[3.5] Pure Phys Skeleton/Zombie Necromancer — Easy 1mil+ DPS, SSF & New Player Friendly!

3.5 Update

Literally nothing about this build is changing in 3.5. Easy!

Made some minor changes to the guide to improve clarity/readability.

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CONTENTS

1. Pros and Cons
2. Skill Tree and Path of Building Import
3. Gear
4. Gems
5. Pantheon
6. Levelling
7. Playstyle
8. Stats
9. Videos



1. PROS AND CONS

Pros:
  • The easiest million DPS build you'll ever make. At level 80, with 18/0 gems, almost literally no gear and no PoB trickery, the build reaches 1.04 million Shaper DPS if every minion hits the same target. See for yourself. You do not have to spend currency, you do not have to be good at the game, you really do not have to do anything special. All bosses (up to and including Shaper) just melt. You'll get at least 2 million Shaper DPS if you push the build with a few ex of currency, and over double that while Vaal Summon Skeletons is active.
  • Cheap. You can get to red maps very easily on 20 chaos of gear, and do all content comfortably on about 2 ex worth of gear.
  • Entirely physical damage, so no issues with high boss elemental resistances.
  • Fast movement thanks to Shield Charge and the huge lump of attack speed granted by the Spiritual Command passive node. You're mostly limited by waiting for your minions to kill things, but clear speed is still above average.
  • Decently tanky. This build doesn't use auras for damage, so we can go Mind over Matter and get about 8k EHP. Of course you also have an army of minions (22 in the full build) to tank for you, and 10% physical damage reduction courtesy of your zombies.
  • No spectres necessary. This build only uses skeletons and zombies, meaning that you don't have to deal with any of the issues spectre builds do when it comes to raising the right mobs at the right level. And if something dies, you can just summon it right back. No dramas.
  • Can do all content and all map mods, although phys reflect is a chore and no regen can be a little dangerous.
  • Surprisingly good at lab running. See note in "Playstyle".


Cons:
  • Clear speed isn't going to be quite as good as screen-clearing spectres or golems, especially if you don't have Fear jewelry.
  • A couple of bosses just melt your minions instantly and are basically impossible for the build. Atziri trio are the worst offenders.
  • Have to level as a different build (SRS) unless you have access to twinking gear.



2. SKILL TREE AND PATH OF BUILDING IMPORT

Firstly, kill all bandits.

The level 90 skill tree looks like this.

Path of Building data for a cleaned-up version of my actual character from Delve league: https://pastebin.com/h3jBa4iw.

If you don't know what Path of Building is, learn all about it here.

Levelling trees are provided in the Path of Building import above. Use the tree management drop-down to view them:



While levelling, don't take Necromantic Aegis until you have Victario's Charity equipped. Feel free to take mana nodes early if you feel particularly short on mana, but you shouldn't need them until you take Mind over Matter.


3. GEAR

Note: Don't pigeonhole yourself into one of these tiers forever. You can start off with low budget gear, farm up some currency and then buy better gear, and so on.

Low Budget/SSF
You really only need very basic gear to get rolling with this build. Wearing entirely rare gear is fine. Look for life, mana, resistances and dex. You can use literally any weapon (even a white level 1 axe) and it won't really matter. Aurumvorax is a nice budget weapon because it helps with resistances when the rest of your gear is bad.

Flask setup is pretty much constant. See sample gear below for what you want there.

Ideally, you'd want to use the following uniques on a low-budget character:

Tabula Rasa (easy to farm from Humility div cards while levelling in Blood Aqueducts, or buy relatively cheaply)
Victario's Charity (very cheap to buy, quite common but not essential if SSF)
Violent Dead x2 (available as an act 5 quest reward, also very cheap to buy)


Alberon's Warpath also deserves a mention, as it's an easy way to source a 12th skeleton (which is neat as we summon 3 at a time). Ideally you want to do this through Catarina's craft onto body armour, but if you're using unique body armour these are okay too.
Medium Budget
If I don't mention a particular piece of gear in this section, it's unchanged from the low budget section.

Weapon: Try to find something with % increased minion damage on it. This can be be The Scourge, an item from the Temple of Atzoatl, or an item crafted with a Bound Fossil from delves.[/span]

Jewelry: You want to either make or buy jewelry crafted with an Essence of Fear for minion movement speed. This will greatly speed up your clear, as it helps your (entirely melee-based) minions move between mobs faster. It's usually cheaper to buy essences and make your own than buy the jewelry pre-crafted.

Helmet: Some combination of a Bone Helmet, + to level of minion gems, and/or an Elder helmet with Minion Life and/or Minion Damage supports built in. Don't worry about enchantments, they're almost all worse than the Bone Helmet implicit and there's very little chance of finding an Elder helm with a good enchant.

Body Armour: Upgrade to a rare 6L with life (and maybe mana) when you can. Ideally you want one with an open prefix, allowing you to craft +1 skeleton onto it with Catarina 6. This brings us up to 12 skeletons, which is perfect as we summon 3 per cast.

