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General minion mastery guide

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This guide discusses the professions of Necromancers and Ritualists who specialize in maintaining large armies of animated creatures, generally known as Minion Masters or "MM".

General concepts and theory

NR Small Army

Who needs friends when you have fiends?

Why bother?

The average minion does slightly less damage than the average ranger or warrior against the same foe, and attacks slightly slower. At first glance this would suggest that a minion master is simply wasting their time. Why bother to maintain minions at all if henchmen like Devona or Aidan can deal more damage faster? The simple answer is quantity.

Whereas only 8 members can join a party at the higher levels of the game, the minion master can control up to 10 minions at all times (11 in PvE with Masochism). The damage from one minion may seem to be minor, but ten minions is quite a formidable force.

An army of one

A general does not attack. A commander does not wield a weapon. A minion master's life and strength lies not in their own combat ability, but rather in the army they control.

For the majority of players, this represents a fundamental shift in thought. Whereas an Elementalist or Ranger will try to find the best set of skills to use directly on a target, the minion master must find a balance of skills to preserve the army and give it the strength to roll over whatever is placed in its path.

Mechanics and tactics

Starting up

The minion master is a build based on inertia. A large army makes it easier to kill enemies, which in turn makes it easier to maintain a large army. Overcoming the initial barrier of the first 3-4 minions is the hardest part. Players new to this build will most certainly wish to bring some damage skills, such as Deathly Swarm or Rotting Flesh to ease the first few kills.

With the Factions campaign, a modest investment in Blood Magic will allow Rotting Flesh to combine with Life Siphon and Vile Miasma, resulting in -8 or -9 health degeneration on the target, and -4 degeneration on nearby targets. This will greatly increase the speed in getting the first corpse to animate your first minion, which in turn will usually provide the next corpses in short order.

Corollary to this is the absolute necessity to maintain your army. If your army dies, you'll need to start a new one, which means dealing with the "first corpse" difficulties all over again.

Rolling thunder

Once a small army is built, your focus should change from building to maintenance. Stop casting damage spells. Your purpose is no longer direct damage: the army will cause sufficient damage on its own. Experienced Minion Masters can continue to do damage while avoiding enemies, but should always give priority to raising and maintaining minions.

Maintaining your army should be your only goal at this point. Freshly animated creatures require less healing than aged creatures, so creating new creatures should come first, followed quickly by healing. The army, once rolling, will ideally take care of creating new corpses, which you should re-animate as soon as possible.

It is important that you spend as little time as possible between engagements. Minions live on a timer, and their inherent degeneration builds with every second alive up to a maximum of 10 pips of degeneration. They can also possess hidden degeneration, so if they live long enough, skills like Verata's Sacrifice or other health regeneration spells will have no effect on maintaining their health. If you spend a lot of time between engagements, your army may become very hard to maintain and you will not have any corpses to animate.

Note: Attempting to maintain an army of minions via healing is in most cases inefficient. Animating a new minion is always preferable to extending an old minion.

Engaging the enemy

When approaching an opposing force, the Minion Master should lead, or be one of the first into the area of combat. Minions follow blindly behind their master, and only move forward to attack when their master attacks, is attacked, or a creature comes into their aggro bubble, which is slightly smaller than a standard player aggro bubble.

If you are using horrors or minions it is advisable to attack once, then step back and allow the minions to cluster around the foes. This is traditionally called a minion block, minion wall, or meat shield.

After the first attack (preferably with a wand or other ranged weapon) the Minion Master should concentrate on healing and maintenance.

  • Create new minions as soon as possible. It is sometimes helpful to watch for a soul reaping or experience signal rather than watching the field for falling foes.
  • Keep casting Blood of the Master. Blood of the Master affects all of the minions you and your allies control, even if they are out of normal casting range, much like Heal Party works on party members. Over sacrificing can kill you fairly easily, as the sacrifice cost increases with each minion you and your allies control.
  • When using fiends, move as close to the center of the clump as possible, cast Heal Area, and step back away from any attacks. Large clumps of fiends are usually prime targets for area of effect attacks, such as Meteor Shower and Ignite Arrows.
  • When using horrors, vampiric horrors, or minions, it is usually safe to step in close to combat, as the animated creatures will prevent the foes from attacking you. Do not use heal area with horrors, as it will heal foes as well as minions.

It is important to remember that animated creatures are ruled by extremely simple laws. They attack everything not friendly to their master, have no ability to differentiate targets for tactical or strategic value, and never disengage. If you or the party decide combat is not worth fighting, your minions cannot be told to escape. Sometimes this can be beneficial, as a minion army will give the foes a target as you and your party escape. Disengaging any combat normally means you will lose most, if not all, of your army.

Worst-case scenario

The most important note on dying: DON'T.

As a minion master, your existence is the only thing keeping your army from the throats of your allies. Should you fall, your army will become masterless, and attack everything in sight -- the party (humans, heroes, henchmen, and pets) will generally be the closest, and hence will be the first targets.

