Discussion:
Beta Report: Blade Fury Assassin (act4, hell)
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Michael Vondung
2003-10-15 16:31:33 UTC
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An untwinked Blade Fury Assassin in the 1.10 Hell

Act 4

I arrived in act 4 of Hell at clvl 79. My first impression was, "Wow,
it's hard!". There is a significant increase of monster difficulty
between the critters in act 3 and those in act 4. This may seem rather
obvious, but even Crushing Blow seemed less reliable. I actually
wonder if Crushing Blow is less efficient if monsters have some kind
of physical resistance? Maybe I was just unlucky, but it's noteworthy
that I had an easier time killing Izual than a random Abyss Knights
boss.

My first trip to the Outer Steppe introduced me to the annoyances
known as Flesh Spawners and Corpse Spitters. The latter are immune to
poison, and seem to have physical resistance also, never stand still
and throw up all over you, making this not only tedious but also
painful. Flesh Spawners can be kept at bay with Cloak of Shadows (they
won't produce young when blinded), but each group of them, with a pack
of babies, is always a click fest.

After clearing the steppe the first time, I was rather fed up with my
character. Too little damage, too much clicking, slower experience and
just a feeling of stillstand. I took a break from act 4 and went back
to acts 1 and 3, just for fun and loot. Lower Kurast was easy and I
could play here on players 2 without too much trouble, and act 1 was
fun because of the large number of boss packs. I gained one and a half
a level, and made the decision to sink twenty points into Claw
Mastery. 1.10 grows on you, and act 1 looks a lot better once you get
the hang of the new Hell difficulty.

Skill Ponderings

Okay, so now, why Claw Mastery? If you've read my older Beta Reports,
this may almost seem like a change of heart, but it's actually more
like the "best of the available choices". Essentially, this character
build really only needs 20 Venom, 20 Shadow Master, 1 in CoS, Fade,
Death Sentry and Mindblast. That, and a good amount of Crushing Blow.
The rest is optional and you can either max DS and LS, or get Dragon
Talon, or Dragon Claw, or a fire trap, or Weapon Block and Fade, and
so on.

My reasoning behind maxing Claw Mastery is that I'd like to be
flexible in the choice of my weapon. I'd like to be able to use the
weapon that is most appropriate for a situation. In some places,
especially in multiplayer, this promises to be a Crescent Moon weapon
with its Static Field and the ITD, in other areas a Chaos claw (which
doesn't have ITD) would be the better choice. Also, ITD doesn't work
on bosses, so having a potent claw with the hefty AR bonus from Claw
Mastery is decent option. Down the road, I'd like to replace my Malice
claw with a Fury elite claw, if I ever find the runes needed for Fury.
In Hell, I've also noticed an inrease of the killing speed, because I
need fewer tries to initially hit a monster (when the effects of the
Malice runeword kick in). The increased physical damage and the higher
chance to land a critical hit (which works with Blade Fury, it's
treated like a melee attack) is a bonus, though the purpose of maxing
Claw Mastery is getting the AR bonus.

In previous discussions about this topic, it seemed that a lower Claw
Mastery (slvl 10-12) might be sufficient, but I don't think it's
feasable. At clvl 81, with 4350 AR (the result of a slvl 24 Claw
Mastery, 460 AR from charms and equipment, and 141 dex after
equipment), I only had a 67% chance to hit monsters in the Chaos
Sanctuary. This isn't a lot and there's a clear, definite and
noticable difference between 67% and 89% that I have in act 1/hell.
67% "feels" far more sluggish and is a bit frustrating. Anyway, the
point is that AR is important for this build, unless you only use ITD
weapons, but then you have a problem with bosses. Without Claw
Mastery, the chance to hit is a little over 40%, by the way. I'm
actually tempted to get more dexterity than I had planned.

Speaking of dexterity -- after a discussion in AGD2 I decided to go
with two claws for the "claw mode" mode (and weapon/shield for
Crescent Moon mode, provided I ever find an Um rune, which I still
haven't). This means lower dexterity, at least so I thought before I
saw the pitiful attack rating in act4/hell, and more points for life,
but more importantly, it gives me some attributes of the off-hand
claw. Or one mod in particular: the 25% Crushing Blow of a Strength
runeword (Amn Tir) claw. Euqipping that claw gives me a 58% Crushing
Blow chance (Goblin Toe, crafted gloves, Strength claw in the
off-hand). Makes a noticable difference, too.

