Thoughts on the Diablo 3 Necromancer

It’s been a while since the Rise of the Necromancer pack released, and initially I had very little interest in it. Sure, the Necromancer was my favorite class in Diablo 2, and like most people I wanted to see it in Diablo 3, but the Witch Doctor sort of filled those shoes and I enjoyed the class well enough. When Blizzard decided that they were going to continue to add things to Diablo 3 like new zones, a portion of the first game and now a new class it was great to see, but also somewhat disappointing. I honestly thought they would put out another expansion by now, though I suppose the additional zones and features and now this class could count as such, but it would be interesting to see a new Act added to the game.

The Necromancer pack includes access to the new class, provides some other frivolous items like a portrait frame, wings and banner pieces, and a new pet. The pets just run around and pick up gold for you which is nice but not entirely necessary and I can’t count how many times I’ve tried to attack the little bugger running around. Regardless, it seems like a fairly decent value, though I think I would have priced it around $10 rather than $15. Still, breathing new life into a game that is a few years old is nice and it appears that people are still playing it regularly. I’m late to the party this time around, as season 11 started back in July, but I still rolled a hardcore seasonal version of the new Necro:

He looks like a vampire but he really isn’t. Sort of reminds me Geralt from The Witcher as well. As far as the class goes there are some abilities that remind me of the D2 version of it, things like corpse explosion:

It feels much more effective than it did in the prior game however. If you down a large group and fire this ability off it can really start mowing enemies down and creates a chain reaction. The summoning portion of his abilities feel a little more lackluster, but I’m still early in my progression, so perhaps they will improve. The first summoning skill is the ability to procure Skeletal Mages, which were a stable in D2, along with normal skeletons, etc. These are on a temporary timer in this game though, whereas in D2 they were permanent until they died (or they had a much longer timer, I’m not exactly sure). They do some work, killing things much faster than I, but it feels like something you should be able to keep up all the time, so I’m hoping in the later levels that’s the case. I’m not fully aware of all the class can do just yet, but overall it feels pretty fun.

I managed to play for an hour or so last night and decided to play through the campaign for once, just to familiarize myself with the class. I’ll likely jump into Adventure mode sooner than later, because that’s more my speed. If a new season is starting soon I’ll probably rebirth this guy just to be able to run him through a whole season. Earning the rewards is worth it, even if it’s really just more of the same. I will say that they managed to add some bits and bobs that I was unaware of, the last time I played was season 6, so it has been a while. I’ll report more on these as I get more involved.

No matter how many times I walk away from this game, I always manage to come back. It’s elegant in its simplicity and there’s something about zoning out and aimlessly smashing things that tickles my fancy. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this as I progress, so stay tuned!

Season Journey Complete

I’ve finally completed the Season’s Journey for Diablo III. This would have been a much easier feat to accomplish if I was playing the game on normal, but playing it on hardcore meant that there was the potential for stumbling blocks, which is exactly what happened. I’ve gone over it before, but just to recap, I leveled a Barbarian to 70 and was working through the journey when he died, and due to playing on hardcore mode, that death was permanent. I also lost some of my Haedrig’s gift set pieces, so that meant grinding til I found a set on my Crusader. I was at the point that I had nearly all set pieces for multiple sets, but just couldn’t complete one. I ended up getting a piece last night that was a duplicate, but I only needed one more piece of the Akkhan set to finally enter a set dungeon. You can use Kanai’s Cube to reforge these items into another piece of the set, so after spending a bunch of death’s breath and forgotten souls, I finally had the last piece that I needed.

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The set focuses on giving bonuses when you use Akarat’s Champion, which is an ability I was already using, but the overall stats of the set were less effective than the Invoker set. I started to feel how much harder I was getting hit on Torment VI in this set as opposed to the mixed up pieces I had on before. Part of that was due to having a few ancient pieces in other sets. Anyway, the first step towards getting the season journey was done, now it was time to find the dungeon. I headed to the Royal Quarters, and found a clue.

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Being too lazy to figure that out (and also trying to make some progress in a limited amount of time) I looked up where to go for the set dungeon. This particular one is in Bastion’s Keep in Act III. It was easy enough to find, after knowing where I was going.

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Set dungeons come with a list of things to complete, and have a timer, so there are similar to Greater Rifts, but have more specific things that you have to do. This particular set dungeon had these goals:

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I already use Condemn and Akarat’s Champion normally, so these objectives sounded rather easy, but I went into the set dungeon on Torment VI, and ended up dying. Thankfully, even on hardcore mode you don’t actually die if you die inside of a set dungeon. I’m thankful, because I was about to rage and never play this game again. I lowered the difficulty to Torment III and managed to complete the dungeon, but didn’t complete one of the primary objectives, so I had to run it once more. I dropped the difficulty to Torment I and at that point I was at least able to complete one primary objective, but ran out of time so got no mastery for it, and I’m not sure what that does anyway.

Hitting ten enemies at once with condemn is harder than it sounds. Perhaps I should have lowered the difficulty even further, and perhaps I will in the future while doing these. With that, my season journey was complete, and I earned the portrait border, a pet, and a new sigil for completing that dungeon. I was surprised to find out that there was more to the season journey after the fact though, and I have already completed a couple of the tasks:

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I’m not sure if I’ll actually complete this section of the journey, as all it does is give you another portrait frame and an achievement. Those are all well and good, but I may have had my fill at this point. I think I’m ready to wait for the next season and move forward with a new character. But maybe I’ll play more, I’m not sure. I still love this game but I think it’s time for another break.

Progress Report: D3 Season 5

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The above screenshot paints a picture of what’s going on with my latest character in this season’s journey. He’s max level. He has 124 paragon levels. He’s got all but one of the season journey objectives completed. He’s got mostly matching gear. Grinding Torment IV rifts has become nearly effortless, and moving onto Torment V is happening very soon. I’m sure you can probably guess which one of the objectives he hasn’t completed yet, but I have already spoiled that in the above sentence and also on the latest episode of Couch Podtatoes. For those of you who suck at guessing or weren’t paying attention, this Crusader still has yet to finish a set dungeon.

Ah, the elusive set dungeon. Truth be told, most everyone who isn’t playing a hardcore character (or didn’t kill their first one off like I did) had no issue getting their first complete set of armor, allowing them entry into the exclusive club known as set dungeons. Nay, they had Haedrig’s Gift on their side, and they completed all of the objectives needed to earn that full set of gear, and they triumphed over their dungeon and perhaps moved onto other set dungeons. My stupid luck meant that I had only one Haedrig’s Gift to reap on this character, as the other two fell into the ether once my Barbarian died. The last gift contained only one set piece I could use, as I had already found the other via RNG (grinding). I have since been grinding quite a bit. I pushed through the 20 levels of Greater Rifts required for the last gift a week or more ago. I’ve earned a bunch of paragon points along the way and have increased the difficulty each time things started to feel easy. I’ve upgraded a legendary gem to rank 25, and a second to rank 10. I’ve found ancient weapons and armor. I have matching set rings. I have set pieces in almost every slot, legendaries in the rest. I’ve even nearly filled up my stash with more set gear, legendary gems, and legendary weapons and gear.

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At this point I have gear that will go to my other 70’s who aren’t seasonal after this season ends. I have four pieces of the Akkhan set, four pieces of the Invoker set, three pieces of the Light set, and two pieces of Blackthorne armor. This isn’t counting duplicates that I broke down for components. I really don’t care which set is completed first, I just want one to be complete so that I can get the last bit of the season journey done and probably go back to not playing Diablo III for a while. At least, til they add something new or refresh the seasons once again. I feel like I have had my fill, but I want to finish what I’ve started. It will also be fun to flesh out my other 70’s whom I’ve spent less time on but have some gear waiting for them in my stash.

At this point I just want to share my personal build for the Crusader:

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I’m running Slash with the Zeal rune which gives 1% attack speed for 3 seconds, stacking up to ten times. This combined with the Heavenly Strength passive means I can still sword/board with two handers and attack a bit fast during sustained fights. Fist of the Heavens with Divine Well rune means the initial strike of lightning spreads out to other enemies. AOE is killer on Crusaders. Akarat’s Champion with the Hasteful rune gives my Crusader extra damage, wrath regen and attack speed (this really helps with elites/bosses). Condemn with the Unleashed rune makes the damage instant, and this is another great AOE tool. Combining that with my first Kanai’s Cube power, from the Blade of Prophecy makes the Condemn trigger multiple times. Bombardment with Impactful Bombardment rune makes for a stronger damaging single projectile. I have a proc from one of my set pieces that makes this effect trigger twice. Finally, Falling Sword with Flurry is a great engage/escape tool. You leap into the air and come slamming down, and then a ring of swords pops out that continuously damages nearby enemies (also staggers weaker ones). My other three passives are Indestructible (death prevent), Holy Cause (+10% damage – helps to offset the -% damage from Heavenly Strength), and Vigilant (health regen and -20% damage).  The other two Kanai’s powers are from the Death Watch Mantle (25-35% chance on receiving damage to shoot out fan of blades causing 750-950% weapon damage) and Countess Julia’s Cameo (prevents all Arcane damage and heals for 20-25% of the amount prevented). Also, here are my paragon points at this time:

Mainly keeping with the themes of more attack speed, sustain, and some other defensive stats. Overall I have found this build to work really well for me. Perhaps it will work well for you too.

Season 5 Journey

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I wrote about the newest patch when it released last week, just before the season reset went down. There are some videos of the new areas introduced in 2.4 in that post as well, so check that out if you are still unfamiliar with the changes that have come to the game. Season 5 started shortly after I made that post, and I jumped back into the game whole-heartedly. I hadn’t touched Diablo since Season 4 started, and after my first hardcore seasonal character died post level 60, I lost interest in playing further. This is nothing new, because despite playing during every season since the concept was introduced, I only reached level 70 once, and my play time petered out shortly after that. Last time I was trying to make a “battlemage” build with a new wizard, as my only high level wizard is a normal character, and I have played nothing but hardcore characters since then. I love hardcore because of the extra challenge, but it sure is off-putting when you are level 70 and lose a character you’ve poured a couple dozen of hours into. That’s exactly what happened this season too. *sigh*

I really didn’t know what I wanted to play when I logged in a perused the new goodies that are a part of the new season. I finally decided on a Barbarian, because it’s the only class I really hadn’t played much of. I did create one at one point that died at a really low level and that was really all the time I had spent with the class. With my mind made up, I hopped into adventure mode and powered through bounties and rifts on my way to 70 — a milestone I reached in only a couple of days. It felt like it went quite a bit faster than usual, and I felt like was pretty well geared shortly after hitting 70. An added bonus was the fact that Haedrig’s gift is part of the season journey this time around, and it provides a full set of gear, which is actually pretty damn good. I managed to clear most of the season journey requirements and snagged two of the three Haedrig’s gifts netting me four of the six pieces of set gear.

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Those are the last four objectives I need to complete to finish off the season journey, and I managed to make it a lot further than I did in the previous season. I’m still determined to complete it, but that checklist has been put off a bit, because while working on the “Seeya” objective, tragedy struck.

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The requirement was to kill the Siegebreaker Assault Beast on Torment IV. A previous check mark was earned by killing another boss on Torment II, and having done that rather handily, I figured that I could handle Torment IV with no problem. It was a little hairy fighting my way to the above boss, but I managed to make it and I thought I was doing well enough against the beast. Unfortunately I was unaware of a debuff that is applied if you don’t kill a boss fast enough (I’m not sure if this is due to the torment level or what, but it happened nonetheless) called “Out of Time.” It causes you to take damage over time, which for a hardcore character is a near guaranteed death sentence. I managed to get him to about a quarter health, but it seems that I couldn’t keep my sustain up and died. What a waste. Here’s the evolution of my Barbarian (who was a bad ass I might add) over the course of time:

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I wasn’t ready to give up though. I wanted to see the season journey through, and see more of the torment levels, greater rifts, legendary gems, set dungeons, and all of the other goodies I hadn’t really experienced. Typically after hitting 70 I would lose interest in the grind and would stop playing until the next season or next time I felt like mindless slaughter. I also finally used Kanai’s Cube to snag some of the passives off of legendary items and filled up my stash with plenty of gems and decent gear that I’m going to hold onto for the next time I feel like running a new Barbarian up the ranks. Getting a few Paragon points also helped quite a bit with my new Crusader that I made the day after my Barbarian succumbed to death. He’s felt rather twinked, having a ton of recipes to work with to give him good gear as he levels, along with high end gems and those passives from Kanai’s.

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The two passives I have currently are rather nice. One is a fan of knives proc that does a shitload of damage, and the other ignores arcane damage and heals you instead. Definitely helps with survivability, to the point where I am only in my 40s on the Crusader and am already on Master difficulty. Here’s what the new guy looks like at this point:

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I’m hoping to hit 70 soon, and then finish off the season journey. I know now that I should probably get better geared, and get more paragon points before trying that Torment IV boss again, or perhaps I’ll recruit one of my friends that’s been playing as well, but it seems that outside of Eri, I don’t know many people who are playing hardcore characters. Sissies 😛

Have you been playing D3? If you want to join up, I’m Izlain#1300 on battle.net.

Diablo III Patch 2.4

Diablo III had another big patch go live this week, and just like in patch 2.3, there was a whole new zone added to Adventure Mode. This does mean that you need to own Reaper of Souls to access the new content, but if you haven’t picked up that expansion by now, you’re probably not much of a fan. The brand new zone added is called Greyhollow Island, and it is an offshoot of the Act V portion of the map. A gloomy, rainy, wooded island, there are plenty of new creatures to fight, lore bits, and places to explore. Outside of the new zone, there was also two previously existing zones that were expanded, both the Ruins of Sescheron and Leoric’s Manor. The former was expanded with the zone called Eternal Woods, and the latter had a section called the Royal Quarters added to it. They are smaller areas, but combined with the new zone add quite a bit of variety to your bounties and other adventures.

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There’s much more to the patch than just new zones. Set Dungeons have been added, and require you to don a full set of class armor to enter them. The seasonal journey that was introduced in season 4 is also being tweaked for season 5 (that starts tomorrow), where completing it provides a whole set, so if you are having trouble finding a set of armor for your class, you have a guaranteed way to pick one up now. That will allow you to check out the set dungeon as well. Finally, there are empowered rifts, which is building upon the ever-changing rift system that has been around since RoS launched. I have no experience with the latter, so I’m not sure how good or bad that ends up being. All I know is that I feel re-motivated to try and complete the season journey this time around, and actually get far enough into the end game to see beyond Torment I and jump into greater rifts and all that good stuff. Who knows if that feeling will be maintained for very long, but I’m aiming towards getting balls deep in Diablo III again.

Last night I decided that it would be a good idea to play through the new areas on one of my existing max-level characters. I also decided to record all three of the new areas while I played through them, so at this point I’d like to share those videos:

Part one is a full clear of Greyhollow Island. It’s a fairly large overland zone with a lengthy dungeon so this is the longest of the three videos.

Part two is a full clear of the expanded zone of of the Ruins of Sescheron: The Eternal Woods. This zone is a bit smaller and also comes packed with a dungeon but it is only one level and was a much quicker clear.

Part three is the shortest run of them all. The Royal Quarters is a section added onto the Leoric’s Manor zone. It is filled to the brim with undead but is a relatively short clear. It is also the area you have to access to be able to enter the set dungeons, as you’ll see me discover in the video.

That’s all I have for now. Happy Gaming!