Latest Diablo 3 News
DiabloWiki Updates
Support the site! Become a Diablo: IncGamers PAL - Remove ads and more!

Queen of the Sorceresses - a 1.05 Adventure

Discussion in 'Single Player Forum' started by DariusTriplet, May 2, 2019.

  1. DariusTriplet

    DariusTriplet IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    99
    After becoming the latest victim of MSLE, I'm picking myself up and taking another shot at King/Queen.

    I'll be playing a Sorceress in 1.05 for this attempt at royalty. AFAICT, there were no real changes to Sorceresses between 1.00-1.06; however, changes to how the game calculates radius had an impact on certain Sorceress skills:

    1.00-1.03 - the star bug, which made all area-of-effect spells/auras/attacks/etc. use a four-pointed star shape instead of a circle
    1.04 - AoE spells/attacks/monster AI/etc. now use a proper round shape, but it's very tiny
    1.05-1.06 - anything with an AoE check now uses a nice large round shape

    The fixing of the star bug, coupled with the usual bugfixes (e.g. faster loading for Tal Rasha's Chamber), makes 1.05 a natural choice for playing a Sorceress.

    The power build for Sorceresses in Classic was to use Static Field + Frozen Orb, coupled with Warmth. The reasons for this are compelling:
    - Static Field's effect is uncapped - monsters can always be reduced to 1 HP from it. This scales with players settings, making it arguably the single most powerful skill in the game, although it's reduced by resistances.
    - Frozen Orb deals low damage per bolt (~150/bolt at slvl 20), but will fill the screen, chills monsters for 6+slvl seconds, and Static is doing the lion's share of damage anyway. Something like Blizzard or Meteor is more damaging overall, but lack Orb's range/spread/chill.
    - No spell timer - I doubt I'll pull this off, but Orb can be slung at 7 frames per cast!

    The downside of all this is that, without access to respecs, Orbers lean on slvl 1 spells until clvl 30. In addition, there are no skills that add AR as a Sorceress - not even Enchant - meaning that I'll run into real problems in mid/late Normal. I don't know how well Static-ing through Normal will go, while also boosting Warmth and pre-reqs (and there are many), but I suppose we'll find out :)

    The rules that I'm setting for this are as follows:
    - Single-pass, more or less - a Queen has no patience for re-running areas.
    - Players 8 only - a Queen needs her court, after all (and I don't have the patience for P1 Classic...).
    - Untwinked 1.05b HC

    The Fallen
    Duchess M'avina, 1.04 Strafer - Act 4 Hell
    Duke Cheeseburger, 1.05 Hammerdin - Act 1 Hell
     
  2. T72on1

    T72on1 IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2016
    Messages:
    4,669
    Likes Received:
    3,711
    Trophy Points:
    236
    That sounds like quite the challegge. Good luck :).

    I really enjoyed your previous write-ups, so I'm looking forward to these ones as well.
     
    DariusTriplet and Fruit like this.
  3. Eriklop

    Eriklop IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Love these adventures, have been enjoying them. Gl and hf. May you find awesome stuff along the way!
     
    DariusTriplet and Fruit like this.
  4. Grape

    Grape IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,076
    Likes Received:
    2,687
    Trophy Points:
    315
    Long live the (up-coming) Queen! Stay safe :)

    These write-ups have been fantastic so far.
     
    DariusTriplet likes this.
  5. JoeBruce

    JoeBruce IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    461
    Likes Received:
    159
    Trophy Points:
    157
    My 2cents for leveling:

    Static Field will do the job, and every six levels you get a new skill to use as your finisher. Ice blast, Lightning, Glacial Spike, Blizzard... I have no idea if mana pots are sold in 1.05 (I did this on a 1.00 character when they were not), so that could be a severe limitation, but it is totally manageable. Good luck.
     
    DariusTriplet likes this.
  6. DariusTriplet

    DariusTriplet IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    99
    Ancient Vizjerei texts tell of a great Zann Esu queen...

    I'm not very good at naming characters, so I tend to crib from old Super Nintendo games for when I need inspiration. For a royal ice Sorceress, Marle seemed like a fitting name. :)

    Marle's adventure started somewhat inauspiciously. Being stuck with a two-handed weapon to start, she struggled through the Blood Moor; the 3-6 damage from Firebolt wasn't much against 40-72 HP Zombies! Her first challenge was against a pair of Zombies, who required hit-and-run tactics (and at least one potion!) to defeat. Thankfully, in the first house on the Moor, she found something really special:
    Screenshot140.jpg
    I couldn't have asked for anything better! 2 DR is enough to make Marle nigh-invulnerable in much of Act 1 - very few monsters hit for more than 8 damage, even through the Catacombs - and the +10 Strength helps relieve some early pressure on point allocation. I tend to push Strength early on Sorceresses, so I'm able to keep up with weapons and potential gambling boosts through Act 1, so Hsaru's lets me put some early points into Energy/Vitality. I did give a Sharp Large Axe a try at one point, but the 2 DR was well worth losing offensive capability for.

