Strategy: The Best Diablo 3 Auction House Rare Items

A friend pointed me to a useful post from the forums. It’s billed as a farmer’s guide to the best types of rare items in Diablo 3, by which the author seems to mean “rares that might roll BiS.” I disagree with many of his ratings, but that’s mostly due to our different perspectives on item value. Here’s a quick, condensed quote from the post, to get us started:

Never pick these up:
* Two-handed Weapons, Wands (except ilvl 63 Desolator Wands), Helms, Boots, and Shields – “No one anywhere EVER in d3 who knows what they are doing uses a shield.”

Rarely Pick These Up
* One-handed Xbows, Sources and Fetishes, Belts/Mighty Belts

Pick These Up
* Rings, Amulets, Shoulders, One-handed Weapons, Bracers, Gloves, Pants, Chest Armor

Some recent profitable Rare sales.
Some recent profitable Rare sales.
Useful as a guideline, but I disagree on several of the specifics, since I’m coming from a very different place. The author of that post is comping from the PoV of a very rich player who only wants Rares that might compete with the Best in Slot items. That’s fine if you’ve been playing 8 hours a day since launch, and/or can supplement your shopping with RMAH transfusions and care nothing for any items under ten million gold. If you’re like most players though, and are on something of a budget, and would like to find your own upgrades and/or make some item sales below the dream level, this guide isn’t very useful.

So here’s mine, aimed at a less-rich level of player, with rare item types sorted by how likely the items are to have any utility and sale value.

Good Sellers:
Pick up rare pants, boots, belts, helms, shoulders, rings, amulets. All these will sell if you get a decent roll with 3 or 4 good mods out of the 10 or 12 possible good mods.

Bad Sellers:
Do not pick up bracers, 1H or 2H weapons, any class-specific armor, or any of the off-hand items (including shields). These can be valuable, but the odds are much longer than with armors, since these items have more limited audiences, and/or have more affixes *required* before they have sale value.

Click through for a primer on item value vs. time played, specifics on why all of these are good or bad, and why I’m glad that lots of players pick up the junk anyway.

Item Sales and Value

The entire point of this debate is to maximize your time. Everyone’s got a different standard on that, so there’s no universal right/wrong answers. If you watch YouTube videos or read forum posts from some players, they apparently do nothing but sprint (and spin) through five areas of Act Three, pausing only to pick up jewelry, (some) legendaries, and to scratch their noses. And the really dedicated ones have had their noses surgically removed to avoid that temptation. Plus it helps to ignore the B.O. issues that arise with long-term, no-break gaming.

If that’s not you, and if you still shower and take your time playing, then you might as well pick up all or most of the Rares just in case. Anything can roll good at any time, and if you don’t mind the time spent IDing and selling to the merchant, then go for it and have fun. If you’re getting more into farming though, and you want to maximize your profits but you’re not yet at the “race through and only pick up orange/green/yellow jewelry, then consider the following.

Incidentally, you need to memorize the names of the item types to make this all possible while working quickly enough to make it worth the trouble. There’s a handy list of every every ilvl 61-63 item type in the wiki, and you can check items on the ground (without picking them up and opening your inventory) by holding down Control and hovering on their tags.

Rare Weapons are a Waste of Time

By now everyone’s in agreement that rare two-handed melee weapons might as well be dead fish for all the use they’ll do you. (Other than Skorns, which aren’t very valuable either and sell with awesome stats for under 1m.) Which is ironic, since we fans spent years pre-game debating what the devs might do to make 2H weapons useful after they were almost untouched in D2. The devs debated that too, but though they changed some things, they clearly failed to find a solution.

The main issue in D2 was that using a shield was overpowered, with 75% blocking. D3 wisely lowered the quality of shields, but added the huge offensive stats on off-hand items, and also greatly-improved dual wielding, so now most everyone (non-HC) takes one of those options. Since the improvements to 2H weapons are not sufficient.

