Poison Nova Necromancer Guide

Introduction

The Poison Nova Necromancer is a true "King of AoE." With both Poison Nova and Corpse Explosion at his disposal, this Necromancer build can quickly dispose of anything and everything on the screen. Fully loaded, this build pumps out incredible amounts of Poison, Fire, and Physical Area of Effect (AoE) Damage within a single Skill Rotation. Aided by Amplify Damage, Lower Resist, and the Conviction Aura from Infinity, the combined assault of Poison Nova and Corpse Explosion leaves nothing behind but memories of monsters that once were. No monster Immunity combinations can withstand three significant and unique sources of Damage. Even Poison Immune monsters are vulnerable to Amplify Damage, a powerful Mercenary, and the Corpse Explosion chain that follows.

Ideal Standard Setup
Poison Nova
Corpse Explosion
Revive
Teleport

As an accomplished high-density destroyer with varied damage types, high-speed Teleport, and seamless rotations, the Poison Nova Necromancer is a well-oiled farming machine. This build specializes in demolishing The Pit, making short work of this top-tier Farming Spot with zero Poison Immunes, low Life monsters, and densely-packed mobs. Players looking for a challenging playstyle relying on high APM Skill Rotations and complex farming strategy execution will love playing this build. The high gear requirements make this a great option once you’ve become comfortably geared into the Ladder Season.

This build guide assumes you have a Character at Level 75 before transitioning to it. Check out our Necromancer Leveling Guide and our General Leveling Strategies to reach Level 75.

3 Types Of Damage
Fast-Paced Playstyle ✔
Top-Tier Density Destroyer
Massive Area Of Effect Damage ✔

❌ Difficult To Master
❌ Horrible Boss Killer
❌ Weak Early-Game Starter
❌ Best In Slot Items Are Very Rare


Skills

The Poison Nova Necromancer puts Skill Points into all 3 Skill Trees.

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Amplify Damage
2. Lower Resist
3. Bone Armor
4. Skeleton Mastery
5. Revive
6. Golem Mastery
7. Summon Resist
8. Iron Golem

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Poison Nova
2. Poison Explosion
3. Poison Dagger
4. Corpse Explosion

Put leftover Skill Points into Lower Resist, Bone Wall, or Golem Mastery past Level 88.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Damage

Poison Nova* This is your Opening Damage Skill. When cast, creates an expanding ring of Poison Damage emanating from your Necromancer that deals damage to any mobs it makes contact with dealing its full measure of damage over 2 seconds.

Corpse Explosion* This is your Finishing Damage Skill. When cast while hovering over a monster corpse, it consumes said corpse and produces an Area of Effect (AoE) explosion dealing a large percentage of the original monster's health as a 50/50 mix of Fire and Physical Damage to surrounding mobs. Explosion radius increases with Skill Level.

* Faster Cast Rate Skills (FCR)

Utility

Lower Resist* Applying this Curse to monsters significantly lowers their Resistances to all forms of Elemental Damage (including Poison). Casting this Curse on monsters prior to casting Poison Nova greatly increases Poison Nova's Damage output. The same applies to the Fire portion of Corpse Explosion's Damage. This Curse also breaks Elemental Immunities in many cases. Its effective radius, as well as -x% to Enemy All Resistances, increases with Skill Level.

Amplify Damage* Applying this Curse to monsters lowers their Resistance to Physical Damage by a full 100%. Casting this Curse on monsters prior to casting Corpse Explosion greatly increases Corpse Explosion's effect by magnifying the Physical portion of its Damage. This Curse also breaks Physical Immunity in most cases. Its effective radius increases with Skill Level.

Revive* When cast while hovering the corpse of a slain monster, this Skill resurrects the target as a minion to fight beside the Necromancer. These minions mostly serve to block incoming Damage particularly from ranged attacks, acting as body guards instead of relying on their Damage output. With only 1 Skill Point here and additional + to Skills you can summon more than enough Revives for this purpose.

Iron Golem* is a summoned Golem which takes on the properties of whatever metal item you cast this Skill on, consuming said item in the process. For this build, making an Iron Golem out of Insight is recommended.

Golem Mastery* increases the Maximum Life of your Iron Golem. If your Iron Golem dies, you will need to remake it out of a new item!

Skeleton Mastery* increases the ability of your Revives to survive and tank for you.

Summon Resist* massively increases the survival of your Iron Golem when taking all forms of Elemental Damage.

Bone Armor* When cast, provides you with a buff that negates a set amount of Physical Damage before expiring. This shielding buff can be recast as often as needed to prevent incoming Physical Damage. Putting Skill Points into its Bone Wall Synergy increases the strength of this buff more than putting Skill Points into Bone Armor itself.

* Faster Cast Rate Skills (FCR)
* Skills that do NOT utilize either FCR or IAS


Attributes

Strength
In this build we only allocate as many Stat Points to Strength as we need to equip all of our gear. Be mindful of how much Strength your gear needs and how much it provides when equipped.

Vitality
After you put your points into Strength and Dexterity, make sure to check if it is recommended to put Stat Points into Energy. Meet the suggested amount of Energy and put any remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Dexterity
In this build we only allocate as much Dexterity as we need to equip all of our gear. Be mindful of how much Dexterity your gear needs and how much it provides when equipped.

Energy
In this build we don't put any Stat Points into Energy. This build gets enough Mana from gear, buffs, Charms, and Mana Potions. This build also has a significant amount of Mana after each Kill from Death's Web along with significant Mana Regeneration from an Insight Iron Golem.


Miscellaneous

Gear Options

While every Stat in the Desirable Stats column is useful for this build, we highlighted the Priority Stats in Teal so you can review the recommended Items and more easily identify the Most Important Stats on them.

Hover over any Item in the Item Options to see a pop-out with the full Item description.

Gear/Base Notes: Any Items with specialized or niche uses have a superscript that refer to a Note listed here.
1) The Base of the White Wand should have +2-3 to Poison Nova as a minimum to be viable for this build.
2) Only use Naj's Puzzler, a Staff of Teleportation, or a Teleport Charge Amulet for Teleport Charges if you have not yet acquired Enigma, or rather decide to use Bramble over Enigma for Maximum Damage (see the "Max Damage"-Variant below).

