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 quickly disposes 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 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.

As an accomplished 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. If you are looking for a challenging playstyle relying on high APM Skill Rotations and complex farming strategy execution, you will love playing this build. Its high gear requirements make it a great option once you have become comfortably geared into the Ladder Season.

Ideal Standard Setup

Poison Nova

Corpse Explosion

Revive

Teleport

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

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 all remaining Skill Points into Lower Resist, Bone Wall, or Golem Mastery past Level 87.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Damage

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

Corpse Explosion* is your Finishing Damage Skill. It consumes a monster corpse to produce an Area of Effect (AoE) explosion, dealing 70-120% of the original monster's health as a 50/50 mix of Fire and Physical Damage to nearby mobs. Its explosion radius increases with Skill Level.

* Faster Cast Rate Skills (FCR)

Utility

Lower Resist* is a Curse that significantly lowers enemies' 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 and -x% to Enemy All Resistances increases with Skill Level.

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

Attract* is an Optional Curse that causes nearby monsters to seek out and attack the Cursed mob. This can be useful for gathering monsters for Corpse Explosion in areas such as The Secret Cow Level.

Revive* resurrects a monster corpse as an allied minion to tank and deal damage for you. You can summon enough Revives with only 1 Skill Point into this along with + to Skills from your gear.

Iron Golem* is a Golem Summon created from a Metallic Item. It consumes the Metallic Item in the process, taking on its properties. Making an Iron Golem out of an Insight is recommended for a Poison Nova Necromancer.
Note: If your Iron Golem dies you need to remake it out of a new item!

Clay Golem* is a Golem Summon that tanks damage and Slows enemies it hits. Only use this Golem if you do not need an Insight Iron Golem.

Golem Mastery* increases the Maximum Life of your Iron Golem or Clay Golem.

Skeleton Mastery* increases the survivability of your Revives.

Summon Resist* greatly increases your Summons' ability to tank Elemental Damage.

Bone Armor* negates a set amount of Physical Damage before expiring. This shielding buff can be continually refreshed to prevent incoming Physical Damage. Putting Skill Points into its Bone Wall Synergy increases its strength just as much as putting Skill Points into Bone Armor itself.

Bone Wall* creates an impassable wall of bone. Besides serving as a defensive barricade, it also causes nearby monsters to move towards and attack it. This can be useful for gathering monsters for Corpse Explosion in areas such as The Secret Cow Level. Its Life increases with Skill Level.

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


Attributes

Note: This section provides you with the standard Stat Point allocation. Build Variants may require different allocations!

Strength

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to equip all of your gear. Take into account how much Strength your gear provides when equipped.

Dexterity

Allocate enough Stat Points into Dexterity to equip all of your gear. Take into account how much Dexterity your gear provides when equipped.

Vitality

Allocate all remaining Stat Points into Vitality after meeting Strength, Dexterity and Energy requirements.

Energy

Don't allocate any Stat Points into Energy. This build gets enough Mana from gear, Charms, buffs, and Mana Potions. The Standard Build also gets Mana after each Kill from Death's Web along with significant Mana Regeneration from an Insight Iron Golem.


Essentials

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 easily identify the Most Important Stats on them.

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

Gear/Base Notes: Any Items with specialized or niche uses have a superscript that refers here.
1) A White Base with +2-3 to Poison Nova is suitable 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 if you decide to use Bramble over Enigma for maximum Damage (see the "Max Damage" Build Variant below).

SlotItem OptionsDesirable Stats
Weapon Death's Web
Plague
Heart of the Oak Flail
White1
Spirit
Gemmed Crystal Sword (6x 5/5 Poison Rainbow Facets)
20% Chance to cast level 12 Lower Resist when struck.
Level 13-17 Cleansing Aura When Equipped
+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
Venomous Demon Head
Jeweler's Monarch of Deflecting (4x 5/5 Poison Rainbow Facets)
Gemmed Monarch (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 to Poison Nova
+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
Harmony
Level 10 Vigor Aura When Equipped
+x to All Skills
+x to Battle Orders
+x to Battle Command
Level x Teleport [x/x Charges]
Off-Hand-SwapSpirit Monarch
Lidless Wall
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate
HelmetsRare Circlet
Rare Circlet2
Venomous Circlet of the Magus (2x 5/5 Poison Rainbow Facets)
Venomous Circlet of the Magus (2x Ber Runes)
Harlequin Crest
Crown of Ages (2x 5/5 Poison Rainbow Facets)
Crown of Ages (2x Ber Runes)
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 (1 or 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)
Caster Crafted Belt
Thundergod's Vigor
Verdungo's Hearty Cord
Goldwrap Battle Belt
Garnet Sharkskin Belt of the Squid
+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
Sapphire Chain Boots of Acceleration
+x% Faster Run Walk
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x to Attribute
+x Life
X Resist x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
AmuletsCaster Crafted Amulet
Caster Crafted Amulet
Caster Crafted Amulet
Caster 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
Rare Ring
Rare Ring
Blood 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 Grand Charm of Balance
Shimmering Grand Charm
Resistance 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 efficient farming locations that make use of the build’s strengths. Other farming spots might not be as effective due to Immunities or bad layouts.

