First, go slowly when you're in new territory, whether Normal, Nightmare
or Hell difficulty!
- Be aware of the monster mix, and their immunities. Some combinations
are very easy, ie. Black Knights, Cave Vipers, Succubus/Snow Witch,
which all take full dmg from the same attack (fire). On the other hand,
a killer combo is: Lava Maws (fast melee attack, fire immune), Storm
Lords (lightning immune) and a Witch or Mage that won't stand still.
With Knights, Witches, Vipers and Mages, there is no one attack mode
you can use all the time.
- On entering the level, go extremely slow, trying to activate minimal
creatures, so you can find out what is on the level. As soon as you
see something, retreat to an area near but not right at the stairs.
You may have to do this several times to see what the different opponent
types are. Once you see what is on the level, adjust jewels/resists
and hotkeys accordingly. Cast a town portal away from the stairs; the
easiest item recoveries are those you are prepared for in advance.
- Hotkeys: stone curse is extremely important, no matter what class.
Be consistent in your use of hotkeys, for example I always use: F5=fire,
F6=lightning, F7=multiple enemies key, F8=emergency key, so in Hell,
that's almost always: fireball, (chain)lightning, stone curse, and heal/teleport.
- Separate the melee mobs from the ranged attackers. Why pound on blood
knights in the presence of advocates, when the latter won't give chase?
Lure the blood knights away, and deal with them first, then chase down
or flame the advocates.
- Learn how to 'corner' witches and advocates. It's completely essential
for warriors - see Bolty's Guide to High level warriors for a clear
- Warriors with a speed weapon and a rogue with a bow can stunlock mages
(and witches) to keep them from getting away, as long as damage and
hitting chances are high enough
- Terrain - the layout and features in hell will be different from what
you are used to. Learn the symmetries of the layouts to guess where
the stairs will be. Use the branches, crosses and other obstacles to
limit how many creatures can attack you at once. With proper use of
terrain you can face no more than two melee creatures at once, even
though there migth be a dozen trying to close on you. These special
setups are as important as doors were in the catacombs,
and should be sought out.
- Cauldrons - are almost always to be avoided. The three effects that
permanently lower your mana are unacceptable.
- The opponents on lvl 16 are always blood knights and advocates, so
fire resistances is the only one that is important, and fireball is
a great spell to use. Also, on lvl 16, if you die, you keep your gear!
Monters you might have seen in the caves
beasts, other spitting dogs
Storm, Lightning Demons
Demon (Balrog type)
type of 'Viper' (Drake) seen
Vipers, Gold Vipers
Succubi (Witch) seen
Knight you may see
Lava Maw is the only 'animal' in hell, so blunt weapons won't work well
on him. He is feared even my high level sorcerers because his fast attacks
can 'stunlock' even the powerful. Lightning is your best defense, and
getting him before he gets close to you.
* Storm Lords and Maelstroms will be zapping you with electricity, but
take FULL damage from fire.
* Guardians and Vortex Lords are, on the other hand, immune to fire,
but full dmg from lightning. They use a dancing approach and an inferno
attack, and can be quite annoying to rogues.
* Cave Viper and Fire Drake take an ambling approach, but dart the last
few feet to attack. Lightning works very well against them, although
they are immune to 'magic' (Flash, Bone Spirit).
* Succubus and Black Knight are prime fireball bait.
* The witches attack form, in varying colors, is 'magic', as are the
attacks of spitting dogs, so be sure to get some magic resistance. Fire
resistance, likewise becomes crucial due to the Balrogs and (soon to
Lvl 13 - showing
up for the first time
of fire demons
first type of Mage ('lawyer')
Five Bosses: Blackskull
(Balrog), Doomcloud(Maelstrom), Gorefeast(Vortex Lord), Rustweaver (Doom
Guard), and Witchmoon (Snow Witch) are found on lvl 13, but only Blackskull
comes with a companion pack.
* Note the Doom
Guard takes full dmg from Electricity unlike other knights.
* The Blood Knight is deceptive - he's the toughest knight, who also
populates lvl 16, but sometimes shows up early. He hits very hard, multiple
fireballs are a good way to go against the 'BK'.
* The Counselor resists everthing but has 0 AC and few hit points. He
attacks with firebolts.
* Snow witches, as you would guess from their name, are hurt badly by
* Gold Viper, like the Cave Viper, is hurt fully by fire (although lightning
will do some damage)
* Balrogs, like all their brethren, take full dmg from lightning, so
chain lightning away
Lvl 14 - showing
up for the first time
Five bosses: Dreadjudge
(Magistrate) and Fankskin (Gold Viper) come with a pack. Alone are Graywar
the Slayer (Doom Guard), Stareye the Witch (Hell Spawn), Steelskin the
Hunter (Steel Lord).
