New Defensive Legendary Gems: Still Useless?

LGem usage pie chart.

LGem usage pie chart.

Along with Ancient Items and a bunch of new legendary items/affixes, at Blizzcon the devs revealed two new legendary gems, coming soon in Patch 2.12. Both gems are purely legendary, adding big bonuses to damage reduction/resistance and to regen/damage absorption, and are a direct result of the fact that the current defensive Legendary Gems (DiabloWikiInvigorating Gemstone and DiabloWikiMoratorium) are the least used of all LGems.

Are the two new LGs good enough to earn a spot in your gear? The most used gems now are the ones that buff offensive talents, with even #1 fan fave Boon of the Hoarder in the lowest third of use. The (sadly blurry) photo to the right is one I took at the Blizzcon panel, showing the actual usage rate of the Legendary Gems in the game today, which shows that it’s not just a perception that everyone uses offensive gems… it’s a reality.

This isn’t just players being greedy for faster killing (though I’m sure it is somewhat about that), it’s a reflection of how it’s best/smartest to play the game. Toughness and defensive abilities are useful, especially in Hardcore, but faster killing speed/higher DPS is more useful, especially in Softcore. This issue only grows more acute in higher Greater Rifts, since a player can go with insufficient toughness, play smart, move around a lot, and survive. And triumph! It’s much harder to do the same with extra toughness and less DPS, since you just won’t kill fast enough to complete the GRift within the time limit.

A fan who shares this opinion posted an interesting suggestion; that a new LGem be introduced with big defensive bonuses… but ones that tie into a special offensive bonus as well.

Everyone knows purely defensive gems are unattractive. Though they give more survivability, being able to take more hits doesn’t translate into killing more efficiently or faster, which, as we have seen, in Greater Rifts at least, far more important. To that effect, this is my proposal:

  • Gain 30% non physical damage reduction, increasing as your health drops, up to a maximum of 75% when your health drops to 50% or less.
  • Level 25: Increase non-physical damage by 10%, increasing as your health drops, up to a maximum of 25% when your health drops to 50% or less
  • This gives the gem an attractive Risk Reward mechanism where you get stronger as your health drops and you’ll want to remain steadily at a weakened state to take advantage of your increased resistance and damage.
    Tyvalir: The new Legendary Gems are a work in progress, and the numbers you saw during our BlizzCon panels will likely change over time as players test them on the PTR server, and as we continue collecting feedback from the community.

    It’s great to hear your early insights into one of them, though. I’ll be interested to see what new insights you have once you’ve sampled its powers on the PTR! 🙂

    It’s an interesting idea, I think. I don’t suggest that a single LGem should have great defense AND big offense, since that would take away the whole point of having to make gear decisions. But the fan’s suggestion is an interesting combination, with big bonuses to O and to D but only when your character is low on hit points, which brings an inherent risk to the procedings. And imagine pairing it with Esoteric Alteration? That’s one of the two new Defensive Legendary Gems, as seen below.

    New Legendary Gems

    New Legendary Gems

    Do you guys think these new ones are good enough to move up the usage rate? And the more general question… can any defensive LGems ever be amongst the most popular? Do players even want them to be? I think it’s just inherently more fun to add new offensive effects to your character than new defensive ones, because shiny. Maybe if some defensive properties triggered visuals as well?

    How do you feel about defensive bonuses from Legendary Gems?

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    I don’t think any defensive property less than “full immunity to everything and a sparklepony transmog” would ever be #1 in burn rate, and probably not even then. But the devs clearly want to give us a bit more of a decision about whether to gear for the O or the D, which seems smart. Also note that we’ll probably see changes (buffs) to some of the existing LGems in the next patch. The devs keep referring to the current Legendary Gems as the “first pass” on the system, and with several gems under 5% usage rate, buffs seem inevitable.

    Tagged As: | Categories: *Featured, Diabloii.Net Votes, Legendary Gems


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    1. Don't forget how the devs kept talking about bringing in better defensive options to help give choices besides Unity. It's not just swapping out an offensive gem for a defensive gem, but swapping them so that you can afford to replace your Unity with a strong offensive ring. In theory, at least. I'm not sure if either of these are powerful enough to make that trade-off worthwhile.