Anything that has a in the "Starter" column can be farmed with the Starter Build Variant.

Act 1

AreaStarterRewards
The Countess-Runes
Key of Terror
The PitAll Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
The Secret Cow LevelRunes
Runeword Bases
Charms / Gems / Jewels

Act 2

AreaStarterRewards
Summoner-Key of Hate

Act 3

AreaStarterRewards
Ruined TempleAll Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Travincal-Gearing
Runes
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Gold

Act 4

AreaStarterRewards
Chaos SanctuaryAll Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
DiabloUniques
Sets
Leveling (Level 97-99)

Act 5

AreaStarterRewards
Eldritch the RectifierGearing
Gold
Leveling
Shenk the OverseerGearing
Gold
Leveling
Drifter Cavern-All Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Nihlathak-Key of Destruction
Leveling
(Level 97-99)
Worldstone Keep / Throne of Destruction-All Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling

Mercenary

Your Mercenary serves an incredibly important role to the overall success of your build. They can be a front line tank, provide a pivotal Aura, and/or deal Physical Damage to kill enemies with Immunity to your Skill set.

Act 2 Desert Mercenary

The Act 2 Desert Mercenary can be hired from Greiz.
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

Use a Desert Mercenary with Might Aura to deal with enemies that are Poison Immune and to help provide corpses for Corpse Explosion.
Equip him with Infinity to reduce enemy Resistances (with the exception of Poison) and Defense with its Conviction Aura, drastically boosting Corpse Explosion damage. This Aura is also capable of breaking some Immunities.

Gear Progression

Early-GameMid-GameEnd-Game
Insight
(Any Polearm)
Insight
(Ethereal Elite Polearm)
Infinity
(Ethereal Elite Spear or 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
(Ethereal Preferred)

The Mercenary is hard to keep alive until you have the minimum gear recommended in this guide. 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. Keep that in mind and decide if the Mercenary is currently worth the cost.

Playstyle

General

  • An Insight Iron Golem, while not required, provides this build with incredible quality of life. 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 (Iron Golem persists between games).
  • Before each Magic Find/Experience run, cast Bone Armor and, if you are not using an Iron Golem, Clay Golem. Refresh Bone Armor when you notice that it is completely gone and when encountering dangerous Physical Damage enemies (Dark Archers, Undead Stygian Dolls, Death Lords, etc.). Re-summon your Golem if it dies.
  • Upon encountering high monster density, position so that Poison Nova makes contact with as many monsters as possible. If you have Teleport, use it to reposition into an open space surrounded by monsters.
  • Use 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 until all nearby mobs have been eliminated. This Skill Rotation ensures that monster Poison and Physical Resistances are reduced prior to using Poison Nova and Corpse Explosion respectively; overall, it minimizes the number of Corpse Explosions required to clear a screen.
  • After you have flattened all nearby mobs, cast Revive on monster corpses as needed to acquire meat shields for future encounters. Then proceed to seek out additional pockets of high monster density and Elite Packs.
  • Optional: Use either Bone Wall or Attract to gather nearby monsters for Corpse Explosion. This can be especially useful when farming The Secret Cow Level.

For Act Bosses:

  • This build's fastest method of killing Act Bosses (like Diablo) is to apply Lower Resist and repeatedly cast Poison Nova near the Boss until it dies. It should be noted that Solo-farming Bosses with this build is slow and inefficient. See "For Diablo Clone" just below for a different, more fun method of killing Bosses with this build.

