Diablo 3: Nice MP5 Farming Route for Barbarians (Act 1)

I managed to upgrade my barbarian slightly recently, which is allowing me to handle Monster Power 5 Act 1 just fine. Stat-wise, he has (unbuffed) 38.8k health, 640 all resistances, 6.5k armor, 1.1k life on hit and is around 113k DPS. I use a Scoundrel as my companion for the increased critical hit chance. Unless I get supremely unlucky or play sloppy, I have very little problems staying alive for the most part.

Currently, the way I farm Act 1 involves areas which is well documented as mob dense zones. I start by hitting the Cemetery of the Foresaken and backtracking to The Weeping Hollow. Depending on your luck (or lack thereof), you can find anywhere between 2-4 elite packs and possibly a treasure goblin. It’s up to you whether or not you want to handle a treasure goblin prior to having 5 Nephlam Valor stacks but more than likely he’ll teleport out unless you have the damage output.

Once I clear most of The Weeping Hollow, I port over to the Festering Woods. Here, you can find anywhere between 3-5 more elites and/or an event as well as an occasional treasure goblin. If you can you should probably hit the two underground zones to get the guaranteed elite. By the time you finish, you should have your 5 Nephlam Valor stacks.

For the next part, head over to the Fields of Misery. With your 5 Nephlam Valor stacks you can hunt down the Keywarden. I tend to try and clear most of the zone. The dungeons are optional as I find the meat of the area to be above ground.

From here, you have the option to restart the game or do a Whimseyshire run. Why Whimseyshire? Outside of having several elites and champion packs, you also have the slim chance of finding a unique that may drop a Spectrum or Horaldric Hamburger. If those are well rolled, you can make a good hundred million gold or more depending on the damage output.

Regardless, this farming route focuses on a few goals. One is to kill numerous white mobs at a reasonable Monster Power and thereby receiving some decent experience for your paragon leveling. Next, you want to get your Nephlam Valor stacks to 5 for both Key farming, better drops and the experience boost. Next, as stated just before, you can farm for your Key (I’ve been lucky each time and it dropped every single time). Finally, beyond killing elites in the hope of finding legendaries, doing these runs on the higher Monster Power will, indeed, help boost the rate of finding legendaries not just on elites and champion packs, but on white mobs as well. On one run, I found three legendaries as well as the key.

Also, for a barbarian most of these mobs are pretty safe and easy. The biggest difficulties I’ve encountered thus far have been getting an unlucky mix of affixes on elites and champion packs that wiped me out. But the white mobs themselves are not dangerous for the most part and only if you play sloppy will you see any danger. I’m considering bumping up the Monster Power to see how I can fare at the next level. But so far this route has proven quite positive and yielding a few decent legendaries as well as boosting my experience fairly quickly.

Diablo 3: Theory of Monster Power, Efficiency and Farming

I decided to run my Demon Hunter this morning on Monster Power 0 just to see how much experience, drops and time it would take. Although I managed to drop things fairly fast, it still felt quite slow. Also, the experience and drops felt really watered down. So later, I switched back to Monster Power 2 and saw my everything rise back up without much loss in time. Not to mention that I found two Bul-Kathos’ Solemn Vows, one which rolled decent DPS that I have up on AH right now.

That experience makes me believe that at least for my Demon Hunter farming on less than Monster Power 2 really isn’t efficient. I know there are people who say that if you can’t kill an elite in less than 20 seconds (or just one shot them) then you’re farming on too high of a Monster Power. Quite honestly, I find all these theories on efficiency to only apply towards races. Considering that all the top paragon levelers have been reached, then efficiency to me really is a non-issue.

Quite honestly, if you only take advice from those people who just farm the same spots over and over, you might find yourself frustrated. I think the people who just do Alkaizer Runs or Vault of the Assassin really don’t get that much to be honest. Again, all this goes back to setting goals for yourself. Alkaizer Runs were popularized on the basis of paragon leveling. After that others such as Raoha have tried to create other solutions for efficient paragon leveling. Remember, those are just guides but not necessarily the best methods for the individual.

My style varies depending on my class, gear and what I want to accomplish. My Demon Hunter is, unfortunately, my best all-around class but I have little desire re-running Alkaizer Runs all the time. I feel that Alkaizer Runs might be okay for experience, but they get extremely boring after a short period. Instead, I think Act 3 near complete runs might be better overall. The nice thing about progressing like that is you feel like you’re moving forward rather than doing things for strict efficiency. It feels less boring and gives you something to look forward to rather than just the same five areas over and over.

But here’s the other thing that I’m beginning to believe. Doing Alkaizer Runs for drops also hinders your drops. The problem is that by doing Alkaizer Runs you’re essentially knocking off the 5 stacks of Nephlam Valor each time you reset. So that you’re missing out on a lot of good items with the automatic rare that you get per elite/champion pack.

