1.09 Leveling guide (LoD and Classic)

Erayz

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Introduction

Hello everyone, this is Erayz. As you may have seen on this forum, I have made a thread a while back where I give updates on my progress on my unreasonable Diablo II project, in which the goal is to reach level 99 with all classes, in all modes. Meaning all 7 classes in LoD SC, LoD HC, all 5 classes in Classic SC and Classic HC. This means a grand total of 24 characters, or 2376 levels.

1.09 has always been my favorite version, by far, so I stuck to this version since back when it was the live version on Battle.net, so pretty much forever (started Single Player in 2005 IIRC) and have been working on this project off and on ever since. I had a few setbacks (Hard drive crash and lost all my data around 2009), some deaths in HC, some characters whose builds weren’t suited, or found too boring to reach level 99 that I had to remake. Considering all these years and time passed, I have relatively "little" progress, since I also play other games and have other hobbies, plus working a full time job (trying to be a functionnig adult, you know!)

My progress as of the writing of this guide is as follow:
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Information for 1.09 is now very scarce on the internet, and the information you can find about leveling in this patch is mostly "go kill cows in a 8 players game". This is not necessarily suited for Single Player, so I decided I’d try making a guide, based on my personal experience and testing I’ve done over the years. There may be some inaccuracies and some suboptimal strategies, but all of this guide here is to the best of my knowledge about this version.

This guide is built so that both modes (Expansion, Classic) will have their section, in which I give some general guidelines and information, such as the best areas to gain experience, XP gains per monsters depending on your level, etc. This information will not be 100% complete, but should be enough for people like me who are crazy enough to try and go for a similar goal :). For each mode, there is a short section for every class, going through some builds, in order to try and give recommendations. Please note that this guide only covers up to players 8, even though version 1.09b allows up to players 64. Some strategies might differ on higher player settings. I just limit myself to players 8 when playing, because that is the maximum amount of actual players possible in a game.

Last thing, this guide does not cover any leveling below the 80s generally, as anything before that is easily attainable just by going through the game on Hell difficulty.

Expansion (LoD)

In 1.09 Expansion, most of the best areas to gain experience are in late Act 5 Hell, and obviously the famous Cow level is among the best places to gain experience. In no particular order, here are some areas I use when leveling in Expansion:

Leveling Zones

Bloody Foothills

Back when 1.09 was the live version on Battle.net, players loved to do the so-called Blood runs, which consisted of having a full party splitting in two groups. One group starting at the Frigid Highlands’ waypoint, and the other group starting from Harrogath, clearing everything in sight, and meeting at the center of the map, before starting a new run.

This place must have been great for leveling in groups, with a variety of builds working together, but I found it to be not so good in Single Player. Melee builds will struggle because of the Death Maulers who are Physical Immune. Caster builds will struggle killing monsters here on players 8, mostly because the monster packs are rather small, and can’t really be lured easily to make bigger packs, due to how the terrain is. Enslaved are Cold Immune, so it limits options for most Sorcs. Javazons might do alright, but due to the small enemy packs and lots of Physical Immunes, may have trouble keeping their mana pool up.

Another option with Bloody Foothills would be to start from Frigid Highlands’ waypoint, kill Eldritch’s pack and then go down to kill Shenk and all his minion. This makes for a short run giving decent XP.

Abaddon/Pit of Acheron/Infernal Pit

These areas can be fun to do sometimes if you get bored and want some variety. Though it’s not worth doing with casters IMO. Suboptimal at best for melee builds, partly because of the frequent Immune Physical Frenzytaurs. You’d need to have at least some non-physical attack options, such as Vengeance for Paladins, or Berserk on Barbarians. Also those zones are usually far from waypoints and are pretty small.

Crystalline Passage/Glacial Trail/Frozen River/Drifter Cavern

Those places are among the best to level with melee builds. I wouldn’t recommend doing those with casters due to the variety of immunities encountered. Bowazon will do well here as well. These areas are slightly outclassed by Ancients’ Way and Icy Cellar.

Ancients’ Way/Icy Cellar

Same as the previous areas, but monsters here will give more XP per kill. For Paladins and Werewolve Druids, this is the #1 spot for leveling, all the way to 99. What I found to be the fastest XP per hour was to find a map where the waypoint would be close to the Icy Cellar, and kill all uniques/champions packs on the way to the Icy Cellar, and then fully clear the Icy Cellar. IIRC, each run will give around 1.5m to 2m XP.

Zombie Garden (Nihlathak's Temple)

This place is great for most builds, when you want to play a bit when being pressed for time and still make some progress. To have the quickest access to this zone, you must not take the waypoint in the Halls of Pain. Zombie Garden runs are really quick and give about 400k to 600k XP at level 98. I would say this is #2 or #3 for melee builds.

Halls of Anguish/Pain/Vaught

Just like Abaddon, PIt of Acheron and Infernal Pit, those place are suboptimal, but still give decent experience. They are great when you want some variety or are bored with other zones. The difference here, is those zones are huge, making for much longer runs. Monsters packs are relatively scarce in there though.

Worldstone Keep/Throne of Destruction/Baal

Don’t bother with WSK level 1 and 3. Level 2 is where it’s at. On level 3, Death Lords are worth killing if you see them. If you don’t plan on doing Throne and/or Baal, you should stick with level 2. I haven’t ran much of Throne, but IIRC it’s a zone worth clearing out, not 100% sure though. I have a feeling Stygian Furies give low XP due to how frail they are. Baal runs are cool too, but are pretty slow. So it’s another fun thing to do for variety.

I used WSK level 2 similarly to the Zombie Garden, as quick runs when I wanted just a quick D2 session. A full clear of level 2 would take about 2 minutes, and give around 600k-800k XP at level 98. So I’d consider this one of the top spots for Paladins and melee Druids. Really good for Whirlwind Barbarians too.

The Secret Cow Level

This place needs no introduction, Cow runs are what version 1.09 is most often remembered for. This is by far the most popular and overpowered place for leveling all the way to level 99. Lots and lots of monsters, huge packs and open areas, Hell Bovine have no immunities and give great XP. What else do you want? This is the obvious #1 spot for Sorceresses, Amazons, Necromancers, Whirlwind Barbarians and Assassins. Paladins tend to struggle here, unless they have Schaefer’s Hammer. Keep in mind, if you play version 1.09d, Schaefer’s Hammer will be useless because all Chance to Cast are broken in this particular version. At level 98, every full clear will net around 6-7 million XP.

Quick tips for newer players or people coming from D2R: Do not kill the Cow King! This will prevent you from making another portal to the Cow Level. To make a portal, transmute a Tome of Town Portal and Wirt’s leg in the Horadric Cube while you are in Rogue Encampment in Act 1.

Classes

Amazon

Almost any Amazon build will do incredibly well in the CowLevel, so much so that any other zone is not worth doing, as they would give very little XP over time in comparison.

In general, since you’ll spend most of your time in the Cow Level, resistances aren’t as important. You’re better off using physical damage reduction % gear. In HC you’ll still want to have decent Lightning and Cold resist in case of Lightning or Cold Enchanted Cows. But usually you can keep yourself healthy just by shooting/throwing in any general direction to leech life and mana from offscreen cows.

