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Elementalist by lMarcusl
The Elementalist is a Druid that focuses solely on the Elemental Skills. By doing so, this character frees up a lot of skill points that would otherwise be used for e.g. summoning pets (Wind Druid) and therefore can develop multiple Elemental skills to their maximum potential. He uses Molten Boulder and Tornado as his main offensive skills, supported by Armageddon and Hurricane for maximum destruction. This offers Elementalists a great variety of damage types to use (Fire, Cold, Physical), which makes them able to deal even with Hell difficulty's immune monsters.
This guide was written and tested for single player playthrough across all difficulties using patch 1.13. This guide will assume that the player has to rely solely on the items he finds when playing the character.
Elementalist Druids are essentially an equivalent of Sorceresses in that they wholly rely on their spells to survive and kill their enemies. Druids, however, are more difficult to use in this manner than Sorceresses are, since their skills are more cumbersome and chaotic. They require more skill to use than a Sorceress, who can hurl Fireballs on all sides tirelessly, but that doesn't mean that they are not viable all the way to Hell. This character may seem unwieldy at first, as there are four skills that you will be using constantly, most of which have a cooldown. However, the chaotic nature of these spells also allows them to be potentially more destructive then Sorceress' if used properly.
When using the Elementalist, it is important to be on the move and always have Hurricane or Armageddon active, since they both have quite a long cooldown and you don't want to be caught unprepared and unable to cast when you encounter an enemy. The moment you set foot out of town, you should cast Hurricane or Armageddon depending which one of them lasts longer with your particular build (see Skill Point Allocation for more) and also Cyclone Armor if you built it up to a reasonable level. Once you encounter a group of enemies, you should cast the remaining skill from the Hurri/geddon duo to reach maximum damage potential. On lower difficulties, these two spells will easily be enough to slaughter entire groups of monsters, as their lack of immunities will make them vulnerbale to the full force of your magic. By simply walking or running (depending on enemy speed) around the monsters or away from them, the Elementalist will be protected from attack by staying slightly out of reach of the enemy while keeping the monsters within range of the Armageddon/Hurricane spell radius. This strategy becomes especially effective when moving away from the enemy at the same pace as the enemy approaches. Due to the nature of the Armageddon spell, when standing still the meteors will be falling in random pattern around the Elementalist. However, when moving the meteors will fall relative to the Druid's position, but due to the time they take to impact the ground they will actually be landing behind the Druid, i.e. exactly where the monsters following you will be standing. This results in absolute destruction of entire packs of monsters, as the pursuers, grouped together, will be exposed to a relentless meteor shower with almost flawless accuracy.
The issue becomes a little more complicated on the Hell difficulty. With the introduction of immunities, the strategy loses somewhat on effectiveness as most of the time enemies will be immune to either Hurricane (and will thus most likely not be sufficiently slowed for you to keep them at arm's length) or Armageddon (in which case they will be untouchable by your main killing force). Fortunately, the Elementalist is no slouch when it comes to direct confrontation as well due to the existence of Tornado and Molten Boulder (against Fire + Physical Immunes perhaps also Arctic Blast). While somewhat unpredictable, Tornado is an excellent spell which can plow through groups of monsters in no time, providing a great source of physical damage which can easily help you deal even with monsters granted both Fire and Cold immunity. Molten Boulder on the other hand has the beautiful ability to knock enemies back constantly. Meaning the lowly 400-500 dmg it deals becomes considerably more impressive since it is being dealt continuously every second or so. It also keeps enemies from attacking you up close and forces them to pass through your Hurricane and Armageddon again and again. This makes Molten Boulder a perfect skill against smaller enemies, including Uniques. Is Fangskin or Beetleburst giving you trouble? Simply cast Boulder on him and watch him get rolled over. The Unique will be unable to move, run or attack, since it will be getting knocked back over and over again until it dies, rendering it completely harmless. Larger enemies could pose a problem for this skill, e.g. Blunderbores or Gargantuan Beasts since they can't get knocked back by the Boulder and instead make it explode upon contact. Fortunately, these monsters are even bigger targets for Armageddon and Tornado so they shouldn't put you through too much trouble. As mentioned before however, expect your playing experience to get much tougher on Hell, since you will have to be switching up damage types all the time because of enemy immunities. Fortunately, since you will usually have either Hurricane or Armageddon active at all times, you will always be just one cast away from being a threat to whatever enemy you encounter. Monsters that do not have either cold or fire immunity will still be a toast for you even on Hell.
Due to the fact that the Elementalist has no room for summoning skills, the only meat shield you will be able to obtain for yourself is the Hireling. Thus, it is recommended to select the Holy Freeze Mercenary, as his aura provides both of you with great survivability as well as somewhat solves the issue of Cold Immune monsters not being slowed down by your Hurricane. It is vitally important that you keep your hireling alive at all times, as the Hell playthrough will become much more difficult and snail-paced without the hireling taking most of the enemy aggro. Don't go too crazy with gambling towards the end of nightmare because resurrecting your hireling might get pricy.
