The Sorceress is one of my personal favorite video game characters ever. From her lore as a Zann Esu to her pure-casting prowess, she embodies the very ARPG attributes that I love- casting and more casting. This will be my first character build guide, but is by no means the only extent of my knowledge of the character class. I have been playing Sorceresses-only for the past six years, and before that mixed them with other casting classes (like some Wind Druids, forms of Necromancers, and others). I hope this guide will be useful, enlightening, and easy to follow, as well as organized.
This guide will focus on the pure Lightning Spells Sorceress of Diablo II. It is encouraged that anyone reading this with interest should look over the other articles on the Sorceress, specifically all of the skill pages written about her in Lightning Spells and anything else you'd like to read. Even a brief recap of her history might be nice to know- check that out here.
Some things to consider if you're wanting to read through this guide:
- Do you love casting?
- Do you love the Sorceress?
- Do you love Diablo II?
- Are you willing to sacrifice a good chunk of your life for the next month or two to get this build to its highest potential?
If you answered yes to all of those questions: You have what you need to begin your journey of the mastery of the element of Lightning.
If you answered no at any point: Reassess your values and try again or get out of here.
- 1 Critical Notes
- 2 Overview
- 3 Stat Point Investment
- 4 Skill Point Investment
- 5 Gear Allotment
- 6 MFing with this Build
This guide/build was originally written for Diablo II: Lord of Destruction patch 1.12b and is currently being redone for patch 1.13c- if you find that some things have changed due to later patching or that this build does not quite work correctly anymore, it is probably outdated and needs some reworking. Feel free to contact me either on here or on the forums, or do the revisions yourself, although I'll be checking over this here and there to make sure it's still the same build.
Abbreviations Used in This Guide
You will find that periodically you may run in to acronyms that don't make a whole lot of sense. Please understand that these are either 1) to shorten my workload or 2) common acronyms used by players on Battle.net everyday. I will usually explain them when I type them for the first time in this guide, but I will put a comprehensive list here for future reference.
- STR - Strength Stat
- DEX - Dexterity Stat
- ENG - Energy Stat
- VIT - Vitality Stat
- FCR - Faster Cast Rate
- MF - Magic Find Item Modifier
The pure Lightning Sorceress is the embodiment of the Glass Cannon, a character build archetype that stands for anyone that sacrifices all sense of defense for unbridled power. The same is true here. If you are someone who is alright with this, continue reading. If you are not, stop and look for something else.
The particular build I'm offering here is a ES Lit Sorce, or Energy Shield Lightning Sorceress. This means that she will have almost no points in any other attribute but Energy. The reason for this is simple: The Sorceress, by her very nature, is not meant to be played as a tank. While that declaration may seem only a bit of archaic casting spewage (although it partly is, admittedly), it is also practical in all intents. This will all be explained later when I talk about this skill and how it will assist the pure Lightning Sorceress.
One of the major down sides to any pure build, but especially so of Lightning, is the cost of gear. Yes, you can play this character still and do a ton of MF (Magic Find) runs in Nightmare difficulty. Yes, you can still attempt to do PvP (Player versus Player) games (although this guide is not tailored to account for PvP). But, I'd imagine, you want to be able to tear the game apart. You want to solo a Chaos Sanctuary run in a couple of minutes. You want to clear a Baal run in no time flat. You want to destroy every boss in seconds in Hell mode so you can move on to your next MF run.
In that case, sad to say, you're going to need to invest a ton of time (as mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this guide) finding one particular item. I will, however, save that for later when I talk about your gear.
If, at any time, you should find yourself confused as to where you are or in need of finding a particular area of the page, please look to the index at the top of this page. It will show links to every section of this guide and then some. It will be useful.
Now, with all the legalities and details out of the way, onward with the guide!
Stat Point Investment
As mentioned before, this build is a ES Lite Sorce build, meaning that it will focus nearly exclusively on the use of Energy. Therefor, you can expect stat placement to be obvious. First, we will be starting with some frivolous details.
