Monday, October 16, 2006

Fanatic/Frost Smiter

Smiters can solo their way through Diablo 2. They also are an effective team build. In this build, Fanaticism and Holy Freeze are combined with Smite. When playing with a party, Fanaticism and Holy Freeze can add to the abilities of the party as well. Holy Freeze is used only for the pulse effect. No cold damage is added to Smite with Holy Freeze.

The Smite skill allows the Paladin to use a shield as a weapon. Smite stuns the enemy for a short time and knocks it back. At level 20, the skill adds 300% to damage and gives a 4.4-second stun, and the cost is only 2 Mana per hit. The 4.4 seconds is enough time to have several monsters stunned at the same time, thus rendering them unable to attack while you attack others.

The Smiter is an easy build to make, but it can be demanding in understanding how to use it. When building a Smiter, a player might try the skill and not be impressed with it at first because it has lower damage than any weapon and can't kill many monsters with one hit. Smite also demands 2 Mana, which requires drinking potions in the early game. But the build starts "blooming" at character level 24, when Holy Shield adds bonuses to Smite damage, and, at level 25, Insight can be added to the Act 2 mercenary for Mana regeneration.

Smite is a defensive skill, not an offensive skill, so it is important to remember not to be too aggressive with the skill. It never will provide your character with more damage than a weapon, so it is useless to try to build the damage rating very high. What you are after is the stun and knockback, not high damage. On a team, a Smiter provides assists to others who are doing the killing. Playing solo, the Smiter assists the mercenary. Without a mercenary, you have to hit multiple monsters, then dive in for the kill with many hits.

Smiters use Increased Attack Speed, Open Wounds and Crushing Blow modifiers, but not Deadly Blow or Attack Rating. Weapons, armor and jewelry modifiers that increase damage or add to maximum or minimum damage do not work with Smite. Elemental damage and mana or life leech modifiers also do not work.

When building a Smiter, you need to watch the Chance to Block and Chance to be Hit closely because, with minimal Attack Rating modifiers, you have to keep Dexterity high enough to keep blocking as close as possible to the maximum 75 percent and Chance to be Hit as low as possible. (To see those numbers, mouse over the defense number on the character screen.)

Fanaticism offers one of the easiest ways to build a good Smiter. The aura boosts attack speed along with damage rating for Smite. The attack speed boost is only a moderate amount, so supplementing the modifier with other means is still needed. The damage boost is also moderate, not as high as Concentration, so the added damage boost from Holy Shield is needed.

The attack speed of the equipped weapon directly affects Smite, so the base attack speed and Increased Attack Speed are both important.

According to the Arreat Summit, Smite always hits. That is why Attack Rating makes no difference to Smiters. Actual experience in the game shows that there are misses, probably because the game modifies chances to hit, but all weapons miss more often than their ratings.

Attributes: Smiters use an ordinary build: No points for Energy, more Vitality than Strength, and more Strength than Dexterity. A suggested way to assign Attributes in the beginning is to put 3 points in Vitality, and 1 each for Strength and Dexterity on each level-up. When Vitality is more than 20 points above Strength, start to use 2 points for Strength and Dexterity, and 1 for Vitality. That will maintain a 5-point spread between Strength and Dexterity. Strength does increase damage with Smite. When you reach your goal to wear a certain armor or shield, stop adding to Strength. When you reach your goal for Dexterity to maintain high blocking, add all points to Vitality.

Skills: A Smiter is not necessarily an exciting build, although it is an effective character to play. There are no synergies for Smite. First, add points to Smite (level 2). Get prerequisites for Holy Shield and Holy Freeze. At level 18, start adding points to Holy Freeze. At level 24, add points to Holy Shield. Get the prerequisites, then Fanaticism at level 30. Increase Fanaticism so you are getting a good speed boost. Then return to adding points to Smite, Holy Shield, Holy Freeze and Fanaticism until they are maxed. Add points to Defiance to help blocking and chance to be hit, as synergy for Holy Shield.

