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Diablo 3 Strategy: Farming Death’s Breaths and Souls

Sage's Set bonus.
Sage’s Set bonus.
The current version of Diablo 3 offers numerous crafting recipes that do a great job at consuming all the materials… especially [wiki]Deaths Breaths[/wiki] and [wiki]Forgotten Souls[/wiki]. As a result, many players spend much of their non-Grift time farming these materials, along with [wiki]Greater Rift keys[/wiki], of course. Thus the debate often engages; what’s better for farming efficiency? [wiki]Torment 10[/wiki] in normal gear, or going faster on a lower Torment while wearing the Sage’s Set, which adds an extra DB to every DB drop?

Of course the best option is fast farming T10 with Sage’s Set + your normal gear, but if you don’t have that option (yet) with your character or gear, it’s interesting to compare the options. Before running this test, I expected that faster farming on T8 would yield more DBS, though fewer Souls, than clearing TX without Sage’s set. Results?

I ran 10 [wiki]Nephalem Rifts[/wiki] with two different characters… since at this point in Diablo 3 it’s easier to make multiple characters of the same class rather than switching around the gear/skills every time I want to play a different build. (Bliz, feel free to add that multi-spec option any time now.) Both characters were Demon Hunters, one wearing Marauder’s Set (which isn’t possible to equip with Sage’s) and the other wearing Natalya’s Set (which can be equipped with Sage’s, thanks to the Nat’s Bow and Ring, plus an RoRG bonus.) Each character also equipped a [wiki]Boon of the Hoarder[/wiki] along with 2 offensive LGems, because 1) Empowered Grifts is pricey, and 2) Boon provides a nice movement speed boost. Results:

Torment 8: Natalya’s + Sage’s, 10 Rifts, ~45m total time.

  • Time: 3-6m per Rift.
  • Death’s Breaths: 278
  • Forgotten Souls: 48
  • Greater Rift Keys: 13
  • Gold: 265m
  • Torment 10: Marauder’s Set, 10 Rifts, ~53m total time.

  • Time: 4-6m per Rift.
  • Death’s Breaths: 310
  • Forgotten Souls: 86
  • Greater Rift Keys: 14
  • Gold: 321m
  • The T10 character had remarkably good luck on [wiki]Goblins[/wiki] which considerably inflated her DB total over these 10 runs. Removing that luck, the T8 + Sage’s character pulled about 10% more DBs over time, while the T10 w/o Sage’s earned considerably more Legendary Items and Forgotten Souls. Plus quite a bit more Gold on T10 (neither char hit a Gilded Baron on these runs) and tons more EXP.

    Thus from this test, I’d say you’re better off playing T10 with your best killing gear, rather than going down to T7 or T8 to use Sage’s, unless you are solely focused on racking up Death’s Breaths as quickly as possible. The total time savings on T8 isn’t big enough to offset how many fewer Legs you find, and you’ll pull a lot more gold and EXP on T10 as well.

    Have you guys compared farming rates in different gear this patch/season? What do you find the best balance to be, or are you just Power Leaping your way to the top with TX + Sage’s for total destruction?

    Click through for some more notes, math on expected DBs with/without Sage’s, and details on the characters used and play styles in this test. Diablo 3 Strategy: Farming Death’s Breaths and Souls


    Legendaries and Souls
    I didn’t count Legendary items, just the resulting Souls, and that total includes the Souls I got from Gambling the Blood Shards I earned from the Rifts. (Both characters gambled exclusively Quivers.) In my experience, T10 yields markedly more Legendary items than T7 or T8, with routinely 4-7 per Rift on T10. And better odds for those to be Ancient.

    Speed Farming:
    How fast you kill and clear is obviously a huge variable, and will vary depending on your gear, build, class, etc. In the current Patch, Wizards can use Tal Rasha’s set with Sage’s and nearly infinite teleports to clear T10 at a pace no other class can match. Demon Hunters are pretty fast though, and even though I’m playing Hardcore, power creep means that I don’t need to play any slower (than Softcore) or take any real safety precautions on T10.

    That said, these were *not* pure speed clears. My purpose was to tally up the Souls and DBs and gold, so I killed every Elite, picked up every useful drop, opened almost every chest, etc. I also took minor detours to pick up most of the gold (rank 50 Boon = gold from every kill, and yes, auto-gold pickup by virtual pets is this patch’s best QoL fix). Also, several times when I had an open-layout, Elite-packed level at the end of a Rift, I cleared out the rest of the level after killing the Guardian.

    Death’s Breaths and Sage’s Set

    So Gelly. Hella jelly.
    So Gelly. Hella jelly.
    On T8 at least 1 Death’s Breath drops from each blue/yellow Elite boss and Goblin, while 2 DBs drops seldom… maybe 15% of the time? On T10, Elites drop 2 DBs around 50% of the time, but Sage’s Set bonus does not “double” the DBs; it just causes 1 extra DB to drop from every source that does drop (one or more) DBs. Thus an Elite that dropped 2 DBs would drop 1 extra (for a total of 3) when you have Sage’s 3-piece bonus. So while using Sage’s almost doubles your DBs on T8, it provides a much smaller % increase in DBs on T10, since when 2 DBs drop, Sage’s just takes that up to 3.

    Hypothetical math:

  • T8: 100 elites = 115 DBs + Sage’s = 215 DBs.
  • T10: 100 elites = 150 DBs
  • T10: 100 elites = 150 DBs + Sage’s = 250 DBs.
  • By this estimate, Sage’s on T8 *should* earn you at least 25% more DBs over time, compared to playing T10 without Sage’s. Thus I was WAY over the expected DBs in my TX trial, probably thanks to extraordinary luck with Goblins. (I saw 3 Gelationous Sires and a huge GobMob in 10 Rifts. Easily netting me 50+ more DBs.)

    I therefore ran another 5 Rifts on T10 the next day, and without any special Goblin luck that time I was on pace for: 254 DBs, 80 Souls, and 16 GRKs. Compared to the 310 DBs and 86 Souls I netted from the first 10 runs. (The 10 runs on T8 with Sage’s got me 278 DBs and 48 Souls.)