SlotItem OptionsDesirable Stats
Weapon Death's Web
Heart of the Oak Flail
White1
Spirit
Gemmed Crystal Sword Socketed With 6x 5/5 Poison Rainbow Facets
+x to All Skills
+x to Poison and Bone Skills [Necromancer Only]
+x% Faster Cast Rate

+x% Faster Hit Recovery
-x% to Enemy Poison Resistance
+x% to Poison Skill Damage
+x to Poison Nova

+x to Attribute
+x Mana
Increased Maximum Mana x%
All Resistances +x
+x to Mana after each Kill
+x to Life after each Kill
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Off-HandSpirit
Trang-Oul's Wing (3-Piece Trang-Oul's Set)
Homunculus
Stormshield
Moser's Blessed Circle
Rhyme
Ancients' Pledge
Jeweler's Monarch of Deflecting Socketed With 4x 5/5 Poison Rainbow Facets
+x to All Skills
+x to Poison and Bone Skills [Necromancer Only]
+x to Necromancer Skills

+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Faster Block Rate
x% Increased Chance of Blocking

-x% to Enemy Poison Resistance
+x% to Poison Skill Damage
+x Life
+x Mana
X Resist x%
Damage Reduced by x%
Cannot Be Frozen
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Weapon-SwapCall to Arms
Naj's Puzzler2
Staff of Teleportation2
+x to All Skills
+x to Battle Orders
+x to Battle Command
Level x Teleport [x/x Charges]
Off-Hand-SwapSpirit
Lidless Wall
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate
HelmetsRare Circlet
Rare Circlet2
Venomous Circlet of the Magus
Shako
Crown of Ages
Crown of Ages
Trang-Oul's Guise
Peasant Crown
Tarnhelm
Lore
+x to All Skills
+x to Poison and Bone Skills [Necromancer Only]
+x to Necromancer Skills

+x% Faster Run/Walk
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
-x% to Enemy Poison Resistance
+x% to Poison Skill Damage
+x Life
+x Mana
X Resist x%
Damage Reduced by x%

Damage Reduced by x
+x to Mana after each Kill
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Level x Teleport [x/x Charges]
Socketed [2]
Body ArmorEnigma
Bramble
Skin of the Vipermagi
Skullder's Ire
Trang-Oul's Scales
Bone
Smoke
Stealth
+x to All Skills
+x to Necromancer Skills
+x% Faster Run/Walk
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% to Poison Skill Damage
+x to Teleport
+x to Attribute
Increased Maximum Life x%
+x Mana
X Resist x%
Damage Reduced by x%
Magic Damage Reduced by x
+x to Life after each Kill
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
GlovesTrang-Oul's Claws (3-Piece Trang-Oul's Set)+x to Curses [Necromancer Only]
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x% to Poison Skill Damage

X Resist x%
BeltsArachnid Mesh
Trang-Oul's Girth (3-Piece Trang-Oul's Set)
Crafted Belt
Thundergod's Vigor
Verdungo's Hearty Cord
Goldwrap Battle Belt
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate

+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x Mana
+x% to Maximum Lightning Resist
X Resist x%
+x Lightning Absorb
Damage Reduced by x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
BootsWar Traveler
Aldur's Advance
Waterwalk
Sandstorm Trek
Rare Boots
+x% Faster Run Walk
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x to Attribute
+x Life
X Resist x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
AmuletsCrafted Amulet
Crafted Amulet
Crafted Amulet
Crafted Amulet2
Mara's Kaleidoscope
Venomous Amulet of the Apprentice
Venomous Amulet of Teleportation2
Venomous Amulet
Amulet of Teleportation2
+x to All Skills
+x to Poison and Bone Skills [Necromancer Only]
+x to Necromancer Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate

+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x Mana
Regenerate Mana x%
X Resist x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Level x Teleport [x/x Charges]
RingsRare Ring
Rare Ring
Crafted Ring
The Stone of Jordan
Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band
Nagelring
Fortuitous Ring of Fortune
Wisp Projector
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate

+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x Mana
Increased Maximum Mana x%
X Resist x%
Lightning Absorb x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
CharmsFungal Grand Charm of Vita
Fungal Grand Charm of Balance
Fungal Grand Charm
Shimmering Small Charm of Good Luck
Shimmering Small Charm of Balance
Shimmering Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm of Vita
Shimmering Small Charm
Resistance Small Charm
+x to Poison and Bone Skills [Necromancer Only]
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x Life
X Resist x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Unique CharmsAnnihilus
Necromancer Hellfire Torch
Gheed's Fortune
+x to All Skills
+x to Necromancer Skills
+x to All Attributes
All Resistances +x
+x% to Experience Gained
x% Extra Gold from Monsters
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Reduces all Vendor Prices x%
+x to Light Radius

Farming Spots

The areas below are well suited for this build to farm efficiently. While this build can also farm other areas, we’ve selected these specific areas to make the most use of the build’s strengths. Please take special note of the danger level, clear speed, item types, and Immunities that define these areas.

Anything that has a ✔ in the "Starter" column can be farmed with the "Budget"-Variant below.
While there are other Farming Spots in the game, some Builds struggle to efficiently farm those Areas. This may be because the Monsters in the Area are Immune to your primary Damage type, or the Build lacks mobility to quickly progress to its objectives.

