellent and very low-price
weapon, with +2 to skills, Knockback, nice damage, and some life boost.

    To level your mercenary easily, the Halls of Pain are an excellent place to
go. If you have a high Cold duration, and advance carefully, then leveling your
Merc in the Cow Level is another excellent solution.
    Kung-Fu Master WuTangYang has an excellent tip for leveling your bowazon :
for him, until you reach level 80 or so, it is better to go with a Blessed Aim
Merc, because the extra AR will make it easier for you to hit monsters. Once
the level gap is reduced, you can switch to a Might merc and level him from the
scratch.

3) Trading

    Doh, welcome to the bad part of D2. While trading should have been an
enjoyable part of the game, the fact is that even the MtG craze is nothing,
nothing at all when compared to what goes on the D2 trading scene.
* Duping. The duplication of items (either using in-game bugs or using external
hacking programs) is a speciality of D2. There are some dupe detectors running
on the Realms, so the nice elite unique you traded a lot for may simply
disappear, leaving you naked.
* Hacking: between bugged/morphed items, "Ith" items (runewords with their
runes removed and replaced by (duped) powerful jewels and/or runes) but still
keeping the huge runeword bonuses, and other monstruosities, the hackers are
running with gear able to remove the whole Lut Gholein city from the face of
Sanctuary in a heartbeat. Never trade for a hacked/bugged item, and this for
two reasons. First, it ruins the game both for you and for the others, and
second those items may very well disappear if Blizzard decides to deal with
them one day.
* Bots: automated programs doing either merchants shopping ("Shopbot") or boss
runs ("Pindlebot") are also responsible for a good part of the current state of
the "jokeonomy". While items obtained with such programs are considered "legit"
by the servers (ie they won't disappear on you), truly legit players frown upon
the practice of having a program do your MF for yourself.
* Ebay: while selling or buying in-game items for real world money is something
that should be left to each player's consciousness, the fact is that the appeal
of quick and easy money is a huge incentive for the industry of hackers.
* Scammers: "a sucker is borned every minute". Well, there are tons of people
in the various trading channels which are ready to take advantage of the good
faith of other traders. Those low-life punks have a variety of tricks up their
sleeves to get your items without giving what they promised in exchange.

    Now that this rant is out of the way, here are a few tips for beginner
traders.
* Good places to trade are the various Trade Channels in Battle.net (dangerous
because of the huge amount of scams and duped/bugged items), the DiabloII.net
marketplace (http://market.diabloii.net), or the forums of some sites
(http://www.diabloii.net has some good trading forums). While the best deals
are often done on the Trade channels, starting trading on a forum/marketplace
is probably best for beginners, as they can get a feel for the various values,
and run much less risk of encountering a scammer.
* Caveat Emptor. "Buyer Beware !" is a very, very true saying in D2. As a rule
of thumb, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. The most
incredible deals either turn out to be elaborate scam attempts, or someone
giving duped items. While botting has made the costs incredibly low, there are
still some resources that are very expensive, and seeing those for low prices
is generally the trademark of a scammer. Also do remember that many high-end
items are duped and may disappear at any time.
* The Stone of Jordan or SoJ. This is the de facto currency on the Realms. You
can convert items to SoJ (depending on the value of those items, there are very
few items worth several SoJs, most of them being Elite uniques), and you can
later "buy" items using SoJs.
* To get some good "starting" stuff (the quotes are there because some of this
"starting" stuff is indeed end-game gear), do not bother with MFing (hard
without specialized items anyway): try to gather some crafting materials
(perfect gems, runes, bad jewels...). Many high-end players do tons of MFing
and crafting, and will be very happy to trade some of their gear for a good
supply of crafting materials. The same is true for chipped gems, which can be
used to transmute swords into the Horadric Cube. Gems are literally all over
the place in LoD, so they make a great source of income. Depending on the
current rate, you may even get one SoJ for a full inventory of gems. Finding
gems takes some time, but is a guaranteed source of income. MFing may have
better rewards, but is never guaranteed. You can think of gathering gems and
crafting supplies as working, while MFing is playing the lottery.

4) FAQs

FAQs are asked frequently. Get over it. (from the Laws of Usenet)

    Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions seen often on the AB Bowazon
forum.

