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Zeal Paladin Guide

Zeal Paladin

Introduction

The Zeal Paladin or Zealer is the perfect marriage of fun and power. Few things beat plunging into hordes of monsters and rapidly hacking them to bits! The Zealer effortlessly slaughters legions of demons and Uber Bosses just the same. This Paladin is a jack-of-all-trades, excelling at every farming strategy. No quest is too daunting for this holy crusader! In destroying Bosses, dominating Elite Packs, and shredding Baal Waves, all even in a full game, this build puts the game to the sword.

Dealing exclusively Physical Damage with Fanaticism-empowered Zeal, the Zealer faces few Immunity-related obstacles throughout most of the game. This is even more so the case when using Bone Break. With several specialty setups designed for crushing different monsters and farming strategies, this build is highly malleable. The Physical Zealer is a solid beginner-friendly build as well, with a relatively simple playstyle, intuitive gear options, and big Damage. The Zealer doesn't require ultra-rare gear either, making this build a solid choice for early-mid Ladder. Breaking the mold with violent swings...let's hack it!

Ideal Standard Setup

Zeal

Fanaticism

Holy Shield

Teleport

This build guide assumes you have a Character at Level 75 before transitioning to it. Check out our Paladin Leveling Guide and our General Leveling Strategies to reach Level 75.

Enjoyable Playstyle ✔
Destroys Uber Bosses ✔
Easy To Learn And Master ✔
Can Farm Almost Anything ✔
Lots Of Strong Build Options ✔

❌ Bad Density Farmer
❌ Dangerous Playstyle
❌ Repetitive Skill Usage
❌ Only 1 Type Of Damage
❌ Highly Weapon Dependent


Sunder Charm Setup

Patch 2.5 introduces a new way of breaking Immunities: Sunder Charms. Any enemy that would be Immune to your damage type is instead reduced to 95% Resistance, before any other Resistance reductions apply. The Charm also reduces YOUR Resistance against the sundered damage type! Check out our post on Sunder Charms to learn more about these new Charms. The following setup uses Bone Break, allowing you to farm anywhere you want.

Sunder Charm Setup

Gear Changes

To optimize this Sunder Charm you need as much -% Enemy Physical Resistance as possible. Equip The Reaper's Toll on your Mercenary for its Decrepify proc to accomplish this.

Counteract the negative effect of Bone Break with % Damage Reduction items such as Crown of Ages, Vampire Gaze, String of Ears, Verdungo's Hearty Cord, and Stormshield.


Terror Zones

The new Terror Zone mechanic combined with Sunder Charms open up a wide range of farmable areas. The following list highlights the best and worst Terror Zones for this build. With the Sunder Charm Setup, more Terror Zones become accessible. Learn more about Terror Zones here and see how they stack up in our Terror Zone Tier List.

Best

Travincal - Bosses, Quick Access, Breakable Immunities
Pit - High Density, Many Elite Groups, Easy Mobility, No Immunities
Tristram - High Density, Many Elite Groups, Easy Mobility, No Immunities
Chaos Sanctuary - High Density, Quick Access, Many Elite Groups, Boss
Worldstone Keep + Throne of Destruction - High Density, Quick Access, Many Elite Groups, Breakable Immunities

Worst

Arcane Sanctuary - Trash Mobility, Immunities
Far Oasis - High Elemental Damage, Immunities
Crystalline Passage + Frozen River - High Physical Damage, High Elemental Damage, Immunities
Jail - Trash Mobility, Immunities
The Secret Cow Level - Few Elite Groups, Tanky Enemies, Slow Access, High Physical Damage


Skills

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Smite
2. Charge
3. Cleansing
4. Vigor

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put all remaining Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Damage

Zeal* This is your Primary Damage Skill. It swings your weapon up to 5 times in quick succession. Your Character is stuck in its attack animation until the maximum number of swings have been completed. Leveling this Skill increases its Physical Damage and Attack Rating.

Smite* attacks using your Paladin's Shield, dealing Physical Damage based on your Shield Base, Holy Shield Skill Level, the Damage +x stat, and certain Attack Modifiers like Crushing Blow. This Skill provides strong, consistent damage against Bosses with only 1 Skill Point into it.

* Increased Attack Speed Skills (IAS)

Utility

Fanaticism* This is your Primary Aura - keep active while using Zeal. While active, it provides your Paladin and members of your Party with percentage boosts to Physical Damage, Attack Rating, and Attack Speed based on its Level.

Holy Shield* is a temporary buff that boosts your Defense and Chance to Block. It also grants improved Faster Block Rate Breakpoints and improves Smite damage based on its Level. This Skill requires a Shield.

Charge* makes your Paladin instantly jet forward towards the position of your cursor. Making contact with an enemy in the process makes him abruptly stop and swing his weapon. Continually using this ability allows you to quickly cover long distances. Use this Skill for mobility if not using Enigma.

