D2R Poison Necromancer Build Guide
D2R Builds , Diablo 2: Resurrected , Game Guides
Poison Necromancer Introduction
The poison necromancer is the strongest PvM build for the necromancer class. With the ability to deal multiple forms of damage that scales with the strength of the surrounding monsters, there is little that can stand in its way. The build has very few weaknesses, and at full strength can clear the vast majority of the game’s content on p8 difficulty. I personally played this build during D2R Ladder Season 2 on Playstation and reached level 99 in just over a month – finishing as the #2 Necromancer.
The build focuses primarily on the Poison and Bone skill tree, utilising two main damage dealing spells – Poison Nova and Corpse Explosion, supplemented by a combination of the Lower Resist and Amplify Damage curses. Poison Nova (as the name suggests!) deals poison damage, whilst Corpse Explosion deals a combination of Fire and Physical damage – this means there are no immunities that this build cannot deal with.
The playstyle is extremely fun, and once you reach the end game build it is has exceptionally fast clear speed. There is no denying the end game build is expensive but given the mechanic of Corpse Explosion (which deals damage based on the dead unit’s life) it is possible to farm a significant amount of the game’s content with an early game build which we will discuss later in this guide.
Pros and Cons
- Viable early game builds that allow early ladder farming.
- Multiple forms of damage meaning monster immunities are not an issue.
- Exceptional clear speed and AOE damage.
- Viable to kill ubers (requires experience).
- Viable in hardcore with small tweaks and utilizing the Revive skill.
- End game build is among the most expensive.
- The “first kill” can sometimes be slow.
- Requires switching between a number of skills to maximise damage output.
- Slow at initial levelling.
- Slow boss killer”
- Raise Skeleton (1)
- Skeleton Mastery (1)
- Clay Golem (1)
- Golem Mastery (1)
- Raise Skeletal Mage (1)
- Blood Golem (1)
- Summon Resist (1)
- Iron Golem (1)
- Revive (1)
Poison and Bone Spells:
- Teeth (1)
- Bone Armor (1)
- Poison Dagger (20)
- Corpse Explosion (20)
- Poison Explosion (20)
- Poison Nova (20)
- Amplify Damage (1-7)
- Weaken (1)
- Iron Maiden (1)
- Terror (1)
- Life Tap (1)
- Decrepify (1)
- Lower Resist (1-7)
Levelling from 1 – 30 as a Necromancer is one of the slowest of all classes as his early spells do not deal a significant amount of damage. For this early game progression, I would recommend concentrating your skill points in the Summoning Spells skill tree and maximising the early damage of skeletons, combined with the Amplify Damage Curse and the Corpse Explosion spell. Once you have finished Normal difficulty and are at or around level 40, it is time to reset your skill and stat points (respec) and begin your poison necromancer journey.
During the respec process, it is important to ensure you gain the Lower Resist curse, the remainder of your points can then be used in Poison Nova and the spells it receives bonuses from (Poison Explosion and Poison Dagger). (Note: If you are playing hardcore, I would suggest using points in the Summoning Spells to ensure you have 5+ skeletons to act as a damage shield). At this point you should be able to handle both Nightmare and Hell difficulties.
This section is intended to showcase an item build that is achievable after completing the game and you are ready to start farming. Some of the runes may require repeat farming of Normal and / or Nightmare Countess, however this is normally achieved within a short timeframe.
Helm: “Lore” Runeword (Ort Sol) / Peasant Crown
“Lore” is a common starter helmet for most builds in the game and is normally obtained during Act 1 Nightmare. An Ort rune is rewarded for completing Quest 2 in Act 5 Normal, and the Sol rune can be obtained from Nightmare Countess (or earlier if you’re lucky!)
Amulet: +X to Poison and Bone Skills / Life + All Resistances
The ideal scenario is to find an amulet with +1-2 Poison and Bone Skills, but any utility amulet with life or resistances works fine.
Weapon: “Spirit” Runeword (Tal Thul Ort Amn) / “White” Runeword (Dol Io)
“Spirit” is arguably the strongest early item in the game, it provides +2 to all skills and host of utility benefits. The runes are easy obtain, the hardest being Amn which can be obtained from Nightmare Countess. “White” is also a good choice for Necromancers, however relies on finding a 2 socketed wand with +1-3 Poison Nova skills already in place.