Everyone in the party should know that you are playing a minion master build. Healers playing with a MM on their party should focus on the minion master in an emergency situation. No single party member can cause more trouble with their death than a MM. Many parties have been obliterated because a MM lost control of their army.

Should the worst case happen, quickly use Verata's Gaze or Verata's Aura to reclaim some or all of your army. Reclaiming one minion means one less minion your party members need to kill, and one less minion trying to kill your party members.

The same holds true if you need to leave a party. Stop healing your army, and either wait for the minions to degenerate naturally or use Taste of Death to destroy them. If you leave a party, your minions will become masterless and attack the remaining party, possibly causing them to wipe.

Opposing forces

Should you find yourself facing a Minion Master, either in PvP or in one of the RPG Campaigns, it is important to focus on attacking the army where it is weakest. Simply hacking away at the minions is slow, and gives the minions time to hack away at you. Here are some example tactics to use against Minion Masters.

  • Targeting the army
    • Holy Damage: Minions, like all undead creatures, take double damage from holy and light based damage. Monks equipped with smiting skills and certain Dervish skills can quickly destroy minions.
    • Area of Effect: Minions are not smart enough to flee from area of effect spells such as Fire Storm, Meteor Shower, Balthazar's Aura, or combined Splinter Weapon and Barrage.
    • Stealing the army: Verata's Aura and Verata's Gaze can quickly turn minions against their creator.
  • Targeting the master
    • Killing the master: Once a minion master dies, the army will become masterless and attack everything. This will level the field with the opposing party.
    • Interrupting: Interrupting key skills such as Blood of the Master can leave a Minion Master with a much weaker army. Skills like Distracting Shot and Power Spike are moderately effective and skills such as Power Block can be devastating. However, skills like Debilitating Shot and Power Leak are less effective, due to Soul Reaping and large numbers of dying minions.
  • Targeting the field
    • Corpse Denial: Minion Masters rely on a steady stream of corpses and cast slow spells to animate their creatures. Use the corpses before they can with fast spells such as Consume Corpse or Soul Feast.
    • Spirits: Ranger spirits such as Edge of Extinction can be very destructive. Be wary of spirits that may assist the Minion Master, such as Quickening Zephyr or Predatory Season. Please note that Edge of Extinction will only affect the minions if they are under 90% health, but because of their natural degeneration, unless the minion master is spamming minion healing spells, this won't be a problem.

Minion Bomber tactics

The minion bomber relies on enchantments that trigger when minions are destroyed, like Death Nova and Jagged Bones, and on skills that destroy minions, like Taste of Death, Feast for the Dead, and Putrid Flesh. Unlike a standard minion master which keeps minions alive for direct damage, a minion bomber kills their minions to trigger Death Nova. Melee minions in large numbers, such as bone minions, guarantee that they end up close enough to foes and explode often. By employing all melee minions bomber builds provide better body blocking than builds that use fiends.

There are a number of potential pitfalls to watch out for with this sort of build. Enchantment removal can remove your primary source of damage. In general, skills that remove enchants from a single target are not a problem but skills such as Chilblains can clear many minions of enchants very quickly leaving relatively useless low level minions. Minion creation takes place at a much faster pace in a minion bomber build than a standard minion build so more usable corpses are required to sustain it. Jagged Bones and Animate Shambling Horror can help offset this somewhat but their long recharge times limit their effectiveness.

Perhaps the largest obstacle to running a bomber style build is that Guild Wars has no support for automatically selecting minions. Selecting manually is a skill that can take some time to pick up and requires a degree of patience. The easiest moment to apply death nova is when minions are first created so keep a close eye on where your minions will spawn before spawning them to aid targeting. Death nova can be chained the same way two different spells can be because it has no recharge time, take advantage of this by targeting the next minion and hitting the skill button for death nova again while the first one is casting and then selecting the next minion. When the cast animation is complete you will automatically start casting the next death nova with no pause even if you have already targeted another minion. In thick battles be patient, Guild Wars is designed to get unnecessary information off the screen as fast as possible. As such, moving your cursor around frequently will cause tool tips, such as minion names, to disappear. As a warrior this is great in that it helps keep your screen uncluttered, but here it works against you. If the cursor is paused over a group with minions in it, the minion names will take a few moments to be listed with the others, keep the cursor still and wait for the names to appear and you should have no problem picking a name from the group.


Death Magic

Death Magic directly affects the number of minions you can control, their survivability and damage potential. One of the reasons why there are no Necromancer-secondary Minion Master builds (except Ritualists) is primarily due to the fact that minions are a great deal weaker with less than 12 Death Magic.