Quite often, I’ll read on forums how people complain about not finding legendaries despite being of high paragon level. But the bigger question to me is what is their farming strategy? If they’re doing Alkaizer Runs or restricting everything to Vault of the Assassin, they’re probably missing out on a lot of guaranteed items. I watched some people on stream and noticed that they ended up skipping white mobs. However, for myself, I find many legendaries on white mobs as well. So just restricting oneself to certain types of mobs and quick runs makes me believe that people could be missing out.

Another thing I feel is wrong is how people only pick up certain types of items. I know there are a few popular youtubers/streamers who dictate that only certain types of items are worth picking up. They believe that you lose efficiency in avoiding the other items. However, let’s say you lack gold or have poor gear and need to build up your war chest. Those rares and the gold drops can add up fairly quickly. And they’re guaranteed. Right now, I probably average around at least 500k/run doing near complete Act 3 clears. I rarely find anything worth putting up on the Auction House and most of the items I end up selling for between 10-20k max. However, on an Monster Power 2 near complete Act 3 run on my Demon Hunter, I can load up around 5-6 bags of rares that might garner me around 30-50k/trip.

The thing is that picking up those items and gold takes a few extra seconds but that’s all guaranteed money. For myself since it takes roughly 2 1/2 Act 3 near complete runs on Monster Power 2 to gain paragon levels for my Demon Hunter, I can compliment my leveling with farming and estimate my incoming gold. That’s not that bad.

Some things I do consider as I farm Act 3 Inferno on varying Monster Powers is my gear/stats on my characters. I did try Monster Power 1 on my Tempest Rush monk but he had quite a bit of trouble due to low DPS, resistances, life-on-hit and life (EHP). On the other hand, my barbarian is doing fine because of those higher stats. I might give my witch doctor a try in terms of higher Monster Power as well just for fun to see how he does considering he’s closer to my Demon Hunter with regards to overall stats and DPS. Right now, I feel that if you have around 20k health, 400-500 resistances, 400 life-on-hit and between 70-80k DPS, you can handle Inferno normal mode just fine. My Demon Hunter is at 140k DPS (buffed) with 460 resistances, but 45k life and over 460 life-on-hit and has no issues doing Monster Power 2 (except when I’m playing stupid or have some bad luck).

Either way, I think it’s important to move beyond just efficiency and see how much you really get out of your runs before choosing a method. Set your goals up and figure out what you want to accomplish in your runs. Everything shouldn’t just boil down to what popular people are doing. Experiment a little and discover on your own what works best for you.

Diablo 3: More Paragon Leveling for Demon Hunter, Barbarian and Legendary Madness!

With my barbarian completed Inferno, I felt it was time to start paragon leveling him in a more serious manner. He finished at 6 so I decided to see how far I could push him. Essentially, I focused on doing Alkaizer Runs using Monster Power 1. I ended up hitting 10 by the end and switched to my Demon Hunter for a bit.

My general experience with the Alkaizer Runs is that, yes, they are fast and focused but at the same time somewhat boring. I can see how for melee farming classes like Tempest Rush monks and Whirlwind Barbarians how Alkaizer Runs probably are best suited at the moment for experience. However, it can get tiresome quickly. I think re-building the nephlam valor stacks are somewhat of a pain, which kinda demotivates me each time I go through.

Also, I tried experimenting a little by changing a few skills around my barbarian. In one case, I ended up becoming too vulnerable and died quickly. In the current setup, I’m having issues with keeping Wrath of the Berserker up. I’ve seen several ways to handle it but perhaps my gear and skill set up might be causing some issues. I think one major factor is that my critical hit chance is a bit low due to my rings and amulet pieces lacking good critical hit, thus making my fury generation low and not fueling Wrath of the Berserker appropriately. Unfortunately, the trifecta rings that everyone loves tend to be horrendously overpriced and I just don’t have the funds at the moment to make those kinds of purchases.

I figured that since I’m still not as gear optimized as I could be at the moment (without going crazy on some budget), I decided to continue focusing on my demon hunter. I managed to hit paragon level 43 on my demon hunter and I’m finding several things at the moment. First, monster power 2 is a breeze. The only thing that threatens my demon hunter at all in Act 3 are those bull creatures in the cave. Other than that, I’d have to do something incredibly stupid or be surrounded by a huge group of enemies and trapped by prisons or wallers to die.

Another thing is that it’s taking me around 3 runs to get enough experience for each level. Around the 40 level mark, I would say things drastically started to slow down. I don’t use Alkaizer Runs on my demon hunter. Instead, I do most of Act 3 (minus the bosses) and probably two zones.  It does take me longer since I’m essentially hitting some of the lesser populated zones in Act 3 but I find this route to be less boring than the standard Alkaizer run. At the same time, I’m probably not getting as much experience as an optimized Alkaizer Run but I suspect that might be due to the fact that my demon hunter isn’t really a great farming class compared to whirlwind barbarians and tempest rush monks. I did switch one of my discipline skills to use Vault with Trail of Cinders, but that hasn’t really improved my overall speed.

