Your Deeds Shall be Remembered

It has finally happened. I’m not talking about my returning to this blog after another notch on the bedpost known as Nevik’s Lapses in Blogging. While that may indeed be true, I’m referring to my dear beloved Malnevicent, my solo, self-found, no auction house, hardcore wizard was finally defeated in combat.

Things had been going well for my hardcore wizard with Act I Inferno (MP0, of course) no longer posing much a challenge and after the plans for the Archon Spaulders of Intelligence dropped, I got a little … too confident and tried pushing to see how far my wizard could go in Act II.

Black Canyon Mines. That’s how far.

On the positive side – if there could be one – was that my wizard wasn’t done in by a champion pack. No. It took THREE champion packs to take her down. Now before you think I was being reckless with her, I wasn’t, it was just by pure unfortunate luck that she garnered the attention of three different packs.

It started off with a Fallen champion pack (jailer, vampiric, mortar, waller) that she encountered on the northern end of the canyon, Due to the positioning of the walls she was forced to proceed east into uncleared areas to avoid being bombarded to death with mortars. Travelling east led to a Fallen Overseer champion pack (knockback, frozen, electrified, health link) joining in on the party and poor Malnevicent ended up being knocked close enough to a second Fallen champion pack (avenger, knockback, frozen, arcane enchanted).

With three champion packs hot for her there wasn’t much Malnevicent could do, especially when getting jailed, trapped by walls and then ultimately chain frozen and then sliced to death by lasers. Not even her Unstable Anomaly could save her from the combined might of three champion packs.

I sat there for a couple of minutes dumbfounded by what had transpired. I wasn’t angry. I didn’t even exclaim when Malnevicent fell. Just sat there.

After it sank it I will admit that I felt down, mayhaps even a tad depressed, about losing my hardcore wizard. Things were going well and I was feeling pretty confident about going all the way and clearing Inferno. Malnevicent after approximately 78 hours vested was sitting at 50k health and 21k DPS and while that definitely wasn’t enough to safely clear Inferno, it was enough that I felt confident about moving into Act II and hazarding the risk for better loot.

Obviously I was wrong, but again … THREE CHAMPION PACKS? Oids. Bad luck is bad, I suppose.

So what will I do now? Will I run away from hardcore with my tail tucked between my legs? Or will I dust myself off and get right back into the frey?

I re-rolled of course. Long live Aiom, the second coming of my solo, self-found, no auction house, hardcore wizard. Though I am trying to decide on whether or not I will allow myself to twink Aiom with the gear I kept while leveling and how I’m going to handle the availability of having the ability to craft the iLvl 63 BoA intelligence shoulders. What say you? Should I prohibit myself from using them?

Extinguishing the Inferno

Oh boy. By the looks of the calendar I’ve come awfully close to not updating my blog for two months. TWO MONTHS! That’s absolute madness. It wasn’t for a lack of potentially having something to blog about as I’ve been up to plenty of things. All the things? Some of the things? Who knows? Definitely not me.

Anyhoo, what could have possibly kept me away from jotting down words for all of prosperity … or at least for my own sanity? I’ve been in somewhat of a funk for the past two months from the lack of being allowed to work resulting in my coping with several bouts of insomnia and a general feeling of aimlessness. I just felt like I was spinning my wheels and getting no where. Fortunately my daughter started 2nd grade (although that was weeks ago) which enforced some structure in my daily routine and my bouts with insomnia have been curbed.

So what have I been up to?

As I initially alluded, I’ve been up to lots of things. Well okay, maybe not a ton of things, but interesting things nonetheless. Probably the most interesting thing that has developed in the past week and a half is the fact that I’m filling in on my good friend Rioriel’s blog, Postcards From Azeroth, while he’s taking a much-needed hiatus from the game to recharge his batteries. I’ve always admired Rioriel and his blog so being able to contribute in my own way has been electrifying. Having an outlet for my artistic juices has revitalized my drive to get back to what I do best: art and design.

Wait. Is that what I truly do best? Well, perhaps procrastination is what I do best, but art and design would be a close second … maybe. Gaming, blogging, podcasting and living definitely wouldn’t be up there. Oh heck, who am I kidding? Getting under Rilandune’s skin deserves mentioning — I’m exceptional at that — but I digress.

So other than scouring through my screenshots and transforming them into pretty postcards for everyone to enjoy I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo 3. A. LOT.

I knew going in to D3 that I was going to become addicted to it, I just didn’t realize that I would invest over 500 hours to it in only four months. Granted there were a few occasions where I burned out a smidge on grinding and farming for little benefit, but there’s just something about the Diablo formula that GETS ME as a gamer. I’m always chasing after the “something amazing could drop from the next demon” and with patch 1.0.4 at least I can channel that into grinding Paragon XP. As of this moment my main wizard, Malnevicent, is sitting halfway through paragon level 18 and my newly minted wizard, Aiom, is paragon level 2.

Yes, folks. I do indeed have TWO level 60 wizards. Why? Why not? Everything little thing she does is magic.

My reasoning behind the madness it is actually quite simple, I want to enjoy more than just one playstyle with the wizard. Malnevicent is my tanky melee wizard whereas Aiom is my shits n’ giggles wizard where I’m not afraid to experiment with wacky builds. I could elaborate on that a bit more, but I think I’ll save blogging about Aiom for another day. I’m still honing a REDONKULOUS wizard build — which I’m sure will get nerfed come 1.0.5 — so I’d rather blog about it separately.

