Fri. May 24th, 2024

Once you’ve decided on a character, you’ve made a significant step toward narrowing down your playstyle; however, skill points are ultimately what determine builds.   Whether your Amazon uses a fan of arrows to attack foes or throws lightning javelins, whether your Paladin justly smites foes into submission or throws a spiral of magic hammers from behind the protection of his shield, whether your Sorceress blasts foes with fire, lightning, ice, or a combination of these elements.  .  .  That is entirely determined by the distribution of your skill points.   Since the distribution of your stat points is at least partially determined by the gear you choose to wear, the skills are what ultimately determine how your character is built.   In point of fact, the gear you seek out should be subordinate to your skill point allocation.

Every time one of your characters gains a level, you are awarded one Skill Point, which you can then put toward the purchase of one of the skills on your skill tree.   You can level up each of your character’s ten skills by devoting one of your character’s three skill trees’ worth of skill points to the specific skill you want to level up.   There is a maximum Skill Level (sLv) of 20 for each ability (this does not include bonus levels added by gear, shrines, or other skills like Battle Orders), and the effects of a skill increase in proportion to the level at which it is used.   This typically results in increased damage, defense, or attack rating, longer durations, larger areas of effect, additional projectiles, more powerful or more resilient minions, and other benefits.   Because the effects of increasing a skill’s level vary from skill to skill, it is impossible to make accurate generalizations about the effects of increasing a skill’s level.   Be wary of this fact, as increasing the level of a skill almost always results in an increase in the amount of Mana that it costs, and you do not want your offense to become difficult to maintain. 

Distribution of Skill Points

Reaching levels 85 to 90 is a much more reasonable goal, and most builds should be mostly complete by that point.   The maximum level that can be attained is 99, but reaching that level is more of a pipe dream than anything else.   However, even if you reach the theoretical maximum level of 99, there are still 98 Skill Points available to you as you level up.   In addition, there are three quests that offer additional Skill Points as rewards: The Den of Evil in Act 1 (one additional Skill Point), Radament’s Lair in Act 2 (one additional Skill Point), and The Fallen Angel in Act 4 (two additional Skill Points).    Each of these quests can be found in their respective acts.   You can earn a total of 12 additional skill points by completing each of these three quests three times, once in the Normal difficulty, once in the Nightmare difficulty, and once in the Hell difficulty.   Therefore, a character who has reached the maximum level of 99 and finished all of the quests will have 110 skill points available to assign.  

If you assume that level 89 is a reasonable stopping point for most builds, then there are exactly 100 Skill Points available around which we can plan end-game builds.   In actual play, this implies that the majority of builds will strive to reach their maximum potential in about five skills, spending any unused points on the prerequisites for additional skills and focusing any shortages on the least advantageous of the five main build skills.   Naturally, there are builds that do not require five skills to be maxed out, and there are also skills that, despite being useful to the build, are not worth maxing out for a variety of reasons.   However, in most cases, you will either be maximizing a skill to its maximum potential or putting one point into it and letting +Skills gear do the rest of the work. 

Competencies Both Active and Passive

There are two types of skills, active and passive skills, and the only difference between the two is how they are implemented.  
The vast majority of skills are active skills; when you invest at least one point in an active skill, you unlock the ability to use it; after that, all you have to do is assign it to a hotkey and you’re good to go.   Utilizing active skills typically costs Mana, and certain ones may also require the use of other resources;To name a few examples, the ability to use Corpse Explosion requires the use of corpses, and the Iron Golem ability requires the use of a base item in order to create the golem.   Aside from the fact that you have to click a button in order to use an active skill and, in most cases, spend some mana in order to do so, these abilities are incredibly diverse and have very little else in common with one another.  

On the other hand, there are passive skills, which, once the relevant skill has been invested in, provide permanent improvements to a variety of parameters.   Sword Mastery will increase a Barbarian’s Damage, Attack Rating, and Critical Strike chance when wielding swords.   Skeleton Mastery will improve a Necromancer’s skeletons and revives.   Fire Mastery will increase the damage dealt by all of a Sorceress’s fire spells.   Skeleton Mastery will improve a Sorceress’s ability to cast fire spells.  

Skill Trees

As was mentioned earlier, each character possesses three skill trees, each of which contains ten skills.   They are free to allocate their investment capital across a wide variety of skills and skill trees; however, it is important to keep in mind that certain skills have prerequisites.   Generally speaking, skills are organized into tiers that correspond to a player’s level.   While some skills allow you to start investing in them at Level 1, others require you to be at Level 6, Level 12, Level 18, Level 24, or Level 30, respectively.   Ice Bolt, for instance, can be acquired as soon as you earn a Skill Point, whereas Ice Blast necessitates that you reach level 6, Shiver Armor necessitates that you reach level 12, Glacial Bolt necessitates that you reach level 18, Blizzard necessitates that you reach level 24, and Frozen Orb cannot be invested in until level 30.  