Despite the less efficient route, I will say that I prefer this method to the standard Alkaizer Run, at least on my demon hunter. The thing is that I feel that each time you reset and lose your 5 nephlam valor stacks, you really end up missing out on a lot of possible items. I haven’t completely verified my results, but it feels as though I can fill up my bags with rares around 5-6 times per run. Unlike other people who might only pick up the top end rares, I pick up all those along with tomes and gems. I mentioned before that in the long run, I want to make sure I have enough materials for crafting. With rares, I end up selling most off to the vender. The thing is that rares sell for a good 2k per. Without using the Auction House, I can make roughly 500k/run at the moment just picking up the larger chunks of gold and selling all my rares. And this is guaranteed gold as opposed to hoping that something may eventually sell on the Auction House for the price I want.

The other thing is that I’ll find some decent rares that are not exactly the high end stuff most people are willing to pick up. Sometimes, I’ll find some awesome level reduced armor or weapon that can sell for a nice 100k+. Other times, I’ll find an item that has reasonable stats that can sell for a good 20-25k. That might not be as awesome as those 100+ million gold auctions. However, when you consider that the vast majority of drops end up sucking, you really have to take what you can get.

Lastly, I’ve been getting roughly 3 legendaries per run now. That’s not bad. Admittedly, most of the legendaries I’ve found thus far have been pretty bad. I end up decomposing them for future materials. Still though, that’s a decent drop rate that has become somewhat consistent. Hopefully, as I continue to gain higher paragon levels, I’ll see even more legendaries drop per run.

Overall, I like the way I have my runs set up on my Demon Hunter. Although I’m not gaining XP as efficiently as pure Alkaizer Runs, I am enjoying the benefits of finding decent loot, getting legendaries and making consistent gold. I still am tempted to pump up the monster power by one more just to see how well I can handle things. I think if I can increase my DPS by another 20-30k, the higher monster powers will be quite nice for farming.

Diablo 3: Finished Inferno on Barbarian, Paragon Leveling on Demon Hunter

Out of boredom, I decided to just power straight through on normal mode Inferno with my barbarian. The other day I finished Act 1 on my Barbarian for the first time so after easily screaming through Act 2, I ended up just zooming through the rest of the game. I figured that with the 5 stacks of Nephlam Valor carrying through each act, it made sense just to retain them between acts in the hope of getting a good drop here and there sooner rather than later.

For the most part, everything was dead easy. Only Act 4 gave me a slight issue where the unique that has the plans for crafting machines would nuke me a few times. Beyond that, my barbarian held remarkably well in normal mode Inferno to the point where I felt like he was overpowered even. I made a few changes to my barbarian based on Moldran’s barbarian. While I do not have the same gear as he does, I ended up switching some talents and passives around because I found myself rage starved too often. I still have some issues with rage, but not to the degree as before.

Right now, I’m focused on doing a whirlwind barbarian build. I use the Bul-Kathos legendaries for some added fury (not much), one having life on hit. I believe my life on hit at the moment is 1.2k and he has lifesteal from his belt. When I tackle reflect damage mobs, I have no issues whatsoever. It’s really cool since my survivability is just awesome. When I modified my barbarian, I sacrificed once passive (the one for armor) for the rage generation passive. I thought that his survivability would drop. Quite the contrary. Probably, I’m doing far better now than before.

My next challenge would be to try higher monster powers to see where a sweet spot is for farming. Initially, I want to focus on gaining paragon levels since most of the drops are crap as of now. Usually, I’ve been picking up gems, rares and tomes on top of legendaries to build my barbarian’s personal stash up. Some people don’t feel it’s efficient but again the goal is more long term since I eventually want to make enough money and have the mats to craft better gems and the Archon recipes.

Besides playing my barbarian, I also have been playing my Demon Hunter. My Demon Hunter is in a weird state since he’s pretty much my best character with decent gear/DPS and sits at paragon level 42. However, he’s probably nowhere near efficient as a monk or barbarian. I ended up getting the vault talent once again just to move around faster but I don’t feel that my farming has improved much. Sadly though, all the good stuff comes from his runs.

Despite all that, my Demon Hunter is slowing down considerably when it comes to Paragon Leveling. I’m back at Monster Power 2 without any change of gear just to try and grab better drops and experience. Right now, it doesn’t feel all that challenging so I’m tempted to pump it up one more level.

Down the road, I would like to return to my other characters. I would’ve put more effort into my monk if it wasn’t for his squishiness as a Tempest Rush build. However, I would love to some day give the Archon Wizard build a try. I did use a lower level Archon style build at one point and I found it loads of fun. But in moving to Inferno, I needed something with a little better survivability and for cheap. Hence, the Critical Mass build choice. The problem with my Wizard as a Critical Mass build is that her gear is pretty bad. She drastically needs better gear and I want to devote either gold to obtaining that gear or finding it on my own.

