Zeal Paladin Guide

Zeal Paladin

Introduction

The Zeal Paladin or “Zealer” is the perfect marriage of fun and power. Few things beat plunging into hordes of monsters and rapidly hacking them to bits! The Zealer effortlessly slaughters legions of demons and Uber Bosses just the same. The Zeal Paladin is a jack-of-all-trades, excelling at every farming strategy. No quest is too daunting for this holy crusader! In destroying Bosses, dominating Elite Packs, and shredding Baal Waves, all even in a full game, this build puts the game to the sword.

Dealing exclusively Physical Damage with Fanaticism-empowered Zeal, the Zealer faces few Immunity-related obstacles throughout most of the game. With several specialty setups designed for crushing different monsters and farming strategies, this build is highly malleable. The Physical Zealer is a solid beginner-friendly build as well, with a relatively simple playstyle, intuitive gear options, and big damage. The Zealer doesn't require ultra-rare gear either, making this build a solid choice for early-mid Ladder. Breaking the mold with violent swings...let's hack it!

Ideal Standard Setup
Zeal
Fanaticism
Holy Shield
Teleport


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.

Enjoyable Playstyle ✔
Destroys Uber Bosses ✔
Easy to Learn and Master ✔
Can Farm Almost Anything ✔
Lots of Strong Build Options ✔

❌ Bad Density Farmer
❌ Dangerous Playstyle
❌ Repetitive Skill Usage
❌ Only 1 Type of Damage
❌ Highly Weapon Dependent


Skills

The Zeal Paladin primarily puts Skill Points into the Combat and Offensive Auras Skill Trees.

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

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put leftover Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Damage

Zeal* Each use of this Skill causes your Paladin to swing his weapon up to 5 times in quick succession. Until the maximum number of swings have been completed, or the attack is interrupted, your Paladin will be rooted in place. Leveling this Skill increases its maximum number of swings or "hits" per use up to 5, and grants you percentage boosts to both your Physical Damage and Attack Rating.

Smite* Each use of this Skill causes your Paladin to lunge forward with his Shield dealing Physical Damage based on your Shield Base, Holy Shield Skill Level, the Damage +x stat, and certain Attack Modifiers like Crushing Blow. This Skill provides strong, consistent damage against Bosses with only 1 Skill Point into it.

* Increased Attack Speed Skills (IAS)

Utility

Fanaticism* While active, this Aura provides your Paladin and members of your Party with percentage boosts to Physical Damage, Attack Rating, and Attack Speed based on its Level.

Holy Shield* is a temporary buff that grants percentage boosts to Defense and Chance to Block, while also improving Smite damage based on its Skill Level. This Skill requires use of a Shield and grants improved Faster Block Rate Breakpoints while active.

Vigor* While active, this Aura provides your Paladin and members of your Party with increased Faster Run/Walk based on its Level.

Charge* Each use of this Skill causes your Paladin to instantly jet forward towards the position of your cursor, damaging any enemy your Paladin makes contact with in the process. This Skill is used for mobility on this build if not using Enigma.

Resist Lightning* While active, this Aura provides your Paladin and members of your Party with increased Lightning Resistance based on its Level. Every 2 Skill Points put into this Skill raises the cap on your Maximum Lightning Resistance by 1.

Cleansing* While active, this Aura provides your Paladin and members of your Party with Poison Length Reduction and Curse Length Reduction based on its Level. This Aura is especially useful after killing the 2nd Wave in the Throne of Destruction or if cursed with Amplify Damage.

* 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 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. If the gear piece with the highest Strength requirement also provides you with additional Strength, you can use the Strength bug to equip that item. Check out the Mechanics Section below for details.
Optional: Put additional Stat Points into Strength to increase the Physical Damage of Zeal.

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 enough Dexterity to reach 75% Chance to Block on the main weapon loadout. Make sure that Holy Shield is active prior to putting Dexterity Points in. 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. Leveling also causes a need for more points to maintain 75% Chance to Block.