Armor: “Stealth” Runeword (Tal Eth) / “Smoke” Runeword (Nef Lum)
“Stealth” is very cheap to make, and the runes can be obtained from Normal Countess. The utility it provides is unmatched as you progress through Normal and Nightmare. “Smoke” is my armor of choice to progress through Hell, providing a huge +50 to all resistances from 2 relatively common runes. “Bone” runeword would also be an excellent choice, providing +2 Necromancer Skills and +30 All Resistances, however, requires 2x Um runes which are much rarer than those previously mentioned.
Shield: “Ancient’s Pledge” Runeword (Ral Ort Tal) / Homunculus
“Ancient’s Pledge” is another excellent starter runeword, providing a large amount of resistance from common runes. Homunculus relies on some luck, if you find this during your playthrough it is an excellent choice and an option for the end game build but not essential to begin farming.
Gloves: Trang-Oul’s Claws / Magefists
Both of these options may require some repeat farming, however Magefists are relatively common and can be found in Normal difficulty. The importance of both of these gloves is that they provide 20% Faster Cast Rate. Trang-Oul’s Claws are an end game item, but relatively common, if you find these on your play through equip them as soon as possible – along with the Faster Cast Rate they provide +25% Poison Skill Damage which is a huge damage boost for Poison Nova.
Rings: Utility Rings
Your choice of ring will depend on what you’re lucky enough to find. Anything with Faster Cast Rate / Life / Resistances will do for the early game, if they have Magic Find then that’s a bonus!
Belt: Utility Belt / Crafted Caster Belt
Similar to the rings, the belt slot isn’t essential for the early game. I would recommend either crafting a caster belt or using a rare belt you find along your travels with good utility stats.
Boots: Faster Run Walk with Resistances
By the time you complete hell you should find a reasonable pair of Rare boots with some utility stats like Faster Run Walk, Faster Hit Recovery or Resistances. These will be sufficient for early farming.
Inventory: Life / Resistance Charms
You will find plenty of charms during your play through, keep ones with life and resistance as these will help you progress through hell. If you find your resistances are low as you enter Hell difficulty I like to farm Nightmare Cows for a short period until I find more and am comfortable with my resistances.
Mercenary: Act 2 Desert Mercenary with “Might” Aura and “Insight” Runeword (Ral Tir Tal Sol)
It is important that you do not get the “Holy Freeze” aura on your mercenary, this will shatter your enemies when they are killed and not allow you to use your Corpse Explosion skills. Your mercenary should be equipped with “Insight” runeword, ideally in an ethereal polearm but any will do. “Insight” is an extremely powerful runeword that not only provides a great deal of damage for your mercenary, but also the “Meditation” aura which regains your mana.
The poison necromancer shines in high density areas with high HP units, for this reason I would always recommend Hell Cows as being your primary early game farming area. With the above build you will be comfortably able to solo the area by yourself, and once you gain levels and better gear you can begin farming the area in games of 5-8 people. The first few kills may take some time, cast Lower Resist on a pack of cows and then Poison Nova. You may need to repeat Poison Nova a few times until a few cows have died, at this point cast Amplify Damage then spam Corpse Explosion and watch the pack of cows fall!
An important mechanic of Poison Nova that needs to be explained at this point is that spamming the spell will not work. The spell does not stack, but resets on the enemy. So by spamming the skills you re effectively dealing very little damage as you rest the damage over time every time it is applied. The ideal play style is to round up a pack of cows, curse them then kite around the edge casting 2-3 Poison Novas until the entire pack is poisoned. Once the poison has worn off, repeat.
The build is not ideal for boss farming, so the common item farm locations such as Andariel and Mephisto are not efficient. It is possible to farm Travincal and The Chaos Sanctuary however these are slightly more difficult, and particularly perilous if you’re playing on hardcore. My early game recommendation for the early game is to live in the Moo Moo Farm and slay cows. Cows are an excellent area for Rune farming and a steady method of building up currency to trade for better items.
There is no denying the end game gear is expensive and will take some patience to reach, however I can assure you it is worth it! The priority item is Death’s Web wand, this is the staple of our build. The wand provides a huge reduction to enemy poison resistance and a total of +4 to Poison and Bone skills – there really is no alternative. The build achieves a total of 125 faster cast rate (highest breakpoint for Necromancer) whilst maximising our resistances and approximately 3,000 hp.
