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Hybrid Amazon by lMarcusl
It makes perfect sense when building an Amazon to focus on either her Bow & Crossbow Skills or her Javelin & Spear Skills. Why, after all, invest into Bow skills you cannot use when wielding a Javelin? What if you spec into both and only find powerful javelins but no good bows; wouldn’t half of the build suddenly become useless? Why pick skills from two trees that have no direct synergies between each other, when you can instead focus heavily on one tree and get the most out of it in return? It simply wouldn’t make sense to make a hybrid, right? R-right?
That was always the way I thought about the Amazon; a class that, really, only has a single skill tree to use per build: either Bows or Javelins, each exclusive to one another. Then, what extra points she has, she invests into her supporting passive tree and that’s the build. It wasn’t until after building a Bowazon and a Javazon and taking them through the Hell difficulty that I realised how many shortcomings each of the builds has and how limiting the focus on a single weapon type is. The Hybrid Amazon combines the best aspects of the Bow & Crossbow and Javelin & Spear trees to create a versatile, undemanding and powerful “caster” build that circumvents these shortcomings and opens up a lot more possibilities than a focused Amazon build would. She uses her weapons not as a direct source of damage, but as a delivery mechanism for powerful “spell” effects, eliminating many of the problems a focused build would suffer from, while simultaneously allowing for much safer playstyle, less restrictive attribute allocation and easier gearing process.
This guide was written and tested for an untwinked, self-found playthrough across all difficulties using patch 1.14d.
The core of the build revolves around two skills in particular: Lightning Fury and Freezing Arrow. Two powerful elemental attacks that, when properly supported through gear and skill synergies, deliver hefty amounts of damage from afar, while complementing each other nicely when it comes to overcoming monster elemental immunities on Hell difficulty. The choice of Lightning Fury is a clear one. Lightning Fury is undeniably the best aspect of the Javelin tree and allows you to deliver electrical mayhem into enemy formations from afar, wiping out entire screens with just a few throws. Charged Strike then serves as a lethal single-target option, particularly suitable for Act Boss killing. The issue a Javazon usually suffers from is the fact that both these excellent skills deal lightning damage, making Lighting Immunes a rather sizeable headache once the player reaches Hell difficulty. Under normal circumstances, this forces the player to spec heavily into the passive tree to improve their defences (Dodge/Avoid/Evade + high level Valkyrie) and damage (Penetrate, Critical Strike). Then, the player has to cross their fingers that they find some powerful Javelins to use as a melee weapon, because the character simply has no option other than to close into melee and poke away at Lightning immune enemies with physical damage. Not so for the Hybrid Amazon. By spending half of her skill points in the Bow & Crossbow tree, the Hybrid Amazon acquires a fairly beefed up Freezing Arrow to eliminate any Lightning Immunes she encounters while, vice versa, her Javelins handle any Cold immunes that bar her way. While Freezing Arrow is not generally the main star of a Bowazon’s skill tree, the reason is not that Freezing Arrow itself is a weak skill. Rather, many Bowazons will generally try to focus on a skill such as Strafe to deliver physical damage and Freezing Arrow comes in as a secondary support skill to handle Physical immunes (or vice versa, Freezing Arrow is the focus and physical damage is used to deal with Cold Immunes). The issue Bowazon runs into is that, frankly, most Bows do fairly low damage, and none of the physical bow skills particularly help in that respect. Strafe itself does nothing for the Amazon’s attack rating, necessitating a large investment into Dexterity and Penetrate, while also actively reducing the Bowazon’s already measly damage per arrow through the skill’s ¾ damage penalty. The end result is that a pure Bowazon build has to rely on high rate of fire, large number of shots, and distance to down enemies or, alternatively, can focus more heavily on Freezing Arrow, but suffer severely against Cold Immunes due to lacking physical damage.
The Hybrid Amazon does away with all of that. She has access to powerful Lightning skills to bypass Cold immunities, does not care at all about the damage her bow deals, since Freezing Arrow works mostly off of flat added Cold damage, and she does not have to worry about her attack rating whatsoever, since the Cold aspect of Freezing Arrow always hits and deals damage, regardless of whether or not the physical arrow does or not. In this respect, Freezing Arrow works more as a spell, say, a Glacial Spike, than an attack. And so do, in fact, both Charged Strike and Lightning Fury, meaning the Hybrid Amazon does not care about neither the damage her bow and javelins deal, nor the attack rating she has. For this reason, I would classify the Hybrid Amazon more as a spellcaster than a fighter. One thing worth noting is that, for those who’ve played a Javazon before and want to try something a little bit different, the Hybrid Amazon is not even strictly limited to using only Lightning Fury as her main lightning attack. Lightning Strike can be used in its place. However, it is important to consider that by doing so, the Amazon loses the ability to clear away larger, widely spread-out groups with as much ease and she can no longer do so from safety a screen away as she would with Lightning Fury. She will always require at least one monster in melee range, which can be a risky proposition in some situations. In addition, Lightning Strike does not in any way benefit from Pierce, which the Hybrid Amazon will invest into either way, and it is more easily neutralised by random Lighting immunes interspersed among the crowd. These monsters may absorb the damage from several Lightning Strike bounces where Lightning Fury just goes through them and hits anything behind. Also, where Lightning Fury delivers all of its damage in one massive burst, Lightning Strike does take a short while to bounce around, and will not generally deal as much damage to individual monsters when used on larger groups of enemies, as found, for instance, in Fallen camps or undead tombs, where Lightning Fury will utterly eradicate the screen. On the other hand, Lightning Strike deals approximately 50% more max damage while costing half as much mana and requiring you to use up no javelins from the stack. It absolutely excels at dealing with medium-to-small groups of enemies where Lightning Fury starts to fall far behind, since Lightning Strike will merrily bounce 20 times between 3-4 monsters until they all keel over and die, where Lightning Fury will barely tickle them. Food for thought.