Death Magic 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Flesh Golem (Level) 3467910121315161819 212224252628293031
Fiend/Horror/Vampiric Horror/Shambling Horror (Level) 1234567810111213 141516171819202122
Bone Minion (Level) 012234566789 101011121314151617
Jagged Horror (Level) 01234567891011 121314151617181920
Number of minions 223344556677 88991010111112
Blood of the Master (points healed) 303641475359647076828793 99105110116122127133139145

Note that Bone Minions are significantly less useful in high level areas, due to their limited level, but can be very effective in low level areas, due to the larger numbers

Soul Reaping

Since a Minion Master's purpose is to utilize corpses to create an army to support the party, Soul Reaping is the major way in which the MM will be gaining both energy and targets for animation spells. Minion masters should take a very serious look at Soul Reaping.

Soul Reaping is the best way to recover the cost of casting corpse spells, and should be as high as possible, to keep the army rolling.

With a Soul Reaping of 10, casting Animate Bone Horror costs a net 0 energy. At 10 Soul Reaping, one death fuels Verata's Sacrifice, 2 castings of Blood of the Master, or Heal Area, providing enough energy to keep the army alive. This makes creating and keeping an army a much cleaner prospect. Bear in mind also that you animate corpses soon after they die, that is, soon after you receive the Soul Reaping benefit of doing so, serving as a very effective way of having the energy when you need it most.

Soul Reaping should be at least 10, though skills such as Offering of Blood and Mantra of Recall can help mitigate a lower Soul Reaping attribute.

Don't waste Soul Reaping: You can get energy for everything that dies, excluding spirits. Try to keep your Energy at least one "death" under your maximum, to ensure no energy is wasted. If you have extra energy, spend it on healing your minions, or healing yourself.

In addition, Signet of Lost Souls can play an important role in milking a dying enemy for energy and expendable health before it dies, making it easier to summon expensive minions such as Bone Fiends and Vampiric Horrors.

Blood Magic

While relatively useless compared to Death Magic or Soul Reaping, Blood Magic has some benefits for Minion Masters. Offering of Blood sacrifices health for Energy while Dark Bond ensures survivability.

Blood Magic 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Offering of Blood (energy returned) 8910101112131414151617 181819202122222324
Dark Bond (Seconds) 303234363840424446485052 545658606264666870

Spawning Power

The Ritualist's primary attribute, Spawning Power affects animated minions as well as spirits, passively giving each minion an extra 4% health for each point in Spawning Power. In addition, Spawning Power includes skills that work well with minions, such as Signet of Creation, Boon of Creation, Explosive Growth, Spirit Channeling, Reclaim Essence, and Spirit's Gift.

Explosive Growth and Boon of Creation will trigger twice upon the creation of Bone Minions. At 14 Spawning Power or more, Boon will recover 80% of the casting cost of the Animate skill. Actively, Boon of Creation or Reclaim Essence replaces Soul Reaping's passive bonus. Spirit's Gift works as an ally-only Heal Area and condition-removal, with variable effectiveness.

Spawning Power 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Boon of Creation (duration in seconds) 151821242730333639424548 5154576063666972?
Boon of Creation (health gained) 5811141720232629323538 4144475053565962?
Boon of Creation (energy gained) 112223334445 55666777?
Explosive Growth (lightning damage) 202326293235384144475053 5659626569727578?
Reclaim Essence (energy gained) 5678910111213141516 17181920212223??
Spirit's Gift (health gained) 5811141720232629323538 41444750535659??


Discussion and comparison of skills for different uses.

Minion creation skills

There are eight minion creation skills. Each has their own set of pros and cons.

Skill and StatsAdvantagesDisadvantagesOther Notes

Animate Bone Fiend
Animate Bone Fiend

    25 Energy 3 Activation 5 Recharge
  • Ranged Attack: Bone Fiends use a projectile attack with approximately the same range as a Shortbow. This makes them less vulnerable than other minions who must approach their target on foot, making them prime candidates for traps and ranged attacks. Fiends are also very useful when fighting Afflicted creatures because they are out of range of the death explosion.
  • Faster Attack: Bone Fiends attack slightly faster than other minions (approximately once every 2 seconds, rather than every 3), raising the amount of damage they cause per second.
  • Short Recast: Provided that the corpses are available, a short recast time allows a sizable army to be built up quickly. It also allows the minion master to cycle through fresh minions quickly instead of maintaining old ones.
  • Clumping: Bone Fiends tend to clump together, making them easier to heal with skills such as Heal Area.
  • Lower Armor: Bone Fiends have significantly less armor than all other animated creatures at the same level, and thus take more damage.
  • High Cost: Animate Bone Fiend costs 25 energy, 10 more than most other direct minion creation skills.
  • Clumping: Bone Fiends tend to clump together, making them easier to nuke.
  • This is a Core skill.
  • They can be devastating when combined with Barbs due to the faster attack rate and larger range.

