NF's Guide To Efficient Magic Finding Well Nightfish is currently having trouble accessing the forums due to some password issues, and none of the mods/admins are even being of any help to that problem. So for the time being I'm posting another guide Nightfish has wrote. I just read through it and it's pretty nice if you need some tips on MFing. So here we go! NF's Guide To Efficient Magic Finding 0. Introduction 1. Targets 2. Wherever you run, there you find 3. MF Gear 4. Mercenaries 5. Player Settings 6. The Gist Of It 7. Tools 0. Introduction Hey folks, I'm back with another, albeit short and simple guide. This time it's not about a character but about MF. Magic finding is definetly one of the most interesting aspects of D2 for a lot of people. A fair share of the questions asked on the forums are where to run for what item, what char to use, what players setting and how much MF is needed. Astonishingly, there seems to be no MF guide out there, yet. (at least I didn't find any) I'm trying to change that with this document. Before I get started on the guide I'll explain a few general things and clarify some questions that will surely arise as you read this. First of all, there is no right or wrong here. A lot of the choices are based mostly on personal preferences, i.e. what target you run, what char you use, etc. What I try to do is to minimise the amount of time I actually need to spend MFing. As I said, there is no one way of doing this. But there is a difference in how efficient your runs are, depending on what chars/equipment you have available and what items you are running for. At this point the guide assumes that you know what a treasure class is and that you know what item belongs in which treasure class. I may - and probably will - brush treasure classes and drop rates but I won't go into detail for the first draft of the guide. If you don't know anything about treasure classes, don't worry, you don't need to know that to use the guide. Knowing more about the inner workings of the game just makes it easier for you to understand what I'm saying and to double check if it's not just a load of .... 1. Targets In this section I'll list the common MF targets, or rather, the targets I prefer, and give a short note on when you should be running them. I'll also give you a couple suggestions on what chars to use and how long a run should take you. For detailed information about MF gear and chars refer to those sections. If you need to know what TC your item is in, check your fara report, that includes TC info. 1.1 Nightmare Mephisto (NM Meph) If you have absolutely no items at all, this is where you should start. I wouldn't suggest to MF any targets lower than NM Meph, simply because he is very easy to run and the rewards are good. Step one is to get a good map and then keep that. (A good map is one where the stairs down is pretty much next to the waypoint.) What chars to use? Pretty much every character *can* run NM Meph, but not every char is really well suited. Among the best chars are FO/Meteor sorcs. Teleport gets you to Meph in a hurry and static field is always good vs bosses. Generally, caster chars are good to MF when you have no items at all because they do not require a good weapon to be efficient. How long should a run take? Definetly not long. Average run times are between 30s and 60s depending on what you mule, how long it takes you to load up the game, how good your map is, etc, etc. Here you can see how make a new char makes sense for MFing. If your old char needs 2-3 minutes to run meph and you need to do a few hundred runs it may very well be worth the effort to make a new runner. What items does this get me? NM Meph can drop you useful stuff, but nothing all that rare. He caps out at TC 54 as with all monsters the odds for his highest TC are rather poor. I wouldn't recommend running him if you're specifically looking for a TC54 item. Getting back to the efficiency thing, you *will* eventually get the item from him if you keep running but if you run something else you will have that item a lot earlier. I'd say you can reasonably expect him to drop items between TC6 and TC51. Vamp Gaze, Shafstop, most of the 1.09 class specific uniques are some of the things you can hope to see. When should I be running NM Meph? If you just need a couple items to get your characters going, this is where you should be. Especially if you are not ready for hell yet. Bascially you can (easily) beat hell with just items NM Meph gives you. You won't be flying through the game as you would with a windforce or something but NM Meph's stuff gets the job done. If you're on your way to the grail this is just a first stop until you are ready for... 1.2 Hell Mephisto (Hell Meph) If you're not grailing (trying to accquire all the items the game has to offer) or are looking for the really high end items for other reasons, this is your final stop. Genereally speaking I'd say Hell Meph is the best MF target there is. Run times are very low, rewards are excellent and the run is very easy. What chars to use? See NM Meph (suggested level 70+) How long should a run take? As with NM Meph this should take about a minute at most. What items does this get me? Here's where Hell differs from NM, payoffs are better. Hell Meph can drop up to TC 78 which includes items like Eaglehorn, Stormlash or Arkaine's Valor. That said, his chance for TC78 is horrible so don't expect him to actually give you any of those. Up to TC72/75 is what I'd reasonably expect him to give me. That includes items like the Reaper's Toll, Wizardspike, Homunculus, the unique Phase Blades, Baranar's Star, Harlequin Crest, etc, etc. When should I be running Hell Meph? If you are not quite ready for the final step towards the grail yet and just want to find a couple gold and green items *now*. Also if you're still looking for something specific that Hell Meph has a good chance of giving you. Assuming you're going for the grail, do not continue to run Meph until you have everything he can give you. That's very inefficient. Personally I liked to run Meph along side with my final target, just because high level MFing tends to have long dry spells where you just don't find anything useful at all. Then it's always nice to be able to return to meph for an hour or so to get a bunch of items. 