indeed the Ancients on the Arrea summit are a pain in the ass since you are not packing much defense besides the Sacred Armor + Demiurge increased stats . but once you get passed them it's all fine . i had my merc tanking them , while i have positioned myself in such way that i could attack them without them attacking me .
1. the main damage is based on weapon damage ( Iron Spiral 1-shots most stuff in Normal , 2-shots stuff in Nightmare , fades away in Hell) , while the vessels are just as secondary damage until you get to replace your main attack to Exorcism , time when your whole setup and game style is changing (around character level 115)
deftwitch wrote:VOR / VOJ damage is at like 500
you must be forgetting how many times per second do the vessels hit . however , since you are not investing much to boost the vessels in early game , it's enough .
2. at this stage of the game , the best defense is the attack . as you said , you are killing them faster than they would come and hit you + you pack some nice life leech to keep you alive , besides the life regen you get from Sacred Armor and Vindicate . as long as you are hitting something , you will survive without any problem . the reanimates you get from Demiurge are also doing their job of distracting the opponents from focusing all on you + the barb merc will also help a lot .
once you replace your attack with Exorcism , it's more of a hit and run gameplay as the skill is spreading the damage to the enemies around . you will only need to hit one , and the chain reaction will affect the others in a decent AoE .
at that point you will only be using the Sacred Armor and Vindicate to regen your HP , while you will no longer be tanking so much "head-first" as you did in the part where your main damage was Iron Spiral . The Shrill Sacrament boots will also make an important difference for Exorcism's damage .
3. in end game you will have so much Hp regen from the 2 buffs above that you won't care much about being hit (eating an apple every few minutes is also a decent boost for that) + a high hp pool (between 20 and 30k depending on how you wish to spend your stats) + you will kill at a good speed , no need for summons or mercs (unless you equip your merc with a Khazra plate armor to boost you).
4 . i had a few days away from the Neutraldins and tried a few other builds that i had interest in, but i will most probably return to finish them in the next days .