Here are some quick gear recommendations
Helm:
  • Vampire Gaze
  • Harlequin’s Crest (Shako)
  • Tal Rasha’s Crest
Amulet:
  • Cat’s Eye
  • Highlord’s Wrath
Rings:
  • Raven Frost
  • Bul Khatos’ Wedding Band
  • Stone of Jordan
  • Rare ring with leech, resists, Dexterity, Strength
Armor:
  • 1.08 Arkaine’s Valor
  • Shaftstop
  • Lionheart runeword
  • 160/60 of the Whale (good luck!)
Gloves:
  • Rare Gloves with 20% Attack Speed, +2 Bow or Javelin skills, Mana/life Leech, resists, Dexterity
  • Crafted Blood Gloves
  • Laying of Hands
Belt:
  • Thundergod’s Vigor
  • Razortail
  • Nosferatu’s coil
  • String of Ears
Boots:
  • War Travelers
  • Gore Riders:
  • Rare boots with 30% Faster run/walk, 10% Hit recovery, high Lightning/Cold/Fire and Dexterity
Weapon:

  • Buriza-do Kyanon
  • Eaglehorn
  • Windforce if you can find it!
  • Titan’s Revenge Obvious choice for Javazon
Shield:
  • Stormshield
  • Rhyme runeword
Charms:
Any stat you need to complete your build, mostly life/resistance. Javazon will prioritize Lightning skillers. Bowazons don’t get much benefits from skillers, and would rather use a full inventory of poison damage charms, due to how poison works in 1,09 (shortly, the more poison damage sources you have, the more the poison damage stacks in a bugged way)

Amazon Builds:
Bowazon: Guided Arrow is a must, for single targets. In 1.09, if it pierces, it will go back and forth through your target, and for some reason, will even sometimes hit multiple times while going through your target. Multiple shot is really strong if you have a bunch of poison charms, since you can poison lots of foes at the same time. While it seems an unpopular choice, I love to use Freezing Arrow, it deals great damage and is amazing for crowd control as well.

Pierce depends on what bow you use, AKA don’t put any point in Pierce if you pla on using Buriza.

You should level mostly in the Cow Level, though this build does well pretty much anywhere, if only a little fragile, depending on your gear.

Javazon: Lightning Fury all the way. Pierce is a must. On switch, use a Buriza and max Guided Arrow for lightning immunes and bosses/uniques. Spam Lightning Fury in Cow level and you have the fastest level 99 build in all of Diablo 2’s history.

Assassin

In my experience, Death Sentry is a must if you want to reach level 99 in a reasonable time. Phoenix Strike is really weak on players 8 most of the time, because most monster packs through the game are too small. In my opinion, the only real place to level an Assassin is in the Cow Level.

Gear recommendations are as follow:
Helm:
  • Vampire Gaze
  • Tal Rasha’s Crest
Amulet:
  • Highlord’s Wrath
Rings:
  • Raven Frost
  • Bul Khatos’ Wedding Band
  • Stone of Jordan
  • Rare ring with leech, resists, Dexterity, Strength
Armor:
  • 1.08 Arkaine’s Valor
  • Shaftstop
  • Lionheart runeword
Gloves:
  • Crafted Blood Gloves with 20% Attack Speed, Mana Leech, Resists and some stats
  • Laying of Hands
Belt:
  • String of Ears
  • Nosferatu’s coil
  • Thundergod’s Vigor
Boots:
  • War Travelers
  • Gore Riders
  • Rare boots with 30% Faster run/walk, 10% Hit recovery, high Lightning/Cold/Fire and Dexterity
Weapon:

  • Bartuc’s Cut-Throat
Shield:
  • Stormshield
  • Rhyme runeword
Charms:
Any stat you need to complete your build, mostly life/resistance if your resistances are lacking. Traps and Martial Arts skillers are very useful too.

Assassin Builds:
For most Assassin builds I recommend using 2x Bartuc’s, Dragon Claw as your finishing move, and Burst of Speed. If playing HC, you may switch one claw for a shield if you want, preferably Stormshield.

Phoenix Strike/Death Sentry: With this build, the only real option on players 8 is the Cow level. This build is very strong anywhere in the game on players 1, so you’ll have an easy time questing, but Phoenix Strike has pretty low damage for players 8 monsters. This is the build I used, and the rotation I did was as follow: Do 1-2 hits of the 3rd charge to freeze the cows directly surrounding you, then spam the Meteor charges until a few cows die. Then cast Death Sentry and keep spamming Meteors. Rinse and repeat. This makes for really quick runs.

Tiger Strike/Death Sentry: A physical version of the build above. Gives you more options of areas to run to level, but is a lot slower overall due to having no AoE damage. I do not recommend this build.

Blender: A build I read about online, supposedly you have to stack Crushing Blow, and have one source of Freeze Target, such as Iceblink. The build uses Blade Shield as its main attack, it is said that frozen enemies getting hit by a Crushing Blow are instantly killed , shattering in ice. I played around with this build in Hero Editor and could never make it work, not sure what I did wrong.

Barbarian

In 1.09, the Barbarian is one of the strongest class. In part due to the Masteries bug, which makes it so weapons Masteries skills give 100% Deadly Strike. Also, monsters in 1.09 have very low HP compared to later versions. Thanks to Berserk, you can deal substantial non-physical damange to deal with Immune Physical, meaning you can run absolutely anywhere, and quite fast.

Gear recommendations are as follow:
Helm:
  • Areat’s Face
  • Vampire Gaze
Amulet:
  • Cat’s Eye
  • Rare Amulet with Mana Leech, Barbarian skills, all Resists
Rings:
  • Raven Frost
  • Bul Khatos’ Wedding Band
  • Rare ring with leech, resists, Dexterity, Strength
Armor:
  • 1.08 Arkaine’s Valor
  • Shaftstop
  • Lionheart runeword
Gloves:
  • Crafted Blood Gloves with 20% Attack Speed, Mana Leech, Resists and some stats
  • Laying of Hands
Belt:
  • String of Ears
  • Nosferatu’s coil
  • Thundergod’s Vigor
Boots:
  • War Travelers
  • Waterwalk
  • Rare boots with 30% Faster run/walk, 10% Hit recovery, high Lightning/Cold/Fire and Dexterity
Weapon:
  • Grandfather
  • Doombringer
  • Cruel Colossus Blade of Quickness socketed with one Eth and whatever. 2x Shael if not "of Quickness"
  • Fury runeword
  • Silence runeword
  • +3 Warcries on switch
Shield:
  • Stormshield
Charms:
Max Damage/Attack Rating, Life, Resistances. IMO, Skillers are not very useful on a Barbarian.

Barbarian Builds:
Whirlwind: This is the best build for a Barbarian. A must is to have at least one weapon reaching the last attack speed breakpoint. Based on my experience, you’ll also need one of your weapons to be socketed with an Eth rune. Eth rune is bugged in 1.09, multiplying the monsters defense by -25%, instead of reducing their defense by 25%, so you’ll have an automatic 95% chance to hit. Combined with the Masteries bug. Some guides say that using 2x Cruel Colossus Blade (of Quickness, 2x Shael’d) deals more damage than using Grandfather, but based on my experience, I had the best results with Grandfather and a Cruel Colossus Blade, even though everyone says I’m wrong. Grandfather cannot reach the last breakpoint alone. Use Berserk for Physical Immunes, and you’ll never encounter an enemy pack giving you trouble, except Stone Skin / Extra Fast / Mana burn uniques, I hate them.

Frenzy: I never tried this build, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Surely slower than Whirlwind in the cow level, but fantastic everywhere else.

Concentrate: Personally, I love this build, but to reach level 99 with it requires the patience of a saint. Killing one monster at a time can be tedious. Either use a single two-handed sword without a shield to maximize damage, or use a shield for block and resistances.