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


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 Notes: Any Items with specialized or niche uses have a superscript that refer to a Note listed here.
1) A Life Tap Charge Wand on Weapon-Swap is used for applying Life Tap to Uber Bosses when options such as Dracul's Grasp, Exile, or Last Wish are not available.
2) Treachery and Demon Limb are only used for pre-buffing, usually prior to taking down Uber Bosses. Treachery pre-buffs Fade for All Resistances, Curse Length Reduction, and Damage Reduction, while Demon Limb gives Enchant for increased Attack Rating.
3) Wizardspike is only used for the Faster Cast Rate it can provide on Weapon-Swap for a build with either no Enigma or Call to Arms, or if Barbarian-granted Battle Orders is available.
4) Only use Naj's Puzzler, a Staff of Teleportation, or a Teleport Charge Amulet for Teleport Charges if you are not using Enigma.

SlotItem OptionsDesirable Stats
Weapon
Grief Phase Blade
Last Wish Phase Blade
Ethereal Death Berserker Axe
Ethereal Death Cleaver
Ethereal Breath of the Dying Berserker Axe
Ethereal Rare Weapon
Ethereal Rune Master
Doom Berserker Axe
Ethereal Oath Cryptic Sword
Honor Naga
6% Chance to cast level 11 Fade when struck
10% Chance to cast level 18 Life Tap on striking

25% Chance to cast level 18 Glacial Spike on attack
Level 17 Might Aura When Equipped
Level 12 Holy Freeze Aura When Equipped
Indestructible
+x to All Skills
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Enhanced Damage
Damage +x
Ignore Target's Defense

-x% Target Defense
x% Bonus to Attack Rating
+x% Damage to Demons
+x% Damage to Undead
+x% Mana stolen per hit
+x% Life stolen per hit
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Deadly Strike

Prevent Monster Heal
+x to all Attributes
Cannot Be Frozen
+x to Life after each Kill
Repairs x durability in x seconds
Ethereal, Socketed [x]
Off-Hand
Phoenix
Herald of Zakarum
Exile
Stormshield
Alma Negra
Sanctuary
Rhyme
15% Chance to cast level 5 Life Tap on striking
Level x Redemption Aura When Equipped
Level 16 Defiance Aura When Equipped
+x to Combat Skills [Paladin Only]
+x to Paladin Skills

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

x% Bonus to Attack Rating
+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x% to Maximum X Resist
X Resist +x%
+x Fire Absorb
Damage Reduced by x%
Cannot Be Frozen
Repairs x durability in x seconds
Ethereal
Weapon-Swap Call to Arms
Wizardspike3
Naj's Puzzler4
Staff of Teleportation4
Bone Wand of Life Tap1
Demon Limb2
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x to Battle Orders
+x to Battle Command

+x Mana
All Resistances +x
Level x Life Tap [x/x Charges]
Level x Teleport [x/x Charges]
Level 23 Enchant [x/x Charges]
Off-Hand Swap
Spirit
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate

+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x to Attribute
+x Mana
X Resist +x%
Helmets
Guillaume's Face
Crown of Ages
Crafted Armet
Rare Circlet
Shako
Vampire Gaze
Rockstopper
+x to All Skills
+x to Paladin Skills
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Enhanced Damage
x% Bonus to Attack Rating
+x% Life stolen per hit
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Deadly Strike

+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x Mana
All Resistances +x
Damage Reduced by x%
Cannot Be Frozen

x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Socketed [x]
Body Armors
Enigma
Fortitude
Chains of Honor
Shaftstop
Leviathan
Stone
Duress
Treachery2
Lionheart
Smoke
5% Chance to cast Level 15 Fade When Struck
20% Chance to cast Level 15 Chilling Armor When Struck

+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Run/Walk
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Enhanced Damage
+x% Damage to Demons