Act 1:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
The Countess
(Forgotten Tower Level 5)
-MediumRunes
Key of Terror
Fire, Cold
The PitMediumAll item types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Fire, Lightning, Cold
The Secret Cow LevelMediumRunes
Runeword Bases
Charms / Gems / Jewels

Act 2:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
Summoner
(Arcane Sanctuary)
-LowKey of Hate

Act 3:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
Travincal
(Council Members)
HighGearing
Runes
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Gold
Fire, Lightning, Cold


Act 4:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
Chaos SanctuaryHighAll item types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Fire, Lightning, Cold
Diablo
(Chaos Sanctuary)
-MediumUniques
Sets
Leveling (Level 97-99)

Act 5:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
Eldritch the Rectifier
(Frigid Highland)
LowGearing
Gold
Leveling
Cold
Shenk the Overseer
(Bloody Foothills)
MediumGearing
Gold
Leveling
Cold
Drifter Cavern-HighAll item typesFire, Lightning, Cold
Nihlathak
(Halls of Vaught)
-HighKey of Destruction
Leveling
(Level 97-99)
Fire, Lightning, Cold or none
(Depends on his Affixes)
Worldstone Keep / Throne of Destruction-HighAll item types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Physical, Magic, Fire, Lightning, Cold, Poison
(Depends on monster spawns)

Mercenary

Your Mercenary can serve an incredibly important role to the overall success of your build. Whether it’s serving as a front line tank, bringing a pivotal Aura to your arsenal, or employing Physical Damage to kill monsters with an Immunity to your skillset.

Act 2 Desert Mercenary
The Act 2 Desert Mercenary can be hired from Greiz. Note: There are no limitations on hiring this Mercenary, meaning that you can hire one at Level 1.
He can be equipped with a Spear or a Polearm, a Body Armor and a Helmet. 
Every Act 2 Mercenary has access to an Aura and uses Jab as his base Attack. The Aura activates once the Mercenary has engaged in combat and remains active between traveling to and from town. The Auras available are based on what difficulty you hire the Mercenary from.

Might Infinity

Infinity, Might
We recommend the Might Aura version as it provides us with a Mercenary that can deal with enemies that are Poison Immune and in general help to provide corpses to get the Corpse Explosion chain started.
Infinity will provide us with a massive damage boost as it reduces enemies' Resistances (with the exception of Poison) and Defense due to its Conviction Aura. This Aura is also capable of breaking some Immunities (Immunities Resource).

Gear Progression

Early-GameMid-GameEnd-Game
Insight
(Any Polearm)
Insight
(Any Polearm)
Infinity
(Ethereal Elite Polearm)
Smoke
(Any Body Armor)
Treachery
(Any Body Armor)
Fortitude
(Ethereal Body Armor, 700++ Base Defense)
Wormskull
(Helmet With Life Leech,
Resistances, and/or Life)
Tal Rasha's Horadric CrestAndariel's Visage
(Preferably Ethereal)


The Mercenary is hard to keep alive until you have the minimum gear recommended in this guide. To help survive various scenarios, remember you can drag Healing Potions onto the portrait, or shift + 1/2/3/4 to directly feed them a Healing Potion from your belt. The Mercenary also gains bonus Resistances from Thawing Potions and Antidote Potions.

If your Mercenary dies in battle, you can revive them from any of the Mercenary NPCs in each Act. This does come with an increasing cost, capping at 50,000 Gold. So keep that in mind and decide if the Mercenary is currently worth the cost.

Playstyle

General:

  • An Insight Iron Golem provides this build with incredible quality of life, though it is not required. Before entering an area with monsters, create an Insight (Weapon Base doesn't matter) in town, throw it on the ground, and cast Iron Golem on it to create an Iron Golem that grants you Meditation Aura. So long as neither you nor the Iron Golem dies, you do not need to repeat this step (Iron Golem persists between games).
  • Cast Bone Armor to apply a shield that will negate Physical Damage, and then run to the Farming Spot of your choosing. When you notice that your Bone Armor is completely gone, and whenever necessary, you can recast it to reapply its shield.
  • Upon encountering high monster density, try to position your Necromancer so that Poison Nova will make contact with as many visible monsters as possible. If you have Teleport from an item, it is optimal to Teleport into an open space that is completely surrounded by monsters.
  • This build uses the following Skill Rotation for optimal Damage output: 1-2 casts of Lower Resist into 1-2 casts of Poison Nova into 1-2 casts of Amplify Damage into casting Corpse Explosion over monster corpses until all remaining target mobs have been eliminated. This Skill Rotation ensures that the fewest uses of Corpse Explosion are required to clear the screen. It also ensures monster Poison and Physical Resistances are weakened prior to using Poison Nova and Corpse Explosion respectively.
  • After all mobs in an area have been flattened, cast Revive on remaining monster corpses as needed to acquire meat shields to help prevent damage to yourself, your Mercenary, and your Iron Golem in future encounters. Then proceed to seek out more pockets of high monster density and Elite Packs.

For Act Bosses:

  • This build's fastest method of killing Act Bosses like Baal is to curse them with Lower Resist and then to spam cast Poison Nova in range of the Boss until they die. It should be noted that solo-killing Bosses with this build is slow and inefficient. See "For Diablo Clone" just below for a different, more fun method of killing Boss monsters with a Poison Nova Necromancer.

For Diablo Clone:

  • Find and kill Urdar-type monsters elsewhere in the game (most often found in Durance of Hate, Palace Cellar, and River of Flame) and use Revive to form an army of at least 10 of them. Then "Telestomp" on top of Diablo Clone after applying Amplify Damage, walk away a few steps, and watch as this monster type's Crushing Blow stat shreds him. Continually cast Poison Nova to prevent him from healing as the Urdars do most of the work.

For Group Play:

  • Because a Poison Nova Necromancer himself benefits from both Lower Resist and Amplify Damage, you can choose which one to regularly cast depending on your Party composition if playing in a group. If your Party relies more on Elemental Damage, primarily cast Lower Resist before using your Damage Skills; if your party relies more on Physical Damage, primary cast Amplify Damage.

Immunities:

  • For Physical Immune mobs: Cast Lower Resist before Poison Nova(s), and then transition directly into casting Corpse Explosion if needed. Lower Resist is more effective than Amplify Damage at increasing Corpse Explosion's Damage (by enhancing the Fire component of its damage) when enemies are Physical Immune.
  • For Poison Immune mobs: Cast Amplify Damage on them before "Telestomping" them with your Mercenary in tow. Your Mercenary will deal incredible amounts of Physical Damage with his Jab attack while the Amplify Damage Curse is active. Once you have killed one monster with this method, start chaining Corpse Explosion and Curse any un-Cursed Poison Immunes with Amplify Damage as needed.
  • Alternatively for Poison Immunes, you can focus down surrounding monsters that are not Immune with the standard Skill Rotation and use their corpses to kill the Poison Immune mobs with a combination of Amplify Damage and Corpse Explosion.