1.3 The alvl 85 Areas / Baal This is it, the final destination as far as MFing is concerend. This is where you need to be for the high end items. Oh, yeah, if you don't know what alvl 85 areas are go search the forums. The relevant ones for this guide are the Pit and the Worldstone Keep. What chars to use? A lot of chars can run areas. Again, it comes down to who can do so the most efficiently. What you need now is somebody who can wear a lot of MF and kill a lot of monsters in a hurry. And he needs to be able to take on Baal if you chose to run the WS K. As before, there is no one answer here, and what char you can use depends on how rich you are item wise. Personally I've used about a dozen different builds to run areas at one time or another and I've always prefered my Fishymancer over anything else. It's safest, kills fastest while wearing the most MF. Other options inlcude Meteorb sorcs, CL/FO Sorcs, LF-hybrid zons, Assassins with DeathSentry, Hammerdins, Winddruids, etc. The reason why I like my necromancer is because he can easily take on *anything* that can spawn in the WS K without risking an untimely death. (I play HC) How long should a run take? As areas are variable it's hard to give a good estimate here. It also depends on which one you are running. If you're in the WS K and are going for Baal in the end that may take a bit longer than just clearing the pit. You'll also improve your time with patience and newfound items. Personally it takes me about 6-7 minutes to clear WS K 2, 3, the Throne of Destruction and kill Baal and his minions. What items does this get me? Tal Rasha's Armour, IK Armour, Windforce, Schaeffer's Hammer, Messerschimdt's Reaver, this is where it's at. In these areas *every* item in the game can drop. When should I be running alvl 85 areas/baal? You have what you need from meph and have lots of time to spend. Seriously, this will not give you the quick results you've come to appreciate from Mephisto. Running areas takes patience. But then again, if the high end items where easy to find the game would lose it's appeal much faster. Should I just run / teleport to Baal? This has it's own section because I see people making this "mistake" a lot. No, don't just go straight for Baal. Always fight your way through the keep. The keep is one of the best places to shop for items, consider baal just the icing on the cake. Not to say that baal didn't give me a lot of great items, but so did the keep. Take Caducuses for example: Baal gave me my first golden one but the keep gave me another one in gold and 2 in green. Most of the TC 87 items will probably come from the Keep, in the long run. The thing about baal is that if you can get him to drop a TC87 you can pretty much bet that it will be set or better. Baal never gives me anything! Uh, that's not a question... Anyway, I see this very often, too. The main reason for that is high expectations. "Wow, it's baal, he'd better give me a windforce in the next 10 runs". And that's not the way it works. With baal you need to be patient. I've done over a thousand baal / keep runs and trust me, good stuff *will* drop. Why didn't you list Pindle? Because I don't like him. With pindle you spend about 50% of your time outside of the game. Not to mention that he cannot drop Tyrael's Might and if you want that you need to run Baal / alvl 85 areas after all and since Tyrael's Might is so very, very rare everything I found from pindle will have dropped again by the time I finally get that last item. So it's more efficient to just go to the alvl 85 areas right away. 2. Wherever you run, there you find Congratulations, you're still reading. This section is just a brief interlude with the aim to get you thinking a bit. Let's say you've had most of your item luck with pindle... Ever wonder why? Well, if you do 90% of your MFing on pindle that's where you'll get your items. If you just compare those results with what baal or the pit gave you of course pindle will win. The same if you compare the pit to the WS K or if you compare different amounts of MF, or different chars. Try to be unbiased when you compare things. 