Vigor* While active, this Aura provides your Paladin and members of your Party with increased Faster Run/Walk based on its Level.

Resist Lightning* While active, this Aura provides your Paladin and members of your Party with increased Lightning Resistance based on its Level. Every 2 Skill Points put into this Skill raises the cap on your Maximum Lightning Resistance by 1.

Cleansing* While active, this Aura provides your Paladin and members of your Party with Poison Length Reduction and Curse Length Reduction based on its Level. This Aura is especially useful after killing the 2nd Baal Wave in the Throne of Destruction or if Cursed with Amplify Damage.

* Increased Attack Speed Skills (IAS)
* Faster Cast Rate Skills (FCR)
* Skills that do NOT utilize either FCR or IAS


Attributes

Note: All Zeal Paladin Build Variants use this Stat Point allocation!

Strength

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to equip all of your gear. Take into account how much Strength your gear provides when equipped.
Optional: Put additional Stat Points into Strength to increase Zeal's damage.

Dexterity

Allocate enough Stat Points into Dexterity to reach max Chance to Block (75%) on your main weapon loadout. Make sure that Holy Shield is active prior to putting Dexterity Points in. More Dexterity is needed at higher Character Levels. In addition to Dexterity and Character Level, Shield Bases also affect Chance to Block.

Vitality

Allocate any remaining Stat Points into Vitality after meeting Strength, Dexterity and Energy requirements.

Energy

Don't allocate any Stat Points into Energy. Mana costs are mainly covered by the “x% Mana Stolen per Hit” stat on your gear. This build also gets enough Mana from gear, Charms, buffs, and Mana Potions.


Essentials

Gear Options

While every Stat in the Desirable Stats column is useful for this build, we highlighted the Priority Stats in Teal so you can easily identify the Most Important Stats on them.

Hover over any Item to see a pop-out with the full Item description.

Gear Notes: Any Items with specialized or niche uses have a superscript that refers here.
1) A Life Tap Charge Wand on Weapon-Swap is used for applying Life Tap to Uber Bosses when options such as Dracul's Grasp, Exile, or Last Wish are not available.
2) Treachery and Demon Limb are mostly used for pre-buffing, usually prior to taking down the Ubers. Treachery pre-buffs Fade for All Resistances, Curse Length Reduction, and Damage Reduction, while Demon Limb pre-buffs Enchant for increased Attack Rating.
3) Wizardspike is used for the Faster Cast Rate it provides on Weapon-Swap prior to acquiring a Call to Arms, or if Barbarian-granted Battle Orders is available.
4) Only use Naj's Puzzler, a Staff of Teleportation, or a Teleport Charge Amulet for Teleport Charges if you are not using Enigma.

SlotItem OptionsDesirable Stats
WeaponGrief Phase Blade
Last Wish Phase Blade
Ethereal Death Berserker Axe
Ethereal Death Cleaver
Ethereal Breath of the Dying Berserker Axe
Ethereal Rare Weapon
Ethereal Rune Master
Doom Berserker Axe
Ethereal Oath Cryptic Sword
Unbending Will Phase Blade
Razor's Edge
Butcher's Pupil (Upgraded)
Honor Naga
6% Chance to cast level 11 Fade when struck
10% Chance to cast level 18 Life Tap on striking
18% Chance to cast level 18 Taunt on striking
25% Chance to cast level 18 Glacial Spike on attack
Level 17 Might Aura When Equipped
Level 12 Holy Freeze Aura When Equipped
Indestructible
+x to All Skills
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Enhanced Damage
Damage +x
Ignore Target's Defense

-x% Target Defense
x% Bonus to Attack Rating
+x% Damage to Demons
+x% Damage to Undead
+x% Mana stolen per hit
+x% Life stolen per hit
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Deadly Strike

x% Chance of Open Wounds
Prevent Monster Heal
+x to Attribute
Damage Reduced by x
Cannot Be Frozen
+x to Life after each Kill
Repairs x durability in x seconds
Ethereal, Socketed [x]
Off-HandPhoenix
Herald of Zakarum
Exile
Stormshield
Alma Negra
Jeweler's Sacred Targe of Deflecting (4x Ruby Jewels of Fervor)
Jeweler's Sacred Targe of Deflecting (4x Ist Runes)
Griswold's Honor (3x Ist Runes)
Sanctuary
Rhyme
15% Chance to cast level 5 Life Tap on striking
Level x Redemption Aura When Equipped
Level 16 Defiance Aura When Equipped
+x to Combat Skills [Paladin Only]
+x to Paladin Skills
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Faster Block Rate
x% Increased Chance of Blocking
+x% Enhanced Damage

x% Bonus to Attack Rating
+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x% to Maximum X Resist
X Resist +x%
+x Fire Absorb
Damage Reduced by x%
Cannot Be Frozen

x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Repairs x durability in x seconds
Ethereal
Weapon-Swap Call to Arms
Wizardspike3
Naj's Puzzler4
Staff of Teleportation4
Bone Wand of Life Tap1
Demon Limb2
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x to Battle Orders
+x to Battle Command

