MFing Oddballs - Issue #1


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MFing Oddballs - Issue #1


In this work in progress I'll be reporting the performance of my chars as far as MF is concerned. Normally you'd create a character for the purpose of running specific targets. What I did with this is take the backwards approach: Play the char because (s)he was fun to play and then look at what he can reasonably run. Remember this before you tell me that hammerdins are better MFers than WWsins. :)

The first part of this will contain basic info that might be interesting for you. Most of it is probably known to you already but I'm gonna rely on these things later on so I thought I might as well summarise them quickly for ya.

MF - Diminishing Returns
MF         Uniques    Increase
50         42         42
100        71         29
150        94         23
200        111        17
250        125        14
300        136        11
350        146        10
400        154        8
450        161        7
500        167        6
550        172        5
600        176        4
650        181        5
700        184        3
750        188        4
800        190        2
850        193        3
900        196        3
950        198        2
1000       200        2
The first column is the MF on your char, the second is the actual MF for unique items. The third one is just for reference, it shows how much the last 50% actually gave you.

As you can see diminishing returns affect MF quite a bit. Take a look at 200%MF vs 1000%MF. The MF on your gear increases by a factor of 5 (five!) while the actual MF doesn't even double.

This is something to keep in mind when balancing offensive gear vs MF gear. After all, your goal is to find the setup that gives you the most items, not the setup that gives you the most MF (and also not the setup that kills the fastest).

Kill Speed vs MF

One of the central questions when outfitting your char is "Do I focus on MF or Offense?". (assuming you already have defence covered; Defence as in making your char survive, not as in Defence Rating) Okay, how do we answer this? Hm... Aha! Third grade maths to the rescue! :teeth: Anyway, here's a totally made up example for ya:

Let's say you're torn between using your 50% MF Amulet and Mara's Kaleidoscope on your Meteorb Sorc. What you now need to do is to do a couple runs with either setup and compare that. I'd say around 10 runs should be okay.

Kill Speed:
With the mara's she does her run in 563 seconds and with the MF ammy it takes her 619 seconds. So the mara's makes her 9% faster.

With mara's the sorc has 350% MF (146% unique MF) and wit the MF ammy she has 400% (154% unique MF), which is a net increase of 8% unique MF. This is actually an increase of 5% compared to what she had before (8% divided by 154%)

In this example it would be more beneficial for our sorc to wear the mara's ammy, even if it had no resis on it at all.

Alright, that was the scientific way of doing it. What I actually do with most of my chars is to just put about 200% MF on my chars and then focus on killing gear. But if you want to really refine your MF gear this is what you should do.

Player Settings:

This is one of the areas people make the most mistakes in. A lot of folks just type "/players 8" and assume that's the way to go for MF. It's not.

Let's talk about areas first: I don't really want to go too deeply into the maths of it. My view on this is based on facts posted almost 2 years ago when 1.10 was fresh and people were still figuring out MF in that version. Around that time somebody (I believe it was sumendar) did the math for how fast you need to kill to benefit from upping the players. Unfortunately I don't have the stats anymore because the squid ate them but it turned out that it was almost impossible to be fast enough to do as well as on players 1, let alone do better.

Reason being that about 80% of the sets and uniques you get come from bosses and champions which are unaffected by player settings. The other 20% come from normal monsters, and you can indeed increase what you get here by increasing the players in the game. But it's pretty hard to benefit from that.

Take a char that does a pit run on players 1. He gets a relative amount of 100% set & unique items (because we define what he finds as 100%). Let's say it takes him exactly 5 minutes, which is pretty decent, I guess.

Now, take the same char on players 8. (I did the maths for a dark archer, checking how much his chance to drop gold increases when going from players 1 to 8. For players 1 it's a 13.1 chance, for players 8 it's 34.4, that's an increase of 2.6) Based on that, the 20% items you get from normals become 20% * 2.6 = 52%. So in total this guy now gets 132% items.

Now the crucial question: How long can he afford to take with his pit run to be on a level with the first char? Well, 132% of that one's time, of course: 5 minutes * 1.32 = 6:36 minutes. Given that monsters have 450% of their life on p8 that's kinda hard to do.

The numbers in this example might be slightly off but I do believe that his is pretty close to the truth. If somebody wants to do the accurate maths he's welcome to do so and I'll add it to this "guide". (and I might even give credit to whoever does it)

Bottom line: Areas are almost always best run at players 1 for sets and uniques.

Similar things are true for act bosses, though the longer time it takes to get to them or the ease with which you can kill them might justify running them at higher settings. Personally I like to use 5 for andariel, 1-3 for meph and 1-2 for baal. Usually I will just leave meph and baal at 1, though. They give me good stuff like that was well and I don't think it's usually worth the wait. A blizzard sorc vs meph is an exception, though. He goes down so fast it doesn't matter if you're on 1 or 3. As a rule of thumb, if you notice a difference in run time, don't up the players.