Then lastly there’s my witch doctor. I’ve seen the Zombie Dogs and Zombie Bears builds but I don’t quite have the gear for either. Instead, I use a pretty generic build that allows him to do decently. But his DPS isn’t great and I think he’ll have problems at higher monster powers. I would love to eventually get him better gear, but it’ll take a while and probably quite a bit of money before I can do that.

If I have time, I would eventually like to have the opposite gender for each of these classes. But some things I would do differently are getting a Hellfire Ring as well as the other legendary ring that provides the XP bonus. Also, I want to have them dedicated for other builds. For those other builds, I want to find all the gear on my own rather than depend on the Auction House. That possibly will take quite a while and require me to eventually focus on one main farming class (probably barbarian or my demon hunter). But I think it’ll be a nice long term challenge.

Once again you might be asking, “What happened to Path of Exile?” I recently learned that one of my friends acquired a new PC. I’m hoping to convince her to try out the game. When she does, I’ll probably re-roll my ranger. I found out that I probably messed up her build already so it’ll probably be better for me just to re-roll her. In the meantime, I wanted to focus more on gear acquisition and paragon leveling in Diablo 3.

Diablo 3: Pushing My Barbarian

It’s fun playing a Demon Hunter but I want a better farming class. The Tempest Rush Monk can be fun but I’ve been having problems on even MP1 in terms of staying alive. Pretty much with the monk the main issues are life and resistance. My current build for my monk and his gear essentially makes him a glass cannon against certain elites.

So I decided to switch back to my barbarian, whom I haven’t played in quite a while. I grabbed a few pieces of gear and actually got lucky when my Demon Hunter, ironically, scored some relevant Lacuni Bracers. With that I’m reasonably geared.

Survivability thus far has been decent. Pretty much I’m one shotting everything. The biggest issue is spending rage. With everything going down so fast, it’s really hard to keep up things like Wrath of the Berserker. I think once I clean Act 3, I might try pumping up the Monster Power little by little to see where that sweet spot is.

More than likely, I’ll just do Alkaizer Runs once I finish Act 3. Even with the upcoming buffs to mob density in non-Act 3 areas, I think that the Alkaizer Run still probably will end up being one of the better spots. I’ve seen the increase in mob density on the PTR as demonstrated by some streamers and youtube videos and it honestly doesn’t feel as though it’s been buffed up that much.

Part of the reason to continue doing Alkaizer Runs though is to combine paragon leveling with finding decent drops. Since my barbarian is the lowest of my food chain in terms of paragon levels, it will take some time before I’ll see anything come out of these runs. It’s probably better for me to continue using my Demon Hunter, but I just want to switch it up a bit.

Oh what about Path of Exile you might say. Well, why not just do both? I mean, when Diablo 3 goes down for maintenance, I can switch to Path of Exile and vice versa. I have fun with both games and I don’t think it’s great just playing one game exclusively. Anything can burn you out if you over do it so switching things around helps keep everything fresh.

Diablo 3: Tempest Rush Monk Thoughts

I’ve been doing a little bit of paragon leveling with my tempest rush monk. So far, I managed to get him to level 10 (and I haven’t even completed all of Inferno yet!) Mostly, I’m focused on doing Alkaizer runs and have been doing them on Monster Power 1.

I would say that I might end up dropping the Monster Power down to nothing because I find myself dying quite frequently. I believe that the issues are that I do not output enough damage and my life is just too low. It feels as though I should have roughly 30-35k base life to avoid getting one shotted (which is the primary issue) and probably should be doing around 90k damage minimal.

In fact, I’ve done a bit of reading to figure out how I can optimize myself a little better. First, I discovered that the best follower is the templar for the resource (i.e. spirit) regeneration capability. I do not use One With Everything as I tend to favor spirit regeneration passives with Exalted Soul, The Guardian’s Path and Chant of Resonance. That might be hurting me slightly since I’m pretty much too focused on All Resist gear rather than finding a cheaper alternative. With the templar acting as a spirit battery, it might be worth re-examining using Guardian’s Path instead.

Next, I simply need better gear. I’ve been doing some BoA crafting on occasion but haven’t found anything capable of beating my Vile Ward shoulders. After that I have to get better bracers and gloves. Unfortunately, I have a few Increased Attack Speed items, which I’ve read end up hurting your spirit regeneration. My gloves might be easy to replace but I use Lacuni Prowlers, which in reality are probably better for a different spec. I also employ Natalya’s Reflection but I find that the 7% critical hit bonus from the 2-piece bonus worth the penalty.

That all said, I really have mixed feelings about the Tempest Rush monk right now. It can be a really fun build in that you’ll be zooming through areas non-stop (unless you meet a waller or jailer) and just nuke zones really fast. However, the glass cannon aspect is pretty discouraging. The biggest issue with the build is that it’s horribly gear dependent and you sacrifice a lot of stats to bump your spirit regeneration to make the build viable. People say that it’s the fastest paragon leveling spec around, which I can see, as well as a reasonable farming build. However, you can definitely feel all the weaknesses in higher monster powers.