Druid

The Druid was always one of my favorite classes in this patch. Especially in wolf form, with its super fast attack speed, and high damage and HP. But they lack options when facing monsters who are Immune to Physical.

Gear recommendations are as follow:
Helm:
  • Jalal’s Mane
  • Vampire Gaze
Amulet:
  • Highlord’s Wrath
  • Rare Amulet with Mana Leech, all Resists, Dexterity, Strength
Rings:
  • Raven Frost
  • Bul Khatos’ Wedding Band
  • Rare ring with leech, resists, Dexterity, Strength
Armor:
  • 1.08 Arkaine’s Valor
  • Shaftstop
  • Lionheart runeword
Gloves:
  • Crafted Blood Gloves with 20% Attack Speed, Mana Leech, Resists and some stats
  • Laying of Hands
Belt:
  • String of Ears
  • Nosferatu’s coil
  • Thundergod’s Vigor
Boots:
  • War Travelers
  • Waterwalk
  • Rare boots with 30% Faster run/walk, 10% Hit recovery, high Lightning/Cold/Fire and Dexterity
Weapon:
  • Buriza-Do Kyanon (Yes, it works while shapeshifted and is one of the top weapons!)
  • Immortal King’s Stone Crusher
  • Baranar’s Star
Shield:
  • Stormshield
  • Tiamat’s Rebuke (Weird I know, explained in the build section)
Charms:
Shapeshifting skills, Max Damage/Attack Rating, Life, Resistances.

Druid Builds:
Werewolf: Just the usual, max Werewolf, Lycanthropy, Fury. Put one point in Hunger, as it is very useful when you’re in trouble or when you run out of mana (especially if you do not have a source of Mana leech). As for summons, either Oak Sage for survivability or Heart of Wolverine for extra damage. Carrion Vine can be used too for a tiny bit more survivability, but it tends to die quickly.

As for gearing, if you want really want a way to deal with Physical Immunes, you can use Baranar’s Star, and maybe Tiamat’s Rebuke, if you don’t have Stormshield. Tiamat is pretty bad overall, but gives some elemental damage which can help chip Physical Immunes’ HPs away. However, doing so, you’ll sacrifice a lot of killing power, so I still think the best thing to do overall is to just skip those monsters. People will tell you to use either Rabies or Fire Claws to deal with them, but the elemental damage on both is pitiful at best, especially on players 8. If you can find a nice Buriza, socket it with a Perfect Skull, and you’ll be set, it will still be used as a melee weapon in wolf form, IIRC the range is terrible, but the Freeze Target, high damage and superb attack speed more than make up for this. On switch, I like to use Fleshrender and Lidless wall for transforming, and summoning my pets.

Please note that having too much +skills to Shapeshifting will cause a game crash when transforming.
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I’m not sure if the crash is caused by a total Shapeshifting level, or by the amount of +skills you have. In my case, if I have +13 skills and trasnform, the game will crash.

This build can handle the cow level, but having so many targets for Fury makes it so they regenerate a lot of health in between hits since the targets are chosen semi-randomly. You’re better off leveling anywhere else. I loved doing the Icy Cellar with this build.

Werebear: I’ve never tried this build in the late game personally, I have one in its 50s in HC, but the recommendations are pretty much the same as they are for Werewolf. Exception being that you will use Maul as your main attack, and Shock Wave for crowd control (though I’m not even sure if Shock Wave worth using in Hell difficulty). Obviously leveling with this build will be a lot slower, considering you’ll hit only one enemy at a time. Forget the Cow Level as a Werebear

Elemental: Don’t bother trying to level this to 99. It might be fun to quest with it, but the damage is way too low to handle higher player settings, even with top tier gear. I tested one once in Hero Editor, and while it feels like it would be fun, eveything takes forever to kill. Not to mention the fact you cannot buy mana potions in 1.09. You’d need a lot of Mana After Each Kill, so grind those +30 rings out in 1.07, but you’d sacrifice some very important +skills.

Maybe someone can get very creative and find a way to make it work? Maybe the AoE can be used effectively in the cow level?

Necromancer

By far, the weakest class in 1.09. So much that I won’t go through builds for this class and instead just give general advice. Most of its skills deal too little damage for higher player settings, and most of Hell difficulty is very slow, even on players 1.

Gear recommendations are as follow:
Helm:
  • Harlequin’s Crest (Shako)
Amulet:
  • Mara’s Kaleidoscope
Rings:
  • Bul Khatos’ Wedding Band
  • Stone of Jordan
Armor:
  • Skin of the Vipermagi
Gloves:
  • Frostburns
Belt:
  • Gloom’s Trap
Boots:
  • Silkweave
Weapon:
  • White runeword
  • Blackbog’s Sharp
Shield:
  • Homunculus
  • Lidless Wall
  • Stormshield
Charms:
Poison and Bone Skills, life, resistances

Necromancer Builds:
Questing with this class is one the hardest thing I ever had to do in this game. The only semi-reliable way to kill monsters was to use Blood Golem + Iron Maiden. There is a bug in early version of Diablo 2, where the damage from Iron Maiden counts as "leech" damage from the Blood Golem, making him the best meat shield you can hope for. However, I say it is onlysemi-reliable, because Iron Maiden doesn’t work against ranged attackers, or Immune to Physical monsters. Worst of all, it doesn’t work against the Ancients, who will kill your Blood Golem in an instant. Bosses also tend to one-shot all of your summons. For the rest, I used Poison Nova and Bone Spear. Luckily, the Blood Golem/Iron Maiden combo is AMAZING in the cow level and makes one of the fastest levelers in Expansion. Herd a lot of cows together, summon your Blood Golem in the middle of the pack, spam Iron Maiden and Poison Nova. Once a few cows die, spam Amplify Damage and Corpse Explosion, and everything will die in a few seconds. Use Lower Resistance on unique cows who are Immune to Physical.

You can also use either Bone Spear or Bone Spirit. Both deal low damage, but Bone spear travels faster, and pierces. Bone Spirit is a little stronger, but only hits a single target and is very slow. Up to you!

I’ve read of someone who used Poison Dagger and managed to make it work for questing, and even did so without a single death. This is why you can see Blackbog’s Sharp and Stormshield in the gear recommendations.

Paladin

I’m not sure if I should consider the Paladin strong or weak. WIth the right gear and build, he can be nigh invincible. The Paladin has options for every single situation, meaning you’ll rarely, or never be in trouble even with its relatively small Life pool. But he deals such low damage that everything takes a while to kill in high players settings. This class has very few useful attacking moves in 1.09, pretty much limited to Zeal and Vengeance.

Gear recommendations are as follow:
Helm:
  • Vampire Gaze
Amulet:
  • Highlord’s Wrath
Rings:
  • Rare ring with Life Stolen, all resistances, Attack Rating, Dexterity, Strength
  • Raven Frost
Armor:
  • 1.08 Arkaine’s valor
  • Shaftstop
  • Lionheart Runeword
Gloves:
  • Crafted Blood Gloves with Dexterity and/or Strength, resistances
  • Laying of Hands
Belt:
  • String of Ears
  • Nosferatus’ Coil
  • Thundergod’s Vigor
Boots:
  • Gore Rider
  • War Travelers
Weapon:
  • Schaefer’s Hammer (but not in 1.09d)
  • Cruel Cryptic Sword, socketed with ED%/Max damage jewels
  • Baranar’s Star
Shield:
  • Herald of Zakarum
  • Stormshield
Charms:
Max Damage/Attack Rating, Life, Resistances

Paladin Builds:
There is only one build that I know of with the Paladin in 1.09. Your main attack will be either Zeal or Vengeance. Don’t put more than one point in Zeal, your +skills will allow you to have 5 swings. Your main aura will be either Fanaticism or Conviction. Max Holy Shield for the extra chance to block if you’re going for max block. Have 1 point in Cleansing for the times you want to get rid of a curse and 1 in Redemption to help regenrate mana when facing Mana Burn or Immune to Physical monsters. Vigor is useful when running in between monster packs.

