Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Act III Inferno

So last time I told you that I left off at The Black Soulstone in Act II. I was waiting for my Demon Hunter friend that I had progressed through the act with to be on, but ended up actually seeing how I fared solo. I had to move slowly in order to make sure that I was clearing adequate kite paths in the event that I pulled a champion or elite pack. I ended up clearing out all three remaining dungeons of all their mobs and defeated Zoltun Kulle solo with a 5 stack of Nephalem Valor. At this point a Wizard friend of mine and a Monk friend wanted in for Belial so we grouped up and killed the Lord of Lies even though the Wizard was dead for the entirety of phase three.

This is my good friend Kormac and I looking for the body of Zoltun Kulle.

I grouped up with another Demon Hunter friend (seems like my whole friends list is Demon Hunters) and started up Act III. This act was much more unforgiving than the previous two acts. If you recall Act III from the previous difficulties there are fallen shaman that shoot fireballs, blue dinosaur birds that shoot fireballs, and snake arm men that shoot a green pool and a snake at you. All of these things one-shot me. Our progress in this act was slow and full of one-shot deaths. As you can see though we did kill enough elites for a five stack when we killed Ghom. Ghom was such an easy joke of a fight for us. Kiting with Grasp and fearing or Spirit Walking from the adds he throws. Neither of us took a single hitpoint of damage the whole fight. Very very easy boss.

I meant to go to bed at this point, but we decided to go kill Siegebreaker with our five stack of NV so we headed his way. Halfway across the bridge we realized how late is was so we just made a mad dash to the door. We didn't really pass anything we couldn't kill, but we didn't want to spend the extra time at this point. Siegebreaker was pretty easy. He was low and I got greedy and ate a charge which is why Spirit Vessel is procced currently. Another pretty easy boss. The charge is well telegraphed, and he seemed to be slowable with Grasp. Knocked out one checkpoint past him to save my progress in the quest log.

Yes, this is a Butcher run. I decided that I needed to up my gear because being one-shot by everything wasn't fun, and wouldn't be very viable solo. I have upgraded my damage (with Pierce the Veil) to 39,000 and still have 25,000 HP with about 350 to all resists. My templar also has about 75,000 HP so we should be in a good position to work on the remainder of Act III. I will let you know how it goes.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Witch Doctor Inferno Solo Build and Act 2 Progression

So yesterday was a productive day. I started out by changing my build in to something that I could solo Inferno with. Thus far I have been grouping, and more or less relying on my teammates help in doing things. I decided to change this today.

As you can see I picked up a good bit of attack speed. The idea here is that I can set up my build around Poison Dart: Splinters since it only costs 10 mana, and then I can use the rest of my abilities to control the mobs. Since I haven't solo'd at all in Inferno my trusty templar was only level 59. I decided to try out my new build with him by my side from the beginning of Act 1 through the Skeleton King.

Here's the build that I was using. I made it through to the Skeleton King and killed him without ever dying. That's through about 11 or 12 champion/elite packs. Kormac hit level 60 so I gave him a nice new shield and weapon, and headed to Act 2. My Demon Hunter friend joined me at this point, and his set up is purely damage based. We had a lot of synergy with my control enabling him and me to do damage, and we cleared at a pretty fast pace through Act 2 up to quest 8 'The Black Soulstone'. We will finish up the act this weekend, and probably start working on Act 3. I think that the end goal is to be able to do Azmodan runs since him and the boss before him are pretty easy. Get a 5 stack of NV and then kill them. The dungeon before them is circular so it offers some nice paths for kiting.

Let me know if you have any questions about my build for soloing as a Witch Doctor. I was able to hold my own in Act 1 and Act 2 solo, and it worked extremely well in group play as well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Inferno Act I Best Farm Spot

So obviously after clearing Act I on Inferno difficulty I wanted to identify what would be the best location in the act to farm for gear. What I have been doing with my group is starting at the beginning of quest 9, and going through to the Butcher. I'll explain why I think this is the best farming spot in a second, but here's two screenshots for proof.

