Information, tips and strategies about how to build a starter Paladin on a budget with the goal of finishing Normal difficulty as quickly and easily as possible.
Of all the starting characters, the Paladin is one of the sturdiest, mostly due to having a special class of shields exclusive to their vocation (shields that tend to come with high Block Chance and Resistances, we might add). It also doesn’t hurt that the Paladin matures into two of the most useful, popular builds in the game, the Hammerdin and the Smiteadin. In the case of the Hammeradin, it’s a great class for clearing out areas, while the Smiteadin is one of - if not the - best builds to take down Ubers with.
But that’s a matter for later. The Smiter is a bit too specialized for general PvM, being more a single-target warrior with little in the way of crowd control, while the Hammeradin doesn’t gain access to its core skill - Blessed Hammer - until Lv18, and arguably doesn’t become a proficient killer until a bit later on. In the meantime, we’ve got Auradins, a variety of Paladin that relies on one of three aura - Holy Fire, Holy Freeze and Holy Shock - to dispatch enemies. Since you don’t gain access to Holy Freeze until Lv18 and Holy Shock until Lv24, we’ll settle on using Holy Fire as our beginner build.
The Fire Auradin does flame out earlier than other starter builds (pun definitely intended), starting to show wear as soon as Act 4 Normal. Still, it’ll get you to the mid-20s easily enough, at which point you can respec to Hammeradin for the rest of your career… or long enough to reach the end of Hell difficulty, if you would rather have a Smiter.
Fire Auradin - Skills
A very simple build, you’ve got two goals: get a point into Zeal so you can whack enemies in the head with some sort of weapon or another (which is mostly a means by which to transmit fire damage via Holy Fire) and drop most of the Skill Points you earn into Holy Fire. You’ll need to grab Sacrifice to unlock Zeal (Lv12), and while you wait for Holy Fire to unlock at Lv6, you might as well dump points into Resist Fire, which is one of Holy Fire’s few synergies.
That’s it. That’s the build. Keep Holy Fire active and whack enemies with Zeal. When this stops working, respec.
Fire Auradin Suggested Skills
|Sacrifice||1||Prereq for Zeal. You never need to actually use this skill.|
|Zeal||1+||Multi-hit attack. If you feel like you need more hits, invest a few more points. Max 5 hits at SLv4, which should be the most you invest.|
|Resist Fire||5+||Synergy for Holy Fire. Boost when you can’t put points into Holy Fire.|
|Might||1||Prereq for Holy Fire.|
|Holy Fire||20||Primary damage-dealer, adds fire damage to weapon attacks and as a passive AoE.|
Fire Auradin Level-by-Level Skills
|4 - 5||Resist Fire (2)|
|Den of Evil||Resist Fire (3)|
|6 - 11||Holy Fire (6)|
|13 - 18||Holy Fire (12)|
|Radament’s Lair||Resist Fire (4)|
|The Fallen Angel||Resist Fire|
Fire Auradin - Stats
Get Strength high enough to wear any gear you want. For the Fire Auradin, these standards are incredibly low, as Zeal doesn’t use much Mana and Holy Fire consumes nothing, so the normal desire to stack Tir runes in socketed gear isn’t a concern. A Steel Flail (Tir + El) might prove desirable, which requires 41 Strength and 35 Dexterity, but you could just as easily go with a Leaf staff (Tir + Ral) and avoid any Strength/Dexterity requirements. The Fire Auradin is in the enviable position of really not needing to worry that much about stats at all - get 40 Strength to be safe, dump the rest into Vitality, and invest more into Strength/Dexterity depending on drops. If your Attack Rating starts making it difficult to hit enemies, spend some points into Dexterity, but honestly, by the time this becomes an issue you may be wanting to respec anyways.
Fire Auradin Level-by-Level Stats
|2 - 4||Strength +15 (40)|
|Lam Esen’s Tome||Vitality +5 (100+)|
Fire Auradin - Gear
The Fire Auradin has little concern for Mana (+2 - +4 Mana/kill should be more than sufficient to power Zeal), so all you really need to worry about is survivability (+Life/Vitality/Resistances) and hitting enemies fast and often (+Attack Speed/Attack Rating/Dexterity). Just using the magical and rare items that drop should suffice, but you can also make use of some cheap, early-game runewords, like a Steel (Tir + El) weapon, a Leaf (Tir + Ral) staff and Stealth (Tal + Eth) armor.
For the Steel runeword you just need a one-handed axe, mace or sword with exactly two sockets. The only property that really matters for the Fire Auradin is attack speed, as Holy Fire will account for your damage, so grab something fast like a scimitar or flail. You must be Lv13 to equip it.
Steel Runeword (Tir + El)
- +25% Increased Attack Speed
- +20% Enhanced Damage
- +3 to Minimum Damage
- +3 to Maximum Damage
- +50 to Attack Rating
- 50% Chance Of Open Wounds
- +2 to Mana After Each Kill
- +1 to Light Radius
Despite being Sorceress-focused, Holy Fire counts as a “Fire Skill” and will suitably get a boost from this weapon. To craft it you’ll need any 2-socket staff (must be exactly 2-sockets) and the Tir and Ral runes - both of which are easily farmed from the Countess in Act 1. You must be Lv19 to equip it.
Leaf Runeword (Tir + Ral)
- Adds 5-30 Fire Damage
- +3 to Fire Skills
- +3 to Fire Bolt (Sorceress Only)
- +3 to Inferno (Sorceress Only)
- +3 to Warmth (Sorceress Only)
- +2 Mana After Each Kill
- +2-198 to Defense (Based on Character Level)
- Cold Resist +33%
Stealth isn’t great for the Fire Auradin in particular, but it does have numerous mods that are just useful in general, and you probably aren’t going to find anything better. Plus, if you plan to switch to a Hammeradin at some point, Stealth will probably be the best armor you have until you get Skin of the Vipermagi You need any 2-socket body armor to serve as the base. You must be Lv17 to equip it.
Stealth Runeword (Tal + Eth)
- +25% Faster Run/Walk
- +25% Faster Cast Rate
- +25% Faster Hit Recovery
- +6 to Dexterity
- Regenerate Mana 15%
- +15 To Maximum Stamina
- Poison Resist +30%
- Magic Damage Reduced By 3
Fire Auradin Gear
|Weapon||Leaf runeword (Tir + Ral, staves only) - Steel runeword (Tir + El, one-handed axes, maces and swords only)|
|Armor||Stealth runeword (Tal + Eth)|
|Shield||none (with Leaf) - any (with Steel)|
|Boots||+Faster Run/Walk boots|
- Play normally until you reach the Black Marsh.
- Find the Forgotten Tower and kill the Countess repeatedly - she’ll frequently drop runes. You want Tir/Ral/Tal/Eth/El. Optional, but the runewords you can make from this are pretty handy.
- Purchase or find 2-socket armor, 2-socket one-handed axes, maces or swords (ideally a scimitar or flail for the attack speed), or a 2-socket staff. The staff can be used to make Leaf (Tir + Ral), the one-handed weapon can be used to make Steel (Tir + El) and the armor can be used to make Stealth (Tal + Eth). These will make great hand-me-down gear for new characters.
- Play through the rest of the game until Act 4. When your kill rate becomes tedious, respec to another build.