In claw/claw mode, I lose the resistances that the shield offers, and
that cuts into my protection quite a bit. It also might mean a
moderate investment into Weapon Block (~10, to get 50%). On the
upside, Weapon Block now also blocks certain elemental attacks such as
lightning bolts of LEBs, something shield blocking doesn't do. I'm not
quite sure whether I'll put points into Weapon Block. It's currently
at 1+4, which grants a 42% blocking chance. Well, when I find the set
Winged Helm and the +2 from the Harlequin Crest, I probably should put
a few points here. Right now, after maxing Claw Mastery, I have 17
unused skill points. I haven't decided yet, but a few will probably go
to each Fade, Death Sentry and Weapon Block.

Izual

Anyway, back to act 4 in Hell. I was extremely lucky that I didn't get
gloams in the Plains of Despair. Just more corpse spitter types, Venom
Lords and so on. Izual was surprisingly easy. He died so quickly, I
suspect that Crushing Blow worked on him -- or he just has a whole lot
less hitpoints. So, these were two easy skill points. The City of the
Damned was packed with Abyss Knights, happily throwing elemental
projectiles at me. Cloak of Shadows worked on them, so they weren't
more than papertigers that quickly died to Crushing Blows and Venom.
Experience in these areas seemed "okay", but things clearly slowed
down at 80.

RoF Hell

The River of Flames was the most tedious, most annoying experience in
this character's career so far. The mix I got was as bad as possible:
Abyss Knights, Grotesques and Blood Maggots. It's not that any of them
were difficult, but the sheer number of tiny, little critters and the
inability of Blade Fury to pierce made this a long, boring and
frustraing trip. I found the waypoint before the forge, and as soon as
I was there, I exited the game and went to read a book. The next day I
went back to act 1 a bit for hunting boss packs and clearing out the
caves. Eventually I went back to act 4 and looked for the Hellforge.
This time, I got maggots (but fewer), Stormriders and Urdars. Judging
by the damage my Shadow Master took, the Urdars hit very, very hard.
I'm glad I wasn't a melee character.

Near the forge I ran into a uniqe Urdar who was extra fast, extra
strong, cursed and I think had spectral hit. He actually outran me. I
had 36% faster run, so not very fast for an assassin, but I wasn't
going to drop Fade for BoS, not with a spectral hitter hot on my
heels. When he was on me, I remembered to use Mindblast and pushed him
back while recasting the Shadow Master in front of him. Had to recast
her a few times. Surprisingly, my fire arrow rogue didn't die during
this at all. She rocks hard, despite not having a special bow (she's
only good with knockback). The Urdar eventually bit it. Thankfully he
wasn't poison immune or PI.

Hephastos, the smith at the Hellforge, was surprisingly easy. I don't
remember his enchantments, he was -that- unspectacular. The Shadow
Master tanked him without a recast. Did I mention how awesome the
Shadow Master is? She's even great in act 5, but this is for my next
spot report. The Urdar boss was definitely harder than the smith.
Perhaps just luck, I don't know. The Hellforge spit out a MAL rune for
my troubles. Wish it had been an UM, and I also wish we could
downgrade runes (turn a MAL into two UMs). Still, nice reward
nonetheless.

Chaos Sanctuary

It was time for the Chaos Sanctuary. As expected, Oblivon Knights
don't stop casting under the influence of CoS, but it did seem to
lower their defense. The monsters in here weren't hard, but killing
was relatively slow. I had hoped it would be easier. It's hard to
describe in what way it was slow -- things felt "sticky", probably due
to the relatively low to-hit chance. I also ran out of mana a few
times and had to carry a row of mana potions. The Grand Vizier died as
quickly as he always does.

Lord de Seis' pack has changed. His minions are no longer Oblivon
Knights, but Doom Knights. This means that not only Cloak of Shadows
works on them, but they can also be converted with Mindblast. This is
an awesome change. I just spammed Mindblast until three or four of
them attacked their own boss (and soaked up his attacks) while I threw
blades into him. He was so easy, not even my merc or Shadow Master
died. He also didn't drop anything. I was a bit wary about the
Infector of Souls, since the fire breath of Venom Lords really, really
hurts in 1.10, so I hoped the pack wouldn't run me over. Mindblast and
CoS prevented that, and he, too, bit the dust without much trouble.