Animate Bone Horror
Animate Bone Horror

    10 Energy 3 Activation 5 Recharge
  • Body Blocking: Large numbers of Bone Horrors can create a wall in front of foes, preventing them from reaching more valuable targets.
  • Short Recast: Provided that the corpses are available, a short recast time allows a sizable army to be built up quickly. It also allows the minion master to cycle through fresh minions quickly instead of maintaining old ones.
  • Low Cost: Animate Bone Horror costs 10 energy, 5 less than most other direct minion creation skills.
  • Average in most areas: Bone Horrors can be effective in combination with other minions due to their ease of casting, but are not as strong as some minions in general and have no special abilities.
  • This skill is only available in the Prophecies campaign.

Animate Bone Minions
Animate Bone Minions

    15 Energy 3 Activation 5 Recharge
  • Two for One: Animate Bone Minions creates a pair of Bone Minions from each corpse. Since Soul Reaping gives energy when minions die, Necromancers also receive double benefit from Soul Reaping.
  • Short Recast: Provided that the corpses are available, a short recast time allows a sizable army to be built up quickly. It also allows the minion master to cycle through fresh minions quickly instead of maintaining old ones.
  • Body Block: Since they come in pairs, making a body block of bone minions is fastest.
  • Much Lower Level: Bone Minions are animated at a much lower level than other minions, thus they have much less health and cannot absorb as much damage.
  • This is a Core skill.
  • Bone Minions are often used as energy reserves for Necromancer-heavy parties, or as minion bombs with Death Nova.
  • Contrary to the skill icon, Bone Minions share the same upright, mostly humanoid model of the Bone Horror.

Animate Flesh Golem
Animate Flesh Golem

    10 Energy 3 Activation 30 Recharge
  • High Level: The Flesh Golem often has a higher level than party members, giving it more health, allowing it to deal more damage in combat, improving its critical hit rate and reducing the damage taken from level-based sources. Rogue Flesh Golems will often be able to kill low armored players with relative ease, avoid losing control at all costs.
  • Leaves a Corpse: As long as the Flesh Golem dies by a means other than the creation of another Flesh Golem it leaves an exploitable corpse.
  • Low Cost: Animate Flesh Golem costs 10 energy, 5 less than most other direct minion creation skills.
  • Elite Skill: Taking Animate Flesh Golem removes the possibility of utilizing another elite skill.
  • Limited to One: Each minion master may only have one Flesh Golem under their control at any time. If another is created or controlled before the current one dies, the previous one dies and does not leave an exploitable corpse.
  • Long Recharge: Animate Flesh Golem takes 30 seconds to recharge. If the Flesh Golem dies quickly, or if the skill is interrupted, it may be some time before you can create a new one.
  • This skill is only available in the Factions campaign.
  • Contrary to the skill icon, Flesh Golems do not have an upright humanoid shape but rather a hunched over beast-like one.

Animate Shambling Horror
Animate Shambling Horror

    15 Energy 3 Activation 25 Recharge
  • Body Blocking: Large numbers of Shambling Horrors can create a wall in front of foes, preventing them from reaching more valuable targets.
  • Rebirth and Bleeding: When a Shambling Horror dies, it is reborn as a Jagged Horror, which is slightly lower in level. Jagged Horrors inflict bleeding with a duration of approximately 30 seconds. This also means a single Horror will give two returns from Soul Reaping.
  • Long Recharge: Animate Shambling Horror has a recharge time of 25 seconds (significantly longer than most other animation spells), which makes it very hard to create large numbers of Shambling Horrors quickly. It is not recommended to rely solely on this skill to create your minion army.
  • This skill is only available in the Nightfall campaign.

Animate Vampiric Horror
Animate Vampiric Horror

    15 Energy 3 Activation 15 Recharge
  • Body Blocking: Large numbers of Vampiric Horrors can create a wall in front of foes, preventing them from reaching more valuable targets.
  • Healing: Every time a Vampiric Horror causes damage their master is healed by the same amount.
  • Long Recharge: Animate Vampiric Horror has a recharge time of 15 seconds (longer than most other animation spells), which makes it hard to create large numbers of Vampiric Horrors quickly.
  • This skill is only available in the Factions campaign.

Aura of the Lich
Aura of the Lich

    15 Energy 2 Activation 45 Recharge
  • Does not require a corpse: This skill will animate a minion even if there are no corpses available; it is the only skill which can animate a minion unconditionally. This allows players to still use minions effectively in areas with fewer corpses, as well as (slowly) build up a full army before engaging enemies.
  • Boosts Death Magic: This is the only skill that can raise Death Magic. Your Death Magic skills and your minions become more effective.
  • Can summon multiple minions per cast: This skill will summon 1 minion plus 1 for every unexploited corpse in range, meaning this skill can instantly raise an army as large as the Necromancer can control (provided there are enough corpses to do so). It will also exploit all of the corpses, which is useful for corpse denial.
  • Elite Skill: Taking Aura of the Lich removes the possibility of utilizing other elite skills.
  • Long Recharge, Long Activation: Aura of the Lich takes 45 seconds to recharge. If this skill is interrupted it will be unavailable for a long time. Since it takes two seconds to activate and is not affected by Bloodstained Insignia, this is always a risk the player has to watch for.
  • This skill is only available in the Prophecies campaign.