      • If it's not a flat 50% damage reduction (or more!) it's not a replacement for Unity. Neither of these fit, especially when Unity effectively doubles your "one-shot threshold". Neither of these are worth considering.

    2. As long as the dmg output of GRifts increase defensive stats will never be better then DMG stats. It will only rise the grift lvl before u no longer worry about defense.

      • We had hour long discussions about this with one of my friend and in the end we both reached the same conclusion as you did: above a certain GR level (whenever one-shotting begins for someone) defense is absolutely meaningless (yes Steven, you were right :)). Above that level only offense will help you, so it's inevitable that defensive gems won't be used at the high-end.

        After thinking about a couple of solutions I think the best and easiest to implement would be to eliminate the GR time limit altogether, with one important caveat: time spent on a given GR level would still matter for rankings. The idea would be to allow players play around with the defense / offense balance. I could go for level 50 for example with a really defensive build and spend an hour clearing that level, netting me the top spot on the Leaderboards. However, someone could beat me not only by by trying to go for more offense and clearing level 50 slightly faster, but by going even higher with more defense if they can survive. I think such a system would help the offense / defense issue considerably, while finally also leting us play around with defense oriented builds, helping build and playstyle diversity. Or maybe I'm crazy and this would result in everyone going for defense. In any case, I'd really like it if such a system would be implemented for at least one PTR test cycle.

        • That does sound like an interesting idea, the only problem (I remember someone else pointing out somewhere) was that that would be almost exactly like the old inferno, wouldn't it? Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that, but apparently people hated it, having to stack super toughness etc. Meh, I don't know, IMO an infinite mob scaling system is just a bad design to begin with.

          • The current implementation is exactly like Old Inferno (die in 1 hit, get no loot even if you win).

            • Not quite. In the old Inferno you could go full defense and still kill things ridiculously slowly. You can't afford to do that in Greater Rifts, because of the time limit.

              It's a distinct possibility that these boring, completely defensive builds could become the new norm after the elimination of the time limit. Although my hope is that if clear times would still be relevant people would instead gravitate to towards a middle ground. If that wouldn't happen the only solution would be to reintroduce the time limit and instead rebalance the enemy scaling in Greater Rifts so that one-shotting the player becomes a problem only by the time you also have trouble clearing a level in 15 minutes. Basically enemy HP needs to increase faster and/or enemy damage slower.

            • It's very different for a DH. I quit after being 1-shoted by a white lacuni after spending 1 week gearing for act 2 (I should stop at the famous treasure goblin not far from there and not quit). Then I went barb, with some WD time.

              Since DH are good again, I decided to play with him again. On T6 you can take some hits from white mobs and not insta-die in the process, even if you roll out the defensive properties on gear. On top of that, you get some legendaries in the process. Not to mention I geared him into something T6 viable in few play sessions (3 or 4, but I had a weapon and got a bad 60-ish soj on a dif. char).

            • The time limit is only for getting a higher level. As the correct way of GRing is have DHers farm starter keys of the target level, and the only actual reward is gem levels which you get no matter how horrifically you "fail", that actually is the correct way of doing things. Zakara Zerg on SC, and on HC hyper defense grind. That is if you care about the trivial per level bonuses that much.

              And no, we don't need enemy life scaling faster, that's the whole reason the game is a pure damage fest in the first place.

            • I have no idea what would be fair, but could the rankings weigh both level and clear time, so that clearing GR 48 in 5 minutes would rank you higher than clearing GR 50 in an hour?

        • Yes, this is an obvious and simple solution.

          Remove timers. Death = can't get rift key for next level. No death = get rift key for next level. This allows players who hate timers (like me) to continue to progress within Greater Rifts, but still allows for racing for leaderboard purposes.

          • yeah, that's one way of doing it. The problem with that is that it looks like Blizz is trying to keep the gameplay revolve around quick runs (15 mins, be it a Grift, regular rift or bounties). If they did what you say, you'd have YouTube videos titled "World's first GRift 76, completed in 7 hours, 45 minutes.

            But then again, I'm not sure it matters, cause the people doing grifts 50 play that much anyway, just split up over multiple rift runs so…

            • Can always just add in a rift difficulty selector (you can choose any rift you've unlocked) and that problem goes away. Want something quick? Run something you can faceroll. Want a dungeon slog that feels really rewarding when you win? Push yourself.

