Diablo 2 Ultimate Mercenary Guide


Diablo 2 Ultimate Mercenary Guide

Diablo 2 Ultimate Mercenary Guide

General D2 Guides


General Mercenary Facts

  • The mod – Prevent Monster Heal does not work on mercenaries. It has no effect at all.
  • Most other mods (Crushing Blow, Open Wounds, Chance to Cast on Striking, Faster Cast Rate, Faster Hit Recovery, Increased Attack Speed, etc.) work on mercenaries.
  • Mercenaries hired in normal difficulty have better final stats than those hired in Nightmare or Hell, and NM Mercs are better than those hired in Hell. The exception being the Nightmare Act 2 mercenaries, which cannot be hired in Normal (or Hell). The actual “character” level that you hire the merc at is irrelevant, only the difficulty you hire them in.
  • The highest level a merc can be is 98. Mercs skills have been downgraded slightly in 1.10 compared to 1.09 , with the exception of the Act 1 Rogue which will no do more damage.
  • Act 5 mercenaries regenerate their health fully in 16.4 seconds, all other mercenaries require 41 seconds.
  • Poison can absolutely kill your mercenary, even while in town. You on the other hand cannot die from poison in town.
  • Mercenaries benefit from items with +all skills. However, They do not benefit from +class skills or +skill tabs. This was removed in 1.10.

    Mercs will benefit from:

    +fire skills (when applicable)
    +specific skills (if they already have the skills (e.g. an act 3 merc will benefit from an Ormus Robes’ skill if he posseses that skill already, even though it says (Sorceress)
    + skills to Bash or Stun for the Barbarian as found on some items.
  • Synergies. Some mercs skills synergize – An example of this is the Barbarians Stun and Bash skills which synergize. Act3 Mercs skills also synergize. ( i.e. Glacial spike with Ice Blast for the cold sorc)
  • When mercs levels up, their current life is set to their new base maximum life. So, if a merc is under life bonuses from Battle Orders, Oak Sage, or equipment, you will see thier life drop. Don’t be alarmed when this happens, your merc isn’t about to bite the dust.
  • You can use healing potions or rejuvenation potions on your mercenary by selecting a potion and dropping it on their portrait in the top left corner of the screen. Another way to do this is to hold Shift and press 1, 2, 3 or 4 depending on the potions location in your belt. Yet another way is holding Shift and right-clicking on a potion in your belt.
  • Similar to giving a merc a potion using the portrait: you can give your mercenary equipment via the portrait. If they can use the item, it will work. If they are already wearing this type of item, it will be exchanged for the new one.
  • Mercenaries do not have a mana pool, so mana potions do not work on them. If you try to shift + 1 method to feed your merc a mana pot, he/she will thank you, although you yourself will drink the potion. They are simply granted “infinite” mana to cast spells. So, mana burn monsters will also not affect them.
  • If your merc is wearing either Gold Find or Magic Find gear, you will receive those respective bonuses to your drops when the merc makes a kill. Example, 100% MF on char, 125% MF on merc. If you make the kill, 100% MF is in effect. If the merc makes the kill, 225% MF is in effect.
  • Ethereal items will not lose durability when equipped on a mercenary.
  • The price of resurrecting your mercenary caps out at 50,000 gold.
  • Your Mercenary’s damage is penalized against certain things:

    Attacking Penalty
    Players 17%
    Hirelings 25%
    Golems 100%
    Monsters 100%
    Minions 100%
    Norm Act Boss 50%
    NM Act Boss 35%
    Hell Act Boss 25%

    They receive 100% damage from everything , except other players hirelings which will only do 25% of the listed damage to your Merc.
    They receive 200% damage for Bosses – that is why they can die fairly quickly.
  • Mercs cannot leach of Hell Bosses such as Mephi and Baal, and there is a bug when facing the council in Act III, Hydra’s will do a lot more damage than they should, there is no real way to negate this except to take your mercs resistances up above 75% with Guardian Angel.
  • Mercs donot receive any life from + to vitality items, this is another minor bug, so only equip your merc with items that give actual + to life.
  • Levelling – Mercs only get experience in 2 ways – firstly if YOU make the kill they get normal experience, if they make the kill they get normal experience plus bonus experience – calculated at roughly 2x. They receive no experience if you are in a party with other players and the other players make the kill.
  • They receive the most experience in an 8 player game when you are not partied and they make the kill. As a quick reference, the following table may be of some assistance for leveling.

