Summoner Necromancer Build Guide - D2R 2.6 - Beginner Friendly
Summon Necromancers are a powerful, minion-based build that relies on your summoned army, golem and mercenary for damage, as well as ancillary curses, item auras and damage spells (Corpse explosion) to further enhance clear speed and minion damage. Summonmancers are a popular and fun build, that once optimized, allows you to summon a powerful army of 30+ minions which you can relocate at will with teleport. This guide will teach you the strengths and weaknesses of the build, as well as provide useful tips and gear options for you to build an effective Summonmancer for Season 4 Ladder.
Your large army provides an impenetrable damage soaking wall, as such you can freely teleport into large hordes knowing your army will soak the damage.
2. Varied damage types
Your army and corpse explosion, as well as revives and mages, provides alternative damage sources which can offer assistance with immunities. Additionally, curses like Amplify Damage and Decrepify can remove physical immunities.
3. Full end-game clear capabilities: Terror Zones & Ubers
The Summonmancer has the capability to clear all areas in the game, note that the effectiveness of corpse explosion is reduced (due to minion hp scaling at higher player counts), so clear speed will be effected from upward of Players 4. If you want to farm Uber Tristram, make sure to go there with an army of Urdar revives, as they have a fairly high % chance of crushing blow which quickly reduces any Boss's life.
4. Valuable party member: Aura provision and minion damage soakers
This build thrives in parties. You can simply raise your army by the corpses left behind from your party members. In solo, raising your army is fairly slow, but once that's done you will be able to farm at decent speed. Cast Amplify Damage at enemy monsters, so your summons can deal doubled physical damage. In parties, other curses can be considered both for survivability and damage increase. Lower Resist can help out elemental casters, Life Tap heals melee attackers, and Decrepify acts both as an offensive and a defensive curse by slowing enemy monsters and increasing physical damage. Additionally, the Summonmancers build contains useful aura items which will buff your party and minions.
5. Best 1 point wonder - Corpse Explosion
Corpse explosion is one of the few S-tier 1-point wonder abilities that is one of the best minion clearers in the game (alongside abilities like Lightning Fury and Blizzard). More points invested in this skill only increases its radius, so investing one skill, and allowing +Skill items to buff the radius is sufficient. This allows you to invest more points into the Summon Tree. Corpse explosion delivers 50% physical and 50% fire damage based on a % of a dead monster's full HP. You should also use Amplify Damage as a curse to double the physical damage output of your summons as well as the physical component of Corpse explosion.
6. Passive minion damage, efficient magic finder
Your army destroys enemies without the need for much assistance. As such you can prioritize identifying drops, and magic finding.
1. Slow run acceleration
The Summonmancer takes some time to get rolling, and is traditionally a slow accelerator, relying on mercenary for early kills until adequate minion summons can take over, as such Short magic finding runs are suboptimal due to the long reset time.
2. Lower interactivity
Your main damage source (minions) is automated meaning your own character's contributions when farming is limited. Some may find this experience less engaging. Cursing, Corpse explosion and teleporting provides some agency.
3. Reliance on expensive core items to optimize
An optimized Summonmancer is an expensive build, relying on expensive runewords like Beast, Enigma, Pride, and Bramble. However, the Summonmancer is an effective clearer even on budget gear, so can be a reliable ladder starter (though slower than Sorcs with teleport and builds with more upfront damage).
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Strength: Put just enough points on it to be able to wear your gear.
Dexterity: Put just enough points on it to be able to wear your gear. If you play hardcore, you can put extra points on dexterity to boost your chance to block up to 75%.
Vitality: Put all remaining points on it.
Energy: Don't put any points on it.
- Curses: 1 point on Lower resist and all prerequisite curse
- 20 points on Raise Skeleton
- 20 points on Skeleton Mastery
- 1 point on each Golem
- 1+ point on Golem Mastery
- 1 point on Summon Resist
- 1+ point on Raise Skeletal Mage
- 1+ point on Revive
- 1+ point on Teeth
- 1+ points on Corpse Explosion
Decide which curses you will opt into and put 1 point into each. Popular choices are: Amplify Damage, Decrepify, Lower Resistances (for party play), and Dim Vision for solo play. While all golems are viable for this build, the Iron Golem is recommended for the end-game as you can construct him from another aura item, which will apply to your army. Extra points may be put into Corpse explosion if the larger radius is particularly helpful to you, but this is preference based. Summons, particularly Skeletal Warriors, are your primary damage source, with mages, revives and your golem acting as supporting damage/tanks.
The remaining skill point allocation is up to your preference. You can either boost your survivability by putting points on Bone Armor and its synergies, or put further points on Revives and Skeletal Mages. Additionally, you may like to opt into one bone spell (Recommended Bone Spear or Teeth) to allow you to accelerate faster into runs, and offer more agency when farming.