    Since Marle will be using Energy Shield*, I put an early point into Charged Bolt, which carried her through the Den and the Cold Plains. In addition, she had the good fortune of finding a plain socketed Scepter, which gave her enough melee damage to not need to lean on spells.

    Despite having stellar defense and solid damage output, sometimes you need a little help from your friends:
    Screenshot143.jpg
    Go get 'em, Flavie!

    clvl 6 brings with it Static Field, which dramatically increased Marle's damage, and Frost Nova, which sports a useful 8 seconds of chill. Even at slvl 1, I really felt the expanded radius of 1.05 skills; I'm used to low-level Static demanding that you stand on top of a monster, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it started with a healthy range. I managed to take a screenshot of slvl 4 Static (5.3 yards) in action, with an extremely rough estimate of its coverage:
    Screenshot145.jpg
    Nearly a full screen already! I don't know what the seek radius was on 1.04 Strafe/Guided Arrow, but the circle above is already approaching where M'avina's Strafe blind spots were. I'm really quite pleased that Static Field, even at slvl 4, has such a wide radius; it frees up a lot of skills points early.

    Static is lovely, but fighting Blood Raven demonstrated its weakness. I had no problem getting her to low HP, but actually finishing her was a different story entirely. Marle had no crowd-control skills with real damage (2-4 on Frost Nova and Charged Bolt), so Blood Raven could summon a horde of undead that Marle couldn't quite winnow down. I ended up using Cheeseburger's strategy - give up, pop down into the Mausoleum, gain a level, then return with restocked potions.

    Thankfully, clvl 12 only has one pre-req to pick up (Lightning), so Marle was able to put points into core skills (Warmth, Static) for a few levels. Lightning deals decent damage for one point (1-40), and can hit multiple monsters, so Marle used Static + Lightning up through the Outer Cloister WP. This worked really well; already, I've started to take up the Classic Sorceress dance:

    1) Run around and get lots of monsters on screen
    2) Static them down to a sliver of HP
    3) Use a finisher skill to clean up

    The Akara ring was +8 mana - not useless, but nothing exciting either.

    However, Marle's luck ran out in the Monastery Gate. A pack of Disfigured spawned, sporting 50% Lightning Resistance and a fairly damaging lightning attack. In addition, they take up enough space that Marle couldn't just run through the Gate to the waypoint - she'd have to draw them out, Static them down (at 12.5% health/Static), then either wallop them with her Deadly Axe of the Bat or Ice Blast them down. She made it through to the waypoint, finishing the front half of the Act at clvl 14.

    * I'm very curious to hear folks' thoughts and experiences with ES in Classic. This Lurker Lounge guide has a big long section on using ES, but it assumes that the best way to use it is to hit 0 life and 0 mana at the exact same moment. The bit about Nightsmoke and taking big melee hits is certainly interesting, and gives me some ideas for later...
     
    Fruit and ArtOfSenf like this.
  7. DariusTriplet

    DariusTriplet IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    99
    I don't think Mana Potions could be bought until 1.10, so Marle is leaning on hard points in Energy + Warmth to keep her bulb topped up. You're absolutely correct on Static + whatever the hurtiest spell is for getting through Normal; I'm already eyeing up Glacial Spike as a finisher, and may try to shop a +3 Fireball staff in the meantime :)
     
    Fruit and ArtOfSenf like this.
  8. DariusTriplet

    DariusTriplet IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    99
    Her innate ability was such that, with no magical education, she challenged Anguish...

    On to the Rogue Monastery! The Barracks were slow going - lots of champs/bosses, lots of Smith - but Static + Lightning was enough to pull through. I've come to really dislike Lightning; while the average damage is great, and high-end shots are amazing, blasting a monster for a whole 3 damage is a dire feeling indeed. It's hard to get a feel for when and how often to use Lightning, since its damage is all over the place; for example, if a monster is at 1/4 HP, it's not really clear if I should Lightning or Static it.

    The Jail is annoying for characters that thrive against packs, since monsters tend to be sparse and hard to group up. Ironically, this was beneficial for Marle, since it meant that she could Static+melee single monsters at a time - not ideal, but better than relying on Lightning :p I had really dreadful luck finding the stairs in all three levels, so I was glad to wrap up this area, easy as it was.

    Flamespike was surprisingly easy for Marle - run in, Static, don't get hit->cursed by Flamespike, finish with Lightning. Thanks to the boosted range of Static in 1.05, I had no problem Static-ing them down. The Cathedral had Tainted-types (urgh), and Bone Ash is awfully sturdy against Static, but Marle was doing really well so far.

