D2R - PvM Poison Necromancer Build Guide

  • Season 3 Ladder has begun and players will be considering options for characters optimized for PvM and magic find. The Poison Necromancer is considered one of the strongest characters for this purpose when properly equipped, though struggles when gear starved. We should consider this build an end-game build which requires some wealth accumulation first, and not optimal for a first character on ladder. A Poison Necromancer can be considered for hardcore mode given its strong survivability with summoned minions acting as a damage buffer.

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    Fast clear speed: With powerful AoE spells that deal multiple damage types, clearspeed is competitive with all elite builds in D2R. The combination of Lower Resistances curse, Poison Nova and chain Corpse Explosion will clear screens of monsters in seconds.

    Varied damage types:

    Poison Nova: Poison damage
    Corpse Explosion: Fire and Physical damage
    (Note: Sunder charms have largely eliminated the problem of immune monsters)

    Good survivability: While max res can be achieved with ancillary charms, the Necromancer himself is somewhat fragile. This is made up for by his summoned units which disperses damage and act as decoys.

    Good mobility: With enigma, the Necromancer can safely teleport into swarms of enemies with summoned minions.


    Expensive: The base level gear to build an efficient Poison Necromancer is difficult to find, or expensive to trade for. This will be explored further below.

    Weak boss-killing: While the Poison Necromancer excels at deleting swarms, he struggles to make the same impact against level bosses. Mercenary damage is largely relied on to accelerate boss-killing.

    Micro-intensive: There’s more buttons to click with this character. There is a 3-part damage combo, and minion summoning/ rs-summoning can be tedious.

                                                                Stat Assignment


    Enough for Gear Choice
    All remaining skillpoints

    No dexterity will be required in this instance as optimal shield choices are not suitable for max block builds.


    Core Skills

    (60 points): 
    Max our core skill Poison Nova, and its synergies (Poison Dagger and Poison Explosion).

    (2-6 points): 1-5 points in Corpse Explosion and its prerequisite, Teeth.
    Note: Increased skill point investment in Corpse Explosion only increases radius

    (7-12 points) 1-5 points in Lower Resist and its prerequisites (Amplify Damage, Weaken, Iron Maiden, Terror, Life Tap, Decripfy)

    Ancillary skills:
    Here is where there is some optionality. If you have put a single point in Corpse Explosion and Lower Resist, you will have more skill points to assign to summons and/or bonewall/bone prison which helps to synergise with your bone shield for some additional (though negligible) survivability gains. Bonewall/prison is not generally used for PvE. This is my preferred skill assignment:

    1 Point: Raise Skeleton (Prerequisite and usable damage buffer)
    1 Point: Raise Skeletal Mage (Prerequisite)
    1 Point: Clay Golem (Prerequisite or main golem if opting out of the Iron Golem)
    1 Point: Blood Golem (Prerequisite)
    1 Point: Iron Golem (Main Golem)
    1 Point: Revive (Main damage buffer)
    1 Point: Skeleton Mastery (Increase survivability of Revives and Skeletons)
    1 Point: Summon Resist (Increase resistances of all minions including Golem)

    Remaining points:
    Golem Mastery - Remaining points (protecting our Iron golem is top priority given he consumes an item when summoned, in this case an Insight D2R Runewords)
    Skeleton Mastery - Option 
    (additional survivability for summons reduces recasting)

    Important Breakpoints:

    Faster Hit Recovery (Target: 39, 56 or 86)











    Increased FHR%










    Faster Cast Rate (Target 75 or 125)









    Increased FCR%








    Item Build:

    With efficient PvM clear speed, increased magic Finding and our Breakpoint goals in mind, let’s explore optimal gear options. If you are opting for the 125FCR build, you will sacrifice some damage output for mobility.

    Best in Slot: Deaths Web (Socketed with Poison Facet)
    The huge boost to negating enemy poison resist, as well as the +skills provide a huge powerspike for your Necromancer.

    Alternative: Heart of the Oak runeword
    The skills, FCR and resistances make this a good all rounder.

    Best in Slot: Enigma Runeword
    Enigma is the only viable runeword for an efficient farming Necromancer with the additional mobility of teleport and the ability to reset mercenary and minion positions.
    Alternative: Bramble Runeword
    While bramble provides a hefty damage spike, the tradeoff in mobility makes this option largely untenable.

    There is some optionality with helmets as you can choose your own optimisation path. 

    1.  Shako, A well rounded option, providing +2 skills, life, mana, damage reduction and 50% increased magic find. 

    2. Crown of Ages, the best defensive option providing +1 skills, huge boosts to damage reduction, all resistances and two open sockets. 