Your Iron Golem choice will depend on which auras you decide to wield on your your own character and Merc. Insight is a popular choice for the Iron Golem given its relative low cost, and the useful Meditation aura which will relieve you and your party of all mana problems. Given you lose your item on your golems death (which is triggered by your own character's death as well), it is not recommended you make your Golem with expensive runewords like Pride or Beast unless you have excess wealth.
For early game, a Clay Golem is a very powerful CC tool against bosses, significantly slowing them and reducing them to near standstill when coupled with Decrepify. While Clay Golem's effectiveness is surpassed by the aura-wielding Iron Golem late-game, it is a fantastic low investment option for traversing early game and leveling.
Check out our Necromancer Breakpoints guide.
The listed items are organized by the following slots.
- Best in Slot / Most widely used
- Best Alternative
- Best Defensive
- Budget Options (Ladder starter)
A very strong option offering +2 skills which enhances your Battle Orders, as well as item auras. The extra life, mana are also helpful, along with damage reduction and Magic Find.
Rare Circlet with +2 to Necromancer skills, 20% faster cast rate
A strong alternative which offers you more FCR for useful speed breakpoints. While necromancer skills will not increase your auras or BO, these rare or magic circlets can come with 1-2 sockets and/or a whole host of useful mods like life, mana, resistances, or stats.
A fantastic hardcore or survivability focussed option granting huge boosts to resistances, and damage reduction, as well as offering skills and defenses. The downside is the huge strength requirement detracting from your investment in vitality, and therefore raw HP. Consider socketing with -15 requirement jewels, ideally with extra resistance mods to help offset this.
Peasant Crown unique helm / Lore / Andariel's Visage
Budget option providing good all round stats and +1 skills are what you should look to as a temp until you can find end-game gear. Lore is a particularly easy to craft option only requiring Ort, Sol runes and a 2 socket helmet of any kind. Andariel's while traditionally considered a melee helmet, can function well as a caster helm if you can offset the fire resistance losses to utilize the 2 skills, and if you happen to come across one earlier.
Crafted Necromancer Amulet with 2 necromancer skills and 20% faster cast rate.
The amulet slot is one of the best slots to push your FCR for important breakpoints (with Gloves and Belt slots usually already maxed, allowing you more versatility with Helmet and/or ring choices. This is especially important in our recommended build which is the Beast runeword wielding variant. Teleport speed is one of the few things that impact Summonmancer clear-speed the most. 20FCR crafted amulets can come with other useful mods like HP, resistances and stats.
Rare Necromancer Amulet with 2 Necromancer skills, 10% faster cast rate and other mods
While rare amulets cannot roll with 20FCR and are capped at 10, they can drop with a greater volume of better mods, making them a perfect for builds that require 10FCR to hit the relevant breakpoint, but not more. These amulets are also generally less expensive than its 20FCR counterpart.
The de facto caster amulet for those not requiring FCR from this slot. The +2 to all skills is superior to only boosting necromancer skills, and up to 30 to all resistances offers a significant boost to survivability in Hell.
3 Summoner skills magic amulet
A good option that can be relatively inexpensive and easily attained via gambling is a 3 Summoning skill (or 2 Necromancer skill) magic amulet. These can spawn with one other mod, making them suitable as a temp until you can attain a Mara's or FCR amulet with mods. Useful additional mods to look for are: up to 100 life, 10FCR, up to 30 strength, up to 30 dexterity.
Beast runeword is the best in slot weapon due to the Fanaticism it offers which significantly boosts the power of your army and mercenary. Fanatacism from one source is highly recommended and the Faith Merc is not recommended (due to the inherent power of the Might + Pride mercenary). Additionally a Beast Iron Golem is not recommended to the cost of the item. Outside of the Aura property, there is little gained from this item, other than strength (helpful for COA wielders), and some energy. You do have an option to summon a Grizzly bear (5 charges provided by Beast) to further bolster your army.
White is traditionally a Bone Necro weapon but can find for a summon Hybridmancer. It does offer a mild boost to your summon strength in the form of Skeleton Mastery skills, and can be further enhanced by finding a wand base with your desired skills. Useful added skills like Decrepify can reduce your skill investment requirements in the curses tree.
A popular well-rounded caster weapon offering fantastic all-round utility (40FCR), skills, and a good boost to resistances (up to 40). The Oak sage charges are often overlooked but can further enhance the survivability of your entire army. Heart of the Oak enables you to reach faster FCR breakpoints increasing your mobility significantly and offering more versatility in other slots. The raw damage output however, is not comparable to the buffs provided by Beast's Fanatacism.
Spirit Weapon / Wizardspike / King Leoric's Arm
The above options provide great leveling and mid–game options offering a myriad of useful utility stats. Wizardspike in particular offers the greatest speed and resistances at the cost of any +skills. The Spirit weapon is easily craftable in late normal mode without the need for a Monarch base. The runes can be farmed easily at Normal or Nightmare Countess.
