This is an fun build where all your main damage skill is Magic Arrow. I don’t think I would consider it viable in Hell difficulty (unlike the author says), but it’s definitely a lot of fun. To last in Hell you would need some of the best items in the game, which are very hard to come by these days with so few players.
This build was originally hosted on the Strategy Compendium of Diabloii.net. However, when they switched over to a new site, this old Diablo 2 section was dropped. The internet archive still has a copy, though I provide the full text here for ease of use.
MA Bowazon by JohnnyBravo
This build is a MA bowazon and was created using version 1.10. Magic Arrow will be your main and only skill in the Bow and Crossbow. If you are looking for a MF bowazon this guide is not for you, but if you are looking for an “outside the box” bowazon that is extremely fun to play read on.
End Equipment/Stats: (numbers in parenthesis are after items/charms)
Damage: 256-482 (422-698)
Strength: 76 (87)
Amulet: Rare. MDR 3, Resist all 14, 6% mana leach, 1 Amazon Skills
Head: Rare Coronet. 27 life, 75 mana, 1 Amazon Skills
Weapon: Riphook. Upgraded to Blade Bow, 61 – 119 Damage.
Gloves: Crafted Hitpower, 11 Str, 88% ED, FR 26, CR 20, ATD 5, Knockback, 5% level 4 Frost Nova
Boots: Rare Heavy Boots, FR 22, CR 23, 1 LR, 20 FRW, 5% level 3 Frost Nova, Repair 1 in 33 sec.
Ring1: Rare. 1 Max Dam., FR 16, LR 30
Ring2: LR 23, PR 8, 7% MF, PLR 25
Head: Magic Coronet, Resist All 27
Weapon: Hone Sundan
Although I did twink her with some minor items I found all these on my travels.
I went for 76. This will allow you to use Blade Bow (Elite Hunters Bow). This has a very fast attack speed (-10). The idea is to go for speed rather than damage. If you want a little more damage without sacrificing to much speed I’d go with a Ward Bow (Elite Short War Bow) which has a strength requirement of 72. Raising Str to obtain better armor is not necessary because you should rarely get hit.
I suggest 250-300+. Really the more the better here. All bows have a damage bonus of 100 dexterity which means each 100 points into dexterity will add 100% to the physical damage of the bow. And Magic Arrow will convert a percentage, based on skill level, of that damage into magic damage.
120-150 Here it depends on whether or not you play HC or not. SC character can get away with 120-140 in vitality. whereas HC should not go below 140.
Base. Your main skill, MA, will cost no mana once past level 13 and Decoy and Valkyrie are not mana intensive skills.
First I am going to tell you the desired skill points needed in each skill then give an outline on my suggested allocation.
Magic Arrow: 20
Critical Strike: 8
This with prerequisites results in 79 skill points used. As you can see there is a good amount left. I suggest putting these points into CS, Penetrate, or Pierce.
Skill points 1-13: Put these into Magic Arrow. At level 13 it requires no mana. This is almost necessary because using mana for every attack will be mana intensive thus we want to, as quickly as possible, get this skill to a level were is uses no mana.
Skill points 14, 15: These two should go into Inner Sight and Slow Missile. Slow Missile will be extremely useful when you are facing ranged monsters.
Skill Points 16-28: These should be used to open up the rest of the Passive/Magic Tree. I recommend putting the extra into CS. Avoid the temptation of putting them into the dodge line of skills. Later in the game you will be rarely hit so I think these should be left at level 1.
Skill Points 29-50: Open up pierce. Then I advise you to max Valkyrie. Your Valkyrie will be your main tank and at level 20 will rarely need to be recast.
Skill Points: 51-69: Max Decoy. Decoy synergized with Valkyrie giving her +88 to life per level. Also Decoy will be used to occupy monsters if your Valkyrie and Mercenary are getting overrun.
Skill Points: 70-76: Max out Magic Arrow.
Skill Points 76+: Here is where you have a few options. (No particular order)
1: Add points into Pierce. I recommend 50%-70% into Pierce. Pierce will let you damage more monsters with each attack.
2: Your Valkyrie receives the same bonuses as you do for the following skills: CS, Dodge, Evade, and Avoid. Putting points into these will help your Valkyrie live longer. Although with 20 into Valkyrie and Decoy your Valkyrie has a little under 4K in life. She shouldn’t die too often.
3: Most people would not recommend spending more points into Penetrate, but keeping a to hit of around 90% is recommended. If you can’t hit you can’t do damage.
Most of the time when I read a build it lists some uber gear that would be the best to use. Well I have two things to say to that. First not all of us are that wealthy nor have the time to MF for all that gear. Secondly it is not needed. I will, however, list mods I suggest looking for.
This is one mod you need to be sure to have. I noticed something about knockback as I played. Knockback has an animation associated with it. If you have a fast enough bow and have already knocked the monster back against a wall you can put them into a “Knockback lock”. This prevents the monster from doing any actions. Also you can knock a monster (really good for LE boss packs) completely off the screen and still do damage. Crafted Hit Power gloves are the easiest way to obtain knockback as it is one of the preset mods. PSaph + any Jewel + Ort Rune + Chain Gloves (exceptional and Elite versions work). Learn it. Use it. Love it.
Increased Attack Speed (IAS)
This is an obvious and is used for most builds. It is simple: More shots fired equals more damage done.
