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Is skeleton and golem build viable end game?

Im hoping for a build that can do monolith and Arena relatively well. Coming from Grim Dawn im pretty spoiled with about 20 sturdy-ish necro pets so i went with a similar build here, focusing on physical damage with bone curse debuff.

However at level 50 i am worried - this game mobs do AOEs like absolutely insane, those ice golems easily do 1k with a single aoe of theirs. My pets at 500%+ bonus to health still dies to 2 or 3 of those aoes, and its difficult to micro out of them.

on top of that their AI and movement speed isnt very good, half of the time they seem to get stuck trying to get on top of a single mob, or for some reason just run back to me and doing nothing.

I have looked for Wraith builds and honestly i dont like them - spamming for few hundreds of wraiths is such an overkill and make the game a laggy mess. I loved the Grim Dawn approach where you get 20+ tops for necro builds to manage, and you got buffs/debuffs to keep your pets alive. They also had dedicated gear that always provided multiple stats for your pets while some surviability for your own character. Here i feel they are way too squishy and yet not enough stats to build up on their resistance.

I’m playing necro without wraiths mainly, because I’m more a fan of permanent minions.

They are viable for endgame but might not be the “fastest” clearer.

Main stats for your minions later on is increased minion health AND minion dodge chance.

But you have to find a balance between the minion defences and your own. While most of monolith it’s ok to not have a lot if defences on your character, because you can stay back an let the minions tank stuff (golem defenitely mandatory to draw aggro away from you at this point).

I’d defenitely recommend Bone Curse, even if you don’t build into the damage type it scales with (physical or necrotic conversion). But the mark for death node is defenitely worth it.

Currently I’m using fire arrow Archers and Pyromancers with a golem. The ranged units hav an advantage becaus you can lead them out of negative ground effects and they still can do damage. I also use Dread Shade to cast it on enemies and buffing all minions with attack speed that are not in range of the aoe around the cursed enemy.

It’s defenitely necessary to focus fire to burst down the most threatening units.

I’ve also used a build with infernal shade. Since you don’t have a lot of adaptive spell damage as a necro summoner, the damage done to your minions is not that much. All together gives your minions an incredible amount of attack speed.

The only downside is my own survivability. You have to be aware and fast on your feed to actively dodge hits. In some situations you have to do a bit of kiting. If you face a gang of golems with bubbles that reduce damage from enemies outside the bubble, it gets a bit nasty. You have to dodge the ground effects while making sure that your minions are inside the bubble to do damage. Since the ground effects are very big, it’s hard to pilot your minion gang.

Im playing with skeleton rogues and melee with blood infusion. It feels really meh because how fast they all die despite massive health boost.

They really need to add gears that provide heal or resistance to pets. At least coming from Grim Dawn thats how i managed it.

Do you have all defensive bonuses within the necromancer tree? There are really crazy defensive bonuses.

Also minion max health on it’s own is nost enough most of the time, you really need some otehr defensive thigns like dodge or resistance.

And on top of that some form of sustain, either minion health regen oder massive minion leech.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this question. My short answer would be no, IMO minions cannot stay alive for endgame content. Hence, there is currently no end game viable permanent skeleton build. The reasons have already been noted - too squishy, no defensive layers available, the crazy AOE at endgame cannot be kited, and all the investment to try to keep the minions alive mean they do no damage and you also die too fast.
Here are my thoughts on trying to scale poison melee skeletons
archers are definitely better at not running in circles, so
Scaling bleed on a similar build worked much better, but this is not a guide, just some calculations.

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Yeah melee skeletons or minions in general feels very buggy atm, most obvious at Lagon fight where they just stand around and do nothing.

Dev should really make them like in grim dawn where they have little collision, teleport to you if wandered too far and hyper aggresive.

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I am agree with Grimlock9999 , the answer is totaly NO .
And that’s a shame, because the necromancer with permanent followers is supposed to be the basis of this class as it is in many other hackn’slash games. But not to be a bit inefficient with this class , you are forced to go on shady builds with shadows. And personally I consider that to be one of the big black spots in the game right now.