+x% Damage to Undead
+x% Life stolen per hit
+x% Chance of Crushing Blow
+x% Chance of Open Wounds
+x to Teleport
+x to Attribute
+x Life
Increased Maximum Life x%
+x% to Maximum Lightning Resist
All Resistances +x
Damage Reduced by x%

+x to Life after each Kill
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Gloves
Laying of Hands
Crafted Gloves
Dracul's Grasp
Steelrend
Bloodfist
5% Chance to cast level 10 Life Tap on striking
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Enhanced Damage
+x% Damage to Demons
+x% Life stolen per hit
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Chance of Open Wounds

+x to Attribute
+x Life
X Resist +x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
BeltsString of Ears
Nosferatu's Coil
Verdungo's Hearty Cord
Thundergod's Vigor
Rare Belt
Arachnid Mesh
Goldwrap
+x to All Skills
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Faster Cast Rate

+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Life stolen per hit
+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x% to Maximum Lightning Resist
X Resist +x%
+x Lightning Absorb

Damage Reduced by x%
Magic Damage Reduced by x
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
BootsWar Traveler
Gore Rider
Goblin Toe
+x% Faster Run/Walk
Adds x Damage
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Deadly Strike
x% Chance of Open Wounds

+x to Attribute
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
AmuletsHighlord's Wrath
Crafted Amulet4
Crafted Amulet
Amulet of Teleportation4
Mara's Kaleidoscope
Metalgrid
Angelic Wings
+x to All Skills
+x to Paladin Skills

+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Faster Cast Rate

+x to Attack Rating
+x% Life stolen per hit
x% Deadly Strike
+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x Mana
X Resist +x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Level x Teleport [x/x Charges]
RingsRaven Frost
Rare Ring
Rare Ring
Rare Ring
Dwarf Star
Wisp Projector
Nagelring
Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band
Angelic Halo
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x to Attack Rating
+x% Mana stolen per hit
+x% Life stolen per hit
+x to Attribute

+x Life
+x Mana
X Resist +x%
Cold Absorb x%
Fire Absorb x%

Lightning Absorb x%
Magic Damage Reduced by x
Cannot Be Frozen
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
CharmsFine Small Charm of Good Luck
Steel Small Charm of Good Luck
Fine Small Charm of Vita
Shimmering Small Charm of Good Luck
Shimmering Small Charm of Vita
Fine Small Charm of Balance
Fine Small Charm
Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm of Vita
Shimmering Small Charm
Resistance Small Charm
Sharp Grand Charm of Balance
Steel Grand Charm of Balance
Sharp Grand Charm of Vita
Steel Grand Charm of Vita
Steel Grand Charm
Shimmering Grand Charm
Resistance Grand Charm

+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x to Attack Rating
+x Maximum Damage
+x Life
X Resist x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Unique Charms
Annihilus
Paladin Hellfire Torch
Gheed's Fortune
+x to All Skills
+x to Paladin 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
Andariel
(Catacombs Level 4)
LowUniques
Sets
Jewelry

Act 2:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
Summoner
(Arcane Sanctuary)
-LowKey of Hate

Act 3:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
Lower KurastLowRunes
Runeword Bases
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Jewelry
Fire, Lightning
Travincal
(Council Members)
HighGearing
Runes
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Gold
Fire, Lightning, Cold
Mephisto
(Durance of Hate Level 3)
MediumUniques
Sets


Act 4:

AreaStarterDangerRewardsImmunities
City of the Damned-HighAll item typesFire, Lightning, Cold
River of Flame-HighAll item types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Fire, Lightning, Cold, Poison
Chaos Sanctuary-HighAll 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
Pindleskin
(Nihlathak's Temple)
HighGearing
Gold
Leveling
Poison
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)
Baal / Waves
(Worldstone Chamber /
Throne of Destruction)
-HighUniques
Sets
Max Area Level
Leveling
(Baal for Level 97-99)
Magic, Fire, Cold, Poison
(on Waves)

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.
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 increases any Physical Damage dealt to them. Decrepify can also break Physical Immunity in many cases (Immunities Resource).

