Smite Paladin Guide

Smite Paladin

Introduction

The Smite Paladin, commonly known as the Smiter, has been a staple build in Diablo 2 for many years. It excels at killing Bosses and farming Ubers to get Hellfiretorches.

Smite Paladins focus on using the Skills Smite and Fanaticism in combination to deal its damage. The build’s core setup is built around Crushing Blow, Increased Attack Speed (IAS), high amounts of Resistances, and Cannot Be Frozen.

Smite deals Physical Damage. It does not require Attack Rating, as it always hits, and Stun regular monsters. Smiters utilize Holy Shield which greatly increases Defense and Chance to Block, as well as Fanaticism to increase damage and IAS. The combination of these things make this build very tanky and able to put out lots of damage against bosses with the right gear loadout.



Ideal Standard Variant
Smite
Fanaticism
Holy Shield
Zeal

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

Very Tanky ✔
Cheap Starting Gear ✔

Effective Against Uber Bosses ✔
Great Late Game Gear Options ✔

Clunky Early Game Mechanics
❌ Only Has A Single Damage Type
❌ Good Mobility Requires Teleport
❌ Few Skill Actions and Very Repetitive



Skills

The Smite Paladin generally utilizes the following Skills:

Put 1 Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Cleansing
2. Vigor
3. Salvation
4. Charge

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Lightning Resist
2. Fanaticism
3. Smite
4. Holy Shield
5. Zeal

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Damage

Smite* is your main damage Skill, it deals Physical Damage by visually hitting targets with your Shield. It does not require Attack Rating because it always hits targets in range. It also stuns and causes Knockback against regular mobs.

Zeal* is your secondary damage Skill and also deals Physical Damage. It hits up to 5 times in succession and is great for killing large quantities of mobs. This Skill requires Attack Rating and benefits from Stats like Ignore Target's Defense.

* Increased Attack Speed Skills (IAS)

Utility

Fanaticism* Aura applies to you and all allies, granting Attack Rating, +xx% Damage and Increased Attack Speed. This is your primary Aura when you are playing this build.

Holy Shield* boosts your Chance to Block and Defense. It also changes your Faster Block Rate equation, to be very fast. It also increases your Smite Damage.

Vigor* provides you and your party with Velocity which increases the movement speed (separate from Faster Run/Walk). This is great in town or quickly running over to pick up items and click objects. It also gives additional Stamina and Stamina regeneration.

Charge* is a movement Skill. When you hit enemies, it can cause them to be knocked back. This Skill works well in combination with Vigor for extra movement speed.

Cleansing* reduces the duration of negative effects for you and your allies, such as Curses or Poison Length.

Salvation* is an optional single Skill Point investment that can greatly boost All Elemental Resistances of you and your allies.

Resist Lightning* increases your Maximum Lightning Resistance passively by 0.5 per Skill Point. This is a hidden mechanic, which doesn't show in the tooltip.

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


Attributes

Strength
In this build, we allocate enough Stat Points to Strength 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 allocate Dexterity to reach 75% Chance to Block. Each Stat Point in Dexterity increases your Chance to Block. Be aware that different Shield bases require different amounts of Dexterity for 75% Chance to Block. Levels also require more points to reach 75% Chance to Block.

Energy
In this build, we don't allocate any Stat Points into Energy. This build gets enough Mana from gear, buffs, Charms, and Mana Potions.


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) Wizardspike's base attack speed is very fast.
2) Exile can be put into any Paladin Shield base, but it's usually preferred to use an Elite Ethereal base with high All Resistances as it repairs durability. Recommended Base: Vortex Shield
3) Death's Hand Leather Gloves and Death's Guard Sash give 30% Increased Attack Speed, 8% Life stolen per hit, All Resistances +15 and Cannot be Frozen!

SlotItem OptionsDesirable Stats
WeaponBlack Flail
Grief Phase Blade
Death Berserker Axe
Kingslayer Phase Blade
Last Wish Phase Blade
Wizardspike1
The Gnasher
Level x Might Aura When Equipped
+x% Increased Attack Speed
Damage +x
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Chance of Open Wounds

Slows target by x%
All Resistances +x
Off-Hand Exile2
Rhyme Targe
Sanctuary Sacred Targe
Herald of Zakarum
Gemmed Targe
x% Chance to cast level x LifeTap on striking
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
x% Increased Chance of Blocking
+x to Attribute
X Resist +x%
Cannot Be Frozen
Weapon-SwapCall to Arms Crystal Sword+x to All Skills
+x to battlecommand
+x to battleorders
+x to battlecry
Off-Hand-SwapSpirit Monarch+x to All Skills
Helmets Crown of Ages
Rockstopper
Vampire Gaze
Guillaume's Face
Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest
Resistance Mask
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
x% Chance of Crushing Blow

