Ate Ate Ate Teen

Oof. I certainly did not follow through with my half-repurposing my blog to tackle more politically charged topics. In hindsight that may have been a good thing. I still have many opinions, but needless to say stewing in that shit would have been extremely unhealthy for me. Hell, I even took a 3 month hiatus from all social media and still haven’t consumed it the same since.

It has been just over 4 years now dealing with my degenerating nerve condition and things and things have only become more difficult. Not only in the physical but also the mental and emotional. Often I feel defeated by my condition which has led to me not pursuing seeking medical advice and exploration as I should be.

Why should I toss money down the drain when the medical world has no clue what is happening to me? Exploration and treatment is not cheap and I only fear that eventually I will be denied healthcare period for having a “pre-existing condition.”

What then?

Suffering. Essentially.

Perhaps subconsciously I’ve been avoiding medical help simply because I know that at some point my only options will either be alternative medicines which I have no faith in (have tried many options and nothing has helped in the least) or financially ruining my family.

It’s a source of much frustration for both myself and my wife. Would I love to have a higher quality-of-life? Of course, but it’s hard to properly convey just how exhausting being in constant nerve pain. I have my good days, but even those are often punctuated with acute flare-ups and that doesn’t even begin to speak to the mental exhaustion I routinely feel from rarely getting restful sleep.

It’s very distracting and consuming. Yet I would be doing myself a disservice if I did not acknowledge that by writing this blog entry that I’m exhibiting a desire to fight my condition; to not completely roll over and give up — though there has been plenty of that. Small victories, right?

I don’t mean to downplay it as I honestly hope to string enough productive days together to get things rolling back in the right direction. My life does not need to be defined by my growing disability. My life does not need to be …

But what do I do? Returning to art and design seems the most logical option even though I face challenges of feeling inadequate in that realm these days. Those challenges are not from a lack of ability or talent — certainly strong in both — it’s from the mental clarity and motivation that I struggle the most with.

How do you mentally psyche yourself up and steel your resolve to see a project through while exhausted from unending nerve distress? My hands have not been spared from my nerve degradation and that makes everything difficult. Which brings me back to seeking medical help and needing to feel confident that I can be helped.  How do I get that back?

Maybe I need to change my frame of reference and not expect myself to being capable of adhering to what I would previously consider a satisfactory timeline for projects. To just allow myself to make a small amount of progress on a project while physically able and mentally clear.

Will that be enough to sustain my motivation? Currently that answer is a resounding no given the past 4 years. Clinging to how things were prior to my nerve disease has kept me in this lurch and I need to let go of that. Only after allowing myself to do that will I be able to start to make progress towards leading a productive “new” life.

Let’s hope I can convince myself.

 

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Rebirth and Repurposing?

Goes without saying that I’m perpetually inconsistent when it comes to content creation — especially considering the continued degradation of my nervous system and subsequent increase in pain and exhaustion from said pain. This won’t change and likely never will. Regardless, I still need outlets for venting and/or sharing.

Thought about creating a new blog for my latest inspiration for blogging once more, but after a lengthy internal debate I decided that using this blog would be the best decision. This blog has never had an exclusive angle or theme to it outside of being my musings. That’s what I aim to continue; occasional musings as I see fit.

One small warning, however, my future posts will be influenced by politics. We live in strange times and ranting on Twitter has not been a sufficient outlet to share my views.

Tips for Early Seasonal Play

With season two being so short, there’s a decent chance that maybe you haven’t hit your personal goals for season two. Even if you consider yourself a “casual” Diablo player, if you’re participating in seasons, you more than likely have some goals. Be it as simple as hitting level 70 or maybe reaching Torment VI there are some tips I can share that will help you attain those goals a little more efficiently and painlessly.

Leveling Tips

  • You may be tempted to boost the difficulty setting as high as you can manage, but in all honesty the ideal setting is to stick to Hard. You’ll level faster when killing things in one or two hits.
  • But HARD? You start with ZERO gear! So as long as Adventure Mode is unlocked, start your seasonal character in Adventure mode and grab your followers weapon. It’s an easy and instant upgrade that should make Hard feel easy even without any gear at the outset.
  • Gem leveling is mostly a waste of effort early in the season as Marquise gems will start dropping when you hit level 61. BUT, they are a small increase while leveling up and thankfully upgrading low level gems is extremely cheap. Use rubies in your helm and weapon for the biggest impact while leveling up. If you’re going Hardcore for the first time ever, use amethysts in your chest/leg armor to give you a larger margin for error.
  • If you have a bunch of friends coming back for season three (and patch 2.2) grouping up and playing together will make the process faster and more enjoyable.
  • Use a two-handed weapon. No other combination will outshine a 2H while leveling. They will make all of your skills hit harder and decrease your resource consumption which will indirectly increase your killing efficiency. The only possible exception would be if you have an amazing build-changing/defining 1H legendary weapon/off-hand drop.
  • Speaking of legendary items, don’t be afraid to experiment and mix-up your build based off your luck with legendary drops. Leveling is a great time to try out those legendary items that don’t see a lot of play at the end-game.
  • If you’re doing bounties in Adventure mode to level to 70, save those Blood Shards. Ideally you want to have 500 by the time you hit 70.
  • Mix in a rift every now and then while leveling to break up the staleness of running bounties. Don’t be afraid to full-clear the rift either.

