A Zealot, Zealadin, or Zealer is a Paladin build that uses, as the name suggests, Zeal as his main attack. This is usually accompanied by Fanaticism, which boosts damage and attack speed. Zealots are very good at Player vs Monster gameplay, but are poor at Player vs Player fighting, although it can be done if high end or specialized equipment is used.
Stat Point DistributationEdit
Strength: Higher damage is a good thing for the Zealot most of the time, but at the very least, increase it enough for equipment requirements.
Vitality: Even the most offensive-oriented Zealot is a melee hero. As such, he needs to be able to survive in close-combat, lest he wind up as a useless asset against the minions of Hell. For that reason, it is recommended to dump points here after satisfying Dexterity and Strength requirements.
Energy: Zeal is one of the cheapest skills in the Paladin's repetoire at a fixed cost of 2 Mana per use. As such, Zealots often let their equipment provide the Mana needed.
- Level 1
- Level 6
- Defiance - 20
- Level 12
- Level 18
- Concentration - 1 point
- Level 30
- Zeal is the Zealot's main attack. The Zealot relies on a powerful, high damage melee weapon and then maximizes his output with Zeal's high attack speed bonus. Depending on their skill point distribution zealot builds may have anywhere between four soft and twenty hard points in this skill: the number of hits per use is limited to five (achieved at four points), and investing in Sacrifice increases Zeal's damage via synergy faster than Zeal does.
- Fanaticism is the most common aura used in this build. The increased attack speed is crucial for Zealots, so that they can finish their attack quickly in case they start dying during their attacks. Of course, it also increases the rate that Zealots and their parties can do damage.
- Holy Shield is used mainly because Zeal is best with fast one-hand weapons, which makes it natural to use a shield in combination. With Holy Shield, the Paladin's block rating is boosted considerably. Not all Zealot builds max Holy Shield, as the defense and block boosts are already very substantial at level 4 or 5 if coupled with good gear and skill boosting equipment.
Zeal can be used with the faster 2-handed weapons as well, but this is not recommended. In this case, Holy Shield is nearly useless, and the build becomes incredibly offensive-oriented. Although it is risky (the Paladin will take a lot of damage) and the only gain of this version is higher damage output, the two-handed Zealot can survive because Zeal cannot be interrupted, and even a fairly low amount of Life Steal will be sufficient to restore the Paladin's hitpoints rapidly.
- Sacrifice is not only a requirement for Zeal, but it also gives Zeal a 12% synergy damage bonus from each level spent in Sacrifice. In addition, in the early levels Sacrifice is a decent skill to have, dealing high damage at a relatively low cost, especially if the player has good luck with Life Stealing equipment.
- Defiance is a synergy for Holy Shield. It is not required to max Defiance, since Paladins often have a very high defense rating anyway, but any spare points may be placed here.
Given that the Zealot has little need for a maxed out skill after finishing Zeal, Fanaticism and Sacrifice at the bare minimum, players have some freedom to spend the rest of their skill points on what they desire.
Holy Fire, Freeze, and Shock all offer the Paladin elemental damage that he can make use of, but later on, if he needs such assistance, Vengeance may wind up being a better choice. Resist Fire, Cold, and Lightning, in addition to synergizing with Vengeance, all passively increase the Paladin's max resistances through synergies. Redemption is a useful aura to have, both for mana and health regeneration, and to prevent monster resurrection. Vigor is useful for trekking through large areas or for corpse retrieval. Meditation is useful for party play among mana-starved allies, while Salvation is useful for allies with less magic resists.
Points Left OverEdit
Each character is capable of earning 110 Skill points if all the quests that reward said points are done, on all difficulties. The Zealot can certainly have points left over, especially if he uses Two-Handed weaponry.
- The Two-Handed Zealot only needs 63 Skill points if the player intends to maximize Zeal's synergy bonus from Sacrifice. After this, the player has the freedom of spending points on skills they desire.
- The weapon and shield Zealot can be more limiting in the freedom of skill points, but even then, he will still have points left over, even after having obtained all Primary and Synergy skills.
For any viable Hell Difficulty Zealot, there are three attributes which are considered almost necessary for a melee character to finish the game: Some amount of Crushing Blow, Cannot Be Frozen and stacking resistances. Once these attributes are built to a proper level, the player can then work on some of the other attributes that will help make his Zealot more effective. Some (but not all) of these things would be Life/Mana Leech, Increased Attack Speed, Faster Hit Recovery, Increased Block and Faster Block Rate.
The list below has many items a player may never see or be able to manufacture. In this case, it will not hurt to look over the more inexpensive items to obtain the attributes to make the character durable enough to finish the game.
- One-Handed Weapon
- Grief: High damage, and one of the few items that transfers damage when using Smite. Often socketed in a Phase Blade due to the -30 Base Attack Speed, and the character's Dexterity is usually over 120 to maximize block percentage.
- Breath of the Dying: Lower average damage than Grief, but has lower requirements, is indestructible, has higher IAS (Increased Attack Speed), dual leech and a massive boost to all stats.
- Oath: Offers potentially high damage (up to 340%), indestructibility, attack rating and damage bonuses to demons and 50% IAS for four Runes that are not very difficult to obtain. Best placed in a high damage ethereal weapon such a a Cryptic Sword, Scourge or Berserker Axe to maximize the damage output.
- Stormlash or Crescent Moon: Static Field procs are similar to Crushing Blow, except much faster, although ineffective past 50% health and more commonly resisted.
- Death: Similar to Breath of the Dying, but with excellent Crushing Blow and Deadly Strike at the cost of less damage. Procs Glacial Spike to freeze multiple targets at once, but has no IAS. Preferred in an ethereal Berserker Axe.