    12-18——- A2
    19-23——- A3
    24-31——- A4
    32-36——- A5
    37-43——- Ni1
    44-48——- Ni2
    49-52——- Ni3
    53-62——- Ni4
    63-73——- He1
    74-80——- He2
    81-83——- He3
    83-94——- He4
    95-99——- He5
  • Mercs are all hired at different Levels , their ranges very from :

			Normal	 NM	 Hell
Rogue Scout: 3-7 37-40 67-71
Desert Warrior: 9-13 44-47 75-79
Eastern Sorceror: 15-19 49-53 79-83
Barbarian: 28-32 59-62 80-84
  • Mercs Naturally have very high resistances, so, therefore, equip them with damage reduction gear instead of resistance gear.
  • Mercs can now equip the following auras:
    Holy Freeze: found on ‘Doom‘ Runeword for polearms (Act II mercs only)
    Holy Fire: found on ‘Hand of Justice‘ Runeword for all weapons.
    Thorns: found on ‘Bramble‘ Runeword for Armours.
    Sanctuary: found on Azurewrath, unique phase blade. (act III/VI mercs only)

Act 1 Rogue Mercenaries

(Two Types – Cold and Fire)

Note, they are Rogues, not Amazons. As such, +Amazon skill items will not work. Also, they cannot wield (Amazon-Only) bows.

– > They can only equip bows. Crossbows are not allowed.
– > Cast either Fire Arrow or Cold Arrow
– > Cast Inner Sight

Note : The mods Fires Explosive Arrows or Bolts and Fires Magic Arrow are quirky.

– > The Explosive arrows do not work. There is a graphical bug so that you see the explosion, but no damage is dealt and the Rogue does not get the Attack Rating bonus associated with the Exploding Arrow skill.

Note : Fires Magic Arrow does deliver magic damage, but the Rogue’s still do not receive an AR bonus.

– > Act1 Mercs can now give you a Vigor aura via Harmony, Thorns via Edge, and Fanatacism via Faith.

Rogue Equipment

They tend to stay out of harm’s way reasonably well, so life leech isn’t mandotory, but a little bit certainly helps.

Increased Attack Speed can help (check speed calculator). These mercs are good at activating Chance to Cast mods without being in the thick of the battle. Blinding, fleeing, amplify damage, etc.

Hit Recovery Speeds

Frames- FHR%
11—– 0
10—– 6
9—— 13
8—— 20
7—— 32
6—— 52
5—— 86
4—— 174
3—— 600


Fire / Cold Arrow (If hired from Normal – Note that these stats will all be lower in NM and HELL if hired from there. With the exception of attack frequency which increases at 2% per difficulty.


Fire Arrow—Fire Damage — AR Bonus
15———-36 -39 ———–136%
20———-63 -70 ———–181%

Cold Arrow—Cold Damage — AR Bonus
15———-34 -35 ————-136%
20———-53-56 ————-181%

Cold Arrow does a fraction less damage, however at level 35 ( Level 98 Merc with +6 All skills ) You could freeze a monster in Hell for almost 10 seconds, that’s impressive

Act 2 Desert Mercenaries

( 6 Types – 3 Available in Normal and Hell, and 3 Avaialable in NM )

  • A2 Town Guards are the most popular as they share an aura with not only your Character but with the entire Party. Sometimes the aura will not activate, if this happens then simply return to town then go back out.
  • The Same Auras do not stack – For example if you are a Paladin using might and your Merc is using might these will not add up, the game will simply cycle between the two.
  • Can use Spear, Javelin, and Polearm class weapons, except not the Amazon-only spears. They won’t ever throw the Javelins.


Get him a big damage polearm. Mods to look for are: Crushing Blow, life leech, +life, resistances, Faster Hit Recovery, Chance to Cast amp damage or decrepify, Slows Target (especially on Holy Freeze merc).

For Armor always go for Ethereal with useful mods , the Runeword Stone is very useful and popular as well. Any Armor with plus skills is also very useful as these will boost their skills.

Helms – Tal Rashas mask is good at the start with its 10% Life Leach, when you find one upgrade to an Ethereal Crown of Theives. An Ethereal Shako wouldn’t go amiss either although you will need to socket this with some form of Life leach.

Keep in mind that you cant leach off all monsters – for example the undead.