+x to Holy Shield
+x Mana
All Resistances +x
Level x Life Tap [x/x Charges]
Level x Teleport [x/x Charges]
Level 23 Enchant [x/x Charges]
Off-Hand Swap
Spirit
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Cast Rate

+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x to Attribute
+x Mana
X Resist +x%
Helmets Guillaume's Face (Cham Rune)
Guillaume's Face (Ruby Jewel of Fervor)
Guillaume's Face (Um Rune)
Guillaume's Face (Ber Rune)
Crown of Ages
Vampire Gaze
Rare Circlet
Blood Crafted Armet
Harlequin Crest
Rockstopper
Crown of Thieves
Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest
Sigon's Visor (2-4-Piece Sigon's Set)
Gemmed Mask (3x Perfect Topazes)
Gemmed Mask (Ral Rune, Ort Rune, Thul Rune)
+x to All Skills
+x to Paladin Skills
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Enhanced Damage
x% Bonus to Attack Rating
+x to Attack Rating
+x% Mana stolen per hit
+x% Life stolen per hit
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Deadly Strike

+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x Mana
X Resist +x%
Damage Reduced by x%

Damage Reduced by x
Cannot Be Frozen

x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Socketed [x]
Body ArmorsEnigma
Fortitude
Chains of Honor
Skullder's Ire
Shaftstop
Leviathan
Stone
Duress
Treachery2
Duriel's Shell
Lionheart
Smoke
5% Chance to cast Level 15 Fade When Struck
20% Chance to cast Level 15 Chilling Armor When Struck
+x to All Skills
+x% Faster Run/Walk
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Enhanced Damage
+x% Damage to Demons

+x% Damage to Undead
+x% Life stolen per hit
+x% Chance of Crushing Blow
+x% Chance of Open Wounds
+x to Teleport
+x to Attribute
+x Life
Increased Maximum Life x%
+x% to Maximum Lightning Resist
All Resistances +x
Damage Reduced by x%

Cannot Be Frozen
+x to Life after each Kill
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
GlovesLaying of Hands
Blood Crafted Gloves
Dracul's Grasp
Trang-Oul's Claws
Immortal King's Forge (2 or 3-Piece Immortal King's Set)
Death's Hand (2-Piece Death's Set)
Bloodfist
Steelrend
Chance Guards
Lava Gout
Magnus' Skin
Sigon's Gage (2-4-Piece Sigon's Set)
5% Chance to cast level 10 Life Tap on striking
2% Chance to cast level 10 Enchant on striking
+x% Increased Attack Speed

+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Enhanced Damage
+x to Attack Rating
+x% Damage to Demons
+x% Life stolen per hit
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Chance of Open Wounds

+x to Attribute
+x Life
X Resist +x%
Poison Length Reduced by x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
BeltsString of Ears
Nosferatu's Coil
Verdungo's Hearty Cord
Arachnid Mesh
Goldwrap
Thundergod's Vigor
Rare Belt
Immortal King's Detail (2 or 3-Piece Immortal King's Set)
Death's Guard Demonhide Sash (2-Piece Death's Set)
Sigon's Wrap (2-4-Piece Sigon's Set)
+x to All Skills
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Faster Cast Rate

+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x% Life stolen per hit
+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x% to Maximum Lightning Resist
X Resist +x%
+x Lightning Absorb
Damage Reduced by x%
Magic Damage Reduced by x
Cannot Be Frozen
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
BootsWar Traveler
Gore Rider
Goblin Toe
Immortal King's Pillar (3-Piece Immortal King's Set)
Sigon's Sabot (2-4-Piece Sigon's Set)
+x% Faster Run/Walk
+x to Attack Rating
Adds x Damage
x% Chance of Crushing Blow
x% Deadly Strike
x% Chance of Open Wounds