Jagged Bones
Jagged Bones

    5 Energy 1 Activation 15 Recharge

Any friendly undead creature can be reborn as a Jagged Horror if it dies while affected by this enchantment. This allows the Minion Master to "recycle" old minions into new ones without needing a corpse. Shambling Horrors enchanted with this spell will create two Jagged Horrors. With a 20% enchanting mod, one can maintain up to three minions permamently without the need for corpses or spamming heals.

  • This skill is only available in the Nightfall campaign.

Malign Intervention
Malign Intervention

    10 Energy 1 Activation 5 Recharge

When a creature is hexed with Malign Intervention, it will receive 20% less benefit from healing. If it dies while still under its effect, a masterless Bone Horror is created, which should then be tamed with either Verata's Aura or Verata's Gaze. These factors render the skill quite limited in PvE, but it has a powerful use in PvP, as it can create the Bone Horror with essentially zero casting time (the Bone Horror is spawned as soon as the target dies), meaning the caster cannot be "beaten to the corpse" by an opposing Necromancer, though it being masterless will affect your choice.

  • This skills is only available in the Prophecies campaign.

Minion support skills

In addition to creation skills, there are a number of support skills commonly used and the pros and cons of each.

Minion SkillAdvantagesDisadvantagesOther Notes

Barbs Barbs

  • Extra Damage: Provides an additional boost to damage based on sheer quantity of attacks rather than the damage of the attacks themselves. They work well with bone fiends, especially due to their speed of attack.
  • Short Recast: It takes 5 seconds for barbs to recharge, making it quite a useful skill for its quick recharge.
  • Excellent vs. High Armor: When you're fighting warriors and other high armor enemies, Barbs provides an excellent manner to bypass the reduction in damage caused by armor by adding physical damage to attacks.
  • Outside skill: It is a curse skill, which requires putting skill points towards Curse Magic in order to work well.
  • Long Cast Time: It takes 2 seconds to completely cast, which may prove futile if the enemy dies before that time.
  • Bone Fiends and Bone Minions provide cheap quick damage which can prove quite lethal with a high level barbs placed on an enemy.

Mark of Pain Mark of Pain

  • Area of Effect: Mark of Pain serves in a manner similar to that of area of effect abilities like that of the Elementalist by distributing damage to all adjacent foes. While it is necessary that the enemies need to be quite close together, most warriors tend to gather together.
  • Quick Recast: It takes 20 seconds to recharge (updated: took 30 seconds before), which is normally less than the time it takes for your minions to kill an enemy with mark of pain and to reanimate that enemy.
  • Long Effect Time: It lasts 30 seconds, which is quite a long time for a hex. In most cases, it would last until the death of the enemy.
  • Shadow Damage: Shadow damage, unlike physical damage, provides direct damage to the enemy, which can be a way to deal effective damage against well-armored enemies.
  • Outside skill: It is a curse skill, which requires putting skill points towards Curse Magic in order to work well.
  • Mark of Pain can introduce an interesting effect amongst the behavior of the enemies (PC). Enemies, after being exposed to about 5 seconds of damage from mark of pain, will disperse. The effect, may hurt or help depending on your strategy, though with an army of 8 fiends, monsters suffer well over 200 damage before they disperse in most cases.

Putrid Explosion Putrid Explosion

  • Catalyst Effect: Can be a great way to go from 1 body to 4 bodies. Even if it does not kill the monsters, it usually weakens them significantly. Though depending on the difficulty of finding bodies to start an army, you may choose not to use putrid explosion too early until an army has been constructed.
  • Short Recast: The recharge time is very low, allowing the recast of putrid explosion as soon as an opportunity arises again. With soul reaping, the energy penalty is almost none.
  • Counters Body Production: To use this skill, it consumes a corpse that could be used as part of the army, which for a minion master could be a bad choice. Often times, it can only be used in times in which there are many monsters around the body before it can encourage body production.
  • It is a controversial skill to have with a minion master, since many believe the most effective minion master is one which has the most minions in it, though it can enhance damage and produce bodies in the process if used tactfully.
  • With Death Magic at level 16, Putrid Explosion does 126 damage to all monsters which can add up with several castings.

