Monday, October 29, 2012

Patch 1.0.5 commentary

I will make no apologies for not blogging about D3 lately because, well, I haven't felt the need. That and the fact that I was away from the computer for several weeks. But then I returned just in time for patch 1.0.5. And what a breath of fresh air this is! Now Diablo 3 is finally beginning to feel like the game it should have been from the beginning. I lauded the Paragon system when it was introduced in 1.0.4 but the new Monster Power system helps to further consolidate the game. But even more than MP, I was excited about the huge improvements to the Auction House interface.

Love the new AH
"Search for similar items" is an awesome feature. It has simplified AH searches immensely. Best of all, they managed to implement it exactly the way I envisioned it. Of course, YMMV. It helps in two major ways: 1) makes searching for upgrades very easy and 2) helps you easily price items for sale. I'm just annoyed they didn't think of this from the beginning. Oh well, better late than never.

Monster Power = Players X rebooted
Monster Power is, IMHO, even better than Diablo 2's Players X because it allows for finer tuning and it also improves the loot and XP gained. I'm currently playing on MP 1 in Act 1 because, well, I'm chicken. I like to play it safe. I prefer to annihilite everything easily vs struggling to survive on a higher difficulty.

The market is more dynamic
Maybe it's just me but I've noticed that the AH seems to be more dynamic in patch 1.0.5. I've never managed to sell more items and for such high prices as I do now. Maybe it's the surge of new players or the huge influx of improved items. Speaking of gold and stuff...

How to make and lose a fortune
For the first time in my D3 career I've managed to top 14 million gold. I know what you're thinking, pathetic. But hey, I make most of my gold by selling stuff I find on my own, not by playing the market, ok? So give me a break. Anyway, I decided I deserved an early Christmas present so I spoiled myself by buying a Tal-Rasha's chestpiece with good stats for 13 million. Was it worth it? I might have paid less in a week or two but I wanted to enjoy the game today. Besides, it added over 8000 DPS to my Wizard.

Cool drops bro!
I can attest to the fact that item drops have been vastly improved in 1.0.5. I found a lot of good stuff that I managed to sell on the AH for decent amounts. I even got 2 legendary drops, which, while mediocre, fetched a few cents on the RHAH. This is a very good sign. Before the patch, I never found anything worth more than 100K on the AH. Now, I sold drops for hundreds of thousands or millions of gold. And I didn't even play that much.

Wizard 2.0
My beloved Wizard is kicking ass more than ever. A week ago she was standing at around 65K DPS. After buying a 2H weapon with good DPS and nice stats for 1 million gold, and swapping the 1H dagger + off-hand she was using before, her DPS jumped to 95K. Massive! With the new Tal-Rasha's chestpiece, it went up even farther, to 103K. Now granted, that 1 million upgrade was a much higher bang for the buck (+30K DPS) compared to the 13 million chestpiece (+8K DPS). However, keep in mind that my equipment is pretty good and, going forward, each upgrade is very expensive. The only thing that will make a big difference now is a shoulder upgrade. Anyway, despite all the DPS, I still haven't killed Diablo on Inferno. I could do it anytime but I'm just lazy. Because I would do it on MP 0 (just to be safe), there's no big incentive for me, so I'm postponing it indefinitely. I'd much rather farm items in Act 1 on MP1 (or higher).

Torchlight 2
A quick word on Torchlight 2. It was supposed to be a D3 killer, or D2 reincarnated or something. I downloaded the demo and tried it for a while but it didn't gel with me. I disliked the original and, while the sequel is a vast improvement, I found it unappealing. Some of you will hate me for this but I find D3 superior in every way. TL2 made me realize how much I enjoy D3's skill system, automatic attribute leveling and the weapon-DPS-to-skill-damage system. In contrast, TL2's system felt confusing and awkward to use. Sorry folks, maybe I spent so much time with WoW and D3 that I "dumbed down" but I don't feel like going back to the old system. The dark side must have won me over because I much prefer D3's online play with all the convenience of the AH to an offline game which seems very static and isolated in comparison.