+x to Attribute
+x Life
X Resist +x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
AmuletsHighlord's Wrath
Caster Crafted Amulet4
Caster Crafted Amulet
Caster Crafted Amulet
Teleport Charge Amulet4
Mara's Kaleidoscope
Metalgrid
Angelic Wings (2-Piece Angelic Set)
+x to All Skills
+x to Paladin Skills
+x% Increased Attack Speed
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x to Attack Rating
+x% Life stolen per hit
x% Deadly Strike
+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x Mana
X Resist +x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Level x Teleport [x/x Charges]
RingsRaven Frost
Rare Ring
Rare Ring
Rare Ring
Rare Ring
Rare Ring
Rare Ring
Blood Crafted Ring
Nagelring
Dwarf Star
Wisp Projector
Angelic Halo (2-Piece Angelic Set)
+x% Faster Cast Rate
+x to Attack Rating
+x Minimum Damage
+x% Mana stolen per hit
+x% Life stolen per hit
+x to Attribute
+x Life
+x Mana
X Resist +x%
Cold Absorb x%
Fire Absorb x%
Lightning Absorb x%
Magic Damage Reduced by x
Cannot Be Frozen
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
CharmsFine Small Charm of Good Luck
Steel Small Charm of Good Luck
Fine Small Charm of Vita
Fine Small Charm of Balance
Shimmering Small Charm of Good Luck
Shimmering Small Charm of Vita
Fine Small Charm
Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm of Vita
Shimmering Small Charm
Resistance Small Charm
Sharp Large Charm of Vita
Sharp Grand Charm of Vita
Steel Grand Charm of Vita
Sharp Grand Charm of Balance
Steel Grand Charm of Balance
Sharp Grand Charm of Maiming
Sharp Grand Charm
Steel Grand Charm
Shimmering Grand Charm of Balance
Shimmering Grand Charm
Resistance Grand Charm

+x% Faster Hit Recovery
+x to Attack Rating
+x Maximum Damage
+x Life
X Resist x%
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Unique CharmsBone Break
Gheed's Fortune
Paladin Hellfire Torch
Annihilus
Monster Physical Immunity is Sundered
+x to All Skills
+x to Paladin Skills
+x to All Attributes
All Resistances +x
+x% to Experience Gained
x% Extra Gold from Monsters
x% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Reduces all Vendor Prices x%
+x to Light Radius

Farming Spots

The areas below are efficient farming locations that make use of the build’s strengths. Other farming spots might not be as effective due to Immunities or bad layouts.

Anything that has a in the "Starter" column can be farmed with the Starter Build Variant.

Act 1

AreaStarterRewards
The CountessRunes
Key of Terror
The PitAll Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
AndarielUniques
Sets
Jewelry

Act 2

AreaStarterRewards
Stony TombAll Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Ancient Tunnels-All Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Summoner-Key of Hate

Act 3

AreaStarterRewards
Arachnid LairAll Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Lower KurastRunes
Runeword Bases
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Jewelry
Ruined TempleAll Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
TravincalGearing
Runes
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Gold
MephistoUniques
Sets

Act 4

AreaStarterRewards
City of the Damned-All Item Types
River of Flame-All Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Chaos Sanctuary-All Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Diablo-Uniques
Sets
Leveling

Act 5

AreaStarterRewards
Eldritch the RectifierGearing
Gold
Leveling
Shenk the OverseerGearing
Gold
Leveling
PindleskinGearing
Gold
Leveling
Drifter Cavern-All Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Nihlathak-Key of Destruction
Leveling
Worldstone Keep / Throne of Destruction-All Item Types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Baal / Waves-Uniques
Sets
Max Area Level
Leveling

Ubers

This build is capable of farming Uber Tristram and the Mini Ubers before (See the "Ubers" Build Variant):

AreaRewards
LilithDiablo's Horn
DurielBaal's Eye
Izual Mephisto's Brain
Mephisto, Diablo, BaalHellfire Torch

Mercenary

Your Mercenary serves an incredibly important role to the overall success of your build. They can be a front line tank, provide a pivotal Aura, and/or deal Physical Damage to kill enemies with Immunity to your Skill set.

Act 2 Desert Mercenary

The Act 2 Desert Mercenary can be hired from Greiz.
He can be equipped with a Spear or a Polearm, a Body Armor and a Helmet. 
Every Act 2 Mercenary has access to an Aura and uses Jab as his base Attack. The Aura activates once the Mercenary has engaged in combat and remains active between traveling to and from town. The Auras available are based on what difficulty you hire the Mercenary from.

Might Reaper's Toll

Reaper’s Toll, Might

Use a Desert Mercenary with Might Aura to significantly boost your Physical Damage. Equip him with The Reaper's Toll for a 33% Chance to cast Decrepify on striking, Slowing down and increasing Physical Damage dealt to enemies. Decrepify can even break most Physical Immunities.

Gear Progression

Early-GameMid-GameEnd-Game
Act 5 Frenzy MercenaryAct 2 Might MercenaryAct 2 Might Mercenary
Lawbringers
(2x 1-H Swords)
The Reaper's TollThe Reaper's Toll
(Ethereal Preferred)
Smoke
(Any Body Armor)
Treachery
(Any Body Armor)
Fortitude
(Ethereal Body Armor, 700++ Base Defense)
Crown of ThievesRockstopperGuillaume's Face

The Mercenary is hard to keep alive until you have the minimum gear recommended in this guide. Remember you can drag Healing Potions onto the portrait, or shift + 1/2/3/4 to directly feed them a Healing Potion from your Belt. The Mercenary also gains bonus Resistances from Thawing Potions and Antidote Potions.