A cool trick you can do in 1.09 is Aura Flashing. When switching auras, it will take a few seconds before the previous aura will lose its effect, while the new aura will be effective instantly for you. So, if you want to deal massive damage, you can combine the effects of Conviction and Fanaticism like so: select Conviction, wait for the monsters to be affected by it, then switch to Fanaticism for the speed/damage/rating boost. You’ll have enough time to do a few Vengeance swings before Conviction disappears. Note that Aura Flashing only works with auras that affect monsters.

Just like the Druid, this build is too slow for the Cow Level, unless you are using Schaefer’s Hammer, which will make quick work of the cows at any player setting, due to the Chance to Cast of Static Field. Otherwise, Act 5 ice caves are a very nice place to level a Paladin up.

Sorceress

A class that needs no introduction, has always been among the strongest classes in Diablo 2 since release. In 1.09, without synergies, most builds use Frozen Orb, along with another skill. But, even if the Sorceress is generally very strong, it is lackluster in most places in high player settings. However, it is one of the fastest and reliable cow killers, at any players settings.

Gear recommendations are as follow
Helm:
  • Harlequin’s Crest (Shako)
Amulet:
  • Mara’s Kaleidoscope
  • Crafted Caster Amulet with 2 Sorceress skills, faster cast rate, all resistances, life, Strength
Rings:
  • Bul-Khatos’ Wedding Band
  • Stone of Jordan
Armor:
  • 1.08 Arkaine’s Valor
  • Skin of the Vipermagi
Gloves:
  • Magefist
  • Frostburns
Belt:
  • Gloom’s Trap
Boots:
  • Silkweave
Weapon:
  • The Oculus
Shield:
  • Lidless Wall
Charms:
Skillers depending on your build, life, resistances

Sorceress Builds:
Since you cannot break immunities in 1.09, all builds listed here use maxed Frozen Orb, level 1 Static Field and some points in Cold Mastery. Cold Mastery works differently in 1.09. I’m not 100% positive, but IIRC, the percentage of enemy resistance reduction is actually calculated as a percentage, instead of being treated like an integer, like most resistances reduction effects. For example, at level 20, Cold Mastery reduces Cold Resist of enemies by 85%. If an enemy has 40% resistance, it will reduce by 85% of 40, which is 34, leaving the enemy with 6% Cold Resist.

Nova: Arguably the fastest class in all of Diablo 2 for Cow running. Obviously, max both Nova and Lightning Mastery. The only downsides I can see to this build are its relatively short range, making it semi-dangerous in Hardcore, and how much mana it consumes. Since you cannot buy mana potions in 1.09, you may want to invest multiple points in Warmth, maybe even max it out, and even put points in Energy. Use Stone of Jordan over Bul-Khatos as your rings for the extra Mana.

Fire Wall: I believe this skill is the single highest damaging skill in 1.09. On my Sorceress, Fire Wall and Fire Mastery are at level 41, and Fire Wall deals 13739-13837 damage per second. There are only two monsters in the game that I know of who can spawn both Cold and Fire Immune: Lord De Seis and Lister the Tormentor. To deal with them, I spam static, then Telekinesis for the short stun while my mercenary stabs them do death. This build is still fantastic in the Cow Level, just herd a big pack of cows, slow them with Frozen Orb, spam a few Static Field, cast a Fire Wall, then lure the cows in a way so they walk along the length of the Fire Wall. In 1.09, the monsters AI is weaker, so they do not try to avoid walking in the wall.

Meteor: Very similar build to Fire Wall. Very high impact damage. Paired with a high level Static Field, most monster packs will go down in 1-2 Meteor. The damage per second is not too shabby, not always reliable for stragglers. Still, it is one of the best builds for the cow level and reaching level 99 will be a breeze. You’ll have to run around more than with FIre Wall, but generally uses less Mana. Some people find it annoying to deal with Frozen Orb and Meteor sharing the same global cooldown.
 
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Classic

Ahhh Classic, my favorite Diablo 2 mode. Even if this mode is not very popular in the Diablo 2 community, and often misunderstood, it still has a strong and tight knit community online. Playing Classic is a whole different thing from Expansion, and is generally far more grindy if you want to reach high levels and obtain top tier gear. I don’t think anyone ever reached level 99 in Single Player Classic. I know there were a few (maybe 2?) level 99s back when patch 1.06 was the live version on Battle.net. Google about the race to 99 between Gerbarb and Rusbarb, it is a very interesting read if you like this kind of stuff.

Differences with Expansion

Here are a list of key differences you’ll experience in Classic, for those who never played it, are curious, or don’t understand the appeal:

No Act V. After Killing Diablo, you go straight to the next difficulty. There’s even a countdown timer that appears when you kill Diablo, forcing you to leave the game when it reaches 0. Having no Act V also means you’ll be much lower level when entering Nightmare and Hell, which brings to the next point. This also means you have no access to Larzuk to add sockets

Lower Monster levels. Most monsters are lower level than their counterparts in Expansion. The way their levels are determined is very simple. In Nightmare, just add +25 to their level from Normal, and in Hell, add another +25 from Nightmare (or +50 from Normal). The highest level regular monsters are level 82 (Urdars), after that, you have a few level 80s, mostly hiding in Chaos Sanctuary. Champions have +2 level compared to regulars, and uniques have +3. Diablo on Hell difficulty is level 90. All this information is important, because monster levels become important in your choices of kills when doing XP runs at high levels.

Only 5 classes. No Assassin or Druid. Simply.

Halved Resistances Penalties from difficulties. In Expansion, your resistance penalties are -40 in Nightmare, and -100 in Hell. In Classic, they are much less harsh, at -20 and -50 respectively. But, And without Act V, you cannot get a Resistances Scroll from Malah. Plus without charms, all your resistances will have to come from your gear, or your skills.

No weapon switching.
You can’t just press W (or whatever key you bound) to switch to your alternate weapons for buffing or killing your immunes. Carry them in your inventory!

No Class specific items. No orbs, pelts, Barbarian helmets, claws, Necromancer totems, Amazon specific bows/javelins/spears and Paladin shields. There are still staves and wands that anyone can wear.

No magic/rare/unique throwing weapons. The best throwing weapons you’ll get are Superior white ones. This is one of the main reasons not to play as a Javazon.

No Elite Items. You’ll never find elite items such as Falcata, Monarch, Balrog Skin, Colossus Blades, etc, as they just don’t exist in Classic.

No Exceptional Set/Uniques. Only normal sets and unique items exist. Which means a lot of your end-game gear will have to come from Exceptional rares. Though some sets and uniques will find their way in your builds until you can replace them with epic rares.

No Ethereal items.

