Approaching 60

Now before you jump to any conclusions I am most definitely not approaching the age of 60. Nor am I implying that I’m leveling yet another wizard that is approaching level 60 in Diablo 3. Well … I do have my hardcore wizard but she’s only level 34, hardly worth mentioning in terms of approaching the level cap.

What are you implying then?

My main wizard, Malnevicent, is sitting at paragon level 59 and is maybe four or five Act III farming runs away from having a new portrait embellishment. To put this is perspective of the whole paragon level grind, once she hits PL60 that is only 28.52% of the total experience required to reach the end, paragon level 100. Another interesting factoid is that leveling from PL90 to PL100 requires slightly less experience that it took from PL1 to PL60. If you want the exact percentage of the whole PL90 to PL100 is 27.13% of the total experience required.

So yah, still a ton of work to do to get to the fabled PL100 for my wizard. Will I make it? I’m sure somewhere down the road I will, but considering that the paragon leveling system has been around for just over 6 months it will be quite awhile before I’m scratching at that last “quarter” of the pie.

What about the monster power bonus xp buffs that came in 1.0.7?

You’re right. The buff that monster power bonus xp received in the latest patch was massively appreciated. I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my farming runs at MP3 which is a large part of how quickly I’ve been grinding through the 50s with my wizard. My wizard can handle MP4, but the decrease in killing speed and increased chances of a time-consuming death make MP3 a better fit. Granted my wizard still occasionally dies when cornered or the stars align or I’m not paying attention to what’s going on.

Then there’s the fact that I’m still picking up rares, gems, tomes and health potions. So you could say that my time isn’t quite as efficient as it could be while grinding xp, but what’s the rush? Also what good would it be to wait until PL100 before attempting to farm for great items? Sure, 99.9% of what drops is pure garbage but if I didn’t pick anything up and identify it, I might be missing out on that 0.1% item that dropped that could be worth millions of gold.

That being said, I haven’t had much luck with the RNG demon and 95% of the legendaries that have been dropping for me have been salvaged into fiery brimstones. Even more disheartening is the fact that I seem to be cursed with tons of Hellracks dropping, a completely worthless 2H crossbow. Where’s my Manticore? Witching Hour?

If the drops are as abysmal as you say, why are you still playing?

It might seem foolish that I continue to farm hoping for that amazing piece of loot to drop, but I don’t necessarily play for that reason. Sure, it’s a huge motivating factor as that next demon could drop a well-rolled Echoing Fury, or Mempo of Twilight, or … well you get the idea … but I continue to play because the game is FUN.

Even better is when my game time lines up with my good friends of the Shattered Soulstone community and we do fun things like full act clears, or Uber runs, or just shoot the shit on mumble, or play a game of “OH LOOK! DEATH WATCH MANTLES!”

While Diablo is, and always be, all about the loot it is also all about having fun. Fun with friends, fun with wacky builds, fun with commiserating with others about your horrible luck with RNG. As long as Diablo 3 remains fun, I shall play it and given that I’m now over 800+ hours invested, I doubt that the day I stop will be anytime soon. Besides, there’s always Maghda … alwayssssssss …

Getting Closer

There seems to be a growing trend with the soul-sucking symbiotic relationship I have with Diablo 3: every time something fantastic happens, something else happens to pull me closer to the breaking point. If it weren’t for the carrot dangled in front of my face and how incredibly addictive the actual gameplay is I might be inclined to shelve D3 until some actual content updates start happening.

Whoa. Even the great Diablo proponent, Nevik, is reaching his last straw?

To a certain extent yes, I am. Progression in Inferno is becoming less and less desirable. Between the sky-rocketing inflation on the GAH and abysmal randomness of loot, finding decent upgrades is excruciatingly painful. Yesterday I was searching for a halfway decent shield for my melee wizard with critical chance, intelligence and either vitality or all resist (though I’d prefer to have all four but you can only select up to three criteria when browsing the AH, making that a chore in-of-itself) and the only shields I could afford with my pitiful 3 million gold were downgrades from what I already had.