I was very close to level 81 before Diablo, so I went to the Outer
Steppe for a few minutes and leveled up there. Just in case Big D slew
me. I know, it's such a softcore mentality, but losing experience *is*
the worst that can happen to you in softcore! :)

Diablo

Now it was time for Diablo. I switched out the Strength claw in the
off hand for the Tiamat's and put a cheesy 6% fire resist small charm
into my inventory, so that I had about 25% fire resist, with Fade on.
Diablo killed both my Shadow Master and merc within a few seconds, but
at least I got in a few blades in and took down his defense a bit.
Then he boneprisoned me. This never happened to me in 1.09, maybe I
was just lucky, but he's never done more than prison my portals. Well,
this time he prisoned my character and started baking me in my undead
cage. I recast the Shadow Master and began to franatically attack the
bone prison while quaffing two full rejuvs.

Made it out just when the Shadow Master folded again. Phew. After this
incident it was just running in circles, throwing blades, recasting
Shadow Master and quaffing potions. The floor fire hurt quite a bit,
but there weren't any really close calls (950 life). Two minutes later
he went back to Hell and I was left with a bunch of rares, none of
which was even worth keeping. Doing the entire Chaos Sanctuary took 35
minutes. That's on players 1. Good or bad? I don't know, I haven't
played any other characters through 1.10 Hell. Seeing how safe it was,
though, I think that's not so bad.

I entered act 5 in Hell difficulty at level 81. Without redoing areas,
I would have been 79 or 80 at this point. Without experience runs,
this is actually pretty good. Lessons learned in act 4: nothing new!
Claw Mastery proved to be a good choice, and CoS and Mindblast are the
Assassin's best skills in 1.10. But, we knew that since nightmare! :)

More about act 5 in a few days, or a week. I'm wary of the Ancients
and don't think I can currently take them.

M.
Michael Vondung
2003-10-15 19:13:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Vondung
An untwinked Blade Fury Assassin in the 1.10 Hell
You can read the previous reports here:
http://www.similarities.org/diablo2/110beta/bfassassin.html
Chris Carr
2003-10-16 11:23:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Vondung
An untwinked Blade Fury Assassin in the 1.10 Hell
Hi Michael - thanks for another superb report.
Post by Michael Vondung
Made it out just when the Shadow Master folded again. Phew. After this
incident it was just running in circles, throwing blades, recasting
Shadow Master and quaffing potions. The floor fire hurt quite a bit,
but there weren't any really close calls (950 life). Two minutes later
he went back to Hell and I was left with a bunch of rares, none of
which was even worth keeping. Doing the entire Chaos Sanctuary took 35
minutes. That's on players 1. Good or bad? I don't know, I haven't
played any other characters through 1.10 Hell. Seeing how safe it was,
though, I think that's not so bad.
It certainly isn't. My level 78 bowazon did the CS in Hell last week,
albeit with a friend (and therefore on players2). You're right that De
Seis is *much* easier with DKs rather OKies as his minions - he used
to be the hardest, but that's now the Infector by a long way. I think
the whole CS took us almost 2 hours - at least 25 mins of which was
stringing out the Infector's pack.

I don't know why you had such an easy time with Izual - it must have
been the CB. It took us ages to grind him down.

CC
Michael Vondung
2003-10-17 08:50:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Carr
It certainly isn't. My level 78 bowazon did the CS in Hell last week,
albeit with a friend (and therefore on players2).
Hmm. What kind of bowazon did you use? I've read about someone's FA
zon, using an updated WWF and mostly MF equipment, who is capable of
clearing the CS on players 5 in under thirty minutes -- at level 89,
though, so, I don't know at which point CS becomes easy for an FA zon.
I'm jealous, though ... I'd love to be able to easily solo areas of
that kind, and at that speed! :)
Post by Chris Carr
to be the hardest, but that's now the Infector by a long way. I think
the whole CS took us almost 2 hours - at least 25 mins of which was
stringing out the Infector's pack.
Mindblast helped heaps here. I had the pack fight each other while my
merc and I chipped down the health of the ones that had not been
converted. At the end I was only left with the Infector himself, and
my Shadow Master could tank him just fine (I'm glad she didn't run
away as she sometimes does). He didn't have bad mods, though -- I
remember dying to him in HC when he had the Holy Shock aura (that was
in 1.09).
Post by Chris Carr
I don't know why you had such an easy time with Izual - it must have
been the CB. It took us ages to grind him down.
I should probably go back and test this a bit more. He was easier than
many of the bosses I had encountered even in earlier acts. Too bad
that he's so hard to get to (damn these gloams!).

