What are your Favorite Diablo 3 Experience Runs?

A fan newly-arrived at level 60 complained about boredom with Diablo 3 Experience Runs in Act Three runs and asked if there were any other viable options. Amidst the hysterical laughter and tears such a question stirs up in veteran Diablo 3 players, he got a blue reply:

For a change of scenery from the usual Act III run, I like to start in Act I with the quest: The Cursed Hold. I get my five stacks of Nephalem Valor in the Festering Woods-Crypt of the Ancients, and Cemetery of the Forsaken. Once I have a full stack of Nephelem Valor I kill the Key Warden, and go down to the Halls of Agony to fight my way down to the Butcher.

You may also be interested to learn that we’re looking to make some improvements to monster density in patch 1.0.8 for Monster Power 1 (and higher) in Inferno difficulty. This should help provide some farming diversity for players who are at that level of gameplay. Wyatt delved into the goals behind this change a little further here:

Personally, I am excited to see what new routes players prefer for their farming runs, and what classes excel at different areas. Is there a particular area you would like to farm, but currently don’t?

Ahh, yes. Viable exp farming runs not in Act Three. It’s fun to pretend!

There are plenty of other “runs,” but they’re more like “walks” if your goal is experience, since the monster density is simply inadequate in the other acts. We’ve all pretty well beaten that point to death by now though, so I’ll merely refer you to our conversation during the last Diablo 3 Podcast, or the Bonus Dungeons article I wrote back in January that I still think offers an easier, quicker, and much better solution than attempting to rebalance and repopulate the entire Acts 1, 2, and 4, which appears to be what the Diablo 3 devs are doing.

While we’re on the topic of runs in Act Three, I recently saw one I hadn’t thought of before, in this super fast exp farming strategy/video for the Witch Doctor, by TNTrice. The run is a quick one, covering just four areas in Act Three, which can be cleared in around 7 minutes, yielding about 10m experience per run.

Any exp run and build that can return more than 1m exp a minute is a good one, and the author claims he can pull up to 85m an hour repeating this one over and over again. It requires super quality gear to wear all the +EXP stuff (Hellfire Ring and Leoric’s Signet on the character AND the Merc) and still maintain the very high DPS required to make the build work, but the video shows how it works convincingly enough. (I dusted off my Witch Doctor to try it and it worked okay, but my WD is basically my 4th char in terms of gear quality and he did not have sufficient DPS to get the instant kills with DiabloWikiLocust Swarm that the build requires to work properly.)

Try the build out for yourself if you want something different wit your WD. I bring it up not for that purpose, but since the four levels he runs are not ones I’ve ever done myself:

1.) SkyCrown Battlements
2.) Arreat Crater Level 2
3.) Keep Level 2
4.) Rakkis Crossing

The 2nd and 3rd areas are part of (almost) everyone’s version of the DiabloWikiAlkaizer Run, and I often start at Rakkis Crossing to clear out the bridge before proceeding into the Fields of Slaughter. But SkyCrown? I have never farmed that area at all, possibly since I’ve been so scarred by those stupid catapult quests every time I get a new character to Act Three, that I never want to return to that area again. This vid doesn’t make me want to start, but it’s interesting to see someone doing such short games, and not touching other levels in Act Three that most people do seem to include in their runs.

So, question time. What Act Three runs are you guys doing lately, for Exp or gear or both? And on what MP level? Do you do fast runs of just a few certain levels? Or do you prefer to do longer runs, extending your game to clear out more areas once you’ve got five stacks up? MP0 or MP1 speed runs? Or do you prefer higher Monster Power settings for slower games, but with much higher EXP/MF/GF per kill? And do you think we’ll actually see Act One/Two/Four runs that can compete with Act Three, once the monster density is boosted in a future patch?

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22 thoughts on “What are your Favorite Diablo 3 Experience Runs?

