D2R Hydra Orb Hybrid Sorceress
Given Sunder Charm and Infinity have largely eliminated elemental immunity issues that players face in Hell difficulty, dual skill-tree builds for the Sorceress have become less prominent in D2R; most opt instead to maximize damage as a Lightning, Fireball or Blizzard Sorceress'. For PvM however, single ability damage is not necessarily the most effective, and speed of clear can be determined by a range of factors, like the “coverage” of an ability, and cast delay. Don't forget, you can dual wield Sunders at the cost of severe punishment to your resistances.
One overlooked feature of the Hydra/Orb Sorceress, is the stackable damage components which can be used simultaneously (you're casting the spells at different points, however, Hydra will continue to do damage while your Frozen Orb is casting. You would not be able to cast another Frozen orb, Blizzard, Lightning or Fireball effectively during the Orb cast delay rendering them largely non-stackable. Frozen Orb and Hydra are both low synergy abilities, meaning they require less skill investment to optimize. By forgoing some synergy skill investment for each ability, you can still retain 60-80% of the effective damage of each.
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This is a standard Non-ES sorc as there are not enough remaining skill points after your damage spells. As such, invest all your points in vitality after you have enough strength and dexterity for gear.
The following are the core skills for a Balanced Damage Hydra/Orb Sorceress.
- 1 point to all prerequisites
- 20 points to Frozen Orb
- Enough points in Cold Mastery to reach -150% Enemy Cold Resist (after gear and Battle orders)
- 1-20 points to Ice Bolt - synergy for Frozen Orb (adjust as you prefer for your damage profile)
- 1 point to Frozen Armor
- 1 point to Teleport
- 1 point to Static Field
- 20 points to Hydra
- 20 points to Fire Mastery
- 1-20 points to Fire Ball
- 1-20 points to Fire Bolt
You can adjust your skill distribution based on your preferred damage profile. If you want to be an Orb primary sorceress, you can invest around 50 points to achieve maximum damage and negative resistances with cold mastery. With less investment in Hydra synergies, this ability becomes more supportive in its function.
This is my preferred skill build given Frozen Orb's significant CC effect with or without damage, making it a fantastic supportive skill to Hydra. Max orb but put only 1 into Ice Bolt, and enough into Cold Mastery for -150 Enemy Resistances. With only approximately 35 skill investment into the Cold Tree, you free up significant skill points for your Fire Tree, enabling you to build not only a strong Hydra, but a worthwhile Fireball as well.
The following is the recommended gear for the Hydra/Orb Sorceress:
- Weapon: Heart of the Oak / Spirit runeword (cheaper alternative)
(If you are a primary Orb, you may consider Death's Fathom, or Eschutas if you're a Hydra primary)
- Weapon Swap: Call to Arms and Spirit Monarch Shield
- Shield: Spirit Monarch Shield with 35% Faster Cast Rate (required for breakpoint)
- Body Armor: Chains of Honor / Enigma / Vipermagi / Ormus
- Helm: Shako / 2/20FCR Circlet
- Gloves: Magefist / Trangs
- Boots: Sandstorm Treks/ Rare tri-res boots/ Aldurs / War Travellers
- Belt: Arachnid Mesh
- Ring 1: The Stone of Jordan or 10% FCR Ring
- Ring 2: The Stone of Jordan or 10% FCR Ring
- Amulet: Mara's Kaleidoscope or 2 skill x% FCR Amulet.
- Charm 1: Sorceress Hellfire Torch
- Charm 2: Annihilus
- Charm 3: Cold Sunder
- Charm 4: Fire Sunder
- Charm 5: Cold Skiller and/or Fire Skiller Grand Charms with Life or Faster Hit Recovery to reach the 86% (Optional Gheeds instead of 1 skiller)
- Charm 6: Small Charms with Life, Resistances, Mana, or Faster Hit Recovery depending on needs
The double sunder discussion is important as lowering two resistances by a significant margin will be detrimental to your survival efforts in game. My recommendation is that you select one, whichever you are leaning towards with your damage profile, or whichever immunities you encounter more in your preferred farming destinations. Likewise it is also important to point out that we are almost always trying to achieve the 105% FCR breakpoint, as any higher becomes inefficient. If you do opt for the dual sunder build, you will need more resistances from charms for dangerous areas. Thankfully Souls will not be a problem.
Faster Hit Recovery Breakpoints
|Frames to perform action||Faster Hit Recovery required to reach frame|
Faster Cast Rate Breakpoints
|Frames to perform action||Faster Cast Rate required to reach frame|
You can choose between a Holy Freeze, Prayer or Offensive or Might Act 2 Mercenary to accompany your Hydra/Orb Sorceress. Remember that Insight's Meditation aura synergises with prayer, and doubles its healing effect. The CC effect of holy freeze may not be necessary given Frozen Orb's full screen freezing power. A might aura is not generally recommended as you shouldn't be reliant on the mercenary damage and are primarily utilizing his weapon aura effect.
- Weapon: Ethereal Infinity or Ethereal Insight
- Body Armor: Ethereal Chains of Honor / Fortitude / Stone / Guardian Angel
- Helm: Ethereal Andariel's Visage socketed with a Ral Rune
While Fortitude is the standard Mercenary Armor, it is not necessary as we are not optimizing Mercenary damage. Instead, survivability should be prioritized. My favorite choice is an eth Guardian Angel for the huge boost to max resistances and its affordability. Lifeleech is still an important sustain tool for a Mercenary, so Andariel's Visage is recommended, and a Ral rune socketed to offset its nerf to your fire resistances.