When you first begin your journey, the Sorceress' will have the following stats (assuming she's nekked and has had no stat points spent). The following chart will sum up what this section will tell you, although I encourage you to read on about why particular stats receive a ton of attention and others are found wanting and how to get some stats higher without investing in them.
|Stat||Starting Points||Suggested Points|
As you can see, there's work to be done.
- The first stat, Strength (STR), should be obvious to any serious player of the game. You will need 156 STR for your shield, a Monarch Shield, which will be elaborated on later in the gear section.
- The second stat, Dexterity (DEX), is somewhat debatible. I choose for this build, and any casting build, for that matter, to not waste cramming points in it. Some players will try to max block, which is the percentage chance your character has of blocking a physical attack. While in theory this is a good idea, in practice it is not. The reasons for this are simple: 1) You're a caster- you shouldn't be in the fray taking physical attacks, 2) Max Block is something that's really only useful for melee characters, and 3) Refer to number one. You do not need to put a bunch of points in to a stat that you aren't going to use when you could put them in something more useful.
- The third stat, Vitality (VIT), is also something which some hardcore players may be naggy about. As stated beforehand, this is an ES Lite Sorce build, so you're going to want most of your stat points for survival in Energy. Secondly, if you're not in the fray taking hits left and right, but outside the mob shooting in, you should not be taking damage as fast and should have potions at the ready, anyway. No point puting stat points in a stat you don't need to raise too high. So, I put in a very low 90 stat points in to this stat. You will get a ton of health from your gear later, as well, in addition to stat points, so it will still be higher than this in the end if you follow through with the build
- The fourth and final stat, Energy (ENG), is your prime stat. There it says that the final investment should bring it up to 279+ points. If you nix points somewhere else, put them here. This is very important. It is your lifeblood.
Notes for This Section
As aforementioned, you will not need to physically install points in to all of these stats to get to the above final stat heights. Some gear, as explained later in this guide, will give you stat points on equipping. I heavily advise that you map out how many stat points for each stat you get from your equipment and how many stats you need to spend to get to each desired stat value so that you do not waste points.
Skill Point Investment
If ENG is your lifeblood, then your skills would be akin to your bodily organs, channeling your ENG to useful purposes. In the case of this build, you will have at least one point in every skill in the Lightning Spells Skill Tree. At this point I encourage you again to take a gander over all of the Lightning Spells skill pages on our Wiki so you have a firm grasp of every skill, although I will be adding commentary and try to cover each one as best as I can.
The following is a table laying out how many skill points should be invested in each skill at each level area tier (this does not include additional points you may have in each skill from your gear- it's strictly about skill points you invest). If you don't feel you need to read the break-down below this char, just read over this.
|Skill||Levels 1-15||Levels 16-20||Levels 21-25||Levels 26-30||Levels 31+|
|Charged Bolt||9||9||9||9||MAX (20)|
|Chain Lightning||0||1||1||1||MAX (20)|
|Thunder Storm* (see section notes)||0||0||1||1||1|
|Lightning Mastery||0||0||0||1||MAX (20)|
See here for a dynamic preview of her skill trees on the DiabloFans Skill Calculator.
Level-Chunk Breakdown of Skill Investment
The skill investment sections are divided up by level chunk. Levels 1-15 represent your time in Act I, levels 16-20 represent your time in Act II, levels 21-25 represent your time in Act III, levels 26-30 represent your time in Act IV, and levels 31+ represent your time in Act V and beyond. It is not necessary to invest them at exactly these times (indeed, many players save their points until a later time for distribution), but you must make sure that you do invest in them and in them only.
Some skills will only receive one point because they open the way to another skill further down your Skill Tree and some skills that you may or may not use are going to have the maximum amount of skill points invested in them because they are synergies of another skill that you will be using.