Late-Game:

  • Start your Magic Find/Experience run by buffing yourself with Battle Command 2 times and afterwards with Battle Orders from Call to Arms. Make sure to continually refresh these buffs as soon as they expire (approx. every 2-3 minutes).
  • Use Teleport from Enigma to advance towards your Farming Spot. If already inside of it, use Teleport to jump from Elite Pack to Elite Pack or from one high monster density area to the next.
  • Repositioning with Teleport in-between casts of Skills in the Skill Rotation typically improves coverage of said Skills; this also prevents mobs from dealing damage to you.

Optimal Loot/Experience Farming Strategies:

  • The Pit with 3-8 Players in the Game or /Players5-7 on Single Player - This Max Area Level Farming Spot with low Life monsters, zero Poison Immunes, and high mob density perfectly takes advantage of this build's strengths.
  • The Secret Cow Level - The Necromancer is particularly strong in The Secret Cow Level where Corpse Explosion instantly levels entire tightly-packed herds of Hell Bovines or "Cows" found therein. With High Player Count or /Players5-7 on Single Player, this Farming Spot has strong loot potential especially in regards to Runes, Charms, Jewels, Jewelry, Gems, and Runeword Bases.
  • Worldstone Keep/Throne of Destruction with 3-8 Players in the Game or /Players5-7 on Single Player - While this Farming Spot can prove challenging for many builds with its highly variable monster Immunities, it is rather ideal for a build sporting 3 different types of Damage. Often spawning extremely high monster density, this Max Area Level Farming Spot, coupled with High Player Count, is often quite fruitful for this build.

Breakpoints

For more information on the mechanics involved check out our in-depth Resource: Breakpoints.

All builds rely on specific Breakpoints for effectiveness throughout the game. Meeting Breakpoints for Cast Rate, Hit Recovery, and Block Rate increases the rate of casting spells, recovering from big Damage, and blocks by 1 Frame per Breakpoint.

Faster Cast Rate (FCR)
Faster Cast Rate controls how fast our Character casts Spells. In this build we aim for 125% Faster Cast Rate, which is achieved with the suggested gear. Note: Faster Cast Rate only controls the animation speed of the Character, and not any internal or global Cooldowns your spells have.

Cast Rate Breakpoints

Increased Attack Speed (IAS)
We do not target a specific Attack Speed Breakpoint. We do not rely on attacks to deal damage.

Faster Hit Recovery (FHR)
Faster Hit Recovery controls how fast our Character finishes the Hit Recovery animation. In this build we aim for 56% Faster Hit Recovery, which is achieved with the suggested gear and Charms.

Hit Recovery Breakpoints

Faster Block Rate (FBR)
We do not target a specific Block Rate Breakpoint. We do not rely on Chance to Block in this build.

Faster Run Walk (FRW)
There are no Breakpoints for Faster Run / Walk. With the recommended gear you reach 70% Faster Run / Walk. Please refer to Run / Walk Mechanics for more details.

Hardcore

For all Hardcore gameplay, your primary concern is increasing your Resistances, Damage Reduction, Chance to Block and Maximum Life. This can mean sacrificing overall power level for a more secure playstyle.

The Poison Nova Necromancer can become Hardcore viable with key changes to the Gear, Stat Point allocation, and Skills. Review the changes below before building this character in Hardcore, as some of these changes differ significantly from the standard version of this build.

Gear Changes:

  • Damage Reduction Options: For the Poison Nova Necromancer, there are several options/combinations for achieving a high amount of % Damage Reduction for Hardcore. A Crown of Ages socketed with 2x Ber Runes in combination with a Homunculus socketed with a Ber Rune, along with the rest of this build's standard gear, provides you with 47% Damage Reduction nearing the 50% maximum, maintain a strong number of + to Skills, and achieve the 75% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint. A Venomous Circlet of the Magus socketed with 2x Ber Runes, Verdungo's Hearty Cord, and a Homunculus socketed with a Ber Rune gets you a similar result with less Resistances and Faster Hit Recovery, but more + to Skills. A Shako socketed with a Ber Rune along with a Homunculus socketed with the same results in less Damage Reduction, but more Mana, Life, and + to Skills. A Stormshield socketed with a Ber Rune provides you with the 50% Damage Reduction maximum while increasing options for Magic Find, but leaves you with less overall Resistances and + to Skills; socketing a Shael Rune allows you to reach the next Faster Block Rate Breakpoint.
  • Thundergod's Vigor (Swap): Swap Belt out for Thundergod's Vigor when farming Worldstone Keep or "Teleporting" to the Throne of Destruction to avoid getting destroyed by the Burning Souls that often spawn there. Loss of Faster Cast Rate from swapping out Arachnid Mesh is an acceptable loss here.
  • Stacking Resistances: If possible, and when necessary, make sure your Fire/Lightning/and Cold Resistances ("Res") are stacked beyond their default maximum values of 75 each (175 total Resistances in Hell) to guard against Elite monsters with Conviction Aura and the Oblivion Knight Lower Resist Curse. Stacking these Resistances 85 past their 75 default maximum (260 total Resistance) completely negates either the Conviction Aura of any Elite/Super Unique or the Lower Resist Curse (Beware of both at the same time!). When choosing to stack Resistances, keep in mind which primary damage type(s) the monsters deal in the area you want to farm. High X Resist +x% or All Resistances +x granting Grand and Small Charms can shore up your Resistances for this purpose. Also, Crown of Ages is an excellent Helmet choice for stacking Resistances. If you still find Resistances lacking on this build, put Um Runes in your Helmet and/or Shield.
  • Faster Hit Recovery: If possible, aim for at least the 26% Faster Hit Recovery Breakpoint with Charms and/or Boots to make up for losing Spirit if you are not already wearing Crown of Ages. However, Faster Hit Recovery is not as important when going for maximum Chance to Block (75%). We mainly rely on the 20% Faster Block Rate Breakpoint attained by Homunculus, or rather the 32% Faster Block Rate Breakpoint attained by either a Stormshield or a Homunculus socketed with a Shael Rune.