  1. Two separate points:

    1) I never actually do exp runs, because that bent on efficiency seems pretty boring to me. Right now I’m still using a RNG to pick whether I’m going to do SK, SQ, ZK, Ghom, or Cydaea->Azmodan->Iskatu-Rakanoth that run. As for MP level, I started each character at MP1. In each run, if I die 0 times, I move up an MP level. If I die 1/2 times (lag deaths included), I don’t change MP for the next run, but if I die 3+ times, I move down an MP level for the next run. I also use RNG to determine which character I’m playing, as well as the build for that character in that run. Keeps it really fresh.

    2) Is it just me, or was monster density stealth-buffed in certain places on certain MPs at some point? I’ve been doing the above, and variations therein, for months now. However, what I’ve noticed is that in Cathedral 4, VotA, Desolate Sands, and some other areas that I visit more rarely (the Decaying Crypt in the FoM, there are now giant clumps of white mobs, on the level of Keep 2. I don’t know whether these were always there on higher MPs (I’m just starting to push MP4ish with some characters using the system I have going now), but it’s fun to blow through massive chunks of skeletons wherever I farm.

  2. On my Hardcore Witch Doctor, I did the following (all on MP0, minus a couple of forays into A1 MP1):

    Act 1 MP0: Cathedral 3 (kill elite) -> Festering Woods (+ both Crypts) -> Leoric’s Manor -> Leoric’s Manor Courtyard -> Leoric’s Hunting Grounds -> Halls of Agony 2 -> The Cursed Hold -> Halls of Agony 3 -> Butcher

    Act 2 MP0: Sewers -> Black Canyon Mines -> Road to Alcarnus -> Desolate Sands (find Vault of the Assassin) -> Vault of the Assassin -> The Unknown Depths -> The Storm Halls -> Kulle

    Act 3 MP0: Core of Arreat -> Skycrown Battlements -> Arreat Crater 2 -> Tower of the Damned 1 -> Arreat Crater 1 -> Rakkis Crossing -> Fields of Slaughter -> Keep Depths 2

  3. Skycrown Battlements starts the run, because you nearly always get 4-5 elite packs and it’s a static, linear map. Skycrown Battlements also has reasonable monster density making it a great place to build up your +75% XP bonus from NV. Along with the Frozen Cave in the Fields of Slaughter and Vault of Assassins in Act 2, it’s amongst the best Demonic Essence farming areas in the game.

    The density in Skycrown Battlements is NOT good enough to comfortably keep up WotB for Barbs, which is probably why it doesn’t receive its due. XP runs always seem to be created with Barbs in mind. While Act 3 is still king for all classes, some classes handle the other acts better than others. Strafe/Multishot DHs, for instance, do much better in Act 2 than the melee classes. They can handle the numerous ranged enemies without needing to chase them down (insects in Black Canyon Mines, elemental spider creatures and Skeleton archers in VoA) while simply outrunning the invisible/invincible serpents. Act 2 has the highest elite density areas in the game, but you need to be ranged to really take advantage of them.

    If Act 2 had one other area with decent monster density, an MP1 VoA-powered run would be competitive with Act 3 for the rangd classes. I’m hoping they pump the monster density in the Dahlgur Oasis which could make the standard Act 2 DE run (Alcarnus, Black Canyon Mines, VoA) a viable DE/XP hybrid run.

    I can’t see any hope for Act 1 simply due to the monsters that populate it. The Fields of Misery and highlands are obvious candidates for increasing monster density and while the highlands might work for it, the Fields of Slaughter have terrible monsters. The giant bull monsters have loads of hit points and are legitimately dangerous with their bull rush attack. The leaping lizard guys gain temporary invincibility requiring you to slow down and some enemies in the Fields of Misery pop out of the ground which requires waiting for a split second to be able to kill them. there aren’t any other areas that make sense for increasing monster density. Your earlier point about dead ends in a lot of Act 1 dungeons are another huge strike against them.

    As I mentioned above, an increase in monster density in the Dahlgur Oasis will go a long way towards make it a viable Act 2 run for ranged characters. Act 4 has too much randomness in its level layouts and monster diversity – needing to wait for the creatures emerging from the Growths and needing to kill those warrior dudes with staves twice makes it a non-starter. Melee characters will be forever stuck in Act 3.