Incidentally, the best player suggestions from our 2008-2011 debates on this issue: give 2Hers much higher potential affix values, more potential affixes (like 8 or 9 properties, vs. 6 on 1Hers), or inherent qualities like +blocking, better to/hit, bonus critical damage, etc. In D3 the two-handers do get bigger potential affixes, but that’s far from enough to offset their much slower attack speed and the loss of bonuses from a second or off-hand item.

That digression aside… Rare weapons are very unlikely to have value since they *must* roll with big DPS. That rules out 99.9% of the weapons you find right there, and unless you get a truly miraculous level of DPS, the item will also need to roll with critical damage and/or a socket, plus good mainstat, and ideally leech, Life on Hit, AS, etc. And it has to be the right kind of mainstat, though D3’s lack of class-specific weapon affixes (no faster casting rate, leech works with spells, etc) makes that a little easier to match up.

This is triply true for class-specific weapons, which I also recommend you leave on the ground if you’re rushing. Those items are only useful to one class which cuts the potential market by 4/5. Plus their mods are limited, you only want DEX on a bow or Fist, INT on a wand or ceremonial knife, etc. Off-hand items are just as bad, since they’re class-specific and *must* roll with 2 or 3 mods to have any value. Orbs and mojos have to get big damage + CC and Quivers need big Dex + CC, or they have no value. Shields too; they must roll with big CC plus other affixes, and there’s little demand for them outside of hardcore.

Happily other people don’t follow this advice, which is why I’ve been able to buy numerous excellent rare weapons and off-hand items for quite affordable prices. Carry on!

Armor to Avoid

Pickup radius works its +price magic.
Pickup radius works its +price magic.
Armor needs to roll really well to be valuable as well, but there’s a lot more variety in the possible mods. You can find a valuable armor with any main stat, with huge vit, with pickup radius and res all and sockets, etc. Get them all and it’s a great item, but just 2 or 3 big rolls to good affixes is quite likely to sell. Just check the comps as detailed in our How to Sell in the Auction House article, set a reasonable price, and cross your fingers. I’ve usually got 10 such sales going at all times, and move 4 or 5 of them every day, for a nice steady boost to my income. Plus it’s fun to play the GAH game, though I mightily resisted joining it for the first months of D3. (Which is why I’m not rich yet. That and I play all 5 classes, so I tend to keep all my best items for personal use and only sell spare stuff.)

Some types of armor sell better than others, of course.

I recommend against picking up all the class specific armor. Those items aren’t as likely to be useless as weapons, since they don’t *have* to spawn with one particular modifier to have value, but by their nature Monk/Wiz/WD helms, DH cloaks, and Barb belts are only of use to one class, which instantly cuts out 80% of the possible sales. Furthermore, their possible valuable affixes are limited by what that class wants; Dex and Int are useless on a Barb belt while they might be awesome on a regular chest armor. And the various bonus class mods (+resource, minor bonuses to 1 specific skill, etc) are not common, are not very impactful, and further limit the possible pool of buyers.

Class armors are almost a perfect example of the difference in my pragmatic philosophy vs. the poster’s BiS dream approach.. These items do indeed have the potential to roll with fantastic mods and be comparable to BiS, but the odds of that are astronomical, and with their limited audience these items are, at best, 1/10th or 1/20th as likely to have any Auction House value than equivalent non-class specific armors. (I’m not really doing item fix prescriptions in this article, but clearly these items could/should be improved. Just giving them a tiny inherent bonus to one particular skill is inadequate.)

Rare Bracers

Bracers are the worst bet, in my experience. This is mostly due to Lacunis (thanks to their AS and MS that can’t spawn on other Bracers) taking up all the high end market. Strongarm Bracers are another excellent option, with guaranteed mainstat, CC, and +8-9% life, they’re always better than 99% of rare bracers.

Therefore, for a Rare Bracer to have value, it needs to roll *very* well. They can never be as good as Lacunis for offense, but they can do better in defense. I recently bought my Monk rare bracers with 4% CC, 161 Dex, 145 Vit, 55% All Res, and 54% Arcane Res, for just under 1m. Look at those stats; that’s a good-to-great roll on 5 different affixes, almost BiS quality mods, and the item was still worth less than one-million. (A belt or body armor or helm with such good luck on the ideal affixes would be worth multi-millions.) This is why Bracers aren’t worth it; even if you hit the lottery it’s not a big pay off.

