Monthly Archives: December 2012

Downgrading my expectations and upgrading my plan

I remember the first time I played my first character. O Lord was he shitty. But hey; he didn’t have much when it came to gear, I didn’t know what was good and I had some kind of vision of a 2 weapon foil poking healer.

He sucked. Not just a lot – but he was like 2 HP from death at each turn slurping SP like a thristy Nosferatu.

So I TR’d him and started to figure out what was wrong; and lesser TR’d twice (second time as they came out with the new PrEs) and now find him to be very good.

Things have changed since those first baby steps and what was originally my main runner is now pulled out and dusted off when I feel like rotating what I play. But in reality he’s geared to the hilt but one of those ‘break in case I feel like playing a divine’.

The rest of my Alts get more time then my trusted FvS.

It’s alright – one of these days I’ll get around to unlocking his destiny and maybe get him the twilight but until then he’s like that collectors Ken doll with in a slightly banged up original box.

As my travails with my Wiz unfolds I have to remind myself of all my Alts first baby steps. That it took a while before my Ranger could be self sufficient and now slices and dices with the best. He’s not at all bad. Or my Monk – he have more wraps on him then a mummy.

Or my two Arti’s – the human one is my favorite because he’s a beast with that acid rune arm and his many great repeaters.

I do miss my sorc, but I realize that what I’m going through with my wiz is simply the bi-product of having felt so potent as a sorc and that I don’t know what’s good with a wiz. It’s not like I meant him to be one anyways – I’m just doing a wiz for the spell pen and the past life feat you can pick.

So I’m off the hard streak until I figure out what’s going on and I’m TRing as soon as I hit 20. I’m not going to bother wasting more stuff on ‘fixing’ something and move onto another sorc first to get the gear I need for FvS and Cleric. I have decided to pile up more Spell Pen and SP (FvS) and conjuration. Then I might try wiz again.

At least as another sorc I’ll enjoy more evocation and SP (2 sorcs) and more spell pen (wiz) and I will be familiar with my play style in a way that makes sense.

I’m sure my second experience with a wiz will be a lot better once I have a few more TRs in the system and I’m perfectly familiar with FvS as it is and Cleric is simply a FvS with less SP but greater potential for healing and insta-killing (no need to split points between one stat for SP and another for DC breaking like the FvS).

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind wiz – it’s just not my cup of tea yet. I do like the ability to insta kill more with a greater assortment of different spells. As a sorc and FvS you’re quite spartan. It’s good in a way since it keeps you focused on a few my very potent things, but it also narrows the bandwith on what you can do.

Take wisps for example. As a Wiz you’ll have all kind of force based spells to expire them with. As I have it now I have the Archmage magic missiles, the arcane bolt and blast and also the level 1 magic missiles. Add to that force bolts. I’ve never seen wisps die as fast. You can even add disintegration to that – an excellent way to do massive amount of damage to a wisp and as a wiz that’s ideal since untyped damage is now boosted by impulse.

As a sorc I don’t have many if any force based spells. I use cold and disintegration to deal with wisps. But disintegration is expensive and the cold damage is greatly reduced by its resistance.

On the other hand as a sorc I can destroy everything else with brutal efficiency. Like those zombies and plant monsters. As a wiz you can’t use Otto’s or disco ball and although web works fine mass hold don’t work at all. So the idea of holding and dropping an acid rain on them is a bust.

As a sorc I simply webbed and acid burst them. Hitting them with so much damage that it took maybe one or two acid burst to destroy them. All for the cheap cheap cost of using the native savant tier 3 spell.

2 different ways – 2 different results. The wiz being brutal at destroying wisps – the sorc everything else.

So as soon as I hit 20 I’m going over the edge back to sorc. Always with the plan to be better and sharper. And doing a wiz won’t hurt me one bit. In fact with the extra spell pen and Past Life: Arcane Initiate will makemy sorc will be even sharper.

See you on the other side.

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Setting it straight

I somewhat feel like I’m down on wiz simply because it’s not a 1k nuking sorc; not at all. Wiz is just fine – a completely different experience and playstyle compared to sorc. The issue I’m having with my wiz is that what is suppose to be its strongpoints is also what I’m not entirely 100 percent with. And that translates into wasting tons of SP.

