The 15 Best Rune Words, Ranked


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When people say Diablo 2 is more complex than Diablo 3, it’s because it’s jam-packed with many mechanics and layers when it comes to building your class. Much of that is thanks to the runeword system, where you can further enhance your items using runes introduced by the game’s expansion, Lord of Destruction. The result is a dizzying number of ways to play and break the game.

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When it comes to the latter, overpowered rune combinations are always welcome. It just so happens that over the decades of min-maxing, theory-crafting, and nitpicking, the Diablo 2 community has come up with some deadly and practically broken runeword combinations that might as well make the game a breeze. Not all of them allow for that opportunity, of course, so here’s how the best runewords stack up against one another.

Updated October 19th, 2022, by Sid Natividad: Thanks to Diablo 2: Resurrected, the old granddaddy of action RPGs is now enjoying renewed popularity. As always, one topic will come to mind concerning Diablo 2’s endgame: runewords. The best runewords in Diablo 2 are also the same ones as in Diablo 2: Resurrected. Sure enough, both new and veteran players want a priority list on which of these Diablo 2 runewords are the most cost-efficient or rewarding. Consider this a checklist with even more runewords for you to aim for while you’re killing the Prime Evils over and over again.


15/15 Ort + Sol – Lore

+1 To All Skill Levels
+10 To Energy
+2 To Mana After Each Kill Lightning Resist
30 Percent Damage Reduced By 7
+2 To Light Radius

The Lore runeword is one of the easiest combinations to find. You don’t even have to trade with others or spend much gold in order to get it. The requirements are also low, making it an accessible stepping stone for beginners until they can upgrade to mightier runes.

Since Lore is generally good for helmets, some players even opt to take it to the highest difficulty level in the game. It works just as well there with its all-around usefulness, such as a skill level bonus and mana recuperation per kill.

14/15 Tal + Eth – Stealth

Stealth is yet another affordable runeword to get in Diablo 2 — it’s perfect for spellcasters and the Assassin class. This combination is best suited for body armor and can provide a solid leg up for low-level casters.

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Stealth’s main focus is boosting up the character’s run speed, cast rate, and mana regeneration, as well as Dexterity. In addition to that, it adds a hefty bonus to hit recovery.

13/15 Shael + Eth – Rhyme

The Rhyme shield is a common item in Diablo 2, since one of the deadliest conditions a character can have is the slow triggered by cold attacks. Rhyme negates that negative condition altogether, making it a must for some builds in Hell difficulty.

Because there, an alarming number of demons and monsters deal cold damage and can chill you. Additionally, Rhyme is perfect for Magic Find characters since it gives bonus chances of getting more gold or more magic items.

12/15 Shael + Um + Pul + Lum – Stone

Of course, if you’re looking to make your character truly tanky, relying on a Rhyme shield is a bit ill-advised. The Stone runeword has a much better reputation on that front, and it’s made for players who don’t want to worry much about heavy hits.

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This body armor runeword gives a large bonus to defense and recovery. It also boosts Strength, Vitality, and Energy along with a helpful dash of resistances. As an added freebie, players are also given two handy level 16 skills — one of which summons a golem.

11/15 Amn + El + Ith + Tir + Sol – Honor

An easy runeword to complete, Honor is a good alternative if you’re struggling to find your B.I.S. weapon. It grants a massive 160 percent increase to weapon damage, though it’s limited to melee weapons only.

Still, that ought to be good enough for offensive classes such as the Barbarian or Paladin. The runeword also comes with innate life steal per attack and an increased attack rate for that berserker playstyle where offense is the best defense. The best part is that the runes for this runeword can all be acquired from the nightmare Countess.

10/15 Vex + Hel + El + Eld + Zod+ Eth – Breath of the Dying

For melee Barbarians, either this or Grief counts as the best and mightiest stick. But slotting in Breath of the Dying is less user-friendly compared to crafting Grief because the base items need to be immensely powerful, like an Ethereal tier three polearm with six sockets ready for the runes.

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But if you manage to pull it off, you’ll get the most powerful two-handed melee weapon in the game. As an added bonus, you also get a funky light show in the form of a level 20 Poison Nova per kill (50 percent chance). It’s best to pair this one with Whirlwind to increase the chances of Poison Nova triggering and to maximize the polearm’s range.

9/15 Ohm + Jah + Lem + Eld – Faith

Bowazons are more powerful now thanks to the relatively recent buffs they received in Diablo 2: Resurrected. For that matter, Bowazon weapons and runewords are higher in value. Well, they were already expensive before the Resurrected rebalancing, but even more so now.

