Flux’s Decahedron #11: The Best/Worst Item Sets


The Best/Worst Set Items in D2X
February 12, 2003

Continuing on the item evaluation kick that started off last column, this one is going to compare and contrast the best and worst Item Sets in the game.  You know, those green things you leave on the ground after you kill Champions.

All ratings, rankings, and comments are based on the v1.09 item set stats.

This rating is a bit more complicated than the Unique Items one last week, since this is judging entire item sets, most of which contain three or four items.  One might be pretty useful while the rest are junk, or a few items might be a nice combination, while the full set isn’t worth using.

With that complexity, the 1-10 rankings shouldn’t be taken too much to heart, and I’m sure in the feedback in two weeks I’ll be posting all sorts of reader-submitted reasons Set X is great for Character Y in Situation Z.

The Set rankings are relative to other sets, but comments are somewhat relative to other types of items as well. Everyone knows that there’s not a set in the game that can compare to the best uniques (with an occasional Rare or Crafted thrown in), but in some cases part of a set can be quite useful.  So appreciate the set for what it does, but don’t get hung up on how you could do better with a Harlequin, Shaftstop, and Grandfather, or whatever.  That’s understood, this isn’t a “best possible combinations of items in the entire game” list.

Factors included in the ranking are usefulness, scarcity, level requirement, and cool factor.  And as you should know by now, nothing is ranked entirely on utility and in-game stats, ‘cause that would be boring.

And yes, that entire introduction was one long disclaimer.  What do you want to bet it still won’t work?

The Ten Worst Item Sets in D2X

Worst first, ‘cause life is like that.

You know, for all the bitching most players (including myself) do about the item sets, when you actually look over them, it’s hard to point out too many that are just utter crap. It’s only when you compare them to the best uniques that they start to look like poo, and that’s not an entirely fair comparison. The problem, I think, is that most of them need a really big full set bonus, especially in one or two areas that you couldn’t match with a random batch of quality uniques. Much bigger bonuses than they have now, so players would have incentive to hunt up the entire thing and wearing it all would be worthwhile, in comparison.  You should still be able to beat a set with the best uniques in every slot, and the individual set items shouldn’t be as good as individual unique items, but the whole set together should make you shine like the mid-day sun.

Plus players are picky and unfair.  We tend to compare the best uniques against the set, and go on about how while Nat’s Helm, or Tal’s mask are nice, but they aren’t a Shakoshako, or Vampire Gaze, or Stealskull.  Which is true, but compare them to a Darksight Helm, or Peasant’s Crown, or Crown of Thieves, or Valkyrie Helm, etc, and you’re suddenly hoping for (another) green death mask.

Plus, set items are a lot easier to find than Uniques. But then again, no one ever said life was fair.

#10: Cleglaw’s Brace

An interesting case, since it’s essentially worthless for the level and character it’s designed for. The set has crushing blow and fast attack and good AR, but then it throws knockback gloves in, which ruin the whole use of fast hitting and crushing blow by making you chase after the target.

Oddly, it’s the knockback (and slows target) that make this one at all popular, but only for the gloves, which have both properties, and are the cheesy PvPer’s best friend.  Because when you’re lame, dueling isn’t really any fun if your opponent can actually, you know, move.

#9: Immortal King

It’s hard to figure if this set should go on the good or bad list.  It’s sort of the Exceptional Sigon’s Set; useful at times, but once you get good MF going in hell, especially doing Meph runs, it’s just ridiculous how often you get an item or two from this one.

They’re also a lot less useful than they look.  At a glance, or when you first find them, it’s hard to not get excited by the big fat bonuses to strength and dexterity and hps and such.  And yet as you try to decide which to put on first, you start to realize that in every case, there are other set items, or unique items, that beat these to death.  That’s true of most every set, but the IK seems to be the best “almost good enough” series of items in the entire game.

For once the weapon isn’t the weakest link, and for players who understand the somewhat hidden benefit of damage to Demons/Undead, this is a great item. This set does follow the usual D2X set pattern of having one item that’s essentially impossible to find (the armor), thus making the set impossible to assemble. That and this one has easily the worst partial set bonuses of anything in D2X.

It does get a bonus point for boasting the one elite set item that virtually everyone has found, since Meph seems to buy IK Mauls in six-packs at Price Club.

