Diablo II: Lord of Destruction v1.11
Commander Necro Guide v1.4

by Ishaan Sahdev

==================
Version History
==================

v1.4 Started Nightmare Boss Strategies, and wrote about Andariel and Duriel.

v1.3 Added Fire Golem and Decrepify to the Skills section. Removed Amplify
Damage. Thanks to Jehutysgurl. Added Credits section.

v1.2 Added runeword SANCTUARY.

v1.1 Added Necromancer runeword "Bone" to the Equipment section. Added a little
more detail to the kills and Merc section. Also added the "Boss strategies"
section with strategies outlined to defeat the act bosses in Normal.

v1.0 Started the guide, and finished touching upon all sections.


CONTENTS
---------

1. A brief introduction to the Commander Necro
2. Stat distribution
3. Skill Distribution and Discussion
4. Equipment
5. Mercenary
6. Boss strategies
7. Contact information
8. Credits

============================================
1.  A brief introduction to the Commander Necro
============================================

Okay first off, this isn't meant to be a complete analytical guide detailing
every single aspect of the Necromancer and developing his abilities. It's more
a compilation of my observations during my gameplay as a Commander Necro.

The reason we call this build the commander Necro, is that it involves handling
a moderately sized army, which is useful for offense as well as defense. This
isn't one of those Golemancer builds which involves developing your hireling
and your Golem and ignoring all your summons, and neither is it a Skelemancer,
where you pump your Skellies and Mages to the max and have like 40 tanks at a
time. If you're using this build, you'll end up taking advantage of all your
summons.

Also, this build calls for tactical decisions from time to time. For instance,
there will be times when you will just unsummon all your skeletons and only let
your golem and hireling do all the work, or times when you think mages are in
order and anything else would just make things harder. Moving/Cycling your
minions around is an important part of strategy.

And finally, the Commander Necro involves finding the right balance between
your skills, stats and items. If
you manage to do that, you'll end up with an overall powerful character and
wouldn't have wasted any skill points. More on this in the skills section.


==============================================
2.  Stat Distribution
==============================================

To put it simply:

Strength: Around 100 to 105. Trang-Oul's helm takes 106 strength, so if you
plan on using that, put points into this stat accordingly. However, I doubt
most of you will find Trang-Oul's set that easily, so if you're willing to
settle for cheaper yet formidable items, keep your strength around 90.

Dexterity: Pretty much useless if you have a good army at your service, but
just to be safe, put a few points into it in Hell difficulty. Not too many
though...a block rate around 20-25% should suffice.

Vitality: Pump it up. Thats all I can say. Every single point you can possibly
spare should go into Vitality. I won't specify how many. Suffice it to say, the
more the better.

Energy: Base. There are plenty of mana boosting items in the game later anyway.
Also, your summoning skills are the only ones that really take up any mana. The
mana cost for Amplify Damage is negligible. And besides, all through the game,
mana potions are availble in abundance while killing monsters. If you find
you're REALLY having problems, even after level 15 or 16 or so, put 7 or 8
points into this stat, but not more.


===============================================
3.  Skill Distribution and Discussion
===============================================

Like I said earlier, this isn't a detailed guide, so I'm only going to be
listing the skills that you'll be using here. Feel free to experiment with
different variants of the build though...you never know, there might be some
skills I've overlooked that would be better suited for the Commander Necro.

a. Raise Skeleton: Max it. Skeletons will be your main damage dealers, and
also, their habit of crowding around monsters and making it hard for them to
move comes in very handy. They move fast, have a decent number of hitpoints,
and can dish out loads of damage. Also, skeletons seem to have high dexterity,
as I've never quite seen one miss. Since the 1.10 patch, skeletons have gained
the respect of a lot of Necromancer players.

b. Raise Skeletal Mage: 3 points here. Yea, that's right. Just 3. The Commander
Necro relies heavily on +skill items, so by the end of it all, you should have
around 7 or 8 mages, which is more than enough. Also, Skeleton Mastery affects
both Skeletons and Mages, so your mages will turn out quite strong. Mages are
especially useful for fights against bosses or uniques. I found defeating
Diablo to be much much easier with 3 cold mages added to my army.

c. Skeleton Mastery: Max it. This affects your skeletons, mages and revives as
well, so needless to say, maxing this skill is of utmost importance.

d. Iron Golem: Put 15 points into this skill. With all the +skill equipment
you'll have later, this skill will end up getting max points, and most of the
time, even above that! Don't expect the Iron Golem to perform as well as your
skeletons though. They seem to end up missing their target quite a few times,
and even the damage done isn't significant when compared to skeletons. By using
the Iron Golem, it's like taking a sort of gamble. If you find a good item to
create them from, they'll likely make a difference in the long run. However, if
you find that you don't have much use for them, you might want to substitute
them for a Blood or a Fire golem.  Like I said, there's no need to pump up
every skill, if you know how to create a good balance between your skills and
your items.