    • I’ve written this before, but you have a point about the difference in classes. When my main was a DH, I spent a lot more time in a1 and a2 since the empty stretches weren’t so noticeable, since I didn’t *need* monsters to fuel my resource. Those same areas are terrible with a char/build that requires targets to refill constantly, or that builds up buffs from enemies and needs more quickly to play efficiently, or that can only move quickly for a few seconds before running out of propulsion fuel and needing monsters to refill.

      And that describes some of the most popular builds in the game, including TR Monk, S2W Barb, Archon Wiz, and Grim/Gruesome WDs.

      • I always do keep 2 with my HC monk, and so are more HC visitors on this site. As long as you have decent EHP (why wouldn’t you in HC?), these buggers are not dangerous at all. An entire pack can go poof on me in MP0 without even being close to death, but you can also just make an effort to actually kill them before they go poof, with good DPS you one-hit those green friends.

        Only time I would avoid keeps 2 is when you just hit 60, but then you’re probably not exp farming yet anyway.

  4. I never run anything for the sake of experience. Plvls are totally meaningless and I could not care less what plvl my four level 60s are.

    I run whatever I feel like running, which of late has been act 2, pretty much the entire above-ground portion of the act and then the entire Kulle area at the top of the desolate sands. I avoid the VoA like the plague, never had any luck there, but the main reason for my act 2 run lately has been to try and find the Fowl Lair and the Crumbling Vault for achievements sakes.

    Around 200 a2 runs in a row and I have yet to see either.

    • “Plvls are totally meaningless and I could not care less what plvl my four level 60s are.”

      i used to think that… until i looked at it a different way. in diablo 2 people killed for those 7% MF charms that rolled another stat as well. i treat each paragon level like i found a charm that gives me 1/1/3/2 stats and 3% magic and gold find (and a charm that takes up no inventory space).

      if you got one of these charms in d2 every time you leveled past 65-70 (cause that was when you generally had all the important skills and synergies maxed out), i most certainly wouldve maxed my character out instead of stopping at 85-87 every time.

  5. I can see Act 1 becoming competitive mainly because Festering Woods is so dense for building stacks. Plus you have some waypoints close to near-guaranteed elites (Leoric’s Manor, Cemetery) and the monster types in the Halls of Agony are pretty easy to deal with. I like the Vault of the Assassin, but due to snakes and wasps I have trouble envisioning Act 2 as a good place to farm.

    Oh, and I find myself mainly playing at MP2 these days. It’s not super-fast, but with the right group it still feels like farming speed.

  6. I play 2h barb, and so the popular thing for that setup is keeps 2 runs at mp10. You kill all trash with rend and ww and ignore elites. The xp gain is really high and drops are good. But essences are very slow to get at mp10.

    Mp5 vota is very good for essence farming. I disagree with act2 being ranged friendly. The whirling dervish will reflect projectiles, so you can kill yourself on trash monsters.

    Act 1 has poor wp placement. If there was a wp closer to the prison area with the jailer, you could do a good farm run between festering woods and the jail + warden + butcher. Act 2 and 3 have far better wp and checkpoint saves to really maximize elite kill rate.

    For straight xp, a3 is clearly best because of the huge amount of monsters that make certain builds (like perm archon or wotb) function.

    • I could see how XP farming in A2 could be problematic at higher MP levels. At MP1, I’m killing most dervish enemies before the spin up the first time. As a DH, if they start spinning, I either Vault past them or drop a Spike Trap and then Vault past them. If I get stuck in a fight with Elite Dervishes, Spike Traps still do full damage even while they’re spinning. I’ve never tried archon on VoA so I’m not sure how the beam interacts with the dervishes.

      It sounds like you like playing it at higher MP levels and Act 2 can be a nightmare at high MPs from the wasps alone.

      • Yeah, I generally play at higher mp with my barb. Mp5 is about as low as I go, simply because there is too much overkill damage wasted at lower mp.

        Plus I find one shotting everything gets old. I like some challenge when I play.

        Still, the invisible snakes and dervish make dh play really difficult (compared to act 3 or 1). I have a wizard, but I really hate the d3 wizard because cm is boring. I much prefer high mobility, and wd, barb, and dh are all so mobile. Still have yet to build a monk.