No expert here
Having said all this, I want to re-iterate something. I'm not a Diablo 3 expert. A reader once lambasted me for being too pretentious because I tagged this blog with words such as "strategy" and "theorycrafting". Not to burst anyone's bubble, but I don't take myself too seriously with this blog. I don't excel at making money (gold or $), in fact I downright suck at it, because I don't play the AH. I don't excel at killing Diablo on MP 10 (or even MP 1) because it's not my thing. I'm not a D3 pioneer in any way. I simply play the game for my personal enjoyment and blog about it occasionally. If I happen to come across an interesting strategy, I will discuss it. If I can craft some theory, I will. But I won't go out of my way to do these things. So there. Expect laid back, not cutting edge.

The future
Diablo 3 is slowly getting there. It's too bad they released it in an unfinished state and it took 5 months to get it on track. Either way, things are looking good. I love the feeling of being (slightly) overpowered and mowing down monsters with the greatest of ease. Unfortunately there's something about D3's progression (zones/events are separated by quests and acts remain separated from one another) that gives me a weird vibe. And now with Monster Power I don't feel the need to venture outside Act 1. The next 3 acts are pretty boring to me. What I think Diablo 3 desperately needs is an expansion with an additional, much improved act and a revamped/reloaded/reimagined crafting system.

The end.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

State of the nation address (Wizard rocks!)

I feel that now's about as good a time as any to give an update on my progress in Diablo 3. Not that anybody would (or should) care. I'm mostly doing this as a personal journal to refer to later.

2 weeks after patch 1.0.4 I can safely state that I enjoy Diablo 3 much more than before the patch. Before, I was in a kind of lull and was just going through the motions. In fact I used to spend most of my 20 minutes a day on the AH, wheeling and dealing. I played actively only on weekends. But now, I would like to play at least 3 hours during the week and 6-8 hours on the weekend. Unfortunately I've got other things to do so my time is limited. But still, I really feel like playing the game as much as possible.

My characters
I made a bunch of mistakes in D3, that I will admit. The first was starting to play with a Demon Hunter. The other was abandoning it for a Monk and then spending more than 100 hours on this character. The one thing that I did right was leveling my Wizard to 60, although she was the last one there. In retrospect, I should've started with the Wizard from the beginning. These days the Wizard has become my main and she's by far my most favorite class. In fact, if Blizzard doesn't do anything to fuck up her skills (read "nerf"), I can safely say that I won't play another class until my Wizard hits Paragon level 100.

The Monk is Paragon lv 2 and while he's very resilient, it comes at the cost of DPS and 22K is not nearly enough to have fun in Act 3 (Inferno) where he's at right now. He can kill boss packs - eventually - but it takes a very long time. And that's not fun to me. All my other classes (Barbarian, Demon Hunter and Witch Doctor) are 60 but I have abandoned them a long time ago and they don't tempt me in the least.

The Wizard
Andromeda, as she is called, is my pride and joy. She's Paragon 13 as of this writing. She has progressed to Act 3, just before Cydaea. I am confident that with her current equipment she can finish the rest of Inferno. But I'm in no rush. I like to smash everything without effort. I like being overpowered. It felt awesome to finish Acts 3+4 on Hell with 12K DPS on all of my characters. I want to feel the same thing with the Wizard in Inferno. She's not there yet, but she's inching closer.

Speaking of stats, she does 57K+ DPS (with the Enchantress follower), with 20.5% crit chance. Unfortunately her crit damage is only 50% because I was going for a Critical Mass build before I decided to go in a different direction. Her attack speed is pretty awesome at 2.22 attacks per second. Her defenses are nothing out of the ordinary because I kind of play a glass-cannon build. She has 26K life, 5000+ armor and between 200-300 resistances. Best of all, she has over 1000 life per second regeneration because that's something I like very much. It helps enormously, especially when kiting.