Icy Veins Icy Veins

  • Catalyst Effect: At level 10 Soul Reaping, Icy Veins deals 63 cold damage, which is excellent to kill the first few monsters to gain bodies. In addition to this, it provides a second source of damage once that monster dies, helping to destroy the other monsters as well. If cast on multiple monsters, this can quickly gain momentum.
  • Long Duration: It lasts 27 seconds at level 10, which is a significant amount of time and should allow enough time to take advantage of its secondary damage upon the enemy's death.
  • No Corpse Consumption: The area of effect damage is similar to that of Putrid Explosion, without consuming a body. So Icy Veins could prove a handy substitution for Putrid Explosion to provide a catalyst without losing bodies.
  • Outside Skill: It is a Soul Reaping skill, which requires that the minion master's primary profession is Necromancer (no Ritualist/Necromancers), and requires a decent amount of points to work effectively. However, most minion masters typically have points invested in Soul Reaping.
  • Elite Skill: It is an elite skill, and as such prevents the usage of any other elite skill equipped
  • Note this skill can only be used if you own Factions.

Putrid Bile Putrid Bile

  • Catalyst Effect: At 16 Death Magic, Putrid Bile deals 89 armor-ignoring damage, which is great for killing the first few monsters to gain bodies, and stacks excellently with Icy Veins. Combined with Icy Veins, this would make for a powerful area-of-effect bomb, helping to kill other foes quickly following the first one.
  • Long Duration: It lasts 21 seconds at 16 Death Magic, which is a significant amount of time and should allow enough time to take advantage of its secondary damage upon the enemy's death.
  • Quick Recharge and Casting time: 12 second recharge allows placement on multiple targets, creating a possible chain reaction, and 1 second cast time has low likelihood of being interrupted, as well as allows quick placement on a foe that is near death.
  • No Corpse Consumption: The area of effect damage is similar to that of Icy Veins and Putrid Explosion, without consuming a body.
  • Death Magic skill: This skill is from the Death Magic line, and requires no additional attribute points, as most MMs have the maximum rank of 16 in this attribute. Unlike Icy Veins, this skill can be used effectively by non-primary Necromancers, such as Ritualist MMs.
  • Health Degeneration bonus: At Death Magic 12+, the target suffers -3 health degeneration, speeding up its death.


  • Note this skill can only be used if you own Eye of the North Expansion.

Keeping the minions alive

All animated creatures begin with a -1 degeneration and gain an additional -1 degeneration for every 20 seconds they remain alive. After 3 minutes (180 seconds) they have -10 degeneration. Actual health lost due to degeneration is capped at 20 health per second (i.e. 10 degen), but minions can have much more than -10 degen, eventually to the point where strong regeneration skills like Verata's Sacrifice and Healing Breeze will have no effect on the health lost by the minion.

Several skills are available to counteract this degeneration and to provide battle healing.

Blood of the Master provides a one time spike heal to all friendly animated creatures within target range. This skill has a short cast time, high healing return, and fairly low energy cost. Despite the high sacrifice cost, Blood of the Master is one of the most efficient minion healing spells.

Verata's Sacrifice provides your minions with health regeneration. Its recharge (60 seconds) is long compared to its duration (10 seconds at high death magic), which makes it nearly useless in maintaining an army. However it instantly recharges when you control 3 or fewer minions, which makes it a very good way to start an army. In addition to providing healing, Verata's sacrifice transfers any conditions from the minion army onto the Minion Master, from whom they can be purged, passed back to the opposing party with Plague Signet, or otherwise handled.

Feast for the Dead provides a one time heal at the cost of one of your minions. It is recommended that you use this with a Flesh Golem that can be reanimated or on minions enchanted with Jagged Bones. Otherwise, you may find your army quickly dissolving while attempting to keep it alive.

Monk Spells are effective on minions in the same way as they are effective on party members. Contrary to popular belief, healing a minion with a monk spell does not increase its degeneration. Heal Area heals the master and all nearby minions, granting Minion Masters the ability to negate the sacrifices from Blood of the Master and Verata's Sacrifice while healing minions at the same time. Single target spells such as Orison of Healing and Healing Breeze are too expensive to use on minions.

Keeping yourself alive

Staying alive is especially important to a minion master, as a masterless army will turn on the party, and a large masterless army stands a good chance of winning against even the most prepared party while the enemy keeps attacking you.

Dark Bond provides an excellent way to reduce damage to the minion master by redirecting 75% of the damage to a nearby minion. The master can take approximately 4 times as many hits before falling and minions are more expendable than party members.

Infuse Condition counters degeneration by redirecting conditions such as burning and bleeding to the nearest minion while the minion master suffers no ill effects from this. Combined with Verata's Sacrifice, this can move all conditions from the army onto a single minion, who acts as a scapegoat for the rest of the army. Also, minions are immune to some conditions, such as bleeding.

Taste of Death is a very useful emergency heal. It almost always results in a full heal, since minions usually have nearly as high or higher health then the caster (thanks to the superior runes). Additionally, a minion's death due to Taste of Death triggers Death Nova, Soul Reaping, and many other "on death" functions. Taste of Death is preferable to Soul Feast for several reasons; It provides additional energy from soul reaping, it can select a target, consuming the oldest minion with the highest degeneration, it does not consume a corpse, and it has a very fast casting time, making it difficult to interrupt.