Spirit is the best all-round non-max block shield given its superior FCR (up to 35), along with +2 all skills and good resistances. The big boost to mana is also a quality of like buff appreciated by necro builds. Teleport speed should be prioritized over Max block except in Hardcore mode, due to the inherent safety of the build itself. Your minion blockade will prevent attacks and missiles from reaching you while teleporting so Max block's additional survivability buff is not integral.
A Good necromancer only shield, comparable to Spirit with the tradeoff of Block % instead of FCR, with similar resistances buffs. Homounculus is used by max block / high survivability builds, where Stormshield is opted out of due to its high strength requirement, or where Resistances are preferred over physical damage reduction.
A popular hardcore shield offering the most defenses, Physical damage reduction, and high block%. This Shield is used to cap DR, usually alongside COA or Verdungos making you near unkillable. Remember not to neglect resistances when capping PDR as it pertains to the other half of your survivability metrics.
Lidless / Rhyme / Ancient's Pledge
Great leveling shields offer either skills, FCR, resistances or some mix of these mods. Rhyme and Ancient's Pledge provide greater survivability while Lidless is an early substitute for a Spirit shield until you can obtain a Monarch. These are affordable, low cost options that should be relatively easy to attain via Countess farming (runes) or trading/drops.
Enigma removes one of the Summonmancers greatest weaknesses, his mobility, speed and lack of agency in regards to controlling his Summon damage output. The ability to reposition your entire army, as well as quickly teleport through areas, makes Enigma a priority item and Core to this build. Enigma's other mods are also top tier, offering +2 to all skills, significant FRW, 8% damage reduction, high defense, and a huge boost to strength allowing you to equip other core items without strength investment. Additionally, Enigma offers the highest magic finding % in the game.
While Bramble serves mostly as a DPS maximizing poison necromancer item, the Thorns aura (and additional thorns should you wish to summon Spirit of Barbs using Bramble charges), offers another source of damage for your army in the form of thorns. The highest rune required for this armor is a Sur rune, so may serve as a viable mid-game gap filler prior to farming Enigma.
Chains of Honor
Chains of Honour offers the highest buff to resistances from any armor, along with +2 skills, replenish life, damage reduction and magic find are other great mods if you are willing to forgo Enigma's teleport. Remember, Chains of Honor requires Ber rune and so is an expensive temporary item if you are looking for a gap filler. However, if you are opting into teleport from another source (staff, amulet or circlet), then you may consider COH.
Stealth runeword/ Skin of the Vipermagi / Que-Hegan's Wisdom
Stealth is an easily attainable early game runeword offering decent stats for casters. Skin of the Vipermagi and Que-hegan's are other viable early to mid game options which offer good general caster stats.
Arachnids is the only belt offering + to skills, along with a useful 20FCR which is the max for the belt slot. For this reason it is utilized in most Summonmancer builds to ensure the desired breakpoint is reached.
Crafted Caster Belt
Crafted belts trade off 10fcr from Arachnid as well as the plus skills, for other mods, predominantly survivability and FHR. These are great options for ensuring you reach desired defensive breakpoints where 20FCR is not required from your belt slot.
Verdungo's Hearty Cord
Verdungo's is more commonly found in Hardcore, and is a defensive orientated belt that offers a big boost to vitality (HP), and damage reduction (up to 15%). This is a fantastic belt for capping PDR alongside COA or Stormshield.
Goldwrap / Thunder Gods / Snow Clash
Cheaper belts like the ones listed, can offer nice MF or defensive (resistance / absorb) mods which may aid you with certain areas. These drop sooner than belts like Verdungo's and Arachnid so it is likely you can find one early to mid game.
Stone of Jordan / Bul Kathos Wedding Band
The standard +1 skill rings are most predominantly used, with the wearer choosing between Mana (SOJ) or additional life for survivability (BK).
Rare ring with FCR and other mods
Where additional FCR is required to meet teleporting breakpoints, a rare FCR ring with other mods will ideally be used. Other useful mods to look for (up to 6 including FCR) are: Life, mana, all resistances, individual resistances, mana after kill, replenish life, and raw stats.
Ravenfrost / Wisp Projector / Dwarf Star
Absorb rings like raven, wisp and dwarf are fantastic for specific areas where one elemental type is dense (i.e. Souls). Wisp offers the added benefit of Oak sage charges which are great for your army. Use these rings as required to traverse particularly challenging areas. The cannot be frozen mod on Ravenfrost is not required for this build as freeze does not affect FCR and teleporting speed.
Cheap FCR ring / Nagel
Cheap FCR rings with minimal mods can be substituted where you require FCR but do not have a good end-game ring. Nagel rings are great as a temp to boost magic finding until you can acquire better gear. Magic rings can also drop with up to 40% MF.