We start with the basics. As a novice Energy Shield Lightning Sorceress, your first steps are vital to your end-game success. The moment you obtain your first skill point you are liable for failure and will have to restart. In addition, levels one through fifteen are when you will open up the majority of your skills. Your first skills invested in should be thus:
This is essential for any Sorceress, as it increases your mana regeneration rate significantly. Put only one point in and never add to it again. Your gear will eventually add enough +skills to it that it will be a sizable level by end-game.
Again, just one single point. This shield will add a good chunk of defense for your Sorceress just in case, as well as a nice slowing effect when enemies hit you. This is the only Cold Spells shield you will invest in- do not get any of the others. This should be your only skill point invested in Cold Spells.
After you have invested one point in to each of the above skills, start pouring your skill points in to Charged Bolt again so you have a skill to use that will actually hurt your enemies in your weaker levels. On a side note, once you get some good +skills gear, it's fun to mess around with this in Normal and Nightmare mode to kill things.
Once you hit level six, you will be ready to charge onward with the build:
Just one single point in this skill is all you will do. Leave it alone after this. This will be a good skill for your lower levels as well as occasionally in your mid and upper levels for fighting bosses and other high-health monsters, and it also opens the pathway to Thunder Storm.
Again, just one single point goes in to this skill. It can be useful for doing random odd things, like activating the Altar of the Sun in the Claw Viper Temple in Act II and fetching the amulet quickly without having to find many monsters, but mostly this is just to open the way to later skills down the Skill Tree.
Once you have one point in each of the aforementioned skills, continue pouring points in to Charged Bolt until you hit level twelve. At this point a new skill on your Lightning Spells Skill Tree will be opened, Lightning. This will become your best friend, I assure you.
This skill will become your primary attack once it is more developed. It has the potential to have the highest straight-damage in the entire game. This, combined with a high Faster Cast Rate (FCR), means you will have an extraordinarily high damage output in a very, very short amount of time. To see more about this skill, click here.
This skill is a major damage synergy of your main spell, Lightning. For now, put just one point in this skill. Later, once you're past level thirty, you're going to want to max this skill out for a higher damage for your other Lightning Spells.
Until you hit level eighteen, you will be pouring all of your skill points, from levels and quests, in to this skill. At this point, your character probably has a very low FCR- don't be discouraged. In the future, your gear will raise it so high you'll be getting tons of shots in nearly at once. Although it has a narrow damage alley (horizontal area of effect), your future FCR will more than make up for it.
This concludes the skill allotment guide for levels one through fifteen. Continue reading below or get your character, if she isn't already there, to level fifteen, if you're following along dynamically with this guide.
This section, which covers levels sixteen through twenty, should, if you're following along in-game and have not been rushed, be the period of play that you are in Act II of Normal Mode. If you find yourself struggling to survive here, make sure you invest in heavy resistances to lightning elemental spells, and later in the act it is advised you invest in fire resistance and poison resistance. Make sure that you acquire an Act II mercenary to accompany you on your travels, as he will act as your meat shield and physical offence in your stead. Equipping him with life steal items is not a bad idea, either, so that he survives longer.
Until you hit level eighteen, continue to invest purely in Lightning. The damage currently is most likely not as much as you would have hoped, but that comes much later, and I can assure you that you will be more than satisfied so long as you have the minimum required gear (see the index and go to the Gear Allotment section).
At level eighteen you will have two new skills available to you on your Skill Tree, one of which is Chain Lightning. While it may be tempting to heavily invest in this skill at this point, I advise you not to. Lightning should be your immediate focus.
This skill, however, will later serve as an Area of Effect (AoE) spell that you will occasionally find useful, depending on how high your FCR is. If your FCR is high, you will probably not need to use this skill since you will be able to shoot off enough Lightning spells in a short enough amount of time that you will not be losing the benefits of AoE, and Lightning will also be much stronger.
So, put only one point in to it for now and then leave it alone. We will get back to it in the future.