#8: Civerb’s Vestments

What are Civerbs Vestments?  Well, stocks, bonds, a little real estate… oh wait, those are his “investments”.  This (unfunny) joke brought to you by your local estate planner.

This pathetic little paladin set takes a right turn, and chooses to fail with the amulet and shield, rather than the weapon. Not that the weapon is any good, but for once it’s not the weakest link. Why a Paladin set has a shield with 2-4 Smite damage is one of the enduring mysteries of Blizzard’s item design.

It does however get a bonus point for being the only set with varying hidden item bonuses, since it matters which of the other 2 items you have on, rather than just giving the same bonus for any other item in the set.  No wait, on second thought that’s not worth a bonus point, since the bonuses it gives still suck.  Forget I said anything about it.

#7: Cathan’s Traps

Nothing horrible about it, but 5 items is way too many to tie up, as if any character of the level to use this would possibly find them all other than by twinking. The things a low-mid level sorcy needs most: mana, mana regen, +skills.  This has only one, and not that much of it.

The staff was almost useful, back in the pre-orb days of D2C, when +1 seemed like a reasonable bonus for your entire weapon/shield slot.  Yes, we were pretty foolish back then.

#6: Milibrega’s Regalia

What is it with the paladin sets?  First Civerb’s, then this, and then it comes to an ugly end with the ridiculously-high level Griswold’s set in D2X.  None of which are worth using, for a paladin or anyone else.

Milibrega’s actually has very nice bonuses and stats on everything.  Everything but the weapon, that is, which like (almost) all set weapons, fell short of being useful in D2C, and falls way short in D2X.  15-25 with no IAS doesn’t exactly mow them down past Act One, nice full set bonuses or not.

#5: Naj’s Ancient Vestige

This is an odd set.  It appears to be designed for a Sorceress, with a staff and some +skills bonuses. But the circlet is just awful, not even equivalent to a decent rare helm, and the most remarkable feature of the set is the huge melee damage on the staff.  With the lack of Cruel and other big damage modifiers on “rods” in D2X, this is about the biggest damage you can get in a staff, short of socketing one, and for characters looking to use staves to whack stuff with, Naj’s is a good bet, though overall it’s less effective than the Ribcracker, due to that one having so much more IAS and huge Crushing Blow.

Odd staff use aside, sorceress sets that are best for melee damage don’t get too high a ranking in this here column.  There are some eerie parallels between Naj’s Armor and Vipermagi, if you wish to explore them.

#4: Isenhart’s Armory

The overall mods aren’t that bad, and the Clvl req is low, but the unbelievably-common frequency of the goddamned green breast plate overrides all of that.  The rest of the set could give you +1000% MF and +10 skills (you know, like the hacked charms) and I’d still put it on the “Worst” list, just because.

Aside from the “Oh god not another Isenhart’s armor!” factor, this one isn’t of any use, and as always, it’s due to the weapon sucking. The other bonuses aren’t great or awful, but let’s see how far you get with a no-IAS 17-18 sword at lvl 21.

#3: Bul Kathos’ Children

Sort of an annoying set, with two virtually impossible to find weapons, neither of which is worth using on their own. Only a Frenzy Barb would consider using either, and would only use either if he had both, and the odds of compiling both these babies and not having half a dozen swords better than either of them, even with the full set bonus, are remote.

Plus the whole thing is pretty much ruined by knockback on one of the swords anyway.

Also, much like finding Aldur’s boots, if you actually did find a green colossus blade, you would likely punch a hole in something, what with the gold colossus blade being so much more tasty. If only you’d had a smidgeon more MF! That’s what you get for not wearing a Goldwrap.

#2: Aldur’s Watchtower

Typical of the weirdly-mixed D2X sets, this one has three relatively common exceptional set items, and one unbelievably rare elite armor. Typical of all d2 sets, it’s got a weapon that’s about 1/3 the damage it needs to be for the level requirement of the rest of the set. Aldur’s has very nice total set bonuses, so the total lack of viability, due to the tiny weapon damage, is disappointing.

You might think it’s for elemental druids, but there aren’t any skill bonuses other than the +3 for the full set, and the 115 Str for the armor is a bit much, even if, 1) you could actually find it and, 2) there were any Druid spell casters.

This set gets a special bonus for being about the only d2x set without a single item that’s really top notch on its own. The boots are the closest, but every time you find a pair you are just pissed that they weren’t unique.

And you didn’t think I’d get through that w/o a Jehovah’s Witless joke about the name, did you?

#1: Griswold’s Legacy

The third of the Paladin sets, and the third one to be useless.  (Four if you count Sazabi’s, but since that one isn’t useless, we’re not counting it. Convenient, huh?) This one is not so bad in the stats, but it’s just ridiculously-unfindable with three TC 90 items. There are only 5 set items and 1 unique item in TC 90, and half of them are in this set.  Uh-huh.

If Blizzard were cruel (well, crueler), they would have made these items as good as they are rare, just to torment players with the prospect of wanting them, but never finding them. In that light, it’s almost a blessing that they aren’t really of much use. Especially, as usual, the weapon.

Why is this set the worst in the entire game? It’s all about scarcity Vs. utility, in this case.

The 10 Best Sets in D2X

Here, they are, #10.5 through #1, demonstrating once again why you should count the number of items you have, and possibly put them in order, before you go to the trouble of writing up the full entry for each one.

#10.5: Hwanin’s Majesty

An interesting set, and one of the very few in the game that really becomes viable only with the full bonus.  None of the items in it are particularly useful, and like (almost) all sets the weapon is a bit too low, but if you get the whole thing on, you can do pretty well, at least in Nightmare, mostly due to the full bonuses. You wonder how this one slipped through, so well balanced and logical, when most of the rest have mods that almost look like they were largely picked by throwing darts.

#10: Natalya’s Odium

A nifty name.  Natalya was the Assassin preview NPC found in Act Three of D2C.  But what’s an “odium”?

 

    odi?um—noun: The state or fact of being subjected to hatred and contempt as a result of a despicable act or blameworthy circumstance

So um, Natalya’s hatred?  An odd choice, given that most Assassins love this set.

This is one of the few sets with more than one item that you might actually wear on their own merits. Lots of characters could do worse than Nat’s boots/helm.  But it’s the claw that’s the most sought after, and not-coincidentally the hardest part to find. Funny how Blizzard can make some set weapons so viable, while most of the time you just wonder what the hell they were thinking/smoking.

Plus, this whole set is black.  Back in black.  All the better to match the Assassin’s bondage outfit.

This might be the set with the best full set bonuses in the game.  I mean look at that, 16% dual leech, +3 skills, 50% res all… wow.  I wonder about the 16%.  I mean why 16?  That’s a strange number, and makes me wonder if it’s supposed to symbolize something, given Bliz’s dabbling in cryptic numerology from time to time.

#9: Tancred’s Battlegear

This basically inexplicable set combines heavy armor, crappy mods, and low damage as only the worst of the D2C sets can.  It’s not a melee set: no damage.  It’s not a spell caster set: no +skills and too heavy. Plus it clogs up the armor, weapon, and amulet spots with utter junk, including what’s probably the worst amulet in the entire game.  Yes, including magical ones.

“So,” you ask, “why the hell do you have it in the ‘Best’ section?”

Well, the inexplicable +78% MF on the amulet, if you wear it with one other item.  The funny part is that everything else in the set is so awful that even with 78% and all the l33t itamz it will undoubtedly bring you, you can still hardly bring yourself to equip it, since everything else sucks so hard. The boots are the least awful of the awful options, but only in comparison to the armor/weapon/shield.  In theory you could use the crowbill with the boots on and switch for the kill, sort of like a (very) poor man’s Ali Baba or Gull.  God help you.

#8: Trang Oul’s Avatar

An unusual set, somewhat like Hwanin’s Majesty, since nothing in it is all that good by itself, but when you get it all on, the full set bonuses make it pretty useful. Sure, you can do better with various uniques, gain more +skills, and they’re certainly easier to put together than this whole thing.  But you won’t be so neat and Necrolicious if you’re wearing mix and match gear.

Are girls on the beach hotter in matching bikinis, or mix and match tops and bottoms? I mean yeah, the second from the left in the yellow panties is the cutest, but the top not matching is tacky.

Well, that could have been a stronger argument. Oh well, it was really just an excuse to post a link to a girls in bikinis picture.

#7: Iratha’s Finery

This one is debatable.  Most players (including myself) consider it to be junk, a sort of 4 item Darkglow (which made a strong showing on the write in ballot for last column’s list, in the Worst Body Armor category).  But you’ll also hear people defending its virtues, which are mainly that it makes you run pretty fast, has passable IAS, and a bunch of resistance to all.

The individual items give you 30% to everything, and then the partial and full bonuses are another 35% to all, and +10% max to all.  The problem is that you don’t really care about cold or poison resistance, and you can match the resistance on this whole set with one good pair of rare boots and a prismatic amulet.  Plus you’re only likely to wear it in normal, and who the hell needs 85% resistance to anything in normal?  Bleh, better I move on before I delete this one entirely.

Bonus fact, this is the only set (that I can think of) where every item type occurs in another set.

#6: Sazabi’s Grand Tribute

Speaking of under-appreciated sets, this one is largely ignored by the Lightsabre or Baranar’s-craving Paladins, since +% damage to demons is not well understood or embraced.  But you put on this set, or even just use this sword, along with Laying of Hands, and you’re dealing unbelievable damage to demons.  Sure, Worldstone 2 runs get old after a while, but if you get off on the crack fiend joy of hitting oh-so-fast, this is a fun one to possess, if only on your weapon switch.

The full bonuses are nice also, but what’s with the +27% life?  I mean why 27, as opposed to 25, or 30?  Or having it vary from 25-30?  It makes you want to probe for some occult numerology reason, much like the reader email about Demon Machine in last week’s column.

#5: Orphan’s Call

One of the most underrated sets.  Virtually any character can wear this one for a time in the lvl 40-60 range, and do very well with it.  Big leech, hps, resistances, attack speed, +stats, magic find, and much more.

Crushing Blow is very under-appreciated in D2X, since most players just want the biggest number possible in their damage display, and don’t want to think about Crushing and AR and frames per attack and all of that semi-technical stuff.  But for players who appreciate the killing speed Crushing adds, the hat in this set is much coveted.  Next time you see a Zealadin tearing through stuff 2x faster than your CCB WW Baba, if he’s got a hat with horns on it, it’s probably Guillaume’s Face, and he probably knows more than you do.

#4: Sigon’s Complete Steel

About the only D2 set that your average “gimme rush plz plz potal cowz itam plz!” Bnet type knows, and that’s entirely due to the glorious 30 IAS you get with the gloves and any one other item, +10% life leech, and all by Clvl 6.

Add the boots for some resistance, faster run, and 50% MF and you’ve got about the best easy twinking in the entire game.  The full set is not at all bad either, covering all of your armor needs well up into Nightmare, if you can get by with low resistance and don’t mind using a shield. Plus it leaves all jewelry and the weapon slot free, and those are the items that most sets crash and burn on. Plus, you can even enjoy seeing things actually die to the “attacker takes 12 damage”, which can be quite handy to pick off tiny stuff like fetish and fallen.  You are a walking iron maiden, and since that mod is totally ignored later in the game (when it becomes totally useless) it’s fun to see at some point.

Why is it “complete” steel?  I mean “Sigon’s Steel” wouldn’t have covered things?  What makes it complete?  Having half a dozen items, perhaps? And aren’t you sort of disappointed that Blizzard didn’t put in one 9 or 10 item set, just to fill up every single item slot?  Obviously it wouldn’t allow for any flexibility at all, aside from what you could do with socketing, but it’s not like there’s that much more variety in the cookie cutter uber item gear characters are wearing now anyway.

And look!  It’s even got a little bit of +fire damage, for all of you who inexplicably disagreed with my worst Unique glove and amulet picks last time.  You know who you are. *snarls*

#3: The Cow King’s Leathers

Despite having one of the creepier set names, (if you think about it) the Cow King’s set is a pretty useful one.  Not that many high level characters will don it, but it’s quite useful for low level dueling chars, and the boots are a popular choice for any type of character.  And it’s got that cool aspect of only dropping in the (not-so) Secret Cow Level.