As you can see from the pictures I got a whole bunch of loot off of the Butcher. The reason for this is that Nephalem Valor is at 5 stacks which pretty much makes act bosses crap out yellows. Everyone in my group was getting 2-4 per kill. The reason that we start at quest 9 is also because when you kill the Warden in the prison he's also considered an act boss and drops multiple yellows with a 5 stack of Nephalem Valor.

Getting your stack to 5 is pretty easy here. The Halls of Agony and the prison are nice dungeons with rectangular hallways for kiting. It makes fighting the rare and champion packs pretty simple no matter what the affixes are.

For all of you Witch Doctors out there this is the build that I was using. I like Locust Swarm for my AOE because it's fire and forget which lets me spend more time using Poison Dart. Soul Harvest for the AOE heal and damage buff, Spirit Walk for obvious reasons, Grasp to help kite and slow mobs for your group, and Big Bad Voodoo for group burst damage.

These are my stats with my shield on. I generally put this on against elite packs that I know I'm going to take damage from (Mortar, Jailer, Fast etc.), and it has helped out tremendously. With my mojo I go up to about 16.5k damage. The shield has allowed me to live through things that would have killed other people in my group, or would have killed me with my mojo on. As you can see my mojo is in my bags always because I swap between the two as the situation calls for it. It's increased my survivability in a big way, and I'd recommend getting a shield for those hairy situations.

I think I am about ready for Act 2 so as long as my group agrees I will head there, and let you know of any awesome farming areas that I find.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Farming Inferno Act I

Okay, so since my last update I have beaten Hell difficulty, and unlocked the Inferno difficulty!

This is the pink team before we loaded up and finished Hell. There were some champion packs in Hell that were very hard for us, but we were always able to kill them eventually. Hell provided a challenge, but there was really nothing in Hell that was too hard that we had to skip it. Okay, I lied.

When we got to Izual in Hell we wiped on our first try because two people died, and we ended up losing a third trying to rez them. When we came back from the wipe we had to fight two Izuals at the same time. In the picture one Izual is a chicken. After THAT we came back and killed him, but that would have been the first thing we skipped if the duplicate didn't despawn. Woe to the hardcore character that gets to Izual and has to fight two at once.

So welcome to Inferno, the magical land of four affix elite packs. This was waiting for us when we jumped down in to the cathedral in Act I for the first time. We actually did end up killing it, but it was rough since that entryway isn't the best place to fight a pack that you have to dodge that much stuff on. We pressed on, and actually ran in to some much easier champion packs as we progressed through the cathedral.

This was actually the easiest fight that we had all night. The good part is that he seems to drop nice loot when you have a five stack of Nephalem Valor. Same SK fight that he has been the previous difficulties. Not sure what he melees for since I used Spirit Walk every time he tried to port on top of me.

I suck at screenshots and don't have anymore, but I've finished Act I and actually gone back and farmed it a bit for gear. I haven't gotten anything for myself yet, but I have sold some gear to stuff my coffers with gold. I tried a little bit of Act II with some friends, but we died so much we decided to stop. I think my damage is around 15,000 at the moment, and I have about 300 to every resist. I need to up my survivability some more, and I need a lot more HP. That is my main goal of farming Act I. Hopefully next update I will have made some progress through Act II, but I am a Witch Doctor after all.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

So I'm In Hell

So it's obviously been a few days since my last update, and I'm sure it's also obvious why. I'm only through Skeleton King on hell at this point because I helped my wife catch up, and I farmed myself a Nightmarish Staff of Herding. Here's my Witch Doctor so far.

I took this picture from this screen so you could conveniently see my build and stats. I have been having a pretty decent time clearing everything so far, and when things get rough I use Big Bad Voodoo to keep my group up while giving us a nice damage boost. Only really ran in to one troublesome pack of elites so far on Hell. The Skeleton King was the easiest named that we killed tonight. I think fighting the elites in small hallways when they have 3 affixes is much harder.

