One life to live #53: Fifth time’s a charm


I lost my first Witch Doctor at 60 in hell, my second at 59 in hell, but on the third Fifth time, well the third Fifth time has been the charm. 1-60 isn’t the most fun the second time around, yet alone the third Fifth, but the victory becomes much sweeter when the journey is filled with obstacles.

Editing Note: In the time of originally writing this piece and publish I lost two more Witch Doctors. Who knows how many more will die before you finish reading?

Ironically each time I’ve gone to post this column I’ve lost the Witch Doctor I was referencing. I’m wary now as type this that Blizzard will randomly delete my current doctor from the servers, but even still I’d press onward. Is it perseverance or stupidity that keeps me coming back for more of the same class?

As my monk sits in inferno gathering dust, I ready my inventory to set out back into New Tristram a lowly level 1. Zoltun Kulle runs are gone, and the trek to 25 is now something you have to experience and be a part of, instead of mindlessly handing in a quest. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I missed the ease of those early hand-ins. However with the recent changes in 1.04 it was nice to feel what the class had to offer at the lower levels, and how leveling a Witch doctor had changed since I first made one at release.

As new as things were, the grind is still the same. You want to be 60 because that’s where the action is. Inferno, good loot, and challenge. Everything else is just a hurdle you have to cross. That’s not to say it’s a cakewalk ( do those still exist?) to get to 60, people still die, but it feels hallow and obligatory.

As a result of that feeling and the game really opening up at 60, you can easily find ways to quicken the experience. First is maximizing +xp on kill gear. A few extra experience can really add up and when it’s hitting a 100+ per kill you can begin to see your bar shoot rise quickly ( not a phallic reference). Combine that with + bonus xp and you can cut your leveling time in half. The new Cain’s set bonus will grant you +30% bonus experience, while a red gem in your helm can grant upwards of 31%(if your loaded) bring you to between 51-61 extra xp!

In terms of effective leveling a friend and the Arreat craters in Nightmare can pay off in spades. I was able to go from 25-50 in just two hours with a friend and my handy xp gear. In total going from 1-60 can be done in about 8 hours with the right conditions. Considering my last Witch doctor died with 50 hours played, that means the bulk of my time lost was in Inferno. Which puts things into perspective. With paragon levels, now the sting of death isn’t in the fact you have to get back to 60 but the levels lost after it.

Every death I’ve experienced has been followed by the same response. I calmly exit the game and create a new character. I level a bit an log off. No tantrums, No tears, just determination to get back to where I started. Having one sixty cooling his heels in inferno I could easily go back to it, but I’ve been so enamored with this class that I can’t play anything but it. If five deaths haven’t changed my mind I’m not sure much will. Maybe six?

Each character brings the chance to be better than the last one. The slow grind in inferno trying to get some semblance of an upgrade is replaced by continual upgrades and perhaps something that far surpasses what you once possessed. Each Witch Doctor I’ve made has been better than the last. Gone further, found better gear, higher dps, and each experience has been worth it.

What class can you not seem to stop playing? What would it take you to switch?

One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth (a paragon of objectivity) and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!

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  1. with the introduction of paragon levels, hardcore is becoming less and less of a challenge and more of an exercise in masochism. i have nothing but a mix of admiration and pity for hc players and what they put themselves through. I salute all of you crazy, crazy sickos

  2. Your forums are being reported as an attack page by google and Mcafee 😯

  3. Loving your columns Xanth! Keep them comming! Nice to know I’m not the only stubborn HC D3 player fixated on one character. 😉

    You made me try HC on D2 when you first started to write this before D3 was released. Never went, nor going SC again!
    Somehow I can’t stop trying to level a hardcore wizard to 60. I was very close with the last one (55). I know it’s not the best Inferno class, but I like the challenge and not giving up! (yet):D

    I think the fact that I haven’t even reached Inferno yet gives me the advantage to still be enjoying the leveling-up experience.
    And like you say, it’s quite satisfying to see that each one you create is better that the last.

    Greetz from The Netherlands!

  4. I’m currently on my 5th barb, which is the second to reach lvl 60.
    Been doing about the same as you whenever I lost one, except one that I lost to a bug in the game. That annoyed the living crap out of me and I took a couple weeks off.

    I simply can’t play the game in softcore anymore since I fired up my first hardcore toon in D2.