* Note Steel Lords
are immune to Fire (unlike other Knights), and resist other forms. Remember
this by thinking that 'steel' (your sword) is the best way to kill them,
or they're like a lightning rod.
* Likewise the magistrate. For both, lightning is a good option. This
will be confusing because they are _using_ lightning (charged bolts)
* Hell Spawn, unfortunately are immune to lightning (cast on Steelies,
Magistrates and Soulies). They are hit hard by fire however (until Hell
difficulty, then they reverse (IIR).
* You may also see Lava Maw, Maelstrom, Vortex Lord, Fire Drakes, Succubus,
Black Knights, Snow Witches, Gold Vipers, Doom Guards, Blood Knights
and Counselors, for a staggering number of combinations.
Lvl 15 - showing
up for the first time
Bosses: Three in
Lazarus chamber (he and Black Jade and Red Vex, Hell Spawn), and two
others possible on the level: Bloodlust (Hell Spawn) who appears in
every game, by herself, and if Cabalists are present, Vizier will lead
* Azure Drakes are
_the_ best creature in the game to use a certain neglected spell on...
Flash! They (along with Snow Witches) take full dmg from magic, unlike
anything else in hell (even other vipers), although in Hell difficulty
even these two become immune to magic. To get from a distance, either
fire or lightning will work, with resistance.
* Cabalists shoot withering streams of lightning, and are immune to
lightning. Hit 'em with fire.
* Advocates appear in two places in the game: in Lazarus' chamber on
15 (four of them, plus Laz), and all throughout lvl 16. They hurl nasty
fireballs, but are themselves partially affected by fire.
* Soul Burners, feared for being 'triple immune' in hell difficulty
(as are Advocates), are susceptible to Flash and Lightning, with resistance.
Their damage is almost twice that done by the succubus.
* Some people yet love soulies and advocates, as well as Blood Knights,
for a different reason... they are 'lvl 30' monsters, and can drop some
of the best items in the game (including Zodiac items).
* You will no longer see any creatures found in the caves, and no animals,
but may still see: Snow Witch, Doom Guard, Hell Spawn, Steel Lords,
Lvl 16 - the
Creatures: Always Blood Knights and Advocates, plus a single Black Knight
in Diablo's Lair.
a Blood Knight, and a special opponent, Diablo himself, are the prime
Drops: The only
monsters in the game capable of dropping Emerald items are these bosses:
Lazarus, Gorash, Red Vex and Black Jade, Vizier, Dreadjudge, Stareye,
Steelskull, Blackjade. These, plus the three lvl30 monsters, and Witchmoon,
Blackskull, Rustweaver and Graywar, can drop Zodiac jewels.
Key point on lvl
16 - when you die you do NOT drop your wielded items or gold. So if
you can make
it down to 16 and don't lose your portal, there's no reason you can't
Within the depths of Hell you can find almost any artifact with two
I) Several item types have better artifacts available, and so
can NOT ever be found in Hell, for example (incl. what is dropped instead):
Bloodslayer (Stonecleaver), Celestial Axe (Hellslayer), Sharp Beak (Wicked
Axe), Constricting Ring or Bleeder (Ring of Engagement)
II) Several new items which are only found in hell (or rarely,
in deep caves) begin to appear: Demonspike Coat, Messerschmidt's Reaver,
Eaglehorn (no more Bow of the Dead), Dreamflange (no more Civerb's Cudgel),
and the highest lvl artifacts: Royal Circlet and the Grandfather. Also,
easier to find now are the Gotterdamerung, Stormshield, (also Grizzly,
Mindcry, Rod of Onan, and Doombringer).
* The Demonspike
Coat is decent, but most players prefer an Awesome Full Plate.
* Messerschmidt's Reaver does massive damage and is fun for mid level
players, but giving up the shield is not usually an option for Warriors
on higher difficulty settings.
* Eaglehorn is a solid bow, indestructible, with good damage
* Dreamflange is a favorite items for 'artillery' mages, due to its
+30 magic, +50 mana, and +1 to spell levels. A definite keeper.
* Royal Circlet - the best all around helm in the game for most players,
combining +10 to all stats with AC 40, +40 mana, with the mixed effect
of +10% light.
* Grandfather is a very nice mid-level weapon - it's a great sword (10-20)
that can be used one-handed, allowing a shield. The GF (aka Granny)
is +5 all, +20 hp, +20%/+70% tohit/dmg. It is an excellent choice until
a good +ToHit/+DMG one handed sword of haste is found.
* The Gotterdamerung (aka Gotter) is quite nice, with +20 to all stats.
However some actually use it in its unidentified form to get AC 60,
because of a major drawback -- it forces all resistances to zero.