    3. Step 1: Make game mode based around killing things as fast as possible to meet arbitrary timer that advances no matter what you do
      Step 2: Add legendary gems that help this goal, and ones that don't
      Step 3: Be amazed that no one wants to use the gems that don't help players in achieving this goal
      Step 4: ???
      Step 5: Profit

      The problem isn't with the gems, it's with the content

      • Imagine if there were other items or LGems that had the effect of adding massive DPS while lowering your toughness. In that world some players, hardcore at least, would want defensive LGems to offset that super offensive item. Lacking anything like that, and with most offensive items adding toughness as well (if only through mainstat), we have the game state you describe.

        • Some players would, but never the ones that want to compete at the highest level, not even in HC. In the end the only thing that matters is beating the clock and when that is your only goal it's hard to justify giving up offense. Sure, below about level 30-35 Rifts you can probably afford to do that, but later you can't. Whatever you do you'll be one-shotted and as a result no defense will save you, resistance is futile (the Borg came from level 100 Rifts). Also, death doesn't matter too much for these people, because they likely have multiple class sets stashed away for the occasion when they'll die.

          The only people who will seriously consider defensive gems are the ones who care about surviving more than competing. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this line of thinking, especially in HC, but the fact remains that enemy scaling is seriously imbalanced in Greater Rifts and as a result the farther you go, the less useful defense becomes. I think this should be addressed before more defensive gems are added, so that everyone can benefit from them.

        • Considering you have 3 slots, those gems would have to be very strangely tweaked to make it so:

          Gem 1) Reduces toughness by a lot, but increases DPS by a bunch
          Gem 2) Increases toughness

          is better than

          Gem 1 & 2) Increase DPS

          Even then, the first "Gem 1" probably isn't "fun" to use, instead it just feels like you need to level up two gems to use it instead of leveling up one gem that's immediately usable. I mean, I think it's a decent idea, but I think it kind of sidesteps the issue that if Blizzard really thinks the timer-only Grifts are a good idea, then they should just remove all legendary gems and give people a different way to pew pew pew through content. Meanwhile, if they think different playstyles (in terms of balancing offense and defense) are important, and want legendary gems to further that differentiation, then they should add different types of content so that different players/characters/builds/items/whatever can all be better suited to one type of content than another.

          • To clarify – I meant "…if Blizzard really thinks the timer-only Grifts are a good idea, then they should just remove all DEFENSIVE legendary gems…"

    4. I actually like simplicity's strength, I was able to make it into t6 with that gem while running my main DH, a non-m6, internal cooldown laeden, you will never be anything and it takes you 3 hours to clear GR 29 fan of knives build. I hope that one gets buffed a bit, it would make depth diggers and that gem a nice combo.

      I also agree that it's the content that is the problem. Once we get tasks,challenges, or runs where dying is not really an option, or at least severely limits the rewards then players will never value anything defensive with any real meaningfulness.

      What we are doing is just as important as how we are doing it………or at least it should be……..

    5. It really does not make sense that they don’t understand why people don’t use the defensive items, no. Like most have said, if you do not have the damage, you can’t possibly beat the higher rifts.

      With their current design of scaling hp/damage, but with a time limit, they have made it completely impractical to use anything other than pure offense. “hey, i can live through this GR fine, but … oh, my timers out”.

      If they seriously want to make people have to choose between offense for speed and defense for survivability, they need to change the scaling on the mobs in rifts. Scale damage more than it is, but do not scale HP nearly as much. That way ‘do i want to do more damage and risk being 1 shot’ or ‘do i want to survive easier but slightly slower’ with still the option to actually progress.

      It’s the exact opposite of what D3 used to have for a problem, way back. “i want to go to act2+ in Inferno, but I need way more defense, and need to sacrifice damage to live”.

      They also need to look at the problematic ‘1 shot’ unavoidable damagers that are in the game. No matter how good your gear, in the current design even if they somehow make it so that you can get more toughness through gems/etc and progress up the GR levels, a jailer will instagib you at some point. Toughness may make it higher, but still, somewhere it will kill you. They worked on making huge strides in unavoidable damage in the past, making it so that skill determined where you could get to, yet they have not touched some of the largest issue damages that are in the game currently, getting it so people can get to even higher levels with gems, ancient gear, etc, they will need to look at this as well. If they want to keep say jailer unavoidable, change it to a % damage or some such.

    6. But you CAN use Molten Wildebeest for very high offense. Combine it with the pants from Act 5 caches "Death's Bargain": Gain an aura of death that deals 750-1000% of your Life per Second to enemies within 20 yards. You no longer regenerate Life.
      Edit: Nevermind, I saw the gem in the picture is level 50, not 25, crap is that an incredibad gem…

      • I tried that pants, many times, it's rubbish. If you have some percentage based Life Regen (like Brooding for the DH), tons of Regen from other sources and also use the new gem, you can break 1m ticks per second, maybe even 2m. That's still really really bad, especially for the investment required. I'm sure the Gizzard will be buffed in some way, because it's useless as it is, but even then I'd be surprised if it would make those pants useful. It's a shame though, I really liked the idea of turning defensive stats into offensive ones before the release of RoS, but the devs didn't go nearly far enough with the idea. I really hope they'll revisit these items (Death's Bargain, Soulsmasher), because the basic idea is really cool.

        • I like Death's Bargain for the sole reason that for someone like me who doesn't have thousands of Keystones of Trials and various Greater Rift stones stockpiled, it substantially increases my clear time on lower-level Grifts so that I spent less time "climbing back up" to a Grift that's challenging.

          It basically increases playtime efficiency if my goal is to upgrade a gem, because the RoT generally underplaces me as far as competitive Grifts go, and the Death's Bargain pants help shave a minute or two off my clear time before I get into a Grift that's actually hard.

          With that said, if I had better pants for my WD that weren't Swamp Land Waders, I'd probably use them instead. But I don't, so I enjoy the marginal benefit I get from the DBs.

          • Yeah, that's a valid use for those pants, I just wish they would be viable even for high-end play (or at least higher end than now 🙂 ), as I really like the general fantasy behind them. Now that I think about it, they are also amazing for rushing people to level 70 on T6. Put them on a good Locust Swarm WD with Fire Dogs and a Big Stinker Gargantuan and watch things melt while your friend reaches level 60+ in minutes.

    7. I do not see the point in reducing non physical damage only. Desecration is physical. If I spend a LGem slot, the gem must be worth it. Otherwise I think that Ivan E nailed it with his bullet points list.

      Or, they could build Grifts with specific objectives (i.e. survive X monster waves, capture and hold a shrine…)

    8. The first question you must ask is "does it add enough defense so it makes a difference"?

      The second is "do you lose so much offense that it makes a difference"?

      The game structure makes Unity tier "doubling it" the minimum baseline of relevance.

      And then you look at the insane life on everything and realize when you're losing a 30% true damage buff for a defensive gem you now auto fail the time limit.

      So buffed defensive gems could result in a yes on question 1, but you still need the damage gems and so you don't have room.

    9. While I want to believe on def. legendary gems, I don't think it will ever be a thing.

      Take a look at DH guides, even vitality is kinda useless nowadays… It's strictly better to have skill damage instead. AR is also cut in favor of skill damage and even MS on boots. Before 2.0, there was stutter step (for some skilled people).

      Maybe the HC crowd or non-DH would find it useful, but the "melee classes" tend to hit brick walls due to damage issues (1-year-to-kill-guardian issues).

      Also, at a certain GR point, everyone dies to jailer, mortar or something like that – sometimes in 1 hit. If only a gem could change that (imune to elite nonsense combos that 1-ish hit ko you) or a gem could make me undetectable by monsters offscreen (charging corrupted angels of doom)… 🙂

    10. Neither of these gems would fit for me.

      Non-physical only is no good…tons of incoming damage is physical and arguably harder to avoid especially for melee.

      Life regen…no thanks, its nice to have some but in higher g-rifts I need much more healing per second and the shield is nearly no good for melee.

      Any defensive gems need to be extremely good to both allow you to remove unity and lose ~20% dps from the gem swap.

    11. why isnt there a thorns gem, id like to see one that can be used with sanguinary and the invoker set pieces. ive always like the concept of a strong thorns build thats super defensive

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