e. Golem Mastery: 10 points here. It should reach around 15 points or more with
your +skill equipment. People might argue that it's good to max out golem
mastery, but the truth is, you won't be using your Golem as much as your
Skeletons, and even when you do use him, it's more for dishing out additional
damage than serving as a tank. As long as you find a nice item to create the
Iron Golem from, it's all good. Something with Cold Damage, Knockback, %chance
to cast Static field should do fine.

f. Revive: 10 points here as well. I'd suggest more, but the sad truth of the
matter is, revives are dumb as hell. Unless by some miracle of the heavens, you
find that your revives actually behave like they have some sense, don't put any
more points into this skill. Sure revives do good damage, but they suck as
tanks, and they suck at following you around. Often you'll notice your revives
disappearing from your side and walking in the opposite direction for no
apparent reason, while you and your skelllies get clobbered by hell's minions.
Why put points into this skill then, you say? Because, when I said revives do
good damage, I wasn't kidding. Some revives like Urdars, and Doom Knights do
great against bosses like Diablo and Baal. And the Skeleton Archers and Spear
cats from Lut Gholein rock when it comes to dealing damage.

Note: Good revives should either be able to do good damage, have a "stun"
ability, or do cold damage. These are the most useful attributes monsters    in
Diablo II have to offer.

g. Summon resist: 5 points here. And with your equips, again, this skill should
reach around 10 points or more. It's not all that important if you think about
it. After all, you'll always have enough corpses to raise new minions from if
your current ones get killed by elemental damage. Oh, and putting a few points
here in the start REALLY helps agains the lightning enchanted scarabs in Act 2.
Also, not to mention, there are a LOT of lightning enchanted baddies in
Nightmare and Hell.

h. Corpse Explosion: Another 10 points here. It'll reach 15 with the equips,
which is more than enough to deal out damage in a fairly large radius. You'll
notice a significant increase in the rate at which you dispose of crowds once
you start using CE.

Jehutysgurl also says that she found "Decrepify" to be a lot of help on bosses
and also stated that the Fire Golem works really well for her. I assume both
these do, infact, work well since I have used both skills myself extensively in
other Necromancer builds. I have replaced "Amplify Damage" in this section with
Decrepify. So, without further ado:

i. Fire Golem: Fire Golems do Fire damage and have their own Holy Fire aura.
They're very useful when faced with enemies that do Fire Damage. Fire Golems
have fire absorb, and heal from fire attacks that hit them. Also, when a Fire
Golem dies, or a cast the spell again, your current Golem goes up in an
explosion of flames that damages enemies within melee range of the Golem.
Very useful, and the damage dealt is considerabely high. Use this is place of
Iron Golem if you think it works better for you. A point to note is that the
Fire Golem doesn't require an item for you to create it.

j. Decrepify: Works extremely well against bosses, and other monsters as well.
It combines the effects of Amplify Damage, Weaken and decreases the targets'
speed. Very very useful......it's definitely a must use. Just put a couple of
points in Amplify Damage to last you until you hit level 30, then switch to
this. Put 5 points into this skill, and with your equipment, it should go up to
about 10 or 12 atleast. That's more than enough to last you through the entire
game, Nightmare and Hell included.

As stated before, finding the right balance between items and skills is very
important, and I've found the above mentioned skill distrbution to work very
well for me. At first, the Necro will seem extremely weak to a lot of you, but
trust me, by the time you reach level 30, you'll find a significant change in
his crowd control abilities. In this aspect, the Necromancer isn't too
different from the Sorceress, who also starts out really weak and has huge mana
problems until she reaches level 15 or so.

Also, like I said, this skill point distribution isn't necessarily the best.
You might want to alter a few things. Like, sacrificing points in Decrepify,
and putting them in Summon Resist, or putting the extra points into Lower
Resists.


===============================================
4.  Equipment
===============================================

Okay, in this section, i'll outline some of the equipment your Neccy should
definitely wear. Don't worry, I'm not about to go around suggesting the
Homunculus, or Trang Oul's grand set of pwning and stuff. Those are virtually
impossible to come across, unless you have lots of time, patience and l33t
trading skillz.

Nope, what you'll see here are items that are relatively easier to obtain. And
they depend mostly on one thing.

Runewords.
These are available throughout the game and the ones listed here are relatively
easier to find than entire item sets and/or a specific set of unique items.
Also, if you ever use Battle.net (Open or Closed, doesn't matter which), there
are runewords floating around everywhere in trade games. Beware of Open Bnet
though...the number of haxored items is overwhelming.