(As with other items, I remain glad that most people do not follow this advice, since it lets the rest of us buy cheaply.)

Belts and Shoulders

These are kind of iffy, since there are very popular legendaries that take up most of the market.

Belts: Virtually every high end character is wearing The Witching Hour since they have Attack Speed and are the only way to get Critical Damage from a belt. Naturally, these cost a fortune, and last I saw this belt was the second most expensive legendary in the entire game, with even total junk on the random stats and a bad seed on the CD still going for 8m+. If you want anything decent on the random affixes, like a mainstat and All Res, you’re looking at 200m to 1b, or higher.

Rare belts can’t compete with that, and they can’t roll with any of the DiabloWikitrifecta mods that boost damage, and for a Barb the IK Belt is almost guaranteed better than any rare. That doesn’t seem to leave much, but none of those legendary belts have high vit + mainstat, and if you get those, plus double resistances for a Monk, and something else like pickup radius, you can turn a hell of a sale. (Like the belt in the screenshot above, though that’s literally the only belt I’ve ever sold for more than about 150k, which is why I’ve got belts classified as iffy.)

Shoulders are also debatable, since Vile Ward is simultaneously awesome and overrated. It’s awesome since it has four good affixes inherently: big mainstat + huge All Res + huge defense + huge life regen, that’s 4 very good properties. However, Vile Ward is not Lacuni or Witching Hour, since it doesn’t have any stats that can’t occur on rare shoulders.

The odds aren’t good; you’ll need a phenomenal roll on Rare shoulders, likely including Vit and pickup radius, to outdo a pretty-good Vile Ward, but it can be done. Really, the difference is for the buyer, since Vile Wards with any good random mods tend to be quite overpriced, compared to rare shoulders with slightly lower stats. For instance, the cheapest Vile Ward right now (Americas, Softcore) with at least 150 Dex, 50 Vit, and pickup radius is 55 million, and they quickly escalate into the hundreds of millions. Or, for the buyer on a budget, there are several rare shoulders with around 175 Dex, 70 vit, 55 All Res, and pick up radius for 8-12 million. Those have less resistance and no regen or armor compared to the Vile Ward, but are those stats worth ~45 million gold…?

Rare Helms

Helms are much like bracers and belts, with some legendaries offering stats that can’t be obtained on rares, and thus selling for vastly more. And I do mean *vastly* so this is another slot where a rare can be extremely viable, when you factor in the price. Which is why I advise picking them up, but not getting your hopes up. The odds are very low for your rare helm to roll well, since CC + a socket are all but mandatory, and you’ll also need several other good mods such as mainstat, vit, all res, +pickup, etc. Long odds, but when you get one it’ll sell quite reasily. I’ve moved half a dozen hats in the 500k-2m range myself, and as soon as I find and sell another 750 or so I can afford an equivalent Mempo!

Yes, the Mempo of Twilight (bug on that display; the item only has 1 random affix)… a helm that’s simultaneously the best headgear and one of the dumbest legendary names in the game. It’s got inherent properties for big mainstat (though this often bugs), Attack Speed, +armor, 70-80 All Res, and a socket, which is quite a combination. Rare helms can’t get Attack Speed so a Mempo is the best possible helm, but Critical Hit Chance is not part of the Mempo’s inherent mods, and with only one random affix, it doesn’t often roll CC. When it does, the prices adjust accordingly, and of course it can’t have pickup radius and/or vit as well.

Mempos are grotesquely overpriced.
Mempos are grotesquely overpriced.
The cheapest Mempos on the market with CC now are in the 70m range, and they are all bugged rolls without a mainstat, or just a small one, like 70 INT. If you want a Mempo with a proper mainstat, 170+ to dex or str (INT is cheaper), and a nice value to the CC, you’re looking at one of the most expensive items in the game. As you see in the pic…. yes, that’s 900,000,000 for the cheapest Mempo with 5% CC and over 120 Dex. Compare that to rare helm with 5% CC, a socket, all res, and big dex, for 5-20 million.