The Targets:

Here I'll quickly go over each of the targets and list the benefits of each as well as what you can expect them to drop. All of these are in Hell, of course.

Andariel is a good target for rings and amulets. Without teleport runs are going to take a while since you need to cross two levels which makes getting a good map more time consuming. Player settings affect her more than the other act bosses, I'd recommend 5 if you can take her there.

Personally I would recommend running her only if you are really desperate for a ring / ammy and are willing to waste some time on it. Reason being that in the end it's inefficient to run her. Let's say you want a lightsabre and a highlord's wrath. If you start running andy for the highlord and then proceed to meph for the lightsabre you'll end up wasting more time in total than if you had started at meph who can drop everything andy can and then some.

One of the best targets around. Getting a good map is pretty easy since you only need to cross one level. The highest of the directly accessible act bosses, too. You can reasonably expect him to drop up to TC72, waiting for TC78 - which is his limit - is just not worth it. Player settings affect him less which is why I usually run him at 1.

WS K & Baal
I have these combined since baal is basically just the icing on the cake that is the WS K. As all the alvl 85 areas the WS K is capable of dropping *every* item in the game. Mainly this means that if you find a gold sacred armour it has a shot at being tyrael's.

Baal himself is often misunderstood, mainly because people expect too much of him. His chance to drop a TC87 item isn't high so other targets show you a lot more hydra bows or collossus blades. And Meph can be run a lot faster than him, too, which makes it a lot more painful if baal drops you nothing good. But what you should consider that baal has a very high chance of dropping you set or better, which basically means if he does drop you a TC87 item it's got a great chance at being good.

Overall this is my favorite run since it's the least boring and offers the most variety with the random monster spawns. You do need a half decent char, though.

Alvl 85 Areas
There are several of those besides the WS K. The ones I'll be dealing with in this guide are the more popular ones for now: The Pit (Act 1, Tamoe Highland's); The Forgotten Tunnels (Act 2, Lost City) and the River of Flame (Act 2)

All of these have the chance of dropping you every item in the game. However I can't help but compare them to the WS K and where the WS K has baal waiting at the end, all these have is a sparkly chest at best. As a consequence of that I only run these if my chars can't take the WS K.

Very quick runs, pretty boring for some people, other people swear by them. The charging undead may be dicey for some chars but no problem for others. Pindleskin cannot drop you three items: Azurewrath, Arachnid Mesh and Tyrael's Might. The only relevant of these, the tyrael's might is the only one that really matters. You can get the other two of hell mephisto with some effort.

However, if you are going for a selffound grail it is a bad idea to run pindleskin if you don't already have a tyrael's might. Reason is the same as with andariel. In the end you'll need to run an alvl 85 area for tyrael's and it's quite likely that everything else will drop before tyrael's so you're wasting time on pindle.

The Countess
I've added her mainly because she's an okay target for mid level runes. I wouldn't waste much time running her but if you need a Hel in a hurry this is where you need to go. Getting a good map takes ages, though.

The Characters
From here on there'll be a growing list of my guardians that I use for MFing. For this first try I'll not list their specific gear, only the mandatory items. Reason being that I don't really want responses like "Omg, I don't have Full Tal's Set, this is useless1!1!11onethreeelelven"



Skills: 20 Blizzard, 20 Iceblast, 20 Glacial Spike, 1+ Ice Bolt, 1+ Static Field, 1 Warmth, 1 Telekinesis, 1 Teleport

Mandatory items: 2x Hel Bonehew for Baal Runs. The CE charges take care of the cold immune mages that accompany achmel.

Run Ratings:
Countess Average
Andariel Excellent
Meph Excellent
Pindle Excellent
Baal & WS K Good
Pit Below Average
Ancient Tunnels Excellent
River of Flame Below Average
Alvl 85 Areas Below Average (depending on cold immunes)

Decent MF Char. Probably the best Mephisto Runner there is. She does very well on pindle as well, glacial spike halts the charge and blizzard does him in very quickly.

Her alvl 85 area is the ancients tunnels which cannot spawn cold immunes but she does very well in the WS K as well. Levels 2 and 3 can only spawn on kind of cold immune monster and on level 3 that's only a sidekick type which means it only occurs in low numbers.

The throne of destrucition is a different matter. That spawns cold immunes left and right. Usually it'll be best to teleport to baal and try and clear the throne room itself only. The only CI minions are the aforementioned mages. When achmel spawns, drop a blizzard and teleport in, cast static twice and then follow up with a second blizzard, followed by 1-2 CEs. That should kill the whole pack in about 4-5 seconds if you time it right. The key to this is to be quick about it and to get all the mages with your static. For that reason I like to be 17 or higher. Personally I'd draw points from ice bolt and put them in static. When you get right down to it that does way more than 200 or so extra damage.