    3. 2 Necromancer skills /20FCR Rare Circlet (or 3 Poison and Bone /20FCR), a circlet can be used if required to hit the desired FCR breakpoint (additional defensive mods are desired). 

    You have two main options for shields.

    Trang Oul’s Wing: The de facto item build for poison necromancers involves the use of three pieces of the Trang Oul’s set. While individually, the pieces are outperformed by the best alternative (with the exception of Trang Oul’s Claws), the set bonus provides a significant -25 to enemy poison resistance as well as a high utility ‘Cannot be frozen’ bonus which frees up a ring (Ravenfrost) or socket (Cham) slot.

    Spirit (Runeword): Spirit provides huge boosts to resistances and between 25-35FCR. A 35FCR spirit is required to attain the 125FCR breakpoint while still wielding Deathweb.

    Off-hand / Switch
    Call to Arms / Spirit (Standard switch gear to apply war cries, remember to reapply this on new summons for additional survivability).


    Trang Oul’s Claw: 
    The only viable option for this slot with 25% increased poison damage, FCR, Cold resistances and Necromancer skill synergies.


    Trang Oul’s Girth 
    or Arachnid Mesh if you are not running the 3 piece set.

    You have some different options

    Sandstorm Treks
    : Provides some much needed Faster Hit Recovery (20), which can be lacking with many build variations. Additionally, some useful stats and huge poison resistances which can offset your Poison Sunder Charm.

    War Travellers: 
    Provides a huge boost to magic find (up to 50)

    Marrowalk / Rare Tri Res Boots 
    are also options depending on your needs.

    Maras Kaleidoscope: 
    2 Skills and a significant bump to your resistances makes this the de facto choice if you don’t require additional FCR.

    FCR Rare or Crafted Amulet: 2 Necromancer and additional FCR as required to hit the desired Breakpoint (additional defensive mods desired). For non-spirit users running 3 Piece Trangs, 15FCR+ is required to hit the 75FCR breakpoint.

    Ring Options:

    Stone of Jordan
    : +1 Skills and Boosts to your mana (this is less relevant if using an Insight Iron Golem)

    Bul Kathos: 
    +1 Skills and Additional Life (De facto choice if FCR is not required)

    FCR Rare Ring: 
    A rare ring with FCR and defensive mods, and/or additional magic finding can be used to hit the required breakpoint

    This ring is worn for “Cannot be Frozen” if this bonus is not available from Trang belt or Cham rune.

    Sockets: Options for open sockets in Helm/Shield/Weapon
    More Damage: Poison Facets
    More Magic Find: Ist Runes
    More FHR: Shael Rune
    Cannot be Frozen: Cham Rune

    Your inventory should consist of the Expected Anni, Torch, Sunder and Gheeds Grand Charm for additional Magic Find.

    The additional space in your inventory can be used depending on your needs:

    More Damage: Poison and Bone +1 Skill Grand Charms (Additional life mods or FHR desired)
    More Survivability: Life and Resistances small charms
    More FHR: FHR Small Charms
    More Magic Find: Magic Find small Charms


    Act 2 Mercenary
    Nightmare - Hell
    Might Aura
    Given the reliance on your Mercenary for boss-killing, it is important to maximise his damage output, while maintaining good survivability. We avoid Holy Freeze given we need corpses to explode and Freeze is negatively synergistic.

    Weapon: Infinity Runeword
    This conviction aura lowers enemies resistances on top of your Lower Resistances curse, to weaken enemy survivability further. While conviction does not affect poison damage, it will enhance corpse explosion and raise your clear speed. Insight Mana regeneration can be attained through your iron golem.

    Armour: Fortitude Runeword
    Fortitude provides the most damage to your mercenary while providing decent survivability

    Guillaume’s Face: Providing significant Crushing Blow and Deadly Strike, both sought after bonuses for Boss-killing. This Helmet however lacks life leech and will require you to utilise your skill Life Tap to heal your mercenary.  

    Andariel’s Visage
    : The standard of Mercenary helmet choices, it provides significant lifeleech to sustain your mercenary in battle without the use of Life Tap. However, it lacks the Boss-Killing bonuses that Guillaume’s offers. 
    Iron Golem:

    Your Iron Golem Will inherit the properties of the item, including the translucency of ethereal items for additional style points. An Insight Golem eliminates the need to use mana potions, and provides an additional front line tank alongside your mercenary, revives, and skeletons. If you have opted into using your extra skill points on golem mastery, he should be difficult to kill, and can be easily repositioned with teleport.

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