Also at level eighteen you will unlock this spell, Teleport. This will be your best method of transportation. It's instantaneous, cheap to use (once you have your gear on and more Mana), and is only as slow as your FCR is low. I find that I, myself, become so addicted to it, in fact, that I'll even use it when I only have to walk a short distance. Don't feel shy about it- you're a Sorceress, it's your character's skill and it's in your blood.
In any case, you will only add one single point to this skill. Forever. Done. No more. You will never add another point to this skill. Your gear later will compensate for it's low level (although this aspect has been covered numerous times already in this guide).
We are now well in to the first run-through of the game. This portion, levels twenty-one through twenty-five, will cover your time in Act III. As a fragile Sorceress at this point, I recommend high resistances to everything except, perhaps, Cold. There will be a lot of Fire, Lightning, Poison, and Cold spewing about in this act as well as when you fight the Lord of Hatred, himself.
Until you hit level twenty-four, you will have no new skills to invest in, assuming you put points in to the skills so far as suggested in this guide. So, for now, simply continue to pour points in to Lightning, your primary choice of attack. Also, it is advisable that you have a well-geared and leveled mercenary from Act II to continue to act as your journey to act as your meat shield and distraction while you crank out the brunt of the damage from safely behind him.
At level twenty-four, you will open this skill. It is somewhat debated in its usefulness. Simply put, it will randomly shoot down a bolt of lightning that does moderate damage without the extremely high damage cavity that other Lightning Spells often suffer from (a low minimum damage and high maximum damage), so this skill's damage is more predictable and steady. It can become a sizable amount of damage, but if you'd rather not, do not put a point in this skill. I will assume you are, however, because I feel that one single point in a skill that is somewhat useful and self-maintaining after casting is not a waste. However, only put one single point in it, if you choose to.
At level twenty-four you will finally unlock Energy Shield. At this point, only invest one single point in this skill and continue to pour points in to Lightning. We will get back to this later and discuss some finer points about it.
Another short section done. We are now finished with the investment blocking for levels twenty-one through twenty-four. Next, we will move on to the last bit of the varied investment process, the levels leading up to level thirty, and after that we will discuss end-game skill investment and more.
The area of levels twenty-six through thirty will most likely cover your last travels in the Normal Difficulty mode, and additionally will most likely wrap-up your time in Act IV and perhaps even Act V, depending what all you skip or do not skip in the game. In any case, I will suggest for your time in Act IV that you invest heavily in at least Fire resistance- there is a lot of it in this act. Also make sure that you have a decently-geared mercenary at your side to hold off enemies while you blast them, which has been the case in the past, as well (for this very reason, I highly recommend a melee mercenary, primarily one from Act II which boasts an aura- preferably the defensive one for your own gain as well as the longevity of your mercenary).
With that out of the way, we start the last stretches of our adventure with you around level twenty-six. At this point, you will want to continue cramming skill points in to Lightning until level thirty, at which point you will come across:
At level thirty you will finally unlock Lightning Mastery. This will obviously now become your focus for skill points until such time as it is mastered- each point will significantly increase your damage with all of your lightning-based spells.
And that's it- your last skill has been invested in in your last Lightning Spells Skill Tree skill. Read on to the next section, which will cover the rest of your point-distribution for the rest of the game (if you are strictly following the guide) after, of course, you have slain the Lord of Terror, himself.
Now it's time for the end-game build-up for skill point distribution. You can probably guess how this is going to go if you have been following along with the entire guide or if you've just been playing the game for a while. Essentially, we are now going to focus single-mindedly on synergies of your main attack skill, Lightning. So, without further adieu, this is my personally preferred way of handling the order of maxing out skills (although it doesn't matter much how you get there so long as you do):
- Max Lightning (you should have roughly thirteen base skill points in this skill by this point if you have been following the guide strictly)
- Max Lightning Mastery (for an obvious reason- higher damage)
- Max Chain Lightning (this is basically your AoE skill, though you may not use it too heavily if you have high enough FCR, in which case you will probably lean towards using your higher-damage Lightning primary spell)
- Max Charged Bolt (although this is mainly for synergy purposes, this skill can sometimes be fun and helpful- when you get max bolts and eventually get your Lightning damage up to around forty thousand, this skill should be doing roughly one thousand per bolt, which can add up to a lot with a high FCR)
- Max Nova (this is mostly for synergy purposes but, again, this can sometimes be fun and useful in sticky situations (for its small stagger and knockback))
Anything you would like to put skill points in to after this is completely your call (if you have any left at this point, which I doubt you will). Continue reading on for tips on gear, MFing, and more for your shiny-new Energy Shield Lightning Sorceress.
