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[Guide] Ramblings of a madman - how to reach level 99 fast

Discussion in 'Theorycrafting and Statistics' started by Corrupted, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. Corrupted

    Corrupted IncGamers Member

    Jul 14, 2004
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    In spite of not having played the game for a year and a half I still find myself thinking and theorycrafting every now and then. After playing the game in so many different ways and completed so many "feats" over the years there's only a few aspects of the game that still motivates me. I write this thread to get it out of my head and make it available for others should anyone want to pursue this goal one day in our dear old game. These are my notes on the strategies and ideas involved in reaching level 99 as fast as possible in a "feasible" (hardcore mode) no-trade/untwinked multiplayer setting (a ladder reset/race if you will). I will skip over a number of aspects and concepts as I don't intend to write something elaborate and complete for an old game that has already been explored.

    In 2011 members of a German D2 community site came up with such a strategy for softcore; they theorized that it would be possible to hit 99 in less than a week after a ladder reset. To complete that feat they would need a large group of experienced D2 players however - partially because of the cd-key/games per hour restriction on They managed to reach level 98 in just under a week but decided to abort the attempt as they did not have enough players and the players they did had did not have enough experience in performing Baal runs - a topic that was not covered in their plan;ächste-ladder!
    While not a record attempt I managed to hit 99 in just 29 days after ladder reset that very season under the same premise - only it was on hardcore and with much fewer players:
    There was a lot of room for improvement in that attempt other than just having more players/playing more hours per day as the emphasis wasn't on setting a record.

    Starting from scratch
    So here goes my thoughts and ideas on a better approach:

    The first thing to consider is the initial party composition - the balance to find here is having a group that can complete the game as fast as possible while also being capable of performing very fast Baal-runs afterwards. The ideal group is one of each class with an additional sorceress:
    Sorceress (Blizzard) - Main character, the most suited candidate for reaching 99 quickly
    Amazon (Lightning Fury) - Clears throne and kills Baal very fast
    Necromancer (Corpse Explosion, Lower Resist) - Crowd control and LR+CE for fast clears.
    Paladin (Conviction, Salvation, Vigor) - Conviction for fast clears, Salvation for dangerous spawns.
    Sorceress (Fireball) - Primary teleporter, fast throne room cleaner
    Assassin (Traps) - Makes normal difficulty much faster, can be used as a filler/secondary char later on.
    Druid (Oak Sage, Shockwave) - CC and extra HP for dangerous spawns - becomes obsolete as soon as the party has gained enough levels/equipment to be comfortable without oak and should be replaced by a Sorceress.
    Barbarian (Battle Orders, Shout) - Cheaper and better than the Call to Arms runeword ;)

    I will not go into the aspect of speedrunning through the game; you can learn about this from watching the VODs of the german 8-player speedrunning team.

    The main character should leech the baal quest on nightmare from town to preserve the ancient quest for level 98 - additional leveling before entering hell may be done in the cow level. When going into hell difficulty all characters should have max or near-max fire+lightning resistance so the Paladin can use Conviction as much as possible. Ancient's Pledge, Ral/Ort in helm/armor and shopping gloves/belt/boots at NM Gheed should have you covered in a short time.
    Hell Chaos Sanctuary is where things start off; Act 5 hell is a very dangerous place with the types of random monster configurations possible there so for HC it is better to run CS until level 80-85 when characters should be more comfortably equipped.
    To make CS/Baal runs quick and safe its important for everyone to keep in mind the important tasks and sequences; as soon as the teleporter puts up a TP the druid and necromancer should enter with their summons and CC skills to make it secure - after that everyone else can follow. To maximize the drops the amazon should wear as much MF as possible without losing too much res and keep the Diablo quest (and later Baal) open to utilize the quest drop bonus.
    Since all equipment has to come from the CS and Baal runs it is necessary to give prioritize the core chars first: The teleporter has top priority on anything that helps her speed and survivability. The javazon should get all mf and res equipment that can be spared. Once those two are covered the main sorceress takes priority. Although a core character the needs of the necromancer are very few as his damage output doesn't increase significantly with better equipment. An early Spirit weapon will help him spam the CE though.
    As soon as the main characters are adequate the barbarian, druid and assassin can be left out as fillers or replaced by new Sorcs that can perform more supportive roles and find items on their own. Ideally the Paladin and fire Sorceress leave the party during the waves as the Paladin is not actively clearing things and the fire Sorceress only needs to cast Static Field (if the main Sorc has an experience shrine). At this point the main character is only sharing experience with two other characters which will rapidly increase her levels.
    As soon as Lister's pack spawns the teleporting sorceress and barb should start the next game: it is crucial that the throne is reached before the remaining characters enter the game so the throne room is easy to clean due to the substantially lower HP of monsters. For this to work the teleporting sorceress' has the highest priority in mercenary equipment initially as she has to hold her own in the throne until the others are ready to join her. The "fillers" should leave during or after Lister so Baal is only spawned with 4 chars ingame to lower his HP as the exp he provides is not relevant until level 94-95. In the following run it is vital that the druid is first to enter the throne TP followed by the barb and necro to avoid RIPs.
    When the Paladin is sufficiently equipped it can be used as a filler/NPC - further reducing the amount of players necessary for baal-running down to only 4 each controlling an additional char with multi client; Main sorc (extra sorc/filler), Javazon (Conv Pala), Necro (BO Barb), Tele sorc (extra sorc/filler). If the Paladin is no longer controlled by its own player the necro should carry a Harmony bow on swap to provide Vigor Aura for the Javazon when shes entering the Worldstone Chamber. From level 94 onwards the Sorceress and Javazon should be the only ones in party for the Baal kill to maximize exp gain.
    This approach will allow you to reach level 97 rapidly with as few as 3-4 actual players.
    After level 97 is reached on the main character its time to include Chaos Sanctuary in the runs again as the exp Diablo provides is a now a primary component in fast progress. This is also the time to perhaps review the drops/equipment so far; clearing CS fast without slowing down the Throne requires either two additional players (Blizz Sorceress+Hammerdin) or one player with Enigma (Hammerdin, Berserker barb). If the runes for Enigma haven't been found and having two additional players for clearing CS is not an option then it is perhaps time to take a break from running Baal and search out the runes; Cow runs and Lower Kurast in 8p games and/or Travincal in 1p/3p games are generally the best options.
    If the main sorceress is adequately equipped and not using experience shrines she can also start doing Nihlathak when possible. To lose out on as little exp as possible she should be solo killing Diablo during the Hydra portion of the 3rd wave.
    For level 98-99 there are several approaches worth considering depending on the conditions (amount of players, char equipment, games/hour restrictions, availability of Uber bosses). The important thing on this level is that the exp coming from the Throne waves is now almost negligible to the main character so having additional players/characters in the throne party is no longer a hindrance.
    Following this approach I believe it is possible to go from scratch to 99 in <200 hours of gameplay with just 4-5 core players.

    I purposely haven't covered character skill builds/equipment choices and little details/deviations in strategy as my intent is not to make this accessible to novice D2 players but rather just getting the main aspects on "paper" for now - hence the formatting and structure/grammar is a bit all over the place. I may review and edit later with relevant input.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2015

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