Smaller selection of Affixes for magic and rares.
A lot of the higher level affixes do not exist in Classic. The maximum Enhanced Damage you’ll ever find on a weapon is 200%, and this requires two prefixes (Merciless and King’s). The highest Enhanced Defense is 100%. There are also no sockets affixes. On the upside, a lot of worthless affixes that were added in Expansion are also not present in Classic, meaning you will not get useless stuff such as Chance to Cast level 2 Charged Bolt when struck. But 1.09 seems to have a frustratingly bad way of generating affixes and seems to be strongly biased towards low level affixes. This means you’ll still have a lot of trouble finding good rares, unfortunately.

No Charms. You’ll finally have space in your inventory! This means that even if you can’t have switch weapons, you can still carry them in your inventory directly instead. It also means you’ll be able to pick up more stuff to sell for gold. The only thing I dislike about this, is that it makes for less upgradable slots on your characters. It’s fun in Expansion to always have a chance to upgrade one of your charms. None of that in Classic!

Stash size. Speaking of inventory space. The stash is only half-sized in Classic (6x4) compared to Expansion (6x8). But it is pretty much a non-issue if you use a third party muling software, such as Atma.

No Jewels and Runes. Sockets are already hard to come by in Classic, and the only real options you’ll have are Perfect gems. Rubies, Skulls, Amethysts, Sapphires, Emeralds, Diamonds, Topazes are all you’ll get. Obviously, this means there are no runewords.

Socketing items. Like I said previously, you cannot access Harrogath, so there is no way to socket your items with Larzuk, nor it is possible to get sockets affixes natively on magic and rare items. However, you can still use the Horadric Cube formula to add a single socket to a rare item. You’ll need 3 Perfect Skulls, a Stone of Jordan (yes, really), and your rare item. Due to the cost of this formula, reserve this to the very best of the best rare items you’ll ever find. Or do like me, and farm Stone of Jordans in 1.05b, abusing the 3% chance of gambling a unique ring with the generation rules for unique items in this patch. That’s right. in the pre-Expansion versions of Diablo II (1.00 to 1.06b), the first unique ring you’ll find will always be Nagelring. If you have a Nagelring, whether in your inventory, on your character or in your stash, or even if it already spawned in the current game, the next unique ring will always be Manald Heal. This means the third unique ring will always be a Stone of Jordan. Just keep Nagelring and Manald Heal in your stash, stash a lot of gold and gamble rings! Be wary that in those versions, the gambling screen does not always have rings like it does in later versions. Also, to reset the gambling screen, you’ll have to get out of town. The best way I found is to make a Cow Level portal right next to Gheed.

No sockets in Body Armors. No body armors will spawn with open sockets. The only way to have a socket in an armor is to use the formula described above.

Chance of Blocking. In Classic, Dexterity and character level do not impact your chance of Blocking. What you see on your shield is what you get. So if your shield says 50% chance of Blocking, you’ll have 50%. This is nice, because in general, you’ll have much better block chance than in Expansion. As always, you cannot block while running.

Mercenaries and summons don’t persist between acts. You cannot carry your trusty mercenary with you through the different acts. On top of that, you cannot gear them. Many people say they are completely useless because of that, but I found a few niche uses while questing. Same for summons with the Necromancer, they’ll die a lot anyway, so it’s no big deal having to re-summon them IMO. This also applies to the Iron Golem, so don’t waste valuable weapons on him!

Whirlwind’s attack speed. Whirlwind’s attack speed is always the same, regardless of weapon you use and is at the fastest speed possible. Use a big Martel De Fer, a Lance, or whatever high damage Two handed weapon and whirl away!

Static Field is uncapped. This means you can use Static Field until monsters have only a sliver of HP left, even on Hell difficulty. This makes it an even stronger spell than in Expansion, and helps immensely in a lot of situations.

Champion monsters. There are no Possessed, Ghostly, Berserker, Fanatic monsters in Classic in Champions monster packs. Only Champions.

Monster global physical resistance: Monsters in Classic on Hell difficulty don’t get 50% Physical resistance like they do in Expansion. This means you’ll need to deal a lot less damage to be effective with melee classes. It also means Stone Skin unique monsters are not automatically Immune to Physical.

Leveling zones

Having no Act V, and monsters being lower level than Epxansion, this leaves Classic with very few viable zones to run for leveling. The only zones are the Cow Level, River of Flame and Chaos Sanctuary. At higher levels, you’ll encounter problems that are non-existant in Expansion, where the zones you run don’t matter as much as the monsters you kill based on your level.

Monster Experience

Every monster have a base experience yield. The amount of experience you gain compared to that base experience depends on the difference between your character level (clvl) and the monster level (mlvl). Here is a explanation of the different penalties.
  • Base Experience from monsters in Classic is 10/26 of their Base Experience in Expansion (which can be found in monstat.txt file)
  • I’m not sure how XP is calculated when clvl is below mlvl. I didn’t do enough testing/research to understand it well.
  • If your clvl is more than 5 levels higher than the mlvl, then for each additionnal level difference, you gain 19% less experience from the base. This works until a total of 95% penalty.
    • Example: A Venom Lord on Hell difficulty in Classic has a base XP of 13055, and is mlvl 80. From levels 75-85, you’ll gain full XP from them. At level 86, you add a 19% penalty, another 19% from the base at level 87 and so on, until the penalty is a total of 95%, at which point you reached the minimum experience from the monster.
  • On top of that, there are hardcoded penalties based on your clvl
    • clvl 76-80 = 1/2 penalty (50%)
    • clvl 81-85 = 2/3 penalty (66%)
    • clvl 86-90 = 3/4 penalty (75%)
    • clvl 91-98 = 4/5 penalty (80%)
  • When all maximum penalties are applied, you gain only 1.25% of the base XP from a monster
  • For Champions, multiply the result by 3
  • For Uniques, multiply the result by 5

Players X setting XP multiplier​

Each player settings modify the XP multiplier. Here is the table:
Player settingMultiplier
11
21.75
32.5
43.25
53.75
64
74.25
8-94.5
104.55
647.25
Each player setting from players 10 onwards only adds 0.05 to the multiplier.