So, lets get on with the item descriptions, copied and pasted straight from
Blizzard's very own Arreat Summit, and coupled with my own grand insights into
the pros and cons!

Helm
----

LORE
2 Socket Helms: Ort + Sol
+1 To All Skill Levels
+10 To Energy
+2 To Mana After Each Kill
Lightning Resist +30%
Damage Reduced By 7
+2 To Light Radius

+1 to all skills, 30% lightning resist and +10 to energy? What's not to like?
This helm will stay with you throughout the game. A word of advice though; once
you find a better helm than the one you have in the initial stages of
development, put Ort+Sol into that and replace your old Lore Helm with the new
one. There's no need for this before mid-Nightmare though.

DELIRIUM
3 Socket Helms
Lem + Ist + Io
1% Chance To Cast Level 50 Delirium* (morph) When Struck
6% Chance To Cast Level 14 Mind Blast When Struck
14% Chance To Cast Level 13 Terror When Struck
11% Chance To Cast Level 18 Confuse On Striking
+2 To All Skills
+261 Defense
+10 To Vitality
50% Extra Gold From Monsters
25% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Level 17 Attract (60 Charges)

Best helm you could use in my opinion. Though it would do better on a Merc in
my opinion. Ofcourse, the +2 to all skills makes that highly debatable.

*Delirium: this ability morphs your character into a Bone Fetish for a period
of about 1 minute. You can also do normal attacks in the form of a headbutt.

Bone Fetish (Undead)
Undead Flayer, Undead Soul Killer, Undead Stygian Doll
Although the fetish Shaman has the power to bring back fallen Fetish from the
grave, not every casting of this spell returns them as their former selves.
Corpses that are too old to be fully restored often rise again as undead shades
of the Fetish. While still useful, the form of a Bone Fetish is also quite
unstable, causing it to explode violently when destroyed.


Shield
-----

RHYME
2 Socket Shields
Shael + Eth
20% Increased Chance of Blocking
40% Faster Block Rate
All Resistances +25
Regenerate Mana 15%
Cannot Be Frozen
50% Extra Gold From Monsters
25% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items

Another item that you'll want to keep with you throughout the game because of
the +25% to resistances and the "Cannot be frozen" attributes. And ofcourse,
there's the 25% to magic find. :)
Once again, once you get a better socketed shield in Nightmare or Hell, make a
new RHYME shield to replace your old one.


SPLENDOR
2 Socket Shields
Eth + Lum
+1 To All Skills
+10% Faster Cast Rate
+20% Faster Block Rate
+60-100% Enhanced Defense (varies)
+10 To Energy
Regenerate Mana 15%
50% Extra Gold From Monsters
20% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
+3 To Light Radius

This is another shield you might want to consider. However, considering how
hard it is to find Lum runes, and also the lack of resists in the shield, RHYME
might be better in the long run. The enhanced defense and +1 to all skills is
really tempting though.


SANCTUARY
3 Socket Shields
Ko + Ko + Mal
+20% Faster Hit Recovery
+20% Faster Block Rate
20% Increased Chance of Blocking
+130-160% Enhanced Defense (varies)
+250 Defense vs. Missile
+20 To Dexterity
All Resistances +50-70 (varies)
Magic Damage Reduced By 7
Level 12 Slow Missiles (60 Charges)

One of the nicest shields you could make in my opinion. The resistances are a
big help, and even though there's no Magic Find, it's well made up for with the
increased block rate, and the points in dexterity. Also, the enhanced defense,
especially defense vs missiles rocks.


Armor
-----

PRUDENCE
2 Socket Body Armor
Mal + Tir
+25% Faster Hit Recovery
+140-170% Enhanced Defense (varies)
All Resistances +25-35 (varies)
Damage Reduced by 3
Magic Damage Reduced by 17
+2 To Mana After Each Kill
+1 To Light Radius
Repairs Durability In 4 Seconds

A nice armor for characters till Mid-Nightmare. It helps to have the additional
resists and the enhanced defense. Also, the self repair attribute may not be
important, but it'll save you a lot of money. Because, there will be times that
bosses get hard to handle, and the cost of resurrecting your hireling isn't
exactly small. More on this in the "Mercenary" section.