Q: Which is better, Multishot or Strafe ?

A: Which is better, the Fork or the Spoon ? Seriously, both skills are so
different the answer is really evident:it depends.. Generally, you should use
both. Use MS for medium-density crowds coming from a single direction
(high-density crowds should get FA if you have it at a good level), and use
Strafe for scattered targets coming from various directions. MS deals less
damage per target, but is fired at once, while Strafe will be more efficient
for small packs, because each arrow will deal more damage. Both work well with
Pierce, and require an AR check.

Q: What should I socket my [Insert Bow Name] with ?

A: At first, check IAS breakpoints. When socketing a bow (a definitive action,
so I understand your concern), the first thing to do should be to check the
various IAS breakpoints for this class of weapon, and compare to the amount of
IAS you have in your gear. If you are near a breakpoint, then a Jewel of Fervor
(15% IAS, better with another mod) or a Shael rune (20% IAS) are probably what
gives you the best bang for your buck, as jumping an IAS breakpoint translates
into better damage over time, better crowd control, and increased safety. This
is very true even for non-speedazons. If you are already satisfied with your
current speed, pay attention to the fallacious lure of Enhanced Damage jewels
and Ohm rune: Enhanced Damage when socketed on a weapon adds to the base
damage. So while socketing your Windforce or Buriza with an Ohm rune, the extra
damage gained (50% of 10-68 for example when Ohming a WF only makes 5-34 extra
damage, quite pitiful when compared to the hundreds of damage points a
Windforce does at high levels). Adding a Crowd Control effect (Cham, Sur,
Nef...) is a good option, but keep in mind that Freeze doesn't work that well
on bows, that Blinds override other curses, and that sometimes you would be
better without Knockback (when partied).

Q: Please rate my bow ! I can't kill anything with this damn bow !

A: I can't rate your bow. The trade values are always changing, so any advice
given here would be obsolete by the time this guide actually goes published.
About the efficiency of your bow, you should evaluate it in your strategy. If
you find yourself lacking mana leech to power-up your high level skills, then
perhaps a bow with less skills but more physical damage or extra mana leech
would work better ? If monsters always manage to engage you at close range,
perhaps a faster bow would help you ? If you don't seem to be able to kill the
monsters, but can't afford a more damaging bow, perhaps you should try to
improve your style, and learn to work with other skills ?


Q: How does this Speed thing works again ?

A: This is quite simple. You have to remember that your speed comes from both
the inner speed of your weapon (i.e. its base type), and from the various IAS
modifiers (on the weapon, with a Shael rune, with specific items, Fervor
jewels...). The IAS modifiers are subject to heavy diminishing returns, which
means that reaching the same speed as a fast bow with a slower bow will require
higher and higher amounts of IAS, or will even be impossible. For example, with
a -10 Base Bow (the fastest bows), you will need 75 IAS on your items to reach
8/2, while a 10 Base Bow (the slowest bows) will require 142 IAS to reach the
same speed.

Q: What's this 8/2, 10/3 thing ?

A: This is the standard speed notation. This notation was introduced by
DoubleTrouble a long time ago. The first number refers to the number of frames
(Diablo2 uses 25 frames per seconds, although your graphical engine may run
faster or slower) between 2 normal attacks (or between 2 attacks using anything
but Strafe). The second number is the number of frames between 2 successive
arrows (except the first one, which is fired at normal attack speed) when using
the Strafe skill. Thus, a bow running at 9/2 for example will have 9 frames
between 2 normal attacks (or MS, FA...), and 2 frames for the 2nd to 10th
arrows in a Strafe round.

5) Links

    Please note that due to the nature of the Internet, those links may or may
not be outdated. Future revisions of the guide will try to keep this list
up-to-date.