Put that Jah rune to good use since this will turn a Bow Amazon into a force of nature, primarily thanks to the Fanaticism Aura. Expect some off-screen killings to happen often with this bow. Also, it’s not just a Bowazon weapon, Necromancers can also use Faith if they want.

8/15 Tal + Thul + Ort + Amn – Spirit

Looking for a flexible runeword? Then Spirit might fill in that role. This one’s viable for both the main-hand and the off-hand weapon. However, the general consensus in the community is that it’s best used for shields.

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That’s because the stats of the Spirit runeword are quite juicy as a support boost. It’s an all-around buff to defensive stats and regeneration along with skill level. It’s inexpensive enough to be used by most casters too.

7/15 Eth + Tir + Lo + Mal + Ral – Grief

For some reason, Grief adds more benefits than what it shows on-screen. It’s one of the quirkiest runewords around because of some hidden additive damage. With that out of the way, Grief is one of the most in-demand runewords in Diablo 2.

The flat damage increase makes it perfect for classes that love melee combat. It adds around 300 to 400 damage plus tons of other offensive damage increases. The cherry on top is the mana and health per kill, making it a mouth-watering item for Whirlwind Barbarians. The caveat is that it’s only available for swords and axes with exactly five sockets.

6/15 Ko + Vex + Pul + Thul – Heart Of The Oak

Grief might be a little too straightforward or limited in its application, which is why Heart of the Oak or HOTO trumps it. It’s more available for a wider selection of classes, particularly those who use staves and maces, as long as they have to have at least four sockets.

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Heart of the Oak is highly desirable for Paladins, Druids, Sorceresses, and Assassins for its cast rate increase and mana steal per hit. It also gives some lovely skills that aid casters in their endeavors

5/15 Dol + Um + Ber + Ist – Chains Of Honor

For a body armor runeword where you can’t go wrong, Chains of Honor is likely the second-most prized. Another one of those all-around body armor buffs, Chains of Honor makes you tanky enough without sacrificing slots that could have been used for offensive bonuses.

The 70 percent increase in defense is already substantial, but Chains of Honor throws in a whopping +65 to resistances. You just can’t venture to Hell without this one. Making it even more expensive as a runeword is its Magic Find boost, as if all other benefits weren’t enough already.

4/15 Io + Jah + Pul – Dream

If you thought Grief was the best one-handed melee weapon, then you probably haven’t gotten the chance to try out Dream. It’s by far the best Auradin helmet/shield, and it’s also somewhat viable for other melee builds. Its primary strength lies in the fact that you can put it both on shields and helmets, meaning you can have two active Dream runewords available.

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This translates to a level 30 Holy Shock Aura. When paired with the Paladin’s Conviction Aura, you don’t even have to do anything; just walk around the map and the enemies will die to the amped-up Holy Shock Aura. Of course, it costs two Jah runes, that’s why the Auradin is considered a luxury build.

3/15 Ber + Mal + Ber + Ist – Infinity

Two Ber runes are quite demanding — that’s why you shouldn’t aim for this rune word if you don’t have the enabler ones like Enigma or Call to Arms. It’s also somewhat of a luxury runeword. But the cost is well-justified since this runeword allows you to breeze through the game without worrying about enemy resistance.

The level 12 Conviction Aura ensures that the most powerful lightning builds such as the Lightning Sorceress or Lightning Javazon can farm unopposed. Your character won’t be the one using it, of course; you’ll need to give it to an Act 2 Mercenary and keep him nearby for maximum resistance shredding.

2/15 Amn + Ral + Mal + Ist + Ohm – Call to Arms

It might not look like much in terms of damage, but it’s almost mandatory as an endgame runeword. Because Call to Arms is the best buff any class can have in the game. It’s practically a Barbarian life and skill bonus shout, but the best defense in Diablo 2 is stacking tons of life and vitality anyway.

The skill bonus is just a mere plus one to the skill trees, but even that’s enough to provide some substantial DPS boost to all builds. That’s why this runeword is as universal as the Enigma armor runeword though it’s a lot less overpowered. If you do find yourself having problems surviving in Hell difficulty, consider prioritizing this runeword and spamming the Barbarian shouts.

1/15 Jah + Ith + Ber – Enigma

Last and certainly not least, the infamous and utterly godlike runeword, Jah-Ith-Ber — or Enigma. For many players, making it a goal to obtain Enigma is unrealistic. It’s also one of the most expensive when it comes to trading. The defense boost is significant enough, but that’s not where Enigma’s value lies.

Enigma is most prized for its +1 to Teleport skill, which gives any class a teleport. Put it on a character that hits hard enough and you turn them into an untouchable deity that makes quick work of Diablo and any opponent in PVP. Hopefully, Diablo 2: Resurrected retains it.

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