As I asked earlier, is Attack Speed and slightly higher res and armor worth 880 million gold? To some players, yes. To the rest of us? Not so much


In conclusion, I should have saved most of this for the upcoming big Best in Slot articles, which will cover every item type in the game, reviewing all the set and legendary options, comparing to rares from low to medium to high end, and include references to prices, possible affixes, ideal affixes, and more. I enjoy contemplating the topic, as the few of you who didn’t TLDR long ago can tell.

To restate the opening premise, there are multiple criteria you can use for what items you pick up. The post from the forums is all about the rich man’s guide to the very few rares that can compare to the BiS legendaries. I find that interesting, but not very useful for actual play advice, since I’m way below BiS on almost all of my gear.

Despite the above words of attempted wisdom, I’m not perfectly rational. In addition to sometimes picking up ilvl 63 weapons, I pick up most Demon Hunter cloaks and almost all quivers, though I’m really trying to stop. I’ve never found a single quiver that can compare to the rares that are just 250k, and I’m using a quiver that cost me 3m and is the next best thing to a Dead Man’s Legacy at a fraction the price. The cloaks are an even worse time/effort investment since I’m wearing Inna’s Armor to pair with the pants for the partial set bonus, and there’s no rare cloak possible that I’d switch over to… and yet the thought of finding one with 3sockets, big dex, big vit, res all, and +discipline keeps me searching, though I’ve never even found one worth selling, much less wearing.

Which approach are you guys taking? What do you pick up? How logical and rational and time optimizing are you in your gear hunting? Does the thought, “This is a game and I should have fun playing it.” ever intrude, or are you more coldly calculating than that?

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29 thoughts on “Strategy: The Best Diablo 3 Auction House Rare Items

  1. As someone who plays on HC (although I haven’t played Diablo 3 for like 2,5 months) I have to disagree on this:
    ““No one anywhere EVER in d3 who knows what they are doing uses a shield.””.

    • This guide was clearly written for the SC AH which operates on totally different rules/economy which takes into consideration botters and people playing the game with no skill whatsoever. Death/Defense (something I call difficulty or challenge) isn’t a factor at all which makes anything short of a mindless max DPS/speed build pretty retarded. These are then the same people that complain that the game is “too easy”.

      • Shields are great if u are smart enough to want to live at high ml so the noobs who sell shields for cheap Ty when I’m lucky enough to have two great weapons I might go without a shield but most of u guys can’t touch the stats I have with my shield taking into acount dps is low on one of your two swords makes them both usless lol kids playing games is like the way you need to be gided through life

  2. Wizard helms can be worth a lot, there is no good legendary alternative.
    I’d say they are more likely to be worth a lot than for example mighty belts, which are easily beaten by cheap ik belt, and also most high end barbs use witching hour. Wizard helm with crit, apoc, max ap and good stats is pretty much rare only.

  3. I’m just amazed that poeple still find softcore play fun. I thought everyone had a character by now with the “best” gear?

    • that in itself is a ridiculous idea, if everyone had ‘the best’ gear then it wouldn’t be ‘the best’, there is always someone with a better item, unless yours is PERFECTLY rolled.

      but RNG says no to that happening for ‘everyone’

  4. Vile ward is special – it can roll up to 300 on dex whereas rares can only roll 200. Possibly same for other mainstats but strength.

    Hence its BIS.

    • Just to clarify, the maximum Int and Dex on Rare Shoulders is 200 (you can get 100 from the pure stat, and another 100 from a combo stat). For Str however, the maximum is 300 (just like boots can have higher Dex, and Helms can have higher Int).

      So a top-end Vile Ward is indeed BiS for Dex and Int classes, but Str classes can potentially find a better Rare pair for significantly less Gold/RL currency.

    • I was doing it Ironborn, or at least 99% self found, but a few months ago it got to the point that I was finding it too slow to progress and I needed to experiment more widely with end game and farming and rushing and Inferno builds for site info and content, so I joined the GAH hell. Alas.