To put it like this; my Archmage is suppose to be CC expert and insta kill. Insta kill from using phantasmal force (PF), Finger of Death (FoD) and wail of the Banshee (Wail). These are working (somewhat). The issue as I see it is spell pen. I don’t expect perfect results doing Elite and I was surprised how well it worked running Rainbow Elite with a terrific group yesterday. But it’s a bummer when the same doesn’t work soloing the Harbor level 16 quests on Normal – I realize that Drow have a pretty good spell resists, but all those blue shield saves kind of get boring when it’s on normal and it’s what my wiz should be good at.

Second of all you have CC. I’m currently not that good at conjuration so it’s not surprising that my webs are weak. Same with Enchantment. At this time I’ve concentrated on Illusion to unlock Archmage PF. But that translates into taking resources away from CC stuff. The balance I’m trying to find here is good CC and good insta killing along with okay DPS from spells. It’s a balance that means putting enough resources on elemental damage as well as making sure everything else is as sharp as possible.

And it’s that balance I’m currently struggling with playing an Archmage. Like with everything it’s about making sure you’re really good at the strong points and not as weak at the weakpoints or you get a so-so experience and the results is throwing resources on being so-so.

I had the same struggle with my Sorc until I figured out that I had to narrow down my spell list into 2 types that I was really good at and okay with the rest.

That was Acid as primary, Cold as secondary and a few other pivotal spells that made sense. Like web (believe it or not) as primary hold and disco ball as secondary. I don’t use mass hold that much since while it’s alright I seldom need to worry about it considering just how much damage a sorc can dish out.

And given the right gear – 4-20 it was Frozen Tunic from Cannith Challenge for cold and then 1 handed items with both glacial and ice lore between 21-25 and the Cannith Rock booths 4-25 for Acid, with a 1 handed item for spell power between 21-25, I covered all the DPS with relatively few items.

Then I had several items that provided me with boosts to DC for Necromancy (FoD and Wail), Conjuration (Web and Acid Burst), Evocation and Enchantment (Disco Ball and Otto’s).

It worked. My end goal is to replace all those separate Greater items with the Eveningstar ML 24 Challenge cloak. It comes with +2 to DC for everything. Or you could potentially also pull a Wizard Ward Orb – it does the same.

Yesterday I mentioned that my wiz is more support then big stick. And it’s true; I don’t have the heavy concentration of elemental damage that makes spells like Acid Rain or Acid Burst (or anything else) truly rock. They’re okay and combined with mass hold pretty good. That’s only natural considering that it’s either a choice between being a so-so wiz nuker or a great insta killer and CC. But soloing long quests truly strain this ability since it’s hard to insta kill everything without running short on resources and it’s impossible to nuke everything since you run out on resources even quicker.

Those quests are naturally not an indication on whether or not my wiz is good. But it’s a bummer trying to do Coal when you know that you will have to suck pots more then say when I ran my sorc. And that’s just the design of it.

That’s different from Dust however where insta killing is the only valid and useful way to win. There killing a few Ogres doesn’t strain your resources quite as much as killing hordes of trogs, bats and scorps in Coal.

And that’s where the support vs stick comes in. You kind of have to rely on hirelings to do the hitting while you do the supporting. Or if you don’t mind drinking pots like a drunkard – then of course you can always do the CCing and nuking.

But as wiz in a good group I notice a clear distinct benefit of being Archmage. My PFs and FoDs land more often then not taking out critter casters so that hitters can take down critter hitters. And my webs while functional do their job, it’s clear that I still need to add some additional points to conjuration. I feel the same about enchantment and between more on conjuration, enchantment and getting quicken – my next feat choices are more or less going to define the role going forward.

I’m not feeling it

I don’t mind wiz, but at times I feel that I’m more of a support cog than a offensive ‘stick’. I’m more there to make sure the offensive sticks do their clubbing while I clear out some unruly elements and add CC.

That’s unlike being a sorc where the whole point is to be a little support and tons of stick. In fact the stick part is what sorcs are about.

And it’s more my part. Sure – a wiz is good at using multiple ways of destroying stuff but at a significant cost. What sorcs do for less wiz do for more. At its essence sorcs only have a couple of cheap ‘DPS’ spells (force based) but plenty of cheaper support spells. Given the right conditions blur, haste etc can be obtained cheaply but the other stuff comes with a high price tag.

At that’s why I can finish Vale quests through an assortment of spells, but I can’t do so without drinking pots. Not solo anyways.

This was illustrated time and time again as I flagged for the Shroud by doing everything but Coal on hard (ran Coal Elite) and each and one of those quests required me to drink several pots.

That doesn’t bother me; I’ve collected pots for years so I have plenty of resources. But what bothers me is that I keep having to use resources with this one simply because I can’t find a happy self-reliant medium where I use what I have and manage to complete without help. Which of course is what soloing is about. Instead I rely on hirelings to do the heavy hitting while standing back and supporting just to keep resource use low.

Which brings me to the need to run in groups. I ran coal on Elite with a good group and while we finished it just fine I also spent lots of resources getting to the end. And that’s with me leaving a lot to the group and saving as many resources as possible. And still needed to drink several pots after that.

And spell pen is still an issue on hard and even normal. Mostly against Drow. I’m almost tempted at this point to finish it off and then do another wiz right after so I can ‘enjoy’ more spell pen. Simply put I feel like I have miles to go and I rather get there with my sorc.

Lesser reincarnation

Already done it; used my free lesser to redo things. First off – I had a hard time landing spells due to spell pen. That’s despite the enhancement and spell pen IX item. So I did a lesser and gave myself a spell pen feat (I can’t wait until I have few wiz and Favored Soul TR under my belt and when spell pen won’t be the biggest issue anymore).

I’ve also redone my spell selection away from fire and towards lightning and acid (primary). Now I use mass hold and acid rain. Which seems to be a great way of ‘expiring critters’.

I also gave up my elite streak. Things were getting way to hairy and I didn’t see myself enjoying trying to do well. So I went hard streak – losing 55% first time XP. But that also means completions without massive problems. And who can argue against that. All in all I’m trying to get a hang of it; insta killing where possible and web, hold and acid rain on large mobs. It’s working – I just need to get the right DC and spell pen down in order for me to be a lil’ more succesful.

Holy wow

I don’t why I did it, but I kind of wanted to see how much I could get out of running a level 12 quest on elite. I’m talking about the Lordmarch ones – my favorites btw. So I’m doing the first one and check how much I’m going to get (and that’s before any bonuses like conquest) and it was 9k. Here I am – level 17 – and I’m not getting the streak bonus (since you don’t get it for anything 3 levels above the quest) and it sat nicely at 9k.

It’s hard to say no to that kind of XP. Although the final quest might get somewhat hairy and the Minotaur one can get a little much. Especially with the kind of SP a wiz drags around. I tell you what tho – it’s very differen’t. At 17 a sorc has two spells it can load up with Empower, Maximize, heighten and quicken. It hurts. At 18 you have the acid blast.
As a wiz I feel that a lot of potency is ‘lost’ due to the archmage stuff. Plus I haven’t really figured out what type of spells I should concentrate on yet (DPS wise that is). I’m doing impulse but force based ones are kinda puny. Plus I’m splitting my elemental powers between acid, force and fire. And I’m definately going to ditch fire for something like cold or lightning. Seems like a better fit anyways.

I do see a lot of casters using web/hold and acid rain. The question I’m facing now is how much to put on force – maybe make it a secondary power then acid or lightning primary?

The nice part is that I can still experiment. I can so easily switch spells that the slow part is to switch enhancements around. I definately do not have to put anything on construct since without anything added and the Ring of Master I’m fixing myself up for around 200 HP at the time.

I am impressed by the flexibility and the amount of spells a wiz can load in. And as long as I manage to get my DC up there most of the stuff will take effect. I have a feeling however that I’m about to go hard streak only. I really don’t think I can solo most of the upper end stuff on elite. Probably because my build isn’t optimal yet and we’ll see when I do a little bit more experimenting.

Contemplations

I based my progress on the idea that it would take me a ton of grinding getting to 8 and then skip to 16 but the reality is that the skip is where there terrible grind is. But there’s something that should be told about adding Elite streak 50%, Elite quest 80%, 15% Holiday bonus, Greater tome of learning 50% and a 30% pot, Boat shrine 4% and VOM 5%. And suddenly your awash in XP. STK, several 11k XP. Sharn Syndicate – most of them 4-5k. Tangleroot – 2-5k easy. Deleras last everything from 6k to 26k (and in between 24k). Each time I hit those levels I thought I had to do a big one say STK and then grind but I hit the next level doing STK. Same with doing Tangleroot. Hit another level.

I was smart however to keep doing all the level 4 quests that I could (such as finishing of Syndicate) before hitting 7. But what really made me hit 8 was of course Deleras. The cool thing is that I didn’t have to do carnival on Elite. I mean it’s a lot of XP but you kind of need a full group to do it efficiently. It was definately smart to finish off those level 4s since that left me from having to grind 5’s completely.

And as soon as 8 came around I did the whole stone of experience thingy and skipped through a bunch of levels.

And I finally did my first wilderness – Macabre. Good XP – hit 44k between explorers, rares and slayer. I’m onto Vale next. That’s 40-50k easy. Then it’s time to do some quests. I’d love to keep my elite streak going, but that’s going to be hard soloing. True – there’s always someone doing Vale and such and I’d love to jump on a Vale wagon. The first time Elite streak would be terrific as I know just how much I can do on a hard streak (and I didn’t even have a holiday bonus).

I would also like to do the Harbor level 15 quests on elite but those are though. I’m definately going to need a good group for that. The end quest is brutal enough on hard – Elite is one step up from terrible.

Interesting times.

STK and 6

It’s true – gobs of XP. 11k for the 2nd part and level 6. I decided to drop out and retool and get the level since I didn’t have heroism loaded. And without heroism the rogue hireling won’t be able to find the traps. Which means no go in part 3 unless you have an amazing ability to survive acid and the fire crisper.

The whole STK flew buy – 1k XP for killing 3 Ogres, 1k for killing to elementals and plenty of shrines to load up more SP. I always pick the hireling with Divine Vitality so it can give me a SP shot without having to drink pots. And especially in the longer part 2. In fact the end boss wasn’t much of a problem; webs on his elemental buddies and a torrent unleash of acid blast, fire ball, scorching ray and whatever I could hit him with. Then a couple of fire balls later and his buddies was gone. Ka-thich – Xp fountain and then recall for the end goodies.

I’m a luthooor. Big time; every chest fills me with joy and while I’m not pulling stuff that sells for 50k in the AH, I’m finding a few things that’ll come handy one day. Like a keen of slicing and bleed Falchion. Add Frost burst to it and it’s a ML 4 head whacker for sure.

But I did something silly; I should’ve figured out what I needed to get archmage I at level 6. Turns out you need the feat mental thougness along with some enhancement thingies. Which I never took, so now I have to wait 3 days before I can swap it and in that case I’m more likely to hit 8 and the level skip before I get a chance to switch it. Which is a pity; since I got empower I could’ve boosted those dirt cheap magic missiles that you can perma read in and that would’ve been a great way to add some cheap DPS. But I did get to add my challenge boots and cloak that I unlocked from the ML 8 version and added masterful to so it lowered the ML requirement to 6. That’s 54 in spell power with greater lore. And it helps – at 13% chance to crit and solidly boosted both acid bursts and fire balls hit for over 100 in crit. Enough to toast anything in sight.

Now it’s onto Tangleroot. I figured I get that done and overwith before I clean up the rest of the ML 4. In this case I won’t take 7 until I’m done with everything in sight. I figured it’s better to as much of those done before taking the next step since the things that are left are not easily done solo on elite. Such as the carnival series. Good XP, tons of loot but you’re not going to do them without a good group. At least not the Giant one.