Experience table​

For your convenience, here is an experience table for all monsters in the Cow Level, River of Flame and Chaos Sanctuary, starting at clvl 85, all the way to 98. Some explanations are provided below the table.
Monster
mlvl
Area
clvl 85
clvl 86
clvl 87
clvl 88
clvl 89
clvl 90
clvl 91
clvl 92
clvl 93
clvl 94
clvl 95
clvl 96
clvl 97
clvl 98
Blood Maggot​
77​
River of Flame​
7619​
3189​
664
664
664
664
531
531
531
531
531
531
531
531
Blood Maggot
79​
River of Flame​
43060​
24719​
17144​
9568​
1993
1993
1594
1594
1594
1594
1594
1594
1594
1594
Blood Maggot
80​
River of Flame​
88600​
53824​
41199​
28573​
15948​
3322​
2658
2658
2658
2658
2658
2658
2658
2658
Urdar​
82​
River of Flame​
17386​
13039​
13039​
10561​
8084​
5606​
2503​
521
521
521
521
521
521
521
Urdar
84​
River of Flame​
52158​
39118​
39118​
39118​
39118​
31686​
19402​
13456​
7510​
1564
1564
1564
1564
1564
Urdar
85​
River of Flame​
86660​
65197​
65197​
65197​
65197​
65197​
42247​
32338​
22428​
12517​
2607
2607
2607
2607
Grotesque​
80​
River of Flame​
21636​
13144​
10061​
6977​
3894​
811
649
649
649
649
649
649
649
649
Grotesque
82​
River of Flame​
64910​
48683​
48682​
39432​
30183​
20933​
9347​
1947
1947
1947
1947
1947
1947
1947
Grotesque
83​
River of Flame​
108183​
81137​
81137​
81137​
65721​
50305​
27911​
15578​
3245
3245
3245
3245
3245
3245
Maw Fiend​
80​
River of Flame​
21016​
12767​
9772​
6777​
3782​
788
630
630
630
630
630
630
630
630
Maw Fiend
82​
River of Flame​
63048​
47286​
47286​
38301​
29317​
20333​
9078​
1891
1891
1891
1891
1891
1891
1891
Maw Fiend
83​
River of Flame​
105080​
78810​
78810​
78810​
63836​
48862​
27110​
15131​
3152
3152
3152
3152
3152
3152
Abyss Knight​
77​
River of Flame​
7270​
3043​
634
634
634
634
507
507
507
507
507
507
507
507
Abyss Knight
79​
River of Flame​
41087​
23587​
16358​
9130​
1902
1902
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
Abyss Knight
80​
River of Flame​
84542​
51359​
39311​
27264​
15217​
3170
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
Pit Lord​
77​
River of Flame​
8420​
3524​
734
734
734
734
587
587
587
587
587
587
587
587
Pit Lord
79​
River of Flame​
47586​
27318​
18946​
10574​
2203
2203
1762
1762
1762
1762
1762
1762
1762
1762
Pit Lord
80​
River of Flame​
97915​
59483​
45530​
31577​
17624​
3671
2937
2937
2937
2937
2937
2937
2937
2937
Strangler​
77​
River of Flame​
7209​
3017​
628
628
628
628
502
502
502
502
502
502
502
502
Strangler
79​
River of Flame​
40739​
23387​
16220​
9053​
1886
1886
1508
1508
1506
1506
1506
1506
1506
1506
Strangler
80​
River of Flame​
83826​
50924​
38979​
27034​
15088​
3143
2514
2514
2514
2514
2514
2514
2514
2514
Hell Bovine​
78​
Cow Level​
11845​
6161​
3438​
716
716
716
573
573
573
573
573
573
573
573
Hell Bovine
80​
Cow Level​
57316​
34819​
26652​
18484​
10316​
2149
1719
1719
1719
1719
1719
1719
1719
1719
Hell Bovine
81​
Cow Level​
95526​
71645​
58032​
44420​
30807​
17194​
2865
2865
2865
2865
2865
2865
2865
2865
Oblivion Knight​
80​
Chaos Sanctuary​
16908​
10271​
7862​
5452​
3043​
634
507
507
507
507
507
507
507
507
Oblivion Knight
82​
Chaos Sanctuary​
50725​
38043​
35043​
30815​
23587​
16358​
7304​
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
Oblivion Knight
83​
Chaos Sanctuary​
84541​
63406​
63406​
63406​
51359​
39311​
21811​
12174​
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
Doom Knight​
74​
Chaos Sanctuary​
845
634
634
634
634
634
507
507
507
507
507
507
507
507
Doom Knight
76​
Chaos Sanctuary​
12174​
1902
1902
1902
1902
1902
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
1521
Doom Knight
77​
Chaos Sanctuary​
36353​
15217​
3170
3170
3170
3170
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
Venom Lord​
80​
Chaos Sanctuary​
19583​
11896​
9106​
6315​
3524​
734
587
587
587
587
587
587
587
587
Venom Lord
82​
Chaos Sanctuary​
58749​
44061​
44061​
35060​
27318​
18946​
8459​
1762
1762
1762
1762
1762
1762
1762
Venom Lord
83​
Chaos Sanctuary​
97915​
73436​
73436​
73436​
59483​
45530​
25262​
14099​
2937
2937
2937
2937
2937
2937
Storm Caster​
80​
Chaos Sanctuary​
16765​
10184​
7795​
5406​
3018​
628
502
502
502
502
502
502
502
502
Storm Caster
82​
Chaos Sanctuary​
50296​
37722​
37722​
30554​
23387​
16220​
7242​
1508
1508
1508
1508
1508
1508
1508
Storm Caster
83​
Chaos Sanctuary​
83826​
62870​
62870​
62870​
50924​
38979​
21627​
12071​
2514
2514
2514
2514
2514
2514
Grand Vizier of Chaos
83​
Chaos Sanctuary​
83826​
62870​
62870​
62870​
50924​
38979​
21627​
12071​
2514
2514
2514
2514
2514
2514
Infector of Souls
83​
Chaos Sanctuary​
97915​
73436​
73436​
73436​
59483​
45530​
25262​
14099​
2937
2937
2937
2937
2937
2937
Lord De Seis
83​
Chaos Sanctuary​
84541​
63406​
63406​
63406​
51359​
39311​
21811​
12174​
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
2536
Hephasto
78​
River of Flame​
156211​
81254​
45351​
9448
9448
9448
7558
7558
7558
7558
7558
7558
7558
7558
Diablo
90​
Chaos Sanctuary​
321004​
243585​
246418​
249251​
252082​
254915​
203932​
203932​
203932​
203932​
203932​
165185​
126437​
87690​
  • Names in blue are Champions. Names in gold are uniques/superuniques/bosses
  • Champions and Uniques Pit Lords and Doom Knights don’t spawn naturally, you’d need a Monster Shrine to get them. Pit Lords become Venom Lords when a unique or champion pack spawns in River of Flame.
  • All numbers are on players 8 setting. Divide by 4.5 to get players 1 numbers
  • You can see a sharp drop in experience starting at clvl86, and another one at clvl91. This is due to the global penalties applied when reaching those levels.
  • Numbers in bold red are the point where monsters give only 5% of their base XP
  • Numbers are sometimes off by 1 or 2 compared to in-game. This is due to rounding being different in the calculator I made for myself vs what actually is calculated in game.
  • To calculate Hephasto’s XP, you have to multiply his base XP by 5, like other Unique monsters. The numbers in the table are correct.
  • Values for Diablo below clvl 90 were done by actually killing Diablo and calculating the before/after XP. I couldn't figure out the formula for these level. It seems there's a roughly 1.25% XP penalty per level below Diablo's level. I don't know if this is the case for every monster, or only against bosses, but the 1.25% was a bit off, too.
 
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Leveling Strategies in Classic

General

Before clvl 86
Before you reach clvl 86 and harsh penalties start really slowing down your leveling, you can pretty much run anything you want. Doom Knights will already reach their minimum XP at level 84, so you should skip them if you can. They tend to be hard to avoid because they’ll group with other monsters that you actually want to kill.

clvl 86-89
More monsters will start giving their minimum XP, meaning you’ll want to avoid more monsters at this point and maybe save and exit if the wrong monsters spawn in the River of Flame, or simply go straight to Chaos Sanctuary.
Starting at clvl 87, the Cow Level stops being worth running, as cows will only give 3438 XP each. Blood Maggots, Pit Lords, Stanglers and Abyss Knights also reach their minimum XP at this clvl.
At clvl 88, cows and Hephasto reach their minimum XP.

clvl 90
Clvl 90 is where leveling starts slowing down a lot (as if it wasn’t slow enough already!). All level 80 monsters now give only 5% of their base XP. Level 80s include Grotesque, Maw Fiends, Storm Casters, Venom Lords and Oblivion Knights. Urdars are level 82 so you should still kill them on your way.