  5. Similar to a post above, I only find HC fun and yes a shield is useful, particularly for a casual player.

    MP10 with no AH on hardcore sounds like fun to me. I may follow suit and try this mode that others are currently playing.

    • I’d love to play hardcore, but I die due to lag or gfx stutter daily, if not hourly. I don’t know what kind of pc you need to avoid this, but it happens to most people on my friends list as well. I don’t know how you cope with this in hardcore.

      • I’d love to play hardcore, but I die due to lag or gfx stutter daily, if not hourly. I don’t know what kind of pc you need to avoid this, but it happens to most people on my friends list as well. I don’t know how you cope with this in hardcore.

        A lot of people will always blame lag or a stutter, but you can cope fine with this in HC as long as you don’t rush yourself into every pack, but play HC as its ment to be played. Sure disconnects can kill you, but are exception more than rule.

        if a 1-2 sec lag or stutter would kill you, you would have died anyway. Try it, play it safe and you’ll manage fine 😉

        • Acutally, I gear more hp than needed just to fight lag. But the stutter I am talking about can last 10 seconds at times. There are certain skill combos that go off that cause enormous problems for my video card. Like the first time a demon hunter uses stampede rune on rain of vengeance + witch doctor acid cloud + hex.

          Until I see improvements here and with general connection lag (sometimes I get huge delay – it’s once a week kind of thing), I won’t be doing hardcore mode.

          • Just saying we all suffer from lagspikes and graphics that turn slow, including me. I died 4 times since release, twice in the first two weeks, and a lot of HC players are the same. If you die daily/hourly, it’s NOT the lag or servers, it’s just a playstyle that will get you killed in HC with a perfect ping and FX card…

  6. I disagree with helms being worthwhile. Andariel is a good option and is hard to beat for dps. Helms require at least 4 mods to be in the same league as andariel – crit, socket, double stat rolls. Then at least 1 more mod to make up for dps loss. I do pickup wizard hats because they can be best in slot.

    I generally pickup items that I can’t seem to find on the AH for a good price or can roll best in slot.

    Amulet, ring, glove (all), pants (61-63), shoulders(61-63), belts (all), sacred shields, 1H weapons (61+), dh cloak, bracer (all).

    I agree the potential for a 1H weapon to be sellable is miniscule, but when a weapon upgrade is 40+ million, the odds do not seem so bad.

    • Man, I used Andy’s for a while, and yeah the DPS boost is great, but the hit to survivability is awful unless you’ve gotten a 5% fire damage helm. I replaced mine the other day, and though it takes a bit longer to kill stuff, fire doesn’t melt me anymore. Of course, I was using a 12% damage helm, so…

  7. I still don’t get why you wouldn’t pick up rare Bracers. The best ones are incredibly expensive and I wouldn’t ever want a pair of lacunis without at least 5CC, 70+allres and 130+ mainstat. Also, there are a lot of build showing up where you want to limit your AS such as multishotter dh and Tempest rush monk. 9 more AS would just be negative for some of these, and then you really want a pair of rare ones with good cc and high mainstay.

    • I agree about bracers – I go after all of them. With good Lacuni’s going for so much, the market for rare bracers supports moderately high prices with the right rolls, so it’s worthwhile taking the time to ID to me. Anything with high main stat/vit, all res, and 5%+ CC has a decent chance of selling for at least a few 100k (at least the last time I posted some).

      I go after all 61-63 1H weapons too, just because the temptation is too great and I’m still looking for end game items for those slots. That’s not to say I’ve found any 1H’ers worth selling in…oh I don’t know how many months.

  8. By most standards, I’m the worst Diablo 3 player ever. I pick up everything and salvage it. I am convinced they will fix crafting someday and I’ll be ready!

    Plus, I sold some crafted pants for 4 million the other day, but don’t tell anyone that!

      • lol I was hoping someone would ask that. I actually spent about 2 million crafting before I sold that. SO yeah. Gambling and I got lucky. 😛 But it’s actually happened before. Pants are good because they don’t roll that many affixes… I think. Even out of the many junk items that I crafted I had several pieces with 150+ main stat, all res, and sockets.

