to Lightning-based spells
The power of Chain Lightning (CL) has baffled many players over the life
span of the game of Diablo. This spell is a fairly high level spell, appearing
on page 3 of the spellbook and for most players, they learn it from a
book bought from Adria, well after they have learned the lesser Lightning
based spells Charged Bolt (CB) and Lightning (Ltng). Learning Charged
Bolt and Lightning is fairly straightforward, even at high spell levels
(spell levels 14 - 20), but Chain Lightning gives more problems at these
levels than it seems to solve. Thus Yours Truly (YT), a regular who's
pretty adept at CL, wants to give a bit of help to those who want or need
The basics about CL
CL will sent a stream of Lightning into the direction of the mouse-pointer,
where you right-clicked, as well as one stream to all the monsters within
range. This range is determined by the caster's CL spell level. The higher
the spell in your spellbook, the wider the range CL will search for monsters
to send a stream to. The monsters can be hiding behind walls and other
obstacles, even be Lightning resistant or immune, it doesn't matter, they
still get targeted. The damage done by CL is in a range from 2 to 2 *
clvl, thus not spell level dependent at all. This is similar to Lightning
damage multiplied by 2. Damage done by both CL & Ltng streams is continuous.
The Streams continue to travel and inflict damage until they hit a solid
surface, unlike Charged Bolts (which lose their power when they hit any
enemies). The CL spell level also determines the length of the streams.
The longer the streams the higher their potential for damage (which is
continuous, an often overlooked feature of Lightning-based streams). One
caveat, CL uses a large number of the available spell-slots that the game
internals use. When this happens, it is referred to as CL-gapping, a term
I will use from time to time. Last note, the targeting range of CL has
nothing to do with your Light Radius.
The 3 main CL power ranges
1. Slvl 1-4 Low levels, low damage
2. Slvl 7-11 Medium levels, useable damage
3. Slvl 14-20 High levels, outright destructive
The unlisted spell
levels 5 and 6 can fall between low and medium. Sometimes CL behavior
from these slvl casts are like low level CL, other times like medium.
Same for the CL slvls of 12 and 13. The boundaries are often vague and
any cast from CL is always dependent on the number of monsters it can
reach at the time of casting. Low slvl here also means short streams of
CL, so casting can be very rapid, depending on character class. Starting
with CL casting before you are surrounded can allow continuous casting
of CL without any problem, though in a future post Yours Truly hopes to
demonstrate that Charged Bolt is really a better alternative to low slvl
CL in these situation (please take my word for it right now). This may
be a good time to introduce another caveat that Yours Truly has been investigating,
how does the CL spell deal with moving monsters? The simple answer is
that it doesn't. It leaves any moving monsters out of its range evaluations
and doesn't send any streams out to them. This applies mainly to monsters
which are halfway between game-tiles. Monsters which only just start to
move at time of CL casting may be targeted, but may not be.
Note by KoP: See also A Study of Charged Bolt now on this
sites Tips page.
Low CL spell levels
At these CL spell levels, don't ever try to fry the critters at long range.
The spell won't be able to reach any monsters which are far off. Use this
spell at this level only to get rid of monsters that are close to you.
Very useful if you are surrounded or if faced by King Leoric's army of
Burning Undead Captains. This can be very useful even for Warriors and
Rogues with only a slvl 4-5 of CL in the Church at Hell difficulty. To
get the power of CL at low levels, make sure you have some protection
against your back and some monsters are very close to you, then cast.
This will ensure a good number of streams with good coverage without fear
of getting stun-locked, block-locked or the like. For those with high
AC, you don't really need CL here, so get surrounded and cast. You may
even notice some CL-gapping even at these low levels (Ed: I have seen
CL-gapping at slvl 1 !~!~!) Best casts here include killing King Leoric's
entire army bar the King & 1 other by both a Warrior in H/Ch CL slvl
5 and Rogue in H/Ch CL slvl 4.
Medium CL spell levels
This is the range that is most popular among Diablo players. Here you
have a good range of monster detection to work with, adequate damage to
deal with most monsters, if not in 1 hit then 2 or 3 isn't too bad to
arrange as most monsters will succumb pretty quickly. The range extends
roughly to the edges of the screen, so what you see is what you hit most
of the time. More monsters may be hit when the CL streams travel further
through rooms and corridors, hitting monsters as they progress. Watch
for them if they don't get zapped in the first cast. The length of the
streams may necessitate you to slow down a little between casts. Don't
curse this delay, use it to reassess the situation and decide on which
action to take next. It isn't always another cast of CL that is next on
the to-do list :*)
A lot has been said
already about general CL tips for maximum efficiency and usability and
I will repeat them here.
i. Keep your streams
together. Some monsters will move and if they sidestep into a second stream
then they will take more damage.
ii. Keep close to
a wall or solid surface. This will soak up any excess CL streams and allow
for rapid CL casts just when you need them. It will also limit the directions
from which the monsters come at you and on some occasions (see link at
the end to YT's demo) the monster behind the wall will actually help to
trap some creatures in a sea of sparkling death.
iii. Keep the monsters
ahead of you. This will ensure that your CL streams do not go in all directions
all over the place and create pandemonium with survival chances about
those of winning Bingo at the local church hall on Thursday nights.
iv. Use other spells
to help you manage your CL. Use Stone Curse to immobilize moving monsters.
Statues don't hit you and are easily targeted by medium CL. Also use Fireball
and Elemental where appropriate. Its no use trying to fry 3 dozen Snow
Witches when 2 Blood Knights are swinging their swords at you. Teleport
is another good spell to use so that you can get all the monsters to 1-2
sides of you instead of being surrounded by them.
v. Use other monsters.
Use the Lightning immune monsters to add a few extra streams of CL when
they are all in front of you, but refrain from this technique when you
are surrounded. This isn't recommended until you are used to high level
CL and have a reasonable grasp on CL in general.
High CL spell levels
Nothing new to add here than to say that it is harder to manage than the
medium levels, the range of CL is vastly increased to well off the screen.
The streams are seemingly endless and casting is very slow, even for Sorcerers.
Give any active CL streams plenty of time to dissipate and do their stuff
before you cast another lot. This is also what the demo series on YT's
website is based on, hopefully with some more text to be added on-site
to explain the individual pix. Enter as per link below:-
There are forward links through the series, an index is planned.
I'll stop the post here. More can be said and I'm sure more will be said
about CL. For now, I hope that this will help some people get more out
of the CL spell. I've tried to keep it fairly class-neutral as all classes
can use CL for good use, even great use from time to time (my best casts
ever were low level CL by Warrior and Rogue).
No co-operative team
strategies here, this is for solo players to master CL. Most teams decide
on 1 person to use CL, even then sparingly and knowing the other's resistance
to Lightning. The positioning must also be good and the enemies' thread
great enough to warrant a CL cast, but most of that is best decided by
the team in question rather than YT preaching what YT doesn't practices
(YT prefers Lightning in co-op play).
- See also a pictorial
demonstration at Moriahs