Hardcore Observations: Still Alive

Hardcore Observations: Still Alive

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.

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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    22 thoughts on “Hardcore Observations: Still Alive

    1. Since you did not put arcane enchanted on your list of most dangerous, I can only assume that you have not experienced it yet.

      • We found it much easier to dodge/kite mobs with arcane enchanted than the others. It’s still potent, just doesn’t worry me nearly as much as some other combinations.

        • It’s alot harder to kite around then plagued though. Or even desecrator to be honest – they just don’t do as much damage. 
          *shrug* it all depends on the mobs as well though. Mortar on melee mobs (who aren’t also molten) is np. Mortar on ranged mobs that run so you always get attacked by some of them? Couple with almost anything else that’s nasty and you got trouble.

    2. What with the mortar ability? I think one of the hardest, if you cant get to them, some bets or the hound that jump around. For me, very challenging …

    3. Monks have a multitude of defensive abilities that allow for extra offense. They have a passive ability that heals them for spending spirit, which means they have healing in some cases without a cooldown as long as you can continue to generate spirit.

    4. I’m not sure if you’ve fought one yet, but the “Invincible Minions” mod is extremely annoying as well. If it’s coupled with horde + jailer or other of the mentioned attributes, s*** gets real.

    5. I have 2 friends at level 52 now… I wonder if anyone is ahead of them. They just started hell.

      • Enki and I are in roughly the same place; judging by what’s listed on the AH, not many people are further than that. Highest items I’m seeing are in the low-50s.

    6. I met a pack in hell act 1 on softcore with vortex + jailer + arcane + desecration (1 champion pack together with 1 rare). If you find that combination, walk the other way quickly and good luck with the HC progress 😉

    7. I’m almost through act 3 NM by now, and some of the monster combinations are terrible! Even for softcore. Sometimes I have to retreat half of the map away while living Hydras in my wake to weaken them. A while ago I ran into 2 champion packs at the same time and died before I knew what was going on.
      One thing I can recommend to any Wizard is Ice Armor with the Chilling Aura rune, other then the basic chilling/freezing when enemies melee you, it also chills nearby enemies. Very effective and saved me a lot of times.

    8. I’m a little skeptical of the wizard builds… they seem too squishy to me.

      I can’t imagine not running energy armor on the non-boss builds (you already have it for the boss build). My understanding is that armor increases your damage reduction vs ALL damage (not just physical, but all types). This greatly increases your survivability. I’d swap out the familiar for it in both builds.

      I’m also not too fond of glass cannon, as I don’t think the damage increase would be worth the lowering of your global damage reduction stat. I guess I’d be a fan of the second build, with energy armor swapped in for the familiar. (With absorbtion, will help out a bit with arcane power. Once energy tap unlocks, that would be better. And then the lvl 60 rune for the resists would be best.)

      For bosses, I also think that mirror image would serve better than teleport, depending on the boss.

      • You’re correct about armor, it lowers damage reduction from everything. With Energy Armor in particular, that % increase to armor amounted to something like 5% damage reduction for me, which wouldn’t be the difference between life and death terribly often.

        It’s all really a matter of taste – I tried some of the builds you mentioned, and just found my killing speed was a liability. It just got to a point where taking more defensive abilities would only allow me to take another hit or two, whereas beefing up my damage allowed me to burn things down before it got ugly.

        Also worth noting that I generally had a Witch Doctor and his pets taking hits up front for me, which helps. 

        • I’m guessing that armor is linearly increasing your time to live, like in WoW, league of legends, and other such games, where the damage reduction gained per point of armor has diminishing returns, but time to live is linear.

          Depending on how much vitality you have, getting your armor up significantly like that for the 5% damage reduction can be pretty big.

          • The problem was that if I was getting hit, I was probably risking death anyway. A mortar mob, for instance, regularly hit me for about 2-3k in Act2 nightmare. If I recall, I was around 8k HP

            5% damage reduction = 3000 * .95 =  2850 (150 less damage taken per hit).

            I am able to take 3 hits before I die normally, and 3 hits before I die with Energy armor. This isn’t a perfect example, obviously, but you probably see the point I’m trying to make. IF you were building to maximize armor, it might make sense to take Energy Shield. Barring that niche build, I can’t see it making a heck of a lot of sense before you can rune it for insta-kill prevention.

            Thinking about it another way, it could be seen as an additional 5% more effective HP (400 bonus HP in the example above). It just wasn’t an attractive use of the skill slot, to my mind.

            • Yep the thing to weigh up is the increase in kill speed of offensive skill vs survivability boost of defensive skill.
              The really big thing to remember is this if you can put a mob out of combat via killing it faster it a lot better then any other damage reduction, as its 100% less damage coming from it.

    9. on my wizard i run  diamond skin + teleport + blizzard with 20% freeze rune, for 2.5 defensive skills. any less and i feel gimped. The others are magic weapon 15% more dmg, electrocute spikes, disintegrate.

    10. Lvl 56 HC, but still only up to mid/end act2 on hell.
      The affix that I’ve seen most people die to is arcane (and I’ve almost died to it myself a few times). It’s by far the most dangerous one in my opinion. Sure, you can try to avoid it, bit it’s a false sense of security because that one time you get stuck between a few rays you are gone. Even if you don’t agree with me, just make sure you are careful guys, we need more people on hell to group with 🙂

      And I don’t think shielding belongs on that list, invincible is worse while in the same category. But even that is still manageable as long as they don’t have other crazy mods. Arcane, vortex and frozen are the main ones to keep an eye out for in my opinion. But plenty of other dangerous ones of course, including what you’ve listed.

    11. Should also note that vampiric can be really dangerous when combined with plague etc. Gets to the point where they are impossible to kill sometimes. Not sure if it is a bug or intended, but would make more sense that the life leech was only on attacks and not on plauge/molten etc.

    12. As melee (monk) I strongly dislike desecration, molten and plague but I find that with proper gearing it is completely manageable.  Lifesteal through % dmg and per hit are both highly effective.  It helps that I am also running with serenity, mantra of evasion and breath of heaven.  My biggest problem now is the Nightmarish affix while teamed with stuff like vortex or jailer with a damage affix like arcane.

    13. Me and my partner are steadily progressing through A1 Hell as baba/wd.
      Level 55, 45k hp buffed, 5k armour.

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