  9. Definitely looking forward to that BIS guide! Having played only two classes extensively so far (and not feeling particularly compelled to invest into any others anymore), I often wonder what affix combinations the unknown ones might be looking for. Guesswork didn’t prove too wrong so far but certainly I’ve done away with several items that others might have valued more than I did in my nescience.

    The current developement illustrated here, where the prices for even two variations of one and the same legendary item can be billions of gold apart, proves yet again how crude the item/affix system still is. (Also shows how Blizzard’s high conceptual approaches to making gold a rare and worthwhile resource, in contrast to D2’s failure, turned out.)

    In addition to narrower affix ranges and less completely random affixes for legendary items (and account-binding!), I think there should be a few adjustments in favor of base item composition. Like all level 60 base helms should generally have a socket (because otherwise they’re completely obsolete) and several other items should be able to only roll either CritChance, CritDamage, AttackSpeed, Sockets or TonsOfBonusDamage instead of all of them at once (because items rolling only one or two of these are worth nothing as long as they could have rolled more of them). There are simply no meaningful choices to be made when perfection is the minimum requirement.

    It all boils down to the idea that there should be more granularity between items being either perfect (or even ‘trifecta/quadrufecta’, to keep up with the latest incarnations of ridiculous buzzwords) or junk.

  10. I disagree with the bracers comments. I have found many more rare bracers that sold easier than socketed and strongly mod’d pants and armor.

    • Maybe I’ve just been unlucky on bracers, but I’ve never found a rare that was any good or that sold. The 3 best bracers I’ve found were 1 lacuni and 2 strongarms, and my wizard is actually using one of the Strongarms, still.

      Of course you *might* get a spectacular bracer, but same is true for 1h and maybe even 2h weapons. My whole point in farming pickup is to optimize for potential profits, which is why I made the recommendations I did and in my exp you’ve got a much lower chance of a good rare bracer than of most other armor types.

  11. I pick up shields as long as they’re ilvl61+ Shields can have great mods. up to 10cc 80all res socket vita etc etc. I just switched to playing with 2 weapons but I wouldn’t hesitate to switch back to weapon/shield if I could find a shield better then what I was using

    • So are you doing shields for personal use or for profit on sales? Anything can be fun to pick up hunting your own items — that’s why I still pick up quivers and cloaks despite never finding a decent one — but logically I know I’d spend that time better on other activities.

      Shields fall into that range, since they’re just not a much-used item (SC, at least) and thus even one with a great roll isn’t very valuable. I bought my Monk a shield recently and was able to get almost my dream item for like 650k. 10% CC, big dex and vit, res all and arcane. Kind of like the bracers I mentioned in the article; if a 99.99% quality rare sells for not even 1m, your odds of ever making any gold picking them up… not good.

  12. I used to pick up just about every rare, but then I noticed I was spending alot of time ID’ing everything. I am not a very fast player anyway, so I have been dropping things off my list to pick up. I will never pick up any 2 handers, and very rarely I will pick up a Sacred shield(in hopes of finding something good for Kormac). The shield he is wearing rolled with max block and had +7% blocking, MF, AR, and Str, and the Grail he is using has +15% blocking, so he never dies now, ever. I wish Blizz would add a place for a similar charm on the characters.

    The only class specific helm I pickup is for Wiz, since I have ID’d so many class helms and the only ones I have ever found that were even decent were for a Wiz. I still pick up to much, but I just dont see the fun in running through, not even killing everything, and not picking anything up. Anyway, if I could just find some good Lacuni Prowlers so I can get around a little quicker, my life would be much easier. My current rare bracers, that I found myself, have 6% CC, 80 AR, decent Int/Vit, and MF. An equivalent Lacuni would be 2 bil in the AH. I would be willing to drop the Vit, AR, an MF, but there is no way I am going to use a pair unless they roll with at least 5% CC and decent Int.

    I am not rich, but I have sold alot of decent rares. I guess one thing that suprises me is how quick low level gear sells. I know, it would take alot of 50K sells to ever amount to anything, but that stuff does sell, and to me it means there are possibly people out there just starting to play the game. Then again, it could be mostly people leveling alts, I dont know.

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