Gear Progression

Early-GameMid-GameEnd-Game
Insight
(Any Polearm)
The Reaper's TollThe Reaper's Toll
(Preferably Ethereal)
Smoke
(Any Body Armor)
Treachery
(Any Body Armor)
Fortitude
(Ethereal Bugged Body Armor, 700++ Base Defense)
Wormskull
(Helmet With Life Leech,
Resistances, and/or Life)
Tal Rasha's Horadric CrestGuillaume's Face


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:

  • Get in the habit of keeping Vigor Aura active while running through town for faster travel.
  • Before each Magic Find / Experience run, buff yourself by casting Holy Shield once. Make sure to refresh this buff as soon as it expires.
  • Use Charge while having Vigor Aura active for mobility. Use this Skill combination to travel towards the Farming Spot of your choosing or to move from Elite Pack to Elite Pack while already inside it.
  • Upon encountering an Elite monster (Unique, Superunique, or Champion), switch to Fanaticism Aura and, if you have Teleport from an item, use it to "Telestomp" the Elite, jumping directly into the Elite Pack. If not, Charge into the center of the Elite Pack.
  • Engage the Elite(s) and surrounding minions with Zeal until they are dead. Make sure to keep Fanaticism active at all times while using Zeal.
  • If you have a source of Teleport, use it to quickly relocate to nearby Elite monsters and their minions for smooth transitions.

For Act Bosses:

  • When up against a Boss (like Baal), and if possible, "Telestomp" them as you would an Elite monster. This makes sure that your Mercenary is striking the Boss to proc Decrepify for the slow and - to Enemy Physical Resistance it provides.
  • Use Smite for more consistent damage against Bosses (including Uber Bosses), especially if you are lacking the Attack Rating to hit them consistently with Zeal.

Mind These Situations:

  • Briefly switch to the Cleansing Aura when either you or anyone in your Party is Poisoned or is Cursed with enemy Amplify Damage. After about 2-5 seconds, this Aura will remove these negative status effects.
  • Switch to the Resist Lightning Aura when facing Unique Black Souls with Conviction Aura to prevent death with a massive boost to Lightning Resistance.

Immunities:

  • Skip Physical Immune monsters that are still Physical Immune, or extremely hard to kill (highly Physical Resistant), even after applying Decrepify from your Mercenary's The Reaper's Toll.

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).
  • While on your Faster Cast Rate-granting Weapon-Swap, use Teleport from Enigma to advance towards your Farming Spot or to jump from Elite Pack to Elite Pack while already inside it.
  • Use Teleport while on your main weapon loadout to reposition your Mercenary to apply Decrepify from his The Reaper's Toll to the mobs that you are striking with Zeal.

Optimal Loot/Experience Farming Strategies:

  • Ubers - The Zealer is one of the best builds for defeating the Uber Bosses and acquiring a Hellfire Torch. Easily stacking Crushing Blow and other helpful offensive and defensive stats, this build makes short work of these ultra powerful monsters with the proper setup and approach (see the "Ubers" Build Variant below).
  • Travincal with 3 Players in Game - Council members are quickly decimated by Zeal while providing great loot odds for Runes, Charms, Jewels, Jewelry, Gems, and basic gear with 3 Players in the game or /Players3 in Single Player.
  • Chaos Sanctuary - Jumping into Elite Packs in this Max Area Level Farming Spot feels natural for the Zealer, especially while either using Phoenix or the "Attack Speed"-Variant (see "Build Variants" below). This build makes short work of the otherwise dangerous area.
  • Worldstone Keep/Baal - Consistently pumping out large amounts of Physical Damage, the Zealer does an excellent job of destroying virtually every Elite spawn in Worldstone, Waves in the Throne of Destruction, and Baal himself. Also, with insane % Life stolen per hit, maximum Chance to Block, and the Resist Lightning Aura for Souls, this build usually stays fairly safe in this dangerous Max Level Area.
  • Nihlathak - Dealing Physical Damage while using Phoenix gives the Zealer unique advantages when farming this Boss for the Key of Destruction. With no Immunity issues and having Redemption Aura to redeem corpses, "Nilly" is a relatively easy target.