    • I’ve also got a Barb going but, unlike most of my other HC chars, she survived all the way to Inferno. Then, on the same day she got there, I got DC’d and she died >_> of all the deaths I’ve had (and there’s been quite a few!) that was the most painful. Just trying to get another one all the way up as quickly as possible now.

      But having said that I’ve got a WD who I don’t play that often, but haven’t had one of those die yet, either!

  5. I too am back to the WD since 1.0.4 (softcore). With a solid “summoner” build (4 leeching dogs, stunning Gargantuan, 3 pet support passives), a tanky/stunning templar (with max block/life), and a new Gidbinn (summons Fetishes), you can go full Magic Find even in hardcore. My SC WD (level 7 paragon) is close to 300% MF now with 5 stacks of NV, and clears act 1 inferno incl. the Butcher like the steamrolling D2 summoning necromancer once did. I almost never die unless I play too reckless. Profile is here:

    http://eu.battle.net/d3/en/profile/nobbie-2219/hero/19204877

    (Nore: I bought the Gidbinn & old Tal armor super-cheap from the AH (~500k each))

    I just started a HC WD, too, to see how that goes now. Leveling up a twinked WD in SC was a blast in any case.

    @Flux: Locust Swarm with Pestilence is THE room cleaner in inferno, too, not just in the easier levels.

    PS: Legendaries, sets and rare amulets/rings start to drop more frequently once you hit +250% MF.

  6. I can’t seem to stop playing WD as well. I’m also on my 5th attempt (first 60, all 4 previous lost in Hell), tho i like to experience the pre-60 content. Unlike so many that want to just burn past it, like they’re playing WoW (which i guess is fair since D3 started with the WoW levelling system).

    25-50 in 2 hours, seems absurd, that’s a recipe for burnout for me personally. It’s the journey, not the destination. I spent a good 25 hours or so getting 60 on my latest. We’ll see if i’m singing a different song on my first actual re-level to 60.

    Also, i have to mention it scares me shitless that you’ve lost 2 WD in A1 inferno with far better gear than me, *and* Spirit Vessel. Had one taste of that yesterday, when out of nowhere i’m suddenly blocked off in the Leoric stairwell facing Mortar Arcane Waller _____.

  7. Hi,

    I like your writing.
    I also think about HC as masochism but I can understand playing it is a very specific feeling.
    I wouldn’t like it for myself, but you allow us, frightened creatures, to understand a bit of what it is you do. Thanks

  8. Just started levelling my 4th HC WD. Lost my first two in hell over stupid things that I knew better than to attempt. My third I just lost the other day. He was a lvl 60/plvl 4 and he had decent self found gear. 🙁

    I love the variety in playstyle that you can get with the WD. Do you want to be a glass cannon or maybe a tanky WD? Do I focus on the pets, or go after as much CC as possible? Post 1.0.4, there are so many viable builds.

    I could never go back to SC now. I have a lvl 40 something WD in SC and when I try to play him, it feels very meaningless…not really worth doing. And I NEVER played HC in D2. Funny hwo that works out.

  9. Just like you Xanth… I’m on my 4th WD right now.. each one has made it closer and closer to 60, but always bit the dust before I can make that final push, and always from a boss-fight (which should really be some of the easiest), I’ve gotten other classes to 60 no problem (Barb, Monk, Wiz is very close) but Im cursed when it comes to the WD!

    First at 29 to norm azmo (pc crash), then 49 to NM Rakanoth and his stupid teleport charges, and finally again at 54 to Hell Belial. And yet I always return. I can’t quit until I get all my classes to 60 HC.

  10. Aah Monty Python. Ingeniously funny and tiresome at the same time.

    Ive never tried hc. I imagine two scenarios, either I play until my first death and regret all the hours that seem wasted. Or I love it and don’t want to go back playing with my sc-friends.

  11. highest p level in HC — p level 43

    http://eu.battle.net/d3/en/profile/thundar-2697/hero/14814421

    ( not me ) obviously 😆

  12. “Editing Note: In the time of originally writing this piece and publish I lost two more Witch Doctors. Who knows how many more will die before you finish reading?”

    Well hurry up and hit publish, then!

    It reminds me of the story about Bono on stage, doing a slow clap and saying that every time he clapped, an African child died of famine or other preventable disease. And someone in the audience shouted out, “Well stop clapping them, you sick bastard!”

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