Diablo 2 best runewords and best builds for all classes explained

Our recommendations for how to build each class, including a selection of runewords.

Following Diablo 2 builds allows you to get the most out of your chosen class.

Though establishing a build is part and parcel of any RPG set up, Diablo expands it further with the ability to create and set runewords, giving you additional effects.

While they were introduced in the original Diablo game expansion, Hellfire, runewords didn't come back until Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction, which re-introduced Runes into the game.

Ideally, you want to set the best runewords for each character - and so we've offered up our best build and runeword recommendations for all classes in Diablo 2.

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What are Runes and Runewords in Diablo 2?

Runes are items that the player can insert into socketed pieces of equipment, to add a wide number of multiple benefits, depending on the socketed item category.

Different from Gemstones, Runes have the ability to be combined to create Runewords. These Runewrds give each Rune's effect, but also a set of benefits particular to each combination.

diablo_2_runes_03

It's worth noting that some Runes can only be transmuted with the addition of gems to the recipe, some others can only be transmuted in single-player mode, and some require only two instead of three.

For example, if we use the runes 'Tal' and 'Eth', we will obtain the combination 'TalEth', which forms the Runeword "Stealth" - as shown in the image above - giving to an armor piece not only the two rune benefits but also a number of extra effects.

Runes list and how to farm Runes in Diablo 2

Ruins drop across the game as soon as the first act, but if you want to farm Runes in Diablo 2, we recommend the following two methods:

  • As rewards for completing the Hellforge quest in Act IV
  • Slaying the boss monster The Countess - boss monster of The Forgotten Tower quest in Act I - which has a high drop rate

Runes can be upgraded to more powerful ones by using the Horadric Cube to transmute three copies of the same rune, something you can also do with Gems.

The list of Runes goes as follows:

  • Amn
  • Ber
  • Cham
  • Dol
  • El
  • Eld
  • Eth
  • Fal
  • Gul
  • Hel
  • Io
  • Ist
  • Ith
  • Jah
  • Ko
  • Lem
  • Lo
  • Lum
  • Mal
  • Nef
  • Ohm
  • Ort
  • Pul
  • Ral
  • Shael
  • Sol
  • Sur
  • Tal
  • Thul
  • Tir
  • Um
  • Vex
  • Zod

What you need to know about our Diablo 2 best builds and runewords recommendations

What follows is our recommended build and runeword set up for each individual class in the game. These work for all the difficulties in Diablo 2, and are designed to work efficiently by playing both in solo mode or with groups of people accompanying you.

diablo_2_best_builds_runewords

Not all the builds will make use of all stat points. Since not all the builds are set in stone, you just need to follow a base that will allow you to play with the remaining points at your own convenience.

By level 99, between each point that you obtain by leveling up and the 12 extra points gained by completing the quests "Radament's Lair", "Fallen Angel", and "Den of Evil" on each difficulty level, you will have 110 available Skill points to distribute.

Here is each class and our build and runeword recommendations:

Best Druid build and Druid Runewords in Diablo 2

Easily the best hybrid class in the game, Druids are fairly balanced characters that can use Elemental Skills to annihilate the battlefield, excel as Summoners, or have a closer approach with melee combat by using their Shape-Shifting skills and wielding two-handed weapons with ease.

diablo_2_builds_runewords_druid_01

Fury Werewolf Druid Build

While some prefer Elemental approaches to their Druid builds, I'd rather go with the more consistent, always sturdy Werewolf. The idea is simple, you turn into a Werewolf and use Fury as your primary attack skill, with Feral Rage and Heart of the Wolverine/Oak Sage adding buffs to you and/or your group.

All the core skills, such as Werewolf, Fury, Lycanthropy, and Feral Rage must be maxed out, with the remaining choice being which boosts you prefer, HP or Attack (Oak Sage/Heart of the Wolverine). The last points should aim to invest in unlocking the Grizzly summon skill, so you have a minion to divert aggro long enough to kill groups.