+x Life
X Resist +x%
Damage Reduced by x%
Magic Damage Reduced by x
Body Armor Chains of Honor
Duress
Enigma
Treachery
Smoke
Duriel's Shell
Guardian Angel
Shaftstop
x% Chance to cast level x Fade when struck
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Chance of Open Wounds

+x to Teleport
+x Life
Increased Maximum Life x%
+x% to Maximum X Resist
X Resist +x%
+x Lightning Absorb
Damage Reduced by x%
Cannot Be Frozen
Gloves Bloodfist
Dracul's Grasp
Death's Hand3
Laying of Hands
Blood Crafted Gloves
x% Chance to cast level x LifeTap on striking
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Mana stolen per hit
+x% Life stolen per hit

x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Chance of Open Wounds

+x to Attribute
+x Life
X Resist +x%
Belts Nightsmoke
String of Ears
Thundergod's Vigor
Verdungo's Hearty Cord
Death's Guard3
Blood Crafted Belt
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Life stolen per hit
x% Chance of Open Wounds
+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x% to Maximum Lightning Resist
X Resist +x%
+x Lightning Absorb
Damage Reduced by x%
Damage Reduced by x

Magic Damage Reduced by x
Cannot Be Frozen
Boots Goblin Toe
Gore Rider
Sandstorm Trek
Waterwalk
Aldur's Advance
Rare Boots
+x % Faster Run / Walk
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Chance of Open Wounds
+x to Attribute
+x Life
X Resist +x%
Amulets Mara's Kaleidoscope
Seraph's Hymn
Metalgrid
Safety Crafted Amulet
+x to All Skills
+x to Paladin Skills
x% Increased Chance of Blocking
+x Life
+x to Attribute
X Resist +x%
Rings Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band
Dwarf Star
Wisp Projector
Rare Ring
Blood Crafted Ring
+x to All Skills
+x to Attribute
+x Life
X Resist +x%
Lightning Absorb x%
Magic Damage Reduced by x
CharmsGrand Charm
Large Charm
Small Charm
+x to Combat Skills [Paladin Only]
+x% Faster Run / Walk
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x to Maximum Damage
+x to Attack Rating
+x to Attribute
+ Life
X Resist +x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Unique CharmsHellfiretorch (Paladin)
Annihilus
+x to All Skills
+x to Paladin Skills
+x to all Attributes
All Resistances +x

Farming Spots

The Smiter's Main farming spots are the Ubers, that is what this build centers around. However there are options here for more casual farming.

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 Starter Variant.
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 3:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
Travincal-HighGearing
Runes
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Gold
Fire, Lightning, Cold

Act 5:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
Eldritch the Rectifier
(Frigid Highland)
LowGearing
Gold
Leveling
Cold
Shenk the Overseer
(Bloody Foothills)
-MediumGearing
Gold
Leveling
Cold

Mercenary

We DO NOT recommend a Mercenary for the Smiter as the Mercenary constantly dies and takes your gold. However this is a Mercenary setup for you to do basic farming with.

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.

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 Reaper's Toll

Reaper’s Toll, Might
We recommend the Might Aura version, as it provides us with a significant damage boost to our Physical Damage attacks.
The Reaper’s Toll has a 33% Chance to cast Decrepify on striking, which slows your enemies down as well as increase any Physical Damage dealt to them. Decrepify can also break some Physical Immunities (Immunities Resource).

Gear Progression

Early-GameMid-GameEnd-Game
Insight
(any Polearm)
Insight
(Elite Polearm)
The Reaper’s Toll (Ethereal)
Smoke
(Any Body Armor)
Treachery
(Any Body Armor)
Fortitude
(Body Armor, 700++ Base Defense)
Any Helmet
with Resistance / 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:

  • Prior to combat, cast Holy Shield.
  • Proc Fade from Treachery on a Fire next to the River of Flame Waypoint. This buff grants 15% Damage Reduction and 60% to All Resistances for 288 seconds.
  • Activate Vigor when moving without Teleport, or to help your party move around. 
  • Use Charge and Vigor to close the gap between you and your enemies.
  • After the gap is closed against boss targets, swap to your Wand of Life Tap and Cast Life Tap (This part CAN be skipped if you have a source of x% Chance to cast Level x Life Tap on striking). After the boss is affected by Life Tap, swap back to your main Weapon and use Fanaticism with Smite to deal your damage.
  • Use Zeal whenever you are facing a high number of mobs.
  • When you have negative effects on you or your party, briefly switch to Cleansing to remove them.
  • Avoid getting surrounded by Physical Immune mobs as you can get trapped.
  • In the early game you can use Salvation against monsters that use Conviction to keep you and your allies' Resistances up.