Attribute Point Allocation
As mentioned before, this build is essentially an equivalent of the Sorceress. As such, it will focus less on the physical aspects of the primary attributes and focus mainly on the resources (Life and Mana). However, unlike the sorceress's wands and staves, items that usually boost the Elementalist's skills the most require decent amount of Strength (e.g. Earthshaker). It is therefore a good idea to keep your strength a little higher than you would expect with a caster build. Since this is a PvM build which you would ideally be taking all the way through Normal, Nightmare, and Hell, I'll be presuming that your target character level will be around 84. At that point, your stats should look as shown on the image.
Since a lot of the Druid-benefiting items have a solid strength requirement (clubs most of the time), and it is always a good idea to keep your build open for unique/rare armors and shields that could ease your way through Hell, you should probably keep your Strength at or around 120. In the case of my Elementalist, my strength ended up being 140 at the end of the game since I obtained a socketable Chaos Armor and created Smoke (NefLum) to take care of resistance problems. Whatever item you aim for or whatever good item you find, don't be afraid to build your strength up for it...if it's worth it. If you are satisfied with what items you have for the moment and don't feel like building up for a good item that may not come, dump the spare attribute points into Vitality.
Since this is a caster build, Dexterity is wholly unsubstantial for its success. This character will be using shields mainly for the resistance bonuses they usually provide rather than blocking. Excessive blocking will only hinder your ability to keep moving or casting which are the two most important aspects of this build. Also, since this character's main strategy involves a "lot" of running, your defense rating is not as important as with other builds (defense drops to zero when running). That however doesn't mean you should completely ignore the armor rating of your items.
Vitality is of course a must for every build that hopes to be successful. Since the Elementalist uses no pets and relies only on his mobility, skills and hireling to keep him out of harm's way, Vitality must be the main focus of your build. Ideally, you should devote your points equally among Strength, Vitality and Energy (e.g. 5 points each per 3 levels). Once you get your Strength and Energy high enough for that particular difficulty (around 80 at the end of Normal, around 100 at the end of Nightmare) you can devote the rest of your points for that difficulty to Vitality. It is important to remain flexible and adjust your character to its needs at the moment. If you are getting torn apart by your enemies a lot, don't be afraid to break the routine and devote a number of levels to building up your Vitality.
As already mentioned, Life and Mana will be the main things your character will be relying on. Elementalist Druid's skills are quite expensive mana wise (most of your skills will be costing well over 20 mana/spell), but on the other hand, Elementalist doesn't need to (or is unable to) cast spells nearly as often as a Sorceress would. Therefore it is up to you how much points you want to devote to Energy, but if you feel that you are doing really well with the amount of life you have (ideally somewhere around 700 by the end of Nightmare) don't be afraid to pump up your mana reserve. Note that for example when fighting the Ancients, every point of mana you have counts. You don't want to run out of Mana Potions when there are still two Ancients after you.
Skill Point Allocation
Now we come to the most important part of the Elementalist build - skills. Unlike the Wind Druids, this character relies more on the volcanic side of his skills although wind skills are also essential to his success, especially on higher difficulties. The daily bread will be the Tornado/Molten Boulder + Armageddon/Hurricane combination. Since Armageddon requires you to first learn every skill in the Elemental Tree, you will have to dedicate at least one point to Firestorm, Arctic Blast, Fissure, Volcano and Twister even though you won't really be using them. The point allocation in my build was as shown on the image.
The Tornado/Boulder/Hurricane/Armaggedon skills are the most important spells you will be using; therefore, it is essential you get them to the highest level. The pace at which you do that is yours to decide, however, preferrably, your Molten Boulder should be built up constantly during Normal, since this skill will be getting you through most of the difficulty. When you are not picking up new skills, just put points into the Boulder. From level 24, you should start pumping your points into Tornado, as it can be spammed constantly (unlike Boulder). You should pick both Hurricane and Armageddon at level 30 (you must save up an extra skill point of course) and then allocate the rest of the skill points you will obtain during Normal into those two skills equally (Normal usually ends somewhere around lvl 38 so that's 5 points to each of the skills). That should ensure that they will be viable at the start of Nightmare. Once you reach Nightmare, it is best to build up Hurricane and Armageddon a little bit more first (Molten Boulder should be close to if not already level 20 so you need not worry about it anymore) and then devote a couple more points (ca 4-5) to Tornado. Tornado will be a very imporant skill for you because Hurricane, Armageddon and Molten Boulder all have a cooldown during which you can't cast either of those. Tornado does not suffer from this cooldown, therefore while your skills are recharging, you should be tossing Tornadoes around endlessly.