3. MF Gear In this section I'll try to give a brief overview on the items you might want to equip your char with. There'll be a section for poor people and one for the richer guys but I am not aiming for completeness here. For characters I'll be looking at the Meteorb sorc and the Fishymancer again. Maybe I'll expand this section in the future but I think you can figure out a decent MF setup on your own. 3.1 Meteorb Sorc - Poor Weapon 1 / Shield 1: +Skills item for killing / Shield for resis (3 PDiamond Shield) Weapon 2 / Shield 2: Gull / Rhyme Runeword Armour: 4 PTopaz Gothic Plate Helm: 3 PTopaz Crown Belt: Goldwrap Gloves: Chance Guards / Frostburn Boots: Rare boots or a boot / ammy combo that gives MF (vidala, tancred) Ammy: Magic / Rare ammy or boot ammy combo (see above) Ring/Ring: 2 x Nagelring 3.2 Meteorb Sorc - Rich Weapon 1 / Shield 1: Tal Rasha's Orb/ Moser's Blessed Circle (2 PDia) Weapon 2 / Shield 2: Gull or 2 x ist ali baba / Rhyme Runeword Armour: Tal's (PTopaz) Helm: Tal's (PTopaz) Belt: Tal's Gloves: Chance Guards / Frostburn Boots: War Travs Ammy: Tal's Ring/Ring: 2 x Nagelring 3.3 Fishymancer - Poor Weapon 1 / Shield 1: +Skills items Weapon 2 / Shield 2: Gull / Rhyme Runeword Armour: 4 PTopaz Gothic Plate Helm: 3 PTopaz Crown Belt: Goldwrap Gloves: Chance Guards Boots: Rare boots or a boot / ammy combo that gives MF (vidala, tancred) Ammy: Magic / Rare ammy or boot ammy combo (see above) Ring/Ring: 2 x Nagelring / 2 x wisp projector 3.2 Fishymancer - Rich Weapon 1 / Shield 1: Arm of King Leoric / Homunculus OR Staff with teleport charges (Naj's) Weapon 2 / Shield 2: Gull or 2 x ist ali baba / Homunculus (PDia) Armour: Tal's (PTopaz) / Skullders (PTopaz) / Enigma Runeword Helm: Shako (PTopaz) Belt: Goldwrap Gloves: Chance Guards / Frostburn Boots: War Travs Ammy: Mara's Kaleidoskope / teleport charges rare ammy Ring/Ring: 2 x Nagelring / 2 x wisp projector Aside from that you can stuff your inventory with MF charms. Gheeds and 7% MF small charms, namely. But do keep a 4x2 space clean of items. That enables you to pick up at least one item and that's really the minimum that you need. If you cannot pick up an item without opening your inventory and using the cube you lose a lot of time which reduces your overall efficiency. 4. Mercenaries Mercs, some love them, some hate them. When MFing they are a big help for both of the chars I mentioned. Depending on your target you will want your merc to do different things. Oh yeah, we're talking about act 2 mercs here, of course. Might for the 'mancer, defiance or holy freeze for the sorc. 4.1 Mercs vs Mephisto (Meteorb Merc) What you want here is to have a merc that stays alive and if possible helps you kill Meph. What does he need on his gear? Leech is unimporant since you cannot leech from Meph in the first place. What he does need is resistances, damage reduction, slows target by X% and maybe crushing blow. Here are some gear suggestions on how to get that: Weapon: Kelpie Snare, The Reaper's Toll, Hone Sundan Armour: Shaftstop, Venom Ward Helm: Guillaume's Face, Vampire Gaze 4.2 Mercs vs Baal (Fishy Merc) This guy needs killing power in areas as well as vs an act boss so he needs to be a bit more versatile on his gear than the sorc's merc. Weapon: Hone Sundan, Tomb Reaver, pretty much anything that deals good damage and has leech Armour: Shaftstop Helm: Guillaume's Face, Vamp Gaze If you are running baal definetly have crushing blow. Either on your weapon or from guillaume's face. 5. Player Settings Another controversial thing, and probably the main reason why I started writing this. A lot of people run on players 8 just because they think it gives them more items. In a way that is true, but going on players 8 is rarely the most efficient way to get sets and uniques. Allow me to explain: When running areas, most of your sets and uniques will be dropped by bosses and these guys will give you exactly one item on all player settings. But going on players 8 will give 450% extra life to everything, which increases your run times by quite a lot, definetly more than it's worth. This may be untrue for you if you're playing a ridiculously overpowered character, but even if you are I think a fishymancer on players 1 will be able to MF faster than you on players 8. That's the observation I've made from comparing my results with those of others, at least. Pretty much the same thing holds true for act bosses. While the no-drop chance decreases as players go up it is not an efficient way to increase your gains. Especially baal has a very low no drop chance to begin with and contrary to what people think he can still drop you a "nothing" on players 3. (I have had that happen to me in testing). But as players go up, crushing blow becomes less efficient. Essentially the time it takes you to kill baal doubles on players 3 (always true, unless you have static field, in that case time goes up by 50%) but you don't get twice the amount of loot. I'd estimate you get about 10% more but I'd need to do more runs to test that or dig into the code. Bottom Line: Looking for items? Do it on players 1. So sayeth the fish. 6. The Gist Of It If you're really impatient just read this and nothing else. This is my 3 lines on how to get the grail in a hurry: 1. Build Meteorb Sorc, Run NM Meph and later on Hell Meph 2. Build Fishymancer, Run WS K / Baal and/or the Pit 3. Run on Players 1 This is how I got to within about 15 items of the selffound grail and within just a single item of the traded grail. I am currently doing it again in HC and I'm at about 85% completion there. 7. Tools Can be found on this page: http://atma.diabloii.net/spf/ Especially ATMA is truly essential for every SP player setting out on his quest for the grail. Flavie / Fara are also very important to keep track of your findings. The medieval mart can do similar things with more effort required on your part. Okay, that's it for the first draft of this guide, I hope you like it. I know there's not that much information in there but maybe it's useful for somebody anyway. Feedback is appreciated, but keep in mind that this is a guide based on *my* experience with MF and that I said several times that this is not the only way to do it. I just believe it's one of the more efficient ways.