    Until the Catacombs.

    Each floor of the Catacombs had Afflicted, with their 70% lightning resistance. In addition, Cats 3 had The Banished (high cold resist, life leech), and 2 and 3 had Arachs (webs, hit hard, just have tons of HP). Dark Ones posed minimal issue for Marle - Static them down, Lightning the Shaman, clean up the rest - but Afflicted were just too much for her. Static only dealt ~8% of their HP per cast, and Lightning dealt 1-12 damage. Against their 136-254 damage, this isn't going to cut it. Marle had to fall back on Ice Blast - freeze, swing with her Deadly Axe of the Bat twice, and repeat - which worked well against 1-2 Tainted, but not against packs. In addition, her to-hit really fell off a cliff here; she was leaning on the level difference to make up for poor AR, but as monsters started to catch up to her, it wasn't really sufficient. As such, against resistant monsters, her melee fallback became more and more untenable.

    On top of all this, I had really poor luck with stairs in the Catacombs. I think I searched nearly all of Cats 1+2, and most of Cats 3, to find the way down. Given the kind of monsters filling these levels, this was very frustrating indeed :p Marle did hit clvl 18 here, which opened up Glacial Spike + Teleport. Spike was absolutely stellar against monsters with poor cold resist - she could Static + Spike to clear packs of Dark Ones, or spam Spike to finish up Afflicteds. Unfortunately, it's dreadful versus Banished (50% cold resist), so Marle had to keep mixing up her attacks to make headway against monsters. Frankly, it felt like playing through Hell in with Expansion characters, except at clvl 18 :p

    On Cats 4, I cleared the front chambers, then opened the main doors. Of course, a horde of Afflicted+Ghouls+Dark Ones poured out, followed by Andariel herself. I thought that I was sunk - too many monsters, nowhere to run, too much damage from Andariel, can't clear a path with Spike - when I had a sudden epiphany.

    Marle had Teleport.

    It took some time, but I was able to Teleport between chambers, each time splitting the monster pack (and Andariel) up a little bit each time. While 15 monsters + a Lesser Evil were too much for Marle, 2-3 monsters were much more manageable, and she was able to winnow down the horde to just Andariel + a single Ghoul. It took a lot of running around the blood pit, and some Portaling out for mana+health, but after enough Staticing -> Spiking Marle emerged triumphant.

    I really cannot wait to start Act 2; between the Book of Skill, access to higher-ilvl wands (up to +43 mana), and no monsters with high lightning resist, it should be much easier than the Catacombs. Granted, there's Duriel, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there...
     
  9. ArtOfSenf

    ArtOfSenf IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2018
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Glad to see you back on track, making progress and finding ways to deal with different monsters and situations. I'll be rooting for Marle and am already curious how she will be able to sustain through maggot lair, AS and Duriel...

    Best of luck!!
     
    Fruit and DariusTriplet like this.
  10. Kartongen

    Kartongen IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    50
    Princess Marle. I shall follow your endeavours toward coronation with great interest.
     
    Fruit and DariusTriplet like this.
  11. DariusTriplet

    DariusTriplet IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    99
    Rumors of lost Horadrim magic drew her to Lut Gholein...

    Act 2 thus far has been more pleasant for Marle than the Catacombs were. Lower cold resist across the board for monsters means that Glacial Spike is much more potent - a whole 20 damage :p - and low lightning resist helped keep Static's damage up. In addition, heavier armors drop, which sell for tidy sums; Marle's stash started to swell, and had enough to start gambling regularly.

    The Sewers were pleasant - Static + Spike did their job, and since every single monster Marle fights dies by cold damage, Radament had no bodies to revive. The main issues that I ran into were actually finishing off monsters, and keeping Marle's mana bulb topped up. I tried hiring a mercenary, hoping that he would be able to deal with frozen monsters at slivers of health, but he lasted an entire room in the Sewers - it's truly remarkable how bad Classic mercenaries are :p I used a lot of Scrolls of Town Portal as makeshift mana potions; thankfully, the Lut Gholein portals are near Fara, so it didn't take long to TP up -> refill -> run back down.

    I decided after the Sewers to retire Marle's venerable Deadly Axe of the Bat and move her into a full caster setup. Her AR was so poor at this point that, even with the to-hit bonus from being overleveled (an extra 1.18 to-hit multiplier against Burning Dead), she just couldn't reliably land hits. Thankfully, Drognan was very helpful in making the move:
    Screenshot148.jpg
    Not ideal - Magus would've been nicer - but the lack of +staffmods hiking the price made this one hard to turn down :) Coupled with her 2 Chipped Sapphire Cap (+16 mana), Marle was able to use spells full-time, although she still needed to rest/TP out after each pack.