ENIGMA
3 Socket Body Armor
Jah + Ith + Ber
+2 To All Skills
+45% Faster Run/Walk
+1 To Teleport
+750-775 Defense (varies)
+ (0.75 Per Character Level) +0-74 To Strength (Based On Character Level)
Increase Maximum Life 5%
Damage Reduced By 8%
+14 Life After Each Kill
15% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
+ (1 Per Character Level) +1-99% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items (Based On
Character Level)

Now, this is the real deal! +2 to all skills, muchos enhanced defense, AND
amazing magic find. This is the shit.
Seriously, I have a VERY hard time choosing between this armor and the one I
usually wear (Chains of Honour). This is just amazing for Baal runs, when
you're looking for items. Seriously, it rocks. The runes are a bit hard to
find, but it's definitely worth getting them. Also, the additional strength
helps a hell of a lot if you want to wear Trang Oul's helm in place of the LORE
helm.


BONE (Necromancer only)
3 Socket Body Armor
Sol + Um + Um
15% Chance To Cast level 10 Bone Armor When Struck
15% Chance To Cast level 10 Bone Spear On Striking
+2 To Necromancer Skill Levels
+100-150 To Mana (varies)
All Resistances +30
Damage Reduced By 7

With the release of the 1.11 patch, specific runewords were made for each of
the classes. This one isn't hard to put together, and it has some very useful
attributes such as +30 to all resistances, +2 to all skills and also, the
tremendous increase in mana. Very good for players in late-Nightmare, but
you'll probably want something with better resists in hell. Also, the absence
of Magic Find would put players off.


CHAINS OF HONOUR
4 Socket Body Armor
Dol + Um + Ber + Ist
+2 To All Skills
+200% Damage To Demons
+100% Damage To Undead
8% Life Stolen Per Hit
+70% Enhanced Defense
+20 To Strength
Replenish Life +7
All Resistances +65
Damage Reduced By 8%
25% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Another amazing armor. Chains of Honour has lower defense than Enigma, but the
resists more than make up for that. In Hell, where your resists are cut down by
like a 100 points, Chains of Honour really helps get your resistances back in
order. It also gives +20 to strength, which again is invaluable for a
Necromancer who has better items to wear. Again, this points mainly at helms
like the Harlequin Crest.


Weapons
-------

GRAVENSPINE
Bone Wand
One-Hand Damage: 3 To 7 (5 Avg)
Required Level: 20
Durability: 15
Base Weapon Speed: [-20]
+50% Damage To Undead
+2 To Necromancer Skill Levels
Adds 4-8 Cold Damage, Cold Duration: 3 seconds
5% Mana Stolen Per Hit
+25-50 Mana(varies)
+10 To Dexterity
+10 To Strength

A very useful toy for the Necromancer, especially taking into considering the
+2 to skills. If there's a better unique than this, it's the Blackhand Key.

BLACKHAND KEY
Grave Wand
One-Hand Damage: 13 To 29 (21 Avg)
Required Level: 41
Required Strength: 25
Durability: 15
Base Weapon Speed: [0]
+50% Damage To Undead
+2 To Necromancer Skill Levels
+1 To Curses (Necromancer Only)
20% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
30% Faster Cast Rate
Fire Resist +37%
+50 To Life
Level 13 Grim Ward (30 Charges)
-2 To Light Radius

An amazing weapon that gives +2 to skills, another +1 to curses. The additional
fire resistance really helps, especially in Acts 3 and 4 where a lot of
monsters do fire damage. The faster cast rate also helps the Necromancer cast
his curses faster, and makes it possible to recreate you entire army in a
matter of a few seconds if you need to. Definitely worth using if you happen to
come across one.


HEART OF THE OAK
4 Socket Staves/Maces
Ko + Vex + Pul + Thul +3 To All Skills
+40% Faster Cast Rate
+75% Damage To Demons
+100 To Attack Rating Against Demons
Adds 3-14 Cold Damage, 3 sec. Duration (Normal)
7% Mana Stolen Per Hit
+10 To Dexterity
Replenish Life +20
Increase Maximum Mana 15%
All Resistances +30-40 (varies)
Level 4 Oak Sage (25 Charges)
Level 14 Raven (60 Charges)
+50% Damage To Undead

*By maces, it means Morning stars, Maces or Flails. As far as I know, flails
are the only mace class weapons that can hold 4 or more sockets.