  7. got so tired of doing exp runs, that now i just do full(almost) clears of act three. I start at Core->Arreat 1-> Tower 1-> Arreat 2-> Tower2WP or clear next two levels for 4-6elites->Rakkis Crossing -> Fields-> Keep 2-> keep 3 if i find it, waypoint to town, ID salvage rinse repeat. The runs take about 12 minutes with my full TR/Bell Monk. and at PL49 with no ring I still gain 3/4 to a full bar per clear.

    If I was to do straight up XP runs, I would start in Core for quick couple of stacks, then Rakkis crossing/Fields, then Crater 2, then Keeps 2.

  8. None, did enough key/a3 runs, and the game is a pretty much as dull as it gets, with 0 randomization, character customization, and feeling like im the same as every other person, I think any sane human would stop doing the same exact thing over and over for 500-1000 hours or more, with no real reason to continue doing so.

    • “with 0 randomization, character customization,”

      If you’re referring to not being able to dye your Legendary armor, I agree with your statement. If you’re talking about not having multiple play styles available to keep the gameplay interesting, then I suggest checking out some forums, youtube channels, etc. Have you tried a HotA Barb? Blizzard Wiz? Chicken WD? Tempest Rush Monk? Grenades DH?

      With the first round of class skill patches finally finished and items like Stone of Jordan, Skull Grasp, Mara’s Kaleidoscope, you can customize your gear to any given build. There’s a huge variety of classes that are inferno viable, albeit not uber-efficient at farming. Diablo 3 is a legitimately fun game now from a gameplay perspective assuming you’re willing to put up the Gold for the equipment and an hour or two to get the hang of playing styles.

      If you want to use it as a money-making vehicle, then you’re 100% correct that it’s a stale game and not worth your time. If that’s what you’re looking for, though, you might have a great time playing EVE Online.

  9. I basically do all of A3 in a session, don’t stopwatch it but I’ve been gaining at least half a paragon level (PL20 now) with these. I always want to push on when I’ve got 5 NV stacks, seems like a waste to restart another game. It will be slightly more efficient to do certain runs over and over but I actually play the game for fun (gasp!), and running 4 areas over and over certainly is not my idea of fun.

  10. I have been running Core/Tower 1/ Keeps 2,3/Crater 2/Rakkis to Fields totally clear which is pretty much the standard Alkaizer route. I don’t always do Crater 2, as I just don’t like it that well. Of course I will switch it up sometimes and do stone fort for a key, skycrown, or ice caves. I always done it at MP1 or 2 when I was running hydra/Blizz, but I can run MP5 or higher with CMWW, which would be alot easier if I could get a good ring to make the 2.73 breakpoint. What I need would be in the billions, so I am kinda stuck unless I want to lose a chunk of mitigation.

  11. I think targeted legendary items could help some with this. If every act had at least a few bosses or purples that have a higher than usual chance of dropping specific items that are all desirable, there’d be that much more reason to shake things up and do runs in other areas. Team Sonic did this in PSO and it worked pretty well, and it isn’t perfect but works decently in BL2 as well.

    As far as customization goes, I still think PSO’s mag system would be an almost perfect fit for D3. Just change them from floating pets into accessory-type items that float around the player or alter their appearance in some way, change the name (“relics” or something), and have them upgrade via gems or crafting reagents. This would let players customize their stats without having to make a permanent investment, since they could just build up a different relic if they decided they didn’t like their first one.

  12. My favorite act is Act 1 and would love to farm that more often if I knew I had a better opportunity to get legendaries and set items from there. Act 3 is getting boring.

  13. I did an average of 92m exp/h on my HC Witch Doctor. Best runs yielded 101m exp/h but when you take into account selling and identifying I ended up to 92m/h on average. I did the best 6 areas because it’s just boring to clear 3-4 areas.

    All you need to change to the build in the video is to take some pick up range so you can cast spirit walk and stalker more often.

    Oh, and the 85m exp/h shown in the video does not take into account selling and id’ing, so I think it’s actually closer to 80m/h.

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