With that in mind, I hope to some day return to my barbarian. I did like the whirlwind build idea but I donated my gear to a friend. Some day, I would like to work on him again to compare that build against the tempest rush monk. I think that the whirlwind barbarian might end up being more durable, but I need to get a few more pieces of gear before being able to give it another go.

Diablo 3: Tempest Rush Monk Rules!

Finally, I hit level 60 on my monk while playing with some friends. Upon hitting 60, I spend around 12 million gold on gear to get a reasonable amount of spirit regeneration, which is required to handle the Tempest Rush build. Left me with just over a million gold left, but I have to say this: totally worth it.

I did a little bit of playing around on a Whirlwind Barbarian previously. The lack of fury at times made the build somewhat of a meh for me. It still felt a bit slow when you were fury deprived. Then up until now, the monk just felt horribly slow. Not anymore. Definitely one of the fastest classes around now.

What makes this class great is the raw speed you can achieve. You’re pretty much moving faster than almost any class. So it’s easy to see how this class/build might have become so popular recently as a premier farming class. I can see that this class probably works best on lower monster powers if you do not have high end gear. Right now, my resistances are quite low and my life is only around 15k. DPS-wise, he’s reporting to be around 70k unbuffed according to diabloprogress.com. So I think overall he’s not truly hitting on all cylinders yet.

My build comes from Raoha’s Tempest Rush guide:

Right now, I have one major alteration in using Serenity in place of Blinding Flash. The thing is that I want my monk to be fluid in movement. So if I get entrapped, Serenity is a panic button that lets me escape in a hot situation. Also, I’m considering replacing Chant of Resonance with One with Everything since my Spirit Regeneration is a little over 12 seconds at the moment and the recommended amount is 10. That would allow me to potentially get cheaper gear but still obtain higher resistances.

I’m looking forward to doing some paragon leveling with my monk. I think I’ll try experimenting with him in Inferno to see how he fares. If I can get to Act 3 and farm efficiently there, I might switch to my monk from my demon hunter.


Diablo 3: Balancing Paragon Levels, Making Gold, Gearing and Keys

It’s well documented that the most efficient route for doing Paragon levels is the Alkaizer method. Essentially, you’re running Act 3 Inferno on low monster powers (or none at all) over and over. To make it efficient as possible, you’re not supposed to pick up any loot. Of course, this tactic is primarily for whirlwind barbarians but any class can utilize it.

Some players, like Moldran above, have tweaked the run to their own preference. For myself, I change the run entirely but use the premise that Act 3 is by far the best place to farm in general. My method is to start with Siegebreaker and go until Azmodan. First, I go for full 5 stacks of Nephlam Valor by starting with the Fields of Slaughter. That way, when I get to Siegebreaker, I can maximize things like Magic Find. I feel that the fight with him and the two other bosses are worth doing because they’re fairly simple and have the potential to drop some decent loot.

After slaying Azmodan, I go back to the Keeps Depths Level 1 and kill off a single elite (or pack) that usually hovers in a nearing room. Then I go to up until the room that contains Ghom. Lastly, I may exit the hold and go all the way up until the Key Warden, killing all elite packs along the way. In addition, I pick up all blues, tomes, rares and potions while playing on Monster Power 2.

So why use this route when it’s clearly published what the most efficient route is? First, my goals in playing Diablo 3 are drastically different than those attempting to hit world first Paragon levels. My aim in this route is to get experience along side making gold, possible gear and hopefully a key along the way (it can happen as I found one key on Monster Power 2 the other night). I believe I make around 300-500k gold per run. My intention is not speed at all, but focus by giving myself clear, simple goals and working towards the last one (which is the Key Warden).

I use Monster Power 2 at the moment because I felt zero through one was too easy and the loot dropped was garbage. The loot dropping for me at the moment is mostly garbage but I’m slowly seeing better loot drop more often. At Paragon Level 24, I’m seeing at least one legendary drop per run now, some of which have been quite useful. Not to mention that there is a gold and experience boost outside of the magic find boost. Just for comparison, my in game DPS is marked at 155k while my unbuffed EHP hovers at 480k. My resistances are over 500 and armor is near 5k. Usually, I only die out of stupidity or if I get surrounded. My build is a standard high level demon hunter build except that I use Perfectionist in place of Steady Shot. You can see my current gear here.

At any rate, I feel quite comfortable at Monster Power 2. I’ve considered boosting it up by one just to check out any improvements. But I feel that where I am currently is good considering my gear and speed. I believe that for me to use a higher Monster Power consistently, I would need to push my DPS another 20-50k. However, the biggest issue at the moment is that the gear I need to push those numbers either are too expensive or marginal by themselves. Instead, my current plan is to continue doing Monster Power 2 Act 3 Inferno and aim for higher Paragon levels, while seeing if I can gain any drops along the way for my alts. I figure the gold I can make through these runs will later be reinvested into my alts

That isn’t to say that I’m not inclined to do higher Monster Powers. Quite often, I’ll pair up with friends and do between 3-5. However, I think for someone soloing, Monster Power 2 is the sweet spot (at least for me). You really need top gear to push that envelope.

One thing that has interested me in all of this is that Blizzard has announced that they will nerf reflect damage in an upcoming patch. Although I’ve managed to deal with reflect damage, anyone who ever encounters a mob with reflect damage should well know what a pain it is. For someone like myself, we’re forced to compensate by utilizing life on hit gear all the time. In turn, I’ve had issues where my DPS or gear might suffer since I’ll be forced to keep it on a few pieces. From there, I won’t be as inclined to do harder Monster Powers simply because I find myself forced to use certain types of gear.

Regardless, I think this method is quite good. It’s allowed me to stay focused and do full runs per night and essentially get a level a night (or two during the weekends). Obviously, as I gain more Paragon levels, I’ll have to adjust this even more but it might mean just repeating it even more to hit my goals.





Diablo 3: Fine Tuning Gear and Monster Power

Recently, I managed to hit Paragon Level 20 on my demon hunter. Before that point I had been running Inferno with no Monster Power enabled. However, I decided within the past few days to start upgrading my demon hunter’s gear again after becoming frustrated with his lack of true high end DPS and survivability. I started looking at other top demon hunters in the world and came to the conclusion that while my gear was reasonable, it’s still far from excellent. As a result, I decided to make some more “investments.”

Before going into the main topics of this article, I want to first talk about how I arrived at this point. The main thing about Diablo 3 is that it’s a completely gear driven game. To progress in the game smoothly, you need to acquire the best gear that you can, whether it’s farming, spending gold on the Auction House or real money. One of my friends mentioned that he was getting back into the game once the nerfs came into play. At the same time, I was close to the high 50’s and wanted to really finish off the game. But prior to that point, my gear was quite horrid and what I thought was decent DPS turned out to be really crappy.

However, I wasn’t really aware of things such as DPS, all resist gear, survivability, etc. Even with the nerfs, a fresh 60 coming into to Inferno might very well be in for a shock as their gear might not be as good as they’d like. And finding good gear is tough without serious time and/or money investment.

For myself, once I hit 60, I did a few purchases after doing preliminary research. Most of the gear I ended up getting (some set gear) was okay for starting out. It allowed me enough DPS and survivability to plow smoothly through Inferno without any monster power enabled. However, when I tried to play with my friend, I found myself still struggling a bit at higher monster power levels. As a result, I ended up focusing on Inferno without any monster power for a while.

Although I performed reasonably, I started finding the game play to be slow and a bit boring. I wanted to check out more difficult monster powers, but that might imply joining with a group. After watching several youtube videos and doing more reading, I ended up starting to figure out how to fine tune my demon hunter. Most of what I’ve come to recognize is that you really need to know how the stats in the game operate.

Up until now, I had been focused on relying on gear that was cheap but reasonable for my demon hunter. I found out that the Sharpshooter skill was not displaying my demon hunter’s true DPS so that bothered me quite a bit. I tried checking out what better stats for certain items were such as my ring, gloves, amulet, etc. to better match what other demon hunters were using.

After doing another round of investments, I found myself struggling even more in Inferno on something as easy as no monster power. How could this be? I increased my DPS? Why am I having such a tough time?

Well, the first real wake up call hit me once I died a few times to Siegebreaker. Previously, I had absolutely no issue with Siegebreaker. I thought it could’ve been some odd bug. But then again there were other mobs that I had issues with too. Then my friend mentioned that Siegebreaker has a natural reflect damage aura, which ended up slaying me. In examining my old gear with my new one, I finally understood the issue: my overall life and resistances went down!

But that wasn’t the real issue. I still had some resistance and my life wasn’t that much lower than before. So what happened? Why did I die so easily? The answer is that my old gear had a lot of life on hit. I believe at least three items had life on hit, thus allowing me to withstand my own blows. Videos from Kripparrian (Krippie) indicated that a lot of gear has a ton of useless stats. Even if you have a legendary, this idea of poor stats makes legendaries unique to a player and possibly can throw them off. And that’s where my real issue lies.

The thing I didn’t realize when I first started getting geared was that the gear I purchased was cheap for a reason. It simply was not the best in the game and the stats occasionally would have some useless thing for my demon hunter like strength or intelligence. When you start out in Inferno, a lot of that won’t matter at all, no matter what class you use. It’s easy to ignore a stat or two on each piece of gear as long as your DPS and survivability are there.

However, when you want to progress to more challenging monster power levels, this strategy won’t work anymore. You will be forced to start scrutinizing each piece of gear and the stats and look at the overall picture.

