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    Between the minions of hell and the dreaded Error 37, hardcore players have it rough. One of the largest struggles has been the sheer lack of information – many abilities and character builds that work well in softcore simply aren’t terribly viable in the hardcore realm where small mistakes can mean death.

    The Incgamers strategy team has been pushing forward and have compiled some observations to help you stay alive in hardcore mode. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, read on.

    Equipment is king
    Most of the time we found ourselves struggling it was because we were vastly undergeared. If your gear isn’t within a few levels of your character, take some time to shop vendors, farm content, and check the auction house for new items.

    Move slowly
    Identify elite and champion spawns before they are on top of you when possible and react accordingly. Have a safe route available to kite mobs and, if things get hairy, try to make sure you have an exit strategy. Most importantly, be patient and methodical.

    Positioning and kiting
    If you can avoid taking damage, do so. Just because you think you can burn a monster down before it kills you doesn’t mean you should try; whenever possible, keep monsters at a distance. Snare them, slow them, stun them and keep kiting until they die.

    Wait for defensive cooldowns
    If you have an emergency button (e.g. Ignore Pain, Spirit Vessel, etc.), always have it available. After it gets used, wait a minute or so for it to be available again – you want it there when you need it, and there’s no telling what’s around the next corner.

    The best defense is a good offense
    Around the middle of nightmare, things got rough – we were undergeared and getting into a number of sticky situations simply because we couldn’t kill things very quickly due to heavily prioritizing defense at the cost of damage. While it’s important to prioritize defensive abilities and lots of vitality, remember that it’s a fine balance. The faster you kill things the less time there is for something to go wrong. If you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall, try (carefully!) testing a build with a bit more damage output.

    The dangers of playing with friends
    We have anecdotally confirmed the numbers posted in our previous article, but multi-player feels more difficult than solo throughout most of nightmare. Make sure to synergize well with your partner(s). If you’re having a hard time progressing, give solo play a shot. You may be more effective alone.

    Use abilities that make sense
    Despite having “billions of options”, many abilities are simply bad. Here’s a quick list of abilities that we found to work best. Keep in mind, these aren’t necessarily the “best” builds, but they have been working fairly well for us so far:

    Barbarian: AOE Tank, Boss
    Demon Hunter: Offensive
    Monk – We haven’t played one, sorry!
    Witch Doctor: Balanced
    Wizard: Offensive AOE, Arcane, Bosses

    Most dangerous monster abilities

    • Vortex/Jailer + Frozen
    • Molten/Plagued/Desecrator
    • Shielding

    Notice a theme? Things that keep you from moving and acting while damaging you are dangerous – keep an eye out for these.

    Lag!
    Latency and server stability has been rough this week. At the first sign of things acting up, go to town and take a few minutes to stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat, or do whatever else it is you do. Don’t try to play through it.

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