On a sidenote, the other cold skills aren't just synergies to blizzard, they are actually useful. Glacial spike is good if you need to freeze several monsters. (freezes for about 5 seconds in hell for my sorc) Ice Blast is a very good single target attack and can be spammed between blizzards. And it freezes pretty much forever. Ice Bolt however is utterly useless, which is why I'd max this synergy last or not at all.

Well, that's it for the first char. It's more meant to be an example than anything else, you all know where to run with your blizz sorc. If this is to people's liking I'll update it regularily with all my other chars that get to pull MF duty. If you'd like to see things added / changed / explained in a different way, now's the chance to say so. I'll use the feedback of this thread to determine the template for this. As each of the individual chars only takes about half an hour to add I'll try to make this a regular feature. :)

(yes, I do realise that the blizz sorc technically isn't an oddball as far as MF is concerned but the majority of my chars will be and I needed some kind of name for this. So there.)


Diabloii.Net Member
I've actually also made three sorcs, searching for the perfect MF sorc.. and now I've found it :) (perfect for me, that is)

The first sorc I tried, was CL/Blizz sorc, but it had difficulty killing. Both Chain Lightning and Blizzard are mana-consuming spells, and I wasn't half as rich back then as I am now, and I'm still pretty poor. Chain lightning didn't do enough damage, even in NM, and I ended up mostly using Blizzard, and hoping I didn't run into any CI's. Not very funny, when you've already invested 50 skill points in a sinlge spell..

The second sorc was a Hydra/Blizzard sorc, which I thought would be fun to play, and might be efficient, with some luck maybe. Well, it worked pretty well, until I arrived in Hell. I was like, "what the heck, since when has Corpsefire had this much health?", because I didn't have -resist's equipment.. With a lower resist -wand she might have killed those CI's, but nah, didn't feel like it. The sorc just couldn't cut it.

But then I made Afrodite.. She was meant to use Blizzard and Meteor and Glacial Spike, but when I realized how slow and annoying it is to use Meteor, and I had Fire Ball maxed, I stopped using it, besides on Act-bosses. I was surprised by Fire Ball's efficiency. 5k damage can be reasonably achieved.

Blizzard is good for FI's, even without synergys.. I guess with one synergy maxed, Blizzard would kill anything with one hit.. at least on /players setting less then 5. Glacial spike's freeze length is nicely boosted by Blizzard and +skills, which helps in crowd control, and making your merc survive.

When you add up Glacial Spike, a great crowd control skill, Fireball, which is very damaging on single targets and small crowds, and Blizzard, which is extremely damaging on large crowds, what do you get?

Teh perfect MFer :lol:


Diabloii.Net Member
Dave in the basement said:
Good stuff! I was going to suggest Corpsemourn as a cheaper alternative to Bonehew, but the 170 strength is a real turn-off. :teeth:
Also the slvl of CE kinda blows on everything except bonehew... ;)


Diabloii.Net Member
I beleive that is the most concise explanation of MF vs. Kill Speed vs. Diminishing Returns I have ever read. No need for all the detailed math. Great write up, thanks for taking the time.

I am always interested in seeing some of the characters other folks use to do MF runs with. I await the updates!


Diabloii.Net Member
I'm glad you liked it ron. ;)

Concerning the feedback, is the info on the char about right? Too much? Too little?


Diabloii.Net Member
Great stuff NF :thumbsup: I agree that your explanation of MF vs kill speed is one of the best around.

I think you've covered the MF "targets" very well, and gave about the right amount of info on the character. You will probably need to elaborate on some of the true "oddballs" - I can't wait to read about them.

When you list your "mandatory items", do you mean that you feel they are required for that character to effectively do MF runs? For example, Bonehew is more effective than the other lower slvl CE items - runs are much faster.


Diabloii.Net Member
AlterEgo said:
When you list your "mandatory items", do you mean that you feel they are required for that character to effectively do MF runs? For example, Bonehew is more effective than the other lower slvl CE items - runs are much faster.
Without bonehew I probably wouldn't bother trying to run baal with a blizz sorc. It just wouldn't be time efficient for me. Of course you can substitute it with a low level CE item but that is probably no more effective than just teleporting your merc onto each of the mages... :teeth: And when you get right down to it, bonehew isn't exactly very hard to get... By the time you start running baal several should have dropped from meph.

As for elaboration... Well, I think I'll just dig up the respective guardian thread, that's gonna cover most of it already. And then just add to the "guide" what needs to be there for MFing.