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 48% Faster Cast Rate for Enigma Teleport cast speed, which is achieved on Weapon-Swap 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)
Increased Attack Speed controls how fast our Character attacks. In this build, we only require 9% Increased Attack Speed to hit the maximum IAS Breakpoint, which is achieved by Grief alone. Fanaticism provides the Zealer with an abundance of free IAS. Note: Using other weapon bases requires different amounts of Increased Attack Speed to have the same effect. Please consult the D2planner to determine what values your alternative base requires.

Attack Speed
Breakpoints

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 reach 70% Faster Run / Walk. Vigor provides additional Faster Run / Walk 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.

The Zeal Paladin 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: There are several options/combinations for achieving a high amount of % Damage Reduction for Hardcore on a Zealer. A Crown of Ages socketed with a Cham Rune and Ber Rune in combination with Enigma, a Herald of Zakarum socketed with a Ber Rune, and either Verdungo's Hearty Cord or String of Ears, will achieve 54% Damage Reduction (4% over-capped) and provide the essential Cannot Be Frozen stat. A Rare Circlet with the Attack Rating % Per Level stat and 20% Faster Cast Rate socketed with a Cham Rune and Ber Rune, instead of Crown of Ages, still allows us to achieve 39% Damage Reduction while also providing Faster Cast Rate and more + to Skills. A Guillaume's Face socketed with a Ber Rune allows for maintaining a higher amount of Deadly Strike while still providing Damage Reduction. By making it easy to achieve high Damage Reduction, a Stormshield in the Shield slot opens up Helmet and Belt options such as Guillaume's Face and Arachnid Mesh.
  • Thundergod's Vigor (Swap): Swap your Belt out for Thundergod's Vigor when farming Worldstone Keep or "Teleporting" to the Throne of Destruction to avoid getting destroyed by Burning Souls that often spawn there. Loss of Damage Reduction or Faster Cast Rate from swapping is acceptable here.
  • Stacking Resistances: If possible, and when necessary, make sure your Fire/Light/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. Stacking these Resistances 85 past their 75 default maximums (260 total Resistance) completely negates the Conviction Aura of any enemy. 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. Because of the All Resistances +50 stat on Herald of Zakarum, this Shield is even more attractive on Hardcore. Chains of Honor and Fortitude are possible Body Armor options for stacking Resistances on this build if you are willing to forgo Enigma. Resistances on Jewelry also helps with this. If you are still lacking good Resistances options, socketing Um Rune(s) into your gear gets the job done.
  • Faster Hit Recovery: Achieve the 48% Faster Hit Recovery Breakpoint on your main weapon loadout with your Helmet, Belt, and Charm(s). Faster Hit Recovery is not as important when going for maximum Chance to Block (75%). We mainly rely on the special Faster Block Rate Breakpoint provided by Holy Shield instead. 

Stat Point Changes:

  • A Hardcore Zealer's Stat Point allocation is the same as for the standard version of the build (see the "Attributes" section above).

Skill Point Changes:

  • There are no required Skill Point changes for a Hardcore Zealer. However, if you do not plan to farm Baal/Worldstone Keep, you can relocate Skill Points from Resist Lightning to Defiance to boost your Defense rating in order to make it even less likely that monsters will successfully hit your Zealer.