I agree with Grimlock too. Ive dumped a lot of time into a few versions of minion builds and none of them are good. They can clear echos decently enough, but high level bosses (lvl80+) wipe them out with AoE faster than you can resummon them to get even a low amount of dmg maintained. They desperately need either doubled base hp or all start with at least 200 dodge rating to build from.

Aside from obvious errors, such as the minions not recognising enemies that spawn after you arrive, or the lagon fight, the AI still needs to match the gameplay.
There are 2 types of gameplay…
1: the stand still style - Find a build that has a broken mechanic and facetank everything.
2: the kiting style - trying to test out skills and experiment means you will not be immortal, nor will you wipe entire screens in 1 second. This means the main factor is this game’s insane tendency of screenwide areas of death, so you spend 90% of your time kiting.

If you manage to play style 1, it still doesn’t work for melee minions, because they stand next to you, receiving the same damage, and simply die.

Style 2, which most of us play, means that the melee minions are constantly following your kiting and not hitting anything. They move too slow to kite everything, so poof, your fight ends with you having either no mana from constantly summoning minions that die, or you are kiting, your minions are following without attacking, and no damage is being done to anyone.

There is, in theory, a third option, which is summoning minions ahead of you to take aggro. The problem is, currently, minions such as wraiths and skeletons that are summoned ahead of you, right next to an enemy, first run back to your side, then turn and try to attack something. By then, the enemy has either followed the minion to your side and killed you, or wound up its screenwide AOE, so you start kiting and the whole frustrating affair starts anew.

First you need to look at what type of build you are wanting to build and then defenses need to synergize with that style for best results. It is possible to make any and all types of non degen Acolyte pets tanky.

Type 1 melee builds

  • If your building for melee (Golem/Death Knights/Skeleton Warriors) I Highly recommend going with the following defenses with the first listed being top prority
  1. Minion Dodge Rating (500+)
  2. Minion Health Regen (500-1000%)
  3. Minion Melee Leech (as much as possible)
  4. Minion Health (500-1000%)
  • Minions can get 16 flat health regen in necro tree Make sure you take this
  • Golem can get +35 flat health regen in its tree make sure to take that
  • With 1000%+ Health Regen there very hard to kill

Type 2 ranged minions bow/spells

  • If your using mages and archers i recommend the following defenses
  1. Minion Dodge Rating (500+)
  2. Mages to 100% Crit and % of health Healed on crit in tree. Then Minion health % Most important (500%+)
  3. Minion Health Regen (Very low priority. Much better off with reach of the grave and letting archers/mages Leech/heal all there life back very quickly

Type 3 Degen Minions Wraith/Abomination

If you do decide to go this route Minion Health Regen is very vital then go dodge then health then leech. Leech is almost complete waste on wraiths.

Im not at my computer atm so i can look at specific nodes and numbers but from memory these were the best setups i found and minions usually could surive lagons beam/emporers blast and waves 150+ in arena with very minimal recasting.

Also minions get more life per point of INT you have so make sure to steal as much of that as you can from passive trees.


Agree with boardman. You don’t need op gear or neat additional mechanics that don’t exist currently. My lvl 85 necro has archers and mages that even survive the Lagon beam. And recasting some during a boss fight once in a while is not that tedious. I’m not even running with a golem currently that also can boost survivability of your minions.

The major issue for me currently is the minion AI. As mentioned somewhere else it feels odd. I lose a lot of DPS because the minions are following me, instead of attacking the enemy and the attack command seems to not overwrite the movement until they reached their target destination. That hasn’t always been the case.

Theres been a nice unique summoner ring been added that gives melee minions a lot of leech.

Haven’t tried it with a melee minion build, yet. But defenitely will. The crit avoidance is huge!

Yeah the pet behavior reminds me of grim dawn’s “defensive” pet stance. They should be more aggressive for sure.

I challenge your definition of OP.
In fact, I challenge any casual player to get even one of these stats Boardman mentions to these levels, while still having some of their own defences and some damage stats:

Your not suppose to get all 4 to those levels. You only need 500 dodge then move to item 2. Item 4 is bot needed at all. I just gave what would be a decent amount of each and listed in order or priority

@boardman, if anyone deserves forgiveness for losing sight of the common man, it is you. I love your work, but the rest of us do not have reasonable access to survivable minions that can also kill something.