Immunities:

  • Unfortunately we do not have a way to deal with Immunes easily. You can use Smite to Knockback the enemies to create an escape route at times.

Late-Game:

  • At the beginning of each run, buff yourself by swapping to Call to Arms and cast Battle Command 2 times, Battle Orders, determine which Weapon Swap gives the higher Skill Level for Holy Shield, then cast it. Make sure that these buffs stay active all the time, they are essential to your survivability. 
  • Use Teleport from Enigma to close the gap between you and your enemies or just "Telestomp" them. Get a Staff of Teleportation Teleport staff and use Charge and Vigor to position yourself.

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)
We do not target a specific Cast Rate Breakpoint in this Build. We do not rely on spells to deal Damage.

Increased Attack Speed (IAS)
Increased Attack Speed controls how fast our Character attacks. In this build we aim for 9% Increased Attack Speed (IAS) with a Phase Blade, which is achieved with the suggested Gear. With Fanaticism at a high level you will need next to nothing for IAS. Note: Using other weapon bases requires different amounts of Increased Attack Speed to have the same effect. Please consult the (IAS Calculator) to determine what values your alternative base requires.

Faster Hit Recovery (FHR)
Faster Hit Recovery controls how fast our Character finishes the Hit Recovery animation. In this build we aim for 48% Faster Hit Recovery, which is achieved with the suggested gear and Charms.

Hit Recovery Breakpoints

Faster Block Rate (FBR)
Faster Block Rate controls how fast our Block Animation finishes after a successful Block. In this build we do not target a specific Block Rate Breakpoint. Holy Shield provides enough Faster Block Rate through a hidden mechanic.

Block Rate Breakpoints

Faster Run Walk (FRW)
There are no Breakpoints for Faster Run / Walk. With the recommended gear you will reach 0% Faster Run / Walk. Vigor provides additional movement speed while active.

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.

This build is Hardcore viable. If you are unaccustomed to this playstyle, we recommend trying this build on Softcore to gain experience on how to successfully pilot it.


Build Variants

Starter

Setup
The Smite Paladin needs specific stats to become successful at fighting Ubers. These things include a source of Life Tap for Life sustain, Cannot Be Frozen, x% Chance of Crushing Blow for big Boss damage, x% Chance of Open Wounds to prevent the monster's healing, and a large amount of Resistance to counter Uber Mephisto's Conviction Aura.

Wand of Life Tap, Black Flail, Resistance Targe, and Blood Crafted Belt are cheap sources for some of these Stats.
Note: Prevent Monster Heal doesn't work on Uber Bosses.

Mercenary
To keep your Mercenary alive, equip him with a Body Armor and Helmet which provide Resistances and Life. Insight is a pretty easy Runeword to find and farm that gives a great amount of damage and Quality of Life with Meditation. Hire the Holy Freeze Aura Mercenary to gain extra Crowd Control.

Skills
Here is the Starter Skill Tree of the Smiter:

Put 1 Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Cleansing
2. Vigor
3. Salvation
4. Charge

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Resist Lightning
2. Fanaticism
3. Smite
4. Holy Shield

Attributes
In this build we allocate enough Stat Points to Strength to equip all of our gear. Put enough points into Dexterity to maintain 75% Chance to Block with Holy Shield active. Remaining Stat Points go into Vitality.

Standard

Setup
In the Standard Smiter we use Grief Phase Blade for the Damage +x, it applies to our Smite however does not show on the tooltip.

Guillaume's Face and Goblin Toe are used for Crushing Blow.

Dracul's Grasp used for both the Life Tap and +x% Chance of Open Wounds. Everything else is just for extra survivability and more stats.

Mercenary
As said before in the Mercenary section, we are not recommending a Mercenary for this build, However for varying content we are using the Might Aura Nightmare Act 2 Mercenary with a The Reaper’s Toll for more Physical Damage. He is also using our Treachery to hold for us when we need Fade and to get more Decrepify procs. Vampire Gaze here for the increased +x% Life stolen per hit and Damage Reduction.

Note: Be sure to make the Mercenary's Treachery in a non Ethereal base.

Skills
This is the Skill Tree of the Standard Smiter:

Put 1 Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Cleansing
2. Vigor
3. Salvation
4. Charge

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Resist Lightning
2. Fanaticism
3. Smite
4. Holy Shield
5. Zeal

Note: One of your biggest threats is Uber Mephisto. He has a level 20 Conviction. If you have a level 21 or higher Conviction this cancels out Uber Mephisto's Conviction for you and you are unaffected.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
In this build we allocate enough Stat Points to Strength to equip all of our gear. Put enough points into Dexterity to maintain 75% Chance to Block with Holy Shield active. Remaining Stat Points go into Vitality.