For Diablo Clone:

For Group Play:

  • Because a Poison Nova Necromancer himself benefits from both Lower Resist and Amplify Damage, you can choose which Curse to prioritize depending on your Party composition when 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, primarily 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 boosting the Fire component of its damage) when enemies are Physical Immune.
  • For Poison Immune mobs: Cast Amplify Damage before "Telestomping" them with your Mercenary in tow. Your Mercenary deals incredible amounts of Physical Damage with his Jab attack while the Amplify Damage Curse is active. Once your Mercenary kills a monster, start chaining Corpse Explosion. Keep Amplify Damage applied to all nearby Poison Immunes.
  • Alternatively for Poison Immunes: Focus down nearby 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

  • Before starting your Magic Find/Experience run, first cast Battle Command 2 times and then Battle Orders once using Call to Arms. Refresh these buffs as soon as they expire (approx. every 2-3 minutes).
  • Use Teleport from Enigma to travel to your Farming Spot; also use it to travel between Elite Packs 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, high mob density, and zero Poison Immunes is perfect for this build. The Poison Nova Necromancer is arguably the fastest High Player Count runner of this top-tier area.
  • The Secret Cow Level - Corpse Explosion instantly levels entire tightly-packed herds of Hell Bovines or "Cows". This Farming Spot, especially in High Player Count games or /Players5-7 on Single Player, frequently drops 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 proves challenging with its highly variable monster Immunities, it is rather ideal for a build with 3 types of damage. Spawning extremely high monster density, this Max Area Level Farming Spot is often fruitful.

Breakpoints

Breakpoints in Diablo 2 are the minimum values required to reduce the frames of an action. Below are the important breakpoints considered for this build. For more information on the mechanics involved, check out our in-depth Resource: Breakpoints.

Faster Cast Rate (FCR)

Faster Cast Rate speeds up your casting animation for spells. Aim for either the 75% FCR or 125% FCR Breakpoint. The Standard Build achieves the 125% FCR Breakpoint. Note: FCR only controls the animation speed of the Character, and not any internal Cooldowns spells have.

Frames1514131211109
FCR0918304875125

Faster Hit Recovery (FHR)

Faster Hit Recovery increases survivability. Aim for at least the 39% FHR Breakpoint. The Standard Build achieves the 56% FHR Breakpoint.

Frames13121110987654
FHR05101626395686152377

Hardcore

For all Hardcore gameplay, your primary focus 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 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 Build.

Gear Changes

  • Damage Reduction: There are several gear options/setups for achieving a high amount of % Damage Reduction on a Hardcore Poison Nova Necromancer. A setup using Crown of Ages socketed with 2x Ber Runes, Homunculus socketed with a Ber Rune, and Enigma achieves 47% Damage Reduction, maintains high + to Skills, and reaches the 75% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint. A setup using Venomous Circlet of the Magus socketed with 2x Ber Runes, Verdungo's Hearty Cord, Homunculus socketed with a Ber Rune, and Enigma achieves the same Damage Reduction with more + to Skills, but less Resistances and Faster Hit Recovery. A setup using Harlequin Crest socketed with a Ber Rune, Homunculus socketed with the same, and Enigma only reaches 34% Damage Reduction, but has more Mana, Life, and + to Skills. The pairing of Stormshield socketed with a Ber Rune and Enigma achieves the 50% Damage Reduction maximum and opens up options for Magic Find, but leaves you with less Resistances and + to Skills; socketing a Shael Rune instead allows you to reach the next Faster Block Rate Breakpoint.
  • Stacking Resistances: Stack your Fire/Lightning/Cold Resistances beyond the default maximum values of 75 each (175 total in Hell). Stacking 85 additional Resistances in Hell completely negates the Conviction Aura of any Elite Boss or the Oblivion Knight's Lower Resist Curse. Beware of encountering both at the same time! Consider the primary damage type(s) of the monsters in the area you want to farm. Crown of Ages is the best Helmet option for stacking Resistances on this build. Um Runes socketed into gear, Jewelry, and Charms are also ideal sources of Resistances.
  • Faster Hit Recovery: Aim for at least the 39% Faster Hit Recovery Breakpoint with Crown of Ages, Boots, and/or Charms. Faster Hit Recovery is not as important when going for maximum Chance to Block (75%). You mainly rely on the Faster Block Rate Breakpoints attained by Homunculus (20%), Homunculus socketed with a Shael Rune (32%), or Stormshield (32%).
  • Lightning Absorb: Equip 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.

Stat Point Changes

  • Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear. Either Crown of Ages or Stormshield requires the most Strength on a Hardcore setup.
  • Allocate enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%) while having either Homunculus or Stormshield equipped.
  • Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Skill Point Changes

  • There are no required Skill Point changes for a Hardcore Poison Nova Necromancer. However, allocating additional Skill Points into either Bone Armor or Bone Wall improves your ability to tank Physical Damage. Skill Points can be relocated from Lower Resist on the Standard Build.