Here's my build. Incidentally this build is available at level 54.

The gameplay
What I love about the Wizard is that, using the above build, she obliterates-exterminates-devastates everthing in Act 1. She one-shots trash mobs and 3-5 shots boss packs. She's a vicious killing machine. Act 2 is almost the same but for some reason I feel that I make more gold farming Act 2, as well as find more boss packs. She hardly ever dies in these two acts. Act 3 is very doable but sometimes she dies if I'm not careful and I meet the wrong affixes on boss packs. But whenever I want to feel like a god, I go to acts 1 or 2 and zap everything with my finger of doom.

I will admit that I suck at making money in D3. This hasn't been a big priority for me until now so I didn't spend countless hours researching and playing the market. Well, ok, I have a couple of strategies that work but they simply provide a bit of additional income. The most I saved was a bit over 7 million. Thing is, I feel that now's not the best time to waste money on upgrades. I made the mistake of buying a good weapon for 3 million (a bargain at the time) right before patch 1.0.4. That weapon was quickly upgraded post-patch with something that was much better and only cost 1 million. And I barely managed to sell the original for less than 100K. Oops. Yeah, I made many of these stupid decisions which ended up costing me a lot of gold. Anyway, I plan to wait another month or two before I start to spend more seriously. Prices will only go down (as more good loot is found over time). The only spike I anticipate is when the PvP patch is released but I doubt that will happen before November. My problem is thay my equipment is pretty decent right now and it is becoming harder and harder to find cheap upgrades that don't cost millions. Suffice to say that I can't afford any good legendary item. But that's ok. It takes time to build kick-ass equipment.

Just don't ask me to lend you money if you see me in game. A dude I played with a couple of times wanted to borrow some but I was like, dude, I barely have enough for myself and now you want me to trust you when I don't even know you? Sorry dudes but I don't lend gold and that's final.

On the Real Money side, I'm inching close to $30 which is pathetic. On the other hand, as I said, I don't play the AH so whatever I sell is stuff I find on my own. Unfortunately most of what I find is crap (but you can relate, right?). First, I want to cover the cost of the next expansion ($40 likely). Second, I'd love to cover the cost of the game x 2 (I bought 2 copies), or $120.

I don't have big ambitions but my long term goal is to reach Paragon level 100 with my Wizard. The way I play, I doubt this will happen in less than 2 years. But fuck it, I've waited 10 years for this game. 2 years of actually playing it won't be so bad.

My short term goal is to reach a sufficient amount of DPS to steamroll Act 3 and possibly Act 4. I don't care much for Act 4 because I hate everything about it (and drops are supposed to be the same) so I would be satisfied to stick to Act 3. I want to kill mobs as easily as I do in Act 1 today. That's my fantasy. For that, I estimate I need at least 65K DPS. I'm only about 9K short so I shouldn't have big problems getting there in the next several weeks. Once I can cruise through Act 3, I will finish Inferno once and for all and continue farming for 1337 items.

To those who quit, sorry but I still enjoy Diablo 3. I believe it will become even more enjoyable as they continue to fix some of its issues. I just hope they don't nerf my favorite class, the Wizard, in any significant way. Yup, there's still life in this here game.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Introducing the Legendary Items page

Recently I decided to keep records of all the legendary items I found in Diablo 3, for fun and for future reference. I have created a page appropriately called Legendary Items, which lists all of them, in the order I found them. I'm also showing the prices for which I sold them (if the case) and giving a short commentary on each of them. Feel free to peruse!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Magic Find is useless

I believe I have a decent understanding of how Magic Find works. I didn't spend a lot of time analyzing all the intricacies but at it's most basic level (and correct me if I'm wrong), MF works by increasing the chances of Magic, Rare, Set and Legendary items dropping. I don't know the actual numbers but if an item that drops has, say, a 0.01% chance to be Legendary at 0% MF, the chance will increase to 0.03% with 300% MF. However...