Level 70, now what?

  • First goal is to become Torment I viable which should be fairly easy to do if you have 500 blood shards at your disposal when you hit 70. Look at your gear and find the weakest piece of equipment you have that isn’t jewelry or a weapon. You don’t necessarily need to get a legendary to become T1 viable; rares are strong enough to get you running T1 quickly and efficiently.
  • Speaking of rares, you may want to consider sticking with rare-quality jewelry as you will be able to more easily attain sockets on them to stick legendary gems into.
  • To be T1 viable you’re going to want to attain at least 300k DPS and 4 million Toughness – though this is a more of a YMMV thing depending on the class/build and luck with legendary items.
  • Until you’re T1 viable, run rifts in Normal difficulty as there are no increases to legendary item drop rates until T2+. Also don’t exhaust your materials/gold on enchanting gear to get T1 viable. You’ll just be wasting materials on gear that you’re going to quickly replace.
  • When T1 is doable start running rifts until you get a Keystone of Trials from a rift guardian. Take that trial key to the Nephalem Obelisk and as soon as you’re in the Realm of Trials, town portal out. When the timer expires, you’ll be given a Greater Rift Keystone (1).
  • Start slow-rolling your greater rifts by clearing up to spawning the greater rift guardian. Leave the guardian alive and kicking until there is less than 4 minutes and 30 seconds remaining on the GR timer. Then choose to upgrade your keystone which will be +1 from the level you cleared.
  • Purpose of slow-rolling GRs is to quickly attain the majority of the legendary gems which will provide a decent power increase. You will also obtain a lot of legendary items and blood shards from the guardians themselves. Additionally you’ll be slowly increasing your blood shard cap if you’re running GRs solo (+10 cap per your personal best GR level).
  • While waiting for the timer to dip under 4m30s go run some bounties. Just be sure to pull up the map to portal back to town otherwise you will override your portal back to the open greater rift.
  • Running bounties for Act-specific Horadric cache legendary items is not a good time investment until you’re quickly running T4+. You’re better served running rifts for legendary gear to get you running higher Torment levels efficiently.
  • Don’t forget to spend those blood shards at Kadala in hopes of getting set items. With patch 2.2 many sets have had their set bonuses adjusted to make even running 2/4 piece worth it.
  • Crafted set items can also be worth it, especially since they always have a 10% chance to roll Ancient, but given their high material cost, you may want to hold off on going crafting-crazy ^^.
  • Level your legendary gems. While you may not be able to get them to rank 25 early in the season, the incremental bonuses will help you on your journey to T6 (roughly equivalent to GR25).

With these handy tips you should be finding your journey to T6 (and beyond) a little quicker and at the very least less painful. May RNGesus bless you and your season 3 characters.

Things to Do

Season Two is winding down (much, much sooner than I expected) and there’s still a few things I have put off that I want to do and/or need to do to prep for the season roll-over. Namely I’ve been occasionally been attempting the Avaritia conquest (50 million gold streak outside of the Vault) and I still haven’t cleared the campaign in S2 to cheese those seasonal cheevo points.

I finally got the last of the seasonal monster slaying achievements (Act III Blood Moon clan) which was surprisingly more annoying than any of the others. All of the other acts I achieved quickly and easily through rifts, but for some reason RNG did not give me a glut of Blood Moon clan monsters in an Act III tileset to progress the achievement. But it is done.

I’m also nearing Paragon 500 (I should have it today, if I can pull myself away from Heroes of the Storm) but my dream of clearing a GR40 is going to have to remain a dream and carry over to S3. May also have to carry over the dream of getting that damned gold conquest, because … well it’s frustrating and I’m not sure that I’m glad to see it come back for S3. BUT I am glad to see difficult conquests that truly are achievements. Which reminds me, have you seen the other S3 conquests? OIDS.