M.
Chris Carr
2003-10-22 13:48:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Vondung
Post by Chris Carr
It certainly isn't. My level 78 bowazon did the CS in Hell last week,
albeit with a friend (and therefore on players2).
Hmm. What kind of bowazon did you use? I've read about someone's FA
zon, using an updated WWF and mostly MF equipment, who is capable of
clearing the CS on players 5 in under thirty minutes -- at level 89,
though, so, I don't know at which point CS becomes easy for an FA zon.
I'm jealous, though ... I'd love to be able to easily solo areas of
that kind, and at that speed! :)
Me too. Mine is a FA/GA/MS build, with an upgraded shael'd Skystrike
(Spider bow) and a Passion blade bow on switch. The blade is faster
and has blind+flee, but the spider does more damage. There's not much
in it though, and neither is great for PIs (I use fire arrow, and park
PI bosses and minions).

My build is not great though - I have maxed MS, wasting a fair few
points. I have put too many stat points in vit and energy, so dex is
only 210. I have not (yet) put critical strike up beyond 1+5, so
altogether my damage output is not what it could be.

I don't have enough mana leech to use FA properly - it's maxed so it's
very expensive. Still looking for better gear (another Manald Heal
would be great).
Post by Michael Vondung
Post by Chris Carr
I don't know why you had such an easy time with Izual - it must have
been the CB. It took us ages to grind him down.
I should probably go back and test this a bit more. He was easier than
many of the bosses I had encountered even in earlier acts. Too bad
that he's so hard to get to (damn these gloams!).
I think Orchid's theory is probably right - he's been left alone while
almost all other baddies have been beefed up, so it *feels* like he's
easier. It takes the same time to kill him, but two or three times
longer to kill anything else, making it feel like he's twice as easy
to kill.

CC

romendacil
2003-10-16 18:05:31 UTC
Permalink
<snip>

SBPP!

Regards Romendacil
Orchid
2003-10-17 05:11:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Vondung
An untwinked Blade Fury Assassin in the 1.10 Hell
Act 4
I arrived in act 4 of Hell at clvl 79. My first impression was, "Wow,
it's hard!". There is a significant increase of monster difficulty
between the critters in act 3 and those in act 4.
This does appear to be true. However, I think the type of creatures you
get has a huge impact on how hard it is. I found that Stygian Hags and
Venom Lords in the Outer Steppes were the worst (although, for your
built, poison resistant creatures are a problem as well). There were
times when I was getting hit-locked by the Stygian pups and couldn't
even get through to the hags.

I think act IV sometimes has to be re-rolled in a new game so that one
faces a pack of critters that the character they've built can handle
them.
Post by Michael Vondung
This may seem rather
obvious, but even Crushing Blow seemed less reliable. I actually
wonder if Crushing Blow is less efficient if monsters have some kind
of physical resistance? Maybe I was just unlucky, but it's noteworthy
that I had an easier time killing Izual than a random Abyss Knights
boss.
Izzy appears to have been scaled back...or not changed at all and goes
down much faster with the boosted player skills. Either way, he's far
less monotonous than he used to be.
Post by Michael Vondung
My first trip to the Outer Steppe introduced me to the annoyances
known as Flesh Spawners and Corpse Spitters. The latter are immune to
poison, and seem to have physical resistance also, never stand still
and throw up all over you, making this not only tedious but also
painful. Flesh Spawners can be kept at bay with Cloak of Shadows (they
won't produce young when blinded), but each group of them, with a pack
of babies, is always a click fest.
Yeah, I seem to recall how impressive it was when we played with
0tarin's assassin and he cast CoS.
Post by Michael Vondung
After clearing the steppe the first time, I was rather fed up with my
character. Too little damage, too much clicking, slower experience and
just a feeling of stillstand.
I had similar feelings when I played Tito's and my Holy Shockadin...when
we hit act IV, I hit a wall and had to let him sit for awhile. The same
thing occurred at the beginning of act V. Both times, after a break,
either I got a lucky roll or was just playing fresh and ready for the
challenge after a rest.
Post by Michael Vondung
The River of Flames was the most tedious, most annoying experience in
Abyss Knights, Grotesques and Blood Maggots. It's not that any of them
were difficult, but the sheer number of tiny, little critters and the
inability of Blade Fury to pierce made this a long, boring and
frustraing trip.
You mentioned in a part I snipped that you have death sentry. Didn't
that help once you got in a few kills?
Post by Michael Vondung
Hephastos, the smith at the Hellforge, was surprisingly easy. I don't
remember his enchantments, he was -that- unspectacular.
You got lucky. ;-)
Post by Michael Vondung
I was very close to level 81 before Diablo, so I went to the Outer
Steppe for a few minutes and leveled up there. Just in case Big D slew
me. I know, it's such a softcore mentality, but losing experience *is*
the worst that can happen to you in softcore! :)
Losing experience is bad enough. This is a game. Any penalty for failure
is worth avoiding. It's part of playing strategy.
Post by Michael Vondung
Now it was time for Diablo. I switched out the Strength claw in the
off hand for the Tiamat's and put a cheesy 6% fire resist small charm
into my inventory, so that I had about 25% fire resist, with Fade on.
How is a 6% fire resist sc "cheesy?"
Post by Michael Vondung
Diablo killed both my Shadow Master and merc within a few seconds, but
at least I got in a few blades in and took down his defense a bit.
Then he boneprisoned me. This never happened to me in 1.09, maybe I
was just lucky, but he's never done more than prison my portals.
In 1.10, he uses bone prison a lot more on characters.
Post by Michael Vondung
Made it out just when the Shadow Master folded again. Phew. After this
incident it was just running in circles, throwing blades, recasting
Shadow Master and quaffing potions. The floor fire hurt quite a bit,
but there weren't any really close calls (950 life). Two minutes later
he went back to Hell and I was left with a bunch of rares, none of
which was even worth keeping. Doing the entire Chaos Sanctuary took 35
minutes. That's on players 1. Good or bad?
Good.