Here's a nugget of wisdom for you. It might shock you but... Magic Find is actually useless. It doesn't do anything. Nada. Zilch. You're better off without it.

I kid. Somewhat. Anectodal evidence suggests that MF doesn't have a big effect on the quality of items that drop. While I realize this isn't really true, because MF does in fact increase your chances of getting higher quality items (as shown above), my personal experience is whacky enough that it makes me think otherwise. Now mind you, this is just a personal impression and not a statement of fact and I'm sure it's wrong. Nevertheless...

I grinded Inferno Act 2 with my Monk up to Paragon Level 4. I carry a set of MF gear with me that I swap right before killing elite bosses. That gear, along with 5 Nephalem Valor stacks gives me almost 300% MF. Not bad, right? While I do seem to get more yellow items, I have never seen a Legendary on the Monk, and he's my most-played character.

Recently my Wizard has become my main character. She's Paragon Level 6 now, also in Act 2. She has already found 2 legendary items ("new generation") after patch 1.0.4 was released. Her MF for the latter of the two? 87% (with 5 NV stacks). She doesn't even have a special MF set. It's true that these 2 were pretty crappy (see below) but still, they're LIGINDUHRIES! And I managed so sell them for a few $.

Even more surprising is the fact that all the other legendaries were found by my Barb, while he had close to 0 MF! He even got 3 of them (!!!) while playing with my buddy, in the space of an hour. That's some crazy shit man!

My point is that I am aware that Magic Find helps. There's no reason to doubt the math behind this. But I'm done agonizing over how much MF I have. I just don't care anymore. The randomness of drops makes it such that you may never see a Legendary in over 100 hours of playing, with very high MF, or you may get a shitload of them with much less time played and < 10% MF. And you know what? I prefer it this way. I'm sick and tired of swapping 8 pieces of gear every time I prepare to give an elite the death blow. Paragon Level 100 can't come too soon.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Patch 1.0.4 - a paragon of excellence?

With a little luck, patch 1.0.4 hits tomorrow. I have to say, I haven't been so excited since Diablo 3 launched. Yes, there are the naysayers and those who've quit the game for good (hey there Loque!) but I'm sure there will also be many who are returning to sample what 1.0.4 brings. To them I say "to each his own". I don't blame you for giving up on Diablo/Blizzard. I've raged against them on many occasions. But hear me out brothers: these improvements really appeal to me. I haven't stopped playing the game completely but my interest has piqued now. Here's what I like about this great (and long in the making) patch.

Class changes
While the changes themselves are rather meh, along the lines of "this skill is under-used, let's buff its damage", I'm really glad they didn't nerf the popular ones instead, such as Poison Hydra. They could have done that, in typical Blizzard nerf-bat style but they chose the correct path of buffing the unpopular ones. Good.

Auction House changes
This is everything I was hoping for, and more. If I were to nitpick, I would also ask for tabs for the various types of transactions: sales, buys, cancellations, outbids and so on. This would bring some order to the way transactions are listed but at least we're getting a lot more detailed item information.

The Paragon system
I can already hear the naysayers decrying Blizzard's approach to the "endgame". To me this new system is very appealing. It single-handedly increases Diablo 3's longevity by orders of magnitude. Granted, it's gonna be grind-grind-grind-grind on and on and on and on, the same zones for months and years on end. But if that turns you off, maybe the whole concept of Diablo isn't for you. After all, Diablo 2's endgame consisted of endless boss runs in the never-ending quest to level 99. At least Diablo 3 has brought variety by making it more lucrative to kill random elites, rather than the same boss over and over. In addition, 1.0.4 makes trash mobs more important and increases their chance to drop rares, so they will really be worth killing.

The Paragon system gives Diablo 2 fans what they have been asking for from the beginning: a virtual "level 99". But in a way it's even better. Each Paragon level (up to 100) gives +3% Magic and Gold Find to a cap of 300% (at Paragon level 100), in addition to base stats (Str, Dex, Int, Vit). I find this great because the more you advance, the less you will rely on MF/GF gear, because the MF/GF bonus will be inherent to your character.