    The Desert and Halls of the Dead went without a hitch. Just like M'avina and Cheeseburger before her, Marle did very well against monster packs; her main tactic in the desert was to run around, gather up lots of Swarms/Slingers/etc, Static them down, then finish them off with Spike's splash damage. The main difference thus far between her and my previous Classic attempts was that, while they only thrived against big packs - and struggled against the stragglers - Marle could fight one-on-one as easily as she could clear a screen. I did run from a lot of post-Static+Spike stragglers, but that was more on merit of not wanting to burn ~50 precious mana on a single monster.

    Marle hit two skill milestones in Act 2:
    - Level 7 Warmth (102% faster mana regen), which refills her bulb in one minute instead of two
    - Level 8 Static Field (8 yards), which covers more than a screen

    I'm genuinely surprised at how quickly Static Field covered a screen; I expected to need a full 20 points in it to cover perhaps a screen and a half, but already Marle is able to keep a healthy distance from monsters while still Staticing them. I knew that 1.05's effects radius was increased over 1.04, but not by this much!

    The Maggot Lair was tedious - lots of TPing back for mana - but the tight tunnels meant that Marle could use Spike to block entire packs at once. Coldworm took ages to finish off, but Marle got there with enough Static->Spike and TP scrolls.

    The Viper Temple was a high point and low point for Marle's adventure so far. This is why it was a high point:
    Screenshot154.jpg
    Marle Teleported along the red line, and it took her straight from the stairs up to the stairs down. Easy! The low point came in Temple 2, which had a completely outrageous monster density. I didn't take any screenshots - I was too busy Teleporting around - but it was full of Skeletons, Zombies, a few Unravelers, and extra Vipers on top of Fangskin's pack. To make matters even worse, I finally have an answer to @Maltatai 's question regarding if Vipers can spawn/stand on the Altar - the answer is yes. I Teleported around, hoping to find a point from which I could Static->Spike and start making headway, but Fangskin's LE + the sheer number of monsters in a tiny area meant that all I could do was Teleport to the Altar, hit it (and hope I didn't get hit), and TP out.

    The Arcane Sanctuary had two very easy monsters - Hell Clan and Wraiths were no match for Static, and tended to group together into nice Spike-able packs - and one very difficult one. Ghoul Lords have 50% cold resist on Normal, which reduced Spike's average damage from 20 to 10. Coupled with their life leech - which I didn't realize would trigger via Firewall / Fireball - and Marle was completely ineffective against them. She could get them to a sliver thanks to Static, but dealing the last bit of damage via Spike was just too much for her. I ended up clearing out the Goats and Wraiths, but leaving the Vampires behind; thanks to Teleport, Marle couldn't be pinned on the catwalks, so I was able to make steady (if somewhat halting) progress. Thankfully, I found the Summoner on the first path I checked, which saved me a lot of hassle.

    It honestly did not occur to me to use Chain Lightning - a one-point prereq for Energy Shield - against Vampires until after I had wrapped up for the night. Something that I'll definitely keep in mind when clearing the Tombs!

    I wrapped up this session with some gambling at Elzix's. Since I already had Hsaru's Iron Fist, gambling Belts and Chain Boots were a natural choice - there's the chance of getting an exciting rare/unique, and the possibility of finishing the set. I had good luck with Belts, which quickly turned up Hsaru's Iron Stay; the +20 life was certainly welcome! I didn't find Hsaru's Iron Heel from gambling Chain Boots, but...
    Screenshot155.jpg
    The ultimate in running gear!

    It's probably for the best that I didn't gamble Hsaru's Iron Heel. The full set bonuses are as follows:
    Cannot be Frozen
    Lightning Resist 25%
    +5 to Max Damage
    And with no partial set bonuses in Classic. Sets are just so bad in Classic; they're only marginally better than magical items, and the full bonuses are never worth it. I don't even know if they're worth it for twinking - uniques have no clvl requirement, so it'd be hard to want to use something like Arcanna's Tricks at clvl 15 versus a pile of uniques at clvl 1.

    Next up - Tombs and Duriel. I'm looking forward to the Tombs, but not to Duriel. I've already started working out tactics for that fight...
     
    ArtOfSenf, jonnyphive, Ghonn and 4 others like this.
  12. ArtOfSenf

    ArtOfSenf IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2018
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Merc + static seems like a viable option for the Duriel fight, so best of luck on that. Lightning spells seem like the go-to choice here. I'm very excited about the next update and I'm rooting for Marle and a smooth way through the tombs. Maybe she can find another shortcut teleport?

    What is your level progress, though?
     
    DariusTriplet likes this.
  13. DariusTriplet

    DariusTriplet IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    99
    In the tomb of the greatest Horadrim, she found Pain...