So either I need to get extremely lucky with the loot drops or buy to win now that gold can be bought and sold on the RMAH. Oids.

To be fair, I have found a couple of small upgrades while farming, but they haven’t been particularly amazing. It is really frustrating to finish a Butcher run in which you have multiple iLvl 63s drop and ALL of them are junk. There’s just too much randomness with the behind-the-scene rolls when items drop to which the highest iLvl items can be completely worthless (iLvl socketed rings with no stats, I’m looking at you).

That’s another problem with finding the motivation to progress beyond Act I Inferno, sure I could shoot for it to have better chances of having higher iLvl gear drop, but for what? To have complete junk drop one after another after dying many more times than I would in Act I? Why would I bother with the repair costs and stress of dealing with Act III and IV champion/elites that are downright unfair?

Standing in the bad without a care …

I mean, sure, I do want to continue to progress and complete Inferno in its entirety just so that I can say that I did it, but what after that? Unless I can completely trivialize Acts III and IV there’s little in it that I couldn’t potentially get out of Act I for far less effort. With the adjustments I’ve made to my melee wizard build I finally have Act I Inferno on farm status. That is to say that other than the occasional death from really nasty affix combinations on champion/elite packs I breeze through my farming runs.

Act I Inferno no longer holds any challenge for my melee wizard. However, conversely, Act II still punches me in the face and then kicks me in the groin while on the ground. My melee wizard’s gear still isn’t good enough to safely — well maybe safely isn’t the appropriate word — comfortably progress through Act II. Between all of the wasps and the increased damage and health pools of the mobs Act II is still very un-fun.

If it weren’t for the fact that I’m completely in love with the playstyle of the melee wizard I’m not sure I could say that I would still be playing Diablo 3. That’s saying a lot coming from me; I routinely state that D3 has consumed my soul and to be this disenfranchised is worrisome. Now don’t fret, it’s still not my time to pull the plug on the game. Diablo 2 experienced similar itemization problems (remember how lances wouldn’t drop AT ALL for the longest time?) and D3 is still very young in terms of design iteration.

I still have plenty of faith that Blizzard will address the issues at hand and turn D3 into an amazing soul-sucking product beyond what it has already accomplished. We will just have to give it time (and hopefully the AH market will settle down by then) which is extremely easy to do considering there’s no monthly subscription involved. IF I do get to the point where I’ve had enough I can take a break and come back to the game later down the road.

And that rocks, period.

Switching Things Up

This could be a post about the Magic Find Blog debacle, but for right now I’m tired QQ’ng with design decisions; I’ll save that QQ for another day. I’m still enjoying the game quite a bit despite my lack of progress beyond Act II Inferno. Instead of spewing QQ today I will share just how close I came to shelving my wizard in favor of farming with my barb.

Wait. Wait. WHAT? You didn’t … no way … no how … did you just say what I think you just said.

I know what you’re thinking, “how on Earth is that even a remote possibility?” and to be honest I was quite shocked myself but it did almost happen. How? Well that’s actually surprisingly easy to answer. Simply put Wrath of the Berserker is so incredibly OP that it made killing champion/elite packs easy — way too easy. If I had bothered to buy/keep a MF set for my barb it could have meant the end for my wizard, but thankfully for my wizard, my MF gear had INT on it.

Part of the hang up I was having on my wizard was that while most of Act I Inferno was trivial, champion/elite packs still could prove to be very troublesome. Her damage output was decent enough but not quite high enough to forsake survival gear to stack MF. This meant going with a mix of MF, DPS, and survival gear which wasn’t ideal for farming purposes. I had two options, either invest in obtaining better farming gear or switch up my wizard’s build to better use what I already had.

Considering the lack of movement on the AH front I haven’t had much in terms of gold to invest so unfortunately that meant changing up my preferred build. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do as it’s an absolute ton of fun to get up in grills and shred them to pieces with sleet storm, but in using it I locked myself in place. Then there’s also the issue of how resource intensive sleet storm is; just a few seconds of sleet storm would deplete my arcane power.