Attribute Point Allocation
That was…a lot to talk about. Here, things are a lot simpler. Stupidly simple in fact. As explained above, the Hybrid Amazon does not care about the damage her weapons do and she does not care about her attack rating at all. The elemental portion of her attacks always connects, and the elemental portion i.e. the flat damage, is all she cares about. Her attacks are more akin to a Fireball than an actual attack in this respect. That means that the weapons she wants to wield are not the ones that deal the most damage, but the ones that allow her to boost up her skills as much as possible. She does not need to meet the requirements for the best Elite level weapons, she just wants to be able to carry the majority of the Amazon-specific Bows and Javelins she’s likely to find throughout the playthrough, as these spawn with inherent bonuses to her skill trees. Now, you want to get as many +skills for your Bow and Javelins as possible, but the highest +skills (+3) do not necessarily appear on the highest tier weapons.
It only takes around 75 Strength and 110 Dexterity to wield all of the Exceptional Amazon Bows and Javelins, which will cover the majority of the Amazon Bows and Javelins you’ll ever find before you finish the game. I did decide to invest more into my strength as I already found a decent Shield and Armor with the right number of sockets for my needs (more on that in the Gear section), and having some semblance of defence rating is never a bad thing since the Hybrid Amazon does need to close in to melee range for Charged Strike against bosses and certain large-sized monsters. However, it’s not necessary to go any higher than 75 Strength if you don’t feel like it. The rest, no surprise, should go into Vitality. However, since your attribute requirements are so low and you’ll have so many points to spare, it’s not at all out of the question to spend a couple of levels in Energy. The Hybrid Amazon is more of a caster, she cannot really leech mana from her attacks and her attacks cost quite a bit, so spending 6-10 levels in Energy is perfectly fine. Amazons gain 3 Life per Vitality, meaning some 10 levels not spent in Vitality costs you 150 Life. When you finish the game with over 1k Life, being some 150 Life poorer is not that much of a big deal, particularly for a mainly ranged character. Having some extra mana so you don’t have to hop back to town any more often than your ammo capacity demands is a nice quality of life improvement. Though you’ll still end up going to town more frequently than you’d like to repair those damn 80-stack Amazon Javelins :-/
Skill Point Allocation
As explained in the Playstyle section, you absolutely, definitely want to max out both Freezing Arrow and its main synergy, Cold Arrow, as well as Lightning Fury and Charged Strike to cover all your damage needs for both damage types. Turns out, that leaves you with a grand total of…10 skill points if you expect to finish the game at level 84. Well, damn. Guess we’re not getting a powerful Valkyrie with this one.
Actually, we are. Just not from our skill tree (more on that in the Gear section). We do, however, absolutely want to have at least 1 hard skill point in Valkyrie, which means we need to take all the prerequisites. We also most certainly want to have Pierce, since two of our three main attacks are projectiles. There is no need to put more than one point in, however. Our frankly ridiculous amount of +skills is going to take care of the rest. Ideally, you meander your way through normal just taking all the prerequisites for your skills and saving up skill points until you get to Charged Strike, then pump that skill up until you reach level 30. At that point, any extra skill points you have saved go into Freezing Arrow and Lightning Fury. Focus on those two skills until they are maxed, which should take you a good portion of Nightmare difficulty. Only after that do you start maxing out Cold Arrow for the synergy and finish off with Charged Strike last. Unfortunately at 84 you will be one skill point short of getting Charged Strike to 20, but I believe Lightning Fury and Charged Strike to be powerful enough as is. It is better to make sure your Freezing Arrow synergy is at maximum, since you need the skill to be able to carry you against Lightning Immunes.
This is where things just get absurd. The Hybrid Amazon can run around with non-magic Maiden Javelins and a Crude Stag Bow and be perfectly happy with that. It makes my martial characters weep. Always think of the Hybrid Amazon more as a Sorceress than an Amazon. Yes, her rate of fire is affected by attack speed, not cast speed. That’s about all she has in common with the martial classes. You want the following things on your gear: resistances, just enough to feel comfortable, they don’t need to be maxed; as many +skills per pixel as your inventory allows; life and, finally, mana. “Wait did he say mana?” “I know, wth?” Remember, we function more as a caster but don’t get a caster’s Mana growth per level/Energy. Get that blue globe nice and chunky if you can without sacrificing on the other aspects too much.