    The Tombs were quite the adventure, although not for reasons that I would have liked. As always, I took Marle to pay a visit to the deadliest of superuniques, Ancient Kaa the Soulless. With base modifiers of Lightning Enchanted Extra Strong Magic Resistant, he poses arguably the single greatest threat to a HC Sorceress - 75% resist all, 13-15 damage per bolt (which may or may not be tripled by Extra Strong!), and hits like a truck. Naturally, I took Marle through the Tombs to find him :p

    I had hoped that Chain Lightning would do the trick against Vampires, but alas not - the cast rate is really slow, to the point of dealing less damage ultimately than Glacial Spike. I'm convinced that there's some weird bug at work with them; even at players 8, with their 50% cold resistance, and 20 base average damage per Spike, this health bar took Marle's entire mana pool to finally empty:
    Screenshot156.jpg
    Needless to say, unless I absolutely had to defeat a Vampire, I opted to just ignore them. Ghoul Lords have roughly 480-640 HP, so this sliver of bar represents far, far less than 120-150 HP, but somehow that's how many Spikes it took to finish this fellow off. I did notice that they naturally heal very quickly, so it could just be that Spike didn't deal damage fast enough to overtake healing.

    Other than Vampires, most monsters didn't present much trouble, although Marle had to pop back to Fara very frequently for mana. I tried using Blizzard once Marle hit 24, but it just wasn't very useful - Spike works better with Static, since one can freeze monsters while Staticing, and it has considerable splash range. Generally, it was slow going, although Marle made her way through Tomb after Tomb seeking her quarry.

    Thankfully, this absolute treasure dropped from a random Burning Dead:
    Screenshot159.jpg
    What an item! 64% block is as good at it gets for a Sorceress, and +1 skill is very much appreciated here - for Spike alone, it increases the average damage from 20 to 27 per Spike. The downside is hefting it; 75 strength is a lot for a Sorceress, and Marle only had 50 natural strength at this point. It was going to be a long time until she could hoist it, barring a miracle...

    Five Tombs into her hunt, disaster struck. I believe that I had finally found Kaa's Tomb - five of the Tombs use a small map, whereas the Duriel and Kaa tombs are much larger - and was working through its waves of undead. Suddenly, walking through an empty hallway, Marle turned green and started taking lots of damage, not unlike Achmel's poison aura. I ran back, hit Marle's (non-empty!) Tome of Town Portal, and...it flashed red, without creating a Portal. I try again, same result. I realized that she was lagging out, and that if I stuck around in the game much longer, she would likely die to invisible monsters. I have no choice - Save & Exit, taking down the game.

    This was tremendously irritating, as Marle was likely very near finding Kaa, and that she would now have to restart the search. I thought about just moving on to Duriel, but that didn't seem very sporting; I took on the Tombs to find a challenge, not to skip it! The only choice was to start a new game and work through the Tombs once again, seeking the deadliest of purple Unravelers.

    Tomb after Tomb, she fought, and found a trio of Kaa cosplayers:
    Screenshot162.jpg
    Seeing a battery of unholy bolts is terrifying enough, and seeing a purple Unraveler is even worse. I played very conservatively - I'd hate to die (again) to a blast of sparks - until I noticed that these were just Kaa impersonators. Static into Spike did them in with minor fuss.

    After a few Tombs, Marle found something very special - her sixth Chipped Amethyst. She had the good fortune of buying a +12 strength Belt from Fara earlier, so she cubed up the gems and made this snazzy chapeau:
    Screenshot164.jpg
    +20 to strength from items, and add 5 from a level, and what do we get? One very nice shield indeed :D Sigon's Guard made a world of difference for Marle, increasing her damage considerably. She was able to fight Vampires now, and Static now covered well offscreen - not to mention the 64% block rate.

    After five Tombs, she finally found Ancient Kaa. Unfortunately, his map rolled Vampires, so it took ages to work through the Tomb and clear a room to fight in. I was concerned that 75% lightning resist would render Static ineffectual, but I was gladly wrong on this - while it wasn't as strong as usual, Marle was able to keep her distance and wear down Kaa & Co. to slivers. Spike finished off the minions, and Teleport + more Static -> Spikes did the job against Kaa himself; the huge range on Static really helped here, as Marle was able to spam Static from well between the big X of LE sparks. Some fancy footwork, some Teleporting out of nasty scrapes, and lots of Statics later, Marle emerged triumphant. Definitely her most intense fight so far; I'm already looking forward to Nightmare :D

    One last hurdle in Act 2 to go. My original plan was to use a +Blaze staff and run around Duriel's chamber, but Sigon's Guard opened up a much easier solution. With 64% block and lots of small purples, Marle could conceivably take on Duriel the same way Cheeseburger did: find a corner, stand in place, and spam her most damaging spell. With this in mind, a mercenary to eat the first Charge, some +life gear - and a Blaze staff in her pocket just in case - Marle used the Staff:
    Screenshot167.jpg

    All told, the fight was...anticlimactic. Marle ran into a corner and started spamming Static; by the time Duriel made his way over to her, he was at only a tenth of his health. She Staticed (and occasionally Rejuved) until his health bar stopped visibly moving, then switched to Spike; even at 6.75 damage per Spike, he was at low enough health for Marle to prevail. Again, I didn't bother with Lightning - even with free slvl from Sigon's, the damage is just too finicky and slow to bother with.