Auras Available


  • Combat = Prayer
  • Defensive = Defiance
  • Offensive = Blessed Aim


  • Combat = Thorns
  • Defensive = Holy Freeze
  • Offensive = Might


  • Combat = Prayer
  • Defensive = Defiance
  • Offensive = Blessed Aim

Prayer – regens life , Defiance – Increases Armor Class, Blessed Aim – Increases AR , Thorns – deals damage back to attacker , Holy Freeze – Slows Monsters , Might – Increases Melee Damage.



10——-Might—–130% damage
20——-Might—–230% damage
30——-Might—–330% damage

10——-Thorns—-610% damage returned
17——-Thorns—-890% damage returned
20——-Thorns—-1010% dam. returned

10——-H/Freeze—slow 48%
17——-H/Freeze—slow 53%
20——-H/Freeze—slow 54%

11——-Prayer—-Heals 12+
18——-Prayer—-Heals 21+
21——-Prayer—-Heals 27+

11——-Defiance—170% def
18——-Defiance—240% def
21——-Defiance—270% def

11——B/Aim—-225% to AR
18——B/Aim—-330% to AR
21——B/Aim—-375% to AR


11——Jab—–AR +100% Dam+15%
16——Jab—–AR +145% Dam+30%
17——Jab—–AR +154% Dam+34%
20——Jab—–AR +181% Dam+42%

Hit Recovery Speeds

Frames– FHR%
15—– 0
14—– 5
13—– 9
12—– 14
11—– 20
10—– 30
9—– 42
8—– 60
7—– 86
6—– 142
5—– 280

This is an excellent narration from Alter Ego and I have placed it here for your reference :

Offensive – Blessed Aim

Not the most popular aura for many characters, as most of the melee characters have sufficient skills to raise their AR and the Sorceress doesn’t really need much AR as she hits with her magicical attacks. However for variant builds such as the Melee Sorc, Ranger (bow/crossbow Paladin) and Meleemancer (melee Necro) where AR is of critical importance, the blessed aim merc can be very useful. This merc can also be very helpful to Werebears who also suffer from AR problems. With the introduction of several new uniques items which grant AR (eh. Charges of enchant, zeal etc) in 1.10 though, the actual usefulness of such mercs has been somewhat diminished.

Defensive – Defiance

A high level Merc with this aura, and good equip, is very hard to hit, even in Hell diff. So a character who has hired such a merc is equally difficult to hit. The advantages of this are straightforward to any character, you’ll get hit less often, therefore be less likely to die. This aura has a pronounced effect on the longevity of a Necro’s minions, even when the Merc is of a low level. This aura is often a “must-have” for characters aiming to have a huge defence stat i.e. Ironman barbarians or for hardcore players. Just bear in mind that several of the monsters in 1.10 now have attacks that completely ignore defense.

Combat – Prayer

The life regeneration that this aura provides is probably only of use to most characters as a way to ignore the effects of poison or of life draining items (Malice runeword for example). However to characters with life steal and high resists, this aura is going to prove to be of little use, and if the merc himself has a life stealing weapon, then the aura won’t be of too much use to him. It is probably best used for characters with no form of life leech(ie. casters). Still, it is probably better to just drink a potion.

This aura is of some limited use to the Necromancer and his minions as the continual life replenish will help keep them alive for much longer. In 1.10, the minions actually heal by themselves. I

Offensive – Might

A very popular aura for almost any character, as additional damage is always useful. The Merc himself will be doing a godly amount of damage at higher levels and quite happily tank for himself and for those who think that “the best defense is a good offense” this is the way to go.

This aura is probably of least use to a Sorceress as it does not add any benefit to her magical attacks, but should she run low of mana and be caught in a corner with only a melee weapon then, this aura will give her a chance of fighting her way free.

The effect of this aura on a Necro’s minions can create a virtual wall of death to descend upon the ranks of diablo minions. A few revived Frenzytaurs or raised skeletal warriors with a might aura on them can easily sway the tide of battle in the favour of the Necromancer.

A point to note is that even if you have a might merc whose lvl is sufficient to provide 100% extra damage this won’t automatically double the damage of your character. The formula below from Nikodemous from the Paladin forum explains how your might mercs aura factors into your damage.

Lets say your weapon does 100 points of average damage. (that being the average of the minimum and maximum shown directly on the weapon). You have +100% damage from WW

200 str = +200% damage

and the might merc has lvl 7 might, which gives (40+6*10) 100% bonus.