Diabloii.Net Member
I usually don't feel the need to kill those cold mages around the Unravellers.. I just land 3-4 meteors before they arrive, and spam Glacial spike and Fireball to kill them all. Doesn't take long to get all the unravellers killed, and then turn on the mages. My merc can (usually) take the cold and poison damage, if he's next to a Unraveller with his 19% (Andariel's + Reaper's).


Diabloii.Net Member
San, you are missing the point of this thread for the second time in a row now. How about you try to either read it or not hijack it? Can we do that? :-/


Diabloii.Net Member
Heh, yeah the info was just about right. You didn't go overboard, but gave enough info to be useful.

I too am more interested in hearing about the "oddballs". I am VERY familiar with blizzard sorcs. I have never really built anything other than optimal killing machines for one particular target. Summon necros are still my favorite overall MF character, but variety is the spice of life, or so they say.

I can't wait to hear about the WW sin!


Diabloii.Net Member
Nightfish said:
Without bonehew I probably wouldn't bother trying to run baal with a blizz sorc. It just wouldn't be time efficient for me. Of course you can substitute it with a low level CE item but that is probably no more effective than just teleporting your merc onto each of the mages...
Actually, I find teleporting on top of each mage quite effective. Static them all until they can't be staticed anymore. Tele on each mage. They go down in a couple of hits with my merc and he uses a Reaper's Toll.

Especially since my one and only(That's right, Serdash only has one of them :teeth: ) Bonehew is taken up with Amn runes for another characters merc use.

But GG on the guide Fishy.


Diabloii.Net Member
Nice stuff, keep it coming. :thumbsup:


ps: Are you still considering the 'how to build an effective character' guide? I think it could be a godsend to less experienced players, and will probably have food for thought for the pros too.


Diabloii.Net Member
Thanks NF, great guide

I was thinking of posting a question today asking whether I should use my only IST in an Ali-Baba, but based on your table and my current MF I will save my Ist for a Runeword.


Diabloii.Net Member
It's also worth mentioning that players2 is exactly the same as players1. (if I read a recent thread correctly) You have to increase the players setting by 2 to have any increase. p1,p3,p5,p7 are the "breakpoints" for players settings.

I'm still going to disagree with the p1 recommendation though :D my two highest finds in the MFO are ilvl 85.
Awesome work, well written and concise. :cool:

Do u really mean that u turned a fragile sorc with no (effective) way of killing CIs, into a guardian? thats just mind boggling

as a SPer ive always avoided single element builds because they lack the ability to kill immunes. so whats the secret?


Diabloii.Net Member
With mara's the sorc has 350% MF (146% unique MF) and wit the MF ammy she has 400% (154% unique MF), which is a net increase of 8% unique MF. This is actually an increase of 5% compared to what she had before (8% divided by 154%)
No, you've got the maths wrong. You have a base chance of getting a unique, even with 0% MF. If you have 350% MF on your gear, you have a 146% better chance of finding a unique, or in other words, you find 2.46 uniques for every 1 the 0% MF character finds.

So the maths becomes: 254/246 = 1.0325 as many unqiues, or only a 3.25% increase.

This basically means it's almost never worthwhile to give up killing speed for more magic find beyond fairly low levels of magic find. A character carrying optimal killing equipment and only having incidental magic find + charms will probably outperform a heavily loaded magic find character over time, with the exception being on runs where killing speed isn't the primary factor (eg meph or pindle, where load time + run/teleport speed matter a lot more).

Some people try to fit as much magic find on their character as they can, then work backwards and try to put whatever they need to survive and kill into the setup. I would argue that the heavy diminishing returns you see even at fairly low levels of magic find mean it is better to put on your best killing/survival gear, then work outwhere you can give up a slot or two to magic find. Remember wearing a ptopaz skulders plus having a gheed's fortune in your inventory will about double your chances of a unique. You have to sacrifice your entire character to magic find (and happen to have the perfect gear required) to triple it (which is only a 50% improvement over doubling it anyway).

Also, if find item can be used on the target, the barbarian easily beats any character of equal kill speed. 50% find item is the equivalent of going from 166MF to 1000MF in terms of uniques. Getting to 50% find item (or close to it) with 166MF is a hell of a lot easier than getting 1000MF.


Diabloii.Net Member
Bravo NightFish, currently I am playing a blizz sorc and only have a few points to go until I max ice blast (have already maxed the other necessary skills) and I think I will slap those points that would go into ice bolt into static field after reading your guide. Answered a lot of questions about MFing for me. Sadly I was one of those "players 8" people you metioned ha! Good job! :clap:



Diabloii.Net Member
I vote sticky. Maybe let the thread run a few days, filter in some of the good suggestions, add a few more chars, then compile it all together.

Perfect level of detail - concise & informative. GG NF.