    On to Kurast!

    @ArtOfSenf Unfortunately, mercenaries are absolutely dreadful in Classic; the Chaos Sanctuary page on them (http://web.archive.org/web/20010619005845/http://www.battle.net/diablo2/basics/act2hirelings.shtml) lists their damage as either 2-6 or 3-8, with Jab dealing a whole...0-3 damage per hit.
     
    T72on1 and Fruit like this.
  14. helvete

    helvete IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    Messages:
    6,974
    Likes Received:
    1,155
    Trophy Points:
    534
    Lightning and CL use IAS for breakpoints. This bug was corrected in 1.10 I think.
     
    DariusTriplet likes this.
  15. DariusTriplet

    DariusTriplet IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    99
    Deep in Kurast, she fought the corrupted priests of Travincal...

    The jungles of Act 3 were as obnoxious as ever. Static was, as always, absolutely lovely against Fetish-types; it wasn't difficult at all to wear packs down to low HP quickly. Glacial Spike, however, was dreadful against them - the radius isn't quite sufficient for scattered packs, and the missile is slow enough that it wasn't uncommon for the target to run out of the way. In addition, the inferno attack from Shaman sapped Marle's HP alarmingly quickly; she had 0 fire resist and 1 MDR, which kept her from being one-shotted but gave me quite a few scares.

    In the Flayer Jungle, I had saved up about 80k gold, so I took a break and hit up Gheed. Good thing that I did:
    Screenshot171.jpg
    :cool::cool::cool:
    What a treasure! I was over the moon at gambling these - equipping them immediately boosted Marle's mana by 84, and will continue to pay dividends all throughout her quest. Mana has been a continuing issue through Normal, and these made an immediate difference in how often Marle could use Static/Spike. I haven't needed to use Energy Shield yet, but these will provide a nice boost to effective HP by expanding Marle's mana pool. Barring switching over to a tweaker build (7-frame casting), which requires Magefist, I can't imagine Marle ever unequipping these.

    Fortified with 40% more mana, Marle brought back the Gidbinn:
    Screenshot173.jpg
    Yuck. Talk about marginal items, especially for a caster.

    The Flayer Dungeon was surprisingly difficult, due to the aforementioned deadliness of Shaman. One corner room contained a pack of Shaman and a Water Watcher, which would happily stun Marle and leave her open to Inferno. I spent a long time baiting single Shaman back into a hallway, Spiking them, then getting Static in before they unfroze - running forward and getting blasted by two Infernos was just too scary, and the one time it happened, I nearly jumped out of my chair. Witch Doctor and company fell to the same tactic (plus Teleporting over a lake, out of Inferno range), which took a long time but got Marle through without a scratch.

    By the time Marle was in Kurast, slvl 2 Spike was really showing its age. Static was powerful enough that even Spike's sorry 27 average damage could keep up, but it was only barely staying pace with monster heal. Fighting more than one Sexton-type was really out out the question, and the Vampires in the Ruined Temple required multiple Ormus runs apiece. The Council was difficult - Hydra really stung thanks to Marle's poor resists - but Static -> Spike did the job as usual.

    Marle fought most monsters in the Durance without issue, barring Vampires, which were left alone. She fought two Blood Lords in the foyer of Durance 3, and defeated one, but the second was parked and left for later. Fighting one used multiple blue potions, and it felt like a miracle when it finally fell; dealing with a second was just too much. Bremm was parked - thanks, Teleport - and I prepared the floor for fighting Mephisto. Wyand fell without issue, but there were Blood Lords in his chamber, which meant that the right side of the room was a no-go. Maffer, on the other hand, spawned with no Vampires; Marle was able to Teleport around, Static him down, and Spike him before he could heal himself back out of Spike range.

    Mephisto was, well...
    Screenshot180.jpg
    He really isn't the brightest of Prime Evils. Lots of Static and one Blizzard later, and Marle didn't even need to refill her mana pool.

    Enough of the Durance was clear to bring all the town-sitters through, so on to Act 4! Mephisto must've gotten the memo regarding Marle's sorry resists, and chipped in to help:
    Screenshot181.jpg

    Marle's at clvl 29, so one more level until Orb + Masteries are available. Between that and the usual flood of items + skill points in Act 4, it should be a good one :cool:
     
    NorthDakota, ArtOfSenf, zemaj and 2 others like this.
  16. helvete

    helvete IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    Messages:
    6,974
    Likes Received:
    1,155
    Trophy Points:
    534
    Pro tip: Act 3 ice mercs destroy shaman packs. A little late, I know.
     
