The beloved playstyle of having an army of Skeletal Minions destroying everything for you is the main focus of this build guide. It is important to point out that Minion-focused Necromancer currently has severe issues with general clear-speed, as well as issues with both damage output and survival until you hit Level 50+. It is not recommended to switch to this build until you have started progressing the Paragon Boards to provide layers of defenses, as well as offense, for your army.
That said, the build will require certain Legendary Powers to be a performing character, which is covered in this guide. Outside of letting our minions do our damage, we will be Cursing enemies with Decrepify and Slowing them down on top of consistent damage output via Bone Spear.
You are able to level with this build, however, we would strongly recommend checking out the Necromancer Leveling guide for the smoothest experience going through the campaign before switching to this build.
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This build has no mandatory items or Aspects to function, meaning you can play it right from the start!
Please note that the video guide is meant to illustrate gameplay and general build mechanics rather than act as a precise build guide. This written guide is always the most up-to-date and accurate version, since updating the video with new information is not possible.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Truly a pure minion Necromancer build
- Safe build, thanks to our meat shield army
- High end-game version is incredibly strong
- Not very fast
- No big damage numbers
- Wants a Unique item to perform in the higher end-game
To see how this build compares to the other builds on our site, you can check out our build tier lists.
Season of the Malignant
Season 1 Patch Updates
The following list details the changes in the Season 1 Patch Update that are specific to this build. Check the Changelog for all the other guide updates.
- Raise Skeleton, Corpse Explosion, and Corpse Tendrils range for auto-targeting Corpses on mouse and keyboard increased by 50%.
- Raise Skeleton Skeletal Priest bonus damage increased from 20% to 30%.
- Raise Skeleton Skeletal Priest healing increased from 10% to 15%.
- Transfusion Minion healing increased from 15/30/45% to 20/40/60%.
- Amplify Damage increased from 3/6/9% to 4/8/12%.
- Necromancer’s minions will now automatically re-summon after respawning during a World Boss fight.
- Osseous Gale Aspect bonus Bone Storm duration increased from 4-8 to 5-10 seconds.
- Aspect of Disobedience maximum stacks reduced from 100 to 60, reducing maximum Bonus Armor % from 25%-50% to 15%-30%.
- The following attacks now deal reduced damage to Druid Companions and Necromancer Minions:
- Fire Breath
- Elite Affixes
- Fire Enchanted
- Electrified Obelisks
- Shock Lance
We’ve received a lot of damage related buffs to the build and a big armor nerf in the form of Aspect of Disobedience. Outside of the very sought after buffs to our minions we also got some nice quality of life changes with corpse targeting as well as damage increase output via Amplify Damage.
The 1.1.1 patch brought us some very nice minion defensive buffs which are more than appreciated!
The Season 1 theme introduces Malignant Hearts that provide build-altering bonuses. The hearts are divided into 4 categories, each with a color that needs to be socketed in the corresponding colored Malignant Socket on equipped jewelry. Wrathful Hearts are a special case due to their rarity, and can be placed in any Socket.
Listed below are the Malignant Hearts that are useful for this build, ranked by importance. Stats displayed reflect what a Level 20 character would receive as a drop.
- Caged Heart of the Great Feast (Wrathful, Super-World Tier IV): Each Minion drains 1.0-2.0 Essence per second but deals 50-75% increased damage. With no Minions, this bonus applies to you and drains 5 Essence per second. This needs to be combined with the Determination heart.
- Caged Heart of Determination (Devious, Utility): Resource draining effects are 40-50% less effective. In addition, gain 3.0-8.0% increased Resource Generation.
- Caged Heart of the Sacrilegious (Vicious, Offensive): Walking near a Corpse automatically activates an equipped Corpse Skill every second, dealing 40-30% reduced damage.
Skill Tree Points
The following tables show the full allocation of Skill Points for the Summoner Necromancer build. The first table has the most important 48 points to start the build. The second table has the remaining 10 points that are allocated once you obtain all Skill Points from Renown.
|Bone Splinters, Enhanced Bone Splinters||Basic Skill|
|Bone Spear Level 5, Enhanced Bone Spear, Supernatural Bone Spear Hewed Flesh Level 3||Core Skill|
|Blood Mist, Grim Harvest Level 3, Fueled by Death Level 3, Skeletal Warrior Mastery Level 3||Corpse & Macabre Skill|
|Decrepify, Enhanced Decrepify, Abhorrent Decrepify, Death’s Embrace Level 3, Skeletal Mage Mastery Level 3, Death’s Reach Level 3||Curse Skill|
|Necrotic Carapace Level 3||Corpse & Macabre Skill|
|Bone Storm, Prime Bone Storm, Supreme Bone Storm, Bonded in Essence Level 2, Inspiring Leader Level 3, Death’s Defense Level 2||Ultimate Skill|
|Kalan’s Edict||Key Passives|
|Remaining Renown Points||Cluster|
|Amplify Damage Level 3||Curse Skill|
|Hellbent Commander Level 3, Golem Mastery Level 3, Death’s Defense Level 3||Ultimate Skill|
Book of the Dead
Since we are focusing on dealing damage with our minions, we will be keeping all our minions alive for this build, and not sacrificing any of them.
