This guide tells you almost everything there is to know about playing paladin melee char. You will be able to have a smooth start of the game, ability to solo end game content. And with the correct gears you will be able to punch through the crowds of monsters in hell difficulty even on players 8. Game style might not be suiting you but you will have a good idea how things work and maybe adapt to your own way of playing.
Character - paladin
Build - Melee + Black guardian skills
This is very important aspect of game, so please read and try to plan ahead your build to avoid major failures. All stats are important and more stats you have = better. Why ? There is a thing called character aptitude points, you need certain number of points to learn next level of your skills. How is Aptitude=Apt counted ? Formula: Apt = 1.5*Energy + 1.5*Dexterity + 1.0*Strength + 5*clvl + 0.05*clvl2 . So you see that in order to max Apt faster is to put points into dex and enery. Keep that in mind.
Strength - helps you wear better equipment, controls your hp regeneration (max time to have full hp bubble is 18s), afects damage reduction. Try to put mininum points here, just enough to wear best equipment.
Dexterity - improves damage, atack rating. Does not improve block. Try to max this after other stats are taken care of.
Vitality - affect your hp but not directly. There is a table showing how many points in vitality you need to have best amount of hp. Your vitality points are multiplied by points you invested into skills. Basically you want it to be multiplied by 6 everytime. Warning, late game you might get good item with +vitality or +%to vitality and roll over the best number of this stat. Then your skill points will be multiplied by 1 instead of 6 and you will lose a big amount of hp. For example at lvl 100 you need 275 vitality for max bonus. My char has only 210, the rest comes from equipment.
Energy - helps with mana regen and caster damage. Leave it at base value.
So in general when playing first get some points into str, then some vitality and dex. If you look at end game items and plan ahead you will have no problem with this. There is hero editor in mod folder, but i seen reports that it might damage your char data. Use at own risk. There are recipes, potions that give ability to exchange skill points for stat points and vice versus. Most of them will require materials from ingame monsters. So keep and eye out.
You will be playing melee paladin and you will be using two skill trees - Disciple skills and Black Guardian skills. You buy your skills from npc with gold. In normal difficulty you can get all your skills to lvl 10 and lvl 5 (depending on skill) in this way. Later you will have to find paladin npc and buy ingredients from him to craft your own skill tomes above lvl 10/5. Npc will sell blank tome + pen, you add lvl 1 tomes from act 1 npc and cube returns skill tome of max lvl. This requires a lot of gold but is worth it. In any given time try to have your skills maxed - this way you get more damage/defense/hp points since total of skill points will be multiplied by vitality. If you lack gold keep these skills close to max/max if possible - blood lust, fanatism, zeal, smite, black guard, defiance and charge. You will have 5 skills points when starting and you will be forced to use 1 into blood lust since npc is not selling lvl 1 tome. Save the rest of these points for later. You will be able to turn them into stat points via cube recipe. Most of the skills go up to lvl 30/15 then Apt point requirement becomes 9999 which indicates - skill is already at max. This can be done with tomes only so no need to spend your skill points.
You start with 10k gold, shield and sword with smite. Put one point into blood lust and buy lvl 1 fanatism. Put 10/10- points into dex/str and learn fanatism skill. Smite on left button, fanatism on right - go out of town to get more gold. You need another 6k for zeal skill. How to get gold ? Two options:
1. Boring way - smite everything around, collect small amount of gold. Repeat.
2. Dangerous way - enable /players 8 and ignore mobs. Run around exploring chests, rocks, houses. You are vulnerable to mobs so keep kiting. Gold and drops from chests are way better.
Sell all items to Akara only - she gives best gold for your crap. Buy more ID scrolls, ID rare (golden) items. Compare rare items and sell the worst ones, use the better even if a single stat is better. Don't be lazy. Good things to look on rares:
max resists and resists
atacker takes xx damage - very good stat, takes care of ranged mobs while you kill melee ones. Basically they kill themselves.
hp/mp on atack
When you get 6k gold, buy zeal and start using it instead of smite. Smite vs zeal. What to choose and why ? Zeal is very nice skill, sadly it gets you in trouble when figthing lightning enhanced (LE) mobs and bosses with counter procs. In general you want to do kill in one hit and if not possible in smallest amounts of hits. LE and bosses will have deadly procs which you want to avoid. Other than that zeal is perfect option for using your own procs and surviving while surounded. Smite - very good because it always hits, so no need for high amount of dex in early game. Vert good against bosses and LE, because it pushes LE back and creates temporary safe distance to kite procs. I started as zealer paladin but switched to smite in nightmare difficulty.