All that is left is to prep for the roll-over by going through and salvaging what I truly don’t need to keep and creating another S2HC character to act as a vessel for carrying all of my (legendary) gems, materials, and miscellaneous gear that won’t fit on my other S2HC characters.

Sure, I could rely on the mailbox for the item roll-over, but I don’t want to. It’s clunky and I’d rather just quickly go through a dedicated item-mule character’s bag to transfer my seasonal items to non-season. It was an idea that served me well when S1 ended, and I would highly suggest it to everyone participating in S2.

Welp. Off to speed-run through the campaign … I think. BUT DAT STIMPACK IN HEROES …

A Weird Place

It happened. I rolled a seasonal hardcore monk and leveled him to 70 in less than two hours. Yet for some reason I am feeling largely disconnected from him. Maybe power-leveling a character isn’t a good idea for me … at least when I don’t already have tons of back-up hand-me-down gear waiting for them.

Sure, when my monk hit 70 I decked him out with tons of crafted gear … but he’s still in a weird place where I haven’t found a build that works for me with what he has. He can handle Torment 4 and even Torment 5, but his kill-speed is all over the place and really only feels fast at Torment 3. Buuuut I don’t want to farm for gear at T3 when I’ve been farming T6 for over a month now with my wizard(s). Then there’s the issue of leveling legendary gems. This is something I neglected to do prior to my main wizard dying.

FOLKS, take my advice: level up some back-up gems prior to pushing higher level Greater Rifts.

If you don’t know what I mean by that, or how to obtain back-up gems. All you need to do is move your high level legendary gems to another character and then complete a few low level GRs to acquire duplicate (but non-leveled rank 0) gems. When you have them you can then more your leveled gems back to your main character.

Just make sure to level up the duplicates to at least rank 25 to minimize the impact of losing your main … if you’re playing Hardcore, of course.

Anyhoo, I’m in a weird place with my Season 2 progression. I’ve more or less resigned myself to using my back-up wizard for farming xp/gold/mats/etc and I’m wanting to shift my focus and attention to my monk. Yet, without spending much time with him and not having any monk-specific gear to put together a build around I feel like he’s in a weird limbo.

Slowly things are coming together, but it doesn’t feel organic. I’m farming up blood-shards for my monk to spend at Kadala and leveling gems for my monk with my wizard … and it doesn’t feel right. This is probably another reason why I advocate for slow-leveling a Hardcore character. That attachment isn’t there when you don’t do that … and/or don’t have build-defining gear awaiting them at the promised land of level 70.

Even more interesting and/or weird is my initial plans to play as a barbarian in season 3 is shifting. I am actually thinking of going wizard in season 3. Why? BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE TO PLAY AS A FLIPPING CHICKEN WITH ITS HEAD CUT OFF.

*Ahem*

Sorry. I am just not a fan of the Firebird’s playstyle when it comes to high-level GRs. And with all the reports of how fun Tal Rasha’s is from the PTR … yaaaaaaah, I think I will. PLUS, there’s this little nagging issue with how it seems like EVERYONE is going barb in S3.

Call me a trend-bucker, it’s fine. I tend to not want to play the flavor-of-the-month which is why and how I initially fell so deeply in love with the monk prior to Reaper of Souls which then became reaffirmed with patch 2.1.2 and the changes to Sunwoko’s.

Now I just need a flipping Torch to drop for my monk … especially after having TWO Ronald McDonald Happy Meals (Ramaladni’s Gift) drop for me last night while leveling gems. Yup, I’m lovin’ it … ?

Shout out to my good friend Leviathan (@sastewart111) of Blizzpro fame and co-host of The Westmarch Workshop for planting the Happy Meal seed in my brain. 

Fearing the Sentry

There was a time where playing Hardcore (that’s with a capital H folks) was the opposite of what I wanted in Diablo III. Then it was a side-project, and then a distraction from the early days of farming for a Ring of Royal Grandeur. Now Hardcore is my main-stay. Have I gone HC-exclusive? Maybe. HC-elitist? Definitely not.

Both modes suit different needs and wants, I bear no ill-will towards those that prefer not losing nearly everything with a character’s death. It’s just that there’s something to be said for risking everything, or at the very least a substantial setback to progression. Mind you, I’m not talking about the progression from Normal to Torment VI, rather the progression of chasing those seasonal leaderboards.

Quick caveat: I’m about to sound rather elitist on the SC vs HC “debate” but coming off as pompous is not what is intended.

You see, climbing the leaderboards in Hardcore has inherent risk because you’re pushing yourself to the limits at the risk of losing all that gear you’ve accumulated and the gems that you’ve spent countless (T6+) greater rifts running to rank up. There’s no complaining about the resurrection timer … if you die, you die. That’s it. Finito.