By far the best weapon you could hope for, apart from The arm of King Leoric,
which is bloody impossible to find. +3 to all skills, and 40% faster cast rate.
Needless to say, the resistances help a lot. But that's not the reason I like
this armor. My main reason for using this is the Oak Sage. Sure, its just level
4, but it's still a lot of help when it comes to keeping your army alive.
Especially since most Necromancers would change from using Prayer Mercs to
Might Mercs in Nightmare, the Oak Sage is a welcome skill. The ravens aren't
all that great, but they do help with bosses and generally add to the chaos
while dealing with large crowds. :)


Other items
---------

Gloves
-----

CHANCE GUARDS
Chain Gloves
Defense: 27-28 (varies)(Base Defense: 8-9)
Required Level: 15
Required Strength: 25
Durability: 16
+20-30% Enhanced Defense (varies)
+15 Defense
+25 To Attack Rating
25-40% Better Chance of Getting Magic Item (varies)
200% Extra Gold From Monsters
+2 To Light Radius

200% extra gold, and 25-40% better MF. What's not to like? The enhanced defense
and +2 to light radius are nice too. AND it's not very hard to find at all. :)


FROSTBURN
Gauntlets
Defense: 47-49 (varies)(Base Defense: 12-15)
Required Level: 29
Required Strength: 60
Durability: 24
+10-20% Enhanced Defense (varies)
+30 Defense
+5% Enhanced Damage
Maximum Mana 40%
Adds 1-6 Cold Damage, Cold Duration: 2 Seconds

Some prefer these because of the 40% Maximum Mana, but since I love Magic Find,
I prefer the Chance Guards. Also, Frostburns are harder to find.


Boots
----

GOREFOOT
Heavy Boots
Defense: 20-21 (varies)(Base Defense: 5-6)
Required Level: 9
Required Strength: 18
Durability: 14
Assassin Kick Damage: 4-10
+20-30% Enhanced Defense (varies)
20% Faster Run/Walk
2% Mana Stolen Per Hit
Attacker Takes Damage of 2
+12 Defense
+2 To Leap (Barbarian Only)

Sure, they aren't all that great. But honestly, I like the 20% faster walk, and
they're REALLY easy to find. I've had these dropped by monsters loads of times!


GOBLIN TOE
Light plated boots
Defense: 33-34 (varies)(Base Defense: 9-11)
Required Level: 22
Required Strength: 50
Durability: 18
Assassin Kick Damage: 8-16
+50-60% Enhanced Defense (varies)
25% Chance of a Crushing Blow
-1 To Light Radius
Damage Reduced By 1
Magic Damage Reduced By 1
+15 Defense

Again, not amazing boots, but not hard to find. I've seen them being dropped
twice in Normal so far.


SILKWEAVE
Mesh Boots
Defense: 112-130 (varies)(Base Defense: 37-44)
Required Level: 36
Required Strength: 65
Durability: 16
Assassin Kick Damage: 23-52
+150-190% Enhanced Defense (varies)
30% Faster Run/Walk
+5 To Mana After Each Kill
Increase Maximum Mana 10%
+200 Defense VS. Missile

Note that none of these boots are outstanding or anything. Like I said, this is
a build which focuses on items that can actually be obtained with relative ease.


Amulet
------

THE EYE OF ETLICH
Required Level: 15
+1-5 To Light Radius (varies)
+1 To All Skill Levels
3-7% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies)
Adds (1-2) to (3-5) Cold Damage (varies)
Cold Duration: 2-10 Seconds (varies)
+10-40 Defense vs. Missile (varies)

+1 to all skills, additional light radius, and some missile defense. Sounds
good to me. Also, this amulet is pretty easily available on Nightmare. It's the
one i'm currently using. If you use an amulet other than this, it'll be the one
below.


MARA'S KALEIDOSCOPE
Required Level: 67
+2 To All Skill Levels
All Resistances +20-30 (varies)
+5 To All Attributes

Hard to find, but well worth the hunt. I haven't actually found it myself yet,
but it sounds like it would do wonders for the build.


Rings
----

Don't expect to see SOJs listed here. It's virtually impossible to find those,
and even if someone on Battle.net has one, I very much doubt he or she would
want to part with it.


MANALD HEAL
Required Level: 15
4-7% Mana Stolen Per Hit (varies)
Replenish Life +5-8 (varies)
Regenerate Mana 20%
+20 To Life

For the lower level characters, the mana regeneration comes in handy. And the
additional life is nice too.


BUL-KATHOS' WEDDING BAND
Required Level: 58
+1 To All Skill Levels
+ (0.5 Per Character Level) 0-49 To Life (Based On Character Level)
3-5% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies)
+50 Maximum Stamina

The +1 to skills is ofcourse, very tempting, but this ring is a little hard to
find. Not as bad as SOJs though.

Apart from these, you'll come across plenty of Magic and Rare rings. Ideally,
something with +to skills, resistances, or magic find would be fine.


Belts
----

NIGHTSMOKE
Defense: 22-24 (varies)(Base Defense: 5)
Required Level: 20
Required Strength: 25
Durability: 16
12 Boxes
+30-50% Enhanced Defense (varies)
+15 Defense
50% Damage Taken Goes to Mana*
Damage Reduced By 2
All Resistances +10
+20 To Mana

Not bad for an item that should be available in Normal. I didn't actually find
this one...I traded for it on Bnet.