* Stormshield - the premiere shield for non-warrior melee characters
due to its fast block, AC 40, and +10 strength. Two flavors: Tower,
requiring Str of 60, and Gothic, requiring Str of 80.
High value items
now available in Hell
Prefixes found only in Hell: Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Dragon's, Awesome,
King's, Master's, Emerald.
Suffixes found only in Hell: of haste, of the lion, of the zodiac
Also, more common
in hell than elsewhere: Obsidian, Arch-angels, heavens, gore, life,
perfection, titans, wizardry.
* Zodiac items may
only be jewelry, and can have only the following prefix, if any: Serpent,
Crimson, Ivory, Lapis, Jade, Cobalt, Crystal, Garnet, Drake's, Obsidian,
Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire. Of these, the Obsidian Jewel of the Zodiac
is one of the most treasured in the game.
* Wizardy jewels are also very popular, especially Dragon's, Drake's,
Obsidian. Drag/Wiz is a great find.
* Emerald, as mentioned above, can only be dropped by nine monsters
in the game, all bosses. It can only be found on a bow, weapon, shield
or staff. Emerald Bow of Heavens, Emerald Sword of Speed/Haste, Emerald
Shield of the Tiger, and Emerald Staff of Wizardry are outstanding items.
As a mid level character, you won't really have many problems. If you
find a zod or emerald item, you will likely wear no matter what. Eventually
you will struggle with having to juggle items. At that point, there
are 'best' slots for the rare finds. Here is a list, and why:
* Weapon - King's like (+TH/+DMG) prefix, suffix of speed (sometimes
heavens, blood, vampires, slaughter). No other slot can hold this vital
prefix, so it must be on the weapon. And on higher difficulty settings
you will need both the extra to hit and damage.
* Bow - at mid lvls,
a good damage prefix and/or suffix is best, but at higher levels, many
opt for Emerald Bow of Heavens or similar, freeing up a resistance slot,
or a good swiftness bow.
* Armor - if you
plan to melee, or avoid getting hit in melee, AC is important, and there
is no better way to increase AC than with +ACvalue prefix on a hefty
piece of armor. Other classes may choose something like Naj's Light
Plate, an Obsidian Armor of Deflection, or Scavenger's Carapice.
* Helm - unique
helm. There are so many outstanding helms that the Royal Circlet (RC),
or sometimes the Gotter or Thinking Cap (TC), that you're not likely
to use a different one. Until then, or for certain characters, something
like an Obsidan Helm of Absorption or an Awesome Great Helm of Tiger
are very nice.
* Shield - depends
alot on the class. For warriors there is not much better than an Awesome
or Emerald Tower Shield of the Tiger. For other classes who melee or
want Fast Block, Stormshield is great. Pure 'artillery' sorcerers who
attack from afar would love an Emerald Shield, or Obsidian Absorption.
* Staff - seldom
used past mid-levels, as it gives up the use of a shield, with its prefix
and suffix chances. At mid levels, a few staves, such as Dragon's Wizardry,
Arch-Angels Wizardry or Apoc, Mindcry and a few Bountiful staves, are
* Jewelry - since
you can't really count on resistances on the other items one or often
two jewels must be resistances jewels. For a suffix, the best is zodiac,
and for spell casters, wizardry. Hence the obsession people seem to
have with obs/zod and drag/wiz. At the high levels where you would debate
these a few extra hit points from tiger/lion won't help. Perfection
is also extremely nice for some classes on a jewel, and for batlle/muscle
mages, titans is indepensible.
AC and To-Hit
There is a large increase in the armor class, to hit, damage, and hit
points when you go from Normal
to Nightmare difficulty, and another sizeable increase on Hell. Here
are my recommended values
for each difficulty setting, where you will be comfortable facing even
Blood Knights. These values
depend on your character's level (clvl), and examples are shown as well.
Monster AC min Dex
(to Block) To Hit (displayed)* Damage (to Stun)
Normal 195 - 2*clvl 160 - 2*clvl 205 - clvl % 33
Nightmare 310 - 2*clvl 190 - 2*clvl 265 - clvl % 48
Hell 375 - 2*clvl 220 - 2*clvl 305 - clvl % 63
25th lvl Normal 145 110 180% 33
30th lvl on NM 250 130 235% 48
35th lvl on Hell 305 150 270% 63
Note that in Hell/Hell
AC 200 is about as useful as no armor at all. Some bosses need more
dmg to stun.
*Warriors need 20% less than this value. Again these values are for
max effectiveness vs. Blood
Knights. You will do fine with up to 30 or 40 pts less throughout most
For comparison's sake, the numbers for 'Caves' are about 30 pts less
for AC, 10 pts less for others.