Stats Distribution:

  • Strength: Enough to wear the specific equipment you're looking for, no more than that.
  • Dexterity: Enough to wear the specific equipment you're looking for, no more than that.
  • Vitality: Every point you don't invest in either Str or Dex goes here, this is by far the priority.
  • Energy: Leave untouched, you don't need it.
diablo_2_builds_runewords_druid_02

Skill Points Distribution:

  • Werewolf (20)
  • Rabies (1, pre-requisite for Fury)
  • Fury (20)
  • Lycanthropy (20)
  • Feral Rage (20)
  • Heart of Wolverine (20) or Oak Sage (20)
  • Raven (1, pre-requisite for Grizzly)
  • Spirit Wolf (1, pre-requisite for Grizzly)
  • Dire Wolf (1, pre-requisite for Grizzly)
  • Grizzly (1 or more, at your convenience)

Best Werewolf Druid Equipment and Runewords:

  • Weapons: The Reaper's Toll
  • Secondary Weapons: Breath of the Dying Runeword ('VexHelElEldZodEth'), Call to Arms ('AmnRalMalIstOhm'), or Death ('HelElVexOrtGul')
  • Helmet: Vampire Gaze, Cerebus' Bite, Jalal's Mane, Spirit Keeper
  • Armor: Sigon's Shelter in early levels, then you can go for the Runeword Duress ('ShaelUmThul'), and then either Fortitude('ElSolDolLo'), or Chains of Honor ('DolUmBerIst')
  • Belt: Sigon's Wrap for early levels, and then Verdungo's Hearty Cord or String of Ears
  • Amulets: The Cat's Eye, Highlord's Wrath, Mara's Kaleidoscope
  • Rings: Cathans Seal x2 for early levels, then Raven Frost, and for the endgame Bul-Kathos' Wedding Bands
  • Gloves: Laying of Hands to begin, and then Dracul's Grasp
  • Boots: Sigon's Sabot for early levels, and then Gore Rider

Best Sorceress build and Sorceress Runewords in Diablo 2

Sporting high elemental damage output and AOE attacks, The Sorceress is a great class to tackle groups of monsters with ease.

Their ability to move across the maps due to their Teleportation abilities and their Ranged skills also make them one of the best PVP classes in the game, since they can maintain mobility while also attacking from a safe distance.

diablo_2_builds_runewords_sorceress_01

MeteOrb Sorceress Build

This is a Sorceress build that focuses and relies on Fire and Cold Spells, especially useful to go in solo mode, not so much for PvP, mind you. While it may not be a really fast build, you will be able to wipe entire rooms of enemies with ease, making it way more reliable.

Stats Distribution:

  • Strength: 156 if you want to use a Monarch Shield, but adjust at your convenience.
  • Dexterity: You can fully invest in Dex until you reach 75% Block Chance, but if you're not interested in it, invest just enough to be able to wear equipment.
  • Vitality: Every point you don't invest in either Str or Dex goes here.
  • Energy: Leave untouched, you don't need it.
diablo_2_builds_runewords_sorceress_02

Skill Points Distribution:

  • Frozen Orb (20)
  • Cold Mastery (Between 6 and 17, until you reach -100% Enemy Cold Resistance)
  • Meteor (20)
  • Fire Ball (20)
  • Fire Mastery (20)
  • Fire Bolt (1 or more, invest any remaining point here)
  • Warmth (1)
  • Static Field (1)
  • Teleport (1)
  • Inferno (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Blaze (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Firewall (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Telekinesis (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Ice Bolt (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Ice Blast (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Frost Nova (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Blizzard (1, Pre-Requisite)

Best MeteOrb Sorceress Equipment and Runewords:

  • Weapons: Heart of the Oak Runeword Staff ('KoVexPulThul'), and if you feel inclined to block, a Spirit Runeword Shield ('TalThulOrtAmn') is recommended.
  • Secondary Weapons: Death's Fathom, and if you feel inclined to block, a Spirit Runeword Shield ('TalThulOrtAmn') is recommended.
  • Helmet: Harlequin Crest, Nightwing's Veil.
  • Armor: Tal Rasha's Guardianship, Chains of Honor Runeword ('DolUmBerIst'), or Enigma Runeword ('JahIthBer').
  • Belt: Verdungo's Hearty Cord or Arachnid Mesh.
  • Amulets: Tal Rasha's Adjudication, Mara's Kaleidoscope.
  • Rings: Stone of Jordan x2.
  • Gloves: Frostburn or Magefist, depending on which element you want to prioritize.
  • Boots: Sandstorm Trek.