Here's an example of a pretty simple triple affix pack. The one that we struggles with was Desecrator Jailor Immune Minions mainly because we had to fight it in a tiny basement dungeon, and the minions were blocking single target LOS most of the time. Those basement dungeon packs should be fun on inferno. Going to get back to beefing up my Witch Doctor now!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Diablo 3 Beta Hardcore Fun and Launch Prep

Naked Hardcore Fun

So if you were fortunate enough to play the Diablo 3 beta at all I am sure that you realized that the difficulty was not very tough. In fact, I have been in the beta since September 2011 and I have only died once. There used to be champion packs that would spawn hydras that spammed you with arcane orbs. Each minion could summon one as well so you would essentially turn the corner, four hydras would go down all around you, and you were dead before you knew what was happening. I suppose this affix was a little tough for this point in the game which is why you likely never saw it in the beta. So once that was gone there was really nothing left to kill you.

A couple patches later Blizzard unlocked hardcore characters for play if you have reached level 10 on a normal character. For those of you that don't know hardcore is the exact same as regular mode except that it is completely isolated from non-hardcore characters/stash/artisans and if you die your character is no longer playable. You get one life. Now this sounds fun, but in the beta there was really nothing that was going to kill you so playing hardcore was really not much different than playing normal characters except you had to level your blacksmith again.

Enter the naked hardcore challenge. Vyrt, my wife, and I decided we would try to clear the beta on naked hardcore characters. When I say naked I mean you can use what you started the game with, which I believe is a 3 dps weapon across the board. You don't see it right at the beginning of the game, but by the time you are level 5 or 6 things start to take an extremely long time to kill. From the course of leveling from 1 to 8 our damage only went from 3 to 4. There were a couple times where we had to zone back upstairs in the cathedral. As you can imagine the skeleton mobs that summoned smaller skeletons posed the most problems for us because we could not kill them very fast, and this lead to us being overrun a few times. We had a really intense fight against 3 of those. Immediately after we were at the event before the Skeleton King where the four pillars come to life and spawn skeletons until you destroy the pillars. It took us about ten minutes and a lot of zoning and creative kiting to take out this event, but we did it without losing anyone.

At this point we had been playing for a long time since we were still doing 3 damage, and we opted to just try and fight the Skeleton King instead of level up to 13 which is what any sane person would do on release. Our strategy was to kite around and take as little damage as possible while focusing on the Skeleton King when we could. We ignored the adds he summoned because we did not have enough damage to make killing them a viable strategy. Instead we opted to let the Skeleton King kill them, and then to try and snipe the health orbs that they dropped. We tried kiting in a pack, but we ended up getting hit by the Skeleton King at the same time, and the health orbs weren't keeping up. When we spread out we had a much harder time getting him to kill the adds. After about 10 minutes of fighting Vyrt and my wife died within seconds of each other. The fight was actually a lot easier when it was just me (except the whole his health was scaled for 3 players thing). I was able to have him kill his minions in tight packs, and put a little bit of damage on him here and there. After about 5 more minutes solo I made a play for a risky health globe, and I met my fate. Here's a screenshot of the Skeleton King after 15 minutes of fighting him naked.

All in all it was the most challenging we could make the beta for ourselves. Leveling a bit higher and unlocking more abilities would have been a better idea, but as I said we had already been playing for a while. I think if we had hit level 9 and unlocked Soul Harvest it might have gone a bit better, but who knows. I would be interested to hear of anyone else making the beta harder and more fun.

Launch Day Prep
  • Buy the game!
If you haven't done this already buy the game! Odds are you're out of luck on the collector's edition at this point so your best bet is to go to your Battle.net account and pre-purchase the game from Blizzard. There's no point to buy the physical copy of the game unless you really like boxes.
  • Make your Battle tag
Log in to your Battle.net account and create your battle tag. The battle tag is how the game will refer to you for the most part, and how you will show up to other players so choose wisely. If you already have a battle tag I think you can still use the free change they added. For example my tag used to be Mayong and now it is Myrx.
  • Download the game
If you purchased the game through Blizzard it will be on your Battle.net account. Go ahead and download it now. You will still need to download a small (100MB or so) patch on launch day, but you can get the rest of the download out of the way now.