Signet of Lost Souls and Taste of Pain can be used for an occasional quick heal. However, you must time it such that the activation ends as the target is below half life but before it dies. Due to the relatively short casting time of both spells, it is generally not a problem, although when managing a large undead army, you may find some foes die before it is cast. Signet of Lost Souls is useful against tougher foes where your army grows slower and soul reaping returns are less often, as it costs no energy to cast and also results in energy gain. Either skill may be particularly useful to have around if you have difficulty defeating your first foe prior to starting your army; it is likely in such circumstance that your foe will be below 50% health at this point.

Other skills

Verata's Gaze is used to capture an opposing minion from its master, or to tame a masterless minion. Because it is a single target skill and must be cast twice to fully turn a minion from an enemy master, it is used less often than the broader Aura. However, Verata's Gaze creates a permanent bond.

Verata's Aura can be used as a quick way to regain an army after being resurrected, or steal an army from opposing necromancers. It immediately turns all minions in the area to you, but has a drastic downside, in that when it ends, your entire army, regardless of how they were accumulated, will turn against you. Keep in mind that this spell will cause you to lose your bond with your minions even if you recast it, so use this sparingly.

Death Nova is used to turn minions into walking explosives. Most often used with Animate Bone Minions, due to the much lower energy and corpse cost per animated creature. Taste of Death, Putrid Flesh, and Reclaim Essence are sometimes used as triggers, but often minion bombs are allowed to take damage during combat, often detonating in a melee attacker's face. Apply this skill to as many minions as possible before you enter combat. The result will be that even when they die, they will hurt nearby enemies and poison them ensuring a quicker death.

Putrid Flesh triggers your minion to explode in disease-ridden glory. Stack it with Death Nova to place a -8 degen on fleshy foes around the minion.

Order of Undeath raises the damage output of your minions at the expense of your health.Consider using Animate Vampiric Horror to gain health each time the minions attacks. This skill can kill the caster if there are enough minions, so care should be taken when using this skill.

Spirit's Gift is a special case, as it's effectiveness is largely based on luck or circumstances. Any allies near the summoned creature gain up to 41 health and lose one condition. Animate Bone Minions triggers this twice. Best results are seen when allies are in a small area around the corpse, either in a battle with close quarters, or Animating after a battle, standing on un-exploited corpses. Combines well with Putrid Flesh.

Dwayna's Sorrow is a good addition to the repertoire of an N/Mo Minion Bomber or a Monk Hero accompanying a Minion Master. In addition to generating energy for soul reaping, and exploding for damage, now your minions will also be providing party members with a heal when they die.

Energy Recovery Skills such as Offering of Blood, Mantra of Recall, Energy Tap, Signet of Lost Souls and others are used to balance minion creation when nothing is dying, such as early into or just after combat. Use these skills to create energy to heal or to animate your army.

Recharge Time Skills can be quite beneficial, as recharge time is one of the limiting factors for minion masters. Carrying 20/20 items can reduce this effect, but skills such as Glyph of Renewal, Mantra of Recovery and Serpent's Quickness can allow for more minions, and continual healing from Verata's Sacrifice.

Ranger Spirits affect all non-spirit creatures in the area, including minions. The most useful spirits are Winnowing, which provides additional damage to all minions, and Predatory Season, which heals them.

Paragon Shouts can increase the effectiveness of your minion army. "Fall Back!" will provide your minions with more mobility while healing them on the move, and "Go for the Eyes!" will increase the critical chance of your party members and minions.



Any necromancer armor may be used, and opinions vary significantly as to which armor is preferable.

  • Tormented insignia provide extra armor against all attacks, giving extra resilience to the minion master. This extra armor comes at the cost of extra damage taken when struck by holy damage.
  • Bonelace insignia provide extra protection against piercing, which a MM is more likely to encounter given the fact that a large army will keep warriors outside of arms' reach.
  • Radiant insignia provide extra energy, but provide no additional armor of any kind.
  • Survivor insignia provide extra health, to help offset the health cost of a superior rune. However, it should be noted that extra health increases the sacrifice from MM skills such as Blood of the Master and Verata's Sacrifice.
  • Minion Master's insignia provide extra armor against all attacks when you control 1 (+5), 3 (+10) or 5 (+15) minions. While providing no benefit during the painful starting phase, the extra armor will help you survive when you (and your party) need it the most - when you control many minions.

In addition to the base armor, the following equipment is considered necessary for a minion master:

Weapons and focus items

Equipped items have different uses to Minion Masters compared to the other profession and build types. Sacrificing direct damage in favor of higher casting speeds or faster recharge times are worthwhile.

