I did not use the Diablo III Auction House at all for about six weeks after launch. I didn’t want to, I didn’t need to, and I saw the way so many heavy AH users had burned out on Diablo III, largely since they could never find any gear that was better than the stuff they’d bought. I was self found and proud of it, since my l33t skillz were enough to (eventually, arduously) defeat the content that lesser mortals were blowing through in seconds, thanks to their ill-gotten goods.

    Did I stick to my guns (or at least my pistol xbows), and remain self found? Did I score enough loot playing solo and making wise use of the Artisans to pull myself up by the bootstraps and succeed without delving into the corrupting trading market?

    Read on and find out.

    What's the origin of the gear on your Inferno characters?

    • 2) Mostly from the Auction House or friends. (43%, 2,118 Votes)
    • 1) All from the Auction House or friends. (30%, 1,463 Votes)
    • 3) Mostly self found. (13%, 645 Votes)
    • 5) I don't have a character in Inferno. (9%, 457 Votes)
    • 4) Everything self found. (5%, 240 Votes)

    Total Voters: 4,921

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    The Diablo III Auction House

    Early Auction House display.

    I agreed with the (by no means unanimous) community consensus that trading sucked in D2, and that an Auction House would be a cool feature in Diablo 3. And I joined others in assuming/predicting that we’d get an Auction House in Diablo III long before it was confirmed. I didn’t object to the GAH, or even the RMAH, on pragmatic reasons. Despite that, I still elected not to use it when the game launched back in May.

    I’d almost never traded in Diablo 2, and not just because the trading system sucked. I played a lot back in the day and was very proficient at Magic Find, so I was able to supply virtually all my own needs. In fact, I can only remember one actual trade, when I swapped a Stormshield for an Eaglehorn, mostly since I had found 4 Stormshields and was sick of using a Buriza back in the v1.09 days, and wanted a different bow for cow running. (Naturally, I found a Windforce about a month later, and this was all in the Hardcore economy, where items held a lot more value.)

    So no, I didn’t want a Diablo 3 Auction House from some sort of “God I wish D2 had one” desire. But the D2 system was inarguably awful, since even if you avoided the wug-infested hellholes that were Battle.net trading channels and games, the lack of a standard currency complicated things, and that’s not even mentioning the massive corruption from illicit RMT, which was largely fueled by duping, hacked items, Pindlebots, etc. After that, the idea of a clean, clear, official, legit Auction House in Diablo III was a pleasing one, and I looked forward to it.
    Once the game was out though, I had no interest in using it.

    Self Found, For Reals

    It wasn’t a difficulty temptation to resist in those early days, since I didn’t hurry through the game and hit the Inferno gear-check-wall that frustrated most early rushers. I played more slowly, mostly solo, and alternated my time between several characters (my Wizard, Barbarian, and Demon Hunter were all around level 50 back in late-May), regularly passing items between them in a sort of we-are-a-solo-party arrangement. I never bought or sold anything on the AH though, neither gold nor real.

    I wasn’t making some big moral stand, since as I said, I didn’t object to the AH, in principle. I just didn’t need items other than those I was finding, plus I wanted to experience and evaluate the game as it was designed and balanced, and not use the GAH to paper over any flaws in the balance, rate of progression, difficulty, economy, prices, crafting, and all the rest.

    That theory soon looked very wise, in the sense of preserving my enjoyment of Diablo III, as numerous people I knew rushed one character into Inferno, found it way too hard without better gear, and found the GAH the only source of that gear. Others didn’t even wait for Inferno to start GAHing, and turned their full play through into something of a glorified god mode tutorial by using bought gear to wildly overgear their characters.

    This was probably fun at the time (I recently finished Act 4/Hell with my neglected Wizard while using a 1289 two-handed sword — obliterating everything in sight with .2 second bursts of Disintegrate was ridiculous and yet fun.) but was ultimately a recipe for dissatisfaction, since buying such gear meant that they never found any upgrades in Inferno, and that really amplified the issue of Diablo 3’s underpowered sets and uniques.

    I eventually worked my Demon Hunter through Hell and into Inferno, and found it less than a stone wall of gear check, but far from a happy fun experience. And this was after the v1.0.3 nerf that made Act One Inferno much more item rewarding and much less one-shot misery. My Demon Hunter wasn’t getting one-shotted, but my killing speed was far from acceptable, since my weapon was far from excellent. Everyone “knows” that Diablo III’s uniques and sets are underpowered, and the in-game item drops and Blacksmith recipes are underpowered as well… but only in terms of weapon damage. Armor, on the other hand, isn’t that poorly balanced, and you can craft some pretty good rares once you’re into the high 50s, even before you’ve got Inferno materials or have found any of the supremely-uncommon crafting plans.

    That’s a relative statement, of course, as the armor you can craft or find is plenty good enough for Hell, and maybe Act One Inferno. You’ll need to farm farm farm if you want to advance through Act Two, though. Farm or Auction House.

    Just surviving isn’t enough, of course. You need to kill things to get loot, and you need killing power to kill things. My Demon Hunter had a good build and decent armor when she got to hell, but even after several Hell/Act 3 and Act 4 runs at level 60, with full stacks, and numerous scratching and clawing and desperate efforts to get through the first half of Act One, with NV stacks active, I’d never found better than a 550 DPS crossbow, and it was one of those lumbering, 1.10 Attacks per Second xbows. Ugh.

    So, earlier this month, I finally decided I was wasting time sticking to my “all self found” mantra, and visited the Auction House late one evening. (In disguise, so none of the neighbors would recognize me.)

    Succumbing to Temptation

    Dream of more than 3 affix filters.