The basic strategy here is to just go straight to Chaos Sanctuary, killing Champions and Unique packs on the way, kill the seal bosses and Diablo. A variant of this strategy is to run on players 1, and switching to players 8 only as you spawn seal bosses and Diablo.

I think the theoretically fastest way to gain XP at this particular level would be to find a seed where a unique Urdar pack spawns near a waypoint (starting either from City of the Damned, or River of Flame), and kill this pack repeatedly.

clvl 91+
After the final clvl penalty, you can still use the same strategy from clvl 90, up to clvl 92.
At clvl 93-94, only Unique Urdars and Diablo will not give their minimum XP. Though the Urdars give such little XP you’re better off using the final leveling strategy, explained below.

Final leveling strategy
Once every type of monsters give so little XP that nothing is worth killing, the best way remaining to gain XP consists of running through Chaos Sanctuary at players 1, skipping every monster, killing only seal bosses, and switching to players 8 only before spawning and killing Diablo. Once Diablo is spawned (or just before dealing the killing blow), make a TP, and go to Act 1 and find an Experience Shrine, then come back and kill Diablo.

From level 98 with this strategy, if you use an Experience Shrine on every run, you’ll need around 2200 runs to reach 99. A run like this should typically take around 5-10 minutes depending on the class.

Class-specific

For more information about what gear you should be aiming for in Classic, check out the section called Gearing in Classic.

Amazon
If your goal is to actually reach level 99, you must use Guided arrow, as this will be your fastest Diablo killer. Your secondary skill should either be Multiple Shot or Strafe, so you can run through Chaos Sanctuary on players 1 while quickly getting rid of large groups of monsters. Another good option is to use Freezing Arrow, which will speed up leveling in the earlier levels before 91. A level one Valkyrie is also very useful as a meat shield so you don’t get surrounded and can keep a distance.

Get as much vitality as you need to feel safe. Everything else should be put in Dexterity, otherwise your damage will be very low, even with a godly rare Gothic Bow.

Barbarian
Just Whirlwind with a mace. Be wary of Oblivion Knights, as they can (and will!) cast Iron Maiden on you. When they do, just run or jump close to an Oblivion Knight, as this makes their AI want to get away from you, and as such they will cast Decepify to slow you down, but also removing Iron Maiden. You should have a Mana Leech source. Also, Storm Casters will sometimes burn through your Mana with their homing missile. For this reason, I recommend you carry some Mana potions for cases where you’re stuck in a pack with no Mana.

As for stats, if you want to kill fast, pump your strength, but high damage and low health will make you particularly vulnerable to Iron Maiden. Otherwise, just put enough strength in order to wear a Martel de Fer (169 Strength), or Ornate Plate (170 Strength). If you want to be on the safer side, opt for Bonesnap (69 Strength) and put everything else in Vitality. This way, you’ll be mostly safe even if you get cursed with Iron Maiden in the middle of a Whirlwind.

Don’t be afraid to Save and Exit if you get Iron Maiden during a Whirlwind and think you will die as it ends. It’s much better missing out on a single run’s XP than losing a dozen hours worth.

When running River of Flame, avoid Blood Maggots like the plague, they’ll slow you down by wasting your time killing endless hordes of young maggots.

Necromancer
Necromancers in 1.09 are, in my opinion, stronger in Classic than they are in Expansion. The main reasons being that monsters don’t get the auto 50% Physical Resistance on Hell, which makes Corpse Explosion a must. However, its damage does not scale with players X setting, and most other Necromancer spells deal so little damage that I could never find a good build for running Chaos Sanctuary or Diablo on players 8 reliably. The Necromancer might be the only class which is better off running the Cow Level until level 99. For reference, a Cow Level run at level 98 on players 8 would give around 20 000 XP.

If someone knows of a Necromancer build that would make it viable to run Diablo, please let me know!

Paladin
IMO, the Paladin is the worst class in Classic 1.09. Blessed Hammer does not benefit from Concentration, and Zeal giving no damage bonus will lead you with very few build options. The Paladin will get overwhelmed in the Cow Level making this zone pretty much impossible to run. Elsewhere, monster packs tend to get rather large quickly in Chaos Sanctuary and River of Flame, meaning you’ll often get swarmed by monsters and will need to retreat a lot to isolate them little by little. This makes Vengeance very difficult to use. Therefore, the only semi-viable skill is Zeal. The only way to deal decent damage is to use a rare Rune Sword, Ancient Sword or Naga with very high Enhanced Damage % and pump a lot of Strength. This leads to the next problem: the Paladin only gains 2 Life per level up, and 3 from each point in Vitality, and has no access to Battle Orders in Single Player. So, if you pump Strength to increase damage, you’ll sacrifice a lot of survivability that you will need to compensate by wearing a high Defense armor and invest in Holy Shield to further increase your Defense and chance of blocking. You will need a source of Crushing Blow to help (Goblin Toe). Reset if you encounter Blood Maggots or Grotesque, as they will slow you down too much by spawning their younglings.

An other option, if you can deal with the knockback from the gloves, is to use Cleglaw’s set, for the 50% Deadly Strike, 35% Crushing Blow and the Max Damage based on level.

Sorceress
As always, the Sorceress is great at running the Cow Level. Not as good for running Chaos Sanctuary and River of Flame at players 8, because of all the immunities around. Must haves skills are Frozen Orb, Static Field and Teleport. Thanks to having an uncapped Static Field in Classic, The Sorceress can make quick work of Diablo, on any players X setting. This combined with teleport, you could start using the Final leveling strategy once you get to level 88 (when Hell Bovine give their minimum XP).

Gearing in Classic

Due to all the item generation restrictions in Classic, the best possible end game gear are rare items, but since good rare items almost never drop, you will have to use some uniques and sets until you can replace them.

The best affixes on rare items for each slot are in the tables below, keep in mind you can only get up to 6 affixes on a rare item, and of those 6, no more than 3 prefixes and 3 suffixes:

Amulet

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
X to all skills (Class-specific)*2Prefix
All Resistances20Prefix
Single Resistance40Prefix
Mana60Prefix
Faster Cast Rate10%Suffix
Dexterity20Suffix
Strength20Suffix
Energy20Suffix
Life60Suffix
Mana Stolen6%Suffix
Magic Find25%Suffix
Half Freeze DurationSuffix
Poison Length Reduce75%Suffix
*Note that +2 skills on amulets is a level 90 prefix. Meaning that the only possible sources of +2 skills amulets are Hell Diablo, gambling with a clvl 86+ character, or using the 6 Perfect Skulls + rare item formula in 1.00 to 1.06b

Ring

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
Attack Rating120Prefix
Single Resistance30Prefix
Mana60Prefix
Mana after Each Kill1Prefix
Faster Cast Rate10Suffix
Dexterity15Suffix
Strength15Suffix
Energy15Suffix
Life40Suffix
Life Stolen*6%Suffix
Magic Find15%Suffix
Half Freeze DurationSuffix
*I believe 1.07, 1.08 and 1.09 are the only patches where Mana leech does not appear on rings. So if you want a Dual leech ring in 1.09, you'll have to find it in pre-lod patches (1.00 to 1.06b)

Bow

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
Enhanced Damage100%Prefix
Attack Rating150Prefix
Attack Rating / Enhanced Damage150/100%Prefix
+X Amazon Skills2Prefix
Single Resistance30Prefix
Mana20Prefix
Mana after Each Kill1Prefix
Increased Attack Speed20%Suffix
Maximum Damage20Suffix
Minimum Damage14Suffix
Life Stolen5%Suffix
Mana Stolen5%Suffix
Dexterity20Suffix
Cold Damage4-15Suffix
Requirements reduction-30%Suffix

