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I'm currently using a necromancer with a high distribution of skills on raise skeleton and skeleton mastery/summon resist.

To compliment this I have kept my henchman from Act II who has the Blessed aim aura, which all my skeletons obviously inherit.

Simple question: will my henchman work up to a new and more powerful aura like Fanaticism? Or will replacing my henchman in nightmare or hell maybe give him a more effective aura?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Mercenaries do not learn new skills as they level up, but specifically regarding the Act II mercenaries, they do have different skills in different difficulties.

See this page on diablowiki for a list of mercenary skills. An excerpt from the page regarding the Act II mercenaries:

Combat (Normal): Prayer
Combat (Nightmare): Thorns
Combat (Hell): Prayer
Defense (Normal): Defiance
Defense (Nightmare): Holy Freeze
Defense (Hell): Defiance
Offense (Normal): Blessed Aim
Offense (Nightmare): Might
Offense (Hell): Blessed Aim 
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Very nice - strange that defence in nightmare is holy freeze though? – Marty May 25 '11 at 4:34
@Marty maybe, but that holy freeze merc is actually one of the most popular merc options. – Oak May 25 '11 at 4:56
I can see why, just seems odd that holy freeze is categorized as defence when it's in the offensive aura tree for the paladin. – Marty May 25 '11 at 4:57
The best aura for a summoner necro to have would be the "Might" aura though. Mercenaries also profit from +skills gear, especially Act1 and Act3 henchmen. – bummzack May 25 '11 at 5:48
@marty I think it is based on how auras are catagorized. For the paladin, anything that affects enemies is clustered under offensive, as defensive auras help out party members. But in the case of a merc, holy freeze is very much defensive as it slows down enemies, helping out the player that they are protecting. – Resorath May 25 '11 at 6:29

@Oak has this completely in the bag. One more thing to keep in mind that is that mercs are often used as an additional set of gear slots for the purpose of auras - there are some incredible higher-level runewords that grant some incredible auras. So keep in mind that you could get a fairly high-level Might or Fanaticism aura from a particular runeword when selecting which merc you want - it can be quite a pain to get a merc up to higher levels.

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