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

Build Variants

Starter

Setup

The Starter variant of the Poison Nova Necromancer meets the minimum gear requirements for farming the Starter tagged areas in the "Farming Spots" section above. These areas can be Solo-farmed by this setup (/Players1 on Single Player) in both Nightmare and Hell difficulty. Prioritize + to Skills, +x% to Poison Skill Damage, Faster Cast Rate, Resistances, Cannot Be Frozen, and Life/Attributes on your gear. A Staff of Teleportation on Weapon-Swap allows this build to reposition. You can also use a Harmony on Weapon-Swap for faster move speed. The Starter build achieves the 75% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint. Follow the Necromancer Leveling Guide to get your Necromancer to Level 75.

Mercenary

The Starter Poison Nova Necromancer uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with Insight for Damage and Mana Regeneration. Mercenaries require Resistances, Life Leech, and/or Damage Reduction to stay alive. Smoke is a cheap Body Armor option for Resistances, while Wormskull is a Helmet that provides Life Leech.

Skills

Use Clay Golem instead of Iron Golem. The rest is the same as the Standard Build.

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

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

Put all remaining Skill Points into Lower Resist, Bone Wall, or Golem Mastery past Level 87.

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Budget

Setup

The Budget Poison Nova Necromancer achieves solid results with gear that is much easier to acquire than the gear on the Standard Build. Its ability to clear The Pit with 1-3 Players in the game or /Players1-3 on Single Player rivals the high-end Standard Build's ability to clear it on /Players7-8. And unlike the Starter build, the Budget setup can farm Travincal. It is also able to farm Chaos Sanctuary, The Secret Cow Level, Eldritch the Rectifier, Shenk the Overseer, and Ruined Temple on higher Player Count than the Starter version. The Budget variant reaches the 75% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint and uses 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 the ultra-rare Death's Web. A Naj's Puzzler on Weapon-Swap allows you to strategically travel and reposition using its Teleport Charges. In general, difficult to acquire Standard Build items have been replaced with lower-end gear options that still provide decent Damage, Faster Cast Rate, Resistances, Damage Reduction, Magic Find, and the Cannot Be Frozen stat.

Mercenary

Because Infinity is a luxury your Budget Poison Nova Necromancer cannot afford, use an Insight on an Act 2 Might Mercenary for Damage and Mana Regeneration instead. Also use Treachery and Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest for the tank stats they provide. This Mercenary is better at surviving and dealing damage than the Starter one.

Skills

Use Clay Golem instead of Iron Golem. The rest is the same as the Standard Build.

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

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

Put all remaining Skill Points into Lower Resist, Bone Wall, or Golem Mastery past Level 87.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength and Dexterity to wear your gear. Allocating enough Stat 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.

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 Damage output, Magic Find, and Teleport mobility. The Standard setup achieves the 125% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint for rapid Skill usage.

Mercenary

The Standard Poison Nova Necromancer uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with Infinity, Fortitude, and Andariel's Visage socketed with a Ruby Jewel of Fervor.

Skills

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 all remaining Skill Points into Lower Resist, Bone Wall, or Golem Mastery past Level 87.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Magic Find

Setup

This variant is optimized for farming The Pit, the Poison Nova Necromancer's strongest Farming Spot. Because The Pit only has low Life monster types, you can comfortably sacrifice Damage from the Standard Build and replace it with Magic Find wherever possible. This even applies to a Full Game or /Players7-8 on Single Player. Maximizing the odds of finding the rarest Unique and Set items is the priority on this setup. This includes favoring Magic Find Small Charms over Fungal Grand Charms, socketing Ist Runes into gear, and favoring the Magic Find stat on Jewelry. The Magic Find variant achieves the 125% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint like the Standard Build.

Mercenary

Just as with the Standard Build, the Magic Find Poison Nova Necromancer uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with Infinity, Fortitude, and Andariel's Visage socketed with a Ruby Jewel of Fervor.