Total damage is:

(100 * (100 [base] + 200 [str] + 100 [ww] + 100 [might]))/100 = 500 average damage

All elemental damage is added to the total, with no % bonuses on top.

Combat – Thorns

The essential problem with Thorns is that you have to be hit for it to take effect, though admittedly the effect at high levels can kill many normal monsters outright. In 1.10, with the high ratio of monster HP as compared to the damage they do, thorns is more or less reduced to a novelty aura. It is nice to have around but not entirely useful.

The Necromancer Overlord is the character build that can make best use of this aura. With many minions running around the map all effected by thorns and with the possibility of an Amp Damage curse as well, this can create havoc for boss monsters that use phycial attacks i.e Hephasto the Armourer, Duriel and the Ancients. By wading through the thorns-aura’d minions to get to the player character, these boss monsters will take an awful lot of damage.

Defensive – Holy Freeze

Another very useful for aura for any player character, more so for the slowing effect on monsters than any damage done. The only other choice besides defiance for hardcore player, this aura, at high levels, will bring many enemies to a near stop. Demon Imps stop teleporting all of the place, flayers slow right down and explody-headed Slayers are easily avoided. For characters using thrown weapons, bows or magic, the slowed monsters make ideal targets.

The Necromancer Overlord (or a Corpse Explosion Necro) is the class most disadvantaged by this aura, as the increased number of bodies that shatter upon death greatly reduces the Necro’s potential revive, summon or corpse explosion fodder.

On Hell difficulty, cold immune monsters will still be slowed by this aura.

Important Note on Holy Freeze:

It seems that not all monsters are affected by this aura. Blood Lords, Moon Lords and Death Lords of act 5 seem resistant to its slowing effects. The Frenzytaurs are immune to freezing. So do not rely on your merc to slow these monsters down. Also its good to take into account the relatively small range of holy freeze eg. archers shooting.

Act 3 Iron Wolf

( Casters, Fire, Cold , Lightning )

Lightning is damage bugged, so only choose Fire or Cold Mercs.

These Mercs can be equiped with the most MF gear, around 300%.

Do not have blocking animations. “This means they do not getting blocking check at all. The Shield will just be there for the non-blocking attributes such as defense and any other magical properties that it has such as resisitances, fast cast, skills, etc.”

They have 3 types of attacks – Their primary low level spell , their secondary high level spell, and using their sword.

They will only use their sword in melee when they get swarmed. (sometimes)

The damage listed in their character info screen is only for their sword damage, and has no impact at all on their magic damage – their character info screen does not display their actual magic damage anywhere.

+Glacial Spike, +FireBall, etc. will help these mercs. The only places to get these are from Ormus’ Robes or two pieces of the Trang’s set. Note that the +Fireball bonus from Trang’s will be capped at +3.

Anything that is +sorceress skills, for example: +2 Fire Skills (Sorceress Only) will not work, but the +3 Fire Skills of Hexfire would.

Items that lower enemy resistance (such as the Crescent Moon runeword, facets, etc.) will benefit these mercs.

Can complete the Isenhart set (for whatever that’s worth)


Spirit = Tal + Thul + Ort + Amn ( 4 Socket Shield or Sword)

Spirit Shield ( Ladder Only)
Spirit Sword ( Ladder Only )
Ormus Robes with + 3 to Fireball or Glacial Spike

With This Setup
70%-80% Fast Cast ( 18 frames to 13 frames)
+6 All Skills
+3 To FB or GS

Your Merc would then have :

50% FC ( 18 to 14 frames )
+6 All Skills

50% FC
+4 All Skills

You want +skills and Faster Cast Rate. Everything else is secondary because they tend to survive fairly well on their own unless you let them get swarmed. The new Spirit runeword is good for their weapon. You would need +strength on your helm/armor to let them use a Spirit shield since it can only be made in a Monarch, which requires 156 strength (146 if ethereal). They top out at 153 str at level 98 and have 137 str at level 85, just to give you an idea. You’ll need some +strength stuff to equip this shield at an earlier level.


  • Fire: Inferno and FireBall
  • Cold: Glacial Spike, Ice Blast, and Frozen Armor
  • Lightning: Charged Bolt and Lightning

Act 3 Mercenary Spells in Detail

The following commentary from Zath is accurate as of 1.10.


– Level 32 Inferno: 356 damage/second. 60% chance to cast this spell
– Level 30 Fireball: 383 damage/shot. 30% chance to cast this spell.