High Investment

Setup
This version of the Smiter we use has a lot more Quality of Life to it, we can pretty much just hold left click and let the gear do the work for us. We have 95% Chance of Crushing Blow between the Last Wish Phase Blade, Blood Crafted Gloves, and Gore Rider War Boots. This build is very tanky with it's Crown of Ages and 2 sources of Life Tap coming from both Exile Vortex Shield and Last Wish Phase Blade, never mind the Fade. This setup is very strong for both kill speed and survivability.

Mercenary
As said before in the Mercenary section, we are not recommending a Mercenary for this build, However for varying content we are using the Might Aura Nightmare Act 2 Mercenary with a The Reaper’s Toll for more Physical Damage. He is also using our Treachery to hold for us when we need Fade and to get more Decrepify procs. Vampire Gaze here for the increased +x% Life stolen per hit and Damage Reduction.

Note: Be sure to make the Mercenary's Treachery in a non Ethereal base.


Skills
This Skill Tree aligns with the Standard Smiter:

Put 1 Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Cleansing
2. Vigor
3. Salvation
4. Charge

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Resist Lightning
2. Fanaticism
3. Smite
4. Holy Shield
5. Zeal

Note: One of your biggest threats is Uber Mephisto. He has a level 20 Conviction. If you have a level 21 or higher Conviction this cancels out Uber Mephisto's Conviction for you and you are unaffected.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
In this build we allocate enough Stat Points to Strength to equip all of our gear. Put enough points into Dexterity to maintain 75% Chance to Block with Holy Shield active. Remaining Stat Points go into Vitality.


Mechanics

Smite

  • The speed of this Skill is based on Increased Attack Speed.
  • Attacks a target with the equipped Shield, which always hits and cannot be blocked. The target will be Knocked Back is eligible.
  • The attack uses the Shield's Damage as the base, instead of any equipped Weapon.
    • Weapon Durability, Range Adder, and Weapon Speed are used for the attack.
  • Base Damage is the total of Shield Damage, holyshield Damage, and sources of Damage + (i.e. grief).
  • Bonus +xx% Damage is the total from smite, Auras / Buffs with +xx% Damage, and non-Weapon +xx% Damage from gear.
  • All Attack Modifiers apply to smite except:
  • lifetap allows smite to Replenish Life.
  • Mana Cost: 2
Scaling
Skill Level1-89-1617-2223-28>28
+xx% Damage15 * sLVL
Stun Lengthmin(0.2 * sLVL + 0.4 , 10)

lifetap

  • The speed of this Skill is based on Cast Rate.
  • Successful melee attacks with a Physical Damage portion will heal the attacker. The heal applied equals 50% of the final Physical Damage dealt by the attack (After Damage Reductions). If the affected target is Immune to Physical, no Life will be replenished.

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

Formula:
Radius (in yards) = (6 + (2 * slvl)) / 3

Example with slvl = 12:
Radius (in yards) = (6 + (2 * 12)) / 3
Radius (in yards) = 10

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

  • The speed of this Skill is based on Cast Rate.
  • Successful melee attacks with a Physical Damage portion will heal the attacker. The heal applied equals 50% of the final Physical Damage dealt by the attack (After Damage Reductions). If the affected target is Immune to Physical, no Life will be replenished.

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

Formula:
Radius (in yards) = (6 + (2 * slvl)) / 3

Example with slvl = 12:
Radius (in yards) = (6 + (2 * 12)) / 3
Radius (in yards) = 10

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

Formula:
Duration = 13.6 + (2.4 * slvl)

Example with slvl = 12:
Duration = 13.6 + (2.4 * 12)
Duration = 42.4 seconds


Summary

  • Keep your Battle Command, Battle Orders, Holy Shield and Fade buffs up at all times.
  • Enough Dexterity for 75% Chance to Block.
  • Position yourself well during combat and pay attention to the monster’s positioning and movements.
  • Whenever attacking with Smite make sure Fanaticism is on to deal maximum damage.
  • Use Zeal against large amounts of mobs.
  • Make sure Life Tap is always on the target you're attacking to ensure safety.
  • Crushing Blow, Open Wounds, Resistances and Cannot Be Frozen are your most important stats.
  • Have fun!

Guide by BTNeandertha1

We hope you enjoy this build! It can be very fun and very rewarding especially once you take down your first Uber. There is nothing like absolutely melting the hardest bosses in the game!

Good luck!