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.

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And the Nightmare Begins

For the sake of many arguments I’m going to assume that most of you — if not all — have picked up Diablo III and have begun your own personal crusade against the Lord of Terror. If you have not already done so, why not? What’s the hold up?

Error 37. Need I say more?

Okay. I will give that to you. Blizzard does have a good amount of egg on their face for how unreliable the servers were in the first 36 hours (or so) of unleashing hell. Blizzard knew their servers were going to get pounded and yet they were not prepared. At least they (semi)apologized for the network outages and things are now fairly stable and should only continue to stabilize over the next few days.

It shouldn’t have happened in the first place given the online-only aspect even if you want to play single-player.

Again I’ll agree with you — at least on the fact that Blizzard should have been prepared — but sometimes concessions have to be made in order to get the things we want. We’ve waited twelve years for Diablo III, what’s a few more days? I was able to get through the game (on normal) earlier today despite the early network problems. Sure I could have slain Diablo a little sooner, but I’ve decided to let go of my frustration and disappointment and ENJOY the game.

Diablo III is an amazing game that gets more challenging the further you proceed in to it. Every time my wizard started to feel like a bad ass — at least once past Act I — her arrogance would be met with a smack down. Dying became a more and more common occurance the further she got. Things start to really, really hurt in acts III and IV — even in the normal difficulty.

Glad to hear that. The beta was WAAAAAAY too easy.

Exactly. So I figured I would share some tips to those of you who might not have had the time to plow through the game yet. That isn’t to say that I rushed at the exclusion of enjoyment, just that I was so anxious to see the story that I didn’t want to run the risk of being spoiled. That and I knew that after this week I wouldn’t have as much time to play so I wanted to get as far as I could while I could.

Anyhoo, let me get back to the main reason I started this entry without side-tracking myself into an unrelated and boring topic. Let me preface this with that I did not find normal difficulty hard but challenging enough that there are a few tips that might make your experience a little smoother.

Also, I have only run through the game as a wizard so far, but I’ll keep my tips as generically applicable as possible. Though at some point in the future I will likely give wizard-specific tips as I progress through Nightmare, Hell and eventually Inferno.

Keep a set of survivability gear

Although it’s tempting to stack as much magic find as possible, there will be times where you’ll need to survive, especially later in the game. This is definitely true on boss encounters, especially on multi-phase end-of-act encounters. You’ll want +vitality armor and gems, pieces with health regen, and +health on hit (life leech) if you can. Having tons of magic find isn’t going to help you get gear if you can’t kill a boss.

Keep defensive skills on your hotbar

This ties in with keeping a set of survival gear in that sometimes taking damage is unavoidable but can be minimized with the use of defensive skills. I’d also suggest keeping more than one defensive skill on your hotbar, especially if you’re more of a glass cannon like the wizard. How many you’ll need will depend on how solid your survival gear is; my wizard used THREE defensive skills for the last encounter.

Keep your offensive capabilities balanced

It’s hard to fight the urge to splurge on using all AoE skills given the nature of the game, but you’ll definitely want to keep a hard-hitting single-target damage skill for bosses. Sure some bosses do occasionally have an add phase, but AoE skills mostly go wasted on bosses.

Keep experimenting with skills and abilities

Each level generally brings at least one new ability and/or rune effect which can drastically change how your class plays (or can play). It is a perfect time while progressing through the normal difficulty to find what play-style works best for you. By the time you get into Nightmare you need to have a good grasp on what you’re doing and have perfected it by the end of Hell.

Play with friends!

Okay, this is kind of a gimme but Diablo is infinitely more enjoyable with friends — especially with voice communication. Diablo was meant to be played cooperatively, so do so! If you want to play solo through normal that’s fine, but believe me you’ll have more fun with friends.

Sub-Prime Rogue

Before I get into the meat of this entry, I wanted to address a few things game-plan related to my rogue leveling project. First thing you’re going to notice is that I’ve decided to ditch the one-word titles for my entries and this will extend to any blog entry I decide to write in the future, or at least until I change my mind again. It was getting difficult to come up with unique one-word titles and in some ways, it was getting a little pretentious. So yah, the titles of my entries will be slightly more descriptive now.

Secondly, my current plan is to take both rogues to the end of vanilla content and share my experiences along the way. I’m not going to attempt to create the be-all, end-all rogue leveling guide, I just want to share and encapsulate the experience. Sure there will be tips scattered along the way, (PROtip style … okay I kid) which should hopefully be beneficial to both WoW noobs and perhaps even grizzled veterans like myself.

Now without further adieu, let’s get on with it …

Sub-Prime Rogue

But first, a brief introductory paragraph …

Leveling as a rogue in the old world content is something that I haven’t done since World of Warcraft first came out. My very first character in WoW was a rogue, and I pretty much identify myself as a rogue player. In vanilla I leveled as a combat rogue. In TBC I tried leveling as an assassination rogue with the introduction of mutilate, but quickly went back to combat because at the time mutilate still had positional requirements. I also dabbled quite a bit in rogue PVP with a subtlety spec near the end of TBC. Then came WotLK and my attention turned back to PVE and once again I tried leveling as an assassination rogue but abandoned it for combat.

As you can see my leveling experiences as a rogue have almost exclusively been with the combat tree. Leveling as combat is very straight-forward and provides plenty of abilities to make the leveling process easy. There are no worries about positional requirements and you’ll have a larger selection of weapons to utilize along the way. So for most players I would heartily suggest going with the combat tree, especially if you’re still relatively new to WoW.

There’s only one down-side to leveling as a combat rogue, you don’t feel very roguish. That’s why I have decided to try out both assassination and subtlety for leveling. I really want to get that last taste of leveling through the old world content not as a brigand, but as a rogue.

