This is the first oddball build I tried, and I had a blast. It’s a completely party-based build. You can solo undead monsters successfully, but anything else you must rely on your party. Your paladin becomes a real tank with max resists, max block, high health, and high defense. It’s truly selfless build about keeping your party alive, but very unique for a Diablo 2 build. It’s fun to not worry about doing the best damage.

This build was originally found on the Strategy Compendium part of However, when they switched over to a new site they dropped the old Diablo 2 strategy pages. The internet archive still has a copy, though I have posted the full text here for ease of use.

Cleric by TheMad0nion

Hello, and welcome to my first attempt at making a detailed guide to making one of the more interesting Paladin builds, the Cleric. The focus of this build is team support; massive healing, versatile support auras, and slaughtering the Undead with extreme prejudice. This is not a build made for solo play; you will have almost no offensive capability versus non-undead monster types. This is, by no means, a “power” build, however with it you can fortify any party like no other character in the game. Also, even though this is fairly obvious, this is not an effective PvP build.

In this guide, I’ll be going over each section individually, covering each one with as much detail as possible. This being the first draft of this guide (and my first guide in general), it may still be a little rough around the edges, but all of the necessities will be covered.

Version 1.10 – Expanded some sections, cleaned up a bit.

1) Stats

This section is fairly straightforward:

Strength: Enough for endgame gear (118 for Guardian Angel is recommended)

Dexterity: Considering this build’s weapon of choice will likely be a scepter, I suggest going with 70 dexterity to use the elite class Caduceus weapons. Otherwise, just enough for max block .(varies)

Vitality: Everything you can spare.

Energy: Base (with items, along with the Meditation aura, you will have more than enough mana)

For the most part, the majority of your points are going to be placed into Vitality. I can’t see going over 118 Strength for Guardian Angel, unless your armor preference demands it. As for Dexterity, it’s up to how you want to play, and your equipment selection. Just bear in mind that, with a high block shield and the Holy Shield skill, you can maintain a high block percentage with little to no Dexterity investment. Don’t go overboard here. Energy stays at base, as most of the skills used in this build have a minimal mana cost. Chugging potions in the early game will get you by until your mana regeneration rate (and the Meditation skill) can support your casting.

2) Equipment

Ah, the ever-important Equipment section. A bit of swag, a bit of shine, every man is kept in line. We’ll go over each area one by one:

Helm: For the early stages, some good choices are Tarnhelm, Lore, or Peasant Crown. Something with a nice life/mana bonus or any +skills you can find are always good choices. Later on, you’ll want to find something with both +skills and resists; rare Circlets are a great choice for this build, as they can roll with mods like Faster Cast Rate and prismatic resists. For the endgame, powerful helms like Harlequin’s Crest, Andariel’s Visage, Crown of Ages, or a nice +2 rare Circlet are recommended.

Armor: At low levels there are plenty of great armor choices. Twitchthroe, Darkglow, Hawkmail, or Smoke can all make your life a lot easier. If you don’t have access to these, look for magical/rare armors with +life or resists, as always. Skin of the Vipermagi is also a great choice, offering up to +35 Resist All, +1 Skills, and Faster Cast Rate. Once you hit level 45, you’ll have access to a fantastic exceptional unique armor, the Guardian Angel. It doesn’t get better than this for the Cleric build; +1 skills, raises maximum resist, increases your block rate, and has great defense. This is probably the best armor you can get for this build within reason. If you can’t quite afford one of these armors, look for a Duriel’s Shell; it has great resist, Cannot Be Frozen, and high +life. For those who can afford them, rune words like Chains of Honor or Enigma are obviously powerful choices.

Shield: Sigon’s Shield is a perfect low-level item, granting a good block rate and +1 skills. You can also you a Wall of the Eyeless for the increased cast rate and +mana per kill. Once you’re a bit higher level, a rare Paladin-only shield is a great choice, as they can offer +skills along with fantastic resist and high block rates. Lidless Wall can also be a good shield, although you trade resists/block for Faster Cast Rate, which is not an absolute necessity with this build. As for the top-end, it doesn’t get much better than the Herald of Zakarum; this gives awesome blocking, powerful resists, and +2 to all skills along with +2 to the Combat skill tree (adding +4 to your most used skills like Holy Bolt, Holy Shield, and FoH).

Weapon: In the early stages you’ll likely find yourself using melee attacks, as your Holy Bolt will not be at a high enough level to efficiently support your teammates, so look for something with decent damage and a quick attack speed. Once you’re around level 10-15, you can shop Akara for a scepter with +Holy Bolt and start focusing on healing and support. The only really good unique item here is the Hand of Blessed Light, though it is a very good one indeed, giving +2 to all skills, +2 FoH and +4 to Holy Bolt. Use a store-bought scepter if you can’t find one of these. The end-all be-all would be a magical Cleric’s Scepter of the Magus with +’s to Holy Bolt, FoH, and Meditation (priority in that order).