If your Mercenary dies in battle, you can revive them from any of the Mercenary NPCs in each Act. This does come with an increasing cost, capping at 50,000 Gold. Keep that in mind and decide if the Mercenary is currently worth the cost.

Playstyle

General

  • Get in the habit of keeping Vigor Aura active while running through town for faster travel.
  • Before each Magic Find/Experience run, cast Holy Shield on your Weapon-Swap with + to Skills. Refresh this buff as soon as it expires.
  • Use Charge while having Vigor Aura active for mobility. Use this Skill combination to travel to your Farming Spot or between Elite Packs.
  • Upon encountering an Elite Monster, switch to Fanaticism Aura and, if you have Teleport from an item, use it to "Telestomp" the Elite, jumping directly into the Elite Pack. If not, Charge into the center of the Elite Pack.
  • Use Zeal until the Elite and its surrounding minions are dead. Make sure to keep Fanaticism active at all times while using Zeal.
  • If you have Teleport, use it while on your main weapon loadout to reposition your Mercenary to apply Decrepify from his The Reaper's Toll or Lawbringers to the mobs that you are striking with Zeal. You can also use Teleport in this way to quickly relocate to nearby Elites and their minions.

For Bosses:

  • When fighting Act Bosses, Uber Bosses, or Diablo Clone, "Telestomp" the Boss as you would an Elite Monster (if you have Teleport). This ensures that your Mercenary procs Decrepify on the Boss as soon as possible and as much as possible. Decrepify's Slow and -x% to Enemy Physical Resistance are invaluable against Bosses.
  • Use Smite for more consistent damage against Bosses, especially if you are lacking the Attack Rating to hit them consistently with Zeal.

Mind These Situations:

  • Briefly switch to the Cleansing Aura when either you or anyone in your Party is Poisoned or is Cursed with enemy Amplify Damage. After about 2-5 seconds, this Aura will remove these negative status effects.
  • Switch to the Resist Lightning Aura when facing Unique Black Souls, or other Lightning Damage type Unique monsters, with Conviction Aura to prevent your death with a massive boost to Lightning Resistance.

Immunities

  • Bone Break sets all Immune to Physical monsters to 95% Physical Resistance, allowing any sources of -x% to Enemy Physical Resistance (including Decrepify) to take full effect.
  • Skip Physical Immune monsters that are still Physical Immune, or extremely hard to kill (highly Physical Resistant), even after applying Decrepify from your Mercenary's The Reaper's Toll or Lawbringers.

Late-Game

  • Before starting your Magic Find/Experience run, first cast Battle Command 2 times and then Battle Orders once using Call to Arms. Refresh these buffs as soon as they expire (approx. every 2-3 minutes).
  • While on your Faster Cast Rate-granting Weapon-Swap, use Teleport from Enigma to travel to your Farming Spot or between Elite Packs. Swap to your main weapon loadout to kill monsters using Zeal.

Optimal Loot/Experience Farming Strategies

  • Ubers - The Zeal Paladin is one of the best builds for defeating the Uber Bosses and acquiring a Hellfire Torch. Easily stacking Crushing Blow and other helpful offensive and defensive stats, this build makes short work of these ultra powerful monsters with the proper setup and approach (see the "Ubers" Build Variant).
  • Travincal with 3 Players in the Game - Council Members are quickly decimated by Zeal. They have great loot odds for Runes, Charms, Jewels, Jewelry, Gems, and basic gear with 3 Players in the game or /Players3 on Single Player.
  • Chaos Sanctuary - Jumping into Elite Packs in this Max Area Level Farming Spot feels natural for the Zealer, especially while using the "Attack Speed" Build Variant. This build makes short work of this otherwise dangerous area.
  • Worldstone Keep/Baal - The Zeal Paladin does an excellent job of destroying nearly every Elite spawn in Worldstone, Waves in the Throne of Destruction, and Baal himself. Having insane Physical Damage, % Life stolen per hit, maximum Chance to Block, and the Resist Lightning Aura for Black Souls, this build usually stays fairly safe in this dangerous Max Level Area.
  • Nihlathak - Because the Zealer exclusively deals Physical Damage, he has zero Immunity issues when farming this Boss for the Key of Destruction. Also, having Redemption Aura from Phoenix allows this build to redeem corpses before "Nilly" can use Corpse Explosion on them. These unique advantages make this Boss a relatively easy target for this build.

Breakpoints

Breakpoints in Diablo 2 are the minimum values required to reduce the frames of an action. Below are the important breakpoints considered for this build. For more information on the mechanics involved, check out our in-depth Resource: Breakpoints.

Faster Cast Rate (FCR)

Faster Cast Rate speeds up your casting animation for spells. Aim for the 48% FCR Breakpoint on Weapon-Swap for Enigma Teleport cast speed on the Standard Build. Build Variants require different values. Note: FCR only controls the animation speed of the Character, and not any internal Cooldowns spells have.

Frames1514131211109
FCR0918304875125

Increased Attack Speed (IAS)

Increased Attack Speed speeds up your attack animations. Weapon Bases have different IAS Breakpoints. Since Fanaticism provides this build with an abundance of free IAS, 9% IAS (which is achieved by Grief alone) is sufficient to reach maximum Attack Speed on the Standard Build. Consult the d2planner for other bases.

Grief Phase Blade

Frames2824
Zeal IAS (Level 28 Fanaticism)09

Oath Cryptic Sword

Frames30292824
Zeal IAS (Level 23 Fanaticism)052639

Butcher's Pupil (Upgraded)

Frames353430292824
Zeal IAS (Level 21 Fanaticism)01419326586

Faster Hit Recovery (FHR)

Faster Hit Recovery increases survivability. Aim for the 48% FHR Breakpoint if possible.

Frames9876543
FHR0715274886200

Faster Block Rate (FBR)

Faster Block Rate does not need to be obtained for this build. Holy Shield already reduces the block animation to 2 frames through a hidden mechanic.

Frames21
Holy Shield FBR086

Hardcore

For all Hardcore gameplay, your primary focus is increasing your Resistances, Damage Reduction, Chance to Block and Maximum Life. This can mean sacrificing overall power level for a more secure playstyle.

The Zeal Paladin can become Hardcore viable with key changes to Gear and Skill Point allocation. Review the changes below before building this character in Hardcore, as some of these changes differ significantly from the Standard Build.

Gear Changes

  • Damage Reduction: There are several gear options/setups for achieving a high amount of % Damage Reduction on a Hardcore Zealer. A setup using Crown of Ages socketed with a Cham Rune and Ber Rune, Enigma, Herald of Zakarum socketed with a Ber Rune, and either Verdungo's Hearty Cord or String of Ears achieves 54% Damage Reduction (4% over-capped) while providing the essential Cannot Be Frozen stat. Vampire Gaze is a more budget Helmet option that provides solid Damage Reduction on top of Dual Leech. A Rare Circlet socketed with a Cham Rune and Ber Rune provides Damage Reduction, Faster Cast Rate, Attack Rating, and additional + to Skills. Guillaume's Face socketed with a Ber Rune provides Damage Reduction while maintaining a high amount of Deadly Strike. With 35% Damage Reduction of its own, Stormshield on the Off-hand opens up Helmet and Belt options such as Guillaume's Face and Arachnid Mesh.
  • Stacking Resistances: Stack your Fire/Lightning/Cold Resistances beyond the default maximum values of 75 each (175 total in Hell). Stacking 85 additional Resistances in Hell completely negates the Conviction Aura of any Elite Boss or the Oblivion Knight's Lower Resist Curse. Beware of encountering both at the same time! Consider the primary damage type(s) of the monsters in the area you want to farm. Herald of Zakarum is the best Shield option for stacking Resistances on this build. Chains of Honor and Fortitude are possible Body Armor options if you are willing to forgo Enigma. Um Runes socketed into gear, Jewelry, and Charms are also ideal sources of Resistances.
  • Faster Hit Recovery: Achieve the 48% Faster Hit Recovery Breakpoint on your main weapon loadout with your Helmet, Belt, and Charm(s). Faster Hit Recovery is not as important when going for maximum Chance to Block (75%). You mainly rely on the special Faster Block Rate Breakpoint provided by Holy Shield instead. 
  • Lightning Absorb: Equip Thundergod's Vigor when farming or Teleporting through an area where Burning Souls are able to spawn such as Worldstone Keep/Throne of Destruction.

Skill Point Changes

  • There are no required Skill Point changes for a Hardcore Zeal Paladin. However, if you do not plan to farm Baal/Worldstone Keep, you can relocate Skill Points from Resist Lightning to Defiance to boost your Defense rating in order to make it even less likely that monsters will successfully hit your Zealer.

    See the "Hardcore" Build Variant below for additional suggestions and visuals.

Build Variants

Starter

Setup

The Starter variant of the Zeal Paladin meets the minimum gear requirements for farming the Starter tagged areas in the "Farming Spots" section above. These areas can be Solo-farmed by this setup (/Players1 on Single Player) in both Nightmare and Hell difficulty. An Upgraded Butcher's Pupil is a strong, relatively easy to acquire weapon that provides this build with sufficient power. There are several other low budget options that work just as well or nearly as well such as Unbending Will (see "Gear Options" above). Beyond a decently strong weapon, make sure to prioritize Attack Speed, Attack Rating, Damage, Damage Reduction, Resistances, Cannot Be Frozen, and Life/Attributes on your gear. A Teleport Charge Staff on Weapon-Swap allows this build to reposition. Follow the Paladin Leveling Guide to get your Paladin to Level 75.