– Level 28 Frozen Armor: +165% defense, lasts 444 seconds, freezes enemy upon being hit for 111 frames in normal (4.44 seconds).
– Level 14 Glacial Spike: 150 damage/shot, freezes for 89 frames in normal (3.56 seconds). 19% chance to cast this spell after Frozen Armor is active (60/310).
– Level 32 Ice Blast: 613 damage/shot, freezes for 230 frames in normal (9.2 seconds). 77% chance to cast this spell after Frozen Armor is active (240/310).


– Level 17 Charged Bolt: 11.5 damage/bolt, 19 bolts total for 218.5 potential damage/cast. 60% chance to cast this spell.
– Level 29 Lightning: 258 damage/shot. 30% chance to cast this spell.

The lightning mercs are clearly lacking in damage output. Fire and cold mercs will deal significantly more damage, although the fire merc will have to hit multiple targets with each spell to reach his full potential. Overall, the cold merc may be the best choice with his Frozen Armor and Ice Blast.

Faster Cast Rate Breakpoints

Frames FCR%
18—– 0
17—– 10
16—– 15
15—– 30
14—– 40
13—– 60
12—– 90

Hit Recovery Speeds

Frames FHR%
17—– 0
16—– 5
15—– 8
14—– 13
13—– 18
12—– 24
11—– 32
10—– 46
9—– 63
8—– 86
7—– 133
6—– 232
5—– 600

Act 5 Barbarian Mercenaries

(Only one type)

These mercs possess the skills Stun and Bash.

  • These are the only mercs who can use class-specific items (the barb helms)
  • “The act 5 mercanaries have a 5% chance of doing critical hits, the other mercanaries do not.” – Ruvanal
  • These mercs can complete the Sazabi Set.
  • They do not have or benefit from +sword mastery such as on Bloodletter
  • Act 5 mercs receive a 70% bonus to their poison resistance in all difficulties.” – Zath
  • “The Act 5 merc’s normal attack has 2 hits.” – Zath

Barbarian Mercenary Equipment

Big 2-handed sword – They do the listed damage for both 1 hand and 2 hand swords, so the 2 handers will almost always win out. Life leech, FHR, resistances, etc are also good. They’re about the same as A2 mercs except for the weapon differences.

Armor – always go for Ethereal with useful mods , the Runeword Stone is very useful and popular as well.

Helms – Tal Rashas mask is good at the start with its 10% Life Leach, when you find one upgrade to an Ethereal Crown of Theives. An Ethereal Shako wouldn’t go amiss either although you will need to socket this with some form of leach.

These Mercs should really have a minimum of 11-15% Life Leach to ensure they stay alive, as they are very zealous and tend to run off the screen to engage everything in sight.

Keep in mind that you cant leach off all monsters – for example the undead.

Damage Comparison (synergies)

Stun – the 1.2s = stunned for 1.2 second

Level------Bash Damage -----------Stun Damage
1----------AR 20%,  Dam 55%------AR 15%, Dam 8% 1.2s
30--------AR 30%,  Dam 80%------AR 30%, Dam 24% 1.8s
50---------AR 60%,  Dam 145 ------AR 65%, Dam 72% 3.2s
75--------AR 95%,  Dam 225 -------AR 110 , Dam 128%4.5s
75 & 
+3 skills---AR 110, Dam 225 –------AR 125, Dam 152% 4.7s

Act 5 Barbarian Mercenary Hit Recovery Breakpoints

Frames FHR%
9—– 0
8—– 7
7—– 15
6—– 27
5—– 48
4—– 86
3—– 200

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2 years ago

“Mercenaries hired in normal difficulty have better final stats than those hired in Nightmare or Hell, and NM Mercs are better than those hired in Hell. The exception being the Nightmare Act 2 mercenaries, which cannot be hired in Normal (or Hell). The actual “character” level that you hire the merc at is irrelevant, only the difficulty you hire them in”
Is no longer true. They fixed this in 2.4.

1 year ago
Reply to  Adrenaline

There is no 2.4 in LoD only in D2R.

1 year ago

Although the Act5 merc can use both 1h and 2h swords and 2h swords in general do more dmg. The Act5 merc get a special dmg formula the essentially buffs 1h sword dmg. As a result, an upped eth Headstriker is by far the best weapon for them (in terms of pure dmg).

It’s possible that you could get a perfect rare sword that would beat that (cruel, master, mechanic’s, slaughter, quickness, giant, and eth), but even then I’m not sure it would.