The ideal weapon set for a Minion Master should have as many of the following characteristics as possible:

(On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being very important and 5 being not that important)

  • (1) Halves skill recharge time of death magic spells
  • (2) Halves casting time of death magic spells
  • (2) Additional Energy
  • (3) +1 to Death Magic (20% chance)
  • (4) Additional armor
  • (5) Additional health

Some example weapon sets:

Minion Bomber: In builds that specialize in using Animate Bone Minions and Death Nova, the hierarchy of useful mods changes from those of the above. Half Skill Recharge is almost entirely discarded in favor of other mods. Instead, the focus is more on casting and keeping Death Nova up on as many minions as possible, as long as possible, for maximum effect. For Ritualist Minion Bombers, this is even more so, since they have more enchantments to keep track of.

  • (1)Lengthens poison duration on foes by 33%
  • (1)+1 to Death Magic (20% chance)
  • (2)Halves casting time of Death Magic spells
  • (2)Enchantments last 20% longer
  • (2)Additional Energy
  • (5)Additional armor or health
  • (5)Halves skill recharge time of death magic spells

Some example weapon sets:

Note: Items which provide 15 energy at the cost of energy regen, such as the ones provided by Kraviec the Cursed and Isabaeux Navarre are very useful, but can carry significant drawbacks. When using these items, Necro-primary's must have high Soul Reaping, and carry a second set for traveling or when deaths are sparse. Ritualist/Necros must have high Boon of Creation(Spawning), Reclaim Essence, or other Energy recovery skills.

Secondary Necromancer minion masters

Minion Masters have traditionally been primary Necromancers because they enjoy many benefits.

  • The ability to utilize scar patterns and runes allows the Necromancer to increase Death Magic to a base of 16. This means:
    • A primary Necromancer can control up to ten minions, as opposed to eight for a secondary.
    • Minions are 20-33% higher level than those created at a secondary Necromancer with 12 Death Magic. This results in higher minion health and armor levels as well as higher minion damage.
    • Typical minion master support skills such as Blood of the Master are more effective.
  • Soul Reaping is the Necromancer's primary attribute. Without the periodic source of energy flowing from dying minions, a secondary Necromancer may quickly find it difficult to cast the high-cost minion creation skills.
  • Only Necromancers can equip their armor with Bloodstained and Minion Master's insignia.

For these reasons, groups may not take a Necromancer-Secondary Minion Master seriously.


In spite of the drawbacks, the Ritualist may take on the role of minion master with some success.

  • For each point in Spawning Power, minions gain 4% max health, allowing a minion created at 12 Death Magic and 16 Spawning Power to have more health than a minion created at 16 Death Magic. However, the lower level still means it will deal less and take more damage in combat.
    • A level 21 Flesh Golem created by this Ritualist would have 820 Health, while a level 26 Flesh Golem will normally have 600 Health.
    • A level 14 minion created by this Ritualist would have 590 Health, while a level 18 minion will have 440 Health.
  • In addition, a few Spawning Power related skills work with animated minions. Many of these skills make a Minion Bomber variation an attractive choice and work well with Jagged Bones.
    • Boon of Creation grants health and energy from each animated creature, acting as a replacement for Soul Reaping. Its main problem is enchantment removal.
    • Spirit's Gift can be used to take the pressure off of monks. Not only will it heal nearby allies and remove a condition, it will heal nearby minions whenever you summon a new one.
    • Explosive Growth deals damage as minions are created.
    • Spirit Channeling grants an impressive amount of energy, at the cost of the user's own health. Combined with a spammable self-heal (such as Mend Body and Soul), the energy can be put to good use spamming Blood of the Master as well.

In short, the Ritualist will have fewer and weaker minions compared to a Necromancer, but they will have more health and a few specialized skills are opened up.

Basic build strategies

Basic army master

Blood of the Master

Blood of the Master

Dark Bond

Dark Bond

Animate Bone Fiend

Animate Bone Fiend











These three core skills form the basis of a general purpose Minion Master build. The idea is simple - create minions (both ranged and melee) as soon as you can, and use Blood of the Master to keep them alive.

Minion bomber

Animate Bone Minions

Animate Bone Minions

Taste of Death

Taste of Death

Death Nova

Death Nova











A Minion Bomber is slightly different from a normal Minion Master in that the aim is not so much to keep minions alive to deal direct damage, but rather to raise them quickly then detonate them in the middle of enemy mobs. At 16 Death Magic a minion enchanted with Death Nova, when killed either by enemies or Taste of Death, will cause over 100 damage to all adjacent foes as well as poisoning them for 15 seconds.

Nightfall Hybrid

Animate Shambling Horror

Animate Shambling Horror

Jagged Bones

Jagged Bones

Death Nova

Death Nova

Putrid Flesh

Putrid Flesh

Feast for the Dead

Feast for the Dead







Nightfall specific skills allow a hybrid between the traditional minion master position of maintaining an army and the minion bomber goal of deal damage when the minions die. Using Jagged Bones to ensure bombs are reborn, the army can be maintained while killing off some in Death Nova/Putrid Flesh explosions.

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