Mercenary

An Act 5 Frenzy Mercenary using 2x 1-H Lawbringers or an Act 5 Bash Mercenary using 1x 2-H Lawbringer is ideal for a Starter Zeal Paladin. The combination of Decrepify and Battle Cry provides added safety and damage. Decrepify allows you to deal with Physical Immune monsters. Mercenaries require Resistances, Life Leech, and/or Damage Reduction to stay alive. Smoke and a Crown of Thieves are cheap Body Armor/Helmet options for Resistances and Life Leech. An Act 2 Might Mercenary using Insight can also work here.

Skills

1-Point Charge is used for mobility on the Starter build.

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Smite
2. Charge
3. Cleansing
4. Vigor

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear and enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%). Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Budget

Setup

The Budget Zealer achieves solid results with gear that is much easier to acquire than the gear on the Standard Build. This variant can farm almost every Farming Spot the Standard Build can, and almost just as well, albeit on a lower Player Count. With 1-3 Players in the game or /Players1-3 on Single Player, the Budget setup dominates Travincal, The Pit, and Act Bosses. It can even hold its own in Chaos Sanctuary and Worldstone Keep. With a Teleport Charge Amulet or Naj's Puzzler on Weapon-Swap, you can jump directly into Elite Packs after using Charge. A Wizardspike on swap allows us to achieve the 75% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint for Teleporting when using a Teleport Charge Amulet. If you can acquire Bone Break you can smash Immune to Physical mobs. The Budget Zeal Paladin makes use of several lower-end gear options that still provide solid Damage, Attack Rating, Resistances, Damage Reduction, and the Cannot Be Frozen stat.

Mercenary

Similar to the Standard Build, the Budget Zeal Paladin uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll and Guillaume's Face. However, because Fortitude requires a Lo Rune, Duress, Treachery, and Duriel's Shell make great Budget alternatives for a Body Armor.

Skills

1-Point Charge is used for mobility on the Budget build.

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Smite
2. Charge
3. Cleansing
4. Vigor

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put all remaining Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear and enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%). Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Standard

Setup

This is the Standard Best in Slot (BiS) Zeal Paladin featured in the beginning of the guide. It is the balanced "jack-of-all-trades" version, capable of performing the most tasks well. This variant is the point of comparison for all other variants. It carefully balances Damage, Magic Find, Defensive Stats, and Teleport mobility. Bone Break allows this build to smash Immune to Physical mobs. This setup reaches the 48% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint on Weapon-Swap.

Mercenary

The Standard Zeal Paladin Mercenary is an Act 2 Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.

Skills

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Smite
2. Charge
3. Cleansing
4. Vigor

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put all remaining Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear and enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%). You can also allocate additional Stat Points into Strength to increase Zeal's damage. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Attack Speed

Setup

This Zeal Paladin variant achieves a minimum of 113% Increased Attack Speed (IAS) on its gear to completely nullify the Attack Speed Slow from Decrepify. In combination with Fanaticism and Grief Phase Blade, 113% IAS on your gear provides such a large Attack Speed surplus that Oblivion Knights are no longer able to slow Zeal (this mitigates the effect of enemy Holy Freeze as well). Baal's Decrepify is also completely negated by this setup. Naturally, Chaos Sanctuary, Worldstone Keep, and Baal Waves/Baal are strong loot/Experience farms for this build variant. The IAS stat is required on nearly every piece of its gear. Ruby Jewels of Fervor and Nosferatu's Coil make this setup possible. Bone Break allows this build to smash Immune to Physical mobs. The Attack Speed Zealer sacrifices Damage Reduction and a Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint from the Standard Build.

Mercenary

Just as with the Standard Build, the Attack Speed Zeal Paladin uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.

Skills

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Smite
2. Charge
3. Cleansing
4. Vigor

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put all remaining Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear and enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%). You can also allocate additional Stat Points into Strength to increase Zeal's damage. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Mobility

Setup

This Zeal Paladin variant achieves the 125% Faster Cast Rate (FCR) Breakpoint on Weapon-Swap by using Arachnid Mesh, Trang-Oul's Claws, a Rare Circlet with 20% FCR, and a Caster Crafted Amulet with 10-20% FCR. Prioritizing fast Teleport cast speed, this setup is optimal for farming The Pit, Travincal, Uber Key Bosses (e.g. Nihlathak), Act Bosses, and any Farming Spots which require travel such as several Terror Zones. Bone Break allows this build to smash Immune to Physical mobs. The Mobility Zealer sacrifices Damage and Damage Reduction. Reaching the 75% FCR Breakpoint is much easier and does not sacrifice damage; it only requires Arachnid Mesh in place of String of Ears on the Standard Build.