GOLDWRAP
Defense: 34-36 (varies)(Base Defense: 6)
Required Level: 27
Required Strength: 45
Durability: 18
12 Boxes
+40-60% Enhanced Defense (varies)
+25 Defense
10% Increased Attack Speed
30% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items
50-80% Extra Gold From Monsters (varies)
+2 To Light Radius

Amazing belt, which is available fairly easily. I got it during a Baal run in
Normal. The Magic Find rocks on this one.


===============================================
5.  Mercenary
===============================================

Needless to say, the Act 2 mercs with their auras work best for the
Necromancer. For Normal, you'll want a Combat Merc with Prayer. Since, in the
initial stages, your Skeleton Mastery isn't all that high, you'll find some
uniques dispose of your skeletons fairly easily. Especially if they're
lightning enchanted or cold enchanted. The Prayer Merc helps even the odds by
replenishing the life of you and your army.

For Nightmare and Hell however, you'll want to switch to a Merc with Thorns or
Might. Might really helps your minions pack a punch. And also, if you've
assembled the HEART OF THE OAK runeword by then, you won't need Prayer anymore,
since you'll have an Oak Sage. A word of advice though; Act 2 mercs are dumb as
hell and just don't know when to back off or run. After playing a Sorceress
with a Rogue sister hireling for so long, it took me a while to get used to
watching out for my mercs while playing as the Necromancer.

There will be times you have to retreat yourself so that the bugger follows you
and hopefully manages to save his own life in the process. Keep Rejuvination
potions handy in your belt. Chances are, you won't need them very often with so
many minions, but your Merc will. Especially in boss fights.

While fighting a crowd, it's best to let your Merc take the lead if he isn't
taking too much of a beating. He does tremendous damage if given the right
weapon, and sometimes, in places where it's hard to walk with so many minions,
I just call off my skellies and use just the Iron golem and the Merc.

Needless to say, good equps help keep the Mercs alive and more importantly,
increase the damage they deal. So, Merc equipment is just as important as your
own. I suggest giving them items with +to skills, open wounds, and life steal
if possible.

For armor, Chains of Honour or Enigma should do fine. If you can't afford
another, just give them Prudence. For the helm, you'll want to use Delirium
again. And last but not least, comes the weapon. I've got a couple of nice
runewords listed here for the Act 2 mercs.


MALICE
3 Socket Melee Weapons
Ith + El + Eth
+33% Enhanced Damage
+9 To Maximum Damage
100% Chance Of Open Wounds
-25% Target Defense
-100 To Monster Defense Per Hit
Prevent Monster Heal
+50 To Attack Rating
Drain Life -5

Very easy to make, and very nice for low level Mercs. It worked wonders for me
all throughout Normal. You'll have to replace it with something that packs a
bit more punch in Nighmare though.


CRESCENT MOON
3 Socket Axes/Swords/Polearms
Shael + Um + Tir
10% Chance To Cast Level 17 Chain Lightning On Striking
7% Chance To Cast Level 13 Static Field On Striking
+20% Increased Attack Speed
+180-220% Enhanced Damage (varies)
Ignore Target's Defense
-35% To Enemy Lightning Resistance
25% Chance of Open Wounds
+9-11 Magic Absorb (varies)
+2 To Mana After Each Kill
Level 18 Summon Spirit Wolf (30 Charges)

Hohoho. I love this. It's got style. Sometimes, I even give it to my
Necromancer to use, so he can call out Spirit wolves and have an even bigger
army! Seriously, this helps when you take on bosses. The Spirit wolves do good
damage and don't die easily. And ofcourse, it does amazingly well on a Merc.
10% chance to cast Chain lightning is very useful. Also, if you use Lightning
Skeletal Mages with this, they do decent damage when coupled with the chain
lightning. It helps a LOT in crowded areas. And ofcourse, open wounds and
Ignore target's defense are to die for. :)


DOOM
5 Socket Axes/Polearms/Hammers
Hel + Ohm + Um + Lo + Cham
5% Chance To Cast Level 18 Volcano On Striking
Level 12 Holy Freeze Aura When Equipped
+2 To All Skills
+45% Increased Attack Speed
+330-370% Enhanced Damage (varies)
-(40-60)% To Enemy Cold Resistance (varies)
20% Deadly Strike
25% Chance of Open Wounds
Prevent Monster Heal
Freezes Target +3
Requirements -20%

Needless to say, this looks REALLY promising. And if you can get Cold Skeletal
Mages, well, even better! The damage on this is tremendous. Not really needed
for Nightmare, but it would definitely make Hell easier.