Best Necromancer build and Necromancer Runewords in Diablo 2

The Necromancer is a versatile sorcerer Class that uses dark magic in order to either unleash the Dead or different creatures with his Summoning skills, Poison his foes using venomous spells, or inflict many Curses upon them.

diablo_2_builds_runewords_necromancer_01

Summonmancer Necromancer Build

This build relies on you raising as many minions as you can and amplifying your damage output by cursing your enemies with Amplify Damage or Decrepify, and then using Corpse Explosion. This build runs especially well against tough bosses and unique monsters.

Stats Distribution:

  • Strength: 156 if you want to use a Monarch Shield, but adjust at your convenience. That being said, you won't need it in the endgame, so it's not really necessary.
  • Dexterity: Invest just enough to be able to wear equipment.
  • Vitality: Every point you don't invest in either Str or Dex goes here, all in.
  • Energy: Leave untouched, you don't need it.
diablo_2_builds_runewords_necromancer_02

Skill Points Distribution:

  • Raise Skeleton (20)
  • Skeleton Mastery (20)
  • Corpse Explosion (20)
  • Amplify Damage or Decrepify (20, they have a similar purpose, but you only need one maxed out, keep the other at 1)
  • Clay Golem (1)
  • Blood Golem (1)
  • Iron Golem (1)
  • Golem Mastery (1)
  • Summon Resist (1)
  • Revive (1)
  • Terror (1)
  • Dim Vision (1)
  • Teeth (1)

For the rest of the points, invest them in your Golem of choice and/or Golem Mastery.

Best Summonmancer Necromancer Equipment and Runeword:

  • Weapons: Heart of the Oak Runeword Staff ('KoVexPulThul')
  • Secondary Weapons: Beast Runeword Secondary Weapon ('BerTirUmMalLum'), or Spirit Runeword Monarch Shield ('TalThulOrtAmn')
  • Helmet: Harlequin Crest
  • Armor: Trang-Oul's Scales, Enigma Runeword Armor ('JahIthBer')
  • Belt: Arachnid Mesh
  • Amulets: Mara's Kaleidoscope
  • Rings: Stone of Jordan x2, Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band x2
  • Gloves: Magefist, Trang-Oul's Claws
  • Boots: Marrowwalk

Best Amazon build and Amazon Runewords in Diablo 2

Amazons excel at dealing large amounts of damage to single enemies, which makes them great either in PvP or PvE. As a character class that's focused on ranged attacks, you have a wide array of possible approaches for building it.

diablo_2_builds_runewords_amazon_01

MultiGuided Physical Bowazon Build

Bowazon is the general term used to refer to the Bow and Crossbow-based builds, known for their versatility and mobility in battle. While they may need some time to get geared, they can be really fun to play.

In this case, we will talk about a Multiple Shot-focused build with a Physical damage approach, which will enable you to focus on groups of enemies with extreme efficiency, but not so much against Bosses unless you use a Valkyrie.

Stats Distribution:

  • Strength: Enough to wear the specific equipment you're looking for, no more than that.
  • Dexterity: Enough to wear the specific equipment you're looking for, no more than that.
  • Vitality: Every point you don't invest in either Str or Dex goes here, this is by far the priority.
  • Energy: Leave untouched, you don't need it.
diablo_2_builds_runewords_amazon_02

Skill Points Distribution:

  • Strafe (20 or less, see Valkyrie)
  • Guided Arrow (20)
  • Critical Strike (20)
  • Multiple Shot (20 or less, see Valkyrie)
  • Penetrate (20)
  • Pierce (1)
  • Magic Arrow (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Cold Arrow (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Dodge (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Avoid (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Evade (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Inner Sight (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Slow Missiles (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Decoy (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Valkyrie (1 or more, you can sacrifice a few points in either Strafe or Multiple Shot if you want to invest in Valkyrie, which can help you in solo mode due to this Minion overall ability to divert aggro and stand their ground in battle)