Stat Point Changes:

  • Only allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear. Crown of Ages or Stormshield are typically the highest Strength requiring items on this build.
  • Allocate enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%) while having either Homunculus or Stormshield equipped.
  • Allocate all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Skill Point Changes:

  • There are no required Skill Point changes for the Hardcore Poison Nova Necromancer. However, it is possible to allocate some extra Skill Points into Bone Wall for additional Bone Armor flat Physical Damage negation. Skill Points can be relocated from the excess into Lower Resist on the standard version of this build.

    See the "Hardcore" Build Variant below for additional suggestions and visuals.

Build Variants

Budget

Setup
This variant of the Poison Nova Necromancer achieves solid results with minimal gear. Its The Pit clearing capability with 3 Players in the Game or /Players3 on Single Player is similar to the high-end standard version's ability to clear it with 7-8 Players in the Game. The same goes for Farming Spots such as Chaos Sanctuary, The Secret Cow Level, and Travincal. Eldritch the Rectifier and Shenk the Overseer are easy pickings for this build even on High Player Count. This "Budget" build can even still clear The Pit on High Player Count even though it will take more time. For this variant, we settle for the 75% Faster Cast Rate (FCR) Breakpoint for casting our abilities and use 3 Trang-Oul's Set items (Trang-Oul's Claws, Trang-Oul's Girth, and Trang-Oul's Wing) to achieve decent -x% to Enemy Poison Resistance without use of the ultra-rare item Death's Web. We also use Naj's Puzzler on Weapon-Swap to be able to reposition with its Teleport Charges. Other Rare items, Crafts, and difficult to acquire items on the standard build have been replaced with suggestions of more generic and accessible gear in the planner to the right. It is even possible to run this build with even cheaper items and less + to Skill gear so long as 75% FCR is met and 3-Piece Trang-Oul's Set is used.

Mercenary
For the "Budget" variant of the Poison Nova Necromancer Infinity is a luxury we cannot afford, so we use Insight on the Mercenary instead to have Meditation Aura without access to plentiful Bases for creating Iron Golems. We also use a Treachery and a Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest for the tank stats they provide.

Skills
This variant for the most part has the same playstyle as the standard version of the build and does not require departure from the standard Skill Point investments. However, a major adjustment for the Budget build will be using Clay Golem as an extra meat shield instead of using Iron Golem. The Budget build does not have enough + to Skill gear to keep an Iron Golem alive. And with Insight on the Mercenary being a more sustainable option, using Iron Golem makes little sense for this variant.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
Only allocate enough Stat Points into Strength and Dexterity to wear all of your gear. Allocating enough points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%) is an option here with Trang-Oul's Wing, but not necessary. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Magic Find

Setup
This variant of the Poison Nova Necromancer is designed specifically for optimizing Magic Finding in The Pit, the Poison Necromancer's strongest Farming Spot. Because "The Pit" does not contain high Life monster types, even in a full game or /Players7-8 on Single Player, we can comfortably sacrifice Damage from the standard version of the build and replace it with Magic Find wherever possible to maximize our odds of finding the rarest Unique and Set items. This includes swapping out Fungal Grand Charms in favor of Magic Find Small Charms. This also includes socketing Ist Runes into your items and favoring Jewelry containing the Magic Find stat. For this variant, all Breakpoint targets are identical to the standard build.

Mercenary
The standard Best in Slot (BiS) Mercenary for any of the Poison Nova Necromancer variants uses an Infinity, Fortitude, and Andariel's Visage socketed with a Ruby Jewel of Fervor.

Skills
Skill Point allocation for this variant is identical to the standard Poison Nova Necromancer.

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Amplify Damage
2. Lower Resist
3. Bone Armor
4. Skeleton Mastery
5. Revive
6. Golem Mastery
7. Summon Resist
8. Iron Golem

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Poison Nova
2. Poison Explosion
3. Poison Dagger
4. Corpse Explosion

Put leftover Skill Points into Lower Resist, Bone Wall, or Golem Mastery past Level 88.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
Only allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Max Damage

Setup
The "Max Damage" variant maximizes Poison Nova's Damage output, primarily for High Player Count or /Players7-8 gameplay on Single Player, using Bramble. Since you don't need Enigma Teleport to travel to The Secret Cow Level, the "Max Damage" build variant dominates this Farming Spot with its extra high Poison Damage output. A stronger Poison Nova means quicker Hell Bovine (Cow) kills, which means quicker, more seamless Corpse Explosion chains - especially in High Player Count. Besides The Secret Cow Level, this build is particularly strong at farming the easy access Farming Spots of Eldritch the Rectifier, Shenk the Overseer, and Travincal. It also comfortably clears The Pit and Chaos Sanctuary, although slower than the standard setup. In lieu of Enigma, we make sure to use a piece of gear that grants Teleport Charges for repositioning and limited mobility on this variant (in the planner our Amulet does the trick).

Mercenary
The standard Best in Slot (BiS) Mercenary for any of the Poison Nova Necromancer variants uses an Infinity, Fortitude, and Andariel's Visage socketed with a Ruby Jewel of Fervor.

Skills
For the most part, the "Max Damage" variant of the Poison Nova Necromancer doesn't deviate from the standard version of the build in its Skill Point distribution. Yet relocating excess Skill Points from Bone Wall to Golem Mastery can greatly improve Iron Golem survivability in The Secret Cow Level prior to summoning enough Hell Bovine Revives to protect him adequately. Also, using Bone Wall and/or Attract in The Secret Cow Level can help with gathering "Cows" for an ultimate Corpse Explosion death pit demise. Thus, allocating 1 Skill Point into Attract can prove quite useful here.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
Only allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Standard

Setup
This is the "Standard" Best in Slot (BiS) Poison Nova Necromancer featured in the beginning of the guide. It is the balanced "jack-of-all-trades" version of the Poison Necromancer, capable of performing the most tasks well. This variant is the point of comparison for all other variants. It carefully balances solid Damage output with Magic Find and Teleport mobility.