Belt: This is largely up to you. Look at what areas you are lacking in (mana, life, stats), and find an appropriate belt to boost those stats. Some recommended belts are Nightsmoke, Gloom’s Trap, Thundergod’s Vigor, with Verdungo’s Hearty Cord and Arachnid Mesh being good endgame choices.

Boots: As with belts, this is largely up to your preference. Sigon’s, Sander’s, and Tread’s of Cthon are all good early choices, with Silkweaves, Waterwalk, and Natalya’s Boots being great for later on. There aren’t really any “best” boots for this build, so use what you like.

Jewelry: On your rings, look for resists, Faster Cast Rate, and +life/mana. Raven Frost can be a good choice for the Cannot Be Frozen, +40 Mana, and great Cold Absorb, and obviously the Stone of Jordan would supplement this build nicely (if you can manage to find one). For the Amulet, a rare +1/2 Paladin amulet is probably your best bet; look for additional mods like Faster Cast Rate, +life/mana, or resists, as with all rares. Seraph’s Hymn (+2 to all, +1/2 Defensive Auras) is a great late-game choice, and Mara’s Kaliedescope is always a strong choice.

Basically, you’re looking for Skills, Life/Mana, and Resists. Faster Cast Rate is by no means necessary on this build, but it’s still a good idea to get as much as you can without sacrificing the aforementioned mods.

3) Skills

Now we’re talking; the real meat of any guide. Here we’ll not only go over where you should spend your points, but why, and how to then apply those skills to kick (heal?) butt. I’ll start by giving the basic plan for skills:

20 Holy Bolt
20 Blessed Hammer
20 Fist of the Heavens
20 Prayer
1 Conversion
1-5 Holy Shield
1 in all other defensive auras (except Resist Fire/Cold/Lightning)

The main goal here is to maximize the effectiveness of your Holy Bolt skill (along with the Bolts of your FoH), and to have a variety of utility auras to supplement your party at will. Now, let’s go over each skill we’ll be using in more detail:

Holy Bolt: Obviously your most used skill with this build. At once you have access to massive healing and the power to send any undead monster straight back to hell. This skill has the single most powerful synergy bonuses in the game, gaining a huge 50% bonus to damage per point from Blessed Hammer and Fist of the Heavens, as well as 15% bonus to healing per point in prayer. What is seemingly a nigh useless skill can be boosted to well over 10,000 damage per bolt to undead and over 500 health to party members. It also travels fast, is not resistible by any means, and costs almost nothing (raising only .1 in mana cost per 2 levels in the skill!).

There are some key things to note about this skill. One is that it will not heal any Necromancer minions in your party, but it WILL hit them instead of passing through them. This can make targeted healing difficult, though generally with a horde of minions less healing is required. Also, as the skill says, it will not effect any type of monster other than undead, so don’t waste your time.

Use of this skill is not always as simple as it seems. The bolts will travel until one of two things happens; either it hits a member of your party, or an undead creature. Seeming deceptively simple, it actually takes some practice to utilize it effectively, as you will have to learn to position yourself correctly to hit the party member you wish to heal instead of the summon/mercenary/party member that may be in the way. Unlike most casters, you don’t always want to be in the back of the party; rather, you will either need to be closer to the front or (preferably) directly to the side, which will give you a better angle to hit specific front-line targets or undead creatures. Also, bear in mind that it will pass harmlessly through demon or animal type creatures; you can, however, use this to your advantage, passing a bolt through a pack of demons to hit a party member that is on the other side fighting. For the purposes of this build, this skill should be maxed.

Blessed Hammer: For this build, it is simply used as a synergy to your Holy Bolt. Without an investment in the Concentration aura, your hammers will do nothing except look pretty and waste mana. Even when at low levels, your Holy Bolt will be much more useful skill. Max, but not hot keyed/used. You could make a variant of this build using Concentration, but you will inevitably suffer in healing capabilities or damage for your Holy Bolt.

Fist of the Heavens: This skill will actually be useful in that, since your Holy Bolt will increase the damage of the bolts, it can be used effectively against large packs of undead monsters. Especially useful in areas like Tal Rasha’s Tomb or the Chaos Sanctuary, where large packs of undead exist. It will not, however, be useful against non-undead monsters (or other players), as it requires a heavy investment in it’s Holy Shock synergy to increase the lightning damage, and you will not have access to the Conviction aura to further lower monster resists (not if you are following this guide, anyway). Still, it is another effective undead-killing skill, and makes short work of Achmael and his horde of skeletons in the Throne of Baal. Recommended at max.