Other melee skills did not offer me good results so i never put much effort in using them. You will be using same skills in all difficulties most of the time. Buff your defense/block with black guard, switch to fanatism, zeal+smite everything. Simple, effective, boring - works. When you have enough gold to buy all lvl 1 and lvl 2 skills from act 1 npc - it's time invest gold in xp. For this reason i advice collecting some early game sets since they give +25% xp and it affects xp from tomes. Always calculate how much xp you need to next lvl and try not to go over that limit. Try to reach new lvl before important fights to prevent losing xp on death.
Progression through game
Compared to most chars you will have an easy start. Act 1 is an easy walk, stay in it for longer if you are farming sets/gold/materials. Andariel is peace of cake. Duriel is hard, one of the hardest bosses for you in game. He has a set of nasty skills like frozen orb, fast melee atacks, leap, curse that amplifies damage and so on. Act 2 merc might help you here but you will end up tanking damage and runing around trying to take agro from boss and keeping merc alive to do damage. Mephisto is easy but in this current version he is LE - broken boss. Diablo is average - the area he is in gives more problems than boss himself. But when you clear totems it's an easy fight. Baal is average too, his waves might give more trouble than boss himself. Act 2 poison merc gives a lot of support damage vise. He is so good simply because the equipment boosting poison damage exists. And because poison does not trigger most of the bad procs. LE mobs will be triggered but once poisoned most of them will probably die in single atempt. Act 5 halls of rotting is probably the best place to level up, farm gold and materials. On players 8 you can easily level up to 60 and beyond in normal. You get good xp while killing mobs plus good gold which means even more xp from tomes. There are few charms that you need to get: second class charm from act 2 sewers Radament, unique charm from act 2 canyon of magi boss Kaa, arcane token from act 2 sanctuary area and customizable charm from act 3 temple location.
Nightmare is almost the same. Hardest bosses - Duriel and snake mini boss in act 2 that guards quest amulet. There is a guide how to get more gold if you need. Upgrade your charms with more options, get new unique charm in act 2 canyon of magi boss Kaa. I rushed through most of the acts leaving regular mobs behind. Opened boxes, chests where i could, killed unique mobs just to see what happens. Same tactics against act/other bosses. Use smite/zeal, when boss is not tankable - run around taking small amounts of damage while merc poisons it to death. Use bow on switch + poison arrows if necessary.
Hell - nothing new, farm areas where you can. If strugling - go back to nightmare act 5 halls of rotting and farm there for gold, xp and items. Buy skills, xp. When you reach max level on char and skills - gold becomes useless. You can try gambling rings/amulets. I get 1 unique or set ring/amulet for 2 full inventories of gambling. But sometimes game crashes with too much crap on your char.
Useful tips for gears while you play.
Hsarus set - only lvl 20 requirement, gives 100 OW, IAS, CB, xp bonus. Realy nice set to use against bosses that you cannot tank. Aplying OW and runing around is working strategy.
Lesser Oath runeword in weapon - 1 socket rw, very nice attributes on weapon for melee char. lvl 25 requirement
Lesser damnation runeword in armor - 3 socket rw, 100 hp per kill, rip mod, +1 skills, damage to mana, lvl 30 requirement.
Crafting - basically it is collecting all materials through acts, extracting new materials later and using them to upgrade your gears. I recomend crafting when your IML (item modification level) is 5 and above. Higher IML means less cost for extracting from cube bank. You get +3 levels of IML in each difficulty and last 10th level in Hell. IML skill books are dropped by Smith in act 1, dragon guarding forge in act 4 and Nithlakh in act 5.
Tempering - big upgrade for your rare items. It is expensive and needs item + temper rune + hp/mp potion + gem. Gems levels increase by 11 last one is 99. When tempering and item - the process adds +1/+3 to lvl requirement. So beware. All class items can be tempered once only. Class items from clod can be tempered 20 times.
I recomend tempering only when you know what stuff you need items and you checked the aftermathcentral and made small research. I tried crafting/tempering adamantium stuff - results were not impressive.
Rerolling glyphs - you collect them through acts and store in cube bank. At cost of 3 glyphs you can reroll rare armor/weapons. Realy useful thing
to get a nice base rare item for tempering. Try to get some aoe proc on your weapon for melee paladin. I have seen fisure on striking, amplify damage,
frozen orb, ect. Chance to cast these procs varie from 5% to 1%. Better proc = lower chance in most cases.
Most of my gears/charms pictures can be found in this topic, so please explore.
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