Skills

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 all remaining Skill Points into Lower Resist, Bone Wall, or Golem Mastery past Level 87.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Max Damage

Setup

The Max Damage variant uses Bramble and a Gemmed Monarch socketed with 4x 5/5 Poison Rainbow Facets to maximize Poison Nova's Damage. This setup is particularly effective in High Player Count games or /Players7-8 on Single Player. Since you don't need Enigma Teleport to travel to The Secret Cow Level, the Max Damage build dominates this Farming Spot with its extra high Poison Damage output. A stronger Poison Nova means quicker Hell Bovine (Cow) kills, which means more seamless Corpse Explosion chains. This is especially the case in High Player Count. Besides The Secret Cow Level, this setup is particularly good at farming the easy access Farming Spots of Travincal, Eldritch the Rectifier, and Shenk the Overseer. It also comfortably clears The Pit and Chaos Sanctuary, although slower than the Standard Build due to lack of mobility. Use either a Teleport Charge Amulet or Teleport Charge Circlet for repositioning and limited mobility. This variant achieves the 75% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint.

Mercenary

Just as with the Standard Build, the Max Damage Poison Nova Necromancer uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with Infinity, Fortitude, and Andariel's Visage socketed with a Ruby Jewel of Fervor.

Skills

Use either Attract or Bone Wall to gather Hell Bovines or "Cows" in The Secret Cow Level for a Corpse Explosion death pit demise. Also put all remaining Skill Points into Golem Mastery past Level 91 to improve your Iron Golem's survivability. The rest is the same as the Standard Build.

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

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

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Hardcore

Setup

For the Hardcore mode variant, aim for high Damage Reduction and maximum Chance to Block (75%) to guard against taking extreme amounts of Physical Damage. Additionally, overcap Resistances beyond the natural cap of 75% if possible to counteract hostile Conviction or Lower Resist. This variant reaches the 75% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint. Consult the "Hardcore" section for more detailed information.

Mercenary

Just as with the Standard Build, the Hardcore Poison Nova Necromancer uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with Infinity, Fortitude, and Andariel's Visage socketed with a Ruby Jewel of Fervor.
Note: Do not hire a Holy Freeze Mercenary for improved survivability. It shatters corpses needed for Corpse Explosion.

Skills

Allocating Skill Points into Bone Wall instead of Lower Resist past Level 87 improves your ability to tank Physical Damage. Additional Skill Points into Golem Mastery improve the survivability of your Iron Golem. The rest is the same as the Standard Build.

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

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear and enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%). Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.


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 travel with you.
  • Revives in large quantities can become “stuck” in position after Teleporting. 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

  • Cast Poison Nova while surrounded by as many mobs as possible for maximum coverage. This Skill creates a ring of Poison dots emanating from the center of your Necromancer. Poison dots apply Poison Damage to monsters upon making contact, draining their Life over 2 seconds. Monster Poison Resistance is taken into account when calculating Poison Nova's damage.
  • This ability does not "Pierce". Once a Poison dot makes contact with a monster it applies Poison Nova's damage tick to it and disappears. Poison dots don't pass through monsters to other monsters 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 that is still taking damage from a previous Poison Nova, its 2 second damage duration is refreshed. Poison Nova's Poison tick duration can be continually reset by additional applications of Poison Nova. However, the amount of damage dealt per second can never increase or "stack" from additional applications. For this reason, it is best to switch to Amplify Damage and Corpse Explosion as soon as you have a corpse(s) to work with.
  • Damage from Poison Nova benefits enormously from the -x% to Enemy Poison Resistance stat on gear and the Lower Resist Curse. Casting Lower Resist and Poison Nova together is optimal. Conviction Aura, such as from Infinity, does NOT affect enemy Poison Resistance and thus does NOT contribute to an increase of Poison Nova's effective damage.
  • The cast speed of Poison Nova is affected by Faster Cast Rate (FCR). Aim for either the 75 or 125% FCR Breakpoints on this build for smoother transitions while using this Skill.

Corpse Explosion

  • Corpse Explosion can only be cast while your cursor is hovering near an "undefiled" monster corpse. It consumes a corpse, triggering a mixed 50/50 Fire-Physical damage explosion in a radius based on its Level. The explosion deals damage to surrounding mobs based on the monster corpse's Life (70-120% of the monster's original Life). More monster Life = more damage when its corpse is exploded.
  • Act Bosses such as Baal and Quest Monsters such as Nihlathak do not leave "explodable" corpses; 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 (like Eldritch the Rectifier).
  • Certain item stats or Skills can interfere with your ability to use corpses for Corpse Explosion. They may "defile" them, limit their production, or otherwise compete for their use. These stats/Skills include Slain Monsters Rest in Peace, Holy Freeze, Redemption, Find Item, Summoning Skills such as Revive, 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). This is because 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 is that with Infinity you already achieve -85% to Enemy Fire Resistance. Monsters with default 0% Fire Resistance already approach the Resistance floor of -100% with Infinity alone. The extra -15% to Enemy Fire Resistance from Lower Resist in many cases can't compete with the full -100% to Enemy Physical Resistance you get using Amplify Damage.
  • Corpse Explosion cast speed is affected by Faster Cast Rate (FCR). Aim for either the 75 or 125% FCR Breakpoints on this build for faster Corpse Explosion chains.