Jewels: An abyss jewel with minion taunt on hit is highly recommended to keep boss attention off you. Life, mana and any minion damage stats are also good if you can get them
High Budget
Again, this is adding onto the medium section. Only discussing stuff with specific high budget options, rather than just better versions of the above.

Body Armour: Some uniques will provide more tankiness than a rare, although you'll be forced to switch to Alberon's Warpath if you want to keep your twelfth skeleton. Potential options include Cloak of Defiance, Belly of the Beast or Loreweave.

Weapon: You can try to get more stats on your weapon if you can afford it. Mana, resists and attack speed are the main useful ones.

Helmet: Your goal is an Elder helm with any two of minion damage, minion life or + minion gems. If it's a Bone Helmet or has the Flesh Offering attack speed enchantment, even better (though these will be very expensive).

Jewels: An Unnatural Instinct placed in the socket to the right of the Witch starting point will give quite a lot of extra life and mana. Alternatively, To Dust will give your skeletons a large amount of damage.
Sample Gear
Your gear does not have to look like this, or cost nearly as much. Please follow the suggestions above based on your budget.




4. GEMS

Spoiler
All gems should be levelled to 20 unless otherwise specified.


Skeletons are your main source of damage. Gems are listed in order of importance, so for example if you're on a 5L drop Ruthless. Once you have a 6L and your skeletons are doing excessive amounts of damage, you can switch out Ruthless for Melee Splash while clearing (and switch Ruthless back in for hard bosses). It speeds up your clear and stops your minions from getting overwhelmed by large numbers of mobs. You don't need the Vaal version, but you should try to get one as soon as possible and use it against bosses or hard monsters.



OR


Zombies provide a valuable source of pack clear with their AoE slam, tank hits with their larger life pool, and supplement your damage. This should be socketed in your helm to take advantage of either a + minion gem level mod or Elder mods. Empower should only be used if you're using an Elder helm that grants Minion Damage already. You can get a level 4 Empower if you really have money to burn.


Movement.


Flesh Offering is a big damage buff. Try and keep it up as much as possible. Flame Dash is just handy to get over gaps and walls.


Curse, minion direction and culling. No point in levelling Ball Lightning or Culling Strike. You can manually cast Vulnerability if you prefer, give up the culling, and leave sockets open for something else (e.g. Immortal Call).



Extra stuff. Desecrate helps you keep Flesh Offering up against bosses and get back dead zombies. Stone Golem provides much needed regen — you absolutely don't have to use it with CwDT, I'm just lazy. If you do, make sure CwDT isn't linked to anything else!



5. PANTHEON

Every major god has potential usefulness to the build. However, I would suggest Brine King for the stun resistance. Helps you get out of tight spots. I would also get Lunarius upgraded with "Avoid projectiles that have chained", so you can swap to it for chain maps. For minor gods, Gruthkul provides the most.



6. Levelling

Ascendancy skill order is: Invoker, Bone Sculptor, Flesh Binder, Puppet Master.

Unfortunately, without a couple of unique items it's hard to use skeletons until you've completed the cruel labyrinth. If you have a couple of chaos to spend, skip down to the last paragraph of this section. Otherwise, read on.

The simplest way to level this build is to use Summon Raging Spirit in a +1 fire gems weapon, then a +1 minion gem 4L helm, until you have completed cruel lab. Then you can switch to the full build. To quote theuberelite:

"
- Level 1 through 8 is freeze pulse, level an SRS
- Level 8 get SRS, Melee Splash, Minion Damage. Get +1 fire wand/sceptre asap
- Eventually work towards a BBRR helmet 4 link, use recipes to craft +1 minion gems on it. Go SRS - Melee Splash - Melee Phys - Minion Speed (or Minion Damage if you want better damage for bosses or just clear)


As an alternative for people who don't like SRS, you can level with spells (e.g. Firestorm, Arc, Fire Trap). If you want to do this, take the spell damage nodes from the Witch start (respeccing out of them later) and otherwise follow the tree as normal. Rush to Spiritual Aid so your spells are benefited by all the minion damage we take.

You can also level really quickly using skeletons from the start if you have access to uniques. Don't try to do this if you're new, or levelling in a new league. From Dust lets you summon 3 skeletons at once before getting Bone Sculptor, Sidhebreath gives some minion movement speed, and then you can use Tabula, Aurumvorax and Violent Dead. You'll also need a bunch of extra strength and dex on gear - Astramentis is ideal, but use what you can find. Remove the From Dust when you finish cruel lab.



