Mihana (99) Joins the Hall of Heroes Mihana is done with Baal as of July 17, 2:50pm Eastern Time. Getting 99 certainly teaches you a lot of skills, but it really doesn't require anything except willpower and time. Say you make a perfect run, every single trick and strategy goes your way, you burn through in less than 3:00. Congratulations. Do it another 3500 times. Now that I'm waaaay older than my HS/College days and my reflexes are going, having a task that even a broken-down nag like me can accomplish was kinda fun. The downside is that the endless repetitions pretty much suck all the Diablo fun out of you. I became a lifeless drone. Felt no twitch when my second Dweb dropped. Mang Song? Gee, I guess that replaces the one I traded. DFathom? Yawn, maybe it's better than the mediocre one I'm using. Cham? Ok I guess. Wish it was a Ber. Basically, 99 was work, until the spark of life returned to me at the last Baal kill. So the psychology of getting to 99 is pretty messed up. It's like taking a hacksaw to the floor bolt of a new toilet: you know it's going to take 15 minutes of frustrating, mind-numbing work. You know you can't go too fast or you'll lose your groove. If you cheat and use a sawzall you'll crack the porceline. Most people would say "screw it" and leave the bolt sticking up. Except my wife would yell at me and tell me she won't have guests staring at a 3 inch bolt stickout of the toilet when they come to visit... Hang on. That got weird at the end. The inspiration for this crazy trip was Dark Chaos, who was cranking out a stupid number of 99s when I was relatively new to the SPF. I swore I'd never do that--95 is high enough, thanks!--but the idea just kept hanging around and hanging around and then one day I was going for it and didn't know why. As for the character choice: I remember DC saying Kara was ugly and me thinking "No wai!" Once I had the gear, I decided to give it a shot. The conversion from MF-freak to 99-freak was not hard.:thumbsup: So a big thanks to DC. I'd like to call out grogs as my special dedication, though. Of everyone on the board above me, Ayla is the most impressive to me. That's a PURE BLIZZ sorc WITHOUT CTA. 1000 hp and 33 fire res...everyone on the board deserves big props but I think Ayla is the most impressive of them all. I almost didn't go for CtA just so I could match it. To everyone else in the Hall of Heroes: I re-read your threads when inspiration ran low. Thanks! And to all the 98s working their way up now, keep at it. You helped push me toward the end...I couldn't have more people pass me for being lazy! Ok, enough of that. The meat: Str 125/161 Dex 25/46 Vit 395/432 Ene ???/yeah right Health 968/1990 Mana 445/746 Those base health/mana values might be off a bit...I forgot to check before I stripped my charms. Gear DFathom (22 w/ a 3/3 cold facet) Spirit Monarch CtA (BO 5) + Spirit Monarch Nightwing's (12% w/ a sexy rare res jewel) Blizz Ormus (14/14/14 w/ a scintillating jewel) Arachnid Mesh Magefist Sandstorm Trek (I can't get enough of t3h vits) Crafted sorc ammy (from a trade iirc) BKWB and a rare for res/life/mana 7 Chilling GCs with newb mods and 1 Burning GC Lots of small charms for res, balance Idiot went through many gear changes but in the end it was: Act 2 Defiance Merc w/ upped Kelpie, GA w/Sol, Kira w/Sol I probably should have switched to Might merc at 97-98 but I didn't feel like re-rolling my map. I'm stubborn. Proof of Concept We'd like to nuke everything with blizzard but we have cold immunes. So we take a page from Tweety and try fireball as a backup. Does it clear our difficulties and does it give us any new tricks? Shouldn't we be using a better sorc like infinity-light? Getting there I had a nice map, except every 100 runs or so I teleported right into a pack of mana burning snakes. Ugh. That nearly got me a few times. Clearing the throneroom was very fast and easy, even before 1.13. There were a few times I didn't feel like dealing with an intense setup, but the fireball was plenty fast at clearing the witches and the OKs. Wave 1 Best case: Blizzard melts them all before they can scatter or my GS holds them all in place. Worst case Wave 2 Best case: I keep the Ancients off the stairs, blizzard melts them, and the skeletons stay grouped up for fast fireball cleanup. Worst case: Dolls and Gloams revived to stab me in the back. Skeletons scatter across the throneroom forcing me to kill 1 at a time. Reality: I pick off small packs at a time. The fireball was not a perfect solution to this wave, but it usually got the job done. I was not overly impressed with the improvement over a pure blizz. Wave 3 Best case: A blizzard sorc can, with some luck, freeze the entire pack with GS and wipe them out before a single hydra is cast. That saves many seconds waiting for the next wave. Sadly I never mastered how to do this reliably. Worst case (rare): With his super-high Fire Res, this is basically FICI. Wave 4 Best case: These guys were designed and play-tested to die so fast to blizzard that you never even see them on the screen. I often double-checked p8 dealing with these guys. Worst case (extremely rare): With his super-high Fire Res, this is basically FICI...hmm, that sounds famililar. Reality: I don't pay attention to the venom lord near me. He hits me and I laugh until I see he's Manaburn and I have to drink another blue. Wave 5 Best case: They sometimes filter down through the blizzards without scattering. Because of their large footprint, they can die as fast as wave 4. Which is good, because sometimes these guys have sick mods that kill even 98 mercs. Worst case: Lister is FICI. The pack melts. My merc pokes Lister with Kelpie and now it takes me 6.5 HOURS to lure him outside of the throneroom so Baal will leave. He's just not worth the time to kill with an upped Kelpie...maybe if I had an eth, but my gear was fairly newbish for a 99. Reality: The ugly mods could get my merc dead and me scrambling. I definitely downed some purples here...2k hp goes fast to cursed extra fast fana blah blah blah. Mana burn could be pretty scary here. The Big Guy Best case: Baal's tentacles have a really awesome glitch that I don't know the exact mechanics of (WARNING: observation mixed with speculation follows). Basically if he's standing on a tentacle, any blizzard strikes that hit the tentacle will do damage to Baal. Sometimes Baal will summon a huge tangle of them right on top of himself and one blizzard will kill him in about 1-2 seconds. I was never able to control this, sadly. Worst case: For no reason other than to mess with me, Kelpie refuses to trigger. Baal burns my mana, summons a clone, goes on a teleporting spree, and hits me with a limit break of chain spells. Much forum-forbidden language ensues. Almost as bad: Baal decides to park himself on a railing where blizzard absolutely cannot hit him. I have to hide behind a pillar until he walks away from it or teleports. If the merc Kelpies him on the railing, he'll never leave and I'll have to CB him to death (not kjewl). Reality: 1 Blue potion of steady "Blizz Staticx5 Blizz CBx4 Blizz etc." 2 Blues if he hits me with mana burn before Kelpie kicks in. Baal's Deadliest Attack. What is this, 1.07? Off to Act IV I guess... Close calls Never blow up dolls while cursed. Never walk through your own blizzards! Never leave a huge pack of nightmare just outside the throneroom, forget it's there, and then teleport back into it while luring FICI Lister out. Ugh. So was it worth it? Yeah probably. Included for reference: What the xp bar looks like with 1000 runs to go. 500 runs to go. Thanks for reading!