EDIT: Some things in this post have been changed, and a link to the next chapter of this saga is included
Well, my attempt to beat Diablo 2 through hell difficulty solo may never come true. To be honest, so far so good, I'm at level 38 massacring the Bovine population in Act I, preparing to begin nightmare difficulty. I'm using a Wind Druid (Focusing my skill points on Hurricane(max), Tornado (max), Twister(max), Cyclone Armor(max), Oak Sage(18 points) and Solar creeper (5), and grizzly (1) explanation on the grizzly is in the continuation post). My only issue is, I appear to play impulsively when I do and I'm still kind of behind on some other things I need to do (like reviewing for my classes, I've done 7 of the 17 homeworks I've wanted to and still haven't gotten to the programming). I remember that that was one of the prime issues with Diablo, when I played, I did so impulsively. So part of me wants to stop. On the other hand, I have siblings also leveling other characters, so Playing through hell difficulty with them would make things easier, so I may sacrifice the "solo" part for "quicker" results. Or just quit altogether, I'm still deciding (i'll just try for better goal-setting first with respect to other tasks). But if you want the strategy I've used so far, it's as follows
+3 strength (every 2 levels)
+4 Vitality (every 2 levels)
+3 Energy (every 2 levels)
I've looked at gear and I'm thinking about cutting back on the strength after I hit around 120, because the extra strength may not give any visible benefit.
Pre Level24 strategy
Basically, any charm that gives +damage(any kind) and +attack rating(and/or dex) is your best friend. the only skills that will actually help you any Until level 24 are Oak sage and cyclone armor which are defensive, the issue is you need to kill things, and because twister does almost no damage (I still put points into it so my Tornado would be stronger when I actually would be able to get it). Using a combination of your charms and/or gear that enhances damage and attack rating will allow you to actually hit monsters and kill them while not having to invest any points into dexterity. Having a mercenary is a VERY good idea. Andariel was a big joke. I didn't even die against her. I was lucky and got a wolf helm that gave +2 to Firestorm and basically did my best to stay out of range and hit her from a distance. Given her vulnerability to fire, she was a piece of cake with the right potions
Before Duriel, I just constantly raided the tombs around him until I hit level 24. Then, I took him down. I used alot of potions and constantly had to recast oak sage because Duriel kept killing him. I believe I only died twice against him. At this point I took all the caster and +resist gear I had in my stash and equipped it and sold all the +AR and damage gear.
Post level 24 strategy
EDIT: note your experience maybe easier if you use the updated skill plan, because you'll have a summon to hide behind.
When I hit Act 3, I dropped my archer mercenary from Act I for the Lightning Mercenary, then switched to fire because I thought it did more damage (bad move, lightning is better the fire mercenary will use inferno on targets at close range and his inferno does about as much damage as your hand would take by holding it under those air hand dryers at public bathrooms, whereas both the attacks of the lightning merc deal decent damage, making lightning mercenaries better on average). Why am I using mercenaries from these acts you might ask? Well a Wind druid deals physical (yes the Tornado and Twister attacks are physical) and Cold (Hurricane) so that means that in Hell difficulty, I'm going to want a Mercenary that deals a kind of damage that isn't either of those. Well Act I mercenaries deal primarily Physical damage with a little bit of other kinds mixed in and Act 2 and 3 mercenaries deal physical damage exclusively. And from the Online resources I read, the Mercenaries you get and level up yourself from normal difficulty are better quality than buying them so that's why I'm running around with an Iron Wolf mercenary. It was here in Act III that I began to learn to use Tornado and its weaknesses. Basically the tricks I learned are:
1) Usually, when clicking on a portion of the screen and casting a tornado over and over again you will notice that they all follow the same path (at least 90% of the time). So if you are fighting a monster and it looks like they aren't getting hit by the chaotic path this skill follows, target something else. It's usually best to aim just past the monster or target the area just in front of you that the monster would hypothetically walk into if it came up to you, generally, your tornadoes launched in this way will go straight from that direction. It takes practice, and well in dungeons, this skill is very hard to aim. avoid attacking monsters close to walls (it's harder to launch them past the monster because you can't target the wall) and avoid standing close to walls. It may be a good idea to lure the monster to and area easier to aim in.
Fighting Mephisto was difficult, because it's possible to lure him to one part of the room you fight him in and stand behind a pit between you and him (his AI isn't very good). BUT unfortunately, aiming tornadoes from a distance that long proved VERY difficult, I swear it took me 30 minutes to and hour to take him down. The bright side was as long as I kept myself stocked up on potions, I was fine. Cyclone armor is excelllent for absorbing his long-range attacks. Watch out for the frost/lightning orb however, as its freezing effect will still take place even if your armor absorbs the full blow of the damage.
Act 4 was pretty much smooth sailing. When fighting Diablo, lure him away from the wierd pentagram he stands in, also be sure to lure him away from any walls if he gets too close (it's hard to hit him with Tornado if he is close to any walls). Remember your Tornado can pretty much 1-shot his bone prison he casts to hold you in place.
Act 5 - by the time I hit this act, I still wasn't level 30, I was going to try to hit level 30 before it was time to take out diablo in act 4, but I opened all the seals and was like "what the heck, let's get this over with..." and I did. Well I'm sitting there in act 5 and like "okay I really don't want to try to do this entire act without the Hurricane ability, what can I do to quickly level to 30?" well the answer came pretty fast. I remembered that just north of the first waypoint there's a unique monster that always spawns with his minions. Well, I decided to just keep killing him and saving and exiting and doing it over again until I hit level 30. It worked and even better is I got a nice unique Breastplate with +90 poison resist and 50% less poison time. Pretty nice if you ask me. I'm planning on keeping through hell unless I find something that gives more +resist.
NOTE: A good strategy for preparing for nightmare is getting a 3-socket shield and doing "ancients pledge" rune word in it (you get the runes for this rune word as a reward for one of the quests in act 5 I believe it's the first one). Wearing this shield is a good way to counteract the -resists that you experience in nightmare difficulty (the -resists are the most difficult parts of hell and nightmare difficulty because almost every monster has an elemental attack(or an element is added to their normal one) in these difficulty levels, so be sure to watch your resists.
Hurricane - this ability works by dealing a pulse of cold damage every second in a fixed radius around you. When moving, the "circle" around you shifts, so that it "lags" a little and you aren't quite in the center of the storm anymore while you move. the nice thing is that it doesn't have to be spammed like tornado and you can actually cast Tornadoes while it's going. So when the more dangerous act 5 monsters with more health came around, I would spam tornado so that by the time they hit the hurricane, it was game over and they couldn't touch me.
Baal was extremely hard. The whole clone thing was annoying not to mention the fact that he has the mana-drain ability and in addition to all that, most of the wind druid skills work better at closer distances. find "holes" in his movement or AI that you can spam tornadoes. and don't forget to renew cyclone armor as much as possible. It might be useful to portal in the chamber so you can get more pots when you run out because I used ALOT.
Hope this helps for any other single-players out there, sometimes the people on Battle.net are COMPLETE jerks....
Okay Well there's an update on this saga, it continues here: