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.