The best choice which offers +1 curses which will benefit your class, along with 30 cold resist.
A viable option offering the same FCR as Trang Gloves, with mana instead of curse skills and resistances. If you are struggling with mana issues you may consider this option.
An easily attainable early game glove which offers good survivability mods including a big boost (30) to FHR. This can also be considered the budget option due to findability in early normal difficulty. These can be upgraded for additional defenses.
A widely used summoner boot that is the only boot that boosts summoning skills directly (up to +2 to Skeleton Mastery). The huge boost to stats also make this a good option, as it relieves stat points to further invest in vitality, especially if you are opting into a max block build.
Sandstorm Treks are a great alternative boasting strength, vitality, faster run walk, and a big boost to poison resistances. Due to the self-repair mod on these boots, Ethereal varieties are more desired (though better stats should take priority).
Rare boots with Resistances
The coveted Tri-res boots can spawn with up to 30FRW, 10FHR and up to 3 resistance mods capped at 40. These can be very expensive and difficult to find, however, temps (dual resistance, lower FRW, and/or no FHR) should be easily attainable through trade or magic finding runs. Additionally, you can gamble these if you have a source of Gold income.
Aldurs / Silkweaves / Treehaunch
For budget boots, look for any pair that offers FRW, and mods you are seeking. Aldurs for example gives Fire resistances, while Silkweave offers more mana for your runs. Treehaunch, or early game uniques are useful gap fillers.
+1 to Necromancer Summoning Skills grand charm (look for additional mods like life, or FHR)
Magic small charms with resistances and life or FHR and resistances
7% to magic find magic small charms, look for additional resistances
Switch Weapon / Shield
(Battle Command and Battle Orders)
The Act 2 Might Mercenary is the standard Summonmancer option and grants the highest possible damage enhancing aura combination in his inherent high level Might, combined with the runeword Pride (which activates a level 20 Concentration aura). These auras stack, along with Fanaticism from Beast to greatly empower your summons and mercenary.
Ethereal items don't lose durability if your mercenary wears them, so having ethereal item bases for each gear slot is preferred due to their increased defense on armor items and increased damage on weapons. In many instances ethereal items that are great for mercenaries will be much more expensive than non-ethereal ones.
Life leech is paramount on a merc for his self-sustainability. Andariel's offers up to 10LL along with +2 skills (which increases the level of his passive might aura), and additionally grants added IAS which can help him reach the next attacking breakpoint. The negative to fire resistances is one detraction which should be offset either with (Ral rune - low budget), or a 15ias fire resistances jewel. Andy's also adds up to 30 additional strength which can allow your merc to wield heavier armor types including Sacred armors.
Cure Runeword (Ladder)
A newly introduced, low-cost Ladder only runeword that provides a very helpful level 1 Cleansing aura which greatly reduces poison and curse duration. Alongside Fade, Cleanse is the only other curse duration ability in the game, and is particularly helpful for parties' during Chaos and Baal runs.
Budget: Tal Rasha's Set Helm
Tal Rash's helm is a lesser version of Andariel's that offers good life leech. Great for the mid-game.
Pride is a powerful runeword offering the wielder Concentration aura up to level 20 (345% bonus damage). This stacks with all other auras worn by your character and merc making it the most powerful single item damage buffer your merc can wield. The other mods on this runeword are lacking when compared to some of our other options, especially when comparing raw damage output from your Mercenary, however this is outweighed by aura benefits.
Theoretically an Insight, Cure and Prayer based A2 Merc has incredible synergy as the abilities stack with each other. However, forgoing Might is suboptimal, even when using a Pride or Beast Iron Golem.
Merc bramble is a fantastic way to acquire a thorns aura for your army, without sacrificing Enigma and teleport. Given Pride is not a optimal for optimizing merc damage regardless, a fortitude to further buff individual merc damage is not necessary. Bramble provides your entire party with an additional damage source.
Chains of Honor / Treachery
Chains of Honour is a great option if you are having merc survivability issues in the end-game, while Treachery is a great early-mid game option for general survivability.
Leveling with a Summonmancer is relatively simple as your skills progress uniformly with your primary summons (Skeletal Warriors) being available from level 1. As such you can focus on buffing them as you level. If you are finding your summons are ineffective at certain points in leveling, you may consider reskilling to Poison or Bone skills to get over sticking points. This can be particularly helpful for act bosses such as Duriel which can quickly wipe your army of summons if you're not careful. Your mercenary is very important so remember to hire one as soon as possible to enhance your army's strength. If you are participating in party play, make sure you allow your minions to tank for your allies.
This guide should provide you a good foundation for building a Summonmancer, whatever your budget. Test different builds and find what's right for you and enjoy watching as your army does all the work for you. Don't forget to consider the relevant breakpoints to create an optimal setup.
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