OK, so let’s take minion dodge rating of 500. That’s 3 reasonably rolled huge idols.
Which I, as a casual player, have found none of in the last few months.
That’s fine, maybe I can find some stats on gear? Well for your second choice of 1000% health regen, I need to take the 8 passive points for flat regen, then have 5 X tier 4 rolls on items with some other useful stat. All for 160 health regen per second, which is useless if a minion stands in one of the ‘areas of death you get oneshot in’ , which this game has in abundance.

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While I completely understand that not everyone is a full time player and we have plenty of casuals the OP was asking f skeletons and golems were viable endgame and the answer is yes.

Does it take investment to make it happen. Yes
Does it take building into synergizes. You beat ya.
Is every version of skeletons and golem going to perform well. Nope.

So to answer YOUR post about

The answer is also yes. You can have survivable minions that can kill things as a casual player, but its going to have to be build a very specific way, just throwing a bunch of random stats and random minions together is unlikely to work well.

It may be hard to believe but there was a time just over a year ago where I also felt minions were very very weak. It took alot of trial and error but you will find that there are viable ways to build them that out perform the rest and it is indeed possible with just tier 1 and 2 stats on gear.

EDIT: I should add, im totally for more viable ways and tougher minions being added. Im not a huge fan of things having to be build a VERY very specific way in order to be considered good.


You are missing the source of gear affixes here. I don’t have a single idol that has a dodge related stat. Currently sitting on 1200 minion dodge rating all from gear. Minion health is about 500%. Health Regen at about 300%. For idols I use minion +crit idols.

I missed minion dodge rating completely until lvl 60/70. Only used minion damage and minion health. Then I heavily invested into minion dodge when my minions died a lot. Have not invested into minion health regen on gear actively.

And as mentioned this necro is lvl 85 and not with BiS gear. My own defense is lacking so my minions have to take all the hits.

Yesterday I killed Lagon in a reasonable time in monolith, after I respecced to melee minions (rogues + deathknight + Golem along with dread shade and bonecurse). The skills were all around level 17 or so.

Other builds are defenitely faster in clearing maps. But it’s just slower pace and not absolutely tedious. I’m curious how far I’ll come in the 100er timeline with that setup.

Just some footage.

I use Dread shade on enemies so it doesn’t drain my minions. Minions in the circle are buffed. If you play ranged minions, you can choose that all minions outside the circle get that buff. Buff ist more damage, attackspeed and chance to apply damned. Bonecurse has mark for death and armour shred as well as a kill threshold. Works nice on bosses. The damage of bonecourse is not the main focus, just debuff of enemies.

You can see attackspeed and damage ramp up on the dummy with the use of these 2 skills (that frenzy buff from passive tree is nice as well).

No crazy gear, no max level. Still a lot of potential to increase damage and survivability.


Thanks for the vids. I haven’t used crit minions yet, but it seems they have much better leech and on hit survival options.
If you use those rings or passives with minion health leech, do the minions get to leech poison or bleed damage, or do they only leech the base melee hit?

I’d asume that the leech works like in your own character, so ailment leech works, too.

From my point of view the main tankiness comes from the dodge.

On a ranged minion build the rings are useless. So you lose a bit of damage and survivability on your minions. But they’re also attacking from afar so they don’t get hit as much as the rogues and mages.

Maybe I’ll switch to range again, just to try.

I was running Pyromancers and Archers before, but without the crit idols. The melee minions are defenitely easier to play, because they actively draw aggro by running towards enemies. Also those guys that have bubbles and say “take less damage from outside the bubble” are a pain. Because you will need the dread shade to work the other way around and buff minions not in the circle. But to kill these bubble guys you need to move them into the bubble (what also can be a chore), but you lose the dread shade buff because minions will stand inside the circle. This where the maps that really got annoying, when you get 4-5 of that bubble dudes at once.

And you will always have melee enemies that chase your minions and so there are always units that don’t get the shade buff.