Conversion: This will likely be the only non-cast skill you will be using as a Cleric. It is, however, invaluable at times, especially when you are forced to play solo, or to get yourself out of situations that party members cannot help you with in time. This skill does not require you to actually hit the target for it to be converted, making it a perfect match since you will not have nearly enough AR to regularly hit enemies (unless you are using an ITD weapon). Even when you are in a party situation, it can be useful to Convert specific monster types, or to take some of the pressure off your front line fighters. Just be careful to watch the Converted carefully, as the duration of this skill is not that long, and once it wears off they will resume trying to claw your eyes out. I only recommend one point in this skill (along with your items, it will give you roughly a 35% chance to convert), though you might want to push it higher depending on how you build your character. A great utility skill nonetheless.

Holy Shield: Kind of a no-brainer. This simultaneously raises your chance to block and gives you a huge defense bonus for the listed duration. With just one point and your +skill gear, this will almost assure you a max block rate along with a nice defense bonus. You can decide to forgo this skill in place of additional points in Dexterity, but I think it’s well worth the 3 points required to attain it.

Prayer: Another synergy for Holy Bolt, but instead of increasing the damage done to undead, it raises the amount of health gained by party members that are struck by it. As more often than not this is what you will be using Holy Bolt for, it is obvious that this skill needs to be maxed. However, it’s purpose goes even beyond that; the skills Cleansing and Meditation receive a direct passive bonus from every point in Prayer. What this means is that, if Cleansing or Meditation are active, they will heal you and all of your party at the exact same rate as your current level of Prayer, and better yet without the mana cost. Also, since it is not a normal synergy, +skills DO effect this, meaning your Cleansing/Meditation auras will heal at the same rate of Prayer at all levels. A very useful skill.

Cleansing: An extremely underrated aura. This aura dramatically reduces the duration of all poison and curses for your entire party, as well as receiving the passive healing bonus from Prayer. A great utility skill for when you run into Oblivion Knights (especially useful to remove IM from your melee party members) or high damage poison monsters. Remember to turn this skill on before you enter areas where this may be an issue (like just before Baal summons Achmael and his minions) as it will work much more effectively than if activated during the duration of the poison or curse. One point along with items is sufficient. Also, remember that if you want to heal mercenaries or minions, you must use this aura (or Prayer, though not recommended) because Meditation will only affect party members, not their minions/hirelings.

Meditation: A fantastic aura, and one that will probably be in use the majority of the time you are playing. This aura also receives the passive healing bonus from Prayer, and also grants an immense mana regeneration bonus for all party members within it’s radius. This will allow you to chain cast Holy Bolt or FoH with impunity, and you’ll have sorceresses hanging off your arms at all time to boot. As I mentioned above, this skill WILL NOT effect minions/hirelings in any way (I suppose because they have no mana pool), so if you want to heal them use Cleansing or Prayer. One point with items is enough, or you can invest more if you feel the need. Oh, and did I mention it looks spiffy?

Defiance: Only used as a pre-requisite here. Requires too much of an investment to be really effective, and you can always use a Defiance mercenary if you still want the aura. Also, since you are gearing your equipment away from melee, you may not have a good defense base to make this useful. One point only.

Vigor: Also used as a pre-requisite, but is a great skill to have anyway. You will always want to be close to your party, so should you become separated it’s good to use it and make haste to catch up with them. A variety of uses, and one point is all that is necessary to reap the benefits. Also fun to make Frenzy Barbarians have seizures.

Redemption: Another useful utility aura; this one will randomly select corpses at set intervals, remove them (complete with creepy noise and effects) and heal both your mana and health at a set amount per corpse. A good aura to have on hotkey for emergencies, and is also useful to remove corpses that other monsters can revive. A useful tip is to activate this aura when stepping through the portal to Nihlathak’s Temple, as you can remove all the corpses before they have the chance to reanimate. Still, only one point is necessary here.

Salvation: This skill is purely used as a support aura. If your party members are hurting for elemental resists in Hell difficulty, this skill can even the odds. With just one point and enough +skills you can easily boost your party’s resists by close to 100 or more. A good skill to have considering your main goal is supporting your party as much as possible. One point is sufficient here.

You will need some of the combat skills (Sacrifice, Zeal, Vengeance, Smite, Charge) as pre-requisites for FoH or Holy Shield, but they only require one point as they are all useless for this build. As far as this guide is concerned, no points should be placed in the Offensive Aura tree. You can, of course, tweak this build to your liking, so it’s certainly a possibility.

4) General Strategies

This is where I’ll go over some basic tips and strategies for playing this build through Hell difficulty. In general, you will be switching auras to your party’s preference, using Holy Bolt to heal wounded characters, and looking damn good doing it all.