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

Build Variants

Budget

Setup
The "Budget" Zealer achieves solid results with minimal gear. This variant can farm almost every Farming Spot the high-end standard build can, and almost just as well, albeit at a lower Player Count. With 1-3 Players in the game or /Players1-3 in Single Player, this budget setup still dominates Travincal, The Pit, and Act Bosses, and can even hold its own in Chaos Sanctuary and Worldstone Keep. With a Teleport Charge Amulet or a Naj's Puzzler on Weapon-Swap, we can jump directly into Elite Packs after using Charge to come within range. A Wizardspike on swap allows us to achieve the 75% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint for teleporting when using a Teleport Charge Amulet. For the "Budget" Zealer we make use of several lower-end gear alternatives that still provide decent damage, decent Attack Rating, solid Resistances, and the Cannot Be Frozen Stat. Other even lower-end options such as Goblin Toe and Rhyme are possible here.

Mercenary
This build uses a Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, and Guillaume's Face just like the standard build. However, because Fortitude requires a Lo Rune, options such as Duress, Treachery, and Smoke work well here.

Skills
For the most part, all Zealer variants use the same general Skill Point distribution as the standard build. 1-Point Charge is used for mobility on the "Budget" build.

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

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put leftover Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
In general, for all Zealer variants, put enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear, put enough Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%), and then dump all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Attack Speed

Setup
This variant achieves 113% Increased Attack Speed (IAS) from gear at minimum to completely nullify the Attack Speed slow from Decrepify. In combination with Fanaticism and Grief Phase Blade, 113% IAS on your gear provides such a large Attack Speed surplus that the Oblivion Knights in Chaos Sanctuary and Worldstone Keep are no longer able to slow Zeal. Baal's Decrepify is also completely negated by this build. Naturally, Chaos Sanctuary, Worldstone Keep, and Baal Waves/Baal are strong loot/Experience farms for this build variant. The IAS stat is required on nearly every piece of gear for it to function. Ruby Jewels of Fervor and Nosferatu's Coil make it possible. The "Attack Speed" Zealer sacrifices Damage Reduction and a Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint from the standard build.

Mercenary
All standard Best in Slot (BiS) variants of the Zealer use the same Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.

Skills
For the most part, all Zealer variants use the same general Skill Point distribution as the standard build.

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

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put leftover Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
In general, for all Zealer variants, put enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear, put enough Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%), and then dump all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

High Mobility

Setup
This variant achieves the 75% Faster Cast Rate (FCR) Breakpoint on Weapon-Swap either by using Arachnid Mesh in the Belt slot, or by using a Crafted Amulet with 20% Faster Cast Rate. With faster Teleport cast speed, this Zealer build is optimal for farming The Pit, Travincal, Uber Key Bosses (e.g. Nihlathak), Act Bosses, and any Farming Spots which require traveling a long distance to the area itself or between Elite Packs while inside of them. This build sacrifices either Damage Reduction or Deadly Strike from the standard build.

Mercenary
All standard Best in Slot (BiS) variants of the Zealer use the same Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.

Skills
For the most part, all Zealer variants use the same general Skill Point distribution as the standard build.

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

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put leftover Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
In general, for all Zealer variants, put enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear, put enough Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%), and then dump all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Ubers

Setup
The "Ubers" variant of the Zealer specializes in defeating the Uber Bosses, including mini-Ubers such as Lilith. It's all about surviving while taking down these beefy demons. Stats such as Crushing Blow, Enhanced Damage, Damage Reduction, Resistances, and Life are priorities on this build. We can use a Teleport Charges Amulet for mobility to justify using Fortitude or Chains of Honor for more Damage and Resistances. Exile, a Dracul's Grasp, or a Life Tap Charges Wand provide you with much needed Life sustain here. Pre-buffing with Demon Limb and Treachery temporarily provides additional Attack Rating, Damage Reduction, Resistances, and Curse Duration Reduction. Thundergod's Vigor and stacked Lightning Resistance allows this build to tank Uber Mephisto. For extra swag, use Last Wish for its solid combination of Uber-killing stats.

Mercenary
All standard Best in Slot (BiS) variants of the Zealer use the same Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.
Note: The Mercenary is notoriously hard to keep alive versus Uber Bosses. Don't count on him being alive 100% of the time.