Mercenary
The "Standard" Poison Nova Necromancer Mercenary uses an Infinity, Fortitude, and Andariel's Visage socketed with a Ruby Jewel of Fervor.

Skills
The "Standard" Poison Nova Necromancer puts Skill Points into all 3 Skill Trees.

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Amplify Damage
2. Lower Resist
3. Bone Armor
4. Skeleton Mastery
5. Revive
6. Golem Mastery
7. Summon Resist
8. Iron Golem

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Poison Nova
2. Poison Explosion
3. Poison Dagger
4. Corpse Explosion

Put leftover Skill Points into Lower Resist, Bone Wall, or Golem Mastery past Level 88.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
For the "Standard" Poison Nova Necromancer, only allocate enough Stat Points into Strength and Dexterity to wear all of your gear. The rest go into Vitality.

Hardcore

Setup
For the "Hardcore" mode variant, we aim for near 50% Damage Reduction, maximum Chance to Block (75%), and stacked Fire/Lightning/Cold Resistances if possible to guard against taking extreme amounts of Physical and Elemental Damage from monsters catching you with attacks while you are using your Skills. For this build, we settle for the 75% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint. For detailed information about the "Hardcore" Poison Necromancer variant gear options/changes, consult the "Hardcore" section above. In addition to the gear changes recommended in the "Hardcore" section we also swap War Traveler from the standard version of this build in favor of Tri-Resistance Boots for easier "Res Stacking". All recommended Hardcore changes are visually displayed in the planner to the right.

Mercenary
For the "Hardcore" variant, the Mercenary setup is identical to the standard Best in Slot (BiS) Mercenary setup for the Poison Nova Necromancer. Even for Hardcore, a Might Aura Mercenary is still preferred for quickly eliminating single targets to start Corpse Explosion chains.
Note: Holy Freeze from an Act 2 Nightmare Defensive Mercenary would even prove harmful by shattering potential corpses.

Skills
The "Hardcore" variant has no required Skill Point changes from the standard Poison Necromancer. However, relocating extra Skill Points from Lower Resist to Bone Wall will improve your Bone Armor, thus improving your ability to tank large amounts of Physical Damage. Additionally, relocating extraneous Skill Points at high Character Levels to Golem Mastery can improve the survivability of your Iron Golem given that a typical Hardcore setup includes less + to Skill gear.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
Only allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear. Then allocate enough points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%). The number of Dexterity Stat Points required for this is based on your Shield and Character Level. Finally put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality for as large of a health pool as possible.


Video Guide

Video Guide by DarkHumility

Mechanics

Teleport

  • Teleport instantly moves you to a selected square on the visible screen in which you can stand. The game tries to to place you within a small radius around your cursor even if it would be impeded normally.
  • Teleport is not obstructed by walls or other impediments but can fail if your cursor is not completely passed those impediments when cast. Your Mercenary, Iron Golem, and Revives are teleported with you.
  • Revives in large quantities can become “stuck” in position after teleporting. Click move/walk away from that position to give them the chance to spread out.
  • You can “extend” the visible screen by opening UI-windows like the Inventory or the Character screen. Continuously cast Teleport and drag your mouse to the edge of your screen.
  • The Mana cost of Teleport decreases with additional Skill Levels down to 1 Mana per cast.
  • You can use “ESC” to open the menu in Single Player to pause the game after a Teleport to determine if you are safe.
  • Teleport casting speed is affected by the Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint that you achieve with your gear.

Poison Nova

  • Poison Nova is best cast while surrounded by as many mobs as possible for maximum surface area coverage. Upon casting, creates a ring of Poison dots emanating from the center of your Necromancer. Upon making contact with a monster, an individual Poison dot will apply Poison Damage to a monster draining monster health over 2 seconds for the full amount of damage shown on the Character screen, after monster Poison Resistance is taken into account.
  • This ability does not "Pierce". Once a Poison dot makes contact with a monster, it applies Poison Nova's damage tick to it and will disappear. A Poison dot will NOT Poison a monster and continue to pass through to monsters directly behind them. This might often appear to be the case, however, due to the fact that Poison Nova emits such a highly concentrated ring of Poison dots.
  • If a Poison dot makes contact with a monster before a dot from previous Poison Nova cast finishes applying the full measure of Poison Nova's damage to the same monster, the skill's 2 second duration is refreshed or "reset". The 2 second duration can be continually reset by additional applications of Poison Nova upon a monster. However, the amount of damage dealt per second can never increase or "stack" from additional applications. This is why it is best to switch to Amplify Damage and Corpse Explosion as soon as you have a corpse or corpses to work with as spamming Poison Nova in place can only maintain its Poison Damage tick.
  • Damage from Poison Nova benefits enormously from -x% to Enemy Poison Resistance gear and the application of the Lower Resist curse. Casting Lower Resist and Poison Nova together - one after the other - is usually the play. Conviction Aura, such as from Infinity, does NOT affect enemy Poison Resistance, and thus will NOT contribute to an increase of Poison Nova's effective damage.
  • The cast speed of Poison Nova is affected by Faster Cast Rate (FCR). We aim for either the 75 or 125% FCR Breakpoints on this build for more seamless transitions while using this skill.