  17. DariusTriplet

    DariusTriplet IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    99
    From their stats page, the damage is feeble (9-12 in Normal), but the 4-yard radius and 4-second freeze is considerable. I usually don't bother cashing in the free Iron Wolf from the Gidbinn - Asheara's just too far away! - but that's useful to know for future Act 3 treks.

    What's going on with that Lightning damage, though :eek: Even if that's damage per second, that's still 20-51 damage per frame, which is head and shoulders above the pitiful damage of Fireball/Spike.
     
  18. Fruit

    Fruit IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2017
    Messages:
    418
    Likes Received:
    657
    Trophy Points:
    151
    @DariusTriplet
    That 4 is cells (or "sub-tiles"), not yards. :p And I don't think the freeze is 4 seconds; those mercenaries use the skill "PrimeSpike", which has a freeze length of 25+(slvl-1)*10 frames according to skills.txt. Nonetheless, they're fantastic for crowd control imo, especially in 1.05 and 1.06 with the buffed AoE calculation.

    I barely understand what's going on on that page. :p But if those damage numbers are even accurate, they probably have to be divided by 256.
     
    DariusTriplet likes this.
  19. DariusTriplet

    DariusTriplet IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    262
    Trophy Points:
    99
    She mastered the elemental arcana on the plains of Hell...

    I've outlined before why Act 4 is an exciting act in Classic, and Marle's adventure was no different.

    The Outer Steppes and first half of the Plains were the same as usual - Lots of Static with bits of Spike. Thankfully, Finger Mages (with their 40% lightning resist) didn't spawn in the Steppes, although the Plains were full of Burning Souls (70% resist :eek:). As such, Static wasn't working very well at all; Marle had to lean harder on Spike than I liked, which quickly depleted her mana, and meant that non-Soul monsters had to be dealt with via Static after she burned all her mana on Spikes.

    Izual showed up early in the Plains; for once, he didn't take ages to take down. Marle ran a lot, Spiked to slow him down, and spammed Static until Spike could finish him off. Static really shines against single targets, and Izual is the best example of when it's really phenomenal, with his low lightning resist (30%) and absurdly high HP (45k on players 8). There's nothing quite like blasting him for ~8000 damage with one casting of Static :cool:.

    Dealing with Souls was difficult, but Marle hit clvl 30 right after dealing with Izual. One point in Frozen Orb, Lightning Mastery, and Cold Mastery, and she suddenly became absolutely unstoppable. Thanks to the free level from Sigon's Guard, Marle now had the following:
    • 38-41 damage Frozen Orb, which hits the entire screen, and single monsters multiple times
    • Monster cold resists reduced by 34%, which dramatically increases Orb's damage versus high-resist monsters (and monsters with 0% resist weren't really a problem to begin with)
    • Static's mana cost reduced from 9 to 6, which effectively expands Marle's mana pool
    Needless to say, Burning Souls didn't stand a chance. One or two Orbs cleaned them out with minimal fuss, whereas landing 4-5 Spikes before was a huge headache. The mana cost on Orb is steep - 23+2*slvl - but it complements Static so well that it doesn't really need to be spammed.

    Speaking of spamming Orb:
    Screenshot184.jpg
    Now that's magic.

    I took a break after hitting the City of the Damned waypoint to use Marle's Normal imbue. The only exciting affix that isn't available at clvl 30 is Necromancer's, which Marle isn't interested in, so it seemed like a decent time to try imbuing. I bought a plain ol' Wand from Akara, tossed it on the anvil, and:
    Screenshot187.jpg
    Yuck. At least it fixes her AR issues? :p

    Having access to Marle's full skill suite means that it's time to finally learn how to play a Classic Sorceress. While it's certainly fun to burn through one's entire mana pool blasting out Orbs, it's not really a sustainable or effective way to play. Compared to the Expansion, Orb's mana cost is much higher (1.14 Orb's cost grows at slvl/2 versus slvl*2), its damage is much lower (28.5+6*slvl, versus 32.5+10*slvl), and has no timer. As such, it's not really a skill that one can lean on for primary damage; Static will continue to be Marle's main damage source, especially with the Lightning Mastery discount. Instead, it's used to keep monsters chilled and to clear out screens of Staticed monsters at once - it's quite satisfying to use Static a bunch, then see dozens of monsters all fall at once to a barrage of Orbs.