- Last Wish: Life Tap proc, Might Aura, Chance to cast fade, and the huge Crushing Blow chance. Preferred in a Berserker Axe, Phase Blade is an alternative with lower repair costs.
- Two-Handed Weapon
- The Grandfather or Doombringer: These have great Attack Rating bonuses in addition to hefty damage.
- Ethereal Edge: Fast and plenty of damage bonuses.
- Hellslayer or Messerschmidt's Reaver: These have increasing damage bonuses based on level which look obscene at high levels.
- The Cranium Basher: Huge Crushing Blow percentage, resistances and an Amplify Damage proc.
- Breath of the Dying: Preferably made in an Ethereal great poleaxe, Colossus Blade or Champion Axe.
- Death: Preferably made in an ethereal Colossus Sword, Colossus Blade or Champion Axe.
- Herald of Zakarum: Blocking related bonuses, resistances, and skill bonuses. The cookie cutter shield for most Paladin builds.
- Exile: Life Tap proc, aura skill bonus and the innate Defiance aura. Best made in an Ethereal Vortex Shield, since it also has a self-repair attribute.
- Alma Negra: Bonuses to defence and blocking, 1-2 to Paladin skills and enhanced damage.
- Stormshield: 35% physical damage reduction is a big perk of this shield.
- Guillaumme's Face: Deadly Strike and Crushing Blow
- Crown of Ages: Resistance bonuses, physical damage reduction and sockets for further customization.
- Andariel's Visage +2 skill bonus, poison resistances and life leech. Keep in mind it does feature a fire resistance penalty.
- Leviathan: Physical damage reduction plus boost to strength which will in turn increase the damage of your melee attacks.
- Arkaine's Valor: faster hit recovery, 1-2 point bonus to all skills and level dependent Vitality bonus.
- Guardian Angel: High Defence Bonus, increased chance to block, increased maximum resistances and bonus to Paladin skills makes this a decent armor provided another source can be found for resistances (such as a decent shield).
- Fortitude: 300% Enhanced Damage is the big perk for this armor.
- Chains of Honor: A number of damage bonuses, life leech, +2 to all skills, damage reduction, and a +65 bonus to all resistances.
- Enigma: Teleport is a big bonus to this armor, as well as the Magic Find bonus and the +2 to all skills. The level dependent strength boost will increase the damage of your melee attacks and also allow you to put your stat points elsewhere, such as in vitality.
- Verdungo's Hearty Cord: The cookie cutter suggestion, due to its percent physical damage reduction and life-related bonuses.
- String of Ears: For the same reasons as Verdungo's, but much easier to find. Also offers life leech which is welcome for any melee fighter.
- Nosferatu's Coil or Arachnid Mesh: Both of these belts feature slowing their opponents. Arachnid Mesh has a +1 all skills bonus, while Nosferatu's features life leech.
- Thundergod's Vigor: Lightning Absorb, Strength and Vitality bonuses and a boost to maximum lightning resist.
- Dracul's Grasp: Life Tap proc, Life Leech and Open Wounds.
- Soul Drainers: Reduces monster defense per hit. Also has dual leech and chance to cast weaken.
- Steelrend: Crushing Blow and enhanced damage.
- Gore Rider: Boost to Crushing Blow, Open Wounds and Deadly Strike.
- War Traveler: Boost to damage, strength and vitality, as well as increased magic find make this a viable close second choice to Gore Rider.
- Highlord's Wrath: +1 skills, level dependent boost to Deadly Strike, lightning damage and increased attack speed.
- The Cat's Eye: increased attack speed.
- Metalgrid: Attack rating bonus and high resistance bonus.
- Mara's Kaleidoscope: Skill and resistance bonus.
- The Eye of Etlich: Skill bonus, life leech and cold damage.
- Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band: Skill bonus and life-related bonuses.
- Raven Frost: Cannot be Frozen is the main perk, but the attack rating bonus is also handy.
- Manald Heal: Offers Mana leech which (given Zeal's low Mana cost) will allow Zeal to be used continuously. Relatively easy to find. The life regeneration is also somewhat useful early in the game.
Although many players just solo with Zealots, 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, if properly equipped, he can definitely play a major factor in increasing the character's survivability. The Rogue Archers 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 variation 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.
- Vampire Gaze, 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: 300% Enhanced damage against everything.
- Duress: 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: 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.
- Faith: The obscene damage and possibility of reviving slain enemies are the main reasons to use this bow. Sadly the Fanaticism Aura granted will not stack with the player's own Aura.
- Ice: 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
- Hone Sundan: Crushing Blow and three sockets.
- The Reaper's Toll: Decrepify Proc which is especially useful in dealing with physical immune monsters in Hell. Also offers massive life leech which will increase your Merc's survival chances.
- Obedience: Crushing Blow, 370% enhanced damage, 30% chance to cast enchant upon killing an enemy and even boosts to defence and resistances for five relatively easy to find Runes. Preferable in an ethereal Elite Polearm to maximize the damage.
- Infinity: Boasts a Conviction aura. A very popular rune word for those specialized in elemental attacks as it will break many elemental immunities. However, unless the player plans to have a main aura other than Conviction, this item is a waste of time for an Avenger's Mercenary.
- Insight: Has a Meditation Aura that will help alleviate mana demands. However this is not the first best choice for a Zealot given that the mana demands for this build are so low anyway.
- Breath of the Dying, Last Wish or Doom Rune Words as well, as these are very powerful. They are also equally difficult to create.
- Iron Wolf
- 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: a relatively cheap rune word with a Decrepify proc.
- Breath of the Dying, Grief, or Death are also options, albeit difficult ones considering the runes required.