Shreddin’ Grills Yo …

Mobility is the name of the game in Inferno even if sleet storm dealt great damage and crit frequently. My wizard’s gear wasn’t quite where it needed to be (namely resistances) in order to stand in the bad and keep diamond skin up for longer than a second or two. It also did not have enough AP on crit to sustain sleet storm when I needed it to keep frost nova and diamond skin off of cool down. Between those two issues it was becoming increasingly difficult to justify not making the change, so change I did.

I’ve read on numerous forum threads that meteor (star pact) was great for a melee wizard, but I have had already tried that out and didn’t much like the feel of using meteor. It could have just been my inability to keep track of my cursor on screen or the heavy resource cost of meteor (even with star pact) as I would inevitably have to chain cast meteor to keep enemies in the AoE left on the ground. Overall it just felt awkward so I needed another option.

Another option I’ve seen out there was using explosive blast (chain reaction) and/or wave of force (forceful wave) which sounded great as they both allowed for mobility without worrying about cursor positioning. Of course by taking both abilities I would have to drop something my old build which wound up being magic weapon. Damage wasn’t quite my problem so I could afford to drop some in favor of mobility and survivability.

Yet I didn’t need to permanently drop the 15% damage buff from magic weapon since I could get it elsewhere by switching the rune on my frost nova to bone chill. Sure, it wasn’t an always active damage buff, but I didn’t really need to keep my frost nova runed with cold snap since with enough crit, that rune would be more or less worthless — or at least overkill.

Another change I made was switching out my beloved ice armor (frozen storm) in favor of energy armor (prismatic armor) to drastically improve my wizard’s chances of survival by further increasing the effectiveness of diamond skin. Taking less damage overall makes diamond skin last longer, increasing my effective health. In the future as I pick up some better resistance gear I might toy around with the idea of bringing back the frozen storm, but for now better armor and resistances is in my best interest.

My current build now looks like this. One thing I didn’t mention previously is my swapping of the passive galvanizing ward for evocation. Galvanizing ward wasn’t really doing anything for me other than the passive life regen which, to be honest, wasn’t helping much at all. If my wizard was taking damage after diamond skin falling off the regen was easily outclassed by my Life on Hit (LoH). Besides, my wizard’s health pool is nearing 40k so sadly the regen from galvanizing ward was barely noticeable.

But why evocation? Shouldn’t critical mass be enough?

One problem I’ve noticed with explosive blast and wave of force is that I’m now heavily reliant on using spectral blades to trigger critical mass which means standing in place. As previously stated there are times where my wizard needs to move and therefore can’t spam spectral blades to help pull my abilities off of cool down. Evocation helps a little, but I think I’m going to need to tinker around a little bit more to find something that I can use to reliably give me crits while retaining my mobility. That’s where energy twister (wicked wind) comes in.

Wait. Energy twister? Really? REALLY? Isn’t that ability pure garbage?

That’s what I thought too, but reports from the forums indicate that energy twister runed with wicked wind is fantastic for not only critical mass procs but LoH as well. I’ve even heard that there are melee wizards out there with enough LoH and resistances that can stand in the bad while energy twister keeps diamond skin off of cool down while funneling life back. There’s only one thing about it that I might have an issue with, it once again relies on positioning to be effective.

If it works out and I’m able to put the gear together I’d eventually like to try out this crazy build. My wizard’s gear is definitely not yet there to make that build work, but it does seem completely plausible. Until then I will probably just go with this build while farming though I might rune energy armor with pinpoint barrier and see if that’s enough to drop evocation.

Time will tell, but I’ll be sure to report my findings and experiences, soon’sh.

Like I Needed Another Distraction

So besides the infuriating distraction that was my short stint in the Final Fantasy XIV open beta, I have another little project that will take time away from my rogue leveling project. Wait, did I have a rogue leveling project? What are rogues? Where am I? Er … somebody slap me!