    Actually aiming Orb is also more difficult than expected. Classic Orb works best when it doesn't actually hit a monster - if it does, the Orb's bolts stop dealing damage. Thus, there's a fair bit of figuring out where to put the next Orb while fleeing monster packs and Staticing; if there's space, putting 1-2 Orbs to each side of the pack is highly effective, but only really works in open areas. I'm not looking forward to Orbing in dungeons like the Maggot Lair or Spider Cavern, where there's no space to really aim Orb. I suspect that playing an Orber is going to be a lot like playing a Strafer, where monster positioning and character placement were paramount in combat.

    Speaking of placement, Marle had a much easier time with Hephasto than Cheeseburger:
    Screenshot189.jpg
    He wandered away from the peninsula a lot, but Teleport over->Static->Teleport back did the trick. Another flawless victory for Marle :cool: Pity that the Hellforge dropped junk:
    Screenshot192.jpg
    Looks like I'm getting Perfect Diamonds the hard way.

    Item-wise, Marle used the dividends from selling heavy armors and staffmod items to gamble low-TC gear. Her uniques of note were Nightsmoke (unusuable right now - she's reliant on her Belt of the Giant) and good ol' Greyform. I'm really convinced that Greyform is the absolute most useful unique for single-pass characters in Classic; the +resists and 3 MDR alone make it great caster armor, and the leech and +10 Dex are stellar for melee characters. It's also peanuts to gamble, and sets a high baseline for armor - Marle is going to want Twitchthroe eventually, but it's hard to imagine anything readily available that's better than Greyform.

    Rare-wise, she gambled these lovely shoes:
    Screenshot194.jpg
    And got a laugh out of these Gauntlets:
    Screenshot196.jpg
    Frostburn: the unique so nice, the game dropped it twice :p

    The Chaos Sanctuary was really something of a headache. Storm Casters have 60% lightning resist, so Static isn't terribly effective versus them; they also tend to come in small packs, so Orb isn't efficient either. Even worse, they had a strange habit of fleeing from Marle in straight lines right off the map, only to reappear much later in a completely different part of the Sanctuary! I was worried that one would stick around and prevent Diablo from spawning, but thankfully this wasn't an issue. Venom Lords and Abyss Knights fell easily enough to Static + Orb, but Oblivion Knights were very difficult to fight with their 60% cold and lightning resist. In addition, their bolts are surprisingly damaging for Normal, and Lower Resist makes them sting even more. I started using Energy Shield here, which may have saved Marle's life when De Seis & Co. blasted her with multiple bolts.

    It was a bit of a slog, but Marle cleared the Sanctuary of monsters (save any obnoxious Storm Casters that fled) and hit the seals. I cubed up a Coral Ring (2 Topazes + a ring) to help her poor lightning resist, hoping that 4 MDR + decent resists would do the trick against Diablo. Her LCS before hitting the final seal:
    Screenshot199.jpg

    The big fight with Big D was...kind of boring? Static's huge range meant that Marle could keep him offscreen and still deal damage, and Fastest Run/Walk + Teleport kept her ahead of the pink hose. I had a few scares when Marle desynced and had Diablo suddenly show up on screen with her, but thankfully he only threw a fire snake instead of the lightning hose. Orb's chill effect was remarkably effective here; chilled Diablo charges very slowly, which opened up windows to land 10-15 Statics. Lots and lots of Statics, some tactical Orbing, and a cathartic barrage of 5+ Orbs at the end, and the battle was over within minutes. I can't call this one a flawless victory, but Marle didn't eat any pink hoses or fire snakes, so I was quite pleased with the outcome :cool:

    His megadrop wasn't stellar:
    Screenshot200.jpg
    Heavenly Garb is tempting, and certainly looks great on a Sorceress, but the resists + mana regen aren't as useful as Greyform's resists + 3 MDR. The ring is decent enough to use - +mana, +fire resist, and some MF% - but nothing to get excited over. The rare Gauntlets were not a second failed Frostburn, alas.

    Welcome to Nightmare, Countess Marle:
    Screenshot202.jpg

    ...after one last task in Normal.
    Screenshot203.jpg

    The Cows were really quite difficult this time! Marle could put out lots of damage quickly, but the sheer density of Cows meant that aiming Orb was difficult; aiming Orb to the sides of packs meant that only a few Cows would fall per Orb, and running away from the giant pack only brought more Cows in. Getting the first foothold in the Cow Level was hard, but afterwards, it was mostly running around -> gathering enough Cows to make Static+Orb effective -> Static+Orb -> pick up chippies. It took ages to find the King's pen, but by then enough of the level was cleared that Marle could keep her distance and Static him from well outside his spark's path. He dropped Culwen's Point, which isn't entirely useless (+1 skills!), but would require shuffling around gear and giving up FCR+mana.

    Next up, Nightmare!
     
    Fruit likes this.
  20. Fruit

    Fruit IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2017
    Messages:
    418
    Likes Received:
    657
    Trophy Points:
    151
    Great write-up as always! Next up... be on the look-out for MSLE! :p
     

Share This Page