That’s where I found myself yesterday. There I was with two GR39 keys sitting in my inventory and in danger of falling out of the Top 100 on the Season Two Hardcore (solo) Wizard leaderboards. While I wouldn’t say I was actively chasing to get in to the top 50/25/10 on the boards, I did want to at least maintain a top 100 position until closer to the end of season two.

Up to this point my wizard had run at least 5 GR40s – all unsuccessful – and needing to complete a GR40 to remain in the top 100 was staring me in the face. One of those unsuccessful clears was by a mere 2 or 3 seconds so I felt confident that given the right density of safe mobs and some luck with getting Stonesinger I could easily complete a GR40. My reward? A few more days of relaxing T6 farming before needing to push once more.

At least that was the idea.

Of the two GR39 keys my first ended up being a hellish GR filled with winged assassins, exarchs, anarchs, and oh yah, some corrupted angels as well. Frustrated I slogged my way through to an unsuccessful clear. While unable to upgrade to a GR40 key, I did manage some luck with 2/3 gem upgrades, so at least all was not lost.

Then came my second GR39. Didn’t think too much of it at first despite being a lucky guy with the Act III Ice cavern tileset. Almost immediately I fell behind the timer with my first pack being wasps that were nightmarish, illusionist, arcane enchanted and something else I didn’t catch. After a quick UA proc from TWO arcane sentries being dropped at my feet and then a fear into another sentry my Firebird proc things got real, real quick.

I wasn’t too worried since the elite’s buddies were dead and the elite, itself, appeared to not be too far behind. So on I went since with the Firebird playstyle you’re always wanting to be moving forward (when safe) and with both of my safety nets depleted I needed to create some distance for safety’s sake.

Well, I made a wrong turn and ended up going down a dead end path which forced me to turn around, back into the loving arms of the nearly dead elite wasp. Oh, did I mention there were phase beasts? Well there were, and when I returned to the fork in the cave my wizard was once again feared straight into the cavern wall where a lovely arcane sentry dropped.

RIP-Azula-S2HCwizardRIP. Your Deeds of Valor Shall Be Remembered. And thus ended my hopes of retaining a Top 100 spot.

This one stung; still stings actually. Not only did I lose a wizard I’ve invested 162 hours into, but I lost 3 gems that were all rank 40+ … oh and an ancient 4372dps Furnace that I spent 200 million gold on trying to get +10% Damage.

S2HC-AncientFurnaceYeah, you might say I was a little salty … okay, okay … VERY SALTY over this one.

Sure I already had a backup wizard capable of farming T6, but I think the salt came more from the playstyle of Firebirds; it’s not one that I enjoy when pushing the limits. It lacks large consistent chunks of damage that I looooooooooooved with my Holy Bell Monk. Everything was setup for running around like a chicken trying to keep everything burning and dying over time.

It was also nearly impossible to gear for toughness as you more or less were forced to rely on your two safety-nets to get you through. No, you needed a metric ton of damage since the entire build is so heavily DoT-based. I was running with just shy of 12 million toughness (relying on Energy Armor – Force Armor), but somewhere in the range of 3.7-4.3 million fire/elite DPS.

AND YET IT STILL FELT EXCRUCIATINGLY SLOW.

Now okay, let’s pull in some perspective; it would take my S1 monk a good chunk of time to kill a guardian, but he had the virtue of substantially more toughness but still deal really hard-hitting attacks.

After my wizard died the thought of rolling a monk crept in … and I’m still thinking about it. I made the decision to go wizard in S2, but with all of the upcoming changes in 2.2 maybe I should have waited until S3. Don’t worry, I haven’t completely sworn off the wizard yet, but I’m at a point where trying to chase the leaderboard with that playstyle is so unattractive that I think I’ll just relax for the remainder of S2 farming XP and gold … and maybe roll a monk, Hardcore of course 🙂

Reaping Chronicles

I know. I get it. I’m a horrible blogger. It has been difficult to sort out the time to set aside to blog when there are so many other things calling out for my attention. Well, that, and possibly allowing Diablo III to suck away any free time that I do have where I could be sharing here. If anything, you could probably say that Diablo III is in an amazing place if I’m not blogging about it. YAH, let’s go with that.

As I sit here typing these words I can hear Diablo playing in the exact same room. No, I’m not hearing things. It is actually being played, and not by me. I’m serious, it really isn’t me playing … it’s my daughter.

Her dive into the Diablo universe has been short so far but with the release of Reaper of Souls her interest in picking up the Xbox 360 version (her first taste of demon-slaying and looting addiction) has hit an all-time high. I just can’t. I just can’t go back to the old version of Diablo III, not when Reaper of Souls is here and available to play.