Eventually, after a tremendous grind, you will reach Paragon level 100. At this point you won't need any MF/GF gear at all because you will have reached the 300% cap. I'm betting that some people will be upset at this point because they can't increase their MF/GF past 300%. Well, don't worry folks because you should be able to equip the most powerful items in the game and you should absolutely dominate Inferno Act 4 with full MF. But of course, by the time people reach Paragon level 100 I'm sure they'll be playing in Act 5 or 6 of the next expansion(s).

There's one thing that I would have liked: a way to swap gear at the touch of a hotkey. It's really annoying to click-click-click-click-click-click on the MF gear I keep in my inventory, just before killing an elite or boss. But this is something that I don't think Blizzard will ever implement because it's against their precious "principles".

In conclusion, I'm pretty much stoked about what patch 1.0.4 brings. If you quit Diablo, I understand. We don't all like the same games and different things make us happy. I'm sticking to it because it gives me enough satisfaction. Now bring on the Diablo 3-bashing! I'm ready to take it!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday, legendary Sunday

How crazy chance can be sometimes. My buddy from overseas, whom I play with on weekends, had reached level 60 recently with his Barbarian and I joined him in Inferno Act 1 with my Monk. We wanted to get him past the first few quests.

In the space of less than an hour, to my utter shock, I got no less than 3 legendary drops. Here they are.

Cindercoat, Gladiator Gauntlets and Skorn.

What are the chances of that happening? 1 in a gazillion? The silly thing is that I didn't have any Nephalem Valor or even a Magic Find set. In total I had about 15% MF. Even crazier is the fact that all these items dropped from random monsters, not even elites or champions.

While I was obviously excited to see them drop, my enthusiasm quickly cooled when I identified them. These legendaries are pathetic. Once again, this is an example of Blizzard's failure in item design. Not only are they bland and flavorless, but these particular ones are also useless for a level 60 (or even lower) character.

Oh well, at least I can get about 400K if I sell them.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The AH patch

After wallowing in indifference towards Diablo 3 for a while I can finally see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. Blizzard has announced that they are working on some nice changes for the Auction House. Instead of pasting that stuff here, I'm going to direct you to Incgamer's post.

Lately I haven't even bothered to sell stuff on the AH. I suspect that the market is shrinking and sales aren't as forthcoming. But then again, I don't have so many items to sell because I haven't been playing seriously over the past weeks. The changes that they are proposing, though, are very exciting and exactly what I would have done to improve the AH. Here's my take on this.

Increase the attribute filters from 3 to 6
This change can't come soon enough. Everybody has been asking for more filter slots from the beginning. It will make searches so much more precise.

Cancel auctions without bids
Something that I was dearly hoping for. If I could just cancel my bid-less auctions I would be so much happier. I could lower my buyout successively and re-post if the item doesn't sell, perhaps once a day.

Detailed stats in the auction log
I can't believe how nearly useless the auction log is currently. There's no way to tell what stats the items you sold or bought in the past had. You can't tell what price your unsold items were posted at. It's really frustrating because it makes it hard to price your items correctly in the future, unless you keep detailed spreadsheets of every item sold.

One other thing that I'd like to see
While these changes are leagues ahead of what we already have, and should have been in the game from the beginning, I'm still hoping for one extra thing. I would like the ability to use the AH in game. I know that Blizzard said that the AH interface has no place in the world of Sanctuary but that's bullshit. No one cares about the thin story of D3 anyway. So why not make it convenient for us to use the AH without having to leave a game if we don't want to? It would be nice to keep those NV stacks, right? The way I propose they do it is to be able to access the AH only in town. This way there won't be any possibility of being killed by monsters due to inattention.

D3 was released in an unfinished state but these AH improvements go a long way towards making the game better, even if it won't be perfect. This patch can't come soon enough.