Of course, given the current style of Bnet play, a set that’s Cow-Level-only is about as exclusive as a plastic surgeon being one of the only doctors to have operated on Michael Jackson’s face.

It’s a pity Blizzard didn’t extend this idea of sets that only drop from a given area. Since there is almost zero monster variability in all of Act Five, how about a Ice Caves set?  Or a Worldstone Set? You see the same monsters there every game also.

#2: Angelic Raiment

This set was, like all the rest, pretty much useless in D2C.  However in D2X they all got an upgrade in the form of additional bonuses, bigger full set bonuses, and especially in the new invention of hidden set bonuses.  The Angelic Set is the biggest beneficiary of those hidden bonuses, since most everything in this set becomes far better once you’ve got one or two other items on as well. And those bonuses are what takes it from being okay, to being the #2 set in the game, as well as by far the best twinking set.

The ring, which you can wear on each hand, is probably the best known, since it gets +50% MF when you have any two other items from the set on.  The Amulet gets +75 hps, and then +1 skills with one or two other items, and even the sword improves, though it’s still pretty tiny damage. The armor gets a very large (for the level) bonus to defense.  You have to wait until Clvl 12 to put this set on, but once you do it makes an amazing difference, especially for a sorceress.  And almost all of the nice bonuses are only visible if you have the items on.  Or read a website with info about it, but that’s practically cheating, so I can hardly recommend it.

#1: Tal Rasha’s Wrappings

While this full set is seldom donned, there are a couple of combinations of the items in it that rival any items in the entire game. Any three items in the set give a 65% bonus to magic find, and the belt has some MF, while the Armor has a ton, as well as big defense and huge resistances. The lack of any % physical damage reduction makes it less than ideal for a melee character, despite the glorious purple-ness of the whole thing, but the Sorceress that it’s designed for (witness the orb) or say, a Bowazon, will find this set absolutely glorious.

The usual technique is to wear the armor and belt in all cases, while a sorceress wants to go with the amulet, which just by itself is one of the best sorceress amulets in the game.  Other characters will often go with the death mask, which would be the best helm in the entire game if not for several even more overpowered unique helms.

The balance of item type quality is very wacky in D2X.  Blizzard adds in the cool variety of mods on circlets, and during the beta we all thought everyone would spend every dime gambling circlets and coronets forever, since what could possibly be better than dual leech and prismatic and maybe even +skills on a hat?  Then we got a look oh, Stealskull, Harlequin, Vampire Gaze, Jalel’s, Arreats, Tal’s Mask, etc.  Why are there half a dozen helms with better stats than any other single piece of armor in the entire game?

Good Honorable Mentions

Berserker’s Garb: Underrated, very nice low level barb set, ignored since no one plays an axe barb.  But if you lose a bet and have to, this is the way to twink.

Infernal Tools: In almost unheard of fashion, this whole set is actually useful, albeit only to low level necromancers.  Even just the wand is a nice twink, but if you get the whole thing on you’re smoking along with a silly brown dunce cap, a shield the size of a saucer, and a mighty +2 to all your skills. Phear your skeleton army.  Etc.

Death’s Disguise: He’s disguised pretty well here, since this set can’t kill anyone. It gets a good rating though, just since the gloves are very handy, and if you go gloves/belt you get that nice 30 ias bonus very early on, and even a nice 15% res all if you go gloves/belt.  Just the 8 slots in the belt drag you down before too long, unless you are patient.  Sort of a poor weak man’s Sigon’s 2 items.

The gloves were great for starting characters in D2C, back when gambling sets was easy, since if you put your gold to it you could be almost certain to bag them from Gheed before you got to Andariel, and they are pretty much a one item poison-proofing kit.  The full set isn’t bad for bonuses, for the level, but the sword damage and speed just don’t cut it, for long. Well they do, I mean it’s a sword, of course it cuts, but um, metaphorically speaking.

Due to the length of this column, the feedback is presented in a separate article. Click here to view it.


Flux?s Decahedron was written by Flux during 2002-2004, and hosted by Diabloii.net. These irreverent, often rude ?Top 10? columns tweaked every aspect of the game and community, pioneered the humorous ?Top 10? listing of game features during the eternal v1.09 patch era, were excessively long, and incorporated extensive reader feedback. They may or may not return for Diablo III. The opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

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