So as I sit here, my daughter sits at my desk playing on my computer with my Reaper of Souls. She loves the wizard the most. I’m a proud daddy.

So anyhoo, a thought had crossed my mind just the other day on how I could make some sort of amends for my consistent neglect of my blog: why not chronicle the builds I have been trying based upon the items I find in this post-RoS Diablo world we all live in?

Sounds great, right? RIGHT!

There’s only one problem, I haven’t quite figured out how to go about chronicling these builds just yet. At least, not how to best format them, but that’s never stopped me before, so let’s just dive in.

Prior to the closure on the Reaper of Souls closed beta my wizard hadn’t really found anything incredibly spectacular and “build-changing” but I had more or less decided going into RoS that I would run with a ranged “machine-gun” build making heavy use of Electrocute (Lightning blast), Familiar (Cannoner), and Arcane Orb (Frozen Orb) to provide some heavy artillery and a modicum of crowd snaring.

This worked fairly well and with a healthy amount of All Resist my level 70 RoS-beta wizard was cruising through Torment II with approximately 700k DPS and 13mil toughness. I liked it,  a lot actually and I did enjoy using this build up until Blizzard nerfed the heck out of my Familiar’s (Cannoner) rate of fire.

After the nerf to my familiar I decided to shift away from that build and see if I couldn’t find another build to suit my fancy. Enter my hardcore wizard who I got back up to promised land of 60 prior to RoS’ release.

With the acquisition of a Wormwood staff I decided that with the resource cost reduction that I would stack that along with as much as arcane regeneration as possible and go with a signature-spell free wizard build. It worked and was quite a lot of fun, but ultimately didn’t quite tickle my fancy.

Then a Moonlight Ward dropped … and I got a crazy idea … let’s build a “swirl to win” wizard.

What’s that? Well Moonlight Ward has a chance to produce four moonlight shards that will rotate around your character and explode on contact with an enemy. Combine that with Arcane Orb (Arcane Orbit) for extra swirling ‘splodey bits and you have the basis for the build.

There are a couple of variations based on personal preference and gear that you have, but should you ever obtain the Warzechian Armguards the build becomes an absolute … wait for it … BLAST! when coupled with Ice Armor (Frozen Storm). Running like a bat straight outta hell wrecking everything in the environment while ‘sploding the meanies dumb enough to attack you is just tooooooo much fun (and well … *cough* maybe a lil dangerous for a hardcore character 🙂

But let’s get back to my softcore progression in Reaper.

I did attempt a similar build with my main wizard as I was fortunate enough to have a Moonlight Ward drop in softcore as well but without the Warzechian Armguards to pull it together I decided to go a different direction. Instead of using Electrocute (Arc Lightning) as my main attack I decided to see if I could once again go signature-free and pull every idea I’ve tried up to this point together into a singular build.

While I don’t have quite enough resource cost reduction to truly cast Disintegrate (Entropy) indefinitely I do have enough between the 5% from my shoulders and 8% from Paragon point bonuses along with Storm Armor (Power of the Storm) to allow my arcane regeneration from the passive Astral Presence and my 3 APoC from my source to offset enough the cost to where I can sit and channel Disintegrate for a long time.

I do have other options to improve my channeling time if need be. When running solo I’ve adopted to using the Templar for his “Inspiration” and when in a multiplayer game if I’m having issues with resources I can always switch my Familiar from the raw damage output of Sparkflint to arcane regeneration of Arcanot. If even that isn’t sufficient I can further extend my endurance with swapping out the rune of Magic Weapon from Force Weapon to Conduit.

Love this build. It’s so much fun to play.

Rounding everything out is the Audacity passive for more damage, Blur since you have to get up in the demon’s grills to deal your damage and Evocation for shortening the cool downs of my “I WIN!” button Archon and the greatest addition to the Wizard’s repertoire, Black Hole.

Gearing improvements are still plentiful as my wizard is still primarily in rares, but I am hoping to add some pieces of cool down reduction to help with up-time of my Black Hole (Spellsteal) buff.  Some +Arcane damage would be much appreciated as well, but for the time being I am quite happy with my wizard’s 650k’sh damage (depending on whether or not I’m using my +Attack Speed gloves) and 7.6mil toughness.

Torment I is pretty much a face roll for me though my All Resists could use to be a bit higher (lowest is around 1500) before jumping into Torment II full time. I’m in no hurry to run Torment VI, though I would love to really boost my XP/hr and climb the paragon levels (currently sitting at paragon 193). Some day, some daaaaay …