In addition, the amount by which your character level meets and exceeds the level requirement of a skill determines the maximum number of Skill Points that can be invested into that skill.   For instance, you need to be level 30 in order to invest a point into Frozen Orb.   However, you will need to level up once more in order to invest a second point, and you won’t be able to max out Frozen Orb (at sLV20) until you reach level 50.  

You are not required to invest Skill Points whenever you gain a level, and while it is true that you cannot spend Skill Points on skills for which you do not yet have the required level, you are also not prevented from doing so.   It is entirely up to you whether or not you want to save your Skill Points for other abilities that are further down the tree.   This comes in handy if, for example, there are two skills that you really want to invest in at the same time, such as the Paladin’s Blessed Hammer and Concentration skills, which both require you to reach level 18 before you can spend any points in them.   This allows you to invest in both skills at the same time, which is convenient.  

Additionally, some skills necessitate the possession of other skills.   After all, this is essentially the whole point of arranging them in the form of a tiered tree.   As an illustration, let’s look at the Chilling Armor branch of the Cold Skills tree for the Sorceress.   In order to buy Chilling Armor (Lv24), you must first buy Shiver Armor (Lv12), which in turn requires you to buy Ice Blast (Lv6) and Frozen Armor (Lv1)It is sufficient to invest a single point in a skill in order to qualify for it and gain the ability to freely progress down the tree to other skills.   You’ll be happy to know that the skill trees come equipped with handy arrows that point out the prerequisites for each skill, so if you’re ever unsure, just follow the arrows!

Synergies

It’s funny to think about how synergies weren’t even supposed to be a part of the game in the beginning, because now they’re one of the most important factors in determining how builds turn out.  Back in the day, it seemed like every few weeks, Blizzard made us start over with a new character, so yeah, that.  (Not only that, but there was no such thing as respecing back in those days.   Fun!)

In any case, some skills are related to other skills to the extent that having knowledge of one skill confers benefits on having knowledge of another skill.   This typically takes the shape of awarding another skill a fixed bonus of X percent to its damage dealt per skill level, but there are other possible benefits.   When viewing skills on the skills page, the exact boons that a synergy provides and from what skills it does so are indicated on each skill, and in some Diablo 2 ladder runes, investing in a primary offensive skill and its synergies is the main focal point of a build, if not the entire build plan.   Because of how important this is to builds, builds are frequently named after their primary ability, such as Hammeradin, Blizzard Sorceress, and so on.  

We’ll use the Blizzard skill, which is what gives the Blizzard Sorceress build its name, as an example of how much of an impact synergies have on the potency of a skill.   This will help us emphasize just how much of an impact synergies have.   For you to be able to buy the level 24 skill Blizzard, you must first buy Glacial Spike (level 18) and Frost Nova (level 6).    In addition, Glacial Spike requires that you have Ice Blast (level 6) and Ice Bolt (level 1) in your skill tree.   Blizzard has a number of synergies, including Ice Bolt, Ice Blast, and Glacial Spike, which each grant an additional +5% Cold Damage for every sLv that is invested.   If this is the case, then the Blizzard’s base damage of 45-75 will already have been increased to 51-86 before we even have the ability to unlock it.  

Putting more Skill Points into Blizzard will, of course, make it deal more damage (while also increasing the amount of Mana it costs.  .  .  ).   Moreover, by the time it reaches level 10, it already deals 241-286 damage.   This becomes 655-711 damage when maxed out at sLv20, which may seem like a lot compared to where it started, but on Hell difficulty, it won’t be enough to frighten off many of your opponents.   Now, if we max out Ice Bolt, Blizzard’s damage is increased to 1197-1299, which is a boost that nearly doubles Blizzard’s damage without increasing its Mana cost in the slightest! After maxing out Ice Blast, our damage has increased to 1738-1887, and after finally maxing out Glacial Spike, our damage from Blizzard has increased to a respectable 2280-2476.  

+Skills Gear

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about temporary skill bonuses.   The majority of the time, this is due to the use of certain pieces of equipment, such as the Harlequin Crest, Mara’s Kaleidoscope, The Oculus, Skin of the Vipermagi, a Spirit shield, Stone of Jordan, or Arachnid Mesh.   These are all examples of pieces of buy Diablo 2 items that boost skills.   It is common for skill boosts to be located on circlets, amulets, and other pieces of class-specific equipment (such as Amazon bows, Assassin claws, Barbarian helmets, Druid pelts, Necromancer totems, Paladin shields, and Sorceress orbs), but they can also be located on runewords, sets, or unique pieces of gear in other slots.   It should come as no surprise that some +Skills gear is quite valuable given the amount of power that it can yield.   Case in point: Case in point:

You can find bonuses to your skills not only on your equipment, but also on charms.   The one-of-a-kind small charm Annihilus and the one-of-a-kind large charm Hellfire Torch both provide a bonus to skills (Annihilus grants +1 to all skills, and Hellfire Torch yields +3 skills to a random character type), and magical grand charms can also drop with a bonus to skills (albeit, only to a particular skill tree; however, if you’re a Blizzard Sorceress, +1 Cold

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