* http://www.diabloii.net: a very good starting point. Lots of strategy guides
(even if some of them aren't that accurate), many news, and tons of sections
dedicated to items, skills, classes...
* http://www.theamazonbasin.com/d2: contrary to what the name should imply, the
Amazon Basin actually deals with all classes. This is the place where you will
get the best information about bowazons, as well as some very friendly people
to play with.
* http://www.lurkerlounge.com/diablo2/: another excellent D2 resource, the
Lurker Lounge is where you will probably get the best information about the
inner mechanics of the game. Many people there are dedicated to understanding
how the game works, and will provide the best technical expertise.
* http://www.planetdiablo.com/library/: an excellent site dedicated only to
items (and mostly to sets and unique items), the Horadrim Library features
comprehensive descriptions of many items described quickly in this guide.
* http://www.battle.net/diablo2exp/: the Arreat Summit is the official Blizzard
resource site to D2X. If you need information about a skill, an unique item, or
the XP needed for reaching a certain level, then it is a safe bet.
* http://www.theamazonbasin.com/~ak404/: the ultimate bowazon resource out
there. Everything is written down in this guide, and the unmatched writing
sk1lLZ of the author make it a very entertaining read. The other links were
recommended, this one should be mandatory for any aspiring bowazon.
* http://www.cs.hmc.edu/~cbradfor/diablo2/skills.html: Chippydip's LoD skills
calculator is a very handy resource, allowing you to easily plan your skill
points allocation.
* http://www.knittingdragon.com/games/d2/bowbible/: ZenDragon's LoD Bow Bible
is an excellent site with lots of mathematical data about bows and speed. The
site features very accurate and easy to understand graphics of various speeds
for different types of bows. Definitely a must-read for aspiring speedazons.

6) Credits

    I think I should thank AK404 first and foremost, for being the main
contributor to the bowazon science on Battle.net, as well as for being both an
incredibly talented writer with an excellent sense of humor, and a damn good
and damn fun person to play with.

    Thanks to DoubleTrouble, both for bringing the speedazon out of infancy, as
well as for being our not-so-silent consciousness when LoD arrived.

    Thanks to ZenDragon for his incredible Bow Bible, and for herding the cats.

    Thanks to TPJ for building the damn best D2 guild on the Internet. Nuff
said.

    Thanks to Sadira for continuing TPJ's hard work.

    Thanks to Vehementi for starting the path with his "Bowazon 101"

    Thanks to the Lurker Lounge gurus for their dedication to explaining us the
finest details of the game (Blizzard should really hire you, guys), and for
pushing the boundaries of character building every day: Bolty, Trucidation,
Jarulf, Spirea, Sirian, Elric of Grans...

    Thanks to the DiabloII.net team for the hard work they put into their site,
and for bringing us the marketplace.

    Thanks to Bartek of the Horadrim Library, for a very well made site, both
in content, layout, and ideas.

    Thanks of course to the contributors of the Amazon Basin (Evap, Chevalis,
Kevinsteele, SiegZon, FrigidWoman, Botdude, Zitta, IceMage, Loki, Oprah,
HazedHaze, Shadguy, WuTangYang... and all the others), for listening to my
endless rants and silly ideas since nearly two years now. Yoo Foo Foo !

    Thanks to the tons of brainless cow-killing Damage Reduction/Buriza do
Kyanon amazons on Battle.net for helping me feel better every time I enter a
public game ("BUT IT OWNZ USE AMA !!!"). Special thanks to all the people who
took from their precious time to explain me my vamp or dinozon "sUx0r3d" and
that I should use a "r3Al b0W", while I was outkilling them two monsters for
every one they killed.

7) Legal Stuff

    All trademarks quoted into this document are property of their respective
owners (Blizzard Corporation mostly).

    This guide can only be found on the Amazon Basin Diablo2 guild site, on my
personal Amazon Basin web page, and on one of the following sites if they chose
to publish it: DiabloII.net, Gamefaqs, LurkerLounge, Horadrim Library. If you
see this guide or excerpts of this guide anywhere else, please contact me at
corwinbrute@theamazonbasin.com.

    If you are interested in hosting this guide, please contact me through
email. All content of this guide is copyrighted by me. You may use it or print
it for personal use only, and may not add any part of this guide to your own
site/Diablo2 guide without receiving written or email permission from me.

8) Versions

1.0: first release of the guide
1.1: (01/24/2003): correction of a variety of typos/misconceptions after
proofreading from the AB Bowazon crowd
1.2: (02/08/2003): Some more proofreading, lots of thanks to WuTangYang for
helping with all the spelling mistakes. Addition of the "Try it for yourself"
items modifier section.