============================================
8. Boss strategies
============================================

Here, I'll outline general strategies on how to defeat the end of act bosses in
Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. For now, I've just added the strategies for
norma, since I'm still experimenting different ways in Nightmare and Hell.
There will be an update with Nightmare and Hell added soon enough, so don't
worry on that count.

Normal
------

a. Andariel: Take on Andariel at around level 18 once you have your Blood Golem
and atleast 2 Skeletal Mages with you. Before you decide to go head to head
with her, confjure up 2 fire mages. By now, you should have around 5 or 6
Skeletons at your disposal, 2 mages and a Blood Golem. After clearing out
Catacombs level 4, step up to Andariel and she'll come after you. Sick your
skellies and golem on her, and keep casting Amplify Damage every few seconds.
Andariel is weak to fire, so the Fire Mages should be hurting her a bit too.
She'll swing her large arms around and poison your minions, but not to worry.
The Blood Golem regains health everytime he hits someone, and if his health is
full, then the life goes to the Necromancer instead. As for the skeletons, they
should be doing fine keeping her in one place and bashing the crap out of her.
This one's an easy kill. If you have a hard time with her, lure her out in the
second room on this level (the largest one), and use Corpse Explosion on all
the dead bodies. She'll go down in no time.

b. Duriel: Another relatively easy kill. Take him on at level 24 or 25, and
there should be no problems. 6 or 7 skeletons by now, and 3 mages would do
fine. Also, make sure you have atleast 5 points in Skeleton Mastery, and 1
point in Golem Mastery. You should also have a Prayer Merc by now with a decent
weapon. It doesn't have to be any of the ones listed above, as you most likely
wouldn't have found them yet. (With the exception of Malice, which would REALLY
kick Duriel's ass). Anyway, same strategy as before. Call out as big an army as
possible, and enter Duriel's chamber. Duriel's freezing Aura will keep your
skellies from moving about too much, and he'll likely pound them into oblivion
one by one. But you Merc's prayer aura can make them last long enough to chip
away about 2/3rds of his health. Just keep casting Aplify Damage and recreating
your Blood Golem when he dies. Duriel should go down in about a minute without
killing either you, or your Merc.

c. Mephisto: Harder to defeat than Andariel and Duriel. You'll want to be
around level 29 when you take him on. Mephisto has really strong attacks, and
you'll want a decent number of points in Summon Resist when you fight him.
He'll likely make short work of your Mercenary if he gets a clean shot at him,
but your skeletons should survive if you have about 4 or 5 points in Summon
Resist by now. You would probably have an Iron Golem by now, so I would
recommend switching to the Iron Golem for this fight atleast. They're sturdy,
and as long as they've been spawned from a decent item, they can do a bit of
damage before going down. Not much else to say about Mephisto. Just that your
points in Summon Resist will make or break this fight. Also, take out all the
Council Members in the area before you move on to fight the lord of hatred.

d. Diablo: The big red himself. Okay, not to burst any of your bubbles, but
Diablo is one tough nut to crack. There is absolutely NOTHING you can do but
watch as he constantly rips through your skeletons using his lightning inferno,
or whatever the hell they call it. Most likely, you'll have enough resistance
by now to survive his fire attacks, and so will your skeletons. But if he
breaks out the lightning attack, there's just nothing you can do about it.
Stock up a huge bunch of rejuvination potions for this one, as your Mercenary
will get hurt a lot. He'll probably even die a few times, and you'll have to go
back to town to get him. Having around 5 cold Skeletal Mages, makes this fight
much easier though, as Diablo isn't nearly as fast when he's frozen solid and
has Ice Bolts hitting him from every corner. Unfortunately, the mages are
pretty weak at this point of time, and his Fire Nova will likely decimate them.
So you'll have to figure out a way to attack him before/after the nova attack.

Turns out they're actually very useful, and the second time round, I had little
difficulty bringing him down. My Merc died again, and so did a few of my
skeletons, but overall, the fight was much much easier with Cold mages. Also,
don't bother with using Revives against Diablo. He just knocks them out like
they weren't even there. Persistance is the key here. Try to equip your Merc
with a "Prevent monster heal" weapon to make things a little easier. I suggest
you don't take him on before level 35 or so.

e. Baal: The grandaddy of annoyance. This guy's got it all. Speed, Hitpoints,
Strength, bad sense of fashion. Another tough fight to win, and rightly so,
seeing as how Baal is the final boss in Diablo 2. His attacks are many. He has
a spell similar to the Wake of Fire, only it's Ice instead of Fire. This attack
is one of his most deadly, as it'll keep pushing you and your minions back till
you either hit a wall or die. This is the attack you should be most afraid of,
since it keeps your minions from attacking him for too long and does tremendous
damage. The other attack (and by far the most annoying attack a boss could ever
have), is duplication. He creates a copy of himself. And it's hard to
differentiate between him and the copy. There is a trick, however. The
Baal-dupe has "Demon" written under his name such that the "D" is perfectly
lined up under the "B" from his name. The REAL Baal has "Demon" slightly off
center. Thanks to the Brady games guide for this heads up.