Corpse Explosion

  • Corpse Explosion can only be cast while your cursor is hovering near an "undefiled" monster corpse anywhere on the screen. Upon successful cast, instantly triggers a mixed 50/50 Fire-Physical damage explosion in a radius based on the Skill's Level. The explosion deals damage to surrounding mobs based on the original Life of the monster to which the corpse belongs (70-120% of the monster's original Life based on RNG). More monster Life = more damage when its corpse is exploded.
  • Boss monsters such as Baal or Quest monsters such as Nihlathak do not leave an "explodable" corpse; neither do expired or dead Revives. Corpse Explosion can be cast on virtually every other corpse, however, including those belonging to all types of Elite monsters including Super Uniques such as Eldritch the Rectifier.
  • Certain other item stats or skills may directly clash with your ability to cast Corpse Explosion on corpses by "defiling" them or may limit your ability to produce corpses for this skill in general. These stats/skills include Slain Monsters Rest in Peace, which renders corpses unusable by enemies and Corpse Explosion alike, Holy Freeze, Redemption, Item Find, summoning skills such as Revive which also consume corpses, along with several others.
  • Since 50% of Corpse Explosion's damage is Fire Damage, gear sources of -x% to Enemy Fire Resistance including Conviction Aura from a Mercenary's Infinity greatly increases the damage of Corpse Explosion. Applying the Lower Resist curse also increases the effectiveness of Corpse Explosion's Fire Damage for the same reason.
  • Since 50% of Corpse Explosion's damage is Physical Damage, the Amplify Damage Curse greatly boosts the Damage of Corpse Explosion. This is even more so the case than for Lower Resist in most scenarios (Physical Immune monsters being the exception) since Amplify Damage debuffs monster Physical Resistance by a full 100% whereas Lower Resist only debuffs Fire Resistance by near 70% at most.
  • Another reason why Amplify Damage is usually favored to precede Corpse Explosion rather than Lower Resist is that with Infinity you already achieve -85% to Enemy Fire Resistance. Monsters with default 0% Fire Resistance already approach the universal Resistance floor of -100% with Infinity alone. An extra -15% to Enemy Fire Resistance in many cases can then be compared to the full -100% to Enemy Physical Resistance you can achieve with Amplify Damage.
  • Corpse Explosion cast speed is affected by Faster Cast Rate (FCR). We aim for either the 75 or 125% FCR Breakpoints on this build for quicker spamming of this skill.

Lower Resist

  • The speed of this Skill is based on Cast Rate.
  • Affected monsters have their Fire, Lightning, Cold and Poison Resists reduced by a percentage based on the Skill Level and capped to -70%. The bottom cap for a monster's Resistance is -100%. Lower Resist can only reach this cap in rare cases or together with other Resistance reducing effects.
  • When a monsters' Immunity is attempted to be broken, the curse is only 1/5 effective. Resist All -50% is reduced to -10% for the element the monster is immune to. The other Resistances are reduced by the full amount.

Scaling:
Lower Resist affects a circular shaped area around the cursor. The radius scales with the Skill Level (slvl).

Formula:
Radius (in yards) = (12 + (2 * slvl)) / 3

Example with slvl = 12:
Radius (in yards) = (12 + (2 * 12)) / 3
Radius (in yards) = 12

Resist All -% scales with the Skill Level (slvl) and is capped to -70% at an unreachable slvl = 60.

Formula:

Resist All -% = floor(25 + floor(45 * floor((110 * slvl) / (slvl + 6)) / 100))

Example with slvl = 12:

Resist All -% = floor(25 + floor(45 * floor((110 * 12) / (12 + 6)) / 100))
Resist All -% = floor(25 + floor(45 * floor(1320 / 18) / 100))
Resist All -% = floor(25 + floor(45 * floor(73.33..) / 100))
Resist All -% = floor(25 + floor(45 * 73 / 100))
Resist All -% = floor(25 + floor(32.85))
Resist All -% = floor(25 + 32)
Resist All -% = 57

The affect duration scales with the Skill Level (slvl).

Formula:
Duration = 18 + (2 * slvl)

Example with slvl = 12:
Duration = 18 + (2 * 12)
Duration = 42 seconds

Amplify Damage

  • The speed of this Skill is based on Cast Rate.
  • Affected monsters have their "Physical Resistance" reduced by 100% at all Skill Levels (slvl). This effect is reduced to 1/5 on monsters that are Immune to Physical.
  • Amplify Damage affects Undead type monsters before Sanctuary.
  • Can be overwritten by any other Curse.

Scaling:
Amplify Damage affects a circular shaped area around the cursor. The radius scales with the Skill Level (slvl).

Formula:
Radius (in yards) = (4 + (2 * slvl)) / 3

Example with slvl = 12:
Radius (in yards) = (4 + (12 * 12)) / 3
Radius (in yards) = 49.33

The affect duration scales with the Skill Level (slvl).
Example shown use slvl = 12:

Formula:
Duration = 5 + (3 * slvl)

Example with slvl = 12:
Duration = 5 + (3 * 12)
Duration = 41 seconds

Revive

  • Revive can only be cast while your cursor is hovering near a viable, "undefiled" monster corpse anywhere on the screen. Upon successful cast on a monster corpse, summons a monster ally in a dark gray likeness of the fallen monster with 200% Increased Life relative to the original monster. Revive's skill Level determines the maximum number of revived monsters that can be fielded simultaneously. A monster resurrected by Revive has a 3 minute maximum lifespan.
  • 1 Skill Point into Summon Resist greatly improves the survivability of Revives versus Elemental attacks. 1 Skill Point into Skeleton Mastery grants Revives massive damage and Life buffs that scale with Skeleton Mastery's Level.
  • A Revive fights using the original monster's native abilities. In practice, Revives tend to not deal significant Damage especially when compared to summons from other skills such as Raise Skeleton. However, these resurrected monsters are extremely tanky in general. For the Poison Nova Necromancer, Revives are mostly used for absorbing Damage, distracting, and in general shielding your Character, Mercenary, and Iron Golem from incoming attacks.
  • Certain other item stats or skills may directly clash with your ability to cast Revive on corpses by "defiling" them or may limit your ability to produce corpses for this skill in general. These stats/skills include Slain Monsters Rest in Peace, which renders corpses unusable by enemies and Revive alike, Corpse Explosion, Holy Freeze, Redemption, Item Find, other Summoning Skills such as Raise Skeleton which also consume corpses, along with several others.
  • In the case of facing Bosses including Diablo Clone and Uber Bosses such as Uber Mephisto, Revive can be used on the corpses of Urdar-type monsters including Blunderbores (Act 2 Palace Cellar), Maulers (Act 3 Durance of Hate), and Urdars (Act 4 River of Flame) for Revives that have a large chance of inflicting Crushing Blow. With Crushing Blow, a significant number of these Revives quickly train down a Boss' Life by chunking their remaining Life pool.
  • Elite monsters of any kind cannot be Revive'd; this limitation naturally includes Boss/Quest monsters as well. This is different from Corpse Explosion which can be cast upon Elite monster corpses. All other minion and regular monsters (except for Minions of Destruction) can join the ranks of your army.
  • Revive cast speed is affected by Faster Cast Rate (FCR). We aim for either the 75 or 125% FCR Breakpoints on this build for more seamless transitions while using this skill.