Best Bowazon Amazon Equipment and Runewords:

  • Weapon: Faith Runeword Bow ('OhmJahLemEld') or Windforce Bow
  • Secondary Weapons: Call to Arms Runeword Axe ('AmnRalMalIstOhm') and Lidless Wall Shield or Spirit Runeword Shield ('TalThulOrtAmn')
  • Helmet: Guillaume's Face
  • Armor: Fortitude Runeword Armor ('ElSolDolLo')
  • Belts: Razortail
  • Amulets: Highlord's Wrath
  • Rings: Raven Frost x2
  • Gloves: Laying of Hands
  • Boots: War Traveler, Gore Rider

Best Paladin build and Paladin Runewords in Diablo 2

The Knights of the Faith, also known as Paladins, are a Shield-wielding character class that's particularly strong against monsters or bosses, with their abilities to buff themselves and others by using their various offensive or defensive Auras on the battlefield.

diablo_2_builds_runewords_paladin_01

Zealot Paladin Build

This build relies on using Zeal and Holy Shield with the Fanaticism or Defiance auras, to reach the highest possible melee potential and attack speed that the Paladin has to offer. Zeal will be your main tool for attack along with Fanaticism, with Holy Shield and Defiance being used for defensive purposes.

Stats Distribution:

  • Strength: 175 points here should be enough to wear the specific equipment you're looking for, no more than that.
  • Dexterity: 100 points here should be enough to wear the specific equipment you're looking for, no more than that.
  • Vitality: Every point you don't invest in either Str or Dex goes here.
  • Energy: Leave untouched, you don't need it.
diablo_2_builds_runewords_paladin_02

Skill Points Distribution:

  • Zeal (20, always start investing here)
  • Holy Shield (20)
  • Fanaticism (20)
  • Sacrifice (20)
  • Defiance (20)
  • Might (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Smite (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Holy Bolt (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Blessed Aim (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Charge (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Concentration (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Blessed Hammer (1, Pre-Requisite)

Best Zealot Paladin Equipment and Runewords:

  • Weapons: Grief Runeword Phase Blade ('EthTirLoMalRal') and Stormshield or Exile Runeword Vortex Shield ('VexOhmIstDol')
  • Secondary Weapon: Call to Arms Runeword Weapon ('AmnRalMalIstOhm') and Spirit Runeword Shield ('TalThulOrtAmn')
  • Helmet: Guillaume's Face, Andariel's Visage
  • Armor: Guardian Angel, Enigma Runeword Armor ('JahIthBer'), Fortitude Runeword Armor ('ElSolDolLo'), or Chains of Honor Runeword ('DolUmBerIst')
  • Belt: Verdungo's Hearty Cord, String of Ears
  • Amulets: Highlord's Wrath
  • Rings: Raven Frost x2
  • Gloves: Steelrend, Laying of Hands
  • Boots: War Traveler, Gore Rider

Best Assassin build and Assassin Runewords in Diablo 2

Both masters of martial arts and expert thieves, Assassins are a character class introduced in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. They can either face monsters in close combat or use traps to manipulate the battlefield, or attack from the shadows by using their Shadow Disciplines.

diablo_2_builds_runewords_assassin_01

Lightning Trap Assassin Build

This build allows you to take care of entire rooms full of enemies effectively and safely, regardless of their positioning, since it relies on manipulating and slowing the enemies' movement while also inflicting great amounts of damage.

By summoning the spectral Shadow Master minion, you can divert aggro and retreat to the shadows with your Cloak of Shadows. Spawn Lightning Sentry or Wake of Inferno traps to kill enemies, and once you created enough corpses, use Death Sentry to make them explode.

Stats Distribution:

  • Strength: 100 points approximately, enough to wear the specific equipment you're looking for, no more than that.
  • Dexterity: You can fully invest in Dex until you reach 75% Block Chance, but if you're not interested in it, invest just enough to be able to wear equipment.
  • Vitality: Every point you don't invest in either Str or Dex goes here, this is by far the priority.
  • Energy: Leave untouched, you don't need it.