Now, considering the class we’re playing, the gear available to us, and the things we want on that gear, it just so happens, there’s a bunch of things we can do to get what we want. Firstly, getting +skills on your helmet is a breeze. You can gamble out +3 circlets for Bow or Javelin skills fairly easily later on (and have it socketed by Larzuk to cover resistance gaps, if you need to), but you can just as easily run around with the Lore runeword (OrtSol) in your helmet as early as late Normal difficulty. That is, unless you find something better, e.g. Sazabi’s Mental Sheath, that covers both some +skills and resistances. Amulet: same deal. You can gamble out resists, you can gamble out +skills of choice (+3 Bow/Jav skills when gambling after lvl 50 or so), the world is your oyster. Mid-level runes are not nearly as insultingly rare as they used to be back in my day (note to editor: insert a nifty “back in my day” joke here), so if luck allows, the shield you’ll carry in your offhand alongside your Javelins might be a good source of +skills as well (EthLum for the Splendor rune word). Whether or not you get that lucky (or feel like farming Countess), the Shield can also be a great place to smooth out your resistances (ShaelEth for the Rhyme runeword, or have Larzuk socket Sigon’s Guard for a Perfect Diamond or an Um rune if you’re not using Splendor). Funnily enough, you can even find some fairly robust +skills for Amazon on gloves, so don’t pass over even magic gloves that drop, especially say past mid-Nightmare difficulty. I finished the game carrying blue Chain Gloves of all things because they rolled the Archer’s prefix (+3 to Bow and Crossbow skills). Worth noting, you will generally want to have more +skills for your Bow skills than your Javelin skills, since Lightning Fury tends to do a very solid job in crowds even without +skill support. You do, however, want to squeeze out every bit of Freezing Arrow damage you can, since, unlike, say, a Sorceress, you don’t have a mastery to crunch down enemy resistances, and Freezing Arrow starts to scale really nicely when overlevelled.
As for the chest piece, it’s almost as if the Peace runeword (ShaelThulAmn) was made specifically for this build. It’s RIDICULOUSLY easy to make, yet gives you absolutely everything you want. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, it doesn’t give you life, mana, mana regen or particularly great resistances, but what it does do is provide +2 to all your skills, which is absurd considering the highest rune it requires is a Shael, and it gives you a proc to summon a level 15 Valkyrie on striking, which makes up perfectly for the fact we don’t have the skill points to pump out a tanky Valkyrie ourselves. The catch is, you need to have at least 1 hard point in Valkyrie yourself or the procced summon will keep timing out (sometimes instantly, sometimes after a minute or so), leaving you with no frontliner to tank for you aside from your Holy Freeze mercenary. Therefore, you’ll have to spend all the points for the prerequisites to get that 1 point into Valkyrie, and then you’re set. Now, the downside is that you cannot summon this Valkyrie at will, meaning if she dies or gets unsummoned somehow, you have to wait for the proc. In addition, procs like this only work off of your physical hits, i.e. your physical damage from arrows or javelins has to strike home for you to have a chance to summon a Valkyrie. Freezing Arrow or Lightning Fury damage itself won’t do. And your attack rating will likely be fairly low so you might have to wait a while for her to pop out, which can be rather problematic particularly against the Ancients or other enemies that just go straight for your throat at high velocity. That said, you do have the ability to summon your own Valkyrie, however weak she may be, if the need arises, and you have access to Decoy to serve as a distraction as well (works nicely when parked right in front of Madawc’s face on Hell difficulty for instance, to soak for your hireling).
Lastly and certainly not leastly, the weapons. You cannot really do much for your Javelins. +3 to Javelin and Spear skills with maybe some replenishing quantity, increased stack size or attack speed is about all you can hope for, and you can’t gamble them, so they just have to drop for you at some point. Remember though, that you can just use non-magic ones if you have to, the +skills is the most important number on them, the higher the better (also, don’t make the mistake of Imbuing them with Charsi if you find +3s, because she rerolls the stats and can leave you with +1 instead). As for the bow…the same applies in terms of +skills, the more on the base item, the better, and they can’t be bought or gambled. However, if you find/Countess farm/Hellforge savescum (naughty naughty) yourself a Ko rune, you can make the Melody runeword (ShaelKoNef) and boy is it filthy when you stick that thing in a +3 to Bow skills Amazon bow. All in all, I didn’t even get that lucky: my helmet only had +1 to all skills, my amulet was purely for mana and resists, my Bow for Melody only had +2 to Bow skills instead of +3 and I was still running around with a lvl 31 Freezing Arrow, dealing nearly 2000 damage a pop. Just by virtue of her class weapons and the ease of acquiring the class runeword Peace, the Hybrid Amazon was making most of my caster chars envious with how easy her gearing is for +skill bonuses. With just a bit more luck, you can easily get your numbers to even more ridiculous levels, perhaps at some minor expense to resistances. Any way you slice it, your gearing will be extremely easy yet reward you with a lot of power, which is always a sign of a strong build. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Well, folks, that's all for this one. Hope you enjoy playing it;-)
|Bowzon by Muroidea • Javazon by DeathMars|