Helm: Circlet / Tiara / Diadem: +2 Necromancer Skills / 20 Faster Cast Rate
The Necromancer skills and faster cast rate are fundamental on our helmet to allow us to achieve our breakpoint. + All Resistances are also important if you can find it, I also like to have some life and mana on there. The final piece in the helmet is to socket it with a Poison Rainbow Facet to give us a little extra poison damage, and reduction to enemy poison resistance.
Amulet: +2 Necromancer Skills / 20 Faster Cast Rate
Similar to the helmet, we need 20 faster cast rate on the amulet to hit our breakpoint. Amulets like this are quite hard to find, particularly early in a ladder season, and you may need to be patient to find one. Again, look for additional mods such as All Resistances, Life and Mana.
Weapon: Death’s Web Unearthed Wand
The staple of our build, this should be your target item to get as soon as possible. They are rare so will be expensive early in a ladder season, however they do become more affordable. The variables on the wand are the + Poison and Bone Skills (1-2) and the – Enemy Poison Resistance. Ideally we want one with +2 Poison and Bone Skills, and as high – Poison Resistance as possible. Socket the wand with a Poison Rainbow Facet.
Weapon Swap: “Call to Arms” Runeword (Amn Ral Mal Ist Ohm) and “Spirit” Shield
“Call to Arms” provides us with the “Battle Command” and “Battle Orders” skills from the Barbarian skill trees. Battle Command provides +1 to All Skills for the duration, and Battle Orders provides a Life and Mana boost. The value of this skills vary between 1-6 on the runeword and we want them to be as high as possible.
Armor: “Enigma” Runeword (Jah Ith Ber)
The +1 to Teleport on Enigma gives us the mobility we need to farm effectively, it also provides a huge boost to our strength needed to carry our shield. We want a low strength base for the runeword, my personal preference is for a Breast Plate as I like the style, but Mage Plate is equally as popular.
Shield: “Spirit” Runeword (Tal Thul Ort Amn)
We want the spirit in a Monarch base, and will need to ensure we get one with +35% Faster Cast Rate – this can sometimes be tricky and require a few re-rolls to achieve, however it is required to hit our breakpoint. This shield also gives us a boost to Cold, Lightning and Poison resistances and a nice chunk of Mana.
Gloves: Trang-Oul’s Claws
Trang-Oul’s Claws are relatively column and give us everything we could want in a pair of gloves – +20% Faster Cast Rate and +25% Poison Skill Damage which is a huge damage boost for Poison Nova.
Rings: 1x Stone of Jordan + 1x Faster Cast Rate Ring
We need one of the rings to provide us with +10% Faster Cast Rate to achieve our breakpoint, other useful stats on this would be Life, Strength, Mana and Resistances. For our second ring slot we will use a Stone of Jordan, this provides us with an extra +1 to All Skills along with a Mana boost.
Belt: Arachnid’s Mesh
Arachnid’s Mesh is an excellent caster belt, providing +1 to All Skills and +20% Faster Cast Rate – there really is no alternative here.
Boots: Faster Run Walk with Resistances
We need these boots to help us max out our resistances, the dream pair would provide +40 to Fire, Lightning and Cold resistances however these are extremely rare. I would recommend targeting a pair with 30+ of each resistance.
Inventory: Poison and Bone Grand Charms and Life / Resistance Small Charms
8x Grand Charms with +1 Poison and Bone Skills and + Life (as much as possible)
8x + Life / + Resistance Small Charms. The resistances can either be single, or all resistance, this depends on which resistance you are lacking in. Try and get as much life as possible on each charm (maximum 20).
Necromance Hellfire Torch Large Charm – this provides +3 to skills and +10-20 to All Attributes and All Resistances. For our end game build we should be targeting as high as possible for the Attributes and Resistances.
Annihilus Small Charm: Present in every end game build in Diablo 2, +1 to All Skills, 10-20 to All Attributes and Resistances and +5-10% Extra Experience. If your goal is to achieve Level 99 you’ll want one with +10% Extra Experience.