As far as leveling is concerned:

Act I: You can basically start this build like your typical melee Paladin build. Get yourself a nice beat stick, grab a shield, and join the front lines for some Quill Rat bashing. From levels 1 to 5, drop a point in Sacrifice and Smite, then dump the rest in Prayer. After level 6, your points should either be going to pre-requisites or into Holy Bolt. Shopping Akara can net you a decent scepter with +x to Holy Bolt as well as nice damage and/or sockets.

Act II: Ah, what was once a wasteland is now your stomping grounds. Your Holy Bolt skill should be sufficient to really tear into all the undead here, just remember to carry some mana potions in your belt, because there are plenty of them here. Up to level 17, keep dropping all your points in Holy Bolt or finishing up pre-requisites. Once you are level 18, switch from placing points into Holy Bolt and begin placing them into Blessed Hammer. This will rapidly increase the damage of your Holy Bolt and make it an incredibly effective undead killing tool. With these skills it is quite easy to level up to 22-25 just clearing the Tombs repeatedly due to their high numbers of undead monsters.

Act III: Well, you had your fun, time to hate this act a little more than before. Ok, so it’s not too bad, but there are not many undead monsters here, so you are mostly going to support your party and keep out of harm’s reach. You’ll notice your melee skills really starting to fall behind at this point, so you might just want to switch over to a +3 Holy Bolt scepter and forget melee altogether from this point on. The Durance of Hate does have a good number of undead in it, though, so give ‘em a taste of your ever-stronger Holy Bolt.

Act IV: In Normal, you won’t like this place very much. There are a good number of undead Doom/Abyss/Oblivion Knights here, however this is also where the Flesh Spawner monsters make their appearance. Until you’re in the Chaos Sanctuary focus on playing medic. Holy Bolt is great to snipe those Oblivion Knights, though, so use it to full effect. Keep the Cleansing aura on at all times here. You’ll probably be around level 25-30 in this act; again, pick off your pre-requisites, and with the rest continue pumping your Holy Bolt synergies. Now is probably a good time to switch off between raising FoH (or BH if you do not yet have FoH) and Prayer. Give Lord De Seis a good Bolting for me while you’re here.

Act V: Now you’re starting to pick up a lot of steam and slip into your real role with this build. FoH can be used to pick off Harpies and exploding Hell Spawn between healing your party with Bolts. In Normal, there isn’t a lot of undead here (except in Nihlathak’s lair), but in NM/Hell you will regularly find Burning Dead Archers in the Foothills and Oblivion Knights in the Worldstone. Oh, and lest I not forget… it’s time for some revenge on those gloams. Show them the power of the light and smite them with ease. You’ll likely draw applause from the rest of the party.

Oh, and don’t forget, this build can actually MF! As you might have guessed, you can destroy Pindleskin and his cronies in seconds using Holy Bolt and FoH. All you really have to do is jump through the portal, use Redemption to clear out the courtyard, then Bolt/FoH them into submission. They should all fall long before they reach you. I don’t recommend you use a mercenary if you are going to MF with this style of character, as they will undoubtedly move between you and your target, preventing you from Bolting them. They will all die long before they reach you anyway, so a mercenary is not necessary. Just be careful if Pindleskin and mob spawn with the Extra Fast mod, as unless you have a high cast rate and a high amount of +skills, they can swarm/charge you to death before you can finish them off. This is really the only place this character can MF, but it’s still a good place to find items, as Pindleskin can drop most items in the game.

My own Cleric:

Avenon – Level 81(USWest, Ladder, SC)
(Base Stats, Modified Stats in parenthesis)
Strength: 120 (173)
Dexterity: 70 (123)
Vitality: 290 (328)
Energy: 15 (39)

Helm: Rare Tiara w/ +2 Paladin Skills and 29 Mana
Armor: Guardian Angel
Shield: Herald of Zakarum (socketed w/ P.Dia)
Weapon: Hand of Blessed Light
Boots: Tearhaunch
Gloves: Magefist
Belt: Credendum (Disciple set belt)
Rings: Raven Frost, Prismatic Fast Cast Ring
Amulet: +2 Seraph’s Hymn

With this setup, Holy Bolt is doing 9799-11111 damage and 284-584 healing per bolt. The bolts on Fist of the Heavens do 2952-2992 per Holy Bolt, making it an effective undead killer as well, though the Lightning damage is only half that.

5) Closing

Well, that’s pretty much it! Any and all input, comments, or questions are much appreciated. I hope any of you that build a Cleric have as much fun as I do with it. It’s a refreshing change from the typical build, and is always a welcome addition to any party. Enjoy!

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