  • Installing the game
The installer is locked right now, but it should unlock at 11:01 AM EST on May 14. This means you can go ahead and get the game ready to play so that when the servers go live you can hop right in. You will also be able to patch the game at this point.
  • Play the game!
The servers will go live at 3:01 AM EST on May 15. Make sure you have everything downloaded, installed, and patched by then and you will be able to log right in and play.
  • Stay off the internet
Not the entire internet. Keep in mind that people have gotten their collector's editions by now. There are spoilers in the art book, and the behind the scenes DVD that are already posted on some Diablo 3 fan sites. Blizzard will be updating their web site, and some people have already leaked a strategy guide. All of these things contain spoilers so if you want to keep the game a surprise just stay off of Diablo 3 fan sites and forums until the game comes out.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Inferno Difficulty Information

So I just wanted to consolidate a few pieces of information about Inferno difficulty as there's not much exciting to talk about until the game releases May 15. Some of this information is older than the rest, but I though putting it all in one place would be convenient.

Mob Health Scaling

  • 1 player - 100% health
  • 2 players - 175% health
  • 3 players - 250% health
  • 4 players - 325% health
Now, these numbers were taken from the Skeleton King's health values in the last beta patch before the beta ended on May 1. While these percentages are not related strictly to Inferno it may make you reconsider attempting to go it alone. Based on these numbers you can see that there is a distinct advantage to bringing 3 friends with you. The health scaling is in your favor, and you are bringing a lot more potential control abilities to the table with a larger group. Stick with groups of 3 or 4 for the best chance of success, but also know that if you solo it you are truly a badass.

Mob Levels and Gear in Each Act
  • Act I - Level 61
  • Act II - Level 62
  • Act III - Level 63
  • Act IV - Level 63
The mob levels scale up pretty dramatically as you go through the various acts. Those of you familiar with Diablo 2 and how hard some monsters could be even if you out-leveled them by a good bit. Combine this with the fact that there is a separate tier of gear in each act and it seems as though Blizzard's design is that you will farm each act before progressing to the next.

Recent Interviews

  • Inferno difficulty was doubled

Jay Wilson - "Internally, we had this super hardcore test group – we’ve got a lot of hardcore players at Blizzard – that tested Inferno, and we got it to the point where they thought it was challenging enough.
Then we doubled it. Because we knew, no matter how good we are, our players are gonna be better. We focussed on making that as difficult as we could make it."

  • No one has beaten Inferno

So there you have it. It looks like Inferno difficulty is shaping up to be quite the challenge for the average gamer. It's a good thing that we're not your average gamers.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Diablo 3 In Less Than A Week!

I figure I should probably give a little background on what this is. This is a blog that will track the journey of me and my closest companions as we defeat wave after wave of hellish minions on our quest to complete Diablo 3 on the hardest difficulty setting: Inferno. As an added bonus, once we complete the game on Inferno we will attempt to do it again, but with hardcore characters. Expect to see a lot of posts dedicated to the memory of our fallen heroes (and lost loot!).

As you can see I have been in the Diablo 3 beta for a while. This was the first user interface iteration that was in the beta, and if you played in the open beta weekend you know that it doesn't really look like this anymore. So you know I have played a lot of Diablo 3, but I play other games as well. I have played WoW at the hardcore raiding level for years, same with EverQuest, and I have also dabbled in new MMOs such as Rift, AION, and SWTOR to see what they are all about. I would consider myself a hardcore gamer.

At some point during the beta I decided to get all of the achievements. If achievements are something that interest you expect to see me posting about the more difficult ones. I'm not just here to show you what I did, but to help you do it as well. Hopefully there's a lot of Inferno related achievements to add to the fun.

After playing the beta for so long I had to start doing things that were more unconventional for fun. I decided to see how high I could get my character sheet damage on my Demon Hunter. This screenshot was not the highest that I got, but it was close. I think the highest that I got was around 76.7, and Rapid Fire pretty much melted everything.

So there you have it. You know a little bit more about me and what I have done so far, and you know what my goals are. I have no intention of competing for the world first clear of Inferno, but you had better believe that I will be busting my ass every time I am playing to make it to Inferno, and beat it. If you're interested in laughing at my misfortune make sure that you tune in when we switch things to hardcore. Until then.