Weapon

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
Enhanced Damage100%Prefix
Attack Rating150Prefix
Attack Rating / Enhanced Damage150/100%Prefix
+X Barbarian / Paladin Skills2Prefix
Single Resistance30Prefix
Mana20Prefix
Mana after Each Kill1Prefix
Increased Attack Speed20%Suffix
Maximum Damage20Suffix
Minimum Damage14Suffix
Life Stolen7%Suffix
Mana Stolen7%Suffix
Strength9 (Sword/Axe)
15 (mace)
20 (Club/Hammer)
Suffix
Cold Damage4-15Suffix
Requirements reduction-30%Suffix

Shield

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
Enhanced Defense100%Prefix
All Resistances20Prefix
Single Resistance30Prefix
+X Paladin Skills2Prefix
Damage to ManaPrefix
Block speed / chance30 / 20Suffix
Faster Hit Recovery17%Suffix
Strength9Suffix
Half Freeze DurationSuffix
Poison Length75%Suffix
Requirements reduction-30%Suffix

Armor

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
Enhanced Defense100%Prefix
Single Resistance30Prefix
Mana40Prefix
Faster Hit Recovery24%Suffix
Life60Suffix
Strength15Suffix
Dexterity9Suffix
Half Freeze DurationSuffix
Poison Length Reduction75%Suffix
Requirements reduction-30%Suffix

Helm

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
Enhanced Defense100%Prefix
Single Resistance30Prefix
Faster Hit Recovery10%Suffix
Life40Suffix
Energy10Suffix

Gloves

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
Enhanced Defense100%Prefix
Single Resistance30Prefix
Mana40Prefix
Attack Rating20Prefix
Increased Attack Speed10%Suffix
Life Stolen3%Suffix
Mana Stolen3%Suffix
Dexterity15Suffix
Strength9Suffix
Magic Find25%Suffix
Half Freeze DurationSuffix

Belt

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
Enhanced Defense100%Prefix
Single Resistance30Prefix
Mana20Prefix
Faster Hit Recovery24%Suffix
Life60Suffix
Strength20Suffix

Boots

ModiferMax. ValuePrefix/Suffix
Enhanced Defense100%Prefix
Single Resistance40Prefix
Mana40Prefix
Faster run/walk30%Suffix
Faster Hit Recovery10%Suffix
Life60Suffix
Dexterity9Suffix
Magic Find25%Suffix
Half Freeze DurationSuffix

Other gear options

For people who are like me and are unlucky with their rare item drops, there are still a bunch of other useful items that can be used in normal Uniques and Sets. Here is a non-exhaustive list of recommendations.

Sets

  • Iratha’s set is very useful in order to get good resistances in Hell difficulty. It also gives other good bonuses, such as 20% faster run/walk and 15 Dexterity
  • I like to use Sigon’s Helm along with its belt or gloves on melee classes. Sigon’s helm helps a lot with Attack Rating. The 2 pieces set bonus (10% Life Stolen) is also very helpful.
  • Some caster classes like to use Sigon’s Shield for the +1 to all Skills
  • Some Zeal Paladins like to use Cleglaw’s full set for the Deadly Strike, Crushing Blow and max. damage on level.

Uniques

  • Spectral Shard is great for casters with 50% Faster Cast Rate and +10 All Resistances
  • Bonesnap will be the best Whirlwind Barbarian’s weapon until you can find a 150%+ Enhanced Damage Martel. Crushing Blow and two good resistances makes it a very good weapon.
  • Gravenspine is great as a base wand for Necromancers until you find a good rare
  • Gull dagger for Magic Find
  • Tarnhelm for +1 skill and Magic Find
  • Wormskull for Necromancers
  • Twitchthroe is good for anyone, 20% Attack Speed, 20% Faster Hit Recovery, 25% Chance of Blocking, 10 Strength and 10 Dexterity. The only down side is the very low defense.
  • Goldskin is good for the +35 All Resistances
  • Silks of the Victor for +1 All Skills
  • Frostburns for casters
  • Magefist for the Faster Cast Rate
  • Chance Guards for the Magic Find
  • The Ward is nice for a good base shield with up to 50 All Resistances and decent blocking
  • Wall of the Eyeless for Sorceresses who want to reach 105% Faster Cast Rate breakpoint.
  • Goldwrap for the Magic Find
  • Nightsmoke is alright for the +10 All Resistances and 50% Damage to Mana, but is easily outclassed by rare belts
  • Goblin toe is a must for killing Diablo and bulkier monsters on players 8 thanks to its 25% Crushing Blow
  • Hotspur for the nice Fire Resist and max Fire resist
  • Nagelring for up to 30% Magic Find
  • Manald Heal for being the only ring with Mana Stolen in 1.09. If you want Mana Stolen on a rare ring, you’ll have to farm in pre-Lod patches (1.00 to 1.06b)
  • Stone of Jordan for the +1 All Skills

Others

  • A 3 Perfect Diamond Socketed Tower Shield is a great way to help your resistances while still having good blocking.
  • Some people like to use 6 Perfect Emerald Socketed bows, maybe as a way to prevent healing, or killing immunes? This would only be somewhat effective on low players settings I think.

Socketing

Socketing rare items is a very late end-game activity. Generally, you’ll want to socket Helms and Armors with a Perfect Ruby, Weapons with a Perfect Amethyst if you need the extra Attack Rating (not recommended at very high levels), Perfect Skull if you need extra Mana / Life Stolen, or a Perfect Sapphire to slow enemies briefly. In shields, you’ll want to use Perfect Diamonds[/spoiler]

Edit: Added more information
 
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Wow this is amazing @Erayz. Thanks for putting this all together. I'm gonna have to sit down and process all of this when I get a chance.

On another note, I spoke to @Manny a few times to increase the character limit on each post due to some long posts I wrote or was editing from before. We didn't think someone was gonna hit that limit again on a single post, but congratulations, I think you are the first to hit it (giving you broke it down to multiple posts haha). Although making multiple posts in this case is ok.
 
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Indeed this is a plethora of information! My only suggestion from a glance is to hide various tables and such in spoilers, as it's so much it can be hard to navigate.
 
@fearedbliss Yeah indeed, I encountered the character limit twice with this post haha. So the first post is for Expansion, the second one is the beginning of Classic (differences from Expansion, experience penalties, monsters XP and such). The last post is mostly about the strategies that can be used to level up, and what kind of gear you can use to do so in Classic.

I wrote the guide in a way so that people who don't know much about Classic can find most of the information they need in one spot. I'm not a very good writer though, and English isn't my first language, so there many spots where my explanations could be improved, or shortened. I could use some advice for the formatting, too.

@galaxyhaxz You're right. I'll try to put stuff in spoilers. I wonder if I could take it further and put most of the information behind spoilers, so readers can open just the sections they need?

Edit: There, I put most of the larger sections in spoilers where I thought it makes sense. It should be a bit easier to read now.
 
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This is sick! Thanks so much for this wonderful leveling guide, @Erayz! 🥳

I don't have much time right now, but from what I can see, this is very well written and thorough. And I wouldn't have guessed that English isn't you first language!

Bravo, my friend. 🙌
 
Yea same, I wouldn't have guessed it wasn't your first language either @Erayz. At least this gave you some good practice :ROFLMAO:.
 
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