The loved Skeletal Mage

I just thought I would start off this spot with a discussion on my favorite controversial topic: Skeletal Mages. Who loves them, who hates them, what do you put your extra 20 pts in if you don’t used them.

Personally I use them, I drop 20 pts in them. I like the extra elemental damage in case I get physical immunes and I like the extra bodies around. I don’t feel I am missing anything in what I could use the 20 pts for.

What do you guys think!


I don’t mind them but they’re also nothing insanely special. Usually I’ll max them out but not always.

In terms of what you’re giving up… not a ton. Usually utility points, Fire Golem (but I think that fell out of favor in 1.12 or so), or sometimes Bone Armor points which is sometimes liked in HC.

Oh yeah… the biggest thing you’re giving up is a high level Corpse Explosion. I don’t personally love CE so I usually only take it up to 10 or so as that feels effective but that is the biggest raw power cost.

I love the mages and I have always wanted them to be good but their damage is pure trash. Some find utility in cold or poison mages which is fair but I do not use them. For style points and making the necro feel cool they are awesome! Wish they could catch a buff.


The Poison mage would theoretically stop any regen on the bosses you were dealing with. The ice mage slowed but cost you bodies, no Necy likes that. During slow times I would unsummon the ice mages.

What I’m wondering is what you found beneficial to drop those 20 pts into instead of the mages:

Some did max CE. I never found that needed. 1+ pts and only really adding to it after I had maxed skellys. I usually ran with +10 to all skills so I was using a lvl 11 or so CE with just 1 pts invested. This seemed enough to me.

Did others invest in golems/curses? with the + to skills I usually just dropped 1 pt in each of those. With enough + to all skills you can usually get lower resistance over 10 with just 1 pt invested.

Id rather drop 20 points in to Revive than Mages. Max CE, more radius is great. Summon Resist isn’t bad. Decrepify is great.

mage + decrepit + clay golem would slow down to almost a stop boss unless they use magic, magic attack isn’t affected by slow. that was the best way for me to solo uber. i only used the clay golem at all time TBH

then if you use a conviction polearm on act 2 merc mage would get more useful as well as help a bit the skeleton as it was lowering defence as well, just not as much as resistance.

id use instead beast runeword on a low lvl axe, literally a act 1 normal axe for strength requirement with might merc to buff the skeleton.

and at hi level the mage could actually kill stuff on their own and deal decent damage in hell, usually i would only run skelly/mage and use revive only if i wanted to wow people with mass minion, kill stuff really fast, protect low lvl character like in chaos run in a ocean of minion or do uber, else i could kill everything fast except some boss with only skelly and mage.

revive only lasting X minute and not following me was something that turned me off

my skill lvl tho was over 45, i know with prebuff gear i had 55 mastery, 53 skelly and 52 mage

all in all mage has their use and is a necessity for uber

yeah, i like the skeletal mages too but they cant take much dmg on early game, so i maxed skeletal warriors first on game start.

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I stopped using the skeleton mages completely, they are fine in normal and nightmare, but in hell they do barely any damage and they die all the time. It annoys me to have to summon them all the time without a break. I wish they would buff them. For physical immuns I use my merc with a lot cb. Sometimes I even play without revives lol. I put the extra points into clay golem for more slowing %

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What do you guys spec into with the extra points? CE? curses? Golems?

Clay golem for more slowing %

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i want to like the mages too but…the dmg…way to low.
my prefered build is:

skeleton mastery 20
raise skeleton 20
clay golem 20
golem mastery 20 (the clay golem is a beast maxed out and almost unkillable. the other golems are just average in my opinion…a perfekt little meat …ähm…clay shield for the hc summoner <3)
mages 1, revives 1
summon resist 9 (56% resist to all)
CE 11 for a nice range
amp dmg 1
decrepify 1 as boss curse
bonewall 1, bone prison 1 (nice skills for safety)

zero points left

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Skell Mastery 20
Rais Skeleton 20
Skell Mage 1
Revive 1
Clay Golem 20 for max slow
CE 20
curses min 1
golem mastery can be set at 1
rest is up to you

I think they are my most adored skill in Diablo 2, and that they are absolutely terrible.

I would like to see them do good damage, as well as golems, so you can actually be a good summoner instead of relying on corpse explosion to do all your damage.

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Yea I 100% agree my friend.

20 ce on my current hc necro. Im thinking of going into bone spirit to get Skelos going faster though. I dont have a decent merc yet.

I usually put 1 point only to get to Revive.
CE and Amplify Damage are stronger and filling the whole screen with minions lags out the game anyways.

golem synergies. either iron golem synergies (when enough wealth for aura staking) or clay. CE gets big enough with +skill items,

I modded versions of the game like Pd2 - skele mages have pierce. That makes them still useless, but slightly less useless. In path of diablo, they ditch golem mastery and edit SM for summon mastery, combining resists, gm, and sm under 1 skill point.

I think a combination of that together still couldn’t make skeleton mages worth investment. The skill needs to be completely reworked and mages need more powerful spells. it’s a flavor spell at best.

I was playing around with maxroll and it puts a bit of this in context. At lvl 37 skellys/mages/mastery Skellys do about 3K (no buffs) DPS while mages are around 1K DPS. When you add Amp Skellys go to 9K. If you add in LR mages hit @3500, still doing about 1/3rd the damage of the skellys. When you add in might (+amp) the skellys hit 15K.

With the normal running of a summoner using amp and a Might merc you end up with Skellys pitching in around 15K dps while mages are dishing out about 1K dps. That’s basically why mages are considered worthless.

If you add conviction (infinity) and LR (which should be the equivalent of Amp + Might,) the mages are at about 7.5K dps or about half of what the skellys do. Without LR they pull in about 5K dps.

Thus the skelly mages on the basic side are about 1/3 the damage as the skellys, while at a similarly buffed level they are about 1/2 as good. Then you can consider the utility side of them. The poison mage basically kills any regen the stronger monsters have (dps is almost non-existent but D-Clone won’t be healing) and the ice mages provides another layer of slowage.

I will still add mages to my summoner, I think the back line damage is still helpful and they are good for boss kills. I used to take D-Clone solo with my necy and the mages were a big part of that. I will shoot for an infinity blade for my merc as it more than doubles the mages damage.

Even with all the +skills you should still max CE. Radius gets screen wide and with infinity 1-2 casts is enough to clear an area.

Mages look cool but they are just useless, fire/light has poor damage, monster heal isn’t stopped with poison, and cold damage removes corpses for CE.

I wish they were physical archers instead but thats just a personal preference.

Now for what to do with those points I’d suggest bone armor it will save your life from dolls. Lower resist is -ok- but you should be using amp damage as your main curse even though CE is half fire damage you can just use a LR wand on switch or build a infinity.

20 skelly => 20 mastery → 20 CE → 20 clay → 1 decrp => 1 revive. Rest in Bone armor is my goto.

If im doing ubers on necro and have gear, I cut half from CE and pump bone prison.

Crushing blow on your merc will kill bosses faster then invested mages.