The first thing you have to understand is that the most important overarching stats are not actually apparent in the game. Those two stats are unbuffed DPS and EHP. What these mean are your true raw stats that will matter when getting hit or hitting monsters. For instance, Sharpshooter is a horribly deceptive ability that you can use as a demon hunter because if you stand still in town, for instance, your DPS grows to a ridiculous number. However, there is fine print to this ability in that this number only is meaning when you critically hit the first time. Then it resets until you hit 100% again, etc. To a neophyte, the large DPS can appear ego inflating. However, you have to remove that passive (and others possibly) to truly gauge what your real DPS is.

With EHP, this statistic will not show up anywhere. But it’s a critical statistic because it’s your “real” HP. What happens is that you have several key stats that contribute to this number. Those stats are vitality, armor, all resist, etc. When someone tries to hit you, things like armor, all resist, etc. discount a percentage of damage. As a result, you in effect have more health than you may realize.

Now that we have defined what these two statistics do, we need to examine what matters as statistics on items. Like Krippie had mentioned, there are a ton of useless statistics, some of which are deceptive. However, there are some really important stats like all resist or your class’ key statistic which can boost your EHP and DPS. Becoming aware of them is the first step in getting to the next level.

For my demon hunter, I started examining which items were useless and whether nor not I could make significant upgrades. Of course, I used the Real Money Auction House for this as I simply do not have the gold as of yet to make the necessary purchases for better gear. That said, there is a huge potential risk of buying an item, whether it’s from gold or dollar value in that you may not be receiving what you may perceive to be a great deal. Let me provide an example.
In my case, a few items I had bought ended up having terrible statistics despite having some core statistics. I ended up going up a few notches in DPS, but I sacrificed survivability, which would cause me to get 1-shotted again in Inferno without monster power. But I thought that just having some all resist, etc. would save me. Nope.
So how do you prevent yourself from inadvertently buying a crappy item that gives you no real benefit in the end? The auction house does not allow you to preview your change in statistics (at least that I know). So you’re really working blind if you use that interface. But if you want to do a risk free comparison, you will need to use a tool like d3up.com.
d3up.com is a great tool that I came across where you import your character profile then tweak stats on gear. In this manner, you can simulate the effects as if you were to purchase the gear from the Auction House. The main benefit is that you can see the net EHP and unbuffed DPS you can gain by tweaking the stats on a piece of gear. That way you can tell if you’re getting a true upgrade.
This site helped me tremendously. For instance, I had Natalya’s Reflection and it had strength previously. I found several other rings and wanted to see if I could increase my critical hit chance, as rings are the best way to do this. Of course, other rings on the auction house did not have the same statistics, so I needed to adjust those values to make sure I was coming out ahead. I found several rings, some which were insanely expensive. However, I found one that had reasonable stats and ended up purchasing it because I determined the positive stats would go a long way. Compare having this knowledge with when I originally bought the ring. At the surface, I only care about it being part of the set, not the other critical stats associated with such a ring.
Another great thing I learned was figuring out how to deal with things like damage reflection. While your cooldowns can help, your real savior is again your gear. In the case of damage reflection, you take life on hit to mitigate the incoming damage. Similarly, there are other aspects to gear which help you survive those situations.

The other thing I learned was understanding the limitations of statistics on gear. The first thing you need to do is become familiar with the search capabilities for the auction house. Now, you can set up to six different item attributes. While you don’t need to put any numeric value for the amount for a given statistic, just putting an attribute will force the search function to filter the list. As you add more filters, you’ll see the number of items dropping rapidly. But overall, what you’re going to be looking for are the right dollar amounts for the right combination of stats.

When I geared, I used the Diablo Progress site as a way to check out what the top DPS people for a given class is and seeing how they’re able to become the top DPS. By doing this, you’ll understand the limits of what you can search for on your gear. Also, it provides an aim for you down road.

In reality, the top DPS people in the world probably got there through the auction house, farming MP10 (once it was released) and spending enough time to really procure the items they have now. The truth is that their items are pretty close to being perfect. You’ll be hard pressed to find items that are remotely close in numbers without spending real money. And even then you won’t be able to find those statistics.

However, you can attempt to find reasonable items that have good stats. For instance, my Natalya’s Sight helmet originally had more dexterity. But the new one has resist all, better armor and critical hit chance. Not to mention a perfect ruby gem that provides a 31% bonus to experience. There were other helmets as well, but this clearly would give me better statistics compared to what I was using.

You’ll have to iterate through each of your equipment slots and figure out for your spec, which items you can upgrade or maximize given your resources (i.e. gold or dollars) But once you start to aim at higher challenges, you’ll definitely be required to put forth that effort in really researching your class.

Despite all this gear, we still, of course, want to see it in action. Part of all this is to figure out where you belong. Should you stay in Inferno with no monster power? Or can you progress into a higher monster power?

Ultimately, the answer is going to be determined by you. You will need to figure out what works best. You need to define what your goals are. Will you be farming keys? Or perhaps progressing with Paragon Levels. At any rate, you need to answer this.

For myself, I’m working on Act 3 with Monster Power 2. Last I checked my unbuffed DPS and EHP, I was around 110-140k DPS and almost 300k EHP. Act 3 with Monseter Power 1 was a breeze; it felt as though it was about as hard as Hell mode towards the end. Monster Power 2 at the moment feels like Inferno when I first started. I kinda want to check out Monster Power 3 just to see how much more difficult it can be. Tonight in clearing Monster Power 2, I only died once so it might be a good spot to farm for a bit.

Another important aspect to take into consideration is your spec that you end up choosing. I think glass cannon type of builds can be difficult to pull off early on, unless you have good gear. But generally high DPS weapons are quite expensive, so a survival spec might be better initially. So DPS alone might not necessarily be the way to judge which monster power you set. Take a Critical Mass Wizard build for instance. If you manage to gear one up to the point where you’re able to stun lock reasonably well, you might be able to do a reasonable monster power without depending too much on DPS (and other stats like intelligence)

I think a few important things that will reveal the correct monster power to choose are determining your survivability and the time it takes to kill mobs. If you find yourself dying often and/or taking a ridiculous amount of time to kill elite packs, etc., you’re probably on the wrong monster power. In that situation, you should only attempt that level if you’re doing something like farming for keys.

Some people say that setting Monster Power to zero is the most efficient for leveling. That might be true because of the ease in clearing areas. However, I think it can get a bit boring, not so much in lacking a challenge but knowing that you probably won’t be maxing out what kind of items you can get. So I think that combining Monster Power with leveling and farming items might be a way to help keep you motivated overall.

In the future, once I level up more of my guys and procure better gear, I hope to create a baseline for what I feel are good numbers for estimating monster power. I’m sure there’s sites out there that can provide precise numbers. But I would like to get a general, high level feeling for what those numbers can be.



Diablo 3: Current Progress

At the moment, I’ve been focused on my demon hunter, who is now Paragon level 18. I’m mostly using a glass cannon type of gearing and build. I’ve managed to balance my play style with the gear and talents so that I can do okay both solo and when I group up with my friend. The idea is that I can take a few shots but take down mobs quickly. At the same time, when I play with my friend the only abilities I change out are Shadow Power: Gloom with Vault: Cinder Trails (meaning, I use Vault to keep up since my friend plays a whirlwind  barbarian).

Usually, the way it goes is he can deal with enough damage to maintain aggro, but I’ll nuke the hell out of mobs along the way. The only times I really have problems at the moment are with reflect damage mobs. I think because my gear is heavy on the damage side, I sacrifice preventative measures like gaining life on hit. Not to mention my dps is extremely high so I end up punishing myself. Right now, I’m keeping a pants and amulet in my bags and switch between the two depending on whether I’m soloing or if I’m playing with a tank. My two items afford me more health and give me life on hit, thus allowing me to survive reflect damage mobs.

However, I think that at higher monster powers, things will get more interesting since I can belt out enough damage to help prevent enrage timers. It’s hard to say at this stage since I only play higher monster powers with others. Mostly, I’m concentrating on gaining Paragon levels, for which I don’t use monster power at all.

One thing that I am seeing as I slowly climb up the Paragon level ladder is that the quality of rares is slowly increasing along with the quantity of rares. With a full five stacks of Nephlam Valor, I can easily obtain 3-4 rares per encounter. In fact, I often see normal mobs drop rares. But before most of the rares were absolute garbage. Now, I’m seeing one out of say 30 actually be worth something on the auction house.

I feel that the best thing to do is just keep pushing on the Paragon levels by doing monster power zero until I start to a wall. I’m looking forward to see how the upper 20’s play out in terms of rares. I occasionally find a legendary every 2-3 runs now. Most are garbage but they should improve as I gain more Paragon levels.

Some people might say that it might be better just to keep a spare set of Magic Find gear in my bags and swap them once I’m ready to kill a boss. The biggest issue I’ve found is that this technique can be problematic and tedious. There’s no easy way to swap out on the spot your gear. I prefer to depend on things like Nephlam Valor stacks and my natural Magic Find through Paragon levels instead. The biggest issue to me is simply underestimating how much life a mob can have. Since things tend to get chaotic in fights, swapping gear at the last minute can cost your life. So for me, it just isn’t worth it.

Something I do that isn’t as efficient as other people pushing for their Paragon levels is that I pick up as many blue and yellow items along the way. My idea is that I’m focused on not just leveling but making good money. It might take longer but I’ve been able to make decent gold all the time. Gradually, I’ve been building up a war chest of gold that I can disperse among my other guys as they level up.

Still, my primary focus is on my demon hunter. The idea is to get one really solid character that can act as the primary farmer, rather than split my attention between too many other guys. If I manage to push him high enough, then gold and gear for everyone else will never really be an issue.