Skills
For the most part, all Zealer variants use the same general Skill Point distribution. Using Resist Lightning as your active Aura against Uber Mephisto can help you tank his attacks if you are lacking stacked Lightning Resistance on your gear. And if either your Damage or Attack Rating with Zeal is insufficient, use your 1-Point Smite to train the Ubers down.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
In general, for all Zealer variants, put enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear, put enough Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%), and then dump all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Hardcore

Setup
For the "Hardcore" mode variant, we aim for 50% Damage Reduction, high Defense, and maximum Chance to Block (75%) to guard against taking extreme amounts of Physical Damage. Additionally, we overcap our Resistances beyond the natural cap of 75% to keep them high or capped under the influence of hostile Conviction. For detailed information about the "Hardcore" Zealer variant gear options/changes, consult the "Hardcore" section above. All recommended Hardcore changes are visually displayed in the planner to the right.

Mercenary
All standard Best in Slot (BiS) variants of the Zealer use the same Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.

Skills
For the most part, all Zealer variants use the same general Skill Point distribution as the standard build. However, for the "Hardcore" Zealer, you can relocate Skill Points from Resist Lightning to Defiance if you do not plan on farming Worldstone Keep.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
In general, for all Zealer variants, put enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear, put enough Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%), and then dump all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Standard

Setup
This is the "Standard" Best in Slot (BiS) Zeal Paladin featured in the beginning of the guide. It is the balanced "jack-of-all-trades" version of the Zealer, capable of performing the most tasks well. This variant is the point of comparison for all other variants. It carefully balances solid Damage with Magic Find, Defensive Stats, and Teleport mobility on Weapon-Swap.

Mercenary
The "Standard" BiS Zeal Paladin Mercenary is a Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.

Skills
The "Standard" Zeal Paladin primarily puts Skill Points into the Combat and Offensive Auras Skill Trees.

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

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put leftover Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes
In general, for all Zealer variants, put enough Stat Points into Strength to wear all of your gear, put enough Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%), and then dump all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.


Video Guide

Video Guide by DarkHumility

Mechanics

Strength / Dexterity Bug

  • The Strength or Dexterity Bug refers to a state where an item "holds itself".
  • This means that you wouldn't reach the minimum requirements of the item without the added Strength and/or Dexterity of the item itself.
  • You have to follow the following steps to achieve this (Example: Stormshield):
    • Get to 126 Strength with Attributes and gear.
    • Gain 30 Strength from other sources like Jewelry or Charms to meet the requirement for Stormshield.
    • Equip Stormshield and remove the items you used to meet the requirements. It "holds itself" now.

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 teleports with you.
  • 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. With just a single Skill Point into Teleport and + to All/Lightning Skills Gear this can easily be achieved on this build.
  • 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.

Summary

  • Teleport using the Faster Cast Rate gear on your Weapon-Swap.
  • Make sure to keep Fanaticism active at all times while attacking with Zeal on your main weapon loadout.
  • Take advantage of Holy Shield: put enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%) with Holy Shield active.
  • This build is fully customizable in terms of its Weapon, Increased Attack Speed, Faster Cast Rate, Deadly Strike, Damage Reduction, Defense, Resistances, Magic Find, and a host of other stats. Build your Zealer according to what you want to farm and what gear you have at your disposal.
  • If you are lacking some of the Best in Slot (BiS) gear for this build, make use of easier to acquire alternatives such as Oath and Shaftstop to get to a functional Zeal Paladin setup faster.
  • While the Zealer proves efficient in several top Farming Spots, this build is most effective as an Uber killer. Farm Hellfire Torches with this build to use it to its full potential!

Guide by DarkHumility

We hope you enjoy this build! It doesn't get much more fun than plunging into hordes of enemies and cutting them to ribbons. Strike fear into the hearts of demons, big and small!

Good luck!