Skill Points Distribution:

  • Lightning Sentry (20)
  • Wake of Inferno (20)
  • Death Sentry (20)
  • Shadow Master (20)
  • Cloak of Shadows (10)
  • Burst of Speed (10)
  • Mind Blast (2)
  • Fire Blast (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Shock Web (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Charged Bolt Sentry (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Wake of Fire (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Psychic Hammer (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Claw Mastery (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Weapon Block (1, Pre-Requisite)
  • Shadow Warrior (1, Pre-Requisite)

Best Lightning Trap Assassin Equipment and Runewords:

  • Weapons: Bartuc's Cut-Throat Claws
  • Secondary Weapons: Heart of the Oak Runeword Weapon ('KoVexPulThul') and Stormshield
  • Helmet: Harlequin Crest
  • Armor: Skin of the Vipermagi, Enigma Runeword Armor ('JahIthBer')
  • Belt: Arachnid Mesh, Verdungo's Hearty Cord
  • Amulets: Mara's Kaleidoscope
  • Rings: Stone of Jordan x2
  • Gloves: Frostburn, Magefist, or Trang-Oul's Claws
  • Boots: Marrowwalk, Shadow Dancer

Looking for more help? We have pages on the best Diablo 2 class, best Diablo 2 builds and runewords, Diablo 2 leveling, how to import saves, how to reset your skills, how to identify items, when and how to imbue items, where to find monastery locations and the underground passage, and finally, how to access the secret cow level.


Best Barbarian build and Barbarian Runewords in Diablo 2

The nomadic Barbarian is a character class that specializes in offensive strategies by applying their Melee Combat knowledge with Warcries and the use of any Melee Weapons. The native ability to dual-wield any weapon makes them unstoppable on the battlefield.

diablo_2_builds_runewords_barbarian_01

Frenzy Barbarian Build

This build aims for your Barbarian to attack fast and hit hard, taking advantage of his Dual-wielding ability. With Frenzy as your main attack skill, you can rely on Double Swing, Taunt, and Berserk to synergize with it, and Battle Orders offers the necessary buff for you and your group.

Passive skills such as Increased Stamina, Increased Speed, Natural Resistance, and Iron skin, offer great benefits with the bare minimum investment in them.

Stats Distribution:

  • Strength: 100 points approximately, enough to wear the specific equipment you're looking for, no more than that.
  • Dexterity: 100 points approximately, enough to wear the specific equipment you're looking for, no more than that.
  • Vitality: Every point you don't invest in either Str or Dex goes here, this is by far the priority.
  • Energy: Leave untouched, you don't need it.
diablo_2_builds_runewords_barbarian_01

Skill Points Distribution:

  • Double Swing (20)
  • Frenzy (20)
  • Berserk (10)
  • Weapon Mastery (20, invest in the weapon you're gonna use)
  • Battle Orders (20)
  • Taunt (10)
  • Howl (1)
  • Shout (1)
  • Increased Stamina (1)
  • Increased Speed (1)
  • Natural Resistance (1)
  • Iron Skin (1)
  • Bash (1)
  • Double Throw (1)
  • Stun (1)
  • Concentrate (1)

Best Frenzy Barbarian Equipment and Runewords:

  • Weapons: Breath of the Dying Runeword Axe ('VexHelElEldZodEth') and Grief Runeword Axe ('EthTirLoMalRal')
  • Secondary Weapons: Beast Runeword Axe ('BerTirUmMalLum') and Lawbringer Runeword Axe ('AmnLemKo')
  • Helmet: Arreat's Face, Guillaume's Face
  • Armor: Fortitude Runeword Armor ('ElSolDolLo')
  • Belt: Nosferatu's Coil, Verdungo's Hearty Cord, String of Ears
  • Amulets: Highlord's Wrath
  • Rings: Raven Frost x2, Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band x2
  • Gloves: Dracul's Grasp, Steelrend, Laying of Hands
  • Boots: Gore Rider, Marrowwalk

Hopefully, some of the above builds will give you can edge across the many difficulties and areas in Diablo 2. Best of luck!

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