    As anyone (everyone) who uses the AH knows, a 550 DPS blue xbow isn’t exactly top of the line for level 60. I looked at the top of the line, 100 million bows, just for shits and giggles (there more giggles), before filtering down the buyout price to 50k and doing some bargain seeking. I had nearly 2m gold in my account, and could easily have bought a pretty good bow, but I was intentionally going low end and looking at just blue bows with damage. No IAS, no +Dex, nothing. Just damage, and this after my old xbow had great stats, with over 140 dex, critical hit chance, vit, and more.

    Moving quickly, I settled on a 1086 DPS bow. No frills, no bonuses other than the lightning damage, for 50k on the buyout. I must admit to some excitement as I transferred the purchase to my stash, and waited to equip it to see what my character window DPS would do.

    Believe it or not, that number went up. I don’t remember the exact stats, but it was something like from 8800 up to 17k (without DiabloWikiSharpshooter selected, since that bloats the Demon Hunter’s displayed damage to meaninglessness), plus the faster firing rate meant much faster Hatred generation and better projectile avoidance.

    I wasn’t just shopping for better numbers though, so I quickly went and played… and laughed my way through most of Act One, as all of the encounters that had formerly been all but impossible became routine. I’d been struggling against almost every boss pack since I took so long to kill things that I had to kite like a windy day at the beach. This made my margin for error very thin against almost any boss pack, and when I got DiabloWikiBoss Modifiers like DiabloWikiWaller, or DiabloWikiFast (much less both), I had no chance. I was forever running out of Discipline, or I’d miss one Smoke Screen and take two hits and drop dead, or run a burst of damage to try to finish a Champion off and wind up just short and out of gas. Worst of all were the fights when I’d run away, scramble, struggle, and finally kill one or two monsters, or die when I nearly had the pack dead, and by the time I got back to the scene of the battle all the surviving monsters had completely regenerated their hit points.

    More damage fixed most of those problems, and in less than an hour I blew through the second half of Act One, killed the Butcher on my first try, and even earned the achievement for doing him in under two minutes on Inferno.

    Naturally, more damage wasn’t enough for everything, since when I moved on into Act Two I and found the gear check a reality. Suddenly the one shot days were back, as those yodeling Lacuni bomb throwers were happy to show me in the canyon. I pushed on, eventually earning five stacks in Act Two and making it almost to Alcarnus, but there were many deaths on the way, and I had to ditch some mobs, including a group of 4 Champion Sand Wasps with DiabloWikiMortar, DiabloWikiArcane Enchanted, DiabloWikiVortex, and DiabloWikiIllusionist.

    How I wanted to beat them, as my Demon Hunter always takes Mortar as a personal insult and challenge. Alas, I could not. The confusion of so many Illusionist wasps (their baby wasp BBs do no damage, but are indistinguishable from the real ones) was a huge pain, and they kept Vortexing me into the midst, forcing me to hit an instant Smoke Screen and run. But where to run, with Arcanes turning, slot motion BBs everywhere, real and fake Wasps floating in every direction, and a dozen Mortar shots coming at me from every direction the second my SS wore off. (Just writing about it now I wish I could go back and try again. If only Diablo III had some kind of “save game” state in a single player mode that could be revisited at your leisure.)

    So no, I couldn’t beat Act Two Inferno with a decent damage bow and crappy gear. What I could do, after a bit more practice and some better gear (all self found) was run Act One quite efficiently, clearing out 90% of the bosses in about an hour and earning a good 20 or 25 high level rares per try.

    Resigned to My Fate

    And that’s what I’m still doing, when I get time to play, a week and a half later. I’ve not found any bow upgrades, though it’s possible. I have found damage two-handed weapons for a variety of other weapon types that I will never, ever equip, other than as a joke.

    I have found a ton of upgrades for pretty much every other item slot though, and have found numerous upgrades for my level 60 Barbarian and Wizard, including weapons that should be more than enough for them to work through Act One. The Wizard just finished Act 4 of Hell, and had a laugh doing it with 35k life, over 450 to all resistances, and a two handed sword that was just short of 1300 DPS. I haven’t done more than 10 minutes of Inferno with her yet, but she moved through everything up to rescuing Cain without so much as having to activate her Diamond Skin, and I’m sure I she could advance to Act Two without any real difficulty.

    From a purist PoV though, those items I used to overgear my Wizard, along with everything else I’ve found since I bought that bow, are tainted. Impure. Unclean. Since they were enabled by me using a non-self found bow that more than doubled my damage. Even though it wasn’t a very good bow and had damage equivalent to that of a sword, two staves, and a polearm I’d found, while still scratching along with that 550 xbow.

    Luckily, there are no purists in Diablo III, so no one knows or cares about this but me.

    Vote Time

    As far as I know, I’m fairly unusual in not using the Auction House constantly, and doing it since shortly after Diablo III’s release. I’m also fairly unusual in that still enjoying the game, even the Inferno end game. (There’s almost certainly a strong correlation between fact one and result two.) And why wouldn’t I? It’s challenging enough to keep me on my toes, and since all but one of my items are self found, I’m not bored and depressed by the item hunt, since I’m forever finding upgrades. Every yellow question mark is a delight and a thrill!

    (Okay, not really. 1) the game desperately needs an “ID all” button, since JFC, no one wants to stand there right clicking for 45 seconds every time they return from an item run with 5 stacks. The 3 second wait just adds annoyance most of the time, “Oh look, another ilvl 62 weapon without a single +damage mod on it!” 2) Imagine how much fun it would be will be when you can find unique/sets more than once a week, and if they’re better than average quality rares are now?)

    So, how unusual am I in my Auction House usage? Survey time.

    (By request, I moved the vote up to the top of the article so it would be visible on the main page without requiring a click through.

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