Mercenary

Just as with the Standard Build, the Mobility Zeal Paladin uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.

Skills

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Smite
2. Charge
3. Cleansing
4. Vigor

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put all remaining Skill Points into Defiance and/or Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear and enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%). You can also allocate additional Stat Points into Strength to increase Zeal's damage. Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Ubers

Setup

The Ubers variant specializes in defeating the Uber Bosses, including mini-Ubers such as Lilith. Crushing Blow, Open Wounds, Deadly Strike, Enhanced Damage, Damage Reduction, Resistances, and Life are priority stats on this setup. You can use a Teleport Charges Amulet for mobility to justify using Fortitude or Chains of Honor for more Damage and All Resistances. Exile, Dracul's Grasp, or a Life Tap Charges Wand provides a source of Life Tap for much needed Life Sustain. Pre-buffing Enchant with Demon Limb provides additional Attack Rating and pre-buffing Fade with Treachery provides Damage Reduction, Resistances, and Curse Duration Reduction. Thundergod's Vigor and stacked Lightning Resistance allows this build to tank Uber Mephisto. For extra swag, use Last Wish for its solid combination of Uber-killing stats.

Mercenary

Just as with the Standard Build, the Ubers Zeal Paladin uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.
Note: The Mercenary is notoriously hard to keep alive versus Uber Bosses. Don't count on him being alive 100% of the time.

Skills

Use Resist Lightning Aura against Uber Mephisto if you are lacking stacked Lightning Resistance on your gear. Use your 1-Point Smite to train down the Ubers if your Damage and/or Attack Rating with Zeal is insufficient.

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Smite
2. Charge
3. Cleansing
4. Vigor

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put all remaining Skill Points into Resist Lightning past Level 80.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear and enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%). Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Hardcore

Setup

For the Hardcore mode variant, aim for 50% Damage Reduction, high Defense, and maximum Chance to Block (75%) to guard against taking extreme amounts of Physical Damage. Additionally, overcap Resistances beyond the natural cap of 75% if possible to counteract hostile Conviction or Lower Resist. If you choose to use Bone Break, you can equip Stormshield to counteract its negative effect. This setup reaches the 48% Faster Cast Rate Breakpoint on Weapon-Swap. Consult the "Hardcore" section for more detailed information.

Mercenary

Just as with the Standard Build, a Hardcore Zeal Paladin uses an Act 2 Might Mercenary with The Reaper's Toll, Fortitude, and Guillaume's Face.

Skills

Put 1 Skill Point into each of the following Skills:
1. Smite
2. Charge
3. Cleansing
4. Vigor

Max out the following Skills in this order:
1. Zeal
2. Fanaticism
3. Sacrifice
4. Holy Shield

Put all remaining Skill Points into Defiance past Level 80 if you do not plan on farming Baal/Worldstone Keep. Otherwise, put Skill Points into both Defiance and Resist Lightning just as on the Standard Build.

Use the Scroll Bar to see Skill Point Progression

Attributes

Allocate enough Stat Points into Strength to wear your gear and enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%). Put all remaining Stat Points into Vitality.


Video Guide

Video Guide by DarkHumility

Summary

  • Teleport using the Faster Cast Rate-granting gear on your Weapon-Swap.
  • Keep Fanaticism active at all times while attacking with Zeal on your main weapon loadout.
  • Take advantage of Holy Shield: put enough Stat Points into Dexterity to achieve maximum Chance to Block (75%) with Holy Shield active.
  • If you are lacking some of the Best in Slot (BiS) gear for this build, make use of easier to acquire alternatives such as Oath and Shaftstop to get to a functional, powerful Zeal Paladin setup faster.
  • This build is fully customizable in terms of its weapon, Increased Attack Speed, Faster Cast Rate, Deadly Strike, Damage Reduction, Defense, Resistances, Magic Find, and a host of other stats. Build your Zealer according to what you want to farm and the gear you have available.
  • While the Zeal Paladin proves efficient in several top Farming Spots, this build is most effective as an Uber killer. Farm Hellfire Torches with this build to use it to its full potential!

We hope you enjoy this build! It doesn't get much more fun than plunging into hordes of enemies and cutting them to ribbons. Strike fear into the hearts of demons...big and small!

Good luck!


Credits

Written by DarkHumility
Reviewed by Teo1904


Changelog

Oct 5th 2022
Updated to Patch 2.5 Added Sunder Charm and Terror Zone sections

Apr 20th 2022
Updated to Patch 2.4