Diablo 4 Necromancer Book of the Dead Skeletal Warriors: Should You Pick Skirmishers, Defenders, or Reapers?

Diablo 4 Pet The Dog

Necromancers in Diablo 4 have access to the Book of the Dead which is your specialty tree in which you get to choose which Skeletal Warriors you want. As you level up, you’ll unlock Skirmishers, Defenders, and Reapers all by level 12, as well as Skeletal Mages at level 15 and Golems at level 25. But this guide is about which Skeletal Warriors are the best in Diablo 4, so let’s get to it.

Note: If you ever want to change the difficulty in Diablo 4, check out our guide.

What is the best Necromancer minion in Diablo 4?

The best Necromancer minion in Diablo 4 is subjective. Everything depends on your Necromancer build, so no one Skeletal Warrior is better than the others, in general.

If you are playing a Bone Necromancer build with a playstyle that is a little more aggressive, I recommend the Skirmishers for their ability to take on a crowd of enemies with you and dispatch them quickly. If you are playing a Blood Necromancer with a playstyle that sits in the back and lets your undead army hold the line, I recommend Defenders as they’ll stay alive for longer. If you are playing a Shadow Necromancer, I recommend Reapers since their sacrifice gives you a 15% increase to all Shadow damage.

The best part about picking the best minion in Diablo 4 is that you can change your mind about the type of Skeletal Warriors and what upgrades/sacrifices to choose for free whenever you want. There is no gold fee for changing your upgrade or sacrifice or for changing your Skeletal Warriors, so experiment with them all until you’ve found something you like.

Diablo 4 Necromancer minions – Pros and cons of Skirmishers

Skirmishers are the first Skeletal Warriors you get as a Necromancer and they aren’t bad at all. Skirmishers have a 30% increased attack damage but have 15% less health. As is the case for every minion in the Book of the Dead, Skirmishers have two upgrade options and a sacrifice option. You only get to select one option and you can change it whenever you want.

  • Upgrades
    • Raise one additional Skirmisher for a total of five minions.
    • If you get a critical strike, all Skeletal Warriors’ next attack is a critical strike that deals 50% more damage. Can only happen every three seconds.
  • Sacrifice
    • Increase your critical strike chance by 5%, but you can’t summon Skeletal Warriors.

If you want to play a Necromancer build that deals a lot of critical strike damage often or you want Skeletal Warriors that deal a lot of damage but die frequently, Skirmishers are the best pick. I recommend choosing one of the upgrades and not the sacrifice because with the sacrifice, a 5% increase to critical strike chance in exchange for no more Skeletal Warriors isn’t a good trade.

Diablo 4 Necromancer minions – Pros and cons of Defenders

Diablo 2 Necromancer Book Of The Dead

Screenshot: PC Invasion

Defenders are Necromancer minions that have a 15% increase to health. They attack like any Skeletal Warrior does, but they survive for longer thanks to their added health.

  • Upgrades
    • Defenders negate the next source of direct damage every six seconds.
    • Increase the amount of thorns Defenders get from 30% to 40%.
  • Sacrifice
    • Gain 15% non-physical damage resistance, but you can’t summon Skeletal Warriors.

With the Blood Necromancer build I’m playing, I like Defenders the best because they hold the line of enemies away from me while I snipe from the back. With the first upgrade, my Defenders stay alive for much longer. Again, I don’t recommend the Sacrifice unless you’re making a really specific, highly specialized build. What’s a Necromancer without their minions? Nothing.

Diablo 4 Necromancer minions – Pros and cons of Reapers

Reapers are unique Necromancer minions that wield scythes and have a special wind up heavy attack that they use every 10 seconds. While they don’t have the constant damage buff that Skirmishers have or the health buff that Defenders have, Reapers know how to pack a punch.

  • Upgrades
    • Attacks against immobilized, slowed, stunned, or vulnerable enemies decreases their heavy attack cooldown to two seconds.
    • Get a 15% better chance to create a corpse on Reaper kills.
  • Sacrifice
    • Gain a 15% increase to Shadow damage, but you can’t summon Skeletal Warriors.

While Reapers with the first upgrade can deal a lot of damage very quickly, I don’t recommend using Reapers over Skirmishers or Defends. In fact, this is the only time I recommend using the Sacrifice if you are playing a Shadow Necromancer build since you get a 15% increase to Shadow damage.

Noah Nelson
About The Author
From his early days of blog-style music, movie, and game reviews to working as the Esports Writer at Coastline Community College, Noah Nelson now works fulltime as a Staff Writer for Attack of the Fanboy and PC Invasion. He has been helping gamers everywhere with Destiny 2 god rolls, Warzone 2 DMZ missions, and collectibles in any indie game for over a year and a half. His Bachelor's Degree in English Rhetoric and Composition with a minor in Journalism from CSULB has shaped him to be a strong writer and editor. His fondest gaming memory is playing Sly Cooper 2 after begging his mom (for hours) to play it before his birthday and he still cries myself to sleep remembering the time he accidentally saved over his 99% completion save file in Kingdom Hearts 2.