- Melee Skeletons; Reaper Skeletons we want these bad boys to generate corpses as this will trigger our Hewed Flesh which will fortify us.
- Mage Skeletons; Cold Skeletons will provide insane amounts of Essence per hit with the first option.
- Golem; Bone Golem provides extra layers of defense by being able to taunt enemies for us and shed corpses upon taking damage.
The Paragon progression system unlocks at Level 50 and provides a vast amount of character power. On the Paragon Board, bonuses range from minor stats on Magic Nodes to more powerful Rare Glyphs and Legendary Nodes.
As you path towards Glyph Sockets and Legendary Nodes, you should prioritize Damage reduction for your Minions, Minion damage and Attack Speed, Intelligence, Resistance, and Life for Normal and Magic Nodes. Glyph radius increases as you level them up. Therefore, if you cannot fulfill Additional Bonus requirements early on, skip allocating extra Nodes for now. It’s also important to point out that you might not have the glyph you want when you reach your first socket; if that’s the case, simply slot in any Glyph providing any beneficial stats for you until you get the correct one.
Listed below are images of the pathing you should take along with the locations of the Glyphs and order you should choose your Paragon Boards past the initial Starting board.
The Starting board will be focused on picking getting to the socket slot via the left-hand side, and we will want the Mage Glyph. Depending on the level and radius, you should pick up the extra Intelligence Nodes if you can enable the Additional Bonus for it. Then, we proceed by pathing upward for our next board by taking all Magic Nodes and the Rare Node on the right side.
Cult Leader (2nd Board)
Our second board, Cult Leader, is the most important one due to the massive amount of scaling modifiers for our minions in both offense and defensive terms. We will rotate the board to allow for a fast rush to the Legendary node on the left-hand side and pick up the Rare and Magic nodes right next to it. After this, it’s a matter of hunting down literally every single Rare and Magic node on this entire board. When you reach the socket, you’ll want to use the Deadraiser Glyph. Similarly to our starting board, if the radius is big enough to get the bonus modifier, you should take the extra Intelligence. Once done, we’ll path out to the right-hand side for our third board.
Hulking Monstrosity (3rd Board)
The third board is Hulking Monstrosity and, similarly to our previous board, we’ll be rushing towards the Legendary Node and picking up the Rare and Magic Nodes as shown in the image above on the way. Once you reach the socket, you’ll slot in the Control Glyph and the extra Nodes around for Intelligence, if the radius of the Glyph allows for it to benefit from the bonus modifier. Make sure you grab the displayed Rare and Magic nodes before you move upward to the fourth board.
Scent of Death (4th Board)
The last board is Scent of Death, which we’ll rotate to get the socket slot first, in which we want to use the Warrior Glyph. Similarly to our previous boards, we’ll take the extra attributes if the radius allows for us to benefit from the bonus modifier. After this, we will finish our progression by getting the remaining Rare and Magic nodes.
Paragon board images courtesy of d4builds.gg.
Mechanics and Playstyle
The main focus is to make sure all your minions are alive and well. Ensure to use the Raise Skeleton skill every 5 seconds, keeping the damage buff and heal up on your Minions. Outside of this, it’s important you keep enemies Cursed with Decrepify and use your Bone Spear to apply Vulnerable and deal more damage, as we will be getting tons of Essence thanks to our Mage Skeletons. Whenever you run out of Essence, spamming the Summon Skeleton skill will generate more Essence back thanks to Grim Harvest.
Finally, Bone Storm is your big boy damage cooldown for bosses or tougher elites. This provides a ton of extra Critical Strike Chance, 30% of which goes to your Minions.
The last slot on the Skill Bar is for the Golem.
Bone Splinters is NOT used on the Skill Bar, and simply taken because points must be allocated in the Basic cluster.
Gear Choice and Stat Priority
Prioritize a higher total damage output when it comes to your weapon, as the higher it is, the better. It should be kept in mind that if you find a higher Item Power 1-Handed weapon it could very well be better than a 2-Handed weapon if coupled with an Off-Hand or even a Shield, as Shields scale your main-hand weapon by 80%!