I bet you’re wondering what this all new distraction may be that is taking precious time away from my dear adolescent rogues. Well, I’ll tell you … if I must. I’m now semi-focused on running my death knight through Zul’Gurub to High Priest Thekal for the off chance that he drops the Swift Zulian Tiger. Fat chance, I know, but with the removal of ZG as a raid I’m compelled to at least give it a shot.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Acherus Deathcharger but I think it would grrrrrrrrreat to ride around on Tony the Tiger. I mean, how awesome would it be to see a death knight on a tiger? Awesome, right? I thought so.

So why not my troll rogue? Besides the fact that it would be a lot harder for my rogue to solo the event, I’m okay with not getting the mount on my rogue. The tiger is a sub-1% drop anyhow so the chances of getting it to drop wouldn’t be worth it since he’d likely have to duo Thekal. My rogue already has plenty of mounts at his disposal, and I prefer running around on the brewfest ram or war kodo anyways.

Anyhoo, solo’ng the event with my death knight wasn’t hard once I got the hang of it. Setting a focus on the shaman in the group is a must so you can interrupt the heals and then just spread your damage as evenly as possible. While I do have a frost build for my DK, I’ve preferred running him in my blood DPS spec just for the sustained self-healing the spec has. Having dancing rune weapon is also very handy for when Thekal enrages and calls his guardians in phase 2.

So far I’ve run ZG four times without a drop and can probably expect many many more runs without the devil’s luck. I just hope I get it before Cataclysm in case the mount is removed.

Wait … 2 in a row?

I’ll preface this entry by giving a fair bit of warning on my mental state; I am exhausted. If I end up rambling, please excuse me and I’ll hope for the best. Anyways, I think I’ll geek-out and try to update my WoW hijinks.

With 1.11 around the corner I finally provided my rogue (he’s the leatherworker) with a salt shaker so that I may partake in the fleecing of those needing cured rugged hides for their tier 3 sets. My best friend was able to sell a stack for 149g so it should be pretty profitable before EVERYONE starts pumping out the hides. I mean, there’s only going to be a small population that will actually be ready to get tier 3, so the bottom of the market could fall out very quickly.

But either way this preperation has caused me to pick up skinning again on my rogue as my druid won’t be 60 anytime soon. Once my rogue was a 300 skinner, but when I decided to start farming BRD for DI ore I dropped skinning in favor of mining. Now that months have gone by without my running BRD and having horrible luck with obtaining arcane crystals, I’ve decided to go back to skinning, at least temporarily.

Potentially the only game to shake my WoW addiction?

My longterm plan is to drop skinning (again) for jewelcrafting once the expansion hits later this year. Although this is all hinging on whether or not Phantasy Star Universe completely usurps WoW as my gaming addiction. I’m hoping I’ll be able to give both their due time, but let’s be real. PSO decimated the time I spent with other games and considering how much Sega improved on that formula … well let’s just say that it will enter my hall-of-fame (or infamy to the wife ^^) of gaming addictions.

But let’s get back to WoW for now. As I previously stated I’m in the process of leveling up a druid for skinning and mining. At first playing a druid felt like weaker shaman, but once I hit 20 and was able to shift into catform I have completely fallen in love with the class. Druid is a schmorgesborgh (sp?) of class-types: rogue, warrior, priest, magician. They’re a blast to play and I am looking forward to being able to solo mobs that my rogue could never hope to.

My brother-in-law doing his thing … Slow shutter speeds kickass

Okay, I think I’ve geeked out enough for this entry. Now onto something else that I’m really looking forward to. My brother-in-law is the drummer for a band called Soul Census and they’re playing at a local lounge/bar. I absolutely love these guys and am hoping that sometime in the near future they get some more studio time and lay down some more tracks. If you’ve heard Incubus’ older stuff and like it I think you’ll dig them.

Well look at that, it seems so far I’ve been able to remain coherent, but I can feel the exhaustion creeping back. So before my entry does dribble into a mess I’ll wrap it up with a couple random thoughts …

  • I really need to get a new car.
  • My daughter is on the verge of walking.
  • 6 year wedding anniversary is coming up.
  • Also coming up on my last year of my twenties.
  • Need to hop on Xbox Live and play some Halo 2.