Iron Golem

  • Iron Golem is a summon that can only be created while hovering your cursor over a "Metallic" item and using the skill to consume said item (item is destroyed in the process). The created Iron Golem will take on the "properties" of said item, including several notable and important stats such as item Auras. This Skill's Level only directly translates to more Defense and Thorns Damage for the Iron Golem. Skill Points into Golem Mastery and the 1-Point wonder Summon Resist are much more impactful for the Iron Golem's survivability.
  • An Iron Golem can be created out of any type of item that contains Metal, including many Runewords, while taking on many of an item's stats. An Iron Golem will apply notable stats such as Crushing Blow, Deadly Strike, Life Leech, and Base Weapon Damage. Most notably, however, especially for the Poison Nova Necromancer, an Iron Golem will use the Aura with the same Level from an Aura-granting item that it is created from. As it applies to this build, for example, an Iron Golem created from an Insight will use its Meditation Aura. As another example, and for more daring players, an Iron Golem created from an Infinity will use its Conviction Aura. There are several Aura-granting Runewords to which this applies.
  • If an Iron Golem is made from an Ethereal item, it will be See-through just like the Ethereal item itself. This purely "cool" visual effect has no impact on the Golem's survivability or otherwise.
  • Iron Golem persists through leaving and creating games. It is saved data on your Character file.
  • If either your Character or Iron Golem Dies, your Iron Golem will need to be recreated using a new item. So make sure both your Character and Iron Golem stay alive if you want to maintain it (essentially along with the item it was created from).
  • It is also possible to run too far ahead of your Iron Golem and delete it off-screen. For this reason it is recommended to only use Iron Golem in conjunction with Enigma Teleport.
  • An Iron Golem can be recreated by recasting the Skill over a new metallic item. Important: You may only have 1 of any kind of golem at any point in time. If you have already created a Golem, including an Iron Golem, and use any Golem Skill to create a new one, it overwrites your previous golem. For this reason it is recommended to never use a keybind for any Golem Skill while using an Iron Golem to prevent accidently overwriting your Iron Golem and its stats with an Iron Golem made from a random item on the ground or with another Golem such as a Clay Golem.

Bone Armor

  • The speed of this Skill is based on Cast Rate.
  • While active, this Skill will grand a "shield" which absorbs a set amount of Physical Damage. The absorb is applied before any Damage Reductions.
    • If a hit exceeds the absorb value, the remaining damage is applied after damage reductions.
    • If Physical Damage < Absorb value, the total absorb value is decreased by the damage. Bone Armor will stay active with the remaining absorb value.
    • The absorb value can be reset by casting Bone Armor again.
  • Stackable with Cyclone Armor and Blade Shield.
  • , , and can't be active at the same time. Between these and Bone Armor only the most recently cast Skill is applied.

Scaling:
Mana Cost:
The Mana Cost increases with each Skill Level:

Mana Cost = slvl + 10

Example slvl = 20:
Mana Cost = 20 + 10
Mana Cost = 30

Base Absorb:
The formula for the Physical Damage Absorbed is calculated using this formula:

Physical Damage Absorbed = 10 * slvl + 10

Example slvl = 20:
Physical Damage Absorbed = 10 * 20 + 10
Physical Damage Absorbed = 210

Synergies:
Synergies increase the Physical Damage Absorbed by 15 per Base Level (blvl). They work additive to the Base Absorb.
Note: Skilling the Synergies over the Skill itself adds more Physical Damage Absorbed!

Physical Damage Absorbed = 15 * (Bone Wall.blvl + Bone Prison.blvl)

Example, assuming all Synergies have a blvl = 5:
Physical Damage Absorbed = 15 * (5 + 5)
Physical Damage Absorbed = 150

Total Absorb:
As mentioned above, the Physical Damage Absorbed from Synergies is simply added to the Base Absorb. Taking the values from above we have 210 Physical Damage Absorbed from Bone Armor and 150 from Synergies.

Total Physical Damage Absorbed = 210 + 150
Total Physical Damage Absorbed = 360

Conclusion:
Our slvl 20 Bone Armor with 10 Skill Points in Synergies absorbs 360 Physical Damage in total. Each cast costs 30 Mana.


Summary

  • Use the Lower Resist, Poison Nova, Amplify Damage, Corpse Explosion Skill Rotation for maximum effectiveness while interweaving Teleport and duplicating Skill usage when necessary.
  • This is arguably the #1 High Player Count "The Pit" farming build. Make full use of this build by taking advantage of this Farming Spot for every possible item in the game.
  • The Poison Nova Necromancer overall is an expensive yet incredibly effective build at clearing High Player Count high monster density of any kind in the late-game with solid sources of Poison, Fire, and Physical Damage and super fast cast speed for all of his abilities when achieving the 125% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint.
  • Use item suggestions in the "Budget" variant of the build if you cannot afford or find any of the ultra-rare items depicted in the standard build. Once you have access to Enigma or Bramble, you will see a massive increase in farming efficiency and Damage output.

Guide by DarkHumility

We hope you enjoy this build! With an ideal setup and strong execution, the Poison Nova Necromancer can be one of the most rewarding and overall fun builds in the end-game. Very little can trump the satisfaction of watching monsters' health bars drain away!

Good luck!