Outside of this, you’ll be on the look out for the following modifiers, in no particular order (although bolded ones are particularly important):
|Gear Slot||Important Affixes|
|2H Sword||+ Critical Strike Damage|
+ Critical Strike Damage with Bone skills
+ Core Skill Damage
+ Shadow Resistance
|Chest||+ Damage Reduction, DR from Close, Distant or Burning Enemies|
+ Maximum Minion Life
|Gloves||+ Critical Strike Chance|
+ Critical Strike Damage
+ Lucky Hit Chance
+ Attack Speed
|Pants||+ Damage Reduction, DR from Close, Distant or Burning Enemies|
+ Ranks of Blood Mist
+ Maximum Minion Life
|Boots||+ Movement Speed|
+ Movement Speed for X seconds after killing an elite
|Amulet||+ Movement Speed|
+ Movement Speed for X seconds after killing an elite
+ Minion Attack Speed
+ Ranks of the Hellbent Commander
|Ring (Rare)||+ Critical Strike Chance|
+ Critical Strike Damage
+ Lucky Hit
|Ring (Unique)||Ring of Mendeln: The higher the Unique effect is rolled, the better.|
Legendary Aspects and Codex of Power
Listed below are all the suggested Aspects found in dungeons or on Legendary Items that are important for the Summoner Necromancer build. It’s important to point out that for this build to even function, you will need to make sure your minions are staying alive and have high attack speed, making Aspects such as the Aspect of Hardened Bones and Aspect of Frenzied Dead absolutely crucial.
|Gear Slot||Aspect Name||Legendary Aspect Power|
|Helm, Chest, Gloves, Boots, Shield, Amulet (+50%)||Viscous Aspect||Your maximum number of Skeletal Mages is increased by 2.|
|Gloves, Off-hand, 1H, 2H weapon (+100%), ring, amulet (+50%)||Splintering Aspect||Bone Spear’s primary attack makes enemies hit beyond the first Vulnerable for 1.5-2.5 seconds. Bone Shards from Bone Spear deal 50-100% bonus damage to Vulnerable enemies and pierce them.|
|Helm, Chest, Gloves, Boots, Shield, Amulet (+50%)||Coldbringer’s Aspect||Every 10 seconds, your Cold Skeletal Mages cast a blizzard that deals X Cold damage and continuously Chills enemies for 8% over 6 seconds.|
|Helm, Chest, Pants, Shield, Amulet (+50%)||Aspect of Disobedience||You gain 0.25-0.5% increased armor for 4 seconds when you deal any form of damage, stacking up to 25-50%.|
|Helm, Chest, Gloves, Boots, Shield, Amulet (+50%)||Blood Getter’s Aspect||Your maximum number of Skeletal Warriors is increased by 2.|
|Gloves, Off-hand, 1H, 2H weapon (+100%), ring, amulet (+50%)||Aspect of Frenzied Dead||Each time one of your Summoning Minions damages an enemy, they gain 10-14% Attack Speed for 3 seconds, up to 30-42%.|
|Helm, Chest, Pants, Shield, Amulet (+50%)||Aspect of Hardened Bones||While you have 7 or more Minions, your Minions gain 15-20% increased Damage Reduction.|
|Gloves, Off-hand, 1H, 2H weapon (+100%), ring, amulet (+50%)||Aspect of Reanimation||Your skeleton gain increased damage while alive, up to 20-30% after 10 seconds.|
The unique Ring of Mendeln is a great addition for this build, as the Lucky Hit will allow your Minions’ next attack to explode, dealing a significant amount of damage. This Unique will allow you to take this build to a much higher level where your damage numbers will skyrocket.
Listed below are the best Gems to socket into gear for each slot type.
- Weapon: Royal Emerald to increase +#% damage dealt against Vulnerable targets.
- Armor: Royal Ruby to increase your life.
- Jewelry: Royal Skull for increased Armor.
Elixirs and Health Potions
To gain an edge in your adventures, head to the Alchemist and craft Elixirs that enhance your stats and experience gain for 30 minutes. Remember to gather the necessary crafting materials by foraging plants. Select an Elixir that provides the resistance you need most, or try the Assault Elixir to boost your Attack Speed.
Return to the Alchemist again when you reach Level 20, 30, 45, 60, 70, 80 and 90, to upgrade your potion. The extra healing is essential to survival.
- August 7th, 2023: Guide updated for Patch 1.1.1.
- July 19th, 2023: Guide updated for Season 1 including Malignant Hearts.