Faster Run/Walk (FRW)
You will need to move constantly. The faster you can move the better. This helps you get away from monsters or avoid ranged attacks.
Leech (life & mana)
You will need these more early on in the game. By late Normal or Early NM your mercenary and/or Valkyrie should be doing most of the tanking so you’ll be hit little. The best use for this is shooting off screen. In some areas I shoot off screen and when the mana/life leach swirl is shown I know where the monsters are. This way you can kill monsters before they even see you.
This mod is very useful. It works like poison, but as far as I can tell it can’t be resisted. It will stack with poison to drain life faster. And it rises with Clvl as follows:
Multiply number by 25 (25 frames per second in D2) to find damage per second.
These are the mods that I’ve used and found useful. Deadly Strike, Crushing Blow and Slow Target will also help you on your adventures. Deadly Strike works like Critical Strike in doubling your damage. However it does not stack with Critical Strike nor can your double your damage twice resulting in quadruple damage. The rolls are separate and it one succeeds the other is not rolled. I’m not exactly sure of the specifics on Crushing Blow, but it does take a certain percentage (depends on monster type) off regardless of your damage. Slow Target does exactly as it says. It will slow target a certain percentage that is listed with this mod.
Act 1 Rogues: Ranged. You will need a tank so these will be no good.
Act 3 Ironwolves: Also Ranged.
Act 5 Barbarians: Never used. Don’t know much about them so it is a possible choice as a tank.
Act 2 Desert Mercenaries: This, I think, would be your best bet and what I decided to use, but which to use? I’ll say a few about each.
Nightmare: Holy Freeze
Normal/Hell: Blessed Aim
Let’s start off with the ones I don’t think would work (I haven’t tried them all).
I tried him thinking that if he got hit he would be able to heal himself. It seemed that they hit too fast for him to heal. After he died a few times I gave up thinking it would take too much to keep him alive until he got to a decent level.
I’ve never tried, but could possibly work. There are however a few problems. Ranged attacks do not activate the thorns aura so no damage returned. Also PI in late NM and Hell would reflect the damage, but it being physical it would not take damage.
This might sound good and look good on paper, but you’ll AR should be in the high 80’s or low 90’s until NM. Also if it ever falls below that a few points into penetrate will fix this.
This is another I have not tried, but definitely has possibilities. The Might aura will transfer to you giving you enhanced damage. He will also be able to kill quicker.
I haven’t tried yet, but I am thinking this would be the best until you get the one you want to keep. More on that later. The thinking here would be if he can’t get hit he won’t take damage. His aura also applies to you so you’ll have better defense. This will help because you need to keep with light armor so your run/walk speed is not affected.
This is the ideal mercenary for your purposes. He is the one I tried. This one has several benefits to him. First, all monsters within the radius will be chilled. Second, a chilled monster has a certain percentage to shatter which will help facing shaman, Radament, etc. Third, all monsters in the radius will receive cold damage every second from his aura. Lastly, cold damage is added to his attack. This will help greatly when facing PI’s.
Notes on mercenaries
I made it to NM to get the Holy Freeze mercenary with out a mercenary. I was playing SC and of course died a couple of times. If you decide to play HC I suggest getting a mercenary to hold you over until the Holy Freeze mercenary is available.
Run. Shoot. Run. This is necessary more in the earlier part of the game then the latter. Throughout the game keep this Blood Raven philosophy in, at least, the back of your mind. It will help you die less often. Always keep your Decoy, mercenary or Valkyrie in front of you. See Decoy Usage section. Whenever possible use knockback to push monsters off screen.
This is simple. Cast decoy at the edge of the screen to attract any monsters. Let your Valkyrie and Mercenary run up to kill them. Take out stragglers. If no monsters appear run up to (not in front of) wait a second then still if no monsters recast decoy at edge of screen. Waiting a second is important. It seems that monsters have a wider radius to see you than your decoy. If you run up to your decoy and immediately recast it you could recast it behind the monsters racing to kill you leaving you completely vulnerable.
I wasn’t sure where I should put it so I decided to put in here. I recommend keeping your beginning javelins or another none mana weapon (preferably ranged) until Magic Arrow reaches level 13. It is really mana intensive and having an extra weapon on switch will make things go a lot smoother.
If a crowd of monsters swarms your Decoy after you cast it at the edge of the screen or when you run up to it step back to let your mercenary and Valkyrie stride into battle. Fire away to help your mercenary and Valkyrie take down the monsters. If any ranged monsters are in the area I suggest taking them down first. Your mercenary may not last long in battle, but once your Valkyrie matures she will be able to take a beating. Caution: IM can destroy your Valkyrie and mercenary in a instant. I recommend staying at least a half screen away on the off chance your Valkyrie and mercenary die. If they look as if they are getting overwhelmed cast decoy right behind some of the monsters. This will take some of the focus off of your mercenary and Valkyrie.
After the first two or three bosses (depending on what players setting you are on) your Valkyrie should be able to tank the bosses rather well. Stay as far away as possible and recast Valkyrie when life gets to low (when it turns yellow in color). This will keep the focus on the Valkyrie instead of it turning it’s attention on you as you try to cast Valkyrie.
I’d like to thank lone_wolf and Moog_Playa for giving me this idea. Their guides were extremely useful in deciding how to play this one.
I’d like to thank everyone in the Single Player Forum for cheering me on as I made this build.