As mentioned before, the gear for this build can range from moderately to very expensive. That is the reason that Sorceress builds of this nature are often only common towards the end of a Ladder Season. As such, be willing to end up MFing or trading like crazy. We will begin with your items, as opposed to your mercenary's items.
|Item Placement||Most Expensive||Least Expensive||Notes|
|Head||Griffon's Eye Unique Diadem||Harlequin Crest Unique Shako or a rare item*||Either will work, but obviously the most expensive will be better.|
|The awesome advantages of this item are it's 25% Faster Cast Rate, -10-20% to Enemy Lightning Resist, and +10-15% to Lightning Skill Damage (also has +1 to All Skills and 150-260 Defense). It can be very expensive, however, as it is very rare. Expect to pay buttloads of HR's, SoJ's, or whatever else is the trading standard at the time of your reading.||The Shako mainly benefits from it's 50% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items and its +2 to All Skills modifiers. Not as good as the Griffon, but it's a nice second choice and is usually purchasable with a Pul or Um rune. See the corresponding note below for information on using a rare item.|
|Amulet||Mara's Kaleidoscope||Rare Amulet||The former provides a ton of additional resistance and benefits all of your skills, while the latter can be more affordable and beneficial in other ways.|
|This amulet's extremely beneficial two attributes are +2 to All Skills and All Resistances +20-30 (varies). The skills will boost all of your lightning damage significantly while the heavy additional resistances will help you survive much better in Hell mode, where you will likely spend most of your time. It can be expensive, though, as for a low one a couple of HR's is not an uncommon price.||A rare amulet can be cheaper, but it can also be more expensive. Look for modifiers like +2 to Sorceress Skill Levels, +3 to Lightning Skills (Sorceress Only), +10% Faster Cast Rate, and modifiers that add to STR (so that you do not have to invest as much in STR).|
|Chest Armor||Chains of Honor Runeword||Ormus' Robes||If in doubt, just aim for the CoH. It's more noob-friendly and I generally prefer it for rushing and MFing, anyway.|
|Guaranteed 65% resist all, 8% Damage Reduction (DR), +2 to All Skills, +20 STR (to reduce your stat point allotment), and significant defense enhancement make this your prime choice for armor. It is rather expensive, though (Dol Um Ber Ist). Ideally, aim for a four-socketed Dusk Shroud with +ED (Enhanced Defense) % modifier on it. If you find one with no sockets, use your socket quest from Larzuk in Act V to instantly get four sockets. Archon Plates are also a good candidate for this Rune Word.||Do not even consider using this armor unless you already have a lot of elemental resistance in Hell mode! It has an awesome amount of FCR (20%), and its potential for an additional 15% to your Lightning-based damage and +3 to a Lightning-based skill make it a powerful competitor. It can be more expensive depending on its stats. The upside to this armor is that you can always put a Facet in it to further improve your damage.|
|1H Weapon||Eschuta's Temper Eldritch Orb Or the even more expensive route, an Infinity Voulge.||Spirit Sword OR The Oculus Swirling Crystal|
MFing with this Build
|Enchantress by Orange Juice • Fire Wall Sorceress by Kickin It • Frozen Orb Sorceress by DeathMars|
Energy Shield Lightning Sorceress by Seth • MeteOrb Sorceress by Lethal Weapon