As for my main wizard-squeeze, Malnevicent, I recently completed all of Diablo 3 with her. Yup, that’s right. Malnevicent slayed Diablo in Inferno last week with the help of a few friends of the Shattered Soulstone podcast: Swaying Mango and MDB3. It wasn’t quite the walk-in-the-park that a lot of D3 elitist have made it out to be, but in the end we stood there victorious … err, well at least Swaying Mango and I did since sadly MDB3 had to drop immediately preceding our victory. Perhaps MDB3 was dragging us down? I kid, I kid.

If you’re familiar with the Diablo encounter, the sticking point in our multiple failures was always the Realm of Terror. Diablo isn’t too much of a threat, but man those shadow clones of ourselves … THEY HURT. BADLY. No I don’t think you quite understand the depth of which they hurt you. Getting gibbed from two simultaneous wizard’s meteors is … depressing. There was also this little issue that since both Swaying Mango and I were more tanky wizards, our DPS was rather low.

After two failed attempts I swapped out Wave of Force for Archon – Arcane Destruction for slightly better DPS burns. I lost my stacks of Nephalem Valor but getting phat loots from Diablo wasn’t my goal. My goal was to complete Inferno in its entirety, preferably before any further nerfs to its difficulty happened. Needless to say when Diablo finally toppled over for us to kick his/her limp body I jumped out of my chair and fist-pumped, repeatedly.

I know many, many, many people have long since had this accomplishment under their belts but it in no way diminished my feeling of accomplishment. Inferno is HARD without amazing gear and to finally clear it out with my moderately decent gear felt amazing. I did it, ME, and it felt great.

Now with Inferno completed I can go back to farming … and fighting the urge to switch Malnevicent over to Aiom’s build. How’s that for a tease?

Breaking Through the Brick Wall

Finding the motivation to progress past Act I Inferno was becoming increasingly more difficult as the persistent nature of horrible drops continued to plague me. With each piece of complete garbage iLvl 63 gear that dropped so did my hopes. Would Act I Inferno be the furthest I’d get without luck on my side? Sure, eventually something good would drop, but even then would it be suited for a melee wizard? Then even if it wasn’t, would it actually move on the auction house?

As more and more players jump ship the potential market of buyers on the auction house gets more and more picky making it harder to sell anything that isn’t ideally rolled. This problem is compounded by the moronic sellers out there thinking that their decent wares will sell for millions upon millions of gold. It creates a false representation of how much gear is truly worth. Routinely I see decent to good gear go for far too much and great gear for obscene amounts of gold. Although I can’t say for certain, I would hazard a guess that many of those auctions expire.

Sadly day after day the perception of inflation continues to grow and create false expectations in the economy. Eventually it’ll level out and it’ll be somewhat reasonable to buy equipment, but when that day does come who will be left to reap the benefits? By that time I’d suspect that most of the remaining active player-base will be well into Inferno where actual upgrades will be perfectly rolled gear and therefore be worth all the golds.

Fortunately I have moved a few pieces of gear on the GAH and have accumulated about 13 million gold which gives me some buying power but not enough to afford true upgrades. With my still being priced out of the market to get good gear this has led to many, many farming runs with my melee wizard in Act I Inferno, rarely yielding anything of any value to me or anyone else.

That was until a fateful run with a Shattered Soulstone lisenter, Udonrun, joined one of my insomnia-fueled farming runs.

It started as many of my co-op farming runs seem to, he benefited almost immediately by having a legendary drop from the very first champion pack we ran into. Sure, it was a junky legendary, but a legendary nonetheless. We continued to farm and farm with nary a trouble as many of my farming runs go these days — a melee wizard is actually surprisingly effective — and on one of my trips to town IT happened: a one-handed 900 dps mace with INT, LoH and a socket dropped for me.

It wasn’t the most perfect weapon I’d ever seen, but it was a great weapon nonetheless which immediately improved my DPS a ton when I dropped a 70% critical damage green gem into the socket. Now my melee wizard was as lethal as she looked. Champions and elites in Act I Inferno were no longer a match for my wizard which motivated me to splurge a little and buy a few bargain pieces to put together a progression set of gear.

With a progression set of gear equipped I decided to see how my wizard would fare in Act II Inferno. I did, afterall, have plenty of gold reserves to cover the repair costs and if things did go horribly wrong I’d pull the plug on the experiment before racking up a horrifically large repair bill. What I didn’t expect, however, was for my wizard to progress through Act II Inferno as easily as she did culminating in one-shotting Belial.

Yes, you read that correctly. My melee wizard one-shot Belial in Inferno. It was surprisingly easy since the only thing that I had to worry about was the meteor phase (even then I could actually survive one blast). Only occasionally was there any resistance in Act II Inferno with particularly nasty champion/elite packs (or two of them at the same time) which is a testament to just how gear-dependent Inferno is.

Sadly my wizard’s gear isn’t quite there to progress through Act III Inferno comfortably as her resistances still need some more improvement. I actually laughed at how quickly my wizard could die if RNG wasn’t on her side and didn’t get a block or dodge when frost nova and diamond skin were on cool-down; one second full of life, the next DEAD. So there’s still plenty of work to be done to be able to finish out Inferno, but for the first time in weeks I actually have hope that I will succeed.

It’s only a matter of time …