Fissure and Cyclone Armor increase the duration of Armageddon and Hurricane respectively. Since both Armageddon and Hurricane have the annoying cooldown, you don't really want to have to cast both these spells constantly. It is up to you whether you put points into Fissure or the Armor, but it is a good idea to pump up one of these skills with the skillpoints you have to spare after your main skills are maxed. In my build, I have chosen to train Cyclone Armor since it will ease your worries with resitances a little bit.
As every well-behaved caster, Elementalist lives and dies by his gear. A good gear can add as much as a 1000 damage to every meteor of your Armageddon. However, since we are aiming for a strictly single player PvM build, we can't set our goals too high. There are some things, though, that we can influence.
First off, finding a good Druid Pelt with two sockets is a good way to go. It is essential that it has +x to a skill you will be using. Whichever skill it is, it will be a great help to you. I have found +3 to Molten Boulder in Act 2 Normal and couldn't have been happier. Once you find such a helmet, keep it safe in your Stash until you find the Sol Rune (probably somewhere in your Nightmare playthrough). By putting Ort+Sol into your Pelt and making the Lore runeword, you have ensured that you have a nice boost to your skills, some extra mana from monsters you kill and a little lightning resist to boot. You can't count on the fact that you will find a unique Druid Pelt, so it is best to be sure you use your head properly.
Amulets and Rings are a fickle business as it is risky to gamble them (they are quite expensive). Just make do with what you find. Should you find an Amulet that adds something to Elemental skills or all skills, it's a no-brainer. I was lucky enough to find Gaean Amulet, but it is not worth breaking your neck and your gold reserve just to find something similar. Resistances are quite common on Rings which is just fine for this character. Elemental attacks from afar will be the most common kind of damage you will be taking.
Armors are important mainly for the resists and other bonuses like +x to Life, rather than for armor protection. If you can make a nice Runeword like Smoke (+50 to all resistances), by all means do it. If you find a great Armor that you lack the Strength to wear, build up for it if it's worth the effort. But remember that the Elementalist is always on the move. Good armor rating can definitely make things easier for you but don't rely on it too much. It would be a shame to throw away an Armor with nice resists just because the one you found offers slightly better defense. Aim for the bonuses you really need - health, mana, faster cast rate/recovery/run, resistances, bonuses to skills. Skin of the Vipermagi is always a nice find and relatively common in Nightmare so just hope for the best.
Weapons (one handed of course) are a bit tricky since most of the time, you'll be holding a stick in your hand and have nothing to do with it since you are not a physical fighter. Unlike a Sorceress or a Necromancer, there are no wands or staves dedicated to your class, so what you should be aiming for are simply any and all one handed weapons with faster cast rate, mana after each kill or similar bonuses. If you have excess money, try gambling for Clubs (they are quite cheap which helps). The chances are small but if you persevere, you might come across Dark Clan Crusher at some point during your playthrough. Even if you don't, rare clubs on higher difficulties can sometimes also carry bonuses to Druid skills. If you have spare money, try your luck. If you are doing OK with your resistances, it might be a good idea to use some magic find Ring or Gloves etc. to help you out.
Belts and Gloves don't matter much, just look for the usual bonuses you might need like extra health or mana or some resistances. You can't expect to find much more for these slots.
With your Boots, try to get some with the aforementioned bonuses but watch out for run speed bonuses. You don't want to speed away from your opponents in an instant when you want to get them into the Armageddon rain in your wake, but you also want to be able to create some distance to recast Hurricane etc. 20% Faster Run Walk is an ideal. Having more might cause some problems in the...ehm...long run.
As for the Shield, it doesn't matter what armor rating or chance to block it has as your Dexterity will suck anyway. You won't be blocking a thing and you don't really want to either. It is best to knock the monsters senseless with the Boulder or try to back off rather than to be locked in place blocking all the time. Preferrably, you should get a Shield with two sockets and put Rhyme Runeword into it (Shael+Eth). Not only does it give you a nice magic find and bonus to resistances, it also increases your mana regeneration slightly and gives cannot be frozen. This alone makes this Runeword an ideal for every character that uses a Shield in my book. In Single Player you can't count on finding the best Shields imaginable, and this is not only an easy to obtain Runeword but also a perfect addition for any character you might be using thanks to the amazing bonuses it provides.
Last up are Charms. As always, just look for resistances (a good thing to do with any character) but keep your eyes peeled for life bonuses as well. We want this Elementalist to be a good survivor but as mentioned in the Attribute Allocation we can't afford to dedicate every single point to Vitality.
Well, folks, that's all for this build. Hope you enjoy playing it;-)
|Elemental Druid by ReBjorn • Elementalist by lMarcusl • Mauler by emilemil1|
Werewolf Druid by Zhar • Wind Druid by Nadenitza