Over the past couple of days I’ve created my two project toons: Nevïk the dwarf rogue on Winterhoof, and Nevik the troll rogue on Jubei’thos. As of today, both toons are approaching level 10 and their very first talent point. In the absence of talent points to spend, my experiences on both toons have been nearly identical so there is little need to differentiate between the two.

There is, however, one big difference with my experiences as a rogue from my vanilla days: you start off with two daggers, a throwing weapon, and the ability to stealth. While stealth is pretty much useless in these early levels, having a throwing weapon has allowed me to engage at range instead of blindly running up to a mob and slapping them to death. Well you could use backstab as an opener from stealth once you reach level 4, but once you start encountering red/aggressive mobs your stealth is far too weak to get into position.

You’ll get gouge at level 6 and that makes things a little more interesting for the rogue: engage the mob at range and then use gouge when it is melee range to setup an easy backstab. Sliding behind a mob to backstab screams rogue and it is a lot of fun to do when your gouge does connect. Just remember that if you’re attempting to set this up after engaging at melee range you’re going to want to wait to gouge until you have at least 65 energy, otherwise you will not regenerate enough energy to execute a backstab before the gouge wears off.

Another thing to keep in mind is that unless you get really lucky with weapon drops (or have heirloom daggers) or have plenty of gold to waste on “throw away” weapons you’re going to want to be fairly careful about the battles you engage in. Rogues are not great at handling multiple mobs at once in these early levels (well … most classes aren’t for that matter) and you will die if you don’t pay attention to the environment around you.

It is also highly advisable that you avoid caves if you’re not twinking your rogue with heirlooms or gear from the auction house. Caves present too many possibilities for pulling extra mobs and you will spend a lot of time admiring the ground, and there is nothing fun about that, nor multiple corpse runs.

If you are dead-set on spelunking, head over to WoWhead and look into ways to outfit your rogue with better weapons. Weapons are the cornerstone of your rogue’s leveling ability, so the sooner you improve your weaponry, the better your experiences will be. Don’t be afraid to buy a white-quality dagger from the vendors either. Making incredible amounts of money (at least comparatively to the old days) is as easy as picking up mining and/or skinning at the second town/outpost you reach. You will, however, have to make a trip into a capital city to put the bars/ores/skins up on the auction house, but the amount of gold you’ll get from selling just ONE stack will cover all of your training expenses for a very long time.

And finally I have one more little piece of advice to share: make sure to pick up first aid and go fight some humanoid npcs for linen cloth. Even though your health will regenerate exceptionally fast out-of-combat in these early levels, you will occasionally run into situations where your survival can hinge on landing a gouge and getting two ticks of healing from a bandage.

That’s all I have for now; there isn’t much to rogue leveling at these pre-talented levels. Even then, I wouldn’t expect a big impact from my talent choices until I get closer to level 20 when I’ll finally get a few more tools in my rogue kit. My next RLP entry will likely cover both my assassination and subtlety rogue, but if my experiences with leveling differ enough, I may split them into two separate entries.

For the stabby stab!

Turkinator

Happy Birthday World of Warcraft! After 5 years we finally get an in-game world event celebrating turkey day. There are no homages to the pillaging of Indian lands, just wholesome celebrations of the genocide of wild turkeys, shooting rogues with a turkey gun, and of course crashing the opposite faction’s bountiful tables. There are plenty of guides out there detailing the individual achievements so I’ll just cover a few things to provide a few tips and limit the QQ’ng to a minimum.

Pilgrim’s Paunch has you sitting at one of multiple bountiful tables at each of your faction’s capital cities and gain the Spirit of Sharing buff. All you need to do is eat 5 servings at each of the 5 chairs and if you’re nice, you can pass servings to each plate. If you are in the sharing mood, you can eat a serving and then pass a serving while waiting on the cooldown for eating a serving. Simple, easy, time consuming.

Then there are the Pilgrim’s Bounty cooking recipes. You’ll gain an achievement for cooking them all and you only need cooking skill of 280 to do so. Fret not if you haven’t bothered with cooking, Blizzard threw everyone a bone because you can skill up from 1 to 300 with these recipes!

For the associated cooking quests, you’ll need to purchase 25 potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkins as well kill 25 wild turkeys. These will send you back n’ forth from city to city, so make sure you buy 25 of the item at each capital city so you don’t have to backtrack multiple times like I did. One quest requires 20 of a particular food, and the other will require you to prepare the food while on the quest, so don’t precook everything.

Darnassus is a sticking point for the Horde.

Now for the QQ. Pilgrim’s Peril is far easier for the Alliance to achieve than it is for the horde simply because the tables for TB and UC are near the entrance to the capital cities. Whereas the tables in Darnassus require the horde to run across the width of the city. I died no less than 3 times attempting to sit at a table in Darnassus. ;_; Still, it was easy enough to achieve and I encountered no issues with Stormwind, Ironforge and the Exodar.

And finally, the coup d’etat of Pilgrim’s Bounty achievements, the Turkinator. If you’re on a high population server do yourself a favor and attempt this during the middle of the night, early morning, or whenever there are not multiple turkey killing thieves running around. Killing 40 wild turkeys is not difficult, the difficult part is finding a turkey to kill before your turkey tracker buff wears off. 30 seconds is punishing if you have competition.

I’ve read that the respawn rate is really good on them but, it’s not high enough. They’re also scattered around the entirety of Tirisfal with not nearly enough pockets of turkey density. So you’ll need some luck, a /tar wild turkey macro, and a lot of patience if you’re attempting this on a high pop server. It took me 4 attempts to accomplish Turkinator with my first yielding 28, then 33, then 35 and finally reaching the promised land.

Now I just need a bunch more turkey shooters to shoot my brethren with to finish off the meta.