Smite: 20
Fanaticism: 20
Holy Freeze: 20
Holy Shield: 20
The rest of the points are prerequisites.
As you get more points, add them to an alternative aura, such as Defiance, Salvation (for greater Holy Freeze pulses) or Concentration.

Gameplay: Key the Smite skill to the left mouse button and the auras to the right button. When using Smite, if the character runs out of mana, the equipped weapon automatically does a normal hit, so there is no problem with running out of mana.

Generally, I try to hit as many enemies as possible but avoid getting surrounded. If you are surrounded, a Smiter can just hit with the stun and knockback to create a pathway out. An Act 2 mercenary will be doing more damage than you, so allow him to do most of the killing. Hit as many enemies as possible with stun, then let him to do his work. The stun keeps the monsters at bay, unable to hit.

The Smiter will be using Holy Freeze until level 30, so getting weapons and armor that increase speed is important.

After level 30, the technique to practice is to flash with Holy Freeze until the monsters turn blue and are slowed, then switch to Fanatacism to hit them with Smite, then repeat.

When faced with Iron Maiden, there is no worry in Normal because the damage that Smite deals is too low. By Nightmare difficulty, keep a low-level shield and weapon or a ranged weapon on switch to deal with Iron Maiden.

Physical Immunes in Hell difficulty are the Smiter's bane. Keep Holy Freeze on all the time to deal with them. A mercenary with another elemental skill will help deal with Physical and Cold Immunes. For example, Insight has added fire damage.

Equipment: The most important item in the Smiter's arsenal is his shield. Get a shield with the highest block rating and the highest Smite damage rating. Paladin shields are the best Smiter shields.

Among normal (white or gray) Paladin shields, the Crown Shield has the highest block rate of 55% and the highest Smite damage of 4-12. The exceptional Royal Shield has the same blocking rate and high Smite damage of 24 to 32. Among elites, the Sacred Targe has the highest blocking rate of 60% and a high Smite damage of 22 to 70.

The Herald of Zakarum is probably the best Smiter shield because of the added skill points, not the Smite damage rating.

Many weapons modifiers do not have any effect on Smite, so there is no need to have a particularly good weapon, except as backup. Look for Increased Attack Speed, Open Wounds or Crushing Blow.

One good rune word for weapons is Steel, which has a 25% Increased Attack Speed and 50% chance for Open Wounds. Use Steel on a very fast weapon (Scimitar or Sabre) for a quick attack, stun monsters with Smite, then watch them bleed to death. A very effective weapon.

An option later on would be to add one or more Shael runes to a weapon to increase Attack Speed. A 6-socket Phase Blade or axe with 6 Shaels is a good choice for late-game action, combined with other items that give Crushing Blow or Open Wounds.

For all armor parts, look for Increased Attack Speed, Crushing Blow or Open Wounds.

Gloves: Sanders have 20% Increased Attack Speed. Blood Gloves have 10% Increased Attack Speed. Crafted Blood gloves have a Crushing Blow modifier.

Armor: Twitchthroe has 20% Increased Attack Speed.

Mercenaries: The act 2 mercenary has extra damage that complements the Smiters' skill. The Prayer mercenary allows you to use fewer life potions. You will want to give him an Insight polearm for its Mana regeneration because Holy Shield and Smite burn Mana. A defiance mercenary will help with defense. Blessed aim mercenaries are useless to Smiters. A Holy Freeze mercenary might help if you want to avoid using your own Holy Freeze aura.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blog launched

I have decided to launch a blog of some of my adventures in the video game world. I expect it will be about my own ideas on video games as well as the ideas of other people I meet in my adventures. I hope to be a commentator on adventures as well as a reporter of what others are doing.

I recently marked a year of service in the Holy Knights of Westmarch, so I guess I have a right to start this commentary on adventures in Diablo 2 at least. The guild has expanded to include Guild Wars and World of Warcraft as well, although the games are not official.

In some part, I want to include my builds in the games I play, although I am not sure on how the formatting will work.