Mercenary: Act 2 Desert Mercenary with “Might” Aura and “Infinity” Runeword (Ber Mal Ber Ist)
This is an expensive mercenary, but the end result is devastating! The Conviction aura from Infinity reduces enemy resistances and defence, whilst it does not reduce their poison resistance it does reduce their fire resistance and 50% of the damage from Corpse Explosion is fire damage. I recommend making the runeword in an ethereal Colossus Voulge. For his helmet we want an Andariel’s Visage socketed with a 15% Increased Attack Speed and 25+ Fire Resistance Jewel. This gives a total of +35% Increased Attack Speed on the mercenary, which allows him to achieve the highest attack speed breakpoint. For the Armor we need the “Fortitude” Ruenword (El Sol Dol Lo) in an Ethereal base, this is a huge damage, life and resistance boost.
Strength: Enough to wear your gear
Vitality: As much as possible
This build is viable in Hardcore with a few small tweaks. Survivability is key in Hardcore mode and we would need to achieve 75% Chance to Block (max block) with our shield, this is not viable with “Spirit” Runeword. I recommend changing the shield to either Homunculus or Stormshield depending on how safe you want to be. Either option can achieve max block, Homunculus provides additional + Skills which means more damage, whereas Stormshield provides Damage Reduction and is very popular in Hardcore mode. We can socket either of these shields with an “Um” rune to boost our resistance if we need it, or a Poison Facet for some extra damage.
The loss of “Spirit” means we no longer achieve our 125% Faster Cast Rate breakpoint and we drop down to the next one at 75%. We achieve this through the combination of our helmet, amulet, belt and gloves which means we can swap out our ring with Faster Cast Rate for another Stone of Jordon or Bul Kathos Wedding Band if we want some extra Life.
Our stat allocation also changes, we need to add points into Dexterity to achieve max block. The amount will vary depending on your gear, but is usually around 200. We do lose a lot of life as a result of this, but it is worth it to block 75% of attacks.
The initial buildup of the Poison Necromancer is slower than other builds, however once it gets going there is no stopping it!
The first 2-3 packs of monsters you encounter you cast Lower Resist and Poison Nova and let them die – we can then resurrect 10-15 of these monsters with the Revive skill to act as our meat shield. Now it is time to have some fun!
Teleport around the map until you find a pack of monsters, keep your distance and cast Lower Resist until the pack is cursed. Kite around them and cast Poison Nova until they are all poisoned. Remember! Do not spam Poison Nova as this will reduce your damage output. As soon as you see 2-3 monsters die, quickly cast Amplify Damage and spam Corpse Explosion until the pack dies (you’ll be surprised how quickly this is!). The area of effect of Corpse Explosion once axed is enormous and you will notice monsters off your screen being damage by the spell. We can use this to our advantage, I like to cast Amplify Damage in a few directions before Corpse Explosion – this ensures as many monsters as possible receive damage.
I mentioned previously that this build is not an efficient boss killer, and this is also the case for the end game build. In solo games it is possible, however I would not recommend targeting act bosses by yourself with more than 3 people in the game (unless you can build up corpses around them and target them with Corpse Explosion!).
Diablo Clone / Ubers
Diablo Clone and Ubers are viable for this build, but requires practice and is less efficient than the conventional Smiter build often used to kill these. I would recommend starting out by killing the Diablo Clone a few times before tackling Ubers as he is significantly easier.
To allow us to kill Diablo Clone or Ubers we need to revive Urdars / Maulers (the big troll looking creatures!). These monsters having a chance to apply “Crushing Blow” on their attacks which deals damage equal to a % of the monster’s health – given Ubers have a huge amount of life, Crushing Blow is extremely effective in killing them. These monsters can be found in Tal Rasha’s Tombs in Act 2, Durance of Hate in Act 3 and River of Flame in Act 4. One thing to remember here is that Revives are only alive for a certain amount of time so you may need to “re-stock” during the Uber fight.
For the fight I would recommend having 10-15 Urdars / Maulers with you. You will need to “telestomp” (teleporting directly on top of) onto the Uber, this will cause all of your Revives to be in the same place and on top of the Uber to begin attacking. You should then walk a small distance away (not too far) and cast “Decrepify” onto them Uber – this will reduce their defence and attack / cast speed. You should also cast Poison Nova to help with damage, the poison also stops them from healing. It is a little tricky, and takes time to get right – but is much more fun than the conventional Smiter method!
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