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 or "floor" 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.
  • Can be overwritten by any other Curse.

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 be cast while your cursor is hovering near a viable, "undefiled" monster corpse. It summons a monster ally in a gray likeness of the fallen monster with 200% more Life than it had while it was alive. 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.
  • A Revive fights using the original monster's native abilities. In practice, Revives tend to not deal significant Damage. This is especially when compared to fully synergized Skeletons using a maxed out Raise Skeleton. These resurrected monsters are extremely tanky, however. 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 item stats or Skills can interfere with your ability to use corpses for Revive. They may "defile" them, limit their production, or otherwise compete for their use. These stats/Skills include Slain Monsters Rest in Peace, Corpse Explosion, Holy Freeze, Redemption, Find Item, Summoning Skills such as Raise Skeleton, along with several others.
  • When facing Act Bosses, Diablo Clone and Uber Bosses (such as Uber Mephisto), Revive Urdar-type monsters including Blunderbores (Act 2 Palace Cellar), Maulers (Act 3 Durance of Hate), and Urdars (Act 4 River of Flame) for their Crushing Blow stat. With about 10-15 of these Revives you can quickly train down any Boss.
  • Elite Monsters cannot be Revive'd; this limitation applies to Boss/Quest monsters as well. This is different from Corpse Explosion which can consume Elite corpses. All other minion and regular monsters (with the exception of Minions of Destruction) can join the ranks of your army.
  • Revive cast speed is affected by Faster Cast Rate (FCR). Aim for either the 75 or 125% FCR Breakpoints on this build for more smoother transitions while using this Skill.

Iron Golem

  • Iron Golem is a Golem Summon that can only be created from a "Metallic Item". An Iron Golem takes on the properties of the item it is created from, including several important stats such as Defense, Weapon Damage, Crushing Blow, Deadly Strike, and Life Leech.
  • If an Iron Golem is created from an Aura-granting Runeword, the Iron Golem uses that Aura. As it applies to the Poison Nova Necromancer, an Iron Golem created from an Insight uses its Meditation Aura.
  • If an Iron Golem is made from an Ethereal item, it becomes 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.
  • An Iron Golem's Defense and Thorns damage is based on its Level. However, Skill Points into Golem Mastery and Summon Resist are much more impactful for the Iron Golem's survivability.
  • If either your Character or Iron Golem Dies, your Iron Golem needs to be recreated using a new item. Keep both your Character and Iron Golem alive if you don't want to lose your Iron Golem (and, essentially, the item it was made from).
  • It is possible to run too far ahead of your Iron Golem and delete it off-screen. For this reason, it is recommended to keep your Iron Golem close using Enigma Teleport.
  • An Iron Golem can be recreated by recasting the Skill over a new Metallic Item. Important: You can only have 1 Golem of any kind at any given time. If you have already created a Golem (such as an Iron Golem) and use any Golem Skill to create a new one, it overwrites your previous golem. Avoid using key bindings for any Golem Skills while using an Iron Golem to prevent accidently overwriting it.

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 stays 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 while interweaving Teleport for maximum effectiveness. Cast these Skills as many times as it takes to clear the screen.
  • Equipping Enigma or Bramble greatly increases your DPS (Damage Per Second) and overall farming efficiency. Acquire one them ASAP!
  • Use items on the Starter or Budget Builds (see "Build Variants") to get a functional Poison Nova Necromancer setup before you have acquired best in slot gear.
  • This is arguably the #1 High Player Count "The Pit" farming build. Farm this ideal Max Level Area to take full advantage of this build's power.
  • The Poison Nova Necromancer is incredibly effective at clearing high monster density in High Player Count games in the late-game. Achieving the 125% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint with sources of Poison, Fire, and Physical Damage makes this build quick and lethal in nearly every Farming Spot.

We hope you enjoy this build! With a solid setup and execution, this dynamite is a blast! Not much beats the satisfaction of watching monsters' health bars drain away...

Good luck!


Credits

Written by DarkHumility
Reviewed by MacroBioBoi


Changelog

Apr 20th 2022
Updated to Patch 2.4