There is a whole host of flashy builds I can't wait to see in the remaster, such as Frozen Orb Sorceress, Javazon, Fire Druid, Phoenix Strike Assassin, and Tesladin. But for my very first character, there's no one else for me to look to than the Fishymancer.
The Fishymancer comes from Nightfish's excellent eponymous Necromancer guide. In a nutshell, the Fishymancer is a Summon Necromancer revolving around 3 core skills: Raise Skeleton, Skeleton Mastery, and Corpse Explosion.
The gameplay is simple:
Simple, but the build itself capitalizes on what I believe to be the most optimized, well-rounded approach to a Summon Necromancer.
There are a few key points where Fishymancer accumulates the advantages over other Summon Necromancer builds:
Stronger, focused summons. Focusing solely on Raise Skeleton (and Skeleton Mastery to pump them up) means your Skeleton army rises to terrific proportions at the early levels, as opposed to what you'd get by splitting your skill points across Skeletons, Skeleton Magi, and Golems.
Single main damage type: Physical. Your merc, Skeleton army, and Corpse Explosion all deal Physical damage, which makes one-point wonders like Amplify Damage and Decrepify that much more effective, since they boost your entire army's damage.
Contrast this with mixed-summon armies with elemental Skeleton Magi, Golems, and Revives, or perhaps a Summon hybrid with Magical Bone skills or Poison skills.
Extremely fast waveclear. Whereas non-Corpse-Explosion Summon builds have to wait until their armies take down mob groups one-by-one, Fishymancer can simply Corpse Explosion with impunity. Corpse Explosion is, without a doubt, the Necromancer's fastest waveclear skill bar none.
Significant immunity busting. Not only does Amplify Damage break almost any Physical Immune (-100% resistance is no slouch), Corpse Explosion also deals significant Fire damage, so much so that Fishymancer almost never runs into the usual immunity problem that plagues other class builds.
Corpse Explosion's Fire damage is considerably hard to match with elemental Skeleton Magi or Revives, and that's just with 1 point into Corpse Explosion!
Here's one more great thing about the Fishymancer: it doesn't need gear to be good. In fact, you can very well get through the game naked. Your tank army and merc make sure of that.
The most impactful gear you can get is a good outfit for your merc, and even then, cheap upgrades such as an Insight and some leech and resists will go a long way.
With Fishymancer, I expect to be able to get all the way to Nightmare Mephisto and Baal with nothing but welfare gear. Because of how safe and well-balanced Fishymancer is, it's actually suited to run almost any boss or area in the game.
This means I'll be able to grind gear and switch it up for variety to keep it interesting! I'll be able to go on a Resurrected world tour and explore almost every piece of content in the remaster with no problems, while working towards climbing the ladder at the same time.
From here on out, magic find runs will slowly but surely build up my stash (thank heavens for D2R's shared stash!).
A lot of the early upgrades I get here will go into powering up my Fishymancer to take on Hell, but the main gameplan is actually to open the door to more powerful, twinked builds, starting with my second character: a twinked Meteorb Sorceress.
Sorceress is likely going to be a lot of people's first ladder character once D2R drops, for good reason. There's simply no matching the speed of a teleporting Sorceress for boss runs.
My playthrough will also significantly rely on a Sorceress to build up wealth. I'm just playing my cards for maximum enjoyment: while everyone's rushing with Sorceress and dealing with mana problems (and eventually life and immunity problems), I'll be cruising through at a relaxing pace with my favorite class.
Once I've taken my sweet time exploring the remaster and gathering twinking gear, I'll be able to catch up with a twinked Sorceress to power through the early-level slog. Hopefully I'd have decent enough gear ready, such as a Vipermagi, Spirit Monarch, and a good weapon, so I can jump almost straight into sub-1-minute Mephisto runs and build up my stash even more.
For D2R's first ladder, my end goal would actually be to build up enough of a stash such that I'd be able to effectively twink any build I'd want to try on a whim (such as the Phoenix Strike Assassin I so desperately want to see in the remaster!).
Realistically, I don't think I'd have enough time within a single ladder to go for more long-term goals such as a Grail or Ubers.
For me, building a twinking stash is the perfect goal for this first ladder: I get to experience the most enjoyable parts of the game as early as possible, while at the same time I'll set up a better take-off point for some of the loftier goals later on.
Diablo II wouldn't be the same without its multiplayer aspect. I'm really looking forward to playing through the remaster with a group!
As a Fishymancer, ideal partners would be a Paladin for his auras (Concentration or Fanaticism on my army would be beastly!) and a Barbarian for his shouts (Battle Command and Battle Orders are a no-brainer). A Druid for Heart of the Oak wouldn't hurt, either.
On the other hand, Fishymancer itself is a great support build for any group: casters and glass cannons will love the huge tanky army keeping them safe, while physical damage dealers will love the strong debuffs from Necromancer curses. Not to mention everyone loves a good AoE damage dealer (courtesy of Corpse Explosion).
Global servers are such a boon this time around. No more having to choose between the bustling but laggy North America servers and the close but empty Asia server.
I'll be playing as Forte. See you on Battle.net!