Zealot tips please? New ladder, new to paladin

Is there any Zeal leveling guide someone can recommend please? I’ll go holy fire until 30 then respec I think! Or can anyone tell me here what the best order to put points in and any runewords to work on and when?

Never played a paladin in D2, always done a meta, but thinking i’ll start as Zeal then go into tesladin when I get enough currency.

Which is the best merc for a zealot also? I’ll be ladder starting it. A5 or A2?

I still build the Zealot as a Zealot. Holy fire gives a good damage boost but it’s all fire and it doesn’t help you leech. Thus you will not have any good healing options aside from chugging pots until you respec and get a good weapon.

If you want to build as a Zealot it’s relatively easy, get all the basics as you level, spare points go into Sacrifice until you have zeal.

The main problem with starting out as a melee char is you need to farm up the gear. Low end runewords aren’t that great but there is Steel at lvl 16 Strength and Kings Grace at 25, in fact look up runewords by level and you will find a few pages listing runewords starting at low level going up. You can also do just fine while leveling with a blue weapon that you shop.

Mercs: everyone will still say a might merc due to…might. I have a thing for the Rouges, I gave my last girl an up’ed witchwild and she proced amp for me regularly.

Good luck.

Problem is endgame, You can do really well with Durress, Gface, Any boots really, Highlords ammy, Need to find a Ravenfrost, there are quite a few belt options, Spirit shield will work even in hell difficulty
But the most important parts is the weapon and Life leech, I do recommend over about 12% Life leech
Could take a while to find a good weapon to farm hell without problems and kill speed

To add to the OP’s question, and I think he and I may be wondering the same thing, is how to prioritize skill points after the respec once we reach level 40. The Zeal build almost always ends up with the same maxxed skills at 99. But I am really not sure which Zealot skills to give priority from 30 or 40 onward as I level and work through Nightmare.

I understand Fanaticism has priority from level 30 onward until maxed at 20 skill. I started this Zealot alternating between Sacrifice and Zeal while also grabbing 1 point in Salvation, 2 Holy Shield (careless mouse click is why more than 1) and 1 point in Defiance.

So at level 44 I have a mixed bag, not counting prerequisites, as follows with an unused respec in my pocket:

Fanaticism: 8
Sacrifice: 17
Zeal: 12
Holy Shield: 2
Salvation: 1
Defiance 1

If I respecced right now at 44 I could be at 20 in at least one of primary final skill (either Sacrifice or Zeal) with Fanaticism at 15 and could have one of the others at level 9 I believe. I will add I have played this zealot enough to recognize that having Zeal above 1 or 2 at this point can get me killed especially in tight quarters when I need to break away. So dropping Zeal down for now has some appeal if I am not gimping myself in some other way, such as the loss of higher attack rating that higher zeal grants.

To my question, which of these skills make the most sense to prioritize starting with a level 40 respec?

P.S. I have done a lot of googling on this topic and there is very little that speaks to skill priority from level 30 to, say, 70 or so.

Points directly in Zeal add 6% damage and 10% AR. Points in Sacrifice add 12% damage. Thus you should add to Zeal or Sacrifice depending on how your AR is doing. Fanaticism roughly gives you 16% damage and 5% AR. Again do what you need depending on how much you hit things.

I tend to get Zeal to 5, then alternate Fanta/Sacrifice, adding to zeal occasionally when I need more AR.

Holy Shield, I also target about 5…eventually then after everything is maxed I’ll add more. For HS I just like the duration high enough that I’m not constantly re-casting it.

Trying to max one…not sure I would do that, there is a balance between hitting things and doing damage. If you can’t hit, you can’t damage, thus why I rotate through the skills.

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I appreciate the input. Somewhat by accident I discovered how much I needed more AR and what an impact it would have. I looted a yellow Morning Star with +254 AR along with other things. I equipped it and entered the monastery. The hit rate went WAY up and I was killing so much faster than before. Your response and the added AR from this new weapon gives me information to consider.

Rondel hits the nail on the head every time.
I have learned much from him/he has helped my builds a great deal.
I would add that a point in Cleansing, and a point in Redemption are worth the wasted points in their prerequisites once you get to Hell where curses can be a bad day… it’ll save you from belt management, and/or TP’n to town to save yourself.
I too like to have many points on HolyShied mostly for the duration, but the +to defense and +to block are nice as well… I think my current guy has 26 in HolyShield, which, is likely overkill, probably should respec at some point.