7. Playstyle

The best way to get an idea of the playstyle is to watch the videos below. However, a few tips from my experience with the build so far:
  • You don't need to summon all 12 skeletons every pack. 3 or 6 is usually plenty.
  • Zombies and skeletons have very different AI. Skeletons don't follow you at all and aggressively chase nearby enemies, while zombies prioritise sticking close to you and will peel away if you run far away from their target. This means that you can often leave your skeletons to finish off a pack while you run to the next one. It also means that you need to get fairly close to enemies to encourage your zombies to attack them.
  • Keep a close eye on your buff bar. You want to be able to keep all your zombies and skeletons up, and resummon them quickly if they die/expire. Equally though, resummoning when you don't need to wastes time.
  • When fighting bosses, don't aggro them immediately. Almost all bosses won't start fighting you until you walk quite close to them, and/or have animations before they start fighting. Use that time to summon your skeletons and create some corpses for Flesh Offering.
  • Hide behind your minions when it's relevant! You have 20+ minions running around. That's plenty to make a solid wall to protect you from projectiles.
  • This build is quite good at running labs, but you need to carry a Flame Dash. To avoid losing keys on the first two Izaro fights, run straight to the top corner of the room before he spawns, bait him up there and keep your minions there.



8. Stats

I recommend checking out the Path of Building import linked above for detailed stats. The short version is that at level 90 you can expect to have 100-150k Shaper DPS per skeleton and about 25-50k per zombie, totalling 1.3-2 million DPS if they all hit at once. That number shoots up if you have Vaal Summon Skeletons active. Zombie slams hit for 50k and can take out whole packs pretty quickly. On the player front, you can expect to have 7.5-8k EHP between life and mana.

9. Videos

3.2 T14 Dark Forest run — Gives you an idea of the playstyle, speed, and how fast bosses die. Recommend watching this one.

3.2 Red Elder (T14) — Dumb death at the very end because I didn't know you couldn't cull Elder, but still shows off the single target.

3.2 Yellow Elder (T8)

I did a deathless Shaper in about 7 minutes but my dumb ass forgot to record it.


Thank you for reading! I hope this guide is useful and you enjoy the build.
Have you done something awesome with Sire of Shards? PM me and tell me all about it!
Last edited by viperesque on Dec 6, 2018, 12:53:43 AM
Last bumped on Dec 10, 2018, 3:03:45 AM
yo boss!

I am a noob, spcecially at summoner.

Can you explain to me how to use desecrate? I don't get the utility of it cause we have no spectres.

sorry for the noob question,

And tkx for the guide!
"
Completed 3 ChallengesGrandChampion wrote:
yo boss!

I am a noob, spcecially at summoner.

Can you explain to me how to use desecrate? I don't get the utility of it cause we have no spectres.

sorry for the noob question,

And tkx for the guide!


Pretty sure the use is to provide corpses to use Offering skills on - like the flesh offering to get the bonus attack speed and movement for you and your minions.
Thank you do much for this guide.

This is my first summoner character and so far this has been the smoothest levelling I've ever had in this game. It's not my first char this league, so I could afford From Dust right away. And once I did - the game turned easy mode - I've yet to die (A9 now) and bosses are melting in seconds.

A small question - why Brightbeak? Does weapon attack speed affect minions? Or is it there purely for shield charge?
Last edited by acidagfc on Mar 23, 2018, 3:48:23 PM
"
Completed 6 Challengesacidagfc wrote:
Thank you do much for this guide.

This is my first summoner character and so far this has been the smoothest levelling I've ever had in this game. It's not my first char this league, so I could afford From Dust right away. And once I did - the game turned easy mode - I've yet to die (A9 now) and bosses are melting in seconds.

A small question - why Brightbeak? Does weapon attack speed affect minions? Or is it there purely for shield charge?


Glad you're enjoying it! Yeah, Brightbeak is purely for fast Shield Charge. There aren't many weapons that benefit your minions, so might as well. As I say, you can use The Scourge if you want, but it seems like massive overkill for all but Shaper.
Have you done something awesome with Sire of Shards? PM me and tell me all about it!
Very useful guide :D

What order should you take the Ascension talents in? Should you go straight for Bone Sculptor or get master of puppets first?
"
MasterMarsh wrote:
Very useful guide :D

What order should you take the Ascension talents in? Should you go straight for Bone Sculptor or get master of puppets first?

Ascendancy skill order is: Invoker, Bone Sculptor, Flesh Binder, Puppet Master.
Have you done something awesome with Sire of Shards? PM me and tell me all about it!
"
Nicodaemus wrote:
"
Completed 3 ChallengesGrandChampion wrote:
yo boss!

I am a noob, spcecially at summoner.

Can you explain to me how to use desecrate? I don't get the utility of it cause we have no spectres.

sorry for the noob question,

And tkx for the guide!


Pretty sure the use is to provide corpses to use Offering skills on - like the flesh offering to get the bonus attack speed and movement for you and your minions.



Ya good! Ty for the answer!
Respecced my necrobot to this and it works wonders! ♥
PAY YOUR AURABOTS VERY WELL FOR THEIR SERVICES.
Would this be better at bossing than vanguard spectres with the same amount of investment? Trying to figure out how it compares to the tried and true spectres build

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