Bowzon by Muroidea
This will be a brief and to the point guide on how to build a typical and powerful Bowzon. This build has worked for me, there are other ways to do this but this is the way I would build my Bowzon.
I will not go into what gear you should get since that is pointless. Items can make a character but I leave it up to you to find the goodies. There are god-like items in Diablo 2 but you can get along with less. One tip though: if you die too much, you probably need to get either a better weapon or more resistance.
One thing I don't like is when someone writes a build and says "leave a stat at X because you'll get the hellfire torch and annihilus charm later and that will give you blah blah." I'm not counting on finding the BEST items in the game with every character I make, I do not have 30 mules with stuff earned from countless hours of MF-ing. What I want to know when reading a build is if it works in Hell and what skills are of use.
The Amazon with bow in hand is a formidable class. With the following general build - and yes with skill, a little luck in finding a good bow, and Hell-proof gear - you and Baal will get along mostly fine.
Maybe in a later revision I will add some game mechanics, etc. but I really hope people will find this little piece useful. It was written for 1.12 but since not much was changed in 1.13 it will work here too.
Have you done military service? If yes then you know the term 'Fire and maneuver', that is what the Bowzon is all about. Speed, mobility and precision. Move, fire, move, fire, move... When in a party she's in the background launching volley after volley, a deadly hailstorm of sharp arrows and ice. She needs cunning and bravery to outsmart her enemies.
Her strength is her ability to, if played right, never get hit and still dish out the pain. Her weakness is that if she gets caught she might serve Diablo the next time you see her.
Ok, let's look at the stats:
- STR - Enough to wear items. Don't waste too many points here though, say around 100-120.
- DEX - Dexterity gives Attack rating and extra damage. 1 point gives +1% damage. 300 dex gives +300% damage and lots of Attack rating. Put lots of points here... nuff said.
- VIT - If you die, put more here. Hiding Behind your Valkyrie, moving smart and stopping mobs with freezing arrow you'll stay out of harms way. That is your job as a ranged class anyways.
- ENG - Nothing. Can be tough in the beginning of the game but soon enough you'll leech the mana back in no time.
For the Bowzon these are the skills you (probably) want:
Just one point, with even bad +skill items it will be enough:
- Critical Strike
- Pierce - This makes arrows go through your enemies, with strafe and multiple shot this means your barrage will hit a lot more targets.
- Strafe (20)
- Multiple shot (5-10)
- Freezing arrow (20) - This is your elemental boost attack when you come up against physical immune monsters. If you don't have magic damage on your weapon this is a must. This also freezes targets in a splash radius. Launch 1-2 of these at your targets and then strafe/multi shot them.
For protection in single player:
- Valkyrie (If she dies too often you need more points here. I would recommend pumping points into her, she helps your party too by being another meat bag who absorbs damage from your friends, 20 points and a couple in Decoy and she will stand up against anything except bosses.)
Synergies and goodies:
- Cold arrow (if you can spare) - Gives damage to your freezing arrow.
- Decoy (if you can spare) - Gives HP to your Valkyrie.
- Penetrate (20) - Gives a boost to attack rating; you need it more than you know.
Passive and Magic skills:
- Critical Strike (1)
- Dodge (1)
- Avoid (1)
- Evade (1)
- Pierce (1)
- Decoy (1-X)
- Valkyrie (20)
- Penetrate (20)
Bow and Crossbow skills:
- Multiple shot (5-10)
- Strafe (20)
- Cold Arrow (1-X)
- Freezing arrow (20)
When to allocate?
Think about the prerequisites so you can always get the skills you need at the level they become available to you. When you can, place points into the passive skills (Dodge, Avoid, Evade and Pierce) so you get the bonus and won't have to worry about them anymore.
At level 6 begin to boost Multiple Shot to 5-8ish and also put points into Cold Arrow. Note that a few points in Cold Arrow isn't a waste since it adds damage to your Freezing Arrow and with 5 points in Cold Arrow, Freezing Arrow will deal OK damage when you get it at level 30. Furthermore, Cold Arrow might be your only weapon against act bosses and other nasty single foes until you hit level 24.
At this point everything should go into Strafe until 6 levels later when you begin to put points into Freezing Arrow. Place one point in Freezing Arrow(level 30) and then one in Valkyrie(level 30).
Don't forget about Penetrate (gained at level 18) which is vital if you want to be able to hit anything. It's good to get Valkyrie up to maybe 6 or so before you continue alternate between Freezing Arrow and Strafe.
After this it's mostly up to you to figure out what skill needs boosting as the levels progress. Is your Freezing Arrow doing bad damage? Is your Valkyrie dying before she's even spawned? Could another extra arrow in your Multiple Shot barrage help the situation?
It's your choice, but now you should have a rough idea of how and when to place points.
Strafe vs Multiple Shot
The truth is that in Hell you'll probably want both since they shine in completely different situations. If mobs are clustered together then multiple arrow deals the most damage since it throws way more arrows per second into them; add in Pierce and they are history. For me I usually stop at 5-8 points; +skill items will get it up enough to be deadly. More points often just means that more arrows will miss and the mana cost also increases. When the targets are spread so thin that you would miss most of the arrows in a Multiple Shot volley, that's when Strafe comes in.
Strafe excels with monsters that are separated, like Flayers and other annoying critters. To fire multiple arrows in the jungle, for example, will just waste mana since most arrows won't hit anything. Strafe on the other hand aims at different targets and fires arrows that fly true towards individual foes. Another use for it is in tunnels like the Maggot Lair where this baby combined with pierce really pins them to the walls. Multiple Shot in this scenario would ram half the arrows into the walls before getting to a target.
Strafe is for precision work, Multiple Shot is for when the mobs cluster together.
(My personal favorite is Multiple Shot but I see no reason to take it all the way up to 20. It's so much fun to smack so many arrows out every time you click but it's not always efficient to do so.)
Ok, just a quick note about items:
+Faster attack speed: The more + faster attack speed you have the faster you can shoot. With enough speed you can fire your entire 10-arrow Strafe barrage in one frame, ready to loose another one a millisecond later. So this is definitely something to look for in items.
+Resistance: Obvious - you won't get to Hell with bad resistance.
A good bow/crossbow. The faster you kill your enemies, the less likely they are to kill you or your friends. More power from your bow and you won't need health pots. Also, killing the six beasts who are gaining up on your frozen Paladin friend before they get more than 3 strikes in is priceless.
+skill items: Needless to say, having a +1 to all skills is worth countless level-ups. Say you find a +2 to all skills item, this means that your 20 Strafe, 20 Freezing Arrow, and 20 Valkyrie just went up to 22; that's 6 skill points just there, not to forget all your other useful skills that went up by 2 as well.
+faster run/walk: Yup, you'll be doing a lot of running as a Bowzon, constantly looking for the best angle to launch your volleys and escape incoming missiles.
That's it, a basic Bowzon. GLHF. :)