Choice: Doom + Dream + Dragon + (Exile / Phoenix / Bramble)

I need help to choose a 4th aura runeword for an Auradin build. I’m going to play a modded single-player Paladin with 8 players setting, I can use any runeword and get all skills to level 20, so synergies for auras can be maxed. I will use all the attacks on the Paladin skill tree, adapting to each situation. My main active aura will be Fanaticism, switching to Conviction or some others when needed.

I will be equipping Doom, Dream and Dragon (I call them DDD). I’m building this Auradin after I learned I could stack elemental auras, so these 3 runewords are the core of this build. I discarded using a second Dream or Dragon, since my maxed synergies would already boost their auras’ damage.

  • Doom axe: chance to cast Volcano on strike, Holy Freeze aura when equipped, +2 to all skills, increased attack speed, enhanced damage, -to enemy cold resistance, deadly strike, open wounds, prevent monster heal, freezes target.
  • Dream helm: chance to cast Confuse when struck, Holy Shock aura when equipped, faster hit recovery, defense, all resistances.
  • Dragon shield or armor: chance to cast Venom when struck, chance to cast Hydra on striking, Holy Fire aura when equipped, defense, +5 to all attributes, +x to strength based on level, damage reduced.

My Might Desert Mercenary will equip Pride, Flickering Flame and Dragon.

  • Pride spear or polearm: chance to cast Firewall when struck, Concentration aura when equipped, bonus to attack rating, +damage to demons based on level, adds lightning damage, deadly strike, hit blinds target, freezes target, replenish life.
  • Flickering Flame helm: Resist Fire aura when equipped, -to enemy fire resistance, defense, half freeze duration, poison length reduced.
  • Dragon armor: see above, has chances to cast good skills and a good Holy Fire aura.

My options for the 4th item are Exile, Phoenix and Bramble. Each has their advantages and perks, and I’d like to discuss and get opinions about what to choose.

  • Exile shield helps recover life and boosts party defense: Chance to cast Life Tap on striking, Defiance aura when equipped, +2 to Offensive Auras, faster block rate, freezes target, defense, replenish life, self repair (enabling ethereal, so more defense).
  • Phoenix shield focuses on weapon and fire damage, but with an aura not always useful: chance to cast Firestorm on striking, Redemption aura when equipped, enhanced damage, -to enemy fire resistance, fire absorb.
  • Bramble armor deals reactive damage with an aura and a summon’s aura, boosts Dragon’s Venom: Thorns aura when equipped, faster hit recovery, +to poison skill damage, defense, regenerate mana, fire resist, poison resist, life after each kill, Spirit of Barbs charges.

It looks that there wouldn’t be a bad choice between them, but which one would be the best? What item would be the most effective on end game, or more fun to use? These doubts that don’t let me choose:

  • About Exile: Are the healing modifiers very useful? Is Defiance good and useful? Is faster block rate important?
  • About Phoenix: Do I need the extra damage, or I can choose something with a better aura?
  • About Bramble: Are Thorns and Spirit of Barbs good enough, after the update that improved them? Maybe the mercenary should use it instead, but sacrifice Spirit of Barbs?

Thanks for reading this. Any constructive opinions will be appreciated.

EDIT: I’ve thought about an alternative aura build, focused on fire. It’s about stacking fire modifiers with Hand of Justice, Flickering Flame and Dragon armor. It’s basically a similar build as DDD (Doom-Dream-Dragon), but trading Holy Freeze and Holy Shock for higher Holy Fire. I need advice for this one’s shield, too.

The remaining choice is on the shield: Phoenix, or another Dragon?

  • Phoenix would add high enhanced damage, high -to enemy fire resistance, high chance to cast high level Firestorm on striking, and Redemption.
  • Dragon would get Holy Fire from level 30 to 44 and double chances to cast Venom and Hydra.