Diablo 2’s Necromancer is a rather macabre character whose mastery over death allows him to unleash more of it on his enemies. By declaring war on life, Diablo has unwittingly also picked a fight with death – here are the best Necromancer builds on offer.
The Necromancer is a less straightforward choice than characters like the Barbarian or the Sorceress. His style is not as clearly defined at first glance, but those who take the time to master his skills will find his gameplay rewarding and addictive.
While not a traditional ranged DPS character, spells form part of a Necromancer build but don’t expect something on the same level as the Sorceress. Equally, the Necromancer doesn’t match the Barbarian or the Paladin when it comes to close-quarters combat.
Instead, the Necromancer utilizes a range of unique skills, such as curses, bone spells, and poison. But best of all is his ability to raise the dead to fight alongside him. The more enemies that fall, the more the Necromancer has to recruit to his undead army.
Imagine playing as the Night King from Game of Thrones. That’s one way to view Diablo 2’s Necromancer. Minions and cunning make up a good portion of his offense. He summons minions and runs around in the background, casting curses and trapping enemies in bone prisons.
While he’s not as hardy as some CQC characters like the Barbarian, he’s not a lamb to the slaughter close up either. Should enemies make it through his minions and come face-to-face with the Necromancer, he has plenty of other nasty tricks waiting for them.
His weapons of choice are daggers which he can enchant with poison. If imbued with buffs from socketed emeralds, charms, and magic, these can do massive damage to enemies that get too close.
We’d advise players to keep in mind that the main draw of the Necromancer is his minions. Therefore, if having a group of skeletons or resurrected enemies following you around dealing most of the damage isn’t your bag, then use a different character.
Most Necromancer builds utilize minions in some form. Part of the fun is watching your troops cause havoc on the battlefield, overwhelming the enemy forces. But that’s not to say that the player themselves can’t get equally involved in the melee.
This is the classic Necromancer build in Diablo 2. It involves spending most of your skill points on your summoning tree and watching your squad grow. While it takes a long time to build, the Necromancer can have a total of 62 followers.
This is made up of:
- 20 Raised skeletons (melee)
- 20 Raised skeleton mages (ranged)
- 1 Gollum
- 20 Revived enemies
- 1 Hired mercenary
Each skeleton or revived added is a skill spent, so getting to this point is high-level play. Remember, there’s also an option to spend skill points on ‘Skeleton Mastery,’ which raises the health and power of your skeleton warriors and mages. It sometimes pays to have fewer skeletons at a higher level, rather than lots of minions who are under-leveled and weak.
Mixed summoner continued – Gollums
The Gollum is a more powerful summon who sticks by you until he dies – or you creatively ‘unsummon him.’ But you can only have one Gollum at a time. He’s less likely to die in combat (unless overwhelmed) than the average skeleton. He can level up through ‘Gollum Mastery’ on the skill tree, but that’s not all.
Gollum’s can upgrade to Blood Gollums who are more powerful than the standard Clay Gollums. These vampiric monsters can heal you by killing enemies. Their health is tied to yours, so remember this can also work against you.
The next upgrade is Iron Gollum. Their advantage is they are created using a metal weapon so that the Gollum is imbued with that weapon’s buffs. Got a powerful poison dagger you no longer need? Turn it into an Iron Gollum and watch your enemies drop like flies.
Finally, there’s the Fire Gollum which is the most powerful form. He burns enemies that get too close to him and detonates upon death, which often takes his killers with him. You can also unsummon your Gollum in a crowd of enemies to take advantage of his explosive demise.
Mixed summoner continued – Revived
The revive skill is learned later in the game at level 30. This allows a player to revive up to 20 (1 per skill point) killed enemies for a limited time. Remember though, you need to be at least level 50 to max out this skill.
Revived minions will fight alongside you, your skeletons, your Gollum, and any mercenaries you have accompanying you. But they only last a brief period of time before they return to death and cannot revive again.
Revived minions being on a timer puts them at a disadvantage compared to skeletons, who last until they die in combat. But they do have one significant selling point. When a revived enemy fights for you, they do so at the level they died at and bring all their buffs and skills.
This means that your revives are likely to be much more powerful than your skeletons if you are a high-level character, playing on a challenging difficultly setting. They are as tough as any enemies you fight, so can hold their own. However, there is no Revived Mastery skill to upgrade them further.
Essentially an average mixed summoner build will use a Gollum, some leveled skeletons, and a few revived monsters per character.
Summoner build – Melee
This build essentially means focusing your summon skills on CQC summons like skeleton warriors and a Gollum. You can spend your points on them to level your skeletons into powerful fighters. You can also summon up to 20 at a time. Providing you’ve spent the skill points.
However, this build really benefits from some of the abilities below, especially curses and bone spells. This way your skeletons have an advantage over their enemies.
Summoner build – Elemental magic/projectiles
This is similar to the above, but instead of focusing on skeleton warriors, you summon a squad of skeleton mages. These guys use elemental magic on enemies, and enough of them creates a powerful barrage.
They have no skill up close though, so your priority is to protect your skeletons from enemies by using curses and other abilities.
We’d recommend all Necromancer players purchase a few curses, even if your build is minion heavy. Curses can cause enemies to run in panic, attack each other or move slowly. They are incredibly useful and can give you and your minions an advantage in combat.
A curse build is usually one that makes use of a lot of curses to -de-buff enemies and then pick them off. It’s a worthwhile strategy, but it requires skill points to be spent, reducing your freedom to purchase other skills.
The Necromancer isn’t as proficient in close quarters as some Diablo 2 characters. He’s not suited to swinging great mauls or axes. But his daggers can be lethal when used as a poison build. He also has other poison spells that complement his arsenal, such as poison cloud and poison nova.
Like curses, a poison build on its own may not be enough. But mix this with some summoning abilities and curses and you can have a very well-rounded necromancer.
Dead enemies have other uses besides reviving into skeletons or zombie monsters. Bone spells allow the Necromancer to blow up corpses which cause massive damage and is excellent for crowd control.
Bone walls will trap enemies in with your minions, separating them from their allies. The bone spear is also a helpful projectile and can level up to become even more deadly. Shooting these into combat while your minions get their hands dirty can be a very effective strategy.
So that’s it for our Diablo 2 Necromancer guide. If you’re looking to get a head start on your Sanctuary journey, be sure to check out our Diablo 2 guides:
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