For this battle, you'll want a few Revives. Atleast 5. And all your Skeletons
and Mages, a powerful Iron Golem, decent Summon Resist, AND good equips on your
Merc. By now, I'm quite sure you would have found atleast a few of the runes
mentioned above, and it is ESSENTIAL to have these for the Baal fight.
Especially Malice, which can make this fight much easier. Go back to the River
of Flame in ACT 4, get about 5 or 6 Urdars added to your army, conjure up your
skellies and golem, and get ready to roll. The reason I suggest Urdars is
because of their knockback and stun ability. They keep Baal from attacking you
too much.

Once you reach the Throne of Destruction, Baal will conjure up his vestiges
through the ground. Ignore these totally, and move onto Baal himself. Herd him
into a corner and let your Urdars take the lead. While they have him stunned,
keep hitting him with Decrepify and let your Mages, Skeletons and Merc do the
rest. The Iron Golem probably won't be able to get in a good hit until Baal
kills the Urdars. Once they're down, the Golem moves in. (Like I said earlier,
a Golem with Knockback, chance to cast static field etc would be perfect) By
now, Baal would probably have fired off a few of his attacks, and you'll
probably find your mages down for the count. Or if there are any left, they
won't be far from dying. You'll probably have to make 2 or 3 runs to defeat
Baal. He's very very annoying. Just remember, that the Urdars are essential
here. They make the fight MUCH easier. If he makes his copies, hit one of them
for a bit. If you see him losing HP faster than usual, you know it's a fake.
Move onto the real deal and ignore the dupe. Keep at it, and he should come
down in a few minutes.


Nightmare
---------

By far, the most fun mode to play in. Not as hard as Hell, but not as easy as
Normal. Bosses here are more fun to fight, and give much, much better drops.
Except for Duriel. He's a cheap bastard. Death to Duriel! Oh wait...he's
already dead.

Well, with that out of the way...onto the bosses!

a. Andariel: As bitchy as ever. Atleast she drops good stuff. I've heard she
can drop Chance Guards on Nightmare. Atleast that's what all the people doing
NM Andariel runs tell me.

By the time you fight Nightmare Andariel, you should be in your mid-40s. By
this time, your Skeletons would do enough damage for you to not have to summon
Fire mages to weaken her. Just call out all your skeletons (I'm assuming you
have your skellies maxed by now) and barge into her chamber like you own the
damn place. Take care of the small fry, lure her out. Then cast Decrepify, and
go get yourself a Coke while your Merc and skellies beat the shit out of her.

b. Duriel: Another relatively easy win. Create a Town Portal outside his
chamber before entering. Once you're in, cast Decrepify, and stand way back.
Duriel's Holy freeze like aura gives him a huge advantage in Nightmare, since
now the sucker's actually capable of doing good damage. Once again, nothing to
do, but stand well out of the way and observe your minions surrounding Duriel
and giving him hell. If you like, you can also use a couple of lightning
enchanted Beetles as minions. Duriel's in for a bit of a shock when he touches
them. ;)


============================================
7. Contact Information
============================================

I'll update this guide as I experiment more with this build. In the meantime,
if anyone has any comments or questions, feel free to e-mail me at:
ishaan.sahdev@gmail.com

Suggestions, tips, and the like are always welcomed. You'll get credit for
them. I would also like some help with the Equipment section if possible. Any
assistance in this area would be greatly appreciated. Also, you may freely
distribute this guide, just as long as it's got my name on it, and nothing has
been edited.

This guide is copyright 2005 Ishaan Sahdev blah blah blah...


============================================
8. Credits
============================================

Blizzard, for coming up with Diablo, Diablo 2 and Lord of Destruction, all
three of which have delivered several hours of entertainment to fans worldwide.

Me, for writing this FAQ. :)

GameFaqs, Neoseeker for hosting it.

Jehutysgurl (jehutysgurl@yahoo.com), for suggesting Decrepify and the Fire
Golem.

Taylor Stevens (t_stevens2@hotmail.com), for also letting me know about the
trick to identifying the Baal dupe. (and about 3 other FAQs on Gamefaqs for
confirming it. Cant' believe I didn't know!)