And a very nice spot report. I'll be looking forward to the next one.

Shari (Orchid)
Michael Vondung
2003-10-17 08:42:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Orchid
I think act IV sometimes has to be re-rolled in a new game so that one
faces a pack of critters that the character they've built can handle
them.
This is particularly true if you get gloams in the Plains of Despair.
I went back there to see if they'd be as bad as the ones in the Great
Marsh in act3, and sure enough, they were just as bad -- or even
worse, since they were more common here. Having five or more of them
attacking simultaneously might well mean instant death before they
show up even on the screen. That's with 50'ish LR and no absorb.
Gloams in Hell are the most difficult monster I encountered -- worse
than dolls even.

I'm not done with act5 yet, but in the Frozen River I got regular
ghosts that are poison immune and physically immune, by default. I
don't know, double-immunities on regular critter seems a bit like an
overkill.
Post by Orchid
I had similar feelings when I played Tito's and my Holy Shockadin...when
we hit act IV, I hit a wall and had to let him sit for awhile. The same
thing occurred at the beginning of act V. Both times, after a break,
either I got a lucky roll or was just playing fresh and ready for the
challenge after a rest.
I experience the same again in act5 right now. Made it to the
Crystalline waypoint and freed Anya, and now I need a break from
playing that character. I started a pure trapper -- from scratch, too
-- so be able to compare the performance of the Blade Fury assassin to
another build. They're not too different (both have CoS and
Mindblast), but still, the trapper will have some better
area-of-effect skills available to her.
Post by Orchid
You mentioned in a part I snipped that you have death sentry. Didn't
that help once you got in a few kills?
Not at the River of Flames, no. It only does 10-25% of a corpse's
former hitpoints, and the baby maggots and the pups don't have a lot
of hitpoints -- not enough to seriously injure the "elders". It helped
the gory look of the battlefield, but damage-wise I'm not sure this
helped greatly. I used DS mostly to "clean up" Fallen and Skeleton, in
other areas. It also helped to kill "stuff" in the Arcane Sanctuary
(ghosts mostly) and in the Frozen River area. I think DS is a bit of a
1.10 party skill. (I decided against maxing it on my trapper.)
Post by Orchid
How is a 6% fire resist sc "cheesy?"
That was one of the first charms I found, somewhere in act1 or act2 in
normal difficulty. :) I kept it just for Diablo in Hell.
Post by Orchid
Post by Michael Vondung
Doing the entire Chaos Sanctuary took 35
minutes. That's on players 1. Good or bad?
Good.
Excellent -- after reading on other boards that some bowazons clear
the CS on players 5 in under thirty minutes, I was a bit unsure how to
judge my character's performance. I wish I could do handle players 4
there, solo, but I don't see that happening, it's probably a bowazon
"playground" only. The only area where my BF assassin can handle
larger games is Lower Kurast. Buzzards and frogs have low hitpoints --
and everything else runs away. ;)

M.
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