In terms of Bowazons, there is much versatility in terms of specialization. There are many types of Bowazons that require far different variation in build, yet still go by the same name.
Stat Point DistributionEdit
- Strength - (80 to 100) Only as much as equipment requires.
- Dexterity - (130+) At least as much as equipment requires. Some Bowazons will add remaining points here for the damage modifier, armor, and attack rating.
- Vitality - (50 to 100, or max) While strategies differ, most Bowazons have at least some vitality. A good balance point is 100 Vitality, which provides enough HP to survive a few hits, but does not take too much from Dexterity. PvP strategists may prefer to put all available points into Vitality for the increased HP. Another strategy uses equipment and charms to make up the difference in HP, so more points can be put into Dexterity.
- Energy - (25 to 50) Energy is not a critical stat for most Bowazons as they can make use of Mana-leech and Mana-regeneration equipment very effectively. It is not recommended to add much, if any, to this stat.
There are many ways to build a Bowazon. This character class is quite flexible and numerous builds can be created and even hybridized to have a Matriarch almost easier than any other character class, and the fact the main physical skills like Strafe, Guided Arrow and Multiple Shot don't have synergies, this leaves many points for customizing to preference. This is balanced out, however, by the normally low damage bows deal. Many choose to have a well-allocated Valkyrie, either maxed out Strafe or Multiple Shot and the rest of the points "arranged to taste." Some will prefer putting extra points in the Critical Strike/Penetrate/Pierce tree. Others prefer building on the elemental branches to deal with the Physical Immunes.
Bow and Crossbow Skills TabEdit
- Magic Arrow: Usually a 1 point investment, but uses no ammunition and is fairly easy on mana.
- Multiple Shot: A preferred skill for PvP. It is a fast way to cover a large area, but properties such as open wounds, elemental damage, knockback, procs, etc. are only capable on the middle third of the volley. Keep in mind that only one arrow hits a single target regardless of how many appear to be hitting.
- Guided Arrow: Also preferred for PvP, it fires arrows that do not miss.
- Strafe: Essentially, it auto-targets up to the Strafe limit and fires an arrow at each target. Every arrow has the bow's properties. Keep in mind, however, the character is stuck in place until finished the volley and isn't as effective against single monsters as other skills. On the other hand, with a decent tank or Decoy taking hits for the Amazon and a satisfactory chance of Pierce, this can be a highly effective skill against mobs of monsters.
Passive and Magic Skills TabEdit
- Inner Sight: A skill which provides some assistance in illuminating targets and penalizing an opponent's Defense Rating. This skill could be quite effective, as at level 10 an opponent's defense rating is penalized with -315, but this skill is usually just used as a prerequisite for the other skills in the branch.
- Critical Strike: The chance an attack does double damage. Although this skill would be attractive to max out, there are diminishing returns on it.
- Dodge: Another skill with diminishing returns it can be handy for a strafer as monsters which become able to melee with will miss. Usually given a single point because of the diminishing returns and also prerequisite for other skills.
- Slow Missiles: Often overlooked, but a great one-point wonder, an opponent's missile attacks (which also includes Lightning, Charged bolt, Fireball etc.) are slowed by 33%. This may not sound impressive, but in actual use, it makes monsters like Scarab Demons much less difficult to dispatch.
- Avoid: The character can dodge missiles. Often a prerequisite for other skills in the tree.
- Penetrate: Increases Amazon's Attack Rating. It's good as a single point investment, as +skill items will boost this to adequate levels, but many drop little more than five points in favor of other skills.
- Decoy: One should never underestimate the value of this skill. While to some, like act bosses, the Decoy may only be good for a few seconds, in other places (such as the Countess and her minions) this skill can distract monsters from attacking the Amazon's Valkyrie or mercenary.
- Evade: Although being able to dodge attacks on the run may seem attractive, Amazons have a tendency to become stuck in "Evade Lock." While some attacks can be dodged, when a number of opponents are attacking, she becomes unable to move away, but remains a target capable of being damaged because of the sheer number of attacks against her. Because of the diminishing returns on this skill, it is also recommended to use one point, if at all.
- Pierce: If successful, not only does the arrow damage the target, it will pass through and hit the next one. This is applied to every missile. Diminishing returns also apply to this skill as well.
- Valkyrie: For a Bowazon, a well-invested Valkyrie makes for a rugged tank that can stand up to enemies like no other minion. When used, it creates a (slow moving but durable) Spearazon who is equipped with randomly generated gear. As more points are invested in the Valkyrie skill, the better her gear gets in addition to her Life, Attack and Defense Rating. Colors do indicate properties, much like the colors on rare items. A Valkyrie with Red armor will indicate one with a significant +Life attribute while Blue will indicate her armor has a Nova or Frost Nova proc.
Bowazons typically have less to worry about in regards to gear. Most of the time, Bowazons are out of harm's way and are able to substitute a lot of magic find items should a player decide to "farm" for gear. On the other hand, there are plenty of options should the player decide that monsters need to die more quickly.
- Dream Rune Word: One of the most popular choices for Bowazons in 1.13d.
- Guillaume's Face: Crushing Blow and Deadly Strike.
- Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest: Mostly for the 10 percent life leech and +15 to Resistances. Vampire Gaze, Crown of Thieves and Stealskull are also popular choices for their ease of finding and life leech.
- Giant Skull: This has some crushing blow, strength and up to two open sockets most commonly socketed with 40/15 jewels.
- Twitchthroe: Increased Attack Speed and very easy to obtain.
- Crow Caw: Increased Attack Speed and Open Wounds.
- Duress Rune Word: A cheap rune word armor that features Crushing Blow.
- Chains of Honor: +2 all skills and good resistance boost.
- Fortitude Rune Word: 300% enhanced damage.
- Enigma: +2 all skills, massive attribute boost, level dependent magic find and teleport.
- M'avina's Embrace: +2 to passive skills.
- The Cat's Eye: Increased Attack Speed.
- Crescent Moon: Dual Leech.
- Atma's Scarab: Amplify damage proc.
- Highlord's Wrath: +1 all skills, and Increased Attack Speed.
- Mara's Kaleidoscope: +2 all skills and resistance boost.
- A magic or rare amulet with skill boost to Passive and Magic skills.
- Stone of Jordan: +1 to all skills and Mana related bonuses.
- Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band: +1 to all skills and Life-related bonuses.
- Manald Heal: Easy to obtain and has nice mana-related skills.
- Raven Frost: It doesn't hurt to wear one of these for those instances a stray cold enchanted missile or Frost Nova manages to hit.
- Cathan's Seal: A level 11 ring with 6% Leech
- String of Ears: Physical damage reduction and life leech.
- Razortail: Adds a percentage to the pierce skill.
- Gloom's Trap: Vitality bonus and mana related skills.
- Arachnid Mesh: +1 to all skills, slows target and mana related skills.
- Nosferatu's Coil: Increased attack speed, life leech and slows target.
- Verdungo's Hearty Cord: Faster hit recovery, damage reduction and vitality bonus.
- Goblin Toe: The cheap boots with 25% crushing blow.
- Gore Rider: Goblin Toes' big brother with Open Wounds and Critical Strike attributes as well.
- Silkweave: Mana-generating related attributes.
- Sandstorm Trek: Increased walk/run speed, Faster Hit Recovery.
- The Hand of Broc: Dual leech. Also easy to find.
- Magefist: Mana related bonuses.
- Frostburn: A nice +40% to maximum mana and cold damage.
- Soul Drainer: Dual leech and Lowers Monster Defense.
- Dracul's Grasp: Life Tap proc
- Steelrend: Enhanced damage and crushing blow.
- Laying of Hands: +350% damage vs. Demons
Many of the Exceptional Unique bows have attributes which can be useful. Riphook may not have the awesome damage of Windforce, but the Open Wounds and Slows Opponent attributes could be of significant assistance with a good tank that allows her to remain in the background while she peppers her opponent with debilitation. Witchwild String could have the same can be said for it. An Amplify Damage proc, when applied with Strafe could prove to be most helpful in dispatching Physical Immune or monsters with a lot of life, but is often sneered at because it doesn't do a lot of damage. This list is pared down to the five popular bows, but do not be afraid to look through the list of list of Unique Bows, Crossbows and the rune words for bows for others.
- Buriza-Do Kyanon. When upgraded to a Colossus Crossbow (Ladder or Single Player) it is a reasonably fast but also a very heavy damage weapon in the hands of a skilled Bowazon. Its freeze attribute also makes it a popular PvP crossbow.
- Windforce: The bow that deals the heaviest damage in the game. Has a knockback attribute, so other attributes like Increased Attack Speed, Open Wounds, Crushing Blow, etc. can be focused on.
- Lycander's Aim: +2 all skills and +2 bow and crossbow skills. Reasonable damage as a ceremonial bow and excellent when upgraded as a Matriarchal Bow.
- Harmony Rune Word: This rune word is not difficult to construct, but gives several bonuses that make it a worthwhile item to make. First, +2-6 to Valkyrie. Second, 3 additional elements of attack. Third, the Revive charges can be very useful. For example, the Durance of Hate where Hydra-casting Council Members can be helpful in either drawing off Mephisto's vampire minions or to assist you in attacking Mephisto himself. And last, the level 10 Vigor will be helpful in either travelling or outrunning your opponents.
- Faith Rune Word: The new "bow of choice" for Amazons. Fanaticism aura, up to +2 to your skills, chance to raise Returned as minions and a wicked 300% increase to your attack rating. It is popular to construct this in a four socket Grand Matron bow that has a +3 to bow and crossbow skills.
Buff combination: A popular choice for those who obtain a Call To Arms Rune Word, having the CtA and a Spirit Rune Word in the shield slot coupled with a lot of generic +skills items such as Mara's Kaleidoscope can grant significant buff to the party's mana and life, not to mention the +1 to all skills granted from the Battle Command war cry.
Fighting Immune to Physical monsters on Hell difficultyEdit
Since ranged attack is also physical, no Strafe, Multiple Shot or Guided Arrow will work on these creatures. This might prove difficult for some players, but more experienced players will use Magic Arrow skill, since it's pure magic attack and it doesn't spend player's arrows.
In areas with Physical Immune monsters and a powerful Valkyrie and a decent Pierce, fire, particularly Immolation Arrow can be quite a handy skill. However, without significant investment, this skill tree is of minimal assistance in Hell Difficulty.
Even with the short chill duration, cold is still quite a popular choice for diversifying attack types. The same as Fire, it is fairly disappointing without spending a significant amount of skill points in it. There is a perk, however, to building on Freezing Arrow's synergy, Ice Arrow, for the increase in chill duration.
Although many players solo with their characters, Hirelings can certainly increase the survivability of any character if maintained properly. Typically, most choose the Act 2 Defensive Mercenary in Nightmare Difficulty (the "Holy Freeze Merc") or the Offensive version (the "Might Merc"), but the others have plenty of potential if geared properly. The Helmet and Armor are standard choices, the only thing that would vary are the weapons. Act 3 Hirelings with cold attacks used to be popular, but are rare now due to many monsters being immune to their attacks. Although Barbarian Warriors are quite rugged, they can be overcome by large mobs. On the other hand, properly equipped, he can definitely play a major factor in increasing the character's survivability. And the Rogue should not be counted out either, although without particular gear her ability to assist in later stages of the game diminishes by quite a bit. Although the weapons vary, the armor and helmet choices are mostly stock, with some variance in regards to armor.
- Guillaume's Face: Crushing Blow and Deadly Strike.
- Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest: Mostly for the 10 percent life leech and +15 to Resistances.
- Crown of Thieves and Stealskull are also popular choices for their ease of finding and life leech.
- Kira's Guardian or Darksight Helm: The reason for choosing either helmet is the Cannot Be Frozen attribute.
- Fortitude Rune Word: 300% Enhanced damage against everything.
- Duress Rune Word: Features 15% chance of Crushing Blow.
- Gladiator's Bane: Cannot be Frozen and integer damage reduction at a level that actually makes a difference.
- Hwanin's Refuge: Static Field proc. Still useful even if lightning immunes aren't affected by it in Hell Difficulty.
- Treachery Rune Word: may be of more benefit to a Rogue for the Increased Attack Speed.
- Skin of the Vipermagi: Iron Wolves can make better use of the Faster Cast Rate as they usually attack from range.
- Duriel's Shell: For Hirelings, this armor is prized much for being relatively easy to find, its Cannot be Frozen attribute and Vitality bonus.
Rogue (Act 1)Edit
- Faith Rune Word: The Fanaticism aura and obscene damage are the big perks of this bow.
- Ice Rune Word: The chief reason for this selection is the Holy Freeze Aura.
- Witchwild String: Amplify Damage proc and two sockets to customize it with.
- Riphook: Slows opponent and Open Wounds.
Desert Mercenary (Act 2)Edit
- Hone Sundan: Crushing Blow and three sockets.
- Reaper's Toll: Decrepify Proc.
- Obedience Rune Word: Crushing Blow and an Enchant Proc.
- Infinity Rune Word: Boasts a Conviction aura. A very popular rune word for those specialized in elemental attacks as it will break many elemental immunities.
- Insight Rune Word: Has a Meditation Aura that will help alleviate mana demands.
- One could also add Breath of the Dying, Last Wish, Death or Doom as well, as these are very powerful. They are also equally difficult to create.
Iron Wolf (Act 3)Edit
- Spirit Sword and Spirit Shield: This combination will give the hireling excellent resistance bonuses as well as a total +4 to their skill levels.
- Lidless Wall: Has +1 to all skills and a Faster Cast Rate bonus.
- Rhyme Rune Word: Has Cannot Be Frozen and Faster Hit Recovery.
Barbarians (Act 5)Edit
There are numerous swords that a Barbarian can use that listing them all would be impractical. Here are four uniques and four rune words particularly beneficial to them:
- Bloodletter: Fast, and has life leech. The sword will likely be obsolete by early Hell, however.
- Headstriker: Level dependent Deadly Strike as well as level dependent maximum damage.
- Azurewrath: The base damage is a bit low, but the added damage makes this blade frightening once it can be equipped.
- The Grandfather: Very high damage and Attack Rating bonus.
- Lawbringer Rune Word: a relatively